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LIST: 49th Martial Law anniversary protests, activities

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In the middle of the COVID-19 Delta surge in the Philippines, groups and coalitions will be leading protests to mark anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972. 

Martial Law is considered the darkest years of post-colonial Philippines, marked by grave and innumerable human rights abuses. The declaration involved extreme military rule, media suppression, and piling up of government debts due to corruption.

Marking its 49th anniversary, groups are adjusting their calls through events to show their indignation towards the looming dictatorship of President Rodrigo Duterte. The activities are happening against the backdrop of the rising COVID-19 cases and the ongoing corruption exposés in the government’s pandemic spending.

Metro Manila

On Tuesday, September 21, human rights groups, grassroots activists, and civil society organizations including In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), Karapatan, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) will be mobilizing a People’s Caravan. 

The caravan will start from Commonwealth across the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) at 10:30 AM. Groups will be marching at the University of Santos Tomas at noon then it will join another mobilization in Mendiola. All groups will gather at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Ermita, Manila by 4 pm to conduct the program.

With the theme, “MARCOS-DUTERTE: PANDEMYA NG PASAKIT #NeverAgain,” the protest aims to remind the public of the horrors of martial law, as well as to call on the electorate to reject Bongbong Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte’s bid in the upcoming 2022 elections.

Groups will also express their condemnation against the Duterte administration’s malevolent  governance such as the Duterte-China ties, and his Davao Death Squad (DDS) and war on drugs that is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

In joining the protest, proper health protocols such as wearing face masks, social distancing should still be followed. 

To amplify the symbol of protest, participants are invited to wear black, as well as face shields as a sign of Duterte’s failure in pandemic initiatives.

Tying black ribbons and flaglets in windows, cars, bikes, gates are also encouraged to spark a conversation within communities.

Online

Because of the pandemic, many organizations are conducting their activities online.

Here’s a developing list of other online activities to mark the 49th Martial Law anniversary: 

  • Active Vista International Human Rights Festival is celebrating “Kwento Natin ‘To: Reclaiming our Stories as a Nation” from September 21 to October 10. Programs ranging from film screenings, forums, eventsthe festival aims to highlight stories of human rights struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out their page for more updates.
  • Act for Peace and Pilgrims for Peace are launching a webinar series titled “Academics against Authoritarianism: Academic Freedom from Marcos to Duterte” via Zoom. This aims to encourage audiences to show their support for a concrete legislative measure to defend democratic rights in the educations sector – the Academic Freedom Bill currently being pushed by the ACT Teachers and Kabataan Partylistst. The event will be on September 18, from 3 to 5 pm. Details about the event can be found via this link.
  • Amateur Media Association for Philippine Scouts will be holding a show titled “Martial Law: Magandang Lipunan o Madugong Lipunan” on September 20, 7:30 pm. The event will showcase videos of youth Scouts on their initial stand about Martial Law, followed by a webinar with Martial Law survivors. The event will be available via Facebook live and Zoom. Interested Zoom participants can register here.
  • Anakbayan Metro Baguio’s Online Mobilization is organizing an online forum titled, “Saksi ang Kasaysayan: Diktaduryang Duterte, Wakasan!” on September 19, 5 pm via Facebook live. 
  • Kabataan Partylist Southern Tagalog will also conduct a series of educational discussions titled, “Tanikala: Pagbabalik Tanaw sa Masalimuot na Batas Militar ni Marcos” via Discord. The event will run from September 16 to 18, every 4 pm. Participants can register here.
  • KALasag, the official student publication of College of Arts and Letters in the University of the Philippines Diliman, will launch the zine entitled “Ang Sining na Mapagpalaya Kontra Pasismo, Mula sa Rehimeng Marcos Hanggang Duterte” in the last week of September. Check out their Facebook page for their recent works.
  • Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission with the De La Salle University Araneta is organizing a webinar forum titled, “Heroes of Peace: A Conversation on Lasallian Advocates of Active Non-Violence” on September 21, 2 to 4 pm. The forum will be tackling Lasallian personalities, such as Sen. Jose  “Ka Pepe” Diokno who served as icons of active non-violence during the time of Martial Law. Registration followed by the Zoom link can be found here
  • Movement Against the Anti-Terrorism Act will be hosting, “Torture Victims Speak Out Against Marcoses and Dutertismo” on September 21, 9:30 am. The event will take place via Zoom and it can be accessed here.
  • PumaPodcast relaunches Habilin, a series of Spotify podcasts that encourages parents and teachers to start an early conversation about Martial Law to their kids. Presented by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Sandigan para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan (SAMASA), each episode narrates different stories of ordinary Filipinos who made their own heroic ways during the Martial Law period. Listen to their latest story here.
  • PUP Center for Inclusion and Diversity and Center for Peace, Social Justice, and Human Rights Studies will organize a two-segment educational discussion on September 21. The first segment “Rewriting Martial Law” will run from 9 am to 12 pm and the afternoon session, “Salvage Noon, Tokhang Ngayon” at 2 to 5 pm. Participants interested in receiving certificates of participation are encouraged to register via this link. 
  • University of Makati Political Science Organization is organizing “BATAS MILITAR: Learning the Lessons of the Past and Its Relevance Today” on September 24, 1:30 pm. This will be available via Zoom and Facebook live. Registration details can be found via this link.
  • The UP System will be holding its UP Day of Remembrance from September 20 to 24 to highlight the “names and struggles of the University’s best and brightest who fought, struggled and made the greatest sacrifices in the name of freedom and democratic ideals.” Livestream of the webinars and the online exhibit will be available via TVUP.ph and TVUP’s YouTube channel. More details about the event can be accessed here.
  • UP Diliman’s Department of History will hold a webinar as they invite experts and historians to share their knowledge about the Martial Law Era. Themed “Essential Truths on Martial Law Years,” the webinar will happen on September 21 to 24. Registration can be found via this link.
  • UP Diliman’s College of Mass Communication Student Council will be holding a week-long program to mark the 49th Martial Law Anniversary from September 15 to 21. Check out the schedule of activities below.
  • The University of the Philippines University Student Council will launch “Tuloy ang Laban: Martial Law Anniversary Commemoration,” a series of talks, statement release from September 17 to 21. Activities are listed here.
  • Scientists and Techonologists (SnT) Say No to Tyranny, a political organization of concerned scientists, technologists- will be holding an online discussion via Zoom on September 20, 6 pm. Participants can sign up here.
  • We The Future PH, a non-partisan national movement consisting of Filipino youth, will be organizing a ‘secret’ online art show on September 21. The show will only be accessible via QR code that will be soon posted on social media, as well as QR code stickers on street posts, gates in public spaces. The group is still accepting entries from artists who are interested in making art pieces addressing Martial Law issues. Entry drop-off can be accessed through this link
  • Youth Act Now Against Tyranny- Cagayan Valley, a coalition of student organizations, will be conducting a Facebook event to mark the 49th Martial Law anniversary. The event will happen on September 21 at 1 pm, to amplify their calls about the manifestations of Martial Law during the present times. 

Do you know of other activities and protests done to commemorate the 49th Martial Law anniversary? Send details to move.ph@rappler.com! – with a report from Waya Lao/Rappler.com

Waya Lao is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is a senior taking up a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philippine Studies major in Creating Writing and Anthropology.


‘Marian Hukom’ comic strip illustrates dangers of cyberspace during pandemic

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Marianie or “Marian Hukom,” a Filipina graphic artist known for her works that depict women empowerment and representation, partnered with the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) to call for action on the prevalence of fake news in the Philippines. 

Through this collaboration, Marianie released two comic strips about infodemic and online gender-based violence, which have both become more prevalent during the pandemic.

These comics also magnify key issues that are often overlooked when talking about the pandemic. Some may only regard COVID-19 as a health issue, but it has branched out to many other problems and issues as well.

Both comic strips were commissioned by FMA under the Initiative for Media Freedom, a five-year program implemented by Internews and funded by USAID.

In the first comic strip about fake news, Marian explicitly links the infodemic with the current pandemic, portraying that the rise of COVID-19 cases runs parallel to the proliferation of fake news.

Even if a false claim in a series of posts goes unnoticed by some, it still poses a threat to those who are not as knowledgeable. Marian Hukom calls on everyone to fact-check, be mindful, and to educate others as much as possible.  

She highlights the need to speak up when incorrect information is being peddled and to be persistent in the pursuit of truth, hoping to mobilize people to exercise their right to free speech.

Photo from Marian Hukom/Foundation for Media Alternatives

She also made a comics strip on how to fact-check, highlighting key actions such as reading beyond the headline and photos, checking the publication date, and assessing the credibility of the source. 

Photo from Marian Hukom and the Foundation for Media Alternatives

In a separate comics strip, Marian also encouraged everyone to “pop” their own filter bubbles by expanding the information that they take in and to become informed digital citizens.

Photo from Marian Hukom and the Foundation for Media Alternatives

Aside from misinformation and disinformation, Marian also brings up the evident gender-based violence that is prevalent on social media, especially for women.

Because of the pandemic and the rapid progress of technology, everything can be pretty much done virtually. Yet along with the convenience of cyberspace is the perpetuation of gender-based violence, especially so with many people confined in their homes due to COVID-19.

Marian poses examples such as harassment, sextortion, privacy breach, and identity theft, which are all vicious acts that can cause serious and almost irreversible damage to the victim

The topic of gender disinformation was also tackled, which is essentially the propagation of false claims in order to discredit or tint the image of a woman.

While others may regard gender disinformation as shallow, it still causes a significant threat to the security of the victims.

Marian links such acts to the patriarchal society that we live in and encourages everyone to partake in the movement to combat gender-based violence.

Photo from Marian Hukom/Foundation for Media Alternatives

Marian has been gaining traction online due to her use of trendy styles and vibrant colors to make engaging comics and digital art for Filipinos.

Some of her personal projects include Nagmamahal, Maria Clara which is both an online platform and print project that centers on feminism in the Philippines. Nagmamahal, Maria Clara was actually her college thesis, and that’s how she got to learn about the Maria Clara archetype in the Philippines. – with reports from Jeff Winxin Collado/Rappler.com

#CourageON coalition on alleged corruption during pandemic: Hold the plunderers accountable

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In the midst of rising cases and prolonged lockdowns, the nation learns about the mismanagement of billions in pandemic funds and alleged irregularities in the biggest government pandemic contracts.

In the process of favoring Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation for pandemic contracts, we also hear about local manufacturers being snubbed by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in favor of the foreign-led company whose chairman is wanted for several financial offenses in Taiwan.

In response, the #CourageON: No Lockdown on Rights, a broad coalition of human rights groups, released the following statement on Saturday, September 18:

Panagutin ang mga kurakot, buhusan ng pondo ang tugon sa pandemya

Hindi lang ang kapalpakan ng pamahalaan ang nagpapalala ng epekto ng pandemya. Habang milyon-milyong Pilipino ang lugmok sa sakit o kahirapang dulot ng COVID-19, pinagkakakitaan pa ng mga may kapit kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang ating kasawian.

May P10 bilyon nang mga kontrata ang nakuha ng Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation mula sa gobyerno. Nakalululang halaga ito kumpara sa kaunting nakuha ng mga lokal na pandemic suppliers na mas kalipikado kaysa sa dayuhang kompanya na walang track record pero pinadrinuhan at pinondohan ni Michael Yang, kaibigan at dating tagapayo ng Pangulo.

Lugi ang gobyerno, talo ang mga Pilipino. 

Kung bumili ang pamahalaan ng face masks, face shields, at PPE sa mga kompanyang mas mababa ang alok na presyo, daan-daang milyong piso ang kontrata sa local manufacturers, libo-libong trabaho sana ang naidagdag at nasuportahan. Sana ay nailaan na rin ito sa suweldo at benepisyo para sa health workers at iba pang frontliners na nahihirapan nang umagapay sa pagbibigay-serbisyo sa gitna ng lubhang kakulangan ng pasilidad at iba pang pangangailangan ngayong pandemya. 

Kaya nananawagan kami: 

  • Sa Senado, na huwag tumigil hanggang mausig at mapanagot ang mga kasabwat sa korapsyon; sumasang-ayon kami sa panawagang magkaroon ng special audit sa lahat ng pondong inilaan sa COVID-19 response;
  • Sa House of Representatives, na tiyaking maglaan nang sapat na pondo para sa mga tugon sa pandemya na nakabatay sa siyensiya, datos at pangangailangan ng mamamayan, laluna ng mga mahihirap;
  • Sa Ombudsman, na isagawa ang motu propio investigation nito hanggang sa pinakamataas na opisyal ng gobyerno nang walang reserbasyon at pag-aalangan;
  • Sa ating mga kababayan, na magparehistro para sa darating na halalan. Gamitin ang kapangyarihan ng ating boto upang iluklok sa puwesto ang may husay, ang may kaalaman, ang may puso para sa mga Pilipino. ‘Wag palalampasin ang deadline ng pagpaparehistro sa Setyembre 30.

#CourageON. 

Signatories:

  • MovePH
  • Coalition for People’s Right to Health
  • College Editors Guild of the Philippines
  • Concerned Artists of the Philippines
  • DAKILA
  • Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas
  • Human Rights Online Philippines (HROnlinePH)
  • In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement
  • Ka-Ilongga Organization
  • Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
  • KAPATID-Families & Friends of Political Prisoners
  • Karapatan
  • Lilak Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights
  • Metro Manila Pride 
  • National Union of Students of the Philippines
  • Pioneer Filipino Transgender men Movement (PFTM)
  • Rainbow Rights Philippines
  • Rise Up for Life and for Rights
  • Youth Act Now Against Tyranny 
  • We The Future PH
  • National Alliance of Youth Leaders, Inc

– Rappler.com

‘Tarantadong Kalbo’ takes on fake news and historical distortion on social media

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Kevin Raymundo, the Filipino visual artist and animator popularly known for his satirical online comics series Tarantadong Kalbo, is using his artistic skills to combat disinformation on social media through a new set of strips.

In Inuman Sessions, Raymundo illustrates a group of friends talking about media information literacy at a mundane drinking session.

The comic strip was commissioned by the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) under the Initiative for Media Freedom (IMF), a five-year program implemented by Internews and funded by the USAID with the support of the American people.

For the first installment, titled Inuman Sessions: Fake News, the prevalence of disinformation online was tackled through an absurd claim that a certain Sarah Elabyu was an NPA (New People’s Army) recruiter.

The characters then assessed the social media post by practicing basic fact-checking methods: looking for the origin of the content, assessing the legitimacy of the photos used, and evaluating the layout and graphic design elements.   

They then continued to assert various methods of catching disinformation online, such as checking for the website link, grammar, headline, and posting date, along with cross-checking with various credible sources.

In the latest installment, released last June 2021, Raymundo illustrates a discussion about historical distortion, highlighting Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law atrocities as the prime example.

The ongoing “edit wars” that are happening on Marcos’ Wikipedia page were also tackled, as many supporters of the late president continue distorting facts on the said page.

Through this installment, Raymundo also sought to clarify the difference between historical distortion and revisionism, implying that revisionism includes a reinterpretation of factual evidence while distortion is the outright usage of false and inaccurate narratives to support a certain agenda.

Raymundo’s simple yet impactful comics strips, which often get inspiration from Filipino pop culture, have made him a popular artist across various social media platforms. His often humorous take on current events acts as commentary that helps further social justice through art. – with reports from Jeff Winxin Collado/Rappler.com

Days before voter registration deadline, #PHVote coalition renews call for extension

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Below is the statement of the #PHVote coalition, reiterating its call on the Commission on Elections to extend voter registration beyond the September 30, 2021, deadline. #PHVote coalition, composed of groups from various sectors, aims to promote more avenues for civic participation in the coming elections, help increase voter registration and turnout, and help fight election-related disinformation. 

Ayusin ang proseso, i-extend ang voter registration

Inuulit ng #PHVote coalition ang petisyong i-extend ang voter registration sa bansa at ituring itong essential activity na pinahihintulutan kahit may lockdown. 

Dahil sa madalas na pagsasara ng mga opisina ng Commission on Elections (Comelec) nitong nakaraang isa’t kalahating taon, halos anim na buwan sa buong bansa, at walong buwan sa mga piling lugar, ang nawala sa itinakdang panahon para sa pagpaparehistro ng mga botante.

Sinabi ng Comelec na pag-aaralan pa nito kung babawiin ang naunang desisyon na tapusin ang rehistrasyon sa orihinal na deadline. Ilang araw na lang ay Setyembre 30, 2021, na at kailangan ng malinaw na desisyon tungkol dito.  

Hindi naging sapat ang pagpapatupad ng Comelec ng mas mahabang oras ng pagpaparehistro bawat araw at pagbubukas nito tuwing Sabado at holidays. Ayon sa reports:  

  • Patuloy na dumaragsa ang mga nagpaparehistro. Ang mga humahabol na magpalista ay nauubusan na ng slots sa appointment schedule
  • Kinakailangang magpunta nang madaling araw pa lamang ang mga botante at maghintay buong araw kung sila’y mabibigyan ng numero para makapagparehistro. 
  • Kung hindi man maghintay sa mahahabang pila, ang mga nais magparehistro ay nagpapabalik-balik sa kanilang lokal na Comelec kapag hindi nakakaabot sa itinakdang quota para sa bawat araw. 

Kaya muli kaming nananawagan sa Comelec:

  • Palawigin ang voter registration period. Malinaw na kailangan ng mas mahabang panahon para bawiin ang mga buwan na nawala sa mahigit 13 milyon pang kalipikadong botante
  • Makinig at makipagtulungan sa mga komunidad, organisasyon, at mambabatas na nananawagan para sa extension ng voter registration.

Nakasalalay sa eleksiyon sa 2022 ang kabuhayan, kalusugan, karapatan, at kinabukasan ng mga Filipino. Higit kailanman, hindi dapat isakripisyo ang karapatan at tungkulin nating bumoto. 

#ExtendTheReg

#WeDecide. Atin ang Pilipinas.

Signatories:

  • MovePH
  • Amateur Media Association of Philippine Scouts
  • Anakbayan
  • Antique Youth Corps
  • Ayuda Network
  • BUKLOD CSSP
  • BUKLOD-Bicol University
  • Caloocan Young Leaders Initiative
  • College Editors Guild of the Philippines
  • DAKILA
  • First Time Voters Network
  • Foundation for Media Alternatives
  • Global Shapers Community-Iloilo Hub
  • Human Rights Online Philippines (HROnlinePH)
  • In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (IDEFEND)
  • Institute for Nationalist Studies
  • Ka-Ilongga Organization
  • Kabataan, Tayo ang Pag-asa
  • Kontra Daya
  • League of Filipino Students
  • LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
  • Matanglawin Ateneo
  • Move As One Coalition
  • Now You Vote
  • National Union of Students of the Philippines
  • Panday Sining
  • Student Christian Movement of the Philippines
  • TomasinoWeb
  • We The Future PH
  • Youth Act Now Against Tyranny
  • YouVote

– Rappler.com

A week before registration deadline, qualified voters endure long hours, lines

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With a week to go until the last day of voter registration, qualified Filipino voters are greeted by crowded registration sites, where they wait for hours and endure long lines.

The unique circumstances of this particular election season – the first to be held nationwide amid a pandemic – had prompted groups to call on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the registration beyond September 30, and for the national pandemic response task force to classify voter registration as an essential activity that people can engage in even during the strictest of lockdowns. 

A Rappler research established that due to the several lockdowns imposed by the government since the pandemic started in 2020, requiring the Comelec to close its offices, the registration period lost six months nationwide, and almost eight months in some areas.  

Lawmakers are pressuring the Comelec to extend the registration period for a month, or the agency may face a budget cut for 2022.

Long lines, limited slots

Sharing their experiences and photos, qualified voters who recently endured long hours before finally registering said the process ate more than half a day. 

Chiara Alcazar of Cainta, Rizal, considered herself “lucky” to get registered in over six hours, as she had read about some people who had to wait for around nine hours.

Gabrielle Sofia, 24, had to line up in the wee hours in Pasig. At 2:45 am, she was already 135th in line. “May pake ang mga Pilipino,” she posted on social media. (Filipinos care.)

She was already a registered voter, yet it took her almost six hours to change her voting district, not counting the hours she went home to wait around five hours for the time slot she was assigned to. 

Other would-be voters reported having to wait in vain. They complained about cutoffs, with some sites only accepting 150 to 300 registrants a day. Staff at the 1st district in Caloocan City had to work overtime until 8 pm last Monday to accommodate 528 applications.

VOTER REGISTRATION. Long lines outside the Cavite State University in Indang on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.
Sam dela Cuesta
Policies, action plans not clear

Some registrants noted the lack of compliance with health protocols.

Giancarlo Majaba of San Pedro City, Laguna, took two days to complete his registration, as the shopping mall he visited set a cut-off at 12 pm. This is another mistake many noticed when registering: the lack of advisory on cut-off policies.

Despite this, Majaba decided to come back on September 13, this time at a registration site in Barangay San Antonio, also in San Pedro. The site also declared a cut-off at noon, but he was allowed to “jump the line.” 

“The only reason why I was included and inserted as the final person in the line of registrants was because I had brought with me printed copies of the requirements,” Majaba shared with Rappler.

Majaba noted that the two registration sites he visited lacked “a more comprehensive and effective action plan.”

As of writing, the Comelec refuses to extend voter registration, but is mulling over a one-week extension after the filing of certificates of candidacy on October 1-8. Deadline remains on September 30, 2021. – with reports from Marian Almendras/Rappler.com 

Marian Almendras is a Rappler intern. She is a Communications Technology Management junior at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Civil society groups say Filipinos can ‘start small’ in budget watch

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Why should Filipinos watch the budget?

During the fourth episode of MovePH’s “#CourageON: Tumindig, makialam, kumilos” community show, various leaders from health, transportation, and watch groups urged Filipinos to participate in the budget process and help monitor whether the government’s priorities are in line with needs on the ground.

Although budget watch may seem intimidating to many people, Limitless Lab and #KamiNaman website founder Joie Cruz reiterated its importance, as a meager budget for a certain sector can end up being a matter of life and death, especially for frontliners.

In the latest budget deliberations of the lower house, no funds for healthworkers’ allowances for 2022 have been issued.

“The budget reflects the priority of our government. Kung hindi nabigyan ng prayoridad  ang ating mga frontliners, may pamilya ka na frontliner, maaaring maging dahilan ‘yon ng pagkamatay ng inyong kapamilya,” Cruz argued.

(The budget reflects the priority of our government. If frontliners are not prioritized, and if you have family members who are frontliners, it might lead to their death.)

Cruz’s mother Maria Theresa, a dedicated nurse from Cainta, Rizal, died in July 2020 from COVID-19 before she could even get her meager hazard pay. Seeing the plight of frontliners like her mother, Joie Cruz had set up a website gathering stories of healthcare workers, which can be sent to inform Senate.

Why budget watch is important

Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy (iLEAD) executive director Zy-za Suzara added how budget allows government not only to give public services and goods but also drive economic and social development for the Philippines.

“Kung wala sa national budget, hindi ‘yan gagawin sa isang administrasyon. So if you want to make sure that the policy reforms that we want as citizens, as different collectives with different interests, kailangan i-siguro natin na ‘yung reporma na gusto natin meron katapat na pera,” she said.

Suzara also pointed out how, aside from engaging in the budget preparation stage, it’s just as important for Filipinos to monitor that government spends its allocated budget for their approved programs.

“Importante yun kasi kung hindi gumastos nang tama, hindi gumastos on time, hindi ginastos para sa dapat pagkagastusan, who stands to lose? It’s citizens like us…. What the government doesn’t spend, what the government doesn’t procure means services denied to ordinary citizens. ” Suzara said.

(This is important because if government did not spend their budget correctly, on time, or spent it on what it was supposed to, who stands to lose? It’s citizens like us. Who gets the short end of the stick? It’s citizens like us.”

Social Watch Philippines co-convenor Dr. Maria Victoria Raquiza echoed the same sentiment, adding how the budget can help bring services to Filipinos and underserved sectors.

Some of us have more and many of us have less. So the budget should serve those who are underserved…. [Kapag] nakakakuha tayo ng services, katulad ng ayuda, hindi ito dahil sa awa. Entitlement itong mga services na binibigay sa atin. The state has the duty to provide these services, at karapatan ng mamamayan na i-claim itong services na to,” she said.

(When we receive services, such as aid, it is not because of pity. We are entitled to these services. The state has the duty to provide these services, and it is the citizens’ right to claim them.)

“Let’s use the political process of the budget to engage in it and try to reclaim that space for participation [that we’re losing now],” added Suzara.

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How can Filipinos participate?

There are many ways that Filipinos can take part in budget watch. Cruz shared that budget watch for citizens has its own journey; Filipinos aren’t expected to instantly know how to watch the budget.

But people can start by making themselves informed. Cruz encouraged Filipinos starting their journey by speaking up about injustice, taking to the streets to protest, and posting on social media because it can catch the attention of our lawmakers.

Once na-surpass mo na yun, you can watch the budget of your barangay. That’s your first touch point. Pwede ka mag simula doon until ultimately, kung advocate ka na, maging miyembro ka ng isang people’s organization….and really advocate for being a budget watcher,” She added.

(Once you surpass it, you can watch the budget of your barangay. That’s your first touch point. The basic unit of government. You may start there until ultimately, when you’re already an advocate, you can become a member of a people’s organization….and really advocate for being a budget watcher.)

You can really start with something small. Hindi naman natin sinasabi agad dito na kailangan full-on agad ka na mag-allot ka na ng maraming oras kasi alam naman din natin na marami tayong mga kababayan ngayon na survival ang instinct,” Cruz added.

(We aren’t saying you have to allot a lot of hours to monitoring the budget because we know many Filipinos now are focused on surviving.)

Suzara, meanwhile, encouraged others to help in capacity-building and sharing of expertise, so more people will better understand how they can participate in budget watch. She added how there should be parallel efforts to focus on different aspects of budget watch, such as sectoral concerns, procurement up to audit, among others.

Tips on budget watch

Several members of civil society groups also shared ways in holding the government accountable as part of the budget process during the fourth episode of the #CourageON community show, especially following the release of Commission on Audit’s findings that there were irregularities in the spending of government funds.

G-Watch Southern Leyte Coordinator Amelia Mancera stressed the importance of civic engagement and people empowerment dialogue among civil society organizations.

“We engage in the procurement process. Sa amin sa Southern Leyte, we focus on the infrastructures since it’s one of the top priorities of our local government unit. [We] identify the programs and we get the documents….So, with the monitoring team, we plan [and we] coordinate with the stakeholders,” Mancera said.

(We engage in the procurement process. In Southern Leyte, we focus on the infrastructures since it’s one of the top priorities of our local government unit. [We] identify the programs and we get the documents….So, with the monitoring team, we plan [and we] coordinate with the stakeholders.)

Move As One Coalition Policy Research and Civic Engagement head Katreena Chang encouraged Filipinos to participate in dialogues, figure matters together with local or national government, and try other avenues like social media.

Meanwhile, Tarabangan Kontra COVID-19 volunteer Dominic Nobleza shared local practices in Naga which involved meetings and proposals with the LGU to appropriate a sufficient budget on effective pandemic response.

When push comes to shove, Coalition for People’s Right to Health co-convener Dr. Joshua San Pedro shared that people may also consider submitting a petition to appropriate agencies to state a sector’s needs and suggested actions, similar to what health workers did in 2014 to oppose the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center. He also urged Filipinos to scrutinize the budget and guarantee that it satisfies our constitutional right.

The fourth episode of the #CourageON show was held Saturday, September 18. It featured leaders from iLEAD, Limitless Lab, Social Watch Philippines, G-Watch, Move As One Coalition, Coalition for People’s Right to Health, and Tarabangan Kontra COVID-19. – with reports from Samantha Bagayas and Phillippe Angelo Hiñosa/Rappler.com

Phillippe Angelo Hiñosa is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines Visayas. He is a senior taking up Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) with units in History as a second major.

Kapitan Tambay draws attention to vaccine disinformation, data awareness

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Kapitan Tambay, a Filipino illustrator, comics artist, and animator who’s known for his humorous takes on politics, has participated in campaigns against vaccine disinformation and on data awareness through comic strips.

Both comic strips were commissioned by the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) under the Initiative for Media Freedom (IMF), a five-year program implemented by Internews and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In “Pass The Message (Bakuna edition),” Kapitan Tambay starts the story with a doctor telling a patient about the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

When the patient relayed the information to other people, however, the possible side effects were misconstrued. The seemingly helpful advice turned into a deadly weapon, leading to more people having doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Photo from Kapitan Tambay and Foundation for Media Alternatives

In the second comic strip, Kapitan Tambay warns about the dangers of cyberspace, especially for parents who click even the most dubious posts.  He imparts this through the story of a daughter who is convincing her parents not to give their personal information for absurd reasons – such as winning online raffles and doing random surveys.

One such danger is identity theft – criminals use the personal information they stole from other people to clean out their bank accounts, among other criminal acts. 

Photo from Kapitan Tambay and Foundation for Media Alternatives
Photo from Kapitan Tambay and Foundation for Media Alternatives
Photo from Kapitan Tambay and Foundation for Media Alternatives

Through these comic strips, Kapitan Tambay aims to highlight the importance of being careful with information for everyone’s protection. – with reports from Jeff Winxin Collado/Rappler.com


Week-long UPLB event to tackle connection between philosophy and vaccination

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This is a press release from the Philosophical Society of UPLB.

The Philosophical Society of UPLB, the duly recognized academic organization for philosophy students and enthusiasts, is set to highlight discussions on the role of philosophy on vaccination through PhiloWeek 2021, happening on September 27, September 29, and October 1 every 1 pm. 

PhiloWeek 2021 is an annual event participated by the organization in celebration of the founding of the BA Philosophy program in the University of the Philippines Los Baños. 

This year, PhiloWeek 2021 will be a webinar series tackling the theme, “VacciNATION: Bridging Philosophy and Science in the Discussion of Vaccination.” The webinar series will feature renowned health professionals and philosophers in the country to discuss the importance of vaccination and the role of philosophy in promoting efficient vaccine rollout amid vaccine misconceptions.

On PhiloWeek 2021’s first day on Monday, September 27, Dr. Lulu C. Bravo, a Professor Emeritus at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila will discuss Injecting the Facts: An Introduction to Vaccination. 

Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante, the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a fellow at the UP Resilience Institute, and a member of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team will be featured on Uno, Dose, Trace!: Strategies to Achieve Herd Immunization.

The second day (September 29) will have the Chief of the Division of Adult Medicine, Department of Medicine, UP College of Medicine Dr. Regina P. Berba will be talking about Mask On: Preventing the Spread of Social Misconceptions on Vaccination; while physician, medical anthropologist, and writer, Dr. Gideon Lasco will be discussing Prevention vs. Cure: Are we Employing the Right Strategy?

For PhiloWeek 2021’s final day (October 1),  Dr. Napoleon M. Mabaquiao, Jr. from the Philosophy division of the De La Salle University and Dr. Leonardo D. de Castro from the Department of Philosophy – University of the Philippines Diliman will discuss I think, therefore I Vaxx!: The Role of Philosophy in Assessing Vaccine Administration.

For Herd Immunity vs. Herd Mentality: Exploring the Concepts of Kapwa and Loob in the Pandemic will be discussed by Dr. Lumberto G. Mendoza, an assistant professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of the Philippines Diliman, and Dr. Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez, a Philosophy professor at the Ateneo de Manila University.

As The Philosophical Society of UPLB continues to uphold its mandate of igniting philosophical thought in our societal issues and daily lives, we hope to see you in this year’s discussion at PhiloWeek 2021. 

Join the webinar by clicking on the links below:

Should you have any questions, you may reach out to Philosoc UPLB’s Human Resource Directors, Reinier Dela Llarte at 09052468830 or Jean Alchie Capacio at 09956481963.

The Philosophical Society of UPLB is composed of Philosophy majors and students coming from different degree programs in the University of the Philippines Los Baños. In its mandate of bringing Philosophy closer to the people, the organization hopes that numerous people will continuously learn and discover more through these philosophical discussions.

Follow Philosophical Society of UPLB’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube accounts.

Sapere Aude! – Rappler.com

From lockdowns to disasters: Why the last-minute voter registration for some?

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With the deadline of voter registration looming, there has been a surge of voters in various registration sites. People have been lining up in the wee hours, waiting almost a whole day for their application to be completed.  

Congress has been pressuring the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration for a month, with the Senate threatening to delay the poll body’s 2022 budget deliberations as leverage. 

Critics of this call to extend the registration have been pointing out: You had almost two years to register, so why did they wait for the last minute to apply? 

Well, aside from the fact that lockdowns took away six to eight months from the voter registration in some areas, these qualified voters from different regions have reasons. Based on the experiences they shared with Rappler, these included fear of going out unvaccinated, inefficient Comelec processes, and the frequent lockdowns and frequent changes in the national government’s guidelines.

Unvaccinated and unclear guidelines

Kyra Mallari, a college student from Metro Manila, said she deferred voter registration as she was underage during the pandemic and was not able to access vaccines immediately.

It was “primarily due to the fear of catching the virus, earlier on in the pandemic, and spreading it also to my family,” she told Rappler. 

Because of this, she had to make six attempts to register in the past week. 

She went to the Comelec Bago Bantay One Office twice, Cloverleaf Mall, Trinoma Mall, and SM North EDSA twice to register, but she did not meet the cutoff even when she lined up early in the morning. On her sixth attempt, she arrived at her registration site at 2:45 am. She was then able to make the cutoff. 

After consistently being rejected by four different registration sites, Kyra fought hard to secure a slot to vote because she understood “the power each vote has on the next steps our country takes.”

Chantal Chicano from North Caloocan was also not able to get vaccinated immediately and the looming fear of contracting the virus and contaminating some family members who had comorbidities prevented her from registering earlier.

Her barangay office “promised that they would register to become a Comelec satellite registration site,” but was unable to do so due to rising cases and lack of vaccinated people in the area. 

On September 21, Chicano finally went to the Caloocan 1st District Comelec office to register, but was greeted by “angry and tired” voters-to-be who had already lined up starting 9 pm the night before. 

Chicano’s fear of contracting the virus was further heightened because “social distancing was nonexistent and there seemed to be inefficient and inconsiderate processes present.” She noted that “more than half of the line staff and ushers didn’t know what they [were] doing.” 

Despite experiencing “the worst queue of [her] life,” she persevered because she considered the upcoming elections to be “one of the most important in history” as the nation recovers from the economic, social, and political implications of the pandemic.

Jessica Leal from Bacolod was told she had to wait for six to eight hours to complete the whole process. It was difficult for her, being a student, to find enough time to devote to the process without compromising her academics.

“The chance to vote and choose the next set of leaders, [is] an opportunity for change and positive impact,” Leal shared. This is what motivated her to make the time to register, albeit a little late.

Delayed relief, registration in disaster-stricken areas

IJ Limpin from Albay said that, along with the pandemic, Typhoon Rolly, which caused mass destruction in his area, postponed voter registration in his city. 

The typhoon severely damaged their homes and buildings in 2020. They suffered from city-wide power outages as electric posts were completely blown and electric wires were left hanging on the roads.

Fallen electric posts in Tabaco City, Albay, after the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly.
IJ Limpin

They were unable to repair the damage immediately because there was a scarcity of resources, and their city was only one of the many severely affected areas. “It was really a waiting game [because] resources weren’t as available [to us],” Limpin shared. 

AFTERMATH. Damaged buildings in the wake of Typhoon Rolly on November 2, 2020, in Tabaco City, Albay.
IJ Limpin

Stable electricity and lines of communication were only reestablished in December, over a month after the typhoon hit. 

The destruction brought by Typhoon Rolly delayed Albay’s access to vaccines, and only a limited number was allocated to frontliners.  Vaccination rollout for other categories only started in late June 2021, which also caused potential voters to delay registration due to fear of contracting the virus.

With the severity of the disaster, absence of immediate relief efforts, and lack of access to vaccines, Limpin said, “people [couldn’t] even think of [voter registration]” anymore.

Many offices and Comelec facilities were forced to shut down to give way to the city’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Why did he persist to register? “I don’t want my family, city, and other people to ever experience that type of disaster and lack of a response again,” Limpin said.

With a few days left until the original September 30 deadline for voter registration, many groups, advocates, and lawmakers continue their call to extend registration. 

As of writing, the Comelec has changed its tune, saying a one-month extension of registration is most likely, according to lawmakers in communication with the poll body. – Rappler.com 

Marian Almendras is a digital communications intern at Rappler. She is a junior at the Ateneo de Manila University.





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