‘Vitamin C-ringe’? Packaging draws backlash for bearing photo, name of Bulacan governor

January 18, 2022 - 5:08 PM
Illustration by Rhovin Luke Maglaqui/Interaksyon

A pharmaceutical product that was distributed as part of a relief pack in Bulacan province drew flak for bearing the photo and name of its governor.

Some online users including pharmacist and TikTok content creator Arshie Larga recently uploaded a photo of a supposed vitamin C box with a picture and and name of actor turned public official, Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, on its packaging. The box indicated that it contains ten tablets of 500mg Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

A Facebook page called The Bulacan Memes shared the photo on January 14.

“Dili nalang kami magtalk. Bawi nalang sa election,” the caption read.

So far, the post earned 6,700 reactions and 1,400 shares on Facebook.

The meme page did not indicate the date the photo was captured or the original uploader of it.

A Reddit user later posted the picture of the supposed Vitamin C box on the online forum r/Philippines.

“Meanwhile in Bulacan,” the online user said.

The social media post soon reached Twitter.

Larga shared it on his account and commented about the labeling requirements of medicines.

“Eto na ba ang bagong labeling requirement para sa gamot? Nabago na pala,” Larga said, adding an upside down smile emoji.

It’s difficult to trace the online user who first uploaded the photo of the vitamin C box.

However, there were similar photos of it shared by residents of Bulacan province on Facebook.

One of them was shared by a Sangguniang Kabataan official in the province.

How netizens reacted

Several online users criticized Fernando for putting his name on a vitamins’ packaging.

“Nakaka-kapal ba ng muka yang vitamin C n yan? kasi yung nagbigay parang overdosed na eh,” one online user wrote on a Reddit form.

“Vitamin cringe ka governor,” another Reddit user commented.

Others raised the perceived gaps in Fernando’s governance in Bulacan.

“Sana may gamot din po na mapatag daan sa Bulacan literal na ‘lubacan’ na eh,” a Facebook user said, playing with the name “Bulacan.”

Other Twitter users pointed out that the budget for printing the governor’s photo could have been used for other purposes.

“Yung pondong pinangprint nya ng mga mukha nya jan, ipinambili nalang sana ng additional units ng Vitamin C. What a waste of money!” one Twitter user said.

Some, however, defended the provincial executive.

“Mga tao nga naman, ikaw na nga tumutulong, pero minamasama pa, sobrang active at mahusay na governor yan sa Bulacan,” one Twitter user said.

There’s still no nationwide law that prohibits government officials from self-promotion in government-funded projects, items and properties.

A provision of it was previously adopted in the 2021 National Budget.

“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.”

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Names and photos of politicians, however, are not included in the minimum labeling requirements provided by Article 77 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 7394).

The minimum labeling requirements are as follows:

  • Correct and registered trade name or brand name;
  • Duly registered trademark;
  • Duly registered business name;
  • Address of the manufacturer, importer, repacker of the consumer product in the Philippines;
  • General make or active ingredients;
  • Net quality of contents, in terms of weight, measure or numerical count rounded of to at least the nearest tenths in the metric system;
  • Country of manufacture, if imported; and
  • If a consumer product is manufactured, refilled or repacked under license from a principal, the label shall so state the fact