Streamers for projects with pols’ faces draw flakBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—Streamers with the faces of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and five city councilors placed in two government project sites have drawn flak here.
An Ilonggo businessman said the placement of the streamers in projects of the city government was “unnecessary and unethical” and a waste of money.
“A good public official will always be endeared to his or her constituents [without the need of these streamers],” said the businessman who asked not to be named to avoid earning the ire of the city officials.
The colored tarpaulin streamers at the public plaza of Molo District and the Iloilo River Esplanade in Mandurriao District declare support for the improvement and development projects of the city government in the two sites.
In the streamers, Mabilog is seen in his trademark red polo shirt while five of his allies in the city council are behind him wearing identical shirts. The councilors, who have been dubbed the “Voltes V” for voting as a block, are Plaridel Nava,
R. Leone Gerochi, Rodel Agado, Lyndon Acap and Joshua Alim.
Mabilog defended the streamers during his regular news conference on Wednesday.
“I’m not concerned that [the streamers] would be misinterpreted. I don’t see anything wrong as long as it is placed in the right area,” he said.
He said he did not order the placement of the streamers but knew they would be put there.
“If it’s placed in projects of the city, I really don’t mind because they are councilors and they gave their approval and support for the projects,” the mayor said.
Mabilog said other officials, even those not allied with him, could also put up streamers with their faces if they supported projects that they claim credit for.
Asked if the placement of the streamers was ethical, Mabilog said he would advise the councilors to “make it smaller” and remove them after the inauguration of the projects.
The businessman, who questioned the propriety of the streamers, said he hoped that Congress would approve the bill prohibiting the placing of the name and image of public officials in public works projects to put a stop to the practice.
Senate Bill No. 1967 (An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project) authored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago provides for a jail term of six months to one year and perpetual disqualification from public office for violators.
In her explanatory note to the bill, Santiago noted the prevalent practice of public officials to append their names on public work projects.
“Crediting individual public officers instead of the government promotes a culture of political patronage and corruption,” the senator said in her bill.
The bill, which is pending in the Senate, has been expanded to include the putting of names and images of politicians on donated police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. It has been dubbed as the “anti-epal bill” for the street jargon referring to attention seekers and scene stealers.
The bill has drawn support from various groups including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action.