As the campaign period for the Barangay Elections draws near, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with Miss Earth Foundation, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), and the Intramuros Administration, reminded today aspiring barangay officials to campaign clean and reduce waste generation throughout the election period.
Through Resolution 9749, the COMELEC specified October 18 to 26 as the campaign period for the upcoming Barangay Elections on October 28.
“Four days before the campaign period begins, we call on all well-meaning barangay candidates and their supporters to be environmentally responsible and commit themselves to ‘zero waste’ election campaigning. By ‘‘zero waste’ campaigning’, we mean conscious efforts by would-be barangay officials and their supporters to actively eliminate garbage and pollution during campaign sorties and public assemblies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Please make it your winning plan to include the effective and comprehensive implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or R.A. 9003 in your platform of barangay government,” Lucero added.
R.A. 9003 explicitly stipulates the important role of barangays in solid waste management, such as in the prohibition on “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places… or causing or permitting the same”, “…collection of non-segregated or unsorted wastes,” and “open burning of solid wastes.” Sad to say, these are acts common during and after elections.
Through a street play in front of the COMELEC Office in Intramuros, Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the youth group Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura (MALAYA), engaged the public on selecting barangay leaders who are truly for the people and the environment.
The COMELEC also joined the environmental advocates in urging the electorate to cast their votes in favor of barangay candidates who followed election-related laws and regulations.
"As stated in COMELEC Resolution No. 9615, we encourage all parties and candidates to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials throughout the campaign period, and avoid using campaign materials and election paraphernalia that contain hazardous chemicals and substances," said Mr. Leo Lim, Education and Information Officer of the COMELEC.
"We would also like to remind them to comply with any local legislation governing the use of plastic and other similar materials," he added.
For her part, Miss Philippines Water 2013, Nancy Leonard, urged local candidates to reduce their campaign discards so as not to aggravate the country’s burgeoning garbage problems.
“We need barangay leaders whose priorities include environmental protection and sustainability, coupled with public health and safety. Their service to the country, its people and its environment should be seen even during the campaign period. Our leaders-to-be owe it to the people a cleaner and safer environment, said Ms. Leonard.
The EcoWaste Coalition has earlier expressed concern over political tarpaulins that have sprouted like mushrooms in many places even before the actual campaign period.
“You can spot these tarpaulins everywhere – in pedicabs and tricycles, in sari-sari stores, in public markets and in residences. We fear a repeat of the avalanche of tarpaulin waste that happened during the last national elections,” Lucero observed.
Among these acts that damage the environment as the group observed in the May 13 national and local elections include the excessive use of tarpaulin banners, usually made of the heavily toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC plastic); unchecked littering in campaign sorties; collection of unsorted wastes; open dumping and open burning of campaign discards; and posting of propaganda materials on trees and outside designated areas.
Lucero warned that taprs contain harmful substances, citing the results of their study showing that of the 200 tarpaulin samples used by candidates in the May 13 elections, 51 samples (25%) have lead up to 1,704 parts per million (ppm) while all of them (100%) contain cadmium up to 1,279 ppm.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan zero waste advocacy network advancing a green electoral agenda, has released the following recommendations to help the electorate in choosing candidates for the barangay elections who will fight for a greener and toxics-free future.
1) Do not vote for candidates who use the 5Gs to win: Guns, Goons, Gold, Gin and Garbage. Vote for candidates who stand for the essential Ms: Malinis (Clean), Maayos (Orderly), Matipid (Thrifty), Mapanindigan (Principled), Marangal (Honorable), Mapayapa (Peaceful), Makatao (Humane), Makakalikasan (Pro-Nature) and Maka-Diyos (Godly).
2) Do not support candidates who nail, staple, strap or plaster campaign materials on defenseless trees and other restricted sites. Vote for candidates who use the least amount of campaign materials and abide by the campaign rules.
3) Do not pick candidates who use smoke-belching vehicles that contribute to poor air quality. Go for candidates who walk or ride bicycles rather than those who come in convoy of cars. Vote for those who use fewer vehicles in motorcades and cut fuel consumption and emissions.
4) Do not fall for candidates who make beautiful speeches about their love for the people and the environment, but fail to match their words with deeds. Is she/he engaged in any environmental advocacy or project, or does she/he have financial interest in any polluting and environmentally destructive business?
5) Do not select candidates who profess to protect the environment, but are mute on what they intend to do. Vote for those who will work earnestly to heal and preserve the environment.
6) Do not choose candidates who are hooked to the outmoded “hakot-tambak-sunog” (haul-dump-burn) and fail to act against illegal dumps. Vote for those who segregate their discards at home and in the work place, and support ecological, low-cost and community-driven alternatives to dumps, landfills and incinerators.
Also present to express his support is Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, the civil society representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.