An environmental group warned 2022 electoral bets and their supporters that posting campaign materials on planted trees is harmful and against the law.
EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday appealed to all parties and individuals running in the upcoming elections to refrain from nailing, tackling, stapling or hanging paraphernalia on trees.
The message goes to all candidates, from local to national posts.
The group also urged provincial, city and municipal environment and natural resources offices to proactively take action by removing campaign materials attached to trees and issuing notices to the concerned parties.
“Nailing, tacking or stapling of campaign materials such as tarpaulin banners and posters damages the protective bark and punctures the inside of a tree, allowing the entry of harmful organisms and eventually causing stress, inhibiting growth or killing the tree,” it said in a release.
Trees needed to be protected even before the official campaign period, which would start on February 8 for national posts, the group said.
The law prohibits:
“[T]he cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises or in any other public ground.”
The presidential decree states that it is punishable for “any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injures, naturally growing or planted trees of any kind, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs, or plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values.”
An en banc decision of the Commission on Elections approved in November 2021 notes that trees are not considered a common poster area for electoral candidates.
COMELEC Resolution 10730 states that:
“[I]n cases where parties and candidates still persist in displaying, posting, or exhibiting their campaign or election propaganda on trees and plants, they shall be prosecuted for violation of these Rules, without prejudice to the institution of a criminal complaint for the violation of Republic Act No. 3571.”
For EcoWaste Coalition, Filipinos have a “shared responsibility” to take care of trees “that help us fight global warming and climate change, purify the air, provide habitats for wildlife, prevent soil erosion and floods, and supply us with food, medicine, paper and other essentials.”
According to the Arboricultural Association, “hammering anything into a tree is intrusive and will cause harm.”
“A tree is a living organism and an injury such as this is damaging. The outer bark layer on a tree stem protects against disease and decay, anything that breaches it can allow the entry of harmful organisms,” it said on its website.
“The significance of any harm will depend on a number of factors such as the extent of the injury, the species and age of the tree and its overall condition,” its post added.