That is what the national coalition of green groups have launched as a campaign this week, anticipating another season of tarpaulin melee all over the country in the run-up to the May elections next year.
Even at this age of social media and digital platforms, the countrysides remain a virtual canvass for the more traditional forms of campaigning using painted rice sacks tailed, posters, or sample ballots. And we’re not yet even talking about noise pollution from roving PA jeepneys and trikes.
It must be the strange wiring of the Filipino voters’ psyche, that battles are won and lost on the projection of sounds and images by a candidate. This must be true for most players in the game, as one supposed candidate who has not even announced her candidacy had reportedly spent a rumored P3 million in tarpaulins alone.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has a templated policy on campaign paraphernalia. This includes, among others, a regulation on their sizes and where or when they should be displayed for the public to see. But with respect to enforcing this supposedly strict regulation, the poll body has always been a failure.
For one. the designation of common poster areas has not deterred candidates from hanging their stuff into tree branches or just about anywhere where there is people traffic. It is because tarp warfare is about attrition. One poster does not convey the message of the politician if it is overwhelmed by a hundred posters of his or her opponent.
The result is a pile of garbage the morning after the elections.
Environmentalists led by EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace Philippines, Mother Earth Foundation, and Zero Waste Philippines want COMELEC to undertake a more vigorous push for “green” elections. They want the poll body to issue specific regulations such as imposing a zero-waste policy on campaigning and put in place measures to implement it.
They want the poll body to do many things along the lines of what the laws already prescribe such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. They have also demanded policies that will encourage the use of recyclable materials in campaign paraphernalia.
In an ideal world, the proposal of the group makes sense. But in reality, the poll body’s track record in enforcing the limited rules it already has in place is spotty at best.
This doesn’t mean they can’t try, as all it really takes is a political will and the commitment to deliver results. It’s a subjective decision to make on the part of the COMELEC.