On the eve of the May 13 polls, an environmental network espousing Zero Waste appealed to the voting public to keep schools and other polling places garbage-free.
“We appeal to all voters not to drop any litter as they cast their votes tomorrow,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Our right to vote does not in any way give us the excuse to mess up our surroundings,” she pointed out.
“Please be environmentally-responsible, shun littering and commit to a truly clean democracy that our nation can be proud of," she urged voters.
The EcoWaste Coalition pointed to the illegal distribution and littering of sample ballots and other campaign materials during the election day as one of the most brazen electoral and environmental offense in past elections.
To avoid adding to the mess, the EcoWaste Coalition urged voters to come to the polling precincts ready with their own “kodiko” (list of bets to vote for) and reject sample ballots that are unlawfully handed out to voters beyond the official campaign period.
Aside from political propaganda materials, the vicinity of polling places are often littered with discarded food containers, snack and candy wrappers, plastic bags and cigarette butts, the EcoWaste Coalition said, prompting the group to appeal to vendors to provide bins for proper waste management.
Littering degrades the environment in clear violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, a major environmental legislation, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded.
R.A. 9003 prohibits the littering, throwing or dumping of waste matters in public places such as streets, sidewalks, waterways and parks. Violators upon conviction shall be fined between P300 to P1,000 or render community service from 1 to 15 days or both.
The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier appealed to all candidates to remove and recycle their campaign materials immediately after voting day.
“Voluntarily making May 14 as a cleanup and recycling day is the best way of finishing off a good fight, the nicest way of saying ‘thank you’ to the electorate, and the quickest way of putting the politically divisive campaign behind us,” Vergara said.
“Cleanup participants should as much as possible retrieve and sort the voluminous campaign discards for recycling. The dumping and burning discards are a big no-no in ecological cleanup,” she stressed.
The EcoWaste Coalition cautioned the public against recycling campaign materials made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for food packaging or for other uses involving young children as their chemical ingredients such as cadmium, lead and phthalates may leach and cause adverse health effects.
Burning chlorinated campaign materials such as PVC tarpaulins is dangerous as this will cause the release of hazardous byproducts, including dioxins, the most toxic of all man-made chemicals, the group also warned.
To encourage candidates to clean up their mess, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Quezon City Government and the Miss Earth Foundation, will hold a cleanup drive on Tuesday at the Quirino Elementary School located in Anonas St., Barangay Quirino 2-B, Quezon City.