MANILA, Philippines – Got trash?
As with most big public events, the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Saturday, January 9, left a trail of trash.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog group, denounced the littering during the 20-hour procession, which was attended by more than 1.5 million Filipinos.
The coalition’s earlier plea for a “trash-less” Traslacion proved to be fruitless, as the sea of devotees left 30 truckloads of garbage, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The procession began at the Quirino Grandstand, where piles of trash were found – cigarette butts, styrofoam, wrappers, plastic bags, bottles, newspapers, and carton boxes – despite Rizal Park’s “no smoking and no littering” policy.
“Piles of rubbish dotted Quiapo streets, particularly polystyrene containers for free lunch given by good-hearted residents and dumped on street corners and gutters,” observed Aileen Lucero, an EcoWaste Coalition coordinator.
“Foam food containers and plastic bags were strewn everywhere. Also, portions of Evangelista and Raon Street were also littered with firecracker waste,” she added.
Some portable toilets were also damaged as devotees stood on top of them to get a better view of the procession, disregarding the safety of others. Plus, despite the presence of these portable toilets, bottles filled with urine were still scattered in the area.
“The trash scattered all over the Quirino Grandstand and the processional route regardless of its volume is still trash and deeply deplorable,” Lucero said.
“When will we learn to pick up after ourselves?”
On the upside, EcoWaste praised the so-called “Basura Patrollers” – workers and volunteers who cleaned up after the 7-kilometer procession.
These sweepers were deployed by the Manila city government and the MMDA. Some volunteers came from parishes and schools.
“From Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church, waste workers and volunteers uncomplainingly removed the litter left by some devotees and vendors with broomsticks and dustpans,” Lucero said.
Although disappointed, EcoWaste is still optimistic that Black Nazarene devotees “would sooner or later make amends for the environment.”
After all, Pope Francis placed much emphasis on the environment, warning that “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
During last year’s papal visit to Manila, piles of garbage were also strewn around Rizal Park.
Aside from the post-Traslacion trash, the EcoWaste Coalition slammed politicians who “litter on the sky” by hanging their tarpaulins along the procession trail. – Rappler.com
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