With less than a month left until the epic feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, a waste and pollution watchdog group called on the millions of devotees to shun plastic disposables for a greener celebration.
In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition underlined the importance of cutting the consumption and disposal of single-use plastics in light of the efforts of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to clean up the capital city.
“Pervasive littering has tainted each and every re-enactment of the Traslacion from Luneta to Quiapo as if leaving rubbish on the ground is an ethical and legal thing to do,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Littering goes against the church teaching calling on the faithful to care for creation, including marine life that is seriously threatened by plastic pollution," he said.
Making the Traslacion plastic-free will be in line with the call earlier made by Pope Francis "to confront this (plastic) emergency," the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
Pope Francis, in his message last year for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, stated "we cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic."
"Devotees can show their support to the papal plea against plastic pollution and to the ongoing Manila makeover by minimizing plastic and other residual waste during the conduct of the Traslacion," Benosa said.
"Improper waste disposal is also a violation of laws banning littering and dumping in public places,” he added.
Manila City Ordinance 7866, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Regulation No. 96-009 as amended by Regulation No. 99-006, and Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, explicitly prohibit and penalize littering, Benosa pointed out.
Republic Act 9003, in particular, punishes violators upon conviction with a fine of P300 to P1,000, community service of one to 15 days, or both.
This year’s “pahalik” and procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene yielded 47 truckloads of trash equivalent to 160 tons, according to the MMDA.
Among the items discarded along the six-kilometer processional route were single-use plastic bags, bottles, cups and plates, as well as polystyrene food containers, cigarette butts and bamboo skewers.
To reduce the volume of rubbish thrown on streets and sidewalks in next year's Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all Black Nazarene devotees, vendors and fiesta organizers and volunteers, to heed the following suggestions:
1. To the devotees: Avoid consuming products in single-use plastics, and dispose of trash properly.
2. To vendors: Refrain from selling snacks and drinks in plastic disposables, and be responsible for your discards.
3. To food and water givers: Desist from offering water in single-use plastic bags, bottles or cups, and refrain from giving meals in polystyrene or Styrofoam containers. Go for reusable containers.
4. To fiesta organizers: Don’t use plastic bags (i.e., “plastic labo”) as banderitas, or street garlands.
5. To all fiesta participants: Prevent and reduce all forms of fiesta waste, and never leave rubbish on the road, sidewalk, street corner, park and plant box.