MANILA, Philippines - A waste and pollution watchdog has decried the unchecked littering that marred the "Alay-Lakad" penitential walk of thousands of Catholic faithful last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which incidentally was 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 moan 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 Republic Act No. 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, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.
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.
According to a parish personnel interviewed by the EcoWaste Coalition on Friday morning, the 15 staff assigned to clean up the church compound were likely to consume the 150 big garbage bags set aside for the massive occasion.
"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," the EcoWaste Coalition said.
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. (PNA)