“Operation Baklas” up in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY, February 21 – The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has revived task force “Operation Baklas: Sagip Puno Tanggal Pako” as the official campaign period for national candidates kicked off.

The task force is composed of stakeholders from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and DWFB-Radyo ng Bayan.

It is tasked to tear down unlawful election campaign paraphernalia on major thoroughfares and trees in line with the Comelec’s regulation on common poster areas.

PENRO chief Juan delos Reyes said that throughout the election period, candidates have become more aware of the proper posting of their election posters particularly the ‘no nailing on trees’ campaign.

“In 2010, the task force was able to collect three dump trucks, two elves and a jeep full of campaign posters nailed on the trunk, branch, and twigs of trees, and 36 kilos of nails. In 2013, it collected volumesof illegal propaganda materials loaded in dump truck and three kilos of nails used,” delos Reyes said.

He said some candidates opposed the removal of their campaign materials when the program was first launched. He added awareness was raised with the help of the media.

“The media is doing a good job in the campaign to educate candidates on proper posting of materials,” de Los Reyes said.

During its initial operation, PENRO listed down candidates and party list representatives who had the most number of violation and had them aired over radio stations as a shame tactic.

The strategy appeared to have worked because violations dropped the next election season.

Nailing of posters, tarpaulins and other campaign materials in the trees is punishable under Presidential Decree 953, signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, stating that it is unlawful to damage or destroy “trees of any kind” in public roads, parks, plazas or other public areas.

Delos Reyes said that the trees should be spared from destruction for the protection of the environment.

Task force members will be deployed to check on campaign materials that are outside the common poster areas as the campaign period for local candidates starts on March 26. (Cherry Joy D. Garma/PIA1-Ilocos Norte)