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

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 24, 2009 Major News Stories

Total to hike pump prices anew

Fewer Filipinos lose jobs, says DOLE

Believe it or not, but now fewer workers nationwide are losing their jobs.  The average daily displacement due to the economic crisis is now down by 40 from 437 during the first week of March to only 397 as of Mar. 16.  From Oct. 1, 2008 to Mar.16, 2009, DOLE has recorded a total of 109,529 workers affected by the ongoing global financial crisis. She said of the total figure, only 11,574 were permanently displaced while 38,806 were laid off temporarily. Meanwhile, 59,149 were placed under flexible work arrangements.

Govt spends P6-B for unemployment 

The government may spend at least P6 billion to provide financial assistance to those rendered jobless by the global financial crisis.

17 Filipino seamen abducted by pirates in Somalia - DFA

Seventeen Filipino seafarers on board a Greek-owned bulk carrier were kidnapped by Somali pirates on March 19, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

Pinoys in Japanese ship evade capture

Eighteen Filipino seamen aboard a Japanese ship evaded capture by Somali pirates who fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the vessel.

Legal aid for 24 seamen from Nigeria

Twenty-four Filipino seafarers who were victims of unfair labor practices while on board a ship in Nigeria can now sue their recruitment agency and employer.

DFA: Lift deployment ban to Lebanon

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has given the green light on lifting the three-year deployment ban to Lebanon after the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was assured.

De Castro backs lifting of ban to Lebanon

The recommendation to lift the deployment ban on overseas Filipino workers to Lebanon has gained support from Vice President and Presidential Adviser on OFWs Noli de Castro.

Fewer Filipinos go hungry—survey

Hunger among Filipino families has eased, with the number of households saying they had been hungry the past three months dropping from a record-high 4.3 million in December to 2.9 million in February, a recent Social Weather Stations survey showed.

Secure birth, marriage certificates out soon

Local civil registrars will start using tamper-proof security papers for birth and marriage certificates soon.  The security paper (SECPA) will be printed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and will be used for documents like birth, marriage, and death certificates, which are required for the issuance of passports, visas, and government examinations.

DSWD backs bill vs corporal punishment 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday threw its behind a measure that seeks to penalize corporate among children.

2 peanut products positive for salmonella 

Results of laboratory tests from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) on Monday showed two batches of another local peanut butter brand testing positive for salmonella.  BFAD director Leticia Gutierrez as saying that the disease-causing organism was found in a certain batch of Ludy's Peanut Butter Sweet and Creamy, as well as Ludy's Peanut Butter Spread.  The contaminated products have batch numbers 02 - 230905 and 02 - 20906.  The BFAD said the manufacturer of Ludy's Peanut Butter – Samuya Food Corp – failed to observe proper manufacturing practices and has already been suspended by the Department of Health.

The DOH has also given the Samuya Food Corp 15 days to pull out the contaminated batches from the market. Gutierrez said that she has already deployed a team to conduct inspections in public markets.  On March 12 , two batches from another Samuya product were found tainted with salmonella. These included Yummy Sweet and Creamy Peanut Spread 490 grams (Batch 11240810), with expiry date of May 24, 2009; and Yummy Sweet and Creamy Peanut Spread 224 grams (Batch 3040905), with expiry date Sept. 4, 2009.

Tainted peanut butter factory suspended

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Bureau of Food and Drugs director Leticia Gutierez on Monday personally served an indefinite suspension order on a maker of peanut butter whose products had been found tainted with salmonella.The suspension order was received by Pedro Tianzon, president of Samuya Food Corp. in Pasay City.

City distributes forms for elderly's P2T aid

Nakaanak human maaksidente

5 most graft-prone gov't agencies

The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday tagged the five most graft-prone agencies in government.  Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez named the agencies most "vulnerable to graft and corruption" as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

She also named the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Health as those immediately next in line.

P206B infra fund goes nowhere w/ DPWH

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. expressed apprehension yesterday that P206 billion intended to fund infrastructure projects and generate jobs might go nowhere unless the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) shapes up.

Palace downplays CPJ report on RP press

Malacanang downplayed a Committee to Protect Journalists report that identified the Philippines as the deadliest peacetime nation for the news profession.

RP 6th in media killings 'impunity index'

The Philippines ranks sixth among 14 countries where journalists have been killed, the 2009 Global Impunity Index of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.

Media appeal dismissal of Manila Pen case

Journalists who police rounded up after quelling an attempted military uprising at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in November 2007 have asked the Court of Appeals to reverse a trial court's dismissal of the case they filed against security and government officials for violating their rights.

Teodoro sees 'smooth sailing' in Sulu

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Monday said he sees "smooth sailing" in efforts to secure the safe release of three kidnapped workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sulu after talking to Senator Richard Gordon.

Gordon insists right on ICRC kidnap crisis

Sen. Richard Gordon insisted his right to be involved in finding immediate resolution to the 68-day ordeal of the three abducted workers of the International Committee of Red Cross in Sulu.

Sabban taking 2-week leave

Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, the commander of operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits holding three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers hostage in Sulu, is taking a two-week leave of absence to attend an anti-terrorism seminar in Colombia.

Palace: Blair willing to help with Mindanao

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said during a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday that he would be willing to help push the peace process in Mindanao forward.

Villar doubts Blair can help with Mindanao

Instead of trying to help with efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao, former British prime minister Tony Blair would do better to help his own country cope with the world financial crisis, Senator Manuel Villar said on Monday.

RP to use voting machines in 2010 polls

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approved an extra budget of 11.3 billion pesos ($235 million) on Monday to finance the deployment of voting machines for next year's general elections.

"Vigilant" monitoring of poll automation 

Congress would be "vigilant" in monitoring how the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would spend the P11.3 billion supplemental budget for poll automation, an opposition lawmaker said.

ARMM polls may be held earlier—Comelec

The Commission on Elections is eyeing the conduct of the 2010 national elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao a month earlier than the rest of the country.

Comelec to study PNP gun ban proposal

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) would look into the proposed total gun ban in upcoming 2010 elections, an official said Monday.

Panlilio not quitting priesthood

Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio said on Monday he would not resign from the priesthood should he decide to run for president in 2010.

'Gov should leave priesthood if he runs'

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo joined fellow bishops on Monday in calling on Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio to leave the priesthood if he runs for president in 2010.

Cardinal won't back Panlilio's pres'l. bid

Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of the archdiocese of Manila has said he would never endorse any priest who would eye for public office for the 2010 elections.

Pangilinan admits eyeing vice presidency

Senator Francis Pangilinan announced on Monday his interest in running for vice president in the 2010 elections.

Villar: NP to field full slate in 2010

The Nacionalista Party (NP) is preparing to field a full slate, from president to senators, in 2010, its standard bearer, Senator Manuel Villar, said on Monday.

Administration candidates for 2010 in June

PCG chief, 2 others promoted

President Arroyo has promoted to the rank of admiral (four stars) Philippine Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, the PCG said yesterday.

Dumlao received support from newsmen?

Three members of the media flew to the US to provide financial assistance to former police Superintendent Glenn Dumlao, according to an anonymous text message received by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

Palace to Berroya: Show proof vs Lacson

A Malacañang official on Monday dared Transportation Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Berroya to present evidence showing that Senator Panfilo Lacson indeed caused the delay in the extradition of former Superintendent Glenn Dumlao.

Honasan wants 'leaner, meaner' PNP

Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan wants a "leaner and meaner" Philippine National Police (PNP) by reducing the agency's "built-in bureaucracy" and increasing the number of policemen on the field.

Smith in embassy until final SC ruling

Rape convict Daniel Smith will continue to stay at the US embassy until the Supreme Court rules with finality on the issue of his detention, Ambassador Kristie Kenney said on Monday.

Help sought in hunt for killer crocodile

Several people injured in Thai bomb attack

At least two Thai policemen and five civilians were injured in a bomb attack by a suspected militant group on Monday in Thailand's southernmost province of Narathiwat.

Probers believe wind shear downed plane

A FedEx cargo plane smashed into a runway and burst into a ball of fire while attempting to land at Tokyo's main international airport Monday, killing the American pilot and copilot. Investigators believe wind shear, or a sudden gust of wind, may have been a factor.

Hillary, e-diplomat, embraces new media

Her videos aren't quite viral yet and she's not tweeting, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is embracing new media, using the Web to promote the US agency and her role as the nation's top envoy.

WHO: 5,000 TB cases occur daily in Pacific

With 5,000 daily infections in the Western Pacific, the World Health Organization (WHO) today urged governments to strengthen their national health systems to prevent the further spread of tuberculosis (TB), especially in the wake of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

It's back to the gym for Manny Pacquiao

After missing practice for two days, it"s back on the gym for Manny Pacquiao. Pacman resumes his training Monday as he is scheduled to run again in the morning and then hit the Wildcard gym in the afternoon with barely six weeks before he faces Englishman Ricky Hatton in a light-welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Palace denies involvement in Pacquiao 

A Malacañang official stressed that President Arroyo did not have a hand in Manny Pacquiao's recent decision to stick it out with broadcast network Solar Sports.

Pacman blames ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN later announced it wouldn't make a statement, according to network executive Kane Choa. The other day, the station said it was letting go of Pacquiao.

"Is there anything new? I thought we've let go (of Pacquiao) as per yesterday's statement. But from what I know it was Pacquiao who dictated the timing (of the news video)," said an ABS-CBN insider.

"Manny Pacquiao approached ABS-CBN to be his media partner in airing his next fights. We thank him for trusting us. He signed a contract with us, but we will not stand in the way if he decides to change his mind. We respect it (Pacquiao's decision to honor the Solar contract), wish him good luck and we wait to hear from him," said ABS-CBN in a statement the other day.

The video, shot in the balcony of Pacquiao's LA apartment, was aired Wednesday evening over ABS-CBN, and triggered a very heated argument between ABS-CBN and Solar/GMA-7.

Charice starts shoot for Chipmunks movie

Villar seeks tax breaks for entertainment 

Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. pushed for tax incentives anew yesterday for the creative media and the entertainment industries in the country.

Spandau Ballet to regroup 

British 1980s band Spandau Ballet will become the latest ageing stars to hit the comeback circuit, two decades after their bitter split, their singer said in comments published Monday.

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