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    KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait – A Kuwaiti court on Monday, December 26, sentenced a Filipino woman to 10 years in jail after convicting her of joining the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) group and plotting attacks.

    The ruling, which is not final, also calls for deporting the 32-year-old after serving her term.

    The woman was arrested in August, two months after arriving in the oil-rich Gulf state to work as a domestic helper.

    At the time, the interior ministry said she had confessed to being a member of the Islamic State group and was plotting terrorist attacks in the emirate.

    The woman told interrogators that her husband was an active fighter with ISIS in Libya and he had asked her to come to Kuwait from the Philippines as a domestic helper, according to the ministry.

    An ISIS-affiliated group in the Philippines has conduced a string of bombings as well as kidnappings for ransom of foreign tourists and Christian missionaries in the country.

    Kuwaiti courts have sentenced to various jail terms a number of members, sympathizers and financiers of the ISIS group.

    In October, Kuwait police arrested an Egyptian driver suspected of being a member of the ISIS, after he rammed a garbage truck into a pick-up carrying 5 Americans.

    Authorities in July said they had dismantled 3 ISIS cells plotting attacks, including a suicide bombing against a Shiite mosque and against an interior ministry target.

    An ISIS-linked suicide bomber killed 26 worshippers in June last year when he blew himself up in a mosque of Kuwait's Shiite minority, in the worst such attack in the Gulf state's history. – Rappler.com


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    DEVASTATED. Residential areas in Naga City were shattered by Typhoon Nina. Photo by Jerome Ruiz Berja/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – At least 27,085 families or 116,154 people in 395 barangays have been affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten), according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

    Here is the breakdown of the affected population in regions that were hit by the typhoon, as of late afternoon Monday, December 26.

    • Calabarzon (Quezon): 7,047 people
    • Mimaropa (Marinduque): 176
    • Region V (Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon): 91,281
    • Region VIII (Northern Samar): 17,650

    Preemptive evacuation was earlier conducted across the affected regions. At least 26,811 families or 114,933 people evacuated homes, the DSWD said. Of this, at least 22,078 families or 93,271 people are still staying in 367 evacuation centers while 1,206 people or 5,243 families sought shelter in the houses of relatives or friends.

    The DSWD started relief work on Christmas day. As of Monday, more than P7 million worth of relief assistance has been provided to the affected families. Of this amount, the DSWD gave more than P6 million while the local government units provided about P863,000.

    Other government offices, civil society groups, and the private sector have also mobilized help for the affected areas. Here's a list of relief operations for victims of Typhoon Nina and how you can donate: #ReliefPH: Help victims of Typhoon Nina. – Rappler.com


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    At least 22 pieces of allegedly stolen diamonds were found inside a balikbayan box.

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday, December 27, said it is seeking help from its Malaysian counterpart in tracing how 22 pieces of allegedly stolen diamonds were smuggled to the Philippines through a balikbayan box on December 5.

    “One of the aspects we are doing as a matter of procedure, even in counter-drug operations, we are pursuing collaborative [effort] with our international or foreign counterparts,” BOC spokesman Neil Estrella said.

    After a tip from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the BOC found the diamonds hidden in a plastic resealable pouch inside a wallet that was among the contents of a balikbayan box sent by a certain Arturo Rivera from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and consigned to Lajane Basilio of Number 34 Luaka, Purok-1, Bataan.

    Estrella said the personalities involved were persons of interest and would be criminally charged if investigation finds sufficient evidence against them.

    “We are now backtracking on our records, such as if the sender has often been sending balikbayan boxes to the Philippines. We would also be checking on all the records of the forwarder,” he said.

    Estrella said that the NBI would conduct a deeper investigation into the validity and authenticity of the box.

    He said the BOC would ask Malaysian authorities if any of the personalities and companies involved had any business in Malaysia, and other information such as the nature of their businesses and the legality of their stay in their country, among others.

    “The whole box is under a warrant of seizure and detention,” he said.

    The confiscated diamonds are now under the custody of the Manila International Container Port. – Rappler.com


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    INITIAL REPORTS. NIA Administrator Peter Tiu Lavin receives initial reports on damaged irrigation facilities in areas hit by Typhoon Nina. Photo courtesy of NIA

    MANILA, Philippine – Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) destroyed at least P25.14 million* ($505,241) worth of crops across 3 regions, according to an initial report released by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Wednesday, December 28.

    The south-eastern provinces of Luzon facing the Pacific Ocean – Calabarzon (Region IV-A), Mimaropa (Region IV-B), and Bicol (Region V) – bore the brunt of the typhoon, the report said.

    Nina affected at least 3,818 farmers and 3,540 hectares of land in these regions "severely affected" by the typhoon. 

    "As these amounts are just partial assessment damages, we expect them to increase as we continue to receive reports from our field offices," NIA Administrator Peter Tiu Laviña said.

    Non-governmental organization Oxfam has reported at least P5.3 billion ($106.5 million) in damage to agriculture.

    Laviña requested help from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to fund the immediate repair of damaged irrigation facilities.

    Nina exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility Tuesday night, December 27, after leaving at least 6 people dead and 19 others missing.

    NIA also reported at least P49 million ($984,754) worth of infrastructure damage. 

    It is lower than the estimates of NDRRMC, which reported at least P83.46 million ($1.68 million) worth of damage to infrastructure in the provinces of Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro alone. – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com

    *$1 = P49.76


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    AERIAL INSPECTION. Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday, December 27, joins an aerial inspection of the areas affected by Typhoon Nina. Photo courtesy of DepEd

    MANILA, Philippines  – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones on Tuesday, December 27, personally checked the situation of schools in areas heavily affected by Typhoon Nina (international name Nock-ten).

    She joined President Rodrigo Duterte and other Cabinet members when they visited Catanduanes and Camarines Sur – two provinces in the Bicol Region badly hit by the typhoon that affected thousands. (READ: Typhoon Nina affects over 100,000 in PH

    In Catanduanes, the following schools were reported to have been heavily damaged: 

    • Bote Integrated School in Bato East 
    • Sto Domingo Elementary School in Virac South
    • Jose Rizal Elementary School in San Andres East 
    • Caramoan School of Fisheries
    • Cabcab Elementary School in San Andres West

    The buildings and roofs of these schools need to be repaired and damaged, as well as having school furniture replaced, according to DepEd officials. In Bote Integrated School, all learning materials and computers were destroyed.

    Standby funds were available for school clean-up and for the setting up of temporary learning spaces. Learning, teaching, and book library kits from Unicef were also prepared for distribution.

    DepEd officials and personnel have been conducting round-the-clock off-site monitoring of the situation in affected areas, the Education Cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported.

    AFFECTED FAMILIES. At least 26,811 families or 114,933 people evacuated homes due to Typhoon Nina, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development

    Evacuation centers

    Meanwhile, a total of 118 schools in the Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon regions are being used as evacuation centers for about 4,050 families affected by the typhoon that made landfall on Christmas Day.

    Many public schools serve as evacuation centers during typhoons, but the DepEd hopes to change this practice due to safety reasons. 

    "We have a policy now that we will not agree to our school houses being used as relief centers. Not only does it disrupt the learning process for the learners but this also not appropriate and do not provide enough protection for those who are brought in there," Briones earlier told Rappler.

    Various buildings that serve as disaster management offices and evacuation centers are being constructed across the country.

    DEVASTATED REGION. An aerial photo shows the town of Polangui after Typhoon Nina made landfall in Albay province on December 26, 2016.
Photo by Charism Sayat/AFP

    Sleeping on the job?

    The 76-year-old Education secretary's visit to typhoon-hit areas came on the heels of a rumor that an Education official has been sleeping on the job. 

    Asked if she felt alluded to, Briones earlier told Rappler: "I have to go where the job is, so I’m not sleeping on the job. I’m sleeping where the job is. I think that has to be clarified."

    Briones, who lives in Quezon City, explained that she sleeps in the DepEd national office in Pasig City or wherever her appointment is nearest to avoid heavy traffic and to save time. 

    "We do not stop until it is finished," the activist and former national treasurer gave assurances, suggesting that she has the stamina to get things done, as her track record in public service showed. 

    Under her watch, Briones said that DepEd has introduced "greater awareness and preparedness for disaster, disaster management, understanding the environment because what we are having now is irreversible."– Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines - During disasters, our local disaster officials and responders also risk their lives in order to save others.

    And just like the most recent storm that hit the country on Christmas Day, sometimes, those who are in the frontlines when disasters strike spend special occasions in the office or in the field, instead.

    In the aftermath of Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten), we have been receiving reports commending our local officials, disaster responders and government agencies:

     

    For those affected by Nina, do you think your disaster officials did well? Please share with us your experience below!

     

    –Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – If there’s one buzzword that will forever be associated with 2016, it’s the word “change.” From political leaders to the climate, nothing has remained static. 

    True to our mandate, MovePH – Rappler’s civic engagement arm – has kept abreast with the times in our goal to move the Philippines by empowering people to tell their stories and find solutions to age-old problems. 

    As the year closes, we celebrate the partners and friends we’ve made this year and the innovative social media advocacy campaigns we’ve conducted together with them.

    #PHVote:The Leader I Want 

    It was one of the most hotly contested elections in Philippine history, thanks in a large part to social media. Rappler – together with its partners from the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, Lente, PPCRV, and COMELEC – harnessed the power of social media through the #PHVote platform that kept the public informed about the candidates running for national and local elections and where they stood on key issues.

    CHANGE. Screenshot of the #PHVote platform featuring a special issues section on Climate Change, powered by Oxfam Philippines

    MovePH also partnered with Oxfam - an international non profit organization - to educate the public about the candidates’ positions on climate change and disaster preparedness using the #PHVote platform and multimedia storytelling. We continued this campaign with the coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first 6 months in office, focusing on how we could #FutureProof the country’s farmers, women, and children from the expected impact of climate change. 

     

    Financial Literacy for OFWs

     

    With more than 10 million Filipinos living and working abroad, the remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) contribute significantly to the country’s economy. But many OFWs and their families lack basic knowledge on how to save better and plan for their future financial security. 

    MovePH partnered with Social Enterprise Development Partnerships Inc. (SEDPI) to produce and publish a series of videos and articles on financial literacy to make an otherwise complex topic approachable and easy to understand. SEDPI president Mariel Vincent Rapisura said the partnership with MovePH will empower millions of Filipinos to become the masters of their own future.

     

    A growing #ZeroCasualty community

     

    Disaster preparedness is an advocacy engrained into MovePH’s DNA. From the launch of the Agos platform and network in 2013, we’ve gone from strength to strength, including integrating Globe and Smart SMS features into the Agos disaster information management reporting platform. 

     

    For 2016, we successfully continued our partnerships with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the #MMShakeDrill 2016 and the Office of Civil Defense for the simultaneous nationwide quake drills. MovePH also conducted several Agos 101 training workshops for the RACERS, Kabalikat Civicom, React, and other civic groups. 

     

    We also inked partnerships with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP), and renewed our partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Thanks to these agencies and our existing partners, we’ve grown the community of #ZeroCasualty advocates on the ground and online.

    "We are indeed very happy with our partnership with Rappler. Our partnership is relevant and timely especially in promoting our advocacies in the fields of Humanitarian Assistance and  Disaster Response (HADR);  Environmental Protection and Preservation; and in promoting Peace and Order through the social media. During the recent  conduct of Disaster Responders' Challenge (DRC) exercise in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Rappler provided live telecast of the activity which enabled us to fully maximize our awareness campaign to the general public," said BGen Ronnie S. Evangelista, Commander of the CRSAFP.

      

    Empowering the next generation of Movers

     

    In all of the MovePH’s campaigns and partnerships with various organizations, one theme is consistent: the need to empower people. We jointly understand this need is inherent to ensure that we all benefit from the open space the Internet and social media provides us to discuss ideas and find solutions. Without empowerment, we do not facilitate critical thought and discussion that are so crucial to strengthening institutions and building our young nation.

     

    This is why MovePH has partnered with Caritas Philippines, the Department of Education, Xavier University, Visayas State Unviersity and other universities across the country for the training of campus journalists and civic leaders. We want to empower the next generation of Movers to be all they can be. They are, after all, our future journalists, engineers, scientists, teachers, and leaders. 

     

    We look forward to the coming year with renewed energy and excitement, even as we acknowledge the challenges that lay ahead. - Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Last year's celebration to greet 2016 resulted in at least 932 cases of injuries. It was higher by 72 cases or 8% compared to 860 injuries in the previous year.

    The record from December 21, 2015 to January 5, 2016 showed that up to 920 of the 932 cases or an overwhelming 98.7% were due to fireworks explosion. There was one reported death due to massive injuries from an exploding good-bye Philippines.

    Only 10 cases were due to stray bullets and another 2 were due to firecracker ingestion. 

    As the country prepares again to greet another new year, the Department of Health (DOH) is targeting to minimize the injuries.

    Here are some of the suggestions from the DOH on how to prevent firework injuries and stay safe on New Year's Eve:

    • Promote and participate in the community fireworks display in your area.

    • Celebrate a safe holiday with family and loved ones.

    • Use alternative noise-makers to welcome the New Year like car horns, cans, pots and pans, radio music, etc.

    • Join merry-making activities such as street parties, concerts, games.

    • Use the time to reflect on the lessons of the past year and make resolutions for a better 2013.

    CASUALTY. There were a total of 384 fireworks-related injuries reported to the DOH headquarters as of 6am on New Year's day in 2016. Photo by Mark Cristino/EPA

    DOH reminded the public to keep children away from fireworks. Last year, 40% of those injured due to fireworks were children less than 15 years old.

    It also reminded the public to only buy legal fireworks and stay away from unexploded fireworks. 

    Any type of fireworks, illegal or not, can cause injuries. Last year, 59% or 555 cases of the fireworks related injuries (FWRI) was caused by illegal fireworks and 277 or 29% were from legal fireworks.  Rappler.com


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    AFP AWARD. The AFP's 'Gawad sa Kaunlaran' is the second to the highest distinction given to citizens and government officials in accordance with socio-economic and other non-combat activities. Photo courtesy of Peter Khallil Figueroa Ferrer

    MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) awarded the “Gawad sa Kaunlaran" medal and ribbon to 3 scientists from the Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

    They were recognized on Tuesday, December 27, for working with the AFP and helping prepare residents of Calayan, Batanes, against typhoon hazards during the “All-in-One Bayanihan in Calayan Group of Islands,” a 4-day training held from July 24 to 29, 2016.

    The commander of the AFP Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), Lt Gen Romeo Tanalgo, handed the award to DOST Executive Director Dr Mahar Lagmay, and geologists Peter Khallil Figueroa Ferrer and Carmille Marie Escape. Tanalgo was also with the Project NOAH team when they visited Calayan, Batanes in July. 

    During the 4-day training, Project NOAH lectured the residents about storm surges and landslide-prone areas, and distributed hard copies of hazard maps to the community.  According to Lagmay, the project was spearheaded by GoShare and AFP Nolcom.

    AWARDEES. Bayanihan volunteers and 'Gawad sa Kaunlaran' awardees pose for a photo opportunity during the awarding night. Photo courtesy of Rolan Garcia

    “The bayanihan was composed of a big group. It happened few months before Typhoon Ferdie (Meranti) and Typhoon Lawin (Haima). Since maps were distributed by Project NOAH, locals found out that the recent evacuation area was in the danger zone. They decided to transfer to another area. When the typhoon struck, that evacuation area was damaged. People were able to spare their lives from the danger through the maps,” Lagmay added.

    The AFP’s Gawad sa Kaunlaran is the second to the highest distinction given to citizens and government officials in accordance with socio-economic and other non-combat activities.

    For the awardees, the recognition only inspired them to help more communities prepare for disasters. 

    “To receive the Gawad sa Kaunlaran medal is an honor for Project NOAH because it shows that we are truly passionate in our mission to provide communities open access to accurate and reliable hazard maps for a disaster-free Philippines,” Ferrer and Escape said.  – with reports from Arlit Janry C. Parlero/Rappler.com 


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    Sit at any airport in the Philippines and you can palpably feel the pulse of Filipino migration. Overseas workers saying goodbye to their loved ones or returning home to be greeted by an ecstatic family. 

    Every year since 2010, the number of Filipinos leaving the Philippines to work abroad has increased – from 1.4 million in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2015. Today, approximately 10.2 million Filipinos are living and working in more than 200 countries and territories. 

    With remittances expected to reach USD 28 billion (P1.4 trillion) for 2016, the equivalent of 10% of gross domestic product (GDP), the contribution of overseas Filipinos to the Philippine economy is unquestionable. About 20% of all households in the Philippines receive these remittances.  Migration has brought immense benefits. One does not have to look far to see the family being supported through remittances that meet their daily needs, pay for their education and health costs, build their houses, and provide for the capital to start small businesses.  

    Filipino migrants also make a considerable contribution to the social and economic landscape in their host countries.  They are the thousands of skilled nurses and medical personnel who support the national health services in many countries. They are the seafarers that guide the supertankers around the globe. They are the software engineers whose contributions are largely unsung with the appearance of new technology that make our lives that much easier.

    It is why they are and should be called “bagong bayani” (new heroes). 

    Tragic stories

    But for each of these successes, there are as many tragic stories that speak to the challenges that migrants and overseas workers face. The many Filipinos who have left unprepared have had to endure trafficking, illegal recruitment, abusive working and living conditions, contract violations, exploitation, discrimination and social exclusion. They are at times deprived of political participation, social protection and retirement benefits. Their children are left to fend for themselves, they suffer broken marriages and disconnection with life in the Philippines. 

    Perhaps less recognized also are the challenges faced by those who choose to finally return. Years of savings are underutilized or squandered because of the lack of entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy.

    Skills and technologies painfully acquired cannot be productively applied owing to the absence of supporting institutions that can match individuals to the markets. Those that left with skills – teachers or engineers – but de-skilled after years of working as domestic workers, now face no employment prospects on return.  

    GLOBAL FILIPINO. About 10.2 million Filipinos are living and working in more than 200 countries and territories.

    Migration Resource Centers

    Leaving often isn’t a matter of choice but coming back can be. So what more can be done for our “bagong bayani” so that they are better equipped for a life overseas and importantly, can better share their talents and good fortune on return? Beyond the macro considerations of how to better exploit the windfall in remittances, some localized actions can make a huge difference.

    Working with 35 local governments through the Joint Migration and Development Initiative*, the United Nations Development Programme in the Philippines (UNDP) has helped establish Migration Resource Centers and local migration committees to better service departees and returnees. These centers, guided by the local committees, act as a one-stop hub for passporting, recruitment and other pre-deployment processes, but also in facilitating access to health, education, and social security services. 

    They also provide investment advice and business development training. These initiatives, at marginal cost relative to the prospective gains, can be replicated in municipalities, towns, and cities that are the source of migrants and overseas workers. 

    Financial literacy campaign

    To do so will require legislationthat would encourage local governments to act more expediently and responsively to the needs of migrants and overseas workers and require also the provision of funding from the national government to supplement any local allocation for the establishment of the Migration Resource Centers. 

    The 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan can be the anchor for such legislation, and it should define specific strategies to ensure that migration can work to the country’s and the overseas Filipinos’ benefit. These include ensuring the protection and welfare of overseas Filipinos and their families, strengthening their engagement in governance including participation in elections, and facilitating the reintegration of repatriated and/or returning overseas Filipinos by offering support services and promoting investment and retirement options.

    An initiative UNDP supported that could be scaled up is the PESO Sense financial literacy campaign for overseas Filipinos and their families. PESO Sense, through an innovative mobile application, provides saving and budgeting tips, as well as investment and business advice. 

    Filipinos will take advantage of overseas opportunities that come their way – at times from choice but most often out of necessity. They, the “bagong bayani”, must be given a helping hand so that they can make the most of their opportunity while overseas and are the most productive on their return. – Rappler.com

    Titon Mitra is the Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme in the Philippines.

    * UNDP is implementing the JMDI programme in 8 countries, including in the Philippines, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, International Labour Organization, UN Women, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Population Fund, and UNITAR with funding from the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

     


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    RIZAL DAY RELIEF OPERATION. Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo spends the Rizal Day holiday visiting typhoon-stricken areas in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Marinduque. Photo courtesy of DSWD

    MANILA, Philippines – The government has so far provided P92.8 million worth of assistance to those affected by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) in the regions of Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Region 5, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Friday, December 30.

    Of the amount, P90 million came from the DSWD while P2.5 million came from local government units.

    Nina, which made landfall on Christmas Day, affected over 1.5 million people or 326,632 families in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Region 5, and Region 8, the DSWD said.

    Of this, over 1.1 million people or 246,586 families were displaced. The DSWD said 316,714 individuals, or 68,304 families, are staying in 657 evacuation centers.

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    Taguiwalo visits storm-hit areas

    Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, accompanied by a team from the DSWD Central Office, spent the Rizal Day holiday visiting typhoon-stricken areas in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Marinduque.

    They joined the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which will conduct an aerial assessment of the affected areas in Batangas, Quezon, and Marinduque provinces. When she returned to Manila, Taguiwalo met with NDRRMC officials "to assess the damage, response, and assistance provided to Typhoon Nina affected areas and communities," the DSWD said.

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    Taguiwalo sought to dispel rumors that there are no DSWD food packs in Marinduque.

    "Even before Typhoon Nina struck Marinduque, there are already prepositioned supplies in the LGU. We do not know why several people are saying that not even a single food pack from DSWD arrived in Marinduque," she said.

    Last December 28, her department had also sent additional assistance in the form of 5,000 family food packs; 2,000 blankets; 2,000 sleeping mats; 200 mosquito nets; 500 solar lamps; and 2,000 hygiene kits. – Rappler.com

     


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    UK DREAM. Regina 'Regie' Laborce entered the UK as a tourist in 1997.

    The story starts at an upscale hotel on Drury Lane in London one summer day in June of 1997. Regina "Regie" Laborce, then 31, was desperately dialing the number of somebody she was told might be able to help her. If the person didn't pick up, Regie would have nowhere else to go.

    The hotel was her last destination as a "tourist" before she bolted, hopefully never to be seen by UK immigration again. Her boyfriend introduced her to a fixer in Manila who set her up with loaded bank accounts and business papers signed off by the trade department.

    The story was that she was going to Scotland for a business conference, then spend time in London for a bit of leisure time before heading home. That was how she found herself at that hotel on Drury Lane. The fixer promised to get her to that point, then it was every man for himself.

    The phone just kept ringing and it was her last day at the hotel. She turned to the only other woman in her group for help. Her name was Lorina and she had managed to contact her relatives in Plaistow, in the outer parts of London where housing was cheaper.

    It was 5:30 am when the man who Regie would come to call Manong (Uncle) Ben fetched them at Drury Lane. Uncle Ben had just finished his shift as a valet in a casino on Grosvenor Road in the rich Mayfair district.

    Regie bid goodbye to the two men in her group – a dentist and a sales rep. She never saw them again. "Saan na kaya sila ngayon (I wonder where they are now)?"

    She lived with Manong Ben, his wife, and their two young sons in a two-bedroom in Plaistow. She and her friend slept in the living room.

    For one month, she stayed in Plaistow rent-free. "Mabait naman sila, pero pakapalan na lang din talaga ng mukha (The couple was very nice, but I knew I was overstaying their welcome)," Regie said, chuckling affectionately. "I looked after their kids, and sometimes I would buy them groceries."

    After two weeks, she found a job as a housekeeper near Victoria Station, where undocumented immigrants like herself alight the trains from different parts of Europe. She considers herself lucky to have gotten a job so quickly. The English, Regie said, were fond of hiring undocumented househelp so they won't have to pay their tax.

    She was then earning £280 a week – her monthly salary as a helper in Taiwan where she worked before deciding to give the UK a try.

    "British pounds were the dream," she told me.

    New country, new baby

    BORN IN THE UK. Gienell's christening photo

    Just as she was settling into her job, ready to send remittances to her two-year-old son with an estranged partner, Regie found out she was two months pregnant with the new boyfriend she had left in the Philippines.

    The baby's father could not follow her to the UK because all the money had been spent on Regie's trip. And a man would not have the same luck as an undocumented migrant in the UK. "No one wants to hire a male for a domestic job," Regie said.

    Regie had planned to leave Plaistow to be a live-in housekeeper, but her pregnancy forced her to stay longer with Manong Ben. Instead of taking it easy, she worked even harder.

    "Two weeks due na ko pero nagtatrabaho pa rin ako (I was still working two weeks before I was due to deliver)," Regie said. For fear of getting caught by immigration authorities, Regie could not register with an NHS practice. In a country with one of the best health systems in the world, Regie had to pay for expensive private health care.

    When it was time to give birth, Manong Ben took her to a private facility where one of her Filipino friends, Merlyn, stayed by her bedside.

    She named her daughter Maria Gienell – "Gie" from Regie and 'nell' from the father's name, Arnel. Regie took her back to Plaistow where a bed had been set up in a small room they shared with the two boys. There was no more space for a crib, so Regie slept next to Gienell in her small bed.

    With more expenses expected for a new baby, Regie sought live-in domestic work, which will pay so much more. She couldn't find an employer who allowed  her newborn to live with them, and she couldn't leave her in Plaistow.

    Her friend Merlyn married a British man and they had a son. Merlyn's husband had a good job so she could afford to take care of her son at home. Regie had a number of friends who had come to England like she did and ended up with British men who gave them citizenship.

    When Regie speaks of these women, she pauses mid-sentence to say, "They're so lucky," followed by a soft sigh, as if wishing she had done the same. Instead, she got pregnant with a man who could not come to the country of her dreams, leaving her alone to fend for their unplanned child.

    At the time, Merlyn was renting a flat in Edmonton in East London with enough space for a baby girl. Gienell was sent to live with her future godmother while her mother lived in someone else's home to look after someone else's children.

    This is a narrative shared by millions of Filipino families. Anywhere in the world you would find stories of two kinds of children: the child in the Philippines growing up without a parent, and the child elsewhere being raised by the former's parent.

    Regie and Gienell had a chance to live a different story. Gienell had a birthright to something a lot of people were risking everything to have: a British passport and all the privileges that come with it.

    Before 1983, all children born in the UK were automatically British citizens.
    After that, citizenship was only granted to UK-born children if at least one of the parents was British or settled in Britain. Gienell had very slim chances of getting a British passport, and it would be exposing Regie to too much risk.

    Gienell stayed with her godmother in Edmonton for two years before Regie decided it was best to send her daughter back to the Philippines.

    Living costs for her would be cheaper back home, and Regie would be able to work more hours. More importantly, the risk of exposure would be greatly reduced. The dream for British pounds would be kept alive.

    The price to pay for that dream, however, was of a greater cost: not being able to raise a child, and enduring many Christmases apart. (To be continued)– Rappler.com

    This was first published in SubSelfie.com.


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    REUNITED. Mother and daughter spend  Christmas together in London

    Part 1: An undocumented OFW’s most awaited Christmas

    Gienell Laborce was born in London in 1997. For every Filipino family gambling their fortune to send or take their children overseas, Gienell had a birthright to this privilege, in the UK no less, where education, health and shelter are benefits accessible to many if not all.

    But she was born to an undocumented Filipino domestic helper who had just arrived in Britain. Her mother, Regie, believed it would be better for Gienell to return to the Philippines while she remained in the UK working, rather than risk both of them getting deported empty-handed.

    Gienell lived with Regie's parents in Urdaneta City in Pangasinan until she was 4 years old. Her father then took her to live with him in nearby Tarlac.

    The difficulty to find good jobs in the Philippines has ingrained in Filipino families a culture of being economically-driven. Families are hardwired to always pick the more practical option; this is why 2.4 million Filipinos are overseas – there's just more money abroad.

    It did not sit well with Regie that Gienell's father could not get himself to work abroad. Slowly they drifted apart, leaving Gienell with separated parents and a mother so far away.

    Growing up motherless

    Gienell does not remember London at all; not her first room in Plaistow, not her second house in Edmonton, and not her mother.

    "Nakita ko na lang noon sa picture, tapos pinaliwanag sa akin ni Papa 'yung sitwasyon na hindi siya makakauwi dahil wala siyang papel (I just remembered being shown her photo and Papa explaining Mama's situation – that she couldn't come home to the Philippines because she had no legal papers)," said Gienell who's turning 19 in February next year.

    While Gienell lived with her father, her mother remained present in her life the only way overseas Filipino parents know how: through care packages. The only way to send love to your child back home was through a box filled with new toys and clothes.

    When Gienell turned 12, Regie sent her parents to Tarlac to bring her back to Urdaneta. After more than a decade in the UK, Regie had finished paying off loans and had managed to build her own house in the province, the sort of big house in the Philippines with fancy interiors and tilings that would leave onlookers no doubt that it is owned by somebody working overseas.

    They would pass the house and simply say "Saudi" or "States (America)" to express the country where the home's proud owner was probably working. They would marvel at the sight before going back to their own obsessions of one day leaving the country too, or raising their children well enough to be the ones to leave, so that maybe they too can have a house that neighbors would point to in awe.

    Gienell had that type of house. Even though she had been uprooted twice with no mother or father in sight, Gienell knew she was luckier than a lot of other kids in her city. It's how children of overseas Filipinos are raised – to learn to see perspective in the economic comfort that comes with not having your family by your side.

    In 2009, Regie's father died to a heart attack. Regie could not come home. "Siyempre, napakasakit sa akin noon (Of course it was very painful for me)," she said.

    Legal status

    What kept Regie going was that in two years, she would have been in London for 14 years, and eligible to apply for amnesty. She was one of the last undocumented migrants allowed to apply for settlement in the UK before Theresa May, who was then Home Secretary, changed the rules increasing the grace period from 14 to 20 years.

    "Lagi ko iniisip malapit na malapit na, noong naka-7 years ako sabi ko kalahati na lang (I would always tell myself you're so close, especially when I reached the 7-year mark I thought then, I'm halfway there)!" Regie said.

    At last, a chance to live in London freely. And she took it, even if it meant paying £4,000 in solicitor's fees to secure an indefinite leave to remain visa, which allows her to stay and work legally in the UK long enough to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

    Gienell was then nearing 18 so Regie had to act fast if she wanted to petition her daughter to the UK without grief. Her older son, Marco, was already over 18, making it difficult for him to join Regie. This was a chance only for Gienell to take, a second shot to be with her mother to make up for lost time.

    For that, Regie had to shell out another £4,000. But it was then or never.

    In the 3 years since obtaining her legal papers, Regie was able to come back to the Philippines thrice: in 2012 for Marco's college graduation, 2014 for Marco's wedding and Gienell's high school graduation, and last year to take Gienell to the UK.

    The first time Regie came back to the Philippines, Gienell can barely speak to her. She remembers picking her mother up at the airport but not recognizing her. She said she had to remind herself that the woman she was seeing was her mother before she could get herself to come near her.

    TOGETHER AGAIN. Regie comes home for Gienelle's high school graduation

    "Nahihiya talaga siya sa akin noong una (She was very shy towards me at first)," Regie said.

    They had to fit all the years they missed in a matter of months. Regie had no choice but to skip the childhood stages in a mother-daughter relationship and jump straight into adolescence where she talks to Gienell about moving, uprooting her for the third time. Immediately, Gienell had to start sorting her documents to apply for a UK visa.

    Like Regie, living in London had become Gienell's dream too. Growing up knowing of her mother's sacrifices to obtain legal status in the UK, Gienell had developed her own aspirations for the country that had given her everything but had also taken her mother away from her.

    For her, London does not mean a broken family; it means opportunity. It means she doesn't have to hide like her mother, that she can get a better job, and she can start helping her family at such a young age.

    "Alam ko na napakamura pa ng edad ko para sa responsibilidad na hinaharap ko pero dahil sa sitwasyon ng aking pamilya, kinakailangan kong gawin bilang ako ang anak at ako ang may mas malaking tsansang tumulong," Gienell said.

    (I know that I'm still very young to bear such a responsibility, but due to my family's situation, I have to step up because I'm the child and I am in a better position to help.)

    Together in London, finally

    Gienell and Regie flew to the UK in January 2016. They rent a flat in Wandsworth Road, near their work and Gienell's school.

    Regie works as a kitchen assistant at a primary school. During her first weeks, she was constantly getting a dressing down. One of her superiors even told her she had no common sense. But she had conditioned herself to always see the silver lining. "Ngayon meron na kong payslip, meron na kong NHS (I now have a payslip, I now have NHS)," Regina declared with a big smile.

    Gienell is taking her GCSEs, a course required for pre-university credits, at the Westminster Kingsway College while working part time in Oxford Circus – two days a week in River Island, and one day at McDonald's. This allowed her to help with the expenses back home, especially as her older brother Marco had two young children who need support.

    I asked Regie how she's doing with her new job. She said, "Oras-oras naiisip ko pa rin, ang hirap talagang kumita ng pounds (Every hour, I think about how hard it is to earn pounds)!"

    GIENELLE IN LONDON. Gienelle returns to her birthplace

    At 19, Gienell has adopted the same work ethic. When I asked about her plans for Christmas, she told me she would return to work for Boxing Day. She clapped her hands and exclaimed, "Double pay!"

    Christmas in London is special for many reasons. There's the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park where people would happily drink hot chocolate or mulled wine for twice the price. There are the lights over the roads in Oxford Street designed like angels watching over the merry-goers. There are the shopping sales, parties, and television specials that Brits wait for all year long.

    For Regie and Gienell, it's special simply because they are finally celebrating it together in the country they have longed to call their own. It was a long way down, but here they are now.– Rappler.com

    This was first published in SubSelfie.com.


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    DAMAGE. Typhoon Nina destroys at least P25.14 million worth of crops across 3 regions. All photos by Enrico Belga Jr.

    ORIENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – Calapan City resident Gloria Dapito always checks her backyard filled with fruit-laden banana trees every morning. The 74-year-old was expecting a final good harvest before the end of the year but Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) dashed her hopes when it hit Oriental Mindoro a day after Christmas.

    "I really thought I could sell those fruits and have extra income this holiday season. But everthing's gone. Even our kitchen was partially destroyed by that storm. There's nothing I can do about it at this moment," said Dapito.

    According to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Nina destroyed at least P25.14 million ($505,241) worth of crops across 3 regions.

    In Oriental Mindoro, the extent of the damage prompted the provincial council of Oriental Mindoro to declare the city of Calapan; the towns of San Teodoro, Naujan, Baco, Puerto Galera; and some coastal areas in Pola under a state of calamity.

    Although assessment of the damage is still being finalized, the declaration was made to speed up the release and utilization of calamity funds.

    At least 27,085 families or 116,154 people in 395 barangays have been affected by Nina, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

    As of posting, a majority of Oriental Mindoro’s towns still have no electricity. A few selected areas in the capital, Calapan City, have intermittent power supply. There are designated evacuation centers in every municipality, equipped with rescue equipment, generators, and charging stations for mobile phones.

    COMMUNICATION. Municipalities in Oriental Mindoro set up charging stations in the aftermath of Typhoon Nina

    Marissa Santos, 15, is among those at the charging stations. Despite the very long line, she was determined to charge her gadget.

    “Communication is very important especially during these times of disasters. That is why I am here to charge my old mobile phone which got wet during the typhoon,” Santos said. 

    There are 6 confirmed casualties in the aftermath of Nina, two in Oriental Mindoro.

    Damage report of the province

    Harold Laudencia, a registered nurse of the Department of Health (DOH) who usually gets deployed for the agency’s program implementations, described the typhoon’s aftermath.

    "I was awestruck when I saw the wooden shed in front of our health center destroyed. That shed was frequently used by local officials during meetings and gatherings. Even the vegetable garden beside the shed was devastated, with all the vegetables gone,” said Harold.

    Based on initial data from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, as of December 28, the estimated value of infrastructure damage in the province is at P170 million; the total agricultural damage is around P700 million for

    In Oriental Mindoro alone, around 5,000 hectares of rice fields with an estimated value of P80 million were affected.

    NINA AFTERMATH. Just a day after Christmas, the typhoon Nina wreak havoc to the province of Oriental Mindoro

    Damage to high value crops like banana, calamansi, rambutan, and lanzones are estimated at P310 million, while agrifishery and livestock losses are at P1 million. As of posting, there was no available data for damage to coconut plantations.

    Heavily-affected Puerto Galera

    Puerto Galera, known for its pristine beaches, is the area that was most heavily affected by the typhoon. The town’s famous zigzag road along the mountain has been blocked by landslides and uprooted trees.

    One of the confirmed typhoon casualties in the province is from Barangay Villaflor in Puerto Galera. The unidentified victim is said to be a member of the Mangyan community. At the town’s capitol, sacks and repacked plastic bags of relief goods are awaiting distribution to affected locals.

    “All of Puerto Galera’s 13 barangays have damaged houses, and 7 from those barangays were affected by floods. Most houses destroyed during the typhoon were made of light materials,” according toRodrigo Manongsong, MDRRMC Calapan Action Officer.

    Barangay Palangan in Puerto Galera was the most affected.  Damage to its breakwater is estimated at around P350,000. Damage to street lights is pegged at P150,000.

    Approximately 24 hectares of banana, 15 hectares of coconut, and 3 hectares of assorted vegetables plantations in Puerto Galera alone were damaged by the typhoon.

    Maritime mishaps, damaged coral reefs

    The surge of people entering the province for the holidays combined with the mishaps and delays of shipping lines have caused heavy traffic congestion in the island for several days.

    It was initially reported that two roll-on-roll-off (Roro) vessels sank at the height of the typhoon on the same day.

    The M/V Shuttle Roro 5 first sank off the coast of Mabini, Batangas, on Monday morning, December 26, followed by the M/V Starlite Atlantic off Batangas Bay on Monday, December 26. Eighteen of the latter's crewmembers remain missing. 

    Manongsong also confirmed that 7 passenger ships (Baleno 5, 7, 8, OceanJet 12, OceanJet 10, Starlite Polaris, and Starlite Blue Sea) ran aground near Puerto Galera, destroying coral reefs. He said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director is set to inspect the damaged coral reefs.

    According to MDRRMC/Bantay-Dagat’s Typhoon Damage Report, the destroyed coral reefs were part of the Puerto Galera Marine Protected Area. Around 695 hectares of corals were reportedly damaged.

    The typhoon inflicted casualties, damage to agriculture and infrastructure, and left many people in the province still without electricity as they prepared to welcome the new year. But residents like Gigi Sagdang, an administration assistant at the Provincial Capitol’s Human Resource Management office, believes the province can recover from the devastation.

    Sagdang is among the people of Oriental Mindoro who remain optimistic despite the situation in the province that would make one feel otherwise. She wants her fellow Mindorenos to demonstrate their resilience in the aftermath of the typhoon.

    “I suppose we just need to pray and trust God. Although we didn’t expect that typhoon Nina would hit us this hard, I believe that we all can overcome these obstacles if we just believe that we have to fight to make our lives normal again,” said Sagdang.– Rappler.com 

    Enrico Belga Jr is a Rappler intern. He is also a journalism major at Centro Escolar University Manila. 


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    MANILA, Philippines – To say that 2016 is an eventful year on social media is an understatement. From combatting trolls to online bullying, this is the year when we saw the dark side of social media and how it can be used to undermine dissent.

    Despite the online noise, MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm continued to build communities of action based on issues and social problems. We linked up online campaigns with the initiatives of partners on the ground. (READ: Partnerships to Move the Philippines forward)

    As the year ends, we highlight the online campaigns we’ve launched and their impact on the communities that we continue to serve.

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    #TheLeaderIWant: Citizen journalism

    In 2016, we saw how social media played a pivotal role in the Philippine elections. Rappler – together with its partners from the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, Lente, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) – harnessed the power of social media through the #PHVote platform to keep the public informed about the candidates in the national and local elections and where they stood on key issues.

    The MovePH team went around different provinces during the first quarter of 2016 to teach young people how to use social media in raising the awareness of voters. Aside from holding forums, MovePH also trained citizen journalists in 12 provinces to become our eyes and ears on the ground to make sure the voices of communities were heard.

    NATIONWIDE COVERAGE. Rappler's 20 core Movers with the MovePH team pose for a photo after the 3-day training. Photo from Rappler

    These trainings culminated with MovePH bringing our 20 core leaders from the provinces for a Citizen Journalism Summit in Manila. We equipped them with the right tools and further trained them on storytelling so they can properly cover the elections for us.

    Our Movers  submitted hundreds of stories on local elections and continue to be our key coordinators in the provinces. Their stories enriched Rappler's #PHVote coverage, the result of the collaborative work of journalists, researchers, tech specialists, artists, partner organizations, volunteers, and voters who cared to deepen the discussion through online engagement.

    #Du30Cabinet Watch: Accountability

    It was a time of hope and excitement as the country elected its first president from Mindanao. As the new government was transitioning, we wanted to keep watch of our institutions and make sure we get the leaders that we deserve.

    APPOINTMENTS. Farmer and leftist leader Rafael Mariano is now the Secretary of Agrarian Reform.

    We launched #Du30Cabinet Watch to ask netizens what they thought of the qualifications of the presumptive appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Through the campaign, netizens vetted some appointments and suggested changemakers to key government positions.

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    X marks spot for NGOs, student organizations

    Political participation should not stop after the elections. This year, MovePH created a network of non-government organizations (NGOs) and advocacy groups to amplify development and advocacy stories.

    We invited more than 200 student organizations and around 30 NGOs to use X, Rappler's free self-publishing platform, to help them amplify their content and build online communities. (READ: 2016 on X: From political to personal)

    {source}<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UGEETnn_z_Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}

    We signed partnerships with the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines – Iloilo, Project PEARLS, Childhope Asia, Generation Hope, Operation Blessing, I am MAD, Philippine Toy Library, and Youth Sports Advocacy (YSA) to train them on storytelling and online campaigns.

    As a result, our partners have been using X to promote their efforts. Generation Hope ran their #GivingTuesday campaign and Childhope Asia promoted their Musikalye event on X. I am MAD and Youth Sports Advocacy (YSA) use X to share stories of their volunteers.

    Even the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have started using the publication feature of X to post updates on the historic peace talks. 

    #StayNegatHIVe: We need to curb the epidemic

    MovePH also continued to tackle the country's growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic through the #StayNegatHIVe microsite.

    As a result of the digital campaign, the number of people who availed themselves of HIV testing services through LoveYourself increased by 60%.

    #StayNegatHIVe. The author shares the impact of the #StayNegatHIVe campaign during his YSEALI fellowship in the US. Photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha

    MovePH initiated the online campaign in partnership with the advocacy group LoveYourself and advertising firm DM9 JaymeSyfu. #StayNegatHIVe ran during the last quarter of 2015 in a concerted effort of Movers and citizen journalists from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

    The campaign won bronze at the 2016 Boomerang Awards under the NGO and government institutions advocacies category.

    Agos e-Bayanihan

    Social media has increasingly been used in disaster preparedness and response efforts in 2016. MovePH's Agos platform, powered by eBayanihan, continued to collaborate with the government and the private sector in amplifying life-saving drills and in crowdsourcing critical and actionable information before, during, and after disasters.

    Rappler and MovePH hosted the microsite of this year's Metro Manila Shakedrill or #MMShakeDrill, which broke its 2015 record by about 1.4 billion impressions on Twitter, indicating widespread engagement and interest in the disaster preparedness exercise. Meanwhile, #Pagyanig (quake), the hashtag of the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill for the second quarter of 2016, reached more than 1.3 billion impressions.

    In 2016, the Agos eBayanihan team also activated its online and ground operations to prepare communities and save lives. It also helped the government, civil society, and the private sector gather information on what's needed and where relief is needed most. 

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/dswdserves">@dswdserves</a> Dir Felino Castro urges netizens to post <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FloodPH?src=hash">#FloodPH</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RescuePH?src=hash">#RescuePH</a> reports on <a href="https://t.co/q4RWwoiC3h">https://t.co/q4RWwoiC3h</a> <a href="https://t.co/KBftx9AJ64">pic.twitter.com/KBftx9AJ64</a></p>&mdash; Voltaire Tupaz (@VoltaireTupaz) <a href="https://twitter.com/VoltaireTupaz/status/764416198477881344">August 13, 2016</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

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    MovePH also held several Agos 101 training workshops for the RACERS, Kabalikat Civicom, React, and other civic groups. The spirit of volunteerism of these responders has inspired vulnerable communities affected by disasters that hit the country this year. 

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    #NotOnMyWatch: Anti-corruption caravan

    Drawing lessons from experiences in Agos-eBayanihan, Rappler launched the #NotOnMyWatch campaign which harnesses mobile and web technologies and social media to call out corruption and commend good practices. (READ: #NotOnMyWatch: Reporting corruption made easier) 

    #NotOnMyWatch promotes accountability and transparency by organizing reports and visualizing them real-time to show the public where corruption occurs most frequently and what form they usually take.

    MovePH complemented the online drive with a caravan. With the support of the British Embassy in Manila, we visted Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Laguna to train civil society groups on how to report corruption using the campaign's platform.

    So far, we have gathered 460 reports of corruption and more than 30,000 pledges to fight corruption with the help of our partners. (READ: Reporting corruption made easier)

    The campaign will run until February 2017.

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    This was how MovePH used the power of storytelling and social media to build partnerships and achieve real-world impact.

    Thank you for moving the Philippines with us! – Rappler.com

    Do you have an advocacy or project that you want to partner with? Let us know on move.ph@rappler.com! 


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    FORMING A GOVERNMENT. The potential appointees of President-elect Donald Trump  are revealed as his inauguration on January 20 nears. AFP File photo

    MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino-American lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School and Harvard College is shortlisted to become the US solicitor general under President-elect Donald Trump, according to US media reports

    George Conway is the husband of Kelly Conway, who was earlier appointed as Trump senior adviser. 

    "Conway, who is of Filipino descent, would be the first Asian-American solicitor general," according to CNN. 

    "The solicitor general is the Justice Department's third-highest ranking official and argues cases on the federal government's behalf at the US Supreme Court," CNN said.

    A CNN source said Conway has been interviewed by Trump's attorney general-designate Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and is inclined to accept the position if Trump decides to appoint him.  

    He will also need Senate approval. 

    The former editor of Yale Law Journal has high-profile clients and has argued before the US Supreme Court. 

    Bloomberg News said Conway played a role during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, the husband of Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton. 

    "George Conway wrote a Supreme Court brief in the case involving Paula Jones’s sexual harassment suit against Clinton. That opened the path to Clinton’s impeachment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted by the Senate," according to the report. 

    Conway argued before the US Supreme Court in the 2010 case Morrison v National Australia Bank, according to CNN.

    He also won a defamation lawsuit filed by the National Football League and Philip Morris against media giant ABC News, the reports added. – Rappler.com

     


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    CHRISTMAS TYPHOON. Motorists ride past electric posts damaged by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) in Tabaco, Albay on December 27, 2016. Photo by Charism Sayat/AFP

    MANILA, Philippines – Power has been restored to more than 811,000 households in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions following outages caused by Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten), the National Electrification Administration (NEA) said.

    In a statement on Sunday, January 1, the Department of Energy (DOE) quoted a NEA report as saying that "household restoration stood at 45.95% or a total of 811,327 households served" as of December 30.

    Affected areas in Albay, Sorsogon, and Camarines Sur should also expect improvements in the coming days as the Naga-Daraga and Naga-Pili-Iriga power lines have been restored. 

    The Tabaco Substation serving Tabaco City in Albay province is ready to receive power, according to the Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC). 

    For Oriental Mindoro, 7 towns are fully re-energized while partial restoration has been effected in the towns of Socorro, Pola, Baco, Calapan, Naujan, and Victoria.

    The DOE said that it will deploy more people for a target of 100% restoration before the holidays end.

    Relief assistance

    The Virac Airport in Catanduanes has also been re-energized and operational since Saturday, December 31.

    This will allow relief efforts to reach the hard-hit province.

    As of Sunday, aid amounting to P158,282,150* ($3.193 million) has been given to affected families, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in a statement.

    DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo reminded the public to inquire with their local goverment units (LGUs) to make sure that aid reaches them.

    "DSWD does not have enough manpower to provide the relief goods to the household level.  Thus, the family food packs provided by DSWD are with the LGUs.  Disaster relief response is primarily the responsibility of the LGUs, with the DSWD ready to augment their resources,” Taguiwalo said.

    DSWD is still preparing its response to shelter needs of affected residents. Over 239,000 homes were damaged by the typhoon, and 46,850 familes remain in evacuation centers as of Sunday. – Lian Nami Buan/Rappler.com

    *$1 = P49.56


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    MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte promised change was coming when he won the presidency last year, and one of his campaign promises was to rid the government of corruption.

    Corruption has a very real impact on Filipinos: various studies have shown that poverty exists partly because of corruption, and billions of pesos that could've gone to much-needed social services end up in the pockets of corrupt officials engaged in illicit activities. (IN NUMBERS: Impact of corruption on the Philippines)

    The tough-talking former mayor of Davao City has vowed to impose his iron-fisted way of ruling to wage a war against corruption – but, he acknowledges, it's a fight he can't win alone.

    "One of the promises I made to the people is I will stop corruption in government. I cannot do it alone. You have to be aware of what I'm doing and you have to help me," he said.

    Ordinary Filipinos can do their share in the fight against corruption by standing up to incidents of bribery and asserting their rights, Duterte said.

    Duterte's advice: If a police officer attempts to extort you, raise a howl, create a scene, let him know he's committing a crime, and warn him that the President will not go easy on him.

    Duterte called on Filipinos to be assertive and stand their ground, because corruption will stay pervasive if Filipinos are not vigilant or brave enough to fight back.

    "Unless people really realize that they have rights, and that you have every right to your money, every centavo of it, unless you begin to be brave: 'Ayaw ko 'yan. Wag mo akong hingan,'" he said.

    "Mas makatulong kayo sa bayan, sa sarili mo mismo, 'pag wag kayong bumigay. Do not let go. Wag talaga kayong bumigay na giving. (You will help the country more if you don't resort to bribery). Because that makes it really worse," he added. 

    Will you be heeding the President's call? Share your stories and tell us about your experience on www.fightcorruption.ph or chat with us through Facebook messenger. – Rappler.com

    Help fight corruption. Share this story with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and help spread the word about how we can fight corruption together.

    To help us track the ripples of this campaign, use #NotOnMyWatch.

    Interested to partner with us? Email notonmywatch@rappler.com.


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    EVACUATION CENTER. A cop in Malilipot town in Catanduanes visits families that sought shelter at San Jose Elementary School during Typhoon Nina

    MANILA, Philippines – More than 7,000 families welcomed the new year in evacuation centers a week after Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) hit Southern Tagalog region.

    Typhoon Nina left 388,943 families displaced in affected areas in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Regions V and VIII, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Monday, January 2. 

    A total of 248,246 damaged houses – 175,542 partially damaged and 72,704 totally damaged – have already been identified. 

    The DSWD is currently preparing its action plan for their shelter needs, but they have so far released P158.4 million worth of relief assistance to a total of 471,453 families affected by the typhoon.

    The amount covered food packs, as well as assistance to 16,155 passengers who were stranded in 20 seaports in the region. According to the DSWD, there are no more stranded passengers as of January 2.

    Report irregularities in relief distribution

    The DSWD said it will continue to send augmentation support to local government units.

    Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo also called on the public to report irregularities in the distribution of relief items to affected families.

    Mahigpit pong ipinagbabawal na galawin ng mga lokal na opisyal ang DSWD food packs para hati-hatiin ang laman nito. Kung may ganitong pangyayari, maaari nyo pong ireport sa amin o sa 8888 ang insidente kasama ang litrato o kahit anong pruweba tungkol sa nakita ninyong iregularidad," Taguiwao said.

    (Opening or repacking DSWD food packs by local governments for distribution to affected locals is strictly prohibited. We encourage everyone to report such incidents to the 8888 citizen’s complaint hotline with proof of the irregularity).– Rappler.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    HOLIDAY RUSH. Hundreds of OFWs wait at NAIA Terminal 3 on January 2, 2017, due to a broken system handled by the POEA and linked to the BI. Photo by Don Michael de Leon

    MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) suffered long lines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after the breakdown of a system meant to speed up processes for them. 

    Bureau of Immigration (BI) Spokesperson Maria Antonette Mangrobang explained on Monday, January 2, that this was due to problems in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) system that is linked to the BI. 

    In a text message to Rappler, Mangrobang said: "This caused the delay of our counter inspector's processing. BI already coordinated the matter to the general manager of NAIA, informing them that the problem is not with BI but with POEA. As of now, we just manually process all OFWs with POEA clearances and contracts as per request of POEA."

    Mangrobang said that based on POEA estimates as of early Monday evening, the problem has affected around 350 OFWs.

    Rappler sought the BI for comment after OFWs complained on Facebook about the long lines at NAIA.

    Photographer Don Michael de Leon posted several Facebook videos of angry OFWs who were stuck at NAIA Terminal 3 on Monday afternoon, as they were bound to return to their places of work abroad.

    In a Facebook post, De Leon said thousands of OFWs had to fall in line in one booth to get a "stamped authentication." He said that migrant workers like him are exempted from this step as long as they have their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), but this exemption was waived because the system was down.  

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdonmichaelacelardeleon%2Fvideos%2F10154480280157600%2F&show_text=0&width=400" width="400" height="400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdonmichaelacelardeleon%2Fvideos%2F10154480263592600%2F&show_text=0&width=400" width="400" height="400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdonmichaelacelardeleon%2Fvideos%2F10154480251212600%2F&show_text=0&width=400" width="400" height="400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    "We weren't able to make us use of our exemption. We had to fall in line. Thousands have to fall in line to get a form of stamp validation. In the end it seems it wasn’t necessary," De Leon said in a Facebook video.

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdonmichaelacelardeleon%2Fvideos%2F10154480291737600%2F&show_text=0&width=400" width="400" height="400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    Aside from those who missed their flights, there were also OFWs who lost their luggage. 

    “People have been very angry, have been throwing papers. They have been screaming expletives in the air… Apparently, some thieves made their way out of the mess,” he also said, describing the situation at the airport. 

    Other OFWs departing the country also shared their frustration via social media. Facebook user Chari Sevilla warned other OFWs of the trouble they are about to face due to the broken validation system. 

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fchari.sevilla%2Fposts%2F10211968348947234&width=500" width="500" height="708" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    Meanwhile, Facebook user Opalyn Albidas said she initially relaxed upon arriving at the airport, knowing that OFWs are exempted from validation. When they noticed the long queues, they inquired about it and fell in line. They waited for two hours before getting validated.

    {source} <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Falbilyn%2Fposts%2F1400488606637200&width=500" width="500" height="256" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> {/source} 

    – Patty Pasion/Rappler.com 


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