Lawmakers back “anti-epal” bill

A bill, which prohibits politicians from plastering their names and
faces on billboards announcing road projects, has gained strong
grounds in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna) said the bill is a good
measure of what “daang matuwid” should really be exemplified.

Casino and Rep. Neri Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna) are the
authors of House Bill 2309 or “An Act Prohibiting The Naming Of Public
Properties And Government Services After Incumbent Elected Public
Officials, Their Kin, Spouses And Relatives Of Up To Fourth Civil
Degree Of Consanguinity And Providing Penalties Thereof And For Other
Purposes.”

“I really believe that this measure should become a priority measure
of Congress.  However, experience shows that such a bill is virtually
impossible to pass in a Congress dominated by political clans and
dynasties,” Casiño said.

Casiño is hopeful that a compromise measure is being offered to simply
ban the naming of public properties, public services and government
programs after incumbent public official and their immediate
relatives.

“This would, at least, put a stop to one of the most despised
practices of political dynasties. Clearly, it is immoral and unethical
for any incumbent official to name government properties, services or
programs, financed by taxpayers’ money after himself/herself or
his/her immediate relatives,” Casiño said.

Casiño said such an act indicates that the public official is
soliciting fame and glory in order to perpetuate oneself or one’s
family in power at the expense of government resources.

“A prevalent practice of government officials is to name government
projects before themselves as if they were personally funded by them.
Waiting sheds, ambulances and even trash cans bear the name of
politicians, making streets and avenues look as if they were an
extension of the politician’s private property,” said Rep. Raymond
Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan).

Palatino is the author of House Bill 4112 or “An Act Declaring As
Unlawful Any Government Project To Be Named Or Identified After
Government Officials And Other Persons Whose Name Or Identity May In
Any Manner Be Associated With Said Officials.”

“This practice does not only projects a distorted and fake sense of
accomplishment to a politician’s constituency.  It also permits them
to conduct a premature campaign for re-election all year round,”
Palatino said.

Palatino said more than just certifying the bill as an urgent measure,
“President Aquino can direct national government agencies and local
government units (LGUs) to ban the practice of plastering the names of
politicians in government projects.”

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela) said she is very much in
favor of the bill of Sen. Santiago and the two bills filed in the
House of Representatives and would move to urge PNoy to certify them
as priority measures.

“We have long been opposing the placement of politicians’ pictures in
government projects and we can urge the President to make it a
priority bill,” Ilagan said.

Senate Bill 1967, authored principally by Sen. Miriam Santiago already
got the backing of President Benigno Aquino III who welcomed the
initiative.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a statement said
President Aquino does not want his photos placed in billboards of
government projects.

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