DENR appeals to candidates to adopt 'no nails, no staple wire' policy to protect trees
by AS Araya
Legazpi City (24 February) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is appealing to those running for public office in this coming May 2010 elections to observe the law covering the posting of campaign materials.
Joselin Marcus Fragada, DENR Bicol regional executive director, recently issued the appeal upon noticing the widespread posting of campaign propaganda materials many of which are mounted, posted, nailed or stapled wire on trees along roadsides.
"Spare our trees from harm! Let's not nail propaganda materials on them!" Fragada said.
Foresters have observed a sudden increase in infection of trees five to six months after election due to wounds inflicted by the nails and staple wires used to post campaign materials on them, the DENR official said.
The DENR's involvement in the tearing down and removing of campaign materials in public places outside the common poster areas started when the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued Resolution No. 6616 dated February 12, 2004 entitled "In the Matter of Deputizing the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the purpose of implementing COMELEC Resolution No. 6520."
The said Resolution deputized the MMDA and DENR to perform the following specific duties:
1) to tear down and remove campaign propaganda materials posted in public places outside the common poster areas,
2) To tear down and remove illegal campaign materials wherever posted and displayed,
3) To make report of said activities done by then, and
4) To monitor and watch out for persons posting and distributing said unlawful election paraphernalia and to arrest said persons caught in flagrante delicto.
The then DENR Secretary, it will be recalled, wrote a letter to the then COMELEC Chairman requesting him to deputize employees and officials of the DENR to remove illegally placed campaign materials, the department being "the primary government agency responsible for the protection, conservation, management and development and proper use of the country's environment and natural resources".
The request was made in line with Section 24 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9006 (Fair Election Practices Act) promulgated by the COMELEC in January 6, 2003 prohibiting the posting of campaign materials in public places outside the designated common poster areas such as streets, bridges, public structures or building, trees, electric posts or wires, schools, shrines, main thoroughfares and the like.
Fragada said he will issue an instruction to DENR field offices to coordinate with COMELEC officials and concerned law enforcement agencies on the removal of campaign propaganda materials posted on trees in their area of jurisdiction.
Per Section 21b of COMELEC Resolution No. 8758 pertaining to the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Practices Act, in relation to the May 10, 2010 Synchronized National and Local Elections, and Subsequent Elections," promulgated on February 4, 2010, "The posting of campaign materials in public places outside of the designated common poster areas such as streets, bridges, public structures or buildings, trees, electric posts or wires, schools, shrines, main thoroughfares and the like is prohibited."
"Members of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies called upon by the Election Officers or other officials of the COMELEC shall apprehend the violators caught in the act, and file the appropriate charges against," the same Resolution further states.
The said Resolution states that a common poster area does not refer to a post, a tree, the wall of a building or an existing public structure that is in active use, but a structure, location and number of which are determined (in the following Sec 22b) that is temporarily set-up by the candidates or political parties for the exclusive purpose of displaying their campaign posters.
It may also be recalled that the COMELEC promulgated Resolution 7623 on February 14, 2007 deputizing barangay officials and barangay tanods of all cities and municipalities through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), with the authority and duties to tear down and remove campaign materials posted in public places outside the common poster areas.
Fragada said that in removing campaign materials posted on trees, the DENR is also guided by Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3571, otherwise known as "An Act to Prohibit the Cutting, Destroying or Injuring of Planted or Growing Trees, Flowering Plants and Shrubs or Plants of Scenic Value Along Public Roads, in Places, Parks, School Premises or in any Other Public Grounds."
Even as Fragada appeals for the proper posting of election campaign materials here urged the public anew to take care for the trees and nurture them well as trees help us contain greenhouse gases emission like carbon dioxide that cause global warming and climate change. (DENR V/PIA) [top]