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    PREPAREDNESS. Juan Handa is the official mascot of the DepEd DRRMS office.

    MANILA, Philippines – There's a new Filipino superhero in town. Meet Juan Handa, the face of the Department of Education's (DepEd) disaster preparedness campaign.

    Mula ulo hanggang paa, handa siya. Handa siyang sumabak; handa siyang tumulong,” said Mark James Geronimo, a young artist from Metro Manila who sketched the mascot design.

    The mascot was chosen on Wednesday, May 17, as the winner from among regional finalists in the mascot-design contest for public and private elementary and secondary schools. The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) office, the coordinating unit for DepEd's disaster risk reduction and management efforts, organized the contest to promote a culture of safety in schools.

    Schools are often hit by typhoons, floods, and other natural disasters. School buildings are also used as evacuation centers.

    Among elementary schools, 32% reported having been hit by a typhoon once in 2013 alone, and 35% said they were hit two or more times. That translates to about 12,000 individual schools reporting that they were hit by typhoons more than once. Among the high schools, 38% or more than 2,400 said they were struck by more than one typhoon. (READ: Schools constantly at risk of natural, man-made hazards)

    Ready for disasters

    According to Geronimo, who studies in Rizal High School, he named the mascot Juan Handa after the iconic name which is closely associated with Filipino identity.

    Juan Handa wears a costume inspired by the colors of the Philippine flag – blue, red, and yellow.

    The mascot also symbolizes the country's aspiration to be resilient during disasters. He wears safety goggles and a helmet with a flashlight. He has an emergency whistle, a rope for rescue operations, and a bag that contains food, water, and a hygiene kit.

    JUAN HANDA. Mark Geronimo's mascot design wins in the contest held by DepEd DRRMS for their search of the official mascot for disaster preparedness. Photo by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

    The mascot carries a booklet, representing his role to raise awareness on disaster preparedness. 

    "From head to toe, a responder should be ready for disasters," Geronimo said in Filipino.  

    Geronimo urged his fellow students to use technology to know more on how they can help their families and communities in preparing for disasters.

    “Bilang bata, maaring gamitin ang cellphone, ang technology, sa pag-check ng updates sa balita, mag-research ng mga kailangang gawin,” Geronimo said.

    (We can use our cellphones, technology, to get updates and to research on what we should do to be prepared.)

    Agos powered by eBayanihan

    According to DepEd DRRMS Director Ronilda Co, disseminating disaster information using social media and technology is easier and faster.

    As part of its disaster preparedness program for the new school year, DepEd on Thursday also inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, to use the disaster information platform Agos powered by eBayanihan. Agos eBayanihan gathers and visualizes reports from social media such as damage to critical infrastructure, rescue call outs, and evacuation centers in real time. (READ: DepEd, Ateneo, MovePH agree to use Agos for disaster preparedness)

    Isa sa feature nung partnership ay para maging mas madali po sa amin yung determination doon sa ginagamit na evacuation sites” Co said. (One of the features of the partnership is for us to easily determine the status of evacuation sites.)

    Co also added that the partnership also teaches the students and citizens about disaster awareness and preparedness.

    The MOA formalizes an ongoing partnership between the Education Department, MovePH, and Ateneo de Manila University’s eBayanihan program on the use of social media and technology to crowdsource critical information in times of emergencies. – Rappler.com 

    Jonnel Gozo is a Rappler intern. He is a student at the Lyceum of the Philippine University - Dasmarinas  


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    MANILA, Philippines – What do you know about the new law on distracted driving?

    Republic Act No. 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act officially took effect Thursday, May 18, about 10 months after it became law in July 2016.

    The law defines "distracted driving" as using telecommunication or entertainment devices while in motion or when temporarily stopped at a red traffic light.

    According to a 2015 National Statistics Office report, using cellular phones while driving has been one of the top causes of road crash incidents.

    The report found that a total of 1,290 incidents recorded from 2012 to 2014 were caused by drivers using their phones while driving.

    Rappler editor Acor Arceo talked to Francis Ray Almora, the Land Transportation Office's Director on Law Enforcement Service, about the newly-enforced Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

    Watch our interview on road safety issues. Participate in the conversation by posting on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #SaferRoadsPH or by joining the Facebook group– Rappler.com

    Learn more about Filipinos' safety on the road by visiting the Road Safety Awareness microsite.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Interior design has been stereotyped as a profession for the rich. However, students from the University of the Philippines interior design class of 2017 would like to change this perception.  

    They recently mounted an exhibit on furniture and accessories designed specifically to improve the home living condition of Tulay ng Kabataan, a non-government organization that provides shelter to street children in Metro Manila. The exhibit ran from April until the first week of May.

    Thw pieces of furniture they created, aside from being children-friendly, tried to capture the essence of childhood while instilling the values they have to learn.

    Hierarchy of needs

    The furniture designs are divided into 5 groups that were inspired by the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a motivational theory on psychology that is presented in a pyramid. The stages, as presented in the exhibit highlight safety, belongingness, esteem, self-actualization, and physiological needs.                                                                                                                     

    INDEPENDENCE. The stackable wagon aims to teach kids how to be more independent and at the same time be responsible to take good care of their belongings. All photos by Dwight de Leon/Rappler

    “The idea is to design places (furniture, accessories, and toys) that fulfill different needs of the children while incorporating aspects of healing design as well as collaborative design,” according to the team composed of 30 interior design students from the UP College of Home Economics.

    The concept also acknowledged the plight of street children as one of the most pressing issues in the country. The goal of the students was to understand the conditions that street children face so that they can integrate their knowledge into their design. This process will help “in the healing, rehabilitation and growth of the children," according to the students.

    One of the furniture designs in self-esteem category was a stackable wagon painted in a children-friendly color. It aimed to teach kids how to be more independent and at the same time be responsible to take good care of their belongings.

    There were also designs that took advantage of its multi-functionality, such as a table desk where the platform was detachable and could be used as a blackboard.

    Some of the designs, meanwhile, were symbolic in nature, such as the desk lamp in the shape of a child, and tables and chairs that formed semi-circles when joined together.

     MULTI-FUNCTIONAL. The platform of this table desk is detachable and can be used as a blackboard.

    From renovation to mass production

    The project dubbed “TAWID: Design Beyond Borders” is spearheaded annually by graduating interior design students in the College of Home Economics. Since 2000, the batch projects have focused on renovating spaces like the UP Kalayaan dorm and a Gawad Kalinga village home.

    In 2017, however, the tradition was sidetracked as the graduating class could not find a home that needs renovation.

    According to Paulyne Kate Genson, the project's head, most of the foundations they met turned down their renovation pitch.

    "When we ran into Tulay ng Kabataan, it was one of our last choices. And when we went to the foundation, they also said we cannot do renovation, so we asked: 'What are we gonna do?'" Genson said in a mix of Filipino and English.

    SYMBOLIC. The design of this table set is symbolic in nature, which attached together, form semi-circles

    With the help of their adviser, the students decided to adjust their project to the needs of the foundation.

    “[Tulay ng Kabataan said] maybe we could give them pieces instead. And because the foundation has so many centers, we just decided to mass-produce the pieces,” Genson said.

    The students have already given the design to the foundation based on its needs. Tulay ng Kabataan has 14 centers in Metro Manila that provide shelter to around 220 street children.

    Not only for the rich

    Genson hoped that their project would open new doors to the interior design community to help those in the marginalized sectors of the society.

    “Everyone deserves to have furniture and houses made for them and with their needs and preferences in mind...We also started thinking about ideas on interior design that could help in the housing projects for the poor. So there are many avenues for interior designers to help, but they have not been explored yet,” Genson said.

    UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan, who graced the exhibit launch, stressed the importance of interior design and home economics in society. 

    “Home economics is even more important in the 21st century. Home economics will move with the times, UP’s home economics will show that it’s just relevant, it’s indispensable for the society to move forward.” – Rappler.com 

    Dwight Angelo de Leon is a former Rappler intern. He is taking up Broadcast Communication in UP Diliman. 


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    REPAINT. After a year of wear and tear, the walls of Pedro P. Cruz Elementary School in Mandaluyong City is in need of a fresh coat of paint. Photo by Luigi Arce/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Beyond preparing classrooms for the opening of the school year, Brigada Eskwela is also focused on ensuring that schools can prepare for emergencies and disasters.

    From May 15 to 20, students, parents, and volunteers from all over the country trooped to the nearest public schools in their community for the annual showcase of bayanihan through Brigada Eskwela.

    “Ang Brigada Eskwela ay nagpapakita na ang edukasyon ay hindi lamang obligasyon ng gobyerno, ito ay responsibilidad din ng lahat ng mga tao,” DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said during the Brigada Eskwela held in Navotas. 

    (The Brigada Eskwela shows that education is not only the obligation of the government. It is also the responsibility of all stakeholders) 

    Launched in 2003, Brigada Eskwela is an annual community-based program that aims to promote "bayanihan" spirit among education stakeholders to prepare public school facilities for the upcoming school year.

    The drive has generated increased support from education stakeholders throughout the years: from P1.5 billion in 2012, generated resources and support has increased to P7.3 billion or 21%, according to the DepEd.

    Disaster preparedness

    There were at least 3 tasks for Brigada Eskwela volunteers across the country: paint, clean, and repair. All of these tasks were geared towards the common goal of preparing the schools for the opening of classes and for strengthening disaster preparedness in schools.

    “Ang una at lagi naming tinitingnan ay 'yung pagiging ligtas ng ating eskwelahan. Sinisigurado natin ang kahandaang pisikal ng ating mga paaralan para sa mga sakuna tulad ng lindol, baha, at iba pa," Sevilla said.

    Sevilla added that it is important to keep schools safe and ready to withstand strong winds and major earthquakes because the community often seeks refuge in schools in times of disasters.

    “Lahat ng eskwelahan ay meron ng disaster risk reduction coordinators. Maski 'yung ating mga guro, tinuturuan na natin kung paano ang pagtugon sa lindol, bagyo, baha, at iba pang kalamidad. Dapat handa ang ating mga paaralan sa ano mang kalamidad,” Sevilla explained.

    (All schools have disaster risk reduction coordinators. We also teach our teachers how to respond accordingly to different emergency situations – earthquake, typhoons, flood, and other natural calamities. Our schools need to be prepared in times of calamities) 

    COMMUNITY EFFORT. Students of the Alternative Learning System of Rosario District in Cavite work together in cleaning the school surrounding. Photo by Dom Cueto

    To strengthen this initiative, seminars on disaster risk reduction management and fire and earthquake drills were conducted.

    Recently,the DepEd also inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Rappler’s civic engagement arm, MovePH, as part of its disaster preparedness program for the new school year, the Department of Education (DepEd).

    The education department also introduced a new jingle and mascot for its disaster preparedness campaign.

    Different stakeholders

    Brigada Eskwela mobilized thousands of volunteers from different sectors to public schools nationwide. 

     In Tagum City, 139 members of the Tagum city Motor Riders Association (TCMRA) and 5 Civilian Military Operation Infantry Division Philippine Armies served as Brigada Eskwela volunteers at La Filipina National High School.  

    According to TCRMA President Edwin Campos, helping out is a sign of volunteerism and they are willing to serve the school in response to the invitation. (READ: Brigada Eskwela 'a show of force')

    "Mao nay nakainspire sa amoa tungod kay naa mi mga anak na nag iskwela dinhia ug na nanginahanglan sa among suporta ang Department of Education para mulambo ang atong Department of Education.Usa sa mga rason na nalambigit mi aning Brigada Eskwela 2017 para ang atong ka-eskwelahanan diri sa syudad sa Tagum atong matabangan sila sa pagpanghinlo ug uban pang buluhaton diri sa eskwelahan," Campos said.

    (We are inspired to help since we have children in this school. Also, the Department of Education needs our support. One of the reasons why we are involved in Brigada Eskwela 2017 is for us to help the schools in Tagum in terms of cleanliness and other works to do)

    FUTURE. Students at the Rizal Region National High School help sort our books during the Brigada Eskwela. Photo by Kurt Dela Peña

    Likewise, the Rizal Region National High School (RRNHS), one of the major high schools in Alicia, Isabela, recorded hundreds of volunteers for the annual volunteer drive. 

    Maribel Bocala, Head Teacher III, highlighted the importance of joining the program, which is ultimately to benefit the students in the community.  

    “Kapag kasi welcoming 'yung environment and at the same time, 'yung teachers, magkakaroon sila (students) ng eagerness to study,” Bocala said.

    (If the environment of the school is welcoming and at the same time, the teachers are welcoming, they will have the eagerness to study.)

    She even emphasized that a good place for learning would lessen school problems like cutting classes and absences. Magkakaroon kasi sila ng positive outlook so imbes na magka-cutting class o ‘di kaya e mag-absent, hindi na, papasok na sila for they have a school that serves as a place for them to relax at the same time while studying,” she added.

    (Because they will have a positive outlook, instead of cutting classes or being absent, they will not do it anymore for they will study because they have a school that serves as a place for them to relax at the same time while studying.)

    Brigada Eskwela plus 

    The effort to improve the public schools' surroundings does not end with the week-long volunteer drive. 

    With Brigada Eskwela Plus, DepEd hopes to ensure that school maintenance activities will continue throughout the school year.

    "With Brigada Eskwela Plus, it’s our goal to improve children’s schooling until they finish basic education. The activities during Brigade Eskwela will be practiced throughout the year to ensure continuous community engagement," DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said in a video message.

    The activities under Brigada Eskwela Plus include community-led efforts to improve student participation and reduce dropouts or enroll in the ALS; and to improve student performance – Rappler.com


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    CHILDREN SAFETY. Automobile company Volkswagen Philippines launches Child Safety Initiative 2.0 at Robinson's Magnolia in Quezon City. Photo by Basmarie Jane Marin/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – If you want your children to be responsible adult road users, educate them on road safety early.

    Automobile company Volkswagen Philippines launched "Child Safety Initiative 2.0" in Quezon City on Saturday, May 20. The campaign, on its second year, aims to prepare children to become responsible adult road users.

    It features a driving course for kids and a seminar on road safety for children aged 9 to 12 years old.

    “The road is a serious business,” said Ma Theresa Perez, the program director of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP).

    Perez said they are working with Volkswagen Philippines in developing tools that will educate children on appropriate road behavior.

    The automobile company commits to educate children by putting up these courses. Take a look at their installation at Robinson's Magnolia:

    Junior Driving Course

    JUNIOR DRIVING COUSE. It features a miniature simulated roadway for kids 4 to 8 years old. Photo by Basmarie Jane Marin/Rappler

    The Junior Driving Course for children aged 4 to 8  allows children to use push cars and be the driver in a simulated roadway.

    On the course, mini-lectures are given on the significance of road signages and which lanes on the roadway are available for traffic before they are allowed to "practice driving."

    During the morning session, PGRSP Secretary General and former Land Transportation Office chief Alberto Suansing taught the kids about basic driving.

    The children will drive around the simulated community, equipped with road signs and stoplights. The kids will have to drive around destinations such as the church, the school, the house, the mall, and the park.

    Graduates of the course will receive their junior driver's license.

    “Giving licenses is a way of asking the kids to commit to what they have learned and to do the same behavior when they are out on the streets,” said Perez.

    JUNIOR DRIVER'S LICENSE. Two girls accomplished the Junior Driving Course and received their licenses by the end of the program. Photo by Basmarie Jane Marin/Rappler

    Steps to safety module

    Since the safety initiative is on its second year, Volkswagen Philippines added a new program called "Steps to Safety."

    The module is a 15-minute seminar that focuses on pedestrian safety. The program is for older children aged 9 to 12.

    The practical application was done through the aid of a virtual reality environment.

    The kids learned 3 important tips when crossing the road.

    1. Plan - Find the safest place to cross
    2. Stop - before stepping onto the road
    3. Look - left and right before crossing

    STEPS TO SAFETY. Practical application for pedestrian safety was done with the help of a virtual reality environment. Photo by Basmarie Jane Marin/Rappler

    The kids were given basic instructions to ensure pedestrian safety such as walking facing the traffic or in single file if walking in groups. They were also told not to cross the street alone.

    Every year, 1.25 million people around the world die due to traffic crash-related incidents – a global problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) says is both predictable and preventable.

    According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, more than 500 children die every year due to motor vehicle incidents.

    In 2014, PSA recorded 253 deaths among children aged 5 to 9, while 195 children aged 10 to 14 died due to road mishaps.

    What can you do to educate children on road safety?– Rappler.com

    Basmarie Jane Marin is a Rappler intern

    Learn more about Filipinos' safety on the road by visiting the Road Safety Awareness microsite.


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    CLEAR DASHBOARDS. Motorists of private and public vehicles are advised to clear their dashboards of unauthorized accessories. File photo by Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Following the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, drivers of private and public utility vehicles now have until Friday, May 26, to clear their dashboards of figurines, toys, and other unauthorized car accessories.

    Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member Aileen Lizada said in a dzMM interview on Sunday, May 21, that rosaries hanging under rearview mirrors, small images of saints, and stuffed toys on the dashboard that can affect the driver's line of sight are prohibited.

    Motorists are also banned from eating, drinking, or putting on makeup while on the road, even while temporarily stopped.

    Lizada said these unauthorized car accessories and acts are prohibited under the transportation department's 2014 Joint Administrative Order (JAO).

    "Dito nahuhulog 'yung kung umiinom kayo ng kape, o girls na nagme-makeup o kumakain. Dito siya under sa reckless driving. 'No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway recklessly,'" she said.

    (Acts like drinking coffee, putting on makeup, or eating fall under this JAO. It's under reckless driving. "No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway recklessly.")

    "Other non-electronic [items] that aren't covered under the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, it's under the JAO," she added in Filipino.

    Under the reckless driving offense, violators face a penalty of P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense and a 3-month suspension of the driver's license, and P10,000 for subsequent offenses plus a 6-month suspension of the license.

    Meanwhile, Lizada said toys and other car accessories are considered "unauthorized accessories, devices, equipment, and parts."

    "[These include] bells/horns/sirens/whistles, blinkers, brakes, early warning device (EWD), grill/s, jalousies, brake (foot and hand brakes), brake lights/headlights/interior lights/signal lights/tail lights, mirrors, mufflers, metallic tires/spare tire, speedometer, windshield, wipers or any other accessory, device, equipment or part that is manifestly prejudicial to road safety," the JAO read.

    Violators face a P5,000 penalty and the vehicle will be impounded unless the accessory is removed.

    Reactions, criticism

    The transportation department and its attached agencies have been drawing questions and criticism online over the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. (READ: What you need to know about the Anti-Distracted Driving Act)

    Social media users questioned why gadgets are not allowed to be placed on the vehicle's dashboard supposedly to avoid blocking the line of sight, while signboards on public utility vehicles like buses and jeeps are still allowed.

    Lizada said the LTFRB is working on guidelines specifying where it would be safe to put these signboards.

    "What we do not like is one where you have a blind spot, [where there are a lot of] gadgets or accessories on top of the dashboard. The guidance that was given to us is that the line of sight must be cleared," she said.

    The ban on the religious icons and trinkets – which visitors to the Philippines inevitably see hanging off rearview mirrors in taxis and jeepneys – has stirred the most controversy, especially from the Catholic Church which insists they offer divine intervention on the nation's chaotic roads.

    Roughly 80% of the Philippines' 100 million people are Catholic, a legacy of centuries of Spanish colonial rule that ended in 1898, and the religious icons in vehicles are seen by many as offering God's protection while driving.

    "This is an overreaction, insensitive and lacks common sense," Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary for public affairs at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, told Agence France-Presse.

    "With these religious images, drivers feel they are safer, that there is divine intervention and they are being guided and protected."

    Piston, an association of jeepney drivers and owners, also criticized the plan, saying there was no data showing rosaries and religious trinkets caused accidents.

    "Do not meddle with the drivers' faith in God," Piston president George San Mateo told Agence France-Presse.  with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com


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    CALL FOR SUSPENSION. Several senators want the Department of Transportation to suspend the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

    MANILA, Philippines – With the unclear rules surrounding the implementation of Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, several senators are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to put it on hold.

    Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito slammed officials of the DOTr and its attached agencies, saying in a statement on Monday, May 22, that they are complicating matters.

    "Looks like their officials did not understand the essence of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. They have made matters complicated, when it is basically just about banning the use of cellphones while driving," said Ejercito, vice chairperson of the Senate public services committee.

    Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed Ejercito's statement, also saying that the law's implementation should be suspended until motorists' concerns are settled. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: What is the Anti-Distracted Driving Act?)

    "I am about to call the attention of the [Senate] committee on public services and if possible call for a ceasefire or a halt in the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving [Act]," Sotto told reporters.

    "They (transport authorities) expanded the law. I think what we should do is sit down, study the IRR, talk about the way we passed the law. The real intention of the law is [to ban] talking and texting using the cellphone in a vehicle or by drivers... [Now], masyadong maraming reklamo (we have received so many complaints from motorists)," he added.

    What is 'line of sight'?

    A top concern of motorists is the use of navigation apps via mobile phones– which transport authorities consider a distraction that should not obstruct the driver's "line of sight."

    But Ejercito pointed out that cellphones, "when used for navigational purposes," aid motorists in "steering clear of heavy traffic."

    "We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly placed, it is okay," the senator added.

    Ejercito also echoed motorists' view that it is more dangerous when cellphones with navigation apps are placed out of sight or out of reach.

    "It is counterintuitive when using Waze or other navigation apps since the use of cellphone is less dangerous if it is within the line of sight. Every second that the driver's eyes are on the road counts. Mas delikado pa yumuko (It's more dangerous to look down)!" the senator said.

    Sotto also said: "What do they mean by line of sight? In my case I drive a car with the heads-up display, do I tell my car manufacturer to remove the windshield? Palagay ko medyo lumampas eh, parang na-expand masyado 'yung batas na naipasa namin (I think they overstepped the limits of the law, the law that we passed was expanded too much)."

    'Muddled & overboard'

    Senators Richard Gordon and Nancy Binay also want a review of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act's implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

    With the rules of the DOTr, Binay said the law seems to have become muddled.

    "Parang nalusaw 'yung intent of the law, which was really to prohibit 'yung text and call while driving. Parang ngayon, kung saan-saan na napunta 'yung IRR. Panawagan ko i-review muna siguro 'yung IRR. Ang nangyayari, every day ata pabago-bago 'yung interpretations sa IRR," she said.

    (It's like the law was watered down. The intent of the law was really to prohibit texting and calling while driving. But now, the IRR is all over the place. My appeal is to first review the IRR. What's happening is that every day the interpretations of the IRR are changing.)

    Both Binay and Gordon also criticized the prohibition of accessories such as rosaries hung on rearview mirrors and air fresheners placed on dashboards, which was included in a 2014 Joint Administrative Order by the DOTr. (READ: Motorists told to remove rosaries, toys on dashboards by May 26)

    "Parang sumobra, hindi naman ako naniniwala na pati ba naman 'yung rosary at saka air freshener dapat ipagbawal," said Binay, who is set to file a Senate resolution calling for an inquiry into the issue.

    Gordon, for his part, said about the rosaries: "I think that's OA, that's going overboard. Anything that will bar or create dangerous situations for the car and its passengers and people in highways should be policed... but sobra na 'yun (that's too much)."

    Striking a balance

    Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, meanwhile, said it is important for the authorities to be reasonable and also for motorists to learn how to follow rules.

    "Ang mga batas na [ito], ginawa 'yan para sa safety ng taong bayan. Maybe initially may mga difficulties 'yun but eventually I hope matuto rin tayo na sumunod sa patakaran ng batas. On the other hand, kailangan maging reasonable rin iyong ating authorities," he said.

    (These laws were created for the safety of the people. Maybe initially there will be difficulties but eventually I hope we'll learn how to follow the rules. On the other hand, authorities also need to be reasonable.)

    Before a law can be implemented, there should first be an IRR to guide enforcement.

    But Gordon said IRRs, in general, are the "most abused thing" as these could be crafted in such a way that they "change" the law.

    "We can review that, we can express our sense na (that) they shouldn't do that," he said. – Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Do you know where you can place your cellphones and other gadgets while driving?

    Many Filipino motorists are confused about where they can put their mobile devices under the newly-enforced Republic Act (RA) 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. (READ: Senators want Anti-Distracted Driving Act on hold over unclear rules)

    RA 10913 officially took effect last Thursday, May 18. It defines "distracted driving" as using telecommunications or entertainment devices while in motion or when temporarily stopped at a red traffic light. (READ: What you need to know about the Anti-Distracted Driving Act)

    According to the new law, the placement of mobile devices "should not interfere with the driver's 'line of sight.'"

    'Line of sight'

    But what does "line of sight" mean under RA 10913?

    In a Rappler Talk interview, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Law Enforcement Service Director Francis Ray Almora clarified what this phrase means.

    "Generally, we say that 'line of sight' is where you're sitting and when you're looking straight, that's your line of sight," he told Rappler.

    NO DISTRACTIONS. Under the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, devices cannot be placed anywhere that may obstruct the driver's line of sight (highlighted in orange).

    "[The driver] must exercise due caution. We can say then that the line of sight of the driver includes the side mirrors and the rearview mirror," he added.

    Where can devices be placed?

    Given that "line of sight" includes the entire area of the windshield – plus the rearview and side mirrors – devices are not allowed to be placed there.

    But what if motorists need to follow a navigation app like Waze or Google Maps?

    Generally, motorists cannot mount their phones anywhere above the dashboard as the LTO said it will obstruct the driver's line of sight. Gadgets can't be held while driving as well.

    The LTO recommends that devices be placed below the dashboard.

    According to Almora, the most ideal place to mount devices is near the stereo, right below the dashboard. It can also be placed near the shift stick.

    The photos below show the areas where devices can be placed.

    Almora also said gadgets can technically be placed in areas within or near the driver's seat, as long as they are below the dashboard. But he cautioned against doing so, saying it would be better if gadgets are out of reach of the driver.

    For instance, mounting devices on the instrument panel or placing them on the vent on the left side of the steering wheel fall under a "gray area."

    "That's a gray area. As far as the law says, it should not be above the dashboard," Almora told Rappler.

    What about dashcams?

    According to the LTO, a dashcam should be placed behind the rearview mirror where it will not obstruct the driver's line of sight.

    Almora added that it could also be placed behind the sun visor.

    "Once you put it [behind the sun visor, even if] the dashboard cam is recording, it does not interfere," he said.

    Issues on enforcement

    The newly-enforced law sparked confusion among motorists, especially drivers under Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) companies like Uber and Grab.

    Drivers under TNVS companies use their devices to accept trips, locate passengers, and find destinations. They fear enforcers will apprehend them since there are still gray areas in the law's implementation and they're unsure of where to place their devices.

    Almora said the LTO is in talks with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to come up with issuances that will guide TNVS operators. (READ: Grab, Uber remind drivers to comply with Anti-Distracted Driving Act)

    "We are actually having discussions with the LTFRB because they are the ones who issue guidelines regarding TNVS. We would like to reconcile our issuances with [them], so that TNVS will not be in violation of this law," he said.

    Almora added that they are also consulting TNVS companies.

    "The intention of the law is for the general welfare of everybody. The intent really is for drivers to drive safely." – Rappler.com

    Do you have questions about the Anti-Distracted Driving Act? Let us know in the comments or join the Safer Roads PH Facebook group and start the discussion!

    Learn more about Filipinos' safety on the road by visiting the Road Safety Awareness microsite.


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    FLIPPED. A group of young boys color activity books about fire safety while waiting for the opening program to begin. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Who says kids can’t be heroes?

    Highlighting the role and the capacity of the youth in public safety, the Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region (BFP-NCR) conducted its first ever Kiddie and Junior Fire Marshal Summer Camp at the Liwasang Kalakasan area of the CCP Complex on Friday and Saturday, May 19 to 20. 

    The two-day summer camp teaches kids from 8 to 17 years old about fire safety, first aid, and firefighting techniques in a fun way. It is one of the activities of the BFP-NCR to help members of the community, especially the youth, take an active role in fire prevention.

    “We have to promote safety not only [in] buildings, not only to adults but also to children. So since this is the start of the summer, we conceptualized something that can make their summer more productive,” said Ssupt. Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, Regional Director of BFP-NCR.

    Seeing the capacity of children to learn, Kwan Tiu said that the summer camp can help families prepare for emergencies on their own.

    CAMP. Participants tune in to the opening remarks and orientation for the Kiddie and Junior Fire Marshal Summer Camp 2017. Photo by Mary Jo Quimpo/Rappler

    "It's so that they wouldn't always blame government agencies whenever something happens to a family member. This way, people from the basic unit of the society – the family – can internalize how important safety is, not only during fires, but also road safety, earthquake safety," he added.

    With more than 150 children in attendance, the summer camp featured 8 stations focused on fire safety and emergency response.

    These stations held several activities such as the Helmet and Fire Coat Relay; the House Full of Hazard, where participants complete an obstacle race that simulates the hazards posed during an earthquake; and Look for the Signs, a lecture that details the meanings of various safety signs.

    FIRE SAFETY ADVOCATE. A member of the BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection) enthusiastically gathers the kiddie campers for games. Photo by Mary Jo Quimpo/Rappler

    Aside from those activities, there were also practical tutorials on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from the Association of the Philippine Volunteer Fire Brigades, Inc, and first aid and bandaging lessons from TXTFIRE Philippines.

    According to Nestor Quinsay Jr, Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior and Local Government, they are looking into the possibility of expanding the summer camp nationwide in the future.

    "Maybe we can expand this regionally or nationwide. Actually, Manila isn't the only place we've done this. We plan it every year, that there will be a seminar activity like this to teach kids on how to help others and to also learn the techniques on fire safety," Quinsay said. – Rappler.com  

    Samantha Bagayas is a Rappler intern. She is currently the News Editor at The Crusader Publication, the school publication at the Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan 


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    MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UP-RI) will be relaunched on June 23, highlighting the integration of Project National Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) as its core component. 

    Before being adopted by UP, Project NOAH started out as a government project that provided real-time satellite data to empower communities and help them prepare against extreme natural hazards such as floods. The Department of Science and Technology, however, had to scrap its flagship disaster management initiative in early 2017 due to lack of funds. (READ: Gov't to stop Project NOAH due to 'lack of funds'

    The UP NOAH Center under the UP-RI will offer reports for cities and municipalities based on the calamities they experience, helping them manage their ecological vulnerabilities.  

    Mahar Lagmay, Director of UP NOAH Center, vowed that scientific research with state-of-the-art technology from UP-RI will ensure accurate and understandable data that is free to the public at all times.

    “Empowered communities, which constantly remained as the fundamental and uncompromised goal of NOAH, proved to be instrumental in averting more than 15 potentially fatal calamities since 2012,” said Lagmay, who is also the Executive Director of UP-RI for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

    For the past 5 years, NOAH has trained science experts who produce comprehensive output to construct multi-scenario-based hazard maps. 

    The UP NOAH Center, under the UP RI, is expected to intensify its functions to provide reports necessary in aiding disaster preparedness and response from the country's 144 cities and 1,490 municipalities.  

    According to the World Risk Report of 2016, the Philippines ranked third among the 171 countries with the highest levels of disaster risks.

    Acknowledging the importance of the role of NOAH in disaster preparedness and response, the UP Board of Regents (BOR) established the UP RI on Juy 28, 2016. Consequently, NOAH was adopted by UP on February 23, 2017 and formally established it as a center on March 21, 2017. 

    Project NOAH was established in 2012 in response to former president Benigno Aquino III's instructions to provide "a more accurate, integrated, and responsive disaster prevention and mitigation system, especially in high-risk areas" throughout the country.

    In August 2016, Project NOAH was named as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.  – with reports from Jc Marie Salas and Timothy Gerard Palugod/Rappler.com 


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    COUNTRYSIDE TRANSPORT. A typical  overloaded tricycle in rural Philippines. Photo courtesy of BlueInk.news

    CEBU CITY, Philippines – Two people died, including a toddler, while 6 others were injured when their van collided with a passenger bus along the national road linking this city to Tuburan town on Tuesday evening, May 16.

    The fatalities were identified as driver Napoleon Mahinay and 3-year-old CJ Senining, who was seated in front.

    Two other children were in the van – Trixie Senining, 8; and Kates Mahinay, 2, both seated in the back. Like van companions Victoria, Francisca, and Nelson Senining; and Marjie Mahinay, they sustained injuries, but are safe. 

    The survivors were brought to an emergency hospital in the town but were later transferred to a private facility in Cebu City.

    “We have yet to talk to the survivors to also get their side. Some of them, especially the kids (Kates and Trixie), are still in shock and Nelson kept crying when we visited,” said Police Officer 3 Jameller Palanas Jr of the Tuburan Police Station.

    Palanas said Mahinay and his group just attended a birthday party and were heading home to Barangay Tabunoc in neighboring Tabuelan town, when their van collided with a Ceres Lines bus driven by 30-year-old Ruben Umpad at around 8 pm.

    Umpad surrendered to authorities but said he was occupying the correct side of the two-lane highway. He said he didn’t notice the other vehicle until the crash but admitted that he was driving fast, and the road was not well lit.

    Chief Inspector Rolan Aster, Tuburan police chief, said the investigation is ongoing. His team is verifying initial suspicions that the van driver was driving under the influence following drinks at the party; or that Umpad, who had been traveling from Mandaue City and driving for over 100 kilometers straight, fell asleep at the wheel.

    Serious problem

    Road crashes, the fifth leading cause of death among Filipinos from 2005 to 2009, are all too common in the province of Cebu. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

    In the administrative capital, Cebu City, where the traffic system is burdened by a massive volume of vehicles and pedestrians, there is a daily average of 80 road crashes not unlike, and in no way less violent, than the incident in Tuburan.

    That figure goes back to 2013, when the Cebu City Traffic Office began collating and processing data from field reports and logbook entries of traffic enforcers, according to Erwin Restauro, assistant chief of the CCTO Communications Section.

    Restauro said that at the time, data was collected solely for purposes of traffic management – identifying congestion according to street and time and computing travel time.

    CCTO chief Rafael Yap said in a separate interview that he hopes the crash figures and fatalities in Cebu, especially among children, will go down. He noted that the CCTO is currently participating in a pilot project on road safety.

    The project, he explained, had led to their acquisition of World Bank-funded web-based system Data for Road Incident Visualization, Evaluation and Reporting (Driver).

    According to Ronie Nadera, officer-in-charge of the CCTO Communications Cection, Driver allows the CCTO to collate road crash data and map incidents to draw attention towards other causal factors like road design, condition and safety, vehicle safety, driver behavior, and others.

    “The data is not yet made fully available to other agencies but this is where things will logically head because road safety is a multi-agency concern,” Nadera said.

    A different driver

    Since late last year, the CCTO has been migrating data from its old system to Driver, recording new incidents while slowly settling the backlog.

    As of April, Driver has data on 398 road crashes in Cebu City, with 8 deaths.

    “There are more but they just have not yet been logged into the system because it is also a tedious process,” Nadera explained.

    Driver also computed the cost implication of the 398 crashes: P151,580,000 in economic loss; P72,800,000 in fatalities; P287,300,000 in injury-related costs; and P60,580,000 in property damage. Nadera, however, was unable to provide the matrix used to establish the cost.

    An issue of awareness, laws and enforcement

    For Manila-based lawyer Sophia San Luis, approaches like better data collection during road crashes is just one cog of a complex system that, in the Philippines, is not yet completely there. 

    “We can’t approach this simply as an urban planning issue because this is not just about infrastructure and vehicle standards,” she said in an interview. “It’s also about the government’s capability to provide post-crash emergency care.” (READ: What laws help keep road users safe in the Philippines?)

    Sitting as executive director for ImagineLaw, a nonprofit organization taking part in a global campaign for safer roads, San Luis said the government’s implementation of laws promoting road safety leaves much to be desired, according to the World Health Organization Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2015. (READ: Road crash incidents are no accidents)

    ImagineLaw believes the government should improve existing road safety regulations, and  require the use of child restraints, which could have prevented the death of the 3-year-old victim in the Tuburan crash by a probability of 54% to 70%. (READ: What's lacking in our road safety laws?)

    Global challenge

    WHO has identified 5 risk factors for road users: speed, use of seatbelt, use of child restraints, use of helmet, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

    Around the world, road crashes kill more than 1.2 million people every year, costing governments about 3% of their gross domestic product, according to WHO. 

    Road crashes are also likely to claim the lives of 300,000 Filipinos by 2020, according to the Department of Health.

    “Despite this massive – and largely preventable – human and economic toll, action to combat this global challenge has been insufficient,” WHO director general Margaret Chan wrote in the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.

    In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020). The resolution urged member states to take steps toward safer roads and mandated WHO to monitor the efforts taken.

    The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals – a global agenda that aims to address a host of economic, social and environmental challenges by 2030 – also include curbing road traffic deaths and injuries by 50 percent by 2020.

    With a 16% rise in the number of vehicles globally over the last 3 years, Chan said, “Much more must be done to stop the death and destruction on the world’s roads and to achieve the ambitious target for road safety.”

    In the Philippines, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) registered 8.7 million vehicles as of 2015, an increase of more than 2 million in just 5 years. (READ: LTO to push for stricter driver's license exams)

    Gaps in law and enforcement

    Road traffic injuries in the country are under-reported, according to WHO.

    In 2013, the Department of Public Works and Highways recorded 1,513 deaths, but the actual number could be as high as 10,379, based on WHO estimates.

    Incomplete figures notwithstanding, ImagineLaw believes solutions are obvious enough to spot.

    While an existing law sets speed limits throughout the country’s highways, implementation is weak and the law itself does not consider road width, number of lanes, and presence of barriers. Many local government units also do not classify their roads, and set and enforce the corresponding speed limits.

    While a helmet law is in place, enforcement varies from town to town and city to city, Moreover, the law has no fitting requirement. (READ: Motorcycle riders can't wear helmets in some parts of Bulacan?)

    Enforcement of the law against drunk-driving, meanwhile, is hampered by a lack of breathalyzers.

    While the country has a seatbelt law, it does not require restraints for backseat passengers of jeepneys, buses, and vans similar to the one in the Tuburan crash.

    Moreover, while the seatbelt law, passed in 1999, tasks the LTO to create rules and regulations on the use of child restraints, the agency has yet to do so. It has also not yet enforced existing provisions like disallowing children from sitting on the passenger seat, as what happened to the child fatality in the Tuburan crash.

    Children on board

    Every year, about 10 million children suffer from road traffic injuries around the world, with more than 260,000 deaths recorded in 2004 alone, according to WHO.

    The WHO said this is preventable with child restraint systems, together with other road safety measures. (READ: What you need to know: Law ensuring kids' safety on motorcycles)

    Known generically as child sets, child restraint systems are devices designed to keep a child firmly secured in the seat, keeping him or her from being thrown against the car interior or ejected from the vehicle in the event of sudden brake or collision.

    It is not a popular in the Philippines, primarily because it is costly. In the Philippines, a child restraint system can cost anywhere between P4,000 to P20,000.

    “(But) if I were a parent, if I want to make sure that I am protecting my child, I would not need a law for me to recognize that my child would need to be properly buckled in my car,” said Evita Ricafort, policy adviser for ImagineLaw. – Rappler.com

    This story was originally published on BlueInk.news

    Learn more about Filipinos' safety on the road by visiting the Road Safety Awareness microsite.


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    MANILA, Philippines – Heartfelt messages poured out on Twitter in support of the civilians and soldiers in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, as Filipino troops clashed with terror groups on Tuesday, May 23. 

    Other Twitter users condemned the terror group that attacked the predominantly Muslim city in Mindanao. 

    The hashtag #PrayforMarawi has topped Twitter's trending topics in the Philippines as the situation worsened towards evening, with the Maute Group occupying a public hospital. (READ: Military sending more troops to Marawi amid Maute attack)

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Before we sleep in our comfortable sheets tonight, let us <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayForMarawi?src=hash">#PrayForMarawi</a></p>&mdash; Gabt (@GabTee) <a href="https://twitter.com/GabTee/status/866988699061334017">May 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Marawi is not okay! We are being burned down! Fire trucks are seized. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayForMarawi?src=hash">#PrayForMarawi</a> Schools, jails, and homes are left to be torched. <a href="https://t.co/PPxWU2zEeL">pic.twitter.com/PPxWU2zEeL</a></p>&mdash; Haron Ar Rashid Dima (@RickoDima) <a href="https://twitter.com/RickoDima/status/866996206982922240">May 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I am Mindanao statement of condemnation against acts of terrorism in Marawi. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IamMindanao?src=hash">#IamMindanao</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChallengingExtremism?src=hash">#ChallengingExtremism</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/P2PChallenge?src=hash">#P2PChallenge</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayForMarawi?src=hash">#PrayForMarawi</a> <a href="https://t.co/VJ5xj0vedT">pic.twitter.com/VJ5xj0vedT</a></p>&mdash; I am Mindanao (@iammindanao) <a href="https://twitter.com/iammindanao/status/866954828693463040">May 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    City residents took to social media to share photos and videos capturing the tense situation on the ground: soldiers and their helicopters, Maute members and their black flags, and fires breaking out Tuesday evening.

    {source}<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/866981799825596417">PrayForMarawi - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Rappler sources said the military was targetting combined forces of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group, two local terror groups that have pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).

    Kabataan Party List Representative Sarah Elago urged the government to resolve the crisis without violating the rights of civilians.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">No to heavy bombardment! Save civilians! Immediate, peaceful resolution now! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayforMarawi?src=hash">#PrayforMarawi</a></p>&mdash; Sarah Elago (@sarahelago) <a href="https://twitter.com/sarahelago/status/866988944319160321">May 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    Marawi City is adjacent to the known lair of the Maute Group in Butig town, both in the province of Lanao del Sur.

    The Maute Group last year occupied and raised the ISIS black flag at the Butig Municipal Hall. It took weeks of military operations before soldiers retook the government building. (READ: PH flag replaces ISIS black banner at Butig town hall)

    Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Isnilon Hapilon, based in Basilan in the western part of Mindanao, reportedly brought some of his men to Lanao del Sur in late 2016 to join the Maute Group.

    If you have photos and videos of the ongoing clashes, tag @MovePH on Twitter or use the hashtag #PrayforMarawi.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">If you are from the area and have updates, please share them using <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayForMarawi?src=hash">#PrayForMarawi</a>. <a href="https://t.co/0XNEKfDzyF">pic.twitter.com/0XNEKfDzyF</a></p>&mdash; MovePH (@MovePH) <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/status/866992184922222593">May 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

     – Rappler.com 


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    This page will be updated with information on how the public can help, as details come in.

    MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Various groups are calling for donations after clashes erupted between the military and the Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

    Several hours into the clashes on Tuesday, May 23, the situation worsened as fires broke out and power was cut. Residents posted photos of Maute Group members with the flag of the international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).

    Before the day ended, President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law in Mindanao. (TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

    Here's how you can help:

    Tulong Kabataan

    Tulong Kabataan is calling for donations for those affected by the clashes. They are accepting the following items:

    • Halal food
      • Ready-to-eat, canned goods (no meatloaf, sausages)
    • Non-food items
      • Hijab, fully-covered clothes
      • Blankets
      • Toiletries, sanitary napkins
      • Medicine, first-aid kids
      • Cash

    Donations may be dropped off at the following areas: 

    • CASSC Office, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines (UP) Manila
    • Office of the Student Regent, Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman
    • Room 19E, One Burgundy Residences, Katipunan Avenue
    • UPLB USC Office, Room 10, Student Union Building, UP Los Baños

    For more details, contact the following:

    • Adrian Puse (KPL) – 09162266436
    • Pat Cierva (UPM) – 09352950875
    • Lee Jann Abes (UPM) – 09167220210 
    • Sam Vizcarra (UPD) – 09175420918
    • Marvin Santiago – 09177943055
    • Mackie Valenzuela (UPLB) – 09052084934

    Cash donations can also be sent to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, through Philippine Postal Savings Bank account number 0001-003036-211.

    Ateneo Sanggunian

    Ateneo de Manila University's student council is organizing a relief operations drive on Wednesday, May 24, from 8 am onwards at the Manuel V. Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership Room 200.

    The Sanggunian is also accepting the following goods:

    • Blankets
    • Canned goods/non-perishables (halal)
    • Water
    • Clothes

    The drive is open to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

    Student Council Alliance of the Philippines

    The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) will be launching a national donation drive.

    Interested groups and individuals may send an email to SCAP at scap.neb@gmail.com or contact Francis (09322284155) or Isaac (09083151257).

    Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership

    Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership is now working with the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo to help displaced families in Marawi.

    Donations needed:

    • Food packs
    • Hygiene kits
    • Medicine batteries

    Interested donors can send donations to their office at 21 Kaliraya St., Brgy. Dona Josefa, QC. For more inquiries, contact Bea at (02) 2561446 or send an email at knmovement@gmail.com


    Vice President Leni Robredo has also directed her office to prepare relief operations for the residents of Marawi City. – Rappler.com

    Do you know of any ongoing relief efforts and volunteer drive for those affected in Marawi? Message us on Facebook and Twitter or email details to move.ph@rappler.com 


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    ALWAYS READY. Kapitan Alerto, a mascot of the OCD-CAR, teaches students of Puguis Elementary school about the importance of preparing for disasters. Photo courtesy of Civil Defense Cordillera

    MANILA, Philippines – Kapitan Alerto, the disaster preparedness super hero for the Cordilleras, inspired students from Puguis Elementary School in La Trinidad, Benguet to be safety heroes in their school on May 19.

    The visit by the super hero mascot was organized by the Office of Civil Defense in the Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR) as part of a series of disater preparedness workshops for students and teachers, 

    Representatives from OCD-CAR conducted the workshop for the students from Puguis Elementary School as the region gets ready for the start of the new school year in June.  

    Dressed in a blue and orange super hero costume, Kapitan Alerto talked about the importance of preparedness and how children can be safe while in school.

    “With the kids meeting other groups who are advocating disaster preparedness, they will come to realize the importance of being prepared because of the constant reminders from different groups,” said Joemar Soriano, Puguis Elementary School Alternate Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Coordinator.

    OCD-CAR also turned over Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on disaster preparedness such as posters, story books, and  manuals on child rights-based disaster management to the school. The agency also gave posters and leaflets bearing tips on what to do before, during, and after disasters, as well as “Duck, Cover, and Hold” stencils with spray paint. These stencils will be used to create signs on walls within the school’s premises.

     ALL SMILES. Puguis Elementary school students pose with the IEC materials turned over by OCD-CAR to provide more ways for disaster preparedness to be accessible to the students. Photo courtesy of Civil Defense Cordillera 

    Public school teachers

    OCD-CAR also held a separate three-day workshop for public school teachers in Baguio on Basic Disaster Reduction Management (BDRRM)  from May 16 to 18.

    “We are targeting to empower teachers on DRRM because they have the opportunity to cascade it to their students and co-teachers. We are training public and private sectors. For this batch, we train teachers since they are our counterparts from education sector,” said Franzes Ivy Carasi, Information Officer of OCD-CAR.

    The training course is intended to improve the standard procedures and plans of each school’s disaster management team.

    “The training would be a way to improve their DRRM mechanisms, formulate better plans [such as their] contingency plan, evacuation plan, safety/preparedness plan,” added Carasi.

    Moving forward

    Baguio City and the surrounding Cordillera towns are prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, and typhoons. In 1990, the infamous 7.8 magnitude Luzon earthquake struck, leaving more than 2,400 people dead.Thousands of Baguio residents slept on the streets due to the aftershocks that followed the major earthquake.

    Since then, OCD-CAR has moved to improve disaster preparedness in the region. It has conducted earthquake drills, drafted contingency plans, and prepositioned resources in critical areas, to prepare for another possible major disaster. – with a report by Samanta Bagayas/Rappler.com

    Samantha Bagayas is a Rappler intern from Ateneo de Cagayan-Xavier University.


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    Social media went abuzz on Tuesday night, May 23, following the clash between Philippine troops and the Maute group in Marawi City.

    The incident simultaneously unfolded on social media with Marawi residents posting real-time updates on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

    Meanwhile, netizens elsewhere responded to the attack with heartfelt messages expressing solidarity for the affected civilians of Marawi, pushing #PrayForMarawi to the top nationwide trending list on Tuesday night.

    Social media has been the go-to platform for the public in times of emergencies like the separate incidents of the Maute attack in the Philippines and the Manchester bombing in England, as well as during disasters. 

    While this knee-jerk collective response understably comes naturally, particularly for a social-media savvy nation like the Philippines, netizens are advised to tread carefully when engaging on social media, as information that is not true or misleading can spread as easily as truthful information online. 

    Social media experts agree that there are at least three things that the public should avoid doing in times of crisis: relaying misinformation, pre-empting government actions, and amplifying the online propaganda of terrorist groups. 

    In the wake of an attack, experts say there exists a thin line between sharing helpful information and wrongfully amplifying propaganda or misinformation. 

    Here are helpful tips to be a better netizen in the wake of an attack:

    1. Be mindful of what you share

    In a press statement, the Philippine National Police urged the public to “refrain from posting on social media information that would tend to exacerbate the situation.”

    This includes providing blow-by-blow reports which include critical information, photos, and videos of the military’s movements that could pre-empt the government’s response to the situation.  (READ: PNP: Limit Marawi posts to 'what you know, what you see')

    1. Read beyond the headline

    Before sharing stories on social media, make sure to check if the source is reliable and if the information can be backed up with evidence. Another important response is to check the date and make sure the post is not outdated.

    1. Reduce the noise. Do not share unverified reports on social media

    Social media can easily get flooded in times of emergencies. Help reduce the noise by not spreading unverified information on social media – especially those that do nothing but provoke fear in the community.

    The number of fake news sites masking themselves as real news sites is growing, making it more difficult for the average reader to tell the difference between what's real and what's fake. Some even mimic real news websites using URLs which closely resemble the URLs of the authentic pages. Avoid these kinds of websites and warn others about them. (READ: Can you tell fake news from real news?)

    1. Refrain from sowing unnecessary fear

    Terrorist groups like the ISIS have harnessed social media and the Internet to recruit fighters and spread their propaganda. Social media users and the media may unwittingly contribute to the spread of this propaganda. (READ: How to fight ISIS on social media

    According to Wired, social media expert and author Zeynep Tufekci, says that “[public] mass-murder terrorism—religious-inspired to white-supremacist to school shootings—has a media strategy. Media keeps cooperating.” 

    To some extent, terrorist groups thrive on the publicity they organically gain from the media and the public. One way of not contributing to this "endless loop of terror victims", as pointed out by Poynter, is to refrain from sharing visual images and videos of terrified victims.  

    With real lives and even national security at stake, we are all called to be responsible social media consumers and producers. – Rappler.com 

    Raisa Serafica is a Community Manager and Social Media Producer at MovePH


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    DON'T PANIC. Resident fleeing Marawi City cramped on a truck as they traverse a traffic gridlock near a police checkpoint at the entrance of Iligan City on May 24, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) called on displaced residents of crisis-hit Marawi City not to panic, even as the entire Mindanao is under martial law.

    In an interview with Rappler on Wednesday, May 24, DSWD Undersecretary for Operations and Protective Services Hope Hervilla also reminded those affected by the conflict that they must heed authorities' warnings. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

    "Punta sila sa mga nakaupo nating local government officials at sa ating mga DSWD focal persons natin, sa bayan-bayan, at humingi ng tamang instructions," she said. (They can go to local government officials and to DSWD focal persons in towns and ask for the right instructions.)

    "Huwag mag-panic. Kailangan nilang organisahin ang kanilang sarili at magkaroon ng leader nila na tunay na tutulong sa kanila," she added. (Don't panic. They have to organize themselves and have a leader that will really help them.)

    The DSWD is ready to provide relief assistance to the people of Marawi. Regional offices are now open 24/7 to address the needs of the affected residents, said Hervilla. (READ: DSWD regional offices on call 24/7 for Marawi City evacuees)

    Photos of residents leaving the area have been posted on DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo's official Facebook page.

    According to DSWD Region X Director Nestor Ramos, more than 30,000 families live in Marawi City. Three evacuation centers are now in place in neighboring Iligan City.

    More donations

    Interested groups and individuals who want to send donations for the residents of Marawi City are encouraged to do so.

    Several hours after clashes erupted on Tuesday, May 23, various groups had already started calling for donations and volunteers to assist in relief operations. (READ: Groups call for donations for crisis-hit Marawi

    Hervilla said donations can be coursed through local government units, the DSWD regional office, and non-governmental organizations.

    According to Ramos, the government has prepositioned 1,000 bags of rice, 2,000 pieces of malong, 2,400 food packs, kitchen kits, and mosquito nets, ready to be sent to evacuation centers.

    The DSWD has P1.2 billion worth of relief goods and standby funds for those affected by the clashes. Around 10,000 family packs have also been delivered to Mindanao upon request of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional office. – Rappler.com


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    AGAINST MARTIAL LAW. Various activist groups rally in Plaza Miranda in front of Quiapo Church as they denounce the firefight between government forces and the Maute group during a candle lighting activity on May 24, 2017. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Advocates lit candles on Wednesday, May 24, in protest of the declaration of martial law rule in Mindanao, following the clash in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

    In response to the declaration, Kabataan Partylist and Suara Bangsamoro organized the activity at the Mendiola Arch in Manila.

    “We reiterate the need to stop these ISIS affiliates from causing more harm. However, we oppose Duterte’s declaration of martial law because it is open to all sorts of abuses by government troops notorious for human rights violations," Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago said.

    “It is our utmost concern to avoid civilian casualties and grave human rights violations. That’s why we support calls for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the crisis, not a militarist approach,” Elago added.

    On Tuesday, May 23, clashes erupted between the military and the Maute Group. Before the day ended, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao. (TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

    Martial law will last no more than 60 days, unless it is extended.

    Duterte said early Wednesday his martial law rule will be no different from former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. He also said he may expand coverage to Luzon and Visayas if the threat persists.

    'Learn from Zamboanga siege'

    Moro groups also condemned the declaration of martial law as "it will only worsen the instability in Marawi City."

    Jerome Succor Aba, the national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro, said it will only justify urban militarization and intensified operations in the area.

    “Our utmost concern is the lives and livelihood of the civilians, if the Duterte administration should choose to pursue urban militarization and aerial bombings. War in this context is unnecessary and solves nothing,” Aba said.

    He said the current administration should learn from what happened during the Zamboanga siege in 2013. (READ: Zamboanga siege: Tales from the combat zone)

    Meanwhile, lawmakers expressed support for the decision to declare military rule in the crisis-hit area. Mindanao lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said it is justifiable given the security problems faced by the region.

    Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said the declaration is "timely" but the government must ensure respect for human rights while it is in effect. 

    Supreme Court Justice Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno already ordered all courts in Mindanao to remain open Rappler.com

    All photos by Ben Nabong/Rappler

    How do you feel about this latest declaration of martial law? Share your thoughts on publishing platform X!


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    Habang abala ang marami sa pag-ungkat sa buhay ni Lola Eudocia at kung paano siya inalipin nang ilang dekada ng kapwa Pilipino, libu-libong kasambahay naman ang kasalukuyang nakararanas ng hindi patas at hindi makataong pagtrato sa Hong Kong. 

    Marami sa mga tinaguriang domestic helpers (DH) na mga Pilipino at iba pang migranteng domestic workers (MWD) sa Hong Kong, kung hindi sa kusina o sa banyo, sa cabinet o sa bodega pinatutulog ng kanilang mga amo.

    Tinatayang 200,000 MWD ang walang sariling kwarto, o 'di kaya'y ginagamit din ang kanilang tulugan bilang sampayan, bodega, labahan, opisina, o kwarto ng hayop.

    Maling Akala

    Si Sarah, 34 taong gulang, nagbakasakali lang sa Hong Kong matapos ang 7 taong pagtatrabaho sa Qatar, pero maling-mali ang kanyang akala. 

    "Ginawa nila akong hayop. Buti nga ang hayop, nakakakain," kwento ni Sarah.

    Enero lang siya dumating sa Hong Kong, pero inalat ang akala niyang swerte na sana. Dito siya pinatulog ng kanyang amo: sa gilid ng washing machine.

    Iyon na raw ang pinakamahabang dalawa't kalahating buwan ng buhay niya. Gigising siya nang 6 nang umaga at matatapos ang kanyang trabaho nang alas-dos ng madaling-araw kinabukasan.

    Sa gilid lang ng washing machine naglalatag noon si Sarah, 34, para makaidlip man lang ng 3 oras.

    Hanggang sa minsang na nahilo raw siya dahil sa pagod, at matapos ang araw-araw na 3 oras lang na pagtulog. Apat na tahi ang nakuha niya matapos mabagok ang kanyang ulo sa sahig. 

    Kung may konsolasyon, mas mapalad si Sarah dahil wala na siya sa kanyang amo na minsan pa siyang binato ng baso matapos manghingi ng pagkain. Nasa isang shelter na siya ngayon sa Hong Kong habang hinihintay ang resulta ng isinampa niyang kaso laban sa abusado niyang amo.

    'Di makatao

    Pero lubhang maraming kasambahay sa Hong Kong ang nagtitiis sa hindi makataong pagtrato.

    Iyan ang lumabas sa isang malawakang survey na isinagawa sa Hong Kong ng non-governmental organization na Mission for Migrant Workers noong huling quarter ng 2016 hanggang nitong Enero.

    Umabot sa 3,075 ang mga respondent o lumahok sa survey, kung saan halos kalahati'y mga Pilipino na kasambahay sa Kowloon City, Central, at Western District. Mga Indonesian naman ang kumumpleto sa lampas kalahati ng mga na-survey, kung saan 98% ang mga babae. 

    "'Yung findings talaga ng aming research, na-validate yung aming mga hyphothesis and assumption yung widespread talaga yung mga problem," sabi ni Norman Carnay Uy sa isang panayam ng SubSelfie.com.

    Program Coordinator ng Mission for Migrant Workers si Norman at siyang nanguna para sa pag-aaral na Picture from the Inside: Investigating Living Accomodation of Migrant Domestic Workers Towards Advocacy and Action. 

    Sa huling tala ng Commission on Overseas Fiipinos, halos 200,000 Pilipino ang nasa Hong Kong noong 2013 – isa pa rin sa mga pangunahing destinasyon ng mga OFW kung saan marami ang DH. 

    Sinlaki ng banyo

    Sa Hong Kong, Pilipino man o ibang lahing kasambahay, mapalad na ang may privacy sa kanilang sariling kwarto, na karaniwang sinlaki lamang ng banyo sa mga fastfood sa Maynila.

    Ang iba kasi, sa cabinet sa ibabaw ng refrigerator ginawan ng kwarto.

    Kusina na rin ang nagsisilbing kwarto ng ilang kasambahay.

    Ang sofa na ito, pahingahan at tulugan na rin matapos ang halos 11-16 na oras na trabaho araw-araw.

    Sampayan din ang kwarto ng ilang kasambahay sa Hong Kong.

    Ang iba, sa laundry room na nananaginip, kapiling ang mga washing machine.

    Pero ang malala, ang ibang kasambahay, sa bodega pinapatulog ng kanilang mga amo.

    Ang nasa larawan, dati raw kwarto ng isang Pilipinong kasambahay na nakauwi na sa Pilipinas matapos ireklamo ang kanyang amo. Sa kasamaang-palad, kinatigan ng korte ang apela ng employer dahil air-conditioned naman daw ang bodega.

    'Modern-day slavery'

    Ayon sa Mission for Migrant Workers, ang mga ganitong klaseng pabahay sa mga manggagawa'y malinaw na delikado para sa kalusugan, hindi makatao, at malinaw na paglabag sa ilalim ng Standard Employment Contract ng Hong Kong. 

    "Sabi nga namin, modern-day slavery talaga ito," kwento ni Norman.

    Pero tila talagang mababait ang maraming Pilipino. Para sa ilang Pilipinong nakausap nila Norman, tanggap na raw nilang ganoon ang kanilang kwarto at pamumuhay basta't maayos ang pakikitungo sa kanila ng kanilang mga amo.

    Apat hanggang 5 ang karaniwang bilang ng miyembro ng pamilyang pinagsisilbihan ng isang MDW sa Hong Kong.

    Sa pag-aaral pa rin ng grupo, 3 sa bawat 5, 'di bababa sa 11 oras kung magsilbi sa isang araw, habang 2 sa bawat 5 MDW naman ay lampas sa 16 na oras kung magtrabaho.

    Hapong-hapo na nga sa maghapong pagbabanat ng buto, wala pang maayos na tulugan.

    Gaya na lang ni Mia, 32 taong gulang, bagong salta lang din sa Hong Kong nitong Enero, gaya ni Sarah.

    Sa loob ng 3.5 buwan, itong uwang na ito sa pagitan ng kama at ng kuna ng alaga niyang bata ang nagsilbing pahingahan sa gabi ni Mia.

    "Feeling ko nasa ataul ako sa haba at laki ng tinutulugan ko. Tinatapakan din ako kapag pabanyo ang mga bata at kapag tsine-check ng employers ko ang mga anak nila," kwento ni Mia.

    Laking kaba niya ngayon lalo't sa Mayo 30 na lalabas ang resulta sa isinampa niyang kaso laban sa kanyang amo. Nito lang Mayo umalis siya sa kanyang unang employer matapos umano ang hindi maayos na pagtrato sa kanya. 

    Baon sa utang dahil sa laki ng binayarang agency fee, at ngayong walang trabaho, lubhang nag-aalala si Mia para sa kanyang pamilya sa Benguet. 

    Sabi ni Mia sa SubSelfie,com: "Inaalala ko ang aking 4 na anak, ang kanilang schooling. San kami kukuha nang pang-tuition, school supplies, shoes at uniform? Kahit public school kasi ay may mga bayarin din." 

    Laking pasalamat nina Mia at Sara na tinutulungan sila ngayon ng mga kapwa Filipino sa Hong Kong. Pansamantala, nakikisilong at inaalagaan sila sa Bethune House. 

    'Walang choice'

    Pero marami pang Pilipino ang nagtitiis sa hirap at pang-aabuso sa pagiging DH sa Hong Kong.

    Kwento ng isang hindi na pinangalanang MDW na lumahok sa survey: "Wala kaming choice. Natatakot ako sa mga katrabaho ng employer ko, kasi lalaki 'yung ilan sa kanila. Kaya hindi talaga ko komportable at hindi talaga ko natutulog 'pag nag-oovertime sila. Kulang ang tulog ko." 

    Malaking hamon umano talaga para sa mga kasambahay sa Hong Kong ang live-in arrangements o sapilitang pagpapatira sa kasambahay ng bahay ng kanilang amo, ayon sa grupong Mission for Migrant Workers.

    Kwento ni Norman, nagsimula ang live-in arrangements noong 2003 matapos paghinalaan ang maraming MDW na ilegal diumanong rumaraket. Pero sabi ni Norman, walang malinaw na basehan ang naging kautusan – na kanilang nilalabanan sa loob ng mahigit isang dekada.

    Mayroon naman daw kautusan ang gobyerno ng Hong Kong para mabigyan ng disenteng tuluyan ang mga kasambahay doon, pero malabo ang ilang terms at walang pangil ang batas, dagdag niya. 

    Malayo pa nga raw ito sa international standards gaya sa Jordan, Ireland, Austria at Canada. Sabi sa pag-aaral ng grupo, dapat tumupad ang Hong Kong sa niratipika na nitong Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

    OVER-UNDER. When the rains hit Hong Kong on Sundays, or when the sun is too hot to bear, Filipino domestic workers find their place in pedestrian underpasses. Photo by George Moya/Rappler

    Sa kasalukuyan, pumapatak daw sa P20,000 ang buwanang sweldo ng mga MDW sa Hong Kong – halagang malayong kitain ng marami rito sa Pilipinas.

    Marami sa mga DH, gusto mang magreklamo sa kanilang kondisyon at laban sa pang-aabuso ng kanilang mga amo, hindi nila magawa.

    "Ang laging dilemma ng mga migrant worker: should I fight for my right, or should I just go home at makipagsapalaran na lang ulit in another country?" saad ni Norman.

    'Makauwi na sana'

    Kung susumahin, lampas kalahati ng mga maituturing na mga yaya sa Hong Kong, pawang mga Pilipino – silang mga tagapag-alaga para patuloy na umikot ang ekonomiya ng nasabing teritoryo.

    "Bakit nagtitiis? Eh wala naman silang option. They can't go back home, unless magkaroon sila ng disenteng kabuhayan na magbibigay ng nakabubuhay na sahod para sa pamilya nila."

    Si Sarah, binibilang na lang ang araw sa Hong Kong dahil mapapaso na rin ang kanyang visa kasabay ng resolusyon sa kanyang kaso. Makauwi na raw sana siya sa Pilipinas. 

    "Sana may regular na work sa 'Pinas at suweldong sapat nang mabuhay ang pamilya namin, at walang discriminasyon sa age at sa pinag-aralan para wala na pong mga Pilipinong mapilitan iwan ang aming pamilya," pangarap ni Sarah. – Rappler.com

     

    Toni Tiemsin is SubSelfie.com‘s EIC. After his 5-year stint in GMA News producing and writing investigative reports, feature segments, scripts for various newscasts, and hourly and breaking-news programs, he is now with Ogilvy & Mather. Previously, he was in the development sector working as Media and Communications Officer of children’s rights group Save the Children.

    This story was republished with permission from SubSelfie.com.

     


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    EARTHQUAKE DRILL. Employees of the Office of Civil Defense simulate an evacuation.  Photo from the OCD

    MANILA, Philippines – A magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck parts of Luzon at 10:27 pm on Thursday, May 25. Phivolcs said no damage is expected, but there will be aftershocks.

    Here are 3 things to do during aftershocks:

    Stay alert and avoid areas vulnerable to landslides

    "People are reminded to be cautious of stuctures with signs of damage and cracks as this may be further damaged by aftershocks," according to Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum.

    The Phivolcs director added that slopes in affected areas should be checked for tension cracks that may have resulted from the intense shaking. Consequently, residents are advised to avoid areas that are susceptible to landslides.

    Do not enter heavily-damaged structures

    People are advised against entering heavily damaged structures or houses.

    "In cases of houses and buildings with damages, it is best to contact the municipal engineering offices for advice," Solidum said.

    Municipal and city engineers are expected to recommend appropriate action to strengthen the structural integrity of the damaged buildings and houses. (READ: What makes houses earthquake-ready?)

    Seek temporary shelter

    Residents in affected areas are advised to seek temporary shelter especially when they see cracks in their homes.

    Officials assigned certains schools in affected areas as evacuation centers for residents whose houses were damaged by the earthquake. – Rappler.com


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    ESCAPE. Marawi residents who fled the aclashes between government forces and the Maute Group arrivesin Iligan on May 24, 2017. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – How will Muslims, especially those in and around  crisis-hit Marawi City, observe the holy month of Ramadan?

    Marawi resident Junaina Sharief, a Muslim who was among the thousands of people who were directly affected by the clashes in her city, raised this concern.

    On Tuesday afternoon, May 23, clashes erupted in Marawi City as the military moved to hunt down "high-value targets" belonging to the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

    The encounter, which happened ahead of the start of Ramadan on Saturday, May 27, led President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law  in the whole of Mindanao. 

    Ramadan  

    According to Sharief, this is the saddest Ramadan that they will welcome. 

    "Before this worst nightmare, everyone was preparing for the coming of Ramadan, just like Christians do when Christmas is coming. We clean our houses, buy our needs, and just prepare everything that we usually do every Ramadan," Sharief said.

    However, due to the attacks and the consequent martial law declaration, many families were forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in temporary shelters in nearby provinces. (READ: Students walk 32 kilometers to flee Marawi

    Describing the situation as the "worst nightmare that every Maranao could ever dream of," Sharief said many Muslims who decided to stay in Marawi are now clueless on how they will observe Ramadan amid the crisis.

    Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.  One of the Five Pillars of Islam, the observance of the Ramadan serves as the foundation of the Islamic faith.

    During this month, Muslims fast, pray, read the Qur’an, and reflect on their deeds and sacrifices for Allah.

    Christians' appeal

    Following the alarming situation in her hometown, Sweetzel Garcia, a Christian and a student of Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi, appealed to the Maute Group to stop its activities.

    Garcia shared with Rappler her experience: she heard gunshots and she saw how fire broke out at various establishments in Marawi City on Tuesday.

    More than disrupting the way of life of Marawi residents, the encounter, according to Garcia, will mostly affect Muslims.

    “I beg the group to stop claiming the area and to be considerate especially because the time for Ramadan is approaching. I hope that they will give our brothers and sisters a time to celebrate their sacred feast,” she said.

    About 99.6% of the population of Lanao del Sur capital of Marawi are Muslims. Garcia said that many of the residents were preparing for Ramadan when the attacks broke out across the small city.

    Angelie Belderol-Obosa, 26, another Christian  MSU-Marawi student, shared the sentiment. Obosa was in the city when the clashes happened. 

    “Sana po ay matutunan naman nilang irespeto ang bawat isa, lalo na at paparating na ang Ramadan ng mga Muslim (I hope they learn how to respect all kinds of faiths, especially with the observance of Ramadan for the Muslims)," Obosa said. 

    On Thursday, May 25, Obosa traveled to Davao del Norte to escape the clashes. She shared that she was overwhelmed by the number of people who handed out free food and water in the surrounding towns of Marawi – a great silver lining amid the crisis. 

    Christian churches also slammed the "undue haste in declaring martial law" in Mindanao, urging the President to "address the issues that gave rise to this conflict, not through an all-out war but through peaceful means." 

    Peace in Mindanao

    Sharief expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming support and concern that they have received from people of different faiths. 

    "Thank you for not making us feel that we are different...for not letting us be left behind. You made us feel that indeed this is not the time to be political. This is the time for us to be united, for the people of Marawi and for our countrymen," Sharief said.

    Despite everything, the young Muslim said she remains steadfast in her faith. Along with thousands of Muslims in Marawi City, Sharief will observing Ramadan amid gunfire and explosions. 

    Her utmost prayers for Ramadan? An end to the gunfight and lasting peace in Mindanao. – with reports from Kurt dela Peña/Rappler.com

     Kurt Dela Peña is a Rappler intern 


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