As political campaigns gain more momentum two weeks before the May 9 elections, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also ramped up activities to remove campaign materials and other paraphernalia tacked or nailed on trees nationwide.
DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said he had expected an increase in the DENR’s collection of illegal campaign materials days ahead of the elections, following the dismantling of 114,664 pieces and 2,050 kilos of campaign materials posted on trees.
Sampulna pointed out that there are common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), and “trees are not one of those.”
The DENR chief warned that violators may face sanctions not only pertaining to election-related laws, but also environmental laws.
DENR field offices in Regions 9, 3 and 5 reported the highest confiscated materials with 21,650 pieces, 19,646 pieces, and 18,950 pieces of campaign materials, respectively.
Republic Act (RA) 3571 provides that cutting, destroying, or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises, or in any other public pleasure grounds are prohibited.
Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 953 also states that violators could be punished with imprisonment from six months to two years, or a fine of not less than P500 and not more than P5,000, or both.
Meanwhile, Sampulna lauded the public’s support in reporting to the Comelec and the DENR through social media and text messages, even as he urged them to take photographs or video recording of violators.
“The candidates themselves should promote environmentally conscious election campaigns,” Sampulna said.
The DENR, Comelec, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government signed the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2010-01 on March 30, 2010, enjoining political parties, including party-list groups, and individual candidates to enforce relevant provisions of RA 9006 or the Fair Elections Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
JMC 2010-01 calls for the reduction of volume of wastes during and after election periods, use of recyclable and reusable materials for production of eco-friendly items, and protection of trees from harm brought about by nailing or placing of campaign materials.
“Implementing this JMC runs along the DENR’s push to exhaust all avenues possible like the national and local polls to promote good environmental citizenship and enable our fellow Filipinos to adopt sound solid waste management practices as part of their lifestyle,” Sampulna said.
He said that the DENR will continuously remind candidates and their supporters to be responsible and accountable in posting and proper disposal of election campaign materials.
He also urged them to be the model of responsible leadership in the course of their campaign.
The confiscated campaign materials, mostly tarpaulins, will be donated to environment groups such as EcoWaste Coalition and like-minded organizations that recycle the materials into useful items like bags and school supplies. ###
- Published: 27 April 2022