Task force ‘Operation Baklas’ to candidates: Save trees

Task force ‘Operation Baklas’ to candidates: Save trees

LAOAG CITY — Over the past three election periods, Ilocos Norte’s major thoroughfares and highways remained free from eye sores of election paraphernalia illegally posted everywhere, some are even nailed on trees.

This year, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are bent on strictly monitoring illegal posters while protecting the trees from campaign posters and materials through its intensified implementation of “Operation Baklas.”

According to DENR, “Operation Baklas” is pursuant to Presidential Decree 953, a law that prohibits and punishes the cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic values.

The decree also provides that a punishment of imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than PHP500 and not more than PHP5,000, or both, will be imposed for violation of said prohibitions.

“During our previous campaign, Ilocos Norte is the cleanest among all parts of Luzon as we were very successful in encouraging our political candidates to avoid unnecessary posting of campaign materials especially on trees and other election-related violations. We hope to have the same result this year,” said PENR Officer Juan De los Reyes Jr.

With the reactivation of the “Operation Baklas: Sagip Puno Tanggal Pako” project, De los Reyes said a motorcade will be set again early next week to drum beat awareness and start cleaning the highways should there be any.

“This will be an opportunity for us to forewarn the candidates and their supporters of the election-related laws and regulations, as well as an opportunity to call the voting public’s attentions to be vigilant for a clean and honest election,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Comelec also reiterated that major thoroughfares, pedestrian walkways and lampposts should be spared from campaign materials.

Candidates are also called out for “excessive use of plastic materials” in a bid to hold “clean and green” polls in May.

According to the Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act, candidates can post their campaign materials in common poster areas, in private places provided they secure the owner’s consent, and in public places “allocated equitably and impartially among the candidates.”PNA / northboundasia.com