Green Groups Urge Poll Candidates Not to Torture Trees

Two environmental groups have joined forces to ask candidates for the impending polls to spare defenseless trees as the electoral campaign goes full blast across the country.

Through a joint statement, the EcoWaste Coalition and National Coalition to Save the Trees (NCST) appealed to national and local candidates “not to commit further torture on trees by nailing, pinning and tacking campaign materials on them.”

“These acts of torture could stress out the trees and make them susceptible to decay-causing microorganisms, injurious insects and diseases leading to stunted growth, shorter lifespan and early death,” said Father Robert Reyes, Chairperson, NCST.

“We need trees to supply us and other animals with clean air to breathe, to prevent deadly landslides and floods, and to protect us from global warming and climate change.  Please don’t hurt the trees to advance your political agenda,” he said.

“Poll candidates might claim they are not the ones committing these acts of torture on trees and pin the blame solely on their supporters,” noted Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“That is a lame excuse and unacceptable.  Politicians have the responsibility to ensure that their campaign does not in any way harm trees and Mother Earth,” she emphasized.  

Candidates placing campaign materials on trees would be violating Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution 10049, or the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act 9006, the Fair Elections Act, the groups said.

Under the said resolution, campaign materials should not be posted in public structures, schools, bridges, center islands, transportation terminals, waiting sheds, electric posts and wires, trees and other unauthorized places.

Harming trees also goes against Republic Act 3571, which prohibits the “cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.”

To prevent and reduce the adverse environmental impacts of electoral activities, the EcoWaste Coalition urged all political aspirants and their camps to apply the following 5Rs towards eco-friendly campaigning.

1. RESPECT the trees by keeping them poster-free. 

2. REFUSE overspending for campaign advertisements and materials. 

3. REDUCE trash by not using campaign stuff that are barely reused or recycled such as balloons, buntings, confetti and sample ballots.

4.  RETRIEVE campaign paraphernalia for reusing or recycling purposes.

5.  REMOVE election campaign materials immediately after the polling day. 

The group likewise urged the COMELEC, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government to intensify the “Basura-Free Election 2016” drive.

The drive seeks to promote compliance to Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, during and after the election campaign by all political parties and party list groups and their candidates and backers.