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Papal visit leaves 23 truckloads of trash

/ 04:40 AM January 20, 2015
Rizal Park was left awashed with garbage after Pope Francis' Mass last Sunday/Photo by Eco Waste Coalition's Basura Patrollers

Rizal Park was left awashed with garbage after Pope Francis’ Mass last Sunday/Photo by Eco Waste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers

MANILA, Philippines–Despite an appeal for the public to refrain from littering during Pope Francis’ four-day visit to the country, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that it had so far collected over 23 truckloads of garbage from areas included in the papal itinerary.

According to the MMDA, the 23 truckloads, or 138 metric tons, of trash were from the cities of Manila and Pasay as well as from other routes taken by the papal convoy.

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MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group head Francis Martinez said that they collected 10 truckloads of trash in Rizal Park alone where the Pope celebrated Mass on Sunday.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino earlier said that based on their estimate, the crowd in the area and on adjoining roads reached around six million, the world’s largest gathering for a papal event.

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The garbage they gathered up, according to Martinez, consisted mostly of plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers, barbecue sticks and candy wrappers.

“We collected these with the help of the 600 street sweepers who were deployed for the papal visit to maintain the cleanliness of the areas [on Pope Francis’ itinerary],” Martinez said, adding that these included the Manila Cathedral, the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue where the Pope stayed and nearby Quirino Avenue.

He stressed, however, that the MMDA’s cleanup operations were still ongoing and that he expected the garbage haul for the four-day visit to total at least 25 truckloads.

“We followed the usual protocol. As soon as the events were done, we sent dump trucks and sweepers to the area to begin the clearing operations,” Martinez said.

According to him, the trash they gathered up was taken to Pier 18 in Manila in coordination with the city government.

Meanwhile, EcoWaste Coalition said that despite the Pope’s appeal for people to care for the environment, Filipinos have yet to take his message to heart.

The environmental watch group made the observation after it took note of the tons of trash left behind by those who attended Sunday’s papal Mass in Rizal Park.

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“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 had [ironically] proclaimed the month of January as the first-ever ‘Zero Waste Month,’” said EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Aileen Lucero.

She added that the park was “turned into an unsightly garden with trash strewn all over the area.”

The group’s volunteers said they were able to spot heaps of garbage in Rizal Park, including plastic water bottles and even liturgical booklets that were supposed to be given out to Mass-goers.

“We hope that the undistributed missalettes have not gone to the dump but were duly retrieved by Church personnel for sharing with others or by waste pickers for recycling,” Lucero said.

EcoWaste said it hoped that the massive trashing of Rizal Park during the Black Nazarene procession and now the papal visit would encourage bishops, priests and the faithful to reflect on Pope Francis’ call for the protection of the environment.

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Ecowaste deplores piles of garbage left at Rizal Park after Papal Mass

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TAGS: EcoWaste Coalition, environment, MMDA, papal visit, trash, waste disposal
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