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

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 22, 2009 Major News Stories

Shell, Chevron to roll back oil prices Tuesday

(UPDATE) Pilipinas Shell and independent oil firms, PTT Philippines and Phoenix Petroleum will roll back oil prices effective Tuesday, a spokesman said on Monday.

At 12:01 a.m., Shell will roll back the prices of diesel by P0.75 per liter, gasoline and kerosene by P0.50 per liter to "reflect the decline in international product," said Vice President for Communications Roberto Kanapi and Chevron Communications Manager Toby Nebrida.

Chevron will also reduce the price of fuel oil by P0.75 per liter.

Meanwhile, Petron will implement the price adjustments at 6 a.m. Tuesday, said spokesperson Virginia Ruivivar.

Thailand-based PTT Philippines will also implement a rollback of 75 centavos per liter, but only on their diesel products.

Raul T. Concepcion, chairman of the Consumer and Oil Price Watch (COPW) said oil companies should roll back fuel prices by as much as P1.50 per liter this month especially for the diesel products which showed a continuous decline in world prices.

This will be the second time that oil firms will have implemented a price rollback since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lifted the price cap on fuel products last month.

Last December 15, oil companies carried out a P1 per liter rollback in their diesel and kerosene products and 50 centavos per liter for their gasoline products.

Oil above $73 in Asian trade

SINGAPORE—Oil rose in Asian trade Monday but trading was subdued as worries over border tensions between Iran and Iraq eased, and the Christmas holidays kept investors on the sidelines, analysts said.

OPEC members agree to maintain production levels—exec

LUANDA—Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have reached a consensus to maintain oil production levels amid comfortable prices, the cartel's secretary general said Monday ahead of a meeting of oil producers in Luanda.

Gov't to sell bigger stake in PNOC-EC

MANILA, Philippines - In an effort to raise more revenues to plug the Philippines' ballooning budget deficit, the government has decided to sell a bigger stake in oil and gas company Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC).

Telcos earn senators' ire over billing scheme

Executives of giant telecommunication companies received a dressing down on Monday from senators for their failure to implement the new per-pulse rate on mobile phone calls.

"No way! You have to follow," an angry Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said during a joint public hearing of the Senate committees on trade and commerce, and public services,

"Kung hindi kayo susunod (If you continue to defy the government) and I'm still in Congress, I will see to it that you'll get excess profit tax," said Enrile, who is seeking a re-election next year.

A memorandum circular was issued by the NationalTelecommunications Commission (NTC) last July, mandating a per-pulse billing starting December 6.

But appearing at the hearing, Roy Ibay, Smart Communications' regulatory affairs senior manager, pointed out the absence of the implementing rules and regulations to implement the order.

Ibay also pointed out a provision in the circular where the choice whether or not to avail a per-minute or per pulse are left to subscribers.

At present, subscribers have to dial a prefix number--*232 for globe and *5433 for smart- to avail the per-pulse rate.

Ibay said it would take them another two months to come up with software to implement the new per-pulse rate without dialing the prefix numbers.

"The problem with your position, you want the government to follow what you want and not the other way around. You have to follow, you are not to be followed," said Enrile.

Senator Mar Roxas, chairman of the trade committee, also expressed disappointment at telecom companies' non-compliance to the order.

"Sa totoo lang, nakakainis. Binobola nyo na ang Senado (It's frustrating. You are already trying to fool the Senate)," said Roxas, when a Globe representative was asked about the total revenue of the company.

Sinulog aid still awaits COA nod

THREE weeks before the start of the Sinulog festivities, the Commission on Audit (COA) still has not allowed the Cebu City Government to extend the P12.5-million financial assistance to the organizers.

Sonny may forge alliance with Kusug

FORMER senator John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña has put on hold his decision to withdraw his candidacy for Cebu City mayor, saying he might still run and adopt" Kusug candidates if their standard bearer is not qualified to run for mayor.

Gwen denies Lito's charge on 'misuse' of Capitol funds

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia believes she was just caught in the crossfire between former governor Emilio Mario "Lito" Osmeña and Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez that prompted Osmeña to say he would want to apply as Garcia's campaign manager.

Garcia said she has not heard from Osmeña, who had said in a radio interview that he wanted to take the side with the governor because while she has wronged the people, she did not commit any wrongdoing personally against Osmeña.

The "public sin" being referred to was the alleged misuse of public funds, an allegation that Garcia denied.

Aquino still leads in latest Pulse Asia survey

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III leads in the latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey with 45 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him as president if the elections were held today, according to the polling outfit.

Aquino was followed by Senator Manuel Villar (23 percent), Joseph Estrada (19 percent), Gilbert Teodoro (5 percent), Senator Richard Gordon (1 percent), and Eduardo Villanueva (1 percent), Pulse Asia said in a media release on Monday.

Senators Manuel Roxas and Loren Legarda are statistically tied in the survey of vice presidential preference at 39 percent and 37 percent, respectively, Pulse Asia said. 

They were followed by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (14 percent), Bayani Fernando (2 percent), and Edu Manzano (2 percent).

Estrada, Revilla top senatoriables survey

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada leads the senatoriables in the latest Pulse Asia Pre-Election Survey, with 55.1 percent of respondents saying they would include him in their senatorial line-up if the elections were held today.

This rating gives him a statistical ranking of first to third in the senatorial race, according to the polling outfit.

In the survey, respondents were made to choose 12 out of 80 names for their senatorial preferences. Results show that only 14 candidates included in the senatorial survey have a statistical chance of winning, said Pulse Asia in its media release on Monday.

Following Estrada is Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. (52.7 percent) and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (51.4 percent), both with a statistical ranking of first to fourth, said Pulse Asia.

Franklin Drilon (48.4 percent) is at second to fourth places, while tied at the fifth to ninth places are Sen. Pia Cayetano (43.1 percent), Ralph Recto (43.1 percent), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (42.7 percent) and former senators Sergio Osmeña and Vicente Sotto III (both at 40.2 percent).

Also, statistically tied at the 10th to 11th positions are Rep. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (31 percent) and Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III (28.6 percent).

Rounding up the list of probable winners are Jose de Venecia III (24.3 percent), Sen. Manuel "Lito" Lapid (23.1 percent) and Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon (22.9 percent), who are all tied at 12th to 14th places.

The non-commissioned survey was conducted from Dec. 8-10, 2009 using face-to-face interviews with 1,800 respondents nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus-minus 2 percent.

Lawyer wants Miriam barred from running in 2010 polls

A lawyer has moved for the disqualification of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago from joining the 2010 elections because of her alleged "unsound mind."

Sisters willing to stake life on Aquino's integrity

"I can stake my life on it: my brother will not tarnish our family name and steal in office," Aurora Corazon "Pinky" Aquino Abellada said of her brother, the late-blooming presidential aspirant, Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Pulse Asia: Erap, Manny get boost in polls

Lumalakas sa Pulse Asia survey sina Senador Manny Villar at dating pangulong Joseph Estrada na halos parehas na ang ratings. Pero, malayo pa rin ang agwat ng nangungunang si Senador Benigno Aquino III! Sa mga kakandidato bilang bise presidente, nakadikit na sa nangungunang si Sen. Mar Roxas si Senadora Loren Legarda.

Palace appeals for verbal truce on Arroyo

Maybe, all she wants is a silent night. Malacañang called on critics of President Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday to observe a verbal truce during the holidays, part of which she plans to spend with her constituents in Pampanga.

Expanded poll duties for AFP, PNP hit

by by Carmela Fonbuena,
MANILA, Philippines - Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon on Monday criticized Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales' call to expand the roles of soldiers and police in the May 10, 2010 elections.

Army chief: Soldiers as security aides a bad idea

MANILA, Philippines - The chief of the Philippine Army on Monday said he is opposed to the idea of assigning soldiers as security escorts of candidates in the May 2010 elections.

AFP, PNP to man checkpoints in election hotspots

Joint police and military checkpoints supervised by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be put up in key areas across the country beginning January 2010 to strictly enforce the gun ban and other election provisions, Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa said on Monday.

Acting Maguindanao gov backs early ARMM polls

The newly installed officer-in-charge of this troubled province has declared her full support for calls by several sectors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to hold elections in the region ahead of the scheduled May 10 polls.

"This is to ensure the conduct of clean and orderly election in the province," acting Maguindanao Governor Bai Nariman Ambolodto said in her first ever news conference at the provincial capitol here Monday.

Speaking in her soft voice, Ambolodto said scheduling the polling in advance, specifically in election hotspots such as Maguindanao, could help prevent massive fraud and violence.

Cops searching for 5 more bodies in massacre

Police authorities and a journalist believed the death toll in the Maguindanao massacre could be 62 and not 57.

Supreme Court postpones Ampatuan trial

Andal Ampatuan, Jr.'s first day in court would have to wait until after the Christmas holidays after the Supreme Court and the Quezon City regional trial court observed that the proposed venue inside Camp Crame was unprepared as of Monday.

No hearing date yet on Ampatuan bail petition

A Quezon City court is expected to set a date for the hearing of the petition for bail filed by Andal Ampatuan Jr. regarding the multiple murder case filed against him for the Nov 23 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province.

Judge Reyes finally speaks on accepting Maguindanao massacre case

Magpa-Pasko at magdiriwang ng Bagong Taon sa NBI detention center si Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. Ito'y matapos sabihin ni Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes na sa Enero na didinggin ang kanyang petisyon para makapagpiyansa. Sa unang pagkakataon, nagsalita na rin ang hukom, kung bakit niya tinanggap ang kaso kaugnay ng Maguindanao massacre.

NBI insists no lapses in Ampatuan security

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation on Monday said there were no lapses in the security procedures for Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. after the latter suffered a cut on the forehead while being mobbed by journalists last Friday.

Lawyer wants DOJ chief cited in contempt for "violating" Andal Jr."s rights

The legal counsel of Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. asked on Monday that Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera and eight others be made to explain why they should not be cited for contempt of court for taking his client out of his detention cell without a court order.

PNP eyes transfer of 4 Ampatuans to Taguig

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police on Monday said it supports a city council resolution requesting for the immediate transfer of 4 members of the Ampatuan clan from a General Santos City detention facility to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, Metro Manila.

Blast hits Jolo school garbage dump

MANILA, Philippines - An explosion hit the garbage dump of the Liang Elementary School in Jolo, Sulu early Monday but injured no one, the military said.

7 Filipinos in Lebanon shipwreck missing

Seven Filipino seafarers on board the Panamanian cargo ship MV Dany F II which sank off the coast of Tripoli, Lebanon in the evening of December 17 are still missing, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

The DFA said the shipwreck also killed one Filipino seafarer. The names of the missing and the casualty are being withheld until their next of kin have been informed.

At the same time, it identified the 13 Filipino seafarers who have been rescued as: Danilo Policarpio, Wilson Vicente, Lezer Gepulgani, Michel Olivia, Edgardo Pucan, Jonathan Rada, Rafael Tarroza, Erasmo Galanza, Leolen Babao, Rogelio Dequina, Joebert Benoman, Jowey Quinto, and Jason Magsino.

The DFA said twelve are safely housed in Tripoli while one is in Tartus, Syria.

Charge d'affaires ad interim Mohd. Noordin Pendosina Lomondot of the Philippine embassy in Beirut is coordinating closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, it said in a statement.

Labor attache Nathaniel Lacambra and welfare officers are in Tripoli to extend assistance to the affected Filipino seafarers, it added.

The ship was on its way from the Uruguay capital of Montevideo to the Syrian port of Tartus carrying thousands of sheep and cattle when it was hit by Thursday night's storm and altered course for Lebanon.

11-month deficit hits P272.5-B

MANILA, Philipppines - The Philippines had a budget deficit of P272.5 billion from January to November, the Finance Department reported on Monday.

Atlas infuses fresh capital into copper unit

MANILA, Philippines - Publicly listed mining firm Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. said Monday it subscribed to additional shares in wholly-owned subsidiary Carmen Copper Corp.

Molina, Amit lead SEA Games reward haul

Gold medalists in the just-concluded Southeast Asian Games in Laos are bound to enjoy the fruits of their labor before Christmas.

The Philippine Sports Commission will hand out the first tranche of cash incentives worth P3.8 million to the 38 golden performers during the agency's Christmas party Monday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

PSC chair Harry Angping said each athlete would initially receive P100,000 in cold cash as part of the P300,000 bonus intended for gold-medal winners while the rest of the financial bonus package would be made available early next month.

Under the law, gold medalists in the SEAG are entitled to a monetary incentive of P100,000 while a silver and bronze would fetch P50,000 and P10,000 from the coffers of the national government.

Aside from these financial rewards, the PSC added P100,000 more to sweeten the pot while private sponsors, through Angping's efforts, have pledged another P100,000 for each gold medal.

``I know how to reward people who performed well,'' said Angping. ``These athletes deserved to be pampered to encourage them to win more gold medals for the country.''

Swimmer Miguel Molina stands to receive the biggest windfall of P750,000 for bagging two golds (200 and 400-meter individual medley) and a silver (200mfreestyle) while lady cue artist Rubilen Amit, who won the 9-ball and 8-ball pool singles titles, will fatten her bank account with P600,000.

Golfer Chihiro Ikeda will get P400,000, P300,000 for winning the women's individual golf and P100,000 for sharing the team gold.

``I congratulate them for proving me wrong on my projections,'' said Angping, referring to the country's fifth-place finish after reaping 38 golds, 35 silvers and 50 bronzes in the 11-nation meet.

Angping also announced that additional incentives would be given to each SEA Games record broken and for each Philippine mark set. High jumper Maristela Torres and hammer thrower Arnel Ferreira captured the gold in their events in record-breaking fashions.

The PSC has set aside P11.4 million for the 38 gold medals won, P1.75 million for the 35 silvers and P490,000 for the bronzes.

Lui Villaruz, Angel Aquino to tie the knot next year?

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines - TV personality-businessman Lui Villaruz said he and long-time girlfriend Angel Aquino might settle down next year.

1981 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe to pose sexy for Playboy

by by Boy Villasanta,
MANILA, Philippines - It's never too late. This was how actress Maria Isabel Lopez described her stint to pose sexy, if not nude, for Playboy Magazine Philippines in its January 2010 issue.

Pacquiao holds family reunion in GenSan

by by Anne Santos, ABS-CBN News SOKSARGEN
GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Christmas season is time for family reunions. Even "People's Champ" Manny Pacquiao did not let this pass when he gathered all his relatives on Saturday.

Jinkee Pacquiao opens $2.3-M LA home to magazine

Jinkee Pacquiao welcomed YES! magazine in her Los Angeles home two days after the historical fight of her husband, Manny Pacquio, against Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto last November.

Krista Ranillo sits down with Korina Sanchez

MANILA, Philippines – The elusive Krista Ranillo has sat down with "Rated K" host Korina Sanchez, but her first television interview since returning home did not discuss her rumored affair with boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.  

Zsa Zsa Padilla says no to Dolphy's biopic

MANILA, Philippines - Divine Diva Zsa Zsa Padilla is also opposed to the idea of creating a film based on the life of her long-time partner, King of Comedy Dolphy.

Israel finds remains of Jesus-era home in Nazareth

NAZARETH - Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a home dating to the time of Jesus in the town of Nazareth where he is said to have spent the better part of his life, the antiquities authority said on Monday.

Peter Jackson talks on new film 'The Lovely Bones'

LOS ANGELES—Fresh from his "Lord of the Rings" successes, New Zealand film director Peter Jackson has taken his adaptation talent to "The Lovely Bones," a far cry from fantasy adventure sagas.

Taiwan mulls world's first junk food tax

TAIPEI—Taiwan is planning the world's first tax on junk food in a bid to encourage the public to eat healthily and cut obesity rates, a report said Monday.

China to set up kung fu school in Taiwan

TAIPEI—China plans to open a kung fu academy and several cultural centers in Taiwan to promote martial arts from the mainland's famed Shaolin Temple, media on the island said Monday.

Remaining villagers start fleeing Mayon danger zone

(UPDATE) More than 3,000 villagers remaining in a no-go zone around the rumbling Mayon volcano on Monday began to evacuate after officials threatened to force them out.

Mayon activity escalates; lava fountains rise above crater

(Updated 5:30 p.m.) Mayon Volcano in Albay province has exhibited increased activity in the past 24 hours, with red hot lava continuously flowing down along three gullies and lava fountains rising above its crater, state volcanologists said on Monday.

Mayon's booming convinces more residents to leave

Edwin Iglesia, a machine shop welder, was resting in his residence in Barangay (Village) Travesia in Guinobatan town after taking dinner at about 8 p.m. Sunday when all of a sudden, he heard a booming sound similar to that coming from a big bamboo canon during New Year's eve.

Phivolcs: Don't get lulled by fewer Mayon quakes

Dumalang ang pagyanig ng Bulkang Mayon ngayong maghapon kumpara nitong mga nagdaang araw. Pero ayon sa Phivolcs, hindi dapat maging kampante.

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

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