Citizens react to “epal” posters and tarps


By Cathrina Maulion and Elsie Delfin

Less than three months before the midterm elections, Filipinos are now more critical to politicians’ actions.

Anti-Epal campaign started when concerned citizens used the social media to expose epal politicians.

Epal, which came from the word mapapel, refers to public servants putting their names and faces on different government properties and projects.

Concerned citizens posted photos of different infrastructures, vehicles, lamp posts, sidewalks, relief goods, and posters where politicians plaster their names and faces just to say that they were the ones who initiated the project. Since then, more people started to submit and share photos of different posters in different platforms.

“For some, elections have become a popularity contest, and to them, in order to be popular you have to put your name and face everywhere. Some politicians are just desperate to be known so they promote themselves this way,” said UP student Josser Ferreras.

People said that politicians do these things to make their constituents know that they are doing their jobs. People also see these as means to the politicians to show their concern to the community, but in reality, they don’t care that much. However, some said that these posters are helpful. According to them, these will be one of their bases on who to vote.

People also observed that epal posters are even more hideous before and during campaign season. Posters and tarpaulin greetings of “Merry Christmas,” “Happy New Year,” “Happy Chinese New Year,” and even “Happy Valentines’ day” with the politicians’ faces were hung on electric wires and glued to walls and posts. Sometimes, posters also feature the government officials’ spouses and children in the posters to show that they have tight and happy families.

When asked if she was in favor of these kinds of publicity, Tess, a vendor, said, “No, because when heavy rain pours, those posters will just clog the drainages”


Rhys Viray, UP Diliman student said, “No, because the money spent to build those structures isn’t from the politicians. It’s the money of the taxpayers.”

Most said that these posters are just a waste of money. They also consider them an eyesore. People also think that it is unfair for the other candidates, especially the ones who have not enough money for the campaign.

Presently, putting up epal posters is a crime. Commision on Audit (COA) chair Maria Grace Pulido-Tan signed Circular No. 2013-004 on Jan. 30, 2013, making epaliticians unlawful.

New rules in making the public know the government’s projects and initiatives stated that it is unnecessary to put faces, logos, or any sign of the official in charge of the project. This rule applies to posters and tarpaulins for infrastructures, government vehicles like ambulances and police cars, tarpaulins for social services like dental missions, sports events or feeding programs, and other things the government gives to people like t-shirts, ballpens, shoes, etc.


Photos are from


10 thoughts on “Citizens react to “epal” posters and tarps

  1. Sana ay mapatupad ito ng mabuti dahil nakakasira nga sa kapaligiran ang ganitong gawain.

    Pero ano nga ba ang kaakibat na kaparusahan sa paglabag ng batas na ito? Ano ang magiging panagutan ng mga politiko na mahuhuling lumalabag?

  2. These are cheap tricks the candidates are doing to get votes. But as much as we’d want to deny it, voting by popularity does occur in the Philippines. A sad truth.

  3. “No, because when heavy rain pours, those posters will just clog the drainages”
    Clearly these kinds of publicity are trash. Who would want anyone’s face to “decorate” our public waiting sheds?

    A true public servant would not even consider “leaving a mark” this way. He should leave a mark by doing real acts of service. A great public servant does not need to have anything to do with this, because he knows that the citizen’s do not need it.

  4. Kudos for those who continue to empower every Filipino to speak out. With the rise of social media as a public forum for ordinary citizens, the Anti-Epal campaign has been garnering a fair amount of mileage. Pictures of “epalism” are easily shared and dissected by anyone with access online. Even the media and a senator had caught on the hype. It generated awareness on what constitutes a “trapo” and the lack of “delicadeza” permeating the public sector.

    Nearing its one-year mark this May elections, one wonders if this campaign will be successful in educating the electorate or disenfranchising political aspirants from being “epal”. So far, at least 38,000 had liked the Facebook page and we can still see the pervasive “epalism” around the corner. But the catch is if the online awareness translated to real-time action. Must we only watch out for change? It’s not too late to make a difference.

  5. Ang galing kasi maikikita talaga natin sa anti-epal campaign sa social media na mas nagiging critical at mindful na ang mga tao sa actions ng mga politicians.

    Commendable pala yung sa Puerto Princesa kasi makikita talaga doon na sa mga government projects ay may nakalagay na ‘Proyekto ng Mamamayan’ (2010 pa to so bago pa man na-implement yung Anti-Epal Bill) .Ang mga proyekto ng gobyerno ay di talaga dapat nali-label na proyekto ni Politician X or Y or Z dahil ang nagfund nito ay ang mga mamamayan.:

  6. Dapat hindi nila inaangkin yung credit para sa mga project na sinimulan nila dahil una, trabaho naman nila yon, pangalawa hindi nila project yun, idea siguro nila pero project parin yun ng lgu. Kunh magaling at tapat naman kasi sila hindi na nila kailangang ilagay yung mga mukha nila sa mga tarp nila.

  7. Well, feeling ko kasi, hindi lang mga politiko ang accountable dito. Kasi you see, pwedeng naisip ng mga poitiko ang ganitong paraan kasi, mahirap talagang i-publicize ang sarili mo sa mga taong hindi masyadong concerned or biased sa binoboto nila. Kasi kung titingnan mo, most (kung hindi lahat) sa ating mga mamamayan ay bumoboto ayun sa ating biases, connections, or what, or sa mga nakikita nating populatory, achievements, or nagawa ng mga kandidato, which should not be the case. Dapat kasi, nag-eeffort talaga tayo na kilalanin ang ating mga kandidato, hindi yung nagbabase lang tayo sa mga nakikita natin, or iniintay lang natin na mngampanya sa atin ang mga kandidato. So siguro, ang mga epal posters ay actually bunga ng isang creative way na naisip ng mga nagcacampaign para makilala pa ng mga tao ang mga kandidato, at eventually, naging mainstream siya at ginaya ng iba, at ngayon masyado nang naging OA ang pagka-epal. So ayun, we should all be hold accountable for this, hindi yung nagsisihan tayo. Kung gusto natin magbago ang pamamaraan ng pangangampanya, dapat on our sides ay magbago din tayo 🙂

  8. I come from a place where there is a lack (thank God) of this phenomenon of politicians campaigning early and brandishing certain accomplishments and successes through tarpaulins, posters, painted sheds and whatnot. When I started to live in Manila, I observed the proliferation of unnecessary credit-taking and I found it extremely disgusting. Instrumental in the start of this campaign is Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who filed the anti-epal bill in 2011. This bill aims to punish public officials who are involved in the epal practice. We have yet to see it be passed into law.

    I read through the circular mentioned above and it is noteworthy that the practice of branding a project as being completed by a specific person is only deemed “unnecessary” but not really “punishable”. Public officials can easily work their way around this provision. The penalty clause mentions that only those expenses incurred in violation of the circular shall be disallowed in audit. It can be argued that the picture of a certain public official, whether present or absent in a certain tarpaulin or poster, does not add to the expense of printing the material. We can further strengthen the law by using terminology that clearly draws the line between what is allowable and not. Just my 0.02.

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