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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 25, 2009 Major News Stories

Scrapping of oil deregulation law opposed

A congressional think tank has opposed proposals to junk the oil deregulation law as it is, warning that taxpayers would have to bear the burden of keeping oil prices stable if the whole law is scrapped.  In 1998, before deregulation, the government subsidy to the OPSF rose to P8.3 billion.

Mar seeks probe into power rate hike

Arroyo: 41,000 jobs lost to crisis

At least 41,000 people in the Philippines have lost their jobs amid the global downturn, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Tuesday.

Remittances seen to fall in 2009

Remittance flows to developing countries are likely to fall 5.0 to 8.0 percent this year, a reversal from an estimated growth of 8.8 percent in 2008, based on the latest remittance outlook by a technical group of the World Bank.

39 OFW victims in Malaysia get help

Help has been extended to 39 Filipino victims of illegal recruitment who were repatriated last week from Malaysia.

Legacy holders in Cebu file class suit 

New probe to summon Noli, Celso 

Vice President Noli de Castro and his erstwhile political supporter, Sto. Domingo, Albay Mayor Celso delos Angeles are among the witnesses to be summoned in a new probe into the multi-billion-peso transaction between the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC) and the Balikatan Housing Finance Inc.  "As Housing czar, the Vice President oversaw the transfer of the home loans from NHMFC to Balikatan, which means he has intimate knowledge of this deal. De los Angeles handled the finishing touches of the deal by bringing in the financing," said Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel who filed a resolution directing the House committee on housing and urban development to look into the loan purchase agreement.

Armbands of Pag-ibig workers for sympathy to chief, nothing more

Cebu lamppost contractor: Case dropped

One of the two private contractors implicated in the alleged overpricing of lampposts installed during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2006 has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft charge filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.  Gerardo S. Surla, chairman of Gampik Construction and Development, Inc., has asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to dismiss the case.
In his five-page manifestation, Surla cited the ruling of the graft court's Second Division last March 10 dismissing a similar case against Isabelo Braza, president of supplier Fabmik Construction Equipment Supply Company Inc., and his fellow contractor. 
In the said ruling, the Second Division held that the prosecution's admission in open court that it does not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial against Braza and his co-accused was fatal to its case. 
The court denied the Ombudsman's request to be allowed to withdraw the graft information conditionally so it can conduct a new investigation to gather additional evidence against the accused. It declared that a conditional withdrawal would be violative of the defendants' right to speedy disposition of their case. 
Likewise the court held that Braza cannot be charged with violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because he is a private person and not a government official. 
Surla argued that the same principle would apply in his case since he is similarly situated as Braza.

Cebu team to handle Asean lamp cases

Reconcile Tom, Gwen, secret memo found

Comelec warns vs fake voter's ID cards

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday warned the public to be wary of fixers who manufacture and sell fake voter's identification cards.

Comelec seeks total gun ban

Abad: LP members want Aquino III for VP

Members of the Liberal Party (LP) want Senator Benigno Aquino III to run for vice president in 2010, a party official said Tuesday.

PNP mulls gun raps vs Erap

Former President Joseph Estrada could be facing charges after he was reportedly seen carrying a replica of a high-powered firearm in a Cebu town early this month, the head of the Philippine National Police said Tuesday.  PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa said Estrada may be charged for gun-toting, adding that it does not matter whether the gun is real or a replica because specific provisions forbid civilians from displaying real or fake high-powered firearms.

Dumlao bail a "setback" in Dacer-Corbito 

Mancao claims need corroboration 

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Tuesday former police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino is indispensable to determining the veracity of allegations by another former police officer Cezar Mancao II.

Military cuts supplies to hostage-takers

The military has cut off supply lines to Islamic extremists who are holding three Red Cross workers hostage in dense jungle in Sulu.  Security forces are limiting food, water and other supplies to Islamic militants holding three Red Cross workers in an attempt to force their release.

Spanish king and queen visiting RP 

King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain are scheduled to visit the country next year, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Tuesday.

BIR hopes Pacquiao spurs tax payments

Faced with a revenue shortfall in the first two months of the year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has tapped boxing hero Manny Pacquiao for a 30-second television commercial to be launched Wednesday to remind people to pay their taxes.

Tax chief cracks the whip

China: Peaceful settlement of Spratlys 

China has reaffirmed its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Spratly Islands diuspute and said it has never wanted confrontation among claimants.

UN rules detention of Suu Kyi illegal

ABS-CBN chief: Let us support Manny

Hand shake ends POC, PSC row; Vow to team up for RP sports

A handshake before the meeting set the tone for a resolution that ended the spat between the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

'Buhing Kalbaryo' himuon sa City Jail

Gina Pareño almost missed Asian Oscars

True to form, Filipino actor Gina Pareño made a "dramatic entrance" at the 3rd Asian Film Awards, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center Monday.  When Pareño's name was called as the winner of the Best Supporting Actress prize for her work in "Serbis," she was nowhere to be found.

"Serbis" filmmaker Dante Mendoza, who is also a nominee for the directing category, went up the stage to accept the trophy for her.  As Dante began his speech, Gina started running towards the stage.  Pareño charmed the audience with her natural comic timing: "Her first words at the podium were: 'I'm so sorry, I was at the ladies' room.'"

A day after her Asian Film Awards triumph, Pareño had only one thing on her mind: Flying back to Manila so she could return to work on the set of the ABS-CBN soap opera "Tayong Dalawa."

RP women more intelligent, live longer 

Besides being expected to outlive their male counterparts, Filipino women are also considered to have more reading and writing skills, a government report said on Tuesday.  Filipino women are expected to live for 71.6 years, higher than Filipino men's 66.1 year life expectancy, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said. 

Filipino women also secured higher functional literacy rates, indicating that 86.3 percent of them have rudimentary reading and writing skills. 

The current level is higher than men's functional literacy rate at 81.9 percent, the NSCB's report entitled Updates on Women and Men in the Philippines said.

Moreover, 94.3 percent of Filipino women – which comprise 45.9 million of the total population – have simple literacy, compared to 92.6 percent of Filipino men.

While men prefer to take up engineering and technology courses in college, majority of women chose medical and allied programs.

As for health and nutrition, Filipino men generally fared better than the women. 

The report also said that 5.7 percent of Filipino women were considered obese, compared to three percent of men, which comprise 46.4 million of the total population. 

Moreover, 14.2 percent of women were also considered underweight, more than 10.6 percent of men. 

Despite these figures, the the NSCB also said that Filipino females usually received better medical care than men.

Some 71.3 percent of Filipino women received vaccinations between 12 months and 23 months, against men's 68.4 percent. 

More boys also die during infancy at 35 per 1,000 live births, compared to 25 girls. 

Mortality rate among boys under five years old were also higher at 48 per live birth against girls' 34.

Surprisingly, however, more males have been served by the Department of Social Welfare and Development at 47,136 against 33,480 women.

Although males had higher labor force participation rate at 78.9 percent against females' 48.6 percent, the average annual income of household headed by a man was only at P167,013 against those headed by a woman at P197, 629.

The elective positions in the Philippines remain men's territory as they occupy 76.8 percent of these posts, against 23.2 percent occupied by women.

The NSCB also noted that 33.2 percent of Filipino males would approve of a woman having an abortion against four percent of females.

However, more Filipino women would support a bill to legalize divorce in the Philippines with 40.2 percent against 8.4 percent of men.

Still, Filipino women remained conservative with only 10.8 percent of Filipino women agreeing for unmarried people to live together even if they have no plans of marrying against 33.2 percent of men. 

More men also had premarital sex, with 31.2 percent of them against 15.9 percent of women.

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