Directives against “epal” or grandstanding politicians surfaced after the name of Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS party-list) was seen in a tarpaulin during the unveiling of a molecular laboratory in Benguet General Hospital.
Yap had personally funded the construction of the laboratory’s building for coronavirus disease testing.
The Molecular Biology Laboratory is located beside BGH and was reportedly established through the lawmaker’s “personal initiative and funding.”
The facility will be primarily used to process reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests in Benguet once it potentially becomes fully operational in October.
Yap reportedly said that Benguet officials can also help its neighboring provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The laboratory is seen to decongest the number of specimens that the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center is processing for COVID-19 detection. It has been declared as one of the sub-national testing laboratories for Luzon catering to CAR, Regions 1 and 2.
Yap in June 2020 was appointed as Benguet’s caretaker congressman after its former representative, Nestor Fongwan Sr., died of an illness last year.
Meanwhile, as pictures of the unveiling ceremony surfaced on social media, some Filipinos noticed Yap’s name in the tarpaulin which declared that the laboratory building was named after him.
AN EARLY CHRISTMAS GIFT. The molecular laboratory for Covid-19 testing of the Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) which was…
“Buhay ka pa pero may tribute na building na sa’yo? Yuck sa political moves niyo,” wrote a Twitter user.
“The EPAL of the year,” another online user commented.
“Pagiging epal sa Benguet, nagiging new normal na!” a Filipino quipped in response to the building being named after the lawmaker.
“Patay na ba si Congressman Eric Yap kaya may building na na ipinangalan sa kanya?” screenwriter Jerry Gracio, who also served as a commissioner for Samar-Leyte Languages at the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, tweeted.
A Facebook page tracking supposed “epal” politicians likewise took note of Yap’s name and said that it violated a memorandum of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, as well as a circular from the Commission on Audit.
DILG in Memorandum Circular 2010-101 notes that government personalities must not place their names or pictures in government properties and projects.
It was enacted in pursuit of former President Benigno Aquino III‘s directive before when he advised Cabinet officials and other government instrumentalities to refrain from associating his personality in their projects.
COA’s Circular 2013-004 likewise bans public officials from using government projects and programs for propaganda purposes through affixing their pictures or names.
Based on the National Historical Commission‘s “Revised Guidelines on the Naming and Renaming of Streets, Public Schools, Plazas, Building, Bridges and other Public Structures,” there can be no local government unit buildings to be named or renamed after a living person.
Last year, House Bill 71 or the “Anti-Epal” Bill was filed by Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Norte) which seeks to prohibit and penalize public officials from posting their names and faces into government projects funded with taxpayers’ money.
Yap on Monday addressed the criticisms and said that he was not aware the people of BGH had apparently named the building after him “out of gratitude.”
“Tinatanong niya kung pera ko raw ba ‘yun? Unang-una, ang sagot ko, opo, pera ko ‘yun, dinonate ko at hindi ko alam na ganun ang ginawa ng taga-Benguet (General Hospital) out of gratitude,” he said, referencing blogger Jover Laurio who was one of those who called him out.
Yap added that he immediately talked to BGH’s officials and asked that his name be removed from the building and for it to be named after the province instead.