Politicians asked to campaign clean, avoid garbage

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 January) – It may be too much to expect Philippine politics to rid itself of the infamous 3Gs or guns, goons and gold now. But an environment group has asked that politicians should at least campaign without a fourth “G” – garbage.

“This early, we appeal to politicians across the political spectrum to restrain from engaging in dirty campaigning and to strive for an ecological ‘zero basura’ outreach to the electorate.  We will call the attention of candidates who will campaign dirty,” Edwin Alejo, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said in a statement Monday.

“Through ‘zero basura,’ we hope to prevent and reduce waste and pollution from the vigorous campaign operations and activities during the next three months and avert the further degradation of our fragile environment,” he said.

“We also hope that candidates will come up with meaningful platforms integrating sustainable solutions to the chronic garbage, toxic, disaster and livelihood woes facing many of our communities, and not only shake hands, hug babies, or sing and dance to amuse voters,” he added.

The call came a day after the start of the election gun ban and ahead of the official start of the campaign period, which is Feb. 12 for senatorial and party-list candidates, and March 29 for congressional and elective regional, provincial, city and municipal posts.

The election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be synchronized with the midterm polls.

EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to minimize the use of campaign materials such as leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, and plastic and tarpaulin streamers.

It said propaganda materials should be in post-consumer recycled paper and carry a reminder that says “para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin (for our health and environment, don’t litter, dump or burn)” or its equivalent in local languages.

The group urged not to use confetti, buntings and balloons, which often get burned or discarded in waterways, seas and dumpsites.

“Candidates and their supporters should not light sky lanterns as this may cause fire and endanger wildlife, too,” it said.

“Trees don’t vote, politicos should spare the trees of propaganda materials that can harm and even kill them.  Candidates should reject graffiti or vandalism to popularize their names,” it added.

For litter-free campaign meetings, sorties and related activities, the EcoWaste Coalition recommended the following:

• Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons and sky lanterns in campaign events.

• Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.

• Set up segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in campaign assemblies.

• Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the proper separation of their discards.

• Clean up right after the campaign event.

• Hire eco-aides to handle the segregated wastes for recycling and composting.

Win or lose, the EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to remove election campaign materials from all sites immediately after the election day on 13 May 2013. (MindaNews)