LOCAL officials are supporting the proposed law on criminalizing the practice of naming government projects after politicians, although most of them are guilty of it.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2187, Senator Francis Escudero said naming projects such as waiting sheds, ambulances and even trash bins after politicians "falsely gives an inflated sense of accomplishment to public officials to their constituency."

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez (1st district) said he will support the bill's counterpart in the Lower House.

The lawmaker cited two reasons why local officials should do back the move: first, the nation's leadership is pushing for it, and second, it would tidy up streets littered with project signposts.

"If President Aquino supports the bill, and in fact he doesn't want any project named after him, then there's no reason for us and the others as well not to follow," Rodriguez told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

President Benigno Aquino III said the bill has his full support.

"President Aquino totally agrees with that. He doesn't want any projects named after him," said Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda over the weekend.

"All projects are from taxpayers and the taxpayers should be recognized, not the proponents," Lacierda said, adding Aquino had rejected offers to have two projects named after him.

He said Aquino's political allies should not "use the president's name in vain." He said these officials should remove posters bearing Aquino's name or image alongside government projects.

Mayor Vicente Y. Emano meanwhile said: "It's (projects) not from the politicians' own pocket, so why name the project after them?"

But while the two officials are amenable to Escudero's bill, they are not entirely immune from the practice.

The city's thoroughfares are oozing with tarpaulins plastered with Rodriguez's face, all of them pronouncing a project or two.

In Emano's nine years of office, ambulances, garbage trucks and other government vehicles bear the mayor's name. When Emano was vice mayor, his face appeared alongside with then Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula's infrastructure projects.

Rodriguez, already on his second term, clarified he had no ill intentions in putting his photo in his infrastructure projects. He is doing it for transparency about the project and its cost. When the bill becomes a law, the lawmaker vowed his projects will no longer bear his name.

"This would also mean a cleaner Cagayan de Oro, and I hope everybody will follow," Rodriguez said.

Under Escudero's proposed bill, violators shall be punished with one year imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 to P1 million depending on the amount of the government project concerned.

Escudero stressed that no one should lay claim to the public funds as if it is theirs to freely spend for personal and political vanity like prematurely campaigning for reelection all year round. (Annabelle L. Ricalde)