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

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 7, 2009 Major News Stories

No holiday for BPOs

THE BUSINESS Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) said yesterday that the outsourcing industry is exempted from today's non-working holiday.

Shell to raise LPG price by P1.45/kg

Pilipinas Shell will raise the price of liquefied petroleum gas by P1.45 per kilogram effective Monday midnight.

5 dead, 900 rescued as ferry sinks off Zambo Peninsula

(Updated 5:52 p.m.) Five people died while 63 others were reported missing when a passenger ship sank Sunday morning after tilting for several hours in Siocon Bay near the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

SuperFerry to compensate victims—Marina exec

(UPDATE) Victims of the ill-Fated SuperFerry 9 ship which sank off the coast of Zamboanga early Sunday will be properly compensated by the ship owner, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Marina Elena Bautista said Sunday.

Aboitiz vows assistance for ferry survivors

The Aboitiz Transport System (ATS) on Sunday vowed assistance to rescued passengers and crew of the sunken SuperFerry9, adding rescue operations were still ongoing.

12 dead, 'babies thrown at sea in panic'

Survivor Raffy Borro said it was his first time to see babies and children thrown out to the water as their mothers cried.  The number of the dead in the sinking of the SuperFerry 9 off the Zamboanga Peninsula had reached 12.

He reported a shortage in life jackets and life rafts.

"Agawan. Maginaw. Madilim. Kaya natakot lahat tumalon sa dagat. Noong mabilis ang pagtagilid, ang daming tumakbo at nag-panic maraming natakot. Ang mga bata nag-iiyakan, mga magulang iyakan hingi ng tulong (People are grappling for life jackets. It was cold. Dark. That's why people were so scared, they just jumped into the sea. When we felt the ship listing fast, many ran and panicked. The kids were crying and the parents were wailing for help)," Borro recalled.

Passenger Chelona Pabit of Trento town in Agusan province said she saw babies and children being thrown out of the boat. "It was like you were leaving it all to fate on who will survive," Pabit said.

Before leaving the General Santos City port Saturday morning, Pabit said, she heard a loud bang below the boat.

"Then the boat started to tilt. We were travelling on a tilted boat," Pabit said.

Pabit said she even asked a ship crew why the boat was tilted, and all the response was: "strong wind and waves."

Romeo Billano, 62, had the same observation.

"It was like a container van slammed on the wall below," Billano said.

"There were no big waves. The weather was fine," he added.

All Billano had with him as he jumped off the boat was a piece of paper where the mobile phone number of his daughter was written.

Roderick Teves, a driver and one of the nine survivors, told Bombo Radyo-GenSan in a mobile phone interview, that 19 crew members of Tanging Pamilya were aboard the ill-fated SuperFerry 9.

But Teves said only nine of them were rescued in the same boat where he was.

"I don't know whether my 10 other colleagues were rescued by other vessels who helped in the rescue efforts," he said in Tagalog.

Teves identified eight co-workers who were saved with him as Joe Carlo Aquino, Joseph Noble, Raniel Billones, Manuel Malixi, Victor Gevilo, Mike Lungos, John Michael Roselo and Gaspar Capalar, Jr.

Teves, a resident of Libis, Quezon City, claimed that their equipment and two service trucks sank with the vessel.

He revealed that around 2 a.m., the passenger ship tilted to the right, when container vans apparently slid to the right.

"I guess the ship lost its balance. We were on the vessel waiting for the rescue. Other passengers who panicked grabbed life jackets and jumped off the ship," he said.

Jude Borro, a resident of General Santos, also belied the claim of Jess Supan, vice president of WG&A, that the vessel captain gave instructions to passengers to abandon ship.

"There was no instruction from the captain. The ship's crew were even the first to jump off the vessel. The passengers helped each other," Borro said during the same interview.

Borro said the SuperFerry 9 was apparently overloaded.

Borro claimed that about two hours after cruising past Zamboanga City, he heard a thunderous noise from under the vessel where the container vans where loaded.

Many families and relatives of passengers trooped to the WG&A office near Makar Port in General Santos for information.

Kin of SuperFerry 9 passengers wait in dread

The families of passengers of the ill-fated SuperFerry 9 on Sunday flocked to the WG&A office at the Iloilo port and waited for word of their kin.

US troops lend help in Zambo ferry rescue

The Philippine National Police Maritime Group (PNP-MG) and local offices, the Philippine Navy and the United States military task force stationed in Zamboanga City dispatched rescue vessels.

No fire, overloading in SuperFerry mishap

Aboitiz Transport System (ATS), the owner and operator of the sunken SuperFerry 9, has ruled out a terrorist attack and passenger overloading as likely reasons for the sinking of the passenger vessel, the shipping company's chief security officer said Sunday.

Coast Guard cleans oil spill from sunken ship

The Philippine Coast Guard have ordered an oil spill alert in the vicinity of the doomed SuperFerry 9 following the disclosure that the vessel contained thousands of liters of automotive and industrial fuels.

Shell offers gear for SuperFerry oil spill

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. has offered its assistance for a sea cleanup in case of an oil spill from the sunken SuperFerry 9 of the Aboitiz Transport System.

SuperFerry 9: No Stranger to danger

The fate of SuperFerry 9, owned by Aboitiz Transport System, is not entirely a surprise. The vessel, which sank off Zamboanga Sunday morning had already encountered several mishaps in the past.
Last May, SuperFerry 9 was stranded off the coast of Camiguin province for more than 12 hours due to engine problems. (See: SuperFerry ship with 900 passengers stranded off Camiguin)

In February 2007, the ship conked out southwest of Daog Point on Negros Island while on its journey from Bacolod City to Iligan City in Mindanao. Engine problems were also blamed for the interruption. It needed another ship to haul the ill-fated SuperFerry 9 to shore. (See: SuperFerry stalls near Negros)

A year earlier, the vessel was stranded near Masbate in April, pointing to a cracked engine cylinder head as the cause of the engine trouble. After it was repaired, the replacement cylinder suffered a leak on the same day while crossing Romblon waters. (See: SuperFerry 9 passengers finally arrive at South Harbor)

The series of incidents provoked the Maritime Industry Authority to revoke the SuperFerry 9's safety certificate in 2007, ordering the company to keep the ship docked to perform appropriate repairs. (See: SuperFerry 9 operations halted over safety issues)

SuperFerry 9 is not the only Aboitiz-owned ship that faced troubles in recent years. 

In early 2007, the Palawan-bound ship Our Lady of Medjugorje was stalled as its lube oil pump broke down, disabling its engine. The vessel was drifting off to the South China Sea before rescue ships could pull the ship to harbor, ending the 60-hour ordeal of those aboard. 

Another Aboitiz vessel, SuperFerry 12, caught fire in March 2006 off Bantayan Island in Cebu. Three people, under the suspicion of arson, were arrested after the incident. 

DepEd denies lowering passing mark for NATs

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has denied allegations that the Department of Education (DepEd) lowered the passing grade in the recent National Achievement Test (NAT) for Grade VI students.

P3.9B tuition aid for 700,000 HS students

A total of P3.9 billion in new funding has been apportioned to subsidize the tuition of 703,318 students enrolled in private high schools, Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas said in a statement Sunday.

P1.1B set to hook up public schools to Net

A total of P1.1 billion has been allotted to provide Internet connectivity to a total of 9,048 public elementary and high schools countrywide, Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology, said Sunday.

6,080 take bar exams

A total of 6,080 law graduates trooped to De La Salle University (DLSU) today in Manila to take the 2009 bar examinations.

Chiong to see lawyer on Paco's transfer to Spain

Thelma Chiong, Crusade Against Violence (CAV) National Vice-President, said she will consult her lawyer about their next move on the order to transfer convicted rapist and murderer Francisco 'Paco' Larrañaga to Spain.

Palace defends transfer of convict to Spain

Malacanang said Sunday that the Philippines was "obliged" to transfer the custody of convicted rapist Paco Larrranaga to Spain because of an existing treaty between the two countries.  Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has said it is only "a matter of time" for Larranaga to be transferred to a Spanish prison under the Philippines-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement.

'No hand in it'

EVEN if he is close to President Arroyo, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he did not intervene in the case of his nephew, convicted rapist Juan Francisco "Paco" Larrañaga.

Arroyo govt's "mercy" for rich convicts criticized

Following the approval of the transfer to Spain of a prisoner convicted for the 1997 rape and murder of the Chiong sisters, lawyers on Saturday hit the Arroyo administration for its tendency to render "mercy" for the "rich and powerful."

"While legally, we cannot question the decision since it is based on a treaty, we can see here a series of unjust exercise of President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo's mercy in favor of prominent persons and members of powerful families," said Marlon Manuel, head of the Alternative Law Groups.

P.8M for dengue treatment in CCMC

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña recently approved the release of P800,000 for the necessities for dengue treatment at the Cebu City Medical Center.

Apparel firm worker cries foul over retrenchment

Hundreds of workers have been retrenched by four garment factories at the Mactan Export Processing Zone, including Metrowear, Mactan Apparel, Fedder Apparel, and Global.

'P12-B pro-poor subsidy to go to poll bets'

President Macapagal-Arroyo's P12-billion subsidy for poor families under the government "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program" (4P or Bridge for the Filipino Family) could serve as campaign fund for administration candidates in the 2010 elections, a militant fishers group warned Sunday.

Cuenco denies he has joined opposition

REP. Antonio Cuenco (Cebu City, south district) yesterday denied the report that he has shifted allegiance to the local opposition or that he has accepted its offer to run for city mayor.

Fusilero: Tomas swayed by wrong information

Harsh words were uttered by retired police general Tiburcio "Tiboy" Fusilero against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for being allegedly swayed by false information.

Osmeña, who was visited recently by residents of sitio Cantipla in the city's mountain barangay of Tabunan, assured them help and protection from the reported harassment of Fusilero and his men as long as the residents are long-time voters of the city.

The mayor said he is mounting a detachment in the affected areas which are to be manned by police personnel chosen by the residents themselves.

Osmeña assured that once found that these affected residents are long-time voters, he would definitely move for the revocation of the reforestation Memorandum of Agreement between Fusilero and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Fusilero is authorized to undertake a reforestation project which will run for 25 years.

Fusilero said that Osmeña's pronouncements were "not that of a person with a normal mind."

However, Osmeña said that "he is entitled to his own comment."

Fusilero asked the mayor to "know the real issue which is not harassment but environmental protection."

He denied harassing the farmers of Cantipla and the other barangays which are categorized as protected areas.

He said he has nothing to advise to the mayor since the latter is already knowledgeable, but pleaded him to study the matter further so as not to be misinformed.

Fusilero, who had been a regional director of the Central Visayas for two years, said that he was the one harassed by the farmers last week contrary to reports.

But Farmers Resource Development Center lawyer Kim Grace Mendoza was quick to say she was present when Fusilero's men allegedly harassed the residents with high-powered firearms.

Osmeña said he let the City Council do its part and that he will act according to their recommendation. The mayor said he is not angry with Fusilero for having said the harsh words.

"He is not worth it," was Osmeña's reply.

Archival is best councilor nominee

FOR his advocacy on environmental issues, Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival Sr. was nominated by the City Council in this year's search for the most outstanding councilor in the country.

Tuburan councilman's daughter files rape charge vs. stepdad

A 13-year-old daughter of a barangay councilman has filed charges of rape and other acts of sexual abuse against her stepfather before the Regional Trial Court on Friday.

Applications for PNPA cadetship open

The Philippine National Police Academy opens its cadetship program to natural born Filipino citizens of good moral character, male or female who must be single and with no legal obligation to support a child or children.

FPJ supporters throw support behind Noynoy

Supporters of the late Fernando Poe Jr. on Sunday threw their support behind Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

NPC to announce 2010 bets on Sept. 18

The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) will proceed with its plan to field Senators Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Loren Legarda as standard bearers for the 2010 presidential elections and will be announcing their bets for president and vice president on Sept. 18.

FVR to OFWs: Choose candidates well

Former president Fidel V. Ramos urged Filipinos overseas to choose and vote for candidates who can best resolve their many problems. 

Outraged Fil-Ams seek probe of Mikey's "hidden" US property

Filipino groups in the United States have expressed outrage over presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo"s alleged acquisition of a $1.3-million property in California. The groups are urging the Philippine and US governments to investigate whether the congressman acquired the property through questionable means.

Neri appeals recommendation on graft raps

SOCIAL SECURITY System President and Chief Executive Officer Romulo L. Neri on Friday sought for the reconsideration of the Ombudsman's decision recommending the filing of graft charges against him in connection with a scrapped broadband project.

Ex-governor charged for stealing car parts

The Ombudsman has charged former Misamis Oriental Governor Antonio Calingin and his brother with stealing P2.9 million worth of vehicle parts in 2004.

Priest shot dead, 2 hurt in Northern Samar

A Catholic priest active in human rights advocacy was shot dead by a group of armed men in a Northern Samar town Sunday morning.

Slain Samar priest a human rights advocate - CBCP

A Catholic priest who was shot dead in an ambush in Northern Samar Sunday was a staunch human rights defender, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.

4 alleged NPA rebels killed in Agusan del Sur clash

LORETO, AGUSAN DEL SUR- 4 alleged New People's Army rebels were killed in an encounter in Loreto town in Agusan del Sur Sunday dawn, said the military. 

Income tax take in 2010 seen to arrest its decline

The government expects to collect more from income tax next year on hopes of global economic recovery, the Finance department said.

Pag-IBIG Fund to issue P12B bonds next month

Home Development Mutual Fund, more popularly known as Pag-IBIG Fund, will raise P12 billion next month from the sale of bonds to pay its maturing obligations in May 2010.

IMF warns of risk of abrupt exit

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned member-countries of the dangers of pulling the plug too soon on stimulus packages that the Philippines, for instance, adopted in response to the global economic downturn. 

PAL sells discounted tickets for INC members abroad

Iglesia ni Cristo members who are staying overseas can pay last respects to executive minster Eraño Manalo as flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. is offering discounted tickets.

Aboitiz keeps shipping line, targets hydropower assets

The Aboitiz group is no longer keen on selling Superferry operator Aboitiz Transport System Corp. (ATS), company officials said.

OPEC not likely to cut output at Vienna meeting

VIENNA - With oil prices about where Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) wants them and a modest economic upturn in the offing, the oil cartel isn't likely to tighten the taps when its leaders meet this week in Vienna.

No date for preliminary Afghan vote results: officials

by Agence France-Presse
KABUL - Afghan electoral authorities said Sunday they still did not know when preliminary results from last month's presidential election would be made available, three days after the scheduled release date.

Bata, Django lift World Cup over Germans

The biggest names in Philippine billiards are on top of the world again.  Summoning all the guile and poise that made them one of the world's most recognizable players, Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante toppled Germany's Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann with an enthralling 11-9 triumph in the finals of the PartyCasino.Net World Cup of Pool in Quezon City Sunday night.

Bata, Django barge into World Cup of Pool final

Alcano, Orcollo entered in semis MANILA – Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante of Philippines B booked their place in the World Cup of Pool final after edging out China, 9-8, on Sunday.

Germans spoil all-Filipino World Cup of Pool final

Ronnie Alcano and Dennis Orcollo, who comprise Philippines A, failed to make it an all-Filipino final in the World Cup of Pool as they lost to a German team. 

'Chavit' gets moral support from Pacquiao

MANILA - Deputy National Security adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson received a much-needed moral boost from Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao as Singson faces a domestic violence charge filed by his wife, Rachel "Che" Tiongson.

Palace won't suspend Singson yet

The Palace is in no rush to suspend or put Deputy National Security Adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson on a leave of absence in connection with the alleged beating of his common-law wife.

Singson's daughter won't speak ill of parents

The mansion on Joya Street in an upscale village in Quezon City stands as mute witness to a high profile marital problem but ironically provides sanctuary to the five young children of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson and his estranged partner, Rachel "Che" Tiongson.

Mommy Dionisia prays for the safety of Star Cinema crew

by By Chat Ansagay, ABS-CBN News General Santos City
General Santos City - Dionisia Pacquiao, mother of People's Champ Manny Pacquiao and one of the cast of Star Cinema's upcoming comedy film, said she is praying for the safety of the 29 Star Cinema crew who were onboard the ill-fated MV SuperFerry 9.

No VIP treatment for Ruby Rose suspect

The Angono police denied giving special treatment to businessman Manuel Jimenez Jr., who yielded to a court's arrest warrant for the murder of his daughter-in-law Ruby Rose Barrameda-Jimenez, but who was allowed to stay in the hospital after he complained of chest pains last week.

Willie arrives in US for series of shows

Over a hundred fans welcomed "Wowowee" host Willie Revillame in the United States as he arrived at the San Francisco International Airport Friday night.

Changes eyed on National Artist award

The executive director of the National Commission on Culture and Arts, whose own citation as a National Artist has been questioned by groups concerned with the process of selection, recently revealed that the government has been planning to modify the naming of National Artists.

Following the traditions of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, the government has been planning to limit the National Artists selection process "only to living persons," said Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, executive director of the NCCA.

On the other hand, "all other great artists who have passed away and have not been duly honored will be posthumously enshrined and recognized in an appropriate Pantheon or Wall of Remembrance at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery)."

According to Alvarez, "there are artists we owe, such as Constancio de Guzman of "Bayan Ko" fame, George Canseco, Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros S.J., Redentor Romero, Carmencita Lozada and Eliseo Pajaro in music; Zeneida Amador and Tita Muñoz in theater; Jose Corazon de Jesus (Huseng Batute) and Genoveva Edroza Matute in literature; Francisco Coching, Antonio Velasquez, Mars Ravelo and Larry Alcala in comics; Diosdado Lorenzo, Luis Olmedo and Alfredo Carmelo in visual arts; Koko Trinidad and Dely Magpayo in broadcast; and Tony Fabella in dance, among others."

Designer bags launched in honor of Cory Aquino

MANILA - Famed Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel recently launched a set of environmentally-friendly bags inspired by the late president Corazon "Cory" Aquino. 

Gale warnings can help avoid sinking ships

Aside from storm signals, ocean-going vessels within the Philippine territory can now turn to the government weather bureau's gale warnings to avoid ship sinkings and other sea disasters.

Pagasa: Storm 'Labuyo' leaves RP, monsoon rains to continue

Tropical storm "Labuyo" (Dujuan) left Philippine territory Sunday, but state weather forecasters warned of continued monsoon rains on Luzon and the Visayas.

Pagasa: RP"s nights to stay longer starting Sept 24

The country's nights will now grow longer as the sun nears the celestial equator this month, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Stephen Leacock  - "I detest life-insurance agents: they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so."

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