Oplan Baklas targets stubborn bets

SINCE candidates refuse to remove campaign materials tacked on trees, personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 removed the posters themselves.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo warned candidates anew that they could face sanctions if they refuse to remove campaign materials nailed onto trees.

He made the warning after noticing that some candidates refused to heed their 72-hour notice to remove all campaign posters and streamers from trees, especially in Cebu.

Montejo issued the 72-hour notice just before the start of the campaign period for local and congressional candidates to ensure that they post their election posters and tarpaulins in common poster areas, and not on trees.

But he lamented that despite the notice, there are still some candidates who refuse to remove their election paraphernalia from trees up to now.

Because of this, Montejo created a special team composed of personnel of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (Cenros) and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO) around the region to monitor their respective areas and identify candidates whose campaign materials are on trees.

The joint team even conducted an operation called “Oplan Baklas” and started removing campaign signages and posters in Lapu-Lapu City earlier this week.

Montejo said he personally saw in his hometown in Argao that there are candidates who continue to post their election paraphernalia on trees.

But he lamented that when the joint team would ask residents who posted the election signages, they claim to have no knowledge of it.

If the community refuses to cooperate, then the candidates will have to be held responsible, Montejo said.

Candidates who refuse to remove their campaign posters from trees could be charged for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3571, which prohibits the cutting, destroying or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks other than national parks, school premises or in any other public ground.

Violators could also be charged for violating Presidential Decree 953, which provides a similar prohibition and is punishable by imprisonment of not less than six months and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than P500, or both.

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