Balloons grounded

Organizers change activity stunt to avoid harming animals
PUBLIC pressure forced supporters of Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte to drop the plan of releasing balloons this Saturday.  Instead, they will light candles to support his bid for the presidency next year.

The group pushing for the balloon-releasing revised the activity into a “balloon-sharing event” after a backlash from environmentalists, policymakers and netizens.

In a telephone interview, Duterte for President spokesperson Peter Lavina told TIMES that it will be the official policy of the Duterte campaign to avoid activities that are harmful to the environment, such as releasing balloons or posting campaign materials on trees.

“Again the event is still there.. We are providing non-flying balloons so you just can bring it with you. No harm to animals and wildlife…  It’s a win-win situation now,” Facebook user and event organizer Jordan Balagot commented on Lavina’s Facebook account.

Duterte last week announced his plans of running for president at next year’s national elections after the senate electoral tribunal voted 5-4 in favor of Senator Grace Poe on the question of her  citizenship.

Earlier this week, environmentalist Darrell Blatchley raised the need for more awareness on the problems caused by plastic balloons that drop to the ocean, endangering marine life.

His appeal came in the wake of the comment made by Councilor Diosdado Mahipus on Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang’s privilege speech requesting the organizers of the balloon-releasing event to find other means to show their support for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency instead.

“I know we are all supporters of Mayor Rody Duterte for the presidency, but let us refrain from using/flying balloons as a sign of celebration hence let us light candles as a sign of our support,” Dayanghirang said in a statement posted online.

“Balloons take years to break down and when it deflates it falls backs to the ground/water and may cause destruction to the wild and marine life. Balloons can also be a form of waste that may cause floods.”

Mahipus said he was not convinced that the releasing of balloons had a direct effect on marine animals, such as the cetaceans.

“I was not really convinced when they said that this would be eaten by dolphins and turtles because dolphins and turtles, just like any living creature, they always try to find out first what they eat. And I think there is no validated report that dolphins or turtles or whales are now eating balloons,” Mahipus said.

Saturday’s event begins 2pm at the People’s Park. Organizers promise free haircuts and t-shirt prints.