No epal? Why freebies for Marikina COVID-19 vaccine recipients are gaining traction online

September 1, 2021 - 6:07 PM
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Marikina COVID-19 vaccination
Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro speaks in front of a crowd in the city's COVID-19 Vaccination Program in this photo uploaded on Facebook on Aug. 2, 2021. (Photo from Marikina PIO via Facebook)

No names and pictures.

Some COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Marikina noticed that there were no prominent names or pictures of politicians in the items given to them by the local government unit (LGU) on the day of their vaccination.

Reddit user “stornerspaghetti” shared this on the subreddit dedicated to the Philippines on Wednesday with the following caption:

“Got jabbed and they were giving out water, snacks and pamaypay. Don’t you just love it when they don’t put their name and faces on these things.”

The post was accompanied by a smiling face-with-hearts emoji.

A look at other social media posts showed that other vaccine recipients in Marikina have received similar items on the day of their vaccination.

The freebies, however, are only given depending on the location of the vaccination site.

“Aelia,” a longtime Marikina resident, told Interaksyon on Facebook that she didn’t receive anything when she was inoculated by the LGU at the Marikina Hotel and Convention Center.

Meanwhile, some Reddit users agreed with the uploader who lauded the absence of politicians’ blatant names and images on the fan and sticker on the snack package.

“Dapat ganito talaga eh, ang i-promote ‘yung mismong city, hindi ‘yung nakaupo,” a Redditor commented.

“Kaya sana sa susunod na presidente eh i-push ang Anti-Epal Bill (walang mukha or name sa lahat ng proyekto ng gobyerno, local man or national), tsaka pagbawalan na talaga lahat ng tarps, TV/radio/socmed ads EXCEPT ‘pag campaign period,” wrote another Redditor.

“We had some drainage being fixed near our street and the tarpaulin said ‘Project By’ so ready na ako mag-face palm and sigh. Then I continued reading ‘… by The City of Marikina.’ I applauded them and pointed it out to my cousins who also enjoyed the un-epalness of the tarp haha,” shared a different Reddit user.

However, others claimed that one cartoon figure in the fan resembles Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro who is bespectacled and known for wearing light blue buttoned-down shirts.

“The cartoon dad kinda resembles Marcy Teodoro, but it’s really subtle and not in an epal way,” a Redditor commented.

“Casual epal pero hindi masakit sa mata na gusto mo sakalin. Panalo marketing niya na ‘yung reality na need ng name recall at exposure, pero hindi naman sugapa na mas malaki pa mukha at pangalan kaysa sa importanteng bagay,” wrote another Reddit user.

A similar cartoon-like figure could be seen in some vaccination sites in the city as well.

Other LGUs like Caloocan have included the name and photo of the city chief on items such as the residents’ vaccination cards.

However, the city also rolls out a version of vaccination cards without politicians’ names and photos.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the anti-epal provision or General Provision 82 of the adopted 2021 National Budget, prohibits government officials from self-promotion acts.

“Under the Anti-Epal provision, government officials, whether elected or appointed, are banned from self-promotion through placement of names, pictures, or otherwise on programs, projects, and any other initiatives that are funded by the government through the General Appropriations Act,” ARTA said.

The provision was authored by Sen. Grace Poe, who said that it is taxpayers who “fund the projects and programs” of the government.

“Public officials, whether elected or appointed, should not make it appear that their constituents owe them gratitude for the projects,” she was quoted as saying last January.

A legislation dubbed the “anti-epal bill,” most recently refiled in Congress in 2019, also seeks to prohibit and penalize politicians who post their names and faces on public projects.