Trash, not bombs, was ‘terror’ threat faced by street sweepers
For those who cleaned up after the Black Nazarene feast in Manila on Tuesday, the only “terror” they faced came not from bomb-carrying radicals but from tons of garbage left behind by a record eight million devotees.
“They’re hopeless,” said a tired Samuel Dueñas of the Manila Department of Public Services (DPS) who is in charge of the cleanup, referring to the participants who litter the streets of Quiapo year after year.
“They don’t even want to change the procession route. Nothing will ever change,” he said, stressing how devotees have become set in their ways.
Although augmented by manpower from the Metro Manila Development Agency and National Parks Development Committee, the Manila DPS’ 300 street sweepers and six garbage trucks found it difficult to cope with the workload after Monday’s procession from the Quirino Grandstand to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, which took 22 hours to wind up.
Street sweepers assigned to Plaza Miranda, who were expecting the more than six-kilometer procession to end at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, ended up having to wait until after 6 a.m. to do their work.
As of noontime on Tuesday, the sweepers, working in shifts, were still hard at work.
While the DPS has yet to tally the total trash volume from the almost daylong procession, Dueñas noted that it was worse than last year, and that all six DPS garbage trucks were full.
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, which helped in the cleanup, said it was “appalled” by the littering despite repeated appeals for the devotees to clean up.
Coalition president Roy Alvarez called it a “massive violation of the antilittering provisions of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and relevant city and barangay ordinances.”
“It is totally unacceptable to ‘suspend’ the enforcement of the antilittering law in the name of devotion. In fact, littering does not in any way exalt the Black Nazarene whom many Filipinos implore to grant fervent prayers for good health and other blessings,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste campaigner.
EcoWaste, however, found hope in those who helped in the immediate cleanup at Quirino Grandstand, including church workers and student volunteers.
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