Ad­vo­cacy group grieves over the de­fil­ing of ceme­ter­ies with trash

Palawan Daily News - - Front Page -

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)

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