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

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 30, 2009 Major News Stories

Global swine flu cases leap past 70,000 

The largest increase in caseload was reported by the United States, which added 6,268 cases including 40 deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 27,717 including 127 deaths.

Canada posted a jump of 1,043 new cases, with its total infections now reaching 7,775 including 21 deaths.

Australia showed an increase of 758 new cases including four deaths, bringing its total to 4,038 infections and seven deaths.

US health authorities said Friday that at least one million people in the United States have had swine flu, or around 50 times more than the number of cases officially reported.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived at its figure based on computer models and surveys of communities known to have been hard hit by the new flu strain.

Some affected countries no longer keep track of all cases according to the UN health agency, while others do not report for each of the thrice-weekly bulletins.

Guard up vs. rallies, H1N1 during SONA

Stringent measures will be in place in the House of Representatives for President Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July as the chamber faces twin threats from anti-administration rallies and the Influenza A(H1N1), Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

Palace: SONA postponement up to House

Even as it continues preparing for it, Malacañang will leave to Congress the decision of whether to postpone President Arroyo"s State of the Nation Address (SONA) due to the A(H1N1) problem.

Thermal scan welcomes House employees

Returning to work after a six-day break due to the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, employees of the House of Representatives on Monday were welcomed by masked security guards carrying hand-held thermal scanners.

No congressman with A(H1N1)

As the House of Representatives returns to work today after a six-day break due to the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, no congressman has so far tested positive for the virus, House secretary general Marilyn Barua-Yap said in a press conference Monday.

House spends P2-M to fight H1N1

Escudero: H1N1 rules relaxed for Arroyo

Senator Francis Escudero said the Department of Health (DoH) might have relaxed its rules in dealing with the Influenza A(H1N1) virus to spare President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Quarantine for Gloo even if DOH says no 

7 Navy men have H1N1 -- spokesman

Seven soldiers, not two, have so far been infected with the Influenza A(H1N1) virus as 11 others remained in isolation in a hospital and guesthouse for further observation, a military official said on Monday.

H1N1 can mutate into 'milder' strain

The Influenza A(H1N1) virus can mutate, but not anytime soon and not necessarily into a more virulent strain, a health official said Monday.

38 bodies to be exhumed

THE court granted yesterday the request for exhumation of the 38 bodies buried at the Carreta cemetery just a week ago.  Families of the victims of the June 21, 2008 sinking of the mv Princess of the Stars sought the court's intervention for the identification of bodies, in an ex-parte motion for exhumation.

Officials filed 'wrong' asset forms

THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas receives the financial statements of all local officials in April of every year, with the occasional late filing being the only hitch. This year, however, late submissions are the least of their problems.  Instead of the "baseline declaration" required from public officials this year, local officials instead filled out and submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas "annual declaration" forms.  Among the officials who used the wrong forms were Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez, Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, Provincial Board (PB) members Wilfredo Caminero, Rose Marie Durano, Victor Maambong, Joven Mondigo, Jose Maria Gastardo, Victoria Corominas and Agnes Magpale as well as Cebu City Counilors Arsenio Pacaña, Jose Daluz, Nestor Archival and Raul Alcoseba.

Bucao to colleagues:  Call off Boracay trip

ACTING Talisay City Vice Mayor Alan Bucao yesterday appealed to his colleagues in the City Council to call off their trip to Boracay Island this week, saying it's better to exercise prudence in time of crisis.

City to send demand letter for return of P24 million advance

Cebu City will first send a demand letter to WT Construction and four other contractors for the return of P24-million advance payment for the aborted Carbon Public Market Ramp.

COA orders city not to let towing firms collect fines

The Commission on Audit has ordered the Cebu City Hall not to let towing companies collect payments from traffic violators.  City assistant treasurer Emma Villarete said that in its exit conference last Friday, COA pointed out that towing companies contracted by the city government should not collect payments from traffic violators.

Villarete said it used to be their practice that violators of illegal and overnight parking would pay directly to the towing companies, which in turn would remit the 15 percent share of the city to the City Treasurer's Office (CTO).

But COA said traffic violators should pay to CTO or any deputized agent of the City Hall and an official receipt should be issued to them.

It added that the towing companies should record the apprehensions, and make a voucher and bill it to CTO.

But Villarete said even before COA called their attention, they already changed the system last April.

She said the CTO will first collect the 15 percent before giving the dues to the towing companies.

SC convicts mom for selling child for sex

THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the guilt of a woman from Lapu-Lapu City who was previously charged and convicted in the lower court of "selling" her daughter, 13, to a barangay tanod for sex.

Talisay cops 'rescue' alleged shabu runner

Gov't appeals junking of rap against Erap

Government lawyers have asked the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court to reconsider its order dismissing the last perjury case against deposed president and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada and allow him to freely travel abroad.

Comelec could 'take over' automation 

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) could "take over" the position vacated by a Filipino firm in a technology consortium tasked automate the 2010 elections so that it would push through, an elections official said.  This is among four "contingency plans" of the Comelec to make sure that next year's elections are automated, said Ferdinand Rafanan, chairman of the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) that awarded the automation contract to Dutch firm Smartmatic International and its Filipino partner, Total Information Management (TIM).

On Monday, TIM withdrew from the consortium, raising fears that the Comelec would be stuck with manual counting in 2010.

Rafanan said a new bidding was another option, but its legality could be questioned since a second bidding can be done only when there is no winner in the first bidding.

TIM should be accountable, PPCRV says

Dismayado ang mga election watchdog na posibleng maudlot ang computerization ng halalan. Ang gusto ng Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting: managot ang umatras na kontratista.

Comelec to winner: No papers, no deal

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will "call off" its deal with the winning bidder for the 2010 election automation project if the technology firm fails to submit its incorporation papers by Friday, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said.

'Troops could oust Arroyo' 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo might suffer the same fate as the ousted Honduran president if she insists on extending her stay in power beyond 2010, the opposition warned on Monday.  Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition (UNO), issued the warning amid reports of a plan to use military generals to push for Charter change, which could result in a term extension for Arroyo or her assumption as prime minister in a parliamentary government.

Binay said the plan would fuel unrest within the military and galvanize opposition to the Arroyo administration.

Enrile asks Arroyo to drop House bid

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to abandon plans of running for a congressional seat as the vast powers she enjoys would give her undue advantage over her opponents.

Cory Aquino eating again, condition improves

Former President Corazon Aquino's condition has improved slightly and she has taken her first snack since she was confined to the hospital last week – chicken sandwich, her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III said.

3 dead, 15 hurt in Maguindanao blast

Bombs ripped through a cafe in southern Philippines at around 6:15 a.m., killing three people and wounding 15, witnesses said.  Most of the victims were customers of a bakery-cum-coffee shop just five meters away from the blast site.

The three dead included a man seen placing one of the devices inside a garbage bin at a coffee shop near the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao province on Mindanao island, one witness said, quoting local police.

Police tighten security in gov't buildings

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Monday ordered more stringent police watch of public buildings after a bomb explosion and a bomb attempt happened in two days straight in government buildings in Quezon City.

Ombudsman tells employees: Carry on

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Monday asked employees of the Office of the Ombudsman to be careful but also to carry on with their work in the wake of an explosion at their office compound over the weekend.

Agriculture chief orders tight security

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap ordered stricter security measures at the Department of Agriculture (DA) premises after a bomb was discovered there on Monday.

Broadcaster shot dead in Agusan Sur

A radio broadcaster was shot dead by an unknown gunman here, police said Monday.  Jonathan Petalvero, the 43-year-old host of a news commentary program on DXFM station in Bayugan town, was attacked by a gunman riding a motorcycle along a road here late Saturday, Bayugan police officer Johnny Orlanez said.

Recruiter sexually abused Filipina workers

Two Filipino female workers are preparing to file rape charges against their Arab recruiter in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, even as 20 more workers sought to be rescued from the same recruitment agency over reports that they have been sexually abused too, a global alliance of migrant workers said on Monday.

Honduras leader orders 48-hour curfew

The newly-appointed leader of Honduras Roberto Micheletti ordered a 48-hour curfew starting late Sunday, after denying there had been a coup d'etat on deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

DFA says worried for Pinoys in Honduras

Iran police out in force as poll result upheld

3 killed, 60 injured in China train collision

At least three people were killed and 60 injured when two passenger trains collided early Monday in central China, state media reported.

Roach wants to silence Pacquiao's critics

In pushing for a showdown with Miguel Cotto, American trainer Freddie Roach apparently wants to silence critics of the one-sided win scored by Manny Pacquiao over Oscar De La Hoya.

Virus scare hits Wimbledon

Some staff members at the Wimbledon tennis championships have reported "flu-like" symptoms but the competition will continue "as normal", organizers said.

Atty. 4 doc: Jacko had pulse when found

Michael Jackson still had a faint pulse and his body was warm when his doctor found him in bed and not breathing, a lawyer for the doctor told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Jackson pa angers fans after biz plug

Michael Jackson's father, who had an uneasy relationship with the superstar, angered fans Sunday when he appeared to make a commercial plug at his first appearance since his son's death.

Jackson ma to seek custody of kids

Michael Jackson's mother will seek custody of the late pop icon's three young children, a lawyer for the family of the singer told CNN on Sunday.

Jacko's parents:  Authority over affairs

Michael Jackson's father declared Sunday in the strongest terms yet that he and his wife have sole authority over the late pop star's affairs.

Belo cries harassment from 'NBI agents'

Umalma ngayon si Doktora Vicki Belo sa diumano'y pang-ha-haras sa kanya ng NBI. Ito'y matapos sumugod kahapon sa bahay niya ang ilang nakapakilalang NBI agents kaugnay pa rin sa iskandalo ng mga sex video ni Hayden Kho.

Fred Allen  - "California is a fine place to live - if you happen to be an orange."

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