‘Epal’ billboards, tarps of bets near national projects torn down in Southern Mindanao
MALITA, Davao Occidental, Philippines – The Department of Public Works and Highways has intensified its campaign against “epal” politicians who take credit for nationally funded government projects especially during the election season.
Mariano Alquiza, DPWH director in Southern Mindanao, said that in the region, they have been strictly implementing a department order that has prohibited politicians from putting up billboards or hanging tarpaulins containing their names and images near nationally funded projects such as concreting of national highways or bridges.
“We cannot possibly prevent them all the time but if we see billboards or tarpaulins of politicians near our billboards announcing the projects, we remove them,” he said.
Alquiza admitted that DPWH field personnel recently removed such billboards and tarpaulins but refused to say who the politicians were.
“No single politician should take credit for government projects,” he said of the department order that Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson issued in February 2013.
Under the order, politicians are barred from putting up billboards or hanging tarpaulins within 100 meters of the beginning and end of a project.
Alquiza reminded politicians anew – especially with the election season – “not to use government projects as accessory resources to drumbeat their accomplishments.”
He said while some politicians have been persistent, DPWH personnel would not tire in removing their unauthorized billboards and tarpaulins.
“There are indeed politicians who practice epal. It would be difficult for us to monitor each and every project to ensure that there are no unauthorized billboards and tarpaulins put up there, but when we see one, we remove it,” Alquiza said.
Zenaida Tan, Davao del Sur first district engineer, said that aside from billboards and tarpaulins, some politicians would also take credit for nationally funded projects by making sure they were present at turnover ceremonies.
Tan recounted an experience when a ceremonial ribbon at the turnover ceremony for an unspecified project, which had already been cut, had to be reattached so that another politician could cut it.
“Actually, turnover ceremonies are just formalities. We could do away with it. What is important is we finish the project and have it received by the recipient local government unit,” she said. SFM