EcoWaste Coalition to Cemetery Litterbugs: Next Time Try Recycling

A waste and pollution watchdog has decried the widespread littering that again vilified the annual commemoration of Undas yesterday, even as two major cemeteries in Metro Manila undertook improvements in terms of solid waste management.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented the blatant violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act despite persistent appeals by the government and civil society to avoid littering throughout the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the statement as its volunteers from Eco-Marino-Malabon City and the Diocese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry participated in the early morning clean-up activities at the Manila North Cemetery today.

“We grieve over the rampant littering on November 1 that sullied the cemeteries and adjoining streets. Although the volume of trash may not be as bad as in previous years, we find the littering that again marred the observance of Undas regrettable as cemeteries are hallowed places and should be garbage-free. Litterbugs should mind their bad habits and try recycling next time,” lamented Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Moreover, the EcoWaste Coalition scored cemeteries, particularly the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City, for allowing tarpaulin ads to be nailed on trees in violation of R.A. 3571, which “prohibits the cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.” 

“The tarps nailed on trees by popular food outlets leave a bad taste in the mouth and should be removed at once. This appalling act can cause stress to a tree and ultimately damage and kill it,” said Lucero.

During the monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition in various cemeteries in Metro Manila, the group observed that two major cemeteries – Manila North Cemetery and Manila South Cemetery – were the two most improved in terms of solid waste management as compared to last year.

“We commend the efforts by the new management of the Manila North and South Cemeteries to increase public awareness against littering, improve cleanliness and introduce operational programs on ecological solid waste management in their respective domains of supervision,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition received reports from its Basura Patrollers who visited the Caloocan Public Cemetery in Caloocan City; Manila Memorial Park in Dasmariñas City, Cavite; Manila South Cemetery in Makati City; Garden of Life Public Cemetery in Mandaluyong City, Manila North Cemetery in Manila City; Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City; Loyola Memorial Park and Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Pasay Public Cemetery in Pasay City; Bagbag Public Cemetery and Holy Cross Memorial Park in Quezon City.

Among the most visible discards abandoned by visitors in the cemetery as observed by the Basura Patrollers were food leftovers, disposable plates, cups and cutlery, Styrofoam containers, pizza boxes, plastic bags and bottles, soiled brown bags and newspapers, candy and snack wrappers, cigarette filters, and commercial leaflets. There were also reports of open burning as evidenced by the ash and incompletely burned materials found in some street corners, vacant lots and near desolated tombs.

For this year’s Undas, the EcoWaste Coalition gave the following awards:

• “Most Improved Award” to the Manila North Cemetery in Manila City and the Manila South Cemetery in Makati City for the newly energized efforts to enforce R.A. 9003 as shown by visible signages posted in strategic areas reminding the public against littering and dumping garbage within cemetery grounds, and for putting up appropriately-labelled garbage bins around the cemetery premises.

• “Pulot para sa Kalikasan Award” to informal waste recyclers and to the volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation and other groups who retrieved assorted recyclables, and thus helped in preventing valuable resources from being wasted.

• “Pako Award” to the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City for having the most trees injured by commercial tarpaulin advertisements nailed on defenceless trees. Among the advertisers were Army Navy, Chowking, Goldilocks, Jollibee, KFC, Lots'a Pizza, Shakey’s, Yellow Cab and Sogo Hotel.

• “Kalat Award” to various real estate agents for distributing brochures that ended up scattered in cemetery grounds.