EcoWaste Coalition Decries Environmental Indifference of Some Antipolo Lenten Trekkers

Environmentalists bewailed the apparent display of ecological apathy that again spoiled the annual pilgrimage to Antipolo on Maundy Thursday despite the joint appeal by the Antipolo City Government and the EcoWaste Coalition for a litter-free “Alay-Lakad.”

“By sunrise of Good Friday, we found the hallowed grounds of the Antipolo Cathedral, the adjacent Sumulong Park and the streets leading to the city proper full of trash,” observed Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog.

“The cascade of young people from various communities and parishes walking together was a sight to behold, but the carpet of garbage they left was ugly and heartbreaking,” she said.

“The perennial trashing of the Alay-Lakad, we’re sorry to say, bring shame on a faith-inspired act of atonement and renewal,” she added.

The most common discards found scattered on the grounds were cigarette filters, food and beverage containers, snack packets, plastic bags, bottles and cups, used newspapers and food waste that dozens of blue-clad government street cleaners uncomplainingly cleared with their hands and brooms.

As expected, the most littered places were those with high human traffic like the Cainta and Tikling junctions, the open spaces in front of shopping malls and convenience stores, and areas where vendors abound and people stopped by to rest, quench their thirst or have something to eat.

Within the premises of the Antipolo Cathedral and the nearby Sumulong Park, pilgrims simply abandoned their improvised beddings of newspapers and corrugated boxes despite the availability of garbage bins, the group noted.

While critical of the litterbugs among the devotees, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the environmentally-beneficial work of waste pickers who patiently collected the discarded paper and plastic recyclables to sell.

The group likewise thanked the Antipolo City Environment and Waste Management Office for deploying street cleaners who patiently picked up people’s trash.

The EcoWaste Coalition once again reminded the public that R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, bans and punishes littering and other prohibited acts.

Violators  can be fined P300 to P1,000, compelled to render community service at the local government unit (LGU) where the act was committed or be required to pay the fine as well as perform community service.