June 23, 2024

The environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition gave the Commission on Elections two thumbs up for not burning over 933,000 defective and roadshow ballots.

“Comelec deserves two thumbs up for reversing its plan to burn these unwanted ballots as it previously announced in March 2022. We’re pleased that the poll body chose a non-polluting way to have these ballots destroyed while conserving paper, a valuable resource that comes from trees,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.

The planned destruction of defective ballots through burning drew immediate objection from the group, saying “burning paper waste when the same can be recycled is not an environmentally sound option at all in the face of the global climate crisis.”

The Comelec on May 7 started the destruction of 933,311 unwanted ballots consisting of 586,988 defective official ballots and 346,323 roadshow ballots, or ballots used in vote counting machine demonstration events held across the country.

Instead of turning them into ash, the unwanted ballots were mechanically cut using an industrial cutting machine at the National Printing Office. The shredded paper will then be sent to paper mills for melting and recycling. 

Acting Comelec Spokesperson John Rex Lautiangco said the unwanted ballots were not burned as “the Comelec aims for sustainability and that it has to be fully compliant with all environmental laws.”

The group earlier reminded the poll body that open burning is banned under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, while incineration of municipal, biomedical and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes, is prohibited under RA 8749 or the Clean Air Act.

The EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call on all stakeholders, particularly the voters, to keep the polling centers litter-free.

Aside from littered sample ballots, food and beverage containers, and candy and snack wrappers and cigarette butts, the group is also concerned with the reckless disposal of used masks in polling areas, stressing the need for correct handling and disposal of used face masks, a healthcare waste.

Littering, she reminded, is a prohibited act under RA 9003. – Press release