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'Chilling effect': Groups slam new SEC guidelines for nonprofits


CONCERNS. Members of the Makatao coalition and civil society groups gathered on February 6, 2019, to discuss possible ramifications of SEC' MC 15 on nonprofit organizations. Photo by Russel Patina/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers, civil society organizations, and a group of lawmakers advocating human rights have slammed the new set of guidelines of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for nonprofits, calling it a government tool to persecute its political enemies.

In a forum on Wednesday, February 6, members of the Mambabatas para sa Karapatang Pantao (Makatao) Coalition and civil society groups took turns questioning SEC's Memorandum Circular No. 15 (MC 15), which the agency said sets guidelines for the protection of registered non-profit organizations (NPOs) from money laundering and terrorist financing abuse.

SEC issued MC 15 on November 7, 2018, which it said will enhance its registration and monitoring system to obtain necessary information from NPOs for regulatory and risk assessment purposes. 

MC 15 does not only cover foundations, non-stock corporations, NPOs, NPOs at high risk based on SEC risk assessment, but  also politically-exposed persons or individuals with prominent public position/function, including their immediate family members, close relationships, and associates.

MC 15 requires the mandatory disclosure of sources, amount, and application of funds; programs and activities planned, ongoing, and accomplished; beneficiaries; and locations of operations.

Groups covered by the new guidelines are supposed to comply with the requirements by May 7.

'Closer scrutiny'

Civil society groups and other personalities expressed concern that MC 15 could be used by the government to persecute its political enemies. 

One of those who spoke up against MC 15 was Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, lead convenor of Makatao, a human rights-focused coalition in the House of Representatives.

“Red-tagging, witch-hunting, and profiling of activists exacerbate violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this light, it calls for us, more particularly those who are members of nonprofit organizations, to critically and thoroughly examine the SEC’s Memo 15,” Lagman said during the gathering.

Pacifico Agabin, former dean of the UP College of Law, questions SEC's authority to issue MC 15.

“Where did the SEC get this authority? The SEC is supposed to perform functions of supervision and control functions of corporations but it is only in the context of economic development. It has nothing to do with terrorist financing or money laundering," Agabin said.

"Money laundering is the province of Anti-Money Laundering Council. Of course terrorist financing is the province of police, military and intelligence agencies,” he added.

Agabin called also cited the "chilling effect" created by MC 15 on nonprofits.

“While the provisions of this MC are seemingly neutral, we know very well that these types of regulation are in actuality...directed for political and religious outliers…. It creates a chilling effect on political advocacies and political thought that is not in consonance to the policies of the administration,” he said.

Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina, a national coalition against destructive mining in the Philippines, also weighed in on the implications of MC 15 on nonprofits.

“We are about a hundred organizations obviously affected by this Memo Circular 15. If we comply, we unnecessarily expose ourselves and our members and the communities that we service. If we do not comply we run the risk of being unnecessarily labeled and tagged according to the risk assessment and even blacklisted," he said.

"That is not a very good option for us who work in the environment and human rights work,” Garganera added. 

The SEC said it would impose fines ranging from P10,000 to P1,000,000 plus P2,000 for each day of non-compliance, and revocation of registration.  – Rappler.com

Despite experience with typhoons, most Filipinos 'not prepared for disasters'


Photos by Jire Carreon/Rappler and Jansen Romero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Although the Philippines faces an average of 20 typhoons a year, only 36% of Filipinos feel they are completely prepared for disasters, according to a study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines.

HHI's study is the first nationwide household survey of disaster preparedness in the Philippines. It was conducted from March to April 2017, with 4,368 adult respondents nationwide. The organization shared its findings to media in early February this year.

The HHI study also shows that nearly 47% claimed to have done nothing to prepare for a natural hazard in the last 5 years.

The figure is even less for Filipinos who feel they are sufficiently insured for natural disasters – only 17%. These involve life, health or medical, home, and asset insurance.

"Even though many Filipinos have experienced property damage as a result of disasters, there were negligible levels of reported property insurance. This is a significant gap requiring attention by government and the private sector," HHI said in its study.

Those who did prepare cited experience with previous disasters as a primary motive for preparations. Others were spurred to do so because of television or radio announcements, and their own awareness that they have yet to develop adequate skills to deal with disasters.


The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction describes populations vulnerable to disasters as those who are more susceptible to the impacts of hazards.

The HHI pinpointed numerous vulnerable populations such as those living below the national poverty level and informal settlers in coastal or flood-prone areas.

While vulnerable populations can invest in disaster preparedness, this becomes a problem when people may not have enough resources to cover even basic needs.

Though most Filipinos feel self-reliant when it comes to disasters, the HHI study shows that 74% are unable to invest in disaster preparedness. (READ: Time to prepare that disaster kit)

Income is the biggest hurdle, as 47.5% of Filipinos cited inadequate funds as a barrier preventing them from better preparing for disasters. Majority do not have cash, medicines, first-aid kits, food, and drinking water at home in case of disasters.

But if given adequate funds, majority would opt to strengthen their homes and buy provisions to keep at home. (READ: How to prepare when disaster and emergency strike)


According to HHI, phones and diesel generators may be beneficial in disaster management. Phones, especially, can be used to receive early warning messages or locate family and friends, as 90% of Filipinos reported owning a mobile phone. Diesel generators, meanwhile, can be used to maintain power during blackouts. However, only 2% of Filipinos own one.

Another detail worth noting is that the Philippines has widespread access to various communication technologies. Majority own a mobile phone, at least one or more televisions, and radios. On the other hand, only 12% own a personal computer.

Still, with the country having access to various means of communication, there are many opportunities for informing people about disaster preparedness. At the national level, for example, 82% of the population get their main source of news from television, followed by radio.

Long way to go

Even with strong coping mechanisms learned throughout the Philippines' long history of experience with disasters, there's still a long way to go. Significant gaps remain in ensuring households feel and are prepared for disasters.

HHI pointed out that one of the biggest gaps identified in the research lies in mental health, as a significant portion of the population impacted by disasters expressed difficulties going through trauma. Less than 1% reported having access to mental health services or being treated for mental health issues.

With the survey, HHI aims to provide information that might help officials and planners see the Philippines' strengths and weaknesses in disaster preparedness and resilience. It also aims to point out the gaps which future measures can focus on.

Interestingly, HHI's study saw that only 14% of Filipinos feel they could influence decisions made in their communities by local leaders.

"How Filipinos understand their own exposure to these hazards and the steps they take to cope with them is crucial to formulating relevant national policy and planning," HHI Resilient Communities Program director Vincenzo Bollettino said in a statement last Tuesday, February 5.

HHI said that the Philippines "is, and will continue to be, a key focus and area of study on disaster resilience and preparedness."

"With the anticipated changes in weather patterns and sea level rise associated with global climate change, researchers and policymakers will benefit from continuing to examine how Filipinos cope with and prepare for future disasters," it added. – Rappler.com

Dogs offer emotional support for U.P. Diliman students, staff


DOG HEALERS. The University of the Philippines - Diliman launches its new program that will involve dogs around the campus in lightening the burden of people. Photos from Utak at Pusa Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman on Tuesday, February 12, announced a new program allowing students and university staff to interact with dogs around the campus in times of stress.

UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan introduced the campus' first emotional "support dogs," Cotton and Tisay, at the Quezon Hall, saying that the two can help in relieving emotional pressures.

In a post on Utak at Pusa's Facebook page, the dogs were described as vaccinated, neutered, and friendly. (READ: Pets for mental wellness: How dogs play a role in healing, therapy)

Cotton, according to the post, is a Labrador and Asong Pinoy (AsPin) mix living at the College of Mass Communication, while Tisay is a Brown AsPin mix living at the Quezon Hall.

Animal welfare group Friends of Campus Animals-UP (FOCA-UP) said that the program will be implemented under the Chancellor's office, and that their organization will help in raising awareness on campus management of animals.

Using dogs for emotional support is not new. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in an article said dogs are considered as a powerful tool to help people's healing process. (READ: How does the PH fare in mental health care?)

PAWS in the same article said that the presence of dogs also helps change attitudes and raise awareness on animal welfare.

In 1997, PAWS' project featuring "Dr Dogs" became popular and brought joy to orphanages, cancer wards, and retirement homes for nuns. – Rappler.com 

IN PHOTOS: Museum of Philippine Economic History opens in Iloilo


LANDMARK. NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante (4-L) and Senator Franklin Drilon (5-L) unveil the historical marker of the museum, along with other officials. All photos by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – The Museum of Philippine Economic History, located at the historical Ynchausti y Compañia building in Iloilo City, opened its doors to the public on Monday, February 11.

Senator Franklin Drilon graced the inauguration as the guest of honor along with officials from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the Department of Tourism, and members of the Ynchausti family. (READ: 6 romantic art destinations near Metro Manila)

"I am proud of this heritage landmark and museum, showcasing the endurance, innovation, and creativity of Filipino workers and enterprising businessmen and women to create a path towards self-sustainability and progress for the Philippines," Drilon said.

"This new and first-of-its kind museum will offer a window to the past  –  to the country's colorful economic history and how Iloilo earned the title the 'Queen City of the South,'" he stressed.

The Museum of Philippine Economic History is the 25th museum opened by the NHCP. It features 13 galleries filled with century-old artifacts, interactive objects, and informative displays highlighting the industries, trade, and commerce in the Philippines through the years. (READ: Explore these 5 museums in Metro Manila)

The museum is located in Ortiz street beside the Iloilo City Hall. It's open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.

Here are photos of the museum:

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

Photo by Carl Don Berwin/Rappler

 – Rappler.com

Carl Don S. Berwin is a Rappler Mover and a SharePH ambassador in Iloilo City. He is also an Economics student at the University of the Philippines Visayas.

‘Persecution by a bully government’: Journalists, politicians slam arrest of Maria Ressa


MANILA, Philippines – Several journalist groups and politicians slammed the Duterte government for the arrest of Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa over cyber libel charges on Wednesday night, February 13.

The case stemmed from a 7-year-old story written before the cyber libel law was enacted. (READ: Despite NBI flip-flop, DOJ to indict Rappler for cyber libel)

Around 5 pm on Wednesday, officers from the National Bureau of Investigation clad in civilian clothes served the arrest warrant at the Rappler headquarters in Pasig City. 

Below are the statements of support from various groups: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines 

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines decried Ressa’s arrest, saying “the clearly manipulated charge of cyber libel is a shameless act of persecution by a bully government.”

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Let's Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI)

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Global Editors Network 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Global Editors Network stands with its board member <a href="https://twitter.com/mariaressa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mariaressa</a> in these difficult times. We stand by her in the face of government repression and fully support her work. We respect the courage with which she, and <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a>, approach journalism. <a href="https://t.co/z8HC2f2Rp6">https://t.co/z8HC2f2Rp6</a></p>&mdash; Global Editors Network (@GENinnovate) <a href="https://twitter.com/GENinnovate/status/1095629884179865600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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World Editors Forum

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The ink had not dried on our protest letter this morning to Philippines President Duterte for the persecution of <a href="https://twitter.com/mariaressa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MariaRessa</a> when cybercrime division officers arrived at <a href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rapplerdotcom</a> headquarters to arrest her. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/journalismisnotacrime?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#journalismisnotacrime</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/pressfreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#pressfreedom</a> <a href="https://t.co/VZp0ErGhAl">https://t.co/VZp0ErGhAl</a></p>&mdash; World Editors Forum (@WorldEditors) <a href="https://twitter.com/WorldEditors/status/1095629232686985216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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College Editors Guild of the Philippines

A Dictator wannabe Duterte has continuously proven that he is an enemy of press freedom and the Filipino people.But today, he has ultimately proven his profound fixation to fully silence criticism and deliberately kill freedom of the press by serving a warrant of arrest against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on the basis of trumped-up and politically motivated charges.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines denounces this shameless maneuver and Duterte’s obsession with suppressing media practitioners who only seek to uphold truth and the welfare of the Filipino people, while distracting and bombarding the masses with false information through its fake news-mongers and cohorts.

The Guild and its member publications will not be an exploitable cannon fodder of Duterte’s war against the Philippine press and press freedom. We will not be an instrument of his desperate attempt to deceive the public and render them docile, while he blatantly pursues state-perpetuated violence and anti-people policies.

We will remain true to our duty of exposing the ills of the society and combat Duterte’s deceitful state propaganda. Moreover, we will rouse more publications and alagad ng midya into greater resistance against Duterte’s tyranny and state fascism!


Tindig Pilipinas

Tindig Pilipinas condemns with full force the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on blatantly flimsy charges.

This is but the cruellest of the government's moves against Rappler which it has been harassing almost from the start of Duterte's administration.

At huwag na tayong maglokohan. Galit ang administrasyong ito sa Rappler dahil makatotohanan ang reporting nito. Bawal sa gobiernong ito ang katotohanan dahil ang kaya lang ng damdamin ng Presidente ang yung mga sipsip at kunsintidor na pinapapurihan siya anupaman ang kanyang gawing kahihiyan.

Rappler has angered the President every time it reports on the growing number of executions due to the drug war, the President's misogynistic rants, his embarrassing diplomatic appearances, his misguided policies leading to inflation and increasing misery, his decimation of Marawi, the corruption, the hypocritical involvement in the drug trade.

We must remind all fellow citizens that the harassment of the press is one of the most notable indicators of a regime that is politically repressive.

The harassment of Rappler is clearly one of political repression and this has been validated by the media sector itself both locally and internationally.

It is time for all Filipinos who value democracy, a free press and truth to rally behind Rappler.

We must boost their readership and encourage advertisers to maintain or increase their partnerships.

It is time to show Duterte that those he persecutes, flourish. To stand with Maria Ressa is to stand with press freedom.

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers

Stripped of its legal trappings and judicial clothing, this arrest over questionable charges that have been excavated are essentially undisguised attacks on press freedom & speech. Together with orchestrated cyberattacks and subtle blackmail on multimedia, this is not only effective censorship but practically prior restraint.

Let there be no doubt about it: whether you are a senator, nun, lawyer, activist, human rights defender, or peace advocate, you will be in the crosshairs of government’s whole coercive apparatus if you dissent or criticize so good that they will make you look so bad.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Nabalitaan natin sa social media na hinainan na ng warrant of arrest si Maria Ressa. This is a clear case of the powerful harassing those whose duty is to keep them in check.</p>&mdash; Kiko Pangilinan (@kikopangilinan) <a href="https://twitter.com/kikopangilinan/status/1095633707082215424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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Human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno 

As a human rights lawyer, as a Filipino, I condemn the Duterte administration’s arrest of Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa.

As a human rights lawyer, as a Filipino, I condemn the Duterte administration’s heavy-handed attempt to arrest Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

 Naniniwala tayong dapat pag may sala, may parusa. Pero sa kasong ito, malinaw na ito ay tahasang pag-atake hindi lang sa malayang pamamahayag, kundi sa buong sistema ng hustisya sa ating bansa.

 Simula nang naupo sa puwesto ang administrasyong ito, wala na itong ginawa kundi habulin at gantihan—sa kahit na anong paraan, kahit pa baluktutin nila ang katarungan—ang lahat ng naglalakas-loob na tumayo at magsalita at sabihin ang katotohanan.

 Hindi na kayo nakuntento sa dami ng trolls ninyo, gusto ninyo pang sakupin ang usapan sa cyberspace. Hindi ba kayo nagsasawa sa dami ng institusyon ng bayan na walang pakundangan ninyong sinisira?

 Hindi ba kayo nahihiya na kung sino pa ang dapat nagsisilbi ay siya pang nangunguna sa pang-aabuso sa kapuwa Pilipino?

 Pinapaalalahanan ko ang gobyernong ito: hindi panghabambuhay ang kapangyarihan. Pero ang katarungan, ano man ang mangyari, darating at darating iyan.

 Nananawagan ako sa ating mga kababayan: panahon nang tumayo at magsalita. Hindi tayo ililigtas ng katahimikan.

 Walang ibang lalaban para sa mga karapatan natin, walang ibang lalaban para sa katarungan, kundi tayo din.

Senatorial aspirant Erin Tañada

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The arrest of Maria Ressa proves how the present government has no space for a free press. There is no basis for her arrest because the crime she is accused to have committed was not crime because there was no cyber law at the time. “When there is no law, there is no crime.”</p>&mdash; Erin Tañada (@erintanada) <a href="https://twitter.com/erintanada/status/1095642792200593408?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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After Maria Ressa's arrest, netizens decry 'desperate move to silence' press


MANILA, Philippines – Intrigued by the timing of Maria Ressa's arrest warrant, many netizens saw it as a desperate move to silence the press.

Around 5 pm on Wednesday, February 13, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers clad in civilian clothes went to the Rappler headquarters to arrest Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa in connection with a cyber libel case filed by the justice department. (READ: Cyber libel charges ‘unfounded’ – Rappler’s Maria Ressa)

The arrest warrant was issued the day before by Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46.

Many netizens on Wednesday pointed out the timing of the arrest warrant. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This administration has continuously threatened every critic and even the very freedom of the press. Maria Ressa’s arrest at a very questionable timing is a desperate move to silence us, but this is we where we draw the line. We need to fight back.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a></p>&mdash; jv | #NoToMandatoryROTC (@jvcabrera_) <a href="https://twitter.com/jvcabrera_/status/1095624273320759296?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">They arrested Maria Ressa late so that she can have a little amount of time to post bail.  <a href="https://t.co/qjJLOBIREj">https://t.co/qjJLOBIREj</a></p>&mdash; krisostomo eeebara (@uhmalenbndct) <a href="https://twitter.com/uhmalenbndct/status/1095665117448949760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing in court of cyber libel charges against Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr over a story published in May 2012 – or 4 months before the law that they allegedly violated was enacted. (READ: Despite NBI flip-flop, DOJ to indict Rappler for cyber libel)

Questioning the details of the case, many netizens went on to scrutinize how the article in question could even fall under the coverage of the Cybercrime Law when it was only enacted in September 2012. (READ: Rappler libel complaint dangerous for media, bloggers – cyber lawyer)

Ressa's arrest triggered an outpouring of comments from netizens lambasting the move as an "intimidation tactic at work."

Fearing its repercussions on journalists and other members of society, many netizens urged people to defend press freedom and hold the line.

Here's what netizens had to say about the matter: 

{source}<a class="twitter-timeline" data-partner="tweetdeck" href="https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/timelines/1095637299071639552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Maria Ressa&#39;s arrest - Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom</a> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

– Rappler.com

Amid Maria Ressa’s arrest, UP Fair 2019 urges: 'Defend press freedom'


PRESS FREEDOM. Various organizations conduct a silent protest for Maria Ressa and press freedom at the UP Fair 2019. Photo by Kurt Dela Peña/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines - Thousands who attended the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman’s UP Fair expressed their solidarity with Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa who was arrested over cyber libel charges on Wednesday night, February 13. (READ: Despite NBI flip-flop, DOJ to indict Rappler for cyber libel)

Ressa was scheduled to talk about press freedom Wednesday as part of the UP Fair "Rak N Rally."

Her arrest at the Rappler office by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation prevented her from going to the event. Instead it was Rappler reporter Patricia Evangelista who read Ressa's statement

Event organizers alloted time during the event for people to condemn the latest attack on media. Representatives from various organizations called for vigilance in defending press freedom.

“Ang atake sa Rappler ay hindi lang atake sa media kung hindi atake, higit sa lahat, sa karapatan ng mamamayan na malaman ang katotohanan at katarungan. (The attack on Rappler is not only an attack on media. More importantly it is an attack on the people's right to know the truth and seek justice.),” College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines President Jon Callueng said. (READ: TIMELINE: Malacañang's evolving statements on Rappler ban)

Callueng, who heads the oldest alliance of college editors in the country, said that people must take part in fighting for the independence of the press - “a battle which involves everyone.”

"If this is another of several attempts to intimidate us, it will not succeed.... We will continue to tell the truth and report what we see and hear. We are first and foremost journalists, we are tuthtellers," said Evangelista reading Ressa's statement.

Evangelista, who wrote a number of investigative pieces on the government's war on drugs, concluded by thanking everyone who support Rappler.

"Nagpapasalamat po kami sa inyong pagsuporta. Ngayong gabi, at sa mga susunod na araw, patuloy ang Rappler sa pagbabalita. (We thank everyone for their support. Tonight and in the succeeding days, Rappler will continue delivering the news.) ," she said.

Meanwhile, UP student regent Ivy Taroma led the participants in offering a minute of silent protest for press freedom, while asking the people to light up their phones as an expression of support for Rappler and its executive.

LIGHT. The UP Fair attendees turn on their mobile flashlights to express support for Maria Ressa and Rappler. Photo by Kurt Dela Peña/Rappler

Aside from the groups present at the Fair's protest, various organizations and institutions also issued statements which expressed their solidarity for press freedom and condemnation of the government's attacks on media. (READ: 'Persecution by a bully government': Journalists, advocates slam arrest of Maria Ressa)

Here are their statements:

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Arresting Maria Ressa is an admission of this administration&#39;s move to silence the press who aims to deliver the true state of our nation.<br><br>Our voices will strengthen the call to end this tyranny and corruption of our democracy. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HoldTheLine?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HoldTheLine</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndStateFascism?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndStateFascism</a> <a href="https://t.co/eN2ABDpoWR">pic.twitter.com/eN2ABDpoWR</a></p>&mdash; UP Diliman University Student Council (@USCUPDiliman) <a href="https://twitter.com/USCUPDiliman/status/1095657487666237441?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a><br><br>UP Solidaridad, together with its member publications and writers’ organizations, believes that any attempt to muzzle the press is never acceptable and that we should unite in defending the press from any form of attacks.<br><br>READ: <a href="https://t.co/0XcrzG7Kqv">https://t.co/0XcrzG7Kqv</a> <a href="https://t.co/jfHVG2uFgJ">pic.twitter.com/jfHVG2uFgJ</a></p>&mdash; UP Solidaridad (@upsolidaridad) <a href="https://twitter.com/upsolidaridad/status/1095707361895804928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Let’s give our all out support as Lasallians to Rappler. Let’s defend press freedom. Let’s make our voices heard. Let’s vote with our feet and stand with Maria Ressa! — Br. Armin Luistro FSC<br><br>Photo by <a href="https://twitter.com/TheLaSallian?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheLaSallian</a> <a href="https://t.co/jq5X97YwNm">pic.twitter.com/jq5X97YwNm</a></p>&mdash; DeLaSalle.ph (@OneLaSalle) <a href="https://twitter.com/OneLaSalle/status/1095649286056890368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>
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LIST: #DefendPressFreedom rallies after Maria Ressa’s arrest


MANILA, Philippines–  Student groups from different parts of the country are organizing protest actions Thursday, February 14, to defend press freedom, following the arrest of Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa for cyber libel.

Ressa was arrested and detained overnight on Wednesday, February 13, by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) because of a warrant issued by Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46.

The case stemmed from a 7-year-old story written before the cyber libel law was enacted.

Members of media and various groups have slammed the Duterte government for the arrest, with National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calling it “persecution by a bully government”.

University leaders and student groups also condemned the arrest, saying schools must defend truth.

Among the student organizations holding rallies in defense of press freedom are the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) and College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP). Both rallies are open to the public.

Here is a running list of the rallies happening on February 14:

Anakbayan at UST Gate 11, Dapitan (12:00 nn)

Anakbayan - University of Santo Tomas (UST) will protest at UST Gate 11, Dapitan, at 12 nn to “unite against media censorship” and defend press freedom.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">As THOMASIANS, we are called to be defenders of the truth. Unite against media censorship! VERITAS IN CARITATE!<br><br>DEFEND! DEFEND! DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM! <br><br>Protest @ UST Gate 11, Dapitan<br>12 noon<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndStateFascism?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndStateFascism</a> <a href="https://t.co/NhnF45psUp">pic.twitter.com/NhnF45psUp</a></p>&mdash; Anakbayan - UST #StruggleAmidFascism (@AnakbayanUST) <a href="https://twitter.com/AnakbayanUST/status/1095837870596575232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 14, 2019</a></blockquote>

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CEGP Cebu at UP Cebu entrance gate (12:30pm)

CEGP Cebu will hold a quick response protest at the UP Cebu entrance gate at 12:30 pm.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">JOIN THE QUICK RESPONSE PROTEST ON FEBRUARY 14, 2019 AT 12:30PM AT THE UP CEBU ENTRANCE GATE!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopTheAttacks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StopTheAttacks</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a>!</p>&mdash; CEGP Cebu (@CEGPCebu) <a href="https://twitter.com/CEGPCebu/status/1095723720595845120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>

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UP-CMC at CMC Veranda (4pm)

At 4 pm, UP-CMC will hold a protest action at CMC Veranda to denounce the “latest attack on press freedom”. The public is invited.

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From cyberattacks to cyberlibel, attempts to gag the media continue! Stop the attacks against the media! Join the protest tomorrow, February 14 at the UP College of Mass Communication!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendPressFreedom?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendPressFreedom</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AssertPeoplesRightToKnow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AssertPeoplesRightToKnow</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DefendIndependentMedia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DefendIndependentMedia</a> <a href="https://t.co/gY8q3NZdiH">pic.twitter.com/gY8q3NZdiH</a></p>&mdash; Altermidya (@Altermidya) <a href="https://twitter.com/Altermidya/status/1095684493812293633?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2019</a></blockquote>

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League of Filipino Students (Metro Manila)

Youth groups under the League of Filipino Students will hold rallies in various parts of Metro Manila to condemn the “sudden arrest of Rappler's Maria Ressa and the continuous threats of the Duterte government against the right to press freedom.”

  • 4:30 pm: De La Salle University south gate

  • 5 pm: Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) College of Communication car park

If you know of any related events and gatherings, please email move.ph@rappler.com. – Rappler.com


Youth groups call out 'orchestrated attack' against Rappler, media


PROTEST. Youth groups conduct quick reaction mobilization to condemn the sudden arrest of Rappler's Maria Ressa and continous threats of the Duterte government against the right to press freedom at University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Youth groups and students staged protests in various parts of the country on Thursday, February 14, after the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, which they saw as part of an "orchestrated attack" against the media.

On Thursday, the University of the Philippines-College of Communication (UP-CMC) held protest actions at the CMC Veranda to denounce the "latest attack on press freedom."

TOGETHER. Students and youth groups urge everyone to strengthen the call to defend press freedom during a protest at the UP CMC Veranda on February 14, 2019. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

Bea Fuentes, national chairperson of UP Solidaridad, debunked claims that there are no orchestrated attacks against the press.

She mentioned how alternative, critical news organizations have been targeted, citing the ongoing series of cyberattacks against Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, among others. She said Rappler is not an isolated case and that it is part of an "orchestrated attack" against media.

"Itong mga atakeng ito ay hindi lang nagkataon, na isang beses Rappler aatakihin, pero 'yung nakaraang linggo 'yung alternative media outfits. Lahat 'yan ay orchestrated," she said.

(These attacks are not random, where Rappler will be attacked once, and then alternative media outfits in another week. It's all orchestrated.)

"Hindi lang ito laban ng Rappler. Laban ito ng lahat ng progresibong media groups – mainstream, alternative, campus press. Lahat tayo ay naririto upang i-forward 'yung call natin to defend press freedom," she added.

(This isn't just Rappler's fight. This is the fight of all progressive media groups – mainstream, alternative, campus press. All of us are here to forward the call to defend press freedom.)

Fuentes explained how members of the press should speak up about the injustices that they face or notice.

"Hindi lang tayo dapat watchdog.... Dapat i-register natin ang ating tindig tungkol sa ganitong mga isyu dahil kung hindi tayo magsasalita about it, sino pa?" she asked.

(We are not just watchdogs...We have to take a stand about these issues because if we don't speak up about them, who else will?)

Gemma Bagayaua Mendoza, Rappler's head of research and content strategy, talked about how press freedom is the foundation of human rights and democracy.

"Ang karapatan sa malayang pamamahayag ay hindi lang po karapatan ng mga mamamahayag.... Ito ay sandalan ng karapatan ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan para makakuha ng mahahalaga at makatotohanang impormasyon tungkol sa mga bagay na nakakaapekto sa atin," she explained.

(The right to free press is not only the right of journalists.... It's the foundation of the right of ordinary citizens to access important and true information about issues that affect us.)

SPEAK OUT. Rappler's Gemma Bagayaua Mendoza talks about how integral press freedom is to democracy in a protest at UP CMC Veranda on February 14, 2019. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

She noted how the targeted attacks against the administration's critics could mean grave consequences not just for the press but also for the people.

"Nagiging malinaw na hindi lang po ito tungkol lamang sa Rappler o tungkol kay Maria. Si Maria Ressa at ang Rappler ay ehemplo lamang. At ang mensahe na sinasabi ng gubyernong ito sa mga mamamahayag sa ating bansa ay ito: 'Manahimik kayo. Baka kayo ang sumunod.' Papayag ba tayo?" she asked.

(It's clear that this is not just about Rappler or Maria Ressa. They are just examples. The message that the government is sending to journalists is this: 'Be silent. You may be next.' Will we allow it?)

Calls to defend press freedom also echoed in different parts of the country, as various groups organized protest actions.

In Cebu, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) held a quick response protest at the entrace gate of UP Cebu around 12:30 pm Thursday.

"We call on all Filipinos to stand united against these attacks that degrade our rights to truth and information," CEGP Cebu said in its statement.

DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM. CEGP Cebu holds a protest action at the UP Cebu entrance gate to express that the arrest of a journalist is a 'clear violation of the right to information and free press' on February 14, 2019. Photo from CEGP Cebu

STOP THE ATTACKS. CEGP Cebu holds a protest action at the UP Cebu entrance gate to urge people to stand with Maria Ressa on February 14, 2019. Photo from CEGP Cebu

Students from the De La Salle University (DLSU), DLSU senior high school, and DLSU-College of Saint Benilde attended a protest in the Taft-Vito Cruz area, headed by One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH. A protest action along the Taft-Vito Cruz area brings students from De La Salle University and other members of youth groups together to defend press freedom on February 14, 2019. Photo by Lana de Castro

DEFEND DEMOCRACY. Progressive youth groups cover their mouths with black tape to highlight the importance of defending press freedom during a protest action along the Taft Vito Cruz area on February 14, 2019. Photo by Anakbayan Vito Cruz

Students from the League of Filipino Students-University of Santo Tomas (LFS-UST) and Anakbayan UST also held a protest at UST Gate 11 in Dapitan. RIGHTS. Students urge people to uphold democratic rights in a protest action at UST Gate 11, Dapitan on February 14, 2019. Photo from League of Filipino Students UST

FREEDOM. Students carry signs that urge people to defend press freedom in a protest action at UST Gate 11, Dapitan on February 14, 2019. Photo from League of Filipino Students UST

Ressa was arrested and detained overnight on Wednesday, February 13, by the National Bureau of Investigation because of a warrant issued by Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46.

The case stemmed from a 7-year-old story written before the cyber libel law was enacted. – with reports from Raisa Serafica/ Rappler.com

Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila students hit admin over claims of repression


PROTEST. Following the Pamantasan Lungsod ng Maynila adminstration's response to a silent protest in the morning, students organized a rally to protest student repression on February 15, 2019. Photo from Anakbayan-PLM

MANILA, Philippines– Students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) wore black armbands and shirts as part of a silent and peaceful protest against the university’s administration on Friday, February 15.

According to PLM’s official student publication, Ang Pamantasan, the protest is against the “recent incidents of ‘repression’ in the student body”. It is also in solidarity with the Black Friday protest made in the spirit of defending press freedom.

Kabataan Partylist said students suspected or found to be participating in the silent protest were questioned and taken pictures of by roving University Security Office guards (USG). Students' names were also recorded.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/VFKyovwH1o">pic.twitter.com/VFKyovwH1o</a></p>&mdash; S. #STANDPLM (@notostdntrprssn) <a href="https://twitter.com/notostdntrprssn/status/1096242055901257730?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Update [11:53 am, Feb 15]<br><br>Kinuha ang mga pangalan at kinunan ng litrato ng USG ang ilang mga estudyanteng may itim na armbands. <br><br>Tindig lang, mga ka isko’t iska! Walang dapat ikatakot! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ResistTheAttacks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ResistTheAttacks</a> <a href="https://t.co/ARzd6a0yBl">pic.twitter.com/ARzd6a0yBl</a></p>&mdash; S. #STANDPLM (@notostdntrprssn) <a href="https://twitter.com/notostdntrprssn/status/1096256438878515201?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 15, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Ang Pamantasan also reported PLM students from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND-PLM) and Tugon were held in detention at the Office of Student Development and Services (OSDS).

No details were shared regarding the detention.

On Wednesday, February 13, a thread detailing claims of student repression in PLM started gaining traction on Twitter.

The thread featured submitted claims from PLM students about how the university administration is calling critics of the school to report to the OSDS without an explanation and threatening consequences to their academic standing in the school. There were also claims that some PLM staff have advised students to avoid taking part in the protest or anything pertaining to it.

In light of the administration’s response to the silent protest, students, along with Anakbayan-PLM, held an indignation rally in front of the PLM gate at 2:30 pm.

According to Jose Mari Callueng, the National President of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, a hearing will be conducted on February 15 to discuss possible expulsion and other sanctions the administration deems necessary to members of the PLM Supreme Student Council (SSC) who issued progressive statements on attacks to democratic rights. Those who participated in the silent protest may also face the same thing.

“This is outright student repression,” he said.

The complaint against PLM SSC officers came from an official statement about PLM thanking Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for the achievements of the school and the school's board passers. This was posted in the PLM SSC Facebook page on January 15. 

The complaint states that "the purpose and use of language made by the PLM SSC in that official statement has been purported to be discourteous against the university and its officials."

The PLM SSC has since clarified its intention for posting a statement. "Hindi kailanman intensyon ng konseho ang personal na pag-atake sa mga bahagi ng PLM, bagkus ay bigyang pansin ang mga bagay na may kinalaman lamang sa kanilang responsibilidad sa pamantasan," it said.

(It was never the intention of the council to personally attack PLM, but rather to pay attention to issues involving their responsibilities to the university.)

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 Callueng also questioned why the PLM SSC should still seek the permission of an adviser prior to posting an official statement of the student council.

"The mandate of the student council emanates from the students themselves. Should the council seek approval, it is not that one of the school administration but that of the students that they represent," he added.

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On February 12, Saranggola Productions cancelled its open mic at PLM on Valentine’s Day due to complications between its partner, the PLM SSC, and the administration. Despite early preparations, submission of requirements, and constant follow-ups, the administration “repeatedly returned the papers due to ‘lack of merits.’”

“We would like to condemn the harassment these student leaders are getting by only giving their hearts in the name of public service,” Saranggola Productions said.

They also urged PLM students to stand up for their peers.

“Your student leaders are, anyway, facing malicious charges due to their position so we hope you check on them because some of them may not graduate. They are being harassed to retract their recent statements. We hope you stand up for them,” they said.

Rappler reached out to PLM but they declined to comment on the matter.– Rappler.com

MovePH 2019 workshops series to kick off with #MoveCagayan


MANILA, Philippines – Do you want to use social media for the causes that matter to you? MovePH, Rappler's citizen engagement arm, will be touring the Philippines to help you take action and promote social good in the digital age! 

The first stop in this series of forums and workshops will be Cagayan on February 26, 9 am, at Cagayan State University-Carig Campus' College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS) Conference Hall. 

Participants will learn the ropes of responsible social media use for advocacies, including connecting with possible collaborators; identifiying, handling, and preventing disinformation; promoting positive online behavior; and ultimately, inspiring courage in themselves and in others. 

Tickets to the public forum are free, but seats are limited. Register below:
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The program proper is as follows:

8:15 - 9:00 amRegistration

9:00 - 9:15 am

Welcome Remarks
Dr. Arthur Ibañez
Campus Executive Officer, CSU-Carig

9:15 - 9:30 amGetting to know you/ Levelling off activity

9:30 - 10:15 amKeynote:
POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Using technology for social good

Glenda Gloria
Managing Editor, Rappler
10:15 - 10:45 amDiscussion: Digital media etiquette

10:45 - 11:15 amTalk: Responsible use of digital media
Stacy de Jesus
Head, Digital Communications and MovePH, Rappler

Talk: Being a reporter in the time of disinformation

Lian Buan, Rappler reporter
11:15 - 11:45 amPanel discussion: Why facts matter

Glenda Gloria
Managing Editor, Rappler

Stacy de Jesus
Head, MovePH and Digital Communications, Rappler

Julius Catulin
Student Journalist

Moderated by:

Raymon Dullana
Rappler correspondent

11:45 am - 12:00 pmSynthesis

Be part of the MovePH and Rappler network! Meet like-minded individuals from across the country with whom you can collaborate on projects and advocacies, and be part of the fight for a free press and progressive Philippines! – Rappler.com 

WATCH: Pinoys invent app to help kids with autism


Screenshot from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A group of 5 Filipinos from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) has developed an application that aims to transform manual mental health record-keeping into an online-friendly platform.

The Emerald District app aims to bridge health practitioners and people with autism through a platform that uses features for effective communication and record-keeping.

“We felt that there is a problem then we saw an opportunity,” said Nesty Tumbaga, Emerald District co-founder. 

The team saw that paper notebooks can get damaged and misplaced, and with then,   the history and data, leaving people back to square one in keeping tabs.

“As we’re in a digital era, we asked ourselves, ‘Why not use technological tools at hand, such as analytics and instant messaging to help people that are left behind in this fast-paced world?’” Tumbaga said,

The app made the team one of the winners of Rappler’s Hack Society 2018.

A prototype

Currently on its development stages, the app is easy to use. Users may upload and store files of the patient in one tab, communicate through an instant messaging function, and download and play additional games and books designed for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

These features allow healthcare providers to easily track progress since information can be recorded on the app. (READ: How inclusion empowers artists with autism)

To counter the simple problem that goes with record-keeping, Emerald District grounded the application on providing an inventory for quantitative and qualitative data of kids with autism.

The team is looking into reinforcing data privacy for an end-to-end protection of users’ personal details.  

But forming a secure data-driven system remains a challenge for the team, such as a shortage of occupational therapists in the Philippines,  among other limitations.

Possible barriers

EMERALD DISTRICT. Henry Lachica (left) and Nesty Tumbaga (right) present their idea for Rappler's #HackSociety 2018. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Christian Benedict Tayag, in charge of Emerald District’s Sales and Marketing department and a practicing occupational therapist, shared how the application can also help qualified practitioners working in marginalized communities and faraway provinces.

“We’re not so many occupational therapists and speech pathologists; most of us are concentrated in Metro Manila,” Tayag said. “That’s why the app in itself can give you access from those communities [and enjoy] the luxury Metro Manila has.”

Tayag added that team discussions usually boil down to their next steps in creating a sustainable program that can also help people with other developmental conditions. (READ: Amid challenges, artists with special needs shine)

“To those that are less fortunate and facing other developmental conditions, we’re already thinking about how we can increase access to the program,” Tayag said.

In order to gain ground in regions with disenfranchised families and people with autism (PwA), engagement with local governments and hospitals is a tough, but a key first step.

“There [has] to be institutional partnerships. The app alone can’t solve directly these kinds of problems. It’s more of a secondary thing,” said Tayag.

Staying close to the roots

The application is hoped to launch late 2019, and to be available both on smartphones and desktops. The method of purchasing the product is still being discussed as the team looks for stakeholders and investors in 2019 to sustain its efforts.

For the team, the roadmap is not fixed. Emerald District is “constantly evolving” to see how to improve mental health sensitivity across the board.

“Probably after 5 years, we will be discovering that those disenfranchised people don’t need the program but something else. We’re very open to and will keep looking for solutions in this space,” Tumbaga said.

As they work on refining the application, Chua said the team focuses on the two things that matter: their motivation and values. (READ: A PWID’s success story: Angelo Jardeleza in his workplace)

“Everyone needs to think about what motivated them to start this and keep at it, because with that, we can further expand avenues to [marginalized] communities,” added Chua.

Chua attached his personal experience with persons with autism to the project, pushing the team to get the ball rolling.

“I have a brother who has autism.... My way of helping him and everyone with disabilities is to address how we should best meet their needs,” Chua said.

Chua added that families who have members with autism need all the support they can get, inspired by his mother’s longstanding worries for his younger brother.

“It was always up to my mom to archive all the information about my brother’s condition, even though my brother has been to 3 to 4 Sped (Special Education) schools and consulted many doctors,” Chua said.  

Through their win in #HackSociety 2018 – an ideathon organized by Rappler, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citibank – the team was able to cement their vision to amplify collaboration between health practitioners and persons with autism.  (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Why is it important to #HackSociety

“I want this available for everyone who has autism so that the doctor, the teacher, and the parent can communicate to further enhance development process of the child or the person with autism,” said Chua. – Rappler.com

Fatima Qureshi is a Rappler intern and a full-time student pursuing a Master's in Journalism degree at the University of Hong Kong.

Pinoy app global finalist at NASA Space Apps Challenge


GLOBAL FINALIST. Team iNON (It's Now or Never) is behind the ISDApp. Photo courtesy of Michael Lance Domagas

MANILA, Philippines – An application made by a team of Filipino innovators was nominated as a global finalist at the Galactic Impact in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Apps Challenge, the biggest hackathon in the world.

It will compete against 24 other participants chosen by NASA scientists and experts from 2,729 teams in 200 locations all over the world.

The team will vie to be among the 6 winners of the hackathon. Under the Galactic Impact category, the team's app was among the top solutions with the most potential to improve life on Earth or in the universe.

Named ISDApp, from isda (fish), the Philippine-made app seeks to communicate scientific data to fishermen even without an internet connection. It was made by IT professionals Revbrain G. Martin, Marie Jeddah Legaspi, and Julius Czar Torreda from team iNON, which stands for "It's now or never."

Through the app, fishermen can receive useful information such as real-time weather, times of sunrise and sunset, wind speed, and cloud coverage.

The team pegged it as the first community app "that will empower fishermen" with daily information useful for fishing and safety,  relayed through an installed app from a town official's smartphone and straight to registered analog phones of fishermen.

A town official will only have to install the application and register all fishermen's details and contact numbers as listed ISDApp community members.

The app will then collect data to be sent as SMS to registered phones before fishing time to help fishermen plan ahead and optimize their catch. It also has emergency features such as storm alerts and an SOS signal that can be triggered via a simple text message to the ISDApp.

Fishermen will receive SMS notifications from the Amazon Web Services gateway while local government officials can manage their details using a smartphone app connected to the cloud. 

The NASA GLOBE Observer app, which compiles data of cloud activity from citizen scientists around the world paired with NASA satellite images, also helps compile information to be used on the ISDApp.

Before it was catapulted to the global level, ISDApp beat other apps in the NASA Space Apps Challenge Philippines at De La Salle University-Manila held from October 19 to 21, 2018.

Themed "Earth and Space," the challenge gathered teams of coders, scientists, developers, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists, thinkers, and entrepreneurs to work in a 48-hour sprint to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges on Earth and in space, using NASA resources and data.  

Among the apps that competed in the national edition of the hackathon were a story-based game using NASA Earth imagery, an emergency checklist kit app designed for disaster preparedness, and an augmented reality mobile app that tells a story of the changes in the Arctic and Antarctic ice. 

Since its inception in 2012, the International Space Apps Challenge has become the world’s largest global hackathon, engaging thousands of global citizens to collaborate in building innovative solutions to complex challenges using NASA’s open data. – Rappler.com

'Traitor to youth': Groups slam NYC chief’s proposal vs 'anti-government' scholars


MANILA, Philippines – Youth groups and netizens on Wednesday, February 20, slammed the proposal of National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema to revoke government scholarships of “rebellious anti-government” students.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the broadest alliance of student councils in the Philippines, called for the resignation of Cardema, and said he was a "traitor to youth."

Cardema had earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order removing the financial subsidy of students suspected to be allied with communists.

“Copying his boss Duterte, the NYC Chair acts like a tyrant so insecure that he attacks our right to express as enshrined in the Constitution just to silence critics and watchdogs of government policies," said NUSP Deputy Secretary General Raoul Manuel.

Manuel pointed out that free education and government scholarships are funded by taxpayers’ money, and that scholars are indebted to the Filipino people, not to the government.

“Free education and scholarships are not from Duterte’s money. They are people’s money... We owe our education to the Filipino people, to whom the youth offers its efforts as we push for the rights and welfare of the oppressed millions,” he added.

Kabataan party list also questioned Cardema’s recommendation.

“It is alarming that Cardema, a supposed ‘youth commissioner’ wants to discriminate on our right to education and trample on the youth’s victory by denying us our rights both to free education and free speech,” said Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago.

Anakbayan echoed the sentiment, saying  the NYC under Cardema has been silent about youth issues and struggles, and had contributed to the supression of rights of Filipinos.

"Pinatutunayan lamang ni Cardema na hindi lamang tikom ang komisyon na kanyang pinamumunuan sa mga issue at hinaing ng kabataan, kundi ito rin ay kasangkapan ng rehimen upang supilin ang karapatan ng mga mamamayang lumalaban," stated Alex Danday, national spokesperson of Anakbayan. 

(Cardema is only proving that the commission, under his leadership, is not only silent on the grievances of the youth, it has also become a tool of the regime in suppressing the rights of citizens who are fighting back.)

Bryan Gonzales, the Sangguniang Kabataan Kagawad of Barangay Fairview, Quezon City, also penned an open letter calling on fellow youth leaders and other SK officials to reject Cardema’s proposal and “other attempts by the government to repress our fundamental freedoms."

“[It] will create a chilling effect against legal and legitimate forms of dissent.... For centuries, protest actions have been pivotal in the struggle to defend and preserve democracy here and abroad.... Universities and their scholars play an important role in fueling social movements of all sorts,” Gonzales said.

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Netizens, meanwhile, mentioned how grievances expressed in rallies should not be  seen as attacks against the government but as valid criticism to be considered by the administration. They said students should be allowed to voice out their frustrations since every citizen is entitled to the right to free expression.

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They also saw the move as another way to silence government critics.

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They shared how the government should focus more on listening to protesters, and on thinking of a compromise as action points, since people hold rallies when they see something wrong in government.

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There were those, however, who felt that government funds go to waste when scholarships are given to people who criticize the administration.

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Senators have also slammed the proposal, pointing out that it violated the 1987 Constitution. – Rappler.com

NDRRMC to hold 1st nationwide earthquake drill for 2019


DISASTER PREPAREDNESS. Students at San Vicente Elementary School in Quezon City participate in the school's earthquake drill on February 6, 2019. File photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – To boost disaster awareness and preparedness in the country, the 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) for 2019 will be held on Thursday, February 21, at exactly 2 pm.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), along with national government agencies like the Department of Education (DepEd) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD), are set to lead the earthquake drill. (READ: CHECKLIST: What cities and municipalities should prepare for an earthquake)

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the drill will begin in Iloilo City with the ceremonial pressing of a button. It will be followed by a demonstration of evacuation procedures and emergency response of a coastal barangay, a maritime school, a private school, a popular mall, and a growing business district in the city. (READ: How a public school in Marikina prepares for natural disasters)

The OCD also said that the drill in Iloilo City will simulate a damaging earthquake striking Panay Island, Western Visayas. (READ: All you need to know about preparing for earthquakes)

The quarterly NSED is scheduled on the following dates and pilot areas:

  • 1st quarter: Iloilo City on February 21

  • 2nd quarter: Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, on June 20

  • 3rd quarter: Ormoc City, Leyte, on August 8

  • 4th quarter: Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, on November 14

All public elementary and secondary schools, including DepEd offices, are directed to participate in the drill, as spearheaded by their respective DRRM coordinators. Local government units are also instructed to hold the drill in their respective areas. (READ: CHECKLIST: What barangays should prepare for an earthquake)

The quarterly NSED aims to evaluate the effectiveness of contingency plans and protocols in relation to earthquake scenarios and other similar events. – Rappler.com

[Right of Way] Contesting the MMDA’s yellow bus lane policy


MANILA, Philippines – Road safety advocate Vince Lazatin joins his friend Eileen, a regular Ortigas-Makati commuter, as she contests 4 citations in the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) office – involving the yellow bus lane policy.

It wasn't too long ago when Vince received a similar citation, so join him and Eileen as they try to make sense of it with the MMDA. Will they arrive at a resolution? Watch this episode. – Rappler.com


– Rappler.com


IN PHOTOS: Iloilo City leads first nationwide earthquake drill for 2019


DUCK. Local army and police officials duck, cover, and hold during a simulation at the Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand on Thursday, February 21, 2019. Photo by Rhick Albay/Rappler

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – The 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) for 2019 kicked off at the new Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand on Thursday, February 21.

The grandstand served as the ceremonial venue of the NSED, which is an effort to boost disaster awareness and preparedness in the Philippines.

Officials from several national government agencies involved in disaster response and preparedness oversaw drills and simulations in 5 key areas around Iloilo City: John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University, SM City Iloilo, Iloilo Business Park, Iloilo Mission Hospital, and Iloilo City Hall.

The National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development were present on Thursday. 

"Today we are here in Iloilo City, one of the most progressive cities in the country. However, like other Philippine metropolis, it is prone to natural disasters – one of which would be the possibility of a large earthquake," DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum said in his opening message.

The NSED simulated a magnitude 8 earthquake, the strength of which would make it difficult for people to stand up when the tremors occur. (READ: CHECKLIST: What cities and municipalities should prepare for an earthquake)

"There is a pressing need to prepare for these earthquakes through simulations like this drill, so citizens will know what to do when the eventuality occurs," Solidum added.

The simultaneous nationwide drill began with the ceremonial pressing of a button at 2 pm.

START. NDRRMC and local government officials lead the ceremonial pressing of the button to signal the start of the 1st Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill for 2019 at 2 pm on Thursday, February 21, 2019. Photo by Rhick Albay/Rappler

The Office of Civil Defense estimates that during the activity, around 5,000 to 8,000 participants in the 5 key areas in Iloilo performed basic earthquake responses such as "duck, cover, and hold," as well as evacuation and response routines.

In his speech, Solidum highlighted the 1948 Lady Caycay earthquake which devastated Iloilo City and Panay. He talked about the possibility that another large earthquake could hit the region in our lifetime. (READ: All you need to know about preparing for earthquakes)

Dubbed by locals as Lady Caycay (after the Hiligaynon word describing the scratches left on the ground by chickens), the earthquake caused numerous fissures in the province's mountain regions. It destroyed Spanish-era stone churches and triggered a tsunami in the Iloilo Strait.

An enduring reminder of Lady Caycay's wrath is the iconic belfry of the Jaro Cathedral. While the first story of the tower made of limestone and bricks can still be seen today, the second and third stories crumbled and were restored only in the 1990s.

Solidum said the Lady Caycay earthquake is just one of the many large magnitude earthquake events to have hit Panay, generated by the very active West Panay Fault in the Madjaas Mountain Range.

"Every century, there is a major earthquake in the West Panay Fault.... We need to equip the Ilonggos with the awareness to face this eventuality," he warned.

The Department of National Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, who was Thursday's keynote speaker, doubled down on Solidum's key points, citing the importance of disaster preparedness.

"Readiness – whether in times of peace, war, or disasters – is the key to success…. We seek to empower our people to not just be victims of disasters, but be resilient survivors," Mapagu said.

Schools, local government units, government offices, and civilians from all over the Philippines also participated in the 1st NSED for 2019.

Below are some scenes of shake drills from different parts of the country:

PREPARED. Grade school students from Mabini Elementary School in Baguio City join the 1st National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill on February 21. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

EVACUATION. The SM Mall in Fairview, Quezon City takes part in the 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill to prepare for disasters. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

SAVE. A simulation shows how people would respond in case of disasters during the 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake drill at SM Fairview in Quezon City on Thursday, February 21. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

COVER. Manila Police District personnel participate in the 1st Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill at MPD headquarters in Manila on February 21, 2019. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

– Rappler.com

Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay claims to be a collector of stories. He is a Rappler Mover, an Iloilo-based writer, and a journalist, reporting largely on the local cultural community and art scene of the thriving city.

Tea Time with Vince and Frank: Is this a ticket trap?


MANILA, Philippines – Right of Way's road safety advocate Vince Lazatin and VISOR.ph's motoring writer Frank Schuengel head over to JP Rizal corner Pasong Tirad streets in Makati, which motorists have flagged as a so-called "ticket trap." (WATCH: Caught on cam – a motorist's Makati mishap)

Join Vince and Frank as they determine the culprit of these ticket traps – faulty signage.

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

MovePH heads to Saint Louis University for #MoveBaguio


Photo from Saint Louis University website

MANILA, Philippines – How can people use social media to address the issues surrounding their communities?

MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, will go to Saint Louis University (SLU) to promote the responsible use of digital technology for social good on March 8, at 8:50 am. 

#MoveBaguio will be held in partnership with the White & Blue, the official student publication of SLU-Baguio.

This is part of a series of forums and workshops organized by MovePH across the Philippines. Participants will learn how to take action on issues they care about; impart knowledge on identifying, handling, and preventing disinformation; and inspire courage even among others.

Tickets for the public forum are free, but seats are limited. Register below:







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The program proper is as follows:

8:15 - 9:00 amRegistration

8:50 - 8:55 am

National Anthem
University of Saint Louis - Baguio

8:55 - 9:00 am

University of Saint Louis - Baguio

9:00 - 9:15 am

Welcome Remarks
Rev. Fr. Gilbert Sales
President, University of Saint Louis - Baguio

9:15 - 9:30 am

Getting to know you/ Levelling off activity

9:30 - 9:50 am

Talk: Being a reporter in the time of disinformation
Ralf Rivas
Reporter, Rappler

9:50 - 10:10 am

Discussion: Digital media etiquette

10:10 - 10:40 am

Talk: Civic Engagement and Responsible Use of Social Media
Raisa Marielle Serafica
Head, Civic Engagement Unit, Rappler

10:40 - 11:10 am

Keynote: POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Using technology for social good
Maria Ressa
CEO and executive editor, Rappler

11:10 - 11:20 am

Q&A with Maria Ressa

11:20 - 11:50 am

Panel discussion: Why facts matter
Ralf Rivas
Reporter, Rappler

Frank Cimatu
Veteran journalist

Diwa Donato
Editor in Chief, White & Blue

Moderated by:

Raisa Marielle Serafica
Head, Civic Engagement Unit, Rappler

11:50 am - 12:00 pm

Wrap up
Kurt Adrian Dela Peña
Civic Engagement Specialist, Rappler
Jill Jarata
External Associate Editor, White & Blue

Be part of the MovePH and Rappler Network to meet like-minded individuals who create ripples of change from all over the Philippines by transforming advocacies and ideas into action! – Rappler.com

Filipina game changers share what it takes to be leaders in science, tech


GAME CHANGERS. Four Filipina leaders in the fields of science, technology, math, and engineering talk about their journeys and challenges in a forum by the International Labor Organization on February 22, 2019. Photo by Samantha Bagayas/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to be a woman in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)?

To mark the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in STEM, the International Labor Organization gathered 4 Filipina leaders on Friday, February 22, to share their remarkable journeys in paving the way for women in the Philippines.

How it all started

Although STEM sectors are typically dominated by men, these Filipina leaders show that barriers won't hold when strong, determined women move forward. (READ: Why more women don't win science Nobels)

Aileen Judan Jiao, the president and country general manager of IBM Philippines, is the first homegrown Filipina leader of the company. She started nearly 3 decades ago in the field of technology. That time, female leaders pioneering in STEM were sparse. She didn't have a role model to inspire her to delve into the field.

"It was more for my longing. I grew up with 4 brothers and one sister and a very patriarchal family. I was very interested in the role that will make it in the future," she said.

As computers started to gain traction, she chose to study computer science –gravitating away from more traditional courses that were expected of her such as commerce, accountancy, and medicine.

Ambe Tierro, the senior managing director for global artificial intelligence of Accenture Technologies, also has a similar story.

"I've always been fascinated by computers, so when I got exposed to them at a young age, I really wanted to know how to master and operate computers," Tierro shared.

"I love coding. I love the attention to detail – every period, every comma can make a difference between success and failure.... I also liked that there are many ways to solve a problem. You can code things differently, and get the same outcome," she added.

Similarly, Maria Cristina Coronel, the president and chief executive officer of Pointwest Technologies, has been fascinated with how things are created and manufactured since childhood. She chose to study chemical engineering.

Yet 45 years ago, even with a track record of consistently topping her classes, her dreams were dashed, as she was told that companies "don't hire female chemical engineers."

Faced with that particular situation, she decided to become a programmer trainee at a time when computers were not yet popular.

"My motto is there's always a better way of doing things. I guess that's the platform. That's basically where technology is most of the time. We get to improve stuff whether it's in technical processes or in application systems," Coronel said.

Meanwhile, Michie Ang, the founding director of Women Who Code, graduated with a degree in nursing.

She only started to seriously consider pursuing a career in technology when her friend invited her to make an application. Initially, she didn’t even know what an app was since smartphones were still being introduced in the Philippines then.

Still, she took the challenge, started reading, and explored how to build an app.

That kick-started her whole journey, prompting her to participate in different events in the Philippines to understand its communities in tech. "[The opportunity] just stumbled in front of me," Ang said.


Aside from few job opportunities for women in STEM, there are also other unique challenges that they face in the field. These may include hesitance to take charge, negotiate salaries or days off, and push for their ideas.

Women Who Code, especially, is focused on improving not just technical skills but also soft skills such as public speaking, leadership, and negotiating skills, to help women advance in their careers.

"Technology changes so fast, and we have to learn new things. You have to add in those soft skills," Ang said.

Jiao also pointed out how piquing women's interest in STEM is not the problem, but sustaining them in the workforce.

For instance, some women leave their careers when companies are inflexible about the demands of marriage or motherhood.

"I think there's still that feeling that...if you're more of a manager, you are less of a mother, although we have to change that mindset," Coronel said.

Tierro shared that this could be solved by establishing a comprehensive action plan that can offer flexible work arrangements as well as maternity and paternity leaves, similar to what Accenture did even before the Expanded Maternity Leave Act was signed.

"It's really more about the work-life [balance], the integration, and seeing it's okay to have these different roles where there are very technical professions," said Jiao.

Having empowering role models in STEM can also draw more people in.

"I've experienced firsthand when I was starting to get exposed to international assignments, the lack of women [at] the table. It can be very discouraging.... Like when you go to conferences, and you're the only Asian woman, you're afraid to talk. You're even afraid to raise your hand," Tierro said.

She stressed how seeing more prominent women can build confidence.

"Varied kinds of role models who help women see themselves and reflect, 'I can be like that,'" she added.

Women Who Code also holds events in partnership with other companies to champion the capabilities and skills of women in tech.

"As a community, we influence this company to change their mindset that women can actually do it too. By doing all of these events, by doing all this community work, we kind of like shift something in them," Ang said.

Reaching out

To encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM, Coronel shared how collaboration between the academe, the public sector, and the industry is very crucial in providing opportunities.

Jiao also said that STEM teaching in school as well as exposure to workplace learning at a young age can help pique children's interest in science and technology.

"The spark is important, the interest at that early age forms their focus," added Tierro.

People can also take STEM courses online for free, get certification for online jobs, or work freelance or part-time to earn money.

"This is how technology also helps because we talk about digital fluency as an equalizer. It's a powerful equalizer because a lot of the training is now available online," said Tierro. – Rappler.com