EcoWaste Coalition pushes for litter-free environment in the aftermath of People Power celebration

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, has expressed disappointment over the rampant littering during the silver anniversary celebration yesterday of the 1986 People Power Revolution in EDSA.

At the same time, the group commended the hundreds of street sweepers who diligently helped in cleaning up EDSA from wee hours of the morning until after midnight.

“We’re very disappointed to see assorted garbage scattered around the People Power Monument and adjacent spots as the historic occasion is commemorated,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The garbage-strewn stretch of EDSA, particularly from Corinthian Gardens to Gate 5 of Camp Aguinaldo, is a stark reminder of the country’s chronic problem with littering that simply has to go,” he noted.

Among the most littered items as identified by the group’s Basura Patrollers were plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, plastic cups and bottles, cigarette butts and discarded advertising materials from real estate, telecommunication and other commercial entities.

“The situation would have gone worse if not for the diligent work of government-employed street sweepers many of whom were seen picking up litter with metal tongs all throughout the day,” Alvarez said.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) deployed some 350 street sweepers yesterday in anticipation of the huge crowds who took part in the re-enactment of the “Salubungan” and the “Tatak EDSA 25” concert.

“We laud the waste pickers for pulling out recyclable items such as plastic bottles and carton boxes from garbage bags and heaps, which has greatly reduced the volume of trash to be hauled,” he also said.

Citing information given by Francis Martinez, head of MMDA’s road clearing operations, the EcoWaste Coalition said that 5 and a half six-wheeler mini-dump trucks were used to haul the trash from the area yesterday and this morning.

“We hope that future activities, especially those organized by the government, would be strictly litter-free in line with Republic Act 9003,” Alvarez said.

“Such a basic environmental policy should be firmly observed at all times,” he emphasized.

“We should not be dependent on street sweepers, waste pickers and eco-volunteers to clean up our mess. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our surroundings clean and safe,” he pointed out.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, explicitly prohibits the “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishments.”

Violators upon conviction shall be punished with a fine of not less than P300 up to P1,000, or render community service for at least one day up to a maximum of 15 days in a local government unit where the act was committed.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier pressed for a “green people power” to cut the country’s mammoth “waste size” of nearly 13 million tons annually, close and rehabilitate over 1,000 illegal dumpsites and stop the filthy practice of littering.