COMELEC urged to hear women’s vote, voice

#3forGabriela. Cordillera women join the call for COMELEC to proclaim Gabriela’s third nominee, citing that correct calculation of the formula for partylist seats would give the sole women’s partylist three seats in Congress, not two. //Photo from Sonia Bullong

Calling on the poll body to proclaim an additional seat for the sole women’s partylist in Congress, members and supporters of Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP) held a protest action in front of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Regional Office on May 25, 2016.

The protest was part of a nationally-coordinated action in support of the GWP’s motion for reconsideration, correction and motion for the proclamation of its third nominee.

Last May 19, the COMELEC proclaimed 46 partylists who won in the elections, occupying 59 seats in Congress. However, the women’s group, who garnered the 2nd highest votes of more than 1.3M votes, said that they should have three seats in Congress instead of two as was proclaimed.

“If calculated correctly, the 20% allocation for partylists is 59.5, which when rounded off is 60, not 59 as the COMELEC used,” explained Audrey Rose Corce, GWP regional coordinator for the Cordillera, adding that using 59.5 in the formula for computing additional seats would give GWP two more seats, to get a total three seats in Congress.

Corce said that this was supported by the Supreme Court ruling on the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) case, as cited by GWP lawyer Alnie Foja.

In a statement, Innabuyog, the regional chapter of Gabriela, said that the non-proclamation disrespects the mandate of the more than 1.3M Filipinos who continue to believe in and support Gabriela in representing the voice and interests of women and children.

Innabuyog denounced the COMELEC move as a clear expression of injustice, and further marginalization of the already marginalized indigenous women and children.

“First, the COMELEC and the Supreme Court deprived us of representation by disqualifying Sulong Katribu from the elections. Now, they are again depriving us of an opportunity for representation in Congress by not proclaiming Bai Ali Indayla,” said Innabuyog Chairperson Virginia Dammay, noting that Indayla would represent the Moro and indigenous women. Indayla is GWP’s third nominee and belongs to the Moro national minority.

Meanwhile, Ma. Ricca Llanes, deputy secretary-general of Innabuyog, said that one more seat in Congress should not be underestimated as it makes the difference in ensuring that the women’s agenda will be advanced and that laws will be passed to the advantage of women and children.

Llanes added that the overwhelming victory of GWP was the result of the painstaking organizing work of the women’s movement in the assertion of rights and economic empowerment, and its service to victims of abuse and violence.

“While we actively push for the proclamation of the third seat, we need to recognize that electoral victory is tactical and we should not solely rely on this. More than ever, we need to strengthen our ranks because it is only through the women’s movement that women can be liberated from oppression,” ended Llanes.

The partylist system was created purposively in order to give representation to marginalized sectors and groups in society, and is allotted 20% of seats in the House of Representatives. //Bernice Lee


Election 2016: Next Leaders of Atok, who will lead?

“Here comes Election Day! Candidates remember their promises and their voters only when election knocks at the door.  What only matter to them is to earn as much as possible. They never say ‘no’ to their voters but never accomplish any promises. I hope this would never happen again,” stated by Mang Cardo, a registered voter in Atok.


As a Filipino citizen, we are called out on one of the most essential duties to elect the leaders of our government from the Chief Executive to the members of Congress.  Casting their votes is a way to exercise their right of suffrage which is a “political right intended to enable them to participate in the process of government to assure it derives its powers from the consent of the governed,” in the case of Pungutan vs Abubakar.

According to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are 9,190 registered voters in Atok as of the year 2010. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) prepared on the registration of new voters and collection of biometric data from the voters. Furthermore, the Comelec removed the lists of “ghost” and “flying” voters so that others will not take advantage from it.

The day before the election, the Comelec begin putting the voting machines through their paces at different schools. Also, the different campaign materials were removed from different posting areas. Sample ballots were distributed as well to the voters to give them proper guidance on the upcoming election.

On the Election Day, there is no problem in the voting machines that was reported. Moreover, the candidates followed the rules on the dos and don’ts during the Election Period. However, there are votes which are invalid due to not following instructions in shading the proper number of candidates to vote.

The official tally and results of the local government elections held across the municipality of Atok and are collected centrally and put in COMELEC-GMA Mirror Server.

Peter Alos won the position for Mayor against Marson Lay-at with 4,954 and 3,731 votes respectively. While Angelito Galao won as the Vice-Mayor against Susan Ong with 5,079 and 3,344 votes correspondingly.

Among the 31 candidates for councilor, the eight newly elected councilors are Raymundo Sarac, Franklin Smith, Paquito Calantas, Edward Beliano, Arthur Binay-an, Pulmano Depnag, Nora Mayos and Aligan Dominador with 4367, 3276, 2937, 2704, 2504, 2367, 2126 and 2014 votes respectively.

According to Anjanette Madarang, a registered voter at Atok, she was delighted that unofficial results of the different positions are already presented just a few hours after the polling centers closed. There was no going back to the snail-paced manual vote.

“The 2016 election is a chance for change, but only if people think smart, act rationally, and vote purposefully. In order to achieve development for our locality, we must unite and help each other,” stated by Murphy Wagayan, a candidate for Councilor.

“I still have faith in our institution despite its complications. But as long as there is an effective regulation and immediate sanctions remain, the Philippines will be far from achieving truly peaceful and organized country,” ended Mang Cardo.


By: Angela Nilva




L.T Awaits for CC Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance

As the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines” continue to boom with the entrance of people all over the world, global temperature is expected to rise for the coming years. This is attributed to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. However, La Trinidad awaits for a law to address this problem. Image Source:;num=1189777310

Aiming to institutionalize, strengthen, and sustain Climate Change (CC) adaptation and mitigation programs, projects, and activities; the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet is working on an ordinance that will encourage the barangays, non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s groups to address climate change in the context of sustainable development.

“Climate change is an alarming global problem and the country is highly vulnerable to climate risks and weather disturbances such as tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts. This fact made me propose the ordinance,” stated Municipal Councilor Roderick C. Awingan, author of the proposed ordinance.

Thus, according to him, there is a need to unite the efforts of individuals, institutions, and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of La Trinidad to address this life threatening phenomenon among defenseless communities.

The proposed ordinance shall be known as “The Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance of the Municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet”. It is created based on R.A No. 9729, popularly known as “The Climate Change Act of 2009”, a national law which was primarily designed as the country’s response to the worldwide phenomenon.

The Section 4 of the proposed ordinance discussed the various climate change adaptation and mitigation programs, projects, and activities of La Trinidad once the ordinance is approved.

The municipality will establish and institutionalize incentives and awards system to encourage the implementation of plans and programs by barangays, non-government organizations and people’s organizations.

Air pollution mitigation measures will similarly be enforced to attain a gradual, acceptable, and consistent program of eliminating smoke belching vehicles. To support this, the municipality is planning to conduct an air pollution monitoring and analysis, purchase air pollution monitoring instruments, and render regular air pollution advisory. For its attainment, there will be a partnership with Land Transportation Office (LTO) and gas emission centers to be able to determine the pollution status of the valley.

Moreover, Awingan stated that the municipality will lead the enhancement of the implementation and maintenance of the Urban Greening Program of sidewalks, center islands, vacant lots, parks and other spaces of the commercial areas.

In addition, the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMCO) will spearhead a continuous Information and Education Programs on climate change. The municipality will as well sign an agreement with the District Office of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to include climate change topics in the school curriculum.

“If it will be included in the school lectures, then the pupils in the elementary level or the unaware students would know the do’s and don’ts and the causes and effects of climate change. Everyone will further know that all of us are not just part of the problem, but also of the solution,” expressed Mirabel Suligan, a resident of Barangay Cruz, La Trinidad.

To add, the Arbor Day (Tree Day), Earth Day, Balili River Day and International Forest Day will also be institutionalized in order to support the activities on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation. Written in the document of the proposal is also reaching wider areas and greater population through the publication and distribution of Information and Education Campaign (IEC) materials.

With the approval of the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance of the municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet, Balili River is expected to regain its olden beauty for the next decades to come. Image Source:,_Benguet.jpg

Furthermore, the municipality will study the probability of renewable energy sources and other clean development mechanisms as recommended by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In coordination with DOST and DENR, a strategic development program will also be formulated such as solar power energy, mini hydro power plant, geothermal plant, wind farm, methane harvesting facility, and others.

“La Trinidad will further fortify the current ordinances which seek the protection, preservation, and conservation of the La Trinidad communal forests. We will likewise continue to promote Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and organic agriculture which will be coupled with regular assemblies and forums on climate change,” added Awingan.

Upon approval of the proposed ordinance, there will also be an installation of Rainwater Harvesting System at the Municipal Hall Complex and Barangay Hall buildings to be used for urinals and toilets of public comfort rooms and for other cleaning and gardening purposes. Lastly, as written in the proposal, the municipality in coordination with BENECO will lead a wide advocacy on energy conservation.

Serving as a basis for the implementation of other programs, projects, and activities on climate change adaptation and mitigation, the proposal’s local council will promulgate a La Trinidad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ten Year Action Plan.

The proposed ordinance passed its 1st reading and its second reading started on May 17 this year for it to be permitted for the 3rd and final reading.

According to the councilor, the proposed ordinance is sure to be approved since climate change is a vital issue that should be addressed immediately.

“I hope that the ordinance will be approved as soon as possible. Climate change has greatly affected as a farmer, just like lack of water and extreme heat,” shared Maria Canaway, a farmer at Balili, La Trinidad. // Sharmaine P. Chocowen