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EcoWaste Coalition dismayed over littering in cemeteries

Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Friday expressed its dismay over the heaps of trash piled up at various cemeteries on All Saints' Day despite a law prohibiting littering.

Zero Waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre said Filipinos' ignorance of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act has forced the rampant problem of littering during the annual All Saints' Day on November 1.

"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," Alejandre said.

"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," he added.

Days before Filipinos flock to the cemeteries, the group had reminded visitors to respect the dead by not leaving behind their trash on the same ground their relatives are buried. 

However, Alejandre said their "Basura Patrollers" found discarded everywhere upon inspection of 22 public and private cemeteries across Metro Manila.

Alejandre said littering was most widespread at Bagbag Public Cemetery, Sangandaan Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and Manila South Cemetery.

He said their group found various kinds of trash such as food paper and plastic packaging, food leftovers, plastic bags, bottles and cups, flower plastic wrappings, soiled diapers, and improvised resting materials in the cemeteries.

"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," Alejandre said.

Alejandre also criticized the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for its anti-littering leaflets, saying the agency should have instead deputized individuals who can apprehend litterers. — RSJ, GMA News