02 November 2017

Environmental Watch Group Laments Garbage Left by Cemetery Visitors (Littering Has Again Reared Its Ugly Head Says EcoWaste Coalition)

 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Manila South Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Loyola Memorial Park-Marikina, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
 Bagbag Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017
Taguig Public Cemetery, November 1, 2017

A waste and pollution watch group has expressed its utter dismay over the widespread littering in some cemeteries that again marred the observance of Undas.

“We’re downright disappointed by the inconsiderate behavior of some people who simply discarded their trash in cemeteries as if littering forms part of our time-cherished tradition of remembering our departed loved ones,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Despite the lower turnout of people due to the rainy weather, the group lamented the indiscriminate dumping of paper and Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, donut and pizza boxes, snack packs and wrappers, food leftovers, and soiled diapers and newspapers inside the congested burial sites.

“Sharing a meal and prayer together at the cemetery is perfectly fine.  But leaving your discards behind is totally shameful, and very disrespectful for the dead,” Alejandre said.

Based on the trash monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition in 21 public and private cemeteries in Metro Manila and Rizal Province, the North Cemetery in Manila City, South Cemetery in Makati City, Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, and Bagbag Public Cemetery in Quezon City were litter hotspots with mounds of garbage dotting the cemetery streets and alleys.

The unrestrained littering in these cemeteries makes a mockery of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits and penalizes the indiscriminate disposal of waste matters, the group observed.  As per R.A. 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days.

“Local governments would have made a killing in just one day if litterbugs were dutifully apprehended and fined.  Regrettably, the lax enforcement of R.A. 9003 only encourages individuals to strew garbage around cemeteries, creating unsightly trash heaps and posing health risks,” lamented Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The North and South Cemeteries were by and large clean in the early hours of the morning, but the situation drastically changed as thousands upon thousands of visitors arrived to pay homage to the dead.  By noontime, garbage has piled up everywhere, the group observed. 

Rampant littering was observed at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City in stark contrast with the clean and tidy Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

In contrast to its spanking new administration building, Bagbag Public Cemetery was littered with assorted trash just like in 2016 and 2015.  In a letter sent last year to Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, the group reported that ‘Bagbag was found to be most littered with garbage strewn all over the area.” 

On the other hand, the group found a number of cemeteries “generally clean,” including the Caloocan Public Cemetery and Eternal Garden in Caloocan City; Tugatog Public Cemetery in Malabon City; San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery in Mandaluyong City;  Aglipay Cemetery, Barangka Cemetery, Holy Child Memorial Park and the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Cemetery in Marikina City; Loyola Memorial Park and Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Garden of Memories in Pateros; Aglipay Cemetery, Hagonoy Public Cemetery and Tipas Catholic Cemetery in Taguig City; Heaven’s Gate Memorial Garden in Antipolo City; and the Angono Municipal Cemetery in Angono, Rizal.

While littering was not widespread, the group saw a mini-dumpsite inside the Taguig Public Cemetery.  

“If other cemeteries can keep trash to the minimum, we don’t see why others cannot make it happen, especially if there’s a will to enforce the full extent of R.A. 9003. Hope springs eternal,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

While assailing litterbugs for their bad behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition acknowledged the hundreds of eco-aides, street sweepers, waste pickers, and Tzu Chi recycling volunteers for their environmental services during the observance of Undas, rain or shine.
            
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