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    JAWS. Fishermen found a dead 17-feet Great White Shark on Wednesday, January 24, raising fear among residents of Dipaculao, Aurora. Photo by Eddie Rebueno/Facebook

    MANILA, Philippines — Residents of Barangay Lobbot, Dipaculao, Aurora, got a big surprise Wednesday morning, January 24, when they woke and found a dead 17-foot Great White Shark on their beach. 

    Photos of the dead shark posted on Facebook went viral garnering almost 4,000 reactions and 12,000 shares. The post raised fears among netizens since the coastal province of Aurora is famous for its surfing spots. (READ: WATCH: How sharks are killed at Pasay market)

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    {/source}

    Gregg Yan, a conservation advocate and Director for Communications of Oceana Philippines, said that residents should not fear the latest shark sighting. 

    "Though potentially dangerous, shark attacks are extremely rare – and humans annually kill from 70 to 100 million sharks yearly for their liver, meat and of course – their fins. They have far more reason to fear humans than we do them," Yan said. (READ: 10 things more likely to kill you than a shark)

    Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are the world's largest predatory fish. They gained notoriety after the success of the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws.

    Great White Sharks grow about 15 feet, though giants exceeding 20 feet have been recorded. Females are slightly larger. This is significant, for though we know this species ranges through all the world's oceans, very few people have seen it in Philippine waters, making it among the rarest sharks in the country.

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Great Whites as Vulnerable (READ: Every shark counts)

    Locally, this species is protected under Republic Act 10654 or the amended Fisheries Code. No one is allowed to harm, capture or kill one. If caught, offender will face  a penalty of 12 to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of P120,000, forfeiture of their catch, and the cancellation of their fishing permit.

    Many speculated the cause of shark's death but according to Yan, no predatory shark of this size can survive without sizeable numbers of prey like mackerel or tuna.  Its presence means that Philippine waters are still teeming with life, said Yan. (READ: Expedition Shark: Why we need to protect these predators)

    "Let this be a reason to galvanize us to protect not just charismatic species – but our seas," Yan urged.

    To avoid possible health risk, Dipaculao Mayor Joanna Salamanca has ordered the burial of the shark on the same day it was discovered. –Rappler.com

      


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    LILY BRIQUETTES. Founding CEO Jackie Yap says the idea of HiGi energy is anchored on the idea of converting water hyacinth into solid biofuel briquettes. All photos courtesy of HiGi Energy

    MANILA, Philippines – Millennial entrepreneurs Jackie Yap, Leon Kee, and Hazel May Pajotagana have found a brilliant way of helping reduce the world’s dependence on coal. 

    In 2015, they co-founded HiGi Energy, a startup currently based in Taytay, Rizal. Their award-winning product is a clean energy briquette made from a very unlikely material: water hyacinth, which is often mistaken for water lily.

    Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a highly problematic invasive species outside its native range. They could grow up to 7.28 tons per hectare per day, which is so much faster than the growth cycle of most plants and trees. (READ: How an entrepreneur turned a 'public enemy' into a money-making resource

    Its rapid proliferation displaces native plants and animals, clog canals, interfere with irrigation, cause flood, and even impede river transportation.

    The water hyacinth disaster, these millennials entrepreneurs have discovered, has a silver lining after all.

    “HiGi’s solution is to convert water hyacinth into solid biofuel briquettes that can be used for household and commercial cooking, industrial heating, and potentially power generation. The production of briquettes is sustainable and easy to make, as there is abundant supply of the fast-growing plant,” said Yap, the startup’s Chief Executive Officer.

    Yap and Kee are both from Malaysia, while Pajotagana is from the Philippines.

    Innovative cleantech solution

    According to Kee, the startup’s Chief Technology Officer, HiGi’s product is 4 times more efficient and 10 times cleaner than traditional methods of using coal. (READ: Environmental groups urge PH, ASEAN to join global coal phase-out)

    “Our lily briquettes are relatively smokeless compared to conventional lump charcoal and can provide heat for over 90 minutes,” Kee said in an interview.

    Since its foundation, HiGi has received a number of international awards and recognitions. Their startup is quoted as a “crazily innovative cleantech solution helping farmers in the Philippines” by Casey Hynes from Forbes, and the “renewable energy startup to watch in 2017” by Vikas Agrawal from Tech.Co.

    They also won second place in the prestigious GIST Tech-I Competition during the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Silicon Valley.

    Some of their collaborators are WWF Philippines, Junior Chamber International (JCI), Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), as well as some local government units. They also partnered up with Korean barbecue restaurants in Manila. Right now, they plan to tie up with popular fast food chains for wider reach and bigger impact.

    Kee said HiGi has now reached out to over 3,000 people in furthering their cause. 

    AWARD-WINNING. In this photo, a villager helps in arranging lily briquettes for drying. Since its foundation, HiGi has received a number of international awards and recognitions.

    Raising a community of prosumers

    HiGi founders believe that prosumer capitalism – where the consumer is also the producer of a product – drives up efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in a given community.

    In their business model, they outsource the harvesting of water hyacinth to their suppliers. The people they engage with are usually the ones who make and use the lily briquettes for daily cooking and selling.

    “Outsourcing our inbound and outbound logistics to ‘prosumer type’ enterprises.completes the flexibility of our business service to our end customers, while keeping the cashflows healthy without having too much inventories on the shelves of the retailers,” said Pajotagana, the startup’s Chief Financial Officer.

    HiGi has helped raise a community of prosumers – one that is equipped and enabled to create their own source of power from materials that can easily be found in nature.

    "Our target community benefits the most from the livelihood we created for them, since our daily production of 1.5 tons of briquettes could lift at least 10 people out of poverty," Kee said.

     

    A just and democratic energy transition

    Addressing the climate crisis calls for a rapid transition to green energy. However, this shift should also be able to take into account the rights of workers, the affected community, and the most vulnerable.

    EMPOWERED COMMUNITY. HiGI Energy believes in prosumer capitalism—where the consumer is also the producer of a product. In this file photo, a farmer is harvesting water hyacinth from a lake.

    Breaking free from fossil fuels cannot be done overnight. To this date, a lot of poor communities are still dependent on burning coal as their primary source of power.

    The National Statistics Office (NSO) revealed that in 2011, of 21 million Filipino households surveyed, 54.2% used fuelwood and 36.4% used charcoal for their energy needs.

    These families all have to be well considered as the country moves away from traditional sources of energy. 

    While admitting that solar, wind, and hydro are still the best options for clean energy, Yap argued that their briquettes can still serve as a stepping stone in the sustainable energy transition; that is, until the technologies that generate clean energy reach full maturity.

    “This is how HiGi takes the step in addressing the energy challenge to a certain level of simplicity, and from there, lead the sustainable energy transition in Asia, or at least, here in the Philippines,” said Kee in a statement,

    He added that the success of their startup lies on being able to see the big picture without overlooking the important details.

    “Despite HiGi being just a small company, we have a clear vision of making a greener and more livable planet, while leaving no one behind,” he said. – Rappler.com


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    Welcome to Right Of Way, a vlog about traffic, transport, and road safety.

    This is the second in a series of episodes tackling faulty road signs and pavement markings in the metro. (WATCH: The fault in our signs, part 1)

    Road safety advocate Vincent Lazatin talks about the importance of legibility and readability of road signs, and how the placement of a sign could affect traffic flow.

    Have you seen any other faulty road signs in and out of the metro? Send them to rightofway@rappler.com – Rappler.com

    MORE ON 'RIGHT OF WAY'


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    MANILA, Philippines – A resort in Siargao drew flak from netizens on Tuesday, January 30, after their page – which marketed the island as a go-to place for foreigners looking for "lifetime partners" – circulated online.

    “Don’t worry if you are an older or overweight gentleman, like half the population of the western world. Women here have the highest respect for age and weight is a plus to some here. Most Filipinas prefer older and mature guys,” the resort’s Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page said.

    Patrick’s on the Beach Resort started its operations in March 2003. Owned by a Filipino and German couple, the resort boasts of a beachfront view in the island.

    In the website, the resort talked about Filipino women and their supposed inclination for foreigners who are “older gentlemen.”

    "One of the greatest positive points of Filipina-pinay, is the fact that in the Philippines, your age difference is usually NOT a problem! In fact, to most ladies in the Philippines, and to their families, the belief and hope is that if you are an older gentleman, that you are much less likely to be a “playboy”, and also that you will take much better care of your fiancée," the website said. 

    Netizens on the issue 

    For netizens and residents of Siargao, the way the resort has described the island paints a misleading picture of Filipino women. According to them, it also promotes a “problematic stereotype” that Filipino women are submissive.

    Below are just some posts from netizens about the issue.

    {source}

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    <iframe src="https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Frica.zaragoza.3%2Fposts%2F10156013291189666&width=500" width="500" height="437" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>

    <iframe src="https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Feva.m.poon%2Fposts%2F10155126586801767&width=500" width="500" height="485" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>

    {/source}

    In an interview with Rappler, the owner of the resort, Andreas Mikoleiczik, explained that the description written on the website does not aim promote the island for sex tourism.

    Instead, he said that the description, which was put up 15 years ago, is his honest observation about how people – especially foreigners – perceive the island.

    “That is the truth. People come to me and there are guys looking for girls and girls looking for guys. But I don’t sell girls,” Mikoleiczik said. 

    The problem with sex tourism

    The resort owner is talking about how the country earned a reputation for sex tourism.

    "Every country has sex tourism. Look at Europe they have areas in every city where you can buy sex legally... Look at the Philippines: Angeles City, Manila and Cebu everywhere and, yes, even here in Siargao. It's a meat market around the world since existence," Mikoleiczik said. 

    Several groups such as the Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) have been proactively making efforts to fight this booming industry.

    In a 2012 report, CATW-AP executive director Jean Enriquez said that sex trafficking in the Philippines appears in three forms:

    • Using employment as a pretext to bring women and children to prostitution

    • Using marriage to bring women to sexual slavery

    • Pimping women for the use of soldiers, and organizing travel packages to include women for sex tourists

    CATW-AP also reported that, in 2012, South Korea and United States ranked as the first and second biggest provider of sex tourists in the Philippines, respectively. – Rappler.com 


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    EVACUEES. Families line-up for cash transfer distribution in evacuation centers. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Monday, January 29, the temporary suspension of conditionalities for the release of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) funds to beneficiaries affected by the Mayon volcano eruptions in Albay.

    Volcanic threats, such as lava eruptions and catastrophic mudflows on the slopes of Mayon Volcano, have put 23,434 families or 90,183 individuals at risk. (READ: Phivolcs warns of lahar flow from Mayon after rainfall)

    “We decided that we will call for the suspension of the conditionalities for 4Ps so that our beneficiaries can receive their cash grants without having to meet the conditions for the program,” said DSWD Undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco.

    Among the conditions for cash transfer that have been waived are:

    • Children's regular school attendance
    • Health check-ups
    • Attendance at Family Development Sessions

    Leyco, also DSWD Officer-in-Charge, announced the government would implement Cash-for-Work temporary employment for those staying in 76 evacuation centers in Albay to relieve immediate economic difficulties.

    As of Tuesday, January 30, the DSWD had provided a total of P18,927,024 in assistance to affected families. (READ: Help those affected by Mayon Volcano threats) – Rappler.com


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    EDUCATION. LTO Region V Director Noreen San Luis-Lutey pushed for education of road safety to elementary students. Photo by Homer Rafael Refuerzo/Rappler

    CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – To have responsible road users, road safety education should be done at an early age.

    In a road safety forum in Naga City, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Region V Director Noreen San Luis-Lutey said on Wednesday, January 24, that violators of traffic laws are younger people and one way to approach the problem is through education.

    "Pabata ng pabata ang mga nahuhuli (Violators are getting younger and younger). They don't even know what they are violating," Lutey said.

    "I believe that road safety education will have more impact and will address the issue if it's integrated in the curriculum of the Department of Education (DepEd) and cascaded on a national level," she added in a mix of English and Filipino.

    In the Bicol region, LTO, in partnership with the region's DepEd, piloted the "Students Today, Road Users Tomorrow" program in November 2017. Lutey said the program includes 14 modules on road laws and general safety tips that will be taught to elementary students in the region.

    "We urge the DepEd Central Office to include this in the elementary curriculum so that the modules we have will not only be implemented in the Bicol region. Come June, hopefully all regions implement it," she said.

    Why elementary?

    Currently, Lutey said they are in talks with the DepEd Central Office to adopt this measure across the country.

    In the Senate, Senator Grace Poe filed Senate Bill Number 1231 that seeks to add road safety education for students in junior and senior high school.

    Lutey argued, however, that educating at an early age is crucial to develop the "kind of attitude" that a road user should have. She said the intervention should be done during formative years.

    "You can easily learn knowledge and skills but you cannot build a proper attitude overnight that's why we need to start in the elementary level," she said.

    Road safety month

    The region's LTO director also pointed out that the commemoration of the road safety month is not "drilled" down into the students consciousness because it is celebrated every May.

    "Under the Executive Order, we don't have classes every May that's why kids are not aware of it. They are not in school," Lutey said.

    She raised that the road safety month should be moved to a different month so that it can be celebrated in schools. "Maybe we can move it to June or July so that schools can prepare activities around it," she said.

    In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded a total of 10,012 deaths from traffic crash incidents. Of these, 621 of occured in the Bicol Region. 

    According to the Philippine National Police, Naga City has the highest number of road crash incidents in the region, with a total of 4,743 recorded incidents from 2015 to July 2017.

    In the Philippines, latest government data show, 8,666 people died from road injuries in 2014. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crashes in the Philippines– Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines — On January 28, a video of an Uber driver quickly went viral after he was seen eating meal from a plastic bag while juggling his Uber driver duties.

    Kier Hairrie Roman, who booked the ride through Uber after he attended a church service, took the video around 11:30 in the morning and posted it online on January 27. 

    The Uber driver was identified as Teofisto Torres.

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Froman.kierjheff%2Fposts%2F546461295718661&width=500" width="500" height="759" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    Roman wrote that they were about to reach his destination when he noticed Torres eating his lunch in a plastic bag when the car was not moving due to traffic jams. He then asked Torres to take a break and stop driving so he could finish his meal properly.

    However, the driver refused the kind offer and explained that he had to rush to his next passenger's pick up. 

    "Sabi nya okay lang daw, kasi may naghihintay pa daw na rider after ko. Sobrang naawa ako sa kanya habang sinasabi niya [sa akin] na priority niya ang mga pasahero kahit pa putol-putol ang pagkain niya," the post stated.

    (He said that there's another rider waiting after our trip. I felt sad when he told me that passengers are his priority.) 

    In an interview, Roman told Rappler that he felt the sincerity and dedication of the Uber driver to his work.

    "Bilang isang manggagawa, alam ko ang pakiramdam ng gutom sa oras ng trabaho, at 'di mo magawang kumain dahil alam mong may mga taong naghihintay sa'yo at baka magalit kapag 'di mo nagawa ang trabaho mo sa takdang oras," he said.

    (Being a worker like him, I know how it feels when you experience hunger during work, and you can't eat right away because you still have work to do) 

    Roman posted the video to inform the public that some drivers are still doing their job well and even willing to sacrifice their time just to serve commuters like him. 

    "Magsilbing leksyon sana sa mga ilang nakikita kong post sa Facebook na may mga ilang nagtataray at mga nagmamaltrato sa mga Uber drivers sa mga simpleng dahilan. Isa lamang pong patunay na may mga sinaksakripisyo din silang mga personal na bagay para lang makapaghatid ng ligtas sa pupuntahan ng mga riders nila."

    (I hope this serves as a lesson to everyone in Facebook who keeps on treating drivers harshly. This is a proof that drivers also have their own sacrifices just to serve their passengers right) 

    Below are some comments made by netizens who found the post inspiring: 

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Froman.kierjheff%2Fposts%2F546461295718661%3Fcomment_id%3D547434142288043&include_parent=false" width="560" height="161" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

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    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Froman.kierjheff%2Fposts%2F546461295718661%3Fcomment_id%3D547398895624901&include_parent=false" width="560" height="161" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Froman.kierjheff%2Fposts%2F546461295718661%3Fcomment_id%3D547386198959504&include_parent=false" width="560" height="161" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/comment_embed.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Froman.kierjheff%2Fposts%2F546461295718661%3Fcomment_id%3D548181828879941&include_parent=false" width="560" height="161" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"></iframe>{/source}

    As of posting, the post has garnered 69,000 reactions and has been shared 14,306 times. — Rappler.com


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    UP PROTEST. In this file photo, students from various colleges at the state university converge to protest against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Unfazed by the threat made by President Rodrigo Duterte that he will let Lumad take the slots of protesting students from the University of the Philippines (UP), several progressive youth groups in the state university promised more protests against the government in the coming days.

    “Tagaan ‘ta mo ug privilege: one year ayaw mo pag-iskwela. Kanang mga Lumad nga bright pasudlon tamo ug UP,”Duterte said on Thursday, February 1, during a gathering of leaders of indigenous communities in Mindanao at the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters. (I’ll give you a privilege: don’t come to school for a year. I’ll let the bright Lumad enter UP.)

    While Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has clarified that UP students can protest all they want so long as it is done after class, UP students have made their message clear: they won’t be silenced.

    “If there is anyone who needs to give up his slot, it is none but Rodrigo Duterte himself. He and his allies can only expect bigger and bigger protests,” Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND UP), a political party in UP, said in a statement.

    ‘We are one with Lumads’

    Student groups also pointed out the supposed irony in Duterte’s statement.

    “Duterte has the gall to say that he will provide university slots to Lumads, yet only months prior he has unabashedly threatened to bomb Lumad schools in Mindanao, along with sending military troops to their communities, harassing them and causing them to evacuate from their ancestral lands,” STAND UP added in their statement.

    In the past, displaced Lumad people have repeatedly sought refuge at the Diliman campus of the state university for the annual Lakbayan, a caravan of indigenous peoples, Moro, and peasants from different parts of the country. The goal of the annual caravan is highlight their call to stop human rights violations in various Lumad communities. (READ: 'Bakwit school' for Lumad children opens in UP)

    On the contrary, Duterte, in his 2017 State of the Nation Address, has threatened to bomb Lumad schools, claiming that these were teaching children communist ideology.

    On Thursday, Duterte changed course, promising to provide temporary shelters and monthly stipends to the displaced community.

    Youth groups like the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark), together with KAISA UP, challenged the president to stay true to his word by addressing the loopholes in the Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Tertiary Quality Education Act that supposedly hinders marginal communities from accessing free education.

    “The mere existence of the Student Loan Program (SLP) in the law attests that tertiary education remains to be not free, even profiting from students with long-term loans to be collected by the government through SSS and GSIS contributions,” Jane Mata from Spark said in a statement.

    According to them, without major amendments to the law, Duterte’s statement to Lumad parents “remains to be empty words meant to simulate his administration is reform-oriented and sincere.”

    Bigger protest on February 23

    The Duterte administration has never stopped terrorizing the people ever since he came into power,” STAND UP said in a statement.

    Citing the government’s war on drugs, martial law in Mindanao, harassment against the press and activists, the jeepney phaseout, and the new tax law, STAND UP promised to mobilize thousands of students on Friday, February 23 to protest against the government’s supposed “attacks against the people.”

    “As long as he continues terrorizing the people and driving the country further into poverty and crisis, the people's suffering will turn into organized cries for justice,” the group added.

    Netizens were also quick to comment on the President's remark on school performance and participating in protests. 

    According to them, there is no direct correlation between low grades or poor school performance and being an activist. (READ: Youth activism: More than organized action) 

    Below are some comments made by netizens on Twitter about the issue:

    {source}

    <a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/959958844326649856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">UP students and Duterte - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

    {/source}

    Rappler.com


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    OUTREACH. Members of the media, along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the military, bring goods to remote villages in Eastern Samar. All photos by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – Members of the media in Eastern Samar organized an outreach program for Barangay Can-ilay in the municipality of Can-avid, and other remote villages in the Eastern Samar region, on Sunday, February 4.

    Reporters and writers from the Leyte Samar Daily Express, 96.7 ONE FM (Radyo Asenso), Magic FM, and Rappler along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) partnered with soldiers of the 801st Brigade and 14th Infantry Battalion to reach the remote areas.

    "[The] people feel loved and appreciated, and they recognize it's a long way to come to Barangay Can-ilay," said Roel Montes, a school teacher from the barangay.

    More than 300 households received goods. Talks with residents about their communities' needs were also held during the outreach program.

     

     

    – Rappler.com


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    CONDOM. Scientific studies prove the significant role of condoms on HIV prevention. Photo by VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines remains a hotbed of HIV infection, with reported cases rising partly due to a lack of condom use and also partly due to insufficient sex education. 

    In May 2017 alone, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 1,098 new cases of HIV infections in the Philippines, the highest number of cases since 1984. 

    Despite health campaigns, reported HIV infections in the country increased by 140% in the past 6 years, currently the 'fastest growing' and most severe in the Asia Pacific region.

    The HIV epidemic is an uphill battle not just for the government, but also for persons living with the virus as they face dehumanizing stigma and discrimination. (READ: ‘Stop HIV shaming’: When status is not the story)

    In turn, the purchase and use of condoms has been continuously low despite its proven significance in preventing the infection. (READ: On preventing HIV/AIDS: Are you afraid of condoms?)

    Condom use should be a priority

    UNAIDS Philippines Director Louie Ocampo stated the 'desperately needed call to action' on condom use promotion as a key strategy to address Philippines' worsening HIV epidemic.

    "Successive Philippine governments have failed miserably to propagate condom use and educate young Filipinos to avoid HIV transmission," said Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch.

    Conde also noted the government's 'lack of political will' to push effective sex education against the opposition of conservative leaders, particularly from the Catholic Church. (READ: Briones: No condom distribution in schools)

    According to the DOH, two out of 3 new HIV infections are among 15- to 24-year-old men having sex with men or transgender women, with only a few fully aware of HIV, its symptoms, and treatment.

    Human Rights Watch meanwhile asserted comprehensive sexuality education should be implemented as mandated by the RH Law.

    "But unless the government takes the message of UNAIDS to heart and ensures that condom use and sexuality education is at the core of its HIV prevention strategy, the Philippines’ HIV epidemic is unlikely to abate," the group said. – With reports from Keb Cuevas/Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – The country's 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) under the government's #BidaAngHanda campaign is set to happen on February 15 at 2 pm.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) are calling on the public to join the earthquake drill in preparation for the so-called "Big One."

    The ceremonial venue will be the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

    The #BidaAngHanda campaign aims to educate Filipinos about how they should prepare for earthquakes and other hazards.

    "We encourage everyone to join the #BidaAngHanda campaign in support of the 1st Quarter NSED. The NDRRMC conducts this nationwide earthquake drill quarterly, as one of its initiatives to promote disaster preparedness and community resilience among Filipinos," said NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad.

    Here's how to join on the day of the earthquake drill:

    1. Do the duck, cover, and hold technique.

    2. Take photos or videos of your #BidaAngHanda experience.

    3. Share your #BidaAngHanda photos or videos on social media using the official hashtag.

    Are you and your community prepared for the "Big One"? Share earthquake preparedness tips on X– Rappler.com


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    MANILA, Philippines – Campus journalists expressed their disappointment after the Department of Education (DepEd) revoked their 5-year partnership with online news outfit Rappler on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. 

    In a letter addressed to Rappler's Executive Editor Maria Ressa, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones only cited the Termination Clause of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by DepEd and Rappler without giving further reasons for the revocation

    The termination happened around two weeks before the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Dumaguete City. Rappler was also set to spearhead the Online Publishing Demonstration Contest. This has dismayed the students even more. (READ: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

    In partnership with DepEd, MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler, launched the Palaro Movers Program in 2017. Under this program, over 120 campus journalists were trained in a 3-day multimedia storytelling workshop and covered the week-long Palarong Pambansa. (READ: Campus journalists to cover Palarong Pambansa 2017)

    Zach Borromeo, an editorial cartoonist from Cebu, said that efforts extended by Rappler was lost in vain. 

    {source}

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    Daniel Balan, a news writer, raised in his post that Rappler cared for the future of journalism 

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    Pertecto Martin, 1967 NSPC Champion and now a campus journalism advocate advised that campus journalists should listen to both sides regarding the issues on what he described as 'historical' NSPC in Dumaguete City. 

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    {/source}

    Below are other comments from netizens on the issue:

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    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The point is regardless of Rapplers&#39;s corporate housekeeping issues, they still are an organization composed of actual journalists (and educators) who can help teach the subject to public school learners and teachers.</p>&mdash; Patrick Salamat (@missingpoints) <a href="https://twitter.com/missingpoints/status/961153527895810049?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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    In a statement, Rappler asked why the department would make such a rushed decision. That they would jeopardize a project that took months of preparation on the part of the NSPC, DepEd, and Rappler merely highlighted an unstated reason for DepEd’s action – that they are choosing to sacrifice the ideals of campus journalism to politics.

    Rappler also said they would continue their campus journalism advocacy. 

    "We will continue to work with them as they tell their stories, learn new skills, and try to make sense of this tough, new world," the statement read. 

    Rappler had been working with the DepEd for nearly 6 years now, since the 2012 Palarong Pambansa.

    During this time, the online news website provided full coverage of a sporting event that seldom grabs headlines, volunteered hands-on training for advisers and students, and built an online platform for them for their stories, photos, and videos. – Rappler.com


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    Screenshot from Rappler's video of UP Fair 2012 HIMIGsikan

    MANILA, Philippines — What comes to your mind when you think of affordable yet hardcore concert?

    Yep, it is UP Fair.

    The 5-day musical fest annually held at the University of the Philippines - Diliman is considered as the "biggest student-initiated" activity led by university student council (USC) together with several organizations.

    For Belle Ginez and Jeff Galban, overall heads of UP Fair 2018 organizing committee, the event is a venue for families and friends to bond and learn about different societal issues at the same time. 

    "UP Fair has promoted several homegrown bands and talents to not only the UP community but also to non-UP students. More importantly, it is a platform for change – a platform to campaign for issues that UP students have been fighting for over the years," they said.

    The fair, traditionally held at the Sunken Garden, is more than just a showcase of talent. Originally held in September, the fair started as an avenue for dissent against the declaration of Martial Law era in the '70s. 

    More than a concert

    There are many variations of the story behind the beginning of UP Fair. According to some, it started out as a form of protest and dissent towards the existing Martial Law regime decades ago. Others claimed that concert served as a front to hide UP student leaders and activists who were secretly conducting meetings at the backstage. 

    In the years that followed the Martial Law, the fair has been moved to February. 

    "Late 80's when the USC started having a UP Fair that looks close to what it is now and the themes were always anti-dictatorship. At first nag-alangan pa sila given the polticial climate then na kakatapos palang ng Martial law na magsastart na sila agad ng malaking UP fair, pero tinuloy nila to engage students and non UP students din," said Corridor.

    While there may be different accounts surrounding the beginning of UP Fair, what is clear among students of the premiere state university is that the UP Fair is more than just a mere showcase of talent. For them, the tradition also serves as a platform for protest and campaigns.

    Every year, according to Raymond Rodis, former councilor at USC, UP Fair aims to raise social consciousness on various issues.

    "There was so much other activities in the UP Fair. Many of us felt UP Fair should also be about highlighting pertinent social issues because UP should serve the people. Concert was just an extra," shared Rodis.

    At present, the fair also serves as a fundraising activity for the beneficiares chosen by involved student organizations. 

    This year, the proceeds from the UP Fair will be donated for the Maraoans in Marawi.

    "At the time UP Fair 2018 was being planned, yun yung time ng Marawi seige. We want this year to remember Marawi, to call for peace and to help them financially. For us kasi gusto din namin mahighlight yung Filipino resilience in times of war," said Corridor.

    (At the time UP Fair 2018 was being planned, that's the time when Marawi siege started. We want this year to remember Marawi, to call for peace and to help them financially. For us, we want to hightlight the Filipino resilience in times of war)

    On May 23, the military entered Marawi City and turned the city into a full-fledged war between the military and the terrorists Isnilon Hapilon, the so-called emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia and the homegrown Maute Group. 

    According to the provincial government, the war which lasted five months displaced about 400,000 people in Marawi City and nearby towns. The military announced the official end of war on October 23.

    Advocacies

    Every year, UP Fair carries a banner advocacy. This year, it is all about "Highlighting the resilience of the Filipino spirit towards progressive change." 

    Photo from UP Fair facebook page

    According to the organizing team, "in a time where our democracy is under attack by the government, UP Fair believes in the strength of the Filipino people that can uphold our rights, preserve and protect our freedom and democracy, and achieve lasting and genuine change."

    Below are the details of the daily concerts during UP Fair 2018: 

    REV: Upholding democracy 

    Tuesday, February 13 — As an introductory call for the entire week’s stand, the concert organizers Sigma Kappa Pi and Sigma Delta Pi aim to highlight the importance of upholding democracy through an ultimate "throwback concept."

    To set the tone of the week-long concert, the Rev UP Fair will introduce to fairgoers all pressing issues that have been existing over the past 5 decades. Their goal is to remind the audience of the role of OPM and youth organizations in the country's colorful history. 

    FLAMES: No to martial law 

    Wednesday, February 14 — In line with its 25th anniversary, UP Babaylan is set to celebrate love and struggle on Valentines' day with. The longest-running and premiere Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) student organization in the Philippines aims to highlight the definition of love — that love that does not discriminate sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. 

    During their first time to join the roster of UP Fair organizers, UP Babaylan wants to celebrate the continuous struggles that love has brought within all sectors of the society, especially the struggles in claiming freedom.

    On February 7, the Supreme Court approved the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao until December 31, 2018. It was after President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 through Proclamation 216 after homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group clashed with government troops in Marawi City.

    ELEMENTS: Uphold human rights 

    Thursday, February 15 — Elements, organized by UP Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants, has been part of UP Fair line up since 2015. Transparency and integrity are the core of the organization. Their primary goal for this year's activity is to raise awareness on human rights issues and encourage everyone to be responsible for respecting and implementing human rights in our society.

    In the Philippines, extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, and human trafficking, among others are some of human rights violations that may have decreased in the past years but cases still exist and remain unsolved, according to Human Rights Watch. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines)

    COSMOS: Equality for all

    Friday, February 16 — UP Fair Friday continues to elevate UP Fair to new and exciting frontiers by featuring the best of mainstream and emerging Filipino talent along with the advocacy of equality for all. Cosmos has always been a celebration that welcomes people from all walks of life - both in and out of the UP community. This year, the organization aims to take it further by amplifying our advocacy through various promotional channels in order to empower people to actively support our cause for equality.

    According to World Economic Forum, 56% of millennials believe that biggest driver of inequality in their countries is corruption.

    ROOTS: Peace in Mindanao

    Saturday, February 17 — It's the 6th year of Roots as part of the UP Fair line up. The UP Economic Society and UP Underground Music Community stands mainly for peace in Mindanao. Through music, the organization aims to promote peace to oneself, peace with nature and peace to all humankind.  

    On May 5, 2017, President Duterte admitted that he's a bit pessimistic about Mindanao peace talks because of  the persistent tensions between the rival groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

    Lines going into UP Fair grounds get long and crazy easily. So prepare early, head up to the concert ground with your buddies and enjoy the music of celebration.—Rappler.com

    This year, tickets are sold at P80 for UP Diliman Student Discount, P160 for General Admission and P200 for walk-ins. For more details, kindly check UP Fair Facebook page.


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    Welcome to Right Of Way, a vlog about traffic, transport, and road safety.

    For this episode, road safety advocate Vincent Lazatin finds himself on the receiving end of traffic enforcement – his driver's license gets confiscated!

    Join Vincent as he takes us through the steps he took to retrieve his license from the Mandaluyong City Hall.

    Have you encountered mishaps on the road? Send us photos and videos – email rightofway@rappler.com – Rappler.com

    MORE ON 'RIGHT OF WAY'


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    JEEPNEY PHASEOUT. The latest target of DOTr's 'Oplan Alis Bulok, Alis Usok' program are jeepneys in the University of the Philippines - Diliman. Photo courtesy of Pat Jasmin

     

    MANILA, Philippines – Students from the University of the Philippines- Diliman had a hard time going to class on Thursday, February 8, after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) took its “Oplan Alis Bulok, Alis Usok” project to the premiere state university.

    According Ceasar Sarmiento, president of the Ikot Jeepney Association, the crackdown on operating jeepneys started in the morning without prior notice.

    “Kapag nahuli ka, pinakamababa mong babayaran ay ilang libo. Kahit wala kang violations, hahalungkatin ang jeepney mo para magkaroon ng violation,”Sarmiento said. 

    (When you are caught, the lowest violation would cost you thousands. Even if you have no clear violation, they would go through your jeep to find one)

    According to him, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) officers were stationed at different areas along the routes of UP jeepneys. He described the interception as a hassle – “perwisyo” in Filipino – not only among jeepney drivers but also among students who mostly depend on the public utility vehicle in going around the campus. 

    “Sinabi nila na after 3 years ‘yung modernization program. Dapat hintayin yun. Pinepwersyo na maliliit na mamamayan. Dapat tinutulungan yung mga maliliit na driver operator,”Sarmiento added.

    (They said they are going to implement the modernization program in 3 years. They should wait for that. They are causing inconvenience among low-wage earners like us. Instead, they should be helping small-time drivers and operators like us)  

    A single violation may cost a jeepney driver P3000-P5000. According to Sarmiento, however, they earn only an average of P1000 on a “good” day. (READ: How Piston imagines jeepney modernization

    Following the crackdown, UP students and jeepney drivers took to the streets their call against the jeepney phaseout launched by the transportation agency.  

    In a video posted by the student regent, Noel Salvador, president of the Toki jeepney association called on UP employees, students and vendors to join them in their fight for their livelihood. 

    "Aasahan namin kayo para tuloy tuloy natin palakasin ng ating idudulog sa administratyon Duterte para hindi matuloy ang phaseout na pangunahing pinagkukuhan ng driver at operator ng pangkabuhayan," Salvador said. 

    (We are banking on you to join us and strengthen our message for the Duterte administration so they could stop this phaseout that could cause the loss of livelihood for drivers and operators like us)

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    'Necessary' 

    In a statement, DOTr slammed the students – specifically members of militant youth organization Anakbayan – for leading the protests against the jeepney phaseout. 

    "Anakbayan prides itself as a progressive youth organization. Sadly, their actions speak of the opposite...The DOTr is bent on giving the riding public a safer and more comfortable commuting experience. Is Anakbayan opposed to better public transportation?" DOTr said.

    Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Member Aileen Lizada, spokespoerson of iACT, also clarified that the fine is for the non-compliance of the operators to the Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01 that sets the standard for operating vehicles. 

    According to transportation agency, the surprise operation was conducted after DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade "received text complaints from UP students during an interview in a radio program that there are a lot of old, dilapidated, and smoke-belching jeepneys roaming in UP."

    The department also mobilized solar-powered jeepneys to ferry affected passengers to their destinations. 

    "Implementing the campaign against smoke-belching PUVs is a tough, but necessary task. It is long overdue. This is an integral part of the PUV Modernization Program, which aims to bring about a comprehensive system reform of the public transportation industry," DOTr said.

    As part of its PUV modernization program, the DOTr has started its "Oplan Alis Bulok, Alis Usok" program in early January this year. Since then, the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (i-ACT) has issued 1,124 citation tickets and 207 subpoena orders.

    The composite teams that have been intercepting vehicles are assigned to issue a temporary operation receipt (TOP) and give operators 24 hours to bring their vehicles to the LTO-Motor Vehicle Inspection Center for roadworthy inspection.

    At least, 80 PUVs were impounded due to violations of the smoke emission standards and/or failure to show a registered franchise. In all, 1,501 PUVs were apprehended, while almost 10,000 were provided with free ride amid conduct of the operation, in line with the implementation of the PUV modernization program nationwide. 

    Below are some tweets by UP students on the issue:

    {source}

    <a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/961496947176611840?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">jeepney phaseout in UP - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> 

    {/source}

     – with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com 

     


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    Philippine society is a highly diasporic one. Every Filipino knows someone who left home to work abroad. Many discussions on contemporary Filipino issues center around this phenomenon.

    This essay, however, explores the opposite: moving “back” to the motherland if you’ve grown up abroad.

    My parents met while my dad, a British journalist, was on assignment in Manila to cover the ousting of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. They got married in London later that year then finally settled in Paris, where I was born and raised. Growing up in France, I was constantly reminded I wasn’t white enough, never French enough, and always too Asian.

    My mother encouraged me to connect to her family and culture, and I was lucky enough to visit the Philippines often. After graduating university in 2016, I got a job working for an NGO in Quezon City. I was ecstatic and nervous: this was something I had hoped for my whole life. The Philippines had become for me this imagined utopia, a fantasy on which I could project my past, present, and future. A land full of possibilities and potential happy endings. My Homeland.

    Facing reality 

    I knew that reality would never live up to expectations, like meeting your favorite actor or singer. You realize they are just as flawed and complicated as everyone else. This country that I so ardently loved and cherished did not always seem to feel the same way about me. I still trouble figuring out my position as a member of the “re-aspora” (the diaspora that comes back). I’m not a balikbayan but I’m not an AFAM (A Foreigner Assigned to Manila). People often assume I know nothing about this country and its culture.

    One person was genuinely shocked that I knew what adobo was, another explained to me pedantically what a jeep was. I’m praised for doing ordinary things like a local, but at the same time consistently reminded that I’m not actually Filipino. (READ: What does it mean to be Filipino?)

    As I navigated this massive metropolis, childhood memories would rush back to me, giving me a false sense of security. I felt exposed and vulnerable, in ways I had never been before. The first time I went to the mall entirely on my own I felt so nervous. Warnings from my relatives would come back to me: would I be able to make my own way? What if someone followed me home or robbed me? What if I had to speak Tagalog? (READ: Being Filipino abroad: Facing stereotypes and racism

    Tagalog is the language of my ancestors. It’s in my blood, but I can’t speak it fluently because my parents spoke to me in English at home while I learned French at school. I hate imposing English on the people I talk to, forcing them to adapt to my inadequacy. This became increasingly frustrating and made me especially upset because a) I love to talk; and b) it reminded me I was an outsider to a place I desperately want to be part of.

    Crying at the bank, not daring to buy food from the market, meltdowns at the telecom service center, and failing to properly explain my location to Grab and Uber drivers (one time this led me to falling down a hole on the side of Commonwealth Avenue), all became regular features of my daily routine. Eventually I took Tagalog lessons and mastered the basics, which reduced the melodrama.

    Living in Manila 

    Of course, Manila has also been a beautiful experience, especially when I am reminded that I do belong here. When I visited the National Museum, I saw paintings of people who looked like me, who shared my identity and my history. I had never seen myself reflected in art like that before. As a young girl I longed for pale skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair. I wanted to look like the women in museums, on TV, and in my neighborhood. I thought my features were unworthy of painters and museums. Walking through a museum filled with paintings with titles like Pinay Beauty told me this wasn’t true and that Filipino features are valid forms of beauty. These thoughts struck me so hard I was moved to tears.

    Living in Manila has also made me reflect on my privilege, as my friend once said: “you had privilege the minute you stepped off that plane.” I was incredibly lucky to be able move here for a job I enjoy, but I am also unbelievably privileged in my ability to leave whenever I like. Very few Filipinos have that mobility. I was reminded of this when I said goodbye to my mom at NAIA. We were surrounded by OFWs saying tearful goodbyes to their own families. But unlike them, I knew I would see my mum again quite soon. It made me think of how sad geography can be and how sacrifice seems to run through the blood of Filipinos. 

     

    I also actively benefit from being mestiza, and sometimes passing as Caucasian (for the first time in my life). People are nicer to me, whether it be waiters, security guards, or the people I meet when I go out. I am given opportunities I don’t necessarily deserve. When people realize I’m half white and grew up in Paris, the tone of the conversation shifts, and they immediately show more interest. I am too often told I’m pretty, which speaks to the continued power of white beauty standards imposed by the Spanish and Americans. These same colonial legacies fuel the popularity of whitening beauty products and white passing artistas.

    I do my best to use this privilege and power to contribute back to Filipino society. I’m incredibly proud to be Filipino. Manila may be melty and monstrous, but I love it. I realized this when I was Escolta Block Party and the DJ played Manila by Hotdog. I looked out onto the crowd and again saw myself reflected on each face as we sang the chorus: “Keep coming back to Manila, simply no place like Manila.” Manila, even if sometimes we fight, I promise to make you proud. – Rappler.com

    Francesca Humi was born and raised in Paris, France. She has a BA in International Development Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She's now based in Quezon City working for a peace-building NGO. She has previously written for other publications about articulating mixed-race and Asian identities in the West. She also enjoys drawing, watching cat videos online, and confusing people about "where are you really from?"


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    DEALING WITH FAKE NEWS. One of the panels during Democracy and Disinformation forum on Monday, February 12, focuses on answering this question: How can reporters deal with newsmakers who mislead? Photo by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippine – In a country where the topmost leader is known to routinely peddle disinformation, how should reporters and the media do their job? 

    This is one of the questions posed to panelists of the Democracy and Disinformation forum organized by Inquirer at the Ateneo Rockwell on Monday, February 2. 

    Managed by veteran journalist Malou Manghas, the panel tackled the options available for the media in an environment where the malady of fake news is as prevalent as the common cold. A video launched by Vera Files on Monday set the tone of the discussion.

    The video illustrated the several times the president has flip-flopped on his claims and deliberately peddled disinformation in his public speeches. Disinformation is defined as false information that are spread to deliberately mislead the public. (READ: Duterte is No. 1 source of fake news – veteran journalist)

    In the past, Duterte has claimed that there were 4 million drug addicts in the country. The Dangerous Drugs Board, however, pegged the number at only 1.8 million. The board did not classify them as addicts, but only drug users in general. Duterte also announced in different speeches that up to 6 to 8 policemen and soldiers die each day in the administration’s war on drugs. Vera Files, however, countered this and pegged the number at only 3 in 20 days. (WATCH: What is fake news?)

    Disinformation as a PR strategy 

    While the term "fake news" is already more than a century old, it has seen an exponential rise in recent years because of social media. This worldwide trend has posed a threat to the state of democracy in different countries, including the Philippines. 

    "Unfortunately, too many journalists perceive their roles to be a little more than a stenographer – tracking and reporting what newsmakers do. This results to a media that amplifies newsmakers' disinformation campaign," Cherian George, a professor in the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, said. (WATCH: 'Fake news' and the dilemma it has created)

    This is the reason why, according to senior communications director and public relations specialist Ron Jabal, reporters should treat purveyors of fake news more than just a typical source for reports.

    FIGHTING BACK. The Democracy and Disinformation Forum on Monday, February 12, tackles how 'fake news' and other forms of disinformation threaten our freedoms.  Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

    Journalists need to be more critical, he added. Citing the structure that Duterte and his followers are pursuing, Jabal explained that the disinformation campaign could actually be perceived as a public relations strategy of the current administration. 

    "We need to be able to look at this from the perspective of the campaign: Who are speaking? How is the messaging being crafted? Who are interpreting message from the source? This strategy is winning because they are packaging, repackaging to appeal to the base," Jabal said. 

    Learning from the disinformation army 

    Veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas pointed out one of the challenges for the media today: To ensure that they do not allow themselves to be used to peddle fake information. 

    "If we are going by the Goebbels theory that a lie becomes truth when repeated often enough, a journalist by repeatedly reporting and accurately quoting Duterte's false claims, inadvertently becomes a peddler fake news," Tordesillas said. 

    With the fast-paced nature of the job, Tordesillas emphasized the importance of special verification reports from every media organization's desk members to complement the news pieces from their beat reporters.  

    Instead of only focusing on debunking fake news, Jabal said that media organizations can also look into how the disinformation army has been effectively packaging and amplifying their messages to the wider public and learn from them.

    Here are some ways media organizations can "sexify" reports and improve their campaign on truth-telling, according to Jabal: 

    • It should elicit an emotional response

    • It should have a powerful visual component

    • It should have a strong narrative

    • It has to be repeated 

    Continuing the vigilance 

    The panelists agreed that truth is a harder sell.

    "The truth is, when you are looking into the economic problems of the world, there are simply no easy answers. It is much easier sell to just make fake promises – which every politician does. How can you compete with that?" George asked. 

    But despite this, they encouraged reporters and the media to continue the vigilance in the face of the threat posed by disinformation to the country's democracy. 

     "If the media won't, who will? Always do a Pia Ranada – stand up. That’s how it should be done," Jabal concluded. – Rappler.com 

     


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    PREPARATIONS. Members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Pre-Disaster Risk Assesment Core Group meet to discuss the preparations for the effects of Tropical Storm Basyang on February 12. Photo by NDRRMC.

    MANILA, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) warned residents living along the forecasted track of Tropical Storm Basyang (Sanba) to prepare for possible flooding and landslides. 

    "Again, we warn our countrymen to monitor their surroundings because plain areas may just be experiencing light rains, heavier rains are expected in the mountain areas caused by Orographic Lifting," Pagasa chief Dr. Esperanza Cayanan said in a press conference organized by NDRRMC on Monday, February 12. 

    Residents living in river banks should do all precautionary measure to avoid accidents brought by mudflows from elevated areas. She also warned of the "damming effect" caused by logs which could cause flash floods. 

    Cayanan also urged affected residents to take initiative in checking the hazard maps available in every local government units (LGU). 

    "Pakitingnan na po natin kung tayo po ba ay nakatapat doon sa areas at risk, kailangan po nating tingnan para aware tayo sa mga posibleng mangyari," Cayanan said. (Let us check whether our we are inside the areas at risk for us to prepare on possible outcomes brought by the storm)

     

    {source}

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    <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FcivildefensePH%2Fvideos%2F1560831804012643%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

     

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    Tropical Storm Basyang slightly accelerated late Monday afternoon, February 12, as it moved closer to Eastern Mindanao.

    In a bulletin issued at 5:00 pm on Monday, state weather bureau Pagasa said Basyang is already 435 kilometers east southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west northwest at 23 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 22 km/h.

    The tropical storm continues to have maximum winds of 65 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h. In a news briefing late Monday morning, Pagasa had said it is unlikely that Basyang would intensify further into a severe tropical storm.

    Charlie alert

    Department of Interior Local Government Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center (DILG CODIX) placed at least 21 areas under the Charlie alert as of 1 pm on Monday. (READ: PAGASA to Visayas, Mindanao: Prepare for Basyang)

    The provinces under Charlie Alert are the following:

    • Agusan del Norte
    • Agusan del Sur
    •  Bohol
    • Bukidnon
    • Camiguin
    • Cebu
    • Compostela Valley
    • Davao del Norte
    • Davao Oriental
    • Lanao del Norte
    • Lanao del Sur
    • Misamis Occidental
    • Misamis Oriental
    • Negros Occidental
    • Negros Oriental
    • Palawan
    • Siquijor
    • Surigao del Norte
    • Surigao del Sur
    • Zamboanga del Norte
    • Zamboanga del Sur

    Minimum critical activities that LGUs should be enforcing in affected areas include the following:

    • Secure power, water supply, and communications
    • Start preemptive evacuation
    • Announce forced evacuation
    • Prepare list of the evacuees
    • Distribute relief packs and conduct mass feeding
    • Stop traffic in landslide-prone areas

    Alert level Charlie is based on Oplan Listo (Operation Plan Alert), a disaster preparedness manual that provides mayors and other local government disaster management agencies a checklist that enumerates what should be done before, during, and after typhoons.

    This checklist seeks to "minimize mistakes that may cost lives and grave destruction to properties." It includes flowcharts that correspond to 3 phases of critical preparedness actions – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. It also provides a tropical cyclone information board and reference boxes and minimum actions to guide mayors.

    Alpha and Bravo alert

    Meanwhile, DILG-CODIX has raised alert level Bravo over 6 provinces which is expected to experience moderate to occasionally heavy rain:

    • Davao del Sur
    • Dinagat Islands
    • North Cotabato
    • Southern Leyte
    • Shariff Kabunsuan
    • Zamboanga Sibugay

    DILG-CODIX also raised the alert level Alpha over 7 provinces.

    • Antique
    • Guimaras
    • Iloilo
    • Leyte
    • Maguindanao
    • Sultan Kudarat
    • Tawi-Tawi

    Relief response

    Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) activated its Quick Response Teams (QRT) in provinces along the track of the tropical storm.

    DSWD said it has 410,835 family food packs, available food and non-food items amounting to over P476 million, and standby funds amounting to over P519 million. 

    “We assure the public that the DSWD is prepared to face the effects of storm Basyang. We have already coordinated with our field offices and they ensured us that there are sufficient relief items and mode of transportation for the delivery of goods in the areas that will be hit,” DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco said. –  Rappler.com


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    VOLUNTEERISM. Feeding program of the Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption of Guinobatan, Albay, assisted by some student-volunteers and choir members. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines — A month after the start of the continuous restiveness of Mayon Volcano in Albay, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) organized "Simbahan Para sa Mayon 2018" to help people affected of Mayon volcanic's activity.

    In line with this, a local church in Guinobatan, Albay organized a soup kitchen program which aimed to feed around 200 affected families in the area.

    The parish has also mobilized its social arm to different evacuation centers every other day to aid the needs of increasing number of evacuees around the Mayon volcano.

    According to Rev. Father Diogenes Barja, the church tries to help those in need by providing food and support, especially to the children.

    "Hindi naman masyado malaki yung budget, parang halimbawa ay bulalo, gulay, tapos sinasamahan namin ng kanin instead of bread kapag tanghalian. Kasi ang mga bata kapag nagsama-sama, maglalaro yan, tapos magugutom yan," said Barja, the church's priest.

    (Our budget is not too big. We provide soup, vegetables and we add rice instead of bread during lunch. The kids, whey they are together, they would often play. Then they get hungry. )

    Fr. Bajar also sees the situation as an opportunity for them to preach about the spirit of generosity.

    "Kasi ang principle namin, after ng calamity na ito, nabigyan ng opportunities na tumulong ang mga tao. Pangit naman yung may kakayahan na tumulong tapos hindi tumutulong," he added.

    (After this calamity, our principle is to provide opportunities for people to help others. It wouldn't look good if you have the capacity to help, but do not extend any help.) 

    Executive Director of the Diocese of Legazpi’s Social Action Center Fr. Rex Paul Arjona also said that many parishes have opened their doors to vulnerable evacuees. They initiated a community-based rehab program for substance users called "Harong Paglaom".

    "The SAC Legazpi and partners have been distributing food and non-food items (sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, and hygiene kits) to practically all evacuation centers. Among our targets is that all evacuee households have bedding kits," Fr, Ajona added. 

    The church is also in close coordination with the local and provincial governments to address the needs of those affected by Mayon. As of February 5, Mayon volcano continued to pose a high risk, despite its seeming calmness the past days, according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

    Evacuation centers are occupied by at least 19,520 families, or 75,325 individuals, from 3 cities and 6 municipalities in Albay: Legazpi, Ligao, Tabaco, Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo, Bacacay and Malilipot.

    "If the evacuation situation continues on its second month, there may be gaps in government food distribution. So food and hygiene kits will still be most welcome. Also toys and learning materials for kids, and volunteers who could do psycho-social work with evacuees," Arjona said, adding that they are preparing contribution for building additional emergency shelters, latrines, and bathing spaces.

    Below are some photos during their activities:

    NUTRITION. Feeding program of the Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption of Guinobatan, Albay, assisted by some student-volunteers and choir members. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    DAILY BREAD. Kids look forward to pan de sal distributed by volunteers. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    FREE MEALS. Feeding program of the Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption of Guinobatan, Albay, assisted by some student-volunteers and choir members. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

    DISTRIBUTION. Goods distribution to the different parishes of 1st and 2nd District of Albay as provision for soup kitchen of the evacuees within the parishes. Photo from Social Action Center Legazpi Facebook page

    KIDS HOUR. Fun games, gift giving, and feeding for the children evacuees in Albay Central School, Brgy. Matang. Photo from Social Action Center Legazpi Facebook page

    On February 2, the Office of Civil Defense and local disaster officials asked residents living outside the 8-kilometer danger area to return home to avoid outbreaks of diseases. (READ: Mayon victims sent home to prevent outnreaks in evacuation camps)

    The eruption of Mayon, the country's most active volcano, has affected the cities of Legazpi, Ligao, and Tabaco and the municipalities of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto Domingo, Bacacay and Malilipot. — Rappler.com

    For donations, kindly check Social Action Center Legazpi's website or facebook page.

     


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    FAKE NEWS LAW 'DANGEROUS'. Peter Greste during his Democracy and Disinformation Forum panel at the Ateneo Law School in Makati on February 12, 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

    MANILA, Philippines – During the second Senate probe on the proliferation of 'fake news' Senator Manny Pacquiao wanted the government to license bloggers and 'control' the media.

    Imposing a legislative solution on such is 'dangerous' as loose legal definitions can be argued by the government to incarcerate journalists, said former Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste, who was arrested by the Egyptian authorities for terrorism-related charges for his work as a journalist in 2013.

    "Going back to the days of pre-social media, if the government lied, the journalists acted as gatekeepers. We not only have the ethical and professional responsibility, but also a commercial incentive to cross-check and call out their lies," said Greste, now a journalism professor at the University of Queensland.

    Greste was one of the panelists of Inquirer's Democracy and Disinformation Forum at the Ateneo de Manila Rockwell Campus in Makati on Monday, February 12.

    Educators Cheryll Ruth Soriano, chairperson of De La Salle University's Department of Communication, and Jean Encinas-Franco of UP Diliman's Department of Political Science were also part of the panel.

    FAKE NEWS. Panelists Cheryll Ruth Soriano, Jean Encinas-Franco and Peter Greste together with moderator Clarissa David. Photo by Jed Asaph Cortes

    Greste also said social media empowered people to the point that it created 'direct pipelines' to supporters of politicians, skipping the essential fact-checking, enabling echo chambers. (READ: How we do our fact-check)

    "This is precisely what we wanted. Advancing e-governance and participation ... we wanted [the public] to have a direct access to politicians and government officials and be transparent," Soriano argued.

    Soriano noted, however, that what should be questioned is whether the use of such platforms is in good faith.

    Franco, meanwhile said 'fake news' proliferation through social media amplifies the crackdown on opposition through systematic levels of disinformation. (READ: Chief disinformation architects in the PH: Not exactly who you think

    "It can also be used to manufacture legitimacy of authoritarian regimes," said Encinas citing the alleged buying Facebook 'likes' of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

    Soriano also said that now with social media tools, political machinery can measure the efficacy of their propaganda amplification, making it more challenging to fight. (READ: What is Mocha Uson's top source of news?)

    The panel agreed that the solution that can be done against 'fake news' is through good and strong journalism as it should keep government officials accountable and honest. 

    Clarissa David, a professor at the University of the Philippines' College of Mass Communication, moderated the panel "Democracy and Disinformation." – Rappler.com


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