‘Anti-epal’ bill meets resistance from ‘epals’ in HouseBy Gil Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The “Anti-Epal” might be gathering steam in the Senate, but the bill barring politicians from putting their faces on government projects is gathering dust in the Lower House.
“I’m dismayed and frustrated on the slow action on the House version of the ‘anti-epal’ bill and is envious of the Senate on its fast action on a similar bill. There has been no hearing regarding the House bill up till now,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño in a text message.
Casiño and fellow Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares filed House Bill 2309 entitled, “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,” was filed 15 months ago and it has been left untouched by the committee on revision of laws.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s “anti-epal” bill was expected to be approved by next year with barely any opposition from her fellow senators. Representatives were seen as averse to the “anti-epal” bill apparently because they, along with governors, mayors and councilors, were among the notorious practitioners.
“Epal” is a play on “ma-papel,” referring to credit-grabbers.
In his explanatory note, Casiño said that the “anti-epal” bill would be a “compromise” to a bill pushing to discourage political dynasties in the country which he admitted was “virtually impossible to pass in a Congress dominated by political clans and dynasties.”
“It is immoral and unethical for any incumbent official to name government properties, services or programs, financed as these are by taxpayers’ money, after himself/herself or his/her immediate relatives. 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,” said Casiño who noted that this bill was originally filed in the 14th Congress five years ago.