Advocacy group grieves over the defiling of cemeteries with trash
For the nth time, a zero waste advocacy group expressed its dismay over the unabated violation of the national ban on littering as millions crowded the cemeteries yesterday to remember their beloved deceased relatives.
Despite the reminders made by various leaders, including DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and CBCP Vice-President Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, some cemeteries turned into virtual dumpsites as visitors abandoned their discards without guilt or remorse, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“Our cemeteries again teemed with garbage,” noted said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “We lament the brazen disregard of Republic Act 9003, which explicitly bans and penalizes littering --- the most common and visible environmental offense committed during the observance of Undas and our other popular festivities.”
R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, forbids the “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same.”
“Littering, which is also forbidden under local government ordinances, has regrettably become an ugly feature of our beautiful tradition of remembering family members who have gone before us,” he said.
“Littering is totally disrespectful for the dead and for Mother Nature, too, and goes against the very purpose of going to the cemetery to pay respects to lost loved ones. There is no reason for visitors to leave their trash behind and expect others to clean up after them,” he pointed out.
Based on field reports received from the group’s Basura Patrollers in 22 public and private cemeteries in 10 cities and one municipality in Metro Manila, litterbugs had again marred the serenity of the graveyards as people discarded their trash anywhere.
Littering was most widespread at the Bagbag Public Cemetery, Sangandaan Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and, most notably, Manila South Cemetery, which was found to be dotted with garbage heaps.
Among the discards found abandoned in cemetery streets and alleys and even in between tombs were food paper and plastic packaging, food leftovers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, flower plastic wrappings, soiled diapers, and improvised resting materials such as newspapers and corrugated boxes.
The extent of the massive littering at the Bagbag Public Cemetery became more apparent as 17 sweepers deployed by the Quezon City government cleaned up the area this morning, November 2. The street gutters and the alleys of “apartment tombs” were strewn with rubbish made worse by the food offerings left by visitors. Also, some visitors were seen puffing cigarettes despite the ban on smoking in public places.
The EcoWaste Coalition
also found the distribution of antilittering leaflets by personnel from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at the Bagbag Public Cemetery as ill-timed and useless. “Instead of handing out leaflets, they should have been deputized to apprehend litterers found violating MMDA’s antilittering Regulation No. 96-009.”
The waste bins at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City were found to be overflowing with trash as early as 6:00 am of November 1, which obviously came from early visitors who came to the park on October 31.
Piles of garbage-filled black plastic bags were found at Serenity Park in Taguig City.
The group also criticized the political tarpaulins that have sprouted in many places, particularly in cemeteries in Caloocan, Malabon and Mandaluyong Cities.
Aside from littering and mixed waste disposal, the group also noted other violations of R.A. 9003, such as the open burning of garbage as can be seen from the ash residues found in Manila South Cemetery and San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery. Open burning at Manila North Cemetery was likewise reported.
The group noted that Section 48 of R.A. 9003 penalizes arbitrary waste disposal such as littering, open dumping and open burning and violators could be fined the indiscriminate disposal of waste matters, the group observed. As per R.A. 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days. (Ecowaste Coalition)