The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Cagayan Valley has spearheaded today the regionwide simultaneous “Oplan Baklas” or the removal of campaign materials nailed or posted on trees along the major thoroughfares and public places.
More or less 8,000 campaign materials and advertisements were dismantled from the different common posting areas located in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Batanes.
The activity was conducted in collaboration with the officials of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Fire Protection, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, local government units and other partner agencies.
DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan in her message thanked the different partner agencies for their support and assistance to intensify the environmental protection programs of the agency pursuant to the tall order of Secretary Jim O. Sampulna to strictly enforce the prohibition of posting election ads on trees and implement zero-waste election system.
Prior to this event, RED Bambalan has solicited in a press conference the support of these law enforcement agencies, and the media through the Philippine Information Agency to enjoin political parties, party-list groups and individual candidates to spare the trees from nailing election paraphernalia during the campaign period.
“The concerted efforts of the DENR and our partner agencies for this undertaking will ultimately create an impact to having an environmentally-conscious election and post-election periods,” she said.
Earlier, the regional environment chief has issued a directive to her field officials to coordinate with their COMELEC counterparts on the prohibition of nailing campaign materials on trees to sustain their growth and survival.
“If you care for the environment, you will not do anything that would harm the trees. When a tree was injured by nailing, it will get sick and eventually will die due to the infestation of pests and diseases. A single tree is as important as our lives because tree growing and maintenance takes a long time process,” said Director Bambalan when asked how to encourage residents to remove illegal campaign posters nailed on trees within their private properties.
Director Bambalan said the operation plan has concentrated on the removal of election paraphernalia nailed or posted on trees. “To reduce the wastes going to our sanitary landfills, the dismantled materials shall be recycled,” she underscored.
The prohibition of Oplan Baklas is in adherence to Republic Act 3571 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 Plazas, Parks, School Premises or in any other Public Pleasure Ground”.
The same prohibition is also embodied in Section 21.b of COMELEC Resolution No. 10730 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9006 (Fair Election Act of 2001) and Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2013-01 signed by the DENR, DILG and COMELEC known as the Basura-Free Elections ‘Kalat Ko, Sisinupin Ko’ Program.
Assistant Regional Directors Marcos Dacanay and Ismael Manaligod, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Mario Ancheta, and Environmental Management Bureau Nelson Honrado, DENR Region 2 legal officers, and all PENR and CENR Officers participated in the activity.#