Editorial: JVR, son are wrong-A A +A
Monday, September 23, 2013
TALISAY City Mayor Johnny V. “JVR” de los Reyes and his son, City Administrator John Yre de los Reyes, missed the point about the “anti-epal” call that even President Noynoy Aquino made in the early stages of his presidency (didn’t he push for an “anti-wangwang” culture, too?).
JVR has been criticized by netizens for putting his name on two patrol cars that were given to the police early this month. That means, a wag quipped, he still has around three years to paint his name on every vehicle that the Talisay City Government will buy during his term.
“Epal” is actually Tagalog euphemism for “thick-faced.” In government service, it refers to a public official who grabs credit for a public works project by including his/her name or image on the signage or, in the case of JVR, putting his/her name or image on government-purchased vehicles.
John Yre insisted there was nothing illegal in putting the name of his father on the patrol cars—or at least that was what somebody from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) supposedly told him.
He also noted in a report written by Sun.Star Cebu’s Justin K. Vestil that the “anti-epal” bill pushed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has not been passed into law yet.
He is correct, of course. But while it would have been good if the previous Congress passed an “anti-epal” measure, the campaign is not primarily a matter of legality but is about restoring decency in governance. The “epal” and the “wangwang” acts, after all, have bred public officials that have lost a sense of right or wrong.
When a public official no longer feels shame, he will do almost everything, including pocketing funds from ghost government projects. The “anti-epal” push is therefore part of the campaign against corruption in government and the culture of impunity upon which it is standing on.
In this context, there is even no need for officials to wait for the passage of an “anti-epal” law before painting over their names or images on signages or government vehicles. They just have to reacquire shame--or delicadeza.
JVR and his son are still new in government so this episode may just be part of their learning curb. They can be given the benefit of the doubt and the hope that they will learn from this experience.
But first they must be told that they are wrong on this one.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 24, 2013.