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#UN70: United Nations remains 'a beacon for all humanity'


BLUE. The iconic globe of the SM Mall of Asia bears the color blue of the United Nations to mark the Charter's 70th anniversary. Photo from the UN Information Center

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary on Saturday, October 24, vowing for a "strong UN and a better world."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that despite many years, the UN should remain guided by the “timeless values” it continues to share to the world.

“The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide,” he said in a statement. “Our shared duty is to “unite our strength” to serve “we the peoples.”

The collective effort of countries seen in the UN proves that no man – or country – alone can solve the existing problems which burden people across nations.

“The world faces many crises, and the limits of collective international action are painfully clear,” the Secretary-General said. “Yet no single country or organization can address today’s challenges alone.”

In an interview over radio station dzRB on Saturday, October 24, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte reiterated the country's gratitude to the UN for coming to the aid of the Philippines in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda almost two years ago.

The UN, she said, "was one of the very first to say that they are ready to extend their assistance to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines," so that until now the country is grateful.

"Now, more than ever, the significance of United Nations cannot be over-emphasized as governments continue to resort to the UN and its various agencies for the promotion of peace, health, and development. We commend the United Nations as it continues to function as a beacon of hope and a voice of reason in the international stage," Valte said.

The UN is currently composed of 193 member-states. The Philippines is part of the 51 founding members in 1945 with Carlos P. Romulo as the first permanent representative and eventually the first Asian to become president of the General Assembly. (READ: United Nations Day: Things you should know)

‘Diverse and talented’

The UN remains a “beacon for all humanity” since it was founded 7 decades ago, according to Ban Ki-moon.

The Charter works hard to end hunger, provide shelter, end conflict, deliver life-saving assistance, and ultimately “defends human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.”

“The United Nations works for the entire human family of 7 billion people, and cares for the earth, our one and only home,” he emphasized.

With over 44,000 staff in 40 UN programs and agencies across countries, the Secretary-General lauded the “diverse and talented” staff that carries the advocacies of the Charter to life.

“The 70th anniversary is a moment to recognize their dedication – and to honor the many who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” he said.

To mark the occasion, the official color of the UN – blue – will be seen in over 200 iconic structures around the world. The Philippines is one of the first countries to light up a famous landmark as part of the global “Turn the World UN Blue” campaign.

“As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all,” Ban Ki-moon said. 

ZERO HUNGER. World Food Programme country director Praveen Agrawal, national ambassador against hunger KC Concepcion, and resident coordinator Ola Almgren vow to eradicate hunger as part of the 2030 Agenda. Photo by WFP/Anthony Chase Lim

A 'committed partner'

UN resident coordinator Ola Almgren said during a joint event by the UN and the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday, October 23, that the Philippines remains committed in making a difference in the lives of people – including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals or the Global Goals.

“The Philippines has been a committed partner in all of these achievements," he said. "As one of 50 original signatory countries to the United Nations Charter, in San Francisco on 26 June 70 years ago, the Philippines holds a special and a proud place in the history of the United Nations," he added

There are currently 30 UN resident and non-resident agencies, programs, and international financial institutions in the Philippines, including the World Food Programme, United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, among others.

The UN system in the Philippines continues to work together with the government and local partners to further improve efforts in addressing problems in the country, including poverty and hunger for inclusive growth.

"The UN together with the government and people of the Philippines will continue to achieve more through our strong partnership," Almgren said. – Rappler.com

#TheLeaderIWant: Committed to zero hunger and good governance


ZERO HUNGER. Aspiring leaders should be committed to ending hunger for all Filipinos. Graphic by Alejandro Endoria

MANILA, Philippines – With the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections and the World Food Day falling on the same week in October, the National Food Coalition (NFC) believes it's high time to focus on the intersection of zero hunger and good governance.

According to NFC’s coordinator and legal consultant Ricardo Sunga III, choosing the right leaders in May 2016 should also depend on the candidates’ commitment to fulfilling every person’s right to adequate food.

Those seeking government positions should be “critically examined” for their commitment to end poverty and hunger among their constituents. (READ: What hunger, nutrition issues should 2016 candidates tackle?)

“Next year’s elections are an opportunity that should not be missed to examine critically the human rights record of those seeking our votes,” he said. “Leaders should be chosen according to their demonstrated commitment toward these ends. "

#TheLeaderIWant for hunger

The latest Food Consumption Survey (FCS) by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) found that 69.3% of Filipino households fail to meet daily energy requirements.

Meanwhile, according to the 1st Quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations, around 36% Filipinos said they do not have enough money to buy adequate amount of food.

To change these figures, NFC convener Aurea Teves emphasized the importance of a “genuine and firm” stance of future leaders against hunger and poverty.

“These issues call for immediate attention and require a comprehensive approach to address them,” she said. “Voters should pause and consider the fundamental right to food in the context of the upcoming elections.”

For stakeholders and advocates against hunger and poverty, leaders should:

1. Have an understanding of the right to adequate food

According to NFC, candidates should understand that the right to adequate food does not only mean feeding programs but long-term solutions to hunger. These solutions, among others, are tackled in the Zero Hunger Bill.

The proposed bill, once enacted into law, will address the food insecurity issue in the Philippines through a “whole-of-government approach.” It will also make the government accountable in fulfilling every Filipino’s right to food. (READ: Zero Hunger: Holding gov't responsible)

2.  Be “resolute and uncompromising” in upholding human rights but be open to adjustments to reach the goals – especially zero hunger

The House Committee on Human Rights approved the Zero Hunger Bill earlier this month. It is set to be tackled by the Committee on Appropriations and then in the plenary.  

However, according to the NFC, the bill’s passage relies on the firm cooperation of leaders and stakeholders. Their dedication is vital for the country to see a law that aims to fulfill the right to adequate food.

“The aspiring leaders should not compromise values and principles,” the group emphasized. “Our leaders must be flexible but should not let go of the essence of the RTAF which is the regular, stable and unrestricted access to food that is sufficient in quantity and quality, and conforms with cultural traditions, while ensuring that individuals and communities live a dignified life free from fear.”

EAT LESS. A Filipino couple tries to feed their children as they share a bowl of rice at a roadside in an urban poor district of Quezon City on June 22, 2009. File photo by Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

3. Be an inspiration for others in seeing hunger and poverty as both “problems and symptoms”

The leader who the voting population elects next year should see the issues plaguing the Philippines as “problems and symptoms” that should be eradicated.  (READ: Ending hunger and malnutrition in PH is possible in 15 years but...)

However, one alone cannot do this. According to the NFC, a leader who will inspire others to help end hunger and poverty and a leader who will make others realize that these issues should not exist in the world anymore, is needed.

“The candidate must be able to mobilize multitudes toward the same objective, raise other leaders to take his or her place when the time comes, make self-sacrifice and move others to also make self-sacrifices, and most of all be an example to them,” NFC explained.

“This leader may not be able to unite every single Filipino to the cause, but he should capture the majority's imagination,” it added.

Leadership is important

It is vital for the future leadership to be challenged, the group said, as the 2016 election will serve as a crossroad in pursuing solutions against hunger and poverty in the Philippines.

“Leadership is key to all of this,” NFC emphasized. “Those who aspire to be our nation's leaders should be made to recognize that hunger is both a problem and a symptom of the broader social malady of inequity and exclusive growth.”

Leadership with a “concrete vision and conviction” is also necessary if the country wants to achieve the zero hunger target of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030.

“Providing and obtaining adequate food to the people in accordance with this right is a manifestation of a dignified human existence and a just society,” the group said. – Rappler.com

#Manilakbayan: Mindanao tribes demand a stop to Lumad killings


STOP LUMAD KILLINGS. Lumads, students, church, and rights group stage a protest outside the House of Representatives during the deliberation of military's budget for 2016. Sheina Campos, 12, Eufemia Cullamat, and other witnesses during the September 1 killings in Lianga, Surigao del Sur of tribal leaders join the protest action. Photo by Vincent Go/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly a week after their long journey against killings of Lumad or indigenous peoples in Mindanao, hundreds of participants of a protest caravan dubbed Manilakbayan are expected to arrive in the county’s capital on Sunday, October 25.

The caravan participants, who are called Manilakbayanis, travelled from Surigao City to Eastern Visayas, before crossing over to Luzon island, highlighting their call to stop human rights violations in various Lumad communities. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

The campaign captured the national attention after a paramilitary group, on September 1, murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur. (READ: #StopLumadKillings trends: Nasaan ang Pangulo?)

The spate of killings of rights activists and Lumad also alarmed two United Nations special rapporteurs who described the attacks as unacceptable and  deplorable

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Challenge to President Aquino 

Church groups and activist organizations from Southern Tagalog welcomed the Lumad and their advocates when they arrived in the region Saturday, October 24.  

“We join our brothers and sisters in their journey from Mindanao to let the people in the national capital know about their sufferings and struggles, and to demand [that] Noynoy Aquino immediately take action. Their struggles are not different from what we are experiencing due to massive militarization and human rights violations in the region,” said Diana de Chavez, spokesperson of BIGKISAN-Southern Tagalog. 

Various groups, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had earlier challenged the Aquino administration to probe the killings of the Lumad despite the alleged suspects’ links with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). (READ: CBCP dares Aquino admin: Probe Lumad killingsChristian churches condemn Lumad killings)

The military, however, denied any involvement in the death of Lumad leaders.

The spate of violence has already displaced nearly 3,000 indigenous peoples, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Week-long camp-out in Manila

From Quezon and Laguna provinces, an estimated 2,000 ‘Manilakbayanis’ will travel to Muntinlupa City where they are expected to be received by various advocates in Alabang Sunday morning.

The participants will proceed to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig where scores of political prisoners are currently detained.

“People from all walks of life have been waiting for the people of Mindanao in uniting to call for justice and plunder in their respective lands. We will be standing side by side with our Manilakbayanis from Mindanao as we assert our rights in Malacañang,” said De Chavez.

The delegates will spend Sunday night in Baclaran Church before going to UP Diliman, where a week-long camp-out will be held.– Rappler.com

Institutionalizing PUV traffic discipline in the Philippines


DAILY STRUGGLE. Commuters stranded in a traffic along Commonwealth Avenue on Tuesday during rush hour. Photo by Joel Liporada/Rappler

“Wala kasing disiplina ang mga Pilipino (Filipinos have no discipline).” This is the usual layman explanation behind traffic woes experienced in Metro Manila. 

The common target of the “walang disiplina (no discipline) label are public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers. Notwithstanding the report of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) that private vehicle drivers commit more traffic violations than their PUV counterparts, the sight of PUVs loading and unloading passengers in seemingly anarchic and predatory fashion shapes much of the everyday discourse on Metro Manila’s traffic problems. (READ: Can the police fix EDSA traffic?)

The problem with the “no discipline” explanation is that it usually frames the problem at the level of individual drivers, specifically at the level of a person’s ugali (attitude). However, as many of us may have observed, PUV drivers go from being undisciplined to disciplined and back as they go from one traffic context to another. 

I believe that the lack of traffic discipline among PUV drivers is better viewed not as an individual personality trait but, rather, as a product of specific contexts where disciplined traffic behavior is not encouraged and, consequently, is not institutionalized. 

Traffic behavior

According to institutionalist scholar, W. Richard Scott, institutions are supported by 3 pillars: regulative, cultural-cognitive and normative. In places where traffic discipline has been institutionalized, rules, shared understandings, and norms are most likely working in concert to encourage and reinforce disciplined traffic behavior. 

Much of our traffic management measures operate on the regulative pillar, with emphasis on the enforcement of rules and the imposition of sanctions. The recent deployment of the PNP-HPG on EDSA to apprehend traffic violators is an example of such a regulative measure.

While strict rule enforcement could induce traffic discipline, as evidenced by the improved traffic flow in EDSA after the PNP-HPG took over the road’s traffic management, relying on regulative measures alone is not a sustainable solution. 

Traffic regulation works through coercion, which means that driver behavior and action is primarily based on her or his calculation on whether the costs and risks of possible sanctions outweigh the potential benefits of engaging in undisciplined traffic behavior. 

Regulation alone could only work through a sustained show of force, which could prove costly and impractical in the long run. To sustainably institutionalize traffic discipline, one must then go beyond the regulative pillar and work on the cultural-cognitive and the normative pillar.

In this regard, the traffic behavior of jeepney drivers whose routes pass through the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City presents an interesting case. Despite minimal rule enforcement and police visibility, jeepney drivers have long been loading and unloading passengers in an orderly manner in designated zones within the UP Diliman campus. A very noticeable element that aids in the disciplined loading and unloading of jeepneys in UP Diliman is the clear designation of jeepney stops. All areas with waiting sheds along the jeepney routes are official jeepney stops, which generalizes the waiting shed as the definitive symbol of loading and unloading zones.

Many major traffic zones in Metro Manila do not have clearly defined stops. Quezon Avenue and Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City and the Quiapo Church area in Manila are some prominent examples. Arguably worse are roads like España Boulevard and Taft Avenue in Manila, where PUV drivers get cited for traffic violations when they load and unload in some areas that have waiting sheds. If these are not official stops, then why were waiting sheds constructed in these areas?

The conflict between law enforcement and cultural symbols creates ambiguity and dilutes the symbolic value of waiting sheds as common sense markers of loading and unloading zones.

Working on the cultural-cognitive pillar, recognizable symbols of designated stops are important in institutionalizing traffic discipline because it strengthens shared understandings on expected behavior not only among PUV drivers but also with their passengers. Often overlooked in traffic management schemes, disciplining passenger behavior is an important component in encouraging disciplined behavior from PUV drivers. 

The bus and jeepney stop scheme in Ayala Avenue in Makati is a good example of how clearly defined loading-only and unloading-only zones could effectively institutionalize discipline in both passengers and drivers even during times when traffic enforcers are absent.

However, strictly enforcing rules and having clearly defined loading and unloading zones may still be not enough to induce PUV traffic discipline. One clear case of this problem is EDSA, where some bus drivers still engage in undisciplined traffic behavior despite the presence of the PNP-HPG and the clear designation of bus stops. 

The problem lies in the normative pillar of institutionalization.

Possible solutions

Majority of PUVs in Metro Manila operate in a highly competitive context. 

Because of the boundary system where drivers are required to raise a certain amount of revenue for vehicle operators before they earn anything, the income of PUV drivers are dependent on the number of passengers that they get on a given day. Coupled with a lax PUV franchising system that creates a free-for-all competition for dozens of PUVs plying the same route, the boundary system induces fierce competitive attitudes, making predatory driving and one-upmanship the normative behavior for PUV drivers competing over a limited pool of passengers.

Competition-induced lack of traffic discipline is not a problem unique to Metro Manila, as this may also be observed in other areas with the same highly competitive PUV set-up. Notable examples are the urban centers in India with their chaotic run of buses and rickshaws, the city of Cairo in Egypt with their tuk-tuks (auto-rickshaws) and microbuses, and the city of Jakarta in Indonesia with their aggressive mini-buses, bajajs (tricycles), and unregulated ojeks (motorcycle taxis). 

Breaking rules and predatory behavior are products of highly competitive contexts, and this may be observed not just among PUV drivers but also in many other people engaged in a fierce competition for customers.

To institutionalize traffic discipline among PUVs in Metro Manila, there is a need to restructure PUV operations to counteract the normative effects of fierce competition. 

Three possible solutions can be readily found in actual cases in Metro Manila. First is the implementation of a fixed salary system for PUV drivers instead of a boundary system, which was already the subject of a LTFRB and DOLE order to bus operators back in 2012. The said order should be expanded to all forms of public transport, and operators should be strictly monitored for compliance. 

A second possible solution is the total dismantling of competition and the awarding of a monopoly franchise in public transport operations in a specific route. Such is the case in the public bus system in Bonifacio Global City, which is noted for its disciplined operation.

A third possible solution may be found again in the case of PUVs in UP Diliman. Jeepney drivers plying the same route are mostly members of a single transport association. Association membership creates a cooperative context, instead of a competitive one, which subsequently reduces driver tendencies to one-up their fellow drivers to get more passengers. Strong functioning transport associations create self-policing among its members, utilizing the normative force of honor and shame to compel members to behave in an appropriate manner.

In sum, the issue of lack of PUV driver discipline in Metro Manila is a matter that is best viewed not as a problem of individual personality trait or ugali, but as a product of contexts that do not encourage disciplined behavior. 

Aside from the usual regulatory measures, traffic management authorities should also look at solutions operating in the cultural-cognitive and normative pillars of institutionalization, including the clear designation of loading and unloading zones, implementation of fixed salary schemes, awarding of monopoly franchises where feasible, and the strengthening of member regulation by transport associations. 

Of course, it must be said that solutions to PUV driver discipline alone could not solve the complex Metro Manila traffic problem if problems of lack of private vehicle driver discipline, insufficient infrastructure, high population density, and unbalanced economic development are not similarly addressed. – Rappler.com

Erwin F. Rafael is an Instructor in the Department of Sociology of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The OFW is worth voting for: Why I believe in Toots Ople


I am the son of an overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). In 1984, the year I was born, my family was whisked away to live in Kuwait where my father worked as an engineer. In the context of growing unrest and the economic downturn of the Marcos Era, it was a decision of desperation and survival.

Eventually, our family had to leave again in the same circumstances, desperation and survival. Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, and our family’s choice was either biological weapons or the desert. We struck out for the border in the desert, only to be halted by Iraqi troops. My father was separated from us. The rest of the family was turned over to the Red Crescent, and was eventually repatriated back to the Philippines. By her generosity, we settled into our aunt’s home in Pangasinan in 1990.

We never knew if Papa would come home. I can remember how my mother got into a deep depression. She cried sometimes, but always tried to remain strong for us, 5 children.

One day, my father finally turned up at our doorway in Pangasinan. It was a blissful reunion, and it seemed like everything was back to normal.

But economic realities and financial need led my father to apply once more for a job in the Middle East. It was Kuwait again for him, a country now needing more engineers to rebuild the destruction wrought by war.

It was his sweat and tears that brought all 5 of us siblings all the way through college, that supported us until we finally became financially independent. I got to be a doctor because my father was an OFW. One can only imagine the gargantuan sacrifice of my father. Just last year, there were 2.3 Million OFWs who made the same decision to leave the Philippines.

Impact of OFWs

Now I find myself abroad once again, this time studying for a year in London. During the past month, I have met many OFWs and students in the United Kingdom, all dreaming of a better future. 

In my homesick moments, I look back at all the things we take for granted back home, the special amenities and small luxuries we forget to be grateful for, paid by the price of separation.

In a practical sense, OFWs have had an enormous impact on the Philippines. Over the past 4 decades, OFWs have poured trillions of pesos in remittances into our nation. In 2014 alone, the Central Bank of the Philippines reported that a total of Php 1.20 trillion has been sent back by OFWs through official remittance channels. To give that amount more perspective, the budget allocation of the government in the same year (through the General Appropriations Act of 2014) was pegged at Php 2.265 trillion. 

It was that hard-earned money that allowed OFWs to send their children to school, to buy food, to build businesses, to purchase the latest gadgets. 

OFWs have singlehandedly uplifted the quality of life of millions of Filipinos. It is their remittances that are fuelling continued domestic consumption which, in turn, is helping businesses in the country get through the economic slump facing the region since the past decade.

Toots Ople: Leading by serving

This is precisely why the upcoming elections are of vital importance: We need OFWs to be in the electoral agenda. We need someone who can look after OFWs and their welfare. We need an ally who can reliably take care of the interests of mothers and fathers risking their lives abroad for our own welfare.

We need Susan Ople in the Senate.

For many decades, Susan “Toots” Ople has been working tirelessly to protect OFWs. Toots Ople has brought her Harvard education to good use for the country. She heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, managing daily distress calls from OFWs the world over, and helping them reintegrate as productive members of society. Toots Ople uses her voice in broadcast, print and social media to consistently promote her advocacy.

With this consistent performance, it is no wonder that Toots is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Hero Award from the US State Department, and the 2010 Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Award

Toots Ople is a time-tested and hardworking servant leader with integrity.

Most importantly, among all the senatorial candidates, it is Toots Ople who has the most clearly articulated platform. In the Senate, she will have the opportunity to set a pro-worker legislative agenda instead of just lobbying for her advocacies from the sidelines. 

An important aspect of her advocacies is to relieve the many thorns in the side of OFWs and labourers such as the outdated systems at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, workplace discrimination, the lack of contracts for job-order and temporary workers, and illegal recruitment.

Toots Ople will take her extensive experience as an advocate and transform these into concrete laws binding employers and cementing the direction of Philippine foreign relations. With Toots Ople in the legislative, OFWs like my father would get the attention they deserve, and the protection they are entitled to.

It was thus with enormous elation that I greeted the news that Toots Ople finally launched her bid for the Senate. She had listened and embraced the clamour of the labour sector for a passionate ally in the upper chamber of Congress.

Shared responsibility

One of the first things I did in the UK was to register at the embassy to vote. Despite being thousands of miles away from home, I could feel the heat of the elections permeating through the autumn chill. 

In the comforts of the developing country and behind our own laptop and smartphone screens, we may find ourselves wondering why we should even bother. Why care about that sweltering country with its persistent traffic, unfettered commercialism, irrepressible urbanization, and regressive politics?

We should care because it is our own small corner of the world that we can call home, the place that will welcome us back with open arms and adobo and fiestas. It is the place where we shall be remembered and loved no matter long we’ve been away. It is where our families live and toil day by day. It is the reason why we do what we do, why we work and study so hard. These are our cherished tropical islands, this is our Pearl of the Orient, our Philippines.

I hope that my Filipino brothers and sisters around the world would find a renewed zest for our beloved country’s future. With our vote, let us send back our collective voice, creating a government that would change the Philippines for the better. 

With our vote, let us go to the polls with the fire of progress and the passion of advocacy burning in our hearts. With our vote, let us remember our OFWs and our labourers upon whose backs we have built a gradually modernizing Philippines. 

Let us help bring Toots Ople to the Senate. – Rappler.com

Adrian Paul J. Rabe is a Filipino physician studying at the University of London for the degree Master of Science in Health Policy, Planning and Financing. He is an advocate for health workers’ welfare, primary care, and population health.

iSpeak is a parking space for ideas and opinions worth sharing. Send your article contributions to move.ph@rappler.com. 

Life after #DuterteSerye


The Filipinos may be ready for Rodrigo Duterte, but he is not ready for the Filipinos. His reluctance to run for the presidency drives home that point. (READ: Duterte not running for president)

We are notorious whiners. We can hardly appreciate the long-term consequences of today's policies. We complain at the slightest inconvenience that we experience. We are a nation of scofflaw, according to Rene Saguisag. We nitpick over small things that only waste our time. We engage in matters that only polarize our country.  

Worse, we tend to think small and do small. Until we dare to think big and do big, the National Artist Nick Joaquin said, “we had best stop talking about 'our heritage of greatness' for the national heritage is – let’s face it – a heritage of smallness.”

Duterte cited old age for refusing to give in to the popular call. But I think, it is these flaws in our collective attitude that discourage him.

One may argue that Duterte was able to discipline Davao. He sure can do the same thing in the entire Philippines.

But that is easier said than done. The Philippines is far more unwieldy than Davao City. To replicate the Davao miracle in the entire country is impossible because there was no miracle in the first place. What Davao has accomplished today is an offshoot of a long and painful process, a process that didn't just happen in a span of 6 years – the term of a president.

Davao’s story 

NOT RUNNING. Rodrigo Duterte is not running for president. File photo by Karlos Manlupig

When Duterte started implementing reforms many years ago, Davaoeños did complain at first. 

Consider the firecracker ban. When it was implemented, many called the mayor KJ (killjoy), or the Grinch who stole the Christmas. But after a while, we saw why Duterte is doing what he's been doing to Davao City. Every Christmas and New Year, the casualty in Davao City is almost nil. Now we are every city’s envy.

Consider, too, the criminality in Davao City. According to the list released by Numbeo.com, Davao City was perceived to be the 5th safest city in the world. I swear it’s somehow true. I usually go home late at night, but never have I experienced being robbed or mauled. People can roam around the city anytime, secure in the thought that nothing bad will happen to them. If crime does occur, it is the exception rather than the rule. 

Davaoeños attribute all these achievements to Duterte. 

At the 17th Founding Anniversary of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in July, Duterte was asked how to effectively fight crime.Ang plano ko, magiging madugo 'yan, kaya 'wag na lang ako, magiging madugo (My plan is that that will be bloody, so I just won’t be bloody),” he replied.

This is classic Duterte. He’s a no-nonsense person. In his world, it’s either you obey him or not. If not, he said, you will leave this world either horizontally or vertically. 

I doubt if the Filipinos are ready for that kind of leadership. If Duterte did not run, it’s because, beyond his old age, he is so wise as to see that he would be met with the same resistance that the previous presidents had. He knew that what he did in Davao could not be done in the Philippines within 6 years. It took a long time to transform Davao.

#Duterteserye ends

On the last day of filing of certificate of candidacy, many were still hoping that Duterte would change his mind. But he stood by his decision. It crushed not a few people’s hearts. People expressed dismay in social media for being #Dutertezoned, which means Duterte just saw the people’s clamor but didn’t bother to respond.

As the #Duterteserye ends, there’s no reason to be hopeless. Let's not be devastated as if our country is already doomed. Let's not pin so much high hopes on a president, let alone on Duterte. 

The president may be the country's leader, and with the immense power and influence that he wields, he can steer this country for better or worse. But he's just one of the actors in the story of our democracy. 

I refuse to believe that Duterte is this country’s last best hope. We also play a big role in making this story come to life, for to borrow Jose P. Laurel’s words, each one of us is “a particle of popular sovereignty” and “the ultimate source of established authority.” – Rappler.com

Arvin Antonio OrtizI is a full-time high school teacher at the Basic Education Department of Holy Cross of Davao College. He is also a senior law student at the University of Mindanao College of Legal Education.

#Manilakbayan: UP Diliman welcomes 700 Lumad from Mindanao


LUMAD IN DILIMAN. The UP Diliman community will accommodate the Lumad on campus for a week until Saturday, October 31, in support of the indigenous peoples' plight.

Photo by Joy Alcantara

MANILA, Philippines – With outstretched arms and clenched fists, hundreds of students, teachers, and workers at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman welcomed about 700 Lumad  in front of the Oblation as night fell Monday, October 26.

"A sea of fighting people marching toward the Oblation! Serve the People! Mabuhay ang Kalumaran (Long live the Lumad)!” UP sociology professor Sarah Raymundo exclaimed in a Facebook post as the indigenous peoples approached the university’s iconic monument which signifies service to the country. 

{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/nato.reyes/videos/10153937063544311/" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/nato.reyes/videos/10153937063544311/"><p>Humuhungos ang tao. Nagsimula na ang salubungan at Kampuhan sa Diliman. #StopLumadKillings #Manilakbayan2015</p>Posted by <a href="#" role="button">Renato Reyes Jr.</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/nato.reyes/videos/10153937063544311/">Monday, 26 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

The indigenous peoples of Mindanao and their supporters arrived in Manila on Sunday, October 25, nearly a week after their long journey from their communities.

The caravan participants, who are called Manilakbayanis, travelled from Surigao City to Eastern Visayas, before crossing over to Luzon island, highlighting their call to stop human rights violations in various Lumad communities. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao

On Monday, before proceeding to UP grounds where they will stay for a week, Lumad supporters took their main call #StopLumadKillings to social media and the streets of the country's capital. 

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{source}<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/areyendiway/posts/10153548691346760" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/areyendiway/posts/10153548691346760"><p>Madilim na sa Diliman pero mataas ang diwa ng paglaban sa pagsigaw #StopLumadKillings</p>Posted by <a href="#" role="button">Randy Evangelista</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/areyendiway/posts/10153548691346760">Monday, 26 October 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>{/source}

The campaign captured the national attention after a paramilitary group, on September 1, murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur. (READ: #StopLumadKillings trends: Nasaan ang Pangulo?)

Diliman camp-out 

The UP Diliman community will accommodate the Lumad on campus for a week until Saturday, October 31, in support of the indigenous peoples' plight.

In a statement, the Save Our Schools (SOS) network at the university stressed that violence in the Lumad communities in Mindanao has to end.

"We could not allow it to desecrate the right to education. It is our responsibility, as a university, to stand up and support this right. Thus, we are hosting this the Kampuhan sa Diliman from October 26 to 31, 2015 to underscore this commitment. We are one with then many education and human rights defenders who support the struggle of the Lumad to rebuild and preserve their schools, their land, and their entire way of life."

"The UP community is one with the Lumad tribes in their fight for land and justice," UP Diliman University Student Council member Beata Carolino added.

Activists and other volunteers built tents and toilets at the UP College of Human Kinetics grounds, said Carolino, who helped with camp preparations. 

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During their week-long stay in UP Diliman, the indigenous peoples will share with students, scholars, and the public their distinct culture and their issues including the human rights violations allegedly committed against their communities in Mindanao. 

Various scholars from the university have studied and written about indigenous peoples across the country including the Lumad. 

Monday night's welcoming program includes the following activities:

Activists and Lumad who survived the attacks accused the military and paramilitary groups of the human rights violations. 

According to Katribu secretary general Piya Macliing Malayao, 53 Lumad had been killed extrajudicially under the Aquino administration. Based on the group's documentation, the killings have intensified in 2015, claiming 13 lives as of September 1.

The military, however, denied any involvement in the death of Lumad leaders and the attacks on the indigenous peoples' schools and communities.

The spate of killings of rights activists and Lumad have alarmed two United Nations special rapporteurs, who described the attacks as unacceptable and deplorable.

The country is observing the National Indigenous Peoples' Month in October. – Rappler.com









IN PHOTOS: UP Fighting Maroons team up with Lumad in #Manilakbayan game


FIGHTING MAROONS. Members of UP Fighting Maroons show young Lumad basketball drills at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Monday night, October 26. All photos by Jansen Romero

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the  University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons took a break from practice Monday night, October 26, to demonstrate basketball drills to Lumad children who joined the indigenous peoples' caravan Manilakbayan.

Students, teachers, and workers at the UP Diliman welcomed about 700 Lumad in front of the Oblation Monday. The indigenous peoples of Mindanao and their supporters arrived in Manila on Sunday, October 25, nearly a week after their long journey that seeks to highlight their call to stop human rights violations in their communities. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

Through the basketball exhibition game with the Lumad at the College of Human Kinetics gym, the Fighting Maroons said they did not only play a game but also showed that they took up the responsibility of “fighting for something more.” 

STOP LUMAD KILLINGS. UP Fighting Maroons show their support for the Lumad in Mindanao

Fighting Maroons team captain JR Gallarza felt fulfilled being around Lumad children, playing basketball with them:

“My course is teaching…I generally love kids, and to put a smile on their faces… I like to think that they’re all having fun right now, forgetting all about what’s happening in their province, giving them a night of just fun.” 

For Fighting Maroon Jett Manuel, being an athlete of the state university “is about helping other people beyond UP.”  It means more than just “playing basketball for our school,” he stressed.

Manuel earlier showed his support for the Lumad after leading the Maroons to their second consecutive victory in the UAAP season 78 basketball series. 

In a photo posted by the UP student publication Philippine Collegian on its Facebook page shortly after the game on September 9, Manuel is seen holding a paper with the hashtag #StopLumadKillings. His right fist is also clenched, an iconic gesture of UP activism that serves as the central image on the Fighting Maroons' new logo.

The #StopLumadKillings campaign captured the national attention after a paramilitary group, on September 1, murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur. 

See the images from Monday night's basketball workshop for Lumad children:


- Rappler.com

Joshua Ramos is a Rappler intern. He graduated from the College of Arts and Letters in UP Diliman.

Would you walk the entire EDSA? Some people just did


Graphics from Global Shapers PH.

MANILA, Philippines - A group of sustainability advocates walked the entirety of EDSA on Sunday morning, October 25.

#WalkEDSA, as the event was known, began at the SM Mall of Asia and ended at SM North EDSA 5 hours and 30 minutes later.

The 21.3-kilometer walk drew a large crowd of participants from a variety of professions - including medicine, architecture and outdoor recreation. It was organized by the Manila hub of the Global Shapers Community, a global network of sustainability advocates.

One of the walkers, Gideon Lasco, is a medical doctor, anthropologist and mountaineer. When asked about the walk’s purpose, he described it as “a good way to start a conversation about walking in Metro Manila and how we can make it a walkable city.”

Not an afterthought 

After the walk, participants re-convened at Capitol Commons, Pasig for “Talk the Walk," a discussion on the obstacles to Metro Manila becoming a more walkable network. The consensus among participants was that improving walkability is “a social justice issue." 

“Sidewalks are just an afterthought," noted Kat Largo, one of the event’s organizers. According to landscape architect Joye Aguirre, sidewalks should ideally be at least 1.5 meters long, a rarity throughout EDSA.

Other issues raised amidst the dicussion include pollution, safety, and motorist disregard for pedestrians. Cherrie Atiliano, a sustainability advocate, commented on how, for many “EDSA is home," refering to the families who have built their livelihoods around the freeway itself.

Walking is scientifically documented to accrue numerous benefits with regard to individual health and environmental sustainability. - Rappler.com 

Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.

#NowPH: Aurora youth join fight against climate change


Aurora youth pledge to take steps in curbing the effects of climate change. Photo from #NowPH Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines - The town of Dingalan, Aurora, kicked off the #NowPH campaign by turning over an ordinance promoting youth involvement in combatting climate change. The event took place on October 15, just days before Typhoon Lando made landfall in the province.

As part of the community event, youth from Dingalan demonstrated their commitment to lessening the impact of climate change by pledging steps they would take to curb environmental destruction. 

The municipal ordinance specifically sought to improve youth participation in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). The event was also supported by Aurora’s provincial government.

Local youth were joined by National Youth Commissioner Jose Sixto “Dingdong” Dantes.

The town's youth gather to know more how they can join the fight against climate change. Photo from NowPH Facebook page.

#NowPH, which stands for Not On Our Watch PH, is a youth-led campaign that aims to harness the collective power of the public in urgently calling on countries to act on climate change issues. It was introduced by the NYC and the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, has partnered with the NYC to raise awareness on the issue.

One of the campaign’s aims is to gather 1 million pledges for the Paris climate summit in December 2015. - Rappler.com

Support the campaign and share your pledge. Visit nowph.org to learn more. 

Lorenzo Benitez is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming Cornell University student.

After Lando: A call for help for the children of Casiguran


After days of fighting the scorching heat and muddy roads, our team finally reached the Agta community in an island barangay in Casiguran, Aurora — the area where Typhoon Lando first made landfall on October 18, 2015. While the team prepared the relief supplies for distribution, I saw a group of children seated on chairs in the middle of a damaged pavement. I was curious at what they were doing so I approached them.  

As I drew nearer, I saw pieces of roof all over the ground, a table set on a muddy patch of grassland, and books soiled and scattered everywhere. And as I moved closer to the children, I finally realized that I was standing in what used to be a community school.

When I said hello, shy eyes stared back at me. Suddenly, my attention was caught by the book that they were reading — a grade school English book that they were all reading together. I couldn’t help but feel mixed emotions upon such sight, because it is always amusing for me to see children like them enjoying reading, but not in a situation like this — under a roofless and wall-less classroom.

What further broke my heart was their response when I asked them why they were opting to stay under a shadeless coconut tree. Altogether, they replied: “Because we miss going to school.”

Save the Children distributes lifesaving relief supplies in Casiguran Aurora and aims to reach 8000 families in its emergency response

If not for Typhoon Lando, these children would have been in school today. Typhoon Lando has flattened hundreds of houses in Casiguran, Aurora, and community facilities like schools and classrooms severely damaged — leaving children and their families without access to quality education. 

These children need immediate assistance to help them recover from this calamity. Among others, they need temporary learning spaces and basic school materials, so that their classes could resume at the soonest possible time.

These children need us in situations like this — they need you. Help us bring the needed assistance to them. - Rappler.com

Jerome Balinton is the Emergency Communications Officer of Save the Children. He is currently deployed in Casiguran, Aurora as part of the organization’s humanitarian response. 

Save the Children is one of the first organizations to respond immediately after Typhoon Lando hit. Our staff on the ground are distributing kits containing lifesaving relief supplies for families in some of the worst-affected communities in Casiguran, Aurora, where the typhoon first made landfall. Relief supplies include water purification tablets so that people have safe drinking water, tarpaulins to serve as emergency shelter, basic household kits containing kitchen utensils, mosquito nets and sleeping mats, and household kits with soap, towels and toothbrush.

To know more about Save the Children's work for #LandoPH, visit 

2015 global index: PH hunger, malnutrition problem 'serious'


STATE OF NUTRITION. Ending malnutrition among children is an important matter. Graphic by Raffy De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines faces a "serious" level of hunger in 2015, according to the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI).

The measuring tool of the International Food Policy Research Institute (FPRI) gave the country a score of 20.1 based on available data collated by government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Although it is two points lower than in 2005, the Philippines' score is still 6.8 points higher than the East and Southeast Asia average of 13.2 points.

The Philippines also ranks 51st among 117 countries measured.

The GHI is a tool made to "comprehensively measure and track hunger.” As a country scores higher in the index, the level of the hunger problem also increases.

< 9.9
Low level of hunger
10 - 19.9
Moderate level of hunger
20 - 34.9
Serious level of hunger
35 - 49.9
Alarming level of hunger

Multidimensional formula includes stunting

Acknowledging that hunger is a "multidimensional" problem, the index measured the situation in each country by combining 4 components: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.

The Philippines' detailed components show that stunting is still the most prevalent problem among children.

Proportion of undernourished in population13.5%
Prevalence of wasting in children under 5 years old7.9%
Prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years old30.3%
Under 5 mortality rate3%

The high incidence of stunting – when a child is too short for his age – is alarming as it is a sign of chronic malnutrition. (READ: Why you should care about stunting)

In fact, according to a report by Save the Children, the shortness of Filipino adults is attributed to generations of stunted growth. (READ: Filipino 'shortness' more than just a racial trait – report

Results from the National Nutrition Survey spanning two decades show no significant change in the incidence of stunting in the country – from 1993's 39% to 2013's 30%. The Philippines is also part of the 14 countries which is home to 80% of the world's stunted children.

Persistent problems

Despite “tremendous efforts” and improvements seen by the GHI since 2000, the problem of hunger and malnutrition still exist – especially in developing countries.

At least 795 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment, according to the GHI. In addition, one in every 4 children is stunted while 9% of children worldwide are wasted.

The index also found that there are huge disparities among regions.

The GHI hopes to contribute to correcting these figures. It hopes to eventually trigger action by increasing awareness and understanding the differences of each country’s struggle against hunger. – Rappler.com

Call for donations for the Lumad of #Manilakbayan


Lumads from Mindanao were welcomed by students of University of the Philippines in Diliman on late Monday, October 26, 2015. Photo by Jansen Romero/ Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Around 700 Lumad arrived in Manila on Sunday, October 25, nearly a week after they set out from their communities in the southern Philippines.

The caravan participants, who are called Manilakbayanis (heroes journey to Manila), want to highlight their call to stop human right violations in various Lumad communities.

The indigenous peoples of Mindanao have allegedly been on the receiving end of a series of direct attacks, killings, arrests, harassments, zoning, and vilification in their own communities.  (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

In support of their plight, the University of the Philippines Diliman community will accommodate them on campus for a week. 

Help needed

However, bringing almost nothing with them, the indigenous peoples from Mindanao are in urgent need of sleeping mats, pillows, and blankets.

They will be staying in makeshift tents made mostly out of tarpaulins. 

The #StopLumadKillings network is calling for donations of supplies for the travellers. Donations of supplies – such as food, medicine, and drinking water – are also welcome.

For those who want to help, please proceed to the Kampuhan grounds, located near the College of Human Kinetics grounds, right beside Vanguard Hall. You may also contact Bryle at 0927-974-3012.

The #StopLumadKillings network is also accepting meal pledges for the Lumad. P50 would be enough to fund one meal for a Lumad in Manila. Contact Beata at 0905-112-6421 for inquiries. Rappler.com

Beautiful tranquility can be found in local cemeteries


HOLY PLACE. A place for devotion also serves as a tourist attraction in Iloilo.

How about cemeteries as a base for tourism? Yes, this question is legitimate. In fact, there is such a thing as ‘tombstone tourism’ and even a bigger concept termed as ‘dark tourism’.

‘Dark tourism’ is generally defined as tourism to places associated with death and disaster. Some people call it ‘thanatourism’ from the root ‘thanatos’ meaning ‘death’.

Cemeteries become tourist drawers on merits of their cultural, historical, as well as architectural value. Ghoulish as it may sound, cemetery tourism is a growing phenomenon around the world. Its popularity must come from everybody’s desire to trace their roots or pay homage to long-dead heroes and villains.

MERRY CEMETERY. Sapanta's Merry Cemetery was the creation of Ioan Stan Patras, a simple wood sculptor who, in 1935, started carving crosses to mark graves in the old church cemetery. Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com

In Sapanta, Romania, the Merry Cemetery is a top tourist destination. Each grave site there is marked with  a brightly-colored tombstone that depicts either the person buried or a memorable scene from his/her life. London, England has the famous Highgate Cemetery, a haggard, Victorian-style cemetery built on the outskirts of North London. The final resting place of philosopher Karl Marx, a vampire was rumored to haunt its gates in the 1970s.

We are not wanting of sites like these in Iloilo. In fact, most travel writers from Manila and the rest of the country include cemeteries as part of their itinerary every time they visit the city and province of Iloilo. Realizing the importance of cemeteries, the Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office  (CENRO) conducted an inventory of public cemeteries in all the districts to address congestion in its graveyards. I hope the next step is the beautification and restoration of these cemeteries.

Last week, my family went to San Joaquin, Iloilo’s southernmost town. It’s actually the hometown of my maternal grandmother. When lola was still alive, she would visit the town often. Now that she’s gone, we rarely go there since it’s quite far from the city. We are only forced to go there during important family occasions such as burials, weddings, and fiestas.

At first I didn’t want to join. When Nanay told me that they were going to attend the burial of her 2nd cousin, I changed my mind. For me, it meant visiting the famous San Joaquin Cemetery. I had visited the place a couple of times back then, but I was too young to appreciate its beauty and mystery. It’s my chance, I thought. Besides, the two-hour trip wouldn’t be much of a hassle since we would be using a private car.


When we reached the place, I literally jumped out of the car in excitement. The cemetery is located around a kilometer before the town proper if you’re from Iloilo City. Nanay and the rest of my companions remained inside the car because it was boiling hot outside. Armed with my ever reliable ‘bridge camera’, I ran towards the steps leading to the dome-shaped ‘kapilya’. Good thing, Sharlyn, my niece, followed me. Without her, there wouldn’t have been any photos of me in front of this imposing structure.

The Campo Santo of San Joaquin, Iloilo was built in 1892. The term ‘campo santo’ literally means ‘holy field’ and is used to refer to a cemetery. Its architecture is baroque, as evidenced by its entrance which is adorned by stone balustrades on both sides. On top of the gate is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ with arms stretched wide open.

The main feature of the campo santo is the mortuary chapel or capilla made of coral rocks and baked bricks. The structure’s red dome caps its classic elegance. It’s located at the center because it is where the dead is blessed before the actual interment.

My visit to the hauntingly beautiful San Joaquin Municipal Cemetery illuminates more than just mortality. In a way, it answered this childhood question: Will I live forever in a golden paradise, be reincarnated as a cat, or simply cease to exist? Cemeteries both fascinate and scare the daylights out of me. There in San Joaquin, I resolved not to flee from cemeteries, and not to flee from death itself. - Rappler.com

Paul Vincent Java Gerano holds a Master in Education (M.Ed.) degree major in English as a Second Language from the University of the Philippines. During his student days, he was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Tourism Writer in Western Visayas’ by the Department of Tourism and the IWAG Award for his Outstanding Achievement in Campus Journalism by the Philippine Information Agency – Regional Office VI.




Is the Philippines ready for climate action?


  The Philippines, in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), committed to a 70% carbon emission by 2030, based on a business as usual model. The INDC is every country’s commitment to mitigate carbon emissions and to lay out plans for climate change adaptation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The INDCs play a big role in tackling climate change and in ensuring that we stay below 2ºC of warming from pre-industrial levels. This target was set in 2010 during the Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun.

However, scientific studies have said that even 2ºC of warming is already highly dangerous. The research, led by climate scientist James Hansen, together with 16 other scientists, say that 2 degrees of warming could cause sea level rise which will make most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable.

Currently, the world has already warmed at 0.8ºC from pre-industrial levels and the world has seen more catastrophic events in the past few years. Haiyan (Yolanda), the strongest typhoon to make landfall in history, claimed more than 6,000 lives in the Philippines. The India heat wave earlier this year caused the death of more than 2,500 people. Small island states such as Marshall Islands and Tuvalu have started looking for land in other countries for their people to live in as sea level has been making their islands sink.

These are only some of the climate impacts that have been affecting developing nations the most. Because of this, vulnerable, developing nations like the Philippines have called for an even higher target of 1.5ºC of warming. And it is through the INDC’s that we can calculate every country’s commitment to mitigating carbon emissions and see if we can reach the target we have set.

While we are currently set for a 2ºC target and hoping for a more ambitious 1.5ºC, 155 countries have already submitted their INDCs, the last one being United Arab Emirates (UAE). The question is, do we have enough commitments to even reach our 2ºC target? And is the Philippines committing enough to leading the world into a carbon neutral future?

According to a new report from the MILES Project Consortium, the current commitments will reduce a significant amount of carbon emissions but are still not ambitious enough to limit global warming to 2ºC.

The Philippines, for its part, has committed to a conditional 70% emission reduction by 2030. However, the document submitted by the Philippines does not show data or concrete action plans on how we will achieve this goal. So the question is, how do we plan to achieve this?

The Philippines has been investing in a lot of coal power plants. Only this year, the government approved more than 50 new plants to be constructed in the next few years.

“For us to achieve this 70% mitigation, we need to start putting caps on coal power plants. We may need to do everything on the checklist of every environmentalist,” Tony La Viña, a Philippine negotiator, said.

Even the UAE, who doesnt have a concrete emissions target in their INDC, has at least committed to 24% clean energy by 2021. Meanwhile, Philippine plans for mitigation remain to be unclear. But certainly, this cannot be achieved by continuously approving coal power plants.

“We need to quickly move away from unabated coal generation. We need to phase out green house gas emissions and it will require temendous transformation in the way we provide electricty,” says Kelly Levin of the World Research Institute.

“Coal is not going to be the future if we are going to achieve emission trajectories to be in line with a 2 degree target,” Levin adds.

No doubt that the 70% commitment of the Philippines to mitigate carbon emissions is ambitious. However, this 70% ambition will only remain as an ambition without clear plans on how to achieve this target, and without political will to stop coal power plants from being built. If we are indeed sincere in achieving this target, policies will have to change in favor of the environment instead of corporations. Are we ready to make this shift? - Rappler.com 

Renee Juliene Karunungan, 25, is the communications director and climate justice campaigner for Dakila. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.

Pangasinan student faces tougher problems after Typhoon Lando


Kristine and her two children check out relief goods from boxes given by World Vision Philippines. They say the help will be useful as they try to rebuild their homes. Most houses in their barangay were destroyed by heavy rains and floods from Typhoon Lando. Photo courtesy of World Vision

MANILA, Philippines - Nine-year-old Joyce is representing her school in a Math competition next month. But after the devastation wrought about by Typhoon Lando, she and her family are suddenly faced with tougher problems to solve. 

The 3rd grade student was diligently preparing for the competition when rain and floods swept the houses in her community in Bugallon, Pangasinan. Despite efforts to salvage their belongings, many of their family's clothes, school things, and furniture were washed away - including Joyce's books and review materials, which for her were precious items.   

"I really worked hard for that competition - it would have been my first. But now, after the typhoon and flood, we have bigger things to worry about," she laments. 

Joyce's mother, Kristine, describes the damage caused by Lando to their homes, “The strong winds and rain destroyed the walls and tore the roof off our house. Most of our clothes and utensils got wet because of the floodwaters that reached chest-deep." 

The 34-year-old mother of two said they had to flee their house and go to a nearby church that was turned into an evacuation center. The church housed more than a hundred people, and heavy rains lasted for about two days. Meanwhile, their small village was submerged in floodwater for the next 3 days.

Livelihood destroyed

For the families, whose lives depend on farming and fishing, Typhoon Lando was a major catastrophe. "Our livelihood is disrupted; most of the people in Bugallon earn their keep from tilling farmlands and fishing in ponds," Kristine shares. 

Pangasinan is one of the provinces hardest hit by Lando, with over 488,400 people displaced. Excessive rains has submerged over 500 hectares of agricultural land in flood, while more than 300 fishponds were damaged in Bugallon alone. The extent of damage has prompted the provincial government to place the whole province of Pangasinan under state of calamity. 

Lando left massive devastation in its wake, and is considered the most destructive typhoon to hit the country this year, leaving more than 40 people dead, and damage to agriculture and infrastructure in northern and central Luzon is now 9.8 billion pesos ($213 million). 

Mothers are worried about their families and their children. Classes will resume soon - but they have yet to replace school supplies that were swept away by floods. But Joyce remains hopeful that they will recover from this calamity and get back on their feet once more. After all, she still has her Math competition to look forward to. 

"I think I still have a good chance of winning," she beams. "I just hope we'll have a good weather on the day of the contest!" 

International child-focused organization World Vision has conducted relief efforts in the municipalities of Bugallon, Mangatarem and Mabini in Pangasinan - distributing essential goods and hygiene kits and to over 1,500 families. - Rappler.com

To donate to typhoon survivors, visit World Vision's website: https://www.worldvision.org.ph/lando-relief/donate or call 372-7777.

Fatima Reyes is World Vision's media engagement specialist.

Social enterprise advocates push for PRESENT bill passage


MANILA, Philippines - As the world hails the International Day of Poverty Eradication and the recent adoption of 17 new global goals during the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit in New York City, social enterprises calls on the Philippine government to put poverty at zero rates by fast-tracking the passage of the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Bill.


“We call on Congress to gather its remaining opportunities to see this bill passed. We should not let the poor wait any further to provide the support that they need,” said Jay Bertram Lacsamana, executive director of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society (FSSI) and co-convener of the PRESENT Coalition.


Sustainable development


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of universal agenda critical in ending poverty, fighting inequality and protecting the environment across nations, adding that the integration of goals hinge on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership will set a world where ‘No one is left behind’.


The SDGs succeeded the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and consists of 17 goals and 169 targets serving as a blueprint for 193 member states of the United Nations for the next 15 years or from 2015 to 2030.


First of the goals is poverty eradication with other important goals tackling gender equality, climate change, decent employment, inequality, and justice – some of which were absent in the MDGs.


In the 2014 country report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), poverty reduction fell short of the country’s MDG target. Although the incidence of poverty declined from 34.4% to 25.2% from 1991 to 2012, this did not meet the MDG target of 17.2% by 2015.


The rate of poverty reduction has also been slow for the period of 2006 to 2012 with an over-all reduction of only 1.4% over 6 years.


Social enterprises


During the Saturday Kapihan Forum at Anabels in Quezon City, Coop-NATCCCO Party-List Rep. Cresente Paez said: “We are pushing for the passage of the PRESENT Bill under the Aquino administration because we believe that social enterprise is actually the best model for achieving poverty eradication and inclusive growth.” (READ: Giving back to the poor: Why social enterprises matter)


Representative Paez, who is also the principal author of the PRESENT Bill, underscored that “social enterprises can be instrumental in transforming communities out from poverty through the provision of goods, services, and opportunities and which can enable these sectors to take part in economic activities.”


According to FSSI, social enterprises are mission-driven organizations that seek to benefit the poor and marginalized such as farmers, fishers, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and women, among the various sectors in society.

Filipino children line up in a feeding program. File photo by Jay Directo/AFP

Social enterprises contribute to development by plowing back profit gathered from economic activities into community initiatives that will uplift the lives of those in the marginalized thereby attaining targets that fight poverty.   


Under the SDGs, governments are encouraged to support policies promoting the growth and financial access of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in their respective countries.


In research done by the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, there are more than 30,000 social enterprises that are seen to benefit 2.5 million poor Filipinos if support mechanisms are made available for social enterprises. 


“With the potential of social enterprises in bringing development that is felt by the poor, we call the government to fast-track the legislation of the PRESENT Bill to influence the strategies it will employ in adopting the SDGs,” said Ms. Lisa Dacanay, president of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA).   


Currently, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have identified social entrepreneurship as an anti-poverty strategy.


The PRESENT Bill seeks to grow more social enterprises by supporting major economic subsectors with the most number of poor.


The law aims to empower the poor by giving them proper avenues where they can start and scale-up their social enterprises through loans, funds for research and development, preferential procurement for social enterprises, linkage to value chain and market, trainings and capacity-building activities, and insurance for social enterprises in times of disasters.


The Senate version of the bill is filed by Sen. Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino III. The bill is now waiting for second reading in both houses. The bill is also supported by the PRESENT Coalition, an alliance of various social enterprise practitioners, advocates, NGOs, and the academe who have joined together to lobby the passing of the bill.


The conveners of the PRESENT Coalition are Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) and the Foundation for a Sustainable Society. – Rappler.com

Ted Ong is a social development worker based in Iloilo and a senior policy analyst of the Center for Power Issues and Initiatives.

Overseas Filipinos demand end to 'laglag bala' scam


MODUS OPERANDI. At least 6,000 netizens have expressed support for a Change.org petition seeking an investigation and end to this extortion scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

MANILA, Philippines - Oversease Filipinos have spearheaded an online petition demanding an end to the "laglag bala" scam in the country's main international airport.

On Tuesday, October 27, Ednalyn Purugganan, a Filipino living in Hong Kong started a petition on Change.org calling on Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago to investigate and end the 'laglag bala' extortion scam at the NAIA. (READ: How to curb 'laglag-bala' modus and airport extortion)

"Nagpapakahirap po kaming mag trabaho dito at pangalagaan ang pangalan namin at ang pagiging Filipino namin, para lang sirain ng mga taong walang magawa sa buhay," read the petition's open letter to the two senators. 

("We work hard at our jobs here and take care of our good names and of our Filipino identity, only for all these to be destroyed by other people who have nothing better to do.")

To date, the Change.org petition has more than 6,780 supporters.

"Laglag bala" refers to a scam involving airport security officials who plant bullets into the luggage of unsuspecting passengers. The security officials later apprehend the passengers and try to extort money in exchange for freedom. (READ: Isang bala ka lang: Netizens decry 'laglag-bala' incident


When asked why they signed the online petition, many decried the injustice that was done to fellow overseas Filipino workers.

"Di na maganda nangyayari sa pinas pabulok na ng pabulok sistema dpt d lang kulong parusa sa mahuhuling gumagawa ng ganyang modus. Dagdagan ang parusa," said Raymund Gesalta.

(It's not good what is happening in the Philippines, the system is rotten. Imprisonment should not just be the punishment for those engaging in this kind of activity, they should increase the punishment.) 

Teresa Ramodo Brosas, from Hong Kong, said, "I want them to stop this laglag bala syndicate in that particular airport, I am filipino and so embarrased of what they are doing."

Purugganan also spoke of the fears of many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who plan on returning to the country for the holiday season.

"Nag babalak po kaming umuwi ngayong Desyembre, pero sa nangyari kay nanay Gloria Ortinez na kapwa naming Domestic Helper dito, parang nakakatakot na po talaga kaming umuwi ng Pilipinas,dahil andon yong takot na baka mangyari lang din sa amin ang nangyari kay nanay."

(We plan to return home this December, but because of what happened to Gloria Ortinez, our fellow Domestic Helper, we fear returning home to the Philippines, because of the fear that what happened to her could also happen to us.)

"Di po namin pinaghihirapang alagaan ang pangalan namin para lang sirain ng mga gahaman sa isang iglap lang," wrote Purungganan. 

(We do not take pains to take care of our good name only for it to be destroyed by nefarious elements in a blink). - Rappler.com

If you feel strongly against the laglag bala scam, you can sign the petition here.

Why do Filipinos need a mental health law?


MANILA, Philippines – Why do we need a law about mental health (MH)? (READ: Advocates push for national MH law)

Because it is part of one’s human rights.

"Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." – World Health Organization

When people have physical illnesses, they are excused from work and school, and receive care and sympathy. Do people who experience depression get the same treatment?

In the Philippines, they do not, MH advocates say.

"Many of discriminatory acts are unconscious on our part. How many of us laugh and joke about mental illness?" June Lopez of the University of the Philippines said at the #MHActNow forum on Thursday, October 29.

Contrary to what some Filipinos might think, mental illnesses are "highly treatable," the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) said.

Back burner

In a country mired by various problems, advocates fear that the government will put mental health on the back burner.

The country's first Mental Health Act was filed as early as 1989 by then Senator Orlando Mercado; a year later, another version was filed by Senator Jose Lina. 

Nearly a decade later, Executive Order 470 was issued, creating a council for mental health. The PPA, however, argued that no such council exists today since the policy is poorly implemented.

The proposed law seeks to create an active and inclusive council, which will be an attached agency of the Department of Health (DOH). It will address mental health problems through a new "mental healthcare delivery system" and conduct consultations with various stakeholders like patients themselves.

In the succeeding years, there have been at least 16 other bills focusing on mental health, according to Edgardo Tolentino of the PPA. None of them, however, was passed by Congress.

"Aren’t Pinoys one of the happiest people in the world, so the Philippines doesn't have mental health problems?" Tolentino quipped.

The Philippines has plenty of MH problems, advocates say. Aside from cases of psychiatric conditions, there's the lack of mental health professionals, facilities, funding, and a national law.

What's in it?

The most current version of the House Bill was filed by Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo, alongside Representatives Barry Gutierrez, Walden Bello, Kaka Bag-ao, Romero Kimbo, Karlo Nograles, and Emmi de Jesus.

Meanwhile, the Senate version of was filed by Senator Pia Cayetano. 

HB 5347 and Senate Bill 2910 – the Philippine Mental Health Act of 2015 – require the government to "uphold the basic right of all Filipinos to mental health and to respect the fundamental rights of people who require mental health services."

The proposed law is based on various international human rights standards, which the Philippines is a signatory of. It proposes to protect people with mental health problems from torture, cruelty, and degrading treatment.

It also assures that patients receive adequate information, aftercare, and rehabilitation. This includes protection from discrimination in the workplace, schools, homes, and elsewhere. The provision on employment, however, is yet to be fleshed out.

Confidentiality shall be respected at all times, which means that the patient's information cannot be revealed to anyone except her or his doctor unless completely necessary.

The law will mandate the DOH, the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Justice, and national and local hospitals to support people with mental health problems.

Mental health services will also be integrated with the primary healthcare system in communities. This means MH services should be available among hospitals down to the barangay level, including training of healthcare workers.

The law proposes to include mental health in health courses in schools as well. 

More than just numbers

In 2006, the Department of Health reported that the number one mental health problem, at least within the National Capital Region, is anxiety. This is followed by alcholism and depression.

The study, which polled government employees in Metro Manila, revealed that 32% of respondents have experienced mental health problems.

In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 16% of Filipino students aged 13 to 15 had "seriously" contemplated suicide in the past year. Meanwhile, 13% had actually attempted suicide.

Anyone can experience a mental health problem and there is nothing wrong with that, advocates remind the public. It could be a form of depression; anxiety; mood, adjustment, dissociative, psychotic, eating, addiction, and personality disorders; or a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some Filipinos tend to keep it to themselves, out of fear of discrimination. This, however, might only worsen their condition as they delay treatment. Meanwhile, others cannot afford the help they need.

This is why the Philippines needs a Mental Health Law – to ensure that all Filipinos have access to services and information, free of stigma.

The next step, the PPA said, is to continue lobbying for the MH Act in the 17th Congress. But the process will be long and tedious and will need the support of the public. Hence, the need for more Filipinos to be aware. Rappler.com

To support the Mental Health Act and be part of the #MHActNow, you may send your inputs and inquiries to the Philippine Psychiatric Association at philpsych.org@gmail.com.

Lumad youth to lead environment protection in Northern Mindanao


RIDGE-TO-REEF. Mt Kalatungan, revered for its natural beauty and bounty, faces environmental degradation brought about by illegal logging, hunting of endangered species, socio-economic pressures, and other excessive human activities. Photo by Anthony Jacob Karagdag

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines —  A youth camp is set to train young Lumad in managing natural resources and raising environmental awareness in their communities.  

Participants of the event dubbed "Ridge-to-Reef Young Leaders Camp" will be selected from resettlement and riverside barangays of Cagayan de Oro City and Lumad settlements in Bukidnon.

“[There] will be a good mix of young indigenous people from the uplands, disaster survivors formerly living in riverside communities and also students from the city proper,” said Xyla Mercedita Gualberto, the project coordinator for the Ridge-to-Reef Young Leaders Camp.

The project is driven by a great sense of urgency for a long-term mechanism that will protect and preserve ecosystems and resources from the ridges of Northern Mindanao down to its watersheds and ultimately to Macajalar Bay, a major fishing ground in Misamis Oriental. This camp hopes to teach the young about ecological conservation through first-hand experience.

“Their learning will not be purely theoretical but also experiential. We will bring them to the very places where the water flows, from the mountains, to the rivers down to the seas,” Gualberto said, who derived the concept of the training from the participatory zoning course of Xavier Science Foundation’s Institute of Land Governance.

“This way, they will have greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of the ecosystems and they will have deeper learning,” she shared.

The leaders will undergo workshops to enhance their knowledge in grassroots planning, local land governance, ecosystem conservation, and ideation for their information, education and communication (IEC) projects, which will range from customary environmental campaigns and trainings to upbeat concerts and film presentations.

Gualberto emphasized that the IEC outputs of the youth groups will be based on their own contexts and issues close to their communities.

Experts in the fields of resource management, ecosystem services sustainability and multimedia production have been tapped to train the participants who will eventually ripple their learning to fellow millennials.

Need for protection

During the first phase of the camp in December, the youth leaders will converge in Miarayon, Talakag at the foot of Mt Kalatungan, one of Bukidnon’s prized giants.

Harboring diverse species of flora and fauna, Mt Kalatungan has been identified as part of a “Terrestrial Biodiversity Corridor” in the Greater Mindanao with “Extremely High Critical” conservation priority.

The protected area of Mt Kalatungan, which prominently stands 2,824 meters above sea level (known to mountaineers for having the sixth highest peak in the country), is the recipient of the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) project of XSF and Xavier University Research and Social Outreach.

This rehabilitation project, built on research and community collaborations, has introduced to Northern Mindanao a “rewarding mechanism” where there exists “the seller” who protects and provides ecosystem services to “the buyer” who benefits from these intangible products.

The inaugural year of the PES project reaped promising results and engagements amid the challenges of a paradigm shift to what is known as an “emerging financial tool for environmental conservation.”

“We want to continue what we have started, but this time with emphasis on youth leaders,” said Evans Yonson, project director of Ridge-to-Reef Camp.

EXPERIENTIAL CONNECTION. The Ridge-to-Reef Young Leaders Camp is driven by a great sense of urgency for a long-term mechanism that will conserve ecosystems and resources from the ridges of Northern Mindanao down to its watersheds and ultimately to Macajalar Bay.

Yonson is a Development Communication professor at XU and social marketing supervisor of Valuing Ecosystem Services Together (VEST) project, an offshoot campaign of PES which enabled different sectors in the region to participate in the rehabilitation of Mt Kalatungan and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services.

During its run, VEST helped solicit the help of businesses, cooperatives, academic institutions, religious organizations, and households in Cagayan De Oro City to become “buyers” of the various ecosystem services offered by the tribes inhabiting and caring for Mt Kalatungan.

Cagayan De Oro City acts as the catchment basin of the region’s upstream bodies of water, and serves to gain from the protection of Mt Kalatungan. In effect, being the catch basin of the waters from the hinterlands of Bukidnon, riverbank communities of Cagayan de Oro City would bear massive casualties and significant damage to property during strong typhoons.

Yonson hopes to achieve the same kind of active involvement from the youth in the Ridge-to-Reef Camp.

Its second phase, which consists of the IEC training and team monitoring sessions with mentors from the XU DevCom Society, will happen in January. Implementation of the IEC projects in the participants’ respective communities, comprising the last phase, will be held in February.

The project will culminate with an exhibit at the Centrio – Ayala Mall on March 1 with representatives from the US Embassy in Manila, which supported the project through its Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds for the Future Grant Competition. It is one of the 18 winning projects across the ASEAN region, tackling Southeast Asia’s challenges on education, environmental protection, civic engagement, and economic development.

Yonson believes that the Ridge-to-Reef Young Leaders Camp can provide the vehicle to forge a partnership between young indigenous peoples and city dwellers for a single cause.

The call for online applications to the leadership camp, which will be held from December until February 2016, will start on November 1. – Rappler.com