A Palawan town mayor is facing backlash on social media after she defended a lawmaker whose name was removed in a hospital-owned ambulance.
In a Palawan News report, a doctor at Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH) shared a photo of this ambulance on Facebook on March 16.
The photo showed the name of Rep. Chicoy Alvarez (Palawan).
Without dropping names, the doctor referenced “traditional politicians” or “trapo,” a term that refers to corrupt government officials, in the caption.
“Kaya ba nating linisin ang traditional politics sa sistema natin? Kaya a!” read the post.
This post eventually reached Culion mayor Ma. Virginia De Vera.
In a Facebook post on March 22, De Vera identified the doctor Neal Torre and asked him to stop making the ambulance an issue.
The town mayor clarified that she was the one who received the ambulance in question.
She also attached a screenshot of Torre’s post in her response.
“Huwag na po nating gawing issue ito kung tinangal niyo yung mga stickers or name ni Cong. Chicoy. Sa totoo lang po, ako po ang nag-receive ng ambulance na ito na dapat ay sa LGU,” De Vera said.
“Pero dahil mahal kayo ni Congressman Chicoy, binigay po sa inyo yung isa. Kaya sana tigilan na po natin ang pang babash sa kanya. Ako po ang nag received sa DOH ng Ambulance na ito ok? Tigil na po tayo doctor Neal Vincent Torre,” she added.
Meanwhile, in another post, the mayor challenged Torre to face her personally either at the office or in her house.
“Ikaw na lang ang laman ng social media kung gusto mo ng away puntahan mo ako sa bahay or sa opisina. Parang nilalagyan mo lang ng pader ang DOH at LGU. Sobra na ang ginagawa mong pang mamaliit sa aming mga nakaupo,” De Vera said.
She did not specify the social media posts she is referring to.
Earlier on the same day, Torre shared a lengthy composed post titled “Culion version” about political patronage.
Similar to the previous one, the health worker also did not mention any names.
Criticisms vs Palawan town mayor
The brewing word war reached Reddit Philippines. There, users expressed disappointment over the still-prevalent practice of politicians putting their names on public infrastructure and services such as the ambulance.
“Pakapalan na yung mga pulitiko,” one user said.
“Ang masaklap ay yun idea na para bang sila ang pinagmumulan ng tulong para sa mga tao. So that kapag eleksyon ulit, may masisingil na naman,” another user said.
Another user addressed and criticized the confusing texts on the ambulance.
“Ang daming nakalagay minsan sa ganyang sasakyan. Kaaduwa. Dapat matinong color scheme at distinct, distinguishable but simple identifiers lang nakalagay. Yang may motto o kung ano pa wag na please,” the user said.
The Philippines has yet to pass a nationwide measure that bans elected officials from crediting government infrastructures and projects funded by taxpayers’ money.
The the proposed measure that seeks to prohibit this called the “Anti-Epal Bill” is still being deliberated by the Congress.
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Norte 2nd District) refiled this in 2019.
There is a similar provision at the adopted 2021 National Budget.
Called the Anti-Epal provision, General Provision No. 82.bans government officials, whether elected or appointed, from any form of self-promotion on programs, projects and other initiatives funded through the national budget for that year.
Jeremiah Belgica, director general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority, previously reminded politicians about this measure amid looming election season.
“With the election season nearing, mahigpit po nating pinaaalahanan ang ating kapwa kawani ng gobyerno, na tigilan na ang paglalagay ng mukha at pangalan nila sa mga government-funded projects including documents and issuances,” he said.