Beauty pageant contestants make a pitch for greener poll campaign

Quezon City. Fifty-two women aspiring to become beauty queens for the environment today challenged all candidates for the May 2010 national and local elections to unite and stand up for Mother Earth.

The would-be “environmental diplomats” urged political candidates to woo voters with the health of Mother Earth in mind during the presentation before the press of the contestants vying for Miss Philippines – Earth 2010.

The message “One Vote, One Earth, Our Future” rang out as contestants coming from as far as Vigan in the north to Tawi-Tawi in the south and from the Filipino communities in France and USA paraded in water-inspired blue swimsuits.

To emphasize their message, the women paraded while holding placards that read “go for waste-free election,” “say no to guns, goons, gold and garbage,” “spare the trees (they don’t vote),” “keep your tarps to the minimum,” and “remove streamers from electric wires and posts,” to cite a few.

“Our message ‘One Vote, One Earth, Our Future’ underscores the need to fuse the exercise of our right to vote and be elected with our shared responsibility to protect the environment from harm, which is too often ignored,” said Sandra Inez Seifert, Miss Philippines-Earth 2009 and Miss Earth-Air 2009.

The contestants’ pitch for environmental responsibility in the quest for political democracy drew support from the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, which has partnered with the Miss Earth Foundation in campaigning for waste-free polls.

“We lament the wastefulness of the election campaign. It is as if the environment does not matter at all to most candidates in the race for their coveted positions. We appeal to all aspiring public servants to campaign responsibly and heed what the Miss Philippines-Earth hopefuls are saying,” said Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition and NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

With just over a month before the poll date on May 10, the Miss Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the candidates’ utter disrespect of campaign guidelines despite repeated reminders from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

The groups identified several campaign excesses and violations of rules that are time and again ignored by many national and local candidates and their supporters, including:

1. Posting campaign materials outside the designated common poster areas.

2. Nailing or tacking posters on trees.

3. Displaying posters and streamers that exceed the prescribed sizes.

4. Hanging posters and streamers on electric posts or over walkways and sidewalks.

5. Putting up oversized and/or out of place billboards.

“It is not too late for the candidates to show they also care for the environment. They need not wait for disqualification cases to be filed against them for violating campaign rules. We ask them to voluntarily clean and straighten up their campaigning, starting with the removal of posters nailed on trees,” the groups said.

In addition to observing the COMELEC campaign guidelines, the groups also pleaded to all political candidates, parties and partylist groups to integrate environmental care and protection into their electoral platforms.

“Business as usual is no longer an option for our country after Ondoy and the ongoing onslaught of El Niño on our farms and dams. We therefore appeal to all who are running for the 2010 polls not to digress from their responsibility and put the environment at the heart of their political agenda,” the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation pointed out.