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Child rights group to Congress on age of criminal liability: Why the turnaround?


CHILDREN NOT CRIMINALS. The largest alliance of organizations pushing for child rights legislation in the country expresses disappointment over the move to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Photo from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – Back in 2006, Congress passed what would become Republic Act No. 934 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) that set the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years old. It was signed into law by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In a statement issued Monday, January  21, Child Rights Network (CRN) asked Congress about its turnaround when it passed the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility. It pointed out that this new bill is being backed by the same person who signed the JJWA into law.

“We remember how, just in recent months, significant progress has already been achieved after discussions with Justice committee members. Discussions on the minimum age of criminal responsibility in recent months have already shifted to the strengthening of the implementation of the JJWA. Now, we beg to ask: what happened Congress?” CRN said in its statement.

CRN is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the country. The group also said that the bill is not only a “stark mockery of the field of child development," it is also bereft of scientific evidence.

“The repercussions of charging and convicting children at a young age, even if there are certain token safeguards as regards custody, are beyond disconcerting. Studies show how children in conflict with the law, without undergoing proper rehabilitation and reintegration, face a troubled future,” CRN added.

The group also debunked the argument made by Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon that the bill aims to put children in reformative institutions. According to CRN, the lack of child-caring institutions in the Philippines essentially puts children at risk of also being detained in crowded adult detention centers. (READ: Lower criminal age of responsibility? Fully implement Juvenile Justice law first)

Under the JJWA, each of the 81 provinces and 33 highly-urbanized cities in the country should establish a Bahay Pag-Asa to provide intervention programs for children in conflict with the law. However, as of June 2018, CRN said only 55 Bahay Pag-Asa centers are operational. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for the lowering of the age of criminal liability to 9 years old since his 2016 presidential campaign. 

The Senate is also expected to conduct an inquiry on Tuesday, January 22, on the two pending bills that are pushing to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12. (READ: Sotto: Senate to prioritize bill lowering age of criminal liability)

Several groups have already slammed the move to lower the minimum age, arguing that the bill was not made in the best interests of children.  – Rappler.com 

Change.org petition: ‘No to lowering age of criminal responsibility’


PETITION. Rights groups started a petition asking the Philippine Congress to withdraw its bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old.

MANILA, Philippines – An online petition has been launched, asking Philippine Congress to withdraw its bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old.

The petition, started by Child’s Right Network and the Philippine Action for Youth Offenders, has more than 14,000 signatures as of late evening Monday, January 21.

Posted on Change.org, the groups' petition says “lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is a shortsighted solution that will mostly affect the children of the poor.”

On Monday, the House committee on justice approved the substitute bill that would amend Republic Act 10630, the law that currently retains the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 but allows children as young as 12 to be detained in youth care facilities or Bahay Pag-asa for serious crimes, such as rape, murder, and homicide. (READ: House panel OKs bill to lower age of criminal liability to 9 years old)

These measures are in response to the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been pushing for the age to be lowered to 9 years old since his campaign in 2016.  

At the Senate, there are two pending bills lowering the minimum age of criminal liability, but senators will still hold debates on the age – one seeks to lower it to 12, while another wants it to be more than 12. (READ: Senate to begin hearing bills on lowering age of criminal liability)

The groups stressed that the government should focus on the “strong, full, and effective” implementation of the Juvenile Justice Law of 2006 – the separate justice system for children in conflict with the law.

“We must not ignore scientific evidence that shows that criminalizing children does not solve the problem of children committing crimes; it only encourages re-offending,” they said. (READ: [OPINION] Children's rights pay the price for political gain)

The groups pointed out 5 reasons the minimum age of criminal responsibility should not be lowered.

  • Children are not little adults.

  • It will not result in lower crime rates.

  • Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility will not stop syndicates from using children.

  • The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 does not need to be amended. It needs to be fully implemented.

  • Jail is no place for a child.

Citing these as reasons, the petitioners strengthened its call to punish the crime syndicates that take advantage of children instead of criminalizing the juveniles – the ones who need to be “rescued, supported, and rehabilitated.”

Following the approval of the still-unnumbered House bill on January 21, several rights groups slammed the measure, saying that it is “not in the best interest" of children. (READ: #ChildrenNotCriminals: Rights groups slam bill lowering age of criminal liability)

Other lawmakers said that by lowering the criminal liability age, Congress has become a bully. – Rappler.com

Why target kids? Jail corrupt officials first, netizens tell lawmakers


MANILA, Philippines – Netizens blasted proponents and supporters of a bill seeking to lower the age of criminal liability to 9 years old, saying they should channel their efforts to putting "old plunderers" and adult criminals in jail.

On Monday, January 21, the House committee on justice approved the bill seeking to amend Republic Act No. 10630, which amended the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 in 2013.

RA 10630 sets the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 but children as young as 12 can be detained in youth care facilities or Bahay Pagasa for serious crimes such as rape, murder, and homicide. (READ: Arroyo supports lowering age of criminal liability to 9 years old)

Child welfare advocates have slammed the House committee approval as "an act of violence against children." (READ: #ChildrenNotCriminals: Rights groups slam bill lowering age of criminal liability)

Many netizens said lawmakers should prioritize jailing corrupt government officials. Some referred to the cases of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who was convicted of graft but remained free because of her advanced age,  former senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was granted bail despite his plunder case for the same reason, and former senator Bong Revilla who had been acquitted of plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">if you&#39;re lowering the age of criminal responsibility to lower crime rates in the nation, then you are barking at the wrong tree <br><br>imprison you fellow lawmakers who commit corruption, graft, and murder etc. this government is trash <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChildrenNotCriminals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ChildrenNotCriminals</a></p>&mdash; Chesca Persia (@chescapersia) <a href="https://twitter.com/chescapersia/status/1087375917339500544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 21, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We live in a country where lawmakers are planning to lower the criminal liability age to 9 years old while the likes of Bong Revilla (52), Imelda Marcos (89 y.o) and the ageless Juan Ponce Enrile are as free as birds after stealing millions if not billions from the public.</p>&mdash; Jayvee B.Tagaytay (@Jayspot1993) <a href="https://twitter.com/Jayspot1993/status/1087368111118999552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 21, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Twitter user @highreaching also asked if there were enough child-caring institutions available to accommodate children who will be detained. 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Kating-kati &#39;tong mga tangang &#39;to na ibaba ang age of criminal liability to nine years old, pero pustahan tayo hindi nila alam kung ilang presinto sa NCR at/o sa Pilipinas, ang walang matinong women&#39;s desk, let alone a separate facility for minors apprehended by the police. </p>&mdash; Safe, Dumbfoundead  (@highreaching) <a href="https://twitter.com/highreaching/status/1087306501004320768?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 21, 2019</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source} 

Child Rights Network already debunked the argument of Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon that the bill seeks to put children in reformative institutions. According to CRN, the lack of child-caring institutions in the Philippines essentially puts children at risk of also being detained in crowded adult detention centers. (READ: Lower criminal age of responsibility? Fully implement Juvenile Justice law first)

Below are some of the netizens' reactions on the move to lower the age of criminal responsibility: 

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President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly criticized Senator Francis Pangilinan for authoring Republic Act 9344  Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 which, he alleged, had created a "generation of criminals." In his speeches, however, Duterte sought amendments to the law that were already in place since 2013, or detaining children 12 years old and above for serious crimes.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier promised to prioritize discussing the two pending Senate bills lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12, while Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who signed RA 9344 when she was president, vowed to support the administration measure.  – Rappler.com

[Right of Way] Tea Time with Vince and Frank: Rockwell-Mandaluyong Bridge


MANILA, Philippines –  A day after the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge was closed, road safety advocate Vince Lazatin and VISOR motoring writer Frank Schuengel camped out by the foot of the bridge and talked about the closure's potential detriment to motorists and commuters in the immediate vicinity. This was originally broadcast live on the Right of Way Twitter account

Based on the timeline provided by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the demolition and reconstruction of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge will be completed in 2021.

The closure was slammed by different transport advocates – Vince and Frank included – because the reconstruction of the bridge will affect an estimated 100,000 vehicles. Travel time from Mandaluyong to Makati will take one and a half hours because of the construction, instead of the 9-minute trip using the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge.

Some groups also expressed concerns over the project, which is part of a P5.27-billion Chinese grant, as it will be tapping Chinese firms instead of local companies. The grant allows China to conduct the survey, design, and construction of two bridges along the Pasig River. – Rappler.com

Rights groups hit lack of facilities for children in conflict with the law


PROTEST. Child rights groups belonging to the Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns oppose the lowering of the minimum criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old in a press conference at the CHR headquarters on January 22, 2019. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines– Several organizations decried the move to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old, pointing out how current facilities for children still need improvement.

In a press conference at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office on Tuesday, January 22, different government and non-government groups criticized Bahay Pag-Asa, a supposedly 24-hour child-caring institution providing short-term residential care and intensive juvenile intervention and support for CICL.

Groups present in the conference included Psychological Association of the Philippines, Child Rights Network, Council for the Welfare of Children, and Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

They argued that Bahay Pag-Asa is not a place that could help children in conflict with the law (CICL).

Cristina Sevilla, of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, and World Organization Against Torture, explained that if you go inside Bahay Pag-Asa, you will immediately lose hope.

“It is not a child-caring institution as mandated by law, it’s a kulungan (prison). Ganon kalala ang situation ng mga CICL sa Bahay Pag-Asa (That’s how dire the situation is inside Bahay Pag-Asa for CICL),” said Sevilla

Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF Philippines Margarita Ardivilla also mentioned that the law doesn’t give any guarantee that children inside Bahay Pag-Asa or any detention cell will be safe from harassment.

Out of the 114 required Bahay Pag-Asa centers, only 58 are operational, according to CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra Armamento. She further opined that current Bahay Pag-Asa centers don’t meet the standards required by law as it lacks budget.

Ang problema wala na rin funding para sa mga services like doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, yung mga tutulong sa mga bata. Kung ganon ang sitwasyon hindi ba dapat ‘yun muna ang unahin?” said Gabriella Representative Arlene Brosas.

(The problem is there is no funding for services like doctors, nurses, psychiatrists that will help children. If that’s the situation, shouldn’t we fix that first?)

Meanwhile, Dr. Liane Alampay of the Psychological Association of the Philippines pointed out that there is a significant difference between children who are detained, and those who go through community-based interventions.

“The very act or experience of being detained makes it more likely for them to continue to make crimes once na nakalabas sila(they leave). On the other hand, children who go through community-based interventions or diversion programs are less likely to return to a life of crime,” said Alampay

Ardivilla reiterated that the law should save children, and  the government should pay attention to children’s rights.

Ang kailangan ng mga bata ay positibong disiplina, hindi parusa. Ang kailangan ng mga bata ay positibong disiplina, hindi sintensya.” said Ardivilla

(Children need to be disciplined positively, not punished. Children need to be disciplined positively, not chastised.) – Rappler.com

Jaira Krishelle Balboa is Rappler intern. She is a 4th year B.A. Journalism student at the Polythecnic University of the Philippines. 

LOOK: Art installation shows life under polluted waters


SCENARIO. McKeough Marine Center simulates life under polluted waters if people do nothing about plastic waste. Photo from McKeough Marine Center

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Swimming in the sea is something we certainly want to tick off our vacation bucket lists at some point. But have you ever wondered what swimming in a polluted ocean is like?

That's exactly what this installation in Xavier University (XU) wants you to experience.

Spearheaded by the McKeough Marine Center (MMC), plastic waste dangling from the ceiling of the XU's Science Center simulates what marine life see as they live in polluted seas.

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In sight, in mind

Janell Sihay, a technical assistant in MMC, emphasized that the aim of their initiative is to evoke strong feelings from and to enlighten the Xavier community on water-related issues such as declining water quality associated with plastic pollution.

Visitors who check out the installation are also encouraged to write their personal pledges to protect nature.

The exhibit takes inspiration from other similar installations, such as the one set up by Singaporean artist Tan Zi Xi in Mumbai, India, albeit MMC's version is significantly smaller in scale.

"Little lang siya nga installation kay 'di ba ang [issue sa] dagat kung out of sight, out of mind? Kung dal-on nimo siya diri, bisag fleeting pa ang awareness [about the issue of pollution], at least naa," Sihay said.

(It's only a small installation. The issues involving oceans are usually regarded as "out of sight, out of mind," right? When we bring it here, even if awareness [about the issue of pollution] is fleeting, at least it's there.)

What's next?

While the exhibit has clearly been effective in sending its message within the campus and even on social media, one can't help but wonder what will happen to the plastics used in its creation once it is taken down.

RECYCLED. Plastic bottles, sando bags, and other single-use plastics hang from the Science Center's ceiling to simulate the suffocation of marine life. Photo from McKeough Marine Center

PLEDGES. Visitors are encouraged to leave their personal pledges to protect nature. Photo by Maria Victoria Tenido Te/Rappler

PERSPECTIVE. Plastic bottles, bags, and other single-use plastics hang from the XU Science Center's ceiling to simulate the suffocation of marine life. Photo from McKeough Marine Center

Sihay affirmed that the materials used in creating the installation will not ironically end up in our seas. The single-use plastics and plastic bottles they borrowed from the university's Materials Recovery Facility will be returned for proper waste management.

On the other hand, the sheets of paper used for the pledges will be shredded and composted to be used in a mini garden. Other reusable parts of the installation such as nylon lines and nets will be kept for future use.

This installation is part of the celebration of XU's Social Development Week with the theme "Water: Ecosystems and Social Development – Issues and Initiatives." It will run from January 21 to 25. – Rappler.com

Maria Victoria Tenido Te is a Rappler mover in Cagayan de Oro City. She is a Grade 12 student of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan and the editor-in-chief of The Squire Publication.

[Right of Way] Is the MMDA road diet a good idea?


MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has come up with numerous ideas in order to solve the worsening traffic along EDSA – this time, it wants narrower lanes.

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said that they are proposing to taper the EDSA lanes from 3.4 meters to only 2.8 meters, based on a World Resources Institute study adopted by Japan.

Will the radical "road diet" idea work? Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin does the math based on the numbers of the MMDA. – Rappler.com

College editors' alliance hits military for tagging youth leaders as NPA recruiters


MANILA, Philippines – The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) denounced another incident of red-tagging by the military, thus threatening the security of the group's national president and other youth leaders.

In a statement released on Wednesday, January 23, the CEGP said the military tagged its national president, Jose Mari Callueng, along with National Union of Students of the Philippines secretary-general Raoul Manuel and University of the Philippines student regent Ivy Taroma as recruiters for the New People's Army.

A miitary official in Southern Tagalog even called Callueng's mother to tell her about their allegation. 

CEGP, said to be the oldest alliance of tertiary student publications in the Asia-Pacific, said this was not the first incident of red-tagging done by the military to its members as part of a "persistent crackdown against progressive groups and individuals."

It recalled how, in 2017, members of the campus press were listed under the watchlist of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and were subjected to tailing and surveillance by the Philippine National Police during the guild's regionwide student press congress in Naga City.

CEGP also highlighted how “the proliferation of red-tagging among activists and progressive groups [has] been on the rise to seemingly counter the growing dissent of the people again.” 

In October 2018, the AFP claimed that the Communist Party of the Philippines tapped students from 10 universities in Metro Manila to take part in a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. (WATCH: What students, faculty, alumni think about AFP's red-tagging of schools)

The AFP later admitted that the list had yet to be verified and the schools were still subject to continuing validation. – Rappler.com 



Amid oversupply, online grocery store helps farmers sell vegetables


File photo from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – When low prices and oversupply left Benguet vegetables rotting, online grocery store Session Groceries quickly set up a plan to help farmers.

Online grocery kami, medyo masakit nga ‘yun kasi yung effort ng farmer, 'yung ginastos niya doon, parang mawawalan lang. So sabi ko, tingnan nga namin,” Iloisa Romaraog, co-owner of Session Groceries, said.

(We are an online grocery. It hurt to see that because the expenses and efforts of the farmer were all for nothing. So I said, let’s see what we can do.)

In the spirit of bayanihan, the online grocery store called for help on Facebook as it looked for a way to connect with farmers and bridge the gap between buyers. (READ: As crop prices drop, netizens call to support farmers)

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The next day, it posted a photo selling cabbages, carrots and radishes for as low as 25 pesos per kilo, with one call: “Let’s help out farmers.”

Questions started pouring in with queries about how to buy vegetables from the farmers through the online grocery store.

Although Session Groceries is an online grocery store based in Baguio City, it opened its service to accept orders from Metro Manila.

This isn’t the first time that Session Groceries has reached out to the public to help communities since it began 7 months ago. When Typhoon Ompong submerged Baguio City and other nearby areas in floods, the online grocery store also released a call for donations.

Seeing its success, Romaraog decided to do the same for farmers who have been affected by low prices and oversupply of vegetables.

Naisip lang namin na magtayo ng grocery store pero along the way, nagkakaroon ng problema yung community. Parang 'yung bagyong Ompong, nahihirapan kami mag continue na hindi kami kumikilos para tumulong for the community,” said Romaraog.

(We only thought of making a grocery store but along the way, problems struck communities. Like with Typhoon Ompong, it was difficult to continue without doing anything to help the community.)

Ang Session Grocery hindi naman siya malaking business talaga na ang primary goal is yumaman. Ang primary goal namin is matulungan namin more on the community setting,” she added.

(Session Grocery is not a big business whose primary goal is to get rich. Our primary goal is to help more on the community setting.)

Through the online store, buyers from Metro Manila and Baguio can avail of vegetables coming from farmers as far as Mountain Province, Itogon, and Benguet. Romaraog mentioned that orders bought in bulk would greatly help farmers in minimizing expenses for the delivery to Session Groceries.

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The store presently offers door-to-door deliveries and accepts orders from Metro Manila and Baguio. Though Session Groceries accepts orders from Pampanga, it doesn't offer door-to-door deliveries there yet.

Those living in Cavite and Laguna may soon be able to purchase vegetables from the online store, as Session Groceries plans to expand its reach to those areas.

In Session Groceries, the farmers get to decide the price.

Yung pera na dapat napupunta kay farmer ay napupunta sa kanya. ‘Yun ang binigay ni farmer based sa makikita niyang dapat na mabibili ang vegetable niya. That, alone, nakakatulong ang mga consumers sa kanila na hindi nila namamalayan... Si farmer lang ang mag dictate sa gusto niyang presyo,” Romaraog explained.

(The money that should go to the farmers goes to them. That’s based on what the farmers see as fitting for the vegetables that are bought from them. That, alone, can already be a big help from consumers in a way they don’t even notice...The farmer dictates the price he wants.)

Vegetables bought from Session Groceries also will be in the same condition as to when they were harvested to minimize costs.

Hindi na namin pinapahugas yung vegetable. Kung paano nila na ani ‘yan, papagpagin lang nang konti para wala masyadong lupa. ‘Yun na ang pupunta kay customer kasi sayang pa yung ibabayad ni farmer para sa manghuhugas,” Romaraog explained.

(We don’t ask them to wash the vegetables. However they harvested them, we just shake off the soil. That’s what the customer gets because the farmer’s payment to clean the vegetables will be a waste.)

Due to the influx of orders, the online store has opened a call for more farmers to satisfy the demand. Those interested to help farmers and purchase vegetables from Session Groceries can do so by visiting the website

Farmers who also want to sell their vegetables through the store can also contact Romaraog. – Rappler.com

Rights groups protest outside Senate vs lowering age of criminal liability


'CHILDREN NOT CRIMINALS.' Children'€™s advocates and other anti-MACR (minimum age of criminal responsibility) groups hold protest at the main gate of the Senate on Friday, January 25, 2019. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines– Staging a protest just outside the Senate gates, child rights' advocates and groups on Friday, January 25, appealed to senators to push back against lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 years old to 12 years old.

Child Rights Network, Council for the Welfare of Children, Child Fund PH, along with other alliances and child advocacy groups, held the protest just in time for a hearing on the proposed amendments to Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006, and Republic Act 10630 which amended the law in 2013.

The groups reminded senators that lowering the age of criminal liability will not change anything since the country still faces the same problems as when the Juvenile Justice Act was made.

"Kailangan solbahin ng pamahalaan 'yung numero unong ugat: ang kahirapan na nagtutulak sa mga bata, na naglalagay sa kanila sa kondisyon ng matinding kahirapan, desperasyon upang mabuhay," said Eule Rico Bonganay, secretary-general of Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns.

(The government has to solve the root cause of the problem: poverty that pushes kids, puts them in conditions of extreme poverty and desperation just to survive.)

"Kung tayo man ay maghahatol ng kaparusahan sa mga batang nagkasala, ito ay hindi kasing bigat ng pinapataw natin sa mga matatanda. May pagkakaiba tayo," Bonganay added.

(If we have to impose punishment on children who committed crimes, it should not be as heavy as the punishment that we impose on adults. There's a difference.)

STILL KIDS. A children's advocate protests at the main gate of the Senate on Friday, January 25, 2019, with a banner reminding people that children are not adults. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

JAIL NO CHILD. A children's advocate holds a sign during a protest at the main gate of the Senate on Friday, January 25, 2019. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

SCARS. Children'™s advocates remind senators that lowering the age of criminal liability will only scar kids. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

PROTEST. Children's rights advocates wore the same black shirt to show their stand on the issue. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

During the protest, Bonganay reminded rallyists about the heart of the Juvenile Justice Act that aims to intervene and rehabilitate children in conflict with the law or children at risk.

"[Restorative justice] ang pamamaraan kung saan tinatrato natin 'yung mga bata na nagkasala sa batas bilang hindi mga kriminal, kundi sila 'yung mga bata na nangangailangan ng tulong, intervention, rehabilitation mula sa pamahalaan," he explained.

(Restorative justice is when we treat children in conflict with the law not as criminals but as children who need help, intervention, rehabilitation from the government.)

This is why the main call of the protest is "Tulong, hindi kulong" (Help, not imprisonment).

Philippine Educational Theater Association President Cecilia Garrucho further reiterated that lowering the age of criminal liability will not make a dent in lessening crime rates.

"We have seen that putting these children in detention centers or in jails that only traumatizes them – it robs them of their future and alienates them from society.... In the end, if we push this into law, we will find ourselves having to build even more jails for future criminals," she said.

Other child rights groups also echoed the call for proper implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act that will provide facilities and programs focused on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation in the community setting.

Despite warnings from experts, Senate justice committee chairperson Richard Gordon will push for lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 years old.

After the hearing, Melanie Llana – MACR advocacy head of 3 child rights' groups – said she was dismayed by what transpired in the hearing.

Although the hearing tackled problems in implementation and the lack of social workers, facilities, and budget, Gordon in the end maintained his stand.

"We were thinking that they can see that really, the problem is the implementation of the law. That's the call of all the child rights groups, networks here, as well as all those opposing the lowering of the MACR," Llana explained in a mix of English and Filipino.

Llana pointed out that just based on warnings from experts, lowering the MACR is not in the best interest of children and will only make them more vulnerable.

"We read that as political accommodation to all those who want this done," Llana said.

"Kasi kung for the best interest 'yan, ayusin muna implementasyon bago tayo maglagay ng iba pang bata sa vulnerable situation. 'Pag ni-lower mo kasi ang MACR, mas maraming papasok sa juvenile justice system na mas mahirap, lalo na ngayon na hindi pa talaga naaayos."

(Because if it's for the best interest, they'd fix the implementation first before putting other children in a vulnerable situation. If you lower the MACR, more poor kids will enter the juvenile justice system, but the system is not yet in order.)

Llana affirmed that child rights groups will continue the advocacy until the end. "This is our promise [to the children]," she said. – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: Campus journalists set energy high in NSPC 2019 opening


LAST OUT. Participants from Mimaropa finished the program after some regions left early. Photo from Jourknows

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Campus journalists from various regions around the country crowded the Pangasinan Capitol Grandstand to kickstart the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Lingayen, Pangasinan, which began January 28 and will continue until February 1.

According to Director Jocelyn Andaya of Department of Education Central Office, 4,960 people attended the event. 

Dubbed the “Olympics of campus journalism,” NSPC 2019 is anchored on the theme, “Fostering 21st century skills and character-based education through campus journalism." (READ: Campus journalists say press freedom is everyone's battle)

Contests such as news writing, feature writing, editorial writing, sports writing, editorial cartooning, copy-reading, column writing, collaborative and desktop publishing, and radio and TV broadcasting will determine the best campus journalists in their fields.

“I’m excited for this year because it is my third time to reach NSPC,” beamed 3-time NSPC qualifier photojournalist Herreria Paolo Gabriel, who comes from the Ilocos region.

He also mentioned his joy about this year’s press conference being held at his own region. Gabriel seeks to defend his title as a national winner.

School paper advisers also tagged along with the campus journalists competing in the contests to offer support and guidance.

“I could say we practiced for 10 or 11 times since the Regional Schools Press Conference because the students still have to balance their priorities,” said Maria Lizel Maba, a school paper adviser from Zamboanga Peninsula handling collaborative team in the elementary category. (READ: Go beyond competition, 1967 NSSPC champ tells campus journos)

Before the event, journalists garbed in their different color motifs paraded through the streets of Lingayen with confidence of who will outperform the other regions. The host division, the municipality of Lingayen, is known as “the heart, the soul, and the face” of the province of Pangasinan.

Here are some of the highlights in this year's NSPC:

NSPC 2019 opens the ceremony with a presentation from students of Pangasinan at Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan. Photo from Jourknows

SEA OF COLORS. Each delegation wears a uniform color to represent their region. Photo from Jourknows

GOING FOR GOLD. Caraga Region delegates wait for their turn in entering Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan for the opening ceremonies. Photo from Jourknows

ON TUNE. Pangasinense students, the hosts of this year’s NSPC, entertain the delegates in the opening ceremonies of the event at Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan. Photo from Jourknows

ALL SMILES. Delegates from CARAGA line for the parade and opening ceremonies of NSPC 2019  at Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan. Photo from Journknows

– Rappler.com

Stephen Bryan Esic is a Rappler Mover from Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.

#SafeCities: Roundtable discussion on reporting cases of sexual harassment


MANILA, Philippines – Sexual harassment in public spaces is a common occurrence for most women and girls, but cases still remain underreported.

Sexual harassment can happen anytime, anywhere. From acts of lasciviousness while riding public transportation, unwarranted sexual remarks from an officemate, to getting catcalled on the way to school, women are often put at a disadvantage, affecting their mental well-being and general safety.

Despite local ordinances and policies that penalize sexual harassment, victims usually find it difficult to escalate these incidents to authorities because there is a lack of enabling mechanisms that allow for sharing their experiences without putting themselves in greater danger. 

UN Women's global initiative "Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces" hopes to resolve this with policies, tools, and approaches that aim to mobilize the community for tracking, reporting, and curbing street-based sexual violence.

Join Rappler editor Bea Cupin on Wednesday, January 30, at 12:30 pm, as she sits down with UN Women's Charisse Jordan, Professor Roselle Rivera of UP Diliman's College of Social Work and Community Development, and City Administrator Aldrin Cuna of Quezon City to discuss how communities can help report and put an end to sexual harassment.

Participate in the conversation on social media using #SafeCities. – Rappler.com 

Tea time with Right of Way and VISOR: Climbing 'Mount EDSA'



MANILA, Philippines – One pedestrian footbridge that gained notoriety online would be the Kamuning footbridge, dubbed by some as "Mount EDSA" and "Stairway to Heaven." It is acutely elevated, higher than the average footbridge to accommodate the MRT-3 trains that ply EDSA on a daily basis.

In a CNN Philippines interview, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) defended the construction of the footbridge, which was criticized for its potential risks and lack of consideration for senior citizens and persons with disability. MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia admitted that it wasn't designed for everyone – "only for the healthy."

Join road safety advocate Vince Lazatin and VISOR motoring writer Frank Schuengel as they take on "Mount EDSA." This was originally broadcast on Right of Way's Twitter account. – Rappler.com

More episodes from the Tea Time with Right of Way and VISOR series

Curbing sexual harassment in public spaces 'goes beyond policy'


Background photo from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – Unwanted, unwelcome, uninvited: these are 3 words that describe sexual harassment.

While there are policies that penalize sexual harassment in public spaces, cases are still underreported.

In a roundtable discussion with Rappler on Wednesday, January 30, senior high school student Jocilyn Follero recounted her first experience of sexual harassment. A guy who was courting her tried to kiss her without her consent. Being a person with disability, she couldn't escape the boy's advances. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment)

"Wala akong lakas ng loob para mag-report kasi malayo ang area namin sa police station.... Hindi ako makatakbo kasi nakasaklay ako.... Ngayon binilisan ko ang lakad ko. Ang problema, hinabol niya ako hanggang sa maabutan niya ako. 'Yun po, nalapatan niya po ang lips ko ng labi niya," she recalled.

(I didn't have the guts to report the incident because our area is far from the police station.... I couldn't run because I was on crutches.... I just quickened my pace. The problem was, he ran after me until he caught up to me. That's when his lips touched mine.)

Like Follero, other victims may struggle to report incidents to authorities since there may not be mechanisms in place to make the process easier and safer for them.

Half the battle

While the Philippines has the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, this law only covers work-related and school-related harassment.

In May 2016, Quezon City took the first step to safer spaces through its Anti-Catcalling Ordinance, which prohibits sexual harassment in public spaces. Violators in the city would face penalties and fees according to the degree of the offense. (READ: The streets that haunt Filipino women)

Catcalling and whistling can warrant imprisonment or a fine of P1,000 to P5,000. More severe violations can merit time behind bars for a month to a year and a fine of P3,000 to P5,000.

"We want to properly handle reports and cases of public space sexual harassment and see how we are able to push forward the issue of women having the strength or courage to really come forward and even pursue a case of public space sexual harassment," said Quezon City Administrator Aldrin Cuña.

Even with policies in place, victims of sexual harassment may still feel uncomfortable reporting their experiences.

"We have this observation that, yes, the policy is in place but not many women really report their cases. Many of them would make a phone call inquiring or asking if this is sexual harassment.... In terms of actually filing it at the police station, we see very limited number of cases being recorded," said Charisse Jordan, the national project officer of United Nations (UN) Safe Cities in Metro Manila.

Aside from public policies, there also has to be a community effort to create an environment that encourages women to report incidents of sexual harassment.

"If women or girls do not feel safe to report, then that is [what] we should really work on together as a community. Again, it takes the whole village to make the community safe.... We need everyone to be an active bystander," added Jordan.

Other ways

Those who have experienced sexual harassment may report to the women's desk of the nearest police station. However, there are other ways to make reporting easier, especially for those who might find it difficult to speak up.

Clau Yagyagan created DLOCK, an application that allows users to message or call an emergency contact, and ring a siren, even when their screen is locked. It also features a directory of police stations, hospitals, and fire stations in specific cities. It won in UN Women's #SafeCities Hackathon in 2016.

Through the app, people can report an incident, either as a victim or as a witness. The matter would then be turned over to the authorities.

UN Women is studying how the reports can go straight to a command center for immediate action and response.

"That's why we work with local governments such as Quezon City, because we want this app to be maximized and be integrated in the data collection and database of the city," said Jordan.

Roselle Rivera, an associate professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman's College of Social Work and Community Development, stressed that the solution goes beyond public policy. Community awareness and action are key as well.

"That's the important thing: That people have the knowledge of their rights," said Rivera.

Jordan also emphasized: "It is your right to report sexual harassment. It is your right to share your story when you feel violated. It is your right to be supported and to be provided with the remedies." – Rappler.com

'Goin’ Bilibid:' Netizen hits bill lowering age of criminal responsibility


MANILA, Philippines – While many critics of Congress' efforts to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility took to the streets to protest the bill, one netizen expressed his resistance through a song. (READ: Watchdog to PH: Don't lower age of criminal responsibility)

Lolito Go, who performed "Goin' Bilibid" – a parody of the theme song of a famous children's gag show – said he decided to use music to show his opposition since it reaches and engages more people.

"A lot of things has been said about the issue, and I figured it's best to use music as a springboard for a healthy discourse about the subject, since popular music reaches and engages more people and would therefore amplify whatever message I'd like to bring forward," he said.

As of this writing, Go's post has gotten 1,474 shares, almost a thousand reactions, and more than 46,000 views.

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In 2017, his original composition "Papatayin Kita" which condemned the government's war on drugs also went viral.

The House of Representatives already approved its version of the controversial measure on third and final reading last January 28. House Bill No. 8858 lowers the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.

Meanwhile, Senate justice committee chairperson Richard Gordon sponsored the Senate's version of the bill on Monday, February 4.

According to Go, children are not in conflict with the law and that it's the law that is in conflict with children.

"Anong nangyari sa hustisya? Bakit bubwit ang nagdurusa? Sa mga salot at disgrasya na dulot ng mga daga," his lyrics goes. (What happened to the justice system? Why are children the ones suffering the disgrace caused by the real perpetrators?)

Go also slammed the Congress' determination to pass President Rodrigo Duterte's pet measure while real perpetrators of crime and corruption go free.

In his parody, he said, "Si Gloria, Erap at Imelda, sina Enrile't Bong Revilla, lahat sila ay pinalaya, dahil sobra sa gulang na." (Gloria, Erap, Imelda, Enrile, and Bong Revilla, all of them were freed because of considerations on old age.)

Under House Bill No. 8858, a child who is aged 12 to 18 years old and who commits a serious crime would be sent to the Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center inside the nearest youth care facility, also called Bahay Pag-asa. (READ: Highlights of House bill lowering criminal liability age to 12)

But Go believes that intervention and support centers will only limit the hopes of children and, worse, make them commit more offenses given the inadequate number of intervention centers and personnel. (READ: Lowering criminal liability age to 12 'still attacks children' – Makabayan)

Go said he is still hopeful that those in favor of the measure will have a change of heart. He also appealed to senators to reject the measure.

"Unlike the representatives, your hands are not that tied. We depend on your independence, we rely on your principles and wisdom," he said. – Rappler.com

Out-of-school youth, undergrads shift to becoming full-time workers


LIFE CHANGER. 18-year-old Stonelieh Constante takes a photo at their site. He is now working as a hydraulic excavator. Photos courtesy of Stonelieh Constante

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – For out-of-school youth (OSY) and those who were unable to finish their studies, landing a full-time job can be tough but if given the opportunity, they can catch up. (READ: How employers, schools can prepare students for work)

This is what the 80 beneficiaries of the JobStart Philippines Program in this city has proven. They persevered and are now full-time employees.

Jobstart is a youth employability enhancement program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Legazpi City, the pilot area in the Bicol region.

According to the regional DOLE office, the program seeks to shorten the school-to-work transition of at-risk youth by providing holistic employability enhancement intervention.

According to 2018 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, 9% of Filipinos aged 6 to 24 are out of school. Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by the same agency, the country's unemployment rate inched up to 5.1% in the same year.

JobStart intervention

The program consisted of a 3-part cycle employment process which the beneficiaries need to finish. These are life skills training (LST); technical skills training; and an internship program.

This add-on approach supplements the typical set of employment facilitation services that include career guidance and employment coaching, labor market information (LMI), and referral and placement.

Those who completed the process underwent a 10-day LST at Merriam College where they were trained by partner technical and vocational institutions on skills such as hairdressing, heavy equipment operation, and customer service

The beneficiaries were also endorsed for a 3-month internship program to partner employers who offered them at least a 75% minimum wage.

“It [JobStart] also seeks to develop their personal attitudes, especially those relevant to the values of professionalism and work appreciation,” said Alvin Villamor, DOLE regional director.

Jobstart: A life changer

One of the successful JobStart beneficiaries is 18-year-old Stonelieh Constante, a teenage father who had to quit school to support his own family.

While at one point in his life he regarded himself as a failure, he did not allow the setbacks to stop him from fulfilling his dreams.

“I'm the only one in our family who hasn't finished college. I became a father at a young age. That’s why I took the challenge of finding a job for my child,” said Constante who described the program as a life changer.

Because of Jobstart, he is now working as a hydraulic excavator earning P305 plus a P75-allowance daily. He is also receiving other benefits and overtime pay.

“I thought my life was going nowhere. Thanks to JobStart, I got hope,” he said.

Another JobStart program beneficiary is 19-year-old Marianne Grace Magracia, a senior high school graduate who decided to stop studying to help her family by working.

She admitted that finding a job without a college degree is a bit challenging. But this did not stop her from looking for opportunities for sustainable work. (READ: New law aims to ensure safer workplaces)

“When I heard about this program, I immediately prepared my requirements so I could apply. Then I underwent a 30-day training on heavy equipment operation and I was the lucky one to be endorsed for internship at Sunwest Development Realty Corporation,” she said.

With her regular job as an equipment operator, she is now able to provide for her family’s basic needs besides breaking gender barriers.

Magracia said she obtained more confidence and is now planning to work overseas as a professional equipment operator in the next 5 to 10 years. (READ: JobStreet 2018 report: Work ethic, communication skills important for employers– Rappler.com 

Transeek, a Grab-like app for trikes, is coming to Butuan City


TRANSEEK. The Transeek app hopes to provide safer and convenient commute around Butuan City. Photo by DOST Caraga

MANILA, Philippines – Butuan City is set to have its first tricycle-hailing mobile application – a solution created by students to address the difficulty in getting a tricycle that does not overcharge its ride pricing. 

Informations Systems student and team leader Angelito Cagulada Jr and IT instructors Ernest Jay Cubillas and Lemar Arnego from Caraga State University - Butuan (CSU-Butuan) created the app Transeek – short for transportation seek – in 2018 to aid Butuan commuters. 

The trio began Transeek while enrolled in Navigatú - a Technology Business Incubation (TBI) hub funded by the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

Navigatú, taken from the word "navigation" and inspired by Butuan’s "balangay" boats, offers an idea incubation program and business skills course for startups in the region. Just recently, Navigatu acquired P2 million in funding from an investor.

Aside from providing a safer commuting alternative for the public, the application also hopes to increase the income of tricycle drivers. Users can quickly book a ride with a few taps, while Transeek will search for the nearest available tricycle using GPS (Global Positioning System). (READ: IN PHOTOS: How new jeepneys, buses, tricycles could look like)

Not alone in solving transport woes

The Philippines knows its fair share of public transportation problems, as well as proposed methods of harnessing technology and data to address the said issues. 

Ride-hailing platforms like Grab, Wunder, and Angkas make it clear their services aim to serve commuters readily in a bid to solve the city's all-too familiar gridlock. The effectiveness at which they do a good job is still arguable though, with recent studies seeming to suggest a different set of issues arises.

In Pangasinan, ride-hailing giant Grab Philippines also launched a premium service for tricycles, in partnership with AutoItalia Philippines, aiming to "fill in the gap for short-distance commutes." (READ: LOOK: Grab launches premium tricycle service)

Transeek aims to uplift

A survey of 100 tricycle drivers in Butuan found their average income ranged from P400 to P500 a day. Transeek hopes to increase their income up to 300% by helping in decreasing delays and standby hours.

The base fare for a maximum of 3 passengers per ride will be P30, with a service charge of P5. Drivers will get P25 for every ride from the system.

“We have interviewed drivers during Tricycle Operators and Drivers' Association (TODA) meetings and most of them liked Transeek since they don’t have to waste time roaming around to look for passengers,” said Cubillas.

According to the app makers, drivers’ registration into Transeek's system will be free. They will be required to comply with insurance requirements, however – something most of them fail to adhere to. (WATCH: [Right of Way] Why the PH doesn't have enough mass transport options)

In 2017, several bills such as senate Bill 1284 and House Bill 4334, sought to modernize the transport sector, though they remain pending.

Navigatú on board

“Because of Navigatú, we were exposed to ideation, pitching and marketing activities we never had in classrooms. It helped improve my potentials for business,” said Cagulada. (WATCH: Why is it important to #HackSociety?)

Transeek's team is among the first batch of “incubatees” from the program, alongside 6 other teams developing local IT solutions for agriculture and micro, small, and medium enterprises. Facilities such as computer units and administrative functions are provided for free by Navigatú, enabling them to develop their startup ideas.

NAVIGATE. Navigatú incubatees working on their startup projects at their headquarters. Photo from DOST Caraga

“Before, we just made IT systems because we like it. Now, it’s more (about) solving problems or helping improve lives,” explained Cubillas.

Engr. Jeffrey Dellosa, Navigatú Project Leader and CSU’s Innovation and Technology Support Office manager, said they are trying to provide an ecosystem in the university that would enable students – and anyone else who might be interested – to transform their ideas into businesses that will generate solutions to existing societal problems. (READ: A tip for startups: Dare to Fail)

Technology Business Incubation manager El Psalms David Franco added the program wants those being taught to realize the value of their skills, to sustain their business beyond a 5-year period, and to create more job opportunities.

Navigatú also conducts workshops on business and information and communications technology (ICT) for schools and organizations in the region. – Rappler.com

[Right of Way] What can we learn from the MMDA Quezon Avenue barrier problem?


MANILA, Philippines – While driving, road safety advocate Vince Lazatin saw a row of orange barriers disrupting the normal flow of traffic along Quezon Avenue. He took a video and posted it on Twitter, calling the attention of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), but found the agency's response insufficient.

While the MMDA must be held accountable for implementing matters pertaining to traffic management, its mandate has its limits. Vince shares his insights on the matter. – Rappler.com

Bottled-up emotions: Netizens slam liquids ban in train stations



MANILA, Philippines – Netizens have slammed the new policy banning bottled liquids inside train stations, calling some of its provisions unreasonable.

The managements of Metro Manila's railway lines announced the ban on January 29, following a directive from the Philippine National Police (PNP)  as part of the government’s security measures after the bombings in Jolo and Zamboanga City.

The ban covers Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 and 2, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3), and the Philippine National Railways. 

The implementation of the ban surprised commuters, as security guards started barring individuals found bringing not just water bottles but also perfume, cologne, and even lotion. 

Netizens complained about the lack of guidelines on the specific liquids not allowed in the train.

Meanwhile, the Light Rail Manila Corporation, operator of LRT1, advised passengers to empty their tumblers before entering the station. 

In its official Twitter page, the Light Rail Transit Authority, operator of LRT2, responded to a tweet, saying that even “mini-alcohol, sanitizers, and solutions to contact lenses are prohibited” inside the station. 

Such statements only fueled train riders' concerns.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The LRT and MRT ADMIN should specify which liquids are prohibited. I travel with my contact lens solution A LOT and bring a bottle of perfume too.<br><br>Also, lighters are not prohibited. I&#39;d be fearful of anything that can cause fire more than anything liquid tbh. <a href="https://t.co/8bNqUPkh1q">https://t.co/8bNqUPkh1q</a></p>&mdash; thysz (@thysz) <a href="https://twitter.com/thysz/status/1091152449493037056?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 1, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">teh i just forcibly drank my water sa mrt station kasi bawal daw any liquid hahah :( buti wala akong dalang pabango pero bakit<br><br>brb drowning</p>&mdash; kaira (@kairanano) <a href="https://twitter.com/kairanano/status/1093297673673658368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 6, 2019</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Liquid ban on MRT/LRT is crazy non-sense. Even alcohols and/or perfumes are prohibited and are going to be confiscated if found in your bag </p>&mdash; Peni Parker (@hannahsaur) <a href="https://twitter.com/hannahsaur/status/1093172819351879680?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 6, 2019</a></blockquote>
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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Sana man lang nag announce ho kayo na bawal na any form of liquid sa MRT!!  <a href="https://twitter.com/dotrmrt3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dotrmrt3</a> <a href="https://t.co/OpJkEtUGbY">pic.twitter.com/OpJkEtUGbY</a></p>&mdash; Andy Aragon (@andreacoquilla) <a href="https://twitter.com/andreacoquilla/status/1093350674992029696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Raindrops are liquid. They are banned too? How about tears, blood, they are forms of liquid too. How about gender fluidity. Haha. Are liquid items from groceries included? This new no-liquid policy in LRT &amp; MRT is insane.</p>&mdash; ran (@therandomran) <a href="https://twitter.com/therandomran/status/1091046812260085760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 31, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">bawal na daw ang liquid items sa lrt/mrt kasi baka daw liquid bomb. ang solusyon nila, magdala nalang daw ng tumbler na walang lamang tubig. so ano nagbitbit lang kami ng bote na walang laman? pampasikip lang sa bag ganon?</p>&mdash; Aly (@itsalyxx) <a href="https://twitter.com/itsalyxx/status/1091284441358454784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 1, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Nasstress ako sa “no liquid” implementation ng lrt/mrt. <br><br>Gets ko naman yung purpose. Para sa’tin rin naman. Kaso kakastress mag-ayos ng gamit like ano ba dapat kong hindi dalin kasi baka ipaiwan lang? And masayang lang? Ugh. Hirap walang sasakyan</p>&mdash; G (@gayylee) <a href="https://twitter.com/gayylee/status/1091977769846661121?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 3, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Some netizens also pointed out the wastefulness of having to throw away beverages, as well as losing bottles of perfumes and other cosmetic items packaged as liquids.  


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">nakakalungkot yung mga nakukuhang liquid containers sa MRT upon inspection, ultimo alcohol, facial cleanser na below 100ml hindi ligtas, may mga signature perfume bottles pa, huhu sad </p>&mdash; ALEX STANDALL (@IAintYourBruhh) <a href="https://twitter.com/IAintYourBruhh/status/1093299918939160576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/dotrmrt3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dotrmrt3</a> kelan pa kayo nag-announce na bawal magdala ng kahit anong liquid sa MRT? Sayang naman perang ginastos namin pambili ng tubig pambihira kayo</p>&mdash; - (@therivenx) <a href="https://twitter.com/therivenx/status/1093307051034304512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Netizens also complained about the delays caused by the overly thorough bag inspection at station gates.


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thought one of the trains wasnt working at the MRT today<br><br>But the delay was due to this thorough inspection on liquid carriage<br><br>I know they had this rule for a long time but i wonder why when the cars arent ventilated enough to keep passengers from being dehydrated </p>&mdash; Joaquin Closet (@andy_crush) <a href="https://twitter.com/andy_crush/status/1093294009508745216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 6, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">lakas  mo makasira ng araw MRT!!given naman na yung mahabang pila sanay na kami! pati ba naman lotion, perfume, alcohol at contact lens solution bawal na any liquid ng biglaan balikan daw namin mamayang hapon para makuha very bright kayo dyan! clap clap <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/commuterfeels?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#commuterfeels</a></p>&mdash; phipaytorno (@akocpipay) <a href="https://twitter.com/akocpipay/status/1093316724903108609?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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There were some netizens who chose to see and understand the reason behind the liquid ban, and went on to help explain the need for such measures.


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Nagka bombing kasi sa Jolo diba. So nag taas ng security level dito sa NCR. Which includes sa MRT kasi terrorists can use liquid daw kasi for bombs.</p>&mdash; AJ ツ (@iamEyJeeey) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamEyJeeey/status/1093313980418863106?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The prohibition to bring bottle with liquid is not a new policy, I have been taking the MRT since 2008, and knew this.  There are exceptions. Its for security reason.</p>&mdash; attyselyn (@ladyshellane) <a href="https://twitter.com/ladyshellane/status/1092310839606931456?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 4, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">So ayon nisearch ko bakit sobrang hingpit ng mrt at lrt sa mga liquids, kasi raw yung ibang harmful chemicals sa other passengers ay liquid form tapos pwede rin kasing malink yung bomb attack sa Jolo na isang terrorist attack. Iniiwasan lang ang mga &#39;di inaasahang pangyayari.</p>&mdash; Tataba this 2019 (@frncsc_crz) <a href="https://twitter.com/frncsc_crz/status/1090974616695128064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 31, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Despite criticism of the policy, the management of these railway transit systems still firmly maintained the protocol as directed by the PNP and appealed to the public for understanding.

On Thursday, February 7, MRT3 released an official list of liquid items that are allowed on board trains upon the validation and approval of their security personnel.



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A REMINDER TO ALL MRT-3 PASSENGERS:<br><br>Items below may be permitted upon validation and approval of our security personnel, and police officers in our stations:<br><br>-Baby formula / breast milk in bottles, if the passenger is travelling with a baby or small child; <a href="https://t.co/9jNfBUoKIF">pic.twitter.com/9jNfBUoKIF</a></p>&mdash; DOTr MRT-3 (@dotrmrt3) <a href="https://twitter.com/dotrmrt3/status/1093508720162553859?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Train officials have not set a date on the end of the liquid ban. – Rappler.com

IN PHOTOS: UP Oblation Run calls to uphold freedom of expression


BLANK. Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity members carry blank placards to allow people to voice out their own messages during the Oblation Run at the University of the Philippines-Diliman on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lisa David/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – For their annual Oblation Run, members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) International Collegiate Service Fraternity called for the protection of freedom of expression and self-determination at Palma Hall in the University of the Philippines in Diliman on Friday, February 8.

Around 30 masked APO members joined this year’s Oblation Run, dubbed the “Ritual Dance of the Brave” – a call for action against threats to democracy, particularly to minorities, activists, the youth, and journalists.

TAKE A STAND. Members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity hold their annual Oblation Run at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday, February 8, 2019. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler


OBLATION. An Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity member replicates UP's Oblation statue during the annual Oblation Run in the University of the Philippines Diliman on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lisa David/Rappler

NAKED. Members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity walk naked during their annual Oblation Run at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday, February 8, 2019. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

APO spokesperson Cole Asuncion said that with their fraternity wanted to illuminate people from different fractions of society.

“This Oblation Run is a call for everyone. Not just a reminder, but a call to everyone to defend freedom of expression, to defend press freedom,” said Wilnor Papa, an alumnus member of the APO.

Compared to the previous protest runs, this year’s placards were left blank.

"Bakit blanko 'yung mga placards? Kasi gusto naming manggaling sa inyo kung ano ‘yung gusto 'nyong sabihin (Why were the placards left blank? It’s because we wanted the message to come from you)," Papa explained.

Nakita 'nyo meron doon nagsabing stop the killings, protect Lumads. Lumabas din 'yung legalization of medical marijuana. Ito ‘yung mga gustong sabihin ng mga tao, na gusto nating i-amplify and Alpha Phi Omega Eta Chapter would like to provide that platform,” Papa said.

(You saw there were those who said stop the killings, protect Lumads. The legalization of medical marijuana was also brought up. These are what people wanted to say and what we wanted to amplify. Alpha Phi Omega Eta Chapter would like to provide that platform.)

EXPRESSION. Members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity participate in the Oblation Run at University of the Philippines Diliman to uphold freedom of expression and self-determination on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lisa David/Rappler

Papa also noted that the Oblation Run is not merely an annual tradition of the APO, but a “medium of UP community to raise issues.” The annual tradition dates back to 1977.

 In 2018, the Philippines was dubbed as the deadliest peacetime country for journalists in Southeast Asia, according to a Southeast Asia Media Report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Rappler.com

Lisa Marie David is a Rappler intern and a 4th year AB Journalism student at the University of Santo Tomas.