A WASTE and pollution watchdog has decried the unchecked littering that marred the “Alay-Lakad” penitential walk of thousands of Catholics last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, incidentally the 42nd Earth Day.
“We are saddened by the seemingly apathetic pilgrims who spoiled the penitential trail to Antipolo Cathedral with plastic rubbish and other garbage,” said “Basura Patroller” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“While we’re delighted to see families and friends walk together to fulfill their sacrificial vows, we could not help but complain about the uninspiring environmental indifference of some pilgrims as if Mother Earth does not matter,” he said.
“Littering was so extensive even though it is banned by R.A. (Republic Act) 9003 and related local environmental laws,” he added.
The long stretch of Ortigas Avenue Extension, which traverses Pasig City, Cainta and Taytay Rizal and Antipolo City, was littered with assorted trash such as clear plastic bags for drinking water and palamig (coolers), plastic straws, cups and bottles, chips wrappers, paper scraps, cigarette butts and food leftovers, observed the EcoWaste Coalition.
The Antipolo Cathedral, home to the miraculous icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, was “carpeted” with scattered newspapers used by pilgrims that kept church caretakers very busy on Earth Day.
Outside the church, the “Clean and Green” personnel of the Antipolo City government swept off trash from the roads leading to the church as small trucks hauled the garbage to a disposal site.
Also, enterprising child and adult wastepickers were seen painstakingly retrieving recyclables left behind by the pilgrims.
The garbage collected from the church and the streets of Antipolo would then be dumped at the city’s waste disposal facility located in Tanza I, Barangay San Jose, while the recyclables would be sold to junk shops.
“While disappointed with what we saw, we remain optimistic that future pilgrimages to Antipolo will treat Mother Earth more kindly. Next time, please abide by the law and don’t litter,” reiterated the EcoWaste Coalition.
R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, lists littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in public places as prohibited acts under the law’s penal provision.
For next year’s “Alay-Lakad,” the EcoWaste Coalition has proposed that local government units deploy “litter-busters” all throughout Ortigas Avenue Extension and other major roads leading to Antipolo Cathedral and to apprehend environmental offenders.