Jim Sampulna, DENR Region 12 director, made such call upon hearing reports over the destruction wrought by the cluttering of campaign posters on trees by supporters of various local candidates in the region.
"It's really disgusting. I am calling on all our candidates to please spare our innocent trees from politics," Sampulna said in a radio interview here.
He cited that based on their monitoring, a significant number of trees located by the roadsides were already damaged because of the cluttering of campaign materials.
The DENR central office earlier warned that nailing, wiring or hanging political banners and propaganda materials to trees could injure them, stunt their growth or even lead to their death.
Sampulna said he already instructed the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices in the region to immediately dismantle all campaign materials posted on trees, especially those located on the national highways or main roads.
The region covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Kidapawan and Tacurong.
Sampulna urged candidates and their supporters to set an example by following the common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
He pointed out that aside from ensuring equity in campaigning for candidates, the Comelec set the common poster areas to also protect the trees from being used as platforms for campaign materials of unscrupulous candidates.
Sampulna said residents should not vote for candidates who were violating such rules as they might just use their positions later on for more abusive practices.
"Let's not vote people who have track records of destroying our environment and those who don't even know how to dispose their garbage properly. They will not have any use for us," he said.
Evangeline Basan, Koronadal election officer, supported Sampulna's call as she admitted that they have difficulty acting on complaints against candidates who are violating the rule on the common poster areas.
"We really don't know what to do with these right now because we lack the manpower that will handle them," she said.
Basan said she will coordinate with the city police office to dispatch some policemen to the barangays to help dismantle campaign materials posted outside the designated common poster areas and those on trees. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)