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

Monday, August 31, 2009

September 1, 2009 Major News Stories

LPG prices to go up by P2.25/kg

The price of liquefied petroleum gas will go up by as much as P2.25 per kilogram effective midnight Tuesday, Pilipinas Shell announced on Monday.

Diesel, gas pump prices off by P1

CEBU, Philippines - Pryce Gases Inc., a leading player in the petroleum industry in the Visayas and in Mindanao, is slashing down pump prices of its gasoline and diesel products by at least P1 per liter effective today, September 1, despite the world oil price uptrend in the recent weeks.

Employers oppose wage hike proposal

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines is opposing a wage hike for the private sector. The business group said the economic crisis is not over. Labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has asked the Regional Wage Boards to increase minimum wage of workers.

House to probe Philhealth liquidity woes

Concerned over disclosures in the Senate the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (Philhealth) is supposedly suffering from liquidity problems, Speaker Prospero Nograles has ordered an inquiry to determine the state of government's health insurance agency.

'Work-from-home' plan for call center agents

Call center agents working the graveyard shift are no strangers to crime.  Aware of the risks call center agents face when they leave their homes at odd hours, a software firm is pushing for them to simply work from home, giving them the much-needed safety that they need from theft and other crimes.

"Let's face it: if I have a daughter who will work the graveyard shift who will have to commute alone…there's too much risk. And I think their concern is valid. The thing is, there's still this pool of agents that we do not know about who has the aptitude, the skills, the knowledge, to be contact center agents but we cannot tap them because of these concerns," said Edgar Doctolero, Avaya's Country Director.

Doctolero said Avaya's new one-X Agent was hoping to help the contact center industry tap into a talented pool of agents hesitant to enter the industry because of safety concerns.

The one-X Agent is an all-in-one desktop application designed for dynamic contact centers. It has several features that allow a contact center company as well as contact center agents to work easily in any location.

OFW group to challenge UK immigration rules

An alliance of Filipino migrant groups in the United Kingdom is set to file a legal challenge before a British court to obtain a definitive ruling on the eligibility of overseas migrant workers applying for permanent settlement after five years of continuous stay in the UK.

Asia's heroes feted by Magsaysay Awards

Ngayong Araw ng mga Bayani, binigyang-parangal ng Ramon Magsaysay Foundation ang tinaguriang "Asia's heroes" o mga bagong bayani. Binigyang-pugay rin sa seremonyas si dating pangulong Cory Aquino na dati ring Ramon Magsaysay awardee.  Pakikipaglaban para sa kalikasan. Dito iginugol ng 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardee na si Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr. ang kanyang buhay.

Did Bolo get report on Balili?: Vice governor wants proof of receipt

Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez yesterday asked members of the Cebu Provincial Appraisal Committee to prove that beleaguered board member Juan Bolo received a copy of the report of the Technical Working Group about the physical characteristics of the Balili property and withheld such information to the others.

Ombudsman to probe sale of Bolo lot for P3.5 million

Controversial Provincial Board Member Juan Bolo, who was tagged of as the facilitator of the Balili land deal, is richer by P3.5 million after he recently sold a residential lot in Minglanilla.

House probe on Balili lots buy to uncover 'only DENR failings'

REP. Pablo Garcia yesterday rushed to the aid of his daughter, Gov. Gwen-dolyn Garcia, whose controversial purchase of the P97-million Balili property is being questioned and is subjected to calls for a congressional inquiry.

Tomas won't quit post

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced he is not resigning from his position even if he will decide to run for office next year.

Mayor Osmeña to work on dividing Bry. Guadalupe into 3 before his term ends

SINCE the poll body will not require elected officials to resign if they seek higher office, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he will finish his last term as mayor to work on "lots of little stuff" for the city.

Garganera tags TRO as propaganda

Barangay Tinago councilman Joel Garganera criticized the newly formed deputized agency, Traffic Response Office, which he labeled as "again another political tactic."

City to vie again in search for most child-friendly LGU

Margarita "Margot" Osmeña, wife of Mayor Tomas Osmeña, yesterday said that Cebu City is once again joining this year's Presidential search for the most child-friendly local government unit in the Highly Urbanized City category.

Ombudsman losing more anti-graft cases

Most of the respondents whose cases have been resolved by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan during the first half of the year were either acquitted of the charges the Office of the Ombudsman filed against them or saw their cases dismissed even before trial.

Neri, De Venecia skipping final NBN hearing

Social Security System Administrator Romulo Neri and Pangasinan Representative Jose de Venecia Jr. have decided not to attend Tuesday's final Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing into the National Broadband Network controversy, Senator Richard Gordon said on Monday.

'No special panel for NBN-ZTE graft case'

MANILA - The graft case against former Commission on Election chairman Benjamin Abalos and former National Economic Development Authority director general Romulo Neri will be treated like any ordinary case from the Ombudsman, Office of the Special Prosecutor acting chief Wendell Barreras-Sulit said Monday.

'We can afford to buy properties'

(UPDATE) Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo on Monday refuted reports of irregularities in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), calling them "malicious" and a waste of his time.

New plunder case filed vs TESDA chief

A group of government workers has filed another plunder charge against Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director-General Augusto Syjuco for an alleged P61 million overprice in the purchase of training and testing tools.

Comelec shortcuts feared due to suits

Poll observers have expressed apprehension that the legal challenges against the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) automation project has cut so much of the poll body elbow room that it would be constrained "to cut corners" in preparing for the landmark polls.

SC chief to public: Listen to the whispers of conscience

With barely nine months before the 2010 national elections, Chief Justice Reynato Puno launched a multi-sectoral movement that aims to urge the public to listen to the "whispers of our conscience" to avoid the country's slide to moral decadence.

Roco's party backs Aquino for president

Aksyon Demokratiko, the political party founded by the late senator Raul Roco, has joined the chorus of voices urging Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, to throw his hat into the crowded presidential race in 2010.

Noynoy tops PR firm's survey on VP bets

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III emerged as the top contender for the vice presidential race for the 2010 elections, according to the latest survey by public relations group Issue and Advocacy Center.

NPC: Full slate in 2010 polls

The Nationalist People's Coalition of businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. vowed to field a full national ticket for president, vice president and senators with Senator Francis Escudero as its front-runner to be the party's standard bearer.

It's too early to declare Senate bid

With less than nine months to go before the May 2010 elections, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said on Monday it was still "too early" for him to decide whether to run for the Senate in the 2010 elections.

Bro. Mike not likely to run for president

El Shaddai leader Mariano "Brother Mike" Velarde has not been getting much positive feedback from members on whether he should run for president in 2010, the group's spiritual adviser said.

Rebellion, crime raps vs solons harassment

Rebellion charges and other criminal cases filed against four progressive party-list lawmakers were all meant to impair their capacity to perform their tasks as members of the House of Representatives, according to a resolution by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Communist group denies party bickering

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) dismissed as "intrigues" and a "cover-up" claims made by presidential peace adviser Avelino Razon that the revolutionary movement's internal bickering has stalled the peace talks.

Execs urged to speak up on Mindanao peace

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno has called for wider local participation in new talks between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as he aired the risk of "leaving Mindanaoans out" if talks were placed in hands of Manila-based officials.

PNP to probe alleged Blackwater facility

The Philippine National Police is set to investigate the supposed presence of American military contractor Blackwater in Subic free port, as alleged by an online investigative report.

Vessel loaded with diesel runs aground off Maasin

A cargo vessel heading to Dinagat Island from the port of Mandaue City, Cebu ran aground last Saturday dawn at the seawaters approximately 100 meters away from the distant shorelines of Tangka-an Point, barangay Tangka-an, Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte.

Envoy ordered arrested for dubious resumé

The Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of a former assistant secretary of foreign affairs now assigned as consul general in Japan for allegedly misdeclaring her educational qualifications.  The anti-graft court ordered the arrest of Maria Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez but granted her bail of P24,000.

The Ombudsman said Lopez declared in her personal data sheet in October 2005 that she obtained a Broadcast Communication degree from the University of the Philippines in 1970.

A check by the Ombudsman showed Lopez did not graduate from the state university but only completed 81 of the 140 units required for the degree.

In her defense, Lopez presented a certification from UP which said the true copy of her grades had been nullified "because of errors inadvertently entered."

Washington wants RP to allow entry of US vegetables

Manila may agree to Washington"s proposal to allow the entry of cold climate vegetables in exchange for the export of Philippine bananas in the US.

Growing market seen for dual SIM phones

The estimate for mobile phone users in the Philippines is about 70 million. This is nearly 80 percent of the country's population, which is hitting 91 million.

Toyota developing anti-drunk driving gadget

TOKYO — Toyota Motor said Monday it was developing anti-drunk driving equipment that would lock the ignition of a vehicle if high levels of alcohol are detected in the driver.

Record 54 women elected in Japan vote

TOKYO — A record 54 women won seats in Japan's weekend election but female parliamentary representation still remains low by developed world standards at 11 percent, results showed Monday.

Sri Lankan journalist given 20 years in prison

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - A Sri Lankan reporter singled out by President Barack Obama as an example of persecuted journalists around the globe was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison on charges of violating the country's harsh anti-terror law.

Cebu is 4th best island in Asia for 2009

Cebu ranked no. 4 among Asian island destinations, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, which recently rleased the results of its World's Best Awards 2009, a listing of the best hotels, airlines, cruises in islands and cities all over the world.

No other Philippine city, island, resort, hotel, or airline made it to the listing in other categories.

The awards are based on the American magazine's 14th Readers' Poll survey conducted from mid-January to the end of March this year.

"An unprecedented number of new names and places made their debuts on this year's list, sometimes unseating longtime favorites," says Travel + Leisure editor in chief Nancy Novogrod.

Cebu got a rating of 79.68 points.

It ranked behind Bali (87.41), Maldives (84.43), and Phuket (80.93).

Cebu inmates' 'Thriller' record broken

MANILA - Cebu City Jail inmates, who shot to fame for their "Thriller" dance video on YouTube, have apparently met their match in Mexico City.

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

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