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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 24, 2009 Major News Stories

6 Cebu inmates confirmed with A(H1N1)

Six of 177 inmates at the Mandaue City Jail in the province of Cebu who showed flu-like symptoms last week were confirmed to have A(H1N1) infection.  All 177 are considered confirmed cases.

10 more inmates reveal flu signs

TEN more inmates in a Mandaue City jail afflicted by flu and fever yesterday, just a day after six were confirmed to have Influenza A (H1N1), said health officials.


6 Albay students test positive for H1N1

A Benedictine school in Albay suspended classes Thursday after six of its grade school students tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, Bicol health officials reported.

H1N1 prompts hajj restrictions


First case in Americas of drug-resistant flu

Health officials in Canada have identified a case of swine flu that has proved resistant to the antiviral drug Tamiflu, media reports said Wednesday.

Firms nod in cutting prices a success 

The drug companies" cooperation with the government in slashing the prices of medicines can be considered a breakthrough, according to an official of the Department of Health.  With the enactment of R.A. 9502, So said it became easier for the government to get information from the companies and push through with lowering the prices of essential medicines. 

Prices of drug products mostly manufactured by multinational companies for the Philippines are among the highest in Asia. In 2007, results of a World Bank Study survey showed that the prices of drugs being sold in the Philippines were 34 to 184 times higher than international reference prices. 

Next month, prices for 99 medicines covering 43 drugs are expected to be cut substantially after the companies agreed to voluntarily reduce the prices of their products. 

However, not all prices of said products will be compulsorily cut by half. So said the price cuts for 31 of the 99 branded products would be from 10 to 50 percent, while the slash for the 68 others will be 50 percent. 

The drugs that will be subject to price cuts are for hypertension, diabetes, common infection, amoebiasis, cancer, allergies, cholesterol buildup, and thrombosis. 

Compulsorily cutting the prices of 21 essential medicines by 50 percent was the original recommendation of the DOH to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

However, the drug firms opposed the mandatory cut and sought a dialog with Mrs. Arroyo in Malacañang for her to reconsider the recommendation of the DOH. 

Mrs. Arroyo gave the firms 10 days or until July 18 to come up with a proposal voluntarily reducing the prices of their medicines. 

But according to the DOH, the companies only proposed 50 percent voluntary price cuts for 16 of the 21 medicines, thereby leaving no other choice for the government but to subject the five other essential medicines to the 50-percent mandatory price cap. The firms' proposal also contained 31 other drugs whose prices they offered to cut by 10 to 50 percent.

Mrs. Arroyo is expected to sign an executive order lowering the prices of medicines before she leaves for Washington next week. By August 15, drug stores are expected to sell these drugs at reduced prices, according to So. 

He said drug stores that would fail to offer lower prices would only be given up to September 15 to comply before the government penalizes violators of R.A. 9502.

Taiwan needs 150 factory workers—POEA

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is facilitating the employment of 120 male and 30 female factory workers through the special hiring program for Taiwan in cooperation with Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco).

Hunt for OFWs' recruiter in Afghan crash

A search is on for the illegal recruiters of the overseas Filipino workers who died in Sunday's helicopter crash in Afghanistan, where there is a deployment ban, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said Thursday.

Kin of OFWs in Afghan crash grieve


More Filipinas being used as drug 'mules'

More and more Filipino women are being used as couriers or "mules" by international drug traffickers, according to the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi.

No sightings of missing fishers in Oman


Per-second charging for cellphone users


Arroyo foes to miss great Sona

Too bad, they're going to miss a great speech. That's what Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said Thursday of senators and representatives planning to skip President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's farewell State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

Activists prepare for SONA, Con-Ass


Arroyo halts military offensive vs MILF

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered on Thursday the suspension of military operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in an effort described as a "confidence-building measure" to help restart stalled peace talks.

MILF welcomes halt to military offensives

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) welcomed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's order to halt military offensives in the south to pave the way for the resumption of peace negotiations.

Moro rebs storm camp in N. Cotabato

Fierce fighting erupted and a major highway was closed to traffic Wednesday after a hundred Moro rebels stormed a military camp in North Cotabato province, a military official said Thursday.

RP, Indonesia bombings seem linked

Recent deadly bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines appear to be linked, and suggest regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah may be active again, Manila's national security chief said.

The "character and intent" of three recent bomb attacks on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao that left eight dead and over 100 injured has all the markings of JI, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said.

He said bombs used in the Mindanao attacks were similar to those used in last Friday's bombings of two luxury hotels in Jakarta that killed seven people.

Puno urges registration of 1.2M loose guns

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno has urged owners of loose firearms to avail themselves of the government's one-month amnesty on the registration of unlicensed guns beginning October 1.

Police set meet with poll body on gun ban

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be meeting with the Commission on Elections next week to discuss the possible implementation of a total gun ban for the 2010 elections, Director General Jesus Verzosa said.


Ex-VP wants Arroyo to tell the 'real score'

What is the real score? This is what former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. wanted to know from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as he addressed an open letter Thursday to the Chief Executive asking her to answer "vital questions" about her incumbency before she delivers her State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Arroyo won't hang on to power

Malacañang blasted former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz on Thursday for raising the specter of martial law, saying President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not "wallowing in power."

Defy illegal orders, AFP chief says too

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado said soldiers should never obey illegal orders and should uphold the Constitution at all times.

Arroyo reappoints Yusoph to Comelec

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has reappointed Elections Commissioner Elias Yusoph, Malacañang said Thursday.

Iglesia ni Cristo to hold huge assemblies

The Iglesia ni Cristo, which is celebrating its 95th anniversary Monday, announced it will hold huge religious assemblies in 14 venues around the country and in five sites in four other countries.

Automation is secure – Smartmatic-TIM


Estrada will run in 2010 – Enrile

Notwithstanding legal questions, former president Joseph Estrada will run in the 2010 elections to reclaim his old post, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.

Aquino under 'pain management' – son

Former President Corazon Aquino, who is suffering from colon cancer, is undergoing "pain management" therapy, her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III said.

Aquino listens to Pope's letter

President Aquino "exuded an aura of serenity" as she listened to her grandson read a message from the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI expressing "spiritual closeness" with her in her suffering.

'Tie a yellow ribbon' for Cory, friends urge

Former President Corazon Aquino's close friends urged the public on Thursday to "tie a yellow ribbon" to display their support for the ailing icon of democracy.

FilAm activist saw abductor's face

Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas on Thursday said she remembers the face of one of her abductors who forcibly took her and two companions on May 19 in La Paz, Tarlac.

Dumlao expected to return Sunday


UN says RP falling behind in AIDS fight

The UN Development Program on Thursday said the Philippines has not done enough to curb the rise of HIV infections in this largely conservative Roman Catholic nation of 90 million people.

Japanese admits killing two Filipinas

A Japanese man pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering two Filipinas and chopping up their bodies, media reports said.

"I admit to everything," 49-year-old Hiroshi Nozaki was quoted as telling the Tokyo District court as charges were read over the murders of Elda Longakit Yoneda, 27, and Honiefaith Ratilla Kamiosawa, 22.

Both women, who had worked in Tokyo's Roppongi nightlife district, were strangled to death inside apartments -- Yoneda in the port city of Yokohama in 1999, and Kamiosawa in Tokyo in 2008.

Previous media reports have said Nozaki burned Yoneda's body and flushed its parts down a toilet, and that he washed Kamiosawa's body parts in a laundry machine before hiding them in a suitcase in a coin locker.

According to prosecutors Nozaki killed the two women after they rejected his advances, media reported.

Nozaki previously served three-and-a-half years in prison for dismembering the body of Yoneda. The victim's cause of death was never established and he was convicted only of charges of destroying a body.

Nozaki was again arrested in April 2008 on suspicion of killing Kamiosawa, and police later issued a fresh arrest warrant over Yoneda's murder.

Defense lawyers said Nozaki, who has since been diagnosed with terminal cancer, had admitted to his crimes because he wants to be handed a death sentence as quickly as possible, Jiji Press said.

DSWD warns of bogus permits for kids

The Department of Social Welfare & Development warned against unscrupulous individuals issuing travel clearances for minors traveling abroad accompanied by people other than their parents.

Amended Pag-ibig charter, more benefits

More benefits await members of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a law that amends HDMF charter granting the institution more capacity to perform its housing and finance mandates.

Groups want labeling of GMO products

Groups opposing the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are calling for the compulsory labeling of products containing GMOs as a guide to consumers.

NJersey mayors, rabbis arrested for graft

US agents arrested 44 elected officials and Jewish rabbis in New Jersey on Thursday in a huge anti-corruption sweep across the state.

Charges of extortion, bribery, money laundering and human organ trafficking were stunning even for a state long notorious for official corruption and organized crime.

Five rabbis were among suspects, along with the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield, the Jersey City deputy mayor and council president, two state assembly members, and numerous other politicians, prosecutors said.

Honduras rejects plan for prexy's return

SKorea prevails over RP, 83-80

Powerade Team Pilipinas suffered its fifth loss in the 31st Jones Cup, absorbing an 83-80 loss to powerhouse Korea despite playing its best game so far in the tournament.

Arum: RP's Gorres in Chavez undercard

Preliminary probe of Halili libel rap ends

The Quezon City prosecutors office on Thursday morning ended its preliminary investigation of the libel complaint lodged by actress Katrina Halili against the mother of her ex-lover, cosmetic surgeon Hayden Kho.

Diet rapped over SSS registration

Actor Diether Ocampo is facing a complaint for not presenting records of his workers at a water refilling station during an inspection by the Social Security System in 2008.

Vilma: I won't run for VP in 2010


MJ movie could be a Halloween thriller

A movie made from footage of Michael Jackson's rehearsals for his comeback concerts could be released to coincide with Halloween festivities, reports said Wednesday.

Film megastar Jolie visits Iraq refugees


Mayon tremors increase

Mayon Volcano's tremors have increased sharply in recent days, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Thursday.


Samuel Goldwyn  - "I'm willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."

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