Anti-Political Grandstanding Viral Campaign in Philippines gets International Attention

The Philippines is known for its grandstanding politicians, who often plaster their names and faces wherever there is an opportunity. An online and offline campaign, called “EPAL Watch” has recently garnered international media attention, through ¬†China’s CCTV News.

A screencap from the Philippines' #epalwatch website

In the Philippines, politics can quite literally be a circus; with names and faces of politicians on billboards, bus stops, road projects, and even on electric posts. And not just during elections, but all year round.

The efforts are spearheaded through the “No More Epal” campaign by Vince Lazatin and “EPAL Watch” by Noemi Dado. “Epal” is a Filipino slang term that loosely translates to someone who likes to butt in or grab unwanted attention.

These efforts aim to bring the infractions to the politicos’ attention through viral marketing. According to Lazatin, the goal is “to eventually put pressure on the politicians to stop doing it,” noting the practice is decades-old, and will require effort to change.

Filipino netizens have been particularly critical of politicians who have used recent tragedies in grandstanding and electioneering, including the Metro Manila flooding and the recent death of interior minister Jesse Robredo in a plane crash. Politicians have been noted for handing out relief goods with their photos and names, as well as posting messages of condolence likewise with their names.

These have been viewed to be opportunistic, especially if the projects being advertised are paid through taxpayers’ money.

The law does not actually prohibit these posters as yet, except during the official campaigns season, during which the Commission on Elections will issue standard sizes and locations for campaign materials. A recently executive order has been  issued (care of the late Secretary Robredo) banning this practice, although photos and videos posted online seem to prove that local and national officials have yet to heed the order.

Count on the power of social networking services in enabling citizens to voice out their concerns.

via Everything in Budget