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Bishop wants anti-'epal' bill to cover politicians' holiday greetings

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago should include banning politicians from coming out with Christmas and New Year greetings in her “anti-epal” bill, a Catholic bishop said yesterday.

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) executive secretary, said politicians should not spend public funds to print banners and tarpaulins to greet their constituents “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.”

“With or without this epal bill, we cannot deny the fact that this came from taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“It’s good if it’s true that it’s their own money that they used for these tarpaulins.’

“They put their names there because their intention is really for the people to remember them during election time.”

“Epal” is a slang term used for “mapapel,” a Filipino term for attention-grabber.

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Gariguez said dioceses should not allow politicians to put up their tarpaulins and streamers in church premises.

“Although the decision depends on every diocese, but I think that should be prohibited so as not to be politicized because others might think that it’s some sort of an endorsement or something,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a need to issue a directive for this, all you need is prudence.”

The anti-epal bill seeks to ban the names and photos of politicians from billboards on government projects.

Santiago had previously said that public officials must not claim credit for projects funded by taxpayers’ money.

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