As the official campaign period for the 2019 national and local midterm elections nears, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned that posting campaign materials on trees is strictly prohibited.
In compliance with Republic Act 3571 or the “An Act to Prohibit 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, School Premises or Any Other Public Ground,” DENR is urging the public to stop posting campaign materials, advertisements and announcements on trees by using nails which could potentially damage them.
Anyone caught violating the said law will be subjected to punishment.
Former President Ferdinand Marcos’ Presidential Decree 953 or “Requiring the Planting of Trees in Certain Places and Penalizing Unauthorized Cutting, Destruction, Damaging and Injuring of Certain Trees, Plants and Vegetation,” states that “any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injuries, naturally growing or planted trees of any kind, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs, or plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values, along public roads, in plazas, parks other than national parks, school premises or in any other public ground or place, or on banks of rivers or creeks, or along roads in land subdivisions or areas therein for the common use of the owners of lots therein, or any species of vegetation or forest cover found therein shall, be punished with imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pesos and not more than five thousand pesos, or with both such imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court.”
The only exceptions is when the cutting, destroying, damaging or injuring is necessary for public safety or the pruning thereof is necessary to enhance beauty, and only upon the approval of the duly authorized representative of the head of agency or political subdivision having jurisdiction therein, or of the Director of Forest Development in the case of trees on banks of rivers and creeks, or of the owner of the land subdivision in the case of trees along roads and in other areas therein for the common use of owners of lots therein.
“If the offender is a corporation, partnership or association, the penalty shall be imposed upon the officer or officers thereof responsible for the offence, and if such officer or officers are aliens, in addition to the penalty herein prescribed, he or they shall be deported without further proceedings before the Commission on Immigration and Deportation,” the decree further states.
“Nothing in this Decree shall prevent the cancellation of a license agreement, lease, license or permit from the Government if such cancellation is prescribed therein or in Government regulations for such offense,” it added.
DENR is encouraging the public to be more observant and familiar with actions prohibited during the election campaign period especially in posting tarpaulins and campaign advertisements.
Meanwhile, the DENR will be working together with the Department of Education (DepEd) in the promotion of planting native trees in public schools nationwide.
DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said the School in a Garden Project or SIGA aims to teach children about the importance of trees and forests and help them become an environmentally conscious generation.
“We hope that through the SIGA program, we are able to instill in the young minds how significant forests are to their lives, so that the heritage of environmental conservation continues,” Leones said.
Leones said the DENR and DepEd will soon sign a memorandum of agreement to formalize their partnership.
The SIGA program is a revival of a past DepEd project that enabled students to plant medium-sized flowering trees similar to the concept of cherry blossoms in Japan. It aims to showcase trees that are endemic to the Philippines, such as banaba and fire trees, which are colorful and flowering all-year round.
The trees, according to DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua, will be planted not only within school campuses, but also in neighboring areas.