EcoWaste Coalition Requests Black Nazarene Devotees to Strive for an Ecological Traslacion on January 9

(File Photo: Quiapo Church after the Traslacion on 10 January 2014.)

A waste and pollution watchdog made a plea for the environment as thousands of Black Nazarene devotees gather in Quiapo Church for the first Friday Mass in 2015 to affirm their faith and seek heavenly blessings.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition hailed the devotees for the strength of their faith as it requested the staunch believers to manifest such spiritual goodness by taking care of the environment as the “Traslacion” is re-enacted on January 9.

The “Traslacion” or the mammoth procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park to the historic Quiapo Church in Plaza Miranda offers an exceptional opportunity for the faithful to unite and show that popular devotion and environmental protection go hand in hand, the group stated.

“The awe-inspiring expression of religious fervor in honor of the Black Nazarene is tarnished year after year by the brazen disrespect for the environment as demonstrated by the unchecked disposal of trash on the streets, especially in the environs of Quiapo,”  said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Piety is not an excuse to litter.  In fact, littering goes against the proverb ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ that most, if not all, Filipinos are aware of,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition has written to Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio, rector and parish priest of the Quiapo Church last December before Christmas requesting him and the church authorities to help in publicizing practical ways to prevent and reduce waste during the Traslacion.      

Citing data released by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the group said that some 28 truckloads or about 336 tons of garbage, mainly plastic food wrappers, were collected by the agency during the 2014 Traslacion in Quiapo district.

“We invite all devout followers of the Black Nazarene to reflect on a key message uttered by Pope Francis and strive for an ecological devotion,” Lucero suggested.

Pope Francis who will be visiting the country soon had called upon the faithful to “be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment” during his inaugural mass at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City in March 2013.

In their statement, the EcoWaste Coalition also emphasized that the commemoration of the Traslacion or any other events or occasions, be they commercial, political, sport or religious, need to abide by Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

R.A. 9003’s Section 48 prohibits and penalizes “the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and other public places.” the group pointed out.

Litterbugs can be fined from P300 to P1,000, compelled to perform community service at the local government unit where the offense was committed,  or be directed to pay the fine as well as render the  community service, the law said.

“The nation will observe for the first time January as Zero Waste month as proclaimed by President Benigno Aquino III and it’s only fitting that every effort is exerted to make the Traslacion as well as the papal visit garbage-free,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.