Environment watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Monday decried the massive trashing of Rizal Park on Sunday when Pope Francis held a historic Mass.
EcoWaste coordinator Aileen Lucero said concern for the environment, one of the key messages of the pontiff in the country, “has yet to sink in the hearts and minds of Catholic Filipinos.”
The group said Rizal Park was awash with trash after the papal Mass.
“We are sad to see such a low regard for the environment at a Holy Mass officiated by Pope Francis, the ‘green pope’ and participated in by millions of Filipinos led by President Aquino who, the irony of it all, had proclaimed the month of January as the first-ever ‘Zero Waste Month,’” Lucero said.
“The park, Manila’s green lung and the country’s premier park, was wrapped in trash incompatible with a holy celebration that left eco-volunteers and government workers busy cleaning up the mess,” she said.
“Oddly, we even found some garbage piles with discarded tarpaulin reminders on top with a quote from Pope Francis that says ‘Let us be protectors of God’s creation and of one another,’” she noted.
In his encounter with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas, the Pope called on young people “to make a contribution in showing concern for the environment.”
“As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family,” the pontiff said.
The message was again heard in his homily at the concluding Mass where he said, “He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it.”
The group expressed optimism that such a call will not be forgotten as Catholics ponder the meanings of the papal visit in the coming days.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said it collected at least 23 truckloads or 138 tons of garbage at Rizal Park where six million people celebrated Mass with the pontiff on Sunday.
Francis Martinez, head of the MMDA’s Metro Parkway Clearing Group (MPCG), said the agency deployed 600 street sweepers to keep areas visited by the Pope clean.
“As of 3 p.m. Monday, we have already collected 23 truckloads of trash from the route of papal convoy and from the Rizal Park,” Martinez said.
Most of the trash collected were plastic food wrappers, empty mineral water bottles and barbecue sticks.