When in Manila, names and faces of politicians are a staple on public fixtures. They’re plastered on bus stands, bridges, benches, walls and etc. In a nut shell, they’re all over the place! The need to let the public know that a certain project is “brought to you by _____” is a trend that alot of politicians seem to be in to these days, this is even more apparent whenever elections is coming up.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer article written by Christian V. Esguerra,
Credit belongs to the taxpayers, so take those billboards with your big smiling face somewhere else.
This, in essence, is the message of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in Senate Bill No. 1967, her version of what the man in the street would call an “anti-epal” measure, as it is directed at politicians or bureaucrats who claim credit for projects built with public funds.
“Epal” is slang for “mapapel,” a Filipino term for attention grabbers, scene stealers, or people who crave a role (papel) in affairs that are not necessarily theirs to handle or decide. The term originated from the streets to become a buzzword in political circles especially last year, when President Benigno Aquino III initiated a shame campaign against such annoying public officials.
Currently undergoing committee deliberations, Santiago’s “anti-epal” bill is formally titled “An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project.”
The senator maintained that public officials have no business claiming credit for projects funded by taxpayers’ money.
“It is a prevalent practice among public officers, whether elected or appointed, to append their names to public works projects which were either funded or facilitated through their office,” she said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“This is unnecessary and highly unethical” and “promotes a culture of political patronage and corruption,” said Santiago, who is also busy campaigning for a seat as judge in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The bill imposes a jail term of between six months and one year on a public official who would have his or her name or image printed on a “signage announcing a proposed or ongoing public works project.”
The prohibition also applies to existing government projects that are undergoing maintenance or rehabilitation. Read full story here.
Anyone who knows me would know that I think Miriam Santiago is the coolest politician ever simply because she has the wittiest remarks, has zero tolerance for anything stupid in our government and is straight-up fearless to pursue what is right, let alone speak her mind.
She has a point, why do politicians take credit for things that are ultimately funded by taxpayer’s money? Honestly, local governments should be emphasizing the point that all improvements are made possible by taxpayer’s money to encourage people to pay their taxes. And to those who say that it is necessary to put the politician’s name so that people know that they’re doing their job, I think that that’s ridiculous. It’s like telling us that all employees should be given a gold star for doing their job (e.g. imagine a waiter with a tray of food that says, “this tray of food is brought to you by John”). That and the truth is, if politicians were really doing their jobs, people would be able to SEE and FEEL the difference. Click here for video courtesy of abs- cbn news.
Miriam Santiago Pushes for Anti-Epal Bill