Environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition on Wednesday appealed to all candidates in the May 13 elections to refrain from indiscriminately posting their election materials on trees.
The group aired the appeal as posters, streamers or tarpaulins of individuals or groups running in the midterm polls already sprouted on major streets, public parks and plazas, electric posts, bridges and trees all over the country ahead of the official campaign period.
The campaign period for senatorial candidates and party-list groups is scheduled from Feb. 12 to May 11, 2019, while the campaign period for local bets—for governors down to municipal councilors and for district representatives—is set for March 29 to May 11, 2019.
Ecowaste members and officials said they found plastic posters nailed or tacked on trees by candidates’ supporters in the hopes of getting voters’ attention ahead of the official campaign period.
“Trees don’t vote. For the sake of life-sustaining trees, we appeal to all candidates and their backers to voluntarily remove campaign materials on trees,” the group said.
Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes also urged candidates to respect the trees as he likened the nailing of posters on trees to the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“The Roman executioners nailed Jesus to a tree. Don’t candidates repeat the deadly act by nailing their posters on trees? Yes, but instead of killing Jesus and us directly, they are slowly killing the trees. Genuine politics does not hurt or kill whether persons or trees. Do not kill trees. Do not kill us,” said Reyes.
Ecowaste zero waste campaigner Daniel Alejandre said “the nailing of posters and banners on trees is blatantly unlawful and has to stop” as he asked aspiring political leaders to “be the first ones to uphold the laws protecting trees from human abuse and disrespect.”
Republic Act 3571, as amended by Presidential Decree 953, 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.”
Presidential Decree 953 states that violators “shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than six months but not more than two years, or with a fine of not less than P500 but not more than P5,000, or with both such imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court.”
“If the offender is a public officer or employee, he shall, in addition, be dismissed from the public service and disqualified perpetually to hold public office,” the law stated.
In Laguna, campaign materials of both national and local candidates sprouted all over the cities of Cabuyao and Calamba even before the start of the campaign period.
Residents also observed the presence of illegal posters in public places, on trees and electric posts along Mamatid Road in Barangay Mamatid and streets of Barangays Pulo, San Isidro, and Banlic.