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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October 1, 2009 Major News Stories

'Pepeng' gains strength as it moves towards northern Luzon

Typhoon "Pepeng" (international name: Parma) has gained strength as it continues to move towards the general direction of Northern Luzon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Wednesday.

In its 11 p.m. weather bulletin, PAGASA said Pepeng was seen 750 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, and was packing maximum sustained winds of 135 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 160 kph.

The typhoon is forecast to move west northwestward at 26 kph.

No public storm warning signal has been raised since the weather disturbance is still too far to affect any part of the country within the next 24 hours, PAGASA said.

By Thursday evening, Pepeng is expected to be at 440 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, the state-run weather bureau said.

By Friday evening, the typhoon is forecast to be at 250 kilometers north northeast of Virac, or 270 kms east of Casigiran, Aurora.

Pepeng is expected to be at 270 kilometers north of Casiguran, or 80 kilometers east northeast of Aparri, Cagayan by Saturday evening, PAGASA said.

Ondoy's death toll in Tanay climbs to 50

MANILA - The government's death toll from tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana) may reach 300 as more bodies turn up in Tanay town, Rizal province on Wednesday.

Half a million people in evacuation centers –DSWD

The number of families depending on donated food and clothing in evacuation centers has reached more than half a million, the biggest the Department of Social Welfare and Development has had to respond to in so many years.

NDCC: 'Ondoy' damage to infra, agri reaches P4.79 B

Damages due to massive floods brought by Tropical Storm "Ondoy" (international codename: Ketsana) has peaked at P4.79 billion, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said Wednesday.

Probable arson in Opao fire: 1 dead, hundreds homeless in blaze

A woman died in a noontime blaze that razed almost a hundred houses in sitio Villamangga of barangay Opao, Mandaue City.  There is suspicion of arson, but authorities are still investigating the real cause of the blaze.

Charred to death was Eulalia Ytol, 56, who went back inside her burning house to retrieve some valuables.

The fire was tapped at 11:24 a.m., but the firefighters found it difficult to reach the area as there is no access road.

Mandaue City Fire Marshal Oscar Mayol said that the firemen had to connect several lengths to the hose just to reach the area. Willy Ytol, husband of the fatality, said that he and his wife along with a daughter and a granddaughter were already in a safe area with some of their valuables.

Rama skeds gab to help prepare city for floods

Cebu City acting mayor Michael Rama yesterday met with members of City River Management Commission and Coastal Management Board to discuss measures on how the city can react in case a flood hits the city.

'Plant 1B trees to prevent floods'

AN environmental group yesterday urged the government and the private sector to plant at least one billion trees in the entire Cebu to prevent floods.

Rubber boats not well-maintained, says supplier

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Already in short supply, the government is also not taking care of its rubber boats enough, one of its biggest suppliers said on Wednesday.

15 Taguig villages still under water

Fifteen villages in Taguig City remain submerged in knee to chest-deep floods left by tropical storm "Ondoy," as the local government continues its rescue and relief efforts to help affected residents.

Some retailers violate 'price freeze' on goods

Some retailers are taking advantage of the difficult situation of the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, disregarding the government's "price freeze" on basic goods and jacking up prices.

DTI goes after vendors of tainted mineral water in storm-hit areas

Aside from going after unscrupulous traders jacking up prices of their products in the wake of tropical storm "Ondoy" (Ketsana), the Department of Trade and Industry will also pin down vendors of "tainted" bottled water.

People blocking food convoys to be arrested

The government on Wednesday warned of arrests and appealed for calm after hungry and frustrated flood survivors blocked food convoys.

Congress eyes P10-B fund for storm victims

The two houses of Congress have agreed to approve a P10-billion supplemental budget to augment the country"s depleting calamity funds and help the victims of tropical storm Ondoy and past calamities.

Business group allots P5M for 'Ondoy' victims

The Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) said on Wednesday that its Board of Trustees has agreed to earmark P5 million in initial assistance to communities affected by tropical storm Ondoy.

Germany gives €500,000 for Ondoy victims

Germany has given €500,000 (about $731,000 or P35 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to victims of tropical storm Ondoy, the German embassy here said Wednesday.

US troops to help Philippine flood victims

The US military will send troops and equipment to the Philippines to help victims of massive flooding that has affected more than two million people, the American ambassador here said on Wednesday.

Is your bar exam permit lost?

Bar examinees who lost their exam permits due to tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana) should coordinate with the Supreme Court's Bar Confidant to get their new permit, an official said Wednesday.

Sulpicio still wants to get back to passenger shipping

MANILA - Sulpicio Lines Inc., owner of sunken vessel MV Princess of the Stars, said that its efforts to get back to the passenger-shipping business are for its thousands of employees and other stakeholders who rely on the company's operation.

Environmental lawyer says: Provincial Board succumbs to pressure

Environmental lawyer Benjamin Cabrido described the resolution passed by the members of the Provincial Board recognizing the prerogative of the governor to develop the controversial Balili property as a manifestation that the legislative body succumbs to the pressures exerted against them by House Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia, father of the governor.

Gwen in U.S. but Greg won't take over

IF Cebu Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez is to be believed, Cebu Province is left without a governor for three days now.  Sanchez said there was no communication from the Office of the Governor that Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is out of the country until Oct. 5.

Tomas extends leave for another 30 days

Mayor Tomas R. OsmeƱa is extending his leave of absence for another 30 days pending the outcome of the investigation conducted by the police on allegations that his only son, Miguel, threatened the lady friend of his girlfriend.

Judge acquits 'gun-for-hire'

JOEL Sumabong is now a free man.

The man the police depicted as a gun-for-hire and robber was cleared of murder yesterday, with a trial court judge ordering him and his co-accused released from the Cebu City Jail.

Ombuds looks into alleged 'Kuratong' extortion

The Office of the Ombudsman Visayas is looking into the veracity of the complaint filed by a group of brokers and importers in Cebu regarding the alleged harassment and extortion activities perpetrated by remnants of the dreaded Kuratong Baleleng Gang in the Port of Cebu.

US soldiers pulled out of Sulu school project

US soldiers were pulled out of a school project in Jolo, Sulu, and their movements limited to a camp following the explosion on Tuesday that killed two of them and a Filipino Marine.

'We're not gonna let you down'—US envoy

United States Ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney assured the Philippines on Wednesday that the killings of two American troops in a roadside bombing in Sulu would not dampen Washington's enthusiasm in helping the Philippines in its fight against terrorism.

Sulu bridge bombed; Abu Sayyaf blamed

Abu Sayyaf bandits blew another bridge in Sulu on Tuesday night, Major General Ben Dolorfino, the Western Mindanao Command, chief, revealed Wednesday.

ARMM census on despite security problems

The census on population in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would push through despite difficulties facing enumerators, the head of the region's National Statistics Office said Wednesday.

Gov't, Reds to resume talks in Norway

GOVERNMENT AND National Democratic Front (NDF) peace negotiating panels will resume talks next week to iron out differences on a safe conduct pass scheme, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Avelino I. Razon, Jr., said yesterday.

Joma Sison off EU terror list—lawyer

(UPDATE) Exiled Filipino communist leader Jose Maria Sison has been taken out of the terror list of the European Union, learned Wednesday.

Court annuls EU asset freeze on Joma Sison

BRUSSELS — A top European court annulled Wednesday an EU decision to freeze the assets of exiled Filipino communist leader Jose Maria Sison for alleged "terrorist activity".

De Venecia urging solons to back Villar's bid

Pangasinan Representative Jose de Venecia Jr. has urged fellow lawmakers to rally behind Senator Manuel Villar's presidential bid, Speaker Prospero Nograles said Wednesday.

Ombusman hopes critics to stop after impeach dismissal

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said she hoped her critics would finally put to rest allegations that she had been remiss in her duties and had been the protector of the First Family, a day after the impeachment complaint against her was dismissed at the House of Representatives.

Lucio Tan continues to block brother's testimony

Businessman Lucio Tan on Wednesday moved to block an attempt by his estranged brother Mariano Tanenglian to turn state witness in the government's forfeiture case against the two of them.

Commission on Appointments rejects CSC chief's appointment

The Commission on Appointments (CA) has rejected the ad interim appointment of Civil Service Commissioner Ricardo Saludo for failing to meet the "minimum requirement" for the post.

Boss beheaded by unpaid worker

Manila policemen were preparing murder charges on Wednesday against a young man who admitted he killed and then beheaded his 59-year-old employer in Quiapo over the weekend because he had not been paid his wages for two weeks.

Malls can continue charging parking fees, SC says

MANILA - The Supreme Court has ruled that collection of parking fees by various shopping malls in the country is legal.

World leaders support $100B a year on climate change

UNITED NATIONS - Many world leaders have expressed support for a proposal that would earmark $100 billion a year for the next decade for concrete actions to curb greenhouse gases and help countries cope with the impact of climate change, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

75 dead as major quake hits Indonesia

(UPDATE 2) At least 75 people were killed and thousands more trapped underneath rubble after a major earthquake hit Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, officials said, with fears the death toll would yet rise.

Buildings destroyed as 7.9 quake hits Sumatra

(UPDATE) A powerful 7.9-magnitude quake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island Wednesday, destroying large buildings and starting fires in the major city of Padang, geologists and reports said.

At least 113 dead in Pacific quake, tsunami

APIA — At least 113 people are dead after a huge Pacific earthquake and tsunami hit the Samoan islands and Tonga on Tuesday, a hospital worker and officials said.

Congressman Mikey Arroyo rails at Facebook

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Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo on Tuesday pushed for tighter regulation of the world's leading social networking site, Facebook, after he claimed to be a victim of a "malicious attack" by one of its members.

Laguna congressman Fernandez ejected from House

Former actor Dan Fernandez will soon be stripped of his seat as representative of Laguna's first district in the House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles said.

British Queen condoles with Ondoy victims

Queen Elizabeth II has expressed her sympathies for the devastation caused by typhoon Ondoy, the British embassy here said.

Ex-lover withdraws complaint vs Chavit

Rachel "Che" Tiongson, the estranged partner of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson, on Wednesday withdrew the civil case she filed against him in August for the sake of their five children.

Senate starts negotiations for transfer to Film Center bldg

Despite persistent ghost stories about the Film Center of the Philippines building, the Senate leadership is bent on transferring the chamber's offices there to save money.  THE SENATE is planning to move to the adjacent Manila Film Center within the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex in Pasay City, with the chamber's leaders saying the move could save the government hundreds of millions of pesos in rental fees.

Korean F4's Kim Bum in Manila

MANILA – Korean actor Kim Bum, one of the lead stars of hit Koreanovela "Boys Over Flowers," on Wednesday arrived here reportedly to shoot a television commercial.

Bangladesh awards farmer who killed 83,000 rats

DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh on Wednesday awarded a farmer who killed more than 83,000 rats and launched a monthlong campaign nationwide to kill millions more, to protect crops and reduce the need for food imports.

Tango named UN world cultural treasure

PARIS - The United Nations on Wednesday declared the tango tradition of Argentina and Uruguay a world cultural treasure, adding its sultry dance steps and melancholy song lyrics to UNESCO's heritage list.

Storm 'Parma' heads for northern Luzon

Tropical storm "Parma" was expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility late Wednesday afternoon and would be given the local name "Pepeng," the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Ogden Nash  - "The trouble with a kitten is that when it grows up, it's always a cat."

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