Channel: Move.PH
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.

LOOK: 'Syokoy' Duterte effigy to be burned in People’s SONA 2019


 EFFIGY. 'Duterte-syokoy' effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte is spotted along Commonwealth Avenue. The effigy, according to art collective UGAT LAHI, represents Duterte selling out the West Philippine Sea to China. Photo by Enrico Berdos/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Putting a face to their cause, art collective UGATLahi created an effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte for the United People’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22.

Titled “Duterte-syokoy,” the effigy shows a likeness of the Philippine mythological creature. It depicts Duterte at the West Philippine Sea clutching a China flag, a gun, and a bag of cash. (READ: Filipinos share #StoryOfTheNation ahead of SONA 2019

The art collective, which has been creating effigies since 1999, said the effigy represents Duterte selling out the West Philippine Sea to China.

Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address comes on the heels of the controversial sinking of a Philippine boat with 22 fishermen onboard by a Chinese vessel, which the administration has downplayed as a mere “maritime incident.”


To show a united front, a coalition of opposition personalities and groups will once again gather along Commonwealth Avenue to highlight the country’s struggle for sovereignty, democracy and livelihood through the United People’s SONA. (READ: List of SONA 2019 activities, rallies

This year’s People SONA, however, will focus on the central issue of sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, following the Recto Bank incident.

Last year’s United People’s SONA saw the burning of an effigy of the President featuring Duterte’s face, with a body of a train depicting issues of the administration. – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: From Luzon to Mindanao, thousands cry 'Atin ang 'Pinas!'


'ATIN ANG PINAS'. Thousands of protesters take to the streets on Monday, July 22, as President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his the State of the Nation Address. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – "Atin ang 'Pinas!" (The Philippines is ours!) 

This is the rallying cry that echoed in different parts of the country as President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22.

The President's annual address came on the heels of the controversial sinking of a Philippine boat by a Chinese vessel, which the administration has downplayed as a mere “maritime incident.” At least 22 Filipino crewmen survived the incident, and narrated what exactly happened at Recto Bank. (READ: The sinking of Gem-Ver: Barko! May babanggang barko!)

Along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, near where Duterte delivered his address, several personalities and groups got together to highlight the country’s struggle for sovereignty, freedom, and livelihood through the United People’s SONA. 

In various pocket rallies outside Metro Manila, protesters amplified these calls to share their own version of the state of the nation.  


NAGA CITY. Various militant and youth groups march toward Plaza Rizal along Panganiban Drive in Naga City to mark President Rodrigo Duterte's 4th State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22. Photo by Abegail Bilan/Rappler


CAMPUS JOURNALISTS. Kevin Plopinio of CEGP-Bicol Region speaks about the difficulties faced by student journalist during the SONA ng Bayan held in Naga City on July 22. Photo by Abegail Bilan/Rappler



BAGUIO CITY. Protesters wear masks of Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 22. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler


OPPOSE. Before President Duterte delivers his 4th SONA, militant groups in Baguio City march along central district as they protest against the Duterte administration. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler



ILOILO. Ilonggo militant groups gather at the Sanburst Park in Iloilo City in solidarity with the United People's SONA on July 22. Photo courtesy of Panay Today

TACLOBAN CITY. Protesters hold a United People's SONA in Tacloban City on July 22. Photo courtesy of Bayan Eastern Visayas



 DAVAO CITY. Lumad leaders from Talaingod in Southern Mindanao join the United People's SONA at the Freedom Park in Davao City, calling for an end to martial law and a stop to the attacks on Lumad schools and communities on July 22. Photo courtesy of Kilab Multimedia

DENOUNCING DEP-ED. On Monday, July 22, Lumad leaders condemn the DepEd order to close 55 Lumad schools in Mindanao. Photo courtesy of Kilab Multimedia

 DAVAO CITY. An activist dressed as the popular TV character Daniela Mondragon makes her statement at Bayan's United People's SONA rally in Davao City Freedom Park. Photo courtesy of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao

 – Rappler.com



'I've identified the enemy': #SONA2019 in memes, contradictions, and more


MANILA, Philippines – Halfway into the Duterte presidency and Filipinos online already know what to expect from a Duterte-brand State of the Nation Address (SONA).

From off-the-cuff remarks, wacky red carpet outfits, to the President's contradictory statements, here's what they had to say about the annual speech.

As usual there's the yearly SONA drinking game. This year we have the usual – drugs, shabu, and curse words – but with a bonus round for Iceland, following the recent UNHRC resolution.

Before the SONA itself, Twitter was abuzz over a completely different issue:

And it didn't help that the President was late (again):

The composition of the 3 branches of government was also questioned:

In the spotlight? Accused plunderers who are back in power:

Some were quick to call out the President's contradictions:

Others were wondering why people clapped when President Duterte mentioned killing:

Sexist remarks when the President opens his mouth are nothing new and were called out:

As usual, some outfits caught people's eyes online. Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, clapped back against someone who slut-shamed her barong.

What do you think of this year's SONA? Which funny memes and posts have caught your eye? – Rappler.com

For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.

For related stories, visit Rappler’s 2019 State of the Nation Address page.

Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings: Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark

'Enough of him’: Groups slam Duterte halfway to his term


ENOUGH. Protesters from the United People's Sona brave the rain as they march along Commonwealth Avenue on July 22, 2019, to stage a program during President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – As the nation marked President Rodrigo Duterte’s third year in power, various groups, on Monday, July 22, called for an end to the many issues faced by the country under his administration. 

This came the same day that President Duterte delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA).  (READ: IN PHOTOS: From Luzon to Mindanao, thousands cry 'Atin ang 'Pinas!') 

Bayan-Southern Mindanao Region (BSMR) council member and labor leader Carlo Olalo called to put an end to the Duterte regime. 

“We are determined today to express our call that we had enough of Duterte’s fascist rule. Despite the continuing attacks to our ranks, we remain steadfast. Our protest action today is a testament that the abuses and atrocities of the Duterte regime unfolds, that even in his home city protest action is happening,” Olalo said in a statement. 

In a press statement, the Promotion of Church People’s Response expressed its "commitment as a community of disciples, embracing our prophetic duty to rise for peace and justice and resist lies, treachery and killings."

"Enough of the lies, traitorous seeout of national patrimony, widespread killings, and violations of people's rights," the group urged. 


The group also expressed its grief for the state of the nation because of the government's response toward the sinking of a boat with 22 fishermen onboard by a Chinese vessel – arguably the biggest issue faced by the Duterte administration by far. 

“We are outraged by the government’s feebleness and impotence in protecting and defending our seas and our people, as manifested in its kowtow (bending knees) to China, when this imperialist power bullied our poor fisherfolk in our own territory,” the group said.  

For them, such response stressed and spoke volumes “on the Duterte government’s treachery against our national patrimony and sovereignty.” 

Olalo also expressed the group's outrage over the administration’s pro-China policies. (READ: Duterte asserts PH sovereignty to others, except China – analyst

"Duterte betrayed us, he promised us for an independent foreign policy but what he did in the past 3 years is a total sell-out of our country’s patrimony and sovereignty to China," Olalo stressed in a statement. 

Duterte is yet to assert the Philippines’ victory over China’s claim to the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Duterte Promise Checklist: Major accomplishments, failures

Drug war

Meanwhile, human rights advocates led by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend) condemned the widespread human rights violations under President  Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. 

PAHRA Secretary-General Rose Trajano described that the state of the nation as “slow, painful death for the Filipino people who are suffering chronic poverty and widespread violence and impunity.”

Trajano also insisted that Duterte must be made accountable for these violations. 

Promotion of Church People’s Response echoed this as the incessant lies, treachery and killings perpetuated by the Duterte administration puts our national integrity and dignity in peril and called to stop this impunity. 

“Those who have lost their loved ones continue to suffer the burden of financial debt, emotional trauma, and the terror brought about by this war on the poor in urban communities,” the group said in a statement. 

At least 5,000 suspected drug personalities killed in police operations of Duterte’s violent war on drugs. Human rights groups meanwhile pegged more than 20,000 including those killed vigilante-style.  (READ: The Impunity Series)

In a joint statement, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), Altermidya, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) emphasized how the victims of the rampant human rights violations have become mere statistics. (READ: PH drug war killings reach 'threshold of crimes against humanity' – report

Freedom of Expression in peril 

Groups also stressed how the freedom of expression has been affected in the time of his presidency. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Groups hit Duterte admin’s performance ahead of SONA 2019)

“Merely voicing out concern and reporting on the aggravating human rights situation in the country puts one at risk. The attacks were sustained and targeted all fronts: from the red-tagging of activists and organizations, to the harassment and even killing of journalists,” the joint statement from media groups read. 

The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network  has monitored at least 128 attacks and threats against members of the press since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office. (READ: Over 100 attacks vs journalists since Duterte assumed office – monitor

“In a nutshell, the last 3 years drastically shrunk the space for free expression,” media groups continued, showing how the administration wields its entire machinery to hide the truth in its bloody “war on drugs." – Rappler.com   

'This is not the last': Thousands unite for People's SONA 2019


MARCH. Protesters from the United People's SONA brave the rain as they march along Commonwealth Avenue on July 22, 2019, to stage a program during President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – On the day of President Rodrigo Duterte's 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), thousands of Filipinos took to the streets to share their own version of the state of the nation.

According to police estimates, around 5,350 protesters who were undeterred by the rain marched along Commonwealth Avenue for the United People's SONA past 3 pm Monday, July 22. 

The United People's SONA was pushed forward by a broad coalition of opposition personalities and sectoral groups in a bid to highlight the country's struggle for sovereignty, democracy, and livelihood. (READ: IN PHOTOS: From Luzon to Mindanao, thousands cry 'Atin ang Pinas!')

Among the popular personalities present during the rally was former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who urged Filipinos to look at the nation's future and see what could be done to stop the government's wrongdoings.

"Ano ang magagawa natin upang ibangon ang demokrasya at paano ipaglaban ang kinabukasan ng mga batang Pilipino? Hindi po ito ang kahulian. Magsasama pa po tayo (What can we do to champion democracy and fight for the future of Filipino children? This is not the last. We will still be together)," she said. 

LEAD. Former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is among the attendees of the United People's SONA on July 22, 2019. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Defending sovereign rights

This is the second time in a row that groups staged the United People's SONA to show the state of the nation from the perspective of the Filipinos.

Aside from tackling issues under the Duterte administration, this year's march focused on defending the Philippines' sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

This comes in the aftermath of the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, which the administration dismissed as a mere "maritime incident."

Makabayan's Neri Colmenares hit the close ties between Duterte and China, pointing out the exploitation of the Philippines' resources and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

"Hinayaan niyang kunin ang ating territoryo ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea. Hinayaan niyang apihin ang ating mangingisda ng Tsina...kulang na nga ang kita ng ating mangingisda, pinamimigay pa ni Duterte sa kanyang among mga Tsino."

(He let China take our territory in the West Philippine Sea. He let China take advantage of our fishermen....our fishermen don't earn much as it is, but Duterte still gives it away to his Chinese masters.)

He dismissed Duterte's claim that talking back to China could mean war, saying that other countries like Vietnam have spoken up about China's exploitation of their waters.

"Tayo pa na nanalo sa international tribunal, tayo pang lumuluhod sa Tsina. 'Yan ang kataksilan ni Duterte. Tayo ay panalo pero astang talo tayo," Colmenares said.

(We won in the international tribunal, yet we bow down to China. That's Duterte's betrayal. We won but somehow we're the bigger losers.)

"Kung gayon, tumayo tayo at itindig natin ang ating teritoryo, itindig natin ang sambayanang Pilipino (If that's the case, let's stand by our territory, let's stand by Filipinos)," Colmenares added.

CHINA OUT. Different protest groups gather in different parts of Commonwealth as they await the main march to St Peter Church on July 22, 2019. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

LEAVE. A protester wears a boat hat during the United People's SONA on July 22, 2019. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

SONAKAKALOKA. Bahaghari is one of the groups that joined the United People's SONA on July 22, 2019. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Chel Diokno and Leody de Guzman were also present during the rally. 

Diokno echoed Colmenares' call, saying the huge attendance on Monday shows that there will always be Filipinos ready to defend the rights of the country and its people.

"Makakaasa po kayo na sama-sama po tayong lalaban, at hindi tayo titigil hanggang umiral ulit ang katarungan, katotohanan, at paninindigan sa ating bayan," he said.

(You can rest assured that we'll be together in this fight and we won't stop until justice, truth, and dignity prevail again in our country.)

During the United People's SONA, protesters burned a Duterte effigy bearing a likeness to a "syokoy" (merman). The effigy represents Duterte selling out the West Philippine Sea to China. 

EFFIGY. Protesters burn the effigy dubbed as 'Syokoy Duterte' during the United People's SONA on July 22, 2019. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Plight of workers

Other issues were also raised during the United People's SONA, such as attacks against human rights, extrajudicial killings, and the impact of the government's economic policies.

De Guzman, a labor union leader, shared how, 3 years into Duterte's term, his promises to workers remain unfulfilled.

He denounced the current form of the security of tenure bill, saying the anti-endo measure hardly solves the issue of contractualization in the country.

Labor groups and business chambers alike disagree with the bill, with workers saying it fails to address key issues such as the end-of-contract or endo scheme.

Before marching for the United People's SONA, labor groups gathered for their own United Workers' SONA to shed light on unresolved workers' demands. 

"Itong batas sa kontraktwalisasyon ay puwede nating masabing isang pako na minamartilyo ni Duterte sa mga manggagawa para pahirapan (We can call this bill on contractualization as a nail being hammered by Duterte to make workers' lives more difficult)," De Guzman said.

He said the existence of protests by labor workers from companies such as Sumifru, NutriAsia, and Zagu shows that the government doesn't prioritize the labor sector.

"Iyan po ang mga buhay na karanasan na nagpapatunay na ang gobyernong ito ay gobyerno para sa mga kapitalista, gobyerno para sa mga trapo (traditional politicians); hindi gobyerno para sa mga manggagawang Pilipino," De Guzman added.

(That is real proof that this government is a government for capitalists and traditional politicians, not a government for the Filipino worker.) – with reports from Aaron Tolentino and Enrico Berdos/Rappler.com

For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.

For related stories, visit Rappler’s 2019 State of the Nation Address page.

Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings: Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark

Groups push for stronger legal protection for the environment


NATURE HAS RIGHTS. The groups call for the recognition and passage of 'Rights of Nature Law' on July 22, 2019. Photo by Kale Luaton, PMPI

MANILA, Philippines  – “If corporations are given rights by our legal system, why not give legal rights to the ecosystem?" environmental advocate Yolanda Esguerra asked at a recent forum on a proposed measure that seeks to strengthen legal protection for the environment.

Esguerra, Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI) national coordinator,  raised the question before  fellow environmental advocates and representatives of civil society and sectoral groups gathered in Quezon City to push for the rights of nature bill on Saturday, July 20.

"Unlike corporations, the environment and [humans] are of the same stature. They exist and co-exist to fulfill their roles in the whole web of life,” she said at the 3-day People’s Congress on the Rights of Nature organized by the PMPI and National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines.

The rights of nature bill seeks to provide legal rights to the environment and recognize it as a rights-bearing entity.

PMPI said the proposed bill aims to strengthen and enhance current environmental laws, adding another layer of protection to Philippine ecosystems. (READ: Anti-mining advocates push for 'rights of nature' law)

Ang lalamanin [ng rights of nature bill], ano’ng klaseng behavior ang gusto natin mula sa mga korporasyon, sa gobyerno, ano ang karapatan [ng kalikasan], at ano ang kaukulang kaparusahan kung sakaling hindi mo masunod ang tinatakda ng batas," said PMPI legal counsel Mario Maderazo.

(What [the rights of nature bill] will contain is the kind of behavior we want from corporations and the government, the rights [of nature], and the corresponding penalty for not following the law.)

Under the rights of nature draft bill, the environment, through representation from concerned communities or environmental advocates, can file a case against violators of its rights. One of its provisions is to create an independent and autonomous government agency that will ensure the implementation of the law, and a trust fund for the recovery of violated ecosystems.

RIGHTS OF NATURE. Environmental lawyer Mario Maderazo addresses the People's Congress on the Rights of Nature in Quezon City on July 20, 2019. Photo from: PMPI, Salakyag para sa Sangnilikha Facebook page

During the forum, environmental lawyer Galahad Pe Benito cited the difficulty in pursuing cases to protect nature under existing laws.

“Kapag magfa-file ka ng kaso representing this poor plant, dismissed po kaagad 'yan. Bakit? Because the law does not confer it with legal personality (When you file a case representing this poor plant, it immediately gets dismissed. Why? Because law does not confer it with legal personality)," Benito said.

Judy Pasimio of Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights), for her part, cited the challenges of pushing for the bill given the violations of human rights under the Duterte government. (READ: Human rights: How to deal with Duterte, the biggest challenge?)

“The rights of nature is actually the promotion of right to life. We have a government here now who does not respect the right to life. How could 55 human rights defenders mostly farmers and indigenous people [push] for their right to life because they depend heavily on the environment?" Pasimio asked.

Though absent from the conference, the offices of Senators Risa Hontiveros and Grace Poe expressed openness in sponsoring the rights of nature bill in the Senate.

The congress is a 3-day series of events aimed to craft a campaign schedule to lobby for the bill from filing to passage. On its last day on Monday, July 22, the People’s Congress on the Rights of Nature joined groups that held protests as President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address.

PMPI is a social development and advocacy network of church, non-governmental, and people’s organizations in the Philippines. NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Dana Eunise Cruz is a Rappler intern. She is studying journalism at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.


[OPINION] We should stop calling it the 'drug war'


"Nalilimot ng bawat isa sa inyo na habang napag-iingatan ng isang bayan ang kanyang wika, napag-iingatan din nito ang katibayan ng kaniyang paglaya, katulad ng pagpapanatili ng isang tao sa kaniyang kasarinlan, upang mapanatili niya ang kaniyang sariling paraan ng pag-iisip. Ang wika ang pag-iisip ng bayan.” – Dr Jose Rizal

In a country whose biggest revolutions were sparked by two novels and the Bible, the power of language is glaring: We are defined by the words we speak. A few generations after the revolution of the Katipunan and decades after the revolution in EDSA, another set of words attempts to shape the consciousness of our nation — only this time, it calls for the opposite of liberation. 

A tactic disguised as crisis, our "war" against drugs has only ever called for the incarceration of our brothers and sisters, victims to the disease of addiction. 

We should really stop calling it the drug "war."

Granted, drugs really are a problem in the Philippines

Duterte was right to decry the dangers of drugs. Addiction is a disease that impairs one’s physical and mental abilities. Especially when left untreated, drug use can become insufferable and life-threatening. 

However, the disease of addiction is not a choice and is treatable. While addiction may be a result of a series of poor choices, it is ultimately caused by factors that include one’s genetics, environment, social conflict, and more. In the same way, this can be likened to a heart disease partly caused by one’s choice to have an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. 

Drug users with a mild disorder can recover with little to no treatment. Those with more serious disorders can recover with proper treatment and rehabilitation.

While Duterte argues that our country was becoming a "narco-state," having supposedly almost 4 million drug addicts since 2015, official statistics from the latest survey of the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) show drug use in the country isn’t even half this number. (READ: DDB: Philippines has 1.8 million current drug users). 

The DDB also states at least 90% of detained drug users during President Duterte’s administration possess only low-risk use disorder. Besides, there has been much effort of late to come up with effective (and humane) approaches to drug use. 

One shining example is Professor Regina Hechanova and her team’s 12 modules for drug recovery. Their results show actual evidence of effectivity, more than any time served in prison by far. (READ: Psych interventions needed in drug rehab programs – expert)

While the drug problem in our country is absolutely real and concerning, it isn’t as aggrandized as Duterte denounces it to be. 

The power of language

The problem with framing this as a nationwide "war" is that it garners a sense of urgency that calls for radical violence. 

This label cultivates a public panic that seems only answerable by all the gore that comes with an actual war. It is this heightened collective anxiety that supposedly justifies genocide as a solution to a seemingly unsolvable crisis. 

Because ethics become muddy in war, calling it one attempts to clear our conscience of eliminating the victim instead of the disease; the life instead of the condition. 

Calling it a war presumes the disease is untreatable. Calling it a war says there is no other hope beyond loading pistols, hopping on motorcycles, and pulling triggers to check names off lists. 

Calling it a war creates the war we so terribly fear: The war we are conditioned to fear, the war that celebrates the unnecessary murders of our neighbors, classmates, mayors, mothers, and more.

It is not a war

How can you call it a "war" when most of its victims are the poorest of the poor? Not the drug lords, but the defenseless? 

How can you call it a "war" when these victims' homes are raided when they’re most vulnerable, at night, just when they’re about to sleep? 

How can you call it a "war" when only one side has a gun, and the other left to run?

It’s been over 5,500 bodies too many. And we don’t even know if this number is accurate.

Mayroong dahilan kung bakit ang ating pambansang bayani ay si Jose Rizal – na namuhay na mandirigmang hindi sundalo, kundi manunulat. (There's a reason why Jose Rizal is our national hero – who fought not as a soldier, but as a writer.) 

This reason is that we Filipinos recognize the power of the written word to express one’s identity, organize peoples, and spark revolutions. We have hope for peace that need not necessitate bloodshed. We recognize that, in the highlights of our country’s history, in our most legendary revolutions, the pen really was mightier than the bolo.

And it still is.

We need to stop letting this word have power over us. We are not at war.– Rappler.com

Angelica Sinay is a freshman studying Mathematics in the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Rappler intern. 

CEGP urges CHED: 'Act on complaints vs campus press freedom violations'


MANILA, Philippines – The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) on Wednesday, July 24, filed a complaint before the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), seeking an investigation into violations of Republic No. Act 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991.

CEGP, represented by national president Daryl Angelo P. Baybado, filed the complaint in time CEGP's 88th founding anniversary on July 25, and Campus Press Freedom Week from July 22 to July 27.

CEGP said in a press statement that the complaint seeks a thorough CHED investigation that would lead to resolutions and sanctions against those the committed the campus press freedom violations as provided under RA 7079.

“The vanguards of light and truth in various campuses are being the next targets of control by the government and school administrations. Sadly, the incidents of intimidations among student journalists are happening amid the presence of RA 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991,"  Baybado said.

"Signed into law on July 5, 1991, to uphold and protect press freedom even at the campus level, the legislation proved that in the 27 years of its existence, it served otherwise. For the long run, the seriously flawed law has done nothing but to put campus press freedom in jeopardy,” he added.

Baybado also likened the prevailing press freedom situation in the country to that under the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

“Once dubbed as the freest press in Asia, the Philippine press is experiencing deja vu of its former suppressed state under the late dictator Marcos regime: silencing critics, censorship, and killings, which defines the media situation today,” he said.

 CEGP is the oldest, broadest, and only-existing alliance of tertiary student publications in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, with over 750 member publications from more than 500 schools in 68 provinces and cities nationwide.

As the National Center for the Advancement of campus press freedom, CEGP consistently monitored different campus press freedom violations in the tertiary level.

'School administration manipulation'

In the complaint, the CEGP stressed that the intimidation of the press did not only apply to mainstream and alternative media, but has extended to campus journalists as well.

Baybado said “student publications are becoming a subject of repression and suppression, especially in the form of school administration’s manipulation that was intensified by no less than the Duterte regime through the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the Free Higher Education Law.”

“Aspiring to fully silence the press, Duterte takes extra efforts to have control on school publications – which in history – held essential roles in keeping Filipinos informed and in pushing them to fight for rights and freedom,” he added.

CEGP said almost 200 student publications from different state universities and colleges, and local universities and colleges nationwide are on the brink of being defunded due to the law’s Implementing Rules and Guidelines that does not require the collection of student publication fees. In fact, when the Free Tuition Law was implemented last fiscal year, some public higher institutions stopped collecting student publication fees from its students, CEGP said.

Since 2010, CEGP has documented almost 1,000 campus press freedom violations categorized but not limited to:

  • harassment and/or killings of student writers and editors
  • meddling with editorial policies
  • actual censorship of editorial content
  • withholding and looting of publication funds
  • non-collection or non-mandatory collection of publication fee
  • administrative intervention
  • suspension and expulsion of student editors and writers
  • filing of libel charges 

– Rappler.com

[OPINION] Rainbow glitters after the storm: The UN Human Rights Council Resolution on SOGI


Activists worldwide, including myself, were all holding our breaths while governments deliberated on a crucial UN resolution aimed at advancing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) persons.

The resolution sought to extend the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on the Protection from Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IESOGI). The mandate was first established as a result of a 2016 United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution. 

It had key roles, such as producing reports that document discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), receiving communications from individuals and groups concerning allegations of discrimination and violence based on SOGI, and engaging with different stakeholders such as governments, civil society organizations, and UN agencies to share good practices and progress in advancing the rights of LGBTIQ persons. 

The IESOGI could also conduct country visits to obtain reliable information on the situation of LGBTI persons. Such had already been carried out in countries like Argentina, Georgia, Mozambique, and Ukraine. 

Why it's important

Defending the IESOGI mandate is a fight to ensure that each LGBTIQ person worldwide is equally protected before universally recognized human rights laws. This means that LGBTIQ persons have access to a mechanism that can provide redress when faced with persecution. This also means that there is an entity that can “constructively engage” governments, give them advice, or perhaps a smack, when they run short of their human rights commitments. 

As expected, the resolution faced massive opposition. There were 10 hostile amendments issued by Pakistan and other member states of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). These amendments had an insidious agenda: erase SOGI entirely from existing human rights frameworks, downplay LGBTI issues as merely “social matters” of “private individual conduct” that are not human rights concerns, and justify discrimination and violence on grounds for respect for “religion and ethical values and cultural backgrounds.”

The opposition brandished its hostility further by arguing that LGBTI concerns are divisive and polarizing, framing LGBTI advocacy as hostile to the intent and purpose of the United Nations. Pakistan warned that “imposition of concepts or notions that fall outside the scope of universally recognized human rights framework is a deliberate assault against the integrity of the international human rights system.” Bangladesh insisted that LGBTI human rights are not recognized by existing international human rights frameworks. Egypt attacked the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as controversial concepts that lack universal consensus and have no basis in international human rights law. Saudi Arabia, echoing the hostility, cautioned that the UN’s role is to honor each other’s religion and belief rather than imposing controversial concepts such as SOGI.

A rainbow shone after a stormy opposition. The resolution was passed: 27 affirmative votes, 12 negative votes, and 7 abstentions. 

The Philippines voted yes to the resolution, dramatically shifting from its abstain vote in the 2016 UNHRC resolution on SOGI and distancing itself from its previous foreign policy of “strategic silence” on SOGI concerns. This sparkling change is much more interesting than China’s, which has only worn indifference by maintaining a “no” vote since 2016.


It must be recalled that back in 2016, the Philippines abstained because it was not ready to support a mechanism within the UN whose work is to “pursue a set of standards applied to a specific sector when there is no consensus on the set of universally accepted human rights standards specific to that sector.” Diplomatic rhetoric aside, the Philippine government believed that there was no universally recognized human rights framework that protected people from SOGI-based violence and discrimination.

The Philippines did not give any explanation behind the affirmative vote. Some quarters were cautious that such vote indirectly “pinkwashes” the country’s bloody human rights record. However, to think such belittles the efforts of Filipino LGBTIQ advocates – equally human rights advocates – who consistently lobbied the government for weeks leading to the vote.

This victory at the UN sends a bright reminder about a dire problem for us activists. Our claim that LGBTIQ persons are entitled to human rights, which is echoed in our domestic advocacy work for an anti-discrimination legislation and policies, rests on shaky ground. This claim is still contested even within the UN.

Now that the UNHRC resolution has been passed, activists are encouraged to maximize the IESOGI mandate. We are called to send reports about cases or incidences of SOGI-based violence and discrimination. Share good practices in advancing LGBTIQ human rights, as this will help the IESOGI mandate holder to “constructively engage” with governments. Ask the Philippine government to officially invite the IESOGI to do a country visit and conduct a first-hand assessment on how the country is truly accepting or not.

A rainbow glitters after the stormy opposition at the UN against the resolution concerning the IESOGI. As to how long the light will stay will all depend on the sterling commitment of people – most visible and rousing during Pride Month – to fight for the beautiful cause of the rights of LGBTIQ persons. – Rappler.com

Ryan V. Silverio is the current Regional Coordinator of the ASEAN Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Caucus. He has been involved in LGBTIQ activism in the Philippines for more than a decade where he helped organized pride marches in Metro Manila and conducted human rights education with youth activists. He holds a Master of Arts in Human Rights degree from Mahidol University in Thailand.

EXPLAINER: What you need to know about SOGIE


MANILA, Philippines – Babae? Lalaki? Bakla? Tomboy?

Gender is often confusing and complicated for a lot of people. To fully understand it, it is important to first learn about sexual orientation, gender indentity, and gender expression or what is known as SOGIE. [READ: Sex, gender and SOGIE]

Sam Killermann, an artist, author, and activist, introduced the Genderbread person as a way to teach SOGIE. The Genderbread person is a visual guide to explain the 4 components of gender: Sex, Identity, Expression, and Attraction. 

According to Killerman, SOGIE is not a one-size-fits-all, as it is constantly evolving and the nuances are influenced by upbringing, culture, social norms, and life choices. It is not a label but simply a guide that shapes a person and what that person can be. (READ: Gender and Sexuality 101: Learn before you discriminate)

In part 1 of this SOGIE explainer video series, we explore the concepts of SOGIE. – Rappler.com  

[Right of Way] Why Metro Manila traffic will never be solved


MANILA, Philippines – Every day, Metro Manila residents – commuters and motorists alike – complain about the state of the capital's traffic. Well, there's bad news: this problem won't be solved, at least not until traffic authorities start reevaluating their current key performance indicators (KPI).

Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin shows us the Metro Manila Development Authority's current KPIs and how and why they do not square with the current reality on the road. – Rappler.com

Metro Manila residents on pre-dawn #MMShakeDrill: 'What a wake-up call'


'WAKE-UP CALL'. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Danny Lim leads the ceremonial pressing of the button to kickstart the 5th #MMShakedrill. Photo courtesy of MMDA

MANILA, Philippines – Hours before daybreak on Saturday, July 27, several Metro Manila residents took to Twitter to express their surprise and confusion when their phones alarmed at exactly 4 am. 

It was the emergency alert sent by the National Telecommunications Commissions that signaled the start of the annual Metro Manila earthquake drill, dubbed online as #MMShakeDrill. 

The online response from Metro Manila residents were mixed. Some appreciated the realistic timing of the earthquake drill while others criticized the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the lead government agency for the #MMShakeDrill, for supposedly inducing panic among the mostly sleeping residents.

The annual shake drill aims to prepare, assess, and strengthen Metro Manila in responding to the "Big One" – the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that could hit the metropolitan area anytime in our lifetime if the West Valley Fault moves.  

In an earlier press release, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said that the early #MMShakeDrill this year aimed to test the response capabilities and preparedness of local government units and the private sector.

After all, the “Big One” may strike any time. 

He emphasized that the shake drill would allow agency employees, local government units, various agencies, volunteer organizations, and other stakeholders to have a dry run of their contingency plans.

"We are doing this to prepare everyone to minimize damage and loss of life," Garcia said.

Here are some tweets of netizens regarding their early Saturday wakeup call: 

Did you receive the emergency alert at 4 am too? What do you think about the conduct of the 2019 #MMShakeDrill? – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: MMDA conducts 2019 #MMShakeDrill in the dark


IN THE DARK. Rescue personnel respond and apply first aid to mock victims at the various scenario in case "the Big One" strikes Metro Manila. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – What if a strong earthquake hits Metro Manila while everyone is still asleep?

This is the scenario that the annual Metro Manila earthquake drill aimed to simulate. Dubbed online as #MMShakeDrill, the earthquake drill is the fifth in a row organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). (READ: #MMShakeDrill 2019 set for early hours of July 27

Responders from local government units and various national agencies had to deal with the challenge of simulating rescue and response in the dark and at a time when most people – including responders and volunteers – were asleep.

Armed with their flashflights, earthquake drill participants set up 4 command posts around Metro Manila according to Metro Manila's contingency plans: 

  • Northern quadrant: Veterans Memorial Medical Center Golf Course
  • Western quadrant: Intramuros Golf Course
  • Eastern quadrant: LRT 2 Santolan Depot
  • Southern quadrant: Villamor Golf Course 

Meanwhile, the online response from the residents were mixed. Some appreciated the realistic timing of the earthquake drill while others criticized MMDA for supposedly inducing panic to sleeping residents of Metro Manila. 

The importance of disaster preparedness was amplified by the fact that at the time the annual drill was being held, two earthquakes rocked Batanes up north, killing several people in their sleep and hurting dozens of others.

The annual shake drill aims to prepare, assess the capability, and strengthen Metro Manila in responding to the "Big One" – the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that could hit the metropolitan area  in our lifetime if the West Valley Fault moves.

"Minsan, tinapat natin to sa rush hour para ma-test kung gaano kabilis ang ating mga responders. Minsan, ginawa natin itong unannounced. So iniiba-iba natin. Natutuwa ako sa kooperatsyon ng iba't ibang local government units," MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim said in an interview on the sidelines of the earthquake drill. 

(We once organized the drill during rush hour to test the speed of our responders. We also organized an unannounced earthquake drill at another time. We shake up the scenarios every now and then. I am happy with the cooperation of the different local government units for this annual earthquake drill.) 

The earthquake drill is expected to last the whole day of Saturday as local government units play out different scenarios in their respective areas. 

Below are some photos from the pre-dawn earthquake drill: 

MMSHAKEDRILL. MMDA Chairman Danny Lim leads the 5th Metro Manila earthquake drill held at MMDA Headquarter in Guadalupe on 27 July 2019. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

SOUTH QUADRANT. MMDA, DPWH, AFP and PNP personnel respond to the South Quadrant command post located at the Villamor Golf Course, Pasay City for the #MMShakeDrill. Photo by Alecs Ongcal

RESPONSE. DPWH personnel simulate a rescue scenario at the Villamor Golf Course on Saturday, July 27. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

CONTINGECNY PLAN. According to Metro Manila's response plan, authorities set up 4 command posts for #MMShakeDrill. Photo by 
Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

FLASHLIGHT. Responders for #MMShakeDrill struggle with dark as they simulate a strong earthquake that hit pre-daw. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

RESCUE OPERATIONS. Police officers simulate a crowd control scenario in Pasig City on Saturday, July 27, for the 5th #MMShakeDrill.
Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

SCENARIOS. In Pasig City, #MMShakeDrill participants simulate a fire incident and clearing an electrical post. Photo by Ben Nabong

Rescue personnel respond and apply first aid to mock victims at the various scenario in case "the Big One" strikes Metro Manila during the 5th Metro Manila Shake Drill in Pasig City on Saturday, July 27.
Photo by Ben Nabong

 – Rappler.com

MMDA chair says #MMShakeDrill 2019 shows 'effective' response to disaster


MMDA Chairman Danny Lim leads the 5th Metro Manila Shake Drill held at MMDA Headquarter in Guadalupe on 27 July 2019. Photo by: Lito Borras/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Danilo Lim said the conduct of earthquake scenario drills in Metro Manila on Saturday, July 27, has boosted his confidence in the government's capability to "respond effectively" in times of disaster.

As part of earthquake drills in Metro Manila, simulation areas were set up at Republic Mall, Sta Cruz, Manila in the west quadrant, and near Midas Hotel and Casino, Pasay in the south quadrant. (READ: IN PHOTOS: MMDA conducts 2019 #MMShakeDrill in the dark)

Nakita natin kanina (We saw a while ago), they were able to use their equipment and kung paano nila ginawa 'yung iba't ibang scenario (how they did different kinds of scenario). I'm confident that with this kind of equipment, training, and people, we would be very able to respond effectively.”

Lim admitted that local government units in Metro Manila, which took part in the drills, still lacked rescue equipment and tools, but he was confident that “we have the equipment to respond effectively.”

“Siyempre may mga item pa rin na nasa wishlist. Lahat ng local government units nagpupursige to get the best gamit. Pero hindi 'yun dahilan para 'di tayo makapagtrabaho,” he said.

(Of course, there are still items that are still in the wishlist. All government units strive to get the best [rescue] tools. But that isn't enough reason for us to not be able to work.)

At the Republic Mall in Sta. Cruz, Manila, earthquake scenario drills started at 8:36 am as soon as Lim and his entourage arrived.

At least two people were "rescued" from the Republic Mall building's third floor using a firetruck ladder, and 4 others through rappelling. The activity also included a simulated rescue of a person trapped in a burning multicab using tools to pry open cars.

According to Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Colonel Jonas Silvano, the earthquake scenario simulation was finished at around 9:16 am, with a total of 20 people rescued from simulated multiple building fires. 

“We admit that there were lapses in our drill today, but we just keep practicing until we become the most disaster-prepared area in Manila and the Philippines,” Silvano said.

At around 10 am, Lim and his team raced off to the south quadrant situation site near Midas Hotel in Pasig City.

Among the highlights of the earthquake drill demonstration were snuffing out a vehicular fire, assisting a pregnant woman in labor, and mass evacuation.

The 2019 #MMShakeDrill started as early as 4 am to test the response capabilities and preparedness of local government units and the private sector in Metro Manila “at a time when most Metro Manila residents are at home and asleep.” (READ: Metro Manila residents on pre-dawn #MMShakeDrill: 'What a wake-up call'

This year's simulation was the fifth consecutive earthquake drill in Metro Manila, which aims to prepare, assess, and strengthen Metro Manila in responding to the "Big One" –  the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that could hit the metropolitan area in our lifetime if the West Valley Fault moves. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

It was also the first drill that coincided with a real earthquake, though farther up north in Batanes where twin earthquakes killed several people, hurt many others, and destroyed homes and structures on Saturday morning. – Rappler.com

Enrico Berdos is a Rappler intern. He studies journalism at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.


[OPINYON] Hindi ko kailangan ng relihiyon upang maging mabuting tao


Relihiyoso talaga akong tao dati, noong bata pa ako. Naniniwala ako sa Diyos, kay Hesus, sa mga santo, nanonood ng Superbook tuwing Sabado, at walang palya ako kung pumunta sa simbahan tuwing Linggo. Nakikiisa rin ako sa pagbabasa ng pasyon, 'tsaka sa prusisyon kapag Semana Santa.

Ang hindi ko lang maintindihan ay ang sarili kong angkan. Halo-halo sila ng pinaniniwalaan. Sina Tito Art at Tita Alice, miyembro ng isang "relihiyon" mula sa Dinagat, at hindi lilipas ang isang taon na hindi sila pupunta roon para kumuha ng sinasabi nilang "miracle water." Mula ito sa isang waterfall malapit sa compound mismo ng relihiyon na nagpapagaling raw ng kahit anong sakit.

Pinainom nila ako noong nagkaroon ako ng appendicitis, tinusuk-tusok gamit ang isang matalim na bagay na hindi nila 'pinapakita, at nagsisilbing "releaser" daw iyon sa mga nararamdaman ko, sabi ni Tita Alice. May ulcer daw ako. Sabi ng mga doktor, hindi raw ulcer ang sakit ko, kundi appendicitis. Nagtalo pa nga ang buong angkan ko kung paooperahan ba ako o hindi, eh kasi nga…ulcer lang raw ang sakit ko. Gusto na nila ako iuwi. Buti na lang si Papa hindi pumayag. Gumaling ako dahil sa operasyon, at hindi sa miracle water na iyon.

Hanggang nalaman ko na matagal na palang kasapi si Papa ng isang "kulto" mula sa Albay, na ang mga miyembro ay hindi umaalis sa lugar na iyon at doon sila namumuhay hanggang sila ay mamatay. Naghahanda raw kasi sila sa muling pagdating ng Panginoong Hesu-Kristo. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, "Bakit naman nila ginaganito ang mga sarili nila, pupuwede namang maging mabuti na lang na tao, hindi ba?"

Ewan, marami lang kasi akong nasaksihang kaipokritohan ng mga relihiyosong tao. Maging ako ay nagpatalon-talon din ng relihiyon at naging ipokrito rin. May bumibisita sa aking mga Saksi ni Jehovah noon, at ayos naman sila. Nakatatlong beses na rin akong nakadalaw sa Kingdom Hall nila, at ayos naman rin. Hanggang nainis si Papa sa kanila kasi para bang "kinukuha" ako ng mga Saksi para umanib sa kanila imbis na sumama ako sa pinaniniwalaan niya. Hindi na sila bumalik.

Lumipat naman kami ng bahay at may mga kapitbahay kaming miyembro ng Iglesia ni Cristo – 'yung isa, halatang napilitan lang sumali at halos hindi na sumasamba, kaya isang araw ay dinalaw siya ng mga ministro doon at kinausap, pagkatapos ay inaya akong maglaro ng online games. Kuwarenta anyos na siya nung panahong iyon.

Iyong isa ko namang kapitbahay ay masigasig sa tungkulin nilang magpapamilya. Inaya nga akong sumamba, pumayag naman si Papa kasi libre naman. 'Nililibre nila ako ng sakay sa Tamaraw nila, sa pagkain, minsan nga ay kinakatok pa kami sa bahay para bigyan kami ng ulam, para raw sa akin. Hanggang napagdesisyonan kong magdoktrina, pero parang trip ko lang noon, hindi talaga seryoso. Nung araw na susunduin nila ako ay nabalitaan kong naaksidente sila, wasak ang sasakyan, at 'sakto ay naglipat na naman kami ng bahay.

Hindi ko lang talaga matanto kung bakit sila ganoon.

May isa pa akong karanasan: inimbitahan kami ng isang babae na um-attend daw sa worship service nila, at ipinaalam na raw kami, kaya sumama kami ng kaibigan kong si Jocel. Pagdating naman ay nagulat kami kasi lahat ng nakapila ay binabawtismohan na. Sabi ko ay hindi pupuwede iyon kasi wala naman kaming alam sa 'tinuturo pa nila. Kaso ayaw kaming palabasin. Buti at may dumating na kotse at nung pagkabukas ng malaking gate ay humarurot kaming dalawa, sabay sakay ng jeep pauwi.

Siguro ako ang problema, dahil baka masyado lang akong mareklamo. Pero hindi eh, napuno na ako, masyadong maraming tanong sa utak ko. Lahat umaangkin na sila raw ang tunay na relihiyon. Napatira kami sa isang komunidad na puno ng Muslim. Inanyayahan din ako roon, dahil daw banal ang mga itinuturo nila at magiging mabuting tao raw ako. Dalawang araw ang nakalipas, may patay na mga lalaki sa harap ng mosque nila, sabi raw ay "asset" na nagmamanman sa kung anong itinatago nila.

Mayroon din akong Christian na kaibigan. Dumalaw rin ako sa worship building nila. Sabi niya ay magdasal araw-araw para malinis ang konsensiya at kasalanan – hanggang hiniram niya ang relo ko at hindi na nagpakita ulit. Tapos 'yung titser ko sa Science eh magtuturo muna ng relihiyon sa umpisa, ginawa ng Diyos ang mundo, tapos pagdating sa subject niya ay sasabihing Big Bang naman ang gumawa sa mundo. May pastor din kaming nagsabing bawal magbisyo, pero nakatabi ko sa traysikel na may brandy na longneck at nagyoyosi.

Naisip ko, kailangan ko ng kasagutan, kaya nagbasa ako ng mga librong pilosopiya at doon na nga ako naliwanagan. Na hindi ko kailangan ng relihiyon upang maging isang mabuting tao, na hindi na ako mabubuhay sa takot na mapupunta ako sa impiyerno kapag hindi ako sumamba sa kahit anong diyos na sinasabi nila. Hindi ko naman sinasabing masama ang magkaroon ng relihiyon, pero sa sobrang dami nila, at pulos mali at galit ang itinuturo nila, ay lalo lamang gumugulo ang mga miyembro nito at maging ang mundo.

Ayaw kong mabuhay sa takot. Ayaw kong isipin na dapat ganito, ganiyan ang gawin ko upang "maligtas" ako sa kung anong katapusanng mangyayari. Ayokong mabuhay magpakailanman; ayoko ring mabuhay ulit kung sakali man. Gusto ko lang namnamin ang buhay.

Alam ng pamilya at angkan ko ang estado ng paniniwala ko ngayon. Madalas pinagtatawanan nila ako, kesyo astig daw kasi at "in" ang pagiging hindi relihiyoso. Pero hinahayaan ko lang dahil malalim ang dahilan ko kung bakit. Sana mawala na ang stigma ng mga tao patungkol sa mga ateistang katulad ko. Hindi naman po kami demonyo at imoral na tao; simple lang kami kagaya ninyo. Sana po ay huwag ninyo kaming pandirihan na para bang isa kaming nakakahawang sakit. – Rappler.com

Si Dan Manjares ay freelance writer at music producer na taga-Bulacan. Nagsusulat din siya ng mga personal na sanaysay at maiikling kuwento para sa ilang websites at isang writing organization sa Pampanga, ang KADLiT. Siya ang tagapangasiwa ng Facebook page na I.K. Stern.


[OPINION] Lives in danger: Extrajudicial killings and the denial of abortion


While President Duterte left out the status of women’s reproductive health and rights in the country from his 4th State of the Nation Address, the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution and false claims against those who advanced it demonstrate that the government still has a long way to go in respecting, protecting, and promoting the reproductive rights and human rights of all Filipinos. (READ: Quick point-by-point summary of Duterte's SONA 2019)

For the past 3 years, a slate of extrajudicial killings has been committed as part of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. Thousands have gone missing or have been killed, prompting the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution condemning these acts. It urged the country to prevent more killings, conduct investigations, and ensure accountability.

Government officials who are sympathetic to the campaign have attempted to undermine those who passed the resolution, on the false pretext that such countries lack the moral legitimacy to condemn the Philippines because they permit legal abortion.

What such argument misses is that allowing legal abortion is necessary to ensure the survival, well-being, and human rights of women. Without it, we are condemning women to suffer and die from unsafe abortion.

When abortion is not legal, women and girls will often revert to unsafe methods to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. This is true in the case of Mylene, a young doctor who was raped by a local politician who paid for her education. After finding out she was pregnant, she attempted to self-induce an abortion, since our law forbids abortion even in instances of pregnancies resulting from sexual violence. Mylene ended up dying from complications that arose from her unsafe abortion and inability to access critical reproductive health care services. 

Mylene is not alone. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinas face similar situations and, due to our outdated abortion penal laws, they too are at risk of dying from unsafe abortions. As highlighted by the Center for Reproductive Rights’ World's Abortion Laws Map, the Philippines is out of step with most of the world.

In the past 25 years, nearly 50 countries have liberalized their abortion laws, with 18 countries repealing complete bans in favor of respecting a woman’s life and autonomy and fulfilling their human rights obligations. (READ: Filipinas buy, sell, rate abortions in online forum)

There is no conflict between allowing legal abortions and respecting the fundamental right to life. The human rights, including the rights to life, of a pregnant woman or girl prevail over any government’s interest in prenatal protection. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear that human rights are meant to apply at the moment of birth, and not before.

Both the drafters of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC) – UN bodies monitoring states’ compliance with the ICCPR – have rejected the proposition that the right to life extends to prenatal life.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which mentions governments’ obligation to safeguard the child “before as well as after birth,” does not impart any right to the fetus and instead refers to the state’s duty to promote the health and nutrition of the pregnant woman. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body monitoring states’ compliance with the CRC, also called for liberalizing laws by decriminalizing abortion to protect girls’ rights to life and health.

Human rights bodies have specifically called on our government to remove criminal sanctions for women and girls who have abortions and the health care providers who assist them.

The HRC also  called for the provision of “safe, legal and effective access to abortion where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, or where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain.” It ruled that forcing a woman to continue a non-viable pregnancy to term or one that threatened her mental or physical health constituted a violation of the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. (READ: How backstreet abortionists terminate 7-month pregnancies)

Thus, when politicians claim that the world cannot criticize the Philippines for extrajudicial killings because their countries permit abortion, they are simply drawing attention to our government also being guilty of another human right violation, i.e., denying women access to abortion care.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions even called deaths related to legal bans on abortion as “gender-based arbitrary killing[s]…as a result of discrimination enshrined in law.”

Permitting access to safe and legal abortion saves lives; extrajudicial killings take them away. Our government must respect the life of Filipinos by taking steps to stop extrajudicial killings and provide legal abortions. Until then, the government will continue to endanger the lives of every Filipino. – Rappler.com 

Jihan Jacob is a woman human rights defender who works for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a global non-governmental organization that uses the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world. She is a member of the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network, a local network of civil society groups committed to working toward achieving the full realization of women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Protect Palawan from disinformation, journalists urge students


At least 400 campus journalists, student organization leaders, school paper advisers, and other stakeholders joined #MovePalawan: Social Good in the Digital Age forum at Palawan State University on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – In a place where truth still thrives online, what can the community do to protect itself from the threat of online hatred and disinformation?

This question was asked during the #MovePalawan: Social Good in the Digital Age forum held at the Performing Arts Theater of Palawan State University (PSU) on Thursday, July 25. 

During the forum, both Celeste Anna Formoso, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Palawan and Rappler stringer Keith Fabro agreed that fake news does not dominate the local online landscape in Palawan.

In order to keep things this way, the local journalists said that it is important to promote media information and literacy and instill interest in local issues among the Palawan youth. 

But what can students do to make this happen? 

Social good

“You have to remember that people go to social media because they want to be updated. After knowing what is the latest, they want to connect – meaning to connect with the community,” said Rappler news editor Miriam Grace Go. 

According to Go, when people are on social media, everything they post is considered news. “Be a source of news yourself. When you use a platform that is very much public, you fall under the term ‘publisher’,” added Go. 

People are consuming more information today than before. With the rise of digital media, people’s access to information is just a click away. (READ: Over 3.4 billion people actively use social media – report)

A recent report showed that the time spent online by Filipinos daily soared from 9 hours and 29 minutes last year to 10 hours and 2 minutes this year, the highest in the world. (READ: Filipinos spend most time online, on social media worldwide – report)

With the increasing number of social media users in the Philippines, Go advised students to be a responsible social media users. 

“Do something else aside from your personal posts. You have an edge. You have a credibility because you are a real person” said Go. 

This was echoed by Formoso, saying: “You compose the biggest share of the population who use social media. While you engaged based on your interest, sana din ay start ang pagiging maagang aware that will concern you in the future (I hope that you start to be aware on the issues that will concern you in the future). If you can help prevent disinformation, please don’t be a tool.”

‘Amplify real voices’

At a time when online hate spreads like wildfire and affects public discourse on social media, Go urged students to amplify real voices online. 

“We need to take back social media and in the internet so we can make it a space again,” said Go. 

Go added, “Hindi masama na magkaiba ang opinion natin, ang masama ay mga opinion na nakikita natin online ay hindi galing sa totoong tao.” (It’s okay to have varying opinions, what’s bad is if those opinons were not from real people.)

In the Philippines, paid trolls and bots swarm comments sections of new organizations to spread lies and propaganda on social media. (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)

At least 400 campus journalists, student organization leaders, school paper advisers, and other stakeholders joined #MovePalawan: Social Good in the Digital Age forum at Palawan State University on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Meanwhile Alexis Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Pioneer, the PSU’s official campus publication, encouraged fellow campus journalists to speak truth to power.

“Challenge ko sa mga campus journalists to speak the truth. Kahit na iba iba ang career natin, kung alam natin ang prinsipyo ng buhay journo, kaya natin ipaglaban,” said Fernandez. 

(I challenge all the campus journalists to speak truth to power. Even though, we will have different career paths to take, if we know the principles of journalism, we would have the courage to fight back.)

For Fabro, campus journalists should not limit themselves to just pursuing campus stories. He advised students to create a social media account dedicated for publishing their stories.

“Huwag niyong ikahon ang mga sinusulat niyo tungkol sa school lang, write stories about your communities,” said Fabro. (Don't limit yourselves to just writing about your school. Write stories about your communities.)

But in choosing stories to write, Fabro advised students to choose issues close to their hearts. 

“Sa pagpili ng issue, piliin mo 'yung issue na malapit sa'yo kasi hindi mo puwedeng pasukin lahat ng laban at the same time. Choose your battle and win it. Pili ka lang ng isa at doon ka mag focus,” said Fabro. 

(In choosing issue, choose what is close to your heart because you can’t enter any battle at the same time. Choose your battle and win it. Choose one and focus there.)

Social media by itself can be empowering for the disadvantaged and those without access to mainstream media. Using the platform also entails responsibility, and that can make a big difference. – Rappler.com

#ReliefPH: How you can help those affected by the Batanes earthquakes


Bookmark and refresh this page for updates

MANILA, Philippines – magnitude 5.4 earthquake rocked Itbayat, Batanes before dawn of Saturday, July 27, followed by aftershocks and a stronger magnitude 5.9 earthquake.

At least 8 people were killed and over 60 people were injured when the twin earthquakes struck. The earthquakes also caused damage to homes, structures, and other properties. Initial reports said 911 families from Itbayat camped out at the town plaza, which currently serves as the evacuation center.

With the threat of additional aftershocks and their homes partially or totally in ruins, Ivatans are appealing for help and support to rebuild Itbayat. Batanes residents are in urgent need of tents, clothes, and blankets. 

Here's a list of relief operations for victims of #BatanesEarthquakes:

Philippine Red Cross 

The Philippine Red Cross was among the first responders to assist evacuees in Itbayat, Batanes. 

They have distributed hot meals, water, temporary shelters, and survival kits to the affected residents and have also set up welfare desks to provide psychosocial support for the victims in the evacuation areas. 

Click here to support Philippines Red Cross' aid efforts in Batanes.

Operation Blessing

In coordination with the Municipal Social Welfare Development (MSWD) of Itbayat, Batanes, Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines will be sending donations to the affected communities. 

You may send your donations through:

  • Banco De Oro (BDO)
    • Account Number: 0030000-55279
  • Credit Card
  • 7-Eleven: Go to any 7-Eleven Store and send your donations via the kiosk

For inquiries, please contact their hotline at 09399215543.


Addaw Project

Addaw Project, through Fr. James Andrew Castillo of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity College Seminary, a Batanes local, is spearheading a donation drive to help the victims of #BatanesEarthquake through #Sidung(Help). 


Explore PH Online

Explore PH Online, an online site that features travel destinations and tourism in the Philippines is also leading a financial donation campaign. 

Those who want to help may send their financial donation through:

  • Landbank account: Account Name: Prelature of Batanes
  • Account Number: 1081-0502-08


Liberal Party

Liberal Party Philippines is acception donations in the form of tents, clothes, blankets and raincoats. Interested donors may contact the following: 

  • Office ng Provincial Governor
    • Malou Cayco
    • 0939-904-6278
  • Metro Manila
    • Luis Abad
    • 0917-791-9412

Donors may also drop off their donations at Balay Expo Centro Building, EDSA corner McArthur Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines until August 10.



Facebook user Eva Marie Gutierrez, Provincial Legal Officer of Batanes, also appealed to those interested to course their donations to the provincial government of Batanes. Interested donors may do the following: 

  • Deposit to Landbank account no: 1082-1008-37
  • Those who have sent their donations may send proof of deposit or transfer  to ptobatanes@yahoo.com for issuance of Official Receipt.


– Rappler.com

Local artists raise funds for Batanes earthquake victims


FOR THE KAHILYAN. Batanes musicians perform at the Rizal Park grounds in Basco, Batanes, on July 29, 2019. Photo grabbed from Creative Hub's facebook page.

MANILA, Philippines – To help earthquake victims, a group of local musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs held a fundraising concert at the Rizal Park in Basco, Batanes, on Sunday, July 28. 

Organized by Ivatans who were born in Itbayat and currently lived in Basco, the “Musikahilyan” concert was able to raise at least P22,256 in cash donations.

Kahilyan is the Ivatan word for "kababayan (town mates)."

The concert was initiated by Xavier Mirabueno, a guitarist and owner of Casa Napoli, in collaboration with Awee Abelador and Mytz Abelador of Creative Hub, and Joana Jose of Lamon Center. 

“It's only fitting that we are doing this for our kahilyan,” Jose said.

Jose said the idea for the fundraiser came the night after twin earthquakes – magnitude 5.4 and magnitude 5.9 – struck Batanes on Saturday morning, July 27. (READ: Death toll from Batanes earthquakes rises to 9)

 The musicians played various OPM songs and hits. Around 150 students, locals, and tourists who were at the Rizal Park grounds that time watched the show and extended their help.

“Walang ticket.... We just have a carton box for donations para kahit sino at kahit magkano puwede. And yes, all proceeds will go to the victims. Biglaan din naman 'to from our friends na musikero and we opened it for everyone who wants to jam. At this kind of time, kailangan ng konting saya to lift our spirit,” Jose said in an interview with Rappler.

(There were no tickets. We just used a carton box so that anyone can give and any amount is fine. And yes, all proceeds will go to the victims. This happened all of a sudden, through our musician friends. We opened it to everyone who wants to jam, especially at this time when we need a a little bit of happiness to lift our spirit.) 

Students from Batanes National Science High School and Batanes State College also participated in the benefit show. 

“We shared that we need to be strong. In times like this, music can heal, and anyone even with their smallest help – it can go a long way,” Jose said.

Food items were sold on the sidelines of the concert, also to raise funds for the quake victims.

CALL FOR DONATIONS. Local artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs gather for a fund-raising concert for Batanes earthquake victims. Photo grabbed from Creative Hub's facebook page.

Jose sold lemonade and wakay (kamote) fries for P30 each. She shared how some  kids who patronized her goods also donated in their own way.

“May mga batang bumili sa akin.... Hindi na kinukuha 'yung sukli, donation na daw niya 'yun (Some kids who bought from me and didn't ask for the change anymore because would just be their donation, they said),” Jose said. 

Local arts group Creative Hub also showed its support by promoting and documenting the event for fellow Ivatans who were not in Batanes at that time. (READ: #ReliefPH: How you can help those affected by the Batanes earthquakes)

“Para sa amin, lahat ay may maitutulong sa panahon ng sakuna, maliit man o malaki. Kapag nagtutulungan, malaki at malayo ang maabot ng bawat tulong na binigay ng bawat isa,” said Awee Abelador, one of the founders of Creative Hub.

(All of us are capable of helping in times of disasters, big or small. When we help each other out, a lot will be achieved and it will surely go a long way.) 

The group staged another fundraising concert on Monday night, July 29, to continue the Sunday concert that had to end early because of rainy weather. – Rappler.com 

[OPINION] We are more than our disabilities


With all the access signs one could find – mandated, of course, in public places – one could be forgiven to think that all other opportunities, too, have truly been equalized for persons with disabilities (PWDs) or the so-called differently abled. And I mean beyond those fast lanes at fancy burger joints. 

The reality is, for one reason or another, PWDs are still mostly underrepresented in the workforce. While most people with disabilities are qualified for the job they are applying for, employers have not been as enthusiastic to hire them, it seems. 

I should know. As a PWD myself, I had felt such prejudice.

It is frustrating to recall how, out of more than 10 companies I applied for, only one actually gave me a chance. While most of them were impressed by my CV, all of them almost immediately canceled their interview invitation upon discovering that I was deaf.

I had given up, in truth, even when I was called for an interview by FullSuite, a business solutions startup that has its headquarters in Singapore and operations in the Philippines. (READ: Giving up not an option for persons with disabilities in Western Visayas)

At the onset, FullSuite business operations manager Jonathan Serantes actually assured me that my disability “won’t be an issue” and that they would still like to interview me, restoring my faith in humanity. 

Their COO Catherine Villanueva-Bagsic even sent me a message saying that I “may be lacking in some areas” but that assessing me will help them find out where I fit best in the company. Several days later, Catherine herself became my boss.

Despite being hired, I was still worried that unlike the bosses, the staff would not be as welcoming. I have always been prepared for unacceptance.

On my first day of work, I was so nervous that I asked my mom to bring me to the office and help me practice how I would introduce myself to my officemates. But surprisingly, everyone welcomed me, period. No fanfare, no drama, no special treatment. Now that felt special – to be treated simply, normally. (READ: LOOK: A beautiful garden art cafe employs people with special needs)

While I knew that I deserved that kind of acceptance, I still found it overwhelming as it was really quite rare an experience for a PWD.

Whatever extraordinary attention I got was most meaningful, as it was most practical; officemates who actually knew “sign” helped me become familiar with FullSuite’s system called Xero. 

Since my first day at FullSuite, I have only felt the kind of acceptance every PWD hopes for, and that is to be one among normal people, lost in a crowd even, and standing out only because of talent and achievement (as opposed to sticking out because of “defect”). 

Disability and the culture of high performance

Beyond being accepting, my officemates respect the work I do as an executive assistant. I would like to think that I have earned their respect because of my work ethic and my efficiency in doing the administrative tasks assigned to me.  

I am fully aware that I am one of the lucky few who have a great job despite having a disability. Despite the government’s initiatives to encourage more companies to hire PWDs, most businesses are still hesitant to give people like me a chance. 

Even PWDs who are graduates of prestigious universities find job hunting almost a hopeless endeavor. While I understand that companies might have to make several adjustments for the workspace to be conducive for us, it is a small price to pay for the services and loyalty that we offer. 

As a person with a disability, I have always felt that I have to prove to everyone that I am as capable or even sometimes more capable than regular individuals. I know that other PWDs like me feel the same way. With that chip on our shoulders, we almost always work harder than everyone else in the room. Our perseverance and desire for excellence are things that most companies still fail to see.

A genuinely inclusive workplace has not only given me the chance to have a career that I can be proud of but it has also shown me how everyone including companies and other institutions should treat people with disabilities. 

PWDs are not liabilities. We are more than our disabilities. We are qualified and deserving. 

The irony is still lost on most companies: how, if one insists on a culture of high performance, one must actually hire PWDs who rise above themselves, every single day. – Rappler.com

Denden Bernabe graduated with an associate degree in Computer Technology from Miriam College. She is currently an executive assistant at a financial concierge, FullSuite.