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Video: #epalwatch feature & other anti-epal monitoring communities

Kaunlaran at tapât na paglilingkod ang dapat mapansin at hindi pangalan at larawan ng pulitiko.

The “epal” officials has long been watched by netizens . Blog Watch started in 2009 when early campaigning was noted by Carlo Ople in Quezon City. Even Tao Po started a poll on political epal with an overwhelming vote against “epal” politicians. When @Philippinebeat and I first discussed the #epalwatch last month, all I thought of was just the hashtag #epalwatch in twitter. The domain epalwatch.com came as an after thought when early submissions started to trickle in.

A facebook page on Support anti Epal added me as their admin. This page is about supporting the Anti-epal bill sponsored by Senator Miriam Santiago which is Senate Bill No. 1967 – “An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project”.

Even Vincent Lazatin put up his own “Anti-Epal” page on Facebook to stop the trend. The Facebook page talks about “reclaiming public property from the clutches of traditional politicians. This page is a venue for the public to share photos of PUBLIC SERVANTS who’ve displayed their names or images in public places in furtherance of their careers.”

Another site is ohhellotrapo.tumblr.com that collates epal submissions. There are now four independent communities that watch out for these epal: the facebook.com/nomoreepal, Blog Watch ohhellotrapo.tumblr.com and the TaoPo.org mobile submissions.

#epalwatch is more than just showing public officials (elected or appointed) who use public funds to show off themselves. Even public property that are paid for by friends or private sources are classified as “epal” in #epalwatch especially if the photo of the official is larger than the text.

Thanks to GMA 7 Reporter’s Notebook, greater awareness is now focused on these “epal” officials in this June 19 feature.

What does “epal” mean?

Definition: EPAL, adj:

Describing any public official who has his/her name/image on any public signage, public space, and/or public property, especially if it was paid for with public money; or one who has signage claiming credit for a particular project or program that was paid for by taxpayers; or anything that relates to such behavior. However, it is acceptable, though still highly discouraged, for the public servant responsible for the project or program to indicate (in lettering that is modest and much smaller that the announced project or program) his/her name and contact information for accountability purposes; provided that such name shall not be permanently printed, attached, engraved, or embossed on said project/program. But in no case shall the public servant’s image, likeness, caricature or picture be tolerated.

Epal activities include pre-campaigning. Pre-campaiging is when a reasonable and prudent person may construe or perceive an advertisement (print, radio, television, internet), public service announcement, sign, giveaway, promotional material or other marketing or public relations device as enticing the casual observer to consider the person appearing in such, for an elective position, or where the secondary purpose of the appearance is to promote an upcoming candidacy for political office. If such a person does in fact file a certificate of candidacy within reasonable time of the perceived pre-campaigning activity, then said candidate will be considered as having engaged in pre-campaigning.

Source : facebook.com/nomoreepal

@philippinebeat writes about the rationale behind Blog Watch efforts on #epalwatch in her article #epalwatch: Citizens’ response to Epal Public Servants

Epal Watch is born

One night early this June, I was busy checking Twitter when suddenly, tweets about epal and early campaigning began appearing on my timeline. Lightbulb moment! We can help citizens have a voice online! I quickly sent off a direct message (DM) to Noemi, Blog Watch’s editor, to ask how she felt about an Epal Watch. It did not take long for a decision to be made. That same night, #epalwatch was born.

Where can Epal Watch be found?

Epal Watch can be found in two places:

On Twitter, using the hashtag #epalwatch
On our website – epalwatch.com

Who can contribute to Epal Watch? And how?

Anyone with a smartphone, digicam, or videocam can. All you have to do is tweet a picture or video of the epal item and tag us using #epalwatch. Also tag either @momblogger or myself, @philippinebeat. You can also send the file with the same details to [email protected]://blogwatch.tv.s175152.gridserver.com .

Anything that appears to be spent with public funds and should not have the politician’s name on it is a candidate for #epalwatch.

You must be the owner of the photo or have permission from the owner to submit the photo. Attribution will be given to real owner if the photo is not yours.

Together with the photo, give the date when photo was taken as well as the location. Where possible, also state name of politician/local leader concerned.

Citizen Power

We in Blog Watch believe that you are a citizen empowered by technology and social media. All you need is a quick eye and your own mobile phone or digicam. Keep an eye out for any sign of epal-ness and bring it to the netizens’ attention.

Public service involves public accountability. As taxpaying citizens it is now time for us to hold our public servants accountable.

Make your mobile phones and digicams work for the good of the nation. We’ll be waiting for your photo submissions.

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About BlogWatch

BlogWatch began in November 2009 as a group of independent-minded bloggers and social media users helping with voter education. It has since evolved into a group of citizen advocates who engage government and the private sector, online and offline, for social good.

BlogWatch does not solicit, ask for, demand or receive any financial or material remuneration for involvement in its activities, whether in cash or in kind. Read our editorial policy which includes disclosure, methodology and corrections policy.

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“Best Story:” Award for Data Journalism PH 2015

BlogWatch received the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also garnered the same award.

BlogWatch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for their story on “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

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