Watchdog Appeals to the Public Not to Trash Rizal Park

A waste and pollution watchdog sought the active
cooperation of the public in keeping Rizal Park free of holiday trash, or what
the group calls as “holitrash.”

The EcoWaste Coalition made the earnest appeal following a disclosure by the
National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) that visitors littered the historic
park with truckloads of garbage on Christmas Day.

As confirmed to the EcoWaste Coalition by NPDC
Spokesperson Kenneth Montegrande via text message, some 50 truckloads of mixed
garbage, mostly discarded plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, were collected
from the area.

According to the NPDC, some 750,000 to 800,000 people visited the park on
December 24 and 25.

“We join the park authorities in reminding people who are planning to gather in
Rizal Park for the New Year’s countdown to treat the place with highest respect
such as by not littering,” said Commissioner Romy Hidalgo, NGO Representative
to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

“Things you bring to the park need to come back with you for proper recycling
or disposal and should never be left behind,” he said.

“Let us not turn the sprawling green space of Rizal Park into a carpet of garbage
such as discarded plastic bags, food containers and wrappers, and meal
leftovers,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition also requested both the park management and the public
to strictly observe Rizal Park’s “no smoking, no littering” policy, insisting
that a place for rest and recreation should be entirely free of cigarette smoke
and litter, a public nuisance and health hazard.

Those caught littering or smoking within the park premises are to pay a fine of
P500 or render 8-hour community service for first offense, P1,000-5,000 fine or
16-hour community service for second offense, and P5,000-10,000 fine for third
offense, the group reminded.

“The festive season is not an excuse to bury Rizal Park in holitrash. Littering
by itself can never be justified,” Hidalgo, a member of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Steering Committee, emphasized.