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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 14, 2009 Major News Stories

Chevron hikes pump prices

MANILA - Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex) on Tuesday increased the prices of its petroleum products by P0.25 per liter.

Petron not raising oil prices

Despite the oil price adjustment implemented by several oil companies this week, Petron Corp. announced it will not be raising prices anytime soon.

Rains to go on

A LOW-PRESSURE area that brought rain in Cebu yesterday may become a tropical depression within 24 hours should it continue to move within the Pacific Ocean, said the local weather bureau.

Auditor orders check on Balili lot

THE Commission on Audit (COA) yesterday said the auditor assigned to look into Capitol transactions has requested regional engineers to conduct a technical inspection and appraisal of the Balili Beach.

'Prepare books'

CEBU City Hall served yesterday the Letter of Authority asking Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to prepare and present the Books of Accounts of the Cebu South Bus Terminal by Oct. 19.

Apas barangay council joins call to keep Centcom

THE Apas barangay council the other night formally joined the call for the retention of the Central Command (Centcom) in the barangay by passing a resolution supporting the efforts of the different ho

Ombud checks departure orders of other respondents

AFTER the issuance of hold departure orders against ex-mayor Thadeo Ouano of Mandaue City and 13 others over the lamppost scam, the anti-graft office wants to know if similar travel prohibitions have

Mom raps Castro on 'cash demand'

A MOTHER has asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to investigate Assistant City Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro over allegations she demanded money to extend the visa of a two-year-old Filipino-American boy.

Reyna Duerme-Fisk, in her three-page affidavit to the anti-graft office, said she later learned that the extension of the visa wasn't even necessary because her son, having been born here, already enjoys citizenship privileges despite holding an American passport.

1M metric tons of rice needed as buffer stock—solon

The country must have at least one million metric tons of rice in buffer stock for next year to ensure adequate supply as local production is expected to be reduced following the calamities that damaged crops last month, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

Yap: We wont announce our rice import volume yet

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Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told ANC's Business Nightly that he still prefers not to talk about rice import volume or announce the advance strategy of his department since rice exporting countries may take a position against the Philippines, the world's biggest rice importer. He also gave an update on the damages wrought by the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng on agriculture: close to 500 hectares of agriculture land, and supply equivalent to 10-20 days.

Bohol to produce more rice for Luzon

Bohol has to produce more rice to prevent a shortage in supply that may arise from the devastation caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international codename: Ketsana) and typhoon Pepeng (Parma) in Luzon.

Bohol gov hits Palace red tape on check donations

Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado wants a Malacañang official dismissed for refusing to receive check donations worth more than P1.217 million that he brought to the Palace last week for the victims of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

PAF choppers to bring supplies to isolated areas

The government has been prioritizing the delivery of goods and basic commodities to the Cordillera, particularly Benguet, Baguio City and Mountain Province, to avert a food shortage, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said here on Tuesday.

Mindanao ships 75 tons of bananas to Luzon for typhoon victims

Members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association based in Mindanao shipped 75 tons of bananas as food relief for typhoon victims in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Arroyo orders crackdown vs 'predatory' oil prices

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered a crackdown on oil companies that might resort to what she called "predatory pricing" amid the devastation caused by the two recent typhoons.

3-month reprieve on Pag-IBIG loans OK'd

Vice President Noli de Castro said on Tuesday that members of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) in Northern Luzon with existing housing and short term loans could apply for a three-month moratorium at the Pag-IBIG Branch nearest their place.

Storms to aggravate hunger problem in RP

MANILA - Involuntary hunger is expected to increase in the coming months as thousands of Filipinos struggle to rebuild their lives in the aftermaths of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng, the National Anti-Poverty Commission said Tuesday.

DOH sounds alarm on leptospirosis

With almost 400 cases reported in Metro Manila alone two weeks since Storm Ondoy, health authorities on Tuesday urged people who have waded through floodwaters to see a doctor should they develop symptoms of leptospirosis.

Dengue afflicts 463 in Eastern Visayas

by By Ranulfo Docdocan, ABS-CBN Tacloban
PALO, Leyte - The Department of Health on Tuesday said it has recorded 463 dengue cases in Eastern Visayas since the start of the year, which has resulted in five deaths.

Senate okays P12B calamity fund

The Senate finance committee has unanimously approved the proposed P12 billion supplemental budget for calamity victims.

Use of foreign aid funds must go through Congress, says Enrile

by By Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News
Senate committee OKs P12-B calamity fund MANILA - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday said that the utilization of funds from any international assistance for calamity victims would have to pass through Congress.

'Pepeng' damage to crops, infrastructure reaches P7.1B

Damage to agriculture and infrastructure caused by typhoon "Pepeng" (international name: Parma) has reached P7.172 billion, according to the latest report by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

Arroyo signs order for reconstruction commission

The proposed reconstruction commission, a so-called "bypass route" that will quicken fund sourcing and hasten the country's coping mechanism against the effects of calamities, has been signed into an executive order by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Joey Salceda.

Salceda added that Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan agreed to co-chair the commission with Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Manila Archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales. 

Other members of the special body include Cabinet members, heads of business groups, and international and local civic groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and Gawad Kalinga.

The OCD and NEDA will form the secretariat and will also serve as a clearing house for international assistance implemented by the donors themselves using the cluster approach.

Breakdown of the P46 billion is as follows: relocation, P20 billion; infrastructure rehabilitation, P21 billion; and livelihood and agriculture, P5 billion.

The P46 billion will be allocated for typhoon victims, broken down as follows: P27 billion for Ondoy; P12 billion for Pepeng; and P7 billion for Typhoon "Frank" which hit Romblon and Visayan provinces in June 2008.

Ordonez: Let's keep an eye on rehab expenses

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Former agriculture and trade undersecretary Ernesto Ordones told ANC's Business Nightly that there are pressing needs to clean up agricultural farms, and stressed that the government should not just be concentrating on relief and rehabilitation. The chairman of Alyansa Agrikultura also said the capacity to produce rice in the long term will be compromised if more resources are not poured into the agricultural sector. Nonetheless, he urged viewers to keep tabs on how the government is spending its budget for rehabilitation.

International pledges to RP hit $44 million - UN official

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- At least $44 million worth of aid has been pledged by the international community to the Philippines to help alleviate the plight of thousands of people affected by two devastating storms that recently hit the country, a ranking U.N. official said today.

UN aid appeal for Philippines falls 'tens of millions' short

A fund-raising effort to help millions displaced by two deadly cyclones in the Philippines has fallen $55 million short, and more aid is needed, a UN official said Tuesday.

Arroyo gov't to ask UN to raise flash appeal

MANILA - The Arroyo government plans to request the United Nations (UN) to increase its US$74-million flash appeal for the Philippines.

UN: Govt won't touch funds for reconstruction commission

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Bumuo ng Reconstruction Commission ang Pangulo para mangangalap ng karagdagang pondo para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo! Siniguro naman ng United Nations na hindi sasayad sa gobyerno ang malilikom nilang pondo.

A new "KKK" for evacuees: Kaldero, kulambo at Kumot

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Hindi lang pagkain ang kailangan ng mga binagyo't binaha. Kaya, naigisp ng isang grupo na maglunsad ng kampanya para mangalap ng mga gamit na tulad ng kaldero, kulambo at kumot para sa kanila. 

Disaster victims claim the President gave them tattered clothes

The Associated Press has released a photograph showing two disaster victims displaying tattered used clothing allegedly found in plastic bags of relief goods distributed Tuesday morning by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet, where a massive landslide on October 8 killed over 50 residents and buried nearly an entire community.

DepEd thumbs down 'calamity diplomas'

The Department of Education has rejected the call of Senator Francis Escudero for all students in calamity-hit areas to be given passing marks this grading period or semester.

Negros Oriental vice mayors to push for tree planting

Having seen the destruction caused by back-to-back cyclones in Luzon, the Vice Mayors' League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Negros Oriental will initiate a tree-planting program in the province and will conduct an educational campaign on the need to protect and preserve the environment.

Kidnapped Irish priest seen alive

An elderly Irish Roman Catholic priest kidnapped in the Philippines has been seen alive in captivity in an area where Islamist militants are known to operate, authorities said Tuesday.

Abducted Irish priest spotted three times - AFP

The Philippine military on Tuesday bared at least three sightings of abducted Irish priest Michael Sinnott - the first proof of life since the 79-year-old missionary was abducted last Sunday in southern Philippines.

Palace condemns abduction of Irish priest

Malacañang on Tuesday condemned the abduction of an Irish missionary in Pagadian City, which came amid the country's relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by recent storms.

Irish priest abductors still unknown

No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of an Irish priest in Zamboanga del Sur, a spokesman from the crisis management committee said Tuesday.

MILF denies kidnapping Irish priest

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Tuesday denied involvement in the brazen abduction of an elderly Irish priest in the troubled south of the country.

Van used in Irish priest abduction unregistered—exec

The vehicle used by the kidnappers of an Irish missionary was not registered in Pagadian City, a local official said.

Navy tries to seal off Irish priest's kidnappers

by Agence France-Presse
PAGADIAN CITY - Philippine navy gunboats were deployed and road blocks set up Tuesday to block the escape route of suspected Islamic militants who abducted an elderly Irish priest, authorities said.

Security tightened after foiled Basilan attack

Police in Western Mindanao have intensified security operations after authorities thwarted an attack in Basilan province last Friday, police said.

Gun amnesty haul in east Visayas too small -- PNP

With the gun amnesty ending this month, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Eastern Visayas reported recovering or registering only 600 loose firearms out of the 43,000 illegal guns in the region.

2 Filipinos jailed for drugs in Saudi seek gov't help

An overseas Filipino workers group in the Middle East sought on Tuesday the government's help for two OFWs jailed for drug offenses in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Comelec: No extension of voters' registration

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has rejected requests to extend the registration of voters beyond the October 31 deadline.

SC orders Comelec to answer poll automation petition

The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to answer a petition seeking a reversal of the high court's ruling declaring as legal the P7.2-billion contract between the poll body and an election automation firm.

Source codes to be available to others after Feb. 6 - Comelec

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will make available the source codes that will be used in the 2010 poll automation to others only after it has been certified by the company the poll body has tasked to do the mandated certification - that is, after Feb. 6, 2010.

Former president's son confirms Estrada-Binay tandem for 2010 polls

It's confirmed. Former President Joseph Estrada and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay will run for president and vice president , respectively, in 2010.

Senate ends C-5 road probe; Villar asked to answer

The Senate hearings that presented evidence against Senator Manny Villar over his alleged involvement in a controversial road project ended Tuesday and the lawmakers gave him until Friday to answer allegations that he used his position to benefit from the project.

Noynoy, Villar preferred as Arroyo successors

Two opposition leaders bested 11 others as the "best leaders to succeed PGMA [President Gloria M. Arroyo] in 2010," findings of a third-quarter Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The survey, conducted last Sep. 18-21 via face-to-face interviews with 1,800 adults nationwide, showed Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III, standard bearer of the Liberal Party, as the choice of 60% of the respondents, even as he was not included in previous surveys on this issue.

The second most preferred successor was Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr., who led in the last survey. Mr. Villar got 37%, up three points from the 33% he got in the June survey.

Incumbent President Gloria M. Arroyo was the least preferred at 0.5%, down from 1%.

Messrs. Aquino and Villar were followed by former Pres. Joseph "Erap" E. Estrada with 18%; Sen. Francis Joseph G. Escudero at 15%; Sen. Manuel "Mar" A. Roxas II at 12%; Vice-president Manuel "Noli" L. de Castro, Jr., 8%; Sen. Loren B. Legarda, 5%; Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr., 4%; Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson and Makati Mayor Jejomar C. Binay with 2% each; as well as Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani F. Fernando and Jesus Is Lord Movement leader Bro. Eduardo "Eddie" C. Villanueva with 1% each.

Respondents were asked in Filipino: "Under the present Constitution, the term of President Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed Pres. Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names."

No list of names was provided to prompt the respondents.

Six percent could not give an answer, while 4% had no one to recommend.

Sought for comment, Mr. Aquino said he was "overwhelmed" by the results, adding that the survey indicated the "reforms yearned by the people."

Adel A. Tamano, spokesman of the Nacionalista Party headed by Mr. Villar, said the party "remains confident of our chances in the May 2010 elections."

"This is part of the dynamics of a political campaign, and we expect more changes to happen in the run up to the May 2010 elections. What is encouraging about this survey is that it shows that he [Mr. Villar] has a solid support from the people," Mr. Tamano said.

Mr. Estrada placed third with 18%, down from 25% in the survey conducted last June.

Opposition in top slots

The camp of Mr. Estrada, who is working on a tandem with Mr. Binay, welcomed the results.

"We have yet to see if this will be sustained to May 2010. Nevertheless, it's all opposition presidentiables in the top slots, so we are very happy with these results," Mr. Estrada's spokesperson, Margaux M. Salcedo, said by phone.

Mr. Fernando, who was among those who declared their presidential intentions early, said there was no backing out from his plan.

"There was a misconception that I will not pursue my plan to run for president. Not all people were surveyed anyway," said Mr. Fernando.

Others, including Palace officials, were not immediately available for comment.

Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Economic Reform, attributed Mr. Aquino's strong showing partly to the public sympathy triggered by the death last August 1 of his mother, "People Power" icon Corazon C. Aquino.

Still, Mr. Casiple said, the survey showed that "people see that there is a political vacuum for reform" and that Sen. Aquino is "not a traditional politician."

More than $100M already given to RP war veterans

A total of $102 million had been distributed to some of the 34,000 Filipino World War II veterans who applied for the lump sum benefits package given by the US government, a Philippine official said Tuesday.

UN call to probe Manila's anti-family planning policy ignored

by By Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak
Local advocates say they will force Philippine gov't to respond by January 2010 The Philippine government has ignored inquiries from the United Nations regarding alleged discrimination and violations of women rights in Manila due to the local government's ban on artificial family planning methods.

RP least competitive in AsiaPac

by By Jesus F. Llanto, Newsbreak
92 million population putting pressure on limited resources MANILA - A huge population of 92.2 million coupled with poor infrastructure have pushed the Philippines to the bottom of competitiveness ranking among peers in the Asia Pacific region, experts said on Tuesday.

Philippines exports down 21% in August

Philippine exports dropped 21 percent year-on-year in August to $3.47 billion due to weak sales of electronic products, the government said Tuesday.

Sentosa ordered to pay nurses $186,372

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The National Labor Relations Committee has overturned the decision of the executive labor arbiter and ordered Sentosa enterprises to pay the nurses actual damages of $186,372 (about P8.7 million) after finding that the employer "constructively discharged" the nurses, it was learned Tuesday.

Pacquiao pal hit over resort on Boracay coral reefs

Boracay stakeholders have called for an immediate stop to construction activities over coral reefs and no-build zone areas on the island by a resort owned by a businessman reported to be close to boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and Environment Secretary Jose "Lito" Atienza Jr.  Boracay West Cove Resort at Sitio Diniwid in the village of Yapac, Malay town, owned by Manila-based businessman Crisostomo "Cris" Aquino, earlier drew criticisms from owners of resorts and other stakeholders in Boracay for alleged violations including the building of structures on a cliff and over coral reefs.

GSIS to restart IT system, replacing IBM with HP, Oracle

A government-led pension fund manager will be restarting its IT system from scratch with a new infrastructure based on Oracle database and HP hardware.

Magnitude 6 quake jolts Indonesia

(UPDATE) A magnitude 6 earthquake struck off Maluku Islands in Indonesia 7:38 p.m. Manila time (1138 GMT), the US Geological Survey said.

US senator: global warming bill possible soon

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The chairman of the U.S. Senate's environment committee said Monday that it's possible Congress will pass a bill aimed at slowing global warming before international talks on a deal to limit climate change in Copenhagen in December.

Suspected Somali pirates taken to Spain

Spain's Defense Ministry says two Somalis arrested for allegedly taking part in the hijacking of a Spanish trawler have been brought to Madrid and placed in custody.

1st batch of RP peacekeepers arrive in Golan Heights

The first batch of Philippine peacekeepers in the Golan Heights hit the ground running after arriving in their area of assignment, Philippine officials in the United Nations said Tuesday.

AP Newsbreak: Nobel jury defends Obama decision

OSLO - Members of the Norwegian committee that gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize are strongly defending their choice against a storm of criticism that the award was premature and a potential liability for the U.S. president.

Clinton fails to win Russia pledge on Iran sanctions

MOSCOW - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to win specific pledges from Moscow on tougher sanctions against Iran during a visit to Russia Tuesday but hailed progress in other areas such as arms control.

UN chief renews call for women's equality

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked the 15th anniversary of a "watershed" U.N. conference that called for women's equality by urging all countries Monday to renew their commitment to educate girls, end sexual violence, and provide access to modern birth control.

WHO eyes November flu vaccine shipment to poor nations

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization hopes to begin shipping 60 million doses of swine flu vaccine to poor countries in November as part of an effort to protect their fragile health systems from the pandemic, it said Monday.

US Senate panel endorses healthcare overhaul

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 - A key U.S. Senate committee endorsed a sweeping healthcare overhaul on Tuesday, gaining the support of an influential Republican and delivering President Barack Obama a victory on his top domestic priority.

Pacquiao outpaces sparring mate Castillo

MANILA -- Former world champion Jose Luis Castillo of Mexico had a difficult time trading gloves with the faster Manny Pacquiao when they sparred in preparation for the Filipino's November 14 fight with Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto.

Mar, Korina to trim wedding expenses for storm victims

It will be a scaled down wedding for Liberal party vice presidential candidate Sen. Mar Roxas and his fiancee, broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez on Oct.27.

Kris Aquino's next film project: 'Mano Po 6'

MANILA - Television host-actress Kris Aquino is set to star in Regal Films' "Mano Po 6" alongside Megastar Sharon Cuneta.

Juday, Sarah together in movie soon

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Magsasama sa pambihirang pagkakataon ang dalawang box office queens na sina Judy Ann Santos at Sarah Geronimo.

Martin, Gary bring energy to US via 'As 1' concert

by By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
SAN  FRANCISO, CALIFORNIA - More than 3,000 people flocked to the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium here to witness two of the greatest Filipino concert artists sharing one stage.

Carmen Soo to celebrate b-day in RP

by By Bernie Franco,
MANILA - Malaysian star Carmen Soo flew to the Philippines recently to endorse a new cosmetics line and celebrate her upcoming birthday here.

Michael Jackson 'stole' new song tape—songwriter

NEW YORK—Michael Jackson "stole" the tapes of a song released almost four months after his death and his estate did not initially credit its co-author, the songwriter at the center of the controversy said.

Hours after the release of "This Is It" on the Internet on Monday, singer/songwriter Paul Anka revealed that he co-wrote the song with Jackson in 1983 but was not given due credit on the new version.

He said that Jackson "stole" the original tapes of the song from his studio, and threatened legal action against Jackson's estate to secure royalties from the production.

The song also appeared to have had a previous incarnation as "I Never Heard," a single recorded 18 years ago by Puerto Rican R&B singer Safire and credited to Jackson and Anka.

Madonna's 'conservative' daughter

by Bang Showbiz
Madonna's daughter Lourdes doesn't want to wear skimpy outfits like her mother.

Malaysia state offers honeymoons to halt divorce rate

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's eastern state of Terengganu is offering free honeymoons worth up to $440 each to rekindle the romance between married couples on the brink of divorce.

Mike Ditka  - "If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn't have given us arms."

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