NYC chair apologizes after drawing flak over COVID-19 billboard ad

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — National Youth Commission chairperson Ryan Enriquez apologized Wednesday after facing backlash online over a billboard advertisement on COVID-19 protective measures with his face plastered on it. Some netizens have criticized the ad as tantamount to campaigning for the next elections.

Facebook user Cliff Barizo Jr. shared photos of the advertisement which was put up at the entrance of Ayala Malls Feliz in Pasig City with the caption: “On a scale of 1 to 10, gaano ka-epal ang National Youth Commission Chairperson?”

“Epal” is a Filipino term used to describe people who want to steal attention, like politicians who put their names and photos on relief packs or on banners and streamers displayed in the streets.

Enriquez said he was only aiming to help disseminate information on COVID-19. The billboard has already been taken down.

“Ang objective ko lang naman ay makatulong para sa information dissemination, lalo na ngayon nabawasan ang major network na nagbabalita. Ang pagkakamali ko, ang laki ng mukha ko. Pasensya na,” he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: My objective was only to help in information dissemination, especially now that a major network that brings news was closed. I made a mistake because there was a big photo of my face plastered on it. I’m sorry.]

Enriquez, however, defended himself and said that the NYC did not spend money in putting up the billboard.

“Walang ginastos ang NYC kahit isang sentimo, negosyo ng pamilya namin yun.” he said.

[Translation: The NUC did not spend any cent. It was on my family’s business.]

People took to Twitter and Facebook to share their sentiments about the ad.

“Mas malaki pa kaysa infographics,” Ella Marie Orito remarked, referring to Enriquez’s face.

[Translation: Enriquez’s face is bigger than the infographics.]

Gotardo Amper Johnpaul said in response to Barizo’s post: “Malapit na naman ang halalan kaya ganyan bro.”

[Translation: Elections is coming, hence the ad, bro.]

Gelo Ruadas said, “Premature campaigning. ‘Di 'ba bawal ito (Isn’t this prohibited) per election guidelines? Priorities din talaga eh.”

Twitter user @wilhelmeuso said, “I can't believe the audacity of Ryan Enriquez to put up a billboard that predominantly features his face rather than the actual message the agency was "trying" to convey. This is not the leadership that we the Philippine youth deserve.”

Another Twitter user, @rryyyaaaannnn, said: “Kung anu-anong walang kwentang bagay ang pinagkakagastusan netong NYC. Hoy, sagutin niyo muna yung findings ng COA (Commission on Audit)! Wag puro gastos! Trabaho naman ng maayos!”

[Translation: NYC keeps on spending on useless things. Answer COA’s findings first. Don’t keep on shelling out funds, do your work!]

A COA report earlier flagged the youth commission for overspending after it has purchased Filipiniana costumes worth ₱3,430 each for its employees who participated in a cultural exchange program last year.

Citing the General Appropriations Act of 2019, COA said only ₱1,500 for each employee participant could be used for the procurement of uniform or costume and other related expenses for cultural and athletic activities.

The commission argued that the provision under GAA of 2019 only applies to local events. State auditors said it applies to both local and international activities.