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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 23, 2009 Major News Stories

6 Mandaue inmates test positive for virus

ALL SIX samples taken from inmates of Mandaue City Jail have been confirmed to have Influenza A(H1N1), health officials said yesterday.

DOH provides medicine to jail inmates

Dengue claims 104 lives thus far this year

Dengue has claimed at least 104 lives and afflicted over 10,000 others during the first half of the year, according to the Department of Health.

Tagum nursing school suspends classes

Classes in one of the city's nursing schools were suspended after one of its personnel tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, school and health officials announced Wednesday.

10-50% price cuts for 22 more drugs set

Aside from the 21 essential drugs whose prices will be halved either through voluntary action by drug companies or through a presidential order, 22 other drugs would also undergo price cuts by 10 to 50 per cent.

These 22 drugs were included in the letter of undertaking submitted last week by the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines on behalf of the member-drug companies.

These are medicines that treat goiter, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, arthritis, fungal infections and diabetes.

Drug companies offered to voluntarily cut the price of some of their products in an attempt to prevent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from signing an executive order imposing maximum drug retail price (MDRP) on 21 essential drugs that were identified by the Department of Health to be exorbitantly priced.

DoH and the Department of Trade and Industry said they finished the review and validation of the PHAP's proposal and transmitted their recommendation to the Office of the President on Wednesday (July 22).

DoH said the drug companies agreed to cut by 50 per cent the prices of 16 drugs that treat hypertension, diabetes, common infections, amoebiasis (a leading cause for diarrhea) and some cancers like leukemia (the top killer cancer among children).

The DOH said they have recommended the imposition of a maximum drug retail price for the remaining five drugs through an executive order being drafted for the President's signing.

NFA downplays rice price hike fears

The National Food Authority (NFA) downplayed fears that a weakening dollar will push up prices of rice, saying the country's rice supply is stable at least up to the first quarter of 2010.

Arroyo declares holidays in 2010

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday issued Proclamation 1841 declaring 10 regular holidays, four special non-working holidays and a special holiday for 2010.

To be observed as regular holidays in 2010 are New Year's Day (January 1), Maundy Thursday (April 1), Good Friday (April 2), Araw ng Kagitingan (April 9), Labor Day (May 1), Independence Day (June 14, Monday nearest June 12), National Heroes Day (August 30, last Monday of August), Bonifacio Day (November 29, Monday nearest November 30), Christmas Day (December 25, Saturday), and Rizal Day (December 27, Monday nearest December 30).

Under Republic Act 9492, holidays, except those that are religious in nature, are moved to the nearest Monday unless otherwise modified by law, order or proclamation.

The special non-working days are Ninoy Aquino Day (August 23, Monday nearest Aug August 23), All Saints Day (Nov. 1, Monday), as well as December 24 and December 31, the last day of the year.

"In order to foster closer family ties and enable our countrymen to observe Christmas more meaningful, it is but fitting to declare December 24 as an additional special (non-working) day throughout the day,'' Arroyo said in the proclamation.

The 1986 People Power Revolution anniversary (February 22, Monday nearest February 25) is declared as a special holiday for all schools.

The government will issue other proclamations declaring a national holiday for the observance of the Eid'l Fitr and Eid'l Adha, whose dates are determined based on the lunar calendar.

Arroyo has signed Republic Act 9645 declaring July 27 of every year as special national "working holiday" in recognition of the founding anniversary of Iglesia ni Cristo.

DSWD to file motion for reconsideration

The lawyers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development are going to seek for reconsideration of the Department of Justice resolution exonerating Father Benedicto Ejares from criminal liability arising from his "inappropriate" conduct while hearing confessions from students of Abellana National School three years ago.

Slain foreigner was a convict

THE 51-year-old Norwegian slain in Consolacion after allegedly holding four persons hostage had been convicted of rape and drugs charges and served time in jail in Norway.

Buyer, lawyer linked to P6M heist

APART from the four arrested suspects, four more people, including a lawyer, may be included in the complaint over the attack on a jewelry dealer who nearly lost P6 million last Tuesday.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador said efforts were ongoing to arrest the fifth robbery suspect, while the female friend of dealer Jennifer de la Cerna was taken into police custody for questioning.

The fifth suspect was identified as Junjun Gamanay, while de la Cerna's female friend is Jennifer Enriquez. Enriquez declined to be interviewed by the media.

Pending the results of the evaluation, Comendador said those who will be charged today with robbery will be the arrested robbery suspects Noel Salig Davis, alias Jack-Jack, 44, of Panabo, Davao City; Kirby Baguio Abanilla, 27, of Barangay Pasil, Cebu City; Frederick Mancao Ybañez, 35, of Catadman, Ozamiz City; Jeromy Sande Polistico, 44, of Clarin, Misamis Occidental; and Gamanay, who remains at large.

SC junks Granada's petition for certiorari

Due to technicality, the Supreme Court has dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Demetrio Granada against Tudela Mayor Rogelio Baquerfo and the Commission on Elections.

Refund bonuses, town officials told

OFFICIALS and employees of Cordova, Cebu were ordered to refund about P1.4 million in "gifts" they received last year, since the bonus exceeded the town's limit on personnel services.

Cordova council blind of P10M contracts

More than P10 million worth of contracts were entered into by Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy last year without authority from the Cordova town council, said a report by the State Regional Office of the Commission on Audit.

Barangay captain sued before Ombuds

Criminal and administrative complaints for alleged malversation of government property and gross misconduct were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against a barangay captain in Lapu-Lapu City for selling the scrap irons owned by the barangay.  Canjulao Councilor Magdalena Perodes and four other residents filed the complaint against Barangay Captain Rufo Bering before the anti-graft office last Tuesday.

Cebu-wide solid waste mgt. system sealed

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with 51 mayors of different towns and cities in the province and heads of the Association of Barangay Councils for a joint implementation of a solid waste management system.

NGO opposes Naga coal ash dumpsite

A Manila-based waste and pollution watchdog slammed a controversial plan by the provincial government to set up a dumpsite by the beach for coal combustion waste or what is commonly known as coal ash.

Residents of condo mull charges

RESIDENTS of a high-end condominium project are considering filing a case to revoke the license to sell of the developer of Citylights Gardens Towers.

Arroyo can't impose martial law–Bong

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not in a position to declare martial law because she does not control the military, the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said.

Ex-DND to troops: Defy unlawful orders

Warning of a 'disturbing' pattern in recent events showing that the Arroyo administration might be seeking to perpetuate itself in power, former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz asked soldiers on Wednesday to 'disobey patently unlawful orders' that would subvert the Constitution.

Bomb recovered near Parañaque bank

Police recovered an improvised bomb at a garbage pile near a bank in Parañaque City on Wednesday, a police official said.

S. Cotabato blast kills 2, wounds 3

Two men, believed to be intoxicated, died after they allegedly played with a hand grenade in South Cotabato province Tuesday night, the provincial police chief said on Wednesday.

History will vindicate Arroyo – Speaker

One of the "good performing" presidents, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be given her place in history when she steps down in 2010 after nine years in Malacañang, one of her staunchest allies said on Wednesday.

Case meant to derail poll automation

A member of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Advisory Council assailed administration critic Harry Roque on Wednesday for asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the poll automation project.

Villar tops new SWS survey

Dislodging Vice President Noli de Castro, Senator Manuel M. Villar topped the survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) last month on the leader who should succeed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010.

De Castro fell to fourth place with only 19 percent of the 1,500 respondents polled nationwide rooting for him, down from 21 percent in May and 27 percent in February.

It was De Castro's lowest rating since September 2007.

Conducted from June 19 to 22, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

Villar obtained the nod of 33 percent of the respondents, up from 29 percent in May and 26 percent in February.

Respondents aged 18 and above were asked: "Under the present Constitution, the term of President Arroyo is up to 2010 only and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed President Arroyo as President?"

SWS did not provide a list, allowing respondents to name up to three candidates.

Closely trailing Villar was former president Joseph Estrada with 25 percent, almost double the 13 percent he got in May and February.

Senators Francis Escudero and Manuel Roxas II were tied at third place with 20 percent, while Senator Loren Legarda was at fifth place with 15 percent.

Escudero got 15 percent in May and 23 percent in February, while Roxas obtained 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Legarda received 14 percent in May and 25 percent in February.

It was Villar who commissioned the SWS survey in May that covered 7,000 respondents nationwide.

The other perceived presidential aspirants got single digits:

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson scored seven percent (down from 12 percent in May and 14 percent in February) and Makati Mayor Jejomar C. Binay obtained four percent (up from two percent in May and one percent in February).

Senator Richard Gordon, Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando and Arroyo scored one percent each.

The others scored below a percentage point — Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, Jesus Is Lord leader Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva, Defense Secretary Gilbert C. Teodoro, Jr., detained Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, Pampanga Governor Ed T. Panlilio, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an unspecified "Estrada," and Senator Ramon B. Revilla Jr.

Arroyo presses PAF on attack choppers

The Department of National Defense urged the Philippine Air Force to make the necessary adjustments in the procurement of P3.2 billion worth of attack helicopters as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted them delivered before her term ends next year, a defense official said.

Burned OFW bodies delayed repatriation

VP: Locate 5 Filipinos in Afghan crash

Vice President Noli de Castro asked the Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday to help locate five more Filipino workers who were with the 10 others who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan over the weekend.

2 Filipinos in Singapore tanker freed

Singapore-flagged chemical tanker MT Sichem Peace which has two Filipino seafarers on board was released by Nigerian militants early today, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Aquino calls children to her bedside

Ailing former President Corazon Aquino called all her five children to be with her Tuesday night, her youngest daughter said.

Top US diplomat tells Aquino: Get well

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent a note to the family of former President Corazon Aquino wishing her a fast recovery from colon cancer, Washington's envoy to Manila said.

Nothing to worry about Cory as of now

A close friend of former President Corazon Aquino on Wednesday said "there is nothing to worry" about the former leader"s health.

Military Chief: Soldiers cleared of torture

An internal investigation has cleared soldiers of involvement in the alleged torture of a Filipino-American activist, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief General Victor Ibrado said, even as he was not discounting the possibility of a cover-up.

Mancao: I took orders from Erap

TV journalist pleads not guilty to wiretap

Broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro entered a "not guilty" plea on the wiretapping charges filed against her by a ranking official of the Government Service Insurance System.

DoF bucks tax exemption for drug imports

The Department of Finance has shot down a bill proposing tax exemptions on sale and importation of drugs and medical equipment, citing an estimated annual revenue loss of P5.57 billion.

ASEAN: Consider Myanmar expulsion

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should consider expelling Myanmar if it does not release imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.

Clinton signs US-ASEAN pact

Jones Cup: RP 5 loses to Lebanon

Powerade Team Pilipinas absorbed its fourth loss in the ongoing 31st William Jones Cup losing to Lebanon, 95-83.

No more than 100 athletes for SEAG - PSC

As far as the Philippine Sports Commission is concerned, the country should only be sending less than 100 athletes in the Laos Southeast Asian Games.

Yao undergoes surgery on broken left foot

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming underwent surgery on his broken left foot here Tuesday, an operation that the Chinese superstar center hopes will allow him to resume his NBA career in 2010.

Police raid offices of Michael Jackson's doc

Federal agents and detectives swooped on the offices of Michael Jackson's doctor Wednesday as lawyers for the physician revealed police are treating the star's death as possible homicide.  A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirmed that a search with the Los Angeles police took place at the offices of the Armstrong medical clinic in Houston, Texas, where doctor Conrad Murray practices.

Filipino saw partial solar eclipse

Filipinos nationwide experienced a partial solar eclipse between 8:30 a.m. to around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Solar eclipse spreads darkness over Asia

The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century cast its shadow over western India Wednesday and headed for China on a path that was plunging hundreds of millions of people into temporary darkness.

Palawan river in new 7 world wonders

The Underground River of Puerto Princesa City has made it to the final 28 in the ongoing global search for the new seven wonders of nature.

A call for vigilance - Avelino Cruz Jr.

Pablo Picasso  - "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

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