With less than a week before the midterm elections, the EcoWaste Coalition urged schools that will be used as polling places to remove illegal campaign materials within their premises.
The schools should maintain their non-partisan character to prevent any conflict of interest situations, as well as to minimize the generation of garbage, the zero waste advocacy group said.
“We appeal to concerned school principals to ensure that the entire school premises, including the frontage, fences, walls and sidewalks, are free of election propaganda materials,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As littering is a common environmental offense during the election day, we urge schools to post visible signage that will remind voters not to litter sample ballots or ‘kodigo’ at the school premises,” she said.
To promote compliance to the rules on lawful election propaganda, the EcoWaste Coalition further urged all agencies deputized by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to intensify the removal of oversized and misplaced election campaign posters.
“To encourage respect for the rule of law, we urge agencies authorized by the COMELEC to conduct nonstop removal operations of posters and other campaign materials that are oversized or displayed in forbidden places,” she said.
“Despite repeated COMELEC warning, we find lots of campaign materials nailed or stapled on trees, or hanging in lamp posts, bridges, waiting sheds and other inappropriate places,” she said.
Among the agencies designated by the COMELEC for the purpose of dismantling unlawful campaign materials are the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, and Transportation, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and the Philippine National Police.
“Taking down illegal campaign materials will promote an even playing field for all political aspirants and parties, as well as protect public health and the environment,” Lucero said.
“We further request concerned agencies and the general public to recycle or repurpose election posters, leaflets and other propaganda materials to conserve resources and to cut the volume of election-related garbage requiring disposal,” she added.
COMELEC Resolution No. 10488 allows “posters made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any other material, whether framed or posted, with an area not exceeding two feet by three feet," and prohibits the display of such posters “outside authorized common poster areas, in public places, or in private properties without the consent of the owner.”
Among other places, election campaign posters are not allowed in “public places” such as “waiting sheds, sidewalks, street and lamp posts, electric posts and wires, traffic signage and other signboards erected on public property, pedestrian overpasses and underpasses, flyovers and underpasses, bridges, main thoroughfares, and center islands of roads and highways.”
The same resolution encourages parties and candidates “to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals and substances in the production of their campaign and election propaganda.”