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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 14, 2009 Major News Stories

As the supply of liquefied petroleum gas in the region continued to tighten, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. on Tuesday jacked up the price of its cooking gas by P2 a kilogram.

LPG supply to normalize in two weeks 

The supply of liquefied petroleum gas will normalize in two weeks, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said Tuesday.

Oil falls below $37 on gloomy outlook

Oil prices fell below $37 a barrel Tuesday in Asia on expectations crude demand will weaken amid a severe global economic slowdown.

8 dead, 43,000 hit in Samar floods

Two persons drowned in separate villages when flood hit this capital town Saturday.

42,000 displaced in Misamis floods

Pinoy nurses in Japan $1,600 monthly

Filipino nurses and caregivers are wanted this year in Japan. As part of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA, the hiring program will begin with the initial recruitment of 200 nurses and 300 caregivers.

No gunman; IBP condemns murder

SC chief gets local support

Rerouting sa Mandaue alang sa 'Tagbo' 

Random drugtest sa high school ok

Mixed reax to Arroyo as anti-drug czar

Lawmakers criticized President Arroyo's self-appointment as drug czar as ill-timed and "overacting," even as others hailed it as a good move towards curbing the drug menace plaguing the country.

Detained Marines back Marcelino

Detained Marine junior officers facing mutiny charges lauded on Tuesday the actions of their "mistah" or Philippine Military Academy (PMA) classmate, Marine Major Ferdinand Marcelino, who exposed the alleged bribery surrounding the so-called "Alabang Boys" case.

Budget, CARP among Senate priority 

The passage of the P1.4-trillion national budget for 2009 and the amendments to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program are among 22 measures that the Senate has placed among its top priority when Congress resumes sessions next week.

Soldier accused of stealing munitions 

The Philippine military is investigating a soldier accused of stealing ammunition in the southern island of Basilan, where security forces are fighting militants.

DOJ sues alleged JI bomb expert

The Department of Justice on Tuesday recommended the filing of criminal charges against Mohammad Rafiq Ullah, the Bangladeshi arrested last month for illegal possession of explosives in the former province of Shariff Kabunsuan.

Retired SC justice denies court leak 

Newly-retired Supreme Court justice Ruben Reyes denied leaking a court decision on a petition that is being seen to have triggered alleged move to oust Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

Bill vs bypassed Cabinet nominees

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr filed a bill seeking to prohibit the President from re-nominating or re-appointing Cabinet officials and executive officials bypassed by the Commission on Appointments twice.

Erap's ma dies at 103

Mrs. Mary Ejercito, mother of former President Estrada, died of multiple organ failure.

Palace condoles with Estrada family

Malacañang condoled with the family of Doña Mary Ejercito, the mother of president Estrada.

Binay wants Estrada endorsement

Although he can campaign on his own, Makati Mayor and declared presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay admitted he would also want the endorsement of former president Joseph Estrada.

Melo: Poll budget limits tech option

21 Filipinos freed by Somali pirates

Twenty-one Filipino seafarers from the M/V African Sanderling were released by suspected Somali pirates, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said.

Let Palestinian spouses to go to RP

The International Organization for Migration is willing to pay the airfare of the 20 Palestinian spouses of Filipinas in Gaza, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said Tuesday.

Philippines peso skids to P47.55:$1

RP economy 'unfree' - think tank

The Philippine economy remained "mostly unfree" owing to pervasive corruption and weak judicial system, a US-based think tank said.

Hong Kong is world's freest economy

Hong Kong has been named the world's freest economy for the 15th year in a row, according to an annual report released today by the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that warns against government intervention amid the global economic crisis.

UN chief to press Gaza cease-fire

Clinton for Senate OK as top diplomat

From the disappointment of a failed White House bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton is on the threshold of the world's stage as chief diplomat for the Democrat who defeated her.

Pacquiao-Hatton May 2 uncertain

The planned May 2 superfight between two of boxing"s top brawlers would not push through after all due to problems in the revenue split.

Skydivers demo sport in Cebu

Tanchangco leads RP in Laos SEAG 

Sepak takraw president Mario Tanchangco has been chosen as the country's Chef de Mission for the 25th Southeast Asian Games in Laos this December.

Hot Babe slay suspects drug tested

Australia offers job Lazing in paradise

Position: Island caretaker. Duties: Lazing around Australia's Great Barrier Reef for six months. Salary: 150,000 Australian dollars ($100,000).

Pinoys cultural dance show in Saipan

A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saipan will hold a two-hour cultural dance show to raise funds for victims of human trafficking and sexual assault.

Churches to arrest collections decline

Apparently feeling the economic crunch, priests and faithful from the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte decided to devise ways to improve local churches' finances.

Group scores search for RP's poorest

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said it was "mind boggling" that the government would conduct a nationwide assessment to identify the country's poorest of the poor and likened the project to a beauty pageant.

India toasts success of 'Slumdog' 

India's movie-mad millions have not yet seen "Slumdog Millionaire," but this Mumbai-based fairy tale, which opens here next week, is already the toast of Bollywood.

Scrooge of Congress? Joker still is

Only Sen. Manuel Villar came close, spending P12,442,323.98. Villar was ousted last November following speculations that he may have used his previous position as Senate President to pursue his presidential plans.

The COA report showed actors-turned-senators were the biggest spenders. Sen. Bong Revilla was on top with P15,889,626.66 followed by President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada with P15,449,229.69. Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's expenses amounted to P15,271,305.21 while Sen. Lito Lapid spent P15,103,242.15.

Pangilinan is the only non show-biz personality among the top four biggest spenders, although he is married to actress and mega star Sharon Cuneta.

When reached for comment by The STAR, Arroyo said he hopes to encourage his colleagues to be frugal in spending the people's money. "I sacrificed for that. I deprived myself a few million pesos. I want to impress on my colleagues that we should try to be thrifty," he said.

However, the senator expressed surprise when he learned that the newcomers in the Senate spent an average of P7 million for the first six months alone.

Seven senators who were elected in the May 2007 elections served only for six months in 2007 and therefore, their expenses should have only been half that of senators who served 12 months.

"Yet, their expenses are a revelation," Arroyo said.

Records showed that it was detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who had spent the most among the newcomers.

Trillanes is barred from attending session and cannot perform his duties as senator because he is in a military stockade. 

For six months from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2007, he spent P8,167,433.95, COA records showed.

Analysis on that data showed that if you double that amount to simulate a 12-month service, the former Oakwood mutineer would be spending P16,334,867.90, thereby making him the biggest spending legislator ever in the Senate.

The six other newly elected senators had a median expense from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2007 of P7,602,386.00 or the equivalent of P15,204,830.00 for a full year. 

That places them in the high-spenders' list. 

In ascending order, their expenditures are: Sen. Noynoy Aquino, P7,233,950.09; Juan Miguel Zubiri, P7,486,542.34; Alan Peter Cayetano, P7,490,153.03; Loren Legarda, P7,511,829.43; Francis Escudero, P7,782,864.79; and Gringo Honasan, P8,109,000.39.

Meanwhile, the mid-range spenders who spent P13.5 million to P15 million in ascending order, from the lowest to the highest, were Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel, Edgardo Angara, Mar Roxas, Pia Cayetano, Jamby Madrigal, Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Rodolfo Biazon, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Records revealed that Pimentel spent P13,452,506.50; Angara, P13,579,151.74; Roxas, P13,810,176.81; Pia Cayetano, P13,916,309.50; Madrigal, P14,305,778.16, Lacson, P14,456,161.38;

Gordon, P14,491,565.44; Santiago, P14,806,163.63; Biazon, P14,895,189.42 and Enrile, P14,993,705.40.

Arroyo's frugality with legislative monies started in the House of Representatives where he had no staff, except for a driver and a utility man, doing his work as congressman all by himself, including making his own phone calls. He carried this work ethic to the Senate when he was elected in 2001 and had a skeletal staff of three.

Arroyo is also proud of his perfect attendance record for 17 years. It's like not being absent from class even once from Grade 1 until you graduate from college, he said.

Since Arroyo joined the government in 1986 as Executive Secretary up to the present, he has never traveled on government money.

Arroyo chose not to chair any committee in the present 14th Congress although he was offered two prize committees.

In the 12th and 13th Congresses, he chaired the Blue Ribbon Committee, the Public Services Committee, and the Justice and Human Rights Committee and has always prepared a committee report or at least a disposition report for every referral to any committee he chairs.

Arroyo has no media officer, writes his own press statements, discusses only issues he considers important and avoids subjects that he feels are inanities, but occasionally drops by the media office after everyone has filed his story and enjoys bantering with media.

Reporters who covered Arroyo in the legislative beats know that he writes his own press releases by hand, and even faxes them to reporters. Arroyo keeps a small phonebook where he writes the contact numbers of media and political personalities.

Joe E. Lewis  - "There's only one thing money won't buy, and that is poverty."

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