Solons back 'anti-epal' bill

November 14, 2011 11:30 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 14 — Lawmakers, at the resumption of sessions in both Houses of Congress, on Monday expressed support to "Anti-Epal" bill, which prohibits politicians from plastering their names and faces on billboards announcing road projects.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino said the bill is a good measure of what "daang matuwid" (straight path) should really be exemplified.

Casino and party-mate Rep. Neri Colmenares 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," he said.

Casino 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," he said.

Casino 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 Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino.

Palatino authored 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," he said.

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

For her part, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said she is very much in favor of the bill of Sen. Miriam Santiago and the two bills filed in the Lower Chamber 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," she said.

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

Deputy presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a statement, earlier said President Aquino did not want his photos placed in billboards of government projects. (PNA)

RMA/LGI

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