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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 7, 2009 Major News Stories

3 oil firms to cut oil prices Wednesday

(UPDATE) Oil players Pilipinas Shell, Chevron and Petron Corp. will cut oil prices Wednesday, officials said on Tuesday.

At 12:01 a.m., Shell will cut gasoline and kerosene prices by P0.75 per liter and diesel prices by P0.50 per liter, said vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi.

Chevron and Petron will also implement the same price cut at 6 a.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Solons propose new tax on text scheme

Proponents of the tax on text messages have put forward a new scheme of pegging the cost of short messaging service (SMS) at 80 centavos each, which would include the 8 centavos tax to be shouldered by telecommunications companies (telcos).

TUCP to seek increase in workers' daily pay

THE Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) will file a wage petition, varying from P50 to P70 across all regions, this month.

Convicted rapist off to Spain

(UPDATE) The man convicted of raping and killing two sisters in 1997 in Cebu City has left the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa and was now on his way to prison at the Centro Penitenciario in Madrid.

Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, in a news conference, announced that Francisco "Paco" Larrañaga, a Filipino-Spanish mestizo, left the country escorted by Spanish Interpol agents on Tuesday morning.

The Philippine government turned Larrañaga over to Spanish authorities a day after the Cebu regional trial court ruled that the hold-departure order issued in 1997 against him was no longer in effect.

Larrañaga, 33, left the country at 10:45 a.m. on a KLM flight after the National Bureau of Investigation's Interpol agents presented the convict to Spanish Interpol officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Bureau of Corrections officers escorted Larrañaga from the NBP to the airport.

"Upon his arrival in Spain, Larrañaga will be brought directly to the prison facility of Centro Penitenciario… in Madrid to continue serving the sentence imposed on him in the Philippines," Devanadera said.

Devanadera said Larrañaga still has to serve 28 years in the Spanish prison. "He'd be 61 by then," Devanadera said.

Larrañaga, who was convicted in 1999 along with five others, already served 12 years of his sentence, which had been commuted from death to 40 years in prison.

The Supreme Court in February 2004 affirmed the conviction of Larranaga and his five co-accused guilty of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Mariejoy and Jacqueline Chiong.

They were originally sentenced to die by lethal injection but President Macapagal-Arroyocommuted their sentences to life imprisonment in 2006.

Larrañaga belongs to the wealthy Osmeña clan of Cebu. He claimed Spanish citizenship on account of his Spanish father.

Devanadera said that the Spanish government sent a note verbale on Sept. 16, 2009, to the Philippine government indicating that it was already prepared to accept Larrañaga into its penal system under the RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement.

"We received the note verbale on Sept. 16 and yet we waited for the court order.... That took more than two weeks," Devanadera said.

Larrañaga had asked the Cebu court to lift the hold departure order issued when the case was still pending in court in 1997.

Devanadera said the private complainants – the family of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong – had the opportunity to block Larrañaga's transfer when the court asked them to comment on the motion to lift the hold-departure order filed by the convict.

"The Spanish government… has expressly made the statement that there will be no conversion of the sentence imposed by the Philippine judicial authorities on Larrañaga.... [That the Spanish government] is bound by the terms of the judgment of conviction; and that no justification whatsoever exists to revise the decision handed down by the Philippine judicial authorities," Devanadera said.

In his order, Cebu regional trial court Judge Simeon Dumdum said there was no more need to lift the hold-departure order since it was only meant to be in effect during his trial.

The Chiong family objected to the lifting of the hold-departure order, citing technical grounds.

"The Court agrees with the public prosecutors. As per Entry of Judgment, these cases became final and executory on Aug. 15, 2005, on which date the Order issued by Judge Agana on Sept. 26, 1997, lost its force, and became functus officio, automatically without need of court action," Dumdum said.

Transfer surprises victims' mother

The mother of the Chiong sisters was surprised to receive reports that Paco Larrañaga has already left the country for Spain yesterday.

Bus operator: We are losing money

The former president of the Cebu Provincial Bus Operators Association criticized the imposition of the P5 terminal fee and said the new system implemented by the Cebu South Bus Terminal management has affected the income of the bus operators.  Nick Villahermosa said they have been greatly affected by the new system at the terminal because aside from the increase in the users' fee, which he said was doubled, they are only allowed five minutes to park at the loading bay to get passengers.

City may ban minibuses from terminal; Byron meets operators

AN ordinance banning minibuses at the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) will be presented for final deliberation before the Cebu City Council next week.

On Naga fly ash dumps: Notice to sue endorsed to Provincial Board

Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, Jr. has endorsed to the Provincial Board a notice to sue and an "urgent request" for investigation and ocular inspection filed by the office of Global Legal Action on Climate Change-Cebu in connection with its inspection to the coal ash dumps in Naga town.

City police to sue cop for letting wife keep rifle

The Cebu City Police Office will counter-file a complaint of malversation of government property against PO3 Reynaldo Solante for letting his wife Christine, as a non-authorized civilian, keep an Armalite rifle.

DPWH lost P2.2 million: COA: Contractor got paid for two unfinished projects

The government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways, lost more than P2.2 million when it fully paid the P14.4 million contract price for the two asphalt overlay projects in Cebu City even if the private contractor had not completed work.

In Balamban new town hall, lights for Transcentral Highway

The municipal government of Balamban has inaugurated its new town hall and carried out a formal switching on of street lights installed along the Transcentral Highway from barangay Gaas to barangay Poblacion.

DTI, BFP asked to get rid of faulty Christmas lights

The Cebu City Council this afternoon is scheduled to ask the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bureau of Fire Protection to join hands to intensify the campaign to rid the shopping malls and sidewalk vendors of substandard Christmas lights.

'Pepeng' makes 2nd landfall, returns to Ilocos Norte

MANILA - After hovering over South China Sea for 2 days, Typhoon "Pepeng" has again made landfall over the northern tip of Luzon, almost retracing its steps back to Ilocos Norte. 

'Pepeng' damage hits P800M

Initial estimates on damages caused by Typhoon "Pepeng" (international name: Parma) has reached almost P800 million, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said Tuesday.

Floods damage 15 gov't hospitals

At least 15 major government hospitals and a health-related institution sustained damage estimated to reach at least P670 million due to the killer flash floods brought about by typhoon Ondoy, according to the Department of health.

US Marines help reach isolated flood victims

Hindi marating ang mga nakatira sa maliliit na isla sa Laguna de Bay dahil sa laki ng tubig at lakas ng alon. Sa tulong ng mga dambuhalang choppers ng US Marines, nahatiran na ng tulong ang mga nakatira doon kanina. 

Emergency jobs for Ondoy victims—labor dep't

(UPDATE) Victims hardest hit by typhoon Ondoy who lost their income and livelihood will be given "short-term and emergency wage employment" of at least 15 days to help them rebuild their lives, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said Tuesday.

House committee OKs bill abolishing NDCC

by by Carmela Fonbuena,
MANILA - The House committee on appropriations on Tuesday approved a consolidated bill abolishing the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), citing its failure to immediately rescue and provide relief to victims of tropical storm Ondoy.

Gibo halts offensives vs NPA for calamity relief operations

MANILA - Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Tuesday ordered the military to temporarily halt its offensive against the communist New People's Army (NPA) and divert the focus of government troops to calamity relief efforts.

Ease donation rules—Filipino donors in HK

Filipinos in Hong Kong who have gathered donations for survivors of tropical storm Ondoy are requesting the government to ease its requirement that all donations go through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

RP seeks $74 million in aid after floods

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines needs an additional $74 million in aid to deal with the aftermath of a recent storm that caused the worst flooding in the country's capital in more than four decades, killing nearly 300 people, officials said Tuesday.

Czech Republic gives €100,000 for Ondoy

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The Czech Republic, together with Czech companies like Enviros, has contributed 100,000 euros (about P6.7 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to tropical storm Ondoy victims, it was learned Tuesday.

10 tons relief goods arrive from Jordan

At least 10 tons of relief goods for victims of tropical storm "Ondoy" (Ketsana) arrived Monday night, all the way from Jordan.

Hong Kong provides emergency relief for typhoon victims in RP

HONG KONG (Xinhua) - The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced Tuesday that it had approved two grants from the Disaster Relief Fund totaling 6.8 million HK dollars ($878,326) to two relief agencies to undertake relief projects for typhoon victims in the Philippines.

UN on Ondoy relief: The world should pitch in

The United Nations has appealed to the international community to extend more help to the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

PRC announces Professional Electronics Engineer Exam results

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announces that 11 passed the Professional Electronics Engineer Examination given by the Board of Electronics Engineering in Manila this September 2009.

Comelec woes raised as registration deadline nears

With only a month to go before the deadline for voter registration ends on Oct. 31, the Commission on Elections is grappling with a host of problems that could undermine efforts to enlist more eligible voters and lead to disenfranchisement in the 2010 elections.

Ramon Casiple, a member of the Comelec's Advisory Council and chairman of Bantay Eleksyon 2010, said he has raised concerns that the Comelec has not completed the cleansing of the national voters' list in time for the May 10, 2010 national and presidential elections.

In the 2010 elections, which will use electronic voting and counting machines supplied by Smartmatic TIM Corp., Casiple also feared that the new automated elections and unclean voters list would lead to new forms of cheating, like the creation of ghost precincts and ghost voters.

Comelec issues period to stop voter delisting

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will no longer strike out the names of individuals who failed to vote in the last two elections beyond this month.

Police to intensify security measures in run-up to 2010 polls

The Philippine National Police has ordered regional and local town units to provide tight security on all government officials during public affairs as the national headquarters noted that the political situation has started to heat up in certain localities seven months away from the polls.

Comelec officers to undergo PCOS training

Around 180 Commission on Elections (Comelec) personnel will receive training in handling precinct count optical machines to be used in next year's automated elections, a poll agency spokesperson said Tuesday.

House to fast track passage of 2010 budget

The House of Representatives will hold marathon sessions for two weeks starting Wednesday to ensure the passage of the proposed 2010 budget.

Jalosjos vows to sue tormentors, even FVR

Only a few months after his jail term was commuted and he was released from prison, convicted rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte Congressman Romeo Jalosjos is already preparing charges against several people for allegedly "besmirching his reputation."

Marine killed, another hurt in Sulu clash

A Marine soldier was killed while another one was wounded during a clash with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Indanan, Sulu around 2:15 p.m. Monday, the military said Tuesday.

Congress OKs International Humanitarian Law

The country moved closer to passing its version of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), aimed to minimize the effects of armed conflicts on civilians, including holding liable commanders and other superiors under the principle of command responsibility.

Entertainers in Korea abused—poll

SEOUL, South Korea — Nearly four out of every 10 female entertainers in South Korea face unwanted sexual pressure, a survey showed Monday.

SC affirms ruling on PAL dismissal of cabin crew

MANILA - The Supreme Court has affirmed with finality its July 22,2008 ruling that the dismissal of some 1,400 cabin crew personnel of local carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was illegal.

OFW remittances to offset Ondoy, Pepeng damages

Remittances are expected to "offset" economic damages brought about by two major weather disturbances that hit the Philippines, a socioeconomic planning official said on Tuesday.

Tax bureau braces for smaller collections from flood-hit firms

MANILA - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday admitted that the impact of tropical storm Ondoy could put a dent on its collections and may warrant a reduction in its targets for the year.

CAP insurance arm gets another chance

MANILA - The Insurance Commission (IC) has given CAP General Insurance Corp. only until this week to increase its net worth and get a new license to sell insurance policies.

UNHDP report: Migrant workers' income more than tripled

KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua)  - Migrant workers experienced significant income gains that increased three to four fold on average, a United Nations official said here on Tuesday.

Telecoms remain strong amid economic crunch

The telecommunications industry is surviving the global financial crisis, thanks to growing demand for broadband leading to investments from both the government and private sector, according to an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report.

Threat of next world war may be in cyberspace: UN

GENEVA - The next world war could take place in cyberspace, the UN telecommunications agency chief warned Tuesday as experts called for action to stamp out cyber attacks. 

China records first swine flu death

BEIJING - China on Tuesday announced its first swine flu death, saying a patient in its southwestern region of Tibet had died from the disease, as concern rises about a winter outbreak.

Thailand to use Internal Security Act at ASEAN Summit's venues

BANGKOK (Xinhua) - Thai weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday agreed to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) in southern resort towns of Cha-am and Hua Hin, which will host the 15th ASEAN Summit on Oct. 23-25.

Italy's Berlusconi faces day of reckoning

ROME - Italy's Silvio Berlusconi faced a day of reckoning Tuesday as the Constitutional Court began mulling whether to strip him of immunity from prosecution on pending corruption charges.

More US schools shun sale of 'junk food'

WASHINGTON - Fewer US schools are making soda, candy bars and other types of "junk food" available on their premises, according to a study released Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Pacquiao is stronger than during Hatton fight'

MANILA – Conditioning coach Alex Ariza said Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has become stronger than he was when he fought former junior welterweight champion Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton 5 months ago.

Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for research into ageing

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Australian-American researcher Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider and Jack Szostak of the United States won the Nobel Medicine Prize on Monday for identifying a key switch in cellular ageing.

David Letterman says wife 'horribly hurt' by sex scandal

by Reuters
NEW YORK - Comedian David Letterman said on Monday his wife has been "horribly hurt" by revelations of his sexual affairs exposed in an extortion plot against him and he apologized to staff of his popular late-night talk show.

Kuh Ledesma's ex-hubby walks out of jail

Businessman Luisito Gonzales walked free Tuesday after spending more than a year in jail in connection with the murder of his stepbrother in 2007.

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

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