Youth Commission chair defends placing huge face on COVID awareness billboard

<i>Photo: Cliff Barizo Jr. / FB</i>
Photo: Cliff Barizo Jr. / FB

National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Ryan Enriquez yesterday apologized for having his huge face plastered on a Pasig City billboard, after drawing flak from Filipinos who accused him of tasteless politicizing.

Read: Undas 2015: ‘No Epal Politics Policy’ at Manila North Cemetery

“My only objective was to help with information dissemination about COVID-19, especially with the shut down of major [broadcast] networks [which are] disseminating news. My only mistake was, my face was huge [on the billboard]. I’m sorry,” Enriquez said in English and Filipino in a statement.

He added that the billboard rental was free and “not a single cent was spent” by the government.

“It’s part of my family’s business, and since no one was advertising [on that spot], we thought shouldn’t let it go to waste and let NYC use it without charge. I’ve done this with other [government] organizations [which have been] asking for help by releasing public service ads for billboards or LED [displays]. I’ve been putting up many NYC ads there for free, it’s just now that people started noticing my huge face,” Enriquez said.

He added that the offending billboard has been taken down so that people could be “at peace.”

Critics pointed out that the informative aspect of the ad was dwarfed by Enriquez’s smiling mug.

“On a scale of 1-10, how annoying is the National Youth Commission Chairperson?” a certain Cliff Barizo wrote yesterday while posting photos of the offending outdoor ad mounted near the entrance of a mall.

On a scale of 1-10, gaano ka-epal ang National Youth Commission Chairperson?#EnriquezResign

Posted by Cliff Barizo Jr. on Tuesday, September 1, 2020


On Twitter, @wilhemleuso couldn’t “believe the audacity” of Enriquez putting up a billboard “that predominantly features his face rather than the actual message he was ‘trying’ to convey. This is not the leadership that we the Philippine youth deserve. #Annoying #EnriquezResign.”

This isn’t the first time that the NYC commissioner was involved in a controversy. In June, at least 120 youth groups and student organizations from various universities called urged him to step down for “misrepresenting the Filipino youth” and keeping mum on various pressing issues, such as online classes, mental health, and unemployment. In addition, Enriquez has publicly expressed support for the controversial Anti-Terror Law, which many believe is being used by the government to silence critics by tagging them as terrorists without undergoing due process.

Akbayan Youth also called out Enriquez’s “excessive spending” last week, after the Commission on Audit discovered that NYC spent as much as PHP34.98 million (US$ 719,553) on training programs held in five-star hotels last year.

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