Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu reminded candidates to be environmentally conscious with the start of the campaign period for the 2022 national elections on February 8.

“We call on all candidates to please be conscious of the environment when posting and disposing campaign-related materials during this period. Please refrain from posting these materials on trees," Cimatu said.

He reminded the candidates to properly segregate their campaign materials and dispose them properly while keeping in mind that there are laws related to the prohibition of posting materials on trees, shrubs, and other plants.

According to the DENR chief, Section 9 of Republic Act (RA) 9006 or the Fair Election Act of 2001 states that posting campaign materials "may only be allowed in common poster areas in public places such as plazas, markets, barangay centers, and the like."

This law is complemented by Section 21(B) of the Commission on Election (Comelec) Resolution No. 10730 dated November 17, 2021, which states that "in no instance shall an election officer designate as common poster areas any trees, plants, shrubs in any public grounds."

Violators of the law will be penalized according to RA 3571 dated June 21, 1963, which was emphasized and expanded through Presidential Decree No. 903 dated July 6, 1976.

Section 3 of RA 3571 particularly states that "any person who cuts, destroys, damages, or injures, naturally growing or planted trees of any kind shall be punished with a penalty ranging from six months to two years imprisonment and a fine up to P5,000."

Cimatu also said that the DENR will ensure the implementation of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2013-01 signed by the DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Comelec in 2013.

"I have already ordered field officers of the DENR to coordinate with their counterparts in local DILG and Comelec offices to implement the JMC," he said.

The JMC, which enjoins political parties, partylist groups, and individual candidates to enforce relevant provisions of RA 9006 and RA 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, was signed by then DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, and retired Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes for the "Basura-Free Elections."

"Implementing this circular will reduce the volume of waste during the election and post-election periods as it encourages the use of recyclable, reusable, and environment-friendly materials," Cimatu said.

"It will also protect the trees and plants as the circular prohibits posting on trees, flowering plants, and shrubs," he added.

Under the circular, campaign materials will only be allowed in common poster areas to avoid eyesores and minimize waste generation, and avoid the use of materials that contain hazardous chemicals and substances for the campaign and election propaganda.

All political parties, partylists, and candidates must designate and submit the name/names of their environmental point person/s by province to the Comelec to ensure compliance to the JMC.

They will also be responsible for coordinating the recycling and proper disposal of generated wastes. ###