DENR asks candidates for a garbage-free campaign

Trees may not be counted as voters, but they still deserve respect, especially from those seeking elective government positions.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Tuesday urged candidates to avoid nailing or tacking posters on trees during the campaign for the 2013 polls. “We are calling on all well-meaning candidates to spare the trees of campaign materials and use only the common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections,” Paje said in a statement. His appeal came only days after the official campaign period for local elections started March 29. The campaign period for the national polls has meanwhile started since Feb. 12.

Aside from posters, streamers and other campaign paraphernalia should also not be attached to trees, with Paje advising candidates to instead put up poles for these purposes. “We will not get tired of reminding the public that trees are also living creatures; they could get hurt or sick from infection… Worse, they could die if left untreated for a long time,” Paje said. This, as he touted the role of trees in providing oxygen, food and homes for humans and animals, as well as reducing air pollution and soil erosion.

The Environment department has also signed a joint memorandum circular with Comelec and the Interior and Local Government department to ensure propert waste management during the campaign. The document aims to push for candidates’ adherence to Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act even during the campaign period. “Through this garbage-free campaign, we hope to minimize and properly manage the volume of garbage from campaign materials during the national and local elections,” Environment Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said.

Sanctions will be imposed against candidates and groups who violate the joint ciruclar, using the penalties provided under the Local Government Code and RA 9003, among others. Civil society, youth groups and private individuals have also been encouraged to report violations to the concerned agencies.

Groups have earlier called on candidates to mount “garbage-free” election campaigns by refraining from using leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, and plastic and tarpaulin streamers.

Politicians have also been urged to immediately conduct cleanup drives for their campaign materials after the May 13 elections. “We also hope that candidates will come up with meaningful platforms integrating sustainable solutions to the chronic garbage, toxic, disaster and livelihood woes facing many of our communities,” EcoWaste Coalition had said.

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