Graduation season welcomed by politicos’ greetings

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Politicians make a surprise appearance on some school award certificates, as seen in this image shared by a Facebook user. (Interaksyon via "Jessica Zurc")

Graduation season in the Philippines doesn’t just mean students sending friends tearful goodbyes and scrambling to prepare their resumes.

A recently viral tweet reminded Filipinos of one curious practice that is perhaps endemic to the Philippines: politicians’ uninhibited propensity for public messages of congratulations for new graduates every year.

The tweet by user @jamiegnoche shows a banner with a message of congratulations from Rep. Jorge “Bolet” Banal (Quezon City) with his father, former Quezon City Counselor Tito Jorge Banal.

The Twitter user said the likenesses of the two take up half of the banner, leaving very little space for a more elaborate greeting. What we’re left with is a unique conjunction of the word “congratulations” and “graduates.”

Another post went viral recently, after Facebook user “Jessica Zurc” posted pictures of an academic excellence award certificate and a leadership award certificate in which the portraits of politicians took up much more space than was allotted for the names of the awardees.

The certificate reveals that they were distributed by the office of a representative of Malabon City and the Office of the Vice Mayor of Malabon. The lone district representative of Malabon is Frederico Sandoval II and its vice mayor is his wife, Jeannie Sandobal.

Interaksyon has reached out to the poster, who has refused to disclose her real name. According to the her, the certificates were given out at a ceremony at Barangay Longos, Malabon. She related how relatives in neighboring Navotas City were given the same award but the certificates did not contain portraits of the said public officials.

She also claimed that other families were frustrated upon receiving the certificates. It was the first time she had witnessed the practice as a resident of the CAMANAVA area.

“How will we display those awards at home when the politicians’ faces are bigger than the names of the recipients?” she quipped in Filipino.

Another viral tweet posted by activist Renato Reyes j.r. shows what appears to be graduation greeting from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque is part of the proposed PDP-Laban senatorial slate for next year’s elections.

Graduation season staple

In 2016, environmental group EcoWaste Coaltion pleaded for candidates in the national elections that year to refrain from attaching congratulatory messages for new graduates.

“Political hopefuls should not to steal the thunder from the graduates by hanging tarpaulin posters with their names and faces near schools,” said spokesperson Aileen Lucero in a message posted on their official blog.

They cited DepEd Order No. 7, series of 2016 issued by then Education Secretary Armin Luistro as basis for their lobby against using graduation ceremonies as an avenue for political gain for candidates.