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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 16, 2009 Major News Stories

Dakay: Vidal's signature not for notice to the public

The media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu said that Ricardo Cardinal Vidal did not approve the notice to the public against a former monk in the church-run publication Bag-ong Lungsoranon.

Msgr. Achilles Dakay, however, admitted that the Cardinal signed the notice which saw print on August 9, but the signature, did not mean he approved the publication.

 According to Dakay, the signature of the Cardinal only meant that he approved on the grounds of the dismissal of Venancio Cabillon from the congregation of the Marian Monks in Upper Lindogon, Simala, Sibonga.-

Looking Forward To Their Own Terminal: Mini-bus operators ok with CSBT ban

Cebu South Mini-Bus Operators Association welcomed the newly-approved Cebu City ordinance barring mini-buses from entering the Cebu South Bus Terminal and giving operators the option to operate their own terminal.

You can't tax us: Capitol

YOU can't tax us.

That summed up the reply of the Cebu Provincial Government to Cebu City Hall's request for Capitol to open its books on the operations of the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

Gullas: NEDA chief gives nod to LRT plan in Cebu

The director general of the National Economic Development Authority has committed the approval of the Cebu Light Rail Transit System before the agency's investment coordination committee.

Cebu 1st District Rep. Eduardo Gullas said he got the commitment from NEDA director general Augusto Santos when the latter appeared before them during the budget hearing.

"He gave his commitment to me," Gullas told The FREEMAN in a telephone interview last night.

Gullas said he is also working for the endorsement of the project from the three local governments of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Talisay.

According to Gullas, the endorsements from the mayors of the three cities including a resolution from the city councils of these LGUs are needed for the project to be implemented.

The Bill proposed for the operation of the LRT from Talisay City to Mandaue City. It likewise proposed for the ordinary railway from Talisay City to Dalaguete in the south and from Mandaue City to Sogod in the north.

Noynoy, Mar may meet with Archbishop today

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal may meet with senators Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Mar Roxas who are set to be in Cebu today to visit their supporters.

Panaghiusa to field full slate

Newly-formed opposition bloc Panaghiusa will field a complete slate of local candidates in Cebu province for the May 2010 elections.

Gwen to seek re-election, not higher office

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia again reiterated that she has no ambition for a higher office except to run as governor for the third time.

Police ready for All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day

Policemen will be deployed in major cemeteries in the city and in cemeteries in mountain barangays from October 30 until November 3 in line with the observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

Gov't should regulate oil prices during calamities—Mikey Arroyo

Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo wants government's direct hand in managing fuel prices during calamities to protect consumers from unnecessary price spikes.

Low pressure area rushing towards RP

(UPDATE) Brace yourselves for another howler. The tropical depression with international name "Lupit" spotted by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) east of the country near the Marianas Island was seen accelerating closer to the country, as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Palace, NDCC warned against misuse of P12-B calamity fund

Please allocate the P12-billion relief fund for typhoon and flood victims expeditiously and judiciously.

Dogs find 5 bodies of landslide victims

Five bodies of landslide victims in Mt. Province were recovered with the help of K9 tracking dogs, a military spokesman said Thursday.

'Relocate settlers in danger-prone areas'

Gov't vows to pass Climate Change Act MANILA - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is set to sign an executive order mandating local government officials to relocate people living along creeks and riversides, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Thursday.

Local execs told to identify resettlement areas for flood victims

Due to the increasing number of families displaced by storms, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday called on all local government executives to identify possible resettlement areas where families can rebuild their homes.

Legarda to join Arroyo in climate change campaign

Notwithstanding their political differences, Senator Loren Legarda has decided to chaperone President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her roadshows on climate change.

Irish priest's abductors call Columban Society

(UPDATE) The kidnappers of Irish priest Father Michael Sinnott had made their first call to the Columban fathers in Pagadian City on Thursday, through an emissary, Major General Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command chief, said.

'Fr. Sinnott urgently needs his medicines'

MANILA - Zamboanga del Sur Governor Aurora Cerilles on Wednesday appealed to the kidnappers of Irish priest Michael Sinnott to talk to her and arrange a way for the delivery of the ailing priest's maintainance medicines.

Artist sketches in abduction of Irish priest out

Authorities released on Thursday artist sketches of three suspects believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott in Pagadian City last Sunday.

Naval blockade enhanced to prevent escape of priest abductors

The military has fortified naval blockades in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte to prevent the escape of Irish priest Father Michael Sinnott's abductors, the military said Thursday.

Catholic priests maintain resolve amid RP attacks

They have been kidnapped by Muslim militants, murdered and in one case even eaten by a cannibal, but foreign Catholic missionaries say they will not abandon the volatile southern Philippines.

3 suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed

Three suspected Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a clash with the military on Jolo island close to where two US soldiers were killed recently, the military said Thursday.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf members bomb Smart cell site in Sulu

Suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists blasted a cell site of Smart Communications, Inc. in Indanan, Sulu, on Wednesday night, police and military authorities said Thursday.

11 officers in 2006 failed coup cleared of charges

Eleven of the 28 military officers accused of staging a failed coup in 2006 were cleared of mutiny charges by the military court for lack of sufficient evidence.

11 acquitted of Feb 2006 coup charges , but not Gen. Lim

Eleven military officers were ordered released from detention after their acquittal of coup charges, including the so-called "hero of Lamitan," Marine Capt. Ruben Guinolbay. But among those whose cases were deferred and who remain in prison are Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin, who have both declared their intentions to run for the Senate from behind bars.

No politics in appointment, says new poll commissioner

Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, who was sworn into office Thursday, dismissed suspicions that his appointment was a political accommodation ahead of the 2010 elections.

Migrante protests delisting from partylist polls

An alliance of Filipino migrant organization protested the delisting of its party-list group by the Commission on Election for its failure to win or participate in the last two national elections.

Transport party-list group to contest delisting

by By Dennis Carcamo

MANILA, Philippines – The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto) will be opposing the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) decision to delist 25 party-list groups and prohibit them to run in the 2010 polls.

Roxas leads in VP poll

MANILA - Senator Manuel 'Mar' Roxas II was the top choice of respondents in a vice-presidential survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) last September 18 to 21.

Roxas was chosen by 38% of 1,800 respondents who were asked to choose only one from four other names--Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero, Sen. Loren Legarda, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

The results were:

Roxas: 38%
Escudero: 21% 
Legarda: 17% 
Binay: 6% 
Sen. Estrada: 6%.

Since Legarda is tipped to be the running mate of Escudero in the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), Legarda's ratings could increase significantly, assuming respondents who are for Escudero will shift their preferences to Legarda.

Binay will be the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada. Their tandem is set to be announced on October 21 in Tondo, Manila.

Sen. Estrada, on the other hand, will run for re-election in 2010. Assuming respondents for Jinggoy shift their preferences to Binay, then Binay's rating is expected to increase, too.

The vice-presidential survey was a rider or an additional question that was added to the same SWS survey disclosed on Wednesday which showed that 60% of Filipinos believe Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III would be the best leader to succeed President Arroyo when she steps down in 2010.

In this non-commissioned question, respondents were allowed to give up to 3 names, unlike the rider question where respondents could only choose one from five names given. (Read:Noynoy, Villar best leaders to succeed Arroyo: SWS)

A private party paid for this "choose one only" rider question in the September 18 to 21 SWS survey.

Noynoy also ahead in single choice survey

Another rider question to the September 18 to 21 SWS survey asked respondents to choose which leader they prefer for president among four names--Senator Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino; Senator Manny Villar; former Pres. Joseph Estrada; and Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero.

Respondents were allowed to pick only one name.

The results were:

Aquino: 51% 
Villar: 20%
Estrada: 11%
Escudero: 8%.

Tandem survey

Respondents were also asked which among these four tandems they prefer: Aquino-Roxas; Villar-Vice-President Noli de Castro; Escudero-Legarda; Estrada-Binay. 

This was also another rider question, and the results were:

Aquino-Roxas: 57%
Villar-De Castro: 19%
Escudero-Legarda: 9% 
Estrada-Binay: 9%.

In next year's elections, however, Filipino voters will be choosing a presidential candidate and a vice-presidential candidate separately,  not as a tandem.

The SWS survey, conducted from September 18-21, 2009, with a sample size of 1,800 adults, has an error margin of ±2.3%.It used face-to-face interviews.

Gibo gaining

This SWS survey was conducted before tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said on Wednesday that although the administration candidate Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was still lagging behind in the SWS survey, it showed that he gained ground, from 0.8% in June 2009 to 4% in September 18-21, 2009. 

Remonde said he expects Teodoro's popularity to rise even further after the defense chief headed relief operations in the aftermath of Ondoy and Pepeng.

He said Teodoro's actions during the relief operations underscored the candidate's decency since he did not capitalize on the calamity. 
"No one can say that he took advantage of his position. He just did his job," he said.

Candidate to beat

Political analyst Ramon Casiple, meanwhile, said on Wednesday the survey only confirmed that Aquino is the candidate to beat in the 2010 election.

He said public support for Aquino rose after the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, on August 1.

He said other candidates must adjust their campaign strategy to cope with Aquino's surging popularity.

Aquino announced his bid for the presidency last September 9, 40 days after his mother's death. Liberal Party President Mar Roxas had earlier agreed to become his running mate.

A privately-commissioned SWS survey conducted in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Region 3 and Region 4-A last September 5-6 showed 50 percent of respondents choosing Aquino as their presidential preference for the 2010 elections. (Read: 50% prefer Noynoy in vote-rich Luzon areas)

In this survey, a list of names were provided to the respondents including Sen. Manny Villar (13%), former president Joseph Estrada (13%), Sen. Francis Escudero (12%) and Vice-President Noli de Castro (7%).

Lim joins Erap; Querubin to NP?

MANILA - Two leaders of an alleged plot to overthrow President Arroyo in February 2006 are running in the 2010 senatorial election albeit in separate political parties.

'Panlilio recount ruling out by November'

The decision on the recount and revision of votes in the contested gubernatorial elections in Pampanga against Governor Ed Panlilio is expected between November and December, Elections Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said Thursday.

Ondoy, Pepeng victims can register on Sundays--Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will extend the voters registration to Sundays for residents of areas that were flooded by tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng, a spokesman said.

House passes P1.54-trillion budget for 2010 on second reading

The House of Representatives approved on second reading the proposed P1.54-trillion national budget for 2010 at dawn Friday.

House approves Magna Carta of the poor

The House of Representatives passed on Thursday another landmark bill seeking to break "trans-generational" poverty and substantially reduce the number of extremely poor Filipinos.

The proposed measure aims to boost jobs generation, promotion of good health for the citizenry, and breaking of the 'trans-generational' poverty through education of the present generation.

"Poverty has been a growing problem since time immemorial. We have to do something concrete about it. It is a complex problem that needs draconian solutions," Nograles said.

The major sponsors of the bill include Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar, Majority Leader Arthur Defensor, Appropriations committee chairman Junie Cua and Reps. Carmen Cari, (deceased) Guillermo Cua, Marcelino Teodoro, Ignacio Arroyo, Judy Syjuco, Eduardo Zialcita, Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David, Rodolfo Valencia, Eufrocino Codilla Sr., and Emmanuel Joel Villanueva.

The proposed Magna Carta seeks to help the poor to be more economically empowered by way of strengthening the social services programs of government, with the cooperation of the private sector, to protect the rights of the poor.

These rights include: the right to food by institutionalizing government food assistance/subsidy; the right to employment; free quality education; shelter and health services and medicine.

The authors said the intent of the bill can be realized by strengthening the existing pro-poor programs of the different agencies of government, especially through significant increase in the annual budget of said programs.

The bill was also co-authored by 69 other lawmakers, among them are: Reps. Eduardo Nonato Joson, Teodoro Casino, Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Roilo Golez, Hermina Ramiro, Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, Ma. Laarni Cayetano, Leonila Chavez, Antonio Alvarez, Salvador Escudero III, Jesus Crispin Remulla, Rafael Mariano, Paul Daza, Nanette Castelo-Daza, Nur Jaafar, Amado Bagatsing and Satur Ocampo.

A recent report by a United Nations food agency said that even before the economic crisis pushed the ranks of the world's hungry to a record one billion, declining aid and investment in agriculture had been steadily pushing up the number of undernourished people for more than a decade now.

Unless these trends are reversed, ambitious goals set by the international community to slash the number of hungry people by 2015 will not be met, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned.

FAO noted that the world's most populous region, Asia and the Pacific, has the largest number of extremely poor people estimated at 642 million, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with 265 million.

Palace bows to CSC chief's rejection

Malacañang has accepted the Commission on Appointments' rejection of Ricardo Saludo as Civil Service Commission chairman and begun a search for his replacement.

Cotabato mayor denies syndicated organ trafficking

Mayor Joselito Piñol denied on Thursday the existence of a syndicate dealing in human organs here, amid reports that trading in kidneys have been going on.

Arroyo urged to sign SSS condonation bill into law

A lawmaker on Thursday urged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to immediately sign into law a measure seeking a one-time amnesty for penalties on unpaid employers' remittances to the Social Security System (SSS).

Overseas remittances keep rising

Remittances back home from millions of Filipinos working abroad rose 2.8 percent year-on-year in August, the central bank said on Thursday, bolstering expectations for economic growth.

Pacific Online profits up 85% as of end-Sept

MANILA - The online lottery system provider of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Visayas and Mindanao posted an 85% growth in profits for the first 9 months of the year, fueled by a double-digit rise in core revenues.

Philippine call center to employ blind people only

Next week, the Philippines will open its first ever call center that only employs blind persons, a milestone in the struggle of disabled people to cross the digital divide.

With eight training rooms and three desks dedicated for outbound calls, the call center facility will be equipped with adaptive hardware and software customized to the needs and abilities of the blind.

Six totally blind, low vision and sighted graduates are currently being trained as trainors in Taipei, Taiwan, the headquarters of the the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC). 

ADOC provided funds for the facility, a project of the Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration, and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) Inc.

Giant singkamas sparks frenzy in CDO

MANILA – Market goers in Cagayan de Oro City are abuzz with excitement over the freshest and biggest harvest pick in Cogon Market—a giant singkamas (yam bean, native turnip or jicama) weighing more than 10 kilograms.

Ad Congress pulls out of Baguio, cutting revenues for city's rehab

BAGUIO CITY - Organizers of the 21st Philippine Advertising Congress have chosen to hold the event elsewhere, depriving the city of much-needed revenue for its rehabilitation efforts.  Slated for November 18 to 21, this year's Philippine Advertising Congress was expected to bring over 5,000 participants to the mountain resort. 

Gunmen, bombs hit 5 sites in Pakistan, 39 die

LAHORE, Pakistan - Teams of gunmen launched coordinated attacks on three law enforcement facilities in Pakistan's second-largest city of Lahore, and car bombs exploded in two cities near the Afghan border Thursday, killing 39 people in an escalating wave of anti-government violence.

Somali pirates seize Singapore container ship in Indian Ocean

Somali pirates on Thursday seized a Singapore-flagged container ship in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles, maritime sources told Agence France-Presse.

Girl begs for asylum as hundreds held in Indonesia

A nine-year-old girl made a heart-rending plea for asylum after a wooden refugee boat carrying hundreds of Sri Lankan refugees to Australia was detained in Indonesia, reports said here on Thursday.

1,000 Cambodian schools still closed after storm Ketsana

Flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana prevented almost a thousand Cambodian schools from opening at the start of the academic year, keeping tens of thousands of students home, an Education Ministry official said Thursday.

Pacquiao at 70% a month before Cotto title fight

Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao admitted he"s only at 70 percent condition for his Nov. 14 duel with Boricuan bomber Miguel Cotto but guaranteed he would reach his peak in the last four weeks of training.

'Boom Boom' returns to ring action

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Halos isang taon ding hindi lumaban si Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista dahil sa nadiskubreng bulok na buto sa kamay. Pero matapos ang operasyon, handang-handa na sya sa bakbakan kontra kay Marangin Marbun ng Indonesia.

153 athletes make Team RP

by Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - One hundred fifty-three athletes will head the country's campaign in the Southeast Asian Games this December in Laos, making it the smallest Filipino delegation in the biennial sporting conclave in years.

DanceSport competition reset due to calamities

MANILA – The 13th DanceSport Council of the Philippines, Inc. (DSCPI) National DanceSport Championship scheduled last Saturday has been reset to November 29 due to calamities that recently hit the country.

'Bata' banners Pinoy contingent in US Open

MANILA -- Before facing Chinese billiards expert Chao Fong Pang in Face Off Series 3 in Quezon City, Filipino cue master Efren "Bata" Reyes will lead the Pinoy invasion in the 34th Annual US Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake Conference Center in Virginia.

Japeth faces former team as Gilas battles BK

MANILA – Smart-Gilas will play its first game as a guest team in the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup on Friday, pitting Japeth Aguilar against Burger King – the team that made him the No. 1 pick overall in the recent PBA draft.

Cavaliers take no chances with sick players

Cleveland is taking no chances in its locker room, making sure superstar LeBron James and two other players get tested for H1N1 virus after the trio complained of having flu symptoms.

Ondoy, Pepeng tribute songs on YouTube

MANILA - A wave of original songs and compositions in honor of victims of storms 'Ondoy' and 'Pepeng' have cropped up on video sharing website YouTube in recent weeks.

Philippine film industry eyes new stage

A new wave of independent Philippine cinema has had critics buzzing at festivals around the world this year but now industry veterans say it is time to win over audiences as well.

George Clooney's adoption offer

by Bang Showbiz
George Clooney has offered to adopt some of Brad Pitt's kids. The "Fantastic Mr. Fox" actor - who has no children - claims he owes his "Ocean's 11" co-star a favor and is willing help out with his six children.

Avril Lavigne to divorce--reports

Canadian singer Avril Lavigne has filed for divorce from her husband of three years Deryck Whibley, entertainment websites reported Wednesday.

British singer Leona Lewis 'punched' at book signing

LONDON – British singer Leona Lewis was punched in the head during a book signing in London on Wednesday, her spokesman said.

Oops, Britney does it again as single debuts at No. 1

LOS ANGELES - Oops, Britney Spears has done it again, with the US pop singer cementing her comeback with a new single "3" rocketing to No. 1 in its debut week.

Bodyguard: Anna Nicole injected with drugs

LOS ANGELES (AP) – An anguished bodyguard, saying he had to tell what he knew about Anna Nicole Smith's death "or I'm going to die," testified Wednesday that he saw her boyfriend-lawyer Howard K. Stern inject her with a sedative at a time before her death when she was begging for something to help her sleep.

75-year-old granny donates kidney to save daughter's life

by Agence France-Presse
SINGAPORE - A 75-year-old Singaporean woman has donated one of her kidneys to save her ailing daughter's life, becoming the city-state's oldest living organ donor, hospital officials said Thursday.

Indonesia denies banning Japanese porn star

Indonesia on Thursday denied media reports that it had banned a Japanese porn star from visiting the mainly Muslim country to film a no-nudity comedy movie.

'World's shortest man' comes of age in Nepal

by Agence France-Presse
KATHMANDU – Khagendra Thapa Magar from Nepal, thought to be the world's smallest living man at just 22 inches (56 centimeters), has turned 18 and now hopes to be officially recognised for his record size.

Mayon spews high gas volume

Mayon Volcano released 1,272 tons of sulfur dioxide during a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday morning that was way above the fluctuation range recorded in previous weeks, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Thursday.

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

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