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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 18, 2009 Major News Stories

Flying V was the first to admit that they have already started implementing a P1 to P2 per liter price increase on diesel in areas where they said competitors also raised prices.

These areas reportedly include Shaw Boulevard, Commonwealth and areas outside of Metro Manila such as Cavite, Pampanga and Laguna.

According to Joey Cruz, Flying V spokesperson, the initial increase will be implemented within 24 hours while succeeding tranches of additional increases will be implemented in the weeks after.

Flying V had earlier warned that the pump prices would increase by P5 per liter once the Palace's freeze on pump prices was lifted.

Eastern Petroleum Philippines also said that it has advised its dealers that effective Wednesday 12.01a.m. it would implement a P2.00 per liter hike adjustment in diesel, P1.25 per liter in unleaded, premium and regular gasoline and P1.50 per liter for kerosene.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, in a text message from spokesperson Roberto Kanapi, said it will implement increases effective Wednesday, 12:01 a.m.

Kanapi said the oil giant will increase prices of unleaded gasoline by P1.50 per liter, diesel by P2.00 per liter, kerosene by P1.50 per liter and its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) products by P2.00 per kg in Luzon.

The adjustment is in line with Executive Order 845 which lifts the oil price freeze mandated under EO 839," said Kanapi.

The Pilipinas Shell spokesman said that the oil firm will announce "its assistance package for calamity-stricken areas pursuant to EO 845 in a press conference tomorrow."

Petron Corp., in a text message, also sait it will increse pump prices

Phoenix Petroleum meanwhile said it will implement in its Luzon stations a pump price increase of P2 per liter for diesel and P1.50 per liter for gasoline effective 6 a.m. Wednesday.

It said its increase in prices is in line "with the lifting of EO 839 and in order to partially recover its losses."

A source at the Department of Energy (DOE) meanwhile said that Petron Corp. has already sent a notice that it will also increase prices by P2.00 per liter diesel and P1.50 for gasoline.

The source also said that Petron will also increase the price of its LPG product by P2.00 per kilogram or P22 per tank.

No supply shortage!

Meanwhile, after warnings of a possible supply shortage during the implementation of EO 839, oil firms are now singing a different tune with the price cap lifted.

At a joint Congressional hearing, representatives of oil companies said that their current stock is equivalent 30 to 50 days not the 13 days supply remaining before EO 839 was lifted which was announced by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that Reyes based his statement on the stock of small independent oil players which were reportedly only 4-5% of the oil industry.

Fare hikes loom

As pump prices increase, transport groups meanwhile transport groups may not be far behind in seeking for an upward adjustment in the minimum fare.

One group, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap), had earlier warned that it will seek at least a P1 minimum fare hike if diesel prices reach P30 per liter which would already be fulfilled with the price increases effective Wednesday. EO 839 had pegged prices at P28.00 per liter.

Another transport group, Pasang Masda, said that it will seek for a P0.50 fare adjustment should diesel prices reach P35 per liter.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)1, the government agency which approves fare adjustments in public transport, however showed a different computation in fare hikes.

It said a P5.00 increase in diesel should be equivalent to only a P0.30 fare adjustment.

This was however slammed by activist group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operaytors Nationwdie (PISTON). The group said LTFRB's computation showed government's bias against public transport groups and in favor of oil companies.

Whenoil companies increase prices, government has no computation to justify the increases but when public transport groups seek for an upward adjustment in fares, government has a computation which it can readily show. 

Phoenix Petroleum to raise prices

Independent oil player Phoenix Petroleum Inc. announced on Tuesday that it would raise oil prices effective Wednesday morning.

At 6 a.m., Phoenix will raise the price of diesel by P2 per liter and gasoline by P1.50 per liter, said lawyerRaymond Zorilla.

Zorilla said the move was to allow the company to recover its losses after Executive Order 839 was lifted Monday. EO 839 put a price cap on oil prices at their October 15 levels.

Eastern Petroleum hikes prices

(UPDATE) Two days after Malacañang lifted the price cap on petroleum products, Eastern Petroleum Corp. raised its pump prices of diesel by P2 a liter, gasoline (premium, unleaded, regular) by P1.25 a liter, and kerosene by P1.50 a liter.

Oil prices lose ground—analysts

LONDON—World oil prices fell on Tuesday as the dollar strengthened and after recent gains for crude partly spurred by hopes of improved energy demand, analysts said.

COA won't audit oil firms—energy chief

The Commission on Audit (COA) has refused to audit oil companies because its mandate supposedly covered only government firms, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said on Tuesday.

DOE-7: No fuel shortage in Cebu

Despite reports of shortage of fuel in some areas in Luzon, the Department of Energy in Region VII has assured consumers that the same is not the case in Cebu.

Rice supply enough for next 3 months

The National Food Authority-7 yesterday assured that there is ample supply of rice in Central Visayas that can even cover the demand in Region 8.

LRT not part of RDC agenda yet

Regardless of reports that the issue of the Light Rail Transit proposal will be discussed during the Regional Development Council next month, the National Economic Development Authority has denied this saying that so far, this is not part of the agenda yet.

BRT to cost only P4.5B: City

THE Cebu City Government yesterday said it will push for the realization of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) because it will cost only P4.5 billion, which is only a fraction of the P32 billion cost of the LRT.

Solons wary of plan to hike cigarette taxes

A plan that would effectively hike cigarette prices yet possibly fail to boost government revenues was questioned by members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Call center eyes 4,500 more workers in RP

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Outsourcing firm Convergys is looking to expand its operations in the near-term and add at least 4,500 more workers in the Philippines, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Recruiters take back insurance proposal for OFWs

Stunned by the vehement rejection of migrant workers rights' advocates, recruiters on Tuesday said they are withdrawing their proposal to Congress for mandatory insurance coverage for overseas Filipino workers.

Pinay UN volunteer laid to rest in Aklan

MANILA – A Filipino United Nations volunteer who was among those killed in the Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan last month, was laid to rest in her hometown province of Aklan.

Palace to assist boxer Gorres

MANILA - The Arroyo administration on Tuesday said it will give all assistance necessary to Filipino boxer Z "The Dream" Gorres who was hospitalized after winning a unanimous decision over Columbian Luis Melendez at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Resort and Casino over the weekend.

Former boxers: No support from RP govt

Nangako ang pamahalaan na tutulong kay Z Gorres, ang boksingerong inoperahan sa utak matapos mapuruhan sa kanyang laban. Pero may ibang atleta na nalagay din sa alanganin ang buhay pero walang nakuhang suporta.

Court issues TRO: UP can fence lot, but needs permit

The court has granted the application of the University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College for a temporary restraining order for 20 days to prevent previous occupants of its lot in Lahug to rebuild their structures that were burned.

CH to spend P1M to stop landfill fire

CEBU City Hall will spend P1 million for the emergency lease of heavy equipment to control the fire at the sanitary landfill in Barangay Inayawan, which continued to emit smoke yesterday.

Stop early campaigning, Comelec tells bets

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday warned politicians to stop airing "infomercials" and installing posters and tarpaulins, or else they face a case of early campaigning.

Comelec to explain rule on gov't execs-turned-bets

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections to explain the validity of its resolution saying that appointed officials would be deemed resigned upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1.

Tom dares Atan to answer raps on P10 million SEAG funds

Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday challenged his former sports consultant Jonathan Guardo to answer point-by-point the criminal complaint for malversation of public funds filed by the Philippine Sports Commission for Guardo's failure to account the P10 million funds that was granted to him in 2005 for the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Cebu City.

Local ombud split on CICC

THE investigation on the irregularities allegedly committed during the Capitol's construction of the multi-million-peso Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) closes with the Office of the Ombusman-Visayas's version of a hung jury.

Sources said Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol has disagreed with the Final Evaluation Report prepared by the panel of investigators who looked into the transaction and reportedly wants to clear Cebu Gov. Gwen-dolyn Garcia of any liability instead.

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The panel, for its part, has found basis to elevate the fact-finding probe into a formal criminal and administrative complaint, the same sources revealed.

Apostol, in an interview with reporters yesterday, admitted to the disagreement but declined to comment as to what it was about, saying fact-finding investigations are confidential.

"It is in on the appreciation of the evidences and the recommended action," he said when asked what the disagreement was about.

The deputy ombudsman, citing the disagreement, is elevating the matter to Tanodbayan Merceditas Gutierrez in Manila instead of coming out with his own ruling.

"It's up to them to decide whether to docket it for preliminary investigation or dismiss it," he said.

This, in turn, means further delays in resolving the probe that was launched in early 2007 yet.

Sources, who asked not to be identified, said Apostol's position on the issue has made investigators feel demoralized, as he reportedly asked them to "look for evidence that would clear the governor."

It is an allegation that Apostol denied but would still not set the record straight as it would "reveal the findings" of an otherwise "confidential" investigation.

"If I give you one plus one, you would get two," he said.

"It's just work," one investigator said when sought for comment.

Moreover, the same sources revealed, Apostol is alone in his dissent, saying Ombudsman Director Carla Tanco and Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Santiago are siding with the panel that, in turn, is composed of Engr. Rod Blazo, Elmer Gutierrez and Joy Dacumos.

Santiago, when sought for comment, confirmed that she and Tanco both signed the fact-finding report, an indication that they endorsed the findings.

However, she also refused to comment on the direction Apostol supposedly wants to take the investigation on.

"All questions should be addressed to the deputy ombudsman," she said.

Apostol, in the interview yesterday, admitted that he has already written his own evaluation report and that it pushed a course of action different from what was recommended by the panel.

But he said he will send both findings to the Tanodbayan, with a cover letter saying "for your review and action" and then leave the decision-making to her.

This, in turn, tends to belie allegations that he wants to take the investigation towards a specific course.

"I could push for my own findings and reverse the recommendation of the panel but it would not be proper. I will refer it to Manila for the Tanod-bayan to reconcile," he said.

Tanodbayan Merceditas Gutierrez is expected to be in Cebu on Thursday for a two-day gathering of the Multi-Sectoral Anti-Corruption Council.

The media has been invited but are requested to limit their questions on the affair and not on cases.

The fact-finding investigation on the CICC centers on the alleged procurement law violations Garcia committed when she oversaw the construction of the facility built to house some activities related to the 12th Asean summit held here in Cebu City.

It began with media reports and was bolstered by a complaint filed by businessman Crisologo Saavedra who said the project was overpriced because it was subjected to a "split bidding," a process disallowed by Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

"Only P100 million worth of the project, which covers the superstructure (the main edifice), was bid legally and was awarded to WT Construction," he said in a letter complaint dated August 2007.

"The rest of the project was carried out via negotiated bidding with nine to 12 other contractors," he said.

Saavedra said it was the negotiated bidding that made the cost of the CICC skyrocket from the approved budget of P515 million.

The Capitol admitted that it spent P581 million for the CICC but the figures were challenged when the contractor filed a suit claiming an additional P263,263,261.41 for the unpaid Feb. 21, 2007-billing for electrical and plumbing works and site development structural, civil and agricultural works.

The court granted the claim last October but only for P257.4 million. Still, it placed the CICC cost at P838.4 million for the building only.

Greg willing to reconcile with Gwen, run as her VG; Glen Soco eyes 6th district

VICE Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. said that he's open for a reconciliation with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

He's also willing to be Gwendolyn's running mate in next year's elections.

Sonny completing 2010 election slate

Former senator and Partido Panaghiusa chairman John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña is now completing his lineup for the 2010 elections.

Aside from Margot, the former senator earlier announced councilors Eduardo Rama, Jose "Joey" Daluz III and Richard Osmeña in his lineup.

For the north district, he only mentioned councilors Leah Japson and Edgardo Labella of BOPK, leaving behind councilor Augustus Pe, Jr.

Osmeña seeks approval of P600 million Supplemental Budget

City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is seeking the approval of another Supplemental Budget for this year amounting to P600 million, which he said will be taken from the initial deposit of SM Prime Holdings for the latter's payment for lots at the South Road Properties.

Osmeña said the Supplemental Budget – 8 will be the "equalizer fund" for the barangays that get lesscash disbursements. He said the fund will be disbursed for road concreting, water project, bus purchase, and land acquisitions, among others.

Suspect in killing of Carmen mayor's aide falls

One of the suspects in the slaying of the bodyguard of Carmen Mayor Sonia Pua was arrested yesterday morning in barangay Lamac, Consolacion town.

The suspect was identified as Jonathan Salva, 40 years old, married.

The operation was led by Chief Insp. Carlos Reyes of the Carmen Police through a warrant of arrest. It was also found out that the suspect has violated the probation he filed on a case for illegal drugs.

Salva was positively identified by witnesses and that his facial features matched the descriptions given on the cartographic sketch released.

Villar gains runningmate, but not NPC support

Sen. Manuel Villar may have gained a partner, but not necessarily the support of another party.

Ruling on Villar ethics case 'political prostitution'--senator

"Political prostitution" was how Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal described on Tuesday a resolution by fellow senators seeking the dismissal of the ethics case against colleague Manny Villar.

'It's a big advantage for me to have the name Marcos'

Even if he has his own accomplishments to boast, Ilocos Norte Representative Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. believes his name will also help carry him to victory in the 2010 senatorial race.

Bongbong open to running with Noynoy

MANILA - Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. is open to running as a senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party (LP) under its standard-bearer Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III.

Aquino meets Cojuangcos on Hacienda Luisita issue

MANILA - Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Liberal Party standard bearer for the May 2010 polls, held a meeting with other members of the Cojuangco family Tuesday to talk about the Hacienda Luisita dispute.

Noynoy far from complacent despite survey lead

Presidential aspirant Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III on Tuesday said he is still not confident of victory in the 2010 elections despite his impressive performance in presidential surveys.

Teodoro remains optimistic amid poor showing in polls

Despite being in sixth place, with only two percent votes, in the recent Pulse Asia survey for presidential aspirant, Lakas-Kampi CMD standard bearer Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro said that he remained optimistic about his campaign.

Like Pinky Webb, Luis surprised by Edu's VP bid

MANILA – The celebrity son of actor-host Edu Manzano was also "caught by surprise" after his father announced his vice presidential bid in 2010 elections. In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN North America News Bureau, Luis Manzano admitted that he only learned about his father's VP bid through friends.

Estrada unfazed by sagging rating

Former president Joseph Estrada said on Tuesday that he was undaunted by the latest Pulse Asia survey results ranking him at 4th place with an 11 percent preferential rating among voters.

MMDA chief to resign soon

by By Dennis Carcamo
MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando today said he will be resigning soon from the agency to pursue his presidential bid.

Solons want Pacquiao to 'retire' into politics

A number of lawmakers have joined the clamor for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to retire, saying they would rather see the legendary pugilist go to politics rather than fight another round in the ring.

Palace advice to Pacquiao: Follow your heart

When the time comes to ponder whether to hang up his gloves, pursue politics, or go into show biz after his historic ring feat, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao would do well to listen to his heart's desire.

Church, gov't officials to Pacquaio: stay away from polls

MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has dissuaded People's Champ Manny Pacquiao from entering the political arena, saying there are other ways to help his constituents, a radio report said.

Willie courting Pacquiao to join Villar?

MANILA – Is Willie Revillame, a known supporter of presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., trying to convince man of the hour Manny Pacquiao to join the lawmaker's Nacionalista Party (NP)? Reports said Revillame, allegedly like Villar, was courting Pacquiao to run under NP  when he seeks a seat in Congress in 2010 elections.

'Comelec wants OFWs to vote but not get elected'

by by Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak
Migrante: Is this what we get for supporting overseas absentee voters' registration? The non-government group Migrante on Tuesday criticized the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for encouraging overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to register and vote in 2010, but denying them possible representation in Congress when the poll body revoked Migrante's party-list accreditation.

Poll exec's comments on gay group appalling—CHR

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila de Lima lambasted election commissioner Nicodemus Ferrer for his comments that there were many gays and lesbians in Congress and so a party-list representative for homosexuals would not be necessary anymore.

House junks Gutierrez impeach bid

The House of Representatives has thrown out the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez late Tuesday.

PAGC chief denies nepotism rap

MANILA  - A tearful Chairwoman Constancia de Guzman of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission maintained Tuesday she violated no law when she hired her son, nephew, and her son's girlfriend to sensitive positions in her office.

Sandiganbayan orders auction of 'Boracay Mansion'

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has finally ordered the long-delayed auction of the P142.9-million so-called "Boracay Mansion" it had earlier declared to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of convicted plunderer former President Joseph Estrada.

What moral recovery? SC's Puno asked to reverse ruling on San Miguel shares

MANILA - A lawmaker has urged Chief Justice Reynato Puno to heed his own call for moral recovery in the country by taking a second look at the Supreme Court's (SC) earlier decision to approve the conversion of the 24% sequestered common shares of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) into preferred shares.

Piñol: Gov't secret pact with MILF brewing

North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmanuel Piñol is protesting what he called the secret drafting of a final peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Gov't launches manhunt for Sinnott kidnappers

The Philippine Army on Tuesday said it has dispatched about a thousand soldiers to pursue a group of "outlaws" involved in the October 11 kidnapping of Irish priest Michael Sinnott.

Nueva Ecija town's former mayor gets 10 years for graft

For awarding a government contract to an unlicensed construction company without public bidding some 13 years ago, a former city mayor in Nueva Ecija is to serve 10 years' jail time.

50 feared dead in Myanmar ferry crash

YANGON—At least 50 people are feared dead after a packed passenger ferry crashed into an oil barge in an area of Myanmar that was hit by a devastating cyclone last year, local officials said Tuesday.

Landslide in northern China kills 23

BEIJING (AP) – A state media report says a massive landslide in northern China partially has buried a village and killed at least 23 people, and that rescuers are seeking survivors.

Somali pirates free 36 hostages, claim ransom

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Pirates freed 36 crew members from a Spanish trawler Tuesday after holding them for more than six weeks. A self-proclaimed pirate said the hostage-takers were paid $3.3 million in ransom.

Microsoft co-founder has cancer

Billionaire Paul Allen, who founded US software giant Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, has been diagnosed with cancer, technology blogs reported on Monday.

Pacman-Floyd fight in May or June - Roach

MANILA -- Everybody's clamoring for a "megafight" between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. But for Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, the end result is already certain. 

Mayweather on duel with Pacquiao: Easy fight

Despite Manny Pacquiao"s masterful destruction of a supposedly stronger and bigger Miguel Cotto, comebacking Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is still unimpressed and remains firm Pacquiao will be an "easy fight" for him.

Huge pay-per-view paycheck awaits Pacquiao

HOLLYWOOD - Manny Pacquiao is expecting yet another cash windfall after successfully making history following his 12th round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto that looked more like a one-sided demolition job Saturday at the MGM Grand's Garden Arena here.

5 pool 'heavyweights' to carry RP flag in World 10-Ball

MANILA – Five Philippine billiard "heavyweights" will lead the country's campaign to win the second World Ten-Ball Championship slated on November 25 to 30 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Gina Alajar clams up on Pacquiao-Krista 'affair'

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA - Veteran actress and director Gina Alajar was evasive Tuesday when sought for comment on the alleged affair between People's Champ Manny Pacquiao and young sexy star Krista Ranillo. In a phone interview, Alajar refused to further comment on the issue, saying she already issued a statement to a popular newspaper.

Pacquiao hits back over Krista issue

MANILA – Amid persistent speculations about his alleged affair with sexy star Krista Ranillo, People's Champ Manny Pacquiao has lashed back at his detractors for focusing too much on his private life instead of his feat. 

Pacquiao-Krista issue heats up

Hindi nakalusot sa camera ang matinding pag-iyak ng asawa ni Pacman na si Jinkee Pacquiao sa thanksgiving mass sa Las Vegas. Patunay nga ba ito na may lamat na ang relasyon ng dalawa? Sa unang pagkakataon, eksklusibong bumwelta si Pacman sa mga nag-uugnay sa kanya sa sexy star na si Krista Ranillo.

Osang to Revillas: Show grandson or face charges

Ayaw paawat ni Rosanna Roces sa mga banat sa pamilya Revilla. Tutuluyan na raw nyang kakasuhan ang mga ito kapag hindi pa nya nakita ang apo sa lalong madaling panahon.

'Mano Po 6' shoot in Beijing next

Zsa Zsa Padilla at Sharon Cuneta, lilipad pa-Beijing para sa Mano Po 6.

Runaway cow wounds 5 persons

A COW that was about to be slaughtered at the Cebu City Abattoir fought for its freedom, leading police to a chase that reached the Cebu Business Park and ended in Panagdait, Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City last night.

Twins joined at head successfully separated

MELBOURNE (AP) – A team of 16 surgeons and nurses successfully concluded 25 hours of delicate surgery Tuesday to separate twin Bangladeshi girls who had been joined at their heads, sharing blood vessels and brain tissue.

Cindy Crawford blackmail suspect held—police

BERLIN—A German man accused of trying to blackmail Cindy Crawford over a photo showing the former supermodel's daughter gagged and bound to a chair is now in custody, police said on Tuesday.

Michael Jackson's father to challenge star's will in appeals court

The father of Michael Jackson will seek to challenge the two businessman named as executors of his son's estate despite losing an earlier court battle, papers showed Monday.

'Unfriend' is New Oxford American word of the year

by Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON - The New Oxford American Dictionary named "unfriend" -- as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook -- its word of the year on Monday.

Magnitude-5.1 quake in Davao won"t cause tsunami - Phivolcs

A predawn quake rocked parts of Davao Oriental province in Mindanao Tuesday, but state seismologists quickly allayed fears of a tsunami resulting from the temblor.

Ogden Nash  - "The trouble with a kitten is that when it grows up, it's always a cat."

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