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SMC launches PHL’s first complete biodiversity offset Site in Bulacan 


San Miguel Aerocity, Inc. (SMAI), a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), has inaugurated its Saribuhay sa Dampalit project in Barangay Pamarawan, Malolos, Bulacan.

This pioneering initiative marks the launch of the Philippines’ first Biodiversity Offset Program (BOP)  — part of the company’s nature-based solutions to building its New Manila International Airport project (NMAI) in Bulacan. It aims to balance development efforts with environmental preservation, support local livelihoods and address flooding issues in Bulacan’s flood-prone areas.

The pilot BOP site in Pamarawan covers 40 hectares with plans to expand to 800 hectares of offset sites across various areas. 

The launch event was attended by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga,  Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, Undersecretary Augusto dela Pena, Undersecretary Ignatius Rodriguez, Dutch Ambassador Marielle Geraedts, and representatives from SMAI.

“The Saribuhay sa Dampalit project is an integrative approach to development that respects and enhances the natural environment alongside our infrastructure objectives. We firmly believe that progress and nature can co-exist, benefiting both the ecosystem and the local community. We thank everyone involved – from our partners in government, environmental groups and local community members for helping make this possible ,” said SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang.

Adhering to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) environment and social standards, the project has provided a rich feeding ground to the visiting migratory birds which has been in record number this time. Proof that the Offset Site constructed by SMAI has successfully provided sufficient food for the shorebirds.

Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga noted that this was the first and the largest scale biodiversity offset project in the country. 

She stressed the importance of embracing the mitigation hierarchy for net positive infrastructure development, highlighting its importance in building inclusive and resilient communities while protecting biodiversity for future generations.

SMAI’s efforts include a range of scientifically grounded measures to ensure the newly created habitats meet the specific needs of the wildlife they aim to protect. More importantly, the BOP project has engaged local residents affected by the NMIA project, providing employment and raising awareness about the importance of preserving migratory shorebirds.

SMAI Project Director Cecile L. Ang said, “By involving local residents in our efforts, we’re not just building infrastructure, we are cultivating a community that values and actively contributes to environmental preservation.”

Alejandra Libao, relocated from the airport project site and currently serving as team leader in the offset site, shared how the program has transformed their outlook in life.  “Dapat pala ‘yung mga ibon,minamahal namin. Ngayon nalaman namin na may mga migratory bird pala, dati ‘kala namin tagak- tagak lang iyan. ‘Yung community ho nagkaroon ng hanapbuhay tapos minahal na rin nila ‘yung mga ibon. Hindi namin akalain na meron palang nag-aalaga ng ibon. Akala namin binubugaw lang namin ‘yan.” 

Ang is optimistic that the project will extend beyond wildlife protection, potentially turning the area into a prime location for bird-watching, boosting tourism, and creating even more opportunities for local communities.

Chinabank welcomes the Year of the Dragon with Michelle Dee as brand ambassador

From left: Chinabank Chief Finance Officer Patrick Cheng, President & CEO Romy Uyan, Michelle Dee, Sparkle GMA Artist Center Vice President Joy Romina Marcelo, and Miss Universe Philippines Creative Director Jonas Gafud.

Chinabank has signed up its first ever brand ambassador, the reigning Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Marquez Dee. The collaboration was formalized on February 14, 2024 at the Chinabank head office in Makati City.

The beauty queen, actress, host, athlete, and model is a fitting and inspiring representative for Chinabank. Michelle, who has won the hearts and minds of Filipinos and the world with her charisma, authenticity, and sense of purpose, is redefining contemporary Filipino culture on a global stage.  Her lifelong autism acceptance and inclusivity advocacy has led her to a degree in BS Psychology and to use her platform and her work with the Autism Society of the Philippines to create awareness about the condition. With Michelle on board, Chinabank is strengthening its brand presence and building a profound connection with the new generation of dynamic and forward-thinking banking customers.

“This engagement with Michelle Dee signifies the beginning of many things to come.  For us, Michelle is family.  But beyond her obvious lineage to the bank’s co-founders, we firmly believe that Michelle has the qualities to aptly represent a bank with a storied history and an unwavering commitment to building an inclusive and sustainable future for every Filipino,” Chinabank President & CEO Romeo D. Uyan Jr. said during the contract signing.

Michelle expressed her happiness and excitement for her new role, noting that she and Chinabank are a good fit as they share the same high regard for building trust, making an impact, and bringing about change.

“Chinabank isn’t just any bank, it’s been a beacon of trust and resilience for over a century.  Now that’s a lot of years of making a difference in people’s lives and making dreams come true, but it’s also the spirit of making a difference that really resonates with every Filipino heart,” she said. “I would like to keep it real.  I’m here to share my stories and the incredible work Chinabank does…  I can’t wait to make memories and make such ground breaking opportunities for everyone around us as well.”

Chinabank founder Dee C. Chuan was Michelle Dee’s paternal grand-uncle.  Her grandfather was former Chinabank Chairman Dee K. Chiong whose leadership shaped the bank into prominence.  He also led the bank’s early foray into computer technology, becoming the first bank in Southeast Asia to process deposit accounts online. Chinabank is the fourth largest private universal bank in the Philippines. The bank is set to launch an advertising campaign featuring Michelle as it continues to innovate and improve its products and services with a keen focus on its customers.

NLEX proves commitment to responsible energy usage through ISO 50001 certification

(From left to right: NLEX Business Process Excellence Senior Manager Hasmin Co, DQS Business Development Head Urich Lucio, NLEX VP for Technology Glenn Campos, NLEX VP for Operations West Dionisio, NLEX VP for Human Resources and Administration Sigrid Shun, MPTC General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer Atty. Joseph Marigomen, NLEX VP for Legal Services Atty. Joy Orig, MPTC President and CEO Rogelio Singson, DQS Managing Director Romeo Zamora, NLEX President and GM J. Luigi Bautista, NLEX Chief Finance Officer Maria Theresa Wells, MPTC Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Lea Wong, NLEX VP for Communication and Stakeholder Management Donna Marcelo, NLEX VP for Tollways Development and Engineering Nemesio Castillo, NLEX Asst. VP for Compliance and Business Excellence Jeff Ang)

NLEX Corporation earns ISO 50001:2018 or the certification for excellent Energy Management Systems from DQS Certification Philippines, one of the leading international certification bodies for quality management systems and responsible energy usage.

The tollway company has proved its commitment to promoting energy sustainability through various initiatives like the conversion to solar power of some of its toll plazas, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and roadway lighting. It also installed motion-sensor lights in its offices in Caloocan City, Valenzuela City, Bulacan, and Pampanga.

“As we are now challenged regarding the effective and efficient use of energy, NLEX once again proved their commitment and dedication in making a positive impact to the environment through the successful certification of Energy Management System (ISO 50001). The company has shown commendable programs and initiatives that will surely inspire and influence other organizations and individuals to adapt the same practices and will eventually navigate them to taking the path of greener living,” said DQS Managing Director, Romeo Zamora.

In 2023, NLEX Corporation successfully reduced 154 tons of CO2e emissions in its operations. The tollway company is eager to increase this further, as three of its technical shelters for its telecoms systems are now being powered by a hybrid system of solar energy and the traditional grid. Apart from this, solar powered roofing systems will also be installed in their Balintawak office by the 3rd quarter of the year to minimize electric consumption in the office.

“While we aim for convenience, innovation, and modernization for our infrastructure and business, we believe that this should not be at the expense of the environment. More than a road, we want NLEX to be the leader of sustainable infrastructure in the country. We will continue to implement projects that will make a positive impact in the environment so that we will be able to leave a greener NLEX for the future generation,” said NLEX Corporation President and General Manager, J. Luigi L. Bautista.

Prior to its ISO 50001 certification, tollway company had secured and maintained accreditation for four other ISO standards namely ISO 39001:2012 Road Traffic Safety Management System (RTSMS), ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System) and ISO 45001: 2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System). NLEX Corporation is a subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the toll road arm of the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC).

Accelerating S&T in PH through Research: High-Impact Studies Led by UP Scientists in 2023


By Eunice Jean Patron

Science and technology (S&T) play a vital role in Philippine development, providing innovative solutions to societal challenges faced by Filipinos. In that regard, the University of the Philippines – Diliman College of Science (UPD-CS) has been at the forefront of advancing S&T in the Philippines for decades, producing basic and applied scientific research of high standards and national relevance. Year after year, research spearheaded by UPD-CS scientists is published in various journals with high impact factors. The impact factor is a variable measuring a journal’s importance based on the average number of citations of its articles.

UPD-CS scientists continued the College’s long streak of quality research in 2023, with several studies they led becoming internationally recognized and included in some of the world’s most notable, high-impact journals. From examining Philippine tropical cyclones to the risk factors of breast cancer, here are some of UPD-CS’ recent scientific breakthroughs contributing to the country’s socio-economic development.

  1. Analyzing the effects of pioneer colonizing bacteria on plastic breakdown in oceans

Once released into the environment, plastics become places where bacteria can attach and grow. The bacteria on plastic interact with each other and work differently than those in the surrounding environment, which can affect how plastics break down. However, little is known about specific types of bacteria that are the first to attach and interact with plastics.

Justine Marey Bitalac, Norchel Corcia Gomez, and Dr. Deo Florence Onda of the Marine Science Institute (MSI) studied bacteria from Manila Bay that attach to plastics. Their group identified ten types of bacteria, and the scientists tested their ability to grow on plastic over 60 days. The plastic showed signs of physical deterioration, and chemical analysis revealed that different species of bacteria potentially create varying changes in the plastic’s structure.

Bitalac and Dr. Onda’s research was published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, a publication featuring articles in the areas of Environmental Science and Engineering. The Journal of Hazardous Materials has an impact factor of 13.6.

  1. Detecting harmful dye pollutants using gold nanomaterials

Because of the abundant hot spots in their structure, branch-shaped gold nanomaterials are getting recognized as suitable enhancers for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), a technique typically used to detect toxic dye pollutants. However, making these nanomaterials usually involves time-consuming experiments that use hazardous and expensive chemicals.

Rufus Mart Ceasar Ramos of the Natural Sciences Research Institute (NSRI) and Dr. Michelle Regulacio of the Institute of Chemistry (IC) created gold nanomaterials using eco-friendly and low-cost organic acids in plants, such as ascorbic acid, oxalic acid, and tartaric acid. Their approach is also convenient, direct, inexpensive, and rapid, taking less than an hour to complete. The resulting branched gold nanomaterials, called nanocorals, also have numerous hot spots similar to the gold nanomaterials.

Ramos and Dr. Regulacio’s research was published in ACS Applied Nano Materials, a publication featuring research covering all aspects of engineering, chemistry, physics, and biology relevant to applications of nanomaterials. ACS Applied Nano Materials has an impact factor of 5.9.

  1. Discovering the link between stress, altered light-dark cycles, and breast cancer

Disruption of the body’s 24-hour pattern of biological activity, known as the circadian cycle, is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Shift work and constant jet lag, in particular, have been associated with this risk.

In their study, Weand Ybañez and Dr. Pia Bagamasbad of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) found out that a gene that suppresses tumor growth called the Krüppel-like factor 9 (KLF9) is downregulated in breast tumors compared to normal breast tissue. This gene’s activity is influenced by stress hormones and oscillates with the 12-hour light-dark cycle.  

Ybañez and Dr. Bagamasbad’s study was published in Cancer Cell International, a publication featuring studies on cancer cell biology originating from work using laboratory experiments. Cancer Cell International has an impact factor of 5.8.

  1. Investigating quantum spin Hall and Rashba effects in flat ilmenite oxides

Inspired by the discovery of an excellent conductor of electricity called graphene, scientists became interested in other two-dimensional (2D) materials that can be used for technological applications. One of these 2D materials is ilmenite oxides.

A group of physicists, including Dr. Genevieve Macam of the National Institute of Physics (NIP), studied the properties of 2D ilmenite oxides with different metal combinations in their original and Janus forms, which are nanoparticles with two distinct surfaces. Their research showed that the different combinations with 2D ilmenite oxides could have applications in spin transport electronics, a branch of electronics that relies on the intrinsic spin of electrons for information storage and processing.

Dr. Macam’s research was published in the Chinese Journal of Physics, a publication featuring research in various branches of physics. The Chinese Journal of Physics has an impact factor of 5.

  1. Exploring the potential of Cu2O semiconductors paired with plasmonic metals

Metal–semiconductor nanocomposites, especially semiconductors combined with plasmonic metals like gold (Au) and silver (Ag), can be used for various applications across different fields. These combinations have unique optical properties that arise from their interactions with light and the movement of charge carriers within their structure.

Enrico Daniel Legaspi from the Materials Science and Engineering Program (MSEP) and Dr. Michelle Regulacio of the Institute of Chemistry (IC) examined the pairing of the copper(I) oxide (Cu2O) with Au and Ag. In the review, the scientists detailed the methods and adjustments used to pair the components. The review also explored how these combinations affect the optical and electronic properties of the nanocomposites in the context of photocatalysis, a process where light energy is used to drive a chemical reaction.

Legaspi and Dr. Regulacio’s review was published in Nanoscale Advances, a publication featuring research on nanoscience and nanotechnology. Nanoscale Advances has an impact factor of 4.7.

  1. Assessing the response of severe Philippine tropical cyclones to a warmer climate

The Philippines frequently experiences tropical cyclones (TCs), often leading to casualties and significant damage to property due to strong winds, flooding, and rainfall. Understanding how climate change impacts TCs is important, given their socioeconomic consequences.

A group of meteorologists, led by Dr. Rafaela Jane Delfino and Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM), observed how three severe TCs (Haiyan from 2013, Bopha from 2012, and Mangkhut from 2018) might change under future warmer climate conditions through the pseudo global warming (PGW) technique. The simulations show that the three TCs could become more intense with increases in maximum wind speeds. The potential impact of the TCs is also expected to be higher in the future.

Dr. Delfino and Dr. Bagtasa’s research was published in Climate Dynamics, a publication featuring high-quality research on all aspects of the dynamics of the global climate system. Climate Dynamics has an impact factor of 4.6.

Press release: https://science.upd.edu.ph/more-intense-typhoons-to-come-this-century-up-study-warns/ 

  1. Developing a framework for deriving analytic steady states of biochemical reaction networks

Understanding the long-term behaviors of biochemical systems involves looking at their stable states, but deriving these states directly for complex networks can often be challenging. Recent research focuses on network-based approaches, particularly transforming intricate networks of chemical reactions within biological systems into another weaker form. This method, however, can be challenging for larger and more complex networks.

A group of scientists, led by Dr. Bryan Hernandez of the Institute of Mathematics (IM), addressed this difficulty by breaking down complex networks into smaller, independent subnetworks before transforming them. This method provided an effective approach to analyzing and comprehending complex biochemical systems.

Dr. Hernandez’ study was published in PLOS Computational Biology, a publication featuring research focused on understanding living systems at all scales through the application of computational methods. PLOS Computational Biology has an impact factor of 4.3.

  1. Examining bottom simulating reflectors in the Manila Trench forearc and its implications on the presence of gas hydrates in the region

Occurrences of gas hydrates in active plate margins have been reported in various locations and have been studied as both a potential alternative energy resource and a threat to methane release. The Manila Trench forearc, close to active margins with likely methane-rich sediments, can be a model to understand gas hydrate formation and the geological preconditions influenced by tectonics and sedimentation processes.

A team of scientists, including Elisha Jane Maglalang, Dr. Leo Armada, Madeline Santos, Karla May Sayen, and Dr. Carla Dimalanta of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), conducted the first study that investigates the Manila Trench region for indicators of gas hydrates, laying the foundation for future gas hydrate research in the area and exploring its potential as an energy resource and the geological hazards linked to gas hydrate dissociation in an active margin setting, such as submarine slope failures and methane release to the atmosphere. The scientists also reinterpreted existing seismic data from the Manila Trench to describe bottom simulating reflectors (BSRs), which are considered important seismic markers of the probable presence of gas hydrates.

Their study was published in Marine and Petroleum Geology, a publication featuring research covering marine and petroleum geology. Marine and Petroleum Geology has an impact factor of 4.2.

  1. Looking into the hidden diversity and genetic variations in the coral Acropora tenuis and its endosymbionts across the Great Barrier Reef

Genetic research is revealing extensive hidden diversity in reef-building corals, suggesting that the diversity in these key reef organisms is much greater than previously thought. Endosymbiotic algae living inside coral hosts may also help corals adapt to environmental stress, adding another layer of genetic variation that isn’t limited by differences between coral species.

A team of biologists, led by Dr. Ambrocio Melvin Matias of the Institute of Biology (IB), examined the genetic variations in a common reef-building coral, Acropora tenuis, and its associated endosymbiotic algae across the entire Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Their research suggests that the environment plays a vital role in shaping the algae communities living with the corals, which could help them adapt to changes in their environment.

Dr. Matias’ study was published in Evolutionary Applications, a publication featuring research on taxonomic groups – from microbes to plants and animals. Evolutionary Applications has an impact factor of 4.1.

  1. Delving into the possible leafy vegetables’ distinctive biomolecular properties included in prehistoric southern Vietnamese cuisine

Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world, with the inclusion of leafy green vegetables as one of the factors. The vegetables grow in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and they can be further chemically distinguished based on the lengths of their waxy organic compounds. Finding these compounds in pottery vessels as organic residues suggests that ancient people used pottery to prepare these food sources.

A group of scientists, led by Dr. Michelle Eusebio of the Science and Society Program (SSP), conducted an organic residue analysis on sampled pottery vessels from three archaeological sites in Southern Vietnam. Their analysis revealed that Vietnamese people used a specific combination of terrestrial and aquatic leafy vegetables in their cooking. They found a series of mid-to-long-chain fatty acids, alkanes, alcohols, and a wax ester (tetracosanyl palmitate, C40) in the pottery, which hasn’t yet been reported in archaeological pottery samples. This discovery provides new evidence on how ancient Vietnamese people used pottery to prepare and serve plant-based foods.
Dr. Eusebio’s research was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, a publication featuring research applying scientific methods to archaeological problems. The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports has an impact factor of 1.6.

SENATE BILL NO. 2560 UNDER COMMITTEE REPORT NO. 204 Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA)- Co-Sponsorship Speech | Sen. Joel Villanueva

Senate Majority Floor Leader, Senator Joel Villanueva

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues:

It is my honor and privilege to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2560 under Committee Report No. 204, or the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act. Having filed our own version of the bill, we thank our distinguished sponsor, Senator Mark Villar, for his hard work on this measure, which is one of the priority legislations of this administration.

Because of the pandemic, a huge spotlight was placed on digitalization in the conduct of everyday business. With mobility and face-to-face interactions and activities restricted, many Filipinos turned to online and digital banking methods to conduct their personal and business transactions.

Dahil po dito, Ginoong Pangulo, dumoble na ang dami ng mga Pilipino na nagkaroon ng access sa mga bangko at iba pang electronic money channels. According to the BSP, the number of “banked” population was about 56% of all adults in 2021, up from just 29% in 2019. This is equivalent to about 22 million Filipinos who have acquired access to formal financial accounts in just two years. In 2022, the share of Filipinos with bank accounts has further grown to 65% of the adult population.

However, Mr. President, with the continued evolution of banking and electronic payment methods, fraudulent activities involving bank accounts, e-wallets, and other financial accounts have also increased. In fact, the BSP said that complaints related to the use of internet and mobile banking constitute 45.2% of the total complaints they received in 2021. A staggering 42,456 complaints on financial fraud, account takeover or identity theft, phishing, and other schemes were reported between 2020 and 2021.

Nagiging sopistikado na rin po ang modus ng mga scammer para makapanloko ng kapwa. Noong nakaraang taon, ibinahagi ng isang Facebook user kung paanong tinangkang kuhanan ng P20,000 ang tatay niya dahil umano sa maling numerong sinendan sa GCash. Ang text na natanggap ng tatay niya ay mukha talagang legit na galing sa GCash sa unang tingin. Tapos wala pang isang minuto, may nag-text na sa kanya para bawiin ang P20,000 dahil nga “nagkamali” daw ng padala ng pera. Buti na lang, hindi nagtagumpay ang mga scammer dahil nasuri agad ang pekeng text mula sa GCash.

In addition, Mr. President, one of my own staff, was scammed into buying concert tickets; she was made to believe the tickets were legitimate, hence, she transferred money to the digital bank account of the seller, only to be blocked later by the scammer. We sought the help of the BSP and the destination bank, but unfortunately the funds were already moved as soon as they were received.

Madami rin po tayong natatanggap na mga reklamo mula sa mga nabibiktima ng mga nagpapanggap na representative ng mga bangko na tumatawag para umano sa security updates at hihingin ang mga pribadong impormasyon ng account holders, gaya ng birthdate, address, pangalan ng kanilang nanay, at iba pa, na nag-resulta sa pag-takeover at pag-access ng mga scammer sa accounts ng mga biktima.

Hence, Mr. President, we firmly believe that it is time to pass this very important piece of legislation to protect consumers from falling prey to cybercriminals and criminal syndicates who target financial accounts or lure account holders into perpetrating fraudulent activities, including becoming money mules themselves. We also welcome the provision under the bill that large-scale commission of these crimes shall be declared a form of economic sabotage and a heinous crime and thus will be punishable to the maximum level allowed by law. 

We hope, Mr. President, that with this measure, we will finally put a stop to the criminal activities targeting our innocent kababayans and their hard-earned money.

       Again, we would like to thank the sponsor of the measure, Senator Mark Villar. We pledge our full support to the passage of this very important bill.

       Thank you and may God bless us all.

BENRO, BPPO conduct anti-illegal quarry operations, arrested four violators in San Ildefonso

STOP ILLEGAL QUARRYING. Personnel of Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office, Bulacan Police Provincial Office (BPPO) and San Ildefonso Municipal Police Station confiscate the pieces of evidence from an illegal quarry site during the joint operation on Anti-Illegal Quarry of "Escrombro" conducted at Brgy. Sapang Putik, San Ildefonso, Bulacan yesterday.

CITY OF MALOLOS – In strengthening the Provincial Government of Bulacan’s campaign against illegal quarrying, four individuals were arrested in a joint operation on Anti-illegal Quarry of “Escombro” led by Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Offices (BENRO), Bulacan Police Provincial Office (BPPO) and San Ildefonso Municipal Police Station in Brgy. Sapang Puitk, San Ildefonso, Bulacan yesterday.

According to BENRO Head Atty. Julius Victor Degala, the operation led to the arrest of Fernando Patac, 49, from Santa Maria; June Padilla, 45, from Marilao; Rogie Remetio, 39, and Ginglebert Verde, 46, both residents of San Ildefonso, Bulacan for violation of Mineral Theft under Section 103 of Republic Act 7942 (Philippine Mining Act), Section 71-A of the Provincial Ordinance C-005 or the Environmental Code of the Province of Bulacan, and the recent Executive Order No. 21 Series of 2022.

Meanwhile, Governor Daniel R. Fernando pleads for the cooperation of Bulakenyos to end illegal quarry activities in the province.

“Sa mga hindi sumusunod sa batas, maging handa na kayong harapin ang mga kaukulang parusa. Sa pamamagitan ng ating BENRO at kapulisan, sinisiguro ko ang mas mahigpit na pagpapatupad ng batas upang mapanagot ang mga lumalabag dito. Kaya naman hinihikayat ko ang bawat isa na maging mapanuri at magsumbong sa mga awtoridad kung may anumang kahina-hinalang gawain sa pag-quarry upang mawakasan ang ilegal na gawaing ito sa ating mahal na lalawigan,” the governor said.

Further, apprehended individuals were taken to the PIU Office while the following pieces of evidence including 150 pieces of chisel, five pieces of bend, four pieces of shovel, three pieces of sledgehammer, two pieces of digging bar and one unit of water pump were confiscated and turned-over to BENRO.

Helper severely injured as truck smashed into Bulacan welcome arc


CITY OF MALOLOS—A truck helper suffered severe injuries while the driver was also hurt when the vehicle loaded with sand smashed into the welcome arc of Bulacan in the boundary of Tabang in Guiguinto and Tikay in this city around 5:00 am on Thursday. 

The self-accident had caused more than 5-hours heavy volume of traffic to motorists traversing the MacArthur highway particularly along the southbound lane. End to end tail of the traffic reached Tabang Cloverleaf and San Pablo areas. 

As of 10:30 am, the truck remained stock on the structure. At past 11 am, authorities, however managed to remove it from the structure and move it right side further to the shoulder of the lane. 

Roy Perez, 31, truck helper suffered massive injuries on his right leg and foot. His brother, Ronald Perez, 32, driver of the truck was also injured. Both of them are residents of Purok 4, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. 

City of Malolos Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) who responded to the incident rushed the victims to Bulacan Medical Center but they were transferred to Paulino J. Garcia Hospital in City of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. 

City of Malolos police chief Col. Andrei Anthony Manglo said in a report that Ronald was driving a Foton truck registered as CAK-1696 when he suddenly fell asleep which caused the vehicle to hit the lower right portion of the concretized arc. 

Police investigator SSgt. Edgar De Jesus told NEWS CORE that the truck loaded with sand came from Capaz, Tarlac and was bound to Cavite. 

The truck is owned by Gregorio Edzon Delos Reyes from Francisco Compound San Antonio Noveleta, Cavite. 

Manglo said they are still assessing the worth of damages in the truck and the arc. 

PH Media-Citizen Councils establish complaints Standard Operating Procedure

Philippine Media-Citizen Councils. Seated from left are Aklan Media-Citizen Council, Jun N. Aguirre; Surigao Media-Citizen Council headed by Tirso Clerigo Jr.; Batangas Media-Citizen Council headed by Joenald Medina Rayos; Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council headed by Carmela Reyes-Estrope; Region 8 Media Citizen Council headed by Ricky Bautista; Davao Media-Citizen Council headed by Antonio Peralta and Agusan del Sur Media-Citizen Council headed by Rey Suravazquez. Standing from left are Priscilla Labrador, PPI staff; Philippine Press Institute (PPI) Executive Director Airel Sebellimo; Iloilo Media-Citizen Council headed by its President and Chairperson Francis Allan Angelo; Professor Gary Mariano of Cebu Press Council, Rissa Silvestre, PPI Documenter; Che De Los Reyes, International Media Support (IMS) Program Manager for the Philippines, Ranga Kalansooriya, IMS Regional Adviser for Asia Pacific (at her back); Joyce Panares, Training Director of PPI, Dexter See, PPI trustee for Luzon and his wife, Rose, Antoinette Marie Amatong-Ruiz, PPI Trustee for Mindanao and Bess Zamora, PPI staff. Contributed photo

MANILA–The Philippine Media-Citizen Council composed of eight regional and provincial councils are establishing their own sets of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Code of Conduct (CoC) to fulfill their work and role as mediator on work-related complaints against media members in their respective areas.

Guided and supported by the International Media Support (IMS) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), each of the eight regional media-citizen councils in the country through their respective presidents, chairpersons and other officers are tasked to formulate the SOP and CoC best suited in the media landscape in their regions and provinces.

Ranga Kalansooriya, Regional Adviser, Asia Pacific, IMS, who conducts lectures on Improving standards in journalism through effective regulation—Citizen’s Media Councils—Philippines on Feb. 16-18 at Orchid Garden Suites in Manila said among the most significant part of the SOP is to identify what types of complaints are mediatable and non-mediatable, who will accept and hear the complaints and the duration of the mediation.

It must also be cleared right in the beginning that the complaints are free and demands no payment and that both the two parties or all parties concerned in the complaint are willing to settle amicably and that they recognize the council to mediate.

The mediation can be through emails and or face to face talks.

Initially, as part of the SOP, the complaint must be submitted formally through email and or messenger but had not been earlier posted or has been a subject of talks and comments in the social media.

The complainants could either be victims of work-related offenses committed by the media member and even non-victims or a third party.

On the other hand, the complainant cannot demand a swift decision or set a deadline on the result of the mediation.

Also part of the SOP is a proof that the complaint was first brought to the attention of the desk officers or the newspaper organization of the subject of the complaint but was not given due attention.

However, while the respective media-citizen councils have their dynamics and distinct media landscape, there is also a uniformity in SOP’s and CoC’s. One of these is the duration of the mediation, from acceptance of the complaint to the decision in the complaint.

The media-citizen councils are composed respectively of media members and representations from different sectors in the community–farmers or the agriculture, business, academe, youth/students/Indigenous People, church, LGBTQ, transport and other sectors. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is the  council’s legal component. The police, the military, the Commission on Human Rights and information officers of different government agencies are also support partners of the councils.

The PPI, through the initiative and expertise of its executive director Ariel Sebellino and the support of the IMS have been conducting initiative efforts to establish a nationwide media-citizen council to help protect and save media members from being charged of libel and other work-related cases in court while also providing stern reminders on the need for media responsibility and accountability.

Since 2021, there are already eight media-citizen councils that were put up in the country–the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council headed by its President and Chairperson Francis Allan Angelo, Batangas Media-Citizen Council headed by Joenald Medina Rayos; Davao Media-Citizen Council headed by Antonio Peralta; Aklan Media-Citizen Council headed by Jun N. Aguirre; Surigao Media-Citizen Council headed by Tirso Clerigo Jr.; Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council headed by Carmela Reyes-Estrope; Agusan del Sur Media-Citizen Council headed by Rey Suravazquez and Region 8 Media Citizen Council headed by Ricky Bautista.

The media-citizen council which is patterned to Cebu Citizens-Press Council that was initiated in 2001 but was formally launched in 2006 is a forum for media issues and for airing grievances based in Cebu City, Philippines. It aims to defend press freedom and promote professional journalism.

But the media-citizen council is a much broader spectrum  because it includes all forms and avenues of media–broadcast, radio, online and digital media and not just print media.

Joyce Panares, training director of PPI and Che De Los Reyes, IMS Program Manager for the Philippines are also key speakers who provide guidelines and inspirations to all the councils during its respective orientation and organizational workshop, various ethical seminars and training, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), formal launching and induction of officers and other support activities.  

Prof. Gary Mariano of the DE La Salle University and former chairman of the Cebu Citizen Press Council also provides key learning and guide principles, theories and best practices of a council in both protecting the media by upholding p0ress freedom but also making the media members aware of the legal consequences of their unprofessionalism and unethical practice.

Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council

The Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council (CLMCC) is composed of media members, both print and broadcast, (TV and radio), including online and digital and social media.  

The following are its officers President/Chairperson Carmela Reyes-Estrope; Vice President/Vice Chairperson: Vic Vizcocho Jr.; Secretary: Rogie Pangilinan; Treasurer: Jason de Asis; Auditor: Dyan Grace Crespo / Erick Silverio and PRO: Aileen Sanchez.

The Board of Trustees or the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) is composed of the following: Chairman Atty Jo Clemente; Vice Chair Atty. Maria Imelda Quiambao-Tuazon; Secretary Atty. Gener Endona and Members: Atty. Alejandro Buan; Atty. Angelo Lopez; Nenita L. Carlos; Melicia DC Ciriaco; Mark Anthony Miranda and Ronilo Gines.

Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council. From left are Jessie de Jesus, media member from Bulacan; Ronilo Gines, farmer; Atty. Alejandro Buan, President, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Pampanga; Atty. Jo Clemente, IBP-Tarlac; Jason de Asis, media from Aurora; Nicole Taringting, media from Subic Bay, Olongapo City, Benjamin Antonio III, business, president of Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce; Carmela Reyes-Estrope, media, president of the CLMCC and Vic Vizcocho Jr., media, vice president of the CLMCC, (both seated); Atty. Maria Imelda Quiambao-Tuazon, IBP Central Luzon Governor, Mel Ciriaco, media, Nueva Ecija; Bonifacio Dacayanan, media member from Tarlac and Atty. Gener Endona, IBP-Pampanga. Contributed photo

The Committees and their respective chair and vice chair are Grievance and Review Committee headed by Chair: Atty. Maria Imelda Quiambao-Tuazon and Co-Chair: Atty. Jo Clemente; the Membership Committee headed by Chair: Carmela Reyes- Estrope and Co-Chair: Melicia DC Ciriaco; The Ways and Means Committee headed by Chair: Benjamin Antonio III and Co-Chair: Vic Vizcocho Jr. and Nenita Carlos; the Social Media Engagement Committee headed by Chair: Aileen Sanchez Co-Chair: Erick Silverio and Mark Miranda and Election Committee headed by Chair: Atty. Alejandro Buan, Co-Chair: Atty. Angelo Lopez II and Diane Grace Crespo.

NCIP graces Aurora 45th Founding Anniversary

AURORA DAY. Lawyer Cristine Faith R. Sabella, chief of staff of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Lt. Col. Julito B. Recto, Jr., commander of the Philippine Army's 91st Infantry Battalion, Rep. Rommel Rico T. Angara, acting Governor Reynante Tolentino and acting Vice Governor Jennifer Araňa lead the 45th Foundation Day celebration of Aurora province and the 136th birth anniversary of the late former First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon. The event was held at the Provincial Capitol compound in Baler, Aurora on Monday, Feb. 19. Photo by Jason de Asis

By Jason De Asis

BALER, Aurora-Atty. Cristine Faith R. Sabella, chief of staff of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) graced the 45th foundation anniversary of Aurora province which is also the celebration of the 136th birth anniversary of First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon at the Capitol Grounds in Barangay Suklayin, here on Monday, Feb. 19.

Sabella represented NCIP Chairperson Jennifer Pia “Limpayen” Sibug-Las.

Sabella said in her speech during the culminating activity that the government officials are lead partners in advocating projects, policies and programs that promote the well-being of the IPs, taking steps to ensure that their rights are fully respected and their culture are preserved. Sabella added to renew commitment in building a brighter future for them by reaching more to all IP communities in this province.

“As we honor Dona Aurora today, may we also give due recognition to our IP ancestors. They both immensely contributed to the progress and beauty of Aurora province. Let us be inspired to carry forth her vision of a society where every individual is empowered to reach full potential. Let us not leave anyone behind,” she said.

On the 45th anniversary Sabella said, let us celebrate the founding anniversary by appreciating the milestone of this province with gratitude for our shared history, pride in our progress and a collective determination to forge ahead a brighter future.

Aurora Day Celebration (ADC) 2024 Chairperson Virgilia P. Gomez said that she was overwhelmed with a profound sense of pride and joy, despite the challenges during the planning and preparation before and throughout the celebration, they have come together symbolizing unity and resilience. “Indeed, Aurora stands as a beacon of inspiration and possibilities, from the rich tapestry of our cultural heritage to the boundless potential of our people. On behalf of the ADC 2024 committee, I extend my deepest gratitude to all of you for your unwavering support and active participation,” she said, adding that they forged meaningful connections and laid groundwork for future endeavors.

She added but beyond the accomplishments what truly stands out is the spirit of camaraderie and a shared purpose. “As we conclude our activities for ADC, let us carry with us the lessons of our history, the dreams of our ancestors and the aspirations of our youth. In the spirit of “Aurora sa Muling Pagsibol ng Liwanag” let us rekindle the flame of hope in our hearts, ignite the sparks of innovation in our minds and illuminate the path towards a progressive future,” she said.

Aurora Representative Rommel Rico T. Angara said that Aurora Quezon, if living , is very happy for the uprising progress and development in Aurora province. “Projects continue in covered courts, domestic airports, bridges, barangay halls, roads, new municipal buildings among many others…”one of my dreams is to have a 2nd level hospital and it was already passed in the committee level to have an Aurora Medical Center facility will be put up soon in the province of Aurora. Ito po ay isasalang na sa plenaryo,” he said.

Acting Governor Reynante Tolentino said that the celebrations marked the continues progress in the culture, arts, tourism, agriculture, infrastructure among others. He further said in his speech: “Ang tema ng ating pagdiriwang ngayon ay nagpapaalaala sa atin ng pag-asa para sa tuloy-tuloy na pagbangon at pamamayagpag ng ating lalawigan sa iba’t-ibang larangan, kasabay ng pagsibol ng Aurora mula sa dilim patungong kaliwanagan ay ang pagyakap natin sa kaunlaran…tayo po ay magtulungan patungo sa mapayapa at progresibong pamayanan,” Tolentino said.

Acting Vice Governor Jennifer Araňa said that they are at their best with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members to support all the programs of Acting Gov. Tolentino for the continues progress of Aurora province. “Sina Senator Sonny Angara at Congressman Rommel Angara ang ating pangunahing bayani sa ating lalawigan at mas magiging higit ang ating pagsibol ng liwanag sa taong ito ng 2024 hanggang sa mga darating pa,” Araňa said.

Benjamine Avanceňa, a descendant of Quezon said during the program that he was grateful for remembering the good deeds of their great grandmother and also recalled the past of Aurora Quezon.

In a letter of Senator Sonny Angara to Acting Gov. Tolentino stated that the senator lauded the local government leaders in the province for the continuous progress and development. He also cited the tourism booming industry where local and international tourist flocks in Aurora because of the amazing beauty of nature and development.

“Nakakataba ng puso na naririnig natin sa kanila na muli’t-muli tayo ang binabalikan. Bilang anak ng Aurora ako ay nakikiisa sa pagdiriwang ng ating lalawigan…bilang inyong kababayan, ako po ay laging nakahandang tumulong at sumuporta sa pangangailangan ng ating lalawigan at ng ating mga kababayan. Sa mga pagawaing imprastraktura, narito po ang inyong lingkod na lagging nakaagapay sapagkat napakahalaga ng imprastraktura sap ag-unlad ng isang bayan,” he said.



Ranga Kalansooriya, Regional Adviser, Asia Pacific, International Media Support (IMS) conducts lectures on Improving standards in journalism through effective regulation and the role of Citizen’s Media Councils—Philippines to presidents and chairpersons of existing eight regional and provincial media-citizen councils in the Philippines held at Orchid Garden Suites, Manila on February 16-17. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope