By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
A PHILIPPINE based environment and public health watchdog called on all barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan election candidates to campaign in a way that will not aggravate the already battered environment and worsening public health conditions.
The EcoWaste Coalition, which is also a zero-waste advocacy group, made the appeal Friday after the nationwide campaign period for the barangay elections has commenced.
“We renew our appeal to all contenders to be respectful of their constituents’ right to a healthy environment. Their keen desire to get the voters’ nod should not worsen the waste and pollution woes of the communities, especially in heavily populated barangays, that they are hoping to serve,” said EcoWaste Coalition Zero Waste Campaigner Daniel Alejandre.
He also noted that “while it is tempting to spend to the max for leaflets, posters, banners and other campaign paraphernalia to promote their visibility, candidates should adhere to the PhP5 expense limit per registered voter in their barangay, and avoid going beyond what is allowed and what is necessary to get themselves known to the electorate.”
Moreover, he observed that “campaign materials consume lots of resources to get produced and disseminated. Paper leaflets, for instance, are made from wood pulp from trees. Water, bleaching chemicals, dyes and inks, and, not to forget, fossil fuels, are used to make them. While it takes a lengthy and resource-intensive process to produce them, campaign materials are often disposed of as garbage, dumped or burned.”
To conserve the use of resources and minimize the generation of garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to refrain from distributing too much leaflets and sample ballots, and from putting up too much banners and posters.
Furthermore, to lessen the use and wastage of materials, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged candidates to explore more personal and interactive approaches to reaching out to their constituents such as through house-to-house visitations and neighborhood meetings where they can adequately introduce themselves and their platforms, including their plans to address community health and environmental concerns.
It further suggested the optimal and ethical use of the social media by the candidates to inform voters of their political intentions as another way of minimizing the use of resource-consuming traditional campaign materials.
The group also emphasized the importance for candidates and their supporters to spare all trees of campaign materials that can hurt and damage them.
“Nailing propaganda materials on trees could stress and make them vulnerable to insects and microorganisms,” Alejandre warned.
To avoid and reduce the environmental impacts of the upcoming polls, the EcoWaste Coalition asked the candidates and their supporters to heed the following 5Rs for a more environmentally-caring campaigning.
1. REJECT overspending for campaign activities and materials.
2. REDUCE trash by avoiding use of materials that are not necessary, reusable or recyclable.
3. RESPECT the trees by keeping them poster-free.
4. RETRIEVE campaign materials for reuse or recycling purposes.
5. REMOVE campaign materials immediately after the polling day.