EcoWaste Coalition Reports Rampant Littering in Some Polling Centers

Trash strewn on the ground was found at Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, Manila City. ECOWASTE COALITION

Following the historic polls held yesterday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an environmental health organization decried the rampant littering in some polling centers, particularly in Metro Manila and Bulacan.

“We are dismayed by the unrestrained littering, especially of unofficial sample ballots, in some polling centers,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, “as if litterbugs were having a field day.”

Lucero blamed the unchecked dissemination of unofficial sample ballots outside the voting precincts for the mess.

“The unlawful distribution of sample ballots during the actual polling day by paid individuals has resulted to the ugly litter often seen at school gates and immediate surroundings,” she said. “Children are even used to hand out sample ballots to voters near school premises.”

Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, Manila City. ECOWASTE COALITION

Loma de Gato Elementary School, Marilao, Bulacan. ECOWASTE COALITION

Malinta Elementary School, Valenzuela City. ECOWASTE COALITION

Section 3 of Comelec Resolution No. 10730 states “it is unlawful for any person or for any political party, or association of persons to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity on… Election Day.”

“The Voter’s Information Sheet sent by Comelec to individual registered voters in compliance to R.A. 7904 to help them prepare for an election includes an official sample ballot containing a complete list of candidates to choose from for a specific area,” Lucero said. “This renders the unofficial and incomplete sample ballots handed out during the election day completely unnecessary.”  

Aside from littered sample ballots and other campaign materials like promotional paper fans, the group’s Basura Patrollers also monitored the reckless disposal of single-use food and beverage packaging materials in polling centers, especially plastic water bottles.  Discarded face masks were also seen.

“Next time, voters should make use of the Comelec-furnished official sample ballot as  ‘kodigo’ and reject all other sample ballots. Also, local government authorities should strictly implement anti-littering laws, especially on polling day," Lucero concluded.

Littering is prohibited under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Metro Manila Development Authority Resolution No. 96-009, or the anti-littering regulation as amended, as well as in related local government ordinances banning littering in public places.

Among the polling centers visited by the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers were over 20 schools located in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Navotas, Pasay, Quezon and Valenzuela Cities in Metro Manila, and Meycauayan City and the municipalities of Marilao and Sta. Maria in Bulacan.