DILG bans 'epal' local bets from attending national gov't payouts

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) banned local government officials from attending payouts of national government programs, saying these could be used "to advance their political interests."

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año issued the order through Memorandum Circular 2019-55, just as candidates for the May 2019 elections are wooing voters. (IN PHOTOS: The heat is on for local races)

"Huwag po tayong magpa-epal sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno lalo na ngayong panahon ng kampanya," said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya in a statement on Sunday, April 21.

(Don't be a nuisance, don't promote yourselves through government projects especially during this campaign period.)

According to Malaya, national government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have reported that some local bets are trying to "hijack" programs like the Unconditional Cash Transfer.

These candidates, including incumbent officials, reportedly speak to potential voters and place their campaign posters in distribution areas.

"We cannot and will not tolerate any politician to speak during the release of assistance. The payout cannot be linked to any candidate or political party," Malaya said.

He also warned politicians not to threaten DSWD beneficiaries. This type of harassment has happened in past polls, too.

"Only DSWD can delist the names of beneficiaries of their programs. We appeal to all candidates not to politicize the payouts, otherwise the DILG will be compelled to bring charges against you," Malaya said.

The DILG also said Año has reminded officials of the department "to stay away from partisan political activities." – Rappler.com