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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 30, 2009 Major News Stories

GREENBELT MALL ROB SUSPECTS?: NBI agents kill 4 in Compostela

At least four people were killed in a shootout with NBI agents late yesterday afternoon in barangay Estaca in Compostela, 25 kilometers north of Cebu City.

One other person had been taken into custody while another was said to have escaped.

Among the dead was alleged ring leader Alvin Flores.

The NBI agents were reportedly from Manila, fueling speculations that the victims were members of the gang that staged the daring holdup of a Rolex shop inside the Greenbelt 5 Mall in Makati last week and who may have fled to Cebu to cool their heels.

Radio reports of the incident had been sketchy, as no one from the police nor the local NBI had been willing to talk or go on record.

The Greenbelt robbery raised questions about security inside malls.

A number of powerfully armed robbers posing as bomb disposal experts went inside the Greenbelt Mall in Makati unchallenged by mall guards, despite the fact that they wore unofficial uniforms and came in a private vehicle.

A shootout ensued when two policemen acting as bodyguards to a politician became suspicious and fired at the robbers, one of whom got killed in the exchange of fire.

The rest of the robbers managed to flee with some P6 million worth of expensive watches and jewelry.

Radio reports said the shootout happened past 5 p.m. at the Dodong's Duplex, a beach resort in barangay Estaca where the victims rented.

A teacher who refused to be identified said she was on the way home from school when she heard gunfire inside the resort.

Delimos said the NBI-Manila and NBI-7 agents have been monitoring the victims, who rented a room at the resort, for the past several days.

The resort was allegedly owned by a Dutch national but it is being taken care of by his Filipina wife's sister named Bebeng.

Bebeng, who lives near the resort, refused to comments when reporters tried to interview her.

Sr. Insp. Milo Dagsdas, chief of Compostela Police Station, said that the NBI coordinated with them.

Dagasdas said he did not know who were the targets of the NBI until they received the shooting alarm that prompted them to respond to the crime scene.

The injured victims were reportedly taken to a hospital in Danao City, the reports said.

NBI operatives were wearing bonnets during the operation.

ESTAFA AND ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS: Ex-monk, who sued Vidal, also faces criminal charges

Two weeks after he filed the criminal complaint for libel against Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and five other church officials, former Marian monk Venancio Cabillon is facing criminal complaints for estafa and acts of lasciviousness.

Abelio Mangila, Prior Superior of the Marian Monk Eucharistic Adoration shrine in Lindogon, Simala, Sibonga, yesterday filed the complaint for estafa against Cabillon before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office.

Another Marian monk, who claimed to have been sexually molested twice by Cabillon, also filed a complaint for acts of lasciviousness.

Fire hits South General Hospital

No one was hurt or killed after a fire hit the South General Hospital in Naga yesterday, reportedly caused by an exploding generator.

Fire hits SouthGen Hospital; 72 patients wheeled out safely

A GENERATOR set worth P2 million was damaged in a fire that struck a private hospital in southern Cebu yesterday afternoon.

Fires in LGC building rekindle

Fires inside the LGC Marketing and General Merchandise along M. J. Cuenco Ave. kept rekindling yesterday due to highly-combustible materials inside the building.

UC's Go says he's willing to pay biz taxes to the city

University of Cebu President Augusto W. Go yesterday visited Mayor Tomas Osmeña at City Hall to inform the mayor that he is ready to accept the proposed compromise agreement to pay business taxes for his school.

Santi packs 150kph winds, may hit CLuzon Saturday

(Updated 11:30 p.m.) Typhoon "Santi" (international name: Mirinae), the fourth cyclone to enter the Philippine area of responsibility in October, has maintained its maximum winds of 150kph and is expected to hit provinces in central Luzon on Saturday morning while bringing heavy rains and winds to Metro Manila, the state weather bureau said Thursday night.

Davide thanks UN for satellite imagery used to track storms, floods

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In the aftermath of Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and Typhoon "Pepeng," the Philippines' ambassador to the United Nations recently underscored to the world body the important role space-based technology can play in helping countries prone to natural disasters prepare effective responses to calamities.

Energy dept. releases rules for oil price cap

The Department of Energy (DOE) released regulations covering a presidential order that puts a cap on oil prices.

In the meantime, pump prices in Visayas and Mindanao have gone up. 

Effective October 28, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Eastern Petroleum Corp. (EPC) hiked prices by P2 per liter for diesel, P1.50 per liter for unleaded gasoline, and 85 centavos per liter for regular gasoline.

Starting midnight of Friday, Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, which mainly runs outlets in Mindanao, will charge more for its fuel products.

Diesel per liter sold by the company will be P1.65 more expensive while gasoline will be higher by P1.70. 

Flying V also said that it has raised prices in "selected trading areas as competitive action" at the same level as Phoenix Petroleum.

No such adjustments were made by Petron Corp. in its outlets in Visayas and Mindanao.

Palace dares oil firms to open books

Malacanang said Thursday it was not buying the argument of the oil companies that they stood to lose a hefty profit if the executive order placing a price ceiling on oil prices were not lifted soon.

Business groups divided on oil price freeze

MANILA - With countries recovering from the global economic crisis, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on Thursday said oil prices could hit $80 per barrel in early 2010, but warned against the imposition of oil subsidies. 

Arroyo to food agencies: Stabilize rice supply, price

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued an executive order authorizing the National Food Authority, Food Terminal Inc. and the Philippine International Trading Corp. to intervene in the stabilization of the supply and price of basic items.

Pay rules for November holidays out

The labor department on Thursday reminded private employers of the pay rules for the nationwide special non-working days on November 1 (All Saints Day) and 2 (All Souls Day), the national holidays on November 27 and 28 (Eid'l Adha), and regular holiday on November 30, 2009 (Bonifacio Day).

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque advised the country's employers in the private sector on the pay rules to be observed during the following holidays. 

For November 1 (All Saints Day) and 2, 2009, the pay rules for special non-working days apply as follows: 

* If worked, the employee is entitled to 130 percent of his or her daily rate for the first eight hours, and to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day for work performed in excess of eight hours; 

* If not worked, he or she is not entitled to any payment, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment for special days even if not worked;

* If worked and falling on the employee's rest day, the employee is entitled for the first eight hours to 150 percent of his or her regular daily rate, and for work performed in excess of eight hours, plus 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day. 

For the November 27 and 28 (Eid'l Adha), and November 30, 2009 (Bonifacio Day), the pay rules for regular holidays apply as follows:

* If the holiday falls on an employee's regular workday:

- If worked, the employee is entitled to 200 percent of his or her basic wage for the first eight hours and, for work in excess of the eight hours, to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day;

- If not worked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of his or her regular daily rate, provided he or she was present or was on leave with pay on the workday immediately preceding the holiday. 

* If the day is the employee's rest day:

- If worked, the employee is entitled, for the first eight hours, to 200 percent of his or her daily rate plus 30 percent and, for work in excess of eight hours, plus 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day;

- If not worked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of his or her regular daily rate, provided he or she was present or was on leave with pay on the workday immediately preceding the holiday. 

* Where the day immediately preceding the holiday is a non-work day in the establishment or the scheduled rest day of the employee, he or she shall not be deemed on leave of absence on that day, in which case he or she shall be entitled to the holiday pay. 

Any clarifications regarding the pay rules may be made with the labor department's Bureau of Working Conditions at tel. no. 527-3000 local 301.

Roque cited the following laws that are the bases for the pay rules:

* Proclamation 1699, issued December 24, 2008, made November 2, 2009, a Monday, an additional special non-working holiday throughout the country "to strengthen and foster closer ties among Filipino families during the All Saints Day;

* Proclamation 1808, issued on April 12, 2009, declared November 27 and 28, 2009, Eid'l Adha, as national holidays; and

* Proclamation 1699 also maintained the regular holiday in observance of Bonifacio Day on November 30, 2009, a Monday; it marks the 146th birth anniversary of the Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio, known as the "Great Plebeian."

PPCRV is Comelec's citizens' arm in 2010 polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has accredited the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as its national citizens' arm for the May 2010 elections, an official said Thursday.

Comelec uses Internet for voter education

First-time voters, or even those who have been voting since they turned 18, may want to consider spending some Internet time on the Commission on Elections' new social networking site.

Registered voters urged to check status with Comelec

Previously registered voters are encouraged to check their status with the local election offices to ensure that they are still eligible to vote in the 2010 automated elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday.

Sonny: "I will run as mayor"

Former Senator John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña will definitely be running for mayor of Cebu City in the upcoming 2010 elections.

The former senator said he is also willing to reconcile with his estranged cousin, Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who earlier said that he is open for reconciliation with Sonny and his other political nemesis on condition that they would no longer attack the South Road Properties (SRP) which he considers as his "baby."

In response, Sonny sent a letter to the city government last week asking its officials to brief him about the SRP.

Just to vote

DEPUTY House Speaker Pablo Garcia yesterday denied reports his son Winston will run for Cebu City mayor in 2010, saying the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president only wants to vote in the city.

Party to decide on Gwen as VP: Gibo

PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Gilberto Teodoro said yesterday he will let the administration party have the last say on whether Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will be fielded as his vice presidential candidate in 2010.

Teodoro to prioritize Bantayan's tourism

If given the chance to lead the country, Defense Secretary Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. said he will prioritize the promotion of tourism in the country and it will start in the whole island of Bantayan in Cebu.

Money not an issue in NPC resignation—Escudero

Senator Francisco "Chiz" Escudero vehemently denied on Thursday that the measly P200 million funding allegedly committed by the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) was the reason why he left the party.

NPC may yet support Escudero's candidacy

The political party Sen. Francis Escudero has abandoned may end up supporting his candidacy if he does run in next year's presidential election.

Estrada won't swap Binay with Chiz

MANILA - Former president Joseph Estrada on Thursday said he is open to a coalition with senator and presidential candidate Francis Escudero but rejected a proposal to take the latter as his running mate in the 2010 elections.

Noynoy: LP open to coalition with NPC

MANILA - Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, said he may meet with Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) stalwarts to negotiate a coalition for the 2010 national elections.

Teodoro's low rating can't attract running mate, says solon

The low rating of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro so far in surveys on presidential aspirants is making it difficult for him to attract a running mate in next year's elections, a high-ranking member of the administration party said Thursday.

Gabriela launches Maza's senatorial bid

The militant women's party-list group Gabriela formally announced the senatorial bid of its three-term representative, Liza Maza, as it unveiled its "women's platform for action" for 2010 during its national convention which opened on Thursday.

DepEd's Lapus aborts planned senatorial bid

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus will no longer push through with his senatorial bid in next year"s elections.

PNP seeks one-month extension of gun amnesty

The Philippine National Police wants the gun amnesty which ends on Saturday extended by one more month.

Sinnot's kidnappers still unknown—Church

The identity of the kidnappers of an elderly Irish Catholic priest in the troubled southern Philippines remains unknown nearly three weeks after his abduction, the victim's superior said Thursday.

MILF rescue plan for kidnapped priest rejected

MANILA - The Philippine government has rejected an offer of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to deploy a company-size rebel force to rescue kidnapped Irish priest Michael Sinnott, ABS-CBN learned Thursday.

Muslim cleric, wife and son killed in Sultan Kudarat blast

A bomb exploded Tuesday night inside the house of a Muslim cleric, killing him and two other family members in President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, a belated police report reaching here on Thursday said.

SC cites Lozanos for contempt over 'attacks'

For their "scurrilous attacks" on the Supreme Court, a father and daughter were cited for indirect contempt.  In a resolution by the high court's Special Second Division, lawyer Oliver Lozano was fined P10,000 while daughter Evangeline, also a lawyer, was reprimanded.

Lifting of 'red tide' alert in Tacloban recommended

The Leyte provincial agriculture office has recommended the lifting of the red tide alert in Cancabato Bay here, more than a month after the toxin's presence was discovered there.

DoH conducts tetanus surveys in high-risk areas

The Department of Health, in coordination with two foreign agencies, will implement a second neo-natal tetanus survey in Negros Oriental to determine if a mass tetanus immunization campaign in high-risk areas in the country was necessary.

4.9M Filipinos risk contracting


As many as 1.4 million Filipino adults (aged 20 and above) acquired diabetes in the last five years mainly because of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles, according to data compiled by anti-diabetes advocates.

Filipina UN poll volunteer killed in Kabul attack

A Filipina election volunteer was among five United Nations personnel killed in Wednesday's terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said Thursday.

Ambassador Hilario Davide, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, identified the slain Filipina as Jossie G. Esto, 40, an Electoral Outreach and Training Coordinator under the United Nations Volunteers Program.

Esto was killed when gunmen stormed the Bekhtar Guest House in Kabul's Shar-e-Now District being used by UN and other international workers, the ambassador said .

The dawn attack, which left four other UN staff members dead, was later claimed by the Taliban.

Davide said Esto was a former school teacher who also worked as an electoral officer and civic education officer in the Philippines before serving as a UN volunteer in Liberia, Timor-Leste and Nepal. She was married with two children aged 14 and 11.

Davide said Esto is the fourth UN staff member from the Philippines to die in terrorist attacks targeting the world body. In 2003, Ranillo Buenaventura, a staff member of the UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq was killed in the suicide car bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

Last year, Gene Luna, a staff member of the World Food Program, was among the fatalities in the terrorist bombing of UN offices in Algiers, Algeria, while Perseveranda So, a staff member of the United Nations Children's Fund, was among the victims in a suicide bomb attack on a hotel housing international workers in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Esto's death came five years after Angelito Nayan, a Filipino UN volunteer assisting in the 2004 Afghan elections, was kidnapped in Kabul and held for three weeks by the Taliban before he was released.

Davide said Esto had been in Afghanistan for just over a year and was among several UN volunteers working with the United Nations Development Program/Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (UNDP/Elect) Project, which is the primary vehicle through which the international community supports elections in Afghanistan.

UNDP/Elect works closely with electoral bodies such as the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and provides project and program design and management, mobilization of donor funding, activity coordination, reporting, and the channeling of funds for electoral support, Davide's office said in a statement.

UNV executive coordinator Flavia Pansieri expressed condolences on behalf of the organization's 8,000 volunteers and staff to the families of Esto and Yah-Lydia Wonyene of Liberia, another UN Volunteer who was also killed in the attack. 

"Jossie and Lydia dedicated their knowledge and experience as volunteers to support the people of Afghanistan," Pansieri said.

"As volunteers, they demonstrated a true commitment to the cause of peace and development and their sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Church officials: 15,000 Bibles seized in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) – Malaysian authorities confiscated more than 15,000 Bibles imported from Indonesia in recent months because they referred to "God" as "Allah," a translation that has been banned in this Muslim-majority country, Church officials said Thursday.

Pacquiao set to deliver Cotto knockout, says trainer

LOS ANGELES - Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach has predicted a knockout by the Filipino southpaw when he challenges Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight title next month.

Pacquiao: Charity work won't derail title bid

LOS ANGELES – Manny Pacquiao denied that humanitarian work in typhoon-ravaged Philippines took away from his training sessions for an upcoming title fight with Miguel Cotto.

POC adds 94 more athletes into SEAG lineup

The Philippines Olympic Committee has submitted 247 athletes and 132 officials to the Laos Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee with the Olympic body ready to shoulder the expenses of delegation members excluded from the official list of the Philippine Sports Commission.

Mar Roxas tweets honeymoon experience

MANILA - Expect transparency from Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, even about his Japan honeymoon with wife Korina Sanchez-Roxas.  

Car of party-list representative stolen in Quezon City

The car of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares was stolen while parked in front of the Bayan Muna office in Quezon City by still unidentified assailants.

Two Philippine eagles released into the wild

Despite the brutal killing of "Kasagbua," a three-year-old male Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), by hunters in July 2008, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) released two more eagles at the Mt. Kitanglad Mountain Range in Bukidnon on Thursday morning.

Piolo Pascual to release 6th album

MANILA - Hunk actor Piolo Pascual is set to release his sixth album called "Decades: Songs from 50s, 60s and 70s" under Star Records. The "Lovers in Paris" actor said the album will be composed of classic love songs.

Angel says it's over between her, Luis

MANILA – Actress Angel Locsin has finally put all speculations to rest after admitting that the break-up rumor involving her and Luis Manzano was in fact true. During the 25th anniversary of women's group Gabriela, Locsin said she and Manzano rarely communicates ever since the split.

Michael Jackson's father seeks museum in hometown

LAS VEGAS—Four months after his son's surprise death, Joe Jackson said Wednesday he intends to lead an effort to build a Michael Jackson museum in the family's hometown of Gary, Indiana.

Bad driver? Blame your genes

by Reuters
WASHINGTON - No need to curse that bad driver weaving in and out of the lane in front of you -- he cannot help it, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

Researchers use ice cream to combat cancer effects

by Reuters
WELLINGTON - New Zealand scientists are developing an ice cream that is so good for you, it could come with a doctor's prescription.

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