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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 19, 2009 Major News Stories

Arroyo may restore gas price cap in view of hikes

With oil companies promptly jacking up prices soon after Executive Order No. 839 was lifted Monday, Malacañang warned on Wednesday that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would not hesitate to issue a similar order to keep firms from abusive pricing.

Oil supply to normalize in a week, Shell exec says

Oil companies on Wednesday said the supply of petroleum products in the country is expected to normalize in a week.

Transport group to ask for P0.50 fare hike

by By Dennis Carcamo

MANILA, Philippines – Transport group Pasang Masda will ask for a P0.50 provisional fare increase if the price of diesel goes up to P35 per liter, an official said today (Nov. 18).

Transport groups vow to prevent fare hike until Christmas

Despite the recent lifting of oil price caps, transport groups have vowed not to increase fares until Christmas to ease the financial burden on households still reeling from the effects of recent storms on the country.

Govt reins in prices of Noche Buena staples

Mahigit isang buwan pa bago magpasko pero mayroon nang suggested retail price ang Department of Trade and Industry para sa mga pagkaing pang-Noche Buena. Ito'y para maiwasan umano ang pagsipa ng mga presyo ngayong inalis ang price freeze at price ceiling. 

7 more companies join VECO's deloading program

At least seven more companies in Cebu have agreed to help alleviate the problem on power supply in the province by enrolling to the deloading program initiated by the Visayan Electric Company dubbed as the Interruptible Load Agreement.

Marco Polo Plaza hotel, Oro China Jewelry and Pawnshop, Golden Peak Hotel, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Aboitiz Equities, Sunpride Foods and Innodata Isogen yesterday agreed to generate their own power so as to minimize brownouts that are caused by the power shortage.

Fire leaves P800,000 in property losses

Around 20 houses were razed in a late afternoon fire yesterday near White Gold in sitio Ipil, barangay Carreta, Cebu City that was reportedly brought about by electrical misuse.

'Defiant' City Hall

CEBU City officials declared an all-out-war against the University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) for its "immoral" act of institutionalizing an easy way of evicting urban poor settlers in the city.

Bimbo brands UP move on Lahug lot "immoral"

Cebu City Administrator Francisco Fernandez strongly condemned the move of the University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) to recover its property in barangay Lahug that was recently hit by fire.

Apostol denies influencing probe vs. governor on CICC controversy

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol has denied allegations that he wants to clear Governor Gwendolyn Garcia of any liability on the alleged irregularities in the construction of the multi-million Cebu International Convention Center.

Mastermind in slay of 2 Koreans falls

The alleged mastermind in the killing of two Korean nationals, whose bodies were dumped in Naga last Saturday, was reportedly arrested in Macau yesterday afternoon.

Comelec trims clustered precincts for 2010 polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will reduce the number of clustered precincts for next year's automated polls from 80,000 to around 73,000, an official said Wednesday.

Storms delay Comelec network survey

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) postponed its network infrastructure survey in preparation for next year's automated polls due to recent tropical storms that hit Luzon.

Signal strength in polling areas still unknown

by by Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak
Five months before Election Day, election machine provider Smartmatic-TIM is yet to complete its survey of telecommunication signal strength in poll precincts nationwide.

House passes bill to officially allow early campaigning

The House of Representatives has passed on final reading a bill that would allow candidates to promote themselves in public even before the actual campaign period begins, with legislators saying they approved the measure to protect the Commission on Elections from being swamped with election cases.

The bill, principally sponsored by Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin, would amend the Omnibus Election Code that bars candidates from engaging in election campaign or partisan political activity outside the campaign period.

Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code states that it is unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.

But House Bill 6926 seeks to neutralize this provision.

It states: "Notwithstanding Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, any person who files a certificate of candidacy within the period prescribed by the Commission on Elections shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy... provided, further, that any form of partisan or political activity committed by any person after the filing of the certificate of candidacy but before the start of the campaign period shall not constitute an unlawful act or omission."

The measure also noted that unlawful acts or omissions that could disqualify a candidate would only take effect upon the start of the campaign period.

In the explanatory note to the measure, the authors noted the recent Supreme Court decision disqualifying a mayor for premature campaigning for holding a motorcade after filing her COC. They said the decision would give rise to many questions and problems on what constitutes premature campaigning.

The situation is compounded by the fact that there is a two-month hiatus between the deadline for the filing of the COC and the start of the actual campaign period. The hiatus came when the deadline for the filing of COCs was moved earlier because of the automation of the 2010 polls, which entails printing longer ballots containing the names of all candidates.

The lawmakers said there may also be numerous disqualification cases filed against candidates for premature campaigning as a result of the ambiguity.

"In order to avert the situation where the Comelec will be deluged with disqualification cases, there is an urgent need to amend Section 80 of the Election Code by allowing any form of partisan or political activity after the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy during the said hiatus but before the start of the campaign period," the explanatory note said.

It added that this was in line with the Constitutional mandate that a candidate should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.

At a recent House hearing, concerned lawmakers rained a barrage of questions on Comelec officials asking which kinds of actions—ranging from starring in a movie to giving away calendars—could be construed as premature campaigning.

Sure it"s premature? Comelec in quandary over poll campaign issue

The issue on premature campaigning has put the Comelec in a bind. Two elections laws that have different definitions on what a candidate is can affect the poll body's efforts in going after politicians who are into premature campaigning. Unfortunately, the solution is not within the Comelec's hands.

Another sticking point are the gray areas in at least two election laws - the Poll Automation Act (Republic Act 9369) and the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa 881), which could affect the poll body's efforts against premature campaigners. 

Election lawyer Luie Guia said the two laws have different definitions of a "candidate." 

He said Section 79 of the Omnibus Code states that the term candidate "refers to any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office, who has filed a certificate of candidacy by himself or through an accredited political party, aggroupment, or coalition of parties."

However, Guia said Section 13 of RA 9369 provides that "any person who files his certificate of candidacy within this period (filing of COCs) shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy." 

This means that under the Omnibus Code, a person who aspires for an electoral post becomes a candidate once he files his COC. But under RA 9369, the same person only becomes a candidate only at the start of the campaign period. 

How then will the two different definitions of a candidate become a problem to Comelec once it goes after politicians involved in premature campaigning? 

If the Omnibus Code will be followed, individuals who have filed their COCs from November 20 to December 1, 2009 but continue promoting themselves during the period, could be accused of premature campaigning. 

However, if RA 9369 will be observed, political aspirants who continue promoting themselves during the period for filing of COCs cannot be accused of premature campaigning. 

According to RA 9369, aspirants can only be considered candidates during the campaign period, which runs from Feb. 9 to May 8, 2010 for candidates seeking national posts; and from March 26 to May 8, 2010 for those running for local posts. 

Comelec chairman Jose Melo wants a solution to the dilemma. "I really want election laws amended since there are many endorsements appearing today." 

The solution, however, is not within the Comelec. It is in the hands of the lawmakers - the politicians themselves - who could benefit from the gray areas in the laws they had crafted. 

Now, the question is, will politicians change something that could run against their interest? 

Pacquiao candidacy to test 'premature campaigning' laws

How do you solve a problem like Pacquiao? The Comelec is currently singing this tune as it considers its bind in how to enforce the laws on premature campaigning. The boxing icon is said to be preparing to file his candidacy for Sarangani congressman, which could make his media omnipresence a violation of the law.

Army chief pledges neutrality in 2010 polls

by Reuters
MANILA - Philippine soldiers will not stop or manipulate results in national elections next May, the Army chief said on Wednesday, brushing off rumors that troops could be used to favor the administration's candidates. 

LP names Tomas as city chairman

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has been appointed acting chairman of the Liberal Party (LP) in the city.

LP to ask Sonny to cancel plan

THE Liberal Party (LP) will try to convince former senator John Henry Osmeña not to push through with his plan to run for Cebu City mayor as this would affect the party's standing with the BOPK.

Atan hits Tom's alleged lavish expenses

Congressional aspirant Jonathan Guardo yesterday fought back against Mayor Tomas Osmeña by questioning his lavish expenses despite the fact that the mayor is only earning P30,000 a month.

Aquino: Osmeña remains with LP slate despite 'strong reservations'

Former Senator Serge Osmeña remains with the People's Coalition slate of Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III despite his "strong reservations" over the inclusion of former Socio-Economic Secretary Ralph Recto into the ticket, Aquino said Wednesday night.

Lakas exec, 2 others join LP

(UPDATE) A ranking official of the administration's Lakas-Kampi-CMD and two others have left to join the Liberal Party as a coalition executive admitted that about 30 to 40 percent of Lakas partymates have shifted their loyalty to rival parties, officials said Wednesday.

SCTEx issue raises questions on Noynoy's leadership

An allegedly overpriced toll expressway in Central Luzon is now hounding the presidential ambition of Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, with his opponents linking it to his ability to lead the country.

Estrada bares plan to withdraw signature from Senate resolution

Saying there was a breach of agreement, Senate Pro-Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada on Wednesday revealed his plan to withdraw his signature from a resolution seeking the dismissal of the ethics case against Senator Manny Villar.

Jinggoy ready to replace Erap

In case former President is disqualified MANILA - Sen. Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada on Wednesday said he is ready to replace his father, former President Joseph Estrada, as the standard-bearer of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) in case the latter is disqualified from taking part in next year's elections.

40% of members already left Lakas-Kampi, official says

About 30 to 40 percent of Lakas-Kampi-CMD members had already abandoned ship - with more expected to follow - "to be with the winning horse," a party official said on Wednesday.

Actor-politicians, Arroyo men among admin senatorial bets

(Update 5 - 7:10 PM) A mix of showbiz and media personalities, incumbent Palace officials, a businessman, and a relative of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, described by a political analyst as the "good soldiers" of the chief executive, will be included in the administration party's senatorial slate in the 2010 elections.
They are:
  • Action stars-turned senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr and Lito Lapid;

  • Broadcaster and newspaper columnist Reynante "Rey" Langit; 

  • Cabinet secretary Silvestre Bello III and Health secretary Francisco Duque 

  • Jesus Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries, and 

  • Binaloan, Pangasinan Mayor Ramon Guico, Mrs. Arroyo's first cousin on her mother's side.

Ermita said the administration party remains open to "guest candidates." He said Lakas-Kampi-CMD "is seriously considering" the inclusion of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the party slate because they "are competent, useful, and very … valuable political leaders."

Arroyo to have new Cabinet in December

By early next month, President Macapagal-Arroyo will have an entirely new Cabinet.

Ermita confirmed that he or a family member will run for Congress in the first district of Batangas since his daughter, Rep. Aileen Ermita-Buhain, is completing her term by June 2010.

In fact, he has found a possible replacement in Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who he said could serve as executive secretary in a concurrent capacity.

Ermita said he and Gabriel Claudio, presidential political adviser, have counted 15 to 17 Cabinet men running for national or local positions next year.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III are running for senator, and are expected to be drafted by the administration party Lakas Kampi CMD.

Those eyeing to run for congressional seats in their home provinces are Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon of the Presidential Management Staff, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, Secretary Augusto Syjuco of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority, and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, among others. 

Secretary Raul Gonzalez, presidential chief legal counsel, has confirmed his plan to run for mayor of Iloilo City. Environment Secretary Lito Atienza and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes are reportedly running for mayor of Manila and Taguig, respectively.

Ermita said Ms Arroyo will not have a tough time looking for their replacements since she could always tap their undersecretaries to head the departments.

"As I told you, all Cabinet positions and all agencies have effective undersecretaries and deputies. So that is the essence of government structure; somebody is always ready to take over,'' he said.

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto; Secretary Avelino Razon, presidential adviser on the peace process; and Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. had earlier quit to run for senator, mayor of Manila, and President, respectively.

Bayani Fernando, chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority, a Cabinet-rank position, has declared he would resign to seek the presidency.

Trader files graft charges vs agriculture chief

A businessman on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint before the Ombudsman against Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and 13 others on the procurement of alleged overpriced ice-making machines worth P456 million.

Ombudsman glad 'petty political obstacle' is over

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Wednesday expressed gladness over the dismissal of an impeachment complaint against her as she called on "everybody to move on without this petty political obstacle."

Constitutional convention bill makes it in House plenary

A bill calling for the election of delegates into a constitutional convention made it in plenary Wednesday, the last day of session before the House of Representatives goes on a brief break.

Arroyo signs anti-child porn bill into law

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has signed into law a bill criminalizing child pornography, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

NTC renews push for lower SMS costs

The National Telecommunication Commission wants local mobile service providers to gradually cut interconnection charges to further bring down the cost of each text message by 20 centavos and each call by P2.50 in the next five years.

Teves says 2009 budget deficit over target

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said on Wednesday the full-year budget deficit would most likely come in at P280 billion ($5.99 billion), above the goal of P250 billion.

World Bank to lend $405M to RP's poor

The World Bank said Wednesday it would lend $405 million to help 376,000 households in the poorest parts of the Philippines.

UN asks for more funds to help storm-ravaged RP

The United Nations on Wednesday nearly doubled its appeal for funds to help the Philippines cope with the effects of back-to-back storms that left over 1,100 people dead and 1.7 million homeless.

ASEAN to create regional immigration database: officials

MANILA - Ten Southeast Asian nations pledged Wednesday to create a regional immigration database to catch criminals and terrorists going across their borders, the group said. 

It"s not about the sins of sex, but for women to control their lives - UN official

The use of condoms and other contraceptives are not to encourage sexual promiscuity, but to give Filipino women, especially mothers, the chance to determine the size of their family and to ensure health, a UN official said Wednesday.

Roach: Manny will KO Mayweather

DESPITE the uncertainty of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather, Freddie Roach is certain of one thing—Manny Pacquiao will knock the flamboyant boxer out.

Pacquiao trainer dares 'one-dimensional' Floyd

HOLLYWOOD - Freddie Roach challenged unbeaten world five-time champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. to fight his ward Manny Pacquiao for the public to see who between them is the one-dimensional fighter.

Pacquiao-Cotto pay-per-view buys to reach 2 million?

MANILA -- The recent welterweight megafight between Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and Puerto Rican WBO champion Miguel Cotto is expected to generate close to 2 million pay-per-view buys.

'Boxing needs Pacquiao to fight Mayweather'

MANILA -- It's no surprise that everybody's clamoring for a "fight for the ages" between Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao and former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. According to boxing analyst Ed Tolentino, it is a fight good for boxing.

Pacquiao speaks out on marriage rumors

Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday brushed off rumors his marriage was on the rocks amid reports the Filipino boxing superstar flew a starlet to Las Vegas to watch him win a record seventh world title.

Jinkee misses Manny's after-fight party in LA

MANILA – The wife of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao was conspicuously absent during the boxer's after-fight party in Los Angeles, California. Jinkee and Manny reportedly had a spat over rumors about his alleged affair with actress Krista Ranillo.

Fil-Am is deputy mayor of US capital

by by Rodney J. Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
WASHINGTON DC - "He's the only reason I watch any boxing," Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos admitted at a meeting with Filipino American community leaders the morning after the Pacquiao-Cotto fight. Santos, 36, is the highest ranking Fil-Am in city hall. She's also the first Asian-American to occupy the post of Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development, perhaps one of the toughest jobs because of the recession.

Bar reopens without clearance

BAKAK Resto Bar will be investigated for reopening without the required permits and clearances from Cebu City Hall.

Ancient Egyptians knew the pain of heart disease - study

The hardening of the arteries associated with heart attacks and strokes is not just a modern phenomenon, according to new research showing ancient Egypt's pharaohs suffered from heart disease too.

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

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