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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 16, 2009 Major News Stories

DOLE reminds employers of pay rules for holidays

With just 10 days to go before Christmas, the Department of Labor and Employment reminded employers Tuesday to abide by the pay rules for the holidays.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the pay rules covering the regular holidays and special non-working days shall apply.

December 25 (Christmas Day) and December 30 (Rizal Day), and January 1, 2010 (New Year's Day) are nationwide regular holidays.

On the other hand, December 24 and 31 are special non-working days, with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyyo declaring Dec. 24 as an additional special non-working day nationwide.

Her proclamation designated the holidays "to foster closer family ties, as well as to enable our countrymen to observe Christmas more meaningfully."

Under the pay rules for December 25 and 30, and January 1:

* 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 8 hours, to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day.

- If unworked, 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 8 hours, to 200 percent of his or her daily rate plus 30 percent and, for work in excess of 8 hours, plus 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day.

- If unworked, 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.

For the special non-working days on December 24, and December 31:

* If worked, an employee is entitled to 130 percent of his [or her] daily rate for the first 8 hours, and to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day for work performed in excess of 8 hours.

* If unworked, 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 8 hours to 150 percent of his or her regular daily rate, and for work performed in excess of 8 hours, plus 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day.

Jobless Filipinos swell amid lethargic growth

Filipinos without jobs ballooned by more than 190,000 in October from a year earlier, following disappointing economic growth, the National Statistics Office (NSO) announced on Tuesday.

Unemployment rate rises to 7.1% in October

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- Philippine unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in October, slightly higher than the 6.8 percent rate posted in the same period last year, the National Statistics Office reported Tuesday.

OFW remittances hit all-time monthly record in October

Money sent home by Filipinos working abroad rose to a monthly record of $1.5 billion in October, buoyed by the seasonal pick-up in remittances that paid for beneficiaries" tuition in the second semester.

SC rule extends voters' registration to Jan.9

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Voters can still register until the second week of January to vote in the 2010 national elections, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The high court's ruling granted the petition of Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino, who urged the Comelec to strike down Comelec Resolution 8585 on voters' registration and extend the deadline to accommodate first time registrants.

The Voter's Registration Act of 1996 said that registration of voters shall be conducted daily but prohibited only during 120 days before a regular election or on Jan. 10, 2010, said Palatino in his petition.

"The deadline of application of registration of voters should be on Jan. 9, 2010, not Oct. 31, 2009 (as stated in the Comelec Resolution 8585) which is 70 days earlier than is prescribed by the statute," said Palatino and other petitioners from youth organizations.

In an SMS message, Palatino told Tuesday that he welcomed the SC ruling, adding that he "expects Comelec to immediately comply and enlist eligible voters nationwide."

Comelec chairman Melo said in a separate interview that the Comelec has yet to receive the copy of the resolution "before making a comment" although en banc discussions are ongoing on the matter.

"There have been reports that the Supreme Court ruled to extend the registration but we cannot make a formal statement without a copy of the resolution first. Rest assured that we are already discussing the matter," Melo told over the phone.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told Inquirer .net last week that 49, 225,089 Filipinos in the country and abroad have registered for next year's national and local elections—up from 45.029 million registered voters in 2007 and 43.5 million in 2004.

The high registration turnout is due to Filipinos' high interest to vote in presidential elections and use the poll automation technology, aside from "successful registration drives" held both in Comelec offices and out-of-office or satellite enlistment areas like schools, shopping malls and barangay (village) covered courts nationwide.

Close to 18,000 national and local positions—including one president and vice president, 12 senators and over 270 posts at the House of Representatives—are up for grabs in the 2010 elections.

Comelec issues list of 2010 national candidates

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued the list of qualified candidates for president, vice president and senator for the May 2010 elections, its chairman said Tuesday.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said the en banc has approved the candidacies for president filed by Senators Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP), Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan, Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal who is running as independent and Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party (NP), ex-defense chief Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro who is running under Lakas-Kampi-CMD, former president Joseph Ejercito "Erap" Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), evangelist Eddie Villanueva and Olongapo city councilor John Carlos "JC" Delos Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party, who is also the nephew of Gordon.

The eight qualified candidates for vice president are Senators Manuel "Mar" Roxas III of LP, Loren Legarda of NP, former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando under Bagumbayan, actor Edu Manzano of Lakas-Kampi CMD, Makati city Mayor Jejomar Binay of PMP, former Security and Exchange Commission chairman Perfecto Yasay of Bangon Pilipinas, television news anchor Jay Sonza of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan and Dominador Chipeco of Ang Kapatiran, said Melo.

There are 58 qualified candidates for senatorial posts, including the slate of established political parties, added Melo.

Melo told that the list is still "subject to change pending the disqualification cases" filed against several candidates including controversial re-electionist Estrada.

Lawyers Oliver Lozano and Evillo Pormento of Parañaque City filed separate petitions to disqualify Estrada citing the Constitutional provision that presidents are "prohibited from seeking any re-election."

Melo said the en banc will resolve "immediately" the petitions for disqualification before the names of candidates are printed on special paper ballots for automation in January next year.

Regarding reports that the Supreme Court has ruled to extend the voters' registration to January 9 following the petition of Kabataan Representative Mong Palatino, Melo said the Comelec has yet to receive the copy of the resolution before making a comment although discussions are ongoing on the matter.

Records from the agency's legal department showed it has accepted 99 certificates of candidacies for president, 20 for vice president and 158 for senator from November 20 to December 1.

Rescind poll automation contract due to delays: CCM

by by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN NEWS
MANILA, Philippines - The Concerned Citizen's Movement (CCM), a group that filed a case before the Supreme Court in July to declare null and void the contract between the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Smartmatic-TIM, is dismayed at pronouncements by the automation vendor that it cannot meet the delivery schedule of end-December due to shipment problems.

Public asked to wait longer for voters education

With Congress yet to approve next year's budget of the Commission on Elections, the Comelec is asking the public to wait a little longer for the programs and activities intended to educate voters on the fully automated elections.

Comelec rejects Lito

FORMER Cebu governor Lito Osmeña's certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator was disapproved by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), because he and 99 other aspiring senators lack the capability to wage a national campaign, the poll body's spokesman said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez confirmed last night that Lito is among the 100 candidates who were included in the mass denial of due course, but the Comelec resolution did not cite a reason specific to the case of the former governor.

Sonny quitting mayoralty race

Former senator John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña yesterday announced that he will withdraw his candidacy for mayor of Cebu City because he knows he won't win.

Mike wants another Rama out of City Hall race

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama is now mulling moving to disqualify the candidacy of a certain Dorotheo Rama who is also running for mayor.

Kusug denies fielding 2 Ramas; VM plans to seek their disqualification

OPPOSITION leaders denied having a hand in fielding technician Dorotheo Cobacha Rama as candidate in the mayoral race, as Vice Mayor Michael Rama consulted lawyers on the possibility of seeking the latter's disqualification.

11 bets for mayor, 8 VMs, 64 councilors

AFTER the deadline for the substitution of candidates, there are now 11 remaining mayoral candidates, eight vice mayoral candidates, eight north district congressional bets and five south district congressional bets in Cebu City.

Guv holds Greg's aid to brys.

CEBU Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez said the governor's office ordered to freeze the checks he requested to be prepared for financial aid.

As ambassador to Italy, Cuenco scoffs opposition against his appointment

Cebu City south district Rep. Antonio Cuenco is confident that the opposition from the Union of Foreign Service Officers will not affect his confirmation at the Commission on Appointment as the Philippine Ambassador to Italy.

New BOC-Cebu collector assumes office

Customs collector Ronnie Silvestre formally assumed yesterday as the new district collector in Cebu without any fun fare.

Luz bry. chief is CV's best; 4 others from city awarded

Four barangay officials from Cebu City, with one eventually adjudged as Central Visa-yas's best, were awarded along with nine others as among the most outstanding barangay officials of the year.

Luz Barangay Captain Nida Cabrera, one of her councilors and two other barangay officials were among the Ten Outstanding Barangay Officials of the Year (Toboy), chosen all over the region by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Aside from Cabrera, Toboy awardees from Cebu City include Barangay Luz councilor Rian Tante, Barangay Mambaling treasurer Ivy Gabiana, and Barangay Ermita secretary Irwin Peñaforte.

2 witnesses to reveal previous Ampatuan 'atrocities'

Two survivors of past atrocities allegedly carried out by the powerful Ampatuan warlords in Maguindanao have agreed to come out and talk about their ordeals, Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima said on Tuesday.

Cops' answers in massacre probe are 'dubious'

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila De Lima on Tuesday cited dubious statements made by some ranking police officers regarding the brutal massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province last November 23.

Military denies snubbing Senate probe on massacre

The Armed Forces of the Philippines denied allegations that they snubbed the Senate probe regarding private armies set for Tuesday saying that they are still awaiting the clearance from the Department of National Defense and the Malacanang.

Gun found behind Ampatuan town hall used in massacre

A firearm recovered last week at the back of the Ampatuan town hall in Maguindanao was used in the gruesome killing of 57 people there last Nov. 23, the Philippine National Police said Tuesday.

QC judge inhibits from Andal Jr. multiple murder case

It only took Judge Luisito Cortez of Quezon City a few minutes to decide that he should not handle the murder cases of the man allegedly behind the massacre of at least 57 people in Maguindanao province last month.

Andal Sr odered the killing of Mangudadatus, witness claims

"Kill them all." This was the order that Andal Ampatuan Sr., the patriarch of the powerful and Arroyo-allied Ampatuan clan, allegedly gave on November 22, the day before the gory massacre of 57 people took place in Maguindanao.

Police execs admit having a hard time disbanding CVOs

Police officials admitted during a Senate hearing on Tuesday that authorities were having a hard time breaking up the so-called civilian volunteer organizations (CVO), whose creation had no legal basis.

SC yet to rule on martial law issue

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred its oral argument on the seven petitions filed questioning the constitutionality of Proclamation 1959, which placed the entire Maguindanao province under martial law.

'No apologies' for martial law in Maguindanao: GMA

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Arroyo said on Tuesday that she will make "no apologies" for declaring martial law in Maguindanao.

Basilan tipster gets P350,000 reward

A civilian received a cash reward of P350,000 on Tuesday for the recapture of two of the 31 inmates who escaped from the Basilan Provincial Detention Center in Isabela City after armed men stormed the provincial jail at dawn on Sunday.

Agusan hostage-taker, 15 charged with kidnapping

Charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention have been filed against kidnap leader Ondo Perez and 15 of his followers before the Agusan del Sur Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Prosperidad town Tuesday afternoon.

Troops clash with NPA rebels in Bukidnon

Nine suspected communist insurgents and a soldier were killed in a fierce firefight between government troops and New People's Army rebels in an upland village in Valencia, Bukidnon on Tuesday.

Arroyo hit for early campaigning

President Macapagal-Arroyo was back in Pampanga on Tuesday, but her critics said her visits after filing a certificate of candidacy for representative of the province's second congressional district have blurred the line between her duties as President and her intention of drawing votes.

Solons eye 'pork barrel' hike in 2010 budget

The final version of the 2010 budget could see a restoration of the lawmakers' pork barrel to the current level as several congressmen are clamoring for it, one of the heads of the committee deliberating on the proposed appropriation said Tuesday.

Militant senatorial bets won't support Marcos bid

Even if they are altogether running together under Senator Manuel Villar's Nacionalista Party (NP), senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza said they will not support the senatorial bid of Ilocos Norte Representative Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

SWS: Noynoy, Villar top choices to succeed Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines - Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Nacionalista Party (NP) candidate Sen. Manuel Villar topped the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey on the best leaders to succeed President Arroyo in 2010.

The November 4-8, 2009 survey, commissioned by Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, found Aquino taking the top spot in the people's three best leaders to succeed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2010.

The question asked was: "Under the present Constitution, the term of Pres. Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed President Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names."

No list of names was provided to prompt the respondents.

Fifty-nine percent named Aquino and 45% named Villar. Sen. Francis Escudero, who has already backed out of the presidential race, placed third with 27% followed by former president Joseph Estrada at 18%.

Eight percent of respondents chose Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro, 4% chose Sen. Loren Legarda, 3% chose Sen. Mar Roxas and 3% chose Vice-President Noli de Castro. Two percent gave an unspecified answer, "Aquino".

Tied at 1 percent each were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, and former Marikina Mayor and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.

Villar catches up

The SWS said it disclosed the survey results on Tuesday after getting permission from the sponsor.

Villar's camp actually leaked the survey results last Saturday, and said the results showed that the NP standard-bearer was catching up on Aquino.

From the 23% lead of Aquino in September 2009 (Aquino: 60%; Villar: 37%), the November 2009 survey had Villar cutting the lead to 14% (Aquino: 58%; Villar: 45%).

A total of 1,200 adults were interviewed for the survey, with an error margin of ±3%.

Philippine banks urged to schedule ATM repair during offhours

Philippine banks were urged to schedule maintenance work of their cash machines during late nights or before dawn.

Kabul suicide attack kills eight, wounds 40 – officials

A suicide attack near a foreign guest house in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday killed eight people, including four women, and wounded another 40, interior ministry officials said.

'Alarming' secret document details Iran's nuclear goals

by CNN
LONDON, England -- A secret document that appears to show that Iran was working on building nuclear weapons as recently as 2007 is "alarming" and "part of a body of evidence backing up deep concerns over Iran's nuclear program," a Western diplomatic source with knowledge of the papers told CNN on Monday.

RP proposal to cut carbon emissions gets backing

COPENHAGEN — The Philippine proposal for a "deep and early cut" in global carbon emissions has gained momentum here at the United Nations climate change summit, where some 115 heads of state will gather in a bid to seal a crucial legally-binding deal to combat global warming.

Gore: Polar ice may vanish in 5-7 years

New computer modeling suggests the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014, Al Gore said Monday at the UN climate conference. This new projection, following several years of dramatic retreat by polar sea ice, suggests that the ice cap may nearly vanish in the summer much sooner than the year 2030, as was forecast by a US government agency eight months ago.

SEAG: Judo, archery bring 2 more golds for Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Following the double gold medal win by Filipinos in marathon on Tuesday, judo and archery scored 2 more gold medals for the Philippines in the 2009 SEAG in Vientiane, Laos.

Thailand continues to top medal tally at 25th SEA Games

VIENTIANE (Xinhua) - Raking three more golds in final events of judo, muay Thai and athletics, Thailand continued to top the medal standings at the ongoing 25th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) here by 5:00 p.m local time (GMT+7) on Tuesday.

Thailand raked in 45 golds, 54 silvers and 60 bronzes.

Grabbing five golds, Vietnam concretized its second place of the podium with a 40-37-41 tally. Singapore is third on 30-22-31.

The following are Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Brunei.

Actor John Lloyd Cruz prevented from entering Japan

Actor John Lloyd Cruz was prevented from entering Japan Saturday, ABS-CBN has confirmed to the Inquirer.

"The authorities thought he was there for a concert with Martin Nievera," said Bong Osorio, head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications. Cruz was actually in Japan for a concert with actress Nikki Gil, the network said.

Following the instructions of Japanese authorities, Cruz flew back to Manila the same day, obtained the correct papers and is now back in Tokyo.

The network said Cruz was not detained and would explain the matter further upon his return next week.

Hong Kong teen auctions her virginity online

HONG KONG – A Hong Kong teenager tried to auction her virginity on a social-networking website with the highest bidder offering US$7,800, police said Tuesday.

Germany's largest-ever class action suit over privacy rights kicks off

BERLIN – Germany's biggest-ever class action lawsuit began Tuesday, with over 34,000 plaintiffs seeking to overturn a law on keeping phone and Internet records which they say infringes their right to privacy.

6-7 kms from Mayon volcano off limits to people

Alert level 3 remained hoisted over Mayon volcano as of Tuesday because of its highly restive state, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Marriage is good for the health -- global study

WELLINGTON – Despite the barbs of comedians and the spectacular bust-ups documented in the gossip magazines, marriage really is good for you, international research has found.

A study of nearly 34,500 people in 15 countries found married people are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse, clinical psychologist Kate Scott of New Zealand's University of Otago said Tuesday.

"What our study points to is that the marital relationship offers a lot of mental health benefits for both men and women, and that the distress and disruption associated with ending marriage can make people vulnerable to developing mental disorders," Scott said.

Being separated, divorced, or widowed is associated with increased risk of mental health disorders in both men and women, particularly with depression in men and drugs and alcohol abuse in women.

"One of the more important findings is that in recent years it has been asserted that marriage is better for men than for women in terms of mental health. This study does not agree with that position," Scott said.

"We found that compared to never getting married, getting married is good for both men and women in terms of most mental health disorders."

But the study did find that men were less likely to become depressed in their first marriage than women, and Scott said this might be due to women being more likely to follow the traditional role of a wife first time around.

Other studies have found that as gender roles have become less traditional, with women working more and becoming better educated, female depression has fallen.

The latest study also found getting married reduced the risk of substance abuse more for women than for men.

This might be due to evidence that women cut their alcohol consumption sharply when they became pregnant and this often continued while the children were young, Scott said.

The study was based on the WHO World Mental Health surveys across developing and developed countries conducted over the past decade.

Pablo Picasso  - "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

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