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

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 13, 2009 Major News Stories

RDCC: 270 dead, 21 still missing in the Cordilleras

A total of 270 persons have been reported dead while 21 others are still missing due to the series of landslides triggered by typhoon "Pepeng" (international name: Parma) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Cordillera Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) said on Monday.

Extra coffins needed in storm-hit areas in north Luzon

BAGUIO, Philippines - Authorities sent more than 200 coffins Monday to the typhoon-battered northern Philippines for the grim task of burying the storm's victims, including a family of eight whose house was buried under a torrent of mud.

House approves resolution on Calamity fund

The House of Representatives approved on third reading late Monday a joint resolution authorizing the use of unprogrammed funds for the proposed P12 billion calamity fund.

But one of the main authors of the measure, Quirino Representative Junie Cua, chairman of the appropriations committee, acknowledged that there was no sure source yet for the proposed fund.

Joint Resolution No. 48 authorizes the use of unprogrammed funds for "relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other services in areas affected by natural calamities."

A total of 179 members voted for the measure, with one member, Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson, voting against it. The resolution also needs the approval of the Senate.

Explaining his vote, Joson said that the allotment of the P12 billion calamity fund involves an "illegal transfer of fund."

Senate to hear P12B calamity fund Tuesday

Congress has agreed to increase the P10 billion proposed supplemental calamity fund to P12 billion, Senator Edgardo Angara said on Monday as he promised to sponsor the joint resolution authorizing the use of the fund in the plenary during Tuesday's session.

Ondoy, Pepeng damages reach P12-B, report says

Crops, livestock, and farm structures destroyed by two weather disturbances that hit the Philippines have surged to almost P12 billion, an updated government report said.

38 towns, 3 cities in NLuzon still paralyzed by floods

The rain stopped days ago but it's still water world in a vast swath of Northern Luzon, as flooding in hundreds of barangays refuses to ebb, sometimes receding teasingly and then coming back with a vengeance. Many residents blame dam authorities, who say that if they don't release water from full reservoirs, they risk the much bigger catastrophe of dam collapse.

Choppers bring supplies to Benguet, Mountain Province

Two Huey helicopters sent by President Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday started delivering food and medical supplies to Buguias and Atok towns, as vehicles could not penetrate villages there since Friday due to landslides that blocked roads.

Govt relief efforts lack coordination, Arroyo adviser admits

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Kulang ang koordinasyon sa relief operations ng gobyerno. Inamin mismo ito ng isang adviser ng Pangulo.  Pangamba naman ng ilan, baka makurakot lang ang mga donasyon mula sa ibang bansa. 

GSIS oks moratorium on loan payments

MANILA - Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) members who were affected by the recent calamities can soon take a one-year loan-payment holiday, the state pension fund announced.

Viz-Min veggies sought as north Luzon is cut off

The Department of Agriculture is scrambling to secure Metro Manila's vegetable supply from Visayas and Mindanao as roadblocks caused by typhoons prevented the delivery of crops from Central and Northern Luzon.

Gov't to tender for 250,000 tons of rice

by Reuters
SINGAPORE - The National Food Authority will hold a tender on October 30 to buy 250,000 tons of 25 percent broken rice for arrival between January and April 2010, the state-run agency said on Monday.

DepEd orders austere, simple activities

With Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng destroying around P815 million in public school properties, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus ordered all Department of Education (DepEd) offices to observe "austerity and simplicity" in all activities.

Chiz: Pass all students this year due to storms

by by Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero called off a scheduled announcement on Monday of his reported plan to run for president in 2010, saying this wasn't the time to talk politics with many areas in Luzon still reeling from two typhoons and massive floods. He also proposed, among others, that the education department automatically give a passing grade this semester for all elementary and high school students in affected areas, in as much as their schools won't be rehabilitated for some time yet.

Dieseases hound flood victims

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Sari-saring sakit ang kumakalat ngayon dahil sa baha. Ilan dito, nakamamatay -- gaya ng cholera at  leptospirosis.

Cases of leptospirosis on the rise after floods

After living through the nightmare of spending 18 hours drenched on the roof of their flooded home in Rizal Province at the height of tropical storm "Ondoy," the Justo family is now faced with the peril of disease.

As MOA for CENTCOM move is inked: Apas folk plea for their homes

Residents of province-owned lots in barangay Apas are asking Governor Gwendolyn Garcia that they be allowed to stay in the place, but this plea might not be granted.

Provincial Board halts probe into Balili issue

The adhoc committee of the provincial board yesterday terminated its investigation into the controversial Balili transaction subject to three conditions that will ensure that even if they already cease from investigating, the committee will still be able to come up with a comprehensive recommendation for curative measures in the legislative department of the Provincial Government of Cebu.

CICC probe results now with Ombuds

The anti-graft investigator assigned to conduct the fact-finding investigation into the alleged anomalous construction of the Cebu International Convention Center has already finished the investigation and has submitted his report for review.

No word from COA on Sinulog financial aid

Three months after acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama visited the Commission on Audit central office, there is still no word on whether or not next year's Sinulog activities will be exempt from a COA memorandum.

Poll watchdog mulling request to extend voters registration

The Catholic Church's poll watchdog might ask the Commission on Elections to extend the deadline for voters registration beyond Oct. 31 to give those affected by Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and Typhoon "Pepeng" more time to register.

Sulfur dioxide, quakes show Mayon more restive

Sulfur dioxide emission and quakes showed clear signs that Mayon volcano continues to be on a heightened state of restiveness, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Monday.

P2-B budget for constitutional convention scrapped in House

Hampered by the lack of funds as government resources have been focused on the relief and rehabilitation of calamity victims, the committee on appropriations of the House of Representatives scrapped the proposed P2 billion budget for a constitutional convention that would amend the 1987 Constitution.

Senate cancels Christmas party; funds go to typhoon victims

The Senate on Monday decided to cancel its annual Christmas party and instead, donate the funds intended for the festivity to help the victims of recent calamities.

Is it time for RP to stop paying foreign debts?

by By Carmela Fonbuena,
Solon says budget needs of post-typhoon rehab a good reason to renegotiate debts   MANILA - As Congress rushes passage of the 2010 budget, a lawmaker is renewing calls to suspend interest and principal payments on the country's foreign debt and instead use the funds for disaster response measures.

Disasters to mean less resources for judiciary -- Chief Justice

Chief Justice Reynato Puno said on Monday he feared that the back-to-back disasters brought by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng would leave the judiciary with even less resources as the government would surely give priority to the rehabilitation of devastated areas.

Military operations against rebels suspended in Northern Luzon

Military operations against insurgent groups have been suspended in affected areas in Northern and Central Luzon to give way to ongoing rescue and relief efforts for victims of typhoon "Pepeng" (international name: Parma), a military spokesman said Monday.

Reds spotted among typhoon evacuees—AFP

Typhoon "Pepeng" seems to have temporarily blurred the lines between the communist rebels and the military.

3 NPA guerrillas killed in N. Samar

MANILA - Three New People's Army rebels were reportedly killed while 11 others were wounded in a clash with government forces in Silvino Lobos town in Northern Samar on Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Eastern Samar to launch back-to-province program

The Eastern Samar provincial government will encourage former residents who failed to find better lives in Metro Manila and other urban areas to return to the province.

Efforts to rescue Irish priest focused on 3 Mindanao regions

The Philippine National Police is concentrating on three regions in Mindanao as part of its efforts to rescue Irish priest Michael Sinnott from his kidnappers, according to Police Director Felizardo Serapio Jr. of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao.

Regionwide manhunt launched for kidnappers of Irish priest

Police have launched regionwide manhunt operations for the abductors of Irish missionary Fr. Michael Sinnott, as entire police units in the Western Mindanao region have been told to launch pursuits and set up checkpoints for the victim's immediate rescue.

Abu Sayyaf eyed in kidnap of Irish missionary

(UPDATE) The Abu Sayyaf might be behind the kidnapping of an Irish missionary in Pagadian City on Sunday evening, a police official said Monday.

Friends of kidnapped Irish priest appeal for his release

by Agence France-Presse
President Arroyo orders task force formed to pursue abductors PAGADIAN CITY - Friends of a 78-year-old Irish priest kidnapped by suspected Islamic militants in the the city made emotional appeals Monday for his quick release, saying he may not survive the ordeal.

Bishops appeal for immediate release of Irish priest

Several Catholic bishops appealed for the immediate release of abducted Columban priest Fr. Michael Sinnott as they worried for the 78-year-old Irish missionary's health.

DFA airs grave concern over kidnap of Irish priest

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday expressed "grave concern" over the kidnapping of Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott, a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban in Pagadian City, on Sunday night.

Artist's sketch of 4 suspects in strafing of Neri house released

The Quezon City Police District released artist sketches of four suspects involved in the strafing of Social Security System president Romulo Neri's house after another man claimed that his van was also hijacked.

Escudero has decided but defers announcement

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero has come to a decision about the 2010 presidential elections but deferred his announcement this Monday in deference to the victims of typhoon "Pepeng."

Filipina helps nab Nigerian in $18-M credit card ripoff

The tenacity of the Filipina wife of an American lawyer led to the arrest by National Bureau of Investigation agents of a Nigerian national allegedly responsible for credit card fraud and identity theft.

OSG seeks SC approval to convert PCGG shares in San Miguel

MANILA - The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), has sought permission from the Supreme Court to convert into preferred shares some 27.57 million common shares in San Miguel Corp. being held in trust for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Nonlife insurers start increasing rates

by BusinessWorld
MANILA - Nonlife insurers have started hiking the rates of insurance coverage against flood and other natural disasters after initial assessments on damage brought by tropical storm Ondoy pointed to billions of pesos in claims.

Remittances seen to grow even faster

by BusinessWorld
MANILA - Remittances could grow 5% this year, higher than earlier estimates, as Filipinos overseas send more money home to help their families recover from typhoon wreckage, a senior government official said at the weekend.

Floods boost appliance sales

MANILA - Appliance and furniture sales have picked up in the aftermath of the floods, but only in the more basic and lower-end segments.

NKorea fires two short-range missiles: report

by Agence France-Presse
SEOUL - North Korea has test-fired two short-range missiles off its east coast, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

4 dead as bomb blast hits northwest Pakistan: police

by Agence France-Presse
PESHAWAR - A bomb blast on Monday killed four security personnel near northwest Pakistan's Swat valley, in an attack that police said was likely the latest in a wave of suicide bombings.

French don't want minister to resign over sex furor

by Reuters
PARIS - Two-thirds of French people do not want Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand to resign for having written about paying young male prostitutes for sex in Thailand, an opinion poll showed Monday.

Pacquiao says to face toughest test yet in Cotto

MANILA – Despite being the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, Manny Pacquiao said he has to prove himself as he is the challenger to Miguel Cotto's WBO welterweight belt on Nov. 14 in their "Firepower" bout in Las Vegas.

Cesar confirms gubernatorial bid

MANILA – Cesar Montano is willing to take a leave from show business to concentrate on his political career.

'Willie is just a friend,' says Lorna

MANILA – Multi-awarded actress Lorna Tolentino, widow of Prince of Action Rudy Fernandez, has reiterated that she and "Wowowee" host Willie Revillame are just friends.

Star Magic's fashion show raises P5M for storm victims

by By Gretchen Fullido, ABS-CBN News
MANILA – Almost a hundred Star Magic artists and models, including more than 60 of the country's best designers, have lent their time and talent to a benefit fashion show.

Kris comes to Noynoy's defense

MANILA - Kris Aquino has again defended presidential aspirant Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III from what she described as black propaganda against her older brother.

Streisand pulls off US, British charts double

American entertainer Barbra Streisand achieved the feat of topping the US and British album charts simultaneously as her record "Love Is The Answer" went to number one Sunday.

New Michael Jackson single debuts online

LONDON - Michael Jackson has returned to the airwaves with a new song - the first from an upcoming documentary on the troubled superstar.

Low pressure area spotted off Mindanao

The country has yet to recover from the devastation wrought by "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" but state weather forecasters on Monday said it is monitoring another low pressure area (LPA) that is poised to enter the country.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach  - "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day."

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