#PHVoteWatch: Politicians' names found in school medals
QUEZON, Philippines – Some students in Southern Tagalog who were given recognition during graduation ceremonies received awards from their schools, but with a political twist.
The awards came with medals showing the names of politicians.
A student from the Laguna State Polytechnic University-San Pablo City campus sent a photo of a medal which carried the name of Laguna Representative Marisol "Sol" Aragones.
The student told Rappler that the extra medal was unexpected.
“Nagulat po kami, pati yung Deputy Campus Director namin, kasi nagpadala ng medal si Sol Aragones," the student said. "Isa lang po dapat medal yung mga magna (cum laude) at cum (laude) pero naging dalawa gawa po nung kay Sol. Binasa pa po nung emcee yung message ni Sol.”
(Even our Deputy Campus Director was shocked because Sol Aragones sent a medal. The magna cum laude and cum laude students were supposed to have one medal each, but it became two because of Sol. The emcee even read aloud Sol's message.)
Sol Aragones is running for reelection as representative of the 3rd district of Laguna.
In Batangas City, Elvie Ebreo posted on Facebook a photo of a medal with the name of Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha engraved in it. Her daughter received the medal in a recognition ceremony.
According to Bong Macalalad, this has been the practice of the local government of Batangas City for the last 3 years now.
“In both (graduation and recognition), they have been doing that in the last 3 years. I think nakaprograma na sa city gov't under Special Education Fund (SEF), 'yun nga lang it carries the name of the mayor,” Macalalad said.
(They have been doing that for both graduation and recognition for the last 3 years. I think it is already programmed in the city government under the Special Education Fund (SEF), but only now it carries the name of the mayor.)
The Local Government Code allots SEF to local school boards for school maintenance, research, and sports development.
Medals and lanyards featuring the names and even faces of candidates are also freely distributed in some areas in Laguna and Cavite.
In Imus City in Cavite, a photo of Arnel Cantimbuhan, who is running for vice mayor, appeared in a student award.
Lanyards and posters of candidates were also given away to students claiming scholarship funds in Laguna. Students received ID laces with Governor Ramil Hernandez' name along with the term "Iskolar ng Laguna."
On February 19, the Department of Education (DepEd) urged schools to avoid politicizing graduation rites, and maintain the "neutrality and non-partisanship of schools." (READ: DepEd urges schools: No politicians in 2016 grad rites)
The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition also criticized politicians for using graduation posters for self-promotion. – With a report from Karla O. Sambajon/Rappler.com
Abigail Abigan is Rappler's lead mover in Quezon.