10 January 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Bewails the Trashing of Quiapo as Devotees Celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene










The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, lamented the ubiquitous garbage that again tarnished the great feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila yesterday.

“We are deeply saddened by the way Quiapo turned into a dumpsite due to the unimpeded disposal of garbage on the streets,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Reports by the group’s Basura Patrollers showed widespread littering in the Quiapo district, particularly in Carriedo, Evangelista, R. Hidalgo, C. Palanca, Paterno, Gonzalo Puyat and Villalobos  Sts., Quezon Blvd. and in Plaza Miranda.

“Styrofoam containers for meals given to the devotees were found abandoned in street gutters and lamp posts and under parked vehicles,” one report said.

“The clogged storm drains along Quezon Blvd. were covered with trash, while portions of Evangelista St. were strewn with burnt firecrackers and at the corner of Evangelista-Ronquillo Sts. was a huge pile of stinking waste,”  another report said.

“By past midnight, people were literally walking on garbage in Carriedo St.,” another on the spot account said.

“The dirty streets of Quiapo are unbefitting Manila’s vision of making the feast of Black Nazarene as an international tourist attraction,” observed Vergara.

The Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau had earlier announced that the religious celebration will be referred to as the “International Pilgrimage of the Black Nazarene” beginning 2015.

“We want our foreign visitors to bear witness to our people’s indomitable faith and remember the prayers and sacrifices of the ‘mamamasan,’ not the inhospitable dumping of garbage in Quiapo streets.  That is not the kind of publicity we want,” she emphasized.

To address the perennial garbage woes in the area, especially during the days surrounding the Black Nazarene feast, the EcoWaste Coalition has recommended the following:

1.  For the Quiapo Church to strengthen the ecological awareness and responsibility among its parishioners by organizing a continuing environmental program all year round in close collaboration with the barangay councils and other stakeholders.

2.  For the manufacturers of top waste items, including cigarette filters, plastic bags and polystyrene food containers to conduct  a retrieval program for such discards  free of charge, before, during and after the feast day (January 8,9 and 10) as part of their corporate social
responsibility.

3.  For the Manila City Government to enforce without further delay its ban on plastic bags, noting that Manila City Ordinance No. 8282 passed on September 3, 2012, which prohibits the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulate their use for wet goods, had yet to be enforced.

4.  For the Manila City Government to deploy at least 5,000 environmental police to apprehend litterbugs, and hire waste pickers to optimize the recovery of recyclables, especially during the actual feast day.

The EcoWaste Coalition concluded that the feast of the Black Nazarene and any other festivities should not be exempt from abiding by the country’s basic environmental laws, particularly those embodied in R.A. 9003.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act specifically prohibits “the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and other public places,” the group pointed out.

Violators can be punished with a fine of P300 to P1,000 and obliged to render community service at the local government unit where the offense was committed,  or be directed to pay the fine as well as perform community service, the law said.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.emb.gov.ph/laws/solid%20waste%20management/ra9003.pdf

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