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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 22, 2009 Major News Stories

Flu toll at 700, schools closure mulled

Firms drop cases vs. new NTC rules

Content providers for mobile phones have agreed to withdraw their cases against the new guidelines of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) prohibiting them from sending unsolicited messages or spam to consumers.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile:  "But I suggested, the good commissioner agreed that the content providers will be given a show cause notice, show cause why you should not be stopped from doing business… If they don't show cause, then they will be shut off, " referring to NTC commissioner Ruel Canobas. 

In exchange for the withdrawal of the cases, Enrile said the NTC agreed to sit down with the content providers to discuss a possible revision of the guidelines to give them due process before imposing sanctions on them, such as disconnection of their services. 

He said the content providers and the NTC would meet again on Wednesday to "smoothen out" the issue. 

To address similar problems in the future, Enrile said Congress would also push a measure that would grant security of tenure for NTC commissioners and "enough powers" for the commission.

10 OFWs in Afghan crash identified

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed the identities of the ten Filipino workers killed in the helicopter crash in Kandahar on July 19.

The employer of the Filipino workers, United States-based construction firm The AIM Group Inc., furnished the names to the DFA after their families have been informed of the incident.

The Filipinos on board the aircraft which malfunctioned during takeoff and plunged to the ground were:

* Celso Q. Caralde (born in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental)
* Ely I. Cariño (Cabusao, Camarines Sur)
* Ernesto C. De Vega (Naic, Cavite)
* Manolito C. Hornilla (Taysan, Batangas)
* Leopoldo G. Jimenez, Jr. (Lubao, Pampanga)
* Mark Joseph C. Mariano (Floridablanca, Pampanga)
* Marvin P. Najera (San Fernando, Pampanga)
* Rene D. Taboclaon (Cagayan de Oro City)
* Recardo E. Vallejos (Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
* Noli M. Visda (Lubao, Pampanga)

The helicopter was reported to be carrying three crew members and 17 passengers of varying nationalities. Sixteen of the passengers, including the Filipinos, were killed in the crash.

The company said the next of kin for each Filipino employee have been notified of the death of their family member. After positive identification is made of the bodies in Kandahar, these will be sent to Kuwait and then repatriated to the Philippines. 

The DFA has dispatched a team from the Philippine embassy in Islamabad to coordinate with local authorities for the repatriation. 

"We have several representatives in the Philippines who will ensure that the bodies are repatriated to the families," an official from AIM said.

"Each Filipino employee and his dependent family members will be eligible for payments under Defense Base Act Insurance and other policies that are in place," the company said. It added that it will process the insurance claims as soon as possible and submit these to the insurance company.

Meanwhile, the company official clarified that all 10 Filipino workers were already in Afghanistan when they started working for AIM. 

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. said the focus of the Philippine government is to attend to immediate concerns which include the repatriation of the bodies and assistance that will be extended to the families. 

"Our priority now is to work closely with the employer and the relevant authorities to identify the remains and cause their repatriation and ensure that all benefits due the workers are paid to their families. Thereafter, DFA will work with DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) to find out how these workers ended up working in Afghanistan notwithstanding the deployment ban," Conejos said in the DFA statement.

4 Pinoy fishermen still missing in Oman

Simul vigils to kick off SONA protests

Militants are set to hold simultaneous protest vigils in Calamba City in Laguna and in Dasmariñas, Cavite late afternoon Tuesday to kick off their protest march from the provinces to Batasang Pambansa, where the President will deliver what is expected to be her final State of the Nation address on Monday (July 27).

Lim sets guidelines for pre-SONA protests

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim allowed protesters to stage a series of marches in the city in the runup to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, but strictly prohibited vandalism and declared Don Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge off-limits to vigils.

Troops reminded of deadline vs Abu

The new military commander in the southwest ordered troops to finish off the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf by the end of the year, or even earlier, as directed by their superiors.

FilAm activist to pursue torture raps

American-Filipino activist Melissa Reyes arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Monday night to pursue her complaint that she was abducted and tortured by military agents in Central Luzon while on an exposure tour last month.

SC defers TRO on poll deal payment

The Supreme Court deferred the issuance of a temporary restraining order on the P4-billion initial payment that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would give to a technology consortium it had tapped to automate the 2010 elections, a court spokesman said.

Priest-governor to run for president in 2010

Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio announced on Tuesday his intention to run for president in 2010 and leave priesthood.

"God is calling me to run for president"

Priest-turned-Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio on Tuesday declared "God is calling" him to seek the presidency next year, as he announced his intention to file his candidacy in late November even if it would mean leaving his religious vocation.

Nograles: JDV can't question merger

Speaker Prospero Nograles twitted Pangasinan Representative Jose de Venecia Jr. for asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to nullify the merger between the administration parties Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).

Pinoys in NY offer prayers for Cory

Magnitude 5 quake hits off Davao del Sur

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5 struck off Davao del Sur at 3:13 p.m. Tuesday, the US Geological Survey reported.

Tourists banned as Taal volcano shakes

Solon pushes local dialect in schools

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives should support the Department of Education's policy of using the local language to teach the basics to young students by allocating a portion of their pork barrel for the development of training materials, according to Valenzuela Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo.

UNDP to help RP fight 'rise' of AIDS threat

The UN Development Programme said Tuesday it will help the Philippines fight rising HIV infections, which reached record monthly levels for the country this year.

Arroyo signs law strengthening Pag-Ibig

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law on Tuesday the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009 aimed at further boosting the capability of Pag-Ibig, the state housing fund.

Oil prices up in Asian trade

Oil prices were up to $64.30 per barrel in Asian trade Tuesday on renewed hopes that the ailing global economy is on the mend, dealers said.

Clinton concerned by NK-Myanmar links

Fujimori gets 7.5 years for corruption

Peru's ex-president Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison Monday for corruption during his rule, court officials said, in the latest blow to the disgraced former leader already jailed on human rights abuses.

Light manual labor for Madoff in prison

Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, given a 150-year prison sentence in June for running the biggest fraud in Wall Street history, spends seven hours a day doing light manual labor.  According to the Post, Madoff was given a job in the prison's engraving section, where he makes desk and door nameplates from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day.

Guinness: Cebu's "largest dance class"

Pacquiao-Cotto fight set on Nov. 14

Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and Puerto Rican fighter Miguel Cotto will meet in Las Vegas on November 14 at a catch-weight of 145 pounds, ESPN and Filipino newspapers reported Monday.

Bryant vows to see Pacman's next fight

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant expressed admiration and respect for Manny Pacquiao and vowed to support the local boxing icon in his next fight.

Kobe wows basketball-crazy Philippines

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant wowed basketball-crazy Filipinos as he kicked off an Asian tour here, vowing the defending champions were on course to reach the NBA finals again.

Belo says audio CD 'irrelevant'

The Department of Justice (DoJ) gave beauty expert Dr. Vicki Belo and her co-accused in the video sex scandal until Friday to submit their opposition to Katrina Halili's bid to use as evidence a recording of the conversation of Belo, Dr. Hayden Kho and Lolit Solis.

KC's parents warn would-be suitors

Michael Jackson movie in works

A Hollywood movie made using footage of Michael Jackson rehearsing for his planned series of comeback concerts could hit theaters by the end of this year, US media reports said Monday.

Heather Mills' cancer karma

Call girl scandal deepens for Berlusconi

3 Filipino youth win WB essay contest

Three Filipino youth won the World Bank's 2009 International Essay Competition with their essay, video and photograph entries, besting more than 2,000 submissions from over 150 countries, 90 percent of which come from developing countries.

US teens get sex ed not from parents

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