Cebu Philippines News Now

The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 11, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokkyo@blogger.com)

March 11, 2011 Major News Stories
March 11, 2011 Major News Stories

Palace: 3 depts studying proposals to cushion oil price spikes

The Aquino administration is studying all proposals aimed at softening the impact of oil price spikes with the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

The departments of Energy (DOE), Finance (DOF), and Budget and Management (DBM) are taking into consideration all the proposals including Senator Ralph Recto’s to either reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products or subsidize diesel prices, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug will meet with Recto next week to discuss the latter’s proposal, Lacierda said.

Amending or repealing the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law is also in the pile of recommendations that is under consideration.

“We do not want to burden our citizens so we are considering everything that can alleviate the burden on the people," Lacierda said. “We are certain that the relevant agencies are discussing what will be the best course of action to take," he added.

Malacañang will wait for the recommendations of the three departments, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said in the same briefing. He also voiced his sentiment against the idea of a diesel subsidy.

“We will certainly consider whatever will be the recommendations of the three departments. However, if we are going to use the windfall to subsidize diesel, that subsidy has to be meaningful," the Cabinet secretary said.

The tax windfall could be used instead to accelerate social spending programs, Carandang said.

He cited Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras as saying that the government will lose billions of dollars if it will subsidize the retail price of fuel even for a year.

“It will cost us billions of dollars, billions of dollars that we do not have, billions of dollars that are going to the operations of the government and the other programs that we have," Carandang said.

“So, if we were to go back to a subsidized fuel price, then that would basically bankrupt the government. And I don’t think anyone wants that to happen at this point," he added.

DFA: Half of Pinoys in Libya now out of harm

from GMA News.tv

A little more than half of the 26,000 Filipinos in conflict-stricken Libya have exited the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday, as it winds up its repatriation efforts there expected to last until the end of next week.

EXCLUSIVE: Pinoy suffers heart attack, left in Libya

Umaabot na sa 1,200 OFW mula Libya ang nakabalik na ng Pilipinas matapos ang 5 araw na paghihintay ng susundong eroplano sa Crete Island sa Greece. Naiwan rin ang isang Pinoy na inatake sa puso doon

PAL brings home two planeloads of OFWs

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

Two repatriation flights dispatched by Philippine Airlines (PAL) to Crete, Greece, arrived within hours of each other Thursday morning carrying a total of 731 Filipinos, including 15 infants.

OWWA: No P10K aid for OFWs repatriated from Libya before Feb. 24

from GMA News.tv

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has clarified that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated from Libya before February 24 are not entitled to receive a P10,000 grant from the government.

DFA to Pinoys in Saudi: Stay alert, avoid crowds

from GMA News.tv

Although the political tension in Saudi Arabia will not likely reach a level similar to that in Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday advised some 1.5 million Filipinos there to stay alert and avoid crowds and unnecessary movements.

DFA raises level 2 alert in Yemen

from GMA News.tv

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday has raised to alert level 2 the situation in Yemen and advised some 2,000 Filipinos to "restrict their movements and voluntary depart" due to the "exponential increase" in mass protests there.

Palace welcomes Taiwan's easing of restrictions on OFWs

from GMA News.tv

Malacañang on Thursday welcomed the decision of the Taiwanese government to relax the restrictions it imposed on overseas Filipino workers following a deportation row last month.

Aquino sends Roxas for another meeting with Taiwanese officials

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

President Benigno Aquino III has asked his emissary, former senator Manuel Roxas II, to go to Taiwan for another round of talks with officials who had invited him for a visit on March 13 to 14, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said Thursday.

DTI: Don't panic, supply of basic goods stable

The Department of Trade and Industry on Thursday asked the public not to resort to panic buying as the country has a stable supply of basic goods.

FDA to tighten rules on milk, flour-based products

Balak ngayon ng Food and Drug Administration na maghigpit sa mga gumagawa ng mga milk at flour-based confectionery gaya ng pastillas, yema, polvoron at barquillos. Ito’y para umano masiguro ang kalidad ng mga produkto na kadalasan gawang-bahay lang.

Empty drum explodes; construction worker killed

by cebuweb

AN empty drum that was being pried open with the use of a welding machine exploded and sent its lid flying toward Rene Bangcale.

The lid ripped off the abdomen of the 22-year-old construction worker, who died instantly.

The freak accident happened at a construction site on corners Junquera Extension and

Ramos Street, Cebu City, at 2:45 p.m. yesterday.

Bangcale and another construction worker, Joel Salingay, were at the 21st floor of the building, the Ramos Tower Residences.

They were helping each other remove the lid of the empty drum, which they wanted to fill with water.

‘No tampering done’

by cebuweb

WE DID not tamper with the license plate. Sr. Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, spokesman of Task Force Ellah Joy, yesterday issued the denial and said the accusation against the police was “unfair.”

The police investigating the kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Ellah Joy Pique last Feb. 8 have been accused of changing a letter in the license plate of the Pajero, the sports utility vehicle that the perpetrators allegedly used in the commission of the crime.

Joavan pleads not guilty of malicious mischief, attends hearing on grave threat

by cebuweb

IT WAS another busy day in court for Joavan Fernandez yesterday.

Clad in checkered polo and denim pants, the son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez showed up to face, not one, but two cases before the sala of Municipal Trial Court in Cities Judge Mario Manayon.

Manifesto calls for lone district

by cebuweb

MAJORITY of barangay captains in Mandaue City, through a manifesto, are calling on Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, 6th district) to file a bill that will convert the city into a lone district.

While he is elated with support, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said if Quisumbing won’t file the bill, he will urge Cebu congressmen to file one that will reorganize the districts of the entire Cebu Province.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will meet with the six congressmen of Cebu to discuss the possibility of adding more districts in the province.

Mayor wants 4 lanes back in MC Briones

by cebuweb

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama instructed the Cebu City Market Authority yesterday to restore the four lanes in M.C. Briones Street near the Carbon Public Market.

The mayor wants to remove all traffic obstruction along the road so it can be easily passable to motorists and pedestrians.

A portion of M.C. Briones St. used to be the relocation site for the affected vendors when Carbon Public Market Unit 2 building was razed by fire over a decade ago.

Rama said the clearing operations in M.C. Briones St. will also enhance the mobility of Carbon Police Station.

Construction firm rushes to beat deadline for Plaza rehab project

by cebuweb

THE renovation of Plaza Independencia is being rushed by the contractor to beat the deadline set by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who wants the park opened to the public by May 1.

Dr. Librado Macaraya of the Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission said Geety Realty and Development Corp. is rushing the rehabilitation work of the plaza to meet the deadline set by Rama.

But he admitted that the contractor is having a hard time finishing the plaza’s makeover by Labor Day due to erratic weather conditions.

Sandiganbayan to tackle forfeiture case here in Cebu

by cebuweb

THE lawyers of former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot have two weeks to comment on a motion seizing his assets.

Justice Gregory Ong issued the order yesterday here in Cebu, where the Sandiganbayan 4th Division, which he chairs, will hold the hearings.

“Petitioner has a valid cause of action against… Ligot for acquiring properties and assets during his incumbency as a public official that is manifestly out of proportion to his lawful income,” the motion read.

Aquino: Treat Garcia case like Al Capone's

from ABS-CBNnews.com by abs-cbnNEWS.com

SINGAPORE - President Benigno Aquino III wants all angles pursued in bringing to justice former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who is accused of stealing P303 million from the military's coffers.

PNoy to Oban: Reform AFP's financial system

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has directed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. General Eduardo Oban, Jr. to coordinate closely with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of National Defense (DND) in strengthening financial management systems in the military.

Solons eye new weapon vs Ombudsman

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen pursuing the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez have found a new weapon they can use against her in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the plea bargain agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Palace execs: Merci's resignation to spare country of impeachment trauma

from GMA News.tv

Malacañang officials on Thursday said Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's resignation would spare the country the trauma of going through a painful impeachment process.

Ombudsman says she won't resign from post

from GMA News.tv

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Thursday insisted that she will not quit her post despite the Senate blue ribbon committee's recommendation for her impeachment over the controversial plea bargain deal her office entered into with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Senators still impartial despite impeachment call vs Merci - Gringo

from GMA News.tv

The senators remain impartial despite the Senate blue ribbon committee's recommendation that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez be impeached, Senator Gregorio Honasan said Thursday.

Kin of 3 Ampatuan victims seek P50M in damages

from GMA News.tv

The families of three journalists slain in the grisly Maguindanao massacre in November 2009 on Thursday told a Quezon City court that they were seeking a total of P50 million in civil liabilities for the death of their loved ones.

Military assaults Abu Sayyaf lair near Zambo City

from GMA News.tv

The military on Thursday pounded a lair of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group off Zamboanga City following information that two of the bandit group's prominent leaders were there, a military spokesman said.

5 killed in bomb blast near Jolo school

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

(UPDATE 2) At least five people were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off outside an elementary school in Jolo, Sulu around 5:20 p.m. Thursday.

Peso slightly down over news of slow exports

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The peso closed 10 centavos lower on Thursday following the release of a report that the country's exports grew by a substantially slower pace in January.

$1: 43.480

$1: 43.480

Euro 1: 60.3703

BIR optimistic of meeting 2011 revenue goal of P940B

from GMA News.tv

The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Thursday said reforms in the agency will translate into higher collections and enable it to meet this year's revenue target of P940 billion.

FLI to start work later this year

by cebuweb

THE Cebu City Government yesterday received P255.5 million from Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) for the 10.6-hectare waterfront lots it purchased at the South Road Properties (SRP).

The amount was the third of six installments, and FLI got its third title for the lots on Pond F.

Five titles have been placed on escrow with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and will be turned over to FLI each time it pays the City.

FLI makes the installment payment every March for six years, as stated in the joint-venture agreement signed by City Hall and FLI officials.

Court junks suspension of proceedings in Lucio Tan wealth case

from ABS-CBNnews.com by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has dismissed the government’s request to suspend proceedings in a 24-year-old forfeiture case against the assets of businessman Lucio Tan on a claim by government lawyers that Fortune Tobacco Corp. needs to be replaced as defendant after a supposed merger with Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc.

19 dead, 174 injured in China quake

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

(UPDATE 2) At least 19 people were killed and 174 others injured in an earthquake that struck a remote area of southwest China near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, a local official said.

Singapore calls for peaceful Spratlys resolution, joint use of resources

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

For the second time this week, President Aquino raised the territorial dispute over the Spratly islands with a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and elicited a statement supporting the peaceful resolution of the issue.

Rebels fight Gadhafi with heavy weapons, diplomacy

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

Libya's opposition battled for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi's embattled regime on Thursday, winning official recognition from France and hitting government forces with heavy weapons on the road to the capital.

Gadhafi son warns east Libya rebels: 'We're coming'

TRIPOLI—Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam on Thursday issued a warning of "we're coming" and that his forces were advancing towards their bastion of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Gaddafi would agree to transition talks

from GMA News.tv

LISBON - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would agree to talks on the transition of power, Portuguese daily Publico on Thursday quoted a diplomatic source as saying after Foreign Minister Luis Amado met Gaddafi's envoy in Lisbon.

Gadhafi hoarding 'billions' in cash—report

WASHINGTON—Moammar Gadhafi has "tens of billions" of dollars in cash hidden in Tripoli, which allows him to battle an uprising despite an international freeze on Libyan assets, a report said Thursday.

Yemen president vows new constitution within year

from GMA News.tv

SANAA - Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hoping to defuse increasingly violent protests against his 32-year rule, said on Thursday he would draw up a new constitution to create a parliamentary system of government.

Roach wants Pacman to spend time with family - for now

Fully aware the next eight weeks will be a tough one for boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach has one piece of advice for the world's pound-for-pound king.

Donaire unbeatable at 118 lbs

from ABS-CBNnews.com by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing analyst Al Bernstein believes Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will remain unbeatable as a bantamweight and could even remain competitive all the way up to the featherweight division.

PNoy snubs steak, eats seafood in observance of Ash Wednesday

from GMA News.tv

President Benigno Simeon Aquino on Wednesday refused to eat steak, one of his favorite foods, and instead ordered a seafood dish in observance of the start of Catholics' Lenten season.

Lift conks out, PNoy uses stairs

from ABS-CBNnews.com

Singapore officials apologized to President Noynoy Aquino after an elevator at the Changi Water Reclamation plant conked out, forcing Aquino and some of his Cabinet officials to use the stairs.

Actor with HIV allowed to enter Philippines

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The Philippine immigration chief said Thursday he has rescinded an order barring a movie and theater actor who is HIV positive from entering the country, calling it a mistake and violation of the government's international commitments.

Kim Chiu proud to finish high school

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Drama princess Kim Chiu did not hide her emotions when she delivered a speech in front of her high school batchmates during their graduation day on Thursday.

Celebs pay respects to Paquito Diaz

Inilibing na noong Huwebes ang beteranong aktor na si Paquito Diaz. Hiling naman ng aktor at dating senador na si Ramon Sevilla Sr., mapahaba pa ang kanyang buhay para muli siyang makapaglingkod.

Guinness: Pinoy could be shortest man ever

Guinness World Records on Thursday bared the name of a 1-foot, 10-inch Filipino from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, as a new contender for the title of the smallest living man.

Four local billionaires in annual Forbes list

FOUR FILIPINOS made it to the latest Forbes billionaire list, which has ballooned to a record 1,210 personalities in the wake of the global economic recovery.

Andrew L. Tan of diversified Alliance Global Group, Inc. and Enrique K. Razon, Jr. who heads International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) made their debuts after stock prices of their companies surged in 2010.

They joined mainstays Henry Sy and Lucio Tan whose fortunes were both estimated to have risen by over a third to $5.8 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively, as of February 2011.

Mexican telco mogul Carlos Slim Helu, whose net worth was valued at $74 billion, continued to top the Forbes list, coming ahead of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

Rounding out the top 10 list were: fashion house owner Bernard Arnault, Larry Ellision of Oracle, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Amancio Ortega of the apparel brand Zara, Brazilian mining and oil tycoon Eike Batista, Mukesh Ambani who runs petrochemical businesses and Christy Walton of Walmart.

The Philippines’ richest man, mall magnate Mr. Sy, moved up the rankings to become the 173rd wealthiest in the world.

Lucio Tan -- the taipan behind the country’s largest cigarette maker, second largest beer brewer, and Philippine Airline, among other interests -- similarly rose 70 spots to 512th.

Andrew Tan was in 540th with a net worth of $2.2 billion after Alliance Global -- the holding company for his real estate, food and beverage and gaming businesses -- enjoyed a tripling in value on the stock exchange in 2010.

He had first figured on Forbes Asia magazine’s Philippine Rich List in 2007 when his net worth reportedly grew to $1.1 billion from $480 million.

"Andrew Tan holds a lot of equity in many companies. And the stock market continues to perform beyond or within expectations," Astro C. del Castillo, managing director of brokerage firm First Grade Holdings, Inc., said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Razon, worth $1.1 billion, was 1,057th.

The value of Mr. Razon’s ICTSI more than doubled in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2010, the same year he pocketed profits from the sale of a stake in National Grid Corp. of the Philippines to Mr. Sy.

"Mr. Razon continued to invest heavily not just domestically but also outside the country and 2010 was the start of the recovery," Mr. del Castillio explained.

More Filipino tycoons, he added, are sure to make the billionaires list as many here have sizeable assets, he added without elaborating.

Jaime Zobel de Ayala, who figured as the fourth richest Filipino worth $1.4 billion according to Forbes Asia’s separate ranking last year, was not in the global list.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 10, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokkyo@blogger.com)

March 10, 2011 Major News Stories
March 10, 2011 Major News Stories

Gov't mulls oil subsidies amid Arab unrest

by Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines - The government said Wednesday it may offer subsidies for certain petroleum products as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa causes prices at the pump to surge.

Transport sector needs 'relief fund,' says Energy Dept.

Because of worries over rising oil prices, the Energy Department is urging the Finance Department to create a “relief fund" for the transport sector.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Energy Department said it is in talks with the Finance Department to create plans on how to “provide relief" to public utility vehicles.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the relief fund could be derived from the imposition of windfall taxes, or those levied against certain industries that experience above-average profits.

He said that if the proceeds from windfall tax reach around P2 billion, the amount should be given “as a direct discount to the public transport groups rather than give it as tax rebate to everybody since the transport sector badly needs it."

Still, whatever resources the government could find should be plowed back to the transport sector, Almendras pointed out.

Recto asks gov't to slash VAT on fuel

Senator Ralph Recto said the government should either reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products or subsidize a fuel price rollback for public utility vehicles (PUVs) to help cushion the effect of recent price hikes.

Recto said the government can push pump prices downward by sacrificing its revenues from the VAT imposed on oil products, noting that its VAT revenues also go up as fuel prices increase.

In a statement, he said the government can also use its VAT revenues to subsidize a price rollback in diesel used by PUVs in order to ease the burden on commuters.

"Diesel should be restored to its pre-Libya level to provide relief to the commuting masses and ease pressure on fare rate and prices of basic commodities," said the senator.

Recto, who is also chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, suggested that the government subsidize half of the rollback’s cost while oil firms shoulder the other half.

"Would the government and oil companies be also willing to sacrifice?" he said.

Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said he was open to Recto's proposal but said that it would need legislation. "I am open to it... let's hear it if we want to," he said in a separate interview on Wednesday.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III were likewise open to the idea but said that the matter warrants an extensive study before being implemented.

"We could have suggestions of our own which might not be possible or might not even be acceptable to the players," Sotto said on Wednesday.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri had also earlier filed Senate Bill 2672, which seeks to restore VAT exemptions on sales of electricity, petroleum, and petroleum products.

"Every peso raked in by government is an additional burden shouldered by the consumer especially in times of rising oil prices," Zubiri said in his explanatory note.

In an interview on Wednesday, Zubiri said that with the said VAT exemptions, he expects consumers to save as much as P1 per kilowatt hour due to lower power rates and P5 to P6 per liter due to lower fuel prices.

During Recto’s earlier senatorial stint, he was a co-author of the controversial expanded VAT. His role was later repeatedly criticized by political opponents as well as the transport sector. (See: Recto defends EVAT in Osmeña country)

On the other hand, when Recto was Socioeconomic Planning secretary under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he had repeatedly alleged that oil firms were overpricing their products, even clashing several times with the late Angelo Reyes, then Energy secretary, over oil pricing policy.

Reyes, who was himself being criticized as an apologist of the oil firms, slammed Recto's position as mere grandstanding. (See: DOE chief defends oil price hikes, hits Recto for grandstanding)

LPGMA says price increase looms in March

Still reeling from the latest round of fuel price hikes, consumers are facing another price hike, this time on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) said the price hike, to come within this month, will likely be at P1 per kilo or P11 per 11-kilo tank.

LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty said this is due to an increase in world contract prices of LPG, radio dzBB's Allan Gatus reported.

At present, prices of products sold by the LPGMA stand at P620 per 11-kilo tank.

On Tuesday, oil firms imposed another round of price hikes by P1.50 per liter, kerosene by P1.25 per liter, and premium gas by P1 per liter.

Vietnam tapped to supply NFA’s rice import share

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Eliza J. Diaz, BusinessWorld

MANILA, Philippines - Rice importation plans for the year will involve the National Food Authority (NFA) undertaking a government-to-government deal with Vietnam while the private sector will have the liberty to seek shipments from other Southeast Asian suppliers, a Cabinet official said Mar. 9.  

Gov't urged to avert looming food crisis

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Warning of social unrest similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa, Sen. Edgardo Angara has called on government to act swiftly to avert a looming food crisis.

Joavan leaves bail papers behind

by cebuweb

JOAVAN Fernandez yesterday posted a P100,000 surety bond for his temporary liberty in connection with a robbery case a store attendant filed against him last year.

But before he could secure his release papers from the Regional Trial Court Branch 18,

Joavan hurriedly left the Palace of Justice after members of the media arrived to cover him past 1 p.m. yesterday.

Joavan, accompanied by a bondsman, went to the Palace of Justice and posted bail past 1 p.m. They went to the sala of Judge Gilbert Moises on the third floor to process his release paper.

Judge orders return of Pajero to owner

REGIONAL Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes ordered the return of the Pajero, said to have been used in the kidnapping and murder of Ellah Joy Pique, to its owner.

He also ordered that the other items seized by the Criminal Invesigation and Detection Group (CIDG), such as the universal service cables (USB) and a blood-stained bedsheet, be kept by the court.

Kept by the court are hair strands, LAN (local area network) cord, bed sheet with suspected traces of bloodstains, Nintendo DS game cartridge, universal service bus (USB) and card reader, video camera with accessories and tapes, rug, sex toys, a blanket (Batman) from a stockroom with suspected traces of bloodstains, empty porn compact discs (CD) covers and assorted CDs, SD card, a portion of bed/mattress with suspected traces of bloodstains, a waiver and assorted identification cards and a passport, a bed sheet with suspected traces of bloodstains, and two stones.

Paredes had granted the motion to retain custody of the seized items, particularly the Pajero (LMJ 382). He had the rest of the items retrieved at the house of a woman in Barangay Inayagan in Naga City last week, turned over to the court.

Since the electronic devices have been submitted to Camp Crame for analysis, Paredes

said, he would like these items brought back to Cebu and turned over to the court.

According to the search warrant, the woman, whom police are not naming until charges have been filed, may be the companion of the male foreigner behind the abduction and killing of Pique.

Pique, six, was reportedly taken past 4 p.m. in Barangay Calajo-an, Minglanilla by a Filipina and a Caucasian man last Feb. 8. The girl’s body was found at the foot of a cliff in nearby Balili town the next morning.

On the reported tampering of the vehicle’s plate number, the letter “M” was allegedly altered to make it appear as letter “H”, Bebot Bautista Lalikan said.

Lalikan is the sister of the owner of the seized Pajero.

Lalikan accused the operatives of tampering with the plate number themselves.

In an interview over radio dyLA, Lalikan said they have no reason to tamper with it.

She said that when the CIDG operatives seized the vehicle, the plate number did not

bear scratches or tampering.

When Lalikan and their legal counsel went to the CIDG7 headquarters inside the Camp Sotero Cabahug on Gorordo Ave. to check on the vehicle, they were surprised to see the

tampered plate number.

She said her sister is not a permanent resident of Cebu.

Lalikan said her sister arrived in Cebu from Singapore last Feb. 3.

The sister went to Palawan last Feb. 5 to celebrate her birthday together with her foreigner boyfriend.

She and her boyfriend went back to Cebu the following day.

Lalikan said her sister and the boyfriend were supposed to leave for Singapore last Feb. 7, but failed to do so because they did not catch the plane on time.

They rebooked their flights and flew to Singapore last month.

In the same dyLA radio report, Inayagan Barangay Captain Narciso Tablate said he did not see any scratch or noted any tampered portion in the letters of the plate number.

He, however, said he can no longer remember the vehicle’s plate number.

Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr., Task Force Ellah Joy spokesperson, denied the allegation.

He said the police authority “will answer those issues head-on in the proper time.”

He said the task force is waiting for the results of the verification and confirmation of the material evidence, particularly the electronics devices, submitted to Camp Crame for analysis. Six witnesses, two of them minors, have signed affidavits against the culprits, the police official said.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, Comendador met with Ligaya and Renante, Pique’s parents, to brief them about the development of the investigation.

The parents, however, refused to issue any statement to the media.

Dumpit wants out of city jail

by cebuweb

THE lawyer of jailed police officer Adonis Dumpit yesterday filed an urgent motion to have him transferred to a “safer” prison facility.

Pedro Leslie Salva asked Regional Trial Court Branch 6 Judge Ester Veloso to grant their pleading “in the highest interest of justice and fair play.”

Ecleo can’t leave country: judge

by cebuweb

DINAGAT Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. is not allowed to leave the country.

Judge Soliver Peras yesterday ordered the issuance of a hold-departure order (HDO) against the embattled lawmaker.

Peras, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10, said the hold order may be lifted only if Ecleo can prove that his trip abroad is of “utmost importance” and related to the treatment of his heart ailment.

Ecleo lawyer blasts Sandiganbayan

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer of Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo, Jr. criticized the Sandiganbayan First Division on Wednesday for denying a motion to lift an arrest warrant issued against the lawmaker.

Atty. Jose Ventura Aspiras said in a press statement that Ecleo’s conviction on three graft charges by the Sandiganbayan is not final as the lawmaker has a third petition pending before the Supreme Court.

“In fact, in our latest motion at the Sandiganbayan, we presented a certification from the clerk of court of the Supreme Court, Third Division, stating that Ecleo’s petition for review of the decision convicting him and his motion for reconsideration are pending consideration by the Court,” he said.

Elcleo, the “supreme master” of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), and 2 others were convicted in 3 graft cases in connection with fraudulent fund disbursements for construction projects in San Jose, Surigao del Norte between 1991 and 1994 during his stint as town mayor.

“The Sandiganbayan would realize that the factual basis for its arrest order,” Aspiras said, citing his client’s motion for reconsideration.

“The Sandiganbayan’s refusal to lift the warrant for Ecleo’s arrest leaves us no choice but to seek succor from the Supreme Court. We believe that Congressman Ecleo should be accorded, like every other citizen, due process. Only when questions on the sufficiency of the evidence to convict him and whether or not evidence consistent with his innocence were appreciated at all, should a person be committed to prison to serve sentence,” he added.

Palma hears side of altar boys; ‘erring’ priest fails to show up

by cebuweb

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma met with the eight acolytes from Barangay Sta. Rosa in Olango Island, who claimed they were pushed and punched by the priest of St. Augustine Parish.

The prelate talked with them for an hour at his office yesterday morning. They were accompanied by a coordinator and a sacristan adviser.

Palma, who is on his second month in office, is expected to raise the issue during the Board of Consultors’ meeting today.

The group accused Fr. Leopoldo Palacio Jr. of hitting them when they arrived late for mass last Sunday.

DOJ chief irate over Stradcom dispute

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima slammed one of two warring factions in Stradcom Corporation, the sole information technology (IT) service provider of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), for accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) fact-finding panel that looked into the December 9, 2010 Stradcom facility takeover in Quezon City of bias.

The group of Bonifacio Sumbilla, which is figuring in an intra-corporate row against the group of Cezar Quiambao, accused the panel, headed by Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, of favoring Quiambao's group when it "refused to address the prejudicial question of who has legal, controlling stocks in Stradcom."

The Sumbilla group alleged the panel of coming up with "presumptive findings based on erroneous and baseless claims of ownership by Quiambao."

"It is lamentable that, instead of reacting or responding fairly and responsibly on the report of Stradcom takeover, one of the factions involved would rather cast aspersions on the impartiality of the committee, especially Usec. Baraan. I'd like to put it on record that I am standing by the integrity of the committee and the committee chair," de Lima said.

The justice chief, who endorsed the fact-finding report in full to Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose de Jesus and President Benigno Aquino III, maintained that the panel did not touch on the intra-corporate dispute between the Sumbilla and Quiambao groups, but only looked into the accountability of LTO officials for allowing the takeover to happen.

The takeover incident caused LTO operations nationwide to be paralyzed for at least 6 hours.

"There's no way for them to side with either of the groups or factions involved in the controversy, the legal issue, the intra-corporate controversy, was not the concern of the committee. That was not the issue at all because, in the first place, the DOJ or the committee does not have the jurisdiction to resolve that controversy," de Lima said.

"The issue was purely factual: what did Asec. (Virginia) Torres or any other LTO official do or not do to address the takeover? That's the core factual issue. Second, do the evidence show that she or other LTO officials were involved in that takeover?" she added.

The panel's recommendations included the dismissal from service of LTO chief Torres and the filing of administrative charges against her for "actions and inactions" which showed her alleged leanings towards the Sumbilla group.

De Lima said Torres was "less than truthful" when she claimed she was not accorded due process in the fact-finding probe.

"She appeared, she was questioned. When she appeared, she was submitting to the jurisdiction of the committee and then later ayaw na niya and she was saying i-terminate na ang proceedings. So there was due process," de Lima said.

"Nalulungkot lang ako na may nagpapalaki ng issue na ito and instead of articulating their sentiments fairly, they go out to discredit. And of course, I will not allow that. Kaya ako nagsasalita dahil hindi ko gusto na tinitira nila yung committee members instead of addressing the issues," she said.

The DOJ fact-finding report's recommendations will be acted upon by Secretary de Jesus, the LTO being an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

After two-year ‘delay,’ trial of 1 of the lamppost cases to start

THE Sandiganbayan will finally begin the trial of one of the three remaining criminal cases lodged against 21 people over the lamppost scam, nearly two years after this was reinvestigated and re-filed.

The prosecution will present evidence in Manila on April 27-28, said the justices of the anti-graft court’s 4th division, chaired by Justice Gregory Ong, yesterday.

The prosecution, represented by the Manila-based Office of the Special Prosecutor, an agency attached to the Office of the Ombudsman, and the respondents have already submitted their pre-trial briefs.

Respondents

The respondents include former Mandaue City mayor now Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano, engineers from Mandaue City and some officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The Sandiganbayan is set to issue a pre-trial order that will map which issues will be admitted by the parties and which need to be threshed out during the trial.

The case deals with the purchase of 89 allegedly overpriced lampposts from the Fabmik Construction and Equipment Supply Company Inc. in 2006 and their installation along Mandaue City’s WO Seno, CD Seno, Plaridel and J. Briones Streets.

The purchase and installation cost P19,980,000 even though, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) canvass, the 89 lampposts were only worth P13,934,547, based on the price of similar park lamps.

Violation

Impleaded in the case are Ouano; Mandaue City Engineers Hidelisa Latonio, Gregorio Omo, Mario Gerolaga, Aflredo Sanchez Jr., Rosalina Denque, and DPWH officials Robert Lala, Marlina Alvizo, Pureza Fernandez, Cresencio Bago-lor, Agustinito Hermoso, Luis Galang, Restituto Diano, Teresa Bernido, Ayaon Manggis, Marilyn Ojeda; and Fabmik president Isabelo Braza.

Although it was the DPWH that awarded the contract to Fabmik, it was the Mandaue City engineers who allegedly prepared the program of works and estimates, which detailed the costs.

Ouano approved it.

The case is one of four cases re-filed by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas as a result of its investigation of the lamppost scam.

The revived indictments are all for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The section penalizes the act of entering into contracts grossly disadvantageous to the government.

Impleaded in some of the cases are Ouano; the Mandaue City engineers; Braza; then Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo Radaza and his engineers, Julito Cuizon, Fernando Tagaan, Jr. and Rogelio Veloso; and Gerardo Surla of Gampik Construction.

Dismissed

The DPWH officials are impleaded in all.

One of the four cases that only impleaded DPWH officials and a contractor has been dismissed.

It corresponded to the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of LED bulbs, traffic signal lanterns and other traffic control devices, plus 240 decorative lampposts in Lapu-Lapu City at a cost of P35,634,401.25.

The amount, based on the complaint against them, was in excess of the anti-graft office’s computation of P23,004,804.26.

Visayas’ bet for PCL: Margot

by cebuweb

CEBU City Councilor Margot Osmeña could be the bet of the Visayas delegation in the Philippine Councilors’ League (PCL) election today.

Councilor Edgardo Labella said he is determined to nominate Osmeña to run for PCL president against Parañaque City Councilor Alma Moreno.

Labella believes Osme-ña, who is on her first term as councilor of the south district, will be a good candidate because she can earn the support of the councilors with her achievements, especially those from Cebuano-speaking areas of the country.

Ex-village official faces graft raps on gas misuse

by cebuweb

TWO months after the resolution finding cause to charge him in court was released, a criminal case was filed against a Cebu City village chief who allegedly used government fuel for his private vehicle several times in 2002.

The falsification case against re-elected Kamput-haw Barangay Captain Lorenzo Basamot will be raffled to a trial court this week, while the issuance of a warrant of arrest and his arraignment will follow. Bail was set at P24,000.

Gov't lifts Bahrain deployment ban

from ABS-CBNnews.com

Puwede na ulit tumulak papuntang Bahrain ang mga manggagawang Pilipino. Ito’y dahil Ibinaba na ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ang alert level sa Bahrain sa pagkahupa na ang tensyong pulitikal doon. Ayon pa sa Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, aabot sa isanlibo ang bakanteng trabaho ngayon sa Bahrain. Sa ibang bansa naman gaya ng Libya at Yemen, patuloy pa rin ang deployment ban.

302 more Filipinos leave Libya

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

Another 302 Filipino migrant workers exited Libya on Wednesday, bringing to nearly 14,000 the total number of Philippine nationals who have been evacuated from the rebellion-torn country.

DFA on watch for unrest, 'Day of Rage' in Saudi

from GMA News.tv

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is now monitoring signs of unrest in Saudi Arabia, including the "Day of Rage" scheduled on Friday in the monarchic state, for any possible adverse effect on some 1.2 million Filipinos there.

Teener tells ordeal in escape from Libya

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

A 14-year-old boy was among 15 Filipino teenagers recently repatriated from strife-torn Libya. Francius Aguilar said he was alone when he fled Libya. Aguilar said he suffered physical abuse from Libyan police during his solo journey.

Solons: Training fees on volunteer nurses violate law

from GMA News.tv

Lawmakers on Wednesday described as "illegal" the imposition of fees on volunteer nurses, saying that such treatment makes trainees "worse than slaves."

Drilon cites CA's failure to check corrupt generals

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Senator Franklin Drilon wants a review of the rules of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), which he said has apparently failed to thoroughly check the track record of former military officials now accused of corruption.

Garcias ask DOJ to reverse tax evasion ruling

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Carlos Garcia and his wife, Clarita, are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reverse a review resolution that recommended the filing of charges against them for tax evasion in violation of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

Convince 16 senators to convict Ombudsman is next job, solon says

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

After the justice committee of the House of Representatives found probable cause to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust, the committee’s next task would be to make sure that the Senate would convict her based on the “strong and sufficient evidence” it would present during the trial.

Merci impeachment is about 'an obstable to judicial reforms' - Palace

The move to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is about her being “an obstacle to judicial reforms," not about former President and now Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Malacañang said Wednesday.

“Let me clarify, this is not about GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo)," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters.

“This is about clearing all the landmines. This is the promise of the President. Remember, when we came to office, there were plenty of landmines, he said, referring to perceived obstacles in the Aquino administration’s pursuit of its anti-graft and corruption initiatives.

“There were so many corrupt acts which were not resolved," he added.

The presidential spokesperson explained that Malacañang is anxious about the possibility of cases filed with the anti-graft court being “diluted" as in the case of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.

“A case (like Garcia’s) which seemed to be so strong has been so diluted that it was reduced to a plea bargain," Lacierda said.

“What we want to file before the Office of the Ombudsman is a strong case that will go forward to be prosecuted successfully. We have the apprehension that a case that we will be filing before the incumbent Ombudsman will be diluted and diminished in substance," he said.

Corrupt acts uncovered

The Aquino administration has uncovered plenty of corrupt acts “and we are going to file the necessary cases against those pertinent officials but with an Ombudsman which, we believe, will carry out the mandate of that particular office," according to President Aquino’s spokesperson.

No law was violated when the House justice committee approved for plenary vote the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez, Lacierda maintained.

“Binigyan po ng House si Ombudsman Gutierrez more than five months. They were given an SQA (status quo ante), they were given enough time to study, they were given enough time to anticipate the possibility that the decision would be adverse to them. They failed to prepare for that decision. Now, they’re claiming that there’s lack of due process," he said.

“Certainly, there was no violation of the due process – both substantive and procedural due process – to Ombudsman Gutierrez," he added.

Impeachment is a political process with legal requirements that the House committee followed to the letter, according to the Malacañang spokesperson. “This is truly a political process with legal requirements and that both have been subscribed to, both have been complied with by the House. To say that binastos ang legalities dito ay hindi po totoo."

Ombudsman eyes malversation case vs Aquino ally Padaca

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of malversation charges against former Isabela Gov. Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, an official of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, and three other officials.

SC justice to court spokesman: Don't misinform public

It's the Supreme Court spokesman's word against the first-hand accounts of two magistrates.

Another Supreme Court justice has accused spokesman Jose Midas Marquez of misinforming the public by saying that the magistrates received copies of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's petition before voting to suspend a congressional panel's impeachment proceedings against her last September.

In a two-page, strongly-worded press statement, Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said Marquez's account was not based on first-hand knowledge and that it was only Marquez who contradicted her account and that of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Sereno and Carpio had revealed that in the SC's en banc (full court) session last September 14, their colleagues — without having read Gutierrez's petition filed a day earlier — voted to issue a status quo ante order to prevent the House of Representatives' justice panel from hearing the two impeachment complaints against Gutierrez.

The stay order was lifted in February this year.

But Marquez, citing information given to him by Clerk of Court Enriquetta Vidal, said that the justices received copies of the petition before they ruled on it during the Sept. 14 en banc session.

Sereno said the "problem" created by Marquez's contradiction of her and Carpio's narration of facts prompted her to issue a press statement. Independent news organization Newsbreak had the first crack on Sereno's statement.

"When a Supreme Court official who has nothing to do with the distribution of case documents contradicts... narrations of facts based on personal knowledge made by two sitting justices in their judicial opinions, there is a serious problem. This statement has been necessitated precisely because of that problem. The public must not be misinformed,' said Sereno.

Marquez, however, declined to comment on Sereno's statement.

"With all due respect and in deference to Justice Sereno, may I be excused from further reacting? After all, I have already said everything there is to say regarding the issue," Marquez said in a text message to GMA News Online.

Velasco's synopsis

Sereno also said that even if a one-page synopsis of Gutierrez's petition was provided by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. on the morning of Sept. 14 , the Supreme Court justices should have still been given ample time to study Gutierrez's 60-page petition.

"The basis of the objection of the justices was that the justices had the right and duty to read the petition in the context of what the petition was purportedly asking for—the issuance of a restraining order against the House of Representatives in the exercise of its power of impeachment," said Sereno.

Velasco was supposedly assigned to handle Gutierrez's petition, but he later inhibited himself from the court proceedings because his son, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, is part of the House justice committee.

No undue haste, no cover-up

Last week, Newsbreak reported the alleged haste of SC justices in voting for the issuance of the stay order suspending the House justice panel's impeachment proceedings against the besieged Ombudsman.

An SC delivery receipt furnished to Newsbreak would show that five justices received their copies of Gutierrez's petition only on Sept. 15, a day after the en banc session when the status quo ante order was issued.

If based on the delivery receipt, it can be concluded that three of the five justices — Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, and Jose Perez — voted to issue the stay order without having read the petition.

But Marquez had earlier questioned the reliability of the delivery receipt.

“It was indicated there that Justice Velasco received a copy of the petition on September 15. But when the petition was filed on September 13, it was immediately raffled and was assigned to Justice Velasco, who was even able to write his synopsis of the petition," said Marquez.

League of Cities asks SC to declare 16 cityhood laws unconstitutional

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate its Nov. 18, 2008, decision declaring as unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws converting municipalities into cities.

House panel OKs compensation for Marcos-era victims

A committee at the House of Representatives has approved a measure allowing the release of some P10 billion to the victims of human rights violations during the presidency of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

The House committee on human rights passed on Monday a substitute bill providing compensation to Marcos-era victims, with the money culled from the P10 billion acquired by the government from the late strongman’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

“This is not simply about compensation. This is a symbol of retribution from the human rights violations committed towards freedom-loving Filipinos," said Deputy Speaker Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, one of the authors of the bill, in a statement Wednesday.

The bill, once signed into law, will provide for the immediate release of 80 percent of the amount for Marcos-era human rights victims who have already secured a favorable judgment from any court.

Under the bill, the remaining 20 percent of the amount shall be given to victims whose cases have not been ruled by any court.

A Compensation Board shall also be created to determine the amount each beneficiary will receive.

Before passing the bill, the committee also shortened the period of application for claims from one year to six months.

Last week, a total of $7.5 million was released to the victims after US District Court Judge Manuel Real approved the distribution of the amount as a settlement between the complainants and the corporation that handles the land properties of the Marcoses in the United States.

Each claimant received $1,000 (over P43,000) from the amount, which was supposedly part of the Marcos clan’s ill-gotten wealth in the US.

The bill, which has yet to be numbered, will now be submitted to the plenary for discussions and another round of voting. If the chamber approves it, it will be submitted to the Senate for consideration. The Senate can either pass its own version of the bill or adopt the bill passed by the House.

After this, the bicameral conference committee will be convened to reconcile the respective versions of the House and Senate. Once the bicameral committee approves the bill, it will be returned to the House and Senate for ratification. It will then be submitted to Malacañang for the signature of the President.

Three more Oakwood mutineers seek amnesty

Three military officers involved in the short-lived Oakwood mutiny almost eight years ago have applied for the amnesty offered by President Benigno Aquino III last year.

Capt. Alvin Ebreo and First Lt. Cleo Dongga-as filed their application before the Department of National Defense (DND) Amnesty Committee last Monday, while Capt. John Baloloy submitted his papers on March 2.

The three were among the nine officers pardoned by then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There are now four officers, previously pardoned by Arroyo, who have applied for the Aquino amnesty, the first being Capt. John Andres who applied last in January.

To date, 247 soldiers and police officers – detained for taking part in three attempts to overthrow the Arroyo government – have applied for amnesty.

Over 150 applications have already been approved by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin since Jan. 3, including those of Oakwood mutiny leaders Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Capt. Gary Alejano.

In 2008, Arroyo pardoned nine Oakwood mutineers after pleading guilty to the charge of staging a coup d'état before a Makati City court and apologizing for it.

The others pardoned by Arroyo were captains Gerardo Gambala, Milo Maestrecampo, and Laurence Luis Somera, First Lt. Florentino Somera, and Second Lt. Bryan Yasay.

Individuals are pardoned only after conviction, while an amnesty may be given either before or after a conviction. An amnesty obliterates all legal bearings of the crime, while a pardon relieves a person of the burden of the crime.

DOJ denies soldiers' bid to transfer murder case probe to Leyte

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday denied the motion filed by 38 soldiers to transfer the venue of the preliminary investigation (PI) on the Leonardo Co murder case to Leyte.

Crisis management, media relations lessons for police cadets

by By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

LAGUNA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) plans to include special courses on crisis management and media relations for the training of its cadets to familiarize and prepare future police commanders in dealing with crises and media coverage.

Philippines, US to hold military exercises in April

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The Philippines and the United States will again hold large-scale bilateral military exercises next month in various military camps involving about 8,000 troops from both sides, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Cimatu still special envoy–DFA

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

At least on paper, former Armed Forces Chief Roy Cimatu is still special envoy and chair of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC), created in 2002 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Former military chief named immigration boss

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

(UPDATE) President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday named retired General Ricarco David chief of the Bureau of Immigration, two days after he stepped down as Armed Forces chief of staff.

Taiwan relaxes rules for OFW visa applications

from GMA News.tv

Viewing personnel changes at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) as a show of "regret," Taiwan on Wednesday made a reciprocal gesture by announcing that it has relaxed visa requirements for applying Filipino workers.

$1: 43.380

from philstar.com - Forex & Stocks

$1: 43.380

Euro 1: 60.3199

BIR’s Annual Information Return unconstitutional—lawmaker

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The House of Representatives will ask Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to justify the mandatory filing of a report on a private individual’s assets, liabilities and networth, which lawmakers claimed would be unconstitutional and unlawful.

BIR chief says individual taxpayers not required to file SALN

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares on Wednesday clarified that private individuals are not required to file a Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) contrary to newspaper reports.

Lotto operator 2010 income surges 63% on higher sales

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Lotto operator Pacific Online Systems Corp. posted a consolidated net income of P430 million in 2010, up 63% year on year, due to higher lotto and instant scratch ticket sales.

Philippines least preferred by Japanese firms

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Jessica Anne D. Hermosa, BusinessWorld

MANILA, Philippines - The country remains the least preferred site in Southeast Asia for Japanese investment, a survey showed, at a time when firms from the Asian powerhouse are increasingly relocating from their homeland and from China.  

OPEC sees no need to meet, crude supply ample - delegate

from GMA News.tv

LONDON - OPEC sees no need at present to hold an emergency meeting to discuss raising its oil output, because supply is adequate, an OPEC delegate said on Wednesday, following informal consultations among members.

Squatters occupy Gadhafi son's London mansion

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

LONDON—Demonstrators occupied the London mansion belonging to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam on Wednesday, saying it belonged to the Libyan people.

FACTBOX: Protests in the Mideast, North Africa

March 9 (Reuters) – Here are details of some of the protests against authoritarian leaders which have deposed the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and shaken the Arab world:

LIBYA

-- Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi entered the main square of Zawiyah on Wednesday, rebel and resident sources said. Zawiyah had been seen as a rebel stronghold in the uprising which erupted against Gaddafi last month.

-- Rebels captured Ras Lanuf last week and began pushing down the strategic coastal road towards Sirte, Gaddafi's home town. But they were beaten back.

-- Libya has tipped into a political vacuum since the uprising against Gaddafi erupted on Feb. 17.

YEMEN

-- President Ali Abdullah Saleh is resisting the popular clamor for his removal that has convulsed Yemen since protesters toppled Egypt's Hosni Mubarak four weeks ago, but the odds are stacking up against him.

-- Opposition supporters vowed on Wednesday not to abandon their protests in the face of violence after one man was killed on Tuesday when policemen and security agents fired on a group setting up tents in front of Sanaa University – an area that has become the focal point of the civil unrest. At least 65 people were wounded demonstrating for an end to Saleh's 32-year-old rule.

-- Weeks of clashes across the country between government loyalists and protesters have killed up to 30 people.

-- Saleh has pledged to step down in 2013 and reform parliamentary election laws.

BAHRAIN

-- Bahrain's crown prince warned all sides on March 7 against escalating a standoff with disgruntled majority Shi'ites seeking an elected government in the Gulf Arab kingdom, asking for patience ahead of a national dialogue, which has not yet started.

-- Tensions turned to clashes between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in Bahrain on March 3, the first direct confrontation between the two communities since last month's large scale protests.

-- Seven people died last month in a security response to protests by Shi'ites who have long complained of discrimination in Bahrain, a close U.S. and Saudi ally.

IRAQ

-- Hundreds of Iraqis protested against their government on March 7 in a "Day of Regret" on the anniversary of an election that resulted in a second term for Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

-- Iraq has been swept by protests in recent weeks but, unlike uprisings across the Arab world, the Iraqi demonstrators have focused on complaints about basic services and corruption rather than trying to oust their elected government.

-- Eight years after the U.S.-led invasion which ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, development remains slow and Iraqis complain of shortages of food, water, power and jobs.

SAUDI ARABIA

-- Shi'ite protesters have taken to the streets in small numbers in eastern Saudi Arabia this month, with further rallies called for March 11.

-- Dialogue, not protest, is the best way to bring about change in Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia's huge oil wealth has provided a high standard of living compared to many neighbors, and it was thought to be immune from spreading unrest, but the rumblings of discontent from the Shi'ite minority have alarmed Riyadh.

OMAN

-- Oman carried out its third government reshuffle in a month on March 7, in the latest of a string of concessions aimed at appeasing protesters demanding jobs and political reforms in the Gulf Arab sultanate.

-- Sultan Qaboos bin Said had earlier promised 50,000 new jobs and other benefits to ward off unrest and sacked some long-serving ministers.

-- Dozens of protesters staging a sit-in for a ninth day in front of the Shoura Council, a quasi-parliamentary advisory body, cheered the news of the reshuffle.

KUWAIT

-- Several hundred Kuwaitis demonstrated on Tuesday for a change of prime minister and demanded more political freedoms. Protesters gathered in a car park they named "The Square of Change" and called for Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, a member of the ruling family, to leave.

EGYPT

-- President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11 following 18 days of mass protests centered around Cairo's Tahrir Square. Demonstrators have continued to stage protests to ensure that the new military rulers carry out promises of reform.

-- Egypt's new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, visited Tahrir Square on March 4, where he told thousands of protesters that he will work to meet their demands, and saluted "martyrs" of the revolution. Sharaf was appointed the day before to replace Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force officer named to the premiership by Mubarak before he stepped down.

-- Egypt will hold a referendum on reforms to its constitution on March 19, the government said.

TUNISIA

-- A Tunisian court ruled on Wednesday that the party of former President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali be dissolved, triggering street celebrations as one of the last vestiges of the ousted leader's era was dismantled.

-- Ben Ali was toppled by mass protests on Jan. 14 after 23 years of autocratic rule and fled to Saudi Arabia.

-- An election has been called on July 24 to choose a national assembly that will rewrite the constitution. Ben Ali's feared secret police services, a domestic spy agency notorious for human rights abuses, have been dismantled.

21 US priests named in sex report are suspended

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

The Philadelphia archdiocese suspended 21 Roman Catholic priests Tuesday who were named as child molestation suspects in a scathing grand jury report last month, a move that comes more than eight years after US bishops pledged swift action to keep potential abusers away from young people.

Donaire eyes fight vs 'super champ'

MANILA, Philippines – Newly crowned bantamweight king Nonito Donaire said he is ready to take on other bantamweight champions in an effort to unify the crowns.

Among his possible opponents are World Boxing Association (WBA) super world bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno of Panama and WBA “regular” bantamweight champion Koki Kameda of Japan.

He is also eyeing a possible fight against the winner between International Boxing Federation (IBF) titlist Joseph Agbeko of Ghana and Abner Mares of Mexico.

Filipino boxer eyes Miranda’s WBO crown

MANILA, Philippines—Reigning WBO flyweight champion Julio Cesar Miranda is currently the target of a Filipino fighter, whose manager is confident he can seal a matchup for his ward.

Former two-time world light flyweight champion Brian Viloria should be next in line for Miranda in a mandatory title fight, said Gary Gittelsohn, the Filipino-American’s manager.

Jaca faces Gonzales in Talisay

by cebuweb

FORMER world-title challenger Jimrex Jaca continues his comeback and will face a former title contender in the Night of Gladiators this Saturday in Talisay City.

The 27-year-old Jaca, 32-6-3 with 17 knockouts, will face William Gonzalez in the main event.

PBA: Gilas hang tough to beat Express, 102-99

from GMA News.tv

For the second straight time, Pilipinas-Smart Gilas walked the tightrope before getting past Air21 Express, 102-99, in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Wednesday night at the Astrodome.

Wednesday Thriller: Aces survive Beermen, 96-94

from GMA News.tv

After a tough loss, Alaska promptly bounced back in the PBA Commissioner's Cup by surviving a resilient San Miguel side, 96-94, at the Astrodome late Wednesday night.

Azkals' training not affected by Japan quake

from ABS-CBNnews.com

Hindi naapektuhan ng malakas na lindol sa Japan ang Philippine football team Azkals. Ayon sa team manager nilang si Dan Palami, hindi nila naramdaman ang lindol sa Gotemba City sa may paanan ng Mt. Fuji kung saan sila nag-eensayo. Nagkaroon pa ang Azkals ng practice drill noong Miyerkules, kalaban ang isang Japanese university team.


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