Freelance: Scriptwriting for Department of Agriculture Region XI Programs

I have to admit–prior to working on projects with local government units in Davao, my perspective of any kind of government was very far from what it really is. I’m really thankful to have gotten to work with government units in the past, for the experience was an eye opener for my youthful idealism.

The first government unit I worked with was the Department of Trade and Industry, where I contributed to their Asenso Ka! magazine. The Department of Agriculture is the second.

I spent most of October and November 2016 working with the Department of Agriculture. I was scriptwriting for a video production that Visual Insights Multimedia (VIMP) won the bidding for the Department of Agriculture.

I met the studio’s owner, Sir Kenny O’Bajo, maybe around February 2016. My singer-actress friend Jizella Dea Formilleza brought me with her as she auditioned a piece for a video commercial that VIMP was making for Davao Light.  We talked about some stuff and he seemed interested when I mentioned that I’m a writer. He gave me his email and asked to see some of my previous works.

Fresh out of college at April, Sir Kenny contacted me and offered two jobs: this project, and if maybe I’d like to be trained in VIMP. I took the project, but decided to go corporate. Here’s a recap of my first job experience. 🙂

Although I’ve sort of freelanced when I was still in college, I still consider this as my first, partly  because it’s the first time that I was able to dedicate all my time to without worrying about school.

Christmas and new year is getting closer as I write, so I know for sure that this project was one of the best, most memorable and enjoyable experiences that I had this 2016. Or maybe I should get out more often? 😀

Anyway, this project is a series of success and tech/instructional videos featuring  Department of Agriculture XI programs.

I wasn’t able to take photos in all our shoots, but I definitely had fun in all of them! I love traveling. Seeing Mindanao’s rural spots is amazing.

This was during our first meeting, a story conference.

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Grabbed from Sir Kenny’s Instagram Account

This was mostly planning, though. The storyline for the topics were simple enough to understand and execute.

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The Production Team. Chico Pace (Videographer), Eloisa Aninon (Coordinator), Kent Marcos & Corinth Mabalot (PA). 

Gulayan sa Paaralan Program
Bala, Magsaysay

Never underestimate the power of small-scale agriculture. In a move to curb the growing malnutrition rate in the country, the Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Department of Education, implemented the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program in all public schools nationwide. This program seeks to support vegetable gardens in schools, the produce of which will be used to feed the school children.

*The Department of Agriculture wanted to feature the schools with best gulayan sa paaralan program in Mindanao.

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Path to the vegetable patch. Tanglad (lemongrass) and marigold are planted everywhere to stave off the mosquitoes. During dengue season where cases in Davao would rise to more than 4,000, in Bala, there was none. 
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A dedicated educator. I had to have a photo with her after the interview. A teacher’s heart is so admirable! 
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They were the kindest, sweetest group of kids I’d seen in a long time. They’d line up to hold your hand and press it against their foreheads. In the Philippines, it’s a sign of respect for elders. This is usually given to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godparents.

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Bala, Magsaysay Elementary School is one of the most charming places I’ve been to. The school teachers had gotten the whole community to pitch help in cultivating the mini farm that the school had because of its wide area. Everything they grew was organic. They basically had everything–even a fish pond!

Some of the produce are sold, and the money is meant to buy school materials. Most of the produce, however, are used to feed children for a twice-daily feeding program. Because Bala is situated in a very rural community, there are students who, the teachers told me, would go to school in the mornings and go home at 12 noon because they didn’t have any food to eat.

There were zero absences and tardiness after they implemented the feeding program, they added.

Gulayan sa Paaralan Program
Compostela Valley

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Very shy interviewee

 

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All About Bananas: Fusarium Wilt Control Measures
Compostela Valley

In 2012, following the surge of Typhoon Pablo, a deadly plant disease called Fusarium Wilt, also known as Panama disease, spread across banana plantations in Mindanao–causing many to shut down operations.

Research and funds were released to mitigate the disease. Already, the disease has caused severe, almost irreparable damage on banana growers and banana imports.

Some growers opted to shift crops to cacao, and others decided to avail of the new variety of bananas called GCTCV218 and 219. GCTCV stands for Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variant, which is immune to the panama disease.

Although growers are vocal about their preference of the old variety compared to the new one, they are also greatly appreciative of the GCTCV218 and 219. Otherwise, the losses would have compelled them to throw in the towel and walk away from banana growing.

Philippines is one of the top growers of banana in Asia.

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An emotional interview.
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We followed the harvesting and packaging process at a processing facility. 

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Rehoboth Cacao Farmers Association
Davao del Norte

We interviewed a small association, the Rehoboth Cacao Farmers Association, who had found hope in the cacao that they grew.

Formerly a religious group, it is now an association of dedicated cacao growers. Rehoboth translates to “Well of Blessings.”

Cacao is one of the most in demand crops now, as it is the source of coffee and chocolate. The demands of chocolate and cacao are met with a threatening low supply. Philippines is eyed to be one of the top cacao growers in Asia.

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Drying Process

 

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Mixing dark chocolate

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Cacao Rehabilitation
Malita, Davao Occidental

This is a tech process. The Department of Agriculture has a team of researchers and pathologists who reach out to farmers to give trainings on proper production processes, and etc. The cacao tree, although it can grow for more than ten years, has to undergo rehabilitation in order for it to continue producing good yield.

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Challenging shoot! Chico (videographer) had to dodge a few falling branches. Sir Kenny was there to direct though.
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Deconstructing the set.

Dynamic Vegetable Growers Association (DVEGA)
Davao del Norte

The Dynamic Vegetable Growers Association is a group of farmers who have united in order to support each other in producing more yield and working with a more organized system of production and harvest.

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Farmer showing how to spot a good eggplant.
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Ants on a sloping hill
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After climbing a steep mountainside.

Rubber Tapping
Marilog District, Davao City

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Army, ready to shoot.

Subangon Dumang Makers
A story of Filipino resilience

In 2012, Cateel, Davao Oriental was hit the hardest by the Typhoon Pablo. The typhoon destroyed their homes and their crops, their only source of living. For weeks and months after, people described Cateel’s hills as na kalbo, a local term for bald, because the trees and lush greens that adorned the hills were all washed away by the strong storm surge.

But people were quick to find a new means of earning money. Chili grew faster than most crops, so they opted to shift. The Department of Agriculture provided financial and production support.

We interviewed the Subangon Dumang Makers, the top chili processing facility in the town.

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Dried Chili – Just a few moments away from being grinded into powder!
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Laying on a solar dryer
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Locals have termed hot chili into “Hot Pablo” as a memento of resilience. 

BEMWA Farms
Agritourism

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Picnic kind of interview set up. Beautiful! Photo taken by Chico, our videographer. He left the camera rolling on its own for a few moments.
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Coco captured me at my best. This will always be one of my favorite production shoots, mainly because of the climate and the scenery. I love BEMWA’s story too!

BEMWA farm is not a farm that operates on money, it operates on love and equality. I had a great discussion with one of the owners, Mr. Marlo. He sells his vegetables at a very cheap price in order to bring healthy living to middle and lower class households. For him, healthy ain’t just for the wealthy 😄

He also helps his farmers. His farmers, about 60% of which are lumads, or natives, all receive free board and food at the farm. I talked with one of the farmers too, she said that they (owners) also extend financial assistance when they need it.

For Mr. Marlo, he views BEMWA and agriculture as a platform to bring change. One of his advocacies is to educate Filipino farmers about sustainable farming.

BEMWA is a vegetable farm located at Marilog, Calinan District. They sell mainly lettuces. The climate and strawberry picking gained BEMWA popularity. This introduced the concept of #agritourism to the owners since BEMWA is now a tourist attraction.

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With Mr. Marlo Yap, one of the owners. He is the M in the BEMWA. 😀 Businessman, philanthropist, farmer with a heart. 

I tried to wrap all things up here in one blog post because I can’t disclose much details as of now (the project is ongoing).But my love for stories has never died.

Until the next post! 🙂

Severino, Beleno Urge Social Media and Youth’s Role in Changing Politics

February 13, veteran journalist Howie Severino came to Ateneo de Davao University to speak about social media and citizen journalism in the Makinig, Makialam, Makiisa: a forum on the role of social media in the 2016 elections

In this photo, Atenews writers (I included) pose with Howie Severino.

This article was published at Atenews

Award-winning journalist Howie Severino was at Ateneo de Davao University on Saturday, February 13 for the “Makinig. Maki-alam. Makiisa: The Role of Social Media in the 2016 Elections” which is a forum on social media responsibility in politics and citizen journalism, organized by SINIKOM (Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Sining at Komunikasyon).

The event was attended by communication students from Ateneo de Davao University, Jose Maria College, University of the Southeastern Philippines, and University of Mindanao.

The forum was organized in partnership with UCEAC (University Council of something), Blue Vote 2016, Ateneo Task Force 2016, and the Mass Communication Department of Ateneo de Davao University.

UCEAC Director Romeo Cabarde in his opening remarks said that social media can either be a blessing or a curse, and in order to maximize its potential, it should be used to campaign for good governance.

“Good governance begins with vigilant citizenry,” said Cabarde.

Howie Severino has been a journalist for print, television, and online, for more than twenty years now. After five years of heading GMA News Digital Operations, Severino now serves as GMA network’s Vice President for Professional Development.

In his lecture titled, “Cyberspace: A Revolutionary, Perplexing, and Dangerous World”, Severino cites that Philippines ironically tops surveys on internet usage despite it having one of the slowest internet connection speed in the world, and also one of the most expensive.

The implications of this, said Severino, is that social media can have a great impact on Philippines’ political sphere because of the time spent by Filipinos online. This has also paved way for citizen journalism, said Severino, referring to news that ordinary, non-media citizens post on Facebook and Twitter.

For Severino, social media has the power to change the political sphere of the Philippines. He tells the students, “You have all the power and that power is in your hands.”

“A digital device coupled with social media and political freedom creates the most empowered generation in Philippine History,” said Severino.

Social media should be used to criticize, he added. “It is our right, written in our constitution, to criticize our government and our politicians,” he explained.

Ateneo professor and political analyst Ramon Beleno III also gave a lecture in the said event. His presentation titled, “Paano ba Bumoboto si Juan?” tackled on Filipinos’ voting behaviors. According to Beleno, these behaviors such as territorial, personality, patronage, and bandwagoning, indicate the predictability of the outcome of Philippine Elections.

“Philippine elections is very predictable, even the time that weddings of politicians will be held can be predicted,” said Beleno, referring to the weddings of Chiz Escudero with actress Heart Evangelista and Mar Roxas with news anchor Korina Sanchez.

Filipinos also tend to lean towards celebrities, said Beleno, referring to the celebrities who have endorsed politicians both in the past and in the current election season.

Further, Filipinos’ territorial voting behavior, according to Beleno, leads to the formation of political dynasties when local leaders dominate the political sphere.

It can be noted that political dynasties in the Philippines is heavy. The Binays, Aquinos, Dutertes, Ampatuans, are some examples.

The speakers Severino and Beleno reiterated the role of the youth in Philippine politics at the end of the event.

There are many things that we should look out for in social media, says Severino, even hashtags. “Hashtags are meant to trend and change public opinion,” he said.

Mobile data and free Facebook plans can also work to our disadvantage, said Severino.

“When we are on free data and we scroll down news articles that are being shared on Facebook or Twitter, we cannot open it. We just see the headlines which can be manipulated,” he said.

Severino also urged the students to practice verification in reading news articles.

“Always try to verify what you see and read because it [headlines] can possibly have been manipulated”, said Severino.

For Beleno, the youth are the game-changers of Philippine elections.

“If you notice, politicians are targeting the youth kasi kayo yung pinakamarami,” said Beleno to the students.

For the audience, the forum proved to be a timely and knowledgeable event.

“Social media is more than just for selfies, but it’s an avenue for us to spread awareness to our peers, most especially on political issues on election season,” said communication student Frazn Sta. Teresa.

“Let us not limit ourselves to posting, liking, and sharing because being knowledgeable only is not enough. Be engaged. Set a good example for the youth,” she added.

 

Volunteers, environment group cite lapses in TreeVolution

Published at DavaoToday

DAVAO CITY – Organizers of the Mindanao-wide reforestation event in Davao last week issued a public apology after a number of volunteers and participants told news organizations and swarmed the social media about the unannounced inaccessibility of the planting sites to public transport.

Complaints include alleged injuries and fainting due to exhaustion and lack of water provisions while walking for more than six kilometers to the planting site in Barangay Magsaysay in
hinterland Marilog District.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), one of the organizers of the event along with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, issued the apology on Tuesday.

“We offer our sincerest apologies to those who went through such physical challenges,” their statement said.

The statement added that volunteers were asked to disembark from their vehicles due to the difficulty of the terrain.

“In some planting sites, it turned out that reaching the area by several kilometers walk rather than by trucks was the safest mode given the circumstances. It was a decision made on that instance to principally avoid possible catastrophic pitfalls from slippery terrain,” their statement said.

The TreeVolution reforestation drive held last September 26 Friday, wanted to snatch a world record from India for planting the most number trees in an hour in multiple sites in Mindanao.

The MinDA statement said that the number of volunteers for the Marilog planting site more than doubled from the target of only 600, with as many as 13,000 volunteers, mostly students and teachers.

Volunteers from Ateneo de Davao University told Davao Today of their difficult ordeal.

Kelly Serenio, a mass communication student, said she fainted due to fatigue and dehydration. “I can’t breathe,” she said.

Her classmate Karyn Asure said she saw high school students begging police officers for a ride in their vehicles, but were told to move on. “Sige lang, gang, kaya pa nimo (It’s okay, you can do it),” the officers told the students.

Paolo Rosello said when they were about a half-kilometer near the planting area, they already heard the public announcement that the event was over.

MinDA said they are now coordinating with schools to assist the students for further medical attention.

They also announced they will conduct more forums with the schools.

”A series of fora will be done in the next few weeks in those schools to endeavor reflections among students, and communicate on the next steps of nurturing the trees they planted.

MinDA reported that the tree planting event surpassed the record held by India in the Guinness Book of World Records. They reported a total of 3,517,489 seedlings planted in 260 locations in the six regions in Mindanao by some 189,755 volunteers.

The feat, however, is still to be verified by Guinness.

Professor Kim Gargar said the organizers would also need to apologize to the public “for touting the TreeVolution as a reforestation event when they only planted cash crops such as cacao, rubber and coffee”.

“The apology should not only focus on the accidents. They should apologize for the deception. They should admit that the Treevolution will not address climate change, will not address food security, and will only worsen threats to biodiversity and ecosystem balance in Mindanao,” Gargar said.

Gargar says that the standard reforestation requires at least 30 species of native trees to be planted to ensure biodiversity conservation. “This TreeVolution will not pass the international standard for forest reforestation,” he reiterated.

He noted that at least 250,000 hectares of land need to be reforest in Mindanao to restore just 1% of lost forest cover.

Urban Blight

Published front page at SunStar Davao

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FIVE years ago at another residence, 53-year-old Bucana resident Nanay Violeta Bustamante defecated and urinated in old rice sacks and bags of cellophane. A mother of eight, she recalled how she and her children would sometimes go to the beach to attend to the calls of nature. Now five years later, what serves as her toilet is no longer the beach, but instead, the fish pond that she, along with other informal settlers, live around.

The pond which used to house fishes like bangus or milkfish for consumption is now a slough full of bags of feces and garbage.

Nanay Violeta is one of the informal settlers of Barangay 76-A Purok 22 San Isidro Kalubihan, Kabacan, who has no access to proper sanitation. Kabacan is an area which is part of Bucana, one of Davao City’s largest stretch of villages. Bucana’s 466 hectares of land is home to over 200,000 residents many of them fishermen, laborers, drivers, and other daily wage earners.

Nanay Violeta now lives alone, earning enough for her daily expenses from doing laundry, home massage, and pa-suhol or baby-sitting. Her house which she had assembled herself from assorted pieces of wood and tarpaulins has only a spread out rice sacks as a roof with no electricity and water connections. She buys water from her neighbor.

Barangay Bucana is part of the Philippine government’s Slum Improvement and Rehabilitation (SIR) Phase 1 project, which is a World Bank-funded urban poor mass housing program established in 1985. To date, it is home to informal settlers who live in shanties, and many of whom have no access to proper sanitation.

In a 2010 study by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) it placed the estimated unmet housing needs or backlog as of January 1, 2011 to 1.225-million housing units.

The bulk of this backlog, the report said, are intended for informal settlers households “comprising 57.15 percent while the doubled up households consisted 35.7 percent of the total unmet needs.” Doubled up households means houses that more than one family live in.

“Incremental needs from 2011 to 2017 averages about 729,000 households. Come 2017, total housing needs already reached 6.3 million households,” the report further said.

As of May 1, 2010, HUDCC estimates the backlog in Davao City at 27,774 households.

In 2010, the Davao City Council passed the Septage and Sewerage Management Ordinance, a legislation that orders local governments to provide communal toilets in villages inhabited by informal settlers.

Two years after, the NSSMP (National Sewerage and Septic Management Program) was approved. The program was said to be designed for the improvement of water quality and public health in the Philippines by 2020 by improving the ability of local implementers to build and operate effective wastewater treatment systems.

But the inaccessibility to proper sanitation for informal settlers, according to residents, has been a pressing issue for quite some time now, yet they still wait for a response from officials.

“They know about it,” Marilou Dumama, a resident of Kabacan, said referring to the barangay officials.

Marilou is the stepdaughter of the fish pond owner. She said she would often call out to children of the settlers as they defecate or urinate directly to the pond even in broad daylight.

She used to be one of the pond’s caretakers. Marilou narrated they used to grow fish for their personal consumption, until such time that they decided to stop their efforts, seeing that the fishes ate human feces.
But that is not the only problem, Marilou said. She claims that a septic tank from a nearby area excretes its waste directly to the pond, giving off a foul stench.

“Sa kabaho, minsan kabuhi-on nalang mi (Sometimes the foul smell would make us feel nauseous),” she said.

The only action taken, Marilou said, was fogging, a preventive action for dengue. But, she added, the fogging was sponsored by Korean health workers, and not from the barangay.

“Naa may bayanihan didto saluyo, pero diri wala gyud (They have bayanihan in some areas here, but never here in our place),” Marilyn said when referring to the mound of garbage filling up the pond.

Bayanihan is a Filipino term for “helping each other out.” It is considered a culture and also a trademark for Filipinos that residents will all come to help a neighbor in need.

The Asian Development Bank, in a 2009 study, said 58 percent of the country’s groundwater was contaminated by infectious waste coming from unsanitary septic tanks, wastewater discharge from industries, and runoffs from agricultural fields and dumpsites.

Michelle de Leon, a barangay official, admitted that one of Bucana’s problems is the lack of public toilets.

While for the Davao City Health Office (CHO,) Curtis Larrazaga, head of the sanitation division, said the lack of clean communal toilets is a sanitary and public health concern. “Without clean toilets, we can only expect infections and diseases,” Larrazaga said in an interview.

DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary Ramon Paje said that only less than 10 percent of the Filipino population is connected to piped sewerage, while over 20 million Filipinos do not have access to proper sanitation.

Paje also said that local governments must take the initiative of putting up their own sanitation and wastewater treatment facilities to prevent their constituents from dumping garbage into waterways and to avoid toxic sludge excavated from septic tanks reach the rivers.

Barangay Bucana was reported to have internal revenue of 30 million pesos for the previous year alone, with over 20 million allotted for public infrastructures and reforestation projects.

Nanay Violeta and the rest of the settlers are still waiting for help.

Davao City’s speed limit reduces accidents, but businesses also affected

Published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer

DAVAO CITY — Speeding, overtaking, and racing. These have been rarely seen on the streets here since the implementation of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 39 (EO39), which put a cap on how fast vehicles can run in specified areas of the city.

In the first quarter of 2014, the year the order was implemented, a dramatic 41 percent decrease in vehicular accidents in the city had been noticed, according to Traffic Management Center chief Rodelio Poliquit.

Vehicular accidents, he said, decreased to 4,000 from January to September 2014 alone from 7,000 cases during the same period in 2013.

The speed limit has certainly slowed down the accident rates, but for jeepney and taxi drivers, it slowed down not only their vehicles, but their profits as well.

Taxi driver Rey (not his real name) has four kids and struggles to make ends meet with his average profit of P450 before EO 39’s implementation. With the speed limit, a substantial amount was lost because they can no longer speed up to be able to haul more passengers.

“Sometimes I earn only P200. How will we be able to meet our needs especially when the cost of living is very high? I can’t do anything about it, I can only work hard,” he said.

The recent reduction of the flag-down rate by 10, he said, added to the difficulty of meeting ends meet.

But for Rey, the speed limit was the big culprit. While he sees it as unnecessary, he could do nothing but comply with it.

“If I go against the law, I wouldn’t be able to afford to retrieve my license,” he explained.

Duterte has maintained that imposing the speed limit was timely to curb overspeeding drivers, who contributed to the sharp increase in the number of vehicular accidents here the past years.

He cited the September 2010 accident here, in which two people died and 16 others got injured. Most of the victims were students.

Under EO 39, which was described as “an order setting the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City,” all motor vehicles are covered by speed limit. Exempted are legitimate emergency cases such as those involving ambulances and law enforcement agencies.

The EO specified that the fastest that vehicles could run from Sirawan in Toril district to Ulas Crossing is 60 kph. The same rule holds true for those taking the Lasang to Panacan in the north; Calinan to Ulas Crossing and C.P. Garcia Highway-McArthur Highway to Panacan.

From Ulas to Generoso Bridge/Bolton Bridge in Bangkerohan; Panacan Crossing to J.P. Laurel Avenue-Alcantara; and Ma-a Road Diversion to McArthur Highway, vehicles have to slow down to 40 kph already. And within the city proper, vehicles have to travel at 30 kph only.

Jeepney driver Noel Panay says the 30 kph limit in the downtown areas was absurd.

“A bike can run faster,” he explained. “We can’t run fast to pick up more passengers,” he said, adding that the speed cap allowed jeepney drivers like him to make only four round trips per day.

This, Panay said, lowered their take home money.

Mass communication student Aivy Villarba saids that it took her a while to get used to the new routine of leaving home an hour earlier than usual, but believes that EO 39 should still be implemented. “Mayor Duterte’s aim was public welfare over welfare of other sectors,” she explained. “Also, there are no car racers anymore at midnight because if they race, they will get caught”, she added.

Gwena Caubang, who was originally from Baganga, Davao Oriental, thinks that the speed limit was “a great way to discipline drivers, especially in a populous place like Davao City.”

“It decreases the rate of accidents, and hit and run incidents especially along the highways,” she said.

Caubang said she wished a speed limit would also be implemented in her hometown, where many drivers were reckless.

For private car owners Steely Caballero and Prince Canda, the slow pace of travel in the city was “a hassle,” and they prefer that the minimum speed in the downtown areas is upped to 40 kph.

Manila-based entrepreneur Moje Ramos-Aquino, who writes a column for a national broadsheet, recounted her experience in coming to Davao, where she claimed that it took her an hour and a half to travel six kilometers.

“I’ll go back to Davao when they lift the speed limit. Meantime, I will bring my business and my money somewhere else,” Aquino wrote in her column once.

But Poliquit said business shouldn’t be based on the speed by which vehicles can travel in certain areas.

“It would be more inconvenient if people were not safe to walk on the road, such as the elderly, the children who are going to school, and the pedestrians. If the people were not safe here, then who would invest?” he said.

Social strategist Reymond Pepito thinks that even if EO 39 was unappealing to some, for the majority it was important.

“Others may say that it affects their business transactions but I felt like the implementation of speed limits is not a problem. Road widening and well-functioning traffic lights can address the issue of congested roads and traffic in the city. One should not compromise safety. I live in Tagum City where roads are less busy but I still wish for us to have our own vehicular speed policy to avoid road accidents,” Pepito said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/684841/davao-citys-speed-limit-reduces-accidents-but-businesses-also-affected#ixzz3rGrCA3VY
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