Friday, June 29, 2012

TMC to implement agreement with TRB at NLEX by July 1

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—Vehicles with top load above seven feet will be charged for class two vehicle category at North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) toll plazas starting July 1.

This came as the Manila North Tollways Corporation and its NLEX operator, the Tollways Management Corporation (TMC) implement an agreement with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).

Bobby Bontia, TMC Vice President for tollways operation said that under the MNTC and TRB agreement, vehicles with two axles and top load above seven feet are supposed to be charge under class two.

However, in the past years, such vehicles were only charge for toll fee under class 1.

Bontia that TMC has been distributing leaflets to motorist since last month to inform them of the changes on toll fees for the said vehicles.

”We are implementing the agreement by July 1,” he said noting that vehicles with top loads above seven feet were being charged under class two category at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) for a long time.

 Bontia said that vehicles with two axles and top load below seven feet are considered as class one vehicles and are only pays and initial P45.

But class two vehicles which were describe as with two axles and top load beyond seven feet pays and initial toll fee of P114 along the NLEX.

As head of the toll operations of the TMC, Bontia said they will place market on every toll plaza along the NLEX in order to serve as reference for motorists on the actual height of their load.

This developed, Bontia also announce that by next month, the MNTC will open the new Bocaue Interchange on the northbound of the NLEX.

Like its south-bound counterpart, the new interchange will have three toll booths for TMC to start collecting toll fees.

Road approaching said interchange from the NLEX was widened to accommodate more vehicles.  The MNTC and the TMC are also coordinating with Bocaue municipal government to widen the road after the interchange that leads to Bocaue and Sta. Maria towns.

Bontia clarified that the Bocaue north-bound interchange is not part of the open system implemented by the TMC along the NLEX.

He said the open system is only between Marilao and Balintawak interchange.  (Dino Balabo)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DOST automated rail transport is back on track

By George Robert Valencia III, S&T Media Service

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) switches on the green light to make way forthe continuation of the development of the first all-Filipino mass transport system in a ceremonial awarding rites on June 19, 2012 at the Traders Hotel.

The awarding of contract to Miescor Builders Inc to construct the 465-meter test tack in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus is part of this year’s celebration of the Metals and Engineering (M&E) Week, according to DOST’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center.

The AGTS will run on a track that curves from the CP Garcia Avenue near the CHED building to the area of the College of Arts building. To construct the track is the Miescor Builders Inc.,a leading construction and engineering company wholly owned by the Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp.

“The Automated Guideway Transit System or AGTS willbe the future of mass transport systems,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said.

The AGTS is one of DOST’s high-impact technology solutions and is the first among DOST’s several proposed public transportation systems for Metro Manila, Sec. Montejo added.

Composing the project team are engineers from DOST-MIRDC, UP Diliman, and the Project Management Engineering and Design Service Office (PMEDSO). The team aimsto create a fully-automated, driverless electric transportationthat travels on an elevated rail or guideway.

The guideway will stand at an elevation of 6.1 meters supported by high-quality concrete material, while the train bodywill be composed of two adjoining coaches, each having 30-people capacity. Also, the coaches will roll on rubber tires instead of metal wheels to minimize track noise, andwill have bogies to ensure comfort and stability.

According to Engr. Jonathan Q. Puerto, Officer-in-Charge of the office of the Deputy Executive Director of DOST-MIRDC, the test track in UP Diliman will help MIRDC to fine-tune the technology’s mechanisms and operation, which include speed, stability, brake distance and power, among others.

“If all goes as planned in the construction of the guideway, we will be able to initiate the testing in October,” said Engr. Puerto.

Aside from being locally developed, theDOST’sAGTS isenvironmentally soundas it is non-polluting. It is also reliablebecause it is fully automated, and safe because the elevated guideway will not get derailed or cause road accidents. The AGT also helps reduce traffic congestion and its economic costs, estimated at P140 billion annually.
Some countries that are reaping benefits from the AGTS technology at presentinclude the United States, Japan, Singapore and Canada.

“If these countries can do it, so can the Philippines,” Sec. Montejo said.
The AGTS project is monitored by the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

Rains halt classes in Bulacan, Ipo dam spills water

MALOLOS CITY—Heavy rains on Sunday night to Monday morning led officials in Bulacan to suspend classes in selected schools yesterday.

This developed as the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) allayed fears of possible flooding after Ipo dam started spilling 30 cubic meters of water per second at 6 a.m. yesterday.

The Pampanga River Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (PRFFWC) also issued related warning to communities in low-lying and high tide-affected areas in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Provincial Administrator Jim Valerio said that as early 6 a.m. yesterday, Mayor Orencio Gabriel of Obando town declared suspension of classes in all levels in his town.

The schools covered included the Bulacan Polytechnic College (BPC) campus in Obando town along with elementary and high schools.

Valerio said that the most part of Obando went underwater due to heavy rains which aggravated the daily rise of tidal water.

In Norzagaray town, Mayor Feliciano Legazpi also suspended classes in elementary and high schools due to heavy rains.

Classes in elementary schools were suspended in the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad.

In the coastal town of Hagonoy, school administrators decided to suspend classes in elementary and high school due to heavy rains and high tide.

In Malolos City, classes were also suspended in Barangays Dakila, Tikay, Sumapang Matanda and other low lying villages.

Mayor Christian Natividad of Malolos said the impact of night-long heavy rains varied from place to place with some areas in the city hardly affected.

“We left the decision to school administrators,” he said.(Dino Balabo)

Friday, June 15, 2012

DOST to launch nationwide disaster mitigation program

The Department of Science and Technology is set to put into place a nationwide disaster mitigation system that will help key agencies and personalities make informed decisions to save lives and properties.

Called NOAH or the National Operational Assessment of Hazards and Risks, the program is designed to serve as sentinel that will address the serious challenges brought by extreme hazard events.

“The NOAH Project will enable the government to address the serious challenges brought by extreme hazard events,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said. “We will apply advanced S&T tools, such as enhanced vulnerability maps and a shortened six-hour monitoring and warning system for communication along the major river basins.”

NOAH will have seven components that will address major needs in various disaster situations. These include Hydromet sensors development, DREAM-Lidar, FloodNET, Hazards information media, Landslide hazards mapping, Doppler system development, and Storm surge inundation mapping.

With the DOST on the lead, NOAH brings together experts from 21 institutions in close collaboration, including  DOST’s PAGASA, PHIVOLCS, Advanced Science and technology Institute, and Science and Technology Information Institute; Department of Interior and Local Government; University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences and Department

In a country frequently visited by typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, some of them highly-destructive, the NOAH project comes as helpful as Noah’s ark in biblical times. Natural hazards inflict loss of lives and costly damage to property, with economic losses amounting to billions of pesos each year. Moreover, the continued development in the lowlands and the rapid growth of the population contribute to the damage to infrastructure and human losses.

“This project is so far the most advanced measure implemented by the government in disaster mitigation,” added Sec. Montejo.
NOAH will be formally launched at the National Institute of Physics in UP Diliman, QC. on 18 June 2012 at 2:00 PM. (Framelia V. Anonas, S&T Media Service)

Miss World-PHL candidates added glitter to Independence day rites

MALOLOS CITY—President Benigno Aquino III is not the only person who provided color and glitter to the 114th Independence Day celebrations at the historic Barasoain church here on Tuesday.

There is also the 25 Miss World-Philippines pageant candidates led by the Cory Quirino, the country franchisee of the pageant that send the most talented, intelligent and beautiful Filipina to the world stage.

Clad in colorful upper garments and shawls, the 25 candidates including the lone Bulakenya Ivy Ocampo of Paombong sat by the stage where the President spoke while facing the Barasoain church.

Participants to the celebrations, including journalists cannot help but look at the President, then to the pageant candidates.

Bulakenyos hailed the President for leading the annual rites here.

This is due to fact that n the past years, guest speakers to the annual rites have range from a sitting senator of the republic to an undersecretary, which historian objected noting it reduced the importance of the Barasoain church where the first Congress was convened in 1898.

Housed at Barasoain, said Congress ratified on September 1898 the independence declared by the late General Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite months earlier.

The following year, on January 23, 1899, the Malolos Congress ratified the first republican Constitution that gave birth to the first democratic republic in Asia and Africa.

The said events gave Barasoain the honor of having the Senate President or the House Speaker as guest speaker in the annual rites, but receding sense of history led to lower officials to lead the annual rites.

This was reversed for the first time on Tuesday with the President leading the annual rites.

His presence was made more colorful by the pageant candidates, but some Bulakenyos cited their lower garments as too short, thereby showing more skin of their legs.

Cora Sityar, said that the lower garments candidates were inappropriate for the occasion.

But other Bulakenyos would careless.

After the President delivered his Independence Day message and walked down the stage for the recessional honors, the pageant candidates also walked across the plaza in the hope for a brief group photo session with the President.

But I didn’t happen as photographers along with other people with cameras came flashing and clicking, thereby blocking the space between the candidates and the President who was then shaking hands of Bulakenyo supporters at the other end of the plaza.

In the end, the candidates just stood by the walkway where the President entered earlier and individually shook hands with the President as walk out of the plaza.

Filipiniana for NLEX toll booth tellers, workers

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—Toll booth tellers along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) wore Filipiniana dress during the June 12 independence day celebration, a bold move that drew approval from motorists.

Bobby Bontia, the Vice President for Tollways management of the TMC which manages the NLEX, said it was their way of joining the annual rites.

He said that tellers usually wear white colored uniform while manning the toll both.

But since May 26, when they joined the celebration of the National Flag Day, he said that tellers started wearing a scarf in traditional tri-color of the Philippine flag.

“Motorist wear surprised and were happy with the way out tellers look,” he said noting that some motorirst commented that it was some sort of refreshing.
The same were echoed by Edison Sta. Ana and Rosemary Dela Cruz.

They said that some motorists took time to ask they what they were wearing and what it was for.

“They were happy and really like what we are wearing,” Sta. Ana said.

Despite slowing down to ask tellers, Bontia said it did not affect the toll both operations along the NLEX.

He said that motorists comments have encouraged them to ask tellers to wear Filipiniana dress  last Tuesday and on June 16th.

Bontia added that TMC is now considering using Filipiniana Dress as part of the regular uniform of employees and tellers.

He added that by December, they will encourage similar thematic use of uniform on certain days.

To encourage NLEX employees, Bontia said they came up with an internal contest on who will be the best dressed employee wearing the Filipiniana.

This developed, Francisco Dagohoy, the media specialist of the TMC said along with the Filipiniana Dress contest, they are also holding a best decorated toll booth contest.

 The thematic contest led tellers to decorate toll booths with posters of Filipino heroes, historic places in Bulacan and Pampanga, along with historical events in the country.

Dagohoy said the twin contest has engaged employees while helping others to be reminded of the importance of independence day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Futbulakenyos now leads CLFL, beat Tarlac FC in home game

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan-based football team outplayed Tarlac Football Club (FC) to score a 3-1 victory in their third game in the Central Luzon Football League (CLFL) on Saturday.

Emmanuel Robles, coach of the Futbulakenyos FC said the victory was bitter sweet as it was their first game at home, but hardly watched by Bulakenyos as football still have to gain popularity in the region.

Futbulakenyos first played in Tarlac and Pampanga where they defeated Lighthouse Amihan FC of Olongapo City, and Pampanga FC, respectively.  They now lead the CLFL with 3-0 win-loss card.

The game started befor 4PM at the Bulacan Sports Complex at Barangay Sta. Isabel here on Tuesday.

Composed of players from the Bulacan State University, the Futbulakenyos dictated the tempo of the game in the first 45 minutes and scored two goals compared to Tarlac FC’s one.

In the second half, younger and faster Futbulakenyos further increased the aggression on the Tarlac FC’s goal that saw the ball hardly leaving the Tarlac FC’s half of the field.

Despite the aggressive attack, Bulacan players only made one goal in the second has as Tarlac FC’s goal keeper was able to deflect some, while other attempts missed the goals by only few inches.

“We need to train more and work on our plays,” said Robles who expressed satisfaction on his players’ stamina and agility as they out-run and out-play Tarlac FC players.

While only few watch the game, Futbulakenyos show some shining moments aside from scoring three goals.
These include Futbulakenyos strikers driving around three Tarlac defender in different times

Organized last January, the CLFL opened its first season last May 20 with four competing teams from Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Olongapo City.

At present, Futbulakenyos leads the league with 3-0 win-loss card followed by Tarlac FC with 1-1; Lighthouse Amihan FC with 1-1; and Pampanga FC which lost its first three games.  (Dino Balabo)

Leading independence rites at Barasoain, a homecoming for PNoy

MALOLOS CITY—Officials assured a simple but dignified and solemn celebration of the 114th Independence Day at the historic Barasoain church here on Tuesday.

It will be led by President Benigno Aquino III who will be accompanied by members of the cabinet, diplomatic corps candidates for the 2012 Miss World Philippines.

The celebration which will be led for the first here by the President of the Republic will also be marked with social services from national and local government.

“It will be very simple, solemn but dignified,” said Dr. Serena Diokno, the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

In a press conference held here on Friday afternoon, Diokno said that right after the arrival honors for the President at 8AM, an ecumenical prayer will be led by leaders from the Jesus Is Lord Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, United Methodist Church, Muslim community, and the Catholic Church.

She said that Aquino is expected a deliver the independence day message focusing on the theme “Kalayaan: Pananagutan ng Bayan para sa Tuwid na Daan.

But some officials who asked not to be named said that the President might also include gains of his recent visits  to the United Kingdom and the United States.

After delivering his message, Diokno said the President will rush back to Malacanang for the traditional “Vin d’ Honneur”, a cocktail reception for the members of the Diplomatic Corps.”

She added that while the “Vin d’ Honneur” is set by mid-morning on Tuesday, at least 20 members of the Diplomatic Corps have confirmed attendance at Barasoain.

Traditionally, Diokno said the President of the Republic lead celebration of the Independence Day at Luneta, while the Vice President leads in Kawit, Cavite; and the senate President or the Speaker of the House lead in Barasoian.

But this has changed since former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo led the same celebration in Cebu years ago, and President Aquino in Cavite last year.

For his part, Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado said Independence Day celebrations at Barasoain is a homecoming for the President.

“Its about time, and it’s a homecoming for the President,”Alvarado said noting that Aquino’s ancestors started in Malolos City before moving to Tarlac in late 1800s.

He also said that President’s family still maintain an ancestral house of the Cojuancos here, just a few meters away from the Barasoain Church.

Alvarado added that independence day celebrations here will not end aft after the President depart for Malacang.

He said that the provincial government along with the national government prepared a medical dental mission along with a jobs fair at the Barasoain church yard.

Dra. Jocelyn Gomez, head of the Provincial Public Health Office said that over 200 medical staffs from different hospitals in Bulacan and nearby provinces will lead in treated over 1,000 patients.

For her part, Leilanie Reynoso, the provincial director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said 25 local companies have confirmed to joined the jobs fair which will open 2,000 more jobs.

Aside from the above, she said that companies offering jobs abroad will also join.

She said that similar activities will be held at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park.  (Dino Balabo)

PNP on full alert, issued traffic advisory for independence rites in Malolos

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan police will be on full alert status starting Monday in preparation for the 114th Independence Day celebrations at the historic Barasoain Church that will be led by President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday.

The celebrations, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said is a big boost for Bulacan tourism while highlighting the historical events that transpired here over a century ago.

Supt. Adriano Enong, the deputy provincial director for operations of the Bulacan Provincial Police Office (BPPO) said about 1,000 police officers and soldiers of the Armed Force of the Philippines will be deployed within this city.

He said that 450 police officers will be deployed for traffic control and possible crowd disturbance.

“Lahat ng kanto may itatalaga kaming pulis for security and traffic directions,” he said.

At least 150 member of the AFP Headquarters Batallion will secure President Benigno Aquino III’s arrival along with 200 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Enong said that 100 soldiers from the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion will be deployed in key areas to secure outer perimeter.

He also said that fire trucks and ambulanced will be on standby near Barasoain church and other strategic areas for immediate response for possible emergency. It will be directed by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

Enong also announced traffic advisories for Tuesday.

He said that the stretch of the MacArthur Highway from Tabang in Guiguinto town to Calumpit town will be closed for heavy vehicles except for busses starting Tuesday 6AM.

In similar manner, Paseo del Congreso, the main road that leads to Barasoain Church from the MacArthur Highway will be closed for all vehicles from 6AM to about 10AM on Tuesday.

Enong advised drivers of heavy vehicles like cargo trucks to make a detour on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to avoid the MacArthur Highway on Tuesday morning.

He explained that prohibition for cargo trucks was meant to declog traffic at the Malolos intersection here because the Malolos flyover remained under repai and non-passable to large vehicles.

The said flyover was closed to all vehicles on may 19, but was opened to light vehicles last week.

Meanwhile, Gov. Alvarado said  Tuesday’s independence day celebrations is big boost for the province’s tourism noting that 25 candidates for Miss World Philippines will come for free.

He said that pageants organizers usually require P5-Million budget for candidates visit in order to promote local tourism.

Alvarado said that the candidates were supposed to go to Ilocos Sur, but Governor Chavit Singsong cannot accommodate them until after the Independence Day Celebrations as he joined his friend Manny Pacquiao for the latter’s championship fight with Timothy Bradley Jr., at the MGM Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alvarado also said that Tuesday’s celebration is a big opportunity to promote the province’s colorful history along with what transpired at Barasoain Church over a century ago.

He said that without the Malolos Congress that convened at Barasoain Church on September 15, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo’s independence day celebration at Kawit , Cavite months before is meaningless.

He said that the Malolos Congress ratified the independence day declaration of Aguinaldo which was recognized by then international community.

“Malolos Congress also gave birth to our first Constitution and the first democratic republic in Asia and Africa,” Alvarado said.  

Eagles sighted, groups urge protection of Angat watershed biodiversity

MALOLOS CITY—Environmentalists demand better protection of the Angat Dam watershed as biodiversity hotspot after reports of sightings of Philippine Eagle in the area.

The call came after years of efforts to preserve the 63,000 hectare watershed which was focused on forest management for purposes of securing water supply for Metro Manila and power generation, but not on its rich biodiversity.

Brother Martin Francisco of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society (SSMES) said reported sightings of the Philippine eagle another compelling reason for the government to take a more serious program for the protection for the watershed.

“The Napocor used to claim that the Angat Watershed is the best kept watershed in Asia, maybe that’s the reason why Philippine eagles are sighted, they maybe looking for sanctuary,” Francisco said.

However, despite its status,  the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier estimated at about 20 percent of the watershed is deforested due to rampant timber poaching.

“The sighting of eagles within the watershed means more reason for its protection,’ said Francisco.

Danilo Sevilla, the vice president of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) disclosed on Monday the many reported sightings of the Philippine Eagle within the watershed.

The Napocor manages the 63,000 hectare watershed along with the 246-megawatt Angat River Hydro Electric Power Plant (Arhepp) located at Hilltop, Norzagaray town.

However, Sevilla said that they still have to confirm if the Philippine eagles sighted within the watershed are nesting.

Sevilla also said the watershed is home for native species of hardwood or dipterocarps and still undocumented rich flora and fauna.

He added that Angat watershed serves a the primary carbon sink of Metro Manila as it was able to siphoned an estimated 50-Million tons of carbon in the past years.

Emmanuel Umali, Napocor manager for the Angat Watershed said they are about to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Haribon Foundation in order to conduct study for watershed bioviversity, including the Philippine eagle.

The same was echoed by Anabelle Fontillas of the Haribon Foundation who explained that they intend to validate anecdotal sightings on eagle population estimates.

She also said that the best way to protect the Philippine eagle is to preserved and conserve existing forests through broad support from stakeholders like local government units (LGUs) and schools.

For his part, Mendel Garcia, the head of the Angat Watershed Area Team (Awat) said that Napocor has also tried to work an agreement with the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).

However, the said agreement didn’t work out for unknown reasons.(Dino Balabo)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

IWMF Launches First-Ever Environmental Reporting Program in the Philippines

Dino Balabo at Angat Dam.

Washington, D.C. – In its inaugural reporting program in the Philippines, the International Women’s Media Foundation will partner with news organizations to transform coverage of environmental issues.
Myriad environmental problems – such as pollution, deforestation, and climate change – directly threaten quality of life in the Philippines, yet these issues receive inadequate news media coverage.  In addition, much of the reporting being done lacks depth and excludes the voices of those most affected by environmental degradation, especially women.
To address this critical coverage gap, the IWMF will offer its first-ever Environmental Investigative Reporting Fellowship.  The IWMF announces the new program today on World Environment Day.

During the year-long fellowship, 10 journalists will receive advanced training and coaching to produce innovative reports about environmental problems and solutions, incorporating women’s role in and perspectives on environmental issues.  Each will complete 3-4 investigations for their news organizations.  Through the IWMF fellowship, these journalists will become environmental reporting specialists.

Selected fellows include: Kristine L. Alave, contributing writer for GMA News Network and reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Keith Bacongco, a journalist for MindaNews; Bernardino Balabo, host of a program on 90.3 FM Radyo Bulacan and correspondent for the Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon; Riziel Ann Cabreros, producer for “PIPOL on ANC,” a news magazine program on ABS-CBN News Channel; Rouchelle Dinglasan, a producer for GMA News; Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, a journalist for; Marilou Guieb, writer for the BusinessMirror and the Women’s Feature Service; Purple Romero, reporter for Rappler, a social news network; Anna Valmero, assistant producer with, an online magazine; and Rhodina Villanueva, reporter the Philippine Star.
Read more about the fellows here.
Funded by Dole Food Company Inc., the environmental reporting program will draw on the IWMF’s proven training model, which features long-term, transformative training, empowerment of women journalists and a commitment of institutional support from top management of local media companies.

Founded in 1990, the IWMF is the only nonprofit organization working exclusively to strengthen the role of women in the news media worldwide.  The IWMF has conducted programs in 25 countries, and its network includes women and men in the media in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Environmental journalists group marks its 2nd year on World Environment Day

This day is an important milestone for the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ) as it celebrates its second year of existence in empowering local journalists to increase the quality and quantity of environmental reporting.

PNEJ believes that World Environment Day (WED) 2012 is the right time to imitate solutions on environmental issues and to advocate partnership which will ensure our society enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

For the past year, PNEJ has proven its special role as communicators to make the public better understand issues climate change, destructive large-scale mining, illegal logig, biodiversity extinction, coral reefs destruction and over-fishing, pollution, water and waste mismanagement and other pressing environmental issues in the Philippines.

PNEJ would like to thank its supporters for believing in its thrust and mandate in drumming up critical environmental issues as well as empowering local journalists to report on various issues.

For the years ahead, PNEJ hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight through producing more in-depth reporting, trainings for local journalists, learning trips for journalists to come up with stories that tackles solutions, connecting with experts, the academe, local government units and the businesses to promote sustainable and equitable development.

Happy World Environment Day 2012 and Happy 2nd Anniversary PNEJ!

CMFR's call to oppose Angara and Rep. Velasco's bills

OPPOSE HB 5835 AND SB 2965

Certain members of the 15th Congress apparently have no knowledge of, or have chosen to ignore, the fact that freedom of information is a human right, and that

It would not matter were these individuals not charged with the task of legislation.  The fact that they are, together with their antipathy to freedom of information and a free press, constitutes a mix lethal for free expression and freedom of information in the Philippines.
Two bills, one in the initial stages of the legislative process, and the other on the brink of approval by both houses of Congress, are illustrative.

In the House of Representatives, Congressman Lord Allan Jay Velasco of Marinduque has filed several bills, including House Bill (HB) 5835 which would increase the fine for each count of libel. 

Velasco notes that the Revised Penal Code provisions on libel are 82 years old and are outmoded. Indeed they are—but in the sense that the penalties they mandate, including imprisonment, are antithetical not only to press freedom but also to the democratic need of citizens for information on matters of public interest. Rather than increase the penalties for libel, an enterprise that can only be described as retrogressive, Velasco’s energies are better spent decriminalizing it.

Senate Bill (SB) 2965, the reconciled version of three House and Senate bills now entitled  “The Data Privacy Act”, would create a National Privacy Commission with the power to monitor the processing of personal information in all forms and media of communication, to halt the process in the name of privacy and national security, and to penalize violators, including private entities, government officials and agencies  as well as the media, for obtaining, or causing the release or publication of,  “personal information”.

Section 31 mandates that “The penalty of imprisonment ranging from two (2) years and four (4) months to five (5) years and a fine not less than Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php 500,000.00) but not more than Two Million Pesos (Php 2,000,000,000.00) shall be imposed in case of a breach of confidentiality where such breach has resulted in the information being published or reported by media. In this case, the responsible reporter, writer, president, publisher, manager and editor-in-chief shall be liable under this Act.”

SB 2965 defines  “personal information”  as “any information whether recorded in a material form or not, from which the identity of an individual is apparent or can be reasonably and ascertained by the entity holding the information, or when put together with other information would identify an individual.”  The definition would therefore include information vital to the imperatives of transparency and accountability in both government and those sectors of the private sector whose work has a bearing on public interest. SB 2965 is also contrary to the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that has been submitted to the Congressional Committees on Public Information.

Not only media and journalists’ organizations must oppose SB 2965 and HB 5835. Human rights  organizations and accountability and transparency watch groups—every organization concerned with freedom of information, government accountability and with the right not only to disseminate but also to receive information-- must unite in preventing these and similar bills from passing the legislative mill, which, in contrast to the speed with which it has processed SB 2965, has failed to act on the FOI bill despite the painstaking efforts of its stakeholders, which include no less than the free press, free expression groups, and the entire Philippine citizenry.

PPI oppose Angara's proposed Data Privacy Act

The Philippine Press Institute objects to the proposed

because it violates the constitutional freedoms of expression and the press.
We are not, however, closing our minds to any discussions –  with your sector and any other that may want to involve itself in them  – about matters involving those freedoms, especially where they become a potential subject of any legislation.