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

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 6, 2009 Major News Stories

World Health officials to check RP

OFFICIALS from the World Health Organization (WHO) are expected to meet Department of Health (DOH) 7 officials today and discuss the Influenza A (H1N1) situation in the country.

Church attendance remains high

SUGGESTIONS to avoid crowds as a precaution against a new flu virus have failed to drag down attendance during Sunday masses in Cebu, Catholic church representatives said yesterday.

Australia reports 11th H1N1-related death

Australia reported its 11th death linked to the Influenza A(H1N1) virus on Sunday, as the number of cases in Asia-Pacific's worst-hit nation soared to 5,298.

Bad news, good news on Guam jobs

The bad news: As next year's scheduled relocation of the United States military base from Okinawa, Japan to Guam gives Filipinos seeking overseas employment hope, they may not get priority for construction jobs, a recruitment specialist said Sunday.  Although Filipinos are preferred in Guam, the huge unemployment situation in the US, particularly mainland-based construction workers, may get in the way of getting Filipinos hired for jobs created by the planned construction of various buildings and infrastructure in the new site of the US Marine and Air Force units, said Emmanuel Geslani.

Quoting Guam Governor Felix Camacho, he said construction workers in the US may compete with the prospective Filipino workers.

Among those that will be built are new barracks, dependents' housing, new roads, and infrastructure like electrical power, water facilities, waste treatment, commissary and other buildings necessary to accommodate the transfer and relocation of the additional 23,000 persons, he said.

He said the demand for construction workers for the Guam build-up will start by the first quarter of 2010, when the bids for the new US Marines headquarters will be awarded. Actual construction will start in July 2010 after all bids have been awarded. The 18-month project is scheduled for completion by 2012 for the total relocation of US military personnel from Okinawa by 2014.

At the same time, there are no still job orders approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said Geslani.

He said the employment contract acceptable to both Guam labor officials and the POEA is still being finalized, although the basic issues have already been agreed on—the hourly wages start at $12 and US labor laws will be followed.

Camacho was in the country last week and met with members and officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. (Pasei), and the Philippine Construction Association.

The good news

But once Guam is transformed into a major US military base in the Pacific, Filipinohealth care personnel will be in demand, the Guam governor said.

"Guam is substantially underserved in health care services. Filipino nurses who have passed the requisite US licensure examinations and Filipino doctors that have US board certifications are qualified to apply," the Guam official said.

Guam, which is only three hours away from the Philippines, will become home to 8,000 more US Marines and 15,000 more dependents starting 2012.

Actual demand for healthcare workers will start in 2012 when the relocation of the US Marines and their dependents will start so aspiring Filipino nurses and doctors can now prepare by taking the necessary US exams like NCLEX, CGFNS, IELTS, and US Board
certifications, Geslani said.

Medical technicians in radiology, cardio laboratories, and CT scan; occupational and physical therapists, as well as medical transcriptionists and medical administrative personnel will be needed to staff the expanded naval hospital in Guam, he said.

The US Department of Defense anticipates that the transfer would double the total patient capacity of the US Naval Hospital, now the primary medical provider for the 14,000 military members and their dependents in Guam.

The US Naval Hospital offers a broad band of medical services that include family practice, OB-GYN, pediatrics, general surgery, internal medicine, occupational health and preventive medicine, physical therapy, health promotions, and social work services.

Japan will fund $8 billion of the $12-billion move, the rest by the US.

Altogether, Geslani said, the relocation of the US military base is expected to generate 20,000 jobs.

Pinoy nurses in Saudi get wage increase

Palace has high hopes for Smartmatic-TIM

Malacañang on Sunday made it clear that it had only high expectations from the Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) consortium in handling the historic full automation of Philippine elections in 2010.

'Comelec should prepare for manual polls'

Even if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was able to bring the 2010 automation project back on track, it should still prepare for manual elections, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Sunday.

Prayers for Aquino like in '86 -- archbishop

The outpouring of prayers for ailing President Cory Aquino was akin to the years before the 1986 People Power Revolution when the Philippines was a "prayerful nation," Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said Sunday in his homily at the healing Mass for Aquino at the Greenbelt 5 chapel in Makati City.

Enrile laughs off destabilization talk

Jesting over the name of the so-called "August Moon" destabilization plot as "half moon" and even "moon cake," Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Sunday that he did not believe there was such a plot in the works.

'Anarchists' behind Metro bombs -- Palace

A top Malacañang security official on Sunday said authorities had identified the group behind the string of bomb-related incidents in Metro Manila and were now working to arrest the perpetrators.

Blast near cathedral kills 5, wounds 35

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo has just finished reading the Sunday gospel and was about to start his homily at around 8:40 a.m. when a loud explosion ripped a roadside roasted pig store in front of the Cotabato Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said an independent body should investigate the incident, as he blasted the military for "mind conditioning" the public to believe that the rebels were behind the attack.

Kabalu added that the military, too, had the capability to mount such an attack.

The wounded included students, still in their school uniform, who served as sponsors of the mass, said Senior Superintendent Willie Dangane, Cotabato City police chief.

One of the fatalities was identified as Ruby Ramirez, a "lechon" (roast pig) vendor.

Witnesses said a man was seen carrying two backpacks and left one at the "lechon" store on Quezon Avenue when bystanders noticed him.

When accosted, he ran toward the Church main entrance still carrying the backpack and was arrested by elements of Task Force Tugis. He is now undergoing tactical interrogation.

"We are condemning this dastardly and cowardly act to the strongest term," said Mayor Muslimin Sema, who also called on Muslim and Christian residents to instead stand united and help "identify those behind this cowardice and treachery."

Eleven-year-old Prince Allen Diaz, son of journalist Patricio Diaz Sr., was pronounced dead at the hospital. The elder diaz was wounded in the explosion.

A soldier, Sergant Recillo Collado of the Army's 38th Infantry Battalion, was also killed along with an elderly woman and a mentally-ill man.

Most of the wounded were rushed to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.

Doctor Abdullah Dumama, health director for Central Mindanao, identified some of the wounded as— Gwen Garica, Ferdinand Veloria, Jun Barbon, Besonin Sigad, Elmer Roble, Sony Lian, Rodrigo Omega, Albiar Purificacion, Jocelyn Abdullah, Maricel Escanel, Jeremy Dapilat, Victor Luna, Geovani Lumigquit, Freddie Millan, Beterlyn Sigas, Prescilo Coliat, and Sayre siblings Janisa, Junrel and Jeofrey.

Dumama, who helped supervise and attend to the injured at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center here, said Ramirez died from blood loss and shock to see an arm severed due to the powerful blast.

Tommy Tee, a freelance photojournalist, said he was inside the cathedral listening to Quevedo's homily when the loud explosion interrupted the Mass, causing churchgoers to scamper toward the nearby gymnasium and cathedral parking lot.

He claimed to have seen soldiers in bloodied uniform, too.

Warnings of alleged stepped-up bombings by the MILF rebels in Central Mindanao cropped up as early as April this year as the military continued its pursuit for MILF commanders Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdurahman Macapaar, and Aleem Pangalian, who were allegedly responsible for raids on civilian communities in the region in August 2008.

It was the third time that the said cathedral was the target of a bombing, residents said. Police ordnance experts defused an explosive devise planted nearby in 1995. In January 1999, suspected terrorists detonated a powerful explosive at the gate of radio station dxMS which is adjacent to the cathedral. At least two persons from a group of a block time radio program hosts were wounded then.

Military tags 'rogue' MILF in Cotabato blast

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday pointed to rogue fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as responsible for the bombing near a cathedral in Cotabato City that killed four people and wounded scores others.

Palace: Get Cotabato bombers

Saying the perpetrators should not go unpunished, Malacañang directed security forces to arrest those responsible for Sunday's explosion near a church in Cotabato City that left five people killed and 35 others wounded.

Pope condemns 'heinous' Cotabato blast

Pope Benedict XVI condemned Sunday the "heinous" bomb attack outside a Catholic church in the Philippines which killed five people and said resorting to violence never solved anything.

Reds say criminals posing as NPAs

Common criminals in the Philippines are passing themselves off as armed Maoists to extort money from businesses and tarnish the reputation of the guerrillas, the rebel leadership said on Sunday.

AFP, PNP beef up SONA security

Filipino war veterans honored in Hawaii

Filipino veterans were among those honored in the United States' July 4 celebrations in Hawaii over the weekend, online editions of Hawaiian dailies reported.

Phivolcs heightens monitoring of Mayon 

State volcanologists have intensified monitoring of Mayon Volcano in Albay province after it showed signs of abnormal activity, a radio report said Saturday.

Honduras bars ex-president from landing

Honduras's interim government has banned the plane carrying ousted President Manuel Zelaya from landing in the country, foreign minister Enrique Ortez told local radio Sunday.

UN concerned at NK cutting off dialogue

Honduras expelled from OAS

The Organization of American States late Saturday expelled Honduras in reaction to last week's military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

UN's Ban ends Myanmar trip 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon headed home empty-handed from a trip to Myanmar on Sunday after the ruling junta brazenly snubbed his attempts to visit pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Australia denies pressuring Vatican

The Australian government denied Sunday it was interfering in Vatican affairs by lobbying Pope Benedict XVI to declare a nun who died 100 years ago the country's first saint.

Ginebra takes lead with game 3 win

Federer makes Grand Slam history

Roger Federer made history when he defeated a brave Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 16-14 to win a sixth Wimbledon title and claim a record 15th Grand Slam crown in a classic final.  But the Swiss second seed was given a huge fright by the American sixth seed who led by a set, had four set points in the second and didn't drop serve until the final, heartbreaking game of the match.

In an extraordinary conclusion, the last set was the longest ever played in a men's Wimbledon final.

Federer, 27, now has six Wimbledon titles, five US Opens, three Australian Opens and a French Open trophy, and has surpassed Pete Sampras's mark of 14 majors.

He will also reclaim his world number one spot from Rafael Nadal, who beat him in a five-set final here last year, on Monday.

Sampras, and fellow greats Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg were on hand to watch Federer's bid for history, as were Hollywood giants Woody Allen and Russell Crowe, such was the attraction of the Centre Court blockbuster.

Williams sisters complete Wimbledon rule

Serena and Venus Williams completed their Wimbledon dominance on Saturday when they won the women's doubles title to clinch a ninth Grand Slam crown as a team.

Jackson children 'don't know' mother

The children of Michael Jackson do not know their mother and want to stay with the pop icon's relatives, family friend Jesse Jackson said Saturday after reports of a looming custody battle.

Jackson memorial gets 1.6M tickets

The more than 1.6 million fans who registered for tickets to Michael Jackson's memorial service will wait until Monday to learn if they received one of the 11,000 tickets for Tuesday's ceremony.

Potter actor gets H1N1 in Britain—publicist

Actor Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, has contracted swine flu, his publicist said Saturday, three days before the latest Potter blockbuster premieres in London.

H1N1 spoils Brunei sultan's birthday fete

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN -- Brunei has put on hold celebrations to mark the birthday of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah after a swine flu outbreak, the government said over the weekend.

Son of Ace Vergel dead in Mandaue City

Investigators said that Asturia's housemate, Leonard Cruz and who police said was gay, was nowhere to be found.

Police said they are looking at the two's separations as probably the reason for the apparent suicide. They said that the two even reported to a police station last July 3 on their intensifying fights.

No one was reported to have coordinated on the wake of Asturias whose body was taken to Rolling Hills Funeral Homes.

Veteran actor Vergel died of heart attack on December 15, 2007.

Ruffa confirms 'spending time' with Lloyd

40 years ago man first walked on the moon

Forty years ago on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong realized the oldest dream of human civilizations when he became the first man to walk on the moon.

Vatican hit by economic downturn–report

Pope Benedict XVI has not escaped the economic downturn, with donations hit by the global financial storm, official figures showed Saturday.

'Transformers,' 'Ice Age' No. 1 at $42.5M

Prehistoric creatures and robots are in a photo finish for the Fourth of July box-office crown.

Paula Poundstone  - "I don't have a bank account because I don't know my mother's maiden name."

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