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Jesse Robredo

Anti-'Epal' crusaders dedicate campaign to Robredo

August 23, 2012 12:41pm

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo is remembered as a humble man, who expected no special treatment despite his high position. In his two years as DILG Secretary, Robredo pushed for a number of projects under the good governance slogan "Biyaheng Pinoy: Matapat na Palakad, Bayang Maunlad."

Among these projects is Robredo's own version of the online Anti-Epal campaign, which its proponents have now dedicated to the late Secretary.

"Bilang aming kontribusyon sa kanyang pamana ng mabuting pamamahala at transparency at accountability, at upang bigyang buhay ang DILG MC 2010-101, nais naming ihandog itong No More Epal campaign para sa alaala ng yumaong si Sec. Jesse Robredo. Naisin namin na tuluyang mawala sa bansa ang nakasanayang pang-eepal ng mga politiko at sa halip ay mapalitan ito ng kultura ng paglilingkod ng may kababaang-loob, katapatan, dedikasyon, at integridad," the Anti-Epal group said in a Facebook status on August 23.

Last May, civic leader Vincent Lazatin and the Dakila Artist Collective created the Anti-Epal Facebook page as a venue for people to share photos of public servants who display their names or images in public places.

There is also's #epalwatch campaign, which was launched in June. Such campaigns aim to expose public officials, and hopefully shame them and eventually stop "epal" practices.

Even before these Anti-Epal campaigns, Robredo issued a memo banning government officials from leaving their marks on billboards and signages of their projects.

In his memorandum circular issued on September 23, 2010, Robredo directed all local chief executives to ensure that the policy is strictly observed.

"Pursuant to this Department's thrust to uphold good local governance, the practice of putting up of billboards and signages and other information materials bearing the names, initials or pictures of government personalities on all government projects, and government properties (firetrucks, ambulances, vehicles, etc.) are hereby prohibited," Robredo said in the memo.

The memo was issued following President Benigno Aquino III's directive on August 5, 2010, which instructed all Cabinet members to refrain from associating his personality and identity in programs and projects.

According to the directive, information on government projects such as buildings, waiting sheds, markers, and even official vehicles, should only contain the official seal or name of the local government unit. As for projects, the information should be limited to the name of the project and location, contractor, and start and end dates, the memo said.

Robredo also supported Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's Senate Bill No. 1967, or the "Anti-Signage of Public Works Act," which was originally filed in 2004.

According to a dzBB report in May 2012 (link to Youtube video here), Robredo said this would strengthen his directive and give the DILG teeth in keeping local government units from using public funds for their personal interest.

Despite Robredo's directive, and the pending "Anti-Epal" bill, politicians continue using their office to get their name recognized, from Barangay Imelda Village in Baguio City, to the Jose Singson Elementary School in Ilocos Sur, as shown in Investigative Documentaries' "Name Recognition is the Name of the Game."

As the documentary mentions, the Local Government Code states that local governments may, in consultation with the Philippine Historical Commission, change the names of public places, streets, and structures within its territorial jurisdiction.

But Peter Jaynul Uckung, Publication Production Chief of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) said the agency does not have the power to keep this from happening. "Kasi dapat, may kapangyarihan kami na halimbawa, may lugar kaming nakita na hindi napangalanan nang maganda or mali ang proseso, or hindi dapat ipangalan sa taong 'yun, dapat pwede naming tanggalin. Siguro maganda 'yung ganung kapangyarihan, para naman ang maling pananaw sa kasaysayan ay aming maitama," he said in the documentary.

While the Anti-Epal bill has not been passed, and officials continue to go against the DILG directive, Robredo's stand against government officials' names on taxpayer-funded projects lives on in campaigns like the Anti-Epal Facebook group.

Days after Robredo's body was recovered, a photo of a banner was posted on the group's wall. The banner, meant to be a gesture of condolence, was hung on a Taft Avenue footbridge, bearing this message: "Ang Punong Bayan Tony Calixta, Opisyales at Mamamayan ng Lungsod ng Pasay ay Taos Pusong nakikiramay sa pagpanaw ng ating MASIPAG AT MATAPAT NA KALIHIM NG DILG Jesse Robredo."

Some Facebook users were quick to protest, saying it is exactly what Robredo did not want in government. — BM, GMA News
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