Anti-epal campaign blamed as most Pinoys unaware of lawmakers' projects-A A +A
Monday, October 21, 2013
MANILA -- The recent Pulse Asia survey showing that 54 percent of Filipinos are unaware of projects "implemented" by congressmen is no longer surprising for several incumbent members of the House of Representatives.
"It's not surprising that only a few people know about the projects initiated by our lawmakers," Ako Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe said citing the anti-epal campaign in the recent national elections wherein public officials were criticized for using their proposed projects as a tool to promote their candidacy.
Walls, waiting sheds, electric posts and even government buildings are usually plastered with the names and faces of politicians who wish to retain in their seats of power.
"It's a 'damn if you do, damn if you don't' situation. If a lawmaker actively implements a project, he will be accused of usurping the powers of the executive. If he announces/advertises it to the public, he will be called an epal so in the regular course of things, a lawmaker will just identify a project, let the executive implement, and remind his constituents of what he has done when he submits himself to judgment of the public come election time," Batocabe explained.
In the past years, congressmen proposed hard (infrastructure) and soft (medical assistance and scholarships) projects following a menu set by the executive department, which implements the proposed projects.
Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, echoed the sentiment of Batocabe.
"Many lawmakers do not place their names on hard infrastructure projects contrary to reports that several lawmakers make 'epal.' As for my district, the people are aware especially the barangay officials that most of the projects implemented are through congressional intervention coursed through the proper budget process," he said.
The Pulse Asia survey conducted from September 14 to 27 covers 1,200 respondents. At that time, the crisis in Zamboanga City and the controversial priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam dominated the headlines.
Of the respondents, 39 percent are aware of the projects implemented by their congressmen in their respective districts while seven percent don't know or can't say. (Sunnex)