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    CIVIC ENGAGEMENT. Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa pose with representatives from Caritas and MovePH. Photo by Caritas Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines - Rappler and Caritas Philippines inked an agreement on September 3 to raise awareness for disaster preparedness and promote volunteerism and citizen journalism across the country.

     

    Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian and development arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, will work closely with MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm to tell stories of hope, faith, and resilience in the country. 

     

    The agreement was signed by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Rev Fr. Edwin Gariguez following a Rappler Talk hosted by Ressa with Fr. Gariguez. (READ: Faith, life and technology can be on one path)

     

    Both groups commit to using social media to empower the youth to tell their stories and the stories of the voiceless and marginalized. 

     

    MovePH will conduct workshops on “social media for social good” for Caritas volunteers and communities as well as citizen journalists all over the country. Caritas will use Rappler’s self-publishing platform, Rappler X, to share stories on disaster preparedness and resilience. 

     

    Caritas Philippines joins other organizations such as the Philippine Red Cross, Xavier University, and Visayas State University in the MovePH Network. Members of the network are able to reach a wider audience thanks to social media and the energy of their on-ground communities. To know more about the MovePH Network, email move.ph+network@rappler.com. - Rappler.com


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    FOR THE KIDS. Childhope Asia has been empowering street kids in Metro Manila through education since 1995. The organization signed a partnership with MovePH on September 14, 2016. Photo by Michael Valera/ Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – For the past 27 years, Childhope Asia has been providing education without borders to street children in Metro Manila. Through their holistic development programs, they have been motivating countless street children to study, work, and move towards a better future.

    Now, they are hoping to reach more.

    Childhope Asia signed a partnership with Rappler's civic engagement arm MovePH on Wednesday, September 14, to tell stories through Rappler's X platform. They hope these stories will inspire others to act and support their advocacy.

    Childhope Asia executive director Herbert Carpio said he is excited with the potential the collaboration presents. 

    "This partnership with Rappler would enable us to reach not just thousands but also millions who want to be advocates for street children," Carpio added.

    Having helped over 10,300 street children in Metro Manila since 1995, Childhope Asia is eager to give the public a glimpse of the lives of the children they assist, as well as the stories of the people behind the organization's success. (READ: From sleeping in slums to a scholarship in Germany)

    Carpio expressed relief to finally be presented with a stable platform that would allow such stories to be shared to the public. He explained that some previous efforts went unnoticed. "Sometimes we write a lot of stories but they get filtered by media outlets," he added.

    The lack of a reliable open space for discussion also prevents certain stories to be heard – accounts that Carpio believes will "(move) our audience to action, encouraging them to act for the street children that we serve."

    As part of the Move Network, Childhope Asia plans to use X as a tool to fulfill its goal of eventually expanding beyond the Philippines and further into Asia.

    MovePH executive director Rupert Ambil reiterated the organization's commitment to tell stories that inspire action.

    "There are a lot of good and inspiring stories from the work of groups like Childhope Asia and MovePH wants to be the platform to amplify these stories and advocacies. We want these kids to have a platform to tell their own stories," he added.

    MovePH will train Childhope Asia in running social media campaigns and storytelling.

    Launched in July 2016, Move Network is a community of student organizations and non-governmental organizations that share MovePH's vision to use social media as their platform for advocacy. More than 150 student organizations and 30 NGOs are part of the expanding network. – Rappler.com

    Do you want your organization to be part of the Move Network? Send us an e-mail at move.ph@rappler.com.

    A student of the Ateneo de Manila University, Michael Valera is a Rappler intern.


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    Bookmark this page to watch Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman live on Rappler at 12:30 pm on Thursday, September 15.

    MANILA, Philippines – Rappler talks to Geraldine Roman, representative of the 1st district of Bataan.

    Roman, scion of a political clan, made history in the 2016 elections when she became the first transgender to ever be elected to the House of Representatives. "My life has not been a secret," she said. "[Gender] only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret."

    Roman is set to deliver a privilege speech on the anti-discrimination bill on Monday, September 19. Watch her live on Rappler to talk about the bill, as well as fighting the battle against discrimination. – Rappler.com


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    EXCELLENCE. The 30 outstanding Filipinos recognized by the Metrobank Foundation

    MANILA, Philippines - Who do you consider a hero?

     

    Often depicted wearing capes and having superpowers, fictional heroes have appeared in many incredible forms, like that of a billionaire fighting crime in a bat suit or as an alien with unearthly strength and speed.

     

    However, true heroes are not just a work of fiction. In fact, they walk among us in the form of soldiers, police officers, and teachers.

     

    The Metrobank Foundation honored 30 Filipino heroes as they gave awards to Outstanding Filipinos on September 5, 2016 at the Metrobank Plaza Auditorium in Makati City.

     

    The Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos awardees consisted of the winners of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), the Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS), and the Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT).

     

    The awards recognized 30 noteworthy individuals comprising of 10 soldiers, 10 police officers, and 10 teachers who have given exemplary service and inspire others.

     

    A total of P15,000,000 was awarded with each of the awardees receiving P500,000, a trophy, and a gold medallion in honor of their service.

     

    Among these outstanding Filipinos was teacher Rujealyn Cancino. As the first teacher from Pangasinan to win the Metrobank award, she was recognized for her dedication in teaching and her constant involvement in projects in her community. She is currently a teacher of English and Science to grade six students.

     

    Ms. Cancino said the award serves to further encourage her to continue teaching. She cites her students as the source for her and her fellow teacher’s determination, “they (students) are the reason why we are outstanding teachers.”

     

    Her advice for her fellow teachers to achieve excellence: “teach not to impress or be recognized, teach not to suppress but teach to make a difference.” She hopes that her award “will give inspiration to our fellow teachers.”

    INSPIRATION. Outstanding Teacher Rujealyn Cancino. Photo by Rappler/Denise Nacnac.  

    Outstanding Philippine Soldier awardee, Chief Fernando Junio Parcon shared that this achievement was a cause for excitement and pride not only for him but also for his fellow soldiers as well. “It is a huge honor to be recognized by the public” he said.

     

    As a recipient of eight military medals, Chief Parcon is no stranger to recognition. He has now even more determined to serve the Philippines and his countrymen. Despite his busy schedule as an intelligence officer, Chief Parcon finds time to mentor the youth through a clinic that conducts free sports programs.

     

    Chief Parcon said the award is a source of inspiration for him and his colleagues. “Ito rin ay naging daan rin para maging inspirasyon sa aming mga kapwang sundalo para mag work hard na gagawin nila ang mga task nila,” he said. (This is also a way to inspire our fellow soldiers to work hard and do their tasks.)

    Chief Fernando Junio Parcon. Photo by Andrea Ocampo  

    Police Senior Superintendent Jalla is the chief of PNP crime laboratory. She’s credited with institutionalizing best practices for Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO). “I’ll be giving back to the community. Hindi naman pwede na tumanggap ka lang,” Jalla said. (It’s not right just to accept things.)

     

    “Working with the community, ito talaga ang thrust namin.” She added. (Our thrust is to work with the community.)

    Police Senior Superintendent Susan Jalla. Photo by Rappler/Denise Nacnac   

    Cancino, Parcon, and Jalla are just the 3 of the 30 awarded heroes. Here are the following individuals who were recognized as Outstanding Filipinos.

     

    Outstanding soldiers:

    From the Philippine Army:

    • Lieutenant Colonel Eliglen Ferrer Villaflor PA
    • Technical Sergeant Danilodelos Santos Ramos PA
    • Technical Sergeant Bernardo Labao Tacbas PA

    From the Philippine Navy:

    • Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Baylon Manalang, Jr. PN(M)
    • Staff Sergeant Albert Dangan Eleazar PN(M)
    • Intelligence Specialist Chief Fernando Junio Parcon PN

    From The Philippine Air Force:

    • Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Alina Bañaria PAF
    • Master Sergeant Abel Lim Idusma PAF
    • Technical Sergeant Andersen Daing Avellana PAF

    From the Technical Administrative Services:

    • Colonel Jocelyn Pancrudo Turla MC

     

    Outstanding police officers:

    Police Commissioned Officers

    • PCInsp. Ryan Manongdo
    • PSupt. Jemuel Siason
    • PSSupt. Susan Jalla
    • PSSupt. Mario Rariza Jr.

    Non-Commissioned Officers

    • PO2 Fatima Lanuza
    • PO3 Nida Gregas
    • SPO1 Mhay Rubio
    • SPO2 Jeffrey Ojao
    • SPO3 Hamidhan Tebbeng
    • SPO3 Ezrael Lantingan.

     

    Outstanding teachers:

    Elementary School Teachers

    • Winona Diola
    • Rujealyn Cancino
    • Josephine Chonie Obseñares
    • Arnol Rosales

    Secondary School Teachers

    • Dr. Roy Basa
    • Nelson Agoyaoy
    • Ma. Regaele Olarte
    • Dr. Katherine Faith Bustos

    Higher Education

    • Dr. Ernelea Cao
    • Dr. Mark Anthony Torres

     

    Igniting a flame

     

    Given to each awardee, the trophy created in an image of a flame shining brightly is an accurate depiction of what the award hopes to achieve – to start a spark that Vice President Leni Robredo said in her keynote speech, ignites “the flame of heroism in our hearts.”

     

    Mr. Arthur V. Ty, the Chairman of Metrobank and Vice-Chairman of the Metrobank Foundation shared in his welcome address that the award hopes to create an avenue for the awardees’ “light to shine so others can be inspired”. 

     

    The search for the 30 heroes does not only recognize those who rendered feats of excellent service but also urges others to similarly pursue excellence in their own fields.

     

    This sentiment was echoed by Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto M. Sobrepaña when he said, “what we have learned through the years of recognizing the best teachers, soldiers, and policemen is this – excellence breeds further excellence.”

     

    “These exceptional individuals honored today will be our partners in inspiring the nation towards action, towards a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous Philippines,” he added.

     

    At the end of her speech, Vice President Robredo encouraged everyone in the audience to follow the awardees’ example and “descend into the world and be with the lost, the last, and the least of our brethren.” She called everyone to become the heroes who improve other people’s lives through commitment and service.

     

    Heroism

     

    In the acceptance speech on behalf of the awardees, outstanding teacher Dr. Mark Anthony Torres said, “the stories of our awardees here tonight, redefine our notion of heroes.”

     

    Dr. Torres is a biologist and the head of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao. He is recognized for his efforts as a co-convenor of the Lanao Peace Partnership and Bantay Kalilintad, engaging underserved stakeholders in the peace process.

     

    “We are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things” Dr. Torres added.

     

    The awardees are proof that indeed, heroes are not only found in works of fiction but also in our day to day life where every ordinary Filipino can transform into an inspiring hero. – Rappler.com

     

    Michael Valera and Andrea Ocampo are Rappler interns.


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    HOPE ONLINE. Rappler and Generation Hope partner up to share stories of hope.

    MANILA, Philippines — Social enterprise Generation Hope and MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, inked an agreement on Wednesday, September 13 to raise awareness about education.

     

    Over the past four years, Generation Hope has donated 100% of the profits from its bottled water product, Hope in a Bottle, to improve public schools in the country. To date, it has sold over 4 million bottles and built 29 classrooms in various locations around the Philippines.

     

    By partnering with MovePH and making use of X, Rappler’s online self-publishing community, Generation Hope plans on raising awareness through the inspiring stories of its beneficiaries.

     

    “The power of Rappler to tell stories and to spread those stories—I think that’s the most important part,” says marketing head Alexi Bautista. “We get to see so many kids impacted, but if only the Hope network knows about it, then the stories just go to waste. If every person knew what it (Hope in a Bottle) actually did, then I think it would gain even more traction.”

     

    According to Bautista, the idea behind the organization was getting Filipinos to show their support for education through small, everyday purchases.

     

    “The whole idea was to utilize the power of Filipinos by voting with their peso,” said Bautista. “You’ll choose Hope simply because you know it gives back, and you know that, when you buy Hope, classrooms are going to be built. We want people to understand that through Rappler.”

     

    With Hope in a Bottle currently being sold in over 1000 retail locations nationwide, Bautista also hopes that increased public awareness about the advocacy will also convince more businesses to partner with their organization.

     

    “What our social media channels share is that any brand, any company big or small, can carry Hope,” says Bautista. “And it will matter, because every single bottle counts.” – Rappler.com

     

    Paco Tantoco is a Rappler intern.


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    MANILA, Philippines – The office of Batanes' lone district representative, Henedina Abad, is calling on the public to help residents of the who were affected by Typhoons Ferdie (Meranti) and Gener (Malakas).

    In a Facebook post, Rachel Ponce, a resident of Itbayat who is currently staying in Manila as Abad's aide, pleaded for help as they have yet to contact some towns. She said that immediate needs include potable water and canned goods. 

    Ponce said they "badly" need attention because the strength of the typhoon was never felt in Batanes before.

    She said that since the C130 could not land in Itbayat, they are requesting a helicopter for the town.

    Abad earlier said the province has still no power supply, and the communication lines in the towns of Basco, Itbayat, and Mahatao were cut.

    “Our communities at the moment do not have access to water or electricity, and communication across the province is difficult to establish,” Abad said, adding that there was also great damage in agriculture and infrastructure.

    Another aide of Abad said affected communities also need fuel. 

    As of Friday, September 16, more than 10,200 people in Batanes have been affected by the typhoon, according to Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

    On Thursday, September 15, the whole Batanes province was placed under a state of calamity due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ferdie. 

    Where to send donations

    According to Abad's staff, donations can be brought to this address:

    • 46 A. Eugenio Lopez Drive corner Samar Street, South Triangle, Quezon City (About 100 meters from EDSA)

    Donors can also coordinate with the following authorized staff members of Abad if they wish to help: 

    • Marco: 09989885468
    • Nonna: 09183322954

    Help is on the way

    Meanwhile, DSWD is set to augment relief goods and emergency funds of the affected local government units.

    "Assistance to our kababayan (countrymen) in Batanes affected by Ferdie and Gener is on the way. DSWD is ready to fulfill its augmentation role to the relief efforts of local government units of the province, which are the first responders," Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.

    As of Friday, DSWD has about P844 million in standby funds, P182 million worth of family food packs, P220.5 million worth of food items, and P311.8 million worth of non-food items.

    The DSWD National Resource Operations Office (NROO) is on standby and awaiting clearance from authorities to load and airlift 20,000 pieces of brown rice bars, 5,000 pieces of malong cloths, and 600 family food packs to Basco, Batanes, via C130 plane.

    Prior to the typhoon, the following relief goods worth P620,200 had been prepositioned in Batanes, according to DSWD's field office in Region II:

    • 350 sacks of NFA rice
    • 46 boxes of meat loaf
    • 56 boxes of sausage
    • 56 boxes of sardines packed into food packs

    These have been distributed in affected areas like Basco, Utugan, and Ivana. DSWD's local office is still trying to reach the towns of Sabtang, Itbayat, and Magatao. 

    The regional disaster management agency said it is set to fly to Basco on Saturday, September 17, via a C130 plane. The team was supposed to fly to Batanes on Thursday, but was not given clearance due to the bad weather. – Rappler.com

     

     

     

     


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    MANILA, Philippines – As a taxpayer, you may be wondering how the government spends your money. One way of knowing is by paying close attention to the national budget.

    The proposed P3.35-trillion ($70.65-billion) national budget for 2017 is 11.6% higher than the 2016 budget and represents 21% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017. It is the highest proposed by any administration so far.

    Among agencies, the Office of the President and the education and public works departments are the top gainers.

    The 2017 budget represents the first financial plan of the new president. The Duterte administration, however, had only about a month to insert programs as budget calls started January 2016 during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III. (READ: Next president limited by Aquino admin budget for 2 years – Briones)

    Apart from knowing where taxes go, the national budget reveals whether campaign promises will be sustained.

    On the campaign trail, President Rodrigo Duterte promised higher salaries for uniformed personnel, massive infrastructure upgrades, and easing traffic in Metro Manila. (READ: SONA 2016: The Duterte promise tracker)

    Dubbed the "Budget for Real Change", the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2017 was submitted mid-August by the Department of Budget and Management to Congress. It signaled the start of months-long deliberations on the programs and projects of government next year.

    In this piece, we take a deeper look at the proposed national budget.

    What's in the 2017 national budget? Will promised programs be funded in the coming fiscal year? The spreadsheet below shows the comparison of the proposed budget to this year's.

    {source}

    <div class="blob-full">

    <iframe src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ekv8rYxXssZ6S7XJfFY3MrpFMy1G3TV1g84cA8YXn4w/pubhtml?widget=true&amp;headers=false" width="100%" height="450"></iframe>

    </div>

    {/source}

    Top gainers

    Which government agency gained the most in the proposed 2017 national budget?

    According to the 2017 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF), education, infrastructure, and local government sectors gained the most, among others.

    In terms of percentage increase, the budget of the President's offices has the highest increase at 600.35% compared to this year's budget. The Department of Education's (DepEd's) Office of the Secretary received the highest proposed increase in funds at P135.13 billion ($2.85 billion).

    With a glaring 600% budget hike, the DBM explained that the Office of the President's P20.03 billion ($422.4 million) budget for 2017 includes some P15.46 billion ($326.02 million) for the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Philippines will play host next year.

    The budget department announced that sans the hosting expenses, the financial plan for the President's offices will grow by only P1.71 billion ($27.37 million) from 2016's P2.86 billion allocation ($60.22 million).

    The DBM explained that money will be used primarily for intelligence activities related to the president's war against drugs, criminals, and corruption. In the NEP, the budget on oversight management on national security concerns is about P2.76 billion ($58.19 million).

    Meanwhile, DepEd's suggested allocation for 2017 is pegged at P566.24 billion ($11.94 billion). It represents a 31.35% jump from this year's allocation of P431.11 billion ($9.09 billion). Half of it will go to teachers' salaries and school buildings, as outlined in the NEP.

    The table below shows that DepEd is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways' Office of the Secretary budget with P61.50 billion ($1.30 billion) and the Internal Revenue Allotment at P58.27 billion ($1.23 billion) in terms of proposed increase in funds:

    Top gainers 

    2017 (Proposed)

    [In billion  pesos]

    2016 (Adjusted)

    [In billion  pesos]

    Increase [In billion  pesos]

    %

    DepEd, Office of the Secretary P566.24 P431.11 P135.13 31.35%
    DPWH, Office of the Secretary P458.61 P397.11 P61.5 15.49%
    ALGU, Internal Revenue Allotment P486.89 P28.62 P58.27 14.59%
    BSGC-DOH, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation P50.22 - P50.22 -
    Pension and Gratuity Fund P142.29 P109.97 P32.32 29.39%
    DILG, Philippine National Police P110.40 P88.64 P21.76 24.55%
    DSWD, Office of the Secretary P129.67 P110.56 P19.11 17.29%
    President's Offices P20.03 P2.86 P17.17 600.35%
    ALGU, Local Government Support Fund P34.62 P19.07 P15.55 81.49%
    Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao P41.782 P29.41 P12.37 42.05%

    DPWH received a 15.49% increase from this year's allocation of P397.11 billion ($8.37 billion). The P458.61-billion ($9.67-billion) proposed budget by the public works department will be used primarily for building road networks and flood control systems.

    Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Allotment for local governments received a 13.59% increase at P486.89 billion ($10.28 billion) from 2016's P428.62-billion ($10.18 billion) allocation.

    The treemap below shows the distribution of funds among agencies in the proposed financial plan. Similar to the previous years' budgets, the education sector got the lion's share of funds, while the Office of the Vice President got the smallest slice of the pie this year. (To see the 2016 and 2015 budgets, click the other tabs.)

    {source}

    <iframe src="//e.infogr.am/96bc59b5-7bcf-48e1-b806-1985befa9d23?src=embed" title="Philippines National Budget " width="600" height="600" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>

    {/source}

    Top losers?

    The Department of Health (DOH), National Housing Authority, and the Commission on Elections got the biggest cuts for 2017.

    The DOH Office of the Secretary proposed a P92.97-billion ($1.96-billion) budget in 2017, or P31.09 billion ($654.37 million) less than this year's P124.06-billion ($2.61 billion) allocation.

    This is not to say, however, that the budget for the health sector received the biggest cut.

    The reason for the decrease in funds is attributed to the transfer of insurance premiums. In the 2016 budget, these are lodged under the National Health Insurance Program of the government. Next year, it will be transferred to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, one of the agencies with the biggest increases in funding – by P50.22 billion ($1.06 billion). (See table above)

    In sum, the proposed budget for the health sector is at P144.3 billion ($3.04 billion), 15.4% higher than 2016 figures.

    The table below shows the top 10 agencies with the highest drop in funds in the proposed 2017 budget:

    Top losers

    2017 (proposed)

    [In billion  pesos]

    2016 (adjusted)

    [In billion  pesos]

    Decrease

    [In billion  pesos]

    %

    DOH, Office of the Secretary P92.966 P124.06 P31.09 25.06%
    BSGC-OEO, National Housing Authority P12.64 P30.48 P17.84 58.54%
    Commission on Elections P3.32 P16.16 P12.83 79.44%
    BSGC-DOF, Development Bank of the Philippines

    -

    P5.00 P5.00 100%
    ALGU, Special Shares of LGUs in the Proceeds of National Taxes P30.97 P35.92 P4.95 13.78%
    DA, Office of the Secretary P35.69 P40.63 P4.94 12.16%
    DFA, Office of the Secretary P16.63 P20.70 P4.07 19.66%
    BSGC-DOF, Land Bank of the Philippines - P3.03 P3.03 100%
    DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue P9.38 P11.31 P1.98 17.53%
    DILG, Office of the Secretary P11.13 P13.09 P1.97 14.99%

    The suggested budget for the National Housing Authority in 2017 is at P12.64 billion ($266.04 million) which is significantly lower than this year's allocation of P30.48 billion ($641.53 million).

    The decrease in funds is partly due to NHA's decreased share of housing assistance program for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims. In the 2016 budget, about P25.6 billion ($538.82 million) was allotted for Yolanda reconstruction. while the amount is lowered to P1.3 billion ($27.36 million) for 2017, following the rehabilitation plan.

    Next year, the bulk of the housing funds will go to the government's resettlement program for informal settler families living in danger zones.

    For obvious reasons, the Comelec's share of funds is substantially lowered in 2017 as this year's budget included allocation for the national elections.

    Will promised programs be funded?

    The President has been very vocal about his promises, coupled with very strict deadlines.

    Among those promised are the pay hike for cops and soldiers, sustaining the Conditional Cash Transfer program, and infrastructure upgrades. (READ: SONA 2016: The Duterte promise tracker)

    With only about a month to prioritize his promises in the 2017 national budget, the Duterte administration is limited by what the previous administration has planned, as budget calls started last January.

    Initially, Duterte promised last July to implement "incremental" salary increase for soldiers by August. However, budget chief Diokno explained that this year's budget has no item to grant the increase.

    Next year, soldiers and policemen can expect a slight raise in their salaries as P40 billion ($844.50 million) has been allocated for the promise to be realized.

    Meanwhile, the highly popular CCT program remains in the government's 2017 budget with an allocation of P54.9 billion ($1.16 billion). Diokno announced that strict measures will be implemented to avoid leakages.

    Living up to Duterte's promises, the country's total infrastructure spending for 2017 will increase to P860.7 billion ($18.18 billion), equivalent to 5.4% of the GDP.

    Expenditure Program

    In terms of sectoral allocation, social services get the biggest chunk of the budget at P1.35 trillion ($28.46 billion), followed by economic services at P923.95 billion ($19.48 billion).

    General public services – which include allocations for general administration, public order and safety, other general public services, and subsidies to local government units (LGUs) – are to be given P581.84 billion ($12.27 billion). Defense gets P147.76 billion ($3.12 billion).

    The chart below shows allocation per sector in the 2017 NEP as well as in the 2016 GAA:

    {source}

    <iframe src="//e.infogr.am/8467db51-f5be-4125-9be1-22cb9565de1a?src=embed" title="Expenditure Program" width="600" height="595" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>

    {/source}

    Compared to the previous administration, the proposed financial plan for 2017 has reduced debt service payments to P334.88 billion ($7.07 billion) from P392.80 billion ($8.29 billion) in 2016. The new deficit target inceased to 3% of GDP.

    Higher budget deficit – which will translate to infrastructure programs and human capital expenditure – will "substantially offset" lower debt service, explained Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez in an earlier report.

    In the President's budget message, the new deficit target for the coming years will allow the administration to spend more on infrastructure, rural development, and social services.

    Given the limitations in the proposed national budget for 2017, will the Duterte administration be able to fully maximize the nation's purse?– Rappler.com

    $1 = P47.43


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    REBUILDING HOMES. An Ivatan family in a village in Basco, Batanes begins to rebuild their home which was destroyed by Typhoon Ferdie. Photo by DSWD/Batanes Provincial Social Welfare Office

    BATANES, Philippines – Batanes Governor Malou Cayco on Saturday, September 17, appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to help rebuild the province which had been hard hit by Typhoon Ferdie (Meranti).

    "Nakikiusap po kami (we request) for the immediate rehabilitation of all national government buildings (including) their equipment and facilities," Cayco asked Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo to relay to the President.

    Assistance from the national government will help normalize the delivery of social services in Batanes, Cayco said.

    The initial estimate of the typhoon damage in the province is at P369 million, Cayco reported to the DSWD and other disaster managers and responders on Saturday.

    Batanes province had been placed under a state of calamity on Thursday, September 15.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Relief goods for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FerdiePH?src=hash">#FerdiePH</a> survivors finally arrive in Basco, Batanes Saturday afternoon, Sept 17 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ReliefPH?src=hash">#ReliefPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/WTuQjx8tfp">pic.twitter.com/WTuQjx8tfp</a></p>&mdash; Voltaire Tupaz (@VoltaireTupaz) <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz/status/777095355959644160">September 17, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ivatan kids are all smiles as they watch responders unload relief goods from the C-130 plane <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ReliefPH?src=hash">#ReliefPH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FerdiePH?src=hash">#FerdiePH</a> <a href="https://t.co/aI0HYfPeLj">pic.twitter.com/aI0HYfPeLj</a></p>&mdash; Voltaire Tupaz (@VoltaireTupaz) <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz/status/777102100438278144">September 17, 2016</a></blockquote>
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    On Saturday, Taguiwalo sent a response team to Batanes led by Director Felino Castro. 

    Relief goods consisting of 600 family food packs, 20,000 ready-to-eat brown rice bars, bottled water, malongs, and 3 generator sets were also airlifted to Basco town for distribution to affected areas.

    Over a hundred Ivatans, mostly children, welcomed the first C130 plane that landed in Basco after Typhoon Ferdie struck the province on September 13.

    "Relief goods! Relief goods! Yehey!" some children gleefully shouted from behind the airport's perimeter fence as they watched potable water, food, and other items being brought out of the government plane. – Rappler.com


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    GROUND ZERO. Itbayat, Typhoon Ferdie's ground zero, has been isolated since the storm hit Batanes on Wednesday, September 14. Photo courtesy of Ricardo Jalad

    BATANES, Philippines – A day after relief goods were airlifted to the provincial capital of Basco, disaster officials reached Typhoon Ferdie’s (Meranti) ground zero, which has been isolated after the storm hit the province. Bad weather and strong waves had prevented responders from reaching Itbayat island, the northernmost town of the country.

    "I felt relieved that the situation there wasn’t as bad as we expected,” Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director, told Rappler.

    On Sunday, September 18, Jalad, together with Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Hope Hervilla, Batanes Governor Malou Cayco, and Representative Henedina Abad flew to the island to check the situation of the residents there and to bring relief goods.

    Like in other affected towns in Batanes, Jalad said, there was no reported casualty in Itbayat.

    The two fishermen who went missing after Typhoon Ferdie made landfall in the island have been found, he added.

    Along the way from the town’s airport, houses were partially damaged, Jalad said. 

    He was worried about how farmers and their families will recover from the disaster.

    "Ang mga niyog ay wala nang bunga. Ang mga saging ay bagsak. Medyo matagal-tagal na dapat tulungan sila sa pagkain (The coconut trees have no more coconuts. The banana plants are all down. They would need help in terms food for quite some time),” Jalad said.

    "We will treat rehabilitation in Batanes with urgency," the NDRRMC chief said. (WATCH: #FerdiePH: Gov asks Duterte to help rehabilitate Batanes)

    FOOD, WATER, AND MEDICINES. Relief goods enough to last for two weeks are unloaded from C-295, which landed in Itbayat, Batanes on Sunday, September 18. Photo courtesy of DSWD

    According to the DSWD, residents had been provided with additional food supplies enough to last for two weeks. The NDRRMC response cluster, headed by the DSWD, brought 20 sacks of rice, 4 boxes of distilled water, 20 assorted boxes of canned goods and family food packs. The Department of Health brought assorted medical supplies and medicines. 

    On Saturday, 600 family food packs, 20,000 ready-to-eat brown rice bars, bottled water, malongs, and 3 generator sets were also airlifted to Basco, capital town of Batanes, for distribution to affected areas.

    Three teams composed of the Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (RDNA) Team, Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT), and a medical team also landed in Basco via C130 aircraft. 

    Nearly 2,700 families or about 10,200 people in Batanes have been affected by the typhoon, the DSWD reported.

    Batanes has been placed under a state of calamity since Thursday, September 15. According to authorities, initial estimate of the typhoon damage in the province is at P369 million. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Rappler’s civic engagement arm, Move PH, is launching XChange – a marketplace for onground and online technologies for learning, interaction, and exchange of goods and ideas.

    XChange is a space for technologies and products that are shaping the world. If you want to promote your business or advocacy, or reach partners who can help your venture gain social impact, then this is for you.

    Join us and over 270 partners as we launch XChange. Want to be part of future events? Send us an email with a brief introduction of your ideas at move.ph@rappler.com.

    Onground, online

    There are two ways to be part of XChange – via onground events, and through our e-commerce platform.

    Through Rappler’s tech summits and Move.PH’s workshops, we have built a strong network of partners around the country. 

    Now, XChange will be a permanent fixture at these events. Those who are part of XChange get their own dedicated space to showcase innovative ideas and solutions to problems. As a partner, you can reach the event’s audiences, and network with other organizations as well.

    For example, if we’re hosting a Move.PH workshop on disaster risk reduction and management, an XChange partner can set up a booth at this workshop to showcase a new product that can save lives in times of disasters. They can also display their initiatives to help during calamities – offering free parking, relief drives, and so on.

    Online, XChange will be an e-commerce platform for your social enterprise. Your products will be sold alongside items from existing partners, as well as Rappler Shop merchandise.

    Later on, we will also expand the platform for crowdsourcing and crowdfunding opportunities.

    XChange at the 2016 Social Good Summit

    Witness XChange in action this Saturday, September 24, at the Innovation +SocialGood Summit at Green Sun, Makati. (READ: Innovation +SocialGood: #2030NOW #HackSociety)

    Alongside the summit, XChange will feature partner initiatives and technologies around 5 core issues that address the following:

    • Education and Jobs

    • Food, Agriculture and Poverty Alleviation

    • Accountability and Governance

    • Environment and Disasters

    • Peace and Development

    Explore the booths by taking the #2030NOW Challenge, an activity to understand the United Nation’s Global Goals in an engaging and fun way.

    Entrance at SGS 2016 is free. Visit http://rappler.com/sgs2016 to get your ticket. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – The Social Security System (SSS) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) have received the most number of complaints so far among government agencies through hotline 8888.

    Data from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) showed that out of 1,961 reports related to the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) from August 1 to September 18, a total of 407 complaints have been lodged against the SSS.

    Among the issues cited by callers were delays in the release of SSS IDs and unified multi-purpose IDs (UMID) and problems in following up claims and pensions.

    Ranking second is the LTO, with 173 reports. The complainants reported problems like non-issuance of driver's licenses and vehicle plates, the presence of fixers, and a failure to attend to clients due to its systems going offline. 

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    Tied in 3rd place are the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA), each receiving 83 ARTA-related reports.

    Pag-IBIG Fund complaints were mostly about slow processing of loans and records consolidation, as well as failure to update records of payments. As for the LRA, callers cited the slow action on land title problems and the slow processing of documents, among others.

    Rounding up the Top 5 is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with 79 reports, mostly about problems in passport application or renewal, delays in the release of passports, complaints on requirements, and difficulty in getting an appointment. 

    LGUs

    The CSC has also logged 246 complaints against local government units (LGU).

    Topping the list is Quezon City, with 37 ARTA-related reports. Some of the complaints concerned illegal parking, slow processing of documents and permits, slow or no action from barangays, and reports of corruption.

    The City of Manila is in second place, with 25 complaints, mostly about extortion and slow processing of documents.

    Ranking next are Pasig City (with 13 complaints), Cebu City (12 complaints), and Pasay City (11 complaints).

    Callers noted slow or no action from barangays, late suspension of classes, and extortion or imposition of additional costs in Pasig City; slow processing of documents and problems in waste management in Cebu City; and the presence of fixers, acts of extortion, and slow processing of permits in Pasay City.

    Reports or incidents like these have been communicated to concerned agencies and LGUs via formal letters for appropriate action, said Maria Luisa Agamata, director of the CSC Public Assistance and Information Office.

    Types of complaints

    The CSC, which handles the 8888 citizen complaints hotline, also noted that a huge portion of the ARTA-related reports – 1,199 out of the 1,961 complaints – involved slow processes.

    Below is a breakdown of the top 10 types of complaints in government services:

    Type of complaint Number of reports
    Slow process 1,199
    Failure to act on request or to attend to client 200
    Unclear procedures 124
    Discourtesy 86
    Acts of fixing or bribery 67
    Extortion 47
    Imposition of additional cost 45
    Not observing "No Noon Break" policy 42
    Unattended hotline number 40
    Non-issuance of official receipt 35

     

    Responsible use 

    The CSC said that since the 8888 citizen complaints hotline was launched on August 1, it has handled a total of 11,347 calls as of September 18, or a daily average of 232 calls.

    Of the total number of handled calls, 30% were tagged as "complex" or those that had been referred by agents to another agency. The CSC added that it had received responses from 40% of referrals, in the form of an explanation or clarification, giving of information, or actual action on a complaint or request for assistance.

    Still, many 8888 calls are non-ARTA-related, or those not related to government frontline services, explained the CSC. These are simple concerns or inquiries – like asking for an agency's address or contact number – that have been resolved already at the first level, said Agamata. It also includes suggestions, requests for information, and barangay concerns.

    Agamata reminded the public to use the 8888 hotline responsibly.

    "We thank them for their trust and confidence in hotline 8888. A lot of calls keep coming in... [but in turn], mas hirap sila makapasok (other callers may find it hard for their call to go through)," said Agamata. "We would like to request the public to call hotline 8888 for concerns involving corruption and slow processes, like the presence of fixers, extortion, among others."

    Agamata continued, "For concerns that entail the action of barangays, like noisy neighbors, illegal parking, garbage collection and the like, as much as possible, they could report that to their barangays, because they could best address those concerns." – Rappler.com

    Reporting corruption gets you better government service. Tell us about your experience on www.fightcorruption.ph.


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    PITCHING IDEAS. Groups pitch their ideas on how to help communities adapt to climate change and disasters. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Innovations that changed the world all began as ideas. Rappler's Social Good Summit on Saturday, September 24, came up with 6 ideas aiming to prepare the Philippines for the biggest environmental challenges to face humanity – climate change and disasters. 

    A mobile app allows bikers to become emergency responders. Emergency stations can be powered by the sun. Here are the 6 ideas to make the country disaster-prone and climate-resilient. 

    Jack and the Bin Stalk

    Getting households to properly segregate their garbage has been a long-running problem in the Philippines. It has yet to become a regular habit among Filipinos despite a comprehensive solid waste management law and a number of local ordinances.

    A technologically savvy youth group decided to take on this problem using a combination of hardware and software, providing monetary incentives for households to segregate garbage properly. 

    The hardware comes in the form of a special segregation bin that is "compact and portable." The software is  a garbage collection application system that awards households with points for segragating their trash and connects them to junk shops in Biñan, where the households can earn from selling recyclable scraps. 

    "We're giving waste a value," said Domyson Abuan, a public school teacher who helped start the group. 

    Jack and the Bin Stalk aims to adopt 50 households in Biñan to test their idea. Based on the group's observation, a typical Filipino household in Biñan generates up to 7 kilograms of waste a day. 

    BLOC Camp Site

    BLOC camp sites seek to be the answer to the lack of immmediate and reliable emergency shelters in the Philippines, a country deemed one of the most vulnerable to natural disasters because of its location in the Pacific Ocean.

    The country experience after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest typhoons that flattened many parts of central Philippines, highlighted the urgency of preparing emergency shelters for Filipinos living in storm paths.

    A BLOC Camp Site is powered by a renewable energy and outfitted with a water catchment system. Its pilot "camp site" in Lumban, Laguna is proving to be a success, according to Philip Inno, a consultant for the group.

    The camp site has also turned into a tourist attraction, a destination for glamping or "glamorous camping."

    The group hopes to build more camp sites in other disaster-prone areas in the country. 

    Bike Scouts Philippines and Goozam

    In today's hyperconnected world, the problem is not so much about connecting a person in danger to the nearest emergency responder. The challenge is making sure the emergency responder is able and equipped to provide the necessary assistance. 

    Bridging the gap between information and action is what Bike Scouts Philippines and Goozam app want to address. 

    Bike Scouts Philippines first saw action in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda when its members biked to isolated towns and villages, collected names of casualties, and disseminated the information through Rappler. 

    Goozam, an "on demand, geo context" app that started in California's Los Angeles City, allows people in danger to send a distress signal to people nearby who are using same app.

    The app, the "tech element" of the initiative, gathers information on people who need emergency assistance and makes the information available to Bike Scouts Philippines, the "human element," which then provides the on-the-ground help, explained Elijah Cruz, the promoter of the app in the Philippines. 

    Project Apollo

    A 19-year-old University of Santo Tomas engineering student decided he wanted to build solar power charging stations in far-flung communities using locally-sourced materials. Darryl Limpin likens his charging station to smartphone charging stations in convenience stores, except his invention will be powered by solar panels and will be located in remote villages.

    Limpin said his project is feasible now because the  costs of building solar panels, buying batteries, and constructing structures to house the entire set-up have become cheaper. 

    He envisions power stations that can charge entire houses for 24 hours, a definite boon in times of typhoons or other calamities that can cut off power supply from communities.

    Walang Pasok System

    Prompt announcements of the suspension of classes are critical in times of typhoons. They save lives by keeping students safe inside their homes when storms get violent. 

    Walang Pasok System is an app that aims to facilitate better coordination between students, parents, local government officials, school authorities and government weather monitoring agencies to ensure announcements are disseminated as soon as possible.

    The app also aims to promote understanding of the weather and disaster preparedness, crucial for typhoon-prone communities. 

    Ralph Abainza, one of the initiative's founders, said they want to move on to the consultation stage where they can ask stakeholders what features they want added in the app.

    Tree-planting by the Philippine military

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines have a nationwide presence and lots of manpower, making them perfect partners in restoring the country’s forest cover. 

    2nd Lieutenant Antonio Amancio Tanque Jr says the AFP has planted 4 to 5 million trees since 2010. The projects are usually initiatives of other government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or private groups like companies or non-governmental organizatons. 

    The AFP comes in when these groups are in need of manpower to actually take the seedlings to planting sites, typically difficult to access, and do the planting. 

    Tanque says the military takes care of seedlings after planting, unlike some reforestation projects that don't check on the seedlings afterward. – Rappler.com


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    CHAT BOT. Netizens can 'chat' with MovePH via Facebook Messenger to report good or bad experiences in government. Screenshot from www.fightcorruption.ph

    MANILA, Philippines – Rappler launched the anti-corruption campaign #NotOnMyWatch during the Philippine leg of the Social Good Summit 2016 on Saturday, September 24, giving Filipinos an accessible and interactive platform to call out corruption and commend good practices.

    As of posting, more than 4,000 people have pledged to support the campaign and at least 30 reports have been filed.

    #NotOnMyWatch lets netizens "talk" to or interact with a Facebook Messenger chat bot or fill up an online form at www.fightcorruption.ph to detail the best and the worst government practices they've experienced or witnessed.

    Facebook users can interact with the chat bot by sending a message to the MovePH Facebook page.

    Netizens can also visit www.fightcorruption.ph to make a pledge against corruption in government. Reports are plotted on a map.

    Screenshot of www.fightcorruption.ph

    "This is something that we hope to carry into the next years. If we can make it work, it will make fighting corruption far more transparent," said Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.

    #NotOnMyWatch project lead Gemma Mendoza emphasized that the fight against corruption is a community effort.

    "What we're going to do is use the power of technology, the power of data to show where corruption happens and how it happens. With real-time data, hopefully, we can solve the problem once and for all, with everybody's help," Mendoza said.

    A recent Office of the Ombudsman survey showed that only 5% of surveyed Filipino families who admitted to paying bribes actually reported corruption.

    "So what happens is, our instinct is usually to give in to corruption, let it slide, or post angrily on Facebook," said Happy Feraren, campaign coordinator of #NotOnMyWatch.

    "This was the inspiration behind #NotOnMyWatch. We wanted to turn those Facebook rants into actual reports of corruption," she added.

    These online mechanisms aim to enhance and complement existing government efforts – mostly offline. (READ: How COA, public can fight corruption using social media)

    #NotOnMyWatch photo booth

    Visitors also dropped by the #NotOnMyWatch photo booth at the Rappler XChange area to say "No!" to corruption.

    Students, teachers, soldiers, and ordinary citizens posted their pledges and took a stand against corrupt practices.

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    Online, the hashtag #NotOnMyWatch has reached 2,063,418 accounts, and made 2,579,581 impressions since Saturday's launch. 

    #NotOnMyWatch draws lessons from experiences in Agos-eBayanihan, a platform that uses mobile and web technologies and social media to crowdsource critical and actionable disaster-related information. 

    It builds on previous efforts in the Philippines and in other countries to crowdsource reports on corruption by closing the feedback loop: from the filing of complaints or commendations by citizens to on-the-ground validation of these reports, to appropriate action by concerned agencies.

    Rappler tapped government agencies and civil society groups to be part of the #NotOnMyWatch campaign.

    Among the partners in government are the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), which handles calls to the 8888 citizen complaints hotline. Reports submitted via the platform will plug into existing initiatives of both agencies, such as the Citizens Participatory Audit and the Contact Center ng Bayan. 

    Reports on best practices will become part of the #LingkodBayani database of the CSC. 

    Rappler coordinates with the Office of the Ombudsman for the possible filing of cases against erring officials.

    Rappler also partnered with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), among others.

    The groups saw a preview of the #NotOnMyWatch chat bot during a meet-up at the Rappler office on Thursday, September 1.

    PARTNERS MEET-UP. Rappler partners meet on September 1, 2016 to know more about the #NotOnMyWatch campaign. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

    #NotOnMyWatch aims to contribute to economic development by leveling the playing field in the business sector through competitive and transparent bureaucratic processes.

    "It is a very innovative tool to increase citizens' participation in the realm of good governance," said Xavier Alvaran, political officer of the Jesuit-led Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan.

    "We believe that the advancement in technology... has shown a great promise in advancing our cause of good governance, including curbing corruption. #NotOnMyWatch expands people's democratic space that they can use for the good of society," Alvaran added.

    From October to December, Rappler will be holding #NotOnMyWatch workshops in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. This is to promote reporting via these online platforms, as well as to train and recruit Integrity Champions who will help fight corruption.

    Those interested to help should email notonmywatch@rappler.com. – with a report from Aika Rey/Rappler.com

    Reporting corruption gets you better government service. Tell us about your experience on www.fightcorruption.ph, and spread the word in your online accounts using #NotOnMyWatch.


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    MANILA, Philippines – How prepared is the country for a powerful earthquake?

    This is the question which the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED), dubbed online as #Pagyanig, seeks to answer on Wednesday, September 28.

    The ceremonial venue of the third quarter nationwide earthquake drill this year is the Juana Village, Brgy San Francisco, Biñan City, Laguna. Local drills will be simultaneously conducted in the rest of the country through the regional disaster risk reduction management councils.

    The drill is based on a 7.2-magnitude earthquake caused by the movement of the West Valley Fault. According to the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), a powerful earthquake could cause widespread destruction in  Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

    In the event of an actual crisis, those affected should be prepared to survive without external help for at least 72 hours. After all, the country is no stranger to natural calamities. (READ: Preparing your family for an earthquake)

    “Alam naman po natin ang panganib at kapahamakan na maaring idulot ng malakas na paglindol sa buhay, ari-arian at kabuhayan ng ating mga mamamayan,” NDRRMC Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad said.

    (We know the dangers that a strong earthquake can cause to the lives, property, and livelihood of the Filipino people.) 

    The law mandates local governments as the primary responders in any disaster scenario. Should Metro Manila be incapable of taking care of itself, neighboring LGUs from Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal will need to come in and help evacuees and survivors. This iteration of the drill will test how a local government outside of Metro Manila will respond to a large quake. (READ: The role of LGUs, local councils during disasters)

    #Pagyanig Challenge

    As with every national earthquake drill, Rappler and the Office of Civil Defense carry out a social media campaign to raise awareness on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.

    The public is invited to join the #Pagyanig Challenge and show how we can all be prepared for the 'Big One'. Here's how to join on the day of the earthquake drill:

    1. Do the duck, cover, and hold technique

    2. Take photos/videos of your #Pagyanig experience

    3. Share your #Pagyanig photos/videos on social media

    “Ang layon ng NDRRMC at ng buhong pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, ay ang pagpapalakas ng kahandaan ng mamamayan laban sa hagupit ng mga kalamidad,” Jalad added. (The aim of the NDRRMC and the entire government of the Philippines, led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, is to make sure the public is ready for any calamity.) – Rappler.com 

    Want to know how to prepare for a major earthquake? Here's a page where you can watch videos, read guides, and learn more about quakes.





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    SLAIN FARMER. Arnel Figueroa dies after a heated exchange with the blue guards of the Bureau of Animal Industry in Coron, Palawan. Screengrab from video

    MANILA, Philippines – The Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP) and Pesante-Pilipinas on Monday, September 26, issued a statement condemning the September 20 killing of peasant leader Arnel Figueroa and injuring another farmer at the Yulo King Ranch (YKR) in Coron, Palawan.

    According to the statement, on Tuesday, September 20, seven members of the Pesante-Palawan, a provincial farmers’ federation, were cultivating their farm at the YKR.

    Later that day, a contingent of four security guards of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture, two Forest Management Bureau staff and four Philippine Marine soldiers arrived around 4 PM and ordered them to stop their farming activities, the statement further said.

    Encounter

    This encounter triggered a heated exchange between the farmers and the authorities.

    Without provocation, however, BAI security guard Dan Nelson Mayo aimed his shotgun and killed Figueroa, 44, while the latter was talking with an FMB staff member.

    It was caught on video by Maria Maaya L. Thind, 36, general secretary of the farmers group.

    Ronald Paguntalan, another BAI blue guard, also fired his gun and seriously wounded another farmer, Levy Embanisido.     

    The CCCP and Pesante-Pilipinas called on the Department of Justice, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Philippine National Police “to render swift justice for farmer leader Arnel Figueroa and bring to the bar of justice all who conspired in the murder and physical violence against the farmers.”  

    “We call on the DAR and the DENR to distribute the 2,000 hectares agricultural lands to Pesante CARP petitioners and distribute all alienable and disposable lands in the Yulo King Ranch to qualified farmer beneficiaries,” they said in the statement.

    Land of dispute

    The YKR is composed of 22,268 hectares of pasture land in Coron (32% of Coron’s total land area) and 16,970.53 hectares of land in Busuanga (43% of Busuanga’s total land mass). It was declared as the Busuanga Pasture Reserve in 1975, through Proclamation Number 1387, and was acquired by Marcos cronies Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido using public funds.

    The BAI and Pesante want the distribution of the same area by the DENR – the reason behind the conflict between the two groups.

    The Coron farmers’ clamor over the right for the land traces back to the 1980s when the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) sequestered the land and transferred its management to the Bureau of Animal Industries. Since then, management of the Yulo King Ranch has shifted to different agencies of government.

    In March 2010, the Supreme Court lifted the sequestration order and transferred the management of the YKR to the Philippine Forest Corp. In 2013, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Presidential Proclamation 663 transferring its administration to the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).  

    According to the DENR, YKR’s 12,817 hectares of land are alienable and disposable lands where 10,376 hectares are public land and the remaining 2,441 hectares are private and titled. Figureoa’s farm group tilled a portion of the land since 2009.

    They filed petitions for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage. The group said discussions were conducted with the government for the distribution of the land to the farmers, but nothing has come of it.

    The BAI is petitioning for the same land area for pasture.

    Harassment?  

    Farmers have repeatedly filed cases of violence and harassments against the security guards of the BAI

    “We call on the BAI, DENR and DOJ to drop all cases against the farmers and curb the violence against the CARP petitioners who are in active dialog with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture,” the pesant group said.

    According to a report, Figueroa leaves behind his pregnant wife and three other children. He led the group's fight for the distribution of part of the Yulo King Ranch. – with a report from Raisa Serafica/Rappler.com 


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    DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA. Watching the 1st debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Photo by Cristina Pastor

    Slightly under 12 hours from the debate, I strolled from my apartment in Rahway, New Jersey, over to a small bodega owned by a friendly Korean couple to load up on snacks and soda.

    It was a lovely walk. The day had that cool feel of early fall with temperatures in the mid-to-high teens Celsius and a deep blue sky that reminded me of the morning of September 11, 2001, before the World Trade Center came crashing down in the city.

    In a way, waiting for the first debate is like the Super Bowl in American football or game 7 in the World Series in baseball.

    You scarf the junk food in front of the TV set with your family or your friends in what passes for a viewing party. In my case, it was a party of two in our pajamas.

    This one is a bit serious though. Everything stops as people try to decide who they would want to lead the country in the next 4 years.

    I checked the 3 bags and they were all there: buttered popcorn, Doritos, Arizona Iced Tea, Lay’s Classic chips, Planters peanuts, and Sprite.

    So everything was in place along with a healthy dose of patience and humor.

    Now the problem is to resist temptation and not lay my hands on the goodies before the debate begins at Hofstra University later this evening.

    Needless to say, I did not totally succeed. The Doritos were almost gone before the sun went down.

    Have I been paying close attention to this election? A little bit, but not with the obsessive flair of a political junkie.

    In fact, Americans are already voting and probably a third will have done so by the end of next month and way before the actual voting day on November 8.

    Come to think of it, I have to wonder if the debates will trump the number of those watching Monday Night football on ESPN, or any baseball game as the long trek of the national pastime heads into the last weekend of its regular season.

    To kill the time further, I took in the sitcoms Big Bang Theory and Kevin Can Wait on CBS. During commercial break, I started flipping channels to see if there is a rerun of Captain America or even Star Wars on the other channels.

    A majority of FilAms are going to vote for Hillary, like other minorities who get little love from the Republican Party and think of it as the club of and for white folks.

    Finally, 9 pm rolled around.

    Melania Trump strode to the middle of the auditorium and shook hands with Bill Clinton. The crowd held its breath for a nanosecond and then they walked away from each other.

    Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton face off during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. Paul J. Richards/AFP

    Hillary came out in her usual pantsuit. It was red. Her face looked fresh and it seems she had gotten the rest she needed after a bout of pneumonia.

    “Donald, it’s good to be with you.”

    It was finally on. (WATCH: AS IT HAPPENS: 1st Clinton-Trump presidential debate, 2016 US elections)

    At first, I thought I was just imagining it.

    It was an audible snort from the Donald, like someone left a plug up his nostrils or he had sinusitis.

    Every time he finished a long sentence, we heard him snort, sniff, whatever. Sounds like he is “snorting meth” or something, I quipped to no one in particular.

    As usual, Trump would sometimes talk over his opponent and the moderator. He would roll his eyes at Hillary and she would match the eye rolling a few minutes later.

    “Who is this crazy person rambling on TV? Can't make sense out of one sentence he's saying,” one friend posted on Facebook.

    The one thing I thought became very noticeable is that Trump kept going on about stopping companies from leaving the US although he did not seem to have a clue how he was going to do that.

    Trump could also not “intelligently” explain why he does not want to release his tax return and looked very defensive on the issue.

    All in all, it made for late night entertainment.

    Now the late night comics can have a go at Trump and Hillary. (READ: Clinton, Trump clash in fiery first debate)

    This is only the first debate. Two more are coming in next month as the campaign enters its frenetic stage.

    This is the highlight of the US presidential election, what anchor Rachel Maddow on MSNBC called so aptly the country’s “political Oscars.” – Rappler.com

    Rene Pastor is a journalist in the New York metropolitan area who writes about agriculture, politics and regional security. He was, for many years, a senior commodities journalist for Reuters. He founded the Southeast Asia Commodity Digest. He is known for his extensive knowledge of agriculture and the El Niño phenomenon and his views have been quoted in news reports.


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    PREPARED WITH LOVE. Volunteers prepare food for beneficiaries of a central kitchen in Maguindanao. Photo from Gawad Kalinga

    MANILA, Philippines – Hunger has long been a serious problem among children, especially in the Philippines.

    Based on 2015 data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the country's chronic malnutrition rate for children aged 0 to 2 was at 26.2%, the highest in 10 years.

    The Philippines also failed to lower the malnutrition rate of 27.3% in 1990 to the targeted 13.6% by the time that the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals rolled around last year.

    There have been efforts on the part of local government units (LGUs), however, to curb hunger.

    Some LGUs initiated measures to effectively boost not just children's health, but also their learning capabilities.

    In Mercedes town in the province of Camarines Norte, for example, the municipal government has built a "central kitchen" that whips up and delivers healthy food for free to public elementary schools. 

    Central kitchen

    Adopted from the city government of Valenzuela and the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), the central kitchen is where food for all schools in a municipality is cooked and prepared. This is to ensure the quality of the food, plus the bonus that it costs less given the large-scale production.

    Those who prepare the meals are paid staff and volunteer parents of the program beneficiaries – both trained by the government to handle food. 

    Mercedes Mayor Alex Pajarillo said the central kitchen has helped them save 3,170 children from severe wastage since it was implemented in school year 2015-2016.

    It has also improved the attendance of elementary students because they do not go to school hungry. 

    LGU MODEL. Mercedes Mayor Alex Pajarillo presents his feeding program to participants of Gawad Kalinga's Anti-Hunger Summit. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

    The LGU shelled out P7 million for the construction of the central kitchen and other capital outlays. For 2017, P5 million has been allocated for the feeding program.

    They also gained support from the Department of Education (DepEd), which would assist in the implementation and allocate P18 per child daily.

    Scaling up

    Pajarillo has tapped the regional DepEd office to scale up the project and cover all towns in all Bicol provinces, which was positively received by the LGUs.

    Non-governmental organization Gawad Kalinga has also adopted the model and implemented its "Kusina ng Kalinga" in partnership with the DepEd and private donors. 

    FOOD PREPARATIONS. A sample central kitchen in Leyte. Photo from Gawad Kalinga

    Over 21,000 elementary school pupils have already benefited from the program implemented in several areas across the country, such as Compostela Valley and Isidro town in Leyte.

    Like in Mercedes, malnutrition and absenteeism also dropped in these areas.

    "It's more efficient and more economically practical. You can really drop the cost per meal more than 60% if you prepare them all at once and just distribute it," said Gawad Kalinga executive director Luis Oquiñena.

    "When we institutionalize the success of [local] models in collaboration with DepEd, a [law] will really mainstream and scale [up] the whole thing but for now we have to be contented with a little win here and there," he added. – Rappler.com 


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    What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

    MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of areas where classes have been suspended for Wednesday, September 28, 2016, due to heavy rains. 

    Local governments

    • Navotas City - all levels
    • Malabon City - all levels
    • Antipolo City - all levels
    • Taytay, Rizal - all levels
    • Cainta, Rizal - all levels
    • San Mateo, Rizal - all levels
    • San Jose del Monte City - all levels
    • Meycauayan, Bulacan - all levels
    • Bocaue, Bulacan - all levels
    • Marilao, Bulacan - all levels

    Institutions

    Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

    For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended? – Rappler.com


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    RAIN OR SHINE. Responders from the Bureau of Fire Protection Region 4A report to the command center during the 3rd Quarter National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill. Photo credit: Rappler

    BINAN CITY, Philippines - Loud sirens signaled the start of the 3rd Quarter #Pagyanig Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) at 9 am on Wednesday, September 28, in various parts of the country. This was followed immediately by a series of well-orchestrated disaster response scenes to rival any Hollywood disaster movie. 

    At the staging area – a vacant subdivision in Biñan, Laguna, some 43 kilometers from Metro Manila – more than 100 people did the duck, cover, and hold technique. Residents from barangay San Francisco evacuated their homes and moved to a nearby open field. Simultaneously, the barangay and local government set up a command post to receive reports and assign responders, who kept arriving on site. 

    From evacuating sick patients to putting out fires, each response team carried out their assignment with utmost seriousness, even if this was only a drill.

    There is no time for jokes. When the real quake hits, they say, things will be much worse. 

    Ominous 

    The scenario they’re preparing for is a grim one. 

    Based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), a 7.2 magnitude quake caused by a movement of the West Valley Fault (WVF) would cause massive damage in Metro Manila and neighboring cities and towns. The study estimates that 35,000 people could die in Metro Manila alone, with hundreds of thousands more injured. In Biñan, where the fault line crosses, some 3,000 people could die. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: How powerful is a magnitude 7.2 earthquake)

    According to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the villages in Juana Complex of Barangay San Francisco are one the most vulnerable communities in Region 4A (CALABARZON). Residents are aware of what could happen to them should an earthquake strike. They see signs of the fault line in the cracks on the road and on their walls. 

    TROUBLE UNDERNEATH. Samuel Trinidad of barangay San Francisco, Biñan, points to a misaligned gate caused by a shift in the earth. The west valley fault line lies underneath. Photo by Zak Yuson/Rappler  

    Samuel Trinidad, 49, has been a resident of Juana Villages since 1994. Over the past two decades, he has seen how the fault line has slowly shifted the earth beneath his home. He points out cracks in the cement where the earth has parted and uneven roads. (READ:12-point checklist for an earthquake-resistant house)

    When residents first moved into the village, they were unaware they lived atop a fault line. Today, they say they are prepared to evacuate, but won't leave their homes.

    "Nakakatakot siyempre. Pero matagal na kami nakatira dito at wala nang malipatan," said Trinidad. (I'm afraid of an earthquake. But we have lived her a long time and have no where else to go.)

    Barangay San Francisco residents have organized themselves and carried out many earthquake drills in the past. The OCD says the residents are excellent examples of how communities at the grass-roots level should prepare for disasters.  (READ: Preparing your family for an earthquake)

    "Dito sa amin, nakagawa na kami ng several earthquake drills. Ako’y natutuwa na 'di naming naasahan na darating sa punto na national level na, oh my God! Level up na," said retired colonel Marciano Espique who is the barangay's disaster coordinator and incident commander. 

    (Our barangay was able to run several earthquake drills. I'm happy because we never expected to reach this point where we are part of a national drill, oh my God! We have leveled up.)

    During the drill, Espique was the first on the scene, mobilizing responders and assessing the damage from field reports. 

    COMMANDER. Retired colonel Marciano Espique is happy his barangay performed well during the 3rd quarter NSED. Photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler  

    Setting the bar

    Many more drills led by LGUs and government agencies were held simultaneously in other parts of the country. Netizens posted videos and photos of themselves doing duck, cover, and hold on social media and on the Agos Alert Map. (Know more about Agos, powered by eBayanihan)  

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">Regional incident management team arrives in Juana Village in Biñan, Laguna. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pagyanig?src=hash">#Pagyanig</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NSED?src=hash">#NSED</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/PIADesk">@PIAdesk</a> <a href="https://t.co/fH0ALtv13F">pic.twitter.com/fH0ALtv13F</a></p>&mdash; MovePH (@MovePH) <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/status/780971036695113728">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NH: Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill at DepEd Central Office <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pagyanig?src=hash">#Pagyanig</a> <a href="https://t.co/bhQ22wjCLd">pic.twitter.com/bhQ22wjCLd</a></p>&mdash; DepEd (@DepEd_PH) <a href="https://twitter.com/DepEd_PH/status/780937433235939328">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNAPC.ph%2Fposts%2F1297176243627056&width=500" width="500" height="721" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A roll call of employee must be done to ensure that no one is left inside the bldg<br><br>DILG MIMAROPA Regional Office Earthquake Drill <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/pagyanig?src=hash">#pagyanig</a> <a href="https://t.co/m7pn7i3yQd">pic.twitter.com/m7pn7i3yQd</a></p>&mdash; DILG MIMAROPA (@dilgmimaropa) <a href="https://twitter.com/dilgmimaropa/status/781015182768209920">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>

    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Police Officers conducts proper apprehension of looter during the drill. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pagyanig?src=hash">#Pagyanig</a> <a href="https://t.co/Y8MF4rls7D">pic.twitter.com/Y8MF4rls7D</a></p>&mdash; Phres Evardone (@PhresEvardone) <a href="https://twitter.com/PhresEvardone/status/780967753075204096">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">At the top of the hill, students of Butag NHS in Sorsogon participated in the simultaneous earthquake drill. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pagyanig?src=hash">#Pagyanig</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/DepEd_PH">@DepEd_PH</a> <a href="https://t.co/yhNwF0fIKH">pic.twitter.com/yhNwF0fIKH</a></p>&mdash; Eugene Chris (@SirEugeneChris) <a href="https://twitter.com/SirEugeneChris/status/781027784470691840">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

     

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What to do before and during an earthquake? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pagyanig?src=hash">#Pagyanig</a> <a href="https://t.co/Bjd01EY5a7">pic.twitter.com/Bjd01EY5a7</a></p>&mdash; DSWD Region VII (@dswdfo7) <a href="https://twitter.com/dswdfo7/status/780957871148150784">September 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    It took residents, disaster responders, and the government more than two weeks of planning and rehearsing for the ceremonial earthquake drill.

    Top government officials present in Biñan expressed their satisfaction at the execution of the drill and the performances of the responders.  

    “In all the earthquake drills I’ve attended, this ranks in the top 3,” said Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario, also a former executive director of the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). 

    NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad vowed to continue the quarterly quake drill, noting that drills will also be conducted in various regions.

    OCD Region 4A regional director Vicente Tomazar acknowledges there’s always room for more improvement, such as improving communication and coordination among all stakeholders. 

    Until the real quake strikes, he adds, all that’s left to do is prepare and hope for the best.  – Rappler.com

    Want to know how to prepare for a major earthquake? Here's a page where you can watch videos, read guides, and learn more about quakes.


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    MANILA, Philippines – The chairman of the House committee on appropriations clarified on Thursday, September 29, that there are no lump sum appropriations in the proposed 2017 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

    Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles was responding to the query of Kabayan Representative Harry Roque on the supposed "appearance" of substantial lump sum appropriations in the proposed public works budget.

    He said items under the National Road Network Services amounting to P1.079 billion ($22.3 million) were appropriated P25 million ($516,841) each, allegedly in the form of lump sums. "Where is the exact location of this project?" Roque asked.

    Nograles said these are not lump sum appropriations. "These are items in the budget placed by the DPWH precisely to give them flexibility as these are mostly asset preservation," he said.

    "It is only within the course of the year that the DPWH will find out where these services are needed. You cannot identify these as lump sums. It is clearly identified where the funds will be spent," added Nograles.

    The DPWH has one of the biggest shares in the proposed 2017 national budget. It is seeking a budget of P458.61 billion ($9.48 billion) next year, a 15.49% jump from this year's P397.11-billion ($8.21 billion) budget. (READ: What's in the proposed 2017 national budget)

    "It is impossible to determine precisely, with accuracy, because it is indeed impossible for the DPWH, or any person for that matter, to predict which section of which road will get destroyed in the course of 2017," said Nograles.

    Absorptive capacity

    Massive infrastructure upgrades are among the priorities of the current administration, but the DPWH's absorptive capacity remains a problem.

    Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya raised this as a major concern. He cited the difficulty of hitting the 2022 target for infrastructure spending of 7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the problem.

    "The chair has asked for the new programs regarding absorptive capacity and the response that the chair got is early procurement activities and early awarding of contracts upon the receipt of allotments," said the Camarines Sur 1st District Representative.

    "Thank you very much for that candid answer but truth of the matter is, that has been the practice of the past two administrations so the concern has yet to be answered," Andaya added.

    Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the absorptive capacity of the agency is currently at 50% but there are efforts to improve on this.

    The proposed P458.61-billion ($9.48-million) budget of the DPWH is intended to fund the country's "most ambitious infrastructure program" in 2017. (READ: P458-B DPWH budget to fund 'most ambitious' PH infra program in 2017)

    The proposed budget includes a P32.93-billion ($680.89 million) allotment for the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network, which is seen to reduce logistics costs in Mindanao by improving linkage roads to key ports and other production areas.

    Following the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte,  Villar has rolled out the 24/7 construction of key projects in urban centers nationwide. – Rappler.com

    $1 = P48.36


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