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    NAGA OPERATIONS. A K-9  and his handler search the landslide area in Naga, Cebu. Photo posted by MMDA K-9 Corps on Facebook

    MANILA, Philippines – Two weeks after the landslide in Itogon, Benguet and more than a week since the one in Naga, Cebu, the spotlight is turned to the different K-9 units which played a huge role in the search and rescue operations in both areas.

    Now that retrieval operations in Itogon have ended, it is fitting to recall the gallantry of two groups of K-9 volunteers – the canines and their handlers –  which mobilized and traveled to the disaster areas to volunteer their service.  These are the UP-MMDA-Vanguard K9 in Itogon, Benguet, and the MMDA K-9 Corps in Naga, Cebu.

    Itogon, Benguet

    On the night of September 19, a team of 8 handlers and 4 dogs from the UP-MMDA-Vanguard K9 rushed to disaster-struck Barangay Ucab in Itogon to assist in the search and rescue operations.

    The group was led by Jon Sarmiento with his canine Jersey. Also with the team were Don Castillo with Digo, Jairish Dapito, Jerome Torres, Enrique Soriano with Chaplin, Joel Luciano with  Luci, Ronald Pedraya, and Donathan Tayag.

    THUNDER. This is Thunder of the MMDA K-9 Corps. The MMDA K-9 Corps handlers demonstrate the stability of the dogs where they remain stationary. It's a basic part of training that helps the dogs during stressful situations. Photo by Renzo Acosta

    It was the first deployment of the group. “We were prepared, but some things were lacking,” said Sarmiento. While they were able to bring the necessary protective equipment, they failed to bring certain tools for the operation, such as additional ropes. 

    Even with insufficient training for steep terrain, the team immediately went to work u arriving in Ucab. They divided into two groups, with four handlers and two dogs each. They sought bodies and survivors for a day and a half. During that time, the group led by Enrique Soriano and canine Chaplin were able to make 3 indications, which led to the retrieval of a body near Loakan Airport.

    Despite the challenges, Sarmiento is happy with the performance of the K-9. “They performed well but we need more training.” Castillo emphasized the importance of basic obedience in dogs. “It makes both our job and the K-9’s job easier,” he said.

    After their first deployment, the UP-MMDA-Vanguard K9 plans to incorporate their learnings in their regular trainings and future operations. “In terms of training, we need more cardio and agility exercises for long tracking," Castillo said.

    Naga, Cebu

    Moments after learning about the September 20 landslide in Naga, Cebu, a team of 6 handlers and three dogs from the MMDA K-9 Corps also grabbed their go-bags and took the next flight to Cebu. 

    Led by Cris Palcis with his canine Billy, the group was also composed of Julius Biano, George Tomagan with Vera, Sheryl Palcis, Henry Monsones, and Karlo Gonda with Thunder.

    DISCIPLINED DOGS. MMDA K-9 Corps dogs are trained to behave even in the presence of strangers and other dogs.

    They said the MMDA K-9 Corps was the first K-9 search and rescue group on ground zero. Upon arrival, a total of 21 remains and survivors had been found. In the two days they spent in the operations, 8 more bodies were recovered and one survivor rescued in Barangay Tina-an. “The obligation placed on us was big,” said Palcis. “The BFP and the army relied solely on us to tell them where to dig when there was still no equipment.”

    The K-9s are trained to search for human scent, not only in the air but also among rubble. After they make an indication by barking or digging, it is confirmed by another pair of handler and K9 before the team notifies which area to dig.

    “The combination of high-tech equipment and K-9s is the best tandem for such operations," Tomagon said.

    The advantage of K-9s includes their speed and mobility in searching hidden areas. “If there’s a blockage in its path, the equipment can no longer detect if there’s a person buried in a spot," Tomagon added. That’s where the K-9’s strong sense of smell comes in.

    “We confirmed that our dogs are capable,” said Palcis. “Once they got to the site, they went straight to work. Nose down, tracking style. They weren’t hesitant to go in and scratch and dig in the rubble.”

    In their experience, the actual search and rescue was the least of the team’s problems. Before getting to the site, they had to overcome hurdles through bayanihan. The biggest difficulties of which were transportation and logistics.

    Looking back, the group is happy that their method proved effective in actual search and rescue operations. Now, they continue to find ways to propagate that method. “There are dogs everywhere,” said Palcis. “If we could train at least five teams per barangay, then it would already be a big help to communities.” 

    Looking for support

    Both the UP-MMDA-Vanguard K9 and MMDA K-9 Corps are non-profit volunteer organizations which continue to look for support from the public and the government. Palcis mentioned finding training areas that resemble a disaster area as priority. “There are demolished buildings in Metro Manila where we could train,” he said, “but the process of getting permission takes too long that once it’s done, the rubbles have already been cleared.”

    Tomagan hopes the government can also provide faster ways of transportation and deployment for volunteer groups like them during times of disaster, especially since the first hours are the most crucial.

    MAN'S BESTFRIEND. George Tomagan of the MMDA K-9 Corps poses with dog Vera. Photo by Renzo Acosta

    Financial support for the improvement of training facilities is also welcome. But more than anything, both K-9 groups hope that more will join their trainings, even if only to save lives in each dog’s household.

    “We’ll continue to train until the Big One comes,” said Alarcon of the MMDA K-9 Corps. “If we get to save even one life then that’s good, because that life could start a new generation.” – Rappler.com

    The MMDA K-9 Corps would like to thank “Sir Jun” of Cebu for taking care of their transportation, Titan Group of Companies in Cebu for the accommodation, and the Manila team for providing news feeds and taking care of logistics (Mon Santiago, Mervyn Alarcon, Meg Velasco, Evelyn Cabautan, Efren Gabriel, and others).

    To volunteer or support, you can contact the MMDA K-9 Corps and the UP-MMDA-Vanguard K9 on Facebook.

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    MANILA, Philippines – At the academically-liberal University of the Philippines in Diliman (UPD), there are two campus publications that each claim to be the school’s official newspaper: the Philippine Collegian and the Rebel Kule.

    Rebel Kule has a history of being revived by campus journalists during turbulent times, like during Martial Law, when all student councils and publications were suppressed by the state.

    For academic year 2018-2019, Rebel Kule has unfurled its masthead for the 4th time in UP history, but for a different reason.

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    Why are there two publications? It all started when two campus journalists of the Philippine Collegian were disqualified from the selection of the publication’s next editor in chief last May because they failed to meet residency requirements.

    Many student organizations deemed it a serious press freedom issue, but UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan maintained that the decision was based on a clear set of rules with no precedents challenging it. 

    Tan, in an email to Rappler, also said Rebel Kule’s revival is a “student matter.”

    “The Rebel Kule is an offshoot of the old [Collegian] staff insisting that the editorial exams were unfair. We have had numerous meetings about this, but they continue to reject the results,” Tan said in response to questions sent by Rappler.

    What are the differences between the two? The editorial board of Rebel Kule is handling all the social media accounts of the Philippine Collegian, while the editorial board of the Philippine Collegian has created a new website to disseminate information.

    Sheila Abarra, editor in chief of Rebel Kule, said it was the student body – through the 6th General Assembly of Student Councils and 2018 Soli Philippine Congress – that released a resolution to revive the publication, and the past editorial board of the Philippine Collegian heeded. It was launched on September 21, during the Martial Law anniversary. 

    Abarra said the editorial board of Rebel Kule – which is the past editorial board of the Philippine Collegian – is serving a holdover term.

    She also underscored that being the official publication of the campus meant having the support of the students: “The administration recognizes the Philippine Collegian [as the official campus publication], but the Rebel Kule is recognized by the entire student body.”

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    Meanwhile, the new editor in chief of the Philippine Collegian is law student Edward “SJ” San Juan.

    As of press time, San Juan’s name and position are not yet published on the UPD Office of Student Activities website. The latest name on the list of Philippine Collegian editors in chief is Sanny Boy Afable, who served during academic year 2017-2018.

    Through the years, the Philippine Collegian featured news admittedly biased toward issues advocated by students, with focus on rallies, protests, and other injustices experienced by marginalized communities. 

    This year, San Juan said the Philippine Collegian will rebrand its reporting style.

    “We will expose and oppose this administration’s problematic policies, but critically engage the good ones…. Our principal task is to guide the students, as our publishers and primary readers, to take a stand by reporting the truth, or at least the closest version of it,” San Juan wrote in an article about charting the Philippine Collegian’s editorial direction.

    He added: “Thus, our bias will be balanced with the fair and accurate reporting of the news.”

    Instead of keeping up with Philippine Collegian’s weekly print tradition, San Juan said the publication will be investing in digital media because that is where the readers are.

    “The Philippine Collegian will produce neither grim-only pictures of social reality, nor churn out mere fads and passing fancies. We will report the truth, render a fair accounting of unfolding history, give incisive and scathing opinions to disturb the comfortable,” San Juan wrote.

    How will the issue be resolved? Abarra said Rebel Kule will push for the review and amendment of Collegian rules, with the help of the Rebel Kule’s editorial board, the LCC, University Student Council, UP Solidaridad, and the Office of the Student Regent.

    “I think that Rebel Kule serves as a wake-up call to the administration that students will not take things sitting down, and that the demands should be taken seriously,” UP journalism professor and former Philippine Collegian news editor Danilo Arao said in an interview with Rappler.

    Arao, who was a former judge in the Philippine Collegian’s editorial exams, said that past judges were not as dogmatic and technical as the current board of judges.

    According to him, campus press freedom is not just about providing institutional autonomy to campus publications; it is also about coming up with mechanisms that allow students to choose whom they think is the deserving editor. 

    Now that there are two UPD campus publications that both claim to represent the voice of the students, it is up to the UP administration to make clear its stand on how it sees campus press freedom, according to Arao. – Rappler.com

    Angelica Y. Yang is a 4th year journalism student at UP Diliman. She is a former features writer for the Philippine Collegian

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    PREPARED. Marikina City shares its best practices on disaster preparedness.

    MANILA, Philippines – Marikina City is no stranger to disasters.

    When Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) hit the country in 2009, Marikina recorded 78 deaths – the highest in Metro Manila – and millions worth of damaged properties. Since then, the city has made sure it has learned its lesson. (READ: How a hazard-prone Marikina school is preparing for disasters)

    Marikina City recently wowed citizens when it prepared modular tents in evacuation centers – a far cry from the usual evacuation centers across the Philippines. (LOOK: How Marikina shelters evacuees)

    'Like a hotel' 

    Once evacuees reach the evacuation camp, they will have to check in and register how many of their family members have been evacuated. Just like in a hotel, Marikina City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) Chief Dave David said they will then be given a room number for their assigned modular tent.

    The data garnered from the registration in the evacuation centers will be used as basis for their next round of actions involving food preparations and other logistical requirements. Instead of providing the usual relief goods, Marikina DRRMO cooks meals for evacues to lessen the burden of the displaced families.

    With this partition tent, malaki 'yung naging improvement namin kung paano namin i-organize si camp.... Nagkaroon ng decency 'yung mga families na kahit displaced sila, kahit nasa evacuation centers sila, disente sila doon sa pamumuhay nila doon kasi meron silang privacy," David said.

    (With this partition tent, there’s a huge improvement as to how we organize the camp.... The families were accorded a sense of decency because even if they  are displaced, they still have a decent life because they have privacy.)

    The idea to use the modular tents first cropped up a year ago when Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro ordered the Marikina DRRMO to improve evacuation camps in the city. While looking for a solution, the local DRRMO stumbled upon a camp management concept from Japan. They sourced for the material, and a year later  provided modular tents to Marikina evacuees.

    Better evacuation centers

    The modular tents became a point of comparison for other local government units. However, David clarified that provision of facilities will depend on the needs of each LGU.

    Actually nahihiya kami doon sa ibang LGU kasi we know all these LGUs have different situations sa mga cities nila and sila ang best makakaalam kung anong sistema o concept, kung anong equipment, anong resources ang puwede nilang gamitin. When we coined the idea of using the partition tent, the only purpose was to improve the situation, the living condition doon sa mga evacuation centers namin," he said.

    (Actually we’re embarrassed because we know all these LGUs have different situations in their cities and they know what system, concept, equipment or resources would be best for them. When we coined the idea of using the partition tent, the only purpose was to improve the living condition in our evacuation centers.)

    According to Martin Aguda Jr, an emergency management and crowd management consultant, providing personal space and maximizing gymnasiums are already indicators that Marikina is in the right direction. Other countries, including the US, convert their sport stadiums into mega-shelters during disasters. 

    “Crowd management-wise doon sa (in the) evacuation area, it should not be cramped because it adds stress. Personal space is the number one [priority]. It’s very important. People would be anxious.... That can trigger some unwanted behaviors," Aguda said. 

    Though using modular tents is a good practice, Aguda said that LGUs should also seek ways to create hazard-specific evacuation areas. 

    “It's not enough that they build an evacuation area; they have to be really hazard-specific when they construct their designated evacuation areas,” he added.

    Building a resilient community 

    In fostering resilience, David acknowledged that communities are just as important as government agencies in implementing disaster preparedness measures. That’s why the Marikina DRRMO prioritizes disseminating information about what to do before, during, and after the flood. It also empowers communities through training or creating community volunteering groups that would aid the DRRMO. 

    “'Yung level of awareness in the community is very high wherein elementary students,  grades 4 to 5, would know.... Ganoon ka-aware ang community. Alam din nila saan sila tatawag, kailan sila hihingi ng tulong, kung anong gagawin nila bago pa sumampa 'yung mataas na tubig,” David explained/

    (The level of awareness in the community is very high wherein elementary students,  grades 4 to 5,  would know.... That’s how aware the community is. They also know where to call, when to ask for help, and what to do when the floodwaters rise.)

    In Marikina, resiliency is defined as a partnership between the city government and the community. Resiliency shows when communities listen to warnings and follow instructions to evacuate when necessary.

    David also urged other DRRMOs to institutionalize their flood and disaster protocols, and ensured that it would not be discontinued or swayed by political influence.

    “It's not influenced by political affiliation since disaster management is apolitical. [The] flood protocol will ensure that the operational, tactical, strategic decisions are already in place no matter who is in power," David said.

    That’s why David hopes DRRM would be institutionalized in the Philippines,  especially since each DRRMO has its own best practices in dealing with disasters which could be collated for all to use.

    “If we will collate all these best practices and put it into a protocol, institutionalize those best practices, then the whole nation will utilize or use the concept of these best practices,” he said. – Rappler.com

    What are your local government’s best practices in dealing with disasters? Send them to MovePH!

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    MANILA, Philippines – Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin goes on a couple of walking tours with Sunny Sevilla, a regular commuter and former Customs commissioner, and Remmon Barbaza, a philosophy professor from the Ateneo de Manila University who teaches a Philosophy of the City course.

    From the Makati perimeter to the Katipunan-Cubao route, watch how key districts in Metro Manila are sorely lacking in pedestrian-friendly walkways.  Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – Filipino millennials Pamela Mejia and Robi del Rosario are just two of the many Filipinos that have come up with "hacks" to help address pressing social issues that affect the country.

    In 2016, Robi del Rosario introduced “Barangay Aquaponics” during #HackSociety, an ideathon organized by Rappler and the United Nations Development Programme that aims to crowdsource "hacks" or solutions to society's problems. His goal is to help eradicate hunger in the Philippines where an estimated 7 million children experience hunger and malnutrition. 

    Pamela Mejia, for her part, took the stage during the #HackSociety in 2017 to pitch Phinix, a startup project that aims to be pioneer textile recycling center in the country. By collecting and upcycling fabric scraps into newer, highly valued products, Mejia hopes to not only provide employment to local craftsmen but also to help reduce waste. 

    Since then, Phinix has won the UN Environment Asia-Pacific's Low Carbon Business Challenge in March 2018 and was awarded the  2018 Asia-Pacific Youth SDG Innovative in August of the same year. It is also one of the 3 Filipino startups which emerged as top prize winners at the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge 2018 held in Bangkok, Thailand on March 28. 

    How did they come up with their solutions? What have they experienced during and after their #HackSociety journey? Despite the challenges they face in scaling up their projects, where do social entrepreneurs like Mejia and Del Rosario find the inspiration to push forward?

    To answer these questions and share their respective #HackSociety stories, Raisa Serafica, unit head of civic engagement for Rappler, speaks to Pamela Mejia and Robi del Rosario at 5pm on Friday, October 5.  Rappler.com


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    CEBU CITY, Philippines – In the Philippines, skateboarding has not received as much attention as other sports.

    Angelo Talago, 33, would know, being one of the seniors of the Cebu Skateboarding Association (CSA). Talago started skateboarding when he was just a teenager. He said he loved the feeling of freedom and independence he got while skateboarding.

    In Cebu City, the local skateboarding community has racked up around 3,000 members. Despite the growing number number, Lago said they continue to struggle in getting both government support and public acceptance.

    On any random night, Talago and his friends would get around the city on their skateboards. Usually with him would be 23-year-old college student Anthony Dorot, 23, who started skateboarding when he was still in high school.

    "Nakita ko 'yung mga taong nag-skate at naging interesado ako. Sabi ko, parang nakaka-enjoy ito, nakakawala ng problema at nakakalayo sa bisyo (I saw some people skating and I got interested. I thought it seemed enjoyable, it made problems go away and also kept vices at bay)," Dorot said.

    The feeling of freedom brought by skateboarding would be fleeting, as authorities would often chase after them to drive them away.

    "Ang problema lang talaga namin ay 'yung lugar o spot para sa amin. Kahit saan kami, kini-kick out kami ng mga usually mga guard palagi, o pulis," Talago said.

    (Our main problem is that we don't have a place or spot. Anywhere we go, we get kicked out usually by guards or police.)

    Talago laments the absence of a public skate park where they can practice for free, forcing them to use the streets. 

    "Mahirap din kasi mag-skate eh kasi kailangan mo ng skate park, kailangan mo ng pamasahe, pang-snacks, tapos mag entrance ka pa. Kaya yung usually, nabubuhay lang kami sa street," he added.

    (It's really hard to skate because you need a private skate park, money for transportation, snacks, and entrance fee. That's why usually, we just keep to the streets.)

    More than that, there was also the lack of government support for skateboarders with the potential to compete internationally. 

    Hope for Cebu skateboarding

    Fortunately, things appear to be slowly changing for the better, after Cebuana skateboarder Margielyn Didalbagged a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games.

    "When we heard the news that Margie bagged gold, it was unexplainable. The skateboarding community rejoiced. Finally the government is hearing us," Talago said.

    Dorot expressed his gratitude to Didal because she gave hope to their community.  (READ: Margielyn Didal: From street kid to Asian street skate champ)

    "Laking pasalamat namin kay Margielyn dahil na-improve ang skate scene dito sa Cebu. Matatanggap na talaga namin ang hinihingi naming skate park. Sabi pa niya, hindi na kami magskate pa sa daan. Hindi na kami sisitahin ng mga pulis o tanod. Sana. Sana," Dorot said.

    (We are thankful for Margielyn's victory because has improved the  skate scene here in Cebu. We'll really get the skate part that we've been asking for. She also said that we won't be in the streets anymore and cops will now stop reprimanding us.)

    BONDING. Angelo Lago guides daughter Jazzy Hannah while riding a skateboard. Photo from Angelo Lago

    Talago said they had been in touch with the local government for more than a year now over the construction of public skate park but nothing has happened, so far. But his optimism was bolstered by the announcement of Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña on Facebook that the city government would build a public skate park.

    This is good news for Talago, whose daughter, Jazzy Hannah, also wants to learn skateboarding.

    "I believe every type of sports should be treated equally. Especially now, they're calling us athletes. I hope that they can give us the same support they're giving basketball," Lago said. – Rappler.com"

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    MANILA, Philippines –“You’re sorry because you were caught?”

    This was the sentiment of some netizens over the public apology of Valenzuela City 1st District Representative Wes Gatchalian, days after he was called out on social media for using the parking slot reserved for persons with disabilities (PWD) in a restaurant in Quezon City last week.

    On Friday, October 5, Arlene Escalante posted the photo of Gatchalian's parked vehicle which blocked a PWD access ramp.  In her Facebook post, Escalante said: “Mga katropa, the who po kaya itong pasaway na congressman na hinarangan pa daanan ng PWD (Friends, who is this arrogant congressman who blocked the PWD ramp)??!"

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    As of posting, the photo had been shared 1,195 times and drew 508 reactions.

    Gatchalian apologizes

    Gatchalian issued a public apology on Monday, October 8, saying that he had taken appropriate actions to ensure that it would not be repeated. He said that he has suspended his staffmember involved in the incident. 

    "While it was not me who was driving the vehicle, I believe that it was my duty to ensure that my staff constantly acts in a manner that respects and is conscious of the rights of every person. No less should be expected of my office," Gatchalian said.

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    For netizen, Napoleon Co, Gatchalian’s apology was not enough, and that the lawmaker should pay a fine.

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    Meanwhile, for some netizens, Gatchalian got away with the incident because he was a lawmaker.

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    For netizen Lito Escolano, though the signage itself was self explanatory, people should respect the rights of PWDs. He also commended Gatchalians for issuing a public apology. (READ: FAST FACTS: What persons with disability are entitled to)

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    PH far from becoming 'PWD-inclusive'

    The study of the UP Center for Local and Regional Governance (UP CLRG) showed that the Philippines was still far from becoming PWD-inclusive.

    According to the study, only 60% of local government units (LGUs)  in the Philippines have Persons with Disability Offices (PDAO). The absence of PDAOs in local governments has impaired the implementation of Republic Act 10754 or the Magna Carta for PWDs.   

    In a news conference in June, UP Professor Erwin Alampay  said the presence of a PDAO office [in a local government unit] would "lower the chances of PWDs having limited access to various services, such as health, employment, rehabilitation, assistive devices, education, social welfare and disaster management." (READ: PH still far from becoming PWD-inclusive, says UP study)

    Alampay also said that the presence of a PDAO in each LGU would help push for change in the sector, end poverty, ensure inclusive quality education, and promote sustainable, economic growth.

    What are your thoughts about the issue? How do you think the government can improve in raising awareness about the use of ramps in making cities PWD-inclusive? – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – Have you ever felt like killing yourself, or have sensed that someone near and dear to you has thought about it? 

    Suicidal thoughts are very real and valid concern, and young people are the most vulnerable. Suicide, in fact, is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds globally.

    Worse, there’s a stigma associated with mental health issues in countries like the Philippines, and it can be very hard for people to seek help.

    Still, experts agree that with collective effort suicide can be prevented.

    What can you do to help? Watch this video. - Rappler.com







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    SPEAK OUT. Students, faculty, and alumni share their thoughts on the military's red-tagging of schools.

    MANILA, Philippines – When your school is accused of being a base for communist recruitment, how would you respond?

    Rappler interviewed students, faculty, and alumni from the University of the Philippines (UP) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) to get their thoughts on the matter. The two universities were among those linked by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to an alleged communist-led recruitment for an ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

    The AFP had alleged that at least 18 universities were being used as recruitment areas for the supposed Red October plot. They cited as proof of such recruitment screenings of films tackling Martial Law under the Marcos regime. The list, AFP admitted, has yet to be verified.

    In response, schools called the allegation "baseless and dangerous." Artists, directors, cultural workers, and academics frowned on it and said it "impinges on our right to freedom of expression, speech and assembly, and endangers us and our audience."

    UP and PUP students shared the same sentiments.

    “Just because they were to speak out against the government and against the different injustices that they see in society, one should not immediately be tagged in such a negative connotation,” said Sugar Del Castillo, a 4th year BS Clothing Technology student of UP Diliman.

    Others mentioned the absurdity of allegations that the Communist Party of the Philippines used Martial Law-themed films for recruitment purposes.

    “Ito 'yung films kasi na tina-target nila is 'yung mga films na nakakalawak ng isipan (These films are being targeted because these films broaden the mind),” said Rose Roque, an assistant professor from U.P Manila.

    Check out what students, faculty, and alumni have to say about the issue through this video. – Rappler.com

    Read other stories about the government’s red-tagging of schools:

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    MANILA, Philippines – The tsunami in Palu, Indonesia, took more than 1,500 lives. Several factors – including the country's topography, vulnerable communities, and a less-than-robust early warning system – make tsunamis in Indonesia especially deadly.

    Like Indonesia, the Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire which includes about 90% of the world's volcanoes and where plate movements frequently occur – making the country as prone to earthquakes and tsunamis as Indonesia.  (READ: MAP: Strongest earthquakes in the Philippines)

    To many, what took place in Indonesia serves as a reminder for the Philippines to ensure that preparations for such disasters are continuously being implemented and improved to avoid similar devastating impacts. This begs the question: How is the Philippines preparing for the likelihood of a destructive tsunami along our coasts? 

    In a phone interview, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr shared 4 major components of preparedness for earthquake and tsunamis: near real-time integrated monitoring system, hazard maps, communication of information, and timely and appropriate response.

    Ishmael Narag, Officer-in-Charge of the Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)-DOST, referred to this as an end-to-end warning system: from preparations to response.

    TSUNAMI IN INDONESIA. A quake survivor salvages items from the debris of a house in Wani in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi on October 3, 2018, after an earthquake and tsunami hit the area on September 28. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

    Near real-time integrated monitoring system

    Having a near real-time integrated monitoring system is vital because tsunami warnings are based on earthquake parameters. At present, the country has 100 seismic or earthquake-monitoring stations installed across the country, and 15 more are to be added before end of the Duterte administration.

    According to Solidum, the reason behind having many instruments is because there are times when some of the stations won’t function and will need to be maintained.

    “You don’t need 100 stations to record a large-scale earthquake event,” he said. “But we try to maintain it as much as possible at the highest level. It’s part of our work.”

    Narag said that Phivolcs implements regular preventive maintenance to make sure that failures in the monitoring stations are immediately fixed. They have also allotted a budget for acquiring spare parts which are purchased in advanced based on their typical failure time, shortening the time for repair.

    “We have a team that maintains the instruments,” he added.

    “You don’t need the operation to be at a hundred precent,” said Solidum. This is because of the level of redundancy that the instrumentations installed in the country have.

    “Data comes in 24/7 from the remote stations to our main system in Quezon City,” said Narag. If for some reason they don’t get data from a station, data will still come from the other installed monitoring stations.

    Their main system in Quezon City also has a back-up mirror station in Tagaytay.

    Narag said: “We saw that in a Valley Fault scenario, Tagaytay is among those that could possibly be affected, so we are now currently establishing cluster centers in Davao and Lapu-Lapu. If the Quezon City data-receiving center fails, we go to Tagaytay. If both fails, Davao will take over.”

    Sea-level monitoring

    TSUNAMI BUOYS. Phivolcs' Ishmael Narag says US-controlled tsunami buoys are placed all over the Pacific Ocean. Rappler file photo

    Aside from the location and time, large-scale earthquake monitors called broadband seismometers also determine the magnitude of an earthquake. This is necessary for an accurate prediction about the tsunami that may follow.

    In addition to the earthquake monitoring stations, Narag said that another system that must be in place are sea-level monitoring sensors located either offshore or onshore, so the displacement of water after an earthquake could be detected.

    At present, Narag said there are only around 17 sea-level monitoring stations located onshore in strategic areas across the country, which according to him is nowhere near complete. “Currently, we have this idea of putting up sea-level monitoring stations in islands closer to the source that would be able to detect the wave before it reaches populated areas,” he said.

    He said that for Manila Bay,  for instance, there’s a sea-level monitoring station in Lubang Island and Corregidor Island.

    “If ever the one in Lubang Island detects any event that would come from the Manila trench even before it reaches Manila Bay, we would also detect it in Corregidor Island," Narag said.

    He also mentioned US-controlled tsunami buoys placed all over the Pacific Ocean where one can draw information from online for waves that would come from distant places.

    Beyond the tools 

    Aside from the tsunami warning systems, Solidum added that hazard maps have also been made available since 2007 to aid in the proper identification of areas that will be affected in various disaster scenarios.

    Rappler, through its Agos powered by eBayanihan campaign and in partnership with Phivolcs, published multihazard maps created under the government agency’s READY Project. It covered 28 of the most vulnerable provinces in the country and included risks associated with hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

    The maps are available on the Phivolcs website and have been replicated and distributed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government to local government units. In case of a threat, Solidum said that Phivolcs acts as a warning agency and coordinates with different government agencies including the DILG, Office of Civil Defense, and LGUs.

    According to Narag, these are the “decision support tools” or applications and sets of protocols that help Phivolcs decide whether they should release a warning or a cancellation.

    But more than having the right tools, Solidum and Narag agreed that it is as important to ensure that communities would know what to do in case of a threat. 

    For both disaster scientists, the next questions that need to be addressed are these: How can we make these tools work for the vulnerable communities? How are we preparing them to respond to extreme weather events like tsunamis and earthquakes?  – Rappler.com

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    PREPARATIONS. Are the Philippines' coastal communities prepared for a tsunami? Shutterstock image

    MANILA, Philippines – The deadly tsunami in Palu, Indonesia, which took more than 2,000 lives, can be attributed to several factors, including the country's topography, vulnerable communities, and a less-than-robust early warning system. (READ: Why Indonesia's tsunamis are so deadly)

    Are the Philippines' coastal communities prepared for a tsunami like this?

    In the Philippines, tsunami warning systems are regularly maintained, according to Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr and Ishmael Narag, officer-in-charge of the Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). (READ: How are PH tsunami warning systems maintained)

    But beyond having the right tools, Solidum and Narag said it is as important to ensure that communities know how to use these in case of a threat. (READ: How the 2004 Asian tsunami helped the Philippines)

    Spreading information

    Aside from tsunami warning systems, the DOST has also made available hazard maps to aid communities in disaster planning. 

    According to Narag, the maps and the tsunami warning systems serve as part of their "decision support tools" to help Phivolcs decide whether to release a warning or a cancellation.

    "Currently, we would issue a warning if the wave is one meter or higher because that's already capable of going over the debris and going farther inland," Narag said. "But we're reviewing this because there are industries along the shoreline that could already get affected by lower waves."

    In terms of cancellation or allowing people to return to their homes near the shoreline, Narag said circumstances are different in the national and the local scale. "When the national level issues a cancellation, it means there are no longer major waves entering the Philippine area of responsibility," he said. "But it doesn't say (anything) about the activity of the waves in a specific place, such as an enclosed bay."

    With this, other agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard and local government units (LGUs) can decide when to allow residents to return. For their part, Narag said Phivolcs waits for at least two hours after the arrival of the last wave of a tsunami before recommending a cancellation. "We'd rather err on the side of safety," he said.

    However, this chain of communication, which is most vital during disaster response, is nowhere near perfect. Allan Tabell, director of the DILG Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center, said in a phone interview that there needs to be a more effective way for different government agencies to coordinate with each other.

    “I think it's one of the biggest institutional problems,” said Tabell of the lack of coordination. "I'm looking and hoping for the day when all of these agencies can be put in just one roof." (READ: House okays bill creating Department of Disaster Resilience)

    Assessment, planning, drills

    One of DILG's programs geared toward disaster risk reduction and management is Oplan Listo, part of which is the Listong Pamayanan, described as "capacity development interventions that started from LGUs and to be cascaded to the community." Through this program, Tabell said they've been going to vulnerable communities since 2016 to spread awareness about disaster preparedness and to help LGUs craft or improve their evacuation plan.

    "We've run the tsunami evacuation preparedness in more than 5,000 barangays along the eastern seaboard...from as far north as Cagayan to as far south as Davao Occidental," he said. They first check the level of awareness on tsunami of families living in coastal areas before informing them how to utilize the available tools for preparedness.

    "Hazard maps are just indicators of what type of hazards are present in certain areas," said Tabell. "The LGUs are the ones who know about the risks because they know how populated their areas are." He explained further, "If more people are present in hazardous areas, the risk becomes higher."

    Once risks have been identified, the next task for LGUs is to create an evacuation plan, which includes relocating residents living in highly susceptible areas. The plan, Tabell said, must be "sellable" to the communities for them to participate and cooperate.

    According to him, some LGUs already have their own evacuation plans, which the DILG continues to help improve. For LGUs that are yet to create one, the DILG provides a template. "There are information or data necessary for the evacuation plan that they know best," said Tabell. Among these are the number of people at risk and the construction materials which the houses are made of.

    "We provide them the template, work on developing their community tsunami evacuation plan, and then we guide them on how to do the simulation exercises," he said. The DILG, through their regional and provincial offices, partners with the Local Government Academy and the Philippine Public Safety College in coordinating with LGUs and in conducting the drills prepared by Phivolcs and DILG.

    What's lacking?

    According to Narag, Phivolcs has created a tsunami scenario database with more than 30,000 scenarios they expect could happen once a tsunami hits the country. Factoring in the epicenter and magnitude of the earthquake, the model assumes worst-case scenarios with the wave height along the shoreline and the arrival and travel time of the first wave. (READ: Tsunami 101: What you need to know about tsunamis)

    As part of the response, Solidum again stressed the importance of community-based preparations, especially for those living along the coast. "Even if there's no monitoring warning, we advise them to evacuate to elevated ground once there’s an earthquake."

    Narag said the ideal evacuation plan is to go farther inland, which is called horizontal evacuation. "Usually, our coastal roads are established parallel to the shoreline," he said. "It's still a challenge to convince people to make even a dirt road that will lead farther inland to a specific evacuation area."

    Asked if he thinks the preparations are enough, Narag said no. For one, similar to what Tabell said, he reasoned that not all LGUs have crafted and tested an evacuation plan. Narag added that testing the evacuation plan starts with knowing the source of tsunami and the arrival and travel time of its first wave. "They have to beat the arrival time which could be within 10 to 30 minutes or even less."

    Both Narag and Tabell also said that one of the biggest problems when it comes to community preparedness is the "lack of appreciation" for the risks and hazards, leading vulnerable residents to ignore the warnings.

    Among other things, Narag proposed a sit-down in communities to make sure everyone is well-informed, having alarms along shorelines, improving the roads to evacuation centers, and a larger participation in better crafted drills.

    Lastly, he emphasized the value of having a sense of community. "It's important to improve the social capital and establish a community," he said, "so that in the event of a disaster, they would act as one." – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – Why is enforcement such a challenge in the Philippines? Why are traffic rules arbitrary? Why is the chaos on the streets of Metro Manila getting worse by the day?

    Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin talks about why traffic rules matter and how lack of order in communities is symptomatic of violations left unsolved. – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines– The catastrophic damage left behind by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Palu, Indonesia still leaves people shaken to their very core.

    According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the death toll reached 2,100 as of October 15. About 79,000 are left displaced in various sites, and over 68,000 houses were destroyed.

    Two weeks after the disaster, Indonesia called off the grim search for those killed in the quake-tsunami, ending hopes to retrieve around 5,000 bodies believed to still be buried.

    The horrifying aftermath has put disaster mitigation and preparedness into the spotlight. There are different factors needed to understand the gravity of the situation. For Indonesia, a combination of plate tectonics in the region, the shape of the coastline, vulnerable communities and a less-than-robust early warning system explains why Indonesian tsunamis are especially dangerous.

    Aside from both being vast archipelagos, the Philippines and Indonesia have more in common than people think. They’re both prone to natural hazards.

    Just like Indonesia, the Philippines has a big earthquake looming in its future. Dubbed “The Big One”, a worst case scenario of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake is expected to happen in various parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces when the West Valley Fault moves. Experts say this may happen in our lifetime.

    This raises a particularly important question: what makes the Philippines and Indonesia prone to natural hazards?

    In Indonesia

    The country covers many complex tectonic environments. For example, Eastern Indonesia has many small microplates, which are jostled around by the motion of the large Australia, Sunda, Pacific and Philippine Sea plates.

    This also means it could bring tsunamis when earthquakes are especially strong. A tsunami is a series of sea waves commonly generated by under-the-sea earthquakes, with heights that could be greater than 5 meters. (READ: Tsunami 101: What you need to know about tsunamis)

    The coastlines of the Indonesian archipelago are also accentuated, especially in its eastern parts. Depth and shape of the seafloor are important factors to consider for tsunamis. Palu, where the deadly quake-tsunami occurred, may experience more intense and deadly tsunamis because it has a narrow, deep and long bay. The complex configuration of the country makes it difficult to model potential tsunamis as basis for warnings to areas that may possibly be affected.

    Indonesia’s tsunami warning system operates a network of 134 tidal gauge stations, 22 buoys connected to seafloor sensors to transmit advance warnings, land-based seismographs, sirens in about 55 locations, and a system to disseminate warnings by text message.

    For those living in coastal areas, there's one other tricky problem. Because of its wide variety of languages and lack of communications infrastructure, making sophisticated and efficient early warning systems that can easily be understood by all is very important. The financing of these systems in the long-term becomes a heavy challenge though when the 3 major Indonesian agencies responsible for disaster mitigation suffered from budget cuts and internal struggles to define roles and responsibilities.

    In the Philippines

    Our home country is in a tricky place as well. It rests in the Pacific Typhoon Belt and Pacific’s earthquake and volcano Ring of Fire. Besides the risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods, the Philippines faces an average of 20 typhoons in a year.

    Typhoon Ompong was the strongest so far in 2018, causing a death toll of at least 95.

    Aside from its geographic location, the Philippines is prone to natural hazards due to poor institutional and societal capacity to manage, respond, and recover from natural hazard events.

    Recently, it saw twin tragedies happen within a week when major landslides hit Itogon in Benguet and Naga in Cebu. Both local governments warned vulnerable households in their areas to evacuate.

    Unfortunately, the mining community in Itogon shooed them away, thinking their bunkhouse would be a sufficient evacuation area from their past area. Though a forced evacuation could have been done, signs of an imminent landslide were not as apparent in the area. In Naga, Cebu, not all heeded the call to evacuate, even when Naga government employees and representatives of a quarrying company that used the area as its site reportedly asked residents to flee.

    This only shows the need of community-based preparations and capacity development intervention, especially for those in coastal areas and other vulnerable areas. An awareness of risks and hazards, coupled with a strong partnership with the government, can prevent people from ignoring warnings.

    It also shows the importance of livelihood options especially for those in vulnerable areas. Since the landslide, Itogon locals have been left wondering what they could do as their livelihood since the government immediately stopped mining and quarrying in the area.

    In terms of possible tsunamis, the Philippines has warning systems that are regularly maintained. Phivolcs has created a tsunami scenario database with more than 30,000 scenarios they expect could happen once a tsunami hits the country. (READ: How are PH tsunami warning systems maintained)

    More to be done

    While there’s more to be done to be better prepared for disasters, there are ways we can help each other out. For example, UNHCR is accepting donations

    Following the Palu quake-tsunami, life-saving aid is direly needed for affected families in Indonesia. Many organizations are making efforts to bring relief. UNHCR, for example, is accepting donations.

    Everyone can help out by giving support monthly or as a one-off gift:


    • PHP 1000/mo – Can provide a family tent to serve as an emergency shelter

    • PHP 800/mo – Can give vital humanitarian assistance and core relief items (mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, and portable solar lamps)

    • PHP 600/mo – Can provide assistance to the most vulnerable, especially unaccompanied children, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable people


    • PHP 10,000 – Can provide a family tent to serve as an emergency shelter

    • PHP 5,000 – Can give vital humanitarian assistance and core relief items (mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, and portable solar lamps)

    • PHP 3,000 – Can provide assistance to the most vulnerable, especially unaccompanied children, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable people

    There are several ways to donate:


    To donate online, donors can log on to this site.


    Filipinos can donate via bank deposit, UNHCR's account details are found below:


    • Banco de Oro Savings Account

    Account Name: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    Account Number: 5340 0674 68


    • Bank of the Philippine Islands Savings Account

    Account Name: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

    Account Number: 2973 0059 98


    • Metrobank Savings Account

    Account Name: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    Account Number: 607 3607 1309 90


    For tracking and recording, donors are requested to send a scanned copy or photo of the bank deposit slip to UNHCR's email address phimapsfr@unhcr.org.


    Donors may also make their donations via call, provided that they have a valid credit card. They may call the UNHCR Donor Care hotline at +63 (02) 817-2398 loc. 2144.

    4) EMAIL

    Donors may also send UNHCR an email to phimapsfr@unhcr.org with their names, address, contact details, birthdate, credit card details, and donation amount.

    – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – Marilen Dañguilan, a medical doctor and policy adviser on health, is launching her book, The RH Bill Story: Contentions and Compromises on Friday, October 19, 5 pm, at the Rappler HQ.

    In her book, Dañguilan traces the reproductive health (RH) law's legislative history and deftly weaves into her narrative the various factors and groups that framed, informed, and influenced the debates around one of the most divisive laws in recent history.

    Aside from Dañguilan, other key speakers at the launch are Senator Risa Hontiveros; Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, main author of the reproductive health law; Esperanza Cabral, chair of the National Implementation Team of the RH Law and convenor of the Purple Ribbon for RH; and Junice Melgar, executive director of the Likhaan Center for Women's Health.

    This is a partnership between the Ateneo de Manila University Press, the Philippine Center for Population and Development, the Philippine Legislator's Committee on Population and Development, and Rappler.

    Bookmark this page or head to fb.com/rapplerdotcom for the livestream. – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – After the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board announced the impending increase of minimum fare from P8 to P10, netizens on Twitter decried the continuous increase in the price of basic services and commodities.

    On Thursday night, October 19,  #HirapMagmahal and #PresyoIbaba trended on Twitter as Filipino netizens protested online the rising prices, blaming the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law and surging inflation. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the tax reform law affects Filipino consumers)

    The "Twitter rally" was organized by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP). The nationwide alliance of school publications also claimed that the supposed "Red October" plot to bring down the Duterte administration is a mere tactic by government officials to divert public attention away from current economic woes.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">As Duterte continues to downplay the impact of his anti-people policies by diverting everyone’s attention towards the bogus Red October plot, the prices of commodities incessantly spring upward further burdening the poor. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HirapMagmahal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HirapMagmahal</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PresyoIbaba?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PresyoIbaba</a></p>&mdash; CEGP (@CEGPhils) <a href="https://twitter.com/CEGPhils/status/1052537615176556544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 17, 2018</a></blockquote>

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

    "As Duterte continues to downplay the impact of his anti-people policies by diverting everyone’s attention towards the bogus Red October plot, the prices of commodities incessantly spring upward, further burdening the poor," CEGP said in a tweet.

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said that 18 schools were part of the  "Red October" plot by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to destabilize the government. Later on, Albayade said that the plot may unfold in December. (READ: [OPINION] The hunt for ‘Red October’)

    Below are some of the tweets:

    {source}<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/1052886315446882306?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HirapMagmahal - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

    What are your thoughts on this? Share on Rappler X! – with reports from Josiah Antonio/Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Phillippines – Various youth organizations expressed anger on social media over the death of 9 farmers in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, on Saturday, October 21.

    Immediately after the news broke, hashtags #JusticeforSagay9 and #StopKillingFarmers trended on Twitter as dismayed netizens also remembered the "countless" deaths that have occurred under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    According to leftist youth organization Anakbayan, instead of heeding the demand of farmers for genuine agrarian reform, the administration is resorting to vilifying the protest actions launched by supporters under Oplan Kapayapaan.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Duterte, with all his rants and ramblings, did not do anything to ameliorate the condition of our farmers - he just goes to insult them by flimsily peppering his speeches with promises of land reform without actually knowing its essence. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JusticeForSagay9?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JusticeForSagay9</a></p>&mdash; Anakbayan #KabataanKontraDiktador (@anakbayan_ph) <a href="https://twitter.com/anakbayan_ph/status/1053996217422635008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}


    In a Facebook post, the College of Science Council in University of the Philippines Diliman demanded the government be accountable for neglecting the agriculture sector and perpetuating violence against struggling farmers.

    {source}<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fupcssc%2Fposts%2F2359524150755274&width=500" width="500" height="734" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>{/source}


    Philip Jamilla, a Former TomasinoWeb Executive Editor, composed a song entitled "Bakit?" for the 9 victims of the incident.

    {source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Isang munting kanta alay sa mga magsasakang pinaslang sa Hacienda Nene, Sagay, Negros Occidental. Hinding-hindi tayo titigil sa ating paglaban.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JusticeForSagay9?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JusticeForSagay9</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopKillingFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StopKillingFarmers</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithFarmers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithFarmers</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndStateFascism?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndStateFascism</a><a href="https://t.co/sVjumHWuX1">https://t.co/sVjumHWuX1</a></p>&mdash; ipȇ  #OctoberRage  (@heyitspholop) <a href="https://twitter.com/heyitspholop/status/1053983714957418501?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 21, 2018</a></blockquote>

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


    This is the 8th recorded massacre of farmers under the Duterte administration, according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, an organization of farmers.

    Below are some of the reactions by netizens:

    {source} <a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/1054053910229340160?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StopKillingFarmers - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> {/source}


    Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr went to the Sagay City Police Station to check on the case. He also announced a P500,000 reward for information leading to the perpetrators' arrest. – Rappler.com


    Josiah Antonio is a Rappler mover.

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    FOR THE STUDENTS. Participants of the 1st STRAW forum in Bacolod jot down notes during breakout sessions. Photo courtesy of Winston Daffon

    BACOLOD, Philippines– Only a few may know about the Students’ Rights and Welfare (Straw) ordinance passed in Bacolod City, which awaits approval for implementation.

    In 2016, Akbayan Youth led a caravan campaigning for the Straw Ordinance to be passed. The ordinance protects students by championing their rights in the absence of a magna carta. Unfortunately, it is still a few inches away from the grasp of students even until now.

    All of these points prompted student leaders from the University of St La Salle (USLS) to take the initiative to organize themselves and conduct the first ever Straw forum in Bacolod City.

    “If you don’t know your rights, you also wouldn’t know the injustice being done to you. So by helping the students realize our rights, it will help us also move freely and fight for what is ours,” said Moira Drew Severino, a Communication Society - USLS member.

    The goal for campuses is to involve student councils in policy making “and build a constituency among the students wherein they themselves can understand what they should be receiving under a constitution in the absence of a Magna Carta for Students,” expounded Von Maungca, island vice chair for Akbayan Youth.

    He added that student governments, councils, and publications, especially, should remain independent from the administration and uphold updated student constitutions that are in line with today’s generation.

    Adryan Valiao, student government president of La Consolation College - Bacolod, underscored the important role student councils have in raising awareness and interest on Straw. “The role of student governments in Straw is to be the voice of the ordinary students; speak up [on] their [own] concerns and issues – especially to the administrators – in order for those concerns to be addressed appropriately and in time.”

    The event, held at USLS on October 20, gathered student leaders from various schools, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, and members of the out-of-school youth (OSY) sector in Bacolod City.

    Spearheaded by Youth for Sustainable Change in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences of USLS and Akbayan Youth, the primary purpose of the forum was to raise awareness among the participants about Straw and to enjoin them in forming a coalition for students' rights and welfare.

    “It started as an idea written on a piece of paper, now it was concretized into a project that will engage more minds to become aware of this advocacy and to produce more ideas that will emphasize our rights as students and young leaders in our society,” shared Charisse Erin Flores, Event Project Head of the forum.

    Students' rights and welfare desks

    The first task of the freshly established coalition was to come up with amendments for the Straw ordinance to fit the needs of the students in Bacolod City. Another goal was to include provisions on mental health and anti-discrimination components into these amendments, explained Flores.

    Apart from being the generation that pioneered the controversial “selfie,” another aspect Generation Z is infamous for is their supposed apathy. Some say the technology their generation is blessed with is the same that is nibbling away on their compassion.

    But the efforts of these student leaders should be testament enough to refute that accusation.

    In USLS, the first Straw Desk in Bacolod City was established this academic year. It has entertained student issues and concerns, as well as suggestions reflecting what students want to see implemented in the campus, said Nicole Billanes, regional youth officer and USLS College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Council member.

    It was through the Straw Desk that an exhibit on Marcos’ martial law era would later on be organized in the campus, after students came forward with the idea. 

    “I think it’s very important [for students to know their rights] because it’s the only way they can make demands. And the idea of students being able to make demands is something we need to be better at practicing,” said Carie Morero of Denmark Social Democratic Youth League, who is visiting the country to share her experiences as a student leader.

    Students, as this effort proves, can be socially aware and passionate about looking out for the welfare of their youth. They are far from being the indifferent, entitled millennials society paints them to be. – Rappler.com

    Christiana Claudia Gancayco is a Rappler Mover in Bacolod.

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    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In this age of creative destruction, is it possible for social responsibility and disruptive innovation to coexist?

    At least 22 groups of young Filipinos believe so. (READ: #HackSociety 2018: Build Tomorrow

    After weeks of crowdsourcing, Rappler, in partnernship with the United Nations Development Programme and MakeSense, shortlisted 22 groups from the hundreds of submissions for #HackSociety 2018. (READ: Rappler Talk: Future-proofing young Filipinos through innovation, social enterprise

    Similar to the idea of "hacks" or clever solutions to everyday problems, #HackSociety aims to crowdsource innovative ideas that address key social issues while harnessing the seemingly endless space of technology. 

    On Monday and Tuesday, October 29 to 30, these 22 groups will be participating in an ideathon on innovation, where students and young professionals will think, huddle, and craft viable ventures that are not only innovative but also socially responsible.

    They will have the opportunity to talk with experts and mentors to refine their ideas, and build prototypes to jumpstart their projects.

    Below is the program of the two-day ideathon that begins Monday, October 29:  





     DAY 1

    7:30 - 8:30 am


    8:30 - 8:40 am

    Opening Remarks

    Andrew Parker 

    Senior adviser and economist, UNDP Philippines 

    8:40 - 8:50 am

    Opening: Welcome to #HackSociety 2018

    Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza

    Head of Research and Strategy, Rappler

    8:50 - 9:00 am

    What is Youth Co:Lab

    Rosana Ombao

    UNDP Philippines 

    9:00 am - 9:30 am

    Program overview

    Léa Klein


    9:30 am - 10:00 am

    Story of Rappler: A start-up’s journey

    Glenda Gloria

    Managing Editor, Rappler

    10:00 am - 11:30 am

    Workshop: Understanding the problems of your beneficiaries

     11:30 am - 12:00 pm

    Workshop: Passion vs solution

     1:00 pm - 1:30 pm

    Why social entrepreneurship & innovation is critical to reaching the last mile

    Ke Lin

    Youth Co:Lab Regional

    UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

     1:30 - 2:45 pm

    Workshop: Hack of the existing solution

     2.45 - 3.00 pm

    Story of Aquaponics: How an idea can evolve

    Robi del Rosario

    Uproot Aquaponics

     3:00 - 4:15 pm Workshop: V2 of the solution
     4:15 - 5:45 pm Mentors & experts speed meetings 
     5:45 - 7:15 pm Workshop: Business model design
     7:15 to 7:30 pm Closing & announcements for the second day
     DAY 2
    10:00 - 10:05 Start of the day
    10:05 am - 10:30 am Workshop: Actions plan: Build your proof of concept
    10:30 am - 11:00 am Exercise: Activity-based budgeting
    11:00 am - 11:30 am

    How to win investors

    Kathleen Mateo-Castillo

    VP Finance, Citi Philippines 

    11:30 am - 11:50 pm

    How to tell your story


    11:50 pm - 12:30 pm Lunch
    12:30 pm - 1:45 pm Pitch mentoring session
    1:45 pm - 2:00 pm

    Why we support #HackSociety 

    Lisa Coory

    Director of Public Affairs, Citi Philippines 

    2:00 pm - 4:45 pm

    The Pitch: One member of each team will pitch the project 

    (This session will be livestreamed) 

    4:45 pm - 5:00 pm Announcement of the laureates and closing 
    5:00 pm onwards Cocktails 

    – Rappler.com 


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    OMPONG. Flooding in Baguio City on September 15, 2018, due to Typhoon Ompong. File photo by Mau Victa/Rapple

    MANILA, Philippines – After Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) affected more than 1.4 million people back in September, some may be worried that Typhoon Rosita (Yutu) might also bring devastating effects to areas in its path.

    What can people expect when Rosita makes landfall? We take a look back at Ompong to get an idea of what to expect.

    Affected areas

    Some areas that were in Ompong's path have reason to be wary of Rosita since the two have similarities in terms of track.

    Ompong made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to raise Signal No. 4 in the province and nearby areas.

    Rosita will be heading for the southern Isabela-northern Aurora area, just a little below Ompong's trajectory. It could make landfall on Tuesday morning, October 30.

    Similar to what happened during Ompong, Northern Luzon and Central Luzon are expected to bear the brunt of Rosita.

    Preemptive evacuations in some coastal areas were already implemented ahead of Rosita's landfall.


    Though Ompong wasn't a super typhoon under PAGASA's classification system, it was still a powerful tropical cyclone. At the time of its landfall, Ompong's maximum winds were at 205 kilometers per hour (km/h) and its gustiness was up to 285 km/h. It had a huge diameter of 900 kilometers, too.

    Late Monday afternoon, October 29, or 12 hours before Rosita's projected landfall, it had maximum winds of 150 km/h and gustiness of up to 185 km/h, weaker than Ompong. Its diameter was also smaller, at 600 kilometers. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

    Though Rosita is not as strong as Ompong, both are considered dangerous tropical cyclones, given that they reached typhoon status.

    PAGASA warned that flash floods and landslides are possible in areas in Rosita's path. There might also be storm surges up to 3 meters high in coastal areas of Isabela, Cagayan, Aurora, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and La Union. (READ: How to prepare for floods)

    Moderate to heavy rain and strong to very strong winds are expected in Northern Luzon and Central Luzon starting Monday evening. – Rappler.com

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    MANILA, Philippines – In this week's episode of Right of Way, Vince Lazatin talks about how Metro Manila's traffic problem could be solved not only by regulating car movement, but by taking into consideration the mobility of people in general. 

    Over the past month, Vince explored European cities London in the United Kingdom, Vienna in Austria, Budapest in Hungary, and Brno in the Czech Republic and observed the efficient public transport system, roads, and how these cities incentivize people to walk, bike, or take public transport.

    Watch, and see how pedestrians, not cars, are the kings of the European roads. – Rappler.com

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