Wasted opportunity

Mounds of garbage at the Manila South Cemetery Image © http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

THE government’s non-implementation of anti-littering laws during the recent observance of the All Saints’ and Souls’ Days caused it to lose millions of pesos worth of fines and the proliferation of garbage in cemeteries nationwide.

Thus claimed the Philippine based EcoWaste Coalition as it expressed dismay over the anti-environment attitude of Filipinos as evidenced by the widespread littering in public or private cemeteries during the recent observance of All Saints’ and Souls’ Days.

“We’re downright disappointed by the inconsiderate behavior of some people who simply discarded their trash in cemeteries as if littering forms part of our time-cherished tradition of remembering our departed loved ones,” said Daniel Alejandre, EcoWaste Coalition Zero Waste campaigner, in a statement.

Members of the environmental coalition lamented the indiscriminate dumping of paper and Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, donut and pizza boxes, snack packs and wrappers, food leftovers, and soiled diapers and newspapers in burial sites.

“Sharing a meal and prayer together at the cemetery is perfectly fine. But leaving your discards behind is totally shameful, and very disrespectful for the dead,” Alejandre said.

Based on the trash volume monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, it appears that the 21 public and private cemeteries in Metro Manila and Rizal Province, the North Cemetery in the City of Manila. South Cemetery in Makati City, Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, and the Bagbag Public Cemetery in Quezon City were saturated with garbage.

The unrestrained littering in these cemeteries makes a mockery of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits and penalizes the indiscriminate disposal of waste matters, the group observed.

As per RA. 9003, litterbugs could be fined P300 to P1,000 and/or be required to render community service from one to 15 days.

“Local governments would have made a killing in just one day if litterbugs were dutifully apprehended and fined. Regrettably, the lax enforcement of R.A. 9003 only encourages individuals to strew garbage around cemeteries, creating unsightly trash heaps and posing health risks,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.

The EcoWaste Coalition, however, noted that some cemeteries – the Caloocan Public Cemetery and Eternal Garden in Caloocan City; Tugatog Public Cemetery in Malabon City; San Felipe Neri Catholic Cemetery in Mandaluyong City; Aglipay Cemetery, Barangka Cemetery, Holy Child Memorial Park and the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Cemetery in Marikina City; Loyola Memorial Park and Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City; Garden of Memories in Pateros; Aglipay Cemetery, Hagonoy Public Cemetery and Tipas Catholic Cemetery in Taguig City; Heaven’s Gate Memorial Garden in Antipolo City; and the Angono Municipal Cemetery in Angono, Rizal – were relatively clean.

“If other cemeteries can keep trash to the minimum, we don’t see why others cannot make it happen, especially if there’s a will to enforce the full extent of RA. 9003. Hope springs eternal,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

At the same time, the group praised the hundreds of eco-aides, street sweepers, waste pickers, and Tzu Chi recycling volunteers for their rain or shine environmental services during the observance of Undas.

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