Barangay and SK Electoral Candidates Urged to Campaign Clean

An environmental watchdog urged contenders for the upcoming Barangay  and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to commit to a clean campaign as the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) looms.

Through Resolution 9761, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) specified October 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 as the new period for the filing of COCs for those running for elective Barangay and SK positions on October 28.

“One month before the filing of COCs, we appeal to well-meaning Barangay and SK candidates to commit to a zero waste campaign on their own accord.  Please make it part of your platform and your plan to win,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By zero waste campaign, we mean candidates and their supporters actively taking steps to prevent, if not eradicate, garbage and pollution as they compete for the people’s votes by rejecting acts that disrespect and damage the environment,” she explained.

Among these acts that disrespect and damage the environment as the group observed in the May 13 national and local elections include the excessive use of tarpaulin banners made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC plastic), unchecked littering in campaign sorties, open dumping and burning of campaign discards, posting of propaganda materials on trees and outside designated areas, and the illegal distribution of sample ballots during the polling day itself.

“By zero waste, we also mean aspirants and their teams taking a strong stand in favor of ecological solid waste management, which is among the top concerns that barangay officials have to deal with to reduce waste volume and toxicity and improve community health and sanitation,” she further said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has expressed concern that political tarpaulins have sprouted like mushrooms in many places even before the filing of COCs and the actual campaign period.

“You can spot these tarpaulins everywhere – in pedicabs and tricycles, in sari-sari stores, in public markets and in residences.  We fear a repeat of the avalanche of tarpaulin waste that happened during the last elections,” Lucero observed.

“Tarpaulins are not your typical household trash,” she warned. “Tarps contain harmful substances like cadmium and lead that contaminate our surroundings, particularly when these are dumped or burned,” she said.

Lucero cited the results of their study showing that out of the 200 tarpaulins used by candidates in the May 13 elections, the group detected cadmium up to 1,279 parts per million (ppm) in all of them (100%) and lead up to 1,704 ppm in 51 samples (25%).

“Please temper your appetite for PVC tarpaulins and other campaign materials,” Lucero said.

“Connecting with the people face-to-face and understanding their situations and needs cannot be replaced by cold, lifeless and toxic tarpaulins,” she said.