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

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 15, 2009 Major News Stories

Big 3, Phoenix to cut oil prices Tuesday

Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Philippines as well as Phoenix announced they will cut the price of gasoline by P0.50 per liter.

Shell and Chevron will implement the price adjustment at 12:01 a.m., said Shell vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi and Chevron communications manager Toby Nebrida.

Petron spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar and Phoenixlawyer Raymond Zorilla said they will roll back gasoline prices at 6 a.m.

Shell and Chevron will also roll back the prices of diesel and kerosene by P1 per liter at 12:01 a.m. while Petron will reduce the prices of the same products at 6 a.m.

Phoenix will only cut the price of diesel by P1 per liter at 6 a.m.

Oil falls below $69 as OPEC signals no output cut

SINGAPORE - Oil prices fell below $69 a barrel Monday in Asia amid signs OPEC won't cut crude output when it meets next week.

Vidal takes a break from dawn Mass

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal will take a rest from celebrating the traditional "Misa de Gallo" this year, said Monsignor Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese.

Vidal used to celebrate the mass in different churches across Metro Cebu, but Vidal reportedly told the priests who attended their retreat the other week that he now finds it difficult to wake up at dawn in time for the mass. The Archbishop is now 78 years old.

Dakay said Vidal had asked him to take over his place.

Except on December 18, 19 and 22 wherein the mass will begin at 4 am, the Misa de Gallo usually starts as early at 4:30 am and will run starting tomorrow until December 24.

Last year, Vidal celebrated the dawn mass in the poorest parishes of the Cebu Archdiocese. This year, he was supposed to celebrate at different Holy Shrines in Metro Cebu.

Dakay said the original schedule of dawn masses will push through. It will begin tomorrow at the National Shrine of our Lady of the Rule in Lapu-Lapu City. The next day, Dakay will celebrate the mass at the National Shrine of the Saint Joseph Parish in Mandaue City.

Dakay will then celebrate the mass at the Our Lady of Guadalupe in barangay Guadalupe on December 18 and at the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in barangay Poblacion in Minglanilla town on December 19.

On December 20 and 21, Dakay will celebrate the mass at the Our Lady of Lourdes in Punta Princesa and at the Our Lady of Fatima in Basak, Mandaue City, respectively.

Dakay would then go to the Archdiocesan Shrine in San Roque, barangay Mambaling on December 22 and to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Arnold Janssen in barangay Basak San Nicolas on December 23.

On December 24, Dakay will be at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Beato Pedro Calungsod at the Archbishop Residence Compound.

Dakay encouraged the Catholic faithful to attend the dawn masses not only at the holy shrines but also at the different parishes.

Teachers to get P1,000 more in 2010 polls

Teachers who will serve in the May 2010 elections are guaranteed payment of at least P4,000, which is P1,000 more than what they received during the 2007 polls, according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

Costlier shipping delayed poll machine delivery - Comelec

High shipping costs and the surging volume of goods brought by increased trade during the holidays have delayed the delivery of 12,000 voting machines, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday. Only 30,000 of the expected 42,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be delivered to the Philippines by the end of the month, according to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo.

Production delays of voting machines dog Comelec

Kabado si Comelec Chairman Jose Melo! Mismong Smartmatic-TIM na kasi ang nagsabing hindi nila maidedeliver ngayong buwan ang ipinangakong bilang ng makinang gagamitin sa halalan sa susunod na taon! Ang tinitiyak nila, aarangkada sila sa paggawa ng mga makina sa Enero.

Delay in automation training worries teachers

"What's happening with the automation project?" No less than Education Secretary Jesli Lapus raised this question on Monday after the scheduled training of the 400,000 teachers for the automated polling machines was again moved to "March-April" in 2010.

Partial list of qualified 2010 bets out Tuesday - Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will release Tuesday an initial list of candidates qualified to participate in the 2010 elections.

SC asked to reverse ruling on appointive officials

Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II on Monday asked the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier ruling allowing appointed officials seeking elective posts to retain their government positions after formalizing their candidacy.

Kusug fielding Alvin for mayor

 It's now final. Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug) will once again field former mayor Alvin B. Garcia as its standard bearer in Cebu City for the May 2010 polls.

Aside from Bontilao, others who also withdrew their COC for mayor were former traffic czar Samuel Darza, Jacinto Iran and Ricci Malou Ranile of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

LDP, whose coordinator in Cebu City is Alvin Garcia, substituted Ranile with Doroteo Rama, who will be running alongside Serafin Rama Jr., who are both residents of V. Rama Avenue in barangay Calamba.

Doroteo and Serafin had two of their friends to file their certificates of candidacy (COC) before the deadline for the acceptance of substitution end at 5 p.m. yesterday.

"Klaro kaayo na nga binuang kay posible man nga masayop ang mga botante nga imbis adto sila mobotar ni Mike Rama, masaypan nila pagbotar ang pareho'g apelyedo nga kandidato sa pikas," one of the city councilors said.

Aside from Rama, the LDP party also substituted councilorial candidate Milagros Camacho with another candidate Junas Cabarrubias maybe purposely to affect the reelection bid of BOPK Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias.

Tomas blames Alvin for attempt to confuse voters

TWO Ramas, a Cabarrubias and an Arcilla were fielded by the opposition to seek the same posts eyed by Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) candidates with the same family names.

Dorotheo "Dodong" Cobacha Rama, a technician from Barangay Calamba, filed his certificate of candidacy as a substitute mayoral candidate of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), while his relative Serafin "Dongkho" Cobacha Rama was fielded as vice mayoral bet for the same party.

Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug) also fielded substitute candidates for councilor: businessman Jonas Cabarrubias in the south district and Zenica Arcilla in the north.

Darza drops out; Sonny freezes bid for mayorship

BECAUSE he can no longer voter in Cebu City after his name was deleted from the list of voters, Samuel Darza withdrew yesterday from the Cebu City mayoral race.

As for another mayoral candidate, former senator John Henry Osmeña said he "will have to rethink whether to proceed or not" now that the supposed opposition coalition is fizzling out. He said he will put his candidacy "in a freeze" until March when the campaign period officially starts.

Tomas blames Alvin for attempt to confuse voters; Mike calls it 'cheap' strategy

TWO Ramas, a Cabarrubias and an Arcilla were fielded by the opposition to seek the same posts eyed by Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) candidates with the same family names.

Dorotheo "Dodong" Cobacha Rama, a technician from Barangay Calamba, filed his certificate of candidacy as a substitute mayoral candidate of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), while his relative Serafin "Dongkho" Cobacha Rama was fielded as vice mayoral bet for the same party.

Capitol case vs. TESDA now with RTC

After losing its fight to recover a 1.9-hectare lot in Cebu City which is occupied by a national government agency, Capitol has filed a notice of appeal to the Regional Trial Court that the case may be heard in the RTC for review.

No political RP ambassadors to China, Italy

Foreign service officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs are again opposing the political appointments of Representative Antonio V. Cuenco as Philippine ambassador to Italy and Ambassador Francisco L. Benedicto as Philippine ambassador to China.

Unifors also said Cuenco and Benedicto are over-aged as per Section 23 of the Foreign Service Act.

"We share anew our considered view that the appointment of a person beyond the age of 65 violates both the clear letter and spirit" of the provision, the union said.

Cuenco is 73 while Benedicto is 70.

The union instead asked that career officers be appointed to the posts.

DFA answers protests vs nomination of 2 non-career envoys

The Department of Foreign Affairs defended on Monday the nomination by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of two non-career ambassadors, Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco and Ambassador to India Francisco Benedicto, against the protests of the Union of Foreign Service Officers (Unifors).

The DFA, however, said in a statement that the President is constitutionally authorized to appoint both career and non-career ambassadors subject to the approval of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

"It is essential that the country is represented in foreign capitals by qualified officials who have the President's trust and confidence," the department further stated.

Bigtime robbery group in Cebu - police

A bigtime robbery group is reportedly in Cebu and is expected to pull a heist among establishments here over the holidays and during the Sinulog festivities, the chief of the Theft and Robbery Section of the Cebu City Police Office said yesterday.

NBI files murder case vs. 2 Koreans

Despite the double murder case that the police have already filed against the suspects in the twin murder of Korean nationals Yang Soon Suk and Choi Ho Jun whose bodies were found dumped in barangay Uling, Naga, the National Bureau of Investigation yesterday filed a separate murder complaints against the two Korean suspects and their Filipino accomplices.

The NBI filed the complaints for double murder before the Talisay City Prosecutor's Office against Park Tae Sung, Cho Young Hun and three unidentified Filipino accomplices. Hun's live-in partner, Rosalie Flores, was also charged as an accessory to the crime and for obstruction of justice.

The filing of the complaint was based on the testimonies of the witnesses interviewed by the NBI. Another Korean, Kang Song Il, told the NBI that last November 14 at around 6:30 p.m. he was about to have dinner with the two victims when they received a phone call from Park.

Kang said that the victims were told to meet Park in a coffee shop in IT Park in Lahug. According to Kang, that was the last time he saw the victims alive.

On November 16 the dead bodies of Yang and Choi were found at the bottom of a cliff in Naga. Kang said he immediately called Park to ask what happened because he was the last person he knew to have met with the victims.

Reporters 'condemn' gag order

REPORTERS aren't taking Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol's gag order silently.

Buluan vice mayor won't face Ampatuans during probe

Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu said prefers not come face to face with the Ampatuans during the preliminary investigation for multiple murder at the Department of Justice scheduled this Friday.

Mediamen were the first to be killed in Ampatuan massacre

Nagsumite ng salaysay sa Criminal Investigation and Detection Group ang isa pang testigo sa Maguindanao massacre. At ayon sa kanya, hindi ang mga Mangudadatu ang unang pinagbabaril kundi ang mga kagawad ng media.

Andal Jr mowed down victims with K3 gun, witness tells CIDG

Police investigators are now searching for a Korean-made K3 light machine gun which a key witness says was used by Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. in executing victims en masse during the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.

Rebellion complaint filed vs 600 new respondents, 5 Ampatuans in massacre case

The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has filed a rebellion complaint before the Department of Justice against more than 600 new respondents including five members of the Ampatuan clan.

Davao judge orders gov't to bring Ampatuans in court

A local court here has ordered the military and the police to present on Wednesday (December 16) the main suspects in the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

New ARMM governor takes charge of region

Pormal nang umupo sa pwesto si ARMM acting governor Ansarudin Adiong bilang kapalit ni Zaldy Ampatuan na isinangkot sa kasong rebelyon. Isang independent commission din ang binuo na tutok sa pagbuwag ng mga private army sa buong bansa bago ang halalan sa 2010.

"Historic" joint session closes, fails to vote on martial law

The historic joint session of the Congress ended with a whimper on Monday evening, with lawmakers deciding not to exercise their presumed right to vote on the resolution to revoke the martial law declaration in Maguindanao, even as a significant number of senators and representatives insisted that the declaration had no legal basis.

Solons still urge Arroyo to explain martial law

Even with the lifting of martial law in Maguindanao, critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were not silenced in Congress and demanded further action to look into the constitutionality of Proclamation 1959.

DoJ chief wants SC to rule on martial law

Believing that the government was constitutionally correct in its declaration of martial law in Maguindanao, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera on Monday urged the Supreme Court to rule on the issue of its legality even after Malacañang already lifted its proclamation.

Palace insists SC action on martial law 'moot'

President Macapagal-Arroyo is set to finally break her silence on the week-long military rule she imposed in Maguindanao, talking in detail about the supposed "dividends" of Presidential Proclamation No. 1959 before she leaves for a global climate conference on Wednesday.

Lawyers urge Supreme Court to rule on martial law

Former Senate President Jovito Salonga and lawyers from the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) asked the Supreme Court to still act on questions regarding the legality of Proclamation 1959 or the law declaring martial law in Maguindanao despite its lifting last Saturday.

No rights violations in Maguindanao martial law - CHR

The week-long martial rule in parts of Maguindanao did not result in human rights violations by the military as feared by its critics but human rights issues remain under a climate of uncertainty in the volatile province, according to the Commission on Human Rights.

Bloody future awaits poor Maguindanao

Poverty-stricken Maguindanao continues to face a bleak and bloody future as a consequence of the Nov. 23 massacre, according to a professor specializing in Mindanao affairs.

1 of 31 escaped Basilan inmates killed, another captured

Philippine security forces on Monday shot dead an escaped prisoner and captured another as the hunt continues for dozens of gunmen and inmates who escaped from a jail in Basilan province in southern Philippines.

More troops deployed in Basilan after jailbreak

More troops will be deployed to Basilan following the jailbreak of 31 inmates on Sunday dawn.

Probe of possible 'collusion' in Basilan jailbreak ordered

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa has ordered an investigation into the possible "collusion" among jail guards and alleged Moro rebels who sprung 31 inmates from the Basilan provincial jail over the weekend.

P2M reward for capture of Basilan escapees

The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) announced that a P2-million reward will be given for information that would lead to the recapture of the 21 terrorists who were among the 31 prisoners who escaped from the Basilan Provincial Jail early Sunday morning.

Cops to press kidnap raps vs Agusan hostage-takers

Even if their victims have signed a waiver, police will still file kidnapping charges against tribal gunmen who held 75 people for three days here.

Scuffle spurs review of regulations in Camp Aguinaldo detention center

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would implement "adjustments" in its detention center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City following the scuffle between a Medal of Valor awardee and an Army major over the weekend.

Ex-AFP comptroller, family charged with money laundering

MANILA, Philippines - Former military comptroller Maj. Gen. General Carlos Garcia and his family are facing new charges of money laundering for allegedly amassing over P300 million in unexplained wealth.

Northern Samar provincial exec shot dead

A provincial government official was shot to death late Monday afternoon at the entrance to his rented residence here.

Senior Inspector Nicasio San Antonio, deputy chief of Catarman police, identified the victim as lawyer Eduardo Potot, Northern Samar provincial legal officer, who just arrived from his office at the provincial capitol.

The victim's neighbors said they saw Potot arriving in his car and heard him blowing the car horn, while waiting for his household staff to open the gate to the house in Barangay (village) Dalakit, Catarman.

No beheading of Filipino couple in Saudi—DFA

A Middle East-based Filipino workers group on Monday expressed relief that a rumored beheading on December 11 of a Filipino couple accused of killing their Filipino maid in Saudi Arabia did not take place.

Senate approves freedom of information bill

A bill that would give the people the right to information and promote the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions has been approved on the third and final reading by the Senate.

Senate approves P1.54T budget for 2010

(UPDATE) The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the proposed P1.54-trillion budget next year.

Philippine debt in September inch up to P4.338-T

Each Filipino owes P47,039 to local and foreign creditors. MANILA, Philippines - The National Government's total debt stock inched up to P4.338 trillion as of September as the government raised more funds to plug a widening budget deficit.

Mystery over origins of seized N Korea plane

by Agence France-Presse
TBILISI, Georgia - A cargo plane seized in Thailand suspected of smuggling North Korean arms was owned by a Georgian firm but had been leased to a company operating out of either Ukraine or New Zealand, officials said Monday.

Developing countries boycott UN climate talks

COPENHAGEN - China, India and other developing nations boycotted U.N. climate talks Monday, bringing negotiations to a halt with their demand that rich countries discuss much deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.

Maguindanao fraud recalled in FPJ's 5th death rites

MANILA, Philippines – The family, friends and supporters of Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) on Monday commemorated the 5th death anniversary of the legendary movie actor. Hundreds of fans and supporters joined Grace Poe, FPJ's daughter, her husband and her 16-year-old son Bryan at the North Cemetery in Manila where a Mass was held for the actor popularly known as "The King" of the Philippine movies.

Ruffa happy over DOJ's decision; PEP faces libel charges

MANILA, Philippines – Actress Ruffa Gutierrez was elated over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reverse its earlier resolution dismissing the multi-million-peso libel complaint filed by the actress' brother against an entertainment Web site.

Kris Aquino backs out of 'Pilipinas Got Talent'

MANILA, Philippines – Television host-actress Kris Aquino has turned down an offer to be one of the judges of ABS-CBN's "Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT)" to have more time with her family. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Aquino said being part of PGT entails "so much travel," which in effect will cut down whatever time she has for her 2 sons, Josh and Baby James, and husband, cager James Yap.

Filipina in Malaysia's Music Hall of Fame

Voice Independent Music Awards (Vima) Malaysia's Indie Awards has named a Filipina, Issa Rodriquez, as its first inductee into the Vima Hall of Fame Awards.

Mayon may erupt soon; alert level 3 raised

(UPDATE 2) The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs) raised the alert level on Mayon volcano from 2 to 3, which meant that the volcano's highly restive state could lead to a dangerous eruption.

Stephen Leacock  - "I detest life-insurance agents: they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so."

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