Catholic Bishop Calls for “Walang Aksaya” Holy Week

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has amplified the plea for environmental responsibility and action as millions mark the events of Jesus Christ’s last week before his crucifixion and death.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Chairman of the CBCP Public Affairs Committee, in a statement echoed the appeal made by the EcoWaste Coalition for a “Walang Aksaya” (zero waste) holy days.

“The serenity of Holy Week offers a unique opportunity for all to touch base with Mother Earth and face the truth that we live in a very much abused and sullied environment,” said Bishop Iñiguez.

“The litter we see around us is an explicit testimony of our lack of responsibility toward the environment on which we all depend on,” he noted.

“I therefore invite the faithful to make use of the holy days to make amends with Mother Earth starting with a conscious effort to live simply, do away with crass consumerism, and go for zero waste,” he stated.

“Our responsibility to Mother Earth is our responsibility to ourselves and to the next generations that will inherit the planet,” he added.

Bishop Iñiguez’s plea reiterates a CBCP pastoral letter issued in November 2008 that exhorted the faithful to “uphold the sanctity of life” and, among others, “eliminate wasteful consumption.”

For his part, Romy Hidalgo of the Ecology Ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, stressed the importance of preventing garbage and pollution during the Holy Week and beyond.

“Reducing both the volume and toxicity of trash generated by every person, household, institution and community at any available opportunity is no longer a voluntary option, but an essential responsibility that has to be done at levels of the society,” he said.

“Preventing trash from being created, dumped or burned during the Holy Week is a timely act of penance, cleansing and conversion that will translate to cleaner and toxic-free communities, especially in the metropolis,” he added.

As per MMDA data, Metro Manila generates over 8,500 tons of garbage per day.

A “Walang Aksaya” holy days, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, should mirror a more conscious effort to lessen what is thrown to the bin through responsible consumption and active reusing, recycling and composting.

It should also reflect a more determined stance to use reusable bags and containers instead of plastic bags; a more judicious use of utilities such as water and electricity; and a more deliberate plan to eliminate all forms of littering and wasting, especially in religious activities.