Top 13 Change.org petitions of 2013

Rappler.com
From no more pork barrel to more hotdogs in Jollibee spaghetti, here are 2013's most notable Change.org petitions

MANILA, Philippines – With Internet fast becoming the favored platform for social movements and advocacies, it’s no surprise that several victories in 2013 were made online.

Change.org was one particular site that helped amplify voices, demand accountability from leaders and win concrete victories for the people. Said to be the largest platform for online petitions, Change.org engages more than 40 million users across 196 countries who, with just a few clicks, can start a petition, spread it on social media and get thousands of signatures in a matter of days (in some cases, even minutes).

In the Philippines, its user base grew to 648,800 as of December 2013 from 27,000 in 2012. Of the number, they say more than 165,000 have experienced a direct victory through the site.

Here are the top 13 Change.org triumphant petitions of 2013, as compiled by Change.org:

 

1. Mercury Drug: Donate medical supplies to the victims of Typhoon Pablo

HELP NEEDED. Medical assistance is always needed in the aftermath of major disasters. Photos courtesy of Change.org

More than 2,200 signatures convinced the drugstore chain to conduct “Operation Bigay Lunas” in typhoon-struck Cateel, Davao Oriental. Mercury Drug gave free medical consultations and health screenings, distributed free antibiotics and medicines. They also donated sacks of rice to 8 provinces and relief goods and vitamins to disaster victims in Compostela Valley.

 

2. UP Manila officials: Lift ‘no late payment’ and ‘forced leave of absence’ policies

After the tragic suicide of University of the Philippines (UP) student allegedly over unpaid tuition, petitioners demanded that the UP Manila administration lift the policy forcing students to take a leave of absence if they are unable to pay their tuition on time. More than 7,000 signatures helped bring about the eventual decision of the school officials to suspend the “archaic” measure.

 

3. SMDC: Save Philam Life Theater!

UNMATCHED ACOUSTICS. SMDC says they will preserve all the elements and acoustics of PhilAm Life Theater. Photo from the Save PhilAm Life Theater - Manila Facebook page

The petition of orchestra conductor Olivier Ochanine for SM Development Corporation not to demolish the historic Philam Life Theater was signed by more than 10,600 people. In the end, the property developer vowed to keep the performance hall intact and preserve its famous acoustics.

 

4. Palawan officials: Stop the coal plant in Narra town

'NO TO COAL.' Residents and students in Aborlan, Palawan protest the proposed coal plant to be built by DMCI Power Corporation. Photo courtesy of WWF-Philippines

More than 4,100 voices called on Palawan government officials not to allow DMCI Power Corporation to build a coal-fired plant near a fishing village and cockatoo sanctuary in Narra, Palawan. The voices won. Environmental body Palawan Council for Sustainable Development blocked the planned construction and required DMCI to look for a different location for the plant. DMCI is now looking at Aborlan town but was foiled again by a court decision last December. 

 

5. DENR: Release the pawikan in Turtle Island, Guimaras

CAPTIVE. Residents of Turtle Island, Guimaras charged tourists P5 to take photos of the trapped sea turtle. Photo from Change.org

Around 1,600 people expressed their outrage at how an endangered pawikan (sea turtle) was being kept in captivity by Guimaras islanders for a profit of P5 for photo-ops. Last September 21, the pawikan was freed during an International Coastal Cleanup event by local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials.

 

6. Philippine Airlines: Stop shipping monkeys for laboratory experiments 

LAST FLIGHT. Monkeys are transported via airplane to laboratories for experiments that often leave them injured. Photo from Change.org

Animal rights advocates demanded Philippine Airlines to stop shipping monkeys to laboratories for experimentation. Monkeys on PAL flights are reportedly crammed into wooden crates until they arrive in laboratories where they are cut open and killed in experiments. Until the day 19,633 voices snatched victory, PAL was one of the few major airlines continuing the practice.

 

7. Archdiocese of Lipa: Save Balayan Church school and convent from destruction

SAVE BALAYAN. A national grocery chain was planning to turn the school and convent of Balayan church into one of its branches. Photo from Change.org

Fierce opposition, bolstered by the 6,122 signatories of the petition, led the Archdiocese of Lipa to scrap plans to lease the school and convent in the historic Balayan church complex to a national grocery chain. The Balayan church (Immaculate Conception Parish Church) in Batangas is National Historical Landmark and National Cultural Treasure.

 

8. The Medical City: Set up a mobile hospital in a Yolanda-hit province

MOBILE HELP. Mobile hospitals like this one can save lives. Photo from Change.org

After Pia Magalona, wife of the late rapper Francis Magalona, petitioned hospital Medical City to help in Yolanda relief efforts, she was joined by more than 12,000 supporters. Medical City went on to conduct medical missions in Palo and Ormoc, Leyte and Iloilo, areas severely hit by Yolanda (Haiyan). They are also raising funds to build a mobile hospital to be used in time of disaster.

 

9. Globe and Smart: Provide Yolanda hotlines

CANNOT BE REACHED. Globe and Smart vow to help the government and victims connect to each other through their services. Photo from Agence France-Presse

Globe and Smart eventually provided hotlines for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in gathering and responding to calls for assistance and relief operations updates. Globe created an emergency text service for users without load. Smart put up centers where victims can make free phone calls. Smart says they are now preparing Tacloban and Ormoc hotlines that can receive voice and text reports for the Philippine National Police.

 

10. President Aquino: Reinstate police Chief Supt Elmer Soria

BACK ON THE JOB. Chief Supt Elmer Soria was relieved from his job after estimating 10,000 were feared to have died due to Typhoon Yolanda. Photo from Change.org

More than 3,600 people petitioned for Soria, the police chief who told media that 10,000 were feared dead after Yolanda, to be reinstated after being relieved due to “stress.” Eventually, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas announced that Soria was given back his post as chief regional director of Eastern Visayas Police.

 

11. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada: Suspend building permit of DMCI’s Torre de Manila

INTEGRITY OF A MONUMENT. Heritage advocates say the Torre de Manila condominium mars the view of the Rizal Monument in Luneta. Image from 'NO to DMCI's "Terror de Manila"' Facebook page

Petitioner Carlos Celdran and more than 8,100 signatories called attention to how DMCI Homes’ Torre de Manila not only violates zoning laws but tarnishes the sanctity of the Rizal Monument in Luneta by obstructing its frontal view. Last November, the Manila City Council passed a resolution to temporarily suspend the construction of the high-rise condominium.

 

12. Makati Medical Center: Put up a mobile hospital in a Yolanda-hit province

NOT SPARED. A Filipino woman runs past patients at the Divine Word hospital in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, Nov 17, 2013. File photo by Nic Bothma/EPA

The 15,466 signatories to the petition were happy to hear that Makati Medical Center teamed up with Tacloban Doctors Medical Center and the Philippine National Red Cross to give medical assistance to typhoon victims. They set up an emergency room on the ground and sent 6 medical teams to tend to around 1,000 patients in Tacloban and other communities.


13. PH government: Scrap pork barrel and punish abusers of pork

No doubt the biggest petition of the year, the petition that aided the Million People March movement was signed by more than 180,000 people. Fueled by reports that “pork barrel queen” Janet Lim Napoles has been channelling billions of pesos of taxpayers’ money into dubious NGOs, citizens took to the streets and parks to demonstrate their anger at a system that enables corruption.

Last November 19, the Supreme Court ruled that legislators’ pork barrel is unconstitutional. Napoles, lawmakers and executive officials are now being probed for their involvement in the pork barrel scam.

 

On a lighter note, Change.org also revealed the two most amusing petitions of 2013:

Bench: Put up a billboard of South Korean basketball player Lee Seung Jun

BY POPULAR DEMAND. Lee Seung-Jun is now an endorser for Bench. Photo from Bench Facebook page

To explain her petition, Alyssa Libao wrote, “As a motorist and pedestrian, I must assert my right right to say who I want to see when I’m stuck in traffic along Edsa-Guadalupe. This will help make traffic bearable.”

The petition was signed by 86 people. 

In the end, Bench did name Lee Seung Jun (also known as Eric Sandrin) as their new Bench Body ambassador complete with sizzling hot campaign photos, of course.


Jollibee: Add more sauce and hotdogs in your spaghetti

JOYFUL MEAL. Petitioners want meatier, saucier Jollibee spaghetti. Photo from Change.org

“Because having more pasta and less sauce is just plain disappointing,” wrote petitioner Dominique Francesca Banaag. More than 1,000 people joined in her plea. No word from Jollibee yet. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com 

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