Watchdog group formed to catch election litterbugsBy DJ Yap |Philippine Daily Inquirer
A task force has been created to serve as a watchdog against litterbugs during the election campaign.
The Commission on Elections, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), have joined forces to keep track of political parties, candidates and their supporters who leave tons of election material wastes in the course of their campaign.
Under a joint memorandum circular signed by representatives of the three agencies, the task force will enforce relevant provisions of the Fair Elections Act, the Solid Waste Management Act and other laws on the disposal of election garbage.
The goal is to reduce the volume of waste during the campaign, election and post-election periods, officials said.
In a ceremony at the DENR Social Hall on Tuesday, Election Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh and Assistant Interior Secretary Rolando Acosta formally signed the circular titled “Basura-Free Elections 2013 ‘Kalat ko, Sisinupin Ko.’”
The circular covers all political parties and party-list organizations, national and local candidates vying for elective posts, and all concerned agencies at the national, regional, provincial and district level.
Under the guidelines of the circular, political parties, candidates and their supporters shall be required to strictly observe relevant waste management laws and shall be encouraged to use recyclable, reusable and environment-friendly campaign materials.
“Campaign materials will only be allowed in the common poster areas to avoid eyesores and minimize the generation (of wastes),” it said.
The circular stresses that tacking campaign posters on trees, flowering plants and shrubs along public roads, in plazas, parks, schools and other public grounds not designated as common poster areas is prohibited.
Environmental Point Person
The parties and candidates must also designate an “environmental Point Person” by province to ensure their compliance, the circular said.
The task force will prepare a report listing violators and file the corresponding cases in the concerned agencies, it said.
The environment watchdog, EcoWaste Coalition, on Tuesday pointed to the mounds of garbage left after the proclamation rallies of former President Joseph Estrada and Mayor Alfredo Lim, who are both running for mayor of Manila.
The group said nonbiodegradable food packaging materials, particularly polystyrene plastic containers, plastic cups and straws, plastic bags and plastic candy wrappers, were the most common garbage items.
A lawmaker wants to amend the Omnibus Election Code to require “every candidate and political parties to remove their respective election propaganda materials immediately after the expiration of the campaign period set forth by law.”
The proposed measure (House Bill No. 3609), filed by Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara, would require candidates and their parties to put up a “bond, cash or surety” to help ensure that they would clean up after the campaign period. The Commission on Elections would determine the amount of the bond that will be forfeited in the event candidates reneged on their responsibility.
The bill takes into account the fact that immediately after every election, buildings and walls are left plastered with campaign propaganda materials, Bichara said in the explanatory note.
“These materials add to the voluminous garbage to be disposed of by the government.”
Under Bichara’s proposal, the Comelec could do the cleanup provided that whatever expense the agency would incur would be charged against the bond posted by individual candidates. With report from Christian V. Esguerra