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Maranao student helps build Muslim-Christian understanding in evacuation site


STUDENT VOLUNTEER. 18-year-old Najmah Asum (in blue) helps the local social welfare and development unit in distributing relief goods in Buru-un evacuation center in Iligan City. Photo courtesy of Najmah Asum

MANILA, Philippines – As the clashes continue in Marawi City, many volunteers build a bridge of solidarity between Muslim and Christian evacuees and responders in evacuation sites. Najmah Asum, an incoming third year college student at St Peter College in the city, is one of them.  

Asum, a young Maranao who lives in Iligan City, is a volunteer from YesPinoy Foundation in the Buru-un evacuation center.

"Si Najmah at ang kanyang mga kaibigan ang nangangalap ng impormasyon tungkol sa mga pangangailangan ng mga evacuees at sa pagpapaabot ng ating tulong," YesPinoy Foundation, an advocacy group founded by actor and former Youth Commissioner Dingdong Dantes, said in a Facebook post. 

(Najma and her friends gather information about the needs of the evacuees and in distributing our help.)

YesPinoy foundation taps into the "volunteer spirit of the Filipino in order to help be of service to the country, especially in times of disaster and great need."


Asum also helps the social welfare and development unit of the city government through counseling children and helping translate for Maranao evacuees and responders.

“Kahit paano, nakakatulong yung pag ta-translate ko,” said Asum.

According to her, the evacuation center, where about 430 families stay, accommodate both Christians and Muslims, a situation which builds a huge language barrier. She volunteers to prevent chaos.

She said she finds dealing with the situation difficult because she's sometimes alone. “Sobrang hirap po kasi ako lang po  (It’s difficult because I’m alone),” she said.

Some of the volunteers she had invited no longer come back as soon as they see the situation in the evacuation centers, Asum said.

Helping children get by

CROWDED. Najmah assists in the crowded evacuation center. Photo courtesy of Najmah Asum/YesPinoy

The 18-year-old Secondary Education major has been involved in volunteer work for 8 years. According to her, she has always wanted to teach children.

"Araw-araw [akong] pumupunta [sa evacuation center]. Nakikipag-kwentuhan sa kanila. Kina-counsel yung mga bata (I go to the evacuation center every day. I talk with them counsel the children)," she said. Asum takes care of the young Marawi survivors.

“'Yung ibang bata nagku-kwento po sila. Minsan napapansin ko sa mga bata na sinisingit nila yung mga nangyayari sa kanila. Inaaliw ko po sila para maibsan yung trauma. Naglalaro po kami  (Some of the kids tell their stories. Sometimes I notice that they talk about what happened to them in Marawi. I just entertain them to ease the trauma. I play with them)," Asum said. 

Despite the harsh situation in the evacuation center, Asum chooses to stay because of the kids. (READ: How a father fled Marawi to save kids, wife in labor)

“'Yung mga bata po kasi. Paano na lang kung wala ako? Paano na sila (I think about the kids. What will happen to them without me)?"

Chaos in relief operations

RELIEF. Student volunteers help pack relief goods. Photos courtesy of Najmah Asum/YesPinoy

According to Asum, one of the biggest challenges they face in evacuation centers are fights that almost end up in brawls when relief goods reach them.

She said that food is enough but they need more sleeping mats. According to her, some families only have one mat, leaving them with no option but to sleep on cartons.

The crisis in Marawi City started with a military raid on May 23. Clashes erupted between soldiers and terrorists from the Maute Group, driving away thousands of families.

The DSWD had provided over P36.3 million worth of relief assistance to the evacuees as of Wednesday, May 31.

On Friday, June 2, the Department of Social Welfare and Development central office released P60,055,000 to its field offices in Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.

The Central Office earlier sent 10,000 family food packs and non-food items to affected families in the city. (READ: How to help Marawi through DSWD) – Rappler.com

If you want to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (SMART and SUN), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.

WATCH: How to report school opening concerns


MANILA, Philippines – With the reactivation of the Oplan Balik Eskwela Information and Action Centers (OBEIAC) on May 29, students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders now have a wider access to information related to the start of the school year. 

After the week-long Brigada Eskwela, the community-based volunteer program initiated by the Department of Education (DepEd) which was held in May, public schools across the country are already expected to be prepared for the opening of classes on Monday, June 5.

The DepEd has also allotted more hotlines to accommodate requests, complaints, and suggestions regarding the opening of classes.

The effort, according to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, will be nationwide. "What happens in Manila, happens everywhere else," she said.

Stakeholders may also relay their concerns to the DepEd's regional and division counterparts which are on the frontlines for the central processing and routing mechanism. The regional OBEIACs also accept walk-in clients. 

Here are the hotlines at the central office: 

  • Telephone: 636-1663; 633-1942; 636-6549; 635-0552; 638-7530; 638-7531; 635-9817; 638-7529; 636-6550; 637-9814; 633-7252; 632-1370; 632-1364; 638-1793; 632-1368; 632-1361
  • Fax: 638-8641; 634-0222
  • Text: 0919-456-0027
  • Email: action@deped.gov.ph

The DepEd Central Office (CO) OBEIAC will accommodate public concerns from 7 am to 6 pmMonday to Sunday. 

For this year, the DepEd CO OBEIAC is headed by Undersecretary Jesus Mateo and Assistant Secretary GH Ambat. 

Meanwhile, the regional OBEIACs are headed by the Assistant Regional Directors, and are composed of representatives from the Public Affairs Unit; Field Technical Assistance Division; Policy, Planning and Research Division (PPRD); Quality Assurance Division (QAD) for Private Schools; Curriculum and Learning Management Division (CLMD); Senior High School/K to 12 Focal Persons; and Legal Unit. – Rappler.com 

Road crash numbers: Looking at the data sources


DATA SOURCES. The lack of a comprehensive nationwide database on road crash numbers makes it difficult to know how serious the problem is in the Philippines. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – How can policy makers curb the high number of deaths on Philippine roads?

For starters, they should know how serious the problem is in the country so they can craft the necessary and appropriate countermeasures.

But the problem is that there is no comprehensive, nationwide database on road crash statistics in the Philippines. 

For Rappler's series of stories on road safety, we sought to gather data on the number of road crashes recorded nationwide, where these crashes usually occur, and how many people are either injured or killed in these incidents. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

But because of the lack of comprehensive data, we used figures from different government agencies, as there is currently no single agency with granular, disaggregated data providing details on road crashes.

Here’s what we observed from the data sources we used, and the limitations for each one.

Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System (MMARAS)

For crashes in Metro Manila, Rappler used data from the 2010 to 2016 MMARAS reports released by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

There are two data sources for the MMDA’s road safety unit researchers: obtaining individual report forms for each traffic incident, gathered from the different stations and district offices of the traffic enforcement units; and recording road crashes at MMDA’s Metrobase through calls and CCTV footage.

Previously, the MMDA only recorded incidents involving fatal and non-fatal injuries. The MMDA began recording crashes with damage to property beginning 2005 up to present.

The MMARAS reports provide the following information:

  • Number of road crashes resulting to fatal injuries, non-fatal injuries, and damage to property, categorized by month
  • Number of people killed and injured in road crashes for the year
  • Distribution of road crashes by cities and municipalities in Metro Manila
  • Breakdown of number of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians killed and injured, by district
  • Breakdown of road crashes resulting in fatal, non-fatal injuries and damage to property, by time of day
  • Breakdown of vehicle types involved in crashes
  • Breakdown of collision type (hit and run, multiple collision, etc)
  • List of top cause of road crashes (human error, vehicle defect, etc)

While the MMARAS provides detailed information, there are limitations and deficiencies in its data.

For its breakdown on the types of vehicles involved in road crashes, thousands are unknown vehicles – 6,409 as of the 2016 MMARAS report. For its breakdown on the type of collision, a significant number is also listed as “no collision stated based on police blotter book” – 36,921 as of the latest report.

Similarly, in its breakdown of the top cause of road crashes, there is no given definition for human error, and the MMARAS listed “human error” separately from more specific classifications such as “human error (alcohol suspected)” and “human error (driver error),” among others.

A huge bulk is also labelled as “no accident factor” – 105,734 cases in the 2016 MMARAS report.

But MMDA road safety unit officer Richard Domingo told Rappler that 80% to 90% of the causes labeled as "No Accident Factor" is human error.

While the MMARAS also lists the top crash-prone roads in the metro – which could help policymakers formulate and implement the necessary interventions to make roads safer – it does not provide numbers on how many crashes were recorded in these areas, which vehicles were involved, and what type of collisions had occurred.

The MMDA is also aware of the limitations of its data gathering process, noting that with the “relatively large” number of traffic accident investigators involved, it was “inevitable that there will be some data that is missed from the database.”

But it added that there was no firm evidence that large numbers are being omitted “because copied data are based from the records on the log book of every traffic stations where traffic accidents (major or minor) have been logged.”

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)

For our stories on nationwide numbers on road safety, Rappler relied on data from the PSA, which has consistently tracked the number of deaths resulting from road crashes. Our stories tracked the number of deaths recorded by the PSA from 2006 to 2014, the latest available dataset.

Aside from the total numbers, the PSA data showed the distribution of deaths by age group, gender, and region. It also categorized the deaths by cause: car occupants, motorcycle riders, bicyclists, or pedestrians injured in collisions with different vehicle types, among others.

What’s missing in the data however is a more thorough breakdown on the type of vehicles involved in the crashes. A bulk of the number is identified only as “unspecified transport accidents.” 

The PSA data however remains a key source of consolidated nationwide data on road crashes, since the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s Traffic Accident Recording and Analysis System (TARAS) was discontinued in 2013.

The TARAS was established in 2004 to collect road crash data from reports by the Philippine National Police (PNP). It was intended to identify road safety black spots and implement the necessary countermeasures.

But the DPWH said the TARAS was no longer sustainable because of the logistical challenge of training and re-training PNP officers collecting the road crash data, as well as supplying traffic accident record forms to the 1,500 police stations nationwide.

The department also noted that confidence levels in the quality of data from TARAS are "very low," and that it only covers national roads, not local roads.

"Since being introduced in 2004, there have been no improvement in data quality of TARAS nor the primary issue of limited coverage on national roads has been addressed and it is unlikely under the current process that the data will be of sufficient coverage or quality to generate reliable statistics at the regional level," it added in a 2013 department order

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)

To get data on road crashes involving buses, we turned to the LTFRB, which regulates the issuance of franchises to bus operators and companies. The data we obtained spanned 2015 until February 2017. The LTFRB said the data was recorded through police reports, social media reports, and calls to the board’s hotline.

The data showed the names of bus operators with violations, the number of fatalities and injuries in the crash, the date of the crash, place of incident, and the action taken by the LTFRB.

But the data did not show whether the erring bus companies had committed multiple violations before, and whether or not the recorded violation was a first offense or succeeding offenses. The information on fatalities and injuries also did not provide specifics on the age or gender of the victims, nor their classification (if they are pedestrians, passengers, or drivers).

There was also not enough sufficient information or explanation on the follow-up actions taken after placing the violators under preventive suspensions.

Local government units of Quezon City, Manila, and Makati City

Based on the MMARAS, 3 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila consistently top the list of cities with the most number of road crashes: Quezon City, Manila, and Makati City.

To get more details on the crashes recorded in their jurisdictions, Rappler sought road crash data from the 3 LGUs’ public safety units and police stations recording road crash data.

The most recent data we obtained from them covered January to March 2017.

For data from Makati City, the data showed the type of vehicles involved in the crashes, the number of injuries and fatalities, and the location of the crashes.

Data from Manila City showed the nature of the road crash, date, and location.

Data from Quezon City’s Department of Public Order and Safety, meanwhile, recorded the number of crashes per location, the number of vehicles involved, and the number of injuries and fatalities. 

From the datasets obtained, it is clear that there is no standardized practice on how to accurately record road crash information, and how disaggregated the recorded data should be. The quality of the datasets also differ from agency to agency, making it difficult to accurately do comparisons or cross-check the information.

Under the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan, developing and maintaining a road crash database system is under one of the key pillars for a safer road environment. – with Kimiko Sy / Rappler.com

WATCH: How to repurpose plastic bottles into ecobricks


ECOBRICKS. Hundreds of ecobricks are used to build this wall of a hostel in Zambales. Photo by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – How can you turn plastic pollution into a solution?

Quite simple, according to the people behind the Plastic Solutions volunteer movement. All you need is a plastic bottle, a stick, and more plastic waste.

In the 3rd quarter of 2016, Raf Dionisio and his friends started out on a mission: to do their part in reducing plastic waste. They started Plastic Solutions, a volunteer movement that turns plastic bottles into ecobricks.

Ecobricks can be used to replace hollow blocks for building walls, providing a solution to the country's growing plastic problem.

Plastic problem

Despite having one of the highest trash collection rates in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is among the top nations dumping plastic into the seas, according to a 2015 study conducted by Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

Joining the Philippines are China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Together, the 5 Asian countries contribute over half of all plastics that end up in the seas.

The Philippines alone generates 2.7 million metric tons (MT) of plastic garbage each year, 20% or 521,000 MT of which end up in the ocean.

"As a country, the Philippines really doesn't have the infrastructure to manage, segregate, and recycle all the plastic trash that we have. Many times, it ends up on the beach," Dionisio explained.

That is true, based on a study which found that 74% of the plastics leaking into the ocean from the Philippines – 386,000 MT – actually come from garbage already collected by haulers and garbage trucks. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: Plastic in our seas: Why you should care)

The study attributed the leakage of collected garbage to two factors: illegal dumping by garbage-hauling companies, and open dumpsites located near waterways.


When Dionisio and his friends go surfing, they see all sorts of single-use plastics floating in the ocean – stuff like plastic bags, food wrappers, and water bottles.

"When you're paddling, you see there's a cookie wrapper here, there's an instant noodles [pack] here. We take them and we put in our pockets. Most of the surfers go around and do that. It's not a nice feeling [to see trash] because that's our playground and you're going to drink that water unintentionally because you're surfing," Dionisio said.

Seeing the problem firsthand pushed Dionisio and his friends to look for a solution.

"The plastic that our grandparents first used, it is still here today. It's either in the museum or on the ocean floor. I don't like the idea of us adding to it because it will never go away," Dionisio said.

They then thought of making ecobricks, alternative construction fillers which have been used in other parts of the world and even in the Philippines' Mountain Province.

Plastic solution

To create an ecobrick, one needs to stuff plastic into plastic bottles tightly using a stick.

"Once it's compact, it's harder. Then we can use the bottle as a substitute for hollow blocks," Dionisio said.

Less than a year since they started, Plastic Solutions has repurposed an estimated 1.5 MT of plastic waste and put these to good use in Zambales, La Union, and Aurora. They also have at least 20,000 more bottles in stock, waiting to be used as alternative fillers.

The good thing about the initiative is that it does not just end with the ecobricks. Plastic Solutions also instills eco-friendly habits among its volunteers and partners.

"One of the behaviors it creates is that you realize that plastic is a hassle. You begin to realize that you are producing a lot of plastic trash. It has the desired effect to make more people more mindful of how much plastic they use," Dionisio said.

He noted that their volunteers have started using ecobags, metal straws, and other eco-friendly materials since they began the initiative.

Moving forward

According to Dionisio, Plastic Solutions has attracted volunteers from all walks of life and across age groups.

In one particular heartwarming moment, Dionisio recalled how a child came to his office to donate two ecobricks.

"I was at the office working and the door opens, and a 6-year-old girl comes in and gives me two ecobricks. The girl goes, 'Hi sir, can you take my ecobricks?' It's heartwarming because the little girl understands why you have to create ecobricks."

That encounter gave him much hope for the future.

Through collective action, Dionisio is optimistic that he would live long enough to see a plastic-free Philippines. – Rappler.com


What factors affect road safety in Cagayan Valley's crash-prone roads?


ROAD CONDITIONS. LTFRB Region II Director Nasrudin Talipasan says unique road conditions in Cagayan may have contributed to the number of road crash deaths in the region. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – Road repairs, newly-opened routes, and geographic features – these are just some of the unique road conditions in Cagayan Valley that can prove risky or dangerous for motorists passing through.

During Rappler's #SaferRoadsPH forum on Wednesday, June 7, local officials in Cagayan Valley discussed the state of road safety in the region, and what can be done to improve the situation.

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Central Luzon has the highest number of crash-related deaths in 2014, but if numbers are divided by population, Cagayan Valley comes out as the most crash-prone. (READ: Deadly highways: What makes Cagayan Valley roads crash-prone?)

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Nasrudin Talipasan, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region II director, cited the following reasons that could affect road safety: constant repair of certain roads, newly-opened routes, increase of roads and alternative routes, and Cagayan's topography, among others.

"Cagayan is in the forefront of economic growth," Talipasan said. As a result of this, he added, many new roads are being built or repaired to keep up with the demands of a growing area, along with the increase in alternative routes.

Aside from the development of many roads in Cagayan, Talipasan said people are also buying more private vehicles, resulting in heavier traffic jams and busier roads.

He added that Cagayan's topography is another reason for its high rate of road crashes, given that it is a mountainous area.

The region is nestled between the Cordilleras and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges.

Other regions, Talipasan said, may be less prone to road crashes because the topography is generally flat and located in the lowlands.

Recent data showed that in 2016, there were 1,471 road crashes in Cagayan province.

In those road crashes, 127 people were killed and 770 people suffered from injuries. Almost half of the victims were 20 to 39 years old.

According to the data, 790 of these crashes were a result of reckless driving.

Cagayan roads have had a number of deadly road crashes, such as the April 2017 bus crash that killed more than 30 people. The bus fell into a ravine while on the mountainous route from Cagayan Valley to Abra.

In the same month, a bus also collided with a truck in Nueva Vizcaya, a province in Cagayan Valley. The crash resulted in a 9-hour traffic jam.

Given the region's history of road crashes, Talipasan stressed that extra precautions must be taken when navigating the mountainous, uphill Cagayan roads. – Ishbelle Bongato / Rappler.com

Ishbelle Bongato is a Rappler intern.

TRENDING: Cagayan calls for #SaferRoadsPH


MANILA, Philippines – The viral road safety discussions on social media highlight the need for road safety.

On June 7, Rappler headed to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan to host the 2nd #SaferRoadsPH forum. From 1 pm to 5 pm, people gathered at the University of St Louis to discuss the reality of Cagayan Valley being the region with the highest road crash density rate in the Philippines.

The conversation, however, didn't remain on the ground. Online, people joined the dialogue to share their thoughts. By 3 pm, #SaferRoadsPH was a trending topic on Twitter.

Participants at the event and those who tuned in through the livestream were quick to tweet the most striking parts of the forum. From quotes to reactions, here are some of the tweets that made the hashtag trend.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Motorcycle riders and pedestrians are the most vulnerable to road crashes. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Kurt Adrian (@BigBossKurt02) <a href="https://twitter.com/BigBossKurt02/status/872356110946230272">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Isn&#39;t it too easy for student drivers to acquire Student licenses?<br>-Sheena Cuntapay, SSC Council<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Ice Bearoccoli (@peexelles) <a href="https://twitter.com/peexelles/status/872360133694717953">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">omg? highest ang Region 3? <a href="https://twitter.com/urielight">@urielight</a> factor din siguro ang NLEX<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/R68yy1PhOI">https://t.co/R68yy1PhOI</a></p>&mdash; Rose Ann Maputol (@sanmaputol) <a href="https://twitter.com/sanmaputol/status/872355197091291136">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Forum participants tweeted their realizations from listening to the speakers.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Top cause of traffic crashes: Human Error <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; 1374132911 (@aymdehed) <a href="https://twitter.com/aymdehed/status/872342861064392704">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;I should be a responsible driver&quot; keep that in mind. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; 1374132911 (@aymdehed) <a href="https://twitter.com/aymdehed/status/872355430105849862">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Respect, courtesy, discipline and responsibility ay kailangan para iwasan ang road crashes. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Kurt Adrian (@BigBossKurt02) <a href="https://twitter.com/BigBossKurt02/status/872355190640451584">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Some also took to Twitter to point out possible weak points of local roads.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">I think isa sa problema sa Tuguegarao ay ang wala ni isang traffic light sa mga main roads. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Erma Joy J. Diciano (@ohermahgerd8) <a href="https://twitter.com/ohermahgerd8/status/872350292691611648">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Build bike lanes and encourage others to bike, just like in Iloilo City. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Felee E. Morit  (@jhayjhay_22) <a href="https://twitter.com/jhayjhay_22/status/872352753498107906">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Roads really are narrow here in Tuguegarao <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a></p>&mdash; Julius Catulin (@JulioCatulin) <a href="https://twitter.com/JulioCatulin/status/872353582489751553">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Overall, people found the forum helpful and praised the speakers for their wisdom.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hope that <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom">@rapplerdotcom</a> will conduct a Road Safety forum in different parts of the country, not just in Cagayan. Good job! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a> <a href="https://t.co/y1eHvFKOGe">https://t.co/y1eHvFKOGe</a></p>&mdash; Hannah Mallorca (@gabmallorca_) <a href="https://twitter.com/gabmallorca_/status/872351921218170880">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaferRoadsPH?src=hash">#SaferRoadsPH</a> Amazing Speakers for the forum.</p>&mdash; NESTHOWR^^ (@THORxxTHOR) <a href="https://twitter.com/THORxxTHOR/status/872341663984869377">June 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Crash-related deaths on the rise

The number of vehicular crash-related deaths has been on the rise in the Philippines since 2006, when the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded 6,869 deaths due to road crashes. Eight years later, in 2014, that number jumped to 8,666.

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In the country, Cagayan Valley is the region with the highest number of vehicular crash-related deaths as compared to their population.

Zooming in shows that Tuguegarao City is the most vulnerable in terms of vehicular crashes that occur in the province of Cagayan.

These numbers are the reason why Rappler and its partner organizations chose to host the 2nd #SaferRoadsPH forum in Tuguegarao City.

With over 90 forum participants and around 2 million Twitter accounts reached (according to TweetReach), Rappler hopes that road safety will be prioritized by road users across the country.

What is the road safety situation in your area? Share your thoughts on X! – Rappler.com

Making Cagayan roads safer: Local officials offer solutions


SAFETY SOLUTIONS. Cagayan Valley officials present ideas on how to make roads in the region safer. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – With its mountainous topography, Cagayan Valley is no stranger to road crashes. 

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the region had 682 road crash-related deaths in 2014. When compared with its population, Cagayan Valley has the highest crash density rate in the region.

In 2016 alone, the Cagayan Provincial Police Office recorded a total of 1,471 road crashes. (READ: Deadly highways: What makes Cagayan Valley roads crash-prone?)

During Rappler's #SaferRoadsPH forum held on Wednesday, June 7, in Tuguegarao City, Superintendent Oliver Tanseco of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Highway Patrol Group said road crashes are preventable as long as motorists take proper action.

The forum featured several Cagayan officials as discussion panelists, all of whom proposed several solutions to avoid road crashes and save lives. (READ: What factors affect road safety in Cagayan Valley's crash-prone roads?)

All of them emphasized that road safety begins with respect and courtesy toward fellow motorists.

On the part of local government units (LGUs), the panelists said they should address gaps in road policies and implementation.

As Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region II Director Nasrudin Talipasan explained, road safety boils down to a confluence of factors. "It's about the law and obedience to the law. That will make it happen," he said.

Education and information dissemination 

Tuguegarao City Councilor Claire Callangan identified information dissemination as the key to the effective enforcement of national policies such as the seatbelt law and the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

Aside from the narrow roads and the dense population of Cagayan which may contribute to the number of road crash incidents, Callangan pointed to the "pasaway" (hardheaded) mentality as one of the main cause of crashes.  

Callangan believes tackling road safety in the barangay level will encourage locals to be more obedient when it comes to following traffic rules.

Creation of a road safety task force

Meanwhile, Tuguegarao City Councilor Raymund Guzman suggested the creation of a task force solely focused on enforcing road safety policies.

The proposed task force will be composed of officials from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), LTFRB, and other agencies involved in road safety.

With this task force, Guzman said enforcement of road safety policies will be much more efficient and streamlined.

Institutionalization of driver's academy

Apart from the training sessions and seminars offered by the LTO, Talipasan emphasized the need to institutionalize educational programs for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.

Information campaigns must be a continuous initiative of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), LTFRB, and LGUs.

Improving public transportation

According to Tanseco, the ultimate solution to road safety is to improve public transportation in the Philippines, as 80% of trips are via public transport. More efficient systems of public transport eliminate vulnerabilities for pedestrians.

Given all of these, Talipasan emphasized that road safety management, information awareness, and policy making and enforcement are the 3 keys to safer roads – not only in Cagayan but in the whole country. – Gari Acolola / Rappler.com

Gari Acolola is a Rappler intern.

With EJKs and crime, should motorcycle helmets be required?



MANILA, Philippines – While helmets are vital in ensuring the safety of motorcycle riders, they could also be used by unscrupulous criminals to hide their identities.

This was the security concern raised by a Tuguegarao City councilor during Rappler's #SaferRoadsPH forum held last Wednesday, June 7.

Councilor Claire Callangan said that motorcycle helmets are used by offenders to aid them in their crimes, hiding their faces and leaving officials without an identity to trace.

Ito’y isang concern dito sa ating siyudad dahil dumadami yung extrajudicial killings o mga di maipaliwanag na pagpatay. Kaya gumagamit ng mga helmet dahil di natin sila ma-identify. (This is a concern in our city because the number of extrajudicial killings or unexplained killings is increasing. They are using helmets so that we won’t be able to identify them.)

The suggestion is similar to a supposed "no helmet" policy in parts of Bulacan. (READ: Motorcycle riders can't wear helmets in some parts of Bulacan?)

Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) Superintendent Oliver Tanseco, however, said wearing helmets is mandatory nationwide.

According to the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009, all motorcycle drivers and back riders are required to wear standard helmets to ensure their safety. 

After all, motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable road users, according to the studies conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Metro Manila Development Authority.

Last year, Metro Manila recorded a total of 23,105 road crash incidents involving motorcycles. At least 218 riders were killed in 2016 while 11,458 others sustained injuries from various road incidents. (READ: Road Deaths in the PH: Most are motorcycles, pedestrians

But the implementation of the law faces challenges because of these security concerns.

Bigyan natin ng balance between safety and security, Tanseco proposed. (We should provide a balance between safety and security.)

He suggested that officials prohibit tinted visors and ban riders from wearing bonnets and shades. 

The police official added that the rider can wear a bonnet and sunglasses when he is on the highway since it’s extremely hot, but once he enters the city, he has to strictly abide by the rules. – Kaela Malig/Rappler.com

Kaela Malig is a Rappler intern

WATCH: Cagayan police draw pedestrian lane made of chalk


NEW SIGHT. Students help a Cagayan Highway Patrol Group officer to draw a pedestrian lane in front of their school. Photo by Vee Salazar/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Would you believe, there aren't too many pedestrian lanes in the bustling city of Tuguegarao?

Many residents, especially children, are not used to crossing pedestrian lanes because there aren't enough of them. 

Renj Ramilo, 11, is a Grade 6 student of Tuguegarao East Central School. She said she has a classmate who was hit by a tricycle.

According to her, some students from her school don't know how to properly cross the streets because there are no pedestrian lanes near her school.

"'Di rin nila alam minsan 'yung tawag (sa mga pedestrian lanes) kaya 'yung mga bata eh nagugulat na lang kung bakit may ganyan sa daan (Some kids sometimes do not know how we call pedestrian lanes, that's why some of them are surprised why there are such [markings] on roads)," said Ramilo.

The road where Tuguegarao East Central School is located is in the city center where many motorists pass. (READ: What factors affect road safety in Cagayan Valley's crash-prone roads?)

According to the police, there were a total of 1,471 vehicular crash incidents recorded in the province in 2016. (READ: Deadly highways: What makes Cagayan Valley roads crash-prone?)

Make-shift crosswalks

CHALK-DRAWN. The Cagayan Philippine National Police - Highway Patrol Group draws pedestrian lanes using chalk in front of Tuguegarao East Central School. Photo by Vee Salazar/Rappler

Following the #SaferRoadsPH forum held by Rappler on Wednesday, June 7, the Cagayan Highway Patrol Group (HPG) decided to start an experiment on creating pedestrian lanes in front of schools. 

As early as 5 am Thursday, June 8, the local highway patrol group headed to Tuguegarao East Central School for the make-shift pedestrian lane.

They drew a pedestrian lane using chalk in front of the school. They also marked an area for an elevated platform that would slow down motor vehicles passing the area.

By 7 am, the students were asked to cross the streets using the chalk-drawn lanes.

"If we didn't draw the lanes, they wouldn't know that they are supposed to only cross there," Cagayan HPG chief Michael Bontayong told Rappler.

"We saw that some students were still adjusting because they now see a crosswalk," he said.

ADJUSTING. Students from Tuguegarao East Central School are waiting for the go signal to cross the chalk-draw pedestrian lane. Photo by Rupert Ambil II/Rappler  Eufronio Alam, the school's officer-in-charge, said that the lanes were a big help in preventing crash-related injuries – even if they were drawn by chalk.

"The demonstration earlier is a good practice in teaching students the right way to cross streets," he said.

"Some of our students were hit by motorists in the past because we only have one security guard managing pedestrian crossing. There was no assistance from the police," he added.

Alam said they will instill the practice of crossing the chalk-drawn pedestrian lane with their students to avoid road mishaps. "I hope the city hall or the (Philippine National Police) monitors this activity as well to avoid traffic-related incidents among children," he said.

Road safety awareness

Eventually, the chalk markings will be erased. Tuguegarao City Councilor Claire Callangan said she will bring up the results of the experiment to the city council. (READ: Making Cagayan roads safer: Local officials offer solutions)

Callangan told Rappler that road safety awareness is a change of mindsets among Tuguegaraoans. "Many residents are not well aware, in terms of road safety. Even signages are usually not followed," she said.

Callangan is confident the city government will support programs that will help Tuguegarao city roads become safer.

According to the World Health Organization, about 1.25 million people die yearly due to traffic-related injuries which could have been prevented. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

In the Philippines alone, 8,666 people died from these incidents in 2014, according to the state statistics bureau. Central Luzon has the most number of recorded fatalities but the Cagayan Valley region tops the list in terms of affected population.

When the chalk-drawn pedestrian lane is erased, will the city government step in to finally paint it permanently? – Rappler.com

Filipino PWD paddlers win gold in HK paradragon boat race


WINNERS. Breaking barriers, the first Filipino cross-disability dragon boat racing team wins gold in the Hong Kong paradragon racing event. Photo courtesy of JP Maunes

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Accessible Disability Services (PADS) adaptive dragon boat racing team, the country’s first-ever cross-disability dragon boat racing team, took home the gold medal from the Paradragon Division of the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races 2017 held from June 2 to 4.

Beating 6 other teams, the PADS dragonboat team finished the race with a speed of one minute and 43 seconds (ahead by 7 seconds of the second placer).

With 36 paddlers, the team is composed of several amputees, polio survivors, blind, and deaf. They hail from the cities of Mandaue, Cebu, and Lapu-Lapu. The team was formed around September 2016 and had their first dragon boat competition in Dumaguete City only in November.


In a statement, PADS dragonboat racing team founder and team manager John Paul Maunes shared the process of their rigorous training.

“We started the program on adaptive sports 9 months ago. We got an invitation from the organizers of the Hong Kong Dragon boat Carnival to represent our country. We started training last December. Yung training natin at least 5 times a week. Our training starts every 4 am,” he said. (We started training last December, at least 5 times a week, starting at 4 am.)

The road to the gold medal was littered with challenges, according to Maunes. 

According to the team manager, since members have different kinds of disability, they all required individual training. This meant that the team had to undergo sports performance training with several specialists.

With lack of support from government, Maunes also said they had difficulty raising funds for their expenses.

“Actually out-of-pocket expenses ito. Struggle nga, pagdating namin sa Hong Kong, P50,000*($1,009.49) lang ang dala namin. Papunta nga ng Hong Kong, wala ngang pambayad ng terminal fee at travel tax so we made a post in Facebook na kung sino ang makakabigay ng support sa expenses ng team,” Maunes said.

(Actually, we paid for our own expenses. We had a difficult time when we arrived in Hong Kong because we only had P50,000. We were on the way to Hong Kong, but we didn't have the money to pay for our terminal fee and travel tax so we posted on Facebook asking for help to raise funds and support expenses of the team.)

Fortunately, a number of kindhearted individuals pitched in to partially fund their expenses. 

Arnold Balais, team captain of the PADS dragon boat team, echoed Maunes, sharing the individual struggles of members. 


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Number one talaga finances, alam mo naman mga athlete natin na PWDs, hindi lahat may trabaho. So tulungan talaga, ‘yung iba pino-provide namin pamasahe noong iba naming kasama na kapos talaga, tulungan lang talaga.

(The number one problem that we face is really finances, as not all PWD athletes have jobs. So we really help each other. We provide transportation funds for our other members who really don't have enough, it's really helping each other.)

What’s next?

But despite all the difficulties, Balais and the whole team are glad that their hard work paid off.

"We are really happy with our victory because it’s an international competition and as the first PWD dragon boat team in the country, it’s a big honor for us to represent the country. We even won and defeated the defending champion from Hong Kong," Balais said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Maunes and Balais said they are excited to move forward as a team after their first international win.

I-celebrate muna namin ‘yung win kasi we’ve been really working hard for this. Almost everything na nga eh, dito na buhay ng paddlers natin eh,” Maunes said. (We have to celebrate this victory first because we've been really working hard for this. This has been almost everything, this has been the life of our paddlers.) 


After taking a quick break, Maunes said they we will resume their practice for another dragon boat competition in Manila – the Regatta Dragon Boat Festival. 

PWD inclusion

In the very physically demanding sport of dragon boat racing, Maunes said they don't talk about disability. Instead they focus on how they can strengthen themselves to win the competition. 

According to Maunes, this gave the team members a sense of empowerment and inclusion.

“Before, they were enclosed in the corners of their home. Now, they’re out here performing just like the other people without disabilities," Maunes added.

PADS or Philippine Accessible Disability Services Inc. is an independent non-governmental organization that aims to empower persons with disabilities to become independent and integrated citizens of society. – Rappler.com

For those interested in donating and supporting the team, you can visit their site at http://pads.org.ph/

*$1 = P49.53

Clyde Villanueva is a Rappler intern. He is studying Mass Communication at the San Pablo Colleges in Laguna. 

NDRRMC cites outstanding work in disaster management


ZERO CASUALTY ADVOCATES. NDRRMC awards local government units, humanitarian groups, and individuals for their outstanding efforts on disaster management. Photo by PICC

MANILA, Philippines – In a disaster prone-country like the Philippines, which local government units and private institutions are leading the way in terms of disaster management?

To honor outstanding local efforts in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery in the past year, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) held the 18th Gawad Kalasag National Awarding Ceremony on Thursday, June 8, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

“Gawad Kalasag awakens our resolution and vigor in leadership to prepare ahead so that when the danger is upon us, there shall be no fear, only courage,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is concurrent NDRRMC chief.

The annual awards is deemed important among local government units and humanitarian responders – groups that are expected to be on the frontline of emergency measures during disasters.

The Philippines is vulnerable to almost all types of hazards. An average of  20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area of responsibility every year.

For the 18th Gawad Kalasag, NDRRMC awarded 9 local DRRM Councils, two individuals, 13 groups/institutions, and two hall of fame awardees for their outstanding contributions in DRRM and humanitarian assistance.

Among the awardees are Isabela province and Davao City. They are recognized as the best local DRRM council at the provincial and highly-urbanized city levels, respectively.

The Davao Firefighter Rescue Services received the Hall of Fame award for winning in the Gawad Kalasag for 3 consecutive years.

Here is complete list of awardees: 

List of awardees at the 18th Gawad Kalasag National Awards

Best provincial DRRM council

Province of Isabela

Best city DRRM council (highly-urbanized)

Davao City

Best city DRRM council (independent)

Santiago City, Isabela

Best municipal DRRM council (1st - 3rd class)

Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

Best municipal DRRM council (4th - 6th class)

Tublay, Benguet

Best barangay DRRM committee (urban)

Brgy Poblacion, Tupi, South Cotabato

Best barangay DRRM committee (rural)

Brgy Alinguigan Second, Ilagan City, Isabela

Best civil society organization

Sibog Katawhan Along sa Paglambo, Incorporated (SIKAP)

Best people's organization

Nagkahiusang Mangingista sa Hinatuan, Incorporated

Best volunteer organization

Davao Firefighter and Rescue Services

Best Government Emergency Management Service (Basic)

Disaster Action Response Team, Tarlac City

Best Emergency Management Service

Rescue 922, Cauayan City, isabela

Best public school (urban)

Raniag High School, Ramon, Isabela

Best private school (urban)

Lord's Hand Academy, Pasig City

Best public school (Rural)

Bintawan National High School, Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya

Best private school (Rural)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy, Lanao del Norte

Best early learning center (Urban)

Isabela Provincial Capitol Day Care Center, Ilagan City

Best early learning center (rural)

Sipitan-Badiang Day Care Center, Guimbal, Iloilo

Best hospital (national government)

Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr Medical Center, Ozamiz City

Best hospital (LGU)

Hinatuan District Hospital, Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur

Best hospital (private)

Bacolod Adventist Medical Center, Bacolod City

Hall of Fame Award

Davao Firefighter and Rescue Services, Incorporated

Isabela Provincial Capitol Day Care Center

Special award: Heroic Act (Living)

PFC Roel S. Dalaota, PA

Special recognition (individual)

Director Alexander Madrigal

Special recognition (group)

Tactical Operative Amphibious Drive


Gawad Kalasag is the country’s premier annual awards for outstanding contribution in the fields of DRRM and humanitarian assistance.

It is the principal mechanism by which the NDRRMC advances awareness of the best practices of DRRM and humanitarian response and action.

It also aims to cite individuals, groups, or institutions that have shown extraordinary courage, heroism, and sacrifice in times of emergencies, be it natural or manmade.

Since its inception in 1998, the Gawad Kalasag award has been given to 199 Local DRRM Councils, 66 national government organizations, 31 individuals, and 211 groups/institutions.

About 30 awardees have been included in the Hall of Fame, such as the town of San Jose de Buenavista in Antique which was Best Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for the 1st to 3rd Class Municipality Category, for 3 consecutive years.

In 2012, Pasig City also entered the Hall of Fame as Best Government Emergency Response Manager. A year later, it was named the Best City Disaster Council. – Rappler.com 

#SalamatSaSerbisyo: Show your support for Marawi soldiers, cops


MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will commemorate its 119th Independence day on Monday, June 12, with martial law in Mindanao and the crisis in Marawi City as its backdrop.

Amid the fighting in the Southern Philippines, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said government troops will raise the Philippine flag in crisis-hit Marawi to mark Independence Day.

The Marawi clashes had killed 58 soldiers and policemen as of Saturday, June 10. On Friday, June 9, the Presidential Communications Operations Office released an initial list of 45 casualties on the government side, among them, Marawi deputy police chief Police Inspector Edwin Placido. 

Independence Day commemorates the Philippines' liberation from over 300 years of Spanish colonization. This year's observance takes on a more symbolic meaning as many Filipino soldiers put their life on the line to liberate Marawi from local terrorists who claim links to the Islamic State (ISIS).

Let us show our support for Filipino soldiers and policemen deployed to  Marawi City. Thank them for their sacrificies and selflessness using the hashtag #SalamatSaSerbisyo!

You can also share your message or letter to our Filipino soldiers and policemen on X, Rappler's self-publishing paltform. 

When submitting via social media, remember to use #SalamatSaSerbisyo and make your post public.

The photos will be collated and published on Rappler on Monday, June 12. Rappler.com


VSU turns over flood hazard, resource maps to Eastern Visayas towns


HAZARD MAPS. Visayas State University president Edgardo Tulin (in white) leads the turnover of flood and resource maps to officials of disaster-prone towns in Eastern Visayas. Photo by Aliana Gene Sarmiento/VSU Web Team

LEYTE, Philippines — Every year, more than 20 typhoons visit the country, making our communities susceptible to hazards like flooding. Beyond the damage this poses to the country's agricultural resources, it also makes lives at risk due to these hazards.  

With this challenge in mind, a research team from the Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay City, Leyte produced hazard and resource maps for about 40 municipalities and cities from the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.

The Philippine Light Detection and Ranging (Phil-LiDAR) research project started in 2014, initiated by the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) Program.

The program, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), rolled out nationwide by partnering with higher education institutions in different regions as partners.

VSU led the implementation for Eastern Visayas.

On May 26, VSU Phil-LiDAR 1 and 2 projects turned over high resolution maps, and data in CDs to representatives of local government units in the 5 provinces of Region 8 after 3 years of research.

HAZARD MAPS. The resolution maps and data turned over by VSU to local government units in Easter Visayas are the produce of their three years of research

The flood hazard maps, produced by Phil-LiDAR 1, contain information on predicted flood depth and risk levels in areas close to river basins. On the other hand, the resource maps, produced by Phil-LiDAR 2, reflect the agricultural, forestry, coastal resources of a municipality or city, as well as potential renewable energy sources, and hydrologic data.

“The project both acquired aerial and elevation topography, and ground surveys to produce digital elevation models and come up with the flood hazard maps,” said UP Diliman Phil-LiDAR 1 Chief Science Research Specialist Christopher Uichanco.

Uichanco said he is hopeful that VSU’s outputs can help local government units (LGUs) create comprehensive flood advisory systems and design mitigation measures based on the data from the provided maps.

VSU Phil-LiDAR 2 project leader Dr Pastor Garcia said the maps can be used in planning disaster response and mitigation strategies as well as in developing agribusiness opportunities with the available untapped resources.

According to Garcia, the development of the maps partly serves as a response to NEDA’s call to provide regions with tools for decision-making.

Dr Ciriago Agner, Jr., the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and disaster risk management focal person in the municipality of Palo, expressed his gratitude to the Phil-LiDAR program.

“These maps from VSU Phil-LiDAR program will be a great help in reducing the vulnerability of our crops and other resources,” Agner said, recognizing the usability of the maps from their existing hazard maps.

Uichangco also demonstrated the Automated Water Level Forecasting System which can be accessed from the website. The system gives past and actual water levels of river basins as well as predicted risk levels.

The VSU Phil-LiDAR projects officially ended on May 31.

VSU President Dr Edgardo Tulin said the university will continue to provide technical services, and develop more technologies for disaster risk mitigation and economic growth as its responsibility to its neighboring communities. – Rappler.com 

Aliana Gene Sarmiento writes development stories for Visayas State University.

 This story was originally published at Visayas State University: http://www.vsu.edu.ph/rde-news/1260-phil-lidar

Road construction, repairs need adequate signage – motorcycle rider


DISCUSSING SAFETY. Local officials of Cagayan Valley discuss how to make roads safer for all road users. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – A motorcycle rider from Nueva Vizcaya expressed concerns about road construction and repairs as an issue for road safety, with the lack of signs making it worse.

"Galing akong [Nueva] Vizcaya, kabi-kabilaan ang construction, from [Nueva] Vizcaya all the way to Tuguegarao ... Bakit 'yung mga construction, kabilaan, walang mga road signs, walang precautions. Safe ba 'yun?" Jay Pumaras asked.

(I'm from Nueva Vizcaya, and construction is everywhere, from Nueva Vizcaya all the way to Tuguegarao ... But why are there are no road signs, no precaution warnings? Is that safe?)

Aside from road repairs, newly-opened routes and geographic features are unique road conditions which may be risky for motorists and riders in Cagayan Valley. (READ: What factors affect road safety in Cagayan Valley's crash-prone roads?)

In Rappler's #SaferRoadsPH forum last Wednesday, June 7, local officials of Cagayan Valley and representatives from the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Land Transportation Office (LTO), and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) discussed road safety concerns in the crash-prone region.

PNP-HPG Superintendent Oliver Tanseco said contractors are tasked to supply signs and precautions for road construction or repairs to ensure safety for motorists and riders.


Responsibility to the law

"Bago i-approve 'yung roads, hinihingan namin sila ng traffic assessment plan, kasama safety plan... dapat may signs 'yan para alam na nila," Tanseco said. (Before road works are approved, we ask for a traffic assessment plan and a safety plan... there should be road signs to inform motorists.)

He said it is also the responsibility of road contractors to ensure that roads are safe for motorists to pass through.

Aside from stating that the traffic assessment plan and safety plan are required by law, Tanseco called on riders, motorists, and authorities to work together in ensuring road safety.

Tuguegarao City Councilor Claire Callangan noted that sometimes people are to blame for the lack of road signs, with some people removing these from road works.

Callangan added that the DPWH is liable for making sure that road contractors follow standard protocols in road safety.

DPWH Planning Office Engineer Joel Atilano gave assurances that approved road contractors do check if roads under construction are safe for motorists.

Atilano added that the DPWH focuses on monitoring national roads while Cagayan Valley authorities monitor local roads in Region II.– Hannah Mallorca / Rappler.com

Hannah Mallorca is a Rappler intern.

'Distracted driver cost us P300,000 in medical bills' – road crash survivor


INJURIES. Eufronio Torrado narrates his harrowing experience when he figured in a road crash in January 2017. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – It's not what you drive, but how you drive.

Eufronio Torrado appealed to motorists to be more cautious behind the wheel after recalling how he survived a road crash, which he narrated during Rappler's #SaferRoadsPH Forum last Wednesday, June 7, in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

At first admitting that he was reluctant to recall his harrowing experience, Torrado retold the fateful trip that changed his life last January 27 along a national highway in Alcala, Cagayan.

Torrado was in the front seat of a van, traveling home after attending a work-related seminar in Central Luzon. Around 7 kilometers away from their house, he decided to remove his seatbelt since he felt confident about the road conditions and the driver of the van they were riding.

That was his first mistake.

Throughout their ride, Torrado noticed that their driver was a bit distracted.

"Habang nagda-drive siya, nagbabasa siya ng text, tapos nilalagay niya sa dashboard. 'Pag may tumatawag, ine-entertain niya 'yung tawag,” he said. (While he was driving, he was reading text messages, then putting the phone on the dashboard. Whenever the phone rang, he would pick up the call.)

As they approached a bridge surrounded by fields of corn, the distracted driver lost control and the van hit a carabao-drawn carriage just before hitting an acacia tree.

Torrado flew out of the vehicle from the impact of the crash, and his wife who was riding with him eventually found him lying on the ground, barely breathing with his face bloody and broken.

The freak road crash left him with a blind eye and a fractured face. His wife, Olivia, sustained injuries on her head, requiring 9 stitches.

Torrado had to get titanium implants in his face to realign it again. After almost 3 weeks in different hospitals, the road crash left them with over P300,000 in medical bills along with some scars.

The crash the Torrados experienced is just one among hundreds of road crashes occurring every year in one of the most crash-prone regions in the country.

In 2016 alone, Cagayan province recorded a total number of 1,471 road crashes, with 682 deaths. Reckless driving was the number one cause with 790 cases. (READ: Deadly highways: What makes Cagayan Valley roads crash-prone?)

As he wrapped up his story, Torrado left the crowd at the forum with this parting message: "'Pag magda-drive 'wag maglasing o uminom man, kasi doon ang disgrasya. ['Pag] gagamit ng cellphone – nakikiusap ako, 'wag natin gawin 'yun."

(If you're going to drive, don't get drunk or drink alcohol, because that's how crashes start. Don't use your cellphones – I appeal to you, do not do that.)

The Philippines' Anti-Distracted Driving Act bans drivers from using cellphones and other gadgets while behind the wheel. The implementation of that law, however, was put on hold last May 23 – just less than a week after it took effect – following complaints from lawmakers and drivers about "confusing" rules. The Department of Transportation is currently reviewing and revising the implementing rules and regulations. – Marian Plaza / Rappler.com

Marian Plaza is a Rappler intern.

#SalamatSaSerbisyo: Netizens show support for Marawi soldiers, cops


MANILA, Philippines – Messages of support for soldiers and police deployed to Marawi City poured in as Filipinos celebrated the country's 119th Independence Day on Monday, June 12.

Last Saturday, June 10, Rappler's civic engagement arm MovePH crowdsourced messages of support for soldiers and police who have put their lives on the line to liberate Marawi City from local terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS).

At least 58 soldiers and police have been killed in Marawi City. The Philippine government paid tribute to them through a noontime salute on Independence Day, with their names and photos shown on television and read out on radio one by one.

Online, Filipinos joined the Philippine government in remembering the fallen security forces. Some also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families. 

"Makipadaddam kami ta familia na ira na nagawan tu suddalu, pulis anna karwan paga tu biktima na terrorista," said Virginia Guzman, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. (I am offering my condolences to the bereaved families of the fallen soldiers and policemen and the other civilian victims of the local terrorists.)


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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Sa mga kasundaluhang nag-alay at nag-aalay ng kanilang kinabukasan para sa ating kasalukuyan, maraming salamat sa inyo!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SalamatSaSerbisyo?src=hash">#SalamatSaSerbisyo</a></p>&mdash; HerMIONE_Granger (@cindy_marq) <a href="https://twitter.com/cindy_marq/status/874188576522514432">June 12, 2017</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">To the 58 policemen and soldiers who gave their life for the country, &amp; for those who continue to fight for the country, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SalamatSaSerbisyo?src=hash">#SalamatSaSerbisyo</a></p>&mdash; Tin Gumba (TINapay) (@TinGumba) <a href="https://twitter.com/TinGumba/status/874134758401335297">June 12, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Netizens also shared their messages of support for security forces still in Marawi City. The crisis will enter its 4th week on Tuesday, June 13.

On X, Rappler's self-publishing platform, Clyde Villanueva shared the messages of several Filipino youth leaders for the soldiers and policemen in Marawi City. The messages were said in 12 regional dialects.

In her article published on X, Bea Herrera also said: "To the bravest men, #SalamatSaSerbisyo. We owe our freedom, we owe today, to each and every one of you who fought (and are still fighting) for absolute freedom from the hands of terrorists."


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<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/874202907637194754">SalamatSaSerbisyo - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



What is your message for the soldiers and policemen in Marawi City? Thank them for their sacrifices using the hashtag #SalamatSaSerbisyo! – Rappler.com 

'Value freedom amid crisis' – Xavier-Ateneo


WAVING FLAGS. Xavier Ateneo Junior and Senior High School students wave their flags during the university's Philippine Independence Day celebration. Photo by Angelo Lorenzo

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Xavier University (XU) - Ateneo de Cagayan celebrated the 119th Philippine Independence Day by being reminded of the value of freedom amid the crisis of terrorism.

Within the university gymnasium, Xavier Ateneo students, along with the faculty and administrators, waved the country’s flag as the hymns of Francisco Santiago and Ildefonso Santos’s Pilipinas Kong Mahal and George Canseco’s Ako ay Pilipino resonated in musical performances.

XU president Fr. Roberto C. Yap SJ began the program by reading the Ateneo presidents' statement on the martial law declaration in his speech.

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over Mindanao, following the clashes between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City.

“The undersigned wholeheartedly support the members of the Armed Forces and the police who give their last full measure of devotion so that our country may be safe,” Yap remarked.

The students were reminded of the dangers of martial law and why they need to be vigilant. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)

Wary of martial law

“We have more than a decade of reasons to be wary of martial law,” Yap said. "A martial law limited in scope, enforced with discipline and restraint, with respect for the Constitution and the inviolability of human rights, can solve specific problems." (READ: Questions you need to ask about martial law in Mindanao)

“We trust our President when he tells us that martial rule shall only be limited and temporary,” Yap added, before concluding with the call for the community to pray for peace and justice in Marawi and in Mindanao.

RIBBON-TYING. Students tie yellow ribbons on the branches of a decorative tree as a symbol of patriotism and nationalism. Photo by Angelo Lorenzo

Students tied ribbons on tree branches as the music continued to resound throughout the gym.

Each ribbon represents the colors of the Philippine flag – an artistic symbol of the commitment to nationalism, according to Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts director Hobart Savior.

“It is also a symbol of patriotism for the attainment of peace,” said Savior, who also directed the event.

Terrorism, Savior said, can be fought through artistic means. “I think we have the responsibility to mirror and hammer our understanding and consciousness for our own people and land, of our own context and situation.”

Savior said the design is a representation of the “uprooted community” that had been displaced from their land due to the crisis.

“The design presents layers of understanding,” he said.

He also enumerated several privileges that Filipinos should have apart from independence. 

“The masses achieve freedom with the provision of food security, justice, and social welfare, among the many rights they are bestowed," he said. 

Shared responsibility

For Senior High School Media and Information Literacy instructor Jay Rhen Galagnara, the freedom to post on social media may have its own costs.

Exercising freedom means also considering the responsibility that comes with it.

“As a (media and information literacy) instructor, I teach my students to practice [their] freedom of expression and speech by being responsible for what they post online," he said.

Galagnara further discourages his students from spreading fake news, which may trigger aggression and perpetuate false information.

Instead, he encourages students to use media to sharpen their knowledge on local, national, and global issues.

For XU - Junior High School prefect of student affairs Joseph Saga, awareness is key to fully grasp freedom and inspire others to practice theirs.

“Part of my duty is to make them aware,” Saga shared. “Activities like this give the opportunity for the faculty and students to be aware; to be culturally integrated is what we need to inculcate.”

Last month, a significant number of students, members of the faculty, administrators, as well as the university’s alumni volunteered in the Tabang Marawi (Help Marawi) relief operations which deployed more than 3,000 Halal-certified relief goods packed by volunteers in the campus to refugees in evacuation centers. (READ: Groups call for donations for crisis-hit Marawi)

“We know how much our freedom means to us and what it can mean for them,” said SHS student Jay Edloy. – Rappler.com

Angelo Lorenzo is one of the lead Movers in Cagayan de Oro

Students, companies donate to families in Marawi


HELP FOR MARAWI. DSWD personnel prepare to load donations from students of the University of the Philippines for families affected by the Marawi crisis. Photo from DSWD

MANILA, Philippines – Several groups and individuals extended assistance to families affected by the crisis in Marawi City, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Students from the University of the Philippines Diliman and Manila campuses sent canned goods, bottled mineral water, sacks of rice, medicines, and toiletries. (READ: Maranao student helps build Muslim-Christian understanding in evacuation site)

The Masonic District-National Capital Region provided canned goods, instant noodles, biscuits, infant milk, bottled water, and clothing.

Sogo Hotel gave 3,000 pieces of blankets while the Bureau of Customs donated 3,000 bags of 50-kilogram glutinous rice

These were coursed through the department's National Resource Operations Center (NROC). (READ: Groups call for donations for crisis-hit Marawi)

Donations were also sent directly to DSWD's field office in Region XI and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association, Inc. donated more than 100 cases of bottled minteral water while Kabataan Party List - Cordillera brought sacks of rice, packs of coffee and milk, assorted canned goods, toiletries, and clothes.

Cebu Pacific Air also gave DSWD 20,000 kilograms of cargo space to bring relief goods from Manila to Cagayan de Oro. Donations will be flown via Cebu Pacific Air and will be transported by the DSWD.

The department also acknowledged those who donated cash through DSWD's bank accounts.

"Lubos ang ating pasasalamat sa mga grupo at indibidwal at kanilang pamilya na nagbigay ng tulog sa ating mga kapatid na evacuees mula Marawi," said DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

(We thank the different groups and individuals and their families who gave aid to our fellow citizens who have evacuated from Marawi.)

"Malayo po ang maaabot ng inyong mga ibinahaging tulong sa pagpapabuti ng kalagayan ng mga apektadong pamilya," she added. (The help you extended will go a long way towards the improvement of situation of the affected families.)

On May 23, clashes erupted in the city as the military moved to hunt down "high-value targets" from the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf Group, driving away thousands of families. (TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

As of June 2, over 100,000 residents were displaced due to the armed conflict while about 20,000 people were staying in 20 evacuation centers. (READ: How a father fled Marawi to save kids, wife in labor)

The DSWD earlier released P60,055,000 to its field offices in Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.

More help needed

Interested parties who want to extend help to the families may still donate through the DSWD, according to a statement released by the department. (READ: How to help Marawi evacuees through DSWD)

In-kind donations from Metro Manila may be sent to the NROC at Chapel Road in Pasay City with the telephone number (02) 511 1259. The operation center is open Monday to Friday from 6 am to 6 pm.

Donations coming from Mindanao can be sent directly to the field offices:

  • Region X office: Masterson Ave., Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City with telephone numbers (88) 858 8134 and 858 6333.
  • Region XII office: Poblacion, Koronadal City, South Cotabato with the telephone number (083) 228 6080.

Cash donations can be deposited to the following accounts:

DSWD Dollar Saving Account for Foreign Donation


Account Number: 3124-0055-81


Bank Address: Land Bank of the Philippines, Batasan Branch, Constitution Hills, Quezon City

Peso Current Account


Account Number: 3122-1011-84

Bank Address: Land Bank of the Philippines, Batasan Branch, Constitution Hills, Quezon City

Donors should notify the DSWD Finance Management Service (FMS) or Cash Division (CD) of their donation through phone or email. Send the validated deposit slip together with your information (name, nationality, and address) to finance@dswd.gov.ph and cash@dswd.gov.ph or fax to 9318127.– Rappler.com

If you want to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (SMART and SUN), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.

Displaced families in Marawi to receive P5,000 from DSWD


DISPLACED. Internally displaced persons pass through a checkpoint in Iligan City on May 24, 2017, following clashes between the Maute Group and government forces in Marawi City. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Families displaced by the crisis in Marawi City will receive cash assistance of P5,000, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Wednesday, June 14.

The DSWD said P1,000 is intended for food assistance during Ramadan, while the remaining P4,000 will be for transportation and other needs of the evacuees when they return home. (READ: Ahead of Ramadan, Marawi residents pray for lasting peace)

According to the DSWD, a family food pack containing 6 kilos of rice, 3 cans each of corned beef and sardines, and 6 packs of instant coffee are "not enough or suitable for Ramadan."

"The families can use the money (P1,000) to buy food that is more suitable for them when they break their fast at sunset," Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.

The remaining P4,000 will be released to each family when it is safe for them to go back to Marawi City. (READ: Marawi crisis: 'It's my first Ramadan far away from family')

"We are also preparing other actions to help them when they resume their lives in their communities," Taguiwalo said.

The cash assistance will be handed out in the department's offsite Serbisyo locations – at public schools, barangay halls, day care centers, and evacuation centers, among others – which will be determined by DSWD regional directors.

It may also be claimed at the DSWD's field offices. The department said monitoring would be conducted by the field offices on a daily basis until the displaced families return to their homes. (READ: WATCH: Marawi clashes tear apart families, friends on Ramadan)

"Our Muslim brothers and sisters from Marawi ... cannot fully observe the rites and eat traditional meals because most of them have been displaced – with many of them now staying in evacuation centers," Taguiwalo said.

Duplication of records

Taguiwalo also gave assurances that duplication of names in their profiling system will be resolved to ensure fair allotment of assistance to all affected families.

On May 23, clashes erupted in Marawi City as the military moved to hunt down "high-value targets" from the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group, driving away thousands of families. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)

As of Tuesday, June 13, 65,198 families or 316,684 people have been displaced due to the conflict. (READ: How a father fled Marawi to save kids, wife in labor)

About 3,074 out of the 65,198 families or 14,772 out of the 316,684 people are still staying in 68 evacuation centers. The bigger remainder of the affected individuals are staying with their relatives or friends in various regions.

Since the clashes broke, several groups and individuals have extended assistance to the affected families.

Interested parties who want to help may still donate through the DSWD. (READ: How to help Marawi evacuees through DSWD– with reports from Bea Herrera / Rappler.com

If you want to help internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Marawi City or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (SMART and SUN), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.

Bea Herrera is a Rappler intern.

FAST FACTS: How other countries impose rules vs distracted driving


DISTRACTED DRIVING. Countries around the world have their own rules to deter drivers from using their phones while behind the wheel. Rappler file photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday, June 14, released the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

This comes more than 3 weeks since the implementation of the law was suspended after motorists complained about confusing guidelines on the allowed placement of electronic devices and how authorities defined "line of sight."

Though intended to make Philippine roads safer, the law, which bans the use of mobile phones and other electronic gadgets while driving, initially ended up generating more questions than answers.

How do other countries deter distracted drivers from going behind the wheel? Here's a look at some of the anti-distracted driving laws around the world.


In Singapore, it is illegal to use a mobile communications device while driving. By "use," the law means "to hold it in at least one hand while operating any of its functions." 

Drivers can't send text messages, make phone calls, or browse online when the car is in motion. First-time offenders can face fines of up to $1,000 or jail time of 6 months.


Japan also has a similar law which states that a driver of a motor vehicle "shall not, unless the motor vehicle, etc is stopped, use any wireless communication equipment."


In Buenos Aires, Argentina, a law was passed in 2007 that bans drivers from writing or reading text messages as long as the vehicle is in motion. Violators not only face fines, but are also penalized based on a point system in which points will eventually lead to the revocation of their license.

United States

In the US, 46 states plus the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, according to a CNN report. But this ban is only a secondary law in 5 of the states (Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota), which means drivers who are texting while driving can be penalized only if they are also seen committing a primary offense, such as speeding.

There are also rules in several US states specifically aimed at particular groups.

According to a report by the World Health Organization, 28 of 50 states in the US prohibit the use of both hand-held and hands-free devices among novice drivers. In 18 states, school bus drivers are also prohibited from using mobile phones when their passengers are present.

United Kingdom

The UK has toughened up its penalty system for distracted drivers, with new laws passed last March.

Those caught using mobile devices while driving will face fines of £200 and 6 points on their license – double the previous penalties.

Someone who has been driving within the first two years of getting his or her license can also have his or her license revoked if caught violating the new rules.


Following the lead of several other countries, Portugal extended the coverage of its distracted driving law to include banning even wireless handheld devices under threat of a 600-euro fine.


For a country with a good road safety record, Sweden does not ban the use of phones while driving. Instead, its initiatives are focused on raising awareness of the risks of distracted driving.

The Philippines can take cues from other countries' tough anti-distracted driving laws. 

If the revised IRR can address motorists' concerns, then the law could change the local driving environment for the better. – Carlos Victa / Rappler.com

Carlos Victa is a Rappler intern.