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

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 27, 2009 Major News Stories

Oil falls below $80 for third day of losses

SINGAPORE - Oil prices slipped below $80 a barrel Monday in Asia as traders looked to this week's company earnings and US economic data for evidence that justifies last week's jump to a 2009 high.

Chevron brings oil prices to Oct. 15 levels

Chevron Philippines Inc. will bring down oil prices effective midnight Tuesday in compliance with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Executive Order 839 issued last October 23 to maintain oil prices to levels before floods and disasters brought devastation across the country.

Unioil cuts pump prices

Independent oil player Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc. on Sunday slashed the pump prices of its petroleum products in response to a Palace directive to maintain oil prices in Luzon while it remained in a state of calamity.

2 more oil firms announce rollbacks

But oil firms warn vs supply shortages MANILA - Two more oil firms announced on Monday that they will abide by Malacañang's order to revert pump prices to October 15 levels.

Chevron Philippines (formerly Caltex), Seaoil Philippines and Petron Corporation joined Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc. and Flying V in announcing rollbacks to pump prices in Luzon from the increase last October 19.

President Arroyo signed Executive Order (EO) 839 on October 23 directing oil companies to "retain the level of the retail price of petroleum products prevailing on October 15, 2009, which was one week after the last landfall of typhoon 'Pepeng.'"

The price freeze was made "to respond immediately to the clamor of the Filipino people to prevent unreasonable increase in the prices of petroleum products during a state of calamity." The took effect after it was published in a broadsheet Saturday.

Seaoil, in a text message, said it will reduce its prices in Luzon by P1.25 per liter for premium and unleaded; P0.85 per liter for regular gasoline: P1.50 per liter for kerosene and P2.00 per liter for diesel. It said the price rollbacks will take effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Chevron, in a text message, also said it is reducing its prices to Oct. 15 levels in Luzon in compliance with the provisions of EO 839.

Chevron said it will reduce its diesel prices by P2.00 per liter while unleaded gasoline would be reduced by P1.20 per liter gasoline and kerosene by P1.50 per liter. It said the price reduction would also be effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Chevron said "the adjustment is being implemented to give our retailers the opportunity to comply with EO 839."

Petron Corp meanwhile on Monday evening said it will implement a rollback of P1.25 per liter for its Premium gasoline (Value-Added Tax included), P0.85 per liter for regular gasoline, P2.00 per liter for diesel and P1.50 per liter for kerosene effective 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Virginia Ruivivar, Petron Corp. public relations manager, in a text message, said the adjustment will take effect in Luzon only and is in compliance with EO 839.

Flying V, which had already said on Sunday that it will comply with the Palace order, assured on Monday that its pump prices will be within the Oct. 15 suggested retail price levels.

In a text message, the independent oil player said that "the immediate positive effect of the EO is that the planned P2 per liter increase this week will be deferred indefinitely in Luzon."

However, Flying V warned of a possible increase in areas outside Luzon.

"We shall adjust prices in other areas to reflect the previous week's MOPS [Mean of Platts Singapore] movement this week," said Flying V.

Unioil reduced pump prices of petroleum products on Monday by P2 per liter for diesel and P1.25 per liter for gasoline.

"Supply shortages"

Major oil companies, meanwhile, warned the government of supply shortages if they are forced to comply with Malacanang's directive.

Both Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp and Petron Corp. executives explained in the meeting with Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes that they cannot sell at a loss and may not be able to supply the country's demand, as oil prices overseas are on the rise.

"We may not be able to supply the country's demand," said Lubin Nepomuceno, Petron Corp. general manager.

"This has serious implications not only to supply of products in the country but also to the investment climate in the country," said Ed Chua, Pilipinas Shell country chairman.

Only Pilipinas Shell of the so-called Big 3 has not yet announced rollbacks in their pump prices as of posting after the announcements of Chevron and Petron Monday.

Flying-V added that oil firms will have to recoup losses once the order is lifted possibly resulting in a massive price spike later on.

University of the Philippines economist Benjamin Diokno agreed, adding that the firms may not have the inventory needed to sustain a price freeze.

"Lugi sila, bakit naman sila magbebenta. Ngayon may sapat bang imbentaryo ang mga small players to sell at a loss?" said Diokno.

Reyes, however, defended the Malacañang order. "Compliance to any law or presidential issuance is mandatory."

Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said: "If Unioil can do it, why can't others do the same? After all, they operate under the same market conditions."

Legal options

Chevron also said that while this was the "first time" that it is undertaking such a move, "this does not prejudice such other legal options and remedies there are for us to explore."

Another independent oil player on Sunday had balked at the Palace directive and said it is considering its legal options.

"Given the almost P2.00 per liter additional cost in MOPS [Mean of Platts Singapore] which must be reflected this week on top of last week's increase, it's almost impossible for any oil company to comply with [the] 15 October price level," said Fernando Martinez, Eastern Petroleum Corporation chief executive on Sunday.

Martinez said that it would be interesting to see how any oil company can sustain the price levels at October 15. He said this could be done only if there was a downward movement in international oil prices this coming week and at a level of $12 per barrel.

"We will study our legal options in consultation with the rest of the industry players," said Martinez.

Transport groups welcomed the Malacañang order.

Efren de Luna of Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) said they will withdraw their petition for an increase in minimum jeepney fare due to the Palace order.

Oil price freeze to hold throughout state of calamity

President Macapagal-Arroyo's order placing a price ceiling on oil products will last throughout the duration of the state of calamity she had declared in the wake of the recent storms.

EO vs fuel price hikes enacted to respond to calamity--Devanadera

Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera on Monday said that the successive fuel price hikes in the aftermath of two natural disasters triggered the enactment of Executive Order No. 839 freezing the prices of petroleum at Oct. 15 levels.

Mikey Arroyo: House to keep oil firms in check

The President's son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, said local oil companies will face legal sanctions if they fail to abide by Executive Order 839 which pegs petroleum pump prices in calamity areas at their Oct. 15 levels.

EO on oil price rollback toothless

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) said Executive Order 839 imposing ceiling on price of fuel products could be rendered "toothless" following a Palace statement that its implementation would be on "voluntary basis" on the part of oil companies.

Transport groups seek nationwide coverage of fiat

TRANSPORT GROUPS are asking the government for a national application of a Palace fiat cutting oil prices to alleviate the plight of the transport sector.

PNP on high alert for Nov 1, 2 holidays

Naghahanda na para sa Undas! Naka-full alert na ang Philippine National Police sa Mindanao at nakatakdang itaas ang alerto para sa Luzon at Visayas. Ngayon pa lang, tinututukan na ang mga bus terminal at LRT.

Seventh judge to inhibit: Peras is now off Ecleo case

Like a hot potato nobody seems able to hold it for long.

Mayor Osmeña kills LRT proposal

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has rejected the proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) system for Metro Cebu.

'Funny, fishy': Tomas on LRT

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña sees "something funny going on" with the way Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) officials are pushing for a light railway transit-mono rail transit (LRT-MRT) in Metro Cebu.

Transport groups divided on Bus Rapid Transit plan

Transport groups in Cebu expressed different views about the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system of the Cebu City government.

Tom: SM not afraid of Capitol

Mayor Tomas Osmeña said yesterday the unsolicited proposal of SM Prime Holdings for a lot at the South Road Properties is, so far, the best deal that the city closed after three years of negotiations.

Mayor to ask public on SRP deal

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is letting the public, through the barangay officials, decide whether the City Government should accept an unsolicited proposal from SM Prime Holdings to buy 30 hectares

Provincial Board's lack of quorum stalls passage of P148 million budget

The lack of quorum in the Cebu Provincial Board yesterday stalled the passage of several important resolutions including the ordinance for the supplemental budget no. 2 of the province amounting to P148.4 million.

Schools owe city P266 million in taxes

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he is determined to collect the unpaid taxes of the seven proprietary schools and hospitals in the city. The amount may well exceed P266 million.

Police told to improve peace and order

Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday encouraged the police personnel of the 11 police stations in the city to do their best to improve the peace and order in their respective areas after each of them have been provided by the City Hall with a new patrol vehicle.

Two drug rehab centers found breaking the law

Two drug rehabilitation centers in Cebu are not complying with the provision of the law that drug dependents who are not rehabilitated even after their second commitment to the center under the voluntary program shall be criminally prosecuted.

High-powered guns seized in Danao

At least 28 high-powered firearms were confiscated from two persons at past 6 a.m. the other day in Rizal Street, barangay Suba, Danao City by the joint operations of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-7 and the Regional Intelligence Division-7.

Club Filipino officers yet to get copy of complaint

The officers of Club Filipino Cebu said that they have not yet received a copy of the complaint filed against them by an expelled member who filed charges of injunction and a temporary restraining order against the club's new board over the alleged illegal composition of its members and his expulsion from the club.

DENR: Calanggaman Island unclassified

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8's investigation showed that the controversial Calanggaman Island in Palompon, Leyte, is indeed an unclassified public forest as it has never been subjected to the present system of land classification.

People will decide on inclusion of Cabrera, Dizon in BOPK slate

There is a big chance that Luz barangay captain Nida Cabrera and non-government organization (NGO) leader Alvin Dizon would be included in the slate of the Bando Osmeña Pundok-Kauswagan (BOPK) for councilors in the city's north district.

Process for releasing relief goods explained

The distribution of relief goods to typhoon victims is done upon the request of local government units, a system that stems from the devolution of the social services function under the law, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Monday.

Misery for 1.5M Filipinos a month after storms

MANILA - More than 1.5 million Filipinos are struggling to live in flooded suburbs or crowded shelters one month after devastating rains began pounding the Philippines, and officials warn no quick fix is in sight.

US pledges $8.5-M food aid

The Philippines stands to receive $8.5 million worth of food assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture for victims of the recent weather disturbances.

Big firms told to advance tax payments

Large tax payers can do more to help rehabilitate typhoon-hit areas by paying in advance the amount equivalent to 10 percent of their gross receipts for the next two years, a member of the House of Representatives said Monday.

Govt gives jobs, livelihood to 375,000—DoLE

Some 375,000 unemployed, displaced, and other vulnerable workers have been provided jobs and livelihood since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo initiated the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) early this year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said Monday.

Failed schools' closure to address nurses glut

The closure of 177 nursing schools that have failed to pass a single graduate in the nursing licensure exams will address the glut of some half a million board passers in the country, recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani said in a statement Monday.

A(H1N1) cases hit 5,212

A total of 5,212 A(H1N1) influenza cases were monitored in the country between April and October 18 with 30 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday.

Government bracing for second wave of influenza A(H1N1)

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday said it is prepared to handle a possible second wave of the influenza A(H1N1) virus but noted it does not expect a surge in new cases.

Measures vs swine flu continue at NAIA

The Manila International Airport Authority on Monday assured the public that "usual and standard" implementation of thermal scanning and footbaths is still being observed at all Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals amid the declaration an Influenza A (H1N1) national emergency in the United States.

Leptospirosis deaths climb to 167--DoH

Almost a month after storm Ondoy flooded Manila and Rizal, about 167 Filipinos have died from leptospirosis, a health official said Monday.

20 percent of Metro heart attacks due to passive smoke

Second-hand smoke causes over 20 percent of the number of heart attacks in Metro Manila, officials from the Department of Health (DoH) said on Monday.

No extension for voters registration—Comelec

The Commission on Elections has ruled out the possibility of extending the registration period for new voters beyond midnight of Oct. 31.

Comelec official denies involvement in 2007 election anomalies

One of the thirteen election officers who have been recommended by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Law Department to be slapped with criminal charges and disciplinary actions on Monday denied involvement in the alleged 2007 election anomalies.

"Wala akong kasalanan, wala akong kinalaman dun (I have not committed any wrongdoing, I am not involved in that)," Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Election Director Ray Sumalipao told reporters in an ambush interview at the Comelec office.

Outgoing defense chief bids farewell to staff

Outgoing Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. bid farewell to the staff of the Department of National Defense (DND) weeks before he officially steps down from office in preparation for his 2010 presidential bid.

Gibo mum on running mate

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was mum on who would be his running mate when pressed by municipal mayors at a forum Monday.

Is it Ate Vi or Gwen for Gibo?

Administration standard-bearer Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. on Monday said Batangas Governor Vilma Santos and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia were both competent to be his running mate in the 2010 elections.

Teodoro to rely on political party for campaign funding

Presidential aspirant and outgoing defense chief Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro, Jr. on Monday said that he will be banking on his party's resources to fund his campaign.

Villar eyeing Loren for VP

Senator Manny Villar is mum on his alleged talks with Senator Loren Legarda but saw no obstacle for a Villar-Loren tandem in the 2010 elections.

Villar still wooing De Castro

THE NACIONALISTA Party (NP) is convincing Vice-President Manuel "Noli" L. de Castro, Jr. to seek reelection as running mate of Senator Manuel B. Villar, Jr., with the party standard-bearer still seeking a tandem two weeks before a party national convention to proclaim candidates.

Comelec asked to DQ Erap already

Even if Estrada hasn't filed a COC MANILA - Lawyer Oliver Lozano on Monday filed a petition for disqualification against former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) even though Estrada is not yet officially a candidate.

Roxas tops latest SWS survey on VP bets

If the 2010 elections were held today, the vice presidential race would likely be a three-way fight among Vice President Manuel "Noli" de Castro Jr. and Senators Manuel "Mar" Roxas II and Lorna Regina "Loren" Legarda, with Roxas taking the edge.

MILF says Sinnott alive

Moro rebels helping in locating 79-year-old Irish priest Michael Sinnott in Lanao del Sur said Monday the ailing missionary is alive and his captors' location identified.

No clues yet on abduction of architect of DAR chief – police

MANILA - Authorities on Monday said they still have no information on the location and identities of the armed men who abducted the architect hired by Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman in Lanao del Sur province last Friday.

Soldier killed, 2 others hurt in Davao ambush

One soldier was killed while two civilians were wounded in an ambush by alleged members of the local New People's Army (NPA) in Davao City Sunday, a military spokesman said Monday.

Improvised bomb disarmed in Zambo del Norte

Elements of the Philippine Army's 44th Infantry Battalion led by Sgt. Marijan Jumrani disarmed an improvised explosive device while patrolling Bitugan village in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte Monday morning.

NBI agents undergo seminars to read terrorists' minds

To neutralize terrorists, the National Bureau of Investigation is getting its agents and investigators to think like one.

Lacson alleges gov't 'persecution' in Dacer-Corbito case

Senator Panfilo Lacson appeared before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and denied allegations that he has a hand in the death of publicist Salvador "Bubby"Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Media people to be subpoenaed in Dacer-Corbito case

State prosecutors led by Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong ordered that a subpoena be served on former Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas II and journalists Ted Failon and Maki Pulido to testify in the preliminary investigation proceedings of the double murder case of publicist man Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Mar may get subpoena on wedding day

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) panel agreed on Monday to the request of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to issue subpoenas to five persons, including Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who may support his defense in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Ex-RAM founder Billy Bibit dies, 59

(UPDATE) One of the founding members of the Rebolusyonaryong Makabayan (RAM) and the Guardian Brotherhood Inc. passed away last night after almost three years at the hospital. He was 59.

477 new patrol cars improves police mobility

The acquisition of some 477 police patrol vehicles has effectively improved police mobility requirements and anti-criminality response, the Philippine National Police said on Monday.

'Text-savvy' cops vs crime

The country's policemen are now joining in the texting craze as the Philippine National Police on Monday launched a program that will utilize the short messaging service (SMS) to disseminate information and boost the performance of all ranking officials of the national police.

PNP: No extension of gun amnesty

MANILA - The Philippine National Police on Monday reminded the public that there are only five days left for the general amnesty for owners of loose firearms to register their guns and get licensed.

49 Pinoys in Saudi jail seek repatriation before Christmas

Forty-nine erstwhile overseas Filipino workers currently jailed in Saudi Arabia have asked the Philippine government to help them return home by interceding with the Saudi officials with the approach of an Islamic holiday marking the end of the hajj or the religious pilgrimage season.

11,000 Filipino veterans' claims processed

The United States government has processed more than 11,000 claims for the Filipino World War II Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC), and has paid out $105 million for this since the US government allowed it earlier this February, the US embassy here said Monday.

Closed businesses reach over 370 — BIR

THE NUMBER of tax-delinquent establishments padlocked under the Oplan Kandado program has exceeded 370 as of September, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said.

4 US soldiers die in Afghan chopper collision

Four American soldiers were killed Monday in what Nato said was believed to be a mid-air collision between two helicopters in southern Afghanistan.

Twin suicide vehicle bombings kill 99 in Baghdad

Twin suicide vehicle bombs blamed on Al-Qaeda blasted the justice ministry and a provincial office in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 99 people and sparking turmoil in the embattled Iraqi capital.

Three-minute showers to conserve water?

CARACAS - Leftist President Hugo Chavez called on Venezuelans on Wednesday to stop singing in the shower and to wash in three minutes because the oil-exporting nation is having problems supplying water and electricity.

Bill to make govt seizure of US firms easier

A bill to be introduced in Congress by a key ally of President Barack Obama would make it easier for the US government to seize control of troubled financial institutions that are considered too big to be allowed to fail, The New York Times reported late Sunday.

P4P king Pacquiao rules Yahoo! Sports list

Manny Pacquiao has yet to step inside the boxing ring against Miguel Cotto, but this early, the reigning pound-for-pound boss earned an additional motivation when he was named by Yahoo! Sports as its top ranked fighter.

Challenges abound as Lakers eye title defense

LOS ANGELES - Just four days after the NBA and its referees ended a lockout of more than a month by agreeing on a fresh contract, the 2009-10 season will begin on Tuesday with daunting challenges to be faced on and off court.

World solar car race begins in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia - A 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar car race across Australia's desert heartland began in the northern city of Darwin Sunday, organisers said.

Mar-Korina wedding all set

Bukas na ang kasal nina Senator Mar Roxas at Korina Sanchez. At ngayon pa lang, plantsado ang mga paghahanda sa tinaguriang kasalan ng taon.

Baby in the offing for future couple Mar, Korina

After tying the knot on Tuesday afternoon, the next goal of Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II and his future bride, veteran television and radio broadcaster Korina Sanchez, is to have a child.

Ex-patient asks PRC to revoke license of Belo, 4 others

Hiniling ng isang ginang sa Professional Regulation Commission na tanggalan ng lisensya si Doktora Vicki Belo at 4 pa niyang doktor sa Belo Medical Group, dahil umano sa pumalpak na butt augmentation procedure. 

Lino Brocka films draw praise at Viennale

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - Ten films of the late Filipino director Lino Brocka are part of the ongoing Vienna Film Festival(Viennale) here. Brocka's "Bona," "Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag," "Stardoom," "Signed," "Jaguar," "Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim," "Ina, Kapatid, Anak," "Insiang," "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang" and "Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa" are among the more than 300 movies being shown in the prestigious film festival.

RP film honored at Korean film festival

The Philippines gained another honor abroad after the film "Astig," a tale of four young men whose stories parallel and contrast with various Manila images, received a special mention at the 14th Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea.

5 PBB housemates nominated for eviction

MANILA - Carol, Yhel, Marielle, Tibo and Delio form the second set of PBB Double Up nominees. Yhel and Marielle were given automatic nominations due to a major violation. Who do you think deserves to stay inside the PBB house? 

MJ's 'This Is It' in theaters Wednesday

Ipalalabas na ang documentary-film na "This Is It" tampok ang never-before-seen footage ng last rehearsals ng yumaong "King of Pop" simula sa Miyerkules. 

Mixed signals for Michael Jackson album sales

LONDON - The new Michael Jackson record "This Is It" hits stores around the world on Monday, kicking off a week of money-spinning events dedicated to the "king of pop," but the outlook for the two-disc album is decidedly mixed.

Sean Penn arrives in Cuba to interview Fidel Castro

Oscar-winning actor and political activist Sean Penn arrived in Cuba hoping to interview its revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, Cuban government-controlled television reported Sunday.

Fidel Castro's sister: I worked with CIA in Cuba

MIAMI - The younger sister of Fidel and Raul Castro, Juanita Castro, collaborated with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency against her brothers' rule in Cuba before going into exile in Miami in 1964, she said on Sunday.

A$1M reward for Australia's 'vampire' murder

Police have posted a 1-million-Australian-dollar (927,000 United States dollars) reward for a man suspected to have ordered the killing of a self-proclaimed vampire.

Saudi king waives lashing for female journalist

RIYADH – The Saudi king has waived the lashing a court ordered against a woman for working at a Lebanese television channel that aired a sexual confessions program, an official said on Monday.

Customs nab man with pythons taped to body in Norway

OSLO - Customs officials in Norway said Monday they had arrested a man who tried to illegally import 14 snakes and 10 lizards into the country by taping the reptiles to his body.

Internet shakeup looms with multilingual addresses

SEOUL, South Korea--The Internet is about to get more accessible for millions worldwide with the imminent approval of a new multilingual address system that uses Asian and Arabic scripts, a global regulator said Monday.

Tropical depression seen over Marianas Islands

A new tropical depression was sighted just outside the Philippine seas, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Monday.

Brewing storm likely to hit RP in 3 days - Pagasa

After Typhoon Ramil spared the Philippines over the weekend, another weather disturbance is threatening to hit the country within the next three days, the state weather bureau said Monday afternoon.

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

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