Group Backs Isko’s Order vs. ‘Epal’ Tarpaulins for the Feast of the Black Nazarene

A waste and pollution watchdog welcomed Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s order to remove tarpaulins and other printed greetings by politicians for the feast of the Black Nazarene.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition joined Moreno in urging “epalitikos” -  a portmanteau of ‘epal’ (attention-seeking) and ‘politico’ - not to put up “happy fiesta” greetings along the 6.16- kilometer route of the Traslacion that will start from the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park and end at Quiapo Church. 

"All your greetings will be considered obstructions. We will tear it down. Walang eepal," Moreno announced at a press conference last Monday. 

“Epal” pertains to the act of attention-seeking politicians who have a fondness of promoting their names and faces such as through promotional tarpaulins.

Manila's ban on 'epal' tarpaulins during the Traslacion, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested, should also apply to the upcoming feast of Santo Niño in Pandacan and Tondo,as well as in the celebration of Chinese New Year, which will both happen in January, the Zero Waste Month, as per Presidential Proclamation 760.   

“Banning tarpaulins of ‘epalitikos’ will help in depoliticizing the pious occasion and in focusing everyone’s attention on Christ, the reason for the Traslacion.  Politicians should not try to steal the spotlight from the Black Nazarene,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Banning ‘epal’ tarpaulins, which are mostly vinyl plastic, will also prevent the generation of hazardous waste during the popular feast,” added Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon explained that tarpaulins may contain toxic metals such as cadmium and lead that are often used as plastic colorant or stabilizer.  Both chemicals are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, five samples of election campaign tarpaulins submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to a private laboratory for analysis were found to contain cadmium in the range of  515 to 1,038 parts per million (ppm), way above the 100 ppm limit set by the European Union for cadmium in plastics.

“The disposal of used tarpaulins, which contain toxic chemicals, is not that simple.  Burying them in landfills will cause their toxic additives to be discharged to soil and water, while burning them will result in the formation of dangerous byproducts called dioxins,” he said.

Instead of spending for meaningless“happy fiesta” tarpaulins, the EcoWaste Coalition urged well-meaning politicians to show their goodness by offering - without a fanfare – water and food to the devotees in reusable containers (not in throw-away disposable plastics),  which should be collected, washed and reused.  




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