Environment watch group grieves over the garbage at Manila cemeteries

A zero waste advocacy group expressed its dismay over the unabated violation of the national ban on littering as several cemeteries in Metro Manila were desecrated with trash left by those who visited their deceased loved ones.

Environment watch group grieves over the garbage at Manila cemeteries
Street sweepers cleaning trash left at Bagbag Public Cemetery.
Despite the reminders made by various leaders, including Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary Roy Cimatu and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines vice president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, some cemeteries turned into virtual dumpsites as visitors abandoned their discards without guilt or remorse, said the 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 other popular festivities,” said EcoWaste Coalition zero waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre.

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, and 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,” said Alejandre.

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.

Environment watch group grieves over the garbage at Manila cemeteries
Manila Memorial Park’s garbage bins overflowing with trash
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 wrappers, soiled diapers, and improvised resting materials such as newspapers and corrugated boxes.

The EcoWaste Coalition also found the distribution of anti-littering leaflets by personnel from the Metro Manila Development Authority 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 anti-littering Regulation No. 96-009,” said Alejandre.

The watch group noted the waste bins at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City were found overflowing with trash as early as 6:00 a.m. of Nov. 1, which obviously came from early visitors who came to the park on Oct. 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.

Environment watch group grieves over the garbage at Manila cemeteries
Sangandaan Cemetery, Caloocan City
Aside from littering and mixed waste disposal, the group also noted other violations of R.A. 9003, such as the open burning of garbage 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.

Photos courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition

Topics: zero waste advocacy , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Roy Cimatu

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