How to help: #ReliefPH after #GlendaPH

Implement the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act ASAP

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The long wait for Mobile Disaster Alerts, via SMS, should be over soon. (Photo from The Asia Foundation.)

The Philippines’ de facto messaging standard is still text messaging. Most Filipinos have at least one phone and could be reached by relatives,  friends, schoolmates and officemates via text message.

While not all may have data subscriptions to be able check extreme weather news on Twitter or the websites of PAGASA and Project NOAH, the government knows for a fact that it could easily, cheaply and quickly send text messages to citizens.

Enter Republic Act 10639, otherwise known as the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act, which was enacted into law on 20 June 2014. Continue reading →

Tuition in UP, SCUs: The P11.34-billion question

The University of the Philippines is the national university. Its most popular symbol is the Oblation, which challenges the brightest young Filipinos to make themselves a total offering. UP however has been charging a rising amount of tuition fees against students who respond to the call of Oblation.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

The University of the Philippines is the national university. Its most popular symbol is the Oblation, which challenges the brightest young Filipinos to make themselves a total offering to the nation. UP however has been charging a rising amount of tuition fees against students who respond to Oblation’s call. (Photo from Wikipedia)

The January-March 2014 issue of Budget Facts and Figures, a newsletter released by the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office, reveals that the government expects state colleges and universities (SCU) to generate an income of P7.3-billion from tuition fee collections and another P4.04-billion in “other income collected from students” for fiscal year 2014.

These two items comprise 70.5 percent of expected total SCU income of P16.08-billion for 2014. Continue reading →

Challenges to internet freedom in the Philippines

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Here are my *prepared* remarks for the Unconference 2 session at the Stockholm Internet Forum, held on May 27.

President BS Aquino boasted at the World Economic Forum in East Asia his government recently hosted in Manila that there has been an economic miracle. Not a few visitors agreed with him.

But up to now, we wonder which country President BS Aquino was describing. Filipinos feel that if there is any economic growth, it has not been inclusive. Only multinational corporations and big local businesses and big landlords have benefited from it.

The internet could be an open forum for democratic debate in the Philippines. We want to go online and discuss the claims of President BS Aquino and ask for government records to verify his allegations. We want to freely, openly and actively participate in governance and in nationbuilding but…

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Continue reading →

Full text: Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)

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Protests greeted President Obama in Manila. (Photo from Pinoy Weekly)

In an apparent offering to visiting President Barack Obama, the Philippines and the U.S. signed the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement on April 28, 2014 at Malacanan Palace, within an hour from the U.S. chief executive’s arrival in Manila.

Here is the full text of EDCA: Continue reading →