Updated: March 23, 2016 10:08 AM GMT
A protester carries a wooden cross ahead of procession to protest against unregulated dumping in Manila. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)
A Catholic priest known for his running for a cause led a "solemn walk" on March 23 to dramatize the impact of unregulated dumping on the environment.
"The cross symbolizes the suffering of our dear Mother Earth due to the failure of many localities to close, clean up, and rehabilitate polluting dumps across the country," said Franciscan Father Robert Reyes.
"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," read the banners carried by women wearing black veils.
Father Reyes said people should demand "accountability and justice" from government officials who are responsible for polluting the environment.
The non-government National Solid Waste Management Coalition has recently filed at least 50 complaints against 600 local government officials from 13 administrative regions across the country for violating waste management laws.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said environmental investigators and prosecutors are working to ensure the complaints are followed up.
She said some 300 local government officials have been told to offer explanations about the complaints.
"We rally behind the Office of the Ombudsman in its earnest efforts to protect the environment from open dumping by holding erring officials accountable," Father Reyes said.
He said poison from dumps is "a heavy cross being carried by Filipinos."
Open dumping, practiced in many cities in the Philippines, is illegal.
Aileen Lucero, of the environment group EcoWaste Coalition, said open dumping "buries communities with waste and poisons humans and other creatures with harmful chemicals."
Lucero said that by staging the protest walk during the Holy Week, "we proclaim the need to end this daily 'crucifixion' of Mother Earth in our throw-away society."
She said presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential election in May should put responsible waste management high on their agenda.
Data from the National Solid Waste Management Coalition projects that waste generation for 2016 will hit 9,213 tons per day in Metro Manila and 40,087 tons per day nationwide.
The running priest said that with this volume of trash "we can only pray and hope that ecological stewardship will triumph over the culture of waste and apathy that is defiling and killing God’s creation."
Franciscan 'running priest' Robert Reyes leads a "solemn walk" on March 23, Holy Wednesday, to dramatize the impact of garbage dumps on the environment. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)