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Group welcomes removal of ‘epalitiko’ tarps along ‘Traslacion’ route

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EcoWaste Coalition supportee the move of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso in removing the tarpaulins and other printed greetings by politicians for the feast of the Black Nazarene.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition joined Domagoso in urging “epalitikos (attention seeking politicians) to desist from putting up “‘happy fiesta’ greetings along the 6.16- kilometer route of the ‘Traslacion’ that will start from the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park and end at Quiapo Church.”

“All your greetings will be considered obstructions. We will tear it down. Walang eepal,” the mayor warned.

“Epal” means “attention-seeking” and is used mostly to refer to people, specifically politicians, who have a penchant for self-promotion and plaster their names and faces in public on printed promotional materials like tarpaulins.

The Quezon City-based group noted that Manila’s ban on ‘epal’ tarpaulins during the Traslacion should also apply to the upcoming feast of the Santo Niño in Pandacan and Tondo, as well as on the celebration of Chinese New Year. Both will happen in January, the Zero Waste Month as per Presidential Proclamation 760.

“Banning tarpaulins of ‘epalitikos’ will help in depoliticizing the pious occasion and in focusing everyone’s attention on Christ, the reason for the Traslacion. Politicians should not try to steal the spotlight from the Black Nazarene,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Banning ‘epal’ tarpaulins, which are mostly vinyl plastic, will also prevent the generation of hazardous waste during the popular feast,” added Thony Dizon, the group’s Chemical Safety Campaigner.

Dizon said tarpaulins may contain toxic metals such as cadmium and lead that are often used as plastic colorant or stabilizer. Both chemicals, he said, are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, Dizon said five samples of election campaign tarpaulins submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to a private laboratory for analysis were found to contain cadmium in the range of  515 to 1,038 parts per million (ppm), way above the 100 ppm limit set by the European Union for cadmium in plastics.

“The disposal of used tarpaulins, which contain toxic chemicals, is not that simple.  Burying them in landfills will cause their toxic additives to be discharged into soil and water, while burning them will result in the formation of dangerous byproducts called dioxins,” he said.

Instead of spending for meaningless ‘happy fiesta’ tarpaulins, the EcoWaste Coalition urged well-meaning politicians to show their goodness by offering, without fanfare, water and food to the devotees in reusable containers (not in throw-away disposable plastics), which should be collected, washed, and reused.

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