By Mortz C. Ortigoza
LINGAYEN – Second district Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil asked the 2nd Engineering District of the Department of Public Works & Highway to remove his name on the signage of all his projects in deference to the Anti- Epal Bill.
Engr. Rodolfo Dion said Bataoil sent him a text message that he wanted his name removed from all his public works’ projects like roads, school buildings, and other infrastructure projects in the eight towns in the second congressional district of Pangasinan.
Dion, who oversees projects from the national government in the second and fourth congressional districts in the province, lauded Bataoil for his decision.
Anti Epal bill or Senate Bill No. 1967 is an act prohibiting public officers from claiming credit through signage announcing a public works project.
Epal” is slang for “ma-papel” a Filipino term for scene stealer in affairs that are not necessarily theirs to handle or decide on.
The bill was passed by Senator Merriam Santiago at the House of Senate. She said posting names on government projects by solons are “unnecessary and highly unethical” and “promotes a culture of political patronage and corruption.”
The bill imposes a jail term of between six months and one year on a public official who would have his or her name or image printed on a “signage announcing a proposed or ongoing public works project.”
The prohibition also applies to existing government projects that are undergoing maintenance or rehabilitation.
But Dion said one can not blame other congressmen in the province who post their name on projects because it comes from their P70 million priority development assistant fund (PDAF) and those projects they asked from the national government.
He explained that despite of the presence of funds from the national government intended for a certain place under the jurisdiction of the solon, the lawmaker can still refuse it thus it can be diverted to other places.He said the propensity of these lawmakers to append their names is because they want to show to their constituents that they are working for them.