Epal in Public Service

Posted on 2018/04/18

There is a universal perception that achieves near immortality: most politicians have thick skin (face). Their flock thrive relentlessly, undeterred by scurrilous public criticisms and the risk of prosecution for flouting the law. One of the most appalling behaviors typical among politicians is the constant politicking in the guise of public service, since day one in office, regardless of where they are at any given moment - baptism, birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, and other occasions – designed obviously to maintain public visibility and score political mileage. When the Office of Ombudsman suspended the mayor and his vice mayor in a town somewhere in Pangasinan last year, as reported in national daily, for violating Department of Interior and Local Government’s Memorandum Circular No. 2010-101 (MC 2010-101) in relation another special law, it raises serious doubt whether the Philippine lady justice is really blind and sincere with the dearth of graft cases that have been successfully prosecuted.

The DILG’s MC201-101, “Banning names or initials and/or images or pictures of government officials in billboards or signages of government programs, projects and properties,” was issued by previous administration of President Benigno Aquino amid endemic practice of self-promotion among our “honorable” public officials through government projects. As expected in most government policies, MC201-101 is losing steam as public officials openly disregard its enforcement not only with their incessant self-promotion but also the shameless political endorsement of their clan members in visible areas: roads, bridges, fly-overs, public cemeteries, lamp posts, and government vehicles. Devoid of iota of decency, most local chief executives (LCEs) not least Barangay Captains have taken advantage of their constitutional authority to issue permits as legitimate blanket for politicking. It is now a standard practice for LCEs to issue business registration permit made of steel plate, from its traditional hard paper form, which bears their image or photo that oftentimes occupies more space than the restrictions on permit use.

Senator Manny Pacquaio cannot be faulted for filing last year Senate Bill 1535 “An act prohibiting incumbent government officials to name government projects after them…,.” As a native of Mindanao, Senator Manny is well aware that the epal culture in the region is as pervasive as the stifling political dynasty that needs to be curbed. For the vast majority of Filipinos who live on the fringes of society, it is uncertain whether the bill’s approval will have influence on their decision to choose their next leaders. Consider the two principal statutes that have been around for years: Republic Act 6713 otherwise known as Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees, and Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. These laws appear to have more than enough protection against wayward public servants, but in reality R.A. 6713 and R.A. 3019 are more honored in the breach than in the observance. Cases of infidelity to public service have no let up, and the government is the ricketiest of all to police its own ranks. Part of the challenge is institutional.

Sandiganbayan, the country’s anti-graft court for public servants is moving a snail pace. In 2017, according to its online data, of the 5,479 pending cases only 1,264 were disposed, or 23%, and the remaining cases were carried over and added to new cases in 2018. Interestingly, of all government agencies the LGUs have the most number of cases filed with Sandiganbayan. Required in due process, before cases are heard in Sandiganbayan the Office of Ombudsman, prosecution arm of government for most graft-cases, has to review them and make a determination whether cases need to be forwarded for trial. Workload assignment has made the Office of Ombudsman the object of public criticism. In its online data, the Office of Ombudsman has a workload of 5, 834 cases, of which 3,090 cases were a carry-over from 2017, and 2,744 were newly instituted. Cases combined, only 3,222 were resolved, a mere 55% rate. As prosecution for corruption and unethical behaviors of public officials becomes a daily grind, government faces daunting task of improving the country’s image as one among the most corrupt countries in the world.

The epal effect is so powerful that even the private sector is no longer immune. There is a modest subdivision in Paranaque City where its president makes it a habit to inscribe his name and former position in law enforcement on every project with the accompanying text “a landmark project’’. Pathetic! Should this person be entrusted with higher position in public sector, no doubt he will be worse than among the many thieves in government. If true measure of public service is accomplishment, as Political Science 101 would have us believe, shouldn’t it be more prudent for public servants to allow their tangible projects to speak for themselves than engage in self-aggrandizement and empty rhetoric? Why are public officials so fixated about image if they believe they have done something good for their own people and country? Unfortunately, our country is awash with many incompetent and indolent officials. Even if we pass scores of laws, the epal culture will never disappear if majority of Filipinos remain captive to the vileness of their leaders. Until the epal culture is completely reversed, the universal perception that politicians have thick face (skin) will subsist.


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Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the groups activities.

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The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.

Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
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Email: mindanaosulac@gmail.com
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762



The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.

The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:
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The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.

Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.


The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.


The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.