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Leonen on holding the line: 'It involves knowing, critical analysis'


HOLDING THE LINE. During the Democracy Forum at the Ateneo Law School in Makati on February 12, 2018, Associate Justic Marvic Leonen says 'holding the line' invovles knowing and critical analysis. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – “Holding the line also involves knowing. It also involves critical analysis of the information that you get.”

This was the message of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen on Monday, February 12, during the Democracy and Disinformation forum organized by Inquirer at the Ateneo Law School when asked about how the judiciary branch is “holding the line” amid attacks and criticisms. 

While emphasizing the responsibility that goes with their task of imparting justice, Leonen also noted the judiciary branch is not a stranger to criticisms. In fact, he argued that its legitimacy “resides in its ability to be able to cause more criticisms because, then, it can ferret out the truthful position that we come out with.” (READ: Is the Duterte gov't attacking PH constitutional bodies?)

“To be impartial does not mean to be ignorant. You have to inform yourself. You cannot decide the cybercrime law if you cannot operate a computer. You cannot decide a cyberlibel if you do not know what a "like" is in Facebook,” Leonen added.

The Supreme Court, where the judicial power is vested upon, is going through a lot of turbulence this past year. 

In August last year, for example, two impeachment complaints were filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno over supposed culpable violations of the Constitution and allegations of betrayal of public trust.

Analysts said that such moves may be considered as direct assaults against the judiciary, which is a separate, independent and co-equal branch of the executive and legislative.

On freedom of expression

 But even the courts are not alone in facing this problem.

“What happens in a society when the traditional institutions that guard the truth – the media, courts, academic community – become skewed, less independent, challenged, threatened? What happens in that kind of society? What do you want law, courts to do?” Leonen asked. 

DEMOCRACY AND DISINFORMATION. Hundreds attend the Democracy Forum at the Ateneo Law School in Makati on February 12, 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

This question raised by Leonen is timely given the recent attacks to media groups like Rappler, Inquirer, Vera Files, and Kodao Productions.

Early in January, the Securities and Exchange Commission moved to revoke the license of Rappler to operate. On the other hand, the websites of Vera Files and Kodao Productions were hacked and taken down after the releasing reports that were critical of the government. (READ: Journalists should always stand up against fake information

"Holding the line" has become, in fact, the mantra of many groups that carry the same fight for press freedom. (READ: [OPINION] Hold the line for whom?)

Given this context, Leonen urged the public “to use your constitutional rights and invoke them. Your role is to use your fundamental freedoms to express criticism of court decisions which you may disagree with.”

The associate justice urged the public that freedom of expression is their guard against the tendency of the government to abuse its powers – either through prior restraint or subsequent punishment.  

He also reminded that public, however, that this comes with a cost: "Open, robust, and uninhibited discussion is rarely soothing...Given the inequality of our society and the stakes of those who benefit from the status quo, democratic deliberation is often brusque."

Navigating social media 

What makes democratic deliberations and the exercise of the freedom of speech more complicated, of course, is social media. 

"Social media is a forum which I think your court and statutes will still have to grapple with. I think this is the ongoing discussion in senate hearings," Leonen acknowledged. 

Globally, democratic institutions are struggling to address the problem of "fake news"  and its exponential rise through social media.  This worldwide trend has posed a threat to the state of democracy in different countries, including the Philippines. (READ: Fake news law can be 'dangerous' – former Al Jazeera correspondent

Leonen echoed what many researchers have been emphasizing about the two sides of social media– that while it democratizes access at the surface level, it also creates echo chambers and has the "power to create digital amnesia and dull critical thinking."

This is why Leonen also encouraged the public to be discerning of their actions on the digital platform. 

"Social media is generally the crowdsourced speech of the owners of the platform. internet companies and their forums are not entirely neutral conduits of content..We have to be aware of all these and a guard against them. This society depends on that," Leonen said. 

Leonen concluded his speech by reminding the public to maximize and exercise their freedoms by amplifying narratives that matter – ones that tackle "poverty, disempowerment, inequality in a society that valorizes individualism, wealth, and the quick fix." – Rappler.com 







VIRAL: Old man sells P10-Valentine gifts in Cavite


CUP OF LOVE. Mang Pedring sells handcrafted animals in a paper cup for P10 each in Cavite. Photos from the Facebook post of JC Valera

MANILA, Philippines – During Valentine's Day, it's common to hear stories of people going the extra mile to make their loved ones happy. This year, the story of an old man who managed to touch, and even inspire, total strangers with his handcrafted products may be added to that list of stories.

On Febuary 6, Facebook user JC Valera, a graduating hotel and restaurant management student at the Technological University of the Philippines, took a photo of an old man selling small handcrafted bears and other small animals at just P10 each.

The man was identified as Pedro "Pedring" Desoloc, a 60-year-old resident of Cavite.

Valera said what struck him about Desoloc was the senior's sheer joy when they bought his product.

"Noong naglalakad kami ng tropa ko pauwi galing SM Dasma, may nakita po kaming vendor sa may kanto, nagtitinda po ng pang-Valentines gift. Mas na-touch 'yung puso ko nung nakita ko 'yung smile ni tatay nung nakita niyang nagustuhan namin 'yung gawa niya," Valera said in his post.

(When my friends and I was walking on our way home from SM Dasma, we saw a vendor in one corner, selling Valentine gifts. My heart was touched when I saw tatay smile when he saw that how much we liked his product.)

Valera shared that he remembered his father, an overseas Filipino worker, when he saw Desoloc.

"Kaya ko po na i-share ito dahil may ama rin po ako. Alam ko po na di biro ang trabaho at responsibilidad ng pagiging ama. Saludo po ako kay Tatay Pedring, at lalo na po sa aking ama nakikipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa po mapatapos lang po ako sa aking pag-aaral," Valera said in his viral post.

(I shared this because I also have a father. I know that it's not easy to work and bear the responsibility of being a father. I salute Tatay Pedring, and especially my father who's working hard overseas just to support my studies.) 

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The post went viral.  As of posting, the photo racked up over 31,000 reactions and 4,600 comments, and was shared at least 15,000 times. 


In a phone interview, Desoloc told Rappler that he first felt afraid when Valera asked to take his photo.

"Noong una natakot ako, pero sabi niya pati tinda ko, at sinabi niya na ipopost nya. Nalaman ko nga lang kinabukasan na nagviral na 'yung picture, sabi ng anak ko," Desoloc shared.

(At first, I got scared, but he said he would include my wares, and he said he would post it. I learned the following day from my child that the picture went viral.) 

Overwhelmed by all the praises he received on social meida, the old man has nothing but gratitude for Valera and all the netizens who shared and commented on the post. He said that since then, people had inquired about his work. 

"Natutuwa ako. Sa ngayon marami sa aking natawag mga order, meron ngang taga-Ilocos Sur, taga-Quezon, kaso di na ko natanggap nang sobrang layo, kasi sa totoo lang kapos ako sa puhunan. Kaya hindi ako masyado nakuha, kasi mapapahiya lang rin naman ako na tanggap ako nang tanggap nang hindi ko naman lahat kaya tinatantsa ko muna," said Desoloc.

(I'm happy. As of now, I received many calls for orders from people in Ilocos Sur, from Quezon, but I didn't accept them because they're so far. The truth is, I don't have enough capital. So I didn't accept [orders] because I'll embarrass myself if I keep on accepting work but I'm not able to finish everything so I'm still gauging it.)

Desoloc uses cloth, rubber slippers, and paper cups to make small animals and bears with wife Peninita. It has been his family's primary source of income for almost two decades. They sell their products in various areas in Cavite.

He said he also supplies to someone during Christmas, but after the holidays, he doesn't get any orders. This is why he goes from town to town all year round.

He said he thought of doing the business because he was getting old and to support his family.  "Matanda na kasi ako kaya ito ang naisip kong gawin, para hindi na ako mamamasukan, gusto ko pa rin suportahan ang pamilya ko." (I'm old already that's why I thought of doing this, so that I don't need to work for others anymore. I still want to support my family) – Rappler.com

In fighting disinformation and trolls, silence 'cannot be an option'


FIGHT BACK. 'Don't surrender your space to people who are faceless, nameless, and mindless,' says TV5 news anchor Ed Lingao at Democracy and Disinformation forum on February 13, 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Social media brought us worsened cases of disinformation and harassment. Do we remain silent or fight back? (READ: 'Women journalists more vulnerable to online harassment')

"If you want to make a real difference... fight for your right to be online. Don't surrender the space to people who are faceless, nameless, and mindless," said TV5 news anchor Ed Lingao during Inquirer's Democracy and Disinformation Forum at Ateneo de Manila Rockwell on Tuesday, February 13.

He also said that in the fight on 'fake news,' we should not let the government take charge of the  resolution.

Lingao explained, "...any administration throughout history will (sic) label any information that goes against them as fake, erroneous, or politically-driven." (READ: Fake news law can be 'dangerous' – former Al Jazeera correspondent)

New media and advocacy leaders Jane Uymatiao, Naz Nazareno, and Gang Badoy also joined Lingao in the panel on best practices against 'fake news' and online trolls.

"Fighting Back: Best Practices." Jane Uymatiao, Ed Lingao, Gang Badoy, Beng Cabangon, and Naz Nazareno with Vince Lazatin during the Democracy and Disinformation forum on February 13, 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Countering lies, disinformation online

During the second Senate probe on the proliferation of 'fake news' Senator Manny Pacquiao wanted the government to license bloggers.

Uymatiao, part of the editorial team of the 9-year-old independent blogger group Blogwatch, said that it is anyone's right to speak and express. She said they even defended then celebrity blogger and now Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson when she was petitioned to be banned from Facebook because of spreading 'fake news' and misleading posts

"But when she said 'I'm just a blogger' as if bloggers do not have any responsibility, we counter-reacted as Blogwatch," said Uymatiao in mixed Filipino and English. 

She explained that there are responsible bloggers, some even without ad revenues. She also noted that they do fact checking and have correction pages for erroneous posts.

RESPONSIBLE BLOGGERS. Jane Uymatiao of Blogwatch during the Democracy and Disinformation forum at Ateneo de Manila Makati campus on February 13, 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

"There has been disinformation not just on [blog] websites, Twitter, and Facebook – but also on Wikipedia," said Carlos 'Naz' Nazareno, a programmer advocating against historical revisionism, particularly on Martial Law and the Marcoses.

In 2017, The Guardian reported that during the controversial hero's burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, a huge spike in the number of edits occurred on the dictator's Wikipedia page. (TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy)

Nazareno also shared during his presentation that Filipino 'fake news' websites outnumbered its international counterparts, as listed on Wikipedia's uncredible sources. 

He said these malicious acts should be countered by creating a well-vetted list of 'fake news' sites and to "...not be intimidated... [and] silenced" as this is part of an orchestrated attack to pursue historical revisionism. (READ: Chief disinformation architects in the PH: Not exactly who you think)

Silence is violence, make facts 'sexy'

Badoy, founder of advocacy and alternative education group RockEd Philippines, said to emphasize the truth when speaking.

"Don't engage to win an argument. Engage because something needs to be said... engage to make what is true, win," she said. 

'SILENCE IS VIOLENCE.' Gang Badoy during the Democracy and Disinformation Forum at Ateneo de Manila Rockwell on February 13. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

She shared that to make facts reach the youth, they held concerts that focused on human rights at train stations and clubs but now the fight has shifted to the internet and the digital sphere. (READ: Facebook admits social media threat to democracy)

"My point is that silence cannot be an option anymore...silence right now is violence," said Badoy referring to the state of the Duterte Administration. (READ: HRW: Duterte's 'shoot women in vagina' remark violates int'l humanitarian law)

The panel agreed that to defend facts and fight historical revisionism, they should be showcased in a more digestible way for the public to absorb such as using videos to present data stories. 

"I do agree that social media is a warfield but there are also other warfields. There is a warfield in real life," said executive director of the Philippine Educational Theater Association, Beng Cabangon.

PETA, a 50-year-old theater company, engages in social commentary through the use of arts even combating the 'culture of silence' during Marcos' Martial Law. 

The theater group staged a musical play, 'A Game of Trolls,' which focused on human rights violations, telling the story using popular concepts. (READ: PETA, PH's Lilia de Lima among 2017 Ramon Magsaysay awardees)

Vince Lazatin, executive director of Transparency and Accountability Network, moderated the "Fighting Back: Best Practices" panel. – Rappler.com

Mud, debris fill Surigao del Sur streets after Basyang onslaught


AFTER THE FLOOD. Fallen debris and muds fill the streets of Babuyan town in Surigao del Sur after Tropical Storm Basyang hit the province. Photo by Ian Ganas/Facebook

MANILA, Philippines -- Residents of Surigao del Sur are calling for immediate help after Tropical Storm Basyang (Sanba) hit the province on Tuesday, February 13. 

Four people were killed as the tropical storm unleashed heavy rain and triggered deadly landslides, authorities confirmed.

Social media users posted pictures showing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Basyang. 

Facebook user Ian Cordita Ganas appealed for prayers and help for Babuyan town in Surigao del Sur.


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Facebook user Jaden Paniamogan Laurejas also posted pictures showing mud and floodwaters entering their house.

"Bridges were damaged, houses and church buildings were flooded. Some had nothing left but their lives. No electricity. No water. Some do not have food to eat, water to drink and even clothes to wear," he said in his post. 


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In some parts of Surigao City, only ankle to knee-deep floods were experienced. 


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Tropical Depression Basyang  weakened into a low pressure area (LPA) on Wednesday afternoon, February 14.

In a bulletin issued past 5:00 pm on Wednesday, February 14, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the LPA that was formerly Basyang is already 220 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

It had initially been projected to make its third and final landfall in Palawan on Wednesday evening.

Basyang made landfall twice – first in Cortes, Surigao del Sur at 9:15 am on February 13, and then in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental at 9:00 pm the same day.  – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: Quezon City leads 1st nationwide earthquake drill for 2018


MANILA, Philippines – How ready is the one of the most populated cities in the country for the 'Big One'?

This is the question that Quezon City leaders answered as the entire city underwent the 1st National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill for 2018 on February 15.

City goverment officials and employees, civilians, firefighters, soldiers, and police participated and perfomed the "duck, cover and hold" as soon as the siren rang at 2:00 pm.

QC rescuers responded to a number of earthquake scenarios, such as fire incidents, fallen debris, a looting incident, and a collapsed structure. The exercise was done across the whole area of Quezon Memorial Circle.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) chair and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the drill rated 9/10.

"Dun sa mga involve, 9 over 10 yang mga reaction nila. But remember, during the real calamity eh sabay-sabay yan, so that time lahat na involve yan, lahat magugulat, ang reaction ng isang tao o ng isang pamilya, depends on what he knows how to react to that situation," said Lorenzana.

(For those involve, I can give 9/10 for their reactions. But remember, during the real calamity, it is simultaneous. So that time, everyone is involve and affected. The reaction of every person or every family depends on what he knows how to react to that situation)

Meanwhile, #BidaAngHanda, the official hashtag for the earthquake drill, trended nationwide on Twitter. Social media users shared how they participated in the earthquake drill.

Below are some of the action-packed scenes from the shake drill activities in Quezon City.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler


Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Photo by Abigail Abigan/Rappler

– Rappler.com

Lorenzana: Disaster preparedness is a never-ending effort


RESCUE. Philippine Red Cross volunteers respond to a victim of collapsed structure. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — Disaster preparedness is a "continuing effort" as one can never prepare enough for possible calamities, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday, February 15. 

Lorenzana, who chairs the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), made the statement in a news briefing after the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill on Thursday.

"Kailangan continuous ito eh. Parang eskwelahan ito – hindi naman tumitigil ang eskwelahan na turuan ang mga nauna sa inyo at 'wag na kayo turuan (This has to be continuous. This is like a school – schools don't stop at teaching just one class). This is a continuing effort by everybody actually, not only the government, especially the communities," said Lorenzana.

Public and private employees, schools, and civil society performed the "duck, cover and hold" exercise during the drill. They headed to the designated evacuation center at the Quezon Memorial Circle after the siren rang at exactly 2 pm.

Residents were also tapped for simulated rescue operations in various earthquake scenarios like fire incidents, fallen boulders, looting incidents, and collapsed structures. (IN PHOTOS: Quezon City leads 1st nationwide earthquake drill for 2018)


NDRRMC spokesperson Mina Marasigan said government agencies hold the earthquake drill 4 times a year to continuously train people's muscle memory so that they can immediately respond when disaster strikes.

"Siguro in recent years, mas napapansin nila 'yung traffic, mas napapansin nila na nakakapagod sa init ng araw e mag-eevacuate ka, pero ngayon nagkakaroon tayo ng lessons learned hindi lamang sa ating bansa, pero kung titingnan natin 'yung ating mga karatig na bansa. Recently sa Taiwan nagkaroon ng earthquake," she said.

(In recent years, they paid more attention to the traffic [created by the drill], the exhaustion standing under the heat of the sun after being evacuated, but now, we can see lessons learned not only here in our country but also our neighbors. Recently, Taiwan was struck by an earthquake.)

Melody Albano Castro, the Cagayana overseas Filipino worker (OFW), died when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Hualien City, Taiwan, on February 6.

Taiwan authorities said Castro died of suffocation when she crawled under a bed during the quake, and a cabinet fell and crushed the bed. Her body was retrieved froma collapsed building two days after the earthquake. 

"Nakita nila na maaring mangyari ito sa Pilipinas, kaya mahalaga ngayon ang pakikiisa nila (They saw that this can also happen in the Philippines, so it's important for them to cooperate)," Marasigan said.

Lorenzana gave the drill a 9 out of 10 rating, based on the effort and immediate reaction of the participants.

"Dun sa mga involve, 9 over 10 yang mga reaction nila. But remember, during the real calamity eh sabay-sabay yan, so that time lahat na involved 'yan. Lahat magugulat, ang reaction ng isang tao o ng isang pamilya, depends on what he knows on how to react to that situation," said Lorenzana.

(For those involved, I can give 9 over 10 for their reactions. But remember, during the real calamity, everything happens simultaneously. So that time, everyone is involved and affected. Everybody would be taken by surprise, and the reaction of every person or every family depends on what he knows on how to react to that situation.)

Looking forward

After Quezon City showcased its disaster preparedness practices, Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said that evaluators will submit their observations and reports to the agencies' involved.

"Lahat ng mga comments ay kukunin natin and then we will improve more. Para sa susunod na i-e-excercise natin, masagot natin o mabigyan natin ng solusyon 'yung mga makikita nating problema dito, pati communications," Año said at the news briefing.

(We will gather all the comments and then we will improve more. For our future exercises, we will provide solutions to any problems we will see here, including communications.)

He added that they will disseminate the practices down to the barangays until the practices become a natural response to the so-called "Big One" or a possible 7.2- magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

The NDRRMC also shared that after the Quezon City drill, it looked forward to the preparation and practices of other local government units.

"This will not happen in QC alone, so we will showcase also other capabilities of our LGUs, other organizations that can help us, and other groups that need to be informed," Marasigan said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana reminded the mayors and barangay captains to encourage their communities to practice disaster preparedness.

"Dapat sila 'yung nasa forefront niyan eh. Sila 'yung palaging nagsasabi sa mga tao na gawin natin ito, magpractice tayo kung anong gagawin natin kung magkaroon ng mga kalamidad. So this is a continuing," he said.

(They should be at the forefront. They are the ones who should always tell the people to do this, let's practice what we should do when there are calamities. So this is continuing.)

The NDRRMC chief also said that everyone "should always be trying to improve the systems and processes."

On social media, the hashtag #BidaAngHanda trended online as netizens and government agencies nationwide posted photos of their duck, cover, and hold drills.

#BidaAngHanda racked up a total of 11,414,218 impressions from February 15 (8:24 am) to February 16 (12:01 am).

Below are some post of the drill nationwide: 

{source}<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="http://go.rappler.com/https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/964128486058221568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BidaAngHanda - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="http://go.rappler.com/https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

— Rappler.com

Go beyond competition, 1967 NSSPC champ tells campus journos


MEMOIRS. Perfecto Martin shows a 50-year-old newsletter distributed during the 1968 National Secondary Schools Press Conference in Lucena, Quezon. Photo by Bong Santisteban/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – With the 2018 National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) fast approaching, campus journalists around the country are already preparing for what they consider a very important competition in their youth.

To prop up contestants for the rigid competition ahead, regional delegations are holding their own enhancement trainings, with some lasting for a week. 

But for Perfecto Martin, competition is not what NSPC should mainly focus on.

Martin was the News Writing champion of the 1967 National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) in Butuan.

When the competition was held in Lucena, Quezon the following year, he emerged as the 3rd placer in Feature Writing. Martin was then representing The Republic, a student publication of Marcelo H. Del Pilar National High School in Malolos, Bulacan.

An award-winning campus journalist when he was younger, Martin told Rappler in an interview that the state and quality of campus journalism was far different back then compared to what it has evolved into at present. 

"During our time, our school paper adviser makes sure that every week, all publication staffers should submit an article, usually about school issues," said Martin, who is now a book publisher. 

He added: "The weekly routine became our practice. From there, our school paper adviser gets materials for the school publication."

Today, Martin pointed out that campus journalists and school paper advisers dedicate practice time only when the competition is around the corner. In addition, the production of student publications only happens once a year.

According to Martin, this creates a competition-fueled mindset, pushing students to focus on the event instead of telling relevant stories of their communities. (READ: Campus journalists say press freedom is everyone's battle)

"Campus journalists came from the best students in school, but being the best is not measured by how many trophies and medals he or she [has] achieved for the school. Campus journalism is more than just a competition," Martin emphasized.


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Stepping stone

Martin admitted that what he learned from campus journalism paved the way for him to pursue his career in writing. 

In college, he was a member of the Ateneo de Manila University's The Guidon. He also served as the culture section editor of the Philippine Collegian when he transferred to the University of the Philippines-Diliman. 

As a professional, Martin worked alongside Virgilio Almario, Charles Funk, and Victor Jose Peñaranda – the original team that created the Aklat Adarna series for the Nutrition Center of the Philippines. 

In 2017, Martin launched his anthology book about the history of history of Bulacan High School – now Marcelo H. Del Pilar National High School – containing copies of The Republic issues dating back as far as pre-World War II era. (READ: Does the Campus Journalism Act protect press freedom?)

Getting inspiration from his anthology book, Martin urged campus journalists to be the history keepers of their own schools and communities. 

For Martin, each school's history contains interesting stories of the community, and if compiled properly, will immortalize the people behind those stories.

"It is every campus journalist's duty to tell the stories of today so that it will be remembered in the future," Martin said.

For him, this will only be possible if student publications will publish at least every 2 months. (READ: Campus journos 'disappointed' over DepEd's termination of partnership with Rappler)

He said school paper advisers can take advantage of the regular publishing of the student publication as training sessions of their campus journalists – that is, if students are given appropriate feedback on what to improve. 

"When you get used to what you're doing, you don't need to be trained anymore whenever competition is near. In fact, retention is better when you're doing it regularly," he said. (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms)

OLD TIMES. A scene taken in one of the lectures during the 1968 National Secondary Schools Press Conference in Lucena, Quezon. Photo from the collection of Florentina Franco

Diversifying campus journalism

According to Martin, if campus journalists act as storytellers, they could really impact change in their community.

"With the available technologies today, the opportunities for campus journalists are endless," he said.

He also encouraged campus publications to set up social media pages. This way, students can get school-related information instead of reading "secret files" pages that are popular on Facebook. 

"One should know the difference between a campus writer and campus journalists. When you're a campus journalist, you write with purpose," he ended. 

Dubbed as the Olympics of Campus Journalism, NSPC is set to gather the best student journalists in the country.

The 2018 leg of the program led by the Department of Education will be held in Dumaguete City from February 19 to 23. — Rappler.com

Local bands perform at UP Fair for press freedom


NOT ORDINARY. More than just a typical concert, the annual UP Fair pushes for various advocacies. All photos by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — As part of a series of activities to defend press freedom, advocates held a #BlackFridayForPressFreedom: A UP Fair Live Jam at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman on Friday, February 16.

In a special segment of Cosmos: UP Fair on Friday, Barbie Almalbis, Mayonnaise, and Silent Sanctuary played their hits in solidarity with the ongoing campaign for press freedom.

The weekly protest is organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and other media groups. Every Friday, citizens are encouraged to wear black shirts or black arm bands, or join related activities.

The series of protest was triggered by the move by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the license of Rappler. For advocates, the move is an assault on press freedom.

MUSIC AND ADVOCACY. Barbie Almabis performs her hit songs at the annual UP Fair in Diliman, Quezon City. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Media practitioners and advocates installed a booth to present documentaries of threats against the media. The Nightwatch photojournalists showed a photo compilation of their drug war coverage, "The Victims of Tokhang". 

In an interview, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) executive director Malou Mangahas said the UP Fair is an avenue to talk about advocacies and connect with communities.

"I think it's important to also remind ourselves that the conversation should actually be more inclusive, across age groups, across gender, across income groups. That's why we thought that part of the service we can do is reach out and tell them that this is an avocacy, and we're not getting anything from it," Mangahas said. 

Mangahas also believes it is important to consider the power of millennials. 

"Maybe we underestimate the level of awareness and connectedness of the millennials. Take the case of the Marcos burial. It was the millennials who stood up, and it was the millennials who remembered, possibly much better than what their parents did," Mangahas said.  (READ: Why UP Fair is ingrained in the university culture)— Rappler.com

How Cagayan de Oro empowers youth in local governance


YOUTH POWER. Members of the Oro Youth Development Council pose with CDO City Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy (center in blue barong) and members of the 18th City Council after the approval of the Oro Youth Code on January 22, 2018. Photo courtesy of Atty, Ernesto Neri

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – In local governance, what can the youth bring to the table?

Cagayan de Oro City will soon find out following the approval of the Oro Youth Code by the Cagayan de Oro City Council last January, which will enable individuals aged 15 to 30 to take part in leadership for inclusive development in their city and bring out issues in their communities. 

Taking inspiration from the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015, the Oro Youth Code (OYC) details its unique and salient features which include “the creation of the Oro Youth Development Office and the institutionalization of its council” as stated in the approved ordinance.

Although the SK Reform Act has provided the guidelines, OYC, which was authored by CDO-based youth leader Atty. Ernesto Neri, covers a more localized scope that addresses the issues and problems commonly encountered and often overlooked by the youth and the rest of the CDO populace.

Two entities, one vision

“The youth should realize that governance is not limited to elected officials,” Oro Youth Development Officer James Patrick Santos said in an interview.

Santos, 25, currently heads the future plans of the Oro Youth Development Office which will officially commence in June this year as an official part of the city government.

A volunteer staff of the Teach for the Philippines (TFP) organization, he was appointed for the position by Neri in September 2017, with the approval of Mayor Oscar Moreno. 

The office will handle the registration of youth organizations – both public and private – aiming to converge for collaborative initiatives. “The forms and the guidelines are ready and [these] will be launched online,” Santos said.

This comes after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in February 2017 released a memorandum that mandated the creation of Local Youth Development Offices (LYDO) at the provincial, city, and municipal levels.

With the upcoming SK elections in May, the office is also preparing to train elected youth officials in the city’s barangays for effective leadership and ethical governance. This responsibility was based on the same mandate by the DILG which was designed by the National Youth Commission.

The Oro Youth Development Office is one of the two entities that further deepen the thrusts of the OYC.

The Oro Youth Development Council (OYDC), on the other hand, comprises of representatives from organizations from 6 sectors: in-school, out-of-school, cultural identity, faith-based, community-based, and special advocacy youth groups.

While the office trains youth leaders, the council gathers them to plan for solutions that address problems concerning the youth and their communities. With regular meetings attended by sectoral representatives, projects and programs will be proposed for implementation to address specific issues per sector. 

In addition, a special advocacy sector involves youth organizations in issues such as the environment, LGBTQ rights, and human trafficking, among the many defined in the OYC.

Growing legacy

Even before the OYC was approved, members of the OYDC who have lobbied for the Code have already accomplished a number of goals.

Last November, OYDC recognized police stations around the city that have delivered commendable service in protecting children from crimes and providing a comfortable atmosphere for rescued minors.

The following month, OYDC has organized a one-day educational program about human and civil rights, juvenile justice, and rights under custodial investigation for an audience composed mainly of junior and senior high students, out-of-school youth, and college council leaders. 

Empowering the youth to lead enables more opportunities for citizen engagement and sharing of ideas. The OYDC members hope to spread this concept in other communities across the country.

“You can’t just complain,” Santos said, challenging the youth who usually get discouraged by the inefficiency of local governance due to bureaucracy and corruption.

“You have a duty as a citizen,” he added. “As Jose Rizal put it, ‘the youth is the hope for the future,’ I think it’s best to start now.” – Rappler.com 

Angelo Lorenzo is one of Rappler’s Lead Movers in CDO. A Development Journalism graduate from Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, he now works in the city’s local government unit.

IN PHOTOS: Colors, excitement fill NSPC 2018 opening


GENTLE PEOPLE. This year's host, Dumaguete City, promises a one of a kind experience for all participants. Photo by Paolo Gabriel Herreria/Ilocos Region

MANILA, Philippines – Around 5,000 campus journalists from all over the Philippines flocked to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental to participate in the prestigious National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) which began on Monday morning, February 19. 

NSPC, also known as the “Olympics of Campus Journalism,” gathers the best campus journalists in the country from February 19 to 23 in Dumaguete City.

The theme of this year's schools' press conference is “Embracing ASEAN Integration: Campus journalists' role in advancing inclusive education.”

Dumaguete, or the City of Gentle People, is known for its idyllic baywalk view, bustling academic environment, refreshing tourist spots, and heritage architecture.

Here are some of the best picture taken by the campus journalists:

PARADE. Members of the Boy Scout of the Philippines led delegations during the parade. Photo by Theolornie Hila/Bicol Region

GREEN. Eastern Visayas delegates march along the streets of Dumaguete in their vibrant green regional shirt. Photo by Kent Adal/Eastern Visayas

VOICE OUT. Campus journalists from Caraga Region taking a last-minute practice for their yells. Photo by Nicx Pagalan/Caraga Region

GOING FOR GOLD. Ilocos Region delegates entering Lamberto L. Macias Gym, the venue of the NSPC 2018 Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Shania Villarin/Ilocos Region

SEA OF COLORS. Each delegation wears a uniform color to represent their region, creating a vast sea of people taking up different colors. Photo by Efren Bogayon Jr./Bicol Region

'What you have now is a reality: your first love, your books,your dreams. Write about these simple things, because they matter. Keep writing,' says Philippine Daily Inquirer's John Nery in his keynote speech. Photo by Shania Villarin/Ilocos Region

IT'S OFFICIAL. Balloons and confetti fall as DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones declares the NSPC open. Photo by Joseph Enric Dy/Caraga Region

HEART. Officials of the Department of education pose for the korean-inspired heart sign after the opening ceremonies of NSPC 2018. Photo by Paul Corte/IlocosRegion


Briones: No exclusivity, money involved in Rappler-DepEd partnership


 CLEARED. Secretary Leonor Briones clarified in front of campus journalists and teachers that there was no  exclusivity nor money involved during its six years of partnering with Rappler. Photo by Hans Ray De Guzman/Central Visayas

MANILA, Philippines – Less than two weeks after the Department of Education (DepEd) severed ties with Rappler, Secretary Leonor M. Briones finally broke her silence on the issue. 

In a press conference held after the opening ceremonies of the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Dumaguete City on Monday afternoon, February 19, Briones said that, contrary to allegations, there was no exclusivity and money involved during the 6 years Rappler engaged with DepEd.

"Walang pera at hindi exclusive ang ating pakikipagtulungan," Briones said. (There's no money nor exclusivity involved in our partnership.) She added that the partnership with Rappler was "good." 

Briones emphasized that the DepEd was "a friend to all media."

The education secretary, however, cited the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to revoke the articles of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings as the basis for the department's termination of the partnership. 

"Ang DepEd ay isang government institution, at we operate within the mandate of law. At may deklarasyon sa isang institusyon na mataas na kredibilidad, na sinasabing kinansel ang registration, hangga't hindi maayos yan hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ang Rappler," Briones explained. 

(DepEd is a government institution and we operate within the mandate of law. There's a declaration from an institution of high credibility saying the registration is canceled. Until Rappler can fix that, they should not be allowed to continue operating.)

She stressed that this decision was not hers alone. 

"Hindi lamang desisyon ng secretary ng Department of Education, pinag-isipan ito ng buong executive committee. Pinag aralan ng husto letra por letra ang desisyon ng SEC at nakita namin na medyo may kahirapan ang pagpatuloy ang ating pakikipagpartner," Briones said.

(It was not just the decision of the secretary of the Department of Education, but of the whole executive committee. We scrutinized it letter per letter and we realized that there's a difficulty in continuing the partnership)

Briones further explained that there's a section in the SEC decision saying that, even under appeal, Rappler is barred from continuing its operations. 

"So wala nang bisa ang registration, kaya walang choice, nagdesisyon ang DepEd," Briones said. (The registration is revoked. That leaves DepEd no choice.)

The DepEd position is inconsistent with SEC's clarification that the online news organization is still free to continue its operation while the SEC decision to revoke the media firm's license for allegedly violating the constitution is not yet "final and executory."

"Rappler can exhaust legal remedies. [They can] appeal to the Court of Appeals within 15 days. Meanwhile, SEC decision is not final and executory," SEC Spokesperson Armand Pan said on January 15.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The SEC has said Rappler can continue operating. The decision is not yet final.<br> <a href="https://t.co/XFtU1ozQf5">https://t.co/XFtU1ozQf5</a> <a href="https://t.co/RFSjwgWetA">https://t.co/RFSjwgWetA</a></p>&mdash; MovePH (@MovePH) <a href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/status/965469496595988480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


On February 1, Manila Times published an article alleging Rappler of having "an exclusive contract with DepEd to cover the annual Palarong Pambansa." A week following this story, DepEd notified Rappler,  through a letter dated February 7, that it was terminating its existing Memorandum of Agreement with the social news network without giving any reasons. 

The termination happened two weeks before the NSPC in Dumaguete City scheduled on February 19-23 where Rappler was expected to work with DepEd for the conduct of various activities in the week-long event. The partnership between Rappler and DepEd for NSPC included the holding of the online publishing demo contest, TV Broadcasting contest, and the concurrent session. (READ: By ending Rappler-DepEd partnership, the only losers are the kids

Dubbed as the "Olympics of Campus Journalism in the Philippines," NSPC gathers the best budding journalists from all over the country. In 2017, Rappler provided full coverage for the week-long campus journalism event that ironically rarely attracts headlines in mainstream news organizations. 

Since 2013, Rappler has also consistently covered the Palarong Pambansa, a week-long sports event led by DepEd. In April 2017, Rappler, in partnership with DepEd, also trained over 120 campus journalists and school paper advisers on multimedia reporting in preparation for the coverage of the biggest youth sports event in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

VIRAL: Korean tourist shares bad experience in Clark airport


MANILA, Philippines — A few months after Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) 2017's passenger traffic surpassed its record in 2012, the airport now faces a controversy involving a foreigner.

On February 18, Sunday, a Korean national took to social media to narrate her bad experience with a Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel at the Clark airport in Pampanga. The woman identified herself as Woo Seonkyung, who arrived on board the flight number LJ023. She said that it was her first time to visit the Philippines.

In her Facebook post, she said that the customs official asked her to pay taxes for the items she bought in Incheon, Korea.

"Actually, I can hardly speak English. The article is also based on the application of a translator. After explanation, we were taken to the small office next door. They kept talking to me in incomprehensible English. Then I heard the words ‘Pay’ and ‘tax’ in my ears. Pay the tax, and they wrote down on a piece of paper and showed me, $137," Kyung said.

As of posting, the post gathered 45,000 reactions and was shared nearly 66,000 times.

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Maritess Martin, District Collector in BOC-Port of Clark said in a statement that the customs examiner on duty named Ramon Mindanao only performed the protocol.

“As a matter of procedure, Ms. SeonKyung had to pass through the Customs Arrival Area to determine if she had with her any taxable items," Martin said. 

According to Martin, when Mindanao asked the value of the bag and cosmetic products she was carrying, SeonKyung presented a receipt amounting to $677.

“The Customs examiner on duty, Ramon Mindanao showed her the amount of customs duties and taxes in the amount of P6,941 which is based on the rate of duty, value-added tax, and customs documentary stamp. Unfortunately, Ms. SeonKyung refused to pay the said customs duties and taxes claiming that the goods were bought at Incheon Korea Duty Free Shop," Martin said. 

According to the customs personnel, the value of the bag and cosmetic products exceeded the P10,000 limit which would not qualify for de minimis importation. This meant that duties and taxes are needed to be imposed on the products brought by SeonKyung. 

"De minimis" is the value of goods for which no duty or tax is collected. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) raised the "de minimis" value from P10 to P10,000 in accordance to the implementation of Section 423 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“Mr. Mindanao further informed Ms. SeonKyung that it is the mandate of the Bureau of Customs to impose and collect lawful duties and taxes on importable goods unless it is tax and duty free," he added.

Following the customs procedures, a "held baggage receipt" was given to SeonKyung but she reportedly refused to sign the copy of the receipt.

Harrasment and theft

Aside from the issue on the taxes, SeonKyung primarily complained about the supposed rude treatment of the BOC personnel. She shared that the custom official yelled "go back [to] Korea."

She also complained about the lost of her P70,000-worth watch and the electronic cigarettes of her husband.

"He put the watch and the cigarette he was wearing in the basket and ran out of the checkpoint. When I was running, my husband shouted that my watch was missing. The electronic cigarettes that I put in the basket with my watch disappeared," SeonKyung said.

However, Martin denied that the tourists were treated rudely. 

“Passenger SeonKyung and husband were treated with utmost courtesy and we politely explained to them the situation. We would like to put on record that Customs personnel at the Clark International Airport only implements the customs laws, rules, and regulations, and impose lawful customs duties and taxes where applicable, and the same customs laws and rules are imposed upon arriving passengers, Filipinos and foreigners alike," they said in a statement. 

Martin also said that stolen cases are under the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), but they recommended to review the CCTV footages in order to find out what really happened to the alleged missing items.

“The Bureau of Customs-Port of Clark personnel only conduct what our mandate tells us. The netizens and the public also deserve the right information.”

After the incident, SeonKyung said "never wanted to visit the Philippines again." — Rappler.com


#NSPC2018: John Nery encourages campus journos to keep on writing


KEEP WRITING. Philippine Daily Inquirer's John Nery gives his keynote speech in the 2018 National Schools Press Conference. Photo by Shania Villarin/Ilocos Region

MANILA, Philippines — How can campus journalists hold the line and uphold the spirit of being a media practitioner?

Philippine Daily Inquirer Associate Editor John Nery strived to answer this during the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Schools Press Conference on Monday, February 19 at Dumaguete City where he used Dr. Jose Rizal as his guide when he talked about the intersection between journalism and nation building.

In addressing this question, Nery pointed out three topics in his speech – first, Rizal and ASEAN Integration; second, Rizal and inclusive education and; third, Rizal and (campus) journalism. In 2011, Nery's "Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia,” was published in Singapore and the Philippines to mark 150th birth anniversary of Rizal.

ASEAN integration and inclusive education 

When approaching the topic of ASEAN integration, Nery said that campus journalists can learn from Rizal and look into the common bonds that bind ASEAN countries: geography and misfortune. 

"We are neighbors because we live near each other, and because many of us suffered from a history of marginalization and colonization," Nery said, encouraging students to report and write about other schools and students from other ASEAN countries too. 

"Visa-less travel and budget airlines make inter-Asean visits much more possible, but in fact there is no need to leave our own campuses. We can Skype interviews, talk in Google Hangouts, organize virtual campaigns on Twitter, share each other’s Instagram accounts," Nery added. 

Nery told the participants that it is the role of schools and universities to look for other men and women with honor in other ASEAN countries to help foster genuine integration among the nations.

"How can ASEAN integration work in the Philippines when, in our own campus publications, there is almost zero mention of Indonesian environmental activists, Thai business majors, Malaysian scholars working in Singaporean universities?" he said.

Nery also reiterated that the case of inclusivity in education is one of the battles to rally behind, as this also reminded him how Rizal genuinely loved the Philippines.

"As you grow older, you will hear the grown-ups say, 'Choose your battles' You will hear this more and more often, the more responsibilities in life you bear. As Rizal advised us: Choose, not just your battles, but your battleground," Nery said.

According to Nery, someone from DepEd told him that it was also a battle cry of the department.

"The DepEd is now trying to address the voiceless, marginalized and disadvantaged learners by intensifying the different Flexible Learning Options (FLO) such as the Alternative Learning Systems (ALS), Special Education, Madrasah Education, Indigenous People’s Education, Open High School, Rural Farm Schools, Night High School and many more," DepEd told Nery.

Inclusive education is when children, with or without disabilities, take classes together. DepEd thought of reaching out even to the farthest communities to give a high-quality, free and accessible education. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: The challenges of inclusive education)

"Let's use our student newspapers not only as a loudspeaker for our campuses but also as a megaphone for our fellow citizens who live in nearby communities of risk," Nery added.

Role of campus journalists

Nery looked back on how Rizal participated in the law-making process and the freedom to write about the true conditions in the Philippines defusing rising tensions in the Spanish colony.

"He lived his own advocacy. He wrote political tracts, analytical pieces, and the occasional review for Solidaridad; that is, he served for all intents and purposes as a journalist. As I have argued before: “In my view, much of Rizal’s work for “Soli” was in fact journalism: dedicated to the truth, concerned with public interest, verifiable and, above all, independent," Nery said.

He stated that a true freedom of the press is always connected to the freedom of expression. It was needed to help create a moral men and women who can express their opinion, as an exercise in reason.

Nery suggested that schools should "use student newspapers not only as a hub for schools and universities, but also as a public square, a space to host voices of reason and conviction in our larger communities"

He also reminded student journalists to ignore those who have self-interest and just continue to write.

"Do not believe anyone, even those in authority or those who are close to you and have only your best interests in mind, who say to you: Wait until you graduate and live in the real world," he said.

"The truth is: You are in the real world. Your concerns now — are important, and real, and shared in common with our neighbors in Southeast Asia, and they are worth writing about," Nery said. "Keep on writing." — Rappler.com


Oldest alliance of college editors to stage nationwide protests February 23


DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM. Campus journalists from CEGP call for the protection of press freedom from the oppression of the Duterte administration in front of the Mendiola Peace Arch on January 17, 2018. Photo by Alecs Ongcal

MANILA, Philippines – The College Editors' Guild of the  Philippines (CEGP) will hold a series of protest around the country on Friday, February 23, to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

The CEGP – the oldest and only alliance of tertiary student publications in the Asia-Pacific region – said the protests seek to condemn the recent attacks of President Rodrigo Duterte on press freedom. 

The latest attack was made on news site Rappler and its Malacañang reporter, Pia Ranada, who was banned from entering the entire Malacañang compound  beginning Thursday, February 22, upon orders of the President himself.

Palace officials initially cited the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) decision to revoke Rappler's registration, even if the ruling is under appeal and not yet final and executory. Malacañang later said that Duterte imposed the ban as he was "irritated" by Rappler and Ranada's "antagonistic" reporting.

In a statement, the CEGP said that the ban only proved that Duterte was out to muzzle his critics to suit his interests.

"President Rodrigo Duterte pounces on press freedom even more, beleaguering the already perilous fourth estate and silencing as much as he can while mobilizing his charlatan army of trolls and pseudo-journalists to frame everything in his favor," it said.

CEGP urged students and concerned Filipinos to join their protests in the following places:

Metro Manila

  • 10 am: Decentralized actions in various universities
  • 2 pm: Youthquake 2.0, in front of the Far Eastern University in Morayta
  • 5 pm: March to Mendiola

According to the organizers, "Youthquake” is the word of the year in 2017, in celebration of the ‘woke’ generation and how the youth movement has been able to expose and oppose corruption and murderous incentives not only of the Duterte administration but also international politicians. 

Baguio City

  • 3 pm: UP Baguio
  • 4:30 pm: Baguio City Post Office

Central Luzon

  • 12 pm: UP Pampanga
  • 1 pm: Bulacan State University
  • 4 pm: Holy Angel University


  • 10 am: UP Los Banos
  • 5 pm: Crossing Calamba


  • 11:30 am: UP Visayas Miag-Ao
  • 1 pm: Iloilo Provincial Capitol

Tacloban City

  • 3 pm: UP Tacloban

Cebu City

  • 3 pm: Colon

Northern Mindanao

  • 4 pm: MSU Marawi City

Davao City

  • 3 pm: UP Mindanao
  • 5 pm: Mintal

– Rappler.com

The different faces of press freedom violations vs campus journalists


DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM. Campus journalists from CEGP protest to defend press freedom from the oppression of Duterte’s government in front of the Mendiola Peace Arch on January 17, 2018. Photo by Alecs Ongcal

MANILA, Philippines – In March 2017, plainclothes policemen reportedly visited the house of Jan Joseph Goingo, then the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Vice President for Luzon, and interviewed him about his family.

This was contained in a report of the Ateneo de Naga University publication, The Pillars, where Goingo was a staffmember, to the CEGP.

In a separate incident, staffmembers of The Warden publication of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila reported that they have had difficulty accessing the publication fund. According to them, the university’s finance office announced during the second semester in 2016 that their current semestral budget amounting to P500,000 will be carried over to the next academic year, 2016-2017.

These are just some of the campus press freedom violations recorded by the CEGP, the oldest and broadest alliance of college editors, since President Rodrigo Duterte began his term.

In all, CEGP said that there are over 800 unresolved cases of campus press freedom violations as of posting.

Importance of campus press

What is worse is that these reports remain underreported in the mainstream media.

Kahit pa may mga hina-harass, may mga talagang sinu-surveillance na mga campus press, underreported pa rin siya dahil nakikita nila ang campus press bilang maliit lang or di kaya confined siya sa school lang,” CEGP President Jose Mari Callueng said in an interview with Rappler.

(Even though some student journalists are being harassed or under surveillance, the cases are still under reported because they [mainstream media] consider them as minor or confined within the school.)

University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao countered the idea that campus press issues are confined only within the university. He said that there should be “no distinction between national and local/school issues because they are interrelated.” (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms)

“In discussing local/school issues, campus publications should relate them to what is happening community-wide or nationwide,” Arao said in a previous interview with Rappler.

Unlike mainstream media that also operate as businesses, Callueng noted that campus press have no commercial interest.

“'Yung campus press kasi, walang commercial interests dahil ang fund ay nanggagaling sa mga students themselves. Ano ba 'yung nais ng mga estudyante? Siyempre 'yung malaman 'yung kalagayan ng lipunan,” Callueng said.

(Campus press don't have commericials interestes because their funds come from the students themselves. What do students want? Of course, they want to know the truth about the state of the society.) 

Campus press, according to Arao and Callueng, play an important role in educating the public and upholding democracy. This is both true historically and at present. (READ: Oldest alliance of college editors urges PH media to unite for press freedom)

In fact, Liliosa Hilao, the first political prisoner to die in detention during martial law under the Marcos regime, was a campus journalist from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). Like many progressive groups that dared to counter the narrative of the Marcos regime, CEGP was also declared “illegal” during the first years of Martial Law. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

Many of the campus press then took the role of preserving freedom of speech and expression by going underground and joining the mosquito press.

“Sila talaga 'yung nagsilbi na boses ng mga mamamayan at ito yung dahilan kung papaano sila namulat para ibagsak  yung diktarduya ng rehimeng Marcos,”Callueng said.

(They served as the voice of the people and this is how they learned how to help in bringing down the Marcos dictatorship.)  

Current violations

This critical role that the campus press is the reason why, according to Callueng, violations against their rights happen in an alarming scale, despite the existence of the Campus Journalism Act (CJA). (READ: Does the Campus Journalism Act protect press freedom?)

In CEGP’s 86 years, the guild came up with 8 categories campus press freedom violations, as shown in the following infographic.

Making sense of these violations, CEGP pointed to the “flaws and inadequacy of the law to genuinely protect campus freedom.”

According to the guild, while there are a couple of positive provisions introduced by the CJA, these can be “overruled by powerful decisions and actions of the administration.”

Fiscal autonomy

CEGP cited Section 5 of the law that stipulates where publications could get their funding. It states that “funding for the student publication may include the savings of the respective school’s appropriations, student subscriptions, donations, and other sources of funds.”

The guild argued that the word “may” in the provision may be interpreted by the administration as only an option to collect student publication fee. This, in effect, legalizes the non-mandatory collection of publication fee, the lifeblood of student-run publications.

Based on their records, at least 200 of the 800 cases of campus press freedom violations are related to the withholding of funds, making it the primary violation faced by student publications in the country.

“Which is why, ever since 2009, we’ve been pushing for the Campus Press Freedom Bill because this seeks to uphold the fiscal autonomy of campus publications,” Callueng said.

Introduced in the 16th Congres by former Kabataan representative Terry Ridon, House Bill (HB) 1493 included a provision on mandatory funding of student publications, among others that seek to address flaws in the CJA.

More than that, the bill also seeks to introduce a penal clause, according to Callueng.

Section 18 of the proposed bill states that any violation may be punishable by a "fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P200,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than 5 years." It also added that "if the offender is an education institution or a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president, treasurer or secretary of any officer responsible for the violation.”

Addressing the violations

In the absence of a law that can genuinely protect the rights of the campus press, what can student journalists do?

“Ang challenge sa pag-address ng mga violations ay 'yung paghaharap mismo sa conflicts of interests. Admittedly,'yung mga admin, siyempre hinding-hindi sila papanig sa mga ina-assert ng mga nasa loob ng diyaryo and that has been proven sa mga series of dialogues na napuntahan ko,” Callueng said. 

(The challenge in addressing these violations is facing the conflicts of interests between the school administration and the student journalists. Of course, the school administration will never side with the views of the school paper, and has been proven in the series of dialogues I have been to.) 

A united campus publication and student community are important in addressing  campus press freedom violations. According to Callueng, this can be achieved through effective and consistent information awareness. CEGP has also advised student publications to file cases before the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). 

To help uphold their the rights of campus media, CEGP has been at the forefront of raising awareness on the mandate of the campus press. (READ: Oldest alliance of college editors to stage nationwide protests February 23

“Especially during these interesting times, we need to inculcate among members of the campus press their solemn duty – that they are not just a paper for the students but also a paper for the rest of the public,” Callueng said. Rappler.com


UP chancellor endorses February 23, 24 protests vs attack on press freedom, EJKs


MANILA, Philippines –  University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan has endorsed the scheduled protest activities against attacks on press freedom and human rights on Friday, February 23, and on Saturday, February 24.

In a memo released on Thursday, February 22, Tan urged professors to excuse UP students who will join the consecutive activities scheduled on Friday and Saturday organized by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Catholic Church, respectively.

"We need to encourage our students to participate in the activities as part of their education," Tan said in his memo. 

In commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, the CEGP will hold a series of protest around the country on Friday, February 23. On February 24, the Catholic Church will hold the Walk for Life to oppose the drug war killings, the death penalty, and the looming resurgence of dictatorship in the Philippines.


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Tan prefaced his memo by explaining how "cognitive dissonance" – a term which he used to describe the current state of the Philippine society – may either lead the youth to apathy or attraction to extremism and populism in search for answers.

"Our young in particular are vexed by the sharp discrepancy between what we teach in schools about morality and democracy and by what they see in practice," Tan said.

He added that the series of activities seek to draw attention to the different realities facing the nation related to issues on human rights, extrajudicial killings, Charter change, federalism, martial law in Mindanao, and the crisis in mass transport. 

"I have participated in some of the activities and am disturbed, realizing that we live not only in an age of fake news but of silence, particulary in relation to human rights violations in Mindanao," Tan said.

Fake news, one of the subjects of the protests, is a trend that threatens democratic institutions worldwide. (READ: Madeleine Albright says fakes news 'damaging to democracy')

Tan's memo comes more than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened UP students that he will give their slots to Lumad students if they continue engaging in walkouts and other protest activities.

Unfazed, several student groups promised to mobilize thousands of students to protest against the government’s “attacks against the people.” They also debunked the widely-held notion that there is a direct correlation between low grades or poor school performance and being an activist. (READ: UP student groups vow bigger protests vs Duterte gov't)  

While Tan asked members of the state university's executive committe to excuse students, he also made sure that students do not use the activities as a reason to forget their academic responsibilities. 

"At the same time, it must be made clear that they cannot be excused for missing exams and deadlines for reports," he said in his memo. – Rappler.com 


[Right Of Way] The fault in our signs, part 3


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

This is the 3rd and final in a series of episodes tackling faulty road signs and pavement markings in the metro. (WATCH: The fault in our signs, part 1, part 2)

Road safety advocate Vincent Lazatin talks about how crucial pavement markings are when it comes to streamlining traffic flow.

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


Campus journos 'defend press freedom' during NSPC 2018 awarding ceremonies


 BOLD MOVE. The Collaborative Desktop Publishing Team surprised everyone after rolling up the banner showing their support for press freedom. Photo by Shania Villarin/Ilocos Region

MANILA, Phillippines – The Collaborative Desktop Publishing Team of Catanduanes National High School in  Virac, Catanduanes surprised everyone during the awarding ceremonies of the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Dumaguete City on Friday, February 23, after they unfurled a banner reading, "Defend Press Freedom! #STANDWITHRAPPLER" while receiving their award. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Colors, excitement fill NSPC 2018 opening)

Shania Villarin of Ilocos Region, the campus journalist who took the picture, described this as "a bold move."

"Nakakatuwa pong makita sila. Alam talaga nila kung saan dapat pumanig," the young photojournalist told Rappler. (I'm happy seeing them. They really know where they should stand)

Anhjelica Magbanua, a member of the team, explained that their school paper adviser taught them what responsible and fearless journalism is, and they will continue standing to it. 

"It's not just a contest for us. We will uphold press freedom even though we just came from a small island province," Magabanua said. 

The team from Catanduanes bagged the 6th place in Collaborative Desktop Publishing and 3rd Place in Online Publishing. During the 2017 NSPC in Pagadian City, the team won 1st place during the debut of Online Publishing using RapplerX. (READ: #NSPC2018: John Nery encourages campus journos to keep on writing)

The move comes more than 2 weeks after DepEd notified Rappler it was terminating its existing Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the social news network without giving any reasons as to the termination of the MOA. 

Secretary Leonor Briones, in a press conference on February 19, cited the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to revoke the articles of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings as the basis for the department's termination of the partnership.

Various campus press groups and media organizations have carried the banner of defending press freedom after the series of attacks against the press. Aside from Rappler, the websites of Vera Files and Kodao Productions were also apparently attacked and taken down after releasing reports critical of the government. (READ: Journalists should always stand up against fake information)

The termination happened just a few days before the NSPC, where Rappler was expected to work with DepEd to hold various activities in the week-long event. The partnership between Rappler and DepEd for NSPC included the holding of the online publishing demo contest, a TV Broadcasting contest, and the concurrent session. (READ: By ending Rappler-DepEd partnership, the only losers are the kids)

Dubbed as the "Olympics of Campus Journalism in the Philippines," NSPC gathers the best budding journalists from all over the country. In 2017, Rappler provided full coverage for the campus journalism event.

In April 2017, Rappler, in partnership with DepEd, also trained over 120 campus journalists and school paper advisers on multimedia reporting in preparation for the coverage of the biggest youth sports event in the Philippines: Palarong Pambansa. – Rappler.com

#WalkOutPH trends on Twitter as millennials fight for press freedom, human rights


#WALKOUTPH. Students from the University of the Philippines walk out of their classes to join an anti-Duterte rally in front of UP Palma Hall in Diliman, Quezon City, on Friday, February 23 2018. The students are calling for the scrapping of the TRAIN Law and the jeepney modernization program, as well as a stop in the series of extra-judicial killings and harassment of journalists. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of Filipinos– mostly youth – took to the streets on Friday, February 23, as their call to uphold human rights and press freedom also created a stir on social media.

The hashtag #WalkOutPh trended Friday afternoon, racking up more 3,000 tweets and reaching at least 2.6 million on Twitter. The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, together with Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, organized a series of protests nationwide to condemn the recent attacks of President Rodrigo Duterte on press freedom and human rights.

“With the intensifying attacks of the current regime against its critics, we encounter student leaders, activists, and dissenters who have found themselves as victims of fake news, personal attacks, trolls and direct harassment of suspected state agents,” Youth Act Now Against Tyranny said in their statement. (READ: Oldest alliance of college editors to stage nationwide protests February 23

“Despite all these, the youth only strengthened the resolve to fight against tyranny and are ready to frustrate a rising dictatorship,” it added.

In Metro Manila, students from different universities started the day with individual activities in their respective campuses before gathering in Morayta, Manila with the rest of the protesters. 

At the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the students were joined by vendors and jeepney drivers as they “shut down Palma Hall.”

According to Ikot Jeepney Association president Cesar Sarmiento, they joined the protest to fight against the repressive policies of the administration against the poor, including the jeepney phaseout. 

"Gusto namin ipaglaban ang aming karapatan at ang aming pagtutol sa sinasabi ng gobyerno na jeepney phaseout. Sana makinig yung mga nasa poder," Sarmiento said in an interview with Rappler. (READ: UP students, jeepney drivers protest against jeepney phaseout

(We want to fight for our rights and our protest against government's jeepney phaseout. We hope that those in power listen.)

Earlier on Thursday, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan asked professors to excuse students attending the activities and consider it “as part of their education.”

Martial Law survivor Boni Ilagan also talked to students from the College of Mass Communication and advised them to “create their own First Quarter Storm.”


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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">UP IKOT jeepney drivers are also present here at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WalkoutPH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WalkoutPH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a> <a href="https://t.co/jlTdJBNnxm">pic.twitter.com/jlTdJBNnxm</a></p>&mdash; Abigail Abigan (@eyabigan) <a href="https://twitter.com/eyabigan/status/966945030295318528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 23, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Even a dog joined the protest in UP Diliman!


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">LOOK: A doggo named Arwen stays woke at UP Diliman for today&#39;s nationwide <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WalkoutPH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WalkoutPH</a> protests! Photo by <a href="https://twitter.com/genuestella?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@genuestella</a> <br><br>Learn about the protests here: <a href="https://t.co/dEWoTXC81k">https://t.co/dEWoTXC81k</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackFridayForPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BlackFridayForPressFreedom</a> <a href="https://t.co/Htp8NVFsg8">pic.twitter.com/Htp8NVFsg8</a></p>&mdash; Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/status/966940559054061568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 23, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Students from the University of Santo Tomas also joined the walkout and met with other delegates from different schools at 2pm in Morayta, Manila.

“This is not the time for the youth to drag themselves in fear but to take a stand in these times of turmoil,” the League of the Filipino Students - UST said in a statement.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">LOOK: UST students join <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WalkoutPH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WalkoutPH</a> for rights, democracy, and freedom <a href="https://t.co/HEkOnCPEdt">pic.twitter.com/HEkOnCPEdt</a></p>&mdash; NUSP (@NUSPhilippines) <a href="https://twitter.com/NUSPhilippines/status/966925918353543168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 23, 2018</a></blockquote>

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


Below are other social media posts from the nationwide walk-out:



<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/MovePH/timelines/966949098447282176?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WalkOutPH - Curated tweets by MovePH</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


– with a report from Abigail Abigan/Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: Thousands join nationwide walkout vs Duterte


#WALKOUTPH. At least 500 students and artists join the protest in Baguio City on Friday, February 23. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Overwhelmingly led by Filipino youth, thousands of students, artists, and activists took to the streets on Friday, February 23, from Luzon to Mindanao as a sign of protest against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The nationwide protest seeks to raise awareness on several issues, including press freedom, human rights, Charter Change, mass transport, extrajudicial killings, and martial law in Mindanao. Collectively, the protesters have raised their concern over the supposed looming dictatorship of President Duterte. 

The nationwide protest also comes more than a week after President Duterte threatened UP students he would give their slots to Lumad students if they continue engaging in walkouts and other protest activities. (READ: UP student groups vow bigger protests vs Duterte gov't)

The hashtag #WalkOutPH trended on Twitter as Filipino youth took their calls from the streets to social media. 

In Metro Manila, students from different universities started the day with individual activities at their respective campuses before gathering in Morayta, Manila with the rest of the protesters. 

At the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the students were joined by vendors and jeepney drivers as they “shut down Palma Hall.” Earlier on Thursday, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan asked professors to excuse students attending the activities because it was a “part of their education.”

Martial Law survivor Boni Ilagan also talked to students from the College of Mass Communication and advised them to “create their own First Quarter Storm.”

Baguio City 

BAGUIO CITY. About 500 students, poets, artists, and activists parade up and down Session Road in Baguio City to protest the government's plan to replace the 1987 Constitution. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

About 500 students, poets, artists, and activists paraded up and down Session Road at 5 pm on Friday in Baguio to protest the government's plan to replace the 1987 Constitution. 

The protesters held placards and life-sized tarps of a nun, farmer, IP, student, teacher, and others with targets on the head and heart to protest the EJKs being perpetrated by government. 

DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM. In Baguio City, students and activists slam the government's attack against various media organizations. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

The protest was led by Lodi ti Baguio, Youth Act Now Movement Against Tyranny, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, CEGP, NUJP, Cordillera Human Rights Movement and others. 

Yesterday, LODI convenors Inday Espina Varona, Tonyo Cruz, and Mae Paner spoke in a full-packed forum on fake news and creative protest at the Sarmiento Hall in UP Baguio. This was followed by a concert at Yagam Cafe on Session Road. 

 Tacloban City 

TACLOBAN CITY. Students together with Anakbayan, Gabriela, Pulso, and other sectoral groups join the nationwide protest in Tacloban City. Photo by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

In Tacloban City, Lianne Ponferada of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines  described President Rodrigo Duterte in three words: fascist, dictator, and mapang-api. 

State scholars from UP Tacloban also walked out of their classes to attend and join the nationwide protest. Students together with Anakbayan, Gabriela, Pulso, and other sectors joined the nationwide protest.

YOUTH-LED. Lianne Ponferada of the CEGP describes President Duterte in 3 words: a fascist, dictator, and oppressor. Photo by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

Iloilo City 

URBAN POOR. According to Bayan Panay, the urban poor are the ones adversely affected by the TRAIN law. Photo by Russel Patina/Rappler

Hundreds of Ilonggo protesters braved the afternoon heat on Friday to also join the nationwide protest in to remember the 32th EDSA anniversary. Issues raised during the rally included women's rights, extrajudicial killings, migrant rights, TRAIN law, and press freedom.

ILOILO CITY. Joining the nationwide walk-out on Friday, February 23, Ilonggo students and activists gather at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol as a sign of protest against the Duterte administration. Photo by Russel Patina/Rappler

– with reports from Frank Cimatu, Jazmin Bonifacio, and Russel Patina/Rappler.com