Free trees from politics – DENR Bicol

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LEGAZPI CITY (6-April-2013/PNA)  – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is continuously monitoring and dismantling campaign ads that have been fixed with nails and staple wires on living trees.

“We are always ready with our ‘Operation Baklas’ to deal with these illegal political advertisements everywhere around Bicol,” Gilbert Gonzales, the DENR regional executive director based at the regional government center in Barangay Rawis here, on Monday said.

Gonzales made the announcement after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) disclosed in the “Hatol ng Bayan” program over PTV 8 based in Legazpi City that one the most common violations committed by candidates for local elections is the putting up campaign posters nailed or stapled on trees.

The Hatol ng Bayan program is a joint project of the agencies under the Presidential Communications Operations Office composed of the Telebisyon ng Bayan, Radyo ng Bayan, Philippine Information Agency and Philippine News Agency in cooperation with the Bicol University.

Gonzales said he had asked DENR field personnel and deputized agents, who have been going around places on a daily routine starting on the first day of the campaign period, to validate the report of the COMELEC and immediately remove nailed or stapled campaign paraphernalia on trees.

This operation is to protect the trees, the DENR regional chief said, as he warned that his office will not hesitate to impose penalties to those who will be caught nailing posters, billboards, tarpaulins and streamers on any living tree, be it in private properties, along roads and highways or public parks.

Using trees along roads and highways and in almost all conspicuous places to display campaign materials has been a common practice among politicians and their supporters and it is high time now that it should be stopped, being not good for the tree, he stressed.

“The practice terribly hurts the tree, especially when the posters are fastened on the trunk and branches with nails or staple wires. These materials inflict wounds on the trees resulting in high level of infections,” according to Gonzales.

These infections affect the growth of the tree and could even result in its slow death, he explained.

Charges may also be lodged against candidates who own the paraphernalia for violation of Resolution No. 7767 of the COMELEC in accordance with Republic Act 9006 otherwise known as the Fair Election Act.

Fixing campaign posters on trees with the use of nails or staple wires is prohibited under Section 23 of the resolution, Gonzales said.

Paragraph B of the same resolution also disallows displaying the same political paraphernalia on roads, bridges, trees, power or telephone line posts, school premises and monuments.

Likewise, Section 11, Paragraph 6 of Resolution 7767 forbids the posting of election campaign propaganda outside common poster areas in public places designated by election authorities.

Gonzales said his office and all its field units based in provinces and cities of Bicol have been coordinating with the COMELEC, Department of Interior and Local Government and local government units towards the enforcement of the prohibitions to once and for all put an end to the practice.

“The government has been campaigning hard to protect and preserve our environment by way of growing more trees and here come these politicians vying for elective public offices unmindful of the welfare of our trees. I appeal for concern from them by respecting the trees and abiding by the COMELEC prohibitions,” he said.

Perhaps, voters in Bicol should also take note of candidates who own campaign ads fastened on trees and outside designated campaign areas in violation of laws and decide against them come election day, Gonzales added. (PNA)

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