29 November 2009

Green Groups Push Zero Waste to Create Jobs

Quezon City. Two major health and environmental networks made a pitch for green jobs through innovative Zero Waste programs that create sustainable livelihood from discards.

At a seminar held last week in Quezon City that attracted some 50 people, mostly community women, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) drew attention to the tremendous job potentials from clean recycling.

Among those who took part in the animated sharing of views and skills on Zero Waste jobs were members of Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Ecology Ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan, GAIA, Kapatiran Komunidad People’s Coalition-SPM, Krusada sa Kalikasan, November 17 Movement, SALIKA, Samahan ng mga Maralita sa Isla Puting Bato, Sining Yapak, St. Joseph Ecology Ministry, Urban Poor Associates, WomanHealth and the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines.

Lead speaker Shibu Nair from Thanal, a GAIA partner group from India, left participants inspired with the success of their Zero Waste program in the beach town of Kovalam in Kerala, India that has spawned over 100 jobs for village women.

“Zero Waste means jobs,” an elated Shibu Nair said, adding that “our continuing work to prevent resources from being burned or buried has reduced trash while creating job opportunities for local people.”

During the last few years, Shibu Nair’s group has developed and sustained recycling-based jobs such as turning old newspapers and magazines into ecological alternatives to plastic bags, making functional and decorative crafts from coconut shells, and sewing
beautiful tapestries and other items from tailor scraps.

Recycling advocates Elsie Brandes-De Veyra, Ampie Doblado and Ofelia Panganiban provided meaningful insights into the economic, health and environmental benefits of Zero Waste jobs based on their actual experiences of working with community people.

Ampie Doblado, for instance, shared the income-generating endeavor of the women members of Buklod Tao, in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, from the production of functional carry bags out of used juice packs and cheese cloth.

“Given the proven job potentials of Zero Waste programs and enterprises, I urge our local and national authorities to invest more in non-toxic reusing and recycling industries and create market demand for products made of reused and recycled materials,” said Ofelia Panganiban of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

According to GAIA, recycling provides productive work for an estimated 1% of the population in developing countries like the Philippines, in processes such as collection, recovery, sorting, grading, cleaning, baling, processing, and manufacturing into new products.

Information from GAIA’s campaign “Recycling Works” indicates that recycling industries provide employment to over a million Americans, which is reportedly comparable in size to the US auto manufacturing and machinery manufacturing industries.

Recycling jobs in US generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion and gross over $236 billion in annual revenue.

26 November 2009

Reject Guns, Goons, Gold and Garbage

STATEMENT

The women and men of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group promoting eco-friendly polls in 2010, condemn the pre-election carnage in Maguindanao that has so far claimed the lives of 57 defenseless citizens.

We view and mourn the slaughter of political hopefuls, along with journalists, lawyers and other citizens, as a crime against the entire Filipino nation and humanity, and a most vicious desecration of the victims’ human rights as enshrined in our Constitution.

The butchery should trigger a national discernment and unity that will solidly reject the four Gs that have constantly contaminated and blemished our electoral processes: guns, goons, gold and garbage.

We challenge all political parties, their candidates and supporters not only to censure the political violence in Maguindanao, but to honor the victims by genuinely committing to a clean, green and
peaceful pursuit of their aspirations.

We call upon the Commission on Elections and all our law enforcement agencies to defend the ballot from warlords and their armed thugs by implementing a total gun ban with immediate effect.

We urge President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to disassociate herself from the alleged architects of the bloodbath and ensure the rule of law and justice without fear or favor.

We grieve for all the victims of political violence and join the rest of the nation in praying for the reign of peace, justice and harmony in Mindanao and throughout the society.

Farmers storm Makati offices of banana plantation companies


Makati City - Stop your poison rain.

This is the message of Mindanao farmers when they stormed the offices of banana plantation companies in Makati City to continue their campaign to ban aerial spraying which is widely used as an agricultural practice of these companies.

Members of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) brought a sack of banana blossoms (also known as puso ng saging) to the offices of Marsman-Drysdale Group and Dole Stanfilco Philippines to demand to the owners and operators of these companies to end their 'immoral' practice now.

“Mabuti pa ang saging may puso, pero kayo (banana companies) wala. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ban aerial spray,” said one of their streamers.

“Ang mukhang pera ay walang pusong makatao. They are those who sacrifice people for profits,” said Max de Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocate and member of the National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying (NTFAAS).

The Marsman-Drysdale Group which holds office in Philamlife Tower along Paseo de Roxaas and Dole Stanfilco along Ayala Avenue are members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), an aggrupation of 18 banana companies which is blocking the clamor to ban aerial spraying.

The other members of PBGEA include: AMS Group of Companies, Inc., Sumifru Philippines, ANFLO Group of Companies, Alip River Development and Export Corporation, Del Monte Fresh Produce Philippines, La Frutera Incorporated, Lapanday Foods Corporation, Hijo Resources Corporation, Diamond Farms Inc, Dizon Group of Companies, Nader and Ebrahim Hassan Philippines, Saranggani Agricultural Company Inc, Nova Vista Management and Development Corporation, Tristar Group of Banana Companies, Aztropex, Inc., and Unifrutti Services, Inc.

“Ma-konsyensya naman kayo, tigilan nyo na ang pagpapahirap sa amin,” said Lizel Compas of MAAS Compostela Valley. Banana plantations of DOLE proliferate in their area and routinely aerial spray.

“Marsman-Drysdale, Dole Stanfilco and the rest of the PBGEA members should stop arguing that aerial spraying is safe because a Department of Health (DOH) study has revealed that pesticides were found in peoples' blood coming from the drift and therefore harm them,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator of the environmental group Ecowaste Coalition, also an NTFAAS member.

To support their study, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque and his executive committee recently wrote a recommendation that aerial spraying must be stopped until the industries can prove of its safety.

The DOH resolution also explained that there is voluminous evidence from studies all around the globe that pesticides used in aerial spraying cause various health effects to workers and communities living near plantations. “Drift is unavoidable whenever pesticides are applied. Based on existing studies, drift is greatest from aerial applications, where almost 40 percent of pesticides applied is lost to drift. In this case, the residential areas and schools near the plantations are exposed to considerable risks to the effect of drift because of the location.”

The Archdiocese of Manila led by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales recently wrote PBGEA Executive Director Stephen Antig a letter on 26 October saying that “we are one with all affected people in Mindanao in working for their delivarnce from this immoral practice of aerial spraying that infringes upon human health and dignity. We cannot allow their suffering to go on any longer for anything that offends people, especially the least of our brothers and sisters, is an offense to God.”

“These banana companies should heed the call of the bishops,” Panaligan added.

The bishops revealed that PBGEA is owned or operated by prominent families in the country such as the family of former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo, the Floirendos who are the political bigwigs of Davao del Norte, the families Ayala, Dizon and Soriano who are the business magnates of Davao City, and multi-national corporations.

The bishops also wrote President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a letter asking her to issue an executive order banning aerial spraying.

Executive Secretary Edurardo Ermita in a Malacanang dialogue together with bishops, former Comelec Chair Christian Monsod and MAAS, said that he supports the DOH resolution that aerial spraying is a public health hazard that must be stopped and promised to urge PGMA to issue a policy for an immediate ban. Environment Secretary Jose Atienza Jr. and representatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA) agreed with Ermita.

23 November 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Seeks Police Action to Halt Cyanide Poisoning

Quezon City. Almost five months after the government directed the confiscation of toxic silver jewelry cleaners, people continue to die from drinking the cyanide-laced cleaning solutions.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group working for public health and chemical safety, made this grim observation as the deadly chemical claimed last Saturday its sixth victim within two months, a 16-year old youth from Tondo, Manila. .

Citing figures from the Manila Police District (MPD) Homicide Section, the Coalition lamented that three suicide cases were reported in October and another three in November due to the deliberate intake of cyanide-bearing silver cleaners.

“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the rising cases of cyanide poisoning due to the lax enforcement of a government directive to seize toxic cleaning agents that can be easily bought over the counter for as low as forty pesos,” said Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

“We call upon the Task Force on Environmental Law Enforcement and other concerned agencies to implement the directive and put a stop to senseless injuries and deaths due to cyanide poisoning,” added De Veyra, a retired nurse.

Aside from cyanide, silver jewelry cleaners contain other chemicals of concern such as ammonia, isopropanol, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and thiourea, a possible human carcinogen and mutagen according to the European Union.

Upon the insistence of the EcoWaste Coalition, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in July 2009 directed the confiscation of silver jewelry cleaners pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 1997-39 or the “Chemical Control Order for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds.”

In a letter sent to the EcoWaste Coalition, DENR-EMD Director Julian Amador confirmed that tested samples of silver jewelry cleaners contained “high content of cyanide, which is fatal to humans when ingested” and that the cleaners are sold with “no proper labeling.”

“The risk that these jewelry cleaners containing cyanide pose to public health is extremely high, as evident in the reported casualties, thus, its ban for commercial use will be strictly enforced,” Amador said.

Between January to April 2009, the University of the Philippines – National Poison Management and Control Center (UP-NPMCC) handled 99 cases of silver jewelry cleaner poisoning, including 11 accidental and 88 non-accidental cases with six fatalities, all under 19 years of age.

The UP-NPMCC statistics indicate that silver jewelry cleaners rank fourth in the top 10 commonly ingested poisons in the country.

22 November 2009

EcoWaste Coalition: Keep Pinoy Kids Safe from Toxic Gifts

Baclaran, Pasay City. As a precautionary awareness drive for the annual Christmas rush where consumers tend to shop indiscriminately for holiday gifts, Ecowaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, held an “AlerToxic Day” campaign in the streets of Baclaran on the borders of ParaƱaque City and Pasay City.

The pre-Christmas “AlerToxic Day”emphasized the need to rethink the usual items we buy as gifts, especially for kids, that insidiously harbor lead [Pb], a neurotoxicant that affects both children and adults.

To draw public attention and support for children’s safety from toxic gifts, EcoWaste Coalition members, led by “Santa Claus” and volunteers dressed as “gift boxes” marked with a reminder “is it safe?”, roamed the busy Baclaran streets, informing consumers to choose only safe and non-toxic presents this Christmas.

“We don’t want to expose our loved ones, especially our children to lead. Not during the Christmas season or any other season for that matter. If the urge to shop is irresistible, let us please buy gifts that are free from this harmful element,” said Paeng Lopez, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s campaign to phase out lead in paints.

A major environmental health hazard, exposure to lead can have a wide range of effects on a child's development and behavior. Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss.

“We should rethink the way we buy our Christmas gifts. More important than considering whether what we are buying will be appreciated is taking into account if it is safe,” Lopez said.

“In addition, our second instinct in buying gifts should be to check the label to ensure that what we are about to buy are free from lead or other harmful ingredients,” stressed Lopez.

The Coalition also urged the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry to proactively safeguard consumers from hazardous products by conducting regular test of toys and other items being sold in the market and recalling those that put the health and safety of children at risk.

“As a matter of sound and preventive practice, the DoH and DTI working together should come up with an annual list of products that must never find its way to the market for being detrimental to children's health and safety, and it would do all of us a lot of good if they release it before the onset of the Christmas rush,” suggested Lopez.

Overseas, the United States Consumer Product and Safety Commission has been regularly ordering the recall of items containing excessive lead. Their website is abundant with goods from toys to industrial products that were ordered out of the market for containing this harmful heavy metal.

Very recently, the Center for Environmental Health, also in the United States, tested about 250 children's products bought at major retailers and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven of them.

Among those with high lead levels: a Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit
and a Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace. The group said it also found excessive lead in a Dora the Explorer Activity Tote, two pairs of children's shoes, a boy’s belt and a kids' poncho.

The environmental watchdog instead recommended the consumers to create their own gifts, give home-cooked specialties, fruits, potted plants, books, school supplies, an out of town trip or a simple family get together as alternative to the rituals of gift giving.

Lead is also known to adversely affect the kidney, gastrointestinal system, and the immune system. Exposure to it may also lead to miscarriage for pregnant women and disorders in sperm production for men. Furthermore, it can increase blood pressure and cause anemia for older people. Chronic exposure causes mental retardation, coma, convulsions and even death.


Relevant websites:
US Consumer Product and Safety Commission: www.cpsc.gov/
US Center for Environmental Health: http://www.ceh.org/

20 November 2009

Gift-givers urged to break the plastic habit and use bayong

Quezon City. As local authorities and charities prepare for their “pamaskong handog” (Christmas gifts) to the poor, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, pleaded for eco-friendly packaging to minimize garbage from the yuletide tradition of gift-giving.

The Coalition exhorted local government units and other institutions planning to reach out to the poor to break the “plastic habit” and opt for packaging materials that will not add to the voluminous holiday trash.

“All of us bore witness to the havoc caused by the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bags in the frequent flooding incidents that hit our country in 2009,” said Ofelia Panganiban, Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s high time for us to break the plastic habit and reduce the demand for single-use bags,” pleaded Panganiban, a veteran Zero Waste advocate.

“Government agencies and charitable institutions can lead the way by packing their Christmas offerings for the poor in bags or containers that can be used over and over again. As a gift to Mother Earth, let us patronize reusable substitutes to plastic bags,” she pointed out.

In lieu of disposable bags, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the use of bayong and baskets woven from native plant materials, tote bags made of cheesecloth, bags made from recycled materials such as juice packs and fabric scraps, and buckets or pails for the customary gift-giving during Christmas season.

By giving gifts in reusable bags or containers, gift-givers are also able to impart a clear environmental message that can positively influence the recipients’ behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition said..

“These simple acts could lead to a culture of change in favor of bayong and other eco-friendly alternatives that can yield significant ecological, climate, economic, cultural and aesthetic benefits,” Panganiban said.

As for possible Christmas treats that gift-givers can offer, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list that target recipients can use to enjoy a healthy and nutritious “media noche” and “noche buena.”

The list includes malagkit (sticky rice) and brown sugar for biko (sweet rice pudding), tablea (pure cocoa blocks) for hot chocolate drinks, queso de bola (Edam cheese) or other palaman sa tinapay (sandwich spread), pancit bihon (rice noodles), sotanghon (glass noodles), macaroni or spaghetti with matching ingredients and condiments for the main course.

Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes that politicians should refrain from advertising their names, faces or tag lines on gift bags or containers to avoid allegations of early campaigning for 2010 polls. It also becomes an ethical issue, especially if the gifts were bought using public funds, the group said.

17 November 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Backs DOH's Call for Total Ban on Firecrackers

Quezon City. A health and environmental watchdog has thrown its support behind Health Secretary Duque’s call for a total ban on firecrackers, agreeing with the authorities that the toxic blast to greet the New Year is a public health hazard.

“We support a shift to a safer welcome of the New Year minus the cocktails of health and environment pollutants from firecrackers,” said Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the “Iwas PapuToxic” campaign of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Iwas PapuToxic” is an annual campaign by the EcoWaste Coalition to combat the toxic pollution stemming from the blasting and disposal of firecrackers, which complements the “Iwas Paputok” campaign by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We call on all Filipinos to rally behind the Health Department’s push to prevent the toxic mayhem that has been proven to be injurious and lethal to humans and animals and to the ecosystems,” stated Lucero.

“Given the very poor air quality, particularly in urban areas, we see no reason at all to add particulate matters and other harmful chemicals into the air that we breathe,” she added.

In addition to the massive air and noise pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition also lamented the post-revelry garbage from blasted firecrackers that only add to the volume and toxicity of holiday trash.

Roy Alvarez, actor and author of the environmental play “Pangarap, Panaginip, Bangungot,” (Hope, Dream, Nightmare) further urged the DOH to reconsider their proposal urging local authorities to designate a common area for exploding firecrackers or for displaying fireworks.

“This will not really rein in pollution and curb the bad use of either public or private funds for firecrackers and fireworks,” commented Alvarez (a Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition), adding that funds spent for the polluting activities are better used for healthy and nutritious meals and other basic necessities.

The DOH, the EcoWaste Coalition, church other civil society groups, including animal welfare groups, have long been seeking a concerted response to address physical impairments and deaths, chemical contamination, noise pollution and garbage associated with blasting firecrackers.

According to the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center, there were 733 firecracker-related injuries from December 21, 2008 to January 5, 2009.

16 November 2009

Visiting US Expert Backs Drive for Precautionary Principle to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals


Quezon City. A retired professor of chemistry from New York who has gone to 52 countries promoting Zero Waste and chemical safety has bolstered a citizens’ campaign to uphold the precautionary principle (PP) to protect the consumers from toxic harm.

Speaking at a seminar convened by the EcoWaste Coalition at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, Dr. Paul Connett, a specialist on environmental chemistry and toxicology, emphasized the importance of applying the PP to ensure a toxic-free and life-sustaining environment for people and other creatures.

Precautionary principle, as explained in the Wingspread Statement, states that “where an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

“The PP posits the notion that when there is reasonable doubt on the safety of substance or practice, we should err on the side of caution,” said Dr. Connett.

To help the EcoWaste Coalition with its advocacy against polluting waste disposal facilities and harmful products and substances, Dr. Connett presented his seven-point criteria to assist citizens in justifying the citation of PP as a reason for rejecting a proposed activity.

These “trigger criteria,” according to Dr. Connett, will help citizens employ the PP in a more disciplined way and thus avoid the criticisms leveled at the principle by supporters of technological and industrial activities regardless of their costs to human health and the environment. These criteria are:

1. Is the evidence of harm plausible?
2. Is the evidence supported by a number of peer-reviewed published studies?
3. If the harm is real is it serious?
4. Are the effects reversible?
5. How good is the evidence that the benefit being sought is real and significant?
6. How significant are the consequences if the practice is halted?
7. Are there cost effective alternatives to the practice?

To show how the criteria are used, Dr. Connett examined case studies on the incineration of domestic waste and the fluoridation of drinking water and explored the responses to each of the trigger criteria.

“We find the pursuit of PP crucial in light of the effort to examine and upgrade the country’s chemicals management laws and regulations,” stated Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau on December 7 and 8 will hold a multistakeholders’ consultation to review existing policies on chemicals.

“The application of PP and other core principles should lead to an open, informed and democratic citizens’ participation in reforming our chemical policies, affirm the people’s right to know and support alternatives that will prevent grave or irreparable harm,” he added.

The same seminar where Dr. Connett spoke saw the auspicious launch of the Consumers’ Action on Toxic Chemical Threats or CONTACT Group, a loose network of individuals that will serve as a vehicle for information exchange and action on chemical safety concerns.

“We have timed the launch of CONTACT Group with the onset of the Christmas shopping spree that could be both financially draining and toxic to health if consumers fail to assert their rights,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

These rights include the rights of consumers to be informed, to be educated, to be heard, to choose, to safety, to redress of grievances, to the satisfaction of basic needs and to a healthy environment.

To encourage consumer vigilance against products that are hazardous to health or life, youth members of the EcoWaste Coalition staged a tableau where they are seen holding a mock magnifying lens to communicate the need for consumers to assert their “right to ask, right to know” towards safe and informed choice.

Individuals who share the vision of protecting consumers from toxic chemicals that can cause ill health to humans and other creatures and damage the environment are welcomed to join the group.

CONTACT Group will share information through e-mail, text and other forms of social communication, act as watchdog on toxic issues and encourage preventive and precautionary action – individually or collectively – on pressing toxic concerns.


Additional Information:

1. The Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle was drafted and finalized at a conference on 23-25 January 1998 at the Wingspread Conference Center, Racine, Wisconsin, by 32 authors, mostly academicians, scientists and public interest activists.

2. The statement listed four central components of the Precautionary Principle: 1) taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty; 2) shifting burdens onto proponents of potentially harmful activities; 3) exploring a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions;
and 4) increasing public participation in decision making.

3. Dr. Paul Connett is a graduate of Cambridge University and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College. Since 1983 he taught chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY where he specialized in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology. He retired in May 2006. Over the past 24 years his research on waste management has taken him to 49 states in the US, and 52 other countries, where he has given over 2000 pro bono public presentations. Ralph Nader said of Paul Connett, "He is the only person I know who can make waste interesting.” A recent essay on “Zero Waste for Sustainability” which was published as a chapter in a book in Italy in 2009, along with several videotapes Paul has made on Zero waste, can be accessed at
www.AmericanHealthStudies.org a This site is hosted by the group AESHP (American Environmental Health Studies Project) which Paul directs.

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.