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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed dismay over the tons of garbage left behind by revelers at Rizal Park on Christmas Day, calling it a “reflection of Filipinos’ indifference towards the environment.”

“The mountain of garbage collected at Rizal Park after Christmas reflects not only the lack of discipline among Filipinos, but also our attitude of indifference to solid waste management issues and the environment in general,” DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny Antiporda lamented.

The National Parks Development Committee reported that some 50 metric tons of trash had been collected at the Rizal Park between late afternoon of December 25 and morning of December 26.

This was despite the repeated reminders by the DENR, other government agencies, and environmental groups to keep public parks and places clean during the holidays.

A few days before Christmas, Environment Chief Roy A. Cimatu even appealed to Filipinos to help lessen the impact of the holiday season on the environment by returning to the basics of solid waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Appalled by the amount of garbage left by Rizal Park visitors, Antiporda strongly reminded the public to “observe proper waste management at all times.”

“Every park goer should feel personally responsible for packing out the trash he brings in and dispose it properly,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda also underscored the need for local government units (LGUs) to step up their implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which prohibits littering, throwing and dumping of waste matter in public places and establishments, including parks, or causing or permitting the same.

“If necessary, LGUs should not hesitate penalizing litterbugs by imposing fines or making them render community service,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda also said the DENR would never get tired of reminding the public that taking care of the environment is not the sole responsibility of the government.

“Even if we have garbage collectors, street sweepers, volunteers and other stakeholders helping us, all our efforts for the environment will come to naught if the mindset of Filipinos is, there is always someone who will clean up after them,” he pointed out.

Antiporda said the country’s perennial garbage problem will never be resolved “if Filipinos do not do their share by simply minding their own trash and practice proper solid waste management everywhere they go.” ###