Senator’s face, name in donated mobile clinic revives display debate

April 28, 2021 - 9:01 PM
Hontiveros Mobile Health Clinic
The office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros launches the Healthy Pinas Mobile Clinic on Magalang, Pampanga. (Photo: Sen. Risa Hontiveros via Facebook)

(Update 2: April 29 at 11:30 a.m.) Pictures of Sen. Risa Hontiveros‘ mobile health clinic revived the lingering issue over politicians’ displays of their images and names in their projects.

The opposition lawmaker on Tuesday announced a project to offer free medical services to indigent Filipinos who are in need yet are hampered by fears of going to hospitals and clinics amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pagsubok, lalo na sa mahihirap nating mga kababayan, ang magpunta sa ospital dahil: una, ang banta ng COVID-19 sa kalusugan, at ikalawa, ang mga bayarin na banta naman sa kanilang bulsa,” Hontiveros wrote on her Facebook page.

“Hindi na iyan alalahanin ng ating mga kababayan dahil sila na mismo ang pupuntahan ng ating Healthy Pinas Mobile Clinic,” she added.

Through the project, Filipinos can avail of high-quality diagnostic services such as chest x-ray, Complete Blood Count (CBC) test, ultrasound, Electrocardiogram (ECG) test, and lipid profile test.

The mobile clinic will also offer diagnostic and medical consultation services to be conducted by doctors.

It has already reached Barangay Turu in Magalang, Pampanga last Monday.

“Sa ngayon po, magsisimula na pong umikot sa ilang mga lugar sa Luzon ang Healthy Pinas van. Abangan po ninyo ang pagbisita sa inyong lugar at makipag-ugnayan sa inyong local government officials para sa pre-registration,” Hontiveros said on the comments section.

Hontiveros said the project hopes to be seen as “bayanihan on wheels” as Filipinos continue to help each other in the public health crisis.

“Ngayong panahon ng matinding krisis, magtulungan po tayo. Mapa-community pantry o mobile clinic man, kumilos tayo para mahatiran ng tulong ang ating mga mahihirap na kababayan,” she shared.

“It takes all of us to survive this pandemic. Ipagpatuloy natin ang diwa ng bayanihan. Sama-sama, lahat tayo, kapit-kamay sa pagbangon,” the lawmaker added.

She also shared pictures of the initiative on her Twitter account.

Some lauded her office’s efforts but others were more critical as they noticed an illustration of her face and her name plastered on the truck.

The vehicle was donated to the project in collaboration with a foundation. It included the designed wrap with the text “a project of the office of Senator Risa Hontiveros in partnership with the Bridges of Benevolent Initiatives Foundation Inc.” when it arrived.

“Much needed by many! So grateful for programs like these,” a Facebook user wrote with a heart emoji.

“Thank you, malaking tulong po ‘yan,” another online user commented on the post.

“Hello, Sen.@risahontiveros. While this is a good initiative, we ask that you remove your image/caricature. We’ve been very critical against politicians from the admin na pumapapel, but the same standards will be applied to you po. You don’t want a backlash on this,” a Filipino from Twitter commented.

“Please remove your face. We have been lauding the OVP’s (Office of the Vice President) efforts and the absence of her image or name in those efforts. We hope you do the same,” another Twitter user said.

Others argued that while the move may be similar to how traditional politicians execute their projects, it gives her a chance “to get her name out there.”

“Unpopular opinion. She’s only favored on the internet but not on the streets. If this could get her name out there, would give her a pass on this. Besides, our immediate goal is to take the evils out,” a Twitter user shared.

“To those who find it distasteful, it is. However, she’s not faring well in recent surveys. Her stance on things [is] better than most but she’s in the opposition. Any suggestion to increase her mileage?” another Filipino commented.

Latest surveys on senatorial bets for next year’s national elections do not include Hontiveros in the top 12. According to Pulse Asia, she is in 17th place.

Those highly favored are Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and broadcaster Raffy Tulfo.

Last week, a local official was called out by social media for including his name in a community pantry in Caloocan, despite the concept emphasizing collective effort.

He has since taken down his online posts.

Legislation dubbed the “anti-epal bill,” most recently filed in Congress in 2019, seeks to prohibit and penalize politicians who post their names and faces on public projects. The bill, however, does not cover items and projects donated to politicians.

Editor’s Note: Updated to state that the mobile clinic was donated to a collaborative project of a private foundation and corrected a note that says it was donated to the office of Sen. Hontiveros.