Duterte supporters to hold balloon flying activity on Nov. 30, envi advocates react

Nov. 23, 2015

DAVAO CITY – Supporters of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will hold a gathering here at the end of the month to show their support for the mayor and educate the public on Federalism.

On Wednesday (November 18), supporters of Duterte posted an announcement on Facebook inviting the public to a balloon releasing activity in People’s Park on November 30.

Jordan Balagot, founder of Ka-Diehard Duterte Supporters (Ka-DDS), said the activity will help “boost mayor’s possible bid for presidency.”

“We believe that mayor is running. His no is a yes for us,” Balagot said.

Duterte was reportedly opening the possibility for him to run as president after the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled in favor for Senator and presidential candidate Grace Poe whose citizenship was questioned in a disqualification case.

Meanwhile, environmental advocates warned the organizers to think twice on pushing through their plan to hold a balloon releasing saying this might pose a threat to marine wildlife.

A netizen named Jamie Marie Mumar said she supports Duterte but “not the balloon releasing activity because of its effects.”

But some of Duterte’s supporters said while they understand the concern of some environmental advocates, the event “will happen only once”.

“There are a lot of those who fly balloons every year, during funeral or birthdays, but have you done something to close down balloon suppliers?” asked Balagot.

“This is our way to exercise our freedom of expression, releasing balloons to show support,” he said.

One commenter, Maya Dallas also told the advocates to run after the big ships who pass through the oceans and seas and throw their trash in the water. She said the event is once in a lifetime where the city’s mayor “will be president” and asked for their support instead.

Another commenter, told them to “run after big companies who are causing pollution.”

Dr. Arnel Yaptinchay, founder and director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines told Davao Today on Friday that balloons released on the air end up in the environment and “pose threat to wildlife”.

“Balloons made of latex (biodegradable) or mylar (non-biodegradable) becomes trash after they get released and land somewhere,” Yaptinchay said.

“In the sea, marine wildlife such as turtles, whale sharks, dolphins and whales may ingest the balloon and block their intestines which would kill them,” he said.

“This is especially true with marine turtles who may think these floating rubber is jellyfish, one of their diets. This is also bad for filter feeding animals such as baleen whales and whale sharks as they swallow large amounts of water, which will include the trash in it,” Yaptinchay added.

He said marine wildlife can also get entangled in the rope of the balloon that will cause them to drown as turtles and marine mammals are air-breathing creatures.

“Most of these animals are threatened species, meaning they are vulnerable and endangered, which are protected in the Philippines. The plastic mylar (foil) balloons do not biodegrade, but are broken down into microscopic particles which absorbs toxins in the water which enters the marine food chain together as if they are plankton. But then these toxins are released in the body of these animals,” he said.

He said the pollution can also be eaten by humans “as we are part of this food chain”.

“So in summary, balloons are trash. We do not need more released in the environment, they can kill wildlife when ingested, and can creep up the food chain bringing toxins into the system,” said Yaptinchay.

But Balagot said they have decided to ignore those who are not supportive of their activity.

“We believe they are just over reacting. Why us when there are bigger issues on waste including Canada’s waste, cellophane factories and others?” he said.

Balagot said they started their group last October 17, a day after the last day of the filing of candidacies. He said their members include overseas Filipino workers.

“Some are from Pantukan in Compostela Valley, Padada, Davao del Sur and Zamboanga. They relay their support through their relatives here in Davao,” said Balagot. (davaotoday.com)

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