DENR National Capital Region joined the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in its campaign to tear down and remove election materials illegally posted on trees.
The regional office, through its Enforcement Division, combed the streets of Metro Manila to remove election materials posted or hung on trees. The regional office likewise coordinated with barangays to seek their assistance in ensuring that trees and other green spaces in their areas are protected.
In a statement released on Saturday, 23 April 2022, acting DENR Secretary Jim O. Sampulna issued a directive to all DENR regional offices to intensify the agency’s efforts to protect trees from damage in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
“We need to step up our drive to save our trees as the election campaign enters the home stretch”, the secretary said. Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3571 prohibits cutting, destroying, or injuring trees and other plants planted in public areas. Those found guilty shall be punished “by prison correctional in its minimum period to prison mayor in its minimum period”, the law read.
The COMELEC, likewise, prohibits the posting of campaign materials on trees, plants, and shrubs located along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises, or any public grounds. In its Resolution No. 10730 issued last November 17, 2021, the COMELEC mandated the creation of a task force to tear down and remove illegally posted campaign materials in every city or municipality. DENR is part of the said task force.
DENR National Capital Region Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan said the office has been actively working with other members of the Task Force, providing advice and technical assistance on the proper removal of campaign materials on trees.“We need to be careful in removing posters nailed or tied to a tree as we don’t want to cause further injury to the tree”, Director Caancan explained.
She said injured trees are more prone to pests and other diseases, making them vulnerable and weak.“We have limited green spaces here in Metro Manila, and the more we lose green spaces, the more we suffer from air pollution, excessive heat, and flooding”, Director Caancan said. “Instead of destroying trees, we need to protect existing ones and plant more trees, especially those suitable in urban settings”.
“It saddens me to see that, apart from injuring trees and plants with their campaign, candidates also do additional damage to the environment because of their use of non-biodegradable materials in their posters”, Director Caancan adds. “It’s high time that our candidates explore eco-friendly alternatives to posters printed in tarpaulin and other plastic materials and show they care for the environment”.