Environmental watchdog calls for zero tolerance on littering
After President Benigno Aquino III declared 2015 Visit the Philippines Year (VPY), an environmental watchdog called for zero tolerance on littering.
“We should not only prepare for a colorful and vibrant welcome for our visitors, domestic and foreign, but also ensure that they bring home beautiful images and stories of how we respect Mother Earth and take care of our surroundings,” Sonia Mendoza, president of EcoWaste Coalition, said in a statement on Friday.
On March 31, Aquino signed Proclamation No. 991 declaring the VPY in anticipation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations tourism forum to be hosted by the Philippines in 2015 and 2016.
“The VPY presents a good platform to step up current efforts to tackle the widespread problem with littering and push for the honest-to-goodness enforcement of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which, among others, prohibits and penalizes littering,” Mendoza said.
“The litter that we see on the streets, bus stops, footbridges, parks, markets and waterways on ordinary days and more so during special festivities is a stark reminder of how pervasive littering as an environmental and social problem has become despite the adoption of R.A. 9003 and parallel local ordinances,” she added.
According to her, the Philippines should not wait to be branded “the most-littered country in Asia and the world.”
“We need to turn the tide on litter now and not wait until we get the most embarrassing distinction of being the most-littered country in Asia and the world,” she said.
The VPY, she said, is a timely opportunity for the national and local governments to unite and reinforce ecological values and responsible tourism.
EcoWaste Coalition has observed “unimpeded littering” even during faith-inspired activities such as the feast of Black Nazarene in Manila and the Lenten penitential walk to Antipolo City, as well as the huge Mass at Rizal Park that concluded the recent pastoral and state visit of Pope Francis.
Mendoza called on the Department of Tourism and other concerned agencies to ensure that “care for the environment” is integrated into all the programs and events during the VPY. RC
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