EcoWaste Coalition decries Undas trash

Photos courtesy of Tin Vergara

A day after the Filipino nation’s observance of Undas,
a zero waste advocacy network denounced littering and unsound waste management practices
in many cemeteries that still spoiled All Hallows despite yearly pleadings.
with the group’s recent release of what it termed as the “Cemetiquette” or
cemetery etiquette to guide cemetery-goers toward “environmental
responsibility and commonsensical good manners” in commemorating Undas,
EcoWaste Coalition today said “the Zombasura attitude in many cemetery-goers remains
a huge challenge.”
coalition coined the term “Zombasura” to describe the kind of wasteful and
non-environment friendly attitude of cemetery visitors during All Saints’ Day
and All Souls’ Day.
“We mourn the apparent disregard to the dead of many who
visited their departed loved ones, as the abode of the deceased was strewn with
litter on Undas, the day Filipinos as a nation traditionally remember their beloved
dead,” exclaimed Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition.
The EcoWaste Coalition made the statement today at the
time its secretariat and volunteers from the MAlikhaing LAndas na magpapaYAbong
sa sining at kultura (MALAYA-Cavite) took part in the clean-up of trash left by
some two million visitors at the Manila North Cemetery.
“The garbage before us is a living testament to the
rampant disregard, not only to the dead, but also to the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, which explicitly prohibits
littering, open dumping, and open burning of garbage in public places,” Vergara
said during the early-morning clean-up.
As its yearly practice, EcoWaste Coalition, through
its Basura Patrollers, monitored waste situations yesterday in various Metro
Manila cemeteries, namely the Angono Municipal Cemetery in Angono, Rizal;
Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City; Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City;
Manila North Cemetery in Manila City; Manila South Cemetery in Makati City;
Obando Municipal Cemetery in Obando, Bulacan; Paraiso Memorial Park in San
Mateo, Rizal; Pasay City Cemetery in Pasay City; Pasig
City Cemetery in Pasig City; Sto. Rosario Cemetery in Taytay, Rizal; and Indang Municipal, Himlayang Paraiso, Roman Catholic, and
Seven Angels Cemeteries, all in Indang, Cavite.
The Basura Patrollers noted that cemetery discards
mostly comprised of food wastes, single-use disposable plastic packaging and
containers (e.g. junk food wrappers, plastic bags, plates, cups and cutlery, and
Styrofoam containers) plastic flower wraps, plastic bottles, soiled brown bags,
newspapers, commercial leaflets, pizza boxes, cigarette butts, and barbecue
The prevalent use of tarpaulins was also a major
concern, as these end up as wastes at the end of the day, according to the
coalition. Evidences of open burning, mostly committed during the pre-Undas
clean-up, have also been reported.
“Nonetheless, in some cemeteries, our patrollers have observed
visitors keeping their waste materials in their own garbage bags preventing
unsightly litters. This is commendable, although many times, this only
resembles proper solid waste management, such as when wastes are not segregated
and/or were left behind. RA 9003 prohibits non-segregation of wastes; and since
wastes are left in cemeteries, it is tantamount to littering and open dumping,”
Vergara noted.
The EcoWaste Coalition also took notice of improvement
in policies and practices associated with waste management and environmental
protection by cemetery administrations, namely:
  • The
    municipal government of Angono for its enforcement of the “Basura mo, Iuwi
    mo” policy at the Angono Municipal Cemetery;
  • Manila
    North and South Cemeteries for their not using disposable plastic buntings
    this time and for
    putting up signage reminding cemetery goers to keep the cemetery clean;
  • Manila
    Memorial Park (MMP) in Parañaque City for its prohibition on nailing of advertisements
    on trees, a turnaround from its last year’s practice.
“We commend the administrations of these cemeteries for
their efforts in addressing solid waste and instituting environmental
protection measures in their areas of concern; but then again, we see more
rooms for improvement next year, specifically on enforcing appropriate
provisions of RA 9003, such as the prohibitions on littering, open dumping, and
burning of wastes,” expressed Vergara.
“These good practices in keeping up with the spirit of
the ‘Cemetiquette’ and similar commonsensical ecofriendly and good manners in
the cemetery are concrete confirmations that they are not farfetched, rather,
workable and effective,” Vergara emphasized.
The coalition also acknowledged the important role
played by the informal waste pickers and recyclers, as well as concerned
organizations like the Tzu Chi Foundation, for continually making the garbage
situation in cemeteries less problematic, by ensuring that reusable and
recyclable materials do not end up as wastes and pollutants.
“We hope to see the informal waste workers taking up
more important and professional roles in solid waste management in cemeteries
in years to come, knowing full well their competencies in this area,” stressed Vergara.