Environmental Watchdog Saddened by Littering and Burning of Trash at Erap's Proclamation Rally

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan environmental watchdog, lamented the widespread littering at the mammoth rally that kicked off former President Joseph Estrada’s campaign to take over as Mayor of the City of Manila.

As if littering was not enough, some citizens at the end of the seven-hour rally in Liwasang Bonifacio set heaps of mixed garbage on fire until a police officer, as requested by an EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patroller, told them to stop the  unlawful and polluting act.

“While proper waste disposal is included in their 10-point leadership guide, the sight of the historic plaza littered with Styrofoam, food leftovers and campaign materials makes us sad,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, “as neither littering nor open burning is a good practice in ecological solid waste management.”

“The open burning of trash, in particular, destroys materials such as the candidates’ posters and leaflets that are better reused or recycled.  This illegal act is linked to particle and chemical pollution that can affect respiratory functions, trigger headaches, irritate the eyes, throat and skin and even cause cancers,” she said.

As stated in point 7 of the “Ang Sampung Gabay ng Pamumuno ng Tambalang Erap-Isko,” former President Joseph Estrada and reelectionist Vice Mayor Isko Moreno signified their intent to “conduct cleanliness program for green surroundings and proper waste disposal.”

The most littered items based on the EcoWaste Coalition’s monitoring of the rally were the Styrofoam containers for packed meals that were abandoned on the steps of Bonifacio monument, around lamp posts and trees, on plant pots and street gutters and underneath some vehicles.  

Disposable spoons and forks, drinking cups and straws, candy wrappers, plastic bags and cigarette butts were all over the plaza.

Adding to the mess were the discarded leaflets, stickers, paper and plastic posters and their bamboo or wooden frames.

While the campaign materials of local candidates were mostly held by their supporters, two senatorial bets from the United Nationalist Alliance had their materials placed on improper spots, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

Former Senator Ernesto Maceda’s plastic materials were stapled on palm trees, while former Senator Richard Gordon’s plastic posters were placed on the inner rim of the water fountain.

Towards the end of the rally, a woman burned a pile of Styrofoam food containers, spreading smoke and smell across the plaza, the group noted.  Some bystanders complained and she was later persuaded to put out the fire.

After President Estrada had spoken and fireworks brightened up the sky, some people who were assisting with the clean-up started to build mini-bonfires, which they stopped in a while after being approached by a police officer as requested by the EcoWaste Coalition.    

“We hope that such environmental lapses will not see a repeat in Mayor Alfredo Lim’s proclamation rally today and in other rallies that will be held all over the city as the campaign heats up,” Lucero said.

To avoid the recurrence of such lapses, the EcoWaste Coalition appeals to rally organizers to integrate waste prevention and reduction in their planning and preparatory work, including requiring participating delegations to designate a person/s who will ensure that their discards are properly managed and not littered or burned, and conducting immediate clean-up of the rally site after the event is over.