Pro-environment groups appealed to the Commission on Elections to initiate “pro-environment measures” as the filing of certificates of candidacy for next year’s polls started on Friday, October 1.
In a letter to the poll body, the groups said the commission should “proactively integrate waste and toxic prevention in the conduct of the upcoming elections.”
“Considering the problems already plaguing our society due to garbage, plastic pollution, climate change and COVID-19, we urge the [commission] to champion much needed policies and practices that will protect our fragile environment from being further degraded by the avalanche of partisan political activities leading to the 2022 elections,” said Eileen Sison, president of EcoWaste Coalition.
“We hope [the commission] will commit to greening the 2022 polls to the best of its ability and with the participation and support of all stakeholders,” she added.
The statement was supported by Caritas Philippines, Greenpeace Philippines, Mother Earth Foundation, and Zero Waste Philippines.
The other signatories are the Cavite Green Coalition, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, Oceana Philippines, Urban Poor Associates, and several other groups.
They identified some of the offenses in previous polls that have directly or indirectly harmed the environment, including the unrestrained plastering of campaign posters outside designated areas, even on trees, electric posts, and walls.
The groups also scored what they described as the “unbridled display” of “indirect” political propaganda, such as graduation and fiesta banners and tarpaulins; the unregulated noise from mobile political propaganda; the unchecked distribution and littering of sample ballots; the open burning of campaign waste materials, and the failure to avoid the use of single-use plastics.
“We have also observed the rampant use of campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled, particularly plastic tarpaulins, posters and buntings, as well as the confetti thrown in ‘miting de avance,’” said the groups.
The groups also noted the use of disposable food and beverage containers inside polling centers for the members of the Board of Election Inspectors, poll watchers and volunteers, and the lack of an ecological system for managing discards such as food leftovers and their single-use containers.
To reduce the ecological footprint of the much-anticipated elections in 2022, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the Commission on Elections to heed the following action points:
- Adopt a resolution declaring and enunciating Zero Waste as a policy to effectively prevent and reduce the generation of garbage, including COVID-related waste such as used face masks and face shields.
- Create a special committee that will take the lead in the multi-stakeholders task of “greening” the elections and the strict enforcement of relevant environmental rules and regulations.
- Require all individuals and groups running for election to abide by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which, among other prohibited acts, bans littering, open dumping and open burning of waste.
- Make it mandatory for parties and candidates to make use of recyclable and reusable materials free of hazardous chemical substances for their electoral campaign, and for them to conduct compulsory post-election clean-up.
- Use its moral authority to encourage parties and candidates to articulate in their electoral platforms how they plan to advance the state policy, as written in the Constitution, to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
- Incorporate environmental awareness and responsibility in the COMELEC’s public information drive for clean, orderly, peaceful, honest and fair elections.
- Regulate campaign motorcades, if not impose an outright ban, to address perennial problems with traffic congestion, noise, air pollution and climate change.
- Work with the Department of Health to set regulations on poll campaign noise.
- Strictly enforce the laws, rules and regulations on proper posting of campaign materials and enforce sanctions to those who violate them.