‘Bistek’ bows to anti-‘epal’ clamor
Tiles on QC streets retouched to remove mayor’s initialsBy Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Where have all the “HBs” gone?
Those decorative tiles bearing the initials of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, which have been installed on sidewalks, plant boxes and center islands across the city at taxpayers’ expense, are now being retouched to erase those ubiquitous letters.
“Maraming pumupuna (Many have been criticizing it),” Quezon City engineering department head Joselito Cabungcal admitted Tuesday when asked about the sudden decision to paint the HBs over.
The move could be seen as a victory for the growing civic and online movement against so-called epal politicians, or those who seek to take credit for government-funded projects or promote themselves in time for the next elections through billboards, streamers and, in Bautista’s case, more enduring mediums like tiles. (See related story on Page A11.)
Epal is street slang for the Filipino term mapapel or one who craves attention, takes credit for other people’s work, or needlessly meddles in their affairs.
“He (Bautista) wanted it removed because people might think that it was for the elections,” Cabungcal told the Inquirer, referring to the first-term mayor, a former comedic actor also known as “Bistek.”
He said Bautista earlier this year already expressed his intentions to have his initials removed.
But the city engineer denied that the mounting support for the anti-epal bill in Congress finally forced City Hall to act.
According to Cabungcal, “that bill is focused on tarpaulins, signs and banners of government officials. I don’t think his (Bautista’s) initials on the tiles are covered.”
On Visayas Avenue, for example, the HB tiles, each measuring 8 inches by 8 inches and placed about 5 meters from each other, had been installed on the center island.
A resident, who requested anonymity, said he started noticing the HB initials being painted over last month.
“I think it is already prohibited because of the anti-epal bill and (the law against premature campaigning related to) the elections next year,” he said.
Cabungcal said the painting of the tiles to hide the initials was being done at no additional cost to the local government since this additional job was still covered by existing contracts for the beautification of city streets.
He said the tiles along Visayas Avenue, from Tandang Sora Avenue to Ellpitical Road, had all been painted over.