Moderate your ‘epal,’ DepEd head tells pols


Politicians like to put up billboards in schools to make teachers, students and parents know who paid for the construction of their classrooms, basketball courts, gymnasium and other improvements.

For Education Secretary Armin Luistro, that’s all right. Although the projects have been bankrolled by the corruption-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the money is state fund so it’s still the government who is doing the paying. The politicians are just the sponsors.

It’s OK, too, if they splash their names on the billboards. Luistro believes that will pressure them to see to it that their school infrastructure projects are well maintained.

Not too brazen

“I don’t have a problem with that. In fact they have to put their names on it for the COA (Commission on Audit) audit,” Luistro said during a visit to San Antonio Elementary School in San Francisco del Monte in Quezon City on Wednesday.

“Huwag lang masyadong ma-epal (As long as it’s not too brazen),” Luistro stressed.

On the covered court at the school’s entrance, a billboard prominently displays the names and pictures of local officials who sponsored the construction of the court.

In contrast, a newly built two-room kindergarten building donated by a private group—the first such donation received by the school—does not bother with a marker showing the name of the donor.

Luistro said there was a positive and a negative side to billboards trumpeting politicians’ names.

“I want them to put their name on it. Because if they put their name on the project and it turned out to be substandard after one year, it will backfire on them,” he said.

“But if it’s well done, they will also leave a good name. E kung pangit, e di pangit (If it’s bad, then they besmirch their name),” he said.

Red line

Public schools across the country have to put up with billboards that scream with the names of government officials and legislators who want to remind their constituents that they owe the school improvements to them.

But that’s the farthest they can go. The Department of Education (DepEd) has drawn the line at naming public schools after living politicians.

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