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    In December 2015 in Paris, Not on Watch-Philippines (NowPH), through the National Youth Commission, presented at least 3 million climate action pledges to France, host of the conference on climate change that forged a landmark deal to curb global warming. 

    The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is the first-ever legally-binding global deal on climate change signed by 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    On Earth Day, April 22, the climate agreement enters into force in the Philippines

    What does this mean for the country, particularly its young people whose future is at stake? What are the ways forward now that the country has ratified the climate treaty?

    MovePH’s Voltaire Tupaz talked to representatives of the groups behind the award-winning campaign #NowPH that gave voice to the youth at the historic gathering in Paris: 

    • Secretary Vernice Victorio, Climate Change Commission vice chairperson
    • Paul Anthony Pangilinan, National Youth Commission commissioner-at-large
    • Pebbles Sanchez, YesPinoy executive director and #NowPH convenor

    Participate in the conversation by posting on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #NowPH. – Rappler.com


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    PENDING CASES. Graft cases against former First Lady and current Ilocos Norte representative Imelda Marcos are among the oldest pending cases at the Sandiganbayan.

    MANILA, Philippines – If some of the oldest pending cases at the Sandiganbayan were persons, they would likely be already working or with family by now.

    Data from the Sandiganbayan show that some criminal cases filed in the 1990s have yet to be decided by the anti-graft court. These cases have remained unresolved for over two decades now.

    One case archived in the 1980s was revived by the court nearly 35 years later.

    Among the pending cases are those involving former first lady and current Ilocos Norte 2nd district representative Imelda Marcos.

    Nearly 26 years after they were filed, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division is still hearing all these cases.

    No conviction, no ban from public office

    Who or what caused the delays?

    Both prosecution and defense teams share the blame. Lawyers familiar with corruption cases point out, however, that if the accused believes in his innocence and is confident of a favorable decision, he should be motivated to move for the early resolution of his case. 

    In Imelda Marcos' case, a lawyer said the pending cases have not affected her, especially in elections.

    "There is an incentive to delay on her part. She is not barred to run for public office, because there is no conviction," said Marlon Manuel, lawyer and national coordinator of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of legal resource non-governmental organizations.

    Mrs Marcos, in fact, ran for public office 6 times since she returned to the country in 1991. (She and her family went into exile in the United States, following the ouster of former president Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 through the EDSA People Power Revolution.)

    She ran for president twice but lost – in 1992 and in 1998 (but she withdrew days before that year's election). She was elected Leyte first district representative in 1995 and later became Ilocos Norte representative in 2010, and was reelected in 2013 and 2016.

    Mrs Marcos' case has taken a lot of twists and turns over the last two decades. 

    Ten counts of graft were filed against her in connection with her reported private foundations in Switzerland, as well as her financial interests in many private enterprises while she was a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984.

    In all counts, she was sued for violating Section 3(h) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, which prohibits a public official from directly or indirectly having financial interest in any business or transaction related to his or her office, or where he or she is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.

    Based on Sandiganbayan data, 5 of the 10 cases against the former first lady were filed in December 1991 – 5 years after the People Power Revolution. Another one was filed in June 1993, and 4 more in September 1995.

    Both the defense and the prosecution had asked the Supreme Court to intervene at various points in the proceedings.

    For instance, in 2001, the SC First Division dismissed Marcos' petition that assailed the Sandiganbayan's decision junking her motions to dismiss the cases. Then in 2006, the SC 2nd Division ordered a Sandiganbayan justice to recuse himself after the prosecution said he showed "hostility" toward one of their witnesses.

    Reports say the prosecution was able to rest its case only in 2015, after a lengthy 24 years.

    On January 17, 2017, the Sandiganbayan was set to resume trial, but defense lawyer Robert Sison and the former first lady snubbed the hearing. The defense was supposed to present its last evidence.

    The trial was then reset to February. Sison was again a no-show, prompting the court to cite Sison in contempt. The court said that by Sison's absence, the defense had effectively waived the right to present additional evidence.

    Also pending at the Sandiganbayan are around 20 civil cases against Ferdinand Marcos, Mrs Marcos, and the former president's close associates in relation to alleged ill-gotten wealth.

    These pending cases were all filed in 1987. However, Civil Case No. 33, also originally filed in 1987, was split into 8 separate cases in 1995 due to the transactions involved. One of these 8 cases was dismissed in 2008.

    Oldest pending cases

    The Marcos cases are not the only ones waiting for the light of day at the anti-graft court.

    These are the 10 oldest pending criminal cases in the Sandiganbayan as of February 28, 2017:

    Case Number Respondent(s) and Offense
    1547
    Filed on
    Jun 2, 1980
    Ricardo L. Azarcon
    Grains classifier
    National Food Authority
    Roxas, Isabela
    Offense:
    Estafa
    Status: 
    Archived on Oct 28, 1981
    Revived on Apr 20, 2016
    17287 - 17291
    (5 cases)
    Filed on 
    Dec 18, 1991
    Imelda R. Marcos
    Member
    Interim Batasang Pambansa
    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(h)
    Status: Pending
    18370
    Filed on 
    Dec 8, 1992
    Ramon A. Diaz
    Commissioner
    Presidential Commission on
    Good Government
    Offense:
    Falsification
    Status: 
    Withdrawn on Jan 21, 1993
    Revived on Aug 6, 1993
    19225
    Filed on 
    Jun 2, 1993
    Imelda R. Marcos
    Minister and Member
    Interim Batasang Pambansa
    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(h)

    Status: Pending
    22022*
    Filed on 
    Feb 17, 1995
    Jose E. Kam
    Governor (OIC)
    Northern Samar
    Offense:
    Malversation 
    Status:
    Archived on May 29, 2008
    Revived on Jun 13, 2014
    * (Disposed on Mar 7, 2017)
    22867 - 22870
    (4 cases)
    Filed on 
    Sept 5, 1995
    Imelda R. Marcos
    Minister of Human Settlements
    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(h)
    Status: Pending
    23576
    Filed on 
    Feb 10, 1997
    Eugenio B. Bernardo, et al.
    Regional Director (OIC)
    Dept. of Agrarian Reform
    Pampanga
    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(e)
    Status: Pending
    23718
    Filed on 
    Jun 4, 1997
    Rodito Ramirez, Jose M. Lee,
    and Anileto G. Lirios
    Mayor, Treasurer (acting),
    and private individual
    Caibiran, Biliran
    Offense:
    Malversation
    Status: Pending
    23750 - 23751
    (2 cases)
    Filed on 
    Jun 13, 1997
    Norberto Aparicio
    Bids & awards comm. member
    DENR - Cagayan de Oro City
    Cagayan de Oro City

    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(g)
    Status: 
    Archived on Jul 27, 2016
    Revived on Feb 20, 2017
    23765 - 23766,
    23768,
    23771 - 23772,
    23774, 23776
    (7 cases)
    Filed on 
    Jun 13, 1997
    Carmelita I. Marban
    Bids & awards comm. member
    DENR - Cagayan de Oro City
    Offense:
    Violation of RA 3019, 3(g)
    Status: 
    Archived on Jul 27, 2016
    Revived on Dec 9, 2016

    Five of these pending cases were archived by the court or withdrawn by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), until they were revived by the Sandiganbayan.

    A case is archived when the accused is at-large (not yet arrested) at the time the decision is promulgated, or has not been arraigned because his whereabouts are unknown. The case then gets revived when the accused is arrested or surrenders, and can appear for arraignment.

    The oldest one is an estafa case filed against National Food Authority (NFA) grains classifier Ricardo Azarcon. Filed in June 1980, it was archived in October 1981. Nearly 35 years later, in April 2016, the Sandiganbayan revived Azarcon's case.

    On March 7, 2017, the Sandiganbayan resolved the malversation case against former acting Northern Samar governor Jose Kam. He was accused of failing to return two government-issued guns and a motorcycle, despite repeated demands, after he ceased to hold office.

    Thirteen years after the case was filed in 1995, it was archived in 2008, when Kam failed to appear for his arraignment. The Sandiganbayan revived his case in 2014.

    In 2017, Kam was found guilty of malversation, and would serve 10 to 14 years in prison. His case took a total of 22 years.

    Over 4,000 pending cases

    As of December 31, 2016, the Sandiganbayan reported a total of 4,214 pending cases, the highest number on yearend since the court was established in 1979, as shown on the graph below.

    Also notice that from 1999, the number of pending cases started to decrease, going as low as 1,784 in 2004.

    It was around the time when the Supreme Court in 2001 relieved then-Sandiganbayan presiding justice Francis Garchitorena from his post, so he could focus on clearing his backlog in undecided cases.

    The Sandiganbayan was also made to comply with an SC administrative order to submit a bi-annual report of pending cases. This used to apply to lower courts only.

    This stemmed from a recommendation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to conduct an inquiry into the causes of delay in handing down verdicts at the Sandiganbayan.

    But after 2009, the upward trend started again. This may partly be attributed to a spike in the number of cases filed before the Sandiganbayan in 2013 and 2016.

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    Presidential Decree 1606 mandates that the trial of cases in the Sandiganbayan "once commenced shall be continuous until terminated." It also directs the anti-graft court to render a decision within 3 months from the date of submission. (READ: Get to know the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan)

    Under Article III or the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution, Filipinos have the right to a speedy disposition of cases before the courts and other related bodies.

    Blame game

    Manuel said a distinction should be made between cases where trial is still ongoing and those already submitted for decision.

    "If the delay is on cases submitted for decision, it's a big problem. That means the justices are taking too long to decide," said Manuel. "If it's still on the trial proper, there are many factors to be considered, like the number of witnesses."

    The Sandiganbayan data obtained by Rappler does not reflect if or when a case has been submitted for decision. It only shows the disposal of each case, like whether the accused is convicted or acquitted, or if the case has been dismissed, archived, or is pending.

    The Sandiganbayan in 2014 hit the Office of the Ombudsman for "inordinate delays" in prosecuting accused officials and individuals. This forced the Sandiganbayan to dismiss some cases.

    Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang asked the Ombudsman to look into the cause of these delays, which she described as "deplorable" and which "grossly offends the right of public justice."

    On the other hand, former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo pointed to the bottleneck at the Sandiganbayan.

    Citing a study, Marcelo said in 2002, it took an average of 6.6 years from filing of charges to release of verdict at the Sandiganbayan. In 2014, the average worsened to an average of 10.2 years.

    In September 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Sandiganbayan's doctrine of inordinate delay because it emboldens wrongdoers in government to use it as a legal strategy to get off the hook.

    Essentially grounded on the belief that justice delayed is justice denied, the said doctrine emphasizes the right of the accused to a quick disposition of his case.

    But the Ombudsman pointed out that the Sandiganbayan's interpretation of "inordinate delay" in the trial and prosecution of corruption cases varies widely, ranging "from a high of 14 years to as short as 4 years." 

    The Ombudsman also argued that the "people’s equally important right to public justice" should not be set aside even as the Sandiganbayan protects the rights of an accused to a speedy trial.

    Causes of delay

    The SC's Office of the Court Administrator, in its judicial audit of pending Sandiganbayan cases in late 2000, listed the causes of delay in the anti-graft court at the time:

    1. Failure of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to submit reinvestigation reports despite the lapse of several years
    2. Filing by the accused of numerous pleadings like Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Quash, and Demurrer to Evidence that remain unresolved for years
    3. Suspension of proceedings because of a pending petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Supreme Court
    4. Cases that remain unacted upon or have no further settings despite the lapse of a considerable length of time
    5. Unloading (or the transfer to other divisions) of cases that are already submitted for decision, even if the ponente is still in service

    Reiterating what it said in a previous ruling, the SC said unreasonable delay of a judge in resolving a case "amounts to a denial of justice, bringing the Sandiganbayan into disrepute, eroding the public faith and confidence in the judiciary." – with Pia Faustino of Thinking Machines, Lian Buan, and Gemma B. Mendoza/Rappler.com


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    BUS CRASH. Police and soldiers stand guard next to a tourist bus which hit an electric post in Tanay town, Rizal province, east of Manila on February 20, 2017. Photo by AFP.

    MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of people die yearly due to road crashes.

    On Thursday, April 21, a motorcycle-riding policeman died after a speeding truck driven by a priest hit him along Pulupandan town, Negros Occidental.

    Days before that, a Leomarick Trans bus traveling to Ilocos Sur fell into a ravine in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija on Tuesday morning, April 18. At least 30 people were confirmed dead while 46 others were still being treated in different hospitals.

    According to the latest available data, 8,666 people were killed in road tragedies in 2014 – 20% more than the 6,869 deaths recorded in 2006 by the Philippine Statistics Authority. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crashes in the Philippines)

    The numbers are worrying. What can we do then to prevent these tragedies from happening?

    In a Rappler Talk interview, Former Land Transportation Office spokesperson Jason Salvador, now a project manager of a road safety project at the Ateneo School of Government, shared with Rappler what can be done.

    Phase out old buses

    Thousands of buses ply Philippine streets. According to the Department of Transportation, there are a total of 31,665 buses that were registered in 2013.

    But not all are in perfect running condition.

    Last February, a Panda Coach Tourist bus crashed into an electrical post while traveling along Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay. Authorities found that the bus was 29 years old already twice the 15-year limit prescribed by law.

    Salvador said old buses must be phased out. "No matter how you maintain this, it will eventually break down."

    "We should phase out so we can eventually use more efficient and environment-friendly vehicles," he added.

    Salvador also said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should monitor the franchises they give out.

    "I think they (LTFRB) are on the right track. They just need to monitor exactly the franchises already given out...and monitor [those] about to be given out."

    Automate licensing 

    The former LTO spokesperson said that issuance of driver's licenses must be more "strict."

    A number of corruption schemes abound in licensing, allowing unfit drivers on the road. (READ: Corruption at LTO, LTFRB: Unfit drivers, vehicles on the road)

    "Somebody has compared driving a motor vehicle to owning a gun...it could be fatal to a non-skilled individual," he said.

    Salvador suggested that automating the process could be the key as it removes the discretionary factor among employees screening applicants.

    He said that the LTO is currently upgrading their system now. "This will greatly increase their productivity and will properly monitor issuance."

    Legislation, stricter implementation

    LEGISLATION. Ateneo School of Government's Jason Salvador, project manager of the Global Road Safety Partnership on Child Restraints Legislation, says there is a need to have a law imposing private cars to have seats fit for their children.

    According to Salvador, there are several factors that lead to road crashes. All were covered by our laws except imposing car seats and seatbelts for children.

    "We don't have legislation yet. We should legislate so people will follow the rules and make their children safe," he said.

    The Philippines has a number of laws aimed at protecting road users – from banning the use of mobile phones while driving, to prescribing speed limits and the use of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets.

    But this is not to say there are no gaps in law implementation. (READ: What's lacking in our road safety laws?)

    Republic Act No. 4136 mandates allowable speed limits in the country. But overspeeding remains to be among the top causes of road crashes in the country.

    Salvador said there is a need to strictly impose speed limits. "We have to impose that because speed kills," he said.

    He also emphasized that helmets must be worn all the times. "We should wear helmets not because we might get caught or penalized but because it will save our lives."

    Change of mindset

    Salvador reminded the public that safety on the road is not only the government's or the advocates' concern.

    He said that the public can solve the problem by simply obeying road rules and regulations.

    "It's our concern. Let us help save lives," he added.

    A World Health Organization (WHO) report listed road mishaps as part of the top causes of death among young people below 24 years old.

    It says road crashes are both predictable and preventable. (READ: Why road crashes are no accidents)

    Salvador concluded, "Let's take all the necessary precautions and let's be mindful while we're on the road."with reports from Kurt dela Peña/Rappler.com

    Kurt dela Peña is a Rappler intern


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    HPG. A member of the HPG manages traffic along EDSA in Metro Manila. File photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – After a bus crash in Nueva Ecija that claimed the lives of at least 31 people, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been tasked to take on additional tasks related to road safety.

    The April 21, 2017 verbal instructions came from PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, a day after he and several other officials met with President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the crash.

    An apparently overloaded passenger bush fell into an 80-foot ravine in Capintalan village in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. (READ: 'Several factors' behind Nueva Ecija bus crash – road safety advocate)

    The country regional chiefs, provincial chiefs, and the Highway Patrol Group got instructions from PNP Directorate for Operations chief Camilo Cascolan to do the following:

    1. Coordinate with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for strict law enforcement in all national and provincial highways 
    2. Check all road worthiness of all public utility vehicles, especially buses and jeepneys on a regular basis, reports of which will be furnished to the LTFRB and PNP National Operations Center every 1st and 15th of the month 
    3. Ensure that all bus and jeepney drivers have the proper licenses and seminars for efficient driving
    4. Establish that all PNP traffic enforcers have Temporary Operator's Permit issued by the LTO
    5. Start other initiatives for the safety of all commuters 
    6. Ensure that road signages are placed properly in conspicuous areas
    7. Ensure that all “risk and accident prone areas” are well lit and that all potholes are referred to the public works department and the local government unit (LGU) for their appropriate action

    The “TOP” is a permit “used in apprehension of all violations and it is strictly required to be issued to the apprehended driver/operator at the site and time of apprehension,” according to the LTO.

    The instructions were sent to police commanders via text message on Friday, April 21.

    The Highway Patrol Group was recently tapped to assist in managing traffic along EDSA, Metro Manila's busiest thoroughfare. They have since been withdrawn, however. – Rappler.com


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    CLIMATE AGREEMENT. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal stresses the importance of Earth Day 2017, noting that it coincides with historic Paris climate agreement's entry into force for the Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines – On Earth Day, April 22, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged the public to protect nature from greed that contributes to climate change.

    "Our celebration of the Earth Day and the Divine Mercy Sunday this weekend offers a well-timed opportunity for all of us to gather together and manifest our unity to protect God’s creation from acts of apathy, heartlessness, and greed that contribute to climate change and harm human life and dignity," Tagle said.

    Tagle stressed the importance of the observance, noting that Earth Day coincides with the historic Paris climate agreement's entry into force for the country. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Paris climate deal takes effect in PH, now what?)

    "Incidentally, our gathering falls on the day when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, will enter into force for the Philippines. This makes our celebration even more historic and timely," Tagle said.

    The climate deal took effect 30 days after the country submitted its "Instrument of Accession" to the United Nations (UN) Treaty Section. 

    President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed the document on February 28 despite his misgivings.

    Duterte initially expressed qualms about ratifying the deal, saying any commitment to cut down on carbon emissions unfairly restrains developing countries like the Philippines from growing their economies. 

    DOODLE EARTH. The Archdiocese of Manila organizes the 'Walk for Mercy2Earth' on Earth Day, April 22, in Luneta Park to promote environmental awareness. One of the activities is an eco-sketching Doodle Earth workshop for the young participants of the Earth Day gathering. Photo courtesy of Greenheart Hermitage

    #Mercy2Earth

    On Saturday, the Archdiocese of Manila organized the “Walk for Mercy2Earth”  in Luneta Park to promote environmental awareness.

    The event is a part of the global #Mercy2Earth campaign initiated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement in line with Pope Francis’ message, "Show Mercy to Our Common Home." The message was taken from  Laudato Si (Praise be to you), the pope's historic encyclical on climate change.

    The document is a 200-page encyclical letter issued by Pope Francis in 2015, urging people to “care for our common home.” It was inspired by a 1998 pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) titled “What Is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?” 

    Brother Jaazeal Jakosalem, an anti-coal advocate who came all the way from Cebu, was one of the participants at the Luneta gathering. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: #ClimateActionPH and Cebu's battle vs coal)

    "Caring for the Earth is breaking free from fossil fuels, the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay," Jakosalem said, quoting Laudato Si.

    Coal-fired power plants, which spew greenhouse gases, one of the primary culprits of climate change, remain the Philippines' largest energy source at 29%. 

    LAUDATO SI MANIFESTO. Br Jaazeal Jakosalem of the Order of Augustinian Recollects also joins hundreds of other Catholic advocates in signing the Laudato Si manifesto, a guide to ecological action inspired by Pope Francis' historic encyclical on climate change. Photo by Fr Vincent Cadeliñ

    Laudato Si manifesto

    Jakosalem's organization, the Recoletos Institute for Disaster and Environmental Management (RIDEM), together with Student Catholic Action (SAC) members, prepared an eco-sketching Doodle Earth activity for the young participants of “Walk for Mercy2Earth."

    Jakosalem also joined hundreds of other Catholic advocates in signing the Laudato Si manifesto, a guide to ecological action inspired by Pope Francis' historic encyclical on climate change. (READ ON X: Laudato Si' Manifesto)

    "We call for ecological solidarity that will foment ecological action," the manifesto read. 

    Jakosalem reminded Catholics and other concerned citizens about the following "green actions proposed by Pope Francis":

    • Avoid the use of plastic and paper
    • Reduce water consumption
    • Separate refuse
    • Cook only what can reasonably be consumed
    • Show care for other living beings
    • Use public transport or car-pooling
    • Plant trees
    • Turning off unnecessary lights 
    • Reuse something instead of immediately discarding it

    “In Cebu City, we have an organization called The International Eucharistic Congress Commission in Environmental Concerns. Our campaign is more on tree-planting – greening the earth that is based on the Laudato Si,” Jakosalem added. – With a report from Dani Nakpil/Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Secretary Vernice Victorio, Climate Change Commission vice chairperson, walked her talk when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change entered into force for the Philippines on Saturday, April 22.

    In an Earth Day edition of Rappler Talk on Saturday, the Philippines' climate czar herself measured her household's carbon emissions using the Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to know the number of trees that she needs to plant to reduce her carbon footprint. 

    The platform was introduced by Rappler and Climate Reality Project for the campaign #ClimateActionPH. It measures the amount of carbon that a household emits every month and the corresponding number of trees that are recommended to be planted. 

    Victorio calculated her household's monthly footprint in 3 key areas: energy consumption, transportation, and waste.

    The result of the test? So far, Victorio's household has emitted 211.96 kilograms of CO2 in April. 

    A tree can capture 8 kilograms of CO2 annually. This means Victorio needs to make sure her family will plant at least 26 trees. 

    "I only have to plant 25 more trees to offset my emissions...I planted my ceremonial tree today for Earth Day," Victorio quipped.

    Households significantly emit greenhouse gases like carbon, one of the primary culprits of climate change. Latest data showed that a household in the Philippines emits 1,724 kgs of CO2 on average.

    "We're asking all the youth to recruit their friends and family members to join and do something for the climate. It's not just signing up for the Paris agreement, but now we're pushing for climate action," Victorio said. 

    She also recommended 3 of 15 easy ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions

    • Use energy-efficient appliances.
    • Take a bike.
    • Recycle waste.

    Reducing carbon emissions 

    The Philippines, in 2015, committed to cut by 70% its carbon emissions by the year 2030. This target is being reviewed under the Duterte administration, according to Victorio.

    "When we look at mitigation or emission reduction, we're going to put it in line with the sustainable development course, so it's just a matter of tweaking," she said.

    These reductions will be taken from the country's major sources of carbon emissions – the energy, transport, waste, forestry, and industry sectors.

    The aim of the historic climate deal is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C.

    "2°C means we're losing about 98% of our coral reefs. Our crops will not have any subtle potential for adaptation. We will lose about 20% of our waters. So these are things that we cannot even accept as a country," Victorio said.

    She added that the country has also "pushed hard for 1.5°C – a very ambitious goal."

    The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is the first-ever legally-binding global deal on climate change signed in 2015 by 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. – Rappler.com

    Watch the full interview with Secretary Vernice Victorio on Rappler Talk: Paris climate deal takes effect in PH, now what?


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    PREPARING. A trainer of the MMDA K-9 Search and Rescue Unit takes his trainee through the collapsed structure course. Photo  by Marielle de Leon/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Did you ever think your pet dog could one day save your life?

    At the Napindan Hydraulic Control Center, a quiet enclave of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) near the Pasig River, a growing group of dog enthusiasts meet every weekend to train their pets to do just that, in case "the Big One" strikes.

    Rescue dogs

    "What we want to do is raise disaster awareness," says Ramon Santiago, Technical Head of the MMDA K9 Search and Rescue Unit. Santiago is a long-time veteran of the MMDA who served as head of its Flood Control and Information Center, and advises the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. He was also instrumental in the development of the Metro Yakal response plan

    Santiago started the project out of necessity: there were simply not enough rescue dogs and teams to respond to a major disaster in Metro Manila.

    "Having trained dogs may be able to augment life-saving efforts should [a 7.2 magnitude earthquake] occur. If all the more than 1,700 barangays in Metro Manila just have a tandem of 5 dogs and owner-handlers each, we can greatly increase the number of those who can help," Santiago wrote in a Facebook post explaining the concept. 

    The dogs will be trained on how to sniff for signs of human life trapped underneath debris and collapsed structures.

    Ingenuity and camaraderie

    Training is free, except for incidental expenses such as food and equipment. The only requirement is that the pet owner must be willing to be trained alongside their pets.

    It is not a one-time deal either. Just like training emergency responders, time, effort, discipline and patience are necessary. The owner must have the commitment to attend more than a few weeks of sessions, as it takes time to hone the skills and coordination of both pet and owner, in order for both to be able to work as a solid team.

    WOMAN'S BEST FRIEND. The MMDA says any dog can be trained to be a search dog.  Photo  by Alexia Pantaleon/Rappler

    The MMDA says any dog except toy dogs can be trained but working dogs are preferred, with German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois as the traditional ones used for search and rescue operations. Even small dogs – such as Jack Russells – have an important role to play, particularly when it comes to finding trapped victims.

    The training has several levels, from basic obedience training – where pet and owner practice usual commands like sit and stay – to the advanced course, where pets undergo an obstacle course with several hazards, such as height, water, and stairs. There are also practical tests, where pets are tasked to find and identify missing persons in a makeshift collapsed structure that mirrors actual scenarios.

    The Napindan location is also a testament to how the team exercised ingenuity in making do with what was available in order to achieve its mission. Kennels were made using scrap metal, while the collapsed structure course is a pile of cement blocks in a wet and grassy corner of the facility. Abandoned vehicles add further realism to the training scenarios. 

    RESILIENCE. Ramon Santiago with integral members of the MMDA K-9 Search and Rescue Unit at the Napindan facility. Photo from Mon Santiago.

    "It started out as a gathering of dog enthusiasts," admits Santiago, who has 5 dogs himself, and shares an affinity for canines with the rest of his volunteer team. The weekend gatherings since 2012 have also happily resulted not just in a training program and a core group of trainers, but a real community of pet owners who also happen to advocate a culture of preparedness. 

    The team is currently helping train a K-9 search and rescue unit from the Philippine Army, and is also mobilizing dog enthusiasts to learn not just how to train their dogs, but also to show ordinary citizens how their best friends and family members can help save lives. - Rappler.com

    Are you interested in getting yourself and your pet trained with the MMDA K-9 Search and Rescue Unit? You may contact them at their official Facebook page.


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    CLIMATE LEADERSHIP. MovePH executive editor Rupert Ambil (3rd from left) and MovePH editor Voltaire Tupaz (2nd from left) receive the 2017 Luntian Aligato Award from The Climate Reality Project leaders on April 21 at the Philippine Senate.

    MANILA, Philippines – For its sustained and innovative coverage of climate science and how to address the effects of climate change, MovePH received the 2017 Luntian Aligato Climate Reality Leadership Award.

    The civic engagement arm of Rappler helps the social news network's coverage of climate change issues and operates the disaster information platform Agos eBayanihan. It has recently organized #ClimateActionPH workshops that enable vulnerable sectors facing environmental issues to use social media and technology in amplifying their stories and building communities. 

    "Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much). MovePH will always be here to tell your stories," MovePH executive director Rupert Ambil said after accepting the recognition at the Climate Reality Awards on Friday, April 21 at the Senate.

    Pillars of climate leadership

    The awards also sought to immortalize the legacy of environmentalists who died defending nature, inspiring a new generation of climate leaders.

    "This 2017 Climate Leadership Award will be in honor of our two departed Climate Reality leaders, our models, our inspiration," Climate Reality Project Philippine manager Rodne Galicha said.

    The Pillars of Climate Leadership Posthumous Awards were given to the families of the late Councilor Miguel Magalang from Marinduque and the late lawyer Allen S. Quimpo. Magalang pioneered local climate action and disaster risk reduction and management in communities and local government units. Meanwhile, Quimpo, a former congressman and mayor in Aklan, organized his community to act on an ecological crisis and to build a mangrove forest.

    Two special awards were also given in their memory, recognizing outstanding Climate Reality leaders who individually and as a group have introduced global solutions to the climate crisis.

    INDIVIDUAL CLIMATE LEADERS. Recipients of the Miguel R. Magalang Individual Climate Leadership Memorial Award

    Below are the recipients of the Miguel R. Magalang Individual Climate Leadership Memorial Award:

    • Jonjon Sarmiento
    • Olive Seruelo
    • Amado Guerrero Saño
    • Jonathan Moses Jadloc
    • Dann Diez
    • Antonio Levy Ingles
    • Marc Caratao
    • Ryan Anthony Bestre
    • Mary Margaret Chavez
    • Irene Rosell Doños
    • John Leo Algo
    • Beatrice Ann Dolores
    • Ludwig Federigan

    COLLECTIVE CLIMATE LEADERSHIP. Recipients of the Allen S. Quimpo Collective Climate Leadership Memorial Award

    Below are the recipients of the Allen S. Quimpo Collective Climate Leadership Memorial Award:

    • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila Ministry on Ecology
    • Global Catholic Climate Movement
    • Ecological Society of the Philippines
    • JRS Express
    • DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
    • Greenpeace Philippines
    • Green Governance Philippines – Greens PH
    • Kalikasan People’s Network for Environment
    • Aksyon Klima Pilipinas
    • Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
    • Light Up Philippines
    • Green That Works (De La Salle College of St. Benilde Faculty Association, COCAP and CRLs)
    • ATO-ClimateEducate
    • Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Management
    • Order of Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno with the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos and University of San Jose Recoletos
    • Negros Occidental Provincial Environment Management Office

    LUNTIANG KAPAWA. Senator Loren Legarda accepts the Luntiang Kapawa Award for shepherding the Senate's concurrence to the ratification of the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change

    Luntian awards

    Senator Loren Legarda led other recipients of Luntian (green) awards, accepting the Luntiang Kapawa Award for championing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that entered into force for the country on April 22. 

    "The Philippines would be formally a member of the nations, the family of nations, that have finally ratified and has gone full circle in terms the ratification of the Paris agreement," Legarda said in her acceptance speech.

    • Luntiang Panagtitipon Award: Breakfree anti-coal global movement
    • Luntiang Kaisog Award: Cebu-based anti-coal movement Pusyon Kinaiyahan
    • Luntiang Karaykaray Award: Climate Walk and People’s Pilgrimage
    • Luntian Kausaban Award:
      • Junior Chamber International Cebu
      • Cebu Technological University
      • Data Phil Educators Inc
      • Film and Media Arts International Academy
    • Luntiang Mag-anak Award: Mara Cantonao from Cebu and Erick Vazquez Barranco from Mexico
    • Luntiang Dahon Award: Shiela Castillo, Development worker

    The awards were given by Climate Reality Project Philippines, which is part of the global movement and non-profit organization founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore. (WATCH: Al Gore on solutions to the climate crisis)

    "This global movement is not represented anywhere in the world like it is in the Philippines. The work that you’re doing is mind-blowing. It’s inspiring," Climate Reality Project international manager Matt Bomms said.

    Bomms noted that "this is really the one crisis where the Philippines is leading the world and we are following your footsteps." – Rappler.com


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    CHILDREN'S CONCERT. The Mandaue Children's Choir will perform at different venues in San Francisco, USA. Photo courtesy of Pandoo Foundation

    MANILA, Philippines – From the Furniture Capital of the Philippines to the Golden Gates, the internationally acclaimed Mandaue Children’s Choir is set to perform in the City of San Francisco on April 26, 7pm, at the St Luke’s Episcopal Church.

    The event is hosted by Pandoo Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the USA. 

    Michelle Waite of Pandoo said: “These extremely talented kids and their conductor are sharing their gifts with us, with no expectations other than to be welcomed and learn more about us, as we learn more about them.”

    Waite added that by hosting this kind of event they hope this would be a way for cross cultural learning, and that the event would convey a positive message and bring potential for a better and more respectful future through the children.

    From games to action

    Pandoo Foundation Philippines is a beneficiary of Pandoo Nation, the first gaming platform that connects kid players to the real world by providing an opportunity to convert online points into real dollars that will support the programs of Pandoo Foundation. 

    The foundation aims to engage and empower underprivileged Filipino children through educational activities focused on literacy, sports, and leadership.

    Pandoo had adopted local community libraries, donated books, trained teachers, and organized sports leagues for children in Cebu. 

    Pandoo’s programs reached more than 11,000 kids, donated 3,000 books, and refurbished 3 libraries.

    MOBILE OUTREACH. The Pandoo foundation engages children with kid-centered activities like story-telling, role-playing, and games. Photo courtesy of Pandoo Foundation

    ‘A Better World’

    The invitation for the Children's Choir to perform in San Francisco started with a simple collaboration in 2015. Inspired by the words of kids in a literacy class in Cebu, a music teacher named Lady Aleen-Cruz Bernido came up with the song “A Better World.”

    When Pandoo decided to produce the song, they invited John Neil Roa, Alexis Prieto, and Dahna Villapaz to sing the main parts. The Mandaue Children’s Choir agreed to sing the background. 

    The award-winning children’s choir won their first prize in the National Music Competitions for Young Artists in 2004.

    The group also won 3 gold medals in the 1st Asian Choir Games; first prize in the Grand Prix of Choirs; and was a recipient of the Garbo sa Sugbo Award in 2004.

    Under the guidance of Maestro Dennis Gregory Arcenol Sugarol, MCC also won awards around the globe, including the George Frideric Handel award at Internationales Kinderchofestival in Halle, Germany in 2015.

    The Choir will visit San Francisco from April 25 to 28. They will be singing in different venues including a mini outdoor concert at Bernal Heights Library, and another two mini-concerts at Noe Valley Ministry Chapel and at the Philippine Consulate.

    The group is also scheduled to have a big concert at St Luke’s Episcopal Church on April 26, 7pm.

    Tickets are now being sold for their big concert, and donations are also welcome. For purchase and donations, just visit their Eventbrite page.

    Pandoo Foundation will introduce the song “A Better World” during the concert.  Rappler.com

    Jonnel Gozo is a Rappler intern from Lyceum of the Philippines University - Cavite.


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    MANAGING TRAFFIC. A police officer controls traffic at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, popularly known as EDSA in Manila on September 8, 2015. Photo by Jay Directo/AFP

    MANILA, Philippines – Getting behind the wheel entails responsibility: as a driver, you’re responsible not only for the safety of your passengers, but aso of other motorists sharing the road. 

    The Philippines has laws and regulations to keep road users safe, but it’s also up to motorists to exercise caution and responsible driving whenever they’re on the road.

    One rule of thumb: practice defensive driving. 

    Defensive driving means having the right attitude and awareness to drive responsibly in order to prevent crashes before they occur.

    Among other things, a defensive driver stays alert and scans his surroundings at all times, so he can look out for possible trouble spots. He or she is mentally fit to drive and has received proper training before getting behind the wheel.

    A defensive driver also knows how to react if someone else commits mistakes.

    You’re a defensive driver if you…

    • Observe speed limit laws
    • Remain alert and aware of your surroundings
    • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
    • Respects pedestrians and cyclists on their bike lanes
    • Use your signal lights and headlamps properly
    • Don’t drive when drunk or sleepy

    Here’s an easy acronym to remember: SIPDE

    Search – Search the road ahead and around the vehicles

    Identify – Identify potential and immediate road hazards

    Predict – Predict the actions of other road users

    Decide – Decide what to do to avoid unsafe situations

    Ready to test your knowledge? Answer the quiz below and see how you fare.

    {source} <iframe id="quizWidget-407500" width="100%" height="700px" frameborder="0" border="none" src="https://www.qzzr.com/widget/quiz/fi9xdWl6emVzLzQwNzUwMA"></iframe>{/source} 

    – Research by Basmarie Marin and Kurt dela Peña/Rappler.com

    Basmarie Marin and Kurt dela Peña are Rappler interns


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    ANTIQUE, Philippines – Thousands praised Ariel Tapang, the father who drove a tricycle more than a thousand kilometers from Kidapawan to Antique to support his son at the Palarong Pambansa 2017.

    With 3 other passengers, they endured almost two days of travel to cheer Matthew Jade Tapang on as he competed for the gold medal in the boxing elementary mosquito weight division.

    Matthew Jade’s Palaro journey, however, ended abruptly after he fainted and bumped his head during the official weigh in at the Freedom Park on Wednesday, April 26. He is no longer allowed to compete in the succeeding games.

    Father's faith 

    Ariel still believes in his son’s potential in boxing. Matthew got what it takes to become the next boxing champ, he said, vowing to support his son wherever his dreams would take him. 

    “Pag mag-profesional na boxer siya, aabot siya ng ibang bansa. Susuportahan talaga namin, kahit sa ibang bansa, kahit anong layo. Pero di ko madala itong tricycle ko sa ibang bansa. Kasi ang layo na eh. hindi pa pwede isakay sa airplane,” he quipped.

    (When he becomes a professional boxer, I'm sure he will reach other countries. We will support him wherever in the world he is, no matter how far. But we would not be able to bring the tricycle overseas. It's not allowed inside the airplane.)

    For now, he faces another challenge: he needs to raise P10,000 ($199.63)* anew to return to Kidapawan with his family. He just borrowed P10,000 for their trip to Antique.

    Can you help the Tapang family?

    The Tapang family plans to start their journey back to Kidapawan on Thursday, April 27. 

    For those who would like to help Ariel and his family reach home, here's how you can help:

    • Message Ariel P. Tapang via SMS (09460135566)

    • Donate via Palawan Pawnshop or M Lhuillier 

    • Directly coordinate with Ariel regarding your transaction 

     – Rappler.com

    $ = P50.09

    READ: Palarong Pambansa 2017 stories by campus journalists


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    MANILA, Philippines – (NDRRMC) has activated its response cluster after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Davao Occidental early Saturday morning, April 29.

    NDRRMC clusters met at 9 am, Saturday, to assess the situation in affected areas.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), NDRRMC's lead agency for response efforts, is set to declare a Red Alert status, according to Director Ninoy Castro.

    Castro, who heads DSWD's Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB), said that the agency has ordered the activation of its quick response teams (QRT) and Red Alert Status in its field office in Region 12.

    The Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) of the DSWD is also continuously coordinating with the DSWD-Field Office in regions 9, 10, 11, 12, and Caraga for updates on the extent of damage and the number of affected families and individuals.

    The DSWD central office, its field offices in affected regions, and the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) have stockpiles and standby funds amounting to about P1.2 billion. – Rappler.com

    Report damaged houses, buildings, roads, bridges, and the like via #QuakePH on Twitter. For relief needs, use the hashtag #ReliefPH. Reports can be posted directly on the Agos eBayanihan map.


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    DAVAO OCCIDENTAL EARTHQUAKE. The earthquake is tectonic in origin and has a depth of 57 kilometers, according to Phivolcs. Image courtesy of Phivolcs

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reiterated its announcement that the agency has canceled its earlier tsunami advisory "as there is no longer a tsunami threat."

    Science Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr, concurrent Phivolcs director, told media Saturday morning, April 29, that the cancellation was issued as early as 6:59 am, Saturday.

    Rumors of the tsunami risk have been spreading online. There have also been persistent questions from online users about the tsunami warning even after Phivolcs had lifted it. A telecom also sent a text message about the warning minutes after the cancellation, causing confusion among subscribers.

    At 5:03 am, shortly after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Sarangani town in Davao Occidental, Phivolcs issued a tsunami advisory for coastal communities fronting the Celebes Sea.

    "The first tsunami waves will arrive between 4:28 am to 5:23 am, (2017/04/29) and may not be
    the largest," the initial Phivolcs warning read.

    The affected areas included Sarangani town, Davao Occidental, South Cotabato, Davao Oriental, and Sultan Kudarat, where sea level disturbances were expected.

    According to Phivolcs, the occurrence of sea level disturbance was confirmed by records of the Sarangani sea level monitoring station that showed a drop of about 30 centimeters (cm) and a maximum rise of about 10 cm wave height relative to normal sea level. The continuing sea level fluctuations in the area associated with the strong earthquake will no longer exceed this recorded wave height, Solidum said. 

    "Hindi namin inaasahan na hihigit ito sa isang metro (We don't expect the wave height to exceed a meter)," Solidum said.

    There is no need to evacuate unless the earthquake caused cracks to or damaged houses and buildings, he said. 

    No volcanic earthquakes

    During the press briefing on Saturday morning, Solidum also noted that there are two volcanoes in the area – Parker and Makaturing.

    However, according to the Phivolcs chief, no volcanic earthquakes were recorded by the network of instruments around these volcanoes as of 8 am, April 29.

    The quake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 57 kilometers, Phivolcs said. As of 7 am, April 29, there had been 36 recorded aftershocks and 4 plotted aftershocks with magnitude that ranged from 2.8 to 4.1

    It was felt at Intensity V in General Santos City; Koronadal City; Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos, Don Marcelino, Balot Island, Davao Occidental; Polomolok, Tupi, South Cotabato; Alabel, Malapatan, Glan, Sarangani; and Palimbag, Sultan Kudarat

    The strong quake was also felt in the following areas:

    Intensity IV – Davao City; Cotabato City; Zamboanga City
    Intensity III – Cagayan De Oro City
    Intensity II – Kidapawan City

    – Rappler.com

     


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    OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER. Norma Brion, a 40-year-old mother, works in Abu Dhabi as a domestic helper. Image courtesy of Ana Santos

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The walls of Norma Brion’s room are bedecked with flowers. Sheets of white paper painted with red blooms and green leaves are surrounded by colored paper cut outs of petals and hearts. At the center of this mural are the elementary graduation pictures of her two children, Jim and Joy, with her in between.

    When she cannot sleep, which is often, she lies in bed looking up at this wall thinking of her children who are in the Philippines.

    “I miss them all the time,” said 40-year-old Brion, who works in Abu Dhabi as a domestic helper.

    She first left them when they were children and though years have passed, time somehow stopped for her. She still thinks of Joy as the studious grade 5 student and Jim as the quiet boy about to enter high school.

    Time stopped

    When I met Brion in Abu Dhabi the summer of 2014, I gave her pictures of Jim and Joy that were taken when I met the kids weeks before at their home in Laguna.

    She was so surprised by the gesture that she asked me if she could have them. When I said yes, she engulfed me in a grateful embrace.

    “Look at them. They are all so grown up. They were so small when I first left them,” she said as she ran her hands over the faces in the pictures, as if she were caressing them.

    In the 8 years that Brion has been working as a domestic helper in Abu Dhabi, she only came home to be with her children twice.

    Brion is one of the roughly more than half million Filipinos working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and among hundreds of thousands of migrant mothers who take care of other people’s children while leaving their own behind, usually in the care of relatives.

    The estimated 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) spread out all over the world remitted at least $26.9 billion for the period January to November 2016.

    Biggest export: People

    The oil price crisis in the 70s triggered a global economic downturn and ushered in the usual accompaniments: high unemployment and soaring inflation.

    In the Philippines, it was the early years of martial law. Businesses that were not shut down by the government, closed down.

    With no jobs available domestically, the government drafted an overseas employment policy called “Development Diplomacy.” The government became a placement office, matching Filipinos with jobs overseas. The country began shipping out what was to become its biggest export – its people. Later, the Filipino guest worker was to be branded as the OFW.

    The demand then was for construction jobs in the Middle East, where literally cities were rising from the sand. Job sites needed muscle to grease them and keep them running, and Filipino men signed up to provide the necessary sweat equity. Wives were left behind to look after the children, and women stepped into the role of being both mother and father.

    In the 90s, the labor market shifted. The Middle East remained the top destination for OFWs but developed nations had uncovered a different kind of age gap: there was no one to take care of their very young or their very old. Demand for caregivers and domestic helpers rose, and the beeline at employment agencies were began filling up with women.

    Roles in the Filipino family were again reshuffled. But this time, with more single parent households and with some fathers already overseas, it sometimes meant having no parent at home. Children left behind were cared for by another family member.

    FAMILY PICTURES. Pictures of overseas Filipino worker Norma Brion and her children Jim and Joy hang on the wall of their home. Photo by Geric Cruz

    Breadwinner

    Based on the number of guest workers abroad, there are about 2.5 million Filipino children with one or both parents working overseas, according to researchers.

    In the case of Brion, her children were left in the care of her mother.  After her husband left them, she became the family’s sole breadwinner. Selling lottery tickets and taking laundry jobs were not enough for them to survive, and she had no choice but to look for work overseas.

    Brion avoided saying goodbye until she no longer could. “I only told them right when I was about to leave. My bags had already been packed.”

    Joy still remembers the day when her mother left. She was around 10-years old then.

    “It was hard for us because two members of our family had left us.” And while they had their grandmother to look after them, Joy couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to her and her brother. 

    When she had a chance to return to the Philippines 4 years later, Brion did not tell them that she would be coming home. Joy and Jim were so surprised to find their mother sitting on the sofa, waiting for them as if she had never left.

    While on vacation, Brion stepped into her role as a mother. She cooked for Joy and Jim, shared meals with them, they strolled around the mall hand in hand. She did this for her wards in Abu Dhabi, but this time, she was doing it for her children.

    When she had to leave a second time in 2009, it was just as hard.

    “They asked me why do you always have to leave us?” Brion explained and listed reasons that her mind could process but her heart could not accept.

    Virtual connection

    The advent of technology and messaging platforms has served as a virtual umbilical cord. Since her youngest ward convinced his parents to buy her a laptop for her birthday, Brion has watched over her children through a computer screen.

    The virtual connection has made the sleepless night easier to bear, but Brion continues to count the days when she can finally go home.

    From different sides of the world, the mother and daughter only had one wish.

    “I dream of the day when we can all be together again,” Brion said.

    “All I want from my Mom is her presence,” Joy stressed.

    – Rappler.com

    Produced with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting under the Persephone Miel Fellowship

     


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    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – This summer, share your adventure for a chance to get your work published on #SharePH, a Rappler travel section, and to win other prizes.

    Winners will also take part in a free training workshop on multimedia content creation and receive trophies, certificates of recognition, and other special prizes.

    Through blogs, photos, and videos, tell the story of your travel experience and join the #SharePH Summer 2017 contest organized by MovePH, Rappler's citizen journalism and civic engagement arm.

    Your entries can showcase any of the following themes:

    • Nature and other destinations
    • Adventure and other activities
    • Food and local products
    • History and culture

    Registration ends on May 7, 2017.

    Contest rules

    Below are the general rules for the #SharePH Summer 2017 contest:

    1. This program is open to all citizen journalists, campus journalists, and bloggers in the Philippines, aged 14 years old and above.
    2. Individuals must have valid Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Gmail accounts to join.
    3. Individuals must register via the Registration Form.
    4. Teams may have a minimum of 2 members and a maximum of 5.
    5. Each competing group should have a team Gmail account.
    6. High school students can participate under the team and individual categories for campus journalists.
    7. All entries shall be published only on X.
    8. Individual entries should be published on an X account.
    9. Team entries should be published on their X Publication.
    10. An X account or Publication should have a cover photo and description.
    11. The contest has three (3) categories: blogs, photos, and short videos.
    12. Entries may be in Filipino or English.
    13. All entries should cover any of the four themes. 
    14. All entries – whether in print, photos or videos – must be original and must not contain plagiarized text and copyrighted images, sound, and video. Plagiarism will result in automatic disqualification and a perpetual ban from using Rappler X.
    • Content published on X cannot be republished elsewhere until the contest is over.
    • Individuals and teams must fill up the Contest Entry Form for every new submission on Rappler X.
    • By entering the contest, participating individuals and teams retain the rights to their work while granting Rappler the right to use, repurpose, repackage, reproduce, and display their work in whole or in part for purposes of Rappler and its partners' campaigns.    
  • Rappler will notify the participating individuals and teams of such initiatives.
  • Individuals and Teams must read and sign the Terms of Agreement.
  • The contest will run until 12 noon of Saturday, May 27.  
  • The first 100 contestants to register will receive Rappler planners. Click the links below to read the mechanics for the 3 categories:

    The contest shall be judged by Rappler editors and multimedia experts. They will also help in mentoring the contestants.

    What are you waiting for? Travel and promote your areas through #SharePH! – Rappler.com

    Please read the Terms of Agreement for the #SharePH Contest. For questions or concerns, please contact move.ph@rappler.com.


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    LONGER VALIDITY. The Land Transportation Office says the proposal to extend the validity of drivers' licenses to 5 years is supported by law

    MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on transportation on Wednesday, May 3, approved in principle the proposed measure to extend the validity of drivers' licenses to 5 years.

    Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento, House panel chair, said that the proposed measure to extend the validity of professional and non-professional licenses from 3 to 5 years was "approved in principle" during a hearing on Wednesday, and was referred to a technical working group.

    The proposed bill seeks to amend Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which currently sets the validity of a driver's license to 3 years.

    During the hearing, Land Transportation Office chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante said the LTO supports the proposal.

    Galvante told the panel that the LTO, in fact, has been issuing licenses valid for 5 years since October 2016, but only in the form of receipts that serve as temporary licenses. The LTO will start issuing plastic license cards valid for 5 years by the end of 2017, he added.

    "Starting October 11, the LTO has been issuing a 5-year-validity license. Although the cards aren’t available yet, the issued receipts serve as a temporary license. This is ongoing. Those who are renewing their licenses [also] receive their 5-year license [but] only with a receipt. By the end of the year, we will be able to issue the plastic cards," Galvante said.

    He said the  LTO aims to issue licenses valid for 5 years in other regions by early 2018.

    During the hearing, Galvante cited laws that provide legal basis for the extended validity – the Administrative Code and Batas Pambansa 398.

    Quality issues

    Sarmiento asked Galvante about what LTO has done to ensure the "quality" of its drivers' licenses, especially if these would be valid for 5 years.

    “Gaano ba katino ang pagbigay ng lisensya? We have been hearing sad stories na kahit isa lang ang mata o paa, nabibigyan pa rin ng lisensiya (How strict is the licensing process? We have been hearing stories of people with only an eye or foot and still given a license). Everytime we are hearing accidents it is either the LTO or LTFRB,”the committee chairman said.

    Galvante shared the LTO's plan to implement a new system of written and practical licensing examinations.

    Example, sa truck drivers, dapat ang questions ay nagtutugma sa capacity ng pagdrive ng truck. Hindi irregardless sa kung anong dinadrive na vehicle. Aaminin po natin, wala tyong facilities, wala tayong pag-examin sa mga truck. We are hoping to get a simulator to do it for us.” he said.

    (An example would be for the truck drivers, the questions for them should be able to check their capacity to drive a truck. It shouldn’t be regardless of the vehicle. We admit that we don’t have the facilities for the examination. We are hoping to get a simulator to do it for us)

    The LTO also plans to coordinate with driving schools to establish a basic standard for program instruction and the number of hours to ensure that only capable and responsible drivers qualify for a license.

    The issue of public utility drivers as repeated violators was also brought up during the hearing.

    There had been cases when drivers with repeated violations or penalties would get new licenses under different names or when they transfer to another bus company. To address this, there was a recommendation to release to the public blacklisted public utility drivers, to keep bus companies from hiring these drivers.

    Antipolo 2nd District Representative Romeo Acop, one of the authors of the proposed measure, said in a statement that the proposed extension is also in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address.

    Proponents of the measure said that the longer validity of licenses supports the government’s campaign against red tape and is seen to reduce irregularities during applications and renewals at the LTO. (READ: Corruption at LTO, LTFRB: Unfit drivers, vehicles on the road)

    The measure, however, will also lead to lower government revenues. – With a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com


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    ANTIQUE, Philippines – Marc Layson and Heather Parangan may look like typical grade 10 students, but as the school bell signals the end of a day’s class, they switch their school uniforms for sweatpants and dancing shoes.

    On a dimly lit theater, they sweat their hearts out to different beats. On cue, they transform from 17-year-olds into passionate dancers articulating every pose, twist, and turn with their youthful spirit.

    Representing Western Visayas for dancesport Latin American-Junior category at the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa 2017 in Antique, Marc and Heather share their journey to Palaro and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

    So you think you can dance?

    PARTNERS IN CRIME. Heather Parangan and Marc Layson practice their routine. Photo by Vee Salazar/ Rappler

    Heather started dancing when she was 8 years old. Since then, she has been competing in dancesport and even won several local inter-school competitions.

    “My dancesport journey started when I was in grade 2 and it was love at first dance,” Heather shared.

    Marc has also been dancing since elementary. He’s been joining folk dance and hip-hop competitions in school. Though he never thought of joining dancesport.

    “My mother was informed that dancesport came back at the festival of talents. I thought it was a good opportunity to dance again so I asked Ma’am Catequista, our adviser in UP, if I can sign-up. Luckily, she was very supportive and said yes.”

    Finding a partner wasn't easy for Heather, especially in a school where people put academics above anything else.

    “I’ve had three partners in the course of this (Palaro) journey. The first one I’ve trained with for a month but he had to be replaced. The second, we trained for four months but he backed out two weeks before the competition.”

    Heather was devastated but she didn’t have to look so far. Turns out, the lucky pair was actually in her class and was also once her partner in an inter-school pageant. 

    “I couldn’t say no because we also had a partnership. When we were in Grade 7, we became partners at a pageant in ‘Lakan at Mutya’ and we won so our sense of partnership, our connection, might work in dance sport,” Marc shared.

    Trust and passion

    BALANCING ACT. Marc Layson and Heather Parangan juggle their time between academics and dancing. Photo by Vee Salazar/ Rappler

    Marc had to jump right into the routine, with two weeks left before the competition. They had no time to start from the basics.

    “I play for varsity volleyball, so the agility and endurance training was fine. The actual dancing, however, was far from the dancing I used to do,” Marc said.

    Heather also noted on the difficulty of managing their time between school work and training. "We usually wake up very early to prepare for school, rehearse during breaks then back to class. We train right after till before midnight and stay up late for homework then the cycle continues. We had to triple our efforts, it was exhausting but we really wanted this." 

    Dance as sport

    While some would dismiss dancesport as an actual sport, Marc and Heather agrees that they’re as much an athlete as everyone else. 

    “The training we go through is as painful as with any other sport. We have to prepare our bodies for three dances multiplied by the number of times we’re gonna be called back to dance as the competition progres," Heather argued.

    She added: "We get no time-outs, no substitutions and no breaks more two inhales and two exhales. We experience muscle pains after every rehearsal, we get injured, we sacrifice as much as everyone else,"

    Dancesport isn’t exactly a man’s world. While it requires a male counterpart, the movements usually defy masculinity as defined by gender stereotypes. Marc, however, laughs about conforming to gender norms.

    “The male partner guides and supports the female partner. Dancesport is equalizing in that sense. One could not perform well without the other partner. It’s about emotions and expression, you just really have to be yourself and enjoy,” he pointed out.

    Dancing for their dreams

    DANCE YOUR HEART. Heather Parangan and Marc Layson compete in the Latin American-Junior category at the Palarong Pambansa 2017 in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. Photo by Marie Andrea Pefianco/ Rappler

    Marc and Heather ranked 5th against competitors across the country during the Palarong Pambansa 2017 – and it's a feat they both celebrate.

    “We may have not won the much coveted medals but we know we did our best. I think our supporters saw that and we will always be champions for them,” Heather shared.

    She added: “The road to reach the Palaro is not that easy and it is even harder when you’re already there. The competition is really tough but we’re very blessed to have gone this far. We’re just happy that we had a chance to represent Region 6."

    A week after their dancesport debut, they’re back at school wearing their uniforms, ready to take their finals exam. The UP system adjusted its academic calendar and for Marc and Heather, this is another performance they have to nail.

    “Our journey doesn’t end here," Marc shared. "I guess now we have to share the gift of dance to other people so they too can have their shot in Palaro." – Rappler.com

    Russel Patina is Rappler's lead Mover in Iloilo.


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    MANILA, Philippines – The new humanitarian ship of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has been named the M/V Amazing Grace. 

    Amazing Grace beat other names suggested by the public who joined the PRC's "Name that Red Cross Ship" campaign.

    The ship is the biggest humanitarian and disaster response vessel in the country.

    President Rodrigo Duterte will christen the new ship on Tuesday, May 9, marking a milestone for PRC, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

    Multi-role vessel

    Originally called the M/V Susitna, the ship was built in Alaska for the United States Navy as a prototype. It was later converted into a ferry but was never used.

    The new PRC ship is a multi-role vessel that can function as a mobile command center, cargo transport vessel, and evacuation ship.

    It can convert from a barge into a twin-hulled ship, capable of beaching or rolling up to the shore in shallow waters. This will allow the PRC to unload life-saving equipment and vehicles without the need for a deep water port.

    According to Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the PRC, they acquired the ship at a "substantial discount." It cost $1.75 million to build. – Rappler.com

    MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm, is a media partner of the Philippine Red Cross.


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    NOT OPEN. ActivistS from Greenpeace Philippines protest at the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City. Photo by: DARREN LANGIT/RAPPLER

    MANILA, Philippines – Environmental activists from Greenpeace staged a protest action on Monday, May 8, to call out the Duterte administration for allegedly bowing to big corporate interests.

    The activists, led by Greenpeace Southeastasia executive director Yeb Saño, chained themselves to the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City. Greenpeace also hung a banner with the words "DENR: Not open for business."

    In a Facebook post, Saño wrote: "We need to #RESIST! Fight head on the corporate influence over government that leads to impunity of polluters and the lack of accountability from our politicians."

     

    Today we're blockading the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest the continued control of the Philippine government by big business interests, and as a failure of the current administration to stand by the reforms it is pursuing. #defendDENR #resist #resistoften

    Posted by Greenpeace Philippines on Sunday, May 7, 2017

     

    “Big businesses, such as the big mining firms Ms Gina Lopez has confronted during her provisional appointment as DENR Secretary, have gone out of line by rendering our government institutions at their behest," Saño added.

    Greenpeace slammed the rejection of DENR secretary Gina Lopez by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), calling it a "rejection of change."

    On its social media page, Greenpeace called on supporters to sign an online petition asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reappoint Gina Lopez as environment secretary. Once rejected by the CA en banc, a person cannot be reappointed to the same position again. 

    Saño earlier said the CA was "dominated by politicians with questionable loyalty, some of whom are receiving campaign contributions from various mining interests."

    President Duterte also hinted that lobbying money resulted in the votes against Lopez, but did not provide details.

    Lopez was widely seen as a firebrand and an ardent critic of big mining companies, which she accussed of damaging the environment.

    Members of the CA who voted to reject her appointment expressed their concern that Lopez 'did not follow the rules' as environment secretary. – Rappler.com


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    MULTIPLE JOBS. Junjun Paran selling Filipino treats outside the Philippine Consulate office in Milan, Italy. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

    MILAN, Italy – The first time I met Junjun Paran, he was a driver. 

    He brought me from the airport to my mom’s apartment when I came to visit her here. We paid him 35 euros for the trip – so much cheaper than what we would have shelled out for a taxi ride. As a first-timer here, being welcomed by a kababayan helped make the trip feel a lot less intimidating.

    On my second day I saw him again, this time he was selling Filipino food in front of the Philippine Consulate. Filipinos who visit the consulate stop by to check his goods for a taste of home - kakanin (rice cakes), longganisa (sausage), tocino, among others.

    But these are just some of his many “rakets” (livelihood), as I learned when I talked to him. He also regularly works as a cleaner for different offices and offers coach services for organized tours for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Milan, commonly called ‘palakad.’ 

    Working multiple jobs, he says, is the reality for many OFWs in Milan where the cost of living is so much higher than in Manila. 

    Despite this, Junjun says he would still choose the life of a Milan OFW over working in Manila anytime. This life has always been what he wanted.

    Moving to Milan

    Junjun’s father has been in Milan for 26 years. With his help, Junjun and his siblings were able to migrate too.

    Filipinos are some of the oldest migrant communities in Italy, thanks mostly to the good relationship between the Philippines and Italy. According to a community report released by the Italian government, there are 169,046 documented Filipinos living in Italy, the largest non-EU community in the country.

    Many among the first wave of Filipino migrants in Milan entered with tourist permits but were eventually granted amnesty by the Italian government.

    Now, according to a community report by the Italian government, 70% of those being granted permit to enter Milan are relatives of those who were already granted a residenza or resident status in Italy. The Italian government allows this in recognition of the importance of family reunification.

    After becoming an official resident himself, Junjun was finally able to take his wife and two children here with him. He worked multiple jobs for 4 years to make this happen, and now he needs to work even harder to survive. 

    "Kelangan natin magsakripisyo para sa kinabukasan ng mga anak mo. Sarili ko, di ko na iniisip,” he said.  (We need to sacrifice for the future of our children. I don't think of my own welfare anymore.)

    SECOND HOME. After 4 years, Junjun Paran was finally able to bring his wife and two children to Italy.

    Challenging times 

    As is the case for many other OFWs, there's one thing that lured Junjun and his family to Milan: availability of jobs.

    According to the Italian government’s 2015 report, out of 100 Filipino immigrants of working age (18-64 years old), 80 are employed, 6 are inactive but are looking for a job, and 14 are not actively seeking employment. 

    "Professional specialization has to an extent protected the Philippine community from the worst effects of the economic crisis we are going through,” the report said, adding that ”[In the family services sector] the rate of unemployment within the [Filipino] community is considerably less than that for the set of all non-EU citizens.”

    There’s a high concentration of Filipino workers in the service industry. The same report said that 72,000 OFWs in Italy engaged in domestic work in 2014 – that’s about 64% of all Philippine workers and 15.6% of all non-EU domestic workers in the country.

    Compared to other non-EU workers in Italy, the report said that Filipino workers have a slightly higher education level: Half possess at least an upper secondary education qualification and one in 10 went through higher education.

    Junjun himself got a college degree from the Lyceum of Batangas. It is normal, he says, to find Filipino college graduates working as domestic helpers in Milan. "Kasi sa atin naman pahirap na pahirap din ang buhay. Kung makatapos ka naman diyan, ang sweldo mo naman ay kakarampot pa din,” he said. (Because in our country, life is hard. Even if you're a college graduate, your salary is still small.)

    LANGUAGE BARRIER. Filipinos in Milan taking free Italian language lessons at the Philippine Consulate in Milan. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

    Despite this, the average salary for Filipino workers in Italy is slightly lower than other non-EU citizens.

    According to the report, only 15.6% of OFWs in Milan earn more than 1,000 euros a month, almost 24% lower than the recorded average salary for all non-EU workers. 30% of Filipino workers fall down to the 501-750 euro per month income bracket.  

    While it may seem high compared to what they could have earned doing the same job in the Philippines, the cost of living in Milan is also so much higher. An average apartment in Milan, for example, would cost around 500 to 1000 euros a month, depending on the size and location. In Junjun’s case for example, he needs to earn at least 1,500 euros a month for rent and other bills.

    But even though the income of Filipino workers is not among the highest, a total of 324 million euros or 7.7% of the total 4 billion euros remittances from Italy came from Filipinos in 2014.

    Survival of the fittest

    Filipinos like Junjun are able to survive the high cost of living by taking multiple jobs and tapping other sources of income, no matter the risks involved. 

    "Dito naman sa bansang ito kasi, madiskarte ka lang mabubuhay ka na, gumawa ka lang ng paraan, basta sa marangal, mabubuhay ka,” he said. (In this country, if you're resourceful then you will survive. Just find a way and you will live.)

    When he’s not working on his van-for-hire business, Junjun sells Filipino food in front of the consulate office. 

    Selling on the streets of Milan, without paying required taxes and the proper permit, is illegal and Junjun admitted that he has already been caught by the police several times. When caught, the police confiscate their merchandise and give them a violation ticket. 

    There’s a 3,000 euro penalty for selling without a proper permit, but they were never really forced to pay. “Panakot lang siguro yan ng mga pulis,” he said. "Ano bang gusto nila, magnakaw kami? Ay syempre iligal man sa batas ng Italia para samin marangal, 'di ba?” (I think the police are just trying to scare us. What do they want, for us to steal? It may be illegal according to the law in Italy but it's an honorable job for us.)

    Many Filipinos in Milan also face different work hazards.

    According to the report from the Italian government, the Filipino community ranked 18th in terms of industrial accidents among non-EU residents in 2014. In 2013, a total of 1,203 OFWs were involved in accidents at work.

    The Milan life

    Filipinos in Milan, Junjun says, are pretty tight. Just walk around around the Duomo (Cathedral) and you will find OFWs hanging out on their days off. 

    The Filipino community has also established several organizations among themselves, mostly aiming to help each other in times of need. A group of pensioned OFWs that I’ve met, for example, hosts regular ‘Balikatan’ sessions where they help feed less fortunate Filipinos.

    MELTING POT. Many OFWs can be seen hanging around the Milan Cathedral on their days off. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

    Junjun says it’s important to build a strong relationship with other Filipinos in Milan in order to survive.

    "Makisama ka, kahit hindi mo ka ano ano, dahil minsan kung sino pa yung hindi mo kamag anak siya pa yung makakatulong sa’yo habang andito,” he said. (Be friendly, even with those who are not related to you, because sometimes it's even ones who aren't your relatives who'll end up helping you out.)

    But sometimes, there are conflicts among Filipinos too, he says. “Alam mo naman ang ugaling Pilipino, lahat makikita mo. Parang satin may mataas, lalo na yung ibang nakapangasawa ng Italyano, talagang mamatahin ka, lalo na kaming mga nagtitinda,” he shared. (You know how Filipinos are, you notice everything. There are those on high horses, especially those who married Italians, who would stare you down, especially vendors.)

    The moment he became an OFW, Junjun says friends in the Philippines started treating him differently. “Ang tingin sa’yo mayaman na. Kung alam niyo lang ang buhay namin dito.” (They think you're rich. If only they knew how life is like here.)

    Often, his friends would ask for help in getting to Italy too. "Sinasabi ko na lang sa kanila na pagbutihan niyo na lang diyan kasi kung papangarapin niyo ngayon dito, hindi na tulad ng una na nung una na madaming trabaho,” he said. "Marami nang kakompetensya - mga Chinese, Bangladeshi." (I tell them to just do well in the Philippines because Italy doesn't have that many jobs for migrants like it used to. We have lots of competition now - the Chinese, Bangladeshi, etc.)

    Junjun himself doesn’t want to live in Milan forever. His goal is to be able to come back with his family by the time he turns 50. "Target naming yung makaipon para makapagpundar ng pangnegosyo bago umuwi,” he said. (Our target is to save up for a business before heading home.)

    But going back is still far behind his priorities. For now, Junjun has his eyes set on taking care of his family and giving his children the capacity to follow their dreams, a luxury many other Filipino children do not have.– Rappler.com


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