(NOTE: The EcoWaste Coalition’s Secretariat will issue another press release upon receipt of volunteers’ report regarding the environmental conduct of UNA’s proclamation rally in Cebu City yesterday. Efforts will also be made to get and screen tarps of senatorial candidates of UNA and other groups.)
When all the campaign speeches and promises were said and the candidates proclaimed by no less than President Benigno Aquino III, government-paid environmental and sanitation workers rushed to Plaza Miranda to sweep up the litter left by the adoring crowds of Team PNoy.
Zero Waste advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the indiscriminate littering during the festive occasion, which ironically ended with a mass singing of the patriotic song “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino” led by folk artist Noel Cabangon that has lyrics saying “di ako nagkakalat ng basura sa lansangan…inaalagaan ko ang ating kapaligiran.”
“We expected a lot more from Team PNoy and their supporters in terms of caring for our surroundings. The protection of the environment, as we all know, is integral to the fulfillment of the ‘Daang Matuwid’ under the Aquino presidency. Sadly, the opening salvo was a letdown, environmentally-speaking,”said Ochie Tolentino, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.
Among the most littered items were leaflets and other campaign materials from some senatorial bets and party list groups, discarded bamboo placard frames, yellow confetti, flyers from a real estate company associated with one of the candidates, Styrofoam containers, plastic wrappers, plastic bags and cigarette butts.
“While we commend the street sweepers for cleaning Plaza Miranda right away, we thought that Team PNoy and their supporters should have done the clearing of their mess instead. Organizers should have briefed their followers about basic waste prevention and appointed a team to ensure compliance and cleanup after the event,” Tolentino said.
“We remain hopeful that Team PNoy and its component parties will level up their environmental performance and make their campaign sorties clean and green,” she said.
The “Berde ka ba?” Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) jointly sponsored by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace provides a proper venue for the environmental champions of Team PNoy, as well as the United Nationalist Alliance, to talk about their green platforms, she added.
Aside from littering, the EcoWaste Coalition noted other lapses that should be remedied such as the unimpeded use of plastic tarpaulin for placards and banners, the improper parking of VIP cars along Quezon Boulevard, as well as indiscriminate smoking.
TOXIC TARPS GALORE: Chemicals analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on the plastic tarps of Team PNoy’s 12 senatorial bets showed significant levels of cadmium (from 726 to 1,216 parts per million, or ppm), lead (from 108 to 1,263 and antimony (from 199 to 404 ppm), raising health and environmental concern about the unregulated use of tarps. All the tested tarps had cadmium, a carcinogenic substance, that the European Union banned in plastics and other specific uses since December 2011 to “reduce environmental pollution from cadmium.” The state of Minnesota, USA banned cadmium exceeding 100 ppm in any pigment, paint, dye or ink since 1998. The EcoWaste Coalition proposes that the Team PNoy should, as encouraged by Comelec Resolution No. 9615, “use recyclable and environment-friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals.”
MONSTROUS TRAFFIC JAM: Cars of VIPs, along with the campaign vans of candidates Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino and other candidates, were allowed to occupy at least two lanes of Quezon Boulevard, depriving people space and making only one lane passable to vehicles. The EcoWaste Coalition recommends a more commuter-sensitive parking and transportation plan that will not hinder the free flow of traffic along Quezon Boulevard, including carpooling among candidates and their staff to reduce fuel use and road congestion.
INDISCRIMINATE SMOKING: Smokers, both men and women, were seen smoking during the rally unmindful of the harm that the inhalation of secondhand smoke brings to other people, especially among the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory ailments. The EcoWaste Coalition suggests that campaign sorties should promote "clean air" and restrict, if not prohibit, smoking.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal