Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday said public officials do not stand a chance of claiming credit for government projects courtesy of a provision in the 2021 P4.5 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA or national budget).
"Taxpayers, not politicians, fund the projects and programs. Their names or photos have no place there," Poe, author of the provision, said.
"Public officials, whether elected or appointed, should not make it appear that their constituents owe them gratitude for the projects," she stressed.
The "anti-epal" provision was adopted as General Provision No. 82 of the 2021 budget, which would prohibit the attachment of the name, visage, appearance, logo, signature or other analogous image of any public official, whether elected or appointed, on all programs, activities, projects or corresponding signage which are funded under the 2021 GAA.
Poe made a similar amendment to the 2018 budget, which was also incorporated into the signed law.
A Filipino slang, “epal” usually refers to a person who inappropriately presents himself in a situation.
Through the years, the lady lawmaker observed that it has become a practice for some public officials to have their names and faces plastered on projects intended for public use.
Poe said labelling projects with politicians' names also paves the way for these officials to prematurely campaign for election or re-election all year-round using public funds.
"Nakapaskil ang pangalan at litrato ng ibang politiko sa mga ambulansya, waiting shed, ultimo sa basurahan," Poe said. (The names and pictures of some politicians are plastered on ambulances, waiting shed and even trash cans.)
"Sa paggamit ng 2021 budget, bawal ang politikong epal. Tandaan natin, hindi natin pera ito, pera ito ng ating mga kababayan," she added. (‘’Epal’’ politicians are now banned through the 2021 budget. Remember, this is not our money but the taxpayers’.)
Meanwhile, another amendment by Poe was adopted as General Provision No. 97 of the 2021 GAA which has to do with crowdsourcing.
Under the provision, all government agencies will be required to provide the means for all Filipinos to give feedback on the programs, activities and projects funded under the GAA and how they can be improved.