THE Philippine based environment and public health watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday lamented the lack of environmental concern of a huge number of the black Nazarene devotees citing the huge of volume of trash, mostly non-biodegradable plastic, in Rizal Park, the night vigil area where the procession began, and the route of procession.
“We are deeply saddened by the sight of garbage in Rizal Park where the procession of the venerated image began following an all-night vigil, and along the processional route,” said Daniel Alejandre, EcoWaste Coalition zero waste campaigner.
“The lack of environmental concern has again stained the awe-inspiring expression of faith and trust in the Black Nazarene that devotees ask for help to solve personal or family issues, including health and financial troubles that could have been caused or worsened by a degraded and polluted environment,” he added.
“Our plea for a trash-less Traslacion remains an elusive dream,” he lamented.
At the Rizal Park, the devotees left a huge mess for government workers and for church and school volunteers to clean up, observed Alejandre.
Moreover, Alejandre said, the open area fronting the Quirino Grandstand, the group’s Basura Patrollers also saw heaps of garbage consisting of corrugated boxes, foils, newspapers and plastics used as sleeping mats; food and beverage packaging such as 3-in-1 coffee sachets, cup noodles, paper and plastic cups and polystyrene containers; food leftovers; plastic bags; and cigarette butts.
“The overnight vigil was a good opportunity for families to bond together and for the children to get to know the Black Nazarene. Unfortunately, many simply dumped their discards at the very spot where they spent the night,” Alejandre said.
It has also been observed that while portable toilets were available for free use by the public, some devotees chose to urinate in the open, or pee in pet bottles, he added.
As reported by the group’s Basura Patrollers, the streets of Quiapo were teeming not only with people, but also with garbage, including discarded plastic bags and polystyrene food containers that are supposedly restricted under Manila City Ordinance 8282.
Used polystyrene containers for meals, including those given by big-hearted individuals, were left lying in sidewalks and street gutters.
The group also assailed the sale and use of cigarettes inside the Rizal Park, which is a “no smoking zone.”
It has been reported that the Nazarene procession yielded more than 330 tons of garbage.
Meanwhile, the group thanked the waste pickers who patiently retrieved recyclable items left by the devotees such as PET bottles from bottled water and sweetened drinks (except those with urine), corrugated boards and others that can be sold to junk shop.
The retrieval of recyclables reduced the volume of waste and prevent valuable resources from being hauled to the dump, it said.
The coalition likewise lauded the hundreds of waste and sanitation workers from national and local government agencies, as well as the Green Brigade volunteers of Quiapo Church from various parishes and schools, for picking up the garbage left by devotees and vendors alike.
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