Health and Environment

Innocent until proven guilty, yes!
Guilty until proven innocent, no!

BY LAW, only certain acts or actions are clear grounds for any citizen to be investigated, arrested, or compelled to surrender, despite the vigorous push by the Duterte administration to crack down on illegal drugs use and abuse. In free and democratic societies, the time-honored principle of due process upholds a person’s innocence, until he […]

503 requests on e-FOI portal

183 denied, 166 granted, 154 pending

MORE THAN three months after the Freedom of Information (FOI) Executive Order took effect on Nov. 25, 2016, requests for data from state agencies have been coming in, but not at the volume expected by government officials. Yet the relative low number has not meant quick processing for several of the requests, leaving some requestors […]

R2RKN report on first 3 months of FOI EO

Action, inaction on requests
for People’s FOI Manuals

HAVING HAILED Executive Order No. 2 (s. 2016), operationalizing for the Executive branch the people’s constitutional right to information, as a major step forward, the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition (R2RKN) committed to engage processes related to it, and launched a new round of FOI practice centered on its implementation. This report covers the […]

FOI Practice projects of 6 CSOs

Slow & quick action, open & opaque agencies

SUPER QUICK or interminably slow action, a few or all documents, and clear or vague policies and lines of authority — a mix of good and bad practices marked the conduct of state agencies and personnel that recently received access to information requests from six civil society organizations (CSOs) of the Right to Know, Right […]

Deficit in education, health
services weighs down CCT

SOCIAL WATCH Co-Convener Marivic Raquiza considers it “very one-sided” that the government monitors compliance by beneficiaries – the so-called demand side – of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, but not the supply side, which the national and local government should take care of.

After all, a lack in the latter would make it harder for the beneficiaries to comply with the conditions tied to their cash grants and for the government’s stop-gap poverty alleviation program to meet its goals.

Sidebar

A Future in Pieces

DESPITE the many laws that recognize the rights of children with special needs, there is still no comprehensive law that mandates special education in the Philippines. As educator Dr. Edilberto Dizon points out, nurturing children with special needs is simply not a priority in the Philippine educational system. The thrust of education in this country, he says, has always been in the provision of more facilities for the growing school population – and even that has been a chronic problem for the government.

“Will the education of special children be more important than mass education?” Dizon asks. “The needs of the majority have yet to be fulfilled. How much more for those in the minority?”

“If (education) priorities are met,” he says, “there should have been more SPED programs and inclusionality programs. More teachers (should have been) trained and retained and not encouraged to leave the country.”

Dilemmas on the ‘Different’

Are you still ‘special’ if you’re poor?

MARAGONDON, Cavite – In theory, Jaime ‘Jay’ Divina Jr. should have been able to go to school, despite the poverty of his family and his own physical shortcomings. After all, education up to the secondary level is supposed to be free in this country, and there are laws to ensure that even children with special needs like him are not deprived of learning opportunities.

Yet at 16, Jay, the eldest in a brood of four, has yet to step inside a classroom. In fact, in 2009 his 13-year-old sister Jaciel was the only one among his siblings who remained in school. The other two – Jonathan, 15, and Carlinnette, 10 – had to stop because their mother Diana could no longer afford expenses such as the children’s day-to-day baon, school supplies, and other requirements that do not go free in public schools. In 2010, Jonathan and Carlinnette have resumed schooling, but are at least two grade levels behind their age groups.

Dilemmas on the ‘Different’

Bringing Up Sammy

THEIR OTHER children were only eight, five, and six years old at the time, but Linda and Sabido de Leon knew it was important for everyone in the family to understand that things were about to change with the baby’s arrival. The doctors themselves had made sure Linda and Sabido realized that soon after Sammy’s birth.

“When I woke up after the anesthesia’s effects wore off, Sammy’s pediatrician approached me and my husband and started talking to us in a very soft voice,” recalls Linda. “She looked worried, and we could tell there was a problem. She was genuinely concerned, and she told us that Sammy can progress with a lot of help.”

Dilemmas on the ‘Different’

NORMAL – THAT can be such a loaded term because the opposite seems to be “abnormal.” But let’s be semantically neutral and look at normal as a statistical label, referring to the majority. Related words are “norms” and “normative,” which are used to refer to values that the majority of society subscribes to. We know, though, that the norms can sometimes end up being unjust or oppressive, sometimes by labeling the ones who are different, the ones who are non-conformist, as “abnormal.”

That’s why “special” comes in handy, in the way it challenges social stigma and, going further, has a privileging function. In the Philippine context, “special” was a term that was quickly accepted because even in our traditionally conformist society, many Filipinos did see “special children” as blessings, as suwerte (good luck).

Predators now protectors
of Tubbataha marine park

RANGER STATION, TUBBATAHA REEFS – At around noon each day, eight strapping young men wait for Valerie to make her appearance. Her daily entrance, coming almost like clockwork, is what makes their day.

“That’s Valerie, sir,” Navy PO2 Jonathan Lobo says proudly as a dark shadow swims underneath the posts that hold up this ranger station. Even at some distance, her large disk-like shape, with the four flippers where arms and legs should be, is unmistakable.

Valerie is certainly no mermaid, but she is the only four-limbed female (and even the gender is an assumption, but it seemed impolite to point that out) within miles around that the men ever get to interact with.

She is, in fact, a Hawksbill sea turtle – hardly the stuff of any man’s fantasy, but then here everything else has fins, feathers, or gills.

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