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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 14, 2009 Major News Stories

Oil price rollback expected next week

A 'simple' snack for Arroyo in Iloilo

Still smarting from criticisms of alleged lavished dinners during her trip to the US, President Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday shared a "simple" snack with officials and other guests in the town of Alimodian during an official visit.

'Billions' in investments vs dinner—Palace

Malacañang said Thursday that critics had no business complaining about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's supposedly lavish dinners abroad when she was bringing in "billions" worth of investments in return.

'Come clean' on US dinner, Palace urged

Senators are urging Malacanang to "come clean" on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's reported lavish dinner in the United States, which a lawmaker at the House of Representatives insisted was for free, along with their plane fare and hotel accommodation.

But Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante, one of the lawmakers who was part of the President's entourage, claimed that all expenses for the trip were paid but added that he didn't know who picked up the bill.

Big dinners making Arroyo new Imelda

Filipinos in New York have found a new "Imelda" in the person of President Arroyo, who reportedly enjoyed lavish dinners there earlier this month.

Palace shops for P1.2B jet

Fresh from a controversial overseas trip, the Arroyo administration is shopping around for a used "Presidential fixed-wing executive jet" worth at least P1.2 billion.

The aircraft must be "factory new, twin-engine (turbo-fan engines), pressurized, fitted with auxiliary power unit, and with VIP cabin configuration," said an advertisement placed by the Office of the President in the Philippine Star on Thursday. 

"The type of aircraft to be offered should have been used as a VIP/Executive aircraft by the country of origin and by at least two countries," the ad continued. 

The ad was signed by a certain attorney Lynn Danao-Moreno, an assistant executive secretary and chairperson of the bids and awards committee of the Office of the President. 

Under the Arroyo administration, the government acquired at least two brand-new choppers, one of which crashed in Ifugao province last April, killing Palace personnel, including Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia.

SALNs, SEC docs and Presidents

Palace lawyers had claimed that the First Couple was no longer listed in the records of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as having business interest in two of the 15 companies cited in the PCIJ"s three-part report. Documents obtained by PCIJ, however, say otherwise.

Solon wants more pork

A member of the House of Representatives wants the pork barrel fund increased, citing the rising cost of construction materials needed for congressional district projects.

Time Magazine extols Cory Aquino anew

It was a fitting capstone for the person it hailed as its Woman of the Year in 1986 and listed as one of its Asian heroes when it celebrated its sixth decade in 2006.  Renowned international publication Time Magazine has once again paid tribute to and celebrated the life of former President Corazon Aquino, who it named as "the woman who changed Asia." 

Time Magazine's August 17, 2009 Asian edition devoted three special reports chronicling Mrs. Aquino's ascent to power, how she ran the Philippine government as "a miracle worker," and how people-backed, nonviolent protests across the world drew inspiration from the historic 1986 EDSA Revolution. 

In 1986, she was named Woman of the Year, the first female to receive Time's annual distinction after Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. 

She was also recognized in 2006 as among the 60 Asian Heroes, along with Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Mohandas Gandhi, and fellow democracy icon, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Three other Filipinos made it to the list. They are: billiards champion Efren "Bata" Reyes and Philippine Daily Inquirer founders Eugenia Apostol and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. 

Time also featured Mrs. Aquino for three times in February and March 1986, in the wake of the historic People Power revolution that catapulted her to the world's spotlight.

23 soldiers killed in Basilan clash—AFP

Hundreds of soldiers crept into a major lair of the Abu Sayyaf in a village in Basilan Wednesday night, to carry out what military officials described as a thorough and "intelligence-driven" combat operation against suspected terrorists.

When the daylong "hand-to-hand" gun-battle ended and the smoke cleared, 23 soldiers—two of them young officers belonging to the Army's elite group— were killed and 22 others were wounded in the biggest clash with the Abu Sayyaf so far.

A saddened military on Thursday could not remember suffering such heavy casualties following the carnage on July 20, 2007 when 14 Marines were killed—10 of them beheaded—during a fruitless rescue operation for kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Arnulfo Burgos Jr. identified the two junior Army officers as First Lieutenant Chester Barela of the Philippine Military Academy Class 2004 and First Lieutenant Dhel Jhun Evangelista (PMA Class 2006).

Corporal Renato Dindin, an Army enlisted personnel, also died in the combat operation.

The first clash began at around 3:30 a.m. with initially 50 Abu Sayyaf fighters.

A bigger clash occurred two hours later or at around 5:30 a.m. and lasted for seven hours with at least 300 troops engaging roughly 150 Abu Sayyaf members.

Sporadic firefighting erupted until Wednesday evening in adjacent villages as Abu Sayyaf fighters clashed with the military's blockade forces, added Brawner.

The camp which the military overran on Wednesday was believed to have been headed by Abu Sayyaf commander Furuji Indama. Amateur members of the al-Qaida linked group were being trained in bomb-making in the said camp.

Government troops conducting clearing operations in the area Thursday have recovered 21 bodies out of the roughly 30-40 Abu Sayyaf members killed in the biggest encounter since July 2007, said Burgos.

US sets up radar stations in Mindanao

The United States will help set up radar stations in the restive southern Philippines as it expressed its continuing commitment to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its fight against terror.

Hearing on Lakas-Kampi merger Sept.17

The poll body asked former House Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr. to present evidence on his petition seeking to nullify the accreditation of the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi into one national political party for the 2010 elections.

Glo spokesman, actor take oaths as NPC

Deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez Jr. and actor Cesar Montano on Wednesday took their oaths as members of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) in Quezon City.  Golez would be running for congressman of Bacolod, while Montano - a defeated administration senatorial candidate in 2007 - is eyeing the governorship of Bohol.

9 execs skip probe on "infomercials"

Only three of the 12 Cabinet and local government officials will attend Friday"s Senate hearing on alleged premature campaigning through infomercials.

SC suspends ex-colleague's law practice

The Supreme Court has suspended indefinitely from practicing law a former colleague after he was found guilty gross misconduct and of violating the code of professional responsibility.  The high tribunal issued the ruling against retired associate justice Ruben Reyes over the premature release of a decision involving the case of Congresswoman Jocelyn Limkaichong.

2 dead, 8 hurt as firewall in Iligan falls

Two people died and eight others were injured when the firewall of a building collapsed in Iligan City Wednesday afternoon, a police official said on Thursday.

Suspect in radioman's slay still missing

The family and colleagues of Radio Mindanao Network commentator and news anchor Dennis Cuesta continue to yearn for justice a year after he was murdered.

8 Afghan crash victims to come home soon

Filipina elected VP of UN rights council

Dr. Purificacion Valera-Quisumbing, presidential envoy for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, was unanimously elected as Vice President of the Advisory Committee for the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last August 6, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Mystery over disappearing merchant ship

POC insists on bigger Laos contingent

No amount of financial handicap could hold back the Philippine Olympic Committee from sending a huge contingent to the Southeast Asian Games.

Manny 'knocked out' by Jinkee's new look

Douglas 'devastated' by son's arrest

US actor Michael Douglas said Wednesday his family was "devastated" by the arrest of his son, Cameron, accused by authorities of selling large amounts of methamphetamine.

Lack of sleep may raise diabetes risk

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