A far cry from 2010 drive: Operation Baklas 2013 now nets only .5 kilos nails, 2 truckloads campaign materials

LAOAG CITY – This year’s election season, Operation Baklas netted only half a kilo of nails and two truckloads of campaign materials, a far cry from the 2010 campaign drive where 20 kilos of nails and a truckload of campaign materials were removed from non-common poster areas, the provincial environment and natural resources officer here made this pronouncement recently.

PENR Officer Juan P. de los Reyes, Jr. attributed the success of Operation Baklas 2013 to the participation of around 500 individuals coming from the different government agencies and non-government organizations in the province.

He said that Operation Baklas 2013 which is designed to implement R.A. 3571 and PD 953, the laws prohibiting the cutting, injuring, and destruction of planted and growing trees and plants along public roads, plazas, parks, school premises and public grounds, was led by DENR-Ilocos Norte in partnership with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine National Police, Pollution Control Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PCAPI), Mariano Marcos State University- College of Industrial Technology Ecological Society (MMSU- CITES), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), GMA Ilocos, ABS-CBN Laoag, DZVR Bombo Radyo, DZJC Aksyon Radyo, The Ilocos Times, and DZEA Radyo Totoo.

Operation Baklas was launched in February 12, 2013 just before the campaign period as a strategy to pre-empt nailing or tucking campaign materials on trees especially along the major thoroughfares of Ilocos Norte, he added.

In her message during the launching, Gov. Imee R. Marcos stated that “trees should be spared during the campaign saying,  ‘huwag saktan ang mga punong nananahimik, kayo kaya ang ma-pako, tiyak aaray din kayo (spare the innocent trees, think of being injured by a nail, I am sure it hurts).

“Because of our early preparations, trees in Ilocos Norte are virtually campaign materials-free during the 2013 election season. The two truckloads of campaign materials which the implementers have collected were generally removed from non-common poster areas. Evidently, we only removed about less than one half of a kilo of nails used to tuck or install election paraphernalia on trees as compared in 2007 and 2010 elections where voluminous kilograms of nails were removed,” de los Reyes said.

The Sagip Puno Tanggal Pako coupled with tree surgery activity of PENRO Ilocos Norte was initially launched in the 2007 national and local elections, where around 40 kilos of nails and at least two Forward truckloads of campaign materials were removed from trees. In 2010 however, the number of nails and campaign materials removed from trees was significantly reduced to only around 20 kilograms and only one four-wheeled truckload of election paraphernalia.

“The idea is to minimize garbage and to inflict as little damage on the environment especially the trees, toward the end of the elections and we hope that by 2016 and elections beyond, all trees in Ilocos Norte are totally spared from campaign materials,” De los Reyes said.#