DPWH Bicol campaign vs ‘epal’ billboards on infra project

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LEGAZPI CITY (14-April-2013/PNA) – Billboards of “epal” politicians claiming credit to completed and ongoing public infrastructure projects in Bicol will be dismantled by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“We have a standing order from our central office issued by DPWH Undersecretary Romeo Momo directing us to tear down these billboards mounted by politicians and I have tasked all heads of our engineering districts across the region for its immediate implementation,” Danilo Dequito, the public works and highways regional director based here, said on Friday.

These are “epal” billboards that should not be seen on or near government projects as these sow misinformation, Dequito said.

“Epal” is the informal Filipino term that refers to politicians who are seeking public attention by claiming a government project or service as a product of their own efforts.

They are considered as persons who are annoying and obnoxious or someone who does incredibly stupid things to attract attention.

These epals, also called “mapapel” (attention seeker), are obviously after the votes of those that they would be able to convince by the misinformation they are spreading.

According to DPWH Bicol assistant regional director Jesus Salmo, their central office in Manila has received numerous complaints on these epal billboards mounted over or near infrastructure projects of the national government.

These complaints prompted the DPWH to come up with Department Order (DO) No. 30 as early as May 7, 2012 that directs all its regional offices to affect the removal of these campaign materials, Salmo said.

Although the order allows DPWH field offices implementing it to place project billboards that inform the public what the ongoing works are all about, it should comply with the specified size of only 4×8 feet in size and no name of politician on it, Salmo said.

Contractors undertaking the projects are also instructed by the order not to place billboards bearing names of politicians along roads right-of-way or even posters or tarpaulins on equipment being used in the works, he added.

Besides, such kind of prohibited political propaganda materials as well as oversized signage could pose danger to motorists when placed along the highways as these may obstruct drivers’ attention and cover road safety signs.

Dequito said that to make sure that district engineers comply with the order, he recently came out with a memorandum order reminding them of DO No. 30.

However, a DPWH regional official told the PNA Friday that such order places district engineers in difficult situation, considering that most of these “epal” politicians mounting billboards on infrastructure projects are incumbent congressmen whose pork barrels are used to finance projects in their respective districts. (PNA)

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