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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 16, 2009 Major News Stories

95% of 91 H1N1 cases in CV treated - DOH

Forty-five new confirmed cases of H1N1 have brought to 91 the total number of those afflicted by the virus in Region 7, which makes Central Visayas the sixth region with the highest number of H1N1 cases in the country.

DoH to contain H1N1 spread in E. Visayas

A community-level transmission of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus now exists in this city and the rest of the Eastern Visayas region, which has had 121 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, according to an official of the Department of Health.

'Drug firm offered posters to Arroyo'

A party-list representative said that the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer also offered to produce promotional posters of President Arroyo and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Acronym acrimony over drug prices

The controversy over a move by the government to make essential drugs affordable to the public has degenerated into an acronym spat between Senator Manuel Roxas II and an official of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  The proposed EO would allow the halving of the prices of essential medicines, such as the anti-hypertensive drug Norvasc (to P22.50 from P44.50); anti-diabetic Diamicron (to P7.35 from P14.75); antibiotic Zithromax (to P149.37 from P298.75); and antibiotic Augmentin suspension 60 ml (to P179.50 from P359).

DOH: Delays in halving medicine prices

Consumers may still need to wait some more before prices of 21 essential medicines are cut in half, the Department of Health (DOH) hinted Wednesday.  Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that even if drug firms would submit on Saturday a letter of undertaking (LOU) to comply with the Cheaper Medicines Act, the health department would still review the letter thoroughly.

Duque, however, did not indicate how much time the DOH needs to review the LOU.

Consumer group to file class suit vs telcos

A group of cellular phone users will file a class suit this week against the country's telecommunication firms for what it called as "digital robbery" of prepaid loads.

NTC postpones accumulated phone load due to tech'l glitch

NTC explained that the telecom firms encountered technical problems on calculating the new validity period for the accumulated prepaid credits.

RP rejects World Bank call to raise oil taxes

The Philippines on Wednesday brushed off a World Bank suggestion that it raise oil taxes to shore up revenues, saying it did not wish to hit people in the pocket amid a slowing economy that has already crimped consumer spending.

Legacy owner too sick to be arrested

A Philippine National Police doctor has recommended that Celso de los Angeles, the accused owner of the failed Legacy Group, should be allowed to stay on at the St. Luke's Medical Center after validating his medical condition during a visit Tuesday.

Web-based OFW counseling launched

Overseas Filipino workers having problems coping with the isolation may now get free online counseling from the Ateneo De Manila University.

Philippines opens embassy in Dublin

The country has opened the first resident Philippine embassy in Dublin, Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday.

Agriculture sector braces for El Niño event

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap tasked department officials to come up with contingency measures against the possible effects of the El Niño phenomenon in the country next year.

Bucao: Explain contracts sans Council nod

TALISAY City Acting Vice Mayor Alan Bucao yesterday challenged Mayor Socrates Fernandez to explain to his constituents why he signed contracts worth about P50 million without the City Council's approval.

Tommy dares Gwen to follow his program

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is daring Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to prove that the province indeed has so much money by following his example.  The mayor is urging the governor to provide P2,000 to each senior citizen in the province each year and offer families P5,000 in burial assistance.

The senior citizens in Cebu City get a cash assistance of P1,000 per year and another P1,000 during their birthday.

More tourists came in last 6 months

DESPITE a widespread recession abroad and the Influenza A (H1N1) scare, Cebu remains a top tourist destination.

Pastor welcomes re-filing of case

One of the defense lawyers of Pastor Leonardo Jastiva Sr., whom the police tagged in the killing his wife, welcomes the move of the police to re-file the parricide case against his client should they find new evidence against him.

Judges reminded to shy from loans

The Supreme Court has reminded all court judges to refrain from borrowing cash or property from subordinates, specifically from the lawyers or from the litigants, otherwise they may face dismissal from active service.

2,000 attend burial of Cortes matriarch

More than 2,000 Mandauehanons braved the rain walking half kilometer during the burial yesterday afternoon of the Celestina "Narsing" Cabungcal Cortes, the mother of Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes.

17 high schools offer journalism program

Comelec to issue voter's ID after 2010 polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will issue identification cards to over 25 million registered voters after the 2010 elections, a poll official said.  "Of the 48 million registered voters since the 2007 elections, 21.27 million IDs have been released while the rest will be given their IDs after the 2010 elections. Given that the voter's ID is not a requirement to vote, the Comelec has stopped printing the IDs so it can focus in preparations for the 2010 polls," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told

Jimenez said the Comelec IT department (ITD), which handles the printing of IDs, was mandated to prioritize the preparations for the upcoming automated elections so voter's ID printing will only resume after the 2010 elections.

According to Ferdinand De Leon, IT officer at Comelec's ITD system operation division, 23 million of the 48 million registered voters in 2007 had biometrics records with Comelec. But of the number, he said 1.3 million are not yet printed due to lack of special paper for the ID and some voters have corrupted biometrics or wrong encoded data.

Another 25 million voters have not been given IDs because they have no biometrics records—or digital specimens of photo, signature, and thumb marks—which are needed for the printing of the IDs, added De Leon.

"Capturing biometrics during voter's registration was only initiated in 2004 so we expect our old-time voters not to have their biometrics yet. At the same time, we urge all voters who have no biometrics to come forward and have their biometrics recorded. The agency plans to process all voter's information in a data bank so in future elections, biometrics can be used to identify a voter," said Jimenez.

Biometrics can offer a more refined method for cleansing the computerized voter's list (CVL) by locating multiple records of voter's registration throughout the CVL biometrics matching, said De Leon.

Before 2004, Comelec used algorithmic matching to purge the CVL by matching the voter's name and birthday records but De Leon said the method had limitations such that a change in surname for married women or even misspelling in encoded data will make it hard for Comelec to detect multiple records.

De Leon said the Comelec will acquire by August additional 2,000 biometrics data capturing machines for P1 billion to augment the 600 units it acquired in 2003, thus allowing all municipalities nationwide to have at least one DCM unit.

Voters previously issued with IDs but have applied for correction of information such as change in surname for married women, which also affects the digital signature specimen, will be issued IDs again, said De Leon.

The breakdown of issued voter's ID per region are: Cordillera Administrative Region-153,578, Ilocos Region-359,966, Cagayan Valley-94,599, Central Luzon-3,401,605, Calabarzon-3,810,303, Mimaropa-208,494, Bicol Region-228,798, Western Visayas-1,661,099, Central Visayas-1,631,866, 
Eastern Visayas-93,175, Zamboanga Peninsula-506,038, Northern Mindanao-1,083,125, Davao Region-779,180, Soccsksargen-1,100,111, Caraga-287,040, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-1,907,348, Metro Manila-3,497,411, and overseas absentee voters-405,341.

Comelec: CoC filing starts Nov 20

Politicians eyeing elective posts in the 2010 national elections can start filing their certificate of candidacy (CoC) on November 20, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Wednesday.

Shorter sked for candidacy filing, longer poll hours set

Hindi lang ang computerization ang magiging bago sa halalan 2010. Mas hahaba din ang oras ng botohan pero iikli naman ang panahon sa paghahain ng kandidatura.

SC choice of automation experts hailed

The Concerned Citizens' Movement on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's choice of three groups of computer experts to act as court consultants amid impressions they would support the movement's bid to nullify the poll automation contract awarded by the Commission on Elections to a newly formed joint venture company.

Tom: Poll automation will not stop cheaters

The automation of the elections will not be an assurance that there would be no more cheating.

Anti-SONA rallies to be "bigger" this year

A militant organization on Wednesday vowed that the protest actions planned for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) would be "bigger than in previous years."

100 congressmen jostling for US trip

No less than 100 congressmen—or nearly 40 percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives—are jostling for slots in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's entourage in her July 30 meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

Only 7 solons can join Arroyo US trip

Speaker Prospero Nograles on Wednesday said only seven congressmen could join President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her trip to the United States for a meeting with President Barack Obama end of this month.

Vagni flies back home

Italian Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni has left the country to return to his hometown Wednesday morning, the Philippine National Red Cross confirmed.

Palace flips: Amnesty to Abu unlikely

After receiving flak, Malacañang on Wednesday backtracked from its statement that it is willing to grant amnesty to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Amnesty for Abus is up to Arroyo—military

The decision to grant amnesty to Abu Sayyaf members would be up to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the military said Wednesday.

Sulu gov nixes amnesty for Abu Sayyaf

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan has opposed the idea of granting amnesty to members of the Abu Sayyaf.

Teodoro opposes amnesty for Abu Sayyaf

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said it was unwise to consider at all the proposal to grant amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf group.

Senator keeps seat, PNRC chairmanship

Senator Richard Gordon did not forfeit his seat in the Senate when he assumed the chairmanship of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), the Supreme Court said.

Sandigan orders arrest of SRA chief

All 168 people on crashed Iran plane dead

All 168 people aboard an Iranian airliner which crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran are dead, state television reported.

Powerful quake hits off New Zealand

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the southwest coast of New Zealand on Wednesday, US seismologists said, prompting a brief tsunami warning but no casualties or major damage.

Pakistan:  Peace with India 'achievable'

Feisty Beermen force Game 7

Gabe Freeman poured in 24 points to lead San Miguel to a 98-84 win and force a Game 7 against Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Motolite Fiesta Cup finals.

Mayweather: 'I'm not worried about Manny'

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting Juan Manuel Marquez this September but it seems his attention is still drawn to Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao.

HK paper: Honest OFW's story is garbage

Did Mildred Perez really return a total of P2.1-million pesos worth of cash and checks in Hong Kong or was her story rubbish?  

2 weather disturbances in Philippines

Two weather disturbances have been monitored inside the country, including tropical depression "Isang," which has maintained its strength as it continued to move northwestward, the state-run weather bureau said Wednesday.

Tourists flock to Mayon's danger zone

Lenny Bruce  - "Communism is like one big phone company."

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