The Metro Manila Development Authority collected more than 57 tons of trash left by visitors in various cemeteries in the National Capital Region during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
MMDA chief environmental management specialist Francisco Martinez said 202.61 cubic meters of garbage were collected in 27 cemeteries in 16 cities and one town in Metro Manila from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3.
The biggest haul made by Martinez’ team was on Oct. 29 with 47.8 cubic meter or 13.7 tons of garbage collection while the lowest was on Nov. 3 with 18.3 or 5.23 tons.
Environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition expressed its dismay over the unabated violation of the national ban on littering during the traditional Undas.
“Our cemeteries again teemed with garbage. 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,” said Daniel Alejandre, zero waste campaigner of the group.
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,” Alejandre 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 said.
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, 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.
Ecowaste Coalition also stated that the distribution of anti-littering leaflets by personnel from the 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 anti-littering Regulation No. 96-009,” it stated.
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.