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

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Arangkada of Leo Lastimosa for August 5, 2009

Arroyo condoles with Aquino family

Straight from the airport, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on early Wednesday morning condoled with the family of former President Corazon Aquino.

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III received the President in behalf of the family.

With Arroyo were members of her Cabinet, including Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was agrarian reform secretary and immigration chief during Aquino's time.

Senator Aquino spent a few awkward moments at the President's left side. On the President's right side on the pew was the senator's aunt and the President's image consultant Lupita Kashiwahara.

The President and her entourage stayed only for about 10 minutes before the public viewing resumed at the Manila Cathedral.

Arroyo to pay respects to Cory Aquino

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is ready to brave the taunts and raised eyebrows when she steps into the packed funeral wake for the former president Corazon Aquino on Wednesday.

Arroyo son mulls going to Aquino wake

Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, the President's eldest son, is mulling over going to the wake of former President Corazon Aquino at the Manila Cathedral.

Thousands queue for last glimpse of Cory

With only a few hours left before former President Corazon Aquino is brought to her final resting place at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City, thousands continue to say goodbye to her at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.

Cory supporters' thank you in eulogies

In heartfelt eulogies and in song, former President Corazon Aquino's supporters paid tribute to her in a necrological service at the Manila Cathedral on Tuesday, the eve of her burial.

Noynoy denies snubbing Marcos children

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Tuesday denied he snubbed the visit of the children of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who went to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros Manila to pay their last respects to his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

Aquino, the only son of the former president, was not around when Ilocos Norte Representative Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., his wife Liza, and his sister, former congresswoman Imee Marcos, went to the church where the former President's remains lie in state.

The senator said when he was advised that the Marcoses were on their way to the church, he could not leave to meet with them because he was still writing the family's response to Tuesday's necrological rites for his mother, as well as their response to Wednesday's final mass.

Marcoses at Cory wake not reconciliation

The Marcos family should first repent and publicly apologize to the people before they seek reconciliation with the Aquino family, Senator Aqulino Pimentel Jr. said on Tuesday.

Be like Aquinos, prelate tells 2010 hopefuls

Those who aspire to become president of the Philippines should look to the late President Corazon Aquino and her martyred husband, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., as role models and they will get the trust of the people, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said.

Cuenco, Gwen can join mass for Cory

PAYING respects to former president Corazon Aquino will go beyond politics, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said, and even his political foes will be invited.

Osmeña has not finalized the date for the mass at the Carmelite monastery in Barangay Mabolo yet, and it might not be anytime soon because he wants any of Aquino's children to be present.

The mass will be open to everyone, including Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Cebu City, south district) and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, with whom he had a falling-out, and all the other government officials and former politicians who want to honor Aquino.

The mayor said he will form a "neutral" committee that will organize the mass, and will also consult those who worked closely with Aquino at that time.

In Manila today, Cuenco and his wife Nancy and Vice Mayor Michael Rama will attend the requiem mass and funeral of Aquino.

Cuenco said he will also attend the mass that Osmeña will organize.

Security aides can stay with Aquinos

If the Aquino family so wishes, the two former security escorts of the late President Corazon Aquino will stay with them, a Philippine National Police (PNP) official said.

AFP to honor Cory with 21-gun salute

Military camps around the country will again boom with volleys of cannon fire Wednesday as the Armed Forces of the Philippines gives its highest honor—a 21-gun salute—to a revered Commander in Chief on the day of her burial.

For 21 minutes, a cannon blast will be heard every minute from the major camps the moment the coffin bearing the remains of former President Corazon Aquino leaves Manila Cathedral after the 9 a.m. Requiem Mass, AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told the Inquirer Monday.

A brigade of honor guard will also perform departure honors for Aquino at Manila Cathedral on Wednesday morning, the spokesperson added.

While Malacañang had declared a 10-day period of national mourning for the departed icon of Philippine democracy, Brawner said the military would follow its own tradition of flying flags at half-staff for 30 days.

Diplomats pay respects to Aquino

Members of the diplomatic community heaped praises on the late President Corazon Aquino during her wake at the Manila Cathedral on Tuesday.

Cory recalled around the world

Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda will arrive on Wednesday to personally deliver their respective governments' letter of condolences to the family of former President Corazon Aquino and the Philippine government.

Cory wished to travel to Holy Land

It was former President Corazon Aquino's unfulfilled wish to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with her family, Cavite Bishop Luis Tagle said.

Cory birthday is Democracy Day in QC

The Quezon City council has approved a resolution declaring January 25, the birthday of former president Corazon Aquino, as Cory Aquino Democracy Day in Quezon City.

'Cory National Hero' resolutions filed

9M Filipino families see selves as poor

More than nine million Filipino families consider themselves poor, while nearly two in five say they are "food poor," according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

2 Filipinos on hijacked German ship freed

Two Filipino seafarers on board a German-owned container vessel that was hijacked off the Gulf of Aden were freed on Monday night, the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi said.

Boy killed as grenade explodes in Butuan

A 14-year old boy died when a grenade exploded in a remote village in Butuan City Monday morning, a police official said on Tuesday.

CHR probe to include killings in Manila

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will investigate the "unexpected number" of summary executions in Metro Manila at the same time that it probes the so-called Davao Death Squad.

Iloilo council declares state of calamity

The city council has declared the entire Iloilo City under a state of calamity on Tuesday due to the flooding spawned by monsoon rains that started since last week.

Napocor seeks power rate hike

State-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) wants to increase power rates in Luzon by P1.5058 per kilowatt-hour and in the Visayas by P1.3383, according to a petition it filed before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last week.

Phoenix hikes gasoline, diesel prices

Oil firm Phoenix Petroleum announced that it would raise oil prices effective midnight Wednesday, following the lead of the three big firms.

Telcos agree to lower mobile rates by Dec.

Telecommunication companies (telcos) have agreed to implement in December a new billing system for mobile phone calls that would result in lower charges than the one-minute-per-pulse system currently in place.

Pilot dead, 42 hurt after Thai jet crashes

A pilot was killed and seven passengers hospitalized Tuesday when a Bangkok Airways jet skidded and hit an old control tower as it landed on Thailand's resort island of Ko Samui, the airline said.

Bill in North Korea, meets Kim Jong-il

More RP golds seen in Laos SEA Games

The designated point man of the national team to the Southeast Asian Games is confident that the Philippines could capture 15 gold medals without a sweat in just three sports.

Artists sing Cory's faves

CCP scores Glo's National Artist picks

The Cultural Center of the Philippines has deplored Malacañang's disregard of "established process" in choosing the country's National Artist awardees.

"While we respect the President's prerogative to name her choices, we deplore the disregard of the established process whereby our National Artists are chosen," Emily Abrera, chair of the CCP Board of Trustees said Tuesday.

This as she denied the CCP was consulted on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's final picks of inductees, at least one of them is deemed ineligible to be conferred membership in the Order of National Artists.

"We wish to clarify that we were never consulted about these final choices, nor have we been officially informed about them to this day," Emily Abrera, chair of the CCP Board of Trustees said Tuesday.

Presidential Political Adviser Gabrial Claudio on Saturday defended Arroyo's choice of inductees, saying it was a result of consultation with the CCP and the National Center for Culture and Arts.

The title National Artist of the Philippines is given to a Filipino who has been given the highest recognition for having made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts. The selection committee is composed of representatives from the CCP and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

This year's inductees are Magno Jose Carlo Caparas (visual arts and films), Jose Pitoy Moreno (fashion design), Cecille Guidote-Alvarez (theater), Francisco Bobby Mañosa (architecture), Lazaro Francisco (posthumous award for literature), Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (visual arts, paintings, sculpture and mixed media), and Manuel Conde.

But Abrera said only Francisco, Conde and Alcuaz had gone through two years of rigorous screening.

At the same time, she said musician Ramon Santos, who got the most number of votes from the selection committee, was dropped from the list by Malacañang. The selection committee is composed of representatives from the CCP and the NCCA.

Meanwhile, the CCP board in a statement said Caparas failed to pass the first phase of the screening process while Alvarez, an Arroyo ally, was not even among the nominees.

"She had not even been nominated, did not go through the selection process and she was a significant part of as the head of NCCA," Behn Cervantes, member of the CCP Board said.

Alvarez is head of the NCCA.

The four on the shortlist of the selection committee are Santos, Francisco, Conde, Aguilar and Alcuaz.

"We are saddened by these turn of events and regret the furor all this has caused," Abrera said.

"Throughout the history of the National Artist Awards, Presidents of the Philippines have exercised the privilege of adding their choices to the final list of National Artists Awardees," said Abrera. "But never was there an instance when the name of a person deemed truly deserving and who went through the rigorous process of selection
was struck off the list."

National Artist for Theater and Design (2003) Salvador Bernal said Malacanang's act "is not only a sly but an insult to a whole body of people."

"We are appalled by the brazenness act of Malacañang," National Artist for Literature (2001) F. Sionol Jose said.

Filipino, 5 other Asians named RM awardees

Six Asians have been chosen to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award—Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize—among them a Filipino lawyer known for successfully championing the cause of the environment in the country.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announced Monday that Filipino Antonio Oposa Jr., Yu Xiaogang and Ma Jun from China, Thai Krisana Kraisintu, Deep Joshi from India, and Burmese Ka Hsaw Wa would be recognized for their achievements in awarding ceremonies to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Aug. 31.

"They are Asia's heroes, leading efforts that put scientific knowledge and tools at the service of specific and vital human concerns—affordable and effective health care, improved livelihoods, environmental destruction and basic human rights," Carmencita Abella, the foundation's president, said in a statement.

Abella said the awardees each used "calibrated strategies to craft lasting solutions to problems besetting their people" while sharing "a greatness of spirit which infuses their leadership for change."

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president and is considered Asia's highest honor. It is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same sense of selfless service that ruled the life of the late Filipino leader.

The six Magsaysay awardees join 271 laureates who received the honor before them. They will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of President Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize. 

Oposa will be recognized for "his path-breaking and passionate crusade to engage Filipinos in acts of enlightened citizenship that maximize the power of the law to protect and nurture the environment for themselves, their children and generations still to come."

Environmental law

Instead of pursuing a lucrative law practice, the Harvard Law School graduate decided to focus on environmental law and made his first mark with an unusual case that later popularized the "Oposa Doctrine" in international legal circles, the foundation said.

"This was a class action suit he filed in which 43 minors asked the government to cancel timber licenses on the grounds that rampant logging violated their constitutional right to a healthy environment," it said.

In a 1993 decision, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the principle of "intergenerational equity," affirming Oposa's argument that the interests of future generations could be protected in court. 

"A triumph of principle, the case set a precedent for how citizens can leverage the law to protect the environment," the foundation said.

It said Oposa demonstrated this in 1999 when a citizens' group filed a case holding the government liable for the pollution of Manila Bay and responsible for its cleanup. 

"Marshalling the resources of the law and pursuing the case for all of 10 years, he won a Supreme Court decision compelling 11 government agencies to coordinate their efforts in rehabilitating Manila Bay, submit action plans, and regularly report to the court on the progress of their work," the foundation said.

It also noted that Oposa risked his life to stop illegal dynamite fishing in the Visayan Sea through his Law of Nature Foundation.

Pharmaceutical rigor

Thai awardee Kraisintu will be recognized for "placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of patients, through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the developing world."

Joshi will be cited for "his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining 'head' and 'heart' in the transformative development of rural communities."

Yu will be awarded for "fusing the knowledge and tools of social science with a deep sense of social justice, in assisting dam-affected communities in China to shape the development projects that affect their natural environment and their lives."

Ma will be recognized for "harnessing the technology and power of information to address China's water crisis and mobilizing pragmatic, multisectoral and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable benefits for China's environment and society."

Ka Hsaw Wa will receive the award for "dauntlessly pursuing nonviolent yet effective channels of redress, exposure and education for the defense of human rights, the environment and democracy in Burma (Myanmar)."

Prostitutes more trustworthy than execs

Prostitutes are considered more trustworthy in China than government officials and scientists, a recent survey of more than 3,000 respondents showed.

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