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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 2, 2009 Major News Stories

H1N1 cases up to 1,709, 85% recover 

The Philippines' running tally of confirmed cases of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus has reached 1,709, but the Department of Health (DoH) said 1,485 of that number, or 86 percent, have recovered and all were mild cases.  Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said on Wednesday that the DoH was expecting more "mild" cases to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

"I cannot say if we have peaked but I think the cases would still increase," Villaverde told a news conference.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said there were 1,709 confirmed H1N1 flu cases from the first week of May until June 27.

"As we anticipate more cases in the coming months, we must institute effective mitigation measures to save lives and prevent deaths to reduce the impact of the pandemic to our nation and economy," he said.

Duque said 86 percent or 1,485 cases have fully recovered while the remaining 224 were still being treated—most of them under home management.

Villaverde said Duque ordered government hospitals and community health centers to be prepared for the "surge in mild cases."

Of the total cases, 92 percent are Filipinos while the rest are foreigners, mostly from the United States (17 cases), Japan (8), China (4), Korea (3s), German (2 cases) and one each from Australia, Canada, India, Iran, Lebanon, Sweden, Thailand and Turkey, said Duque.

About 17 percent or 285 cases have traveled to countries with A(H1N) cases such as the US, China, Japan and Singapore, he said.

By region, Metro Manila had the highest number of A(H1N1) cases, 72 percent of the total number of cases, Villaverde said.

9 Science Hi studes undergo swab test

Nine students of the Philippine Science High School in Argao will undergo a swab test today after they were discovered to be experiencing cough and fever yesterday.

4 Cebu schools observed for A(H1N1)

HEALTH officials announced yesterday that three schools in Metro Cebu and a high school in the south are being observed after students there showed symptoms of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus.  These four schools, including the Philippine Science High School in Argao town, have yielded swab samples as part of efforts to check if any students there have the virus, said Dr. Cora Lou Kintanar, Department of Health (DOH) 7 spokesperson.  Three other schools, mostly private schools within Metro Cebu, are also under observation after 18 students there showed signs and symptoms of the new flu virus.

As of now, Region 7 has 199 cases under observation (CUOs), with seven new CUOs added yesterday. There were still 33 confirmed cases, with the last tallied case recorded during the last weekend.

Nine students—four girls and five boys—are being observed in the Argao school's infirmary and are awaiting the results of their tests, added Kintanar.

If anyone tests positive, she assured the spread of the virus can be controlled. Most of the students live in in-school dormitories.

When three students first tested positive at the University of Cebu Lapu-lapu-Mandaue (UCLM) campus, school and health officials quarantined 600 other scholars in the same dorm, as a precaution. Eighteen maritime scholars were eventually affected, but the strain was mild.

The Philippine Science High School in Argao is an institution funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which aims to train future scientists.

Meanwhile, the principal of Talamban National High School denied reports that some of her students were confirmed to have Influenza A (H1N1), after showing symptoms.

Principal Victoria Japitana said that most of the 18 students reported they had fever after participating in last Saturday's attempt to break the record for the largest dance class.

About 7,700 participants gathered in the Cebu City Sports Center to break the record last Saturday afternoon.

Japitana said that the students, who were mostly fourth-year students taking second-shift classes in the afternoon, suffered from fever after they failed to eat lunch during the activity.

Japitana added that some of them also suffered from fatigue after practicing their routine for days and staying too long under the sun.


Japitana said she has asked the students to go home, rest and wait until they get better.

Kintanar said she has not received reports from local health officials that high school students in Talamban were showing symptoms of A(H1N1). She added she will check and verify the report.

Dr. Recaredo Borgonia, Department of Education (Deped) 7 regional director, told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that if any public school will have confirmed cases within their campus, they will be ready to suspend classes for 10 days.

4 police cadets have H1N1 – PNPA chief

Four cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus and were undergoing treatment, the academy's superintendent said.

A(H1N1) sidelines 56 PNPA cadets

Even the strong are apparently not immune to the A(H1N1) virus.

Legislators push for health emergency 

Two legislators have urged the government to declare a state of national health emergency and ensure that poor people will have access to affordable medicine, even as the Department of Health (DOH) relaxed its guidelines despite a spike in the number of Influenza A(H1N1) cases in the Philippines.  The declaration would allow the government to re-align funds for the containment of the disease, impose price control over essential medicines, and require compulsory licensing of patented drugs through the Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, according to Iloilo Representatives Ferjinel Biron and Janette Garin, who are both physicians.

DOH:  Skip SONA if you feel sick

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday advised employees of the House of Representatives who have flu-like symptoms to just skip President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

WHO stands by anti-virals against A (H1N1)

Garments workers refuse separation pay

Workers of Triumph International (Philippines) Inc. who are about to be laid off will not accept their separation pay or any other offers from the company unless they are first presented proof that its impending closure is legal, an officer of the workers' union said Wednesday.

Sanction vs recruiter for charging fees

A licensed recruitment agency faces possible cancellation of license after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration initiated administrative proceedings against it for charging fees from departing domestic helpers, a violation of POEA rules on recruitment.  POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili said Al Alamia International Manpower Services also faces charges for failure to deploy some 53 female applicants as domestic helpers in Kuwait.

The agency reportedly asked the workers to pay P8,000 for miscellaneous expenses and placement fees equivalent to two months' salary to be paid through salary deduction. 

Under the policy on the recruitment of Filipino household service workers, a recruitment agency is prohibited from charging placement fees from domestic helpers. 

After Vecina, 57 OFWs still on death row

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) May Vecina"s reunion with her family on Tuesday after a year on Kuwait"s death row is definitely another feather in the cap for the Arroyo administration. But the current number of OFWs facing the death penalty abroad means the government still has a lot of work to do.

Road collapses in Buot Taup

FOR a barangay that gets cut off from Cebu City every time it rains hard, Buot Taup has been dreaming of the construction of two bridges to ease the difficulties of its residents.

P11.3B for poll automation only – solons

Lawmakers on Thursday cautioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against tapping the P11.3-billion supplemental budget Congress approved early this year if the automation of the 2010 elections fails to push through.

Comelec nixes Mega Pacific machines

With the automation of the 2010 polls in peril, an election lawyer on Wednesday suggested that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resort to using the Mega Pacific eSolutions, Inc."s automated counting machines that were intended for the 2004 elections.

Poll automation fiasco a form of sabotage

Whether deliberate or unintentional, the withdrawal of Total Information Management Corp. from the poll automation contract could be considered as a form of "sabotage" by quarters not keen on automation, a political analyst said Wednesday.

Happy times back for poll cheats – solon

Happy times are back for "operators" of "dagdag-bawas" with the looming collapse of the deal between the companies that would provide the machines to automate the May 2010 elections, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Teachers dismayed over manual polls 

Not again. Teachers" groups on Wednesday expressed dismay over the prospect of manual polls in 2010 as they would be burdened, once again, with the time-consuming, and oftentimes dangerous task of manually counting the votes.

Timeline: Long Road to Poll Automation

Teodoro to join administration party

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he would take his oath as member of the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD within July.

Gordon mulls joining administration party

Senator Richard Gordon said he was willing to join the administration party Lakas-Kampi CMD so long as its standard bearer for 2010 would be chosen based on qualification, not on performance in opinion surveys.

Ombuds bomb threat 3 days after blast

Only three days after a bomb exploded at the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City, a bomb threat was sent in a text message to one of its lawyers Wednesday morning, forcing top officials to send some 500 employees home by noon.

Bomb threats "normal" during SONA 

Despite the controversy they generated, the explosion at the Office of the Ombudsman and the discovery of an improvised explosive device at the Department of Agriculture can be considered "normal," National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said Wednesday.

50 rebels raid Agusan Sur police station

Around 50 New People's Army rebels raided the police station of Sta. Josefa town in Agusan del Sur on Wednesday morning, a police official said.

Palace orders probe into FilAm's abduction

Malacañang on Wednesday announced that it had ordered the Department of National Defense to investigate the allegation of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas that she was abducted and tortured by military agents in June.

US embassy probes FilAm's torture claims

The United States embassy in Manila is now looking into the allegations of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas that she was abducted and tortured by the Philippine military while she was on a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac in June.

Mancao to be moved to safehouse 

Former police colonel Cezar Mancao will be transferred to a safe house from his custom-built detention cell at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Wednesday.

Prayers sought for ailing Cory Aquino

Former President Corazon Aquino is confined at a hospital in Makati City due to loss of appetite, according to a statement from the office of her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III.

Senators pray for Cory Aquino

Senators joined the family of former President Corazon Aquino in praying for her quick recovery, amid reports that she was in serious condition.

Prayers sought for ailing Cory Aquino

Hoping their beloved Tita Cory rallies, friends of the ailing former president Corazon Aquino gathered Wednesday at the Greenbelt chapel in Makati to start off a nine-day series of Healing Masses for the 76-year-old People Power icon who is battling cancer.

DILG chief not on sick leave – spokesman

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno is not ill and is in the United States to attend his daughter's wedding, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Puno takes medical leave; Ebdane is OIC

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. will be the officer-in-charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the next few weeks, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

New Honduras leader defies int'l pressure

In the face of growing international pressure, the interim leader of Honduras has warned that only a foreign invasion would return President Manuel Zelaya to office, setting up a showdown with his ousted predecessor who is preparing to come home accompanied by world leaders.

OAS gives Honduras 72-hour ultimatum 

Bernard Madoff gets 150 years in prison

A Fedearl Judge rejected Bernard Madoff's plea for leniency on Monday, sentencing the 71-year-old swindler to spend the rest of his life in prison for an "extraordinarily evil" fraud that took a staggering toll on thousands of victims.

Arum: Be a 'fighting congressman'

PSC-POC row won't affect athletes 

Despite the raging feud between the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, PSC chair Harry Angping has assured that the national athletes won't be caught in the crossfire.

Federer downs Karlovic to reach semis

Struggling Pistons fire Curry as coach

Michael Curry was fired Tuesday as coach of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, his departure coming just one day before the start of the league's free agent signing period.

Finley to stay with Spurs next NBA season

Michael Finley will return next season for the San Antonio Spurs, his fifth with the Western Conference team and his 15th season in the NBA.

Boozer and Okur decide to stay with Jazz

Jackson returns to Neverland for last time

The "Thriller" for all time who battled insomnia and begged for sedatives in his final days may be laid to eternal rest in Neverland.

Jackson will filed in Los Angeles court

Tiger pays tribute to Jackson's legacy

World golf number one Tiger Woods paid tribute to the late Michael Jackson, calling the "King of Pop" a musical icon whose work influenced him and whose legacy lives on in today's stars.

Jackson requested powerful sedative

Hundreds say final farewell to Fawcett

Hundreds of mourners paid tribute to Farrah Fawcett Tuesday as the "Charlie's Angels" star was laid to rest in a private ceremony in Los Angeles.

Farrah Fawcett made peace with Majors

Belo doc faces raps over botched facial

The Makati City Prosecutor's Office has ordered the filing of criminal charges against a doctor for allegedly botching a facial procedure on a United States-based nurse.

'No Princess Velasco-Hayden sex video'

SKorea wages war against private teaching

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