By: Elsie Delfin and Cathrina Maulion
Not only are the citizens more critical to politicians’ actions nowadays, but even the youth are more concerned and expressive when it comes to issues of politicians and public service.
The Anti-epal campaign is still ongoing because HB 1967, or more commonly known as the Anti-Epal Bill, has not yet been passed into law and peal posters and tarps are still prevalent. The primary proponent of this bill is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who filed the bill in 2011.
The bill would punish government officials who will use public funds to post giant pictures of themselves with diverse messages which are clearly posted out of their own personal interest. Imprisonment ranging from six months to one year would await future offenders.
The online campaign for the Anti-epal bill has also made it easier to raise awareness to more citizens. “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,” said Rachel Malaluan, an economics major.
People are complaining and criticizing these politicians openly but what exactly makes these epal posters and tarps unappealing and unethical?
Earvin Pelagio, a linguistics major, pointed out two problems regarding the emergence of these epal publicity materials, “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 pa rin yun ng LGU.”
Aside from being unnecessary and unwanted, these epal materials also have an effect on the environment. Some students pointed out that politicians’ posters easily become trash that are scattered along the streets and even become the cause of the clogging go drainages. When they become trash, they become additional work for those who are cleaning the areas where they are posted.
The politicians who are do this more often are criticized for their actions. But who else may be responsible for the proliferation of these epal materials?
Nina Arellano, a materials engineering student, said that the politicians are not the only ones to blame since it the epal materials are only their way of campaigning to people who vote based on popularity, connections, and other biases. “Dapat kasi, nag-eeffort talaga tayo na kilalanin ang ating mga kandidato, hindi yung nagba-base lang tayo sa mga nakikita natin, or hinihintay lang natin na mangampanya sa atin ang mga kandidato.”
Some also mentioned that this is a problem unique to certain cities in rural areas. Students who come from different provinces say that it is surprising to see politicians taking too much credit for their supposed projects. Joana Bagano, a journalism student, even suggests a way to strengthen the law by “using terminology that clearly draws the line between what is allowable and not.” The bill can still benefit from suggestions like this.
Those who are interested to support and share evidences of epal politicians and materials can do so on social networking sites. One good example of this is a fan page on Facebook entitled “Support the Anti-Epal Bill” where anyone can post proofs of “epalism.” The site also has updates, news, and developments on the bill.