EcoWaste Coalition Seeks Public Cooperation to Keep Manila Esteros Garbage-Free (Basura Patrol Finds Portions of Manila Esteros "Missing" due to Garbage Cover)

29 January 2015, Estero de Magdalena, Recto Avenue, Manila

29 January 2015, Old. Torres St., Barangay 154, Tondo, Manila
29 January 2015, Estero de la Reina, Recto Avenue, Manila

           29 January 2015, Legarda St., Sampaloc, Manila

28 January 2015, San Andres St. cor. Taal St., Malate, Manila

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, has appealed to city residents and transients to stop the indiscriminate disposal of trash that is choking Manila’s waterways.

The group made a strong pitch for the eco-friendly management of discards after finding sections of Manila’s vital esteros “missing” because of thick flotsam.

To wrap up its observance of the first-ever “Zero Waste Month” as directed by President Benigno Aquino III under Proclamation 760, the group’s Basura Patrol went around the nation’s capital on January 28 and 29 and spotted the clogged streams.

“We’re sad to see segments of some esteros somewhat ‘missing’ because of the tons of trash floating atop the narrow creeks.  All we could see was garbage,” observed Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“At Estero de la Magdalena along Recto Ave., we even chanced upon a team of MMDA personnel using a heavy equipment to lift the enormous trash that have built up,” she said.  

Aside from Estero de la Magdalena, the group’s Basura Patrol also saw nearly-solid tributaries at San Andres St. near Taal St. in Malate, and another one at Old. Torres St. in Tondo.

A fence of pink-painted GI sheets with a big but vandalized signage that says “Estero mo, alagaan mo. Iwas sakit at perwisyo” could not entirely hide from view the trash at the canal along Legarda St. near the Sampaloc Market.

“The esteros are vital for flood prevention and control.  For the health and safety of our communities, we need to keep the watercourse - from the canals to the rivers - clear of rubbish to allow water to freely flow and avert devastating floods, as well as pests and diseases,” she pointed out.

“We earnestly appeal to all citizens to break away from the unhealthy and unlawful practice of open burning and dumping, and embrace instead the green values of reducing, reusing and recycling discards,” she said.

“With the support of the general public, the painstaking efforts to breathe life into Manila’s dying esteros will surely bear more fruits,” she added.

Vergara noted the transformation of Estero de Paco, Estero de Sampaloc, Estero de San Miguel and Estero de Valencia following the concerted efforts of various stakeholders led by the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Metro Manila Development Authority, Manila City Government, environmental groups and the local communities.

She also emphasized that keeping the esteros garbage-free is a crucial step towards the envisioned rehabilitation of Manila Bay where Metro Manila’s rivers and their tributaries drain.    

A waste audit in Manila Bay conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and other green groups in July 2014 collected some 1,594 liters of garbage, of which 61.9 percent were plastic discards such as plastic bags, plastic composite packaging, plastic bottles, hard plastic and Styrofoam.

Other discards collected were used diapers and napkins, rubber footwear, clothes, rags, sponges, cigarette butts and biodegradable wastes.

“These are basically the same waste materials that get dumped into the esteros and eventually into Manila Bay,” Vergara noted.