03 November 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Scores Politicians for Premature Campaigning

Quezon City. An environmental coalition seeking to cut election campaign-related trash has chided politicians for premature campaigning in the wake of copious political banners that have been mushrooming in Metro Manila and elsewhere.

Reacting to the numerous tarpaulin and cloth banners as well as “infomercials” of political wannabes, the EcoWaste Coalition took politicians to task for directly or indirectly spending for political propaganda amid post-disaster woes.

The EcoWaste Coalition brings together over 85 non-governmental groups in promoting green electoral reforms, particularly in preventing and reducing poll campaign waste and pollution.

“We are dismayed to see millions of pesos being spent by national and local candidates for costly, but hollow campaign materials that have only messed up our already chaotic streets,” lamented Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Their non-filing of certificates of candidacy yet should not be used by aspiring government leaders to get around the law whose intent is to encourage a level playing field for all contenders,” he said.

“Why waste so much resources for blatant premature campaigning when we know that thousands of poor families are in dire need of assistance after a string of devastating storms?,” asked Hidalgo.

“Politicians should know that not a few people are unhappy about the insensitive hanging of banners and placing of radio and TV ‘infomercials’ amid the agony that calamity survivors are going through,” he added.

Hidalgo pointed out that “premature campaigning not only violates the intent of the law, but also wastes financial and material resources that are better spent for activities that can alleviate the
sufferings of disaster victims.”

In lieu of money being spent for early campaigning, the EcoWaste Coalition urges politicians and their backers to focus on truly helping disaster survivors in rebuilding their lives such as by helping affected families make both ends meet, reconstructing battered homes and restoring weather-damaged roads, bridges and schools.

Funds for expensive banners and advertisements can also be diverted to enable communities set up their ecology centers or materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to help them safely manage their discards.

Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that “it shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.”

The campaign period for those aspiring for national positions such as president, vice-president and senator starts 90 days before the May 10, 2010 elections, or on February 10, 2010. For local positions, the campaign period begins 45 days before the polls.

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