Fearing a repeat of the unabashed littering at Rizal Park by merrymakers last Christmas, a waste and pollution watchdog reminded New Year revelers to treat the historic landmark with the highest respect.
Anticipating the massive crowd who will throng the famous park for the New Year’s Eve countdown, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public not to abandon their discards in the park, but to bring them home.
“Please don’t turn Rizal Park into your household garbage bin,” Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, requested park visitors.
“As the site of the Rizal Monument, a cultural treasure where the remains of national hero Jose Rizal are enshrined, Rizal Park deserves nothing less than the highest respect from all visitors,” he said.
“And, as one of the few remaining green spaces in Metro Manila where people from all walks of life can rest and relax for free, treating Rizal Park with greatest care is a no-brainer,” he added.
As the trash receptacles would not be enough for the thousands of visitors expected on New Year’s Eve, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested that anything that visitors bring or consume in the park has to leave with them.
Last December 25 and 26, Manila’s Department of Public Services hauled over 50 metric tons of garbage from Rizal Park, mostly food leftovers, sachets and wrappers, plastic bags, bottles, cups and cutlery, polystyrene containers, and improvised sleeping materials.
“Instead of leaving your discards behind for park workers to pick up, please bring them home for proper segregation, recycling, composting or disposal. Mga bagay na dinala mo, bitbitin mo rin pauwi," Benosa suggested.
According to the group, the overflowing bins and the mounds of garbage left by the merrymakers last Christmas are not only an eyesore but a threat to human health.
The abandoned wastes, especially the food leftovers and soiled disposable diapers, pose health and sanitation risks as these can attract disease-spreading animals such as flies and rodents, the group said.
The removal of the wastes from the park also entails a costly operation involving the necessary sweeping, collection and hauling by paid park and city government personnel.
As littering is an offense punishable under national and local laws, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Manila City Government to deploy environmental police who can issue tickets against litterbugs.
As per Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, littering in public spaces, including parks, is a prohibited act.
Violators upon conviction shall be punished with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or community service of one to 15 days, or pay the fine as well as perform community service.
“The enforcement of the law will encourage compliance to the safe management and disposal of discards, while instilling environmental awareness and responsibility among the park visitors,” Benosa said.