The EcoWaste Coalition has appealed to all parties and individuals eyeing elective posts in the May 2022 polls not to nail, tack, staple or hang campaign materials on trees.
In a statement, the environmental group urged all candidates for national and local posts to direct their campaign organizers and supporters not to harm trees in the efforts to publicize candidates ahead of the prescribed campaign period.
The group likewise urged provincial, city and municipal environment and natural resources offices across the country to proactively take action to protect trees such as by removing campaign materials attached to trees and issuing notices of violation to concerned parties and individuals.
The group emphasized that trees need to be protected from all forms of harm even before the official campaign period, which will only start on February 8 for candidates for President, Vice-President, Senator and Party-List groups participating in the party list system of representation, and on March 25 for candidates for Members of the House of Representatives, regional, provincial, city and municipal officials.
Nailing, tacking, or stapling of campaign materials such as tarpaulin banners and posters damages the protective bark and punctures the inside of a tree, allowing the entry of harmful organisms and eventually causing stress, inhibiting growth or killing the tree, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.
The group reminded all political wannabes that injuring trees goes against Republic Act 3571 as amended by Presidential Decree 953, is prohibited and is punishable.
RA 3571 enacted in 1963 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.”
PD 953 issued in 1976 makes it punishable for “any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injures, naturally growing or planted trees of any kind, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs, or plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values.”
The said decree allows the “cutting, destroying, damaging or injuring” of trees “for public safety… and only upon the approval of the duly authorized representative of the head of agency or political subdivision having jurisdiction therein.”
Violators “shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pesos and not more than five thousand pesos, or with both such imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court.”
The EcoWaste Coalition, citing a COMELEC en banc decision approved on November 17, 2021, reminded political aspirants and their supporters that trees are not considered a common poster area where candidates can display their campaign posters.
COMELEC Resolution No. 10730 pertaining to the Rules and Regulations for the 2022 polls states that “in cases where parties and candidates still persist in displaying, posting, or exhibiting their campaign or election propaganda on trees and plants, they shall be prosecuted for violation of these Rules, without prejudice to the institution of a criminal complaint for the violation of Republic Act No. 3571.”
“It is our shared responsibility to care for the trees that help us fight global warming and climate change, purify the air, provide habitats for wildlife, prevent soil erosion and floods, and supply us with food, medicine, paper and other essentials,” the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated.