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

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 8, 2009 Major News Stories

Mobile phone firms implement new rates

Over the weekend, mobile phone service providers changed the way they charge customers for voice calls. Under the new rate system, a voice call is charged an initial connection rate of P3 for the first 12 seconds, and P0.56 per succeeding 6 seconds.

Oil prices slip as dollar strengthens

World oil prices fell on Monday, reversing earlier gains and in line with other commodity markets, as traders took their cue from a stronger dollar, dealers said.

Measure seeks to criminalize "no permit, no exam" policy

Cebu City Councilor Gerardo Carillo is planning to pass an ordinance in the City Council that would penalize private schools which prohibit students from taking examinations.

Opposition looking for a Rama to field as mayor

Basak San Nicolas barangay captain George Rama said he received reports from a reliable source that people allied with the Kugi Uswag Sugbu (Kusug) party are looking for a man who has the same surname as the vice mayor to field as their candidate for mayor.

Yeung: No part in blessing of campaign materials

Bogo mayoralty aspirant Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung said she was in no way involved in the incident where campaign materials were blessed on the altar of the San Vicente Ferrer Archdiocesan Shrine in the said town.

Provincial Board approves P2.6 billion budget

The Cebu Provincial Board has approved the annual budget for next year amounting to P2.6 billion, which is P300 million more compared to the annual budget this year.

Fiscals to mediate Cabillon cases

The Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office temporarily suspended the preliminary investigation on the libel case filed by ex-monk Venancio Cabillon against Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and three other church officials to give way to mediation.

Sinulog foundation to honor previous parade winners

RECOGNIZING their help, the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) will honor past organizers and choreographers who won for three consecutive years during the Jan. 17, 2010 Sinulog Grand Parade.

The staging of next year's Sinulog is expected to cost P25 million.

Ballesteros said there are already 45 contingents who confirmed their participation in the grand parade.

Joining again are contingents from Leyte, like the Alikaraw Festival of Hilongos, Buyugan Festival of Abuyog, Sangay Festival of Tacloban City, and Karatong Festival of Dulag.

Tribu Pintaflores of San Carlos City, Jimalalud de Sinulog, Sta. Catalina, and Bais City are also participating.

From Mindanao, Cabadbaran City, Tangub City, and Lanao del Norte are also sending contingents.

After three years of absence, Camiguin will be back in competition, which will see first-timer Placer from Masbate.

Aside from the grand parade, other activities for the celebration include Sinulog Photo Exhibits at the Mactan Cebu International Airport, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Mall, and Elizabeth Mall on Jan 5.

The Sinulog sa Kabataan-Lalawigan is on Jan. 9, followed by the Sinulog sa Kabataan-Dakbayan the next day. The Sinulog Festival Queen search, on the other hand, is on Jan 16.

Nightly programs, such as cultural shows and band parties, will also be held at the Fuente Osmeña.

Ampatuan loyalists clash with police

(UPDATE) Police on Monday said that militiamen loyal to the powerful Muslim clan of Ampatuan attacked security forces after martial law was imposed in their province following a brutal massacre.

Bloodstained "PNP" vehicle found in Maguindanao

A vehicle with Philippine National Police markings and with traces of blood, was recovered along with another vehicle at the back of a rice mill in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on Monday.

2 more Ampatuans arrested in Maguindanao

Two more relatives of the powerful Ampatuan clan were arrested here Monday in connection with the Nov. 23 massacre in Ampatuan town.

M-16 rifles, grenade launcher found in Ampatuan town

Soldiers searching for firearms used in killing 57 people in this town on November 23 found 13 high-powered firearms at the back of the municipal hall here late Monday afternoon.

More guns seized at Ampatuan mansion in Maguindanao

Four caliber-50 machineguns were recovered by government troops at the back of the mansion of Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. here Monday morning.

More guns recovered in Ampatuan property

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao—Police and military authorities dug up yet another cache of firearms belonging to the Ampatuan clan here Monday.

Over 3,000 gunmen a threat in Maguindanao: Army

by Agence France-Presse
SHARIFF AGUAK - The military said Monday over 3,000 armed followers of the Ampatuan clan whose provincial stronghold was placed under martial law after a massacre remain a threat.

Ampatuans face rebellion raps

Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, will face rebellion charges, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Monday.

Prosecutors start inquest against Ampatuans on rebellion

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Philippine government prosecutors started Monday the inquest proceedings against 24 persons, including former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, for the rebellion charges filed against them by the Philippine National Police.

Military admits Ampatuan decoy to elude media

Tension was high at the Davao Doctors Hospital Sunday night when soldiers forcibly took Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. out of his private room and transferred him to the military's health facility in Camp Panacan here.

Judge puts Ampatuan Jr. bail plea on hold

MANILA -  The judge handling the case of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. has put on hold the mayor's petition for bail.

Ampatuans also ask: Nullify martial law

The controversial Ampatuan clan on Monday joined the clamor for the Supreme Court to stop the government from imposing martial law in Maguindanao, accusing the government of having the penchant for violating the law.

Defense chief raises flag at Maguindanao capitol

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales led the flag-raising ceremony at the Maguindanao provincial capitol on Monday morning to mark the first full day of martial law here, some two weeks after the November 23 massacre that killed 57 local politicians, supporters, and journalists.

Military on martial law: 'We're just following orders'

The military will follow orders from lawmakers amid calls from various sectors to revoke martial law ruling in Maguindanao province.

More troops sent to Maguindanao

The military has deployed more troops to Maguindanao as the search for more suspects in the November 23 mass killings of journalists and supporters of gubernatorial candidate and Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu continues.

Gunmen in massacre seek MILF help—military

The armed men who were behind the Maguindanao massacre has gone to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) areas to ask the rebel group's help, the military said Monday.

'Ampatuans have enough guns for 2 batallions'

MANILA - The Ampatuans carry enough weapons to arm at least 2 Army battalions, representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.

Retired general confirms: Govt armed Ampatuans

by by Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga
A retired military general has admitted that it was the government that armed the Ampatuans. This was the statement of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan who is making his rounds in the country as he announces his bid for a Senate seat in the May 2010 elections. 

Gov't eyes freeze on Ampatuans' assets

The government has moved to freeze the assets of the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao amid questions over how its members have amassed so much wealth during their reign in the second poorest province in the country.

No need to extend martial law, says Defense chief

The Philippine government on Monday promised it would immediately lift martial law in Maguindanao once a powerful Muslim clan accused of a political massacre is fully neutralized.

Joint session of Congress to tackle martial law Wednesday

The Senate and the House of Representatives has decided to postpone until Wednesday the holding of a joint session to tackle the martial law imposed in Maguindanao by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Santiago, Zubiri sees joint session favoring martial law

With Congress voting jointly, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday conceded that the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao will no longer be revoked.

Congress has no rules on joint session—House exec

Congress has yet to draft rules that would govern the holding of a joint session to discuss the martial law declaration in Maguindanao, according to an officer of the House of Representatives.

Forget political ties on martial law

The University of the Philippines community is urging members of Congress to overcome their political affiliations in scrutinizing the factual basis being cited by Malacañang for its martial law in Maguindanao.

Declare martial law 'unconstitutional', lawyers ask SC

Former Senate President Jovito Salonga and lawyers from the Center for International Law have asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional Proclamation 1959 declaring martial law in Maguindanao.

Martial law unconstitutional, says ex-SC justice

by By Aries Rufo,
MANILA, Philippines - The declaration of martial law in Maguindanao is, on its face, unconstitutional, a jurist said on Monday, while a Catholic bishop gave his imprimatur to the extraordinary measure.

Former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, a known constitutionalist, said the imposition of martial law in the province lacked two essential elements, invasion and rebellion, which are the conditions set by the Constitution justifying it.

Mendoza, in a phone interview with, observed that there is no invasion nor armed public uprising against the government that necessitated martial law.
At the very least, he said what appears to be happening in the province is resistance against government authorities, which is different to rebellion.

Cardinal Vidal: Respect human rights during martial rule

by by Carine M. Asutilla, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas
Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal wants human rights to be respected while martial rule is implemented in Maguindanao province. 

Poll watchdog wary of martial law in May 2010

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has warned that martial law in Maguindanao "might be part of a grand design to do the same nationwide prior to the 2010 elections."

Comelec: Martial law won't stop polls

MANILA -  The Commission on Elections on Monday said elections in Maguindanao will proceed as scheduled even if martial law is extended until the May elections.

Archbishop backs short martial law in Maguindanao

The Catholic archbishop who has jurisdiction over Maguindanao did not pose any objection to the imposition of martial law over the province but wants it lifted as soon as possible.

Solon also urges martial law in Lanao del Norte

A lawmaker on Monday asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to likewise place Lanao del Norte under martial law, saying law and order have deteriorated in his home province.  Oblivious to protests against Martial Law, administration ally Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo wants Martial Law extended to Pantao Ragat municipality in Lanao Del Norte.

International group in GRP-MILF peace talks meet

Even as the political and security situation in Maguindanao remains volatile, the International Contact Group (ICG) involved in the peace negotiations between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front met Friday, it was learned Monday.

Masbate vice mayoral candidate shot by gunmen

MANILA - A candidate for vice mayor in Uson town in Masbate island province was shot by unidentfied gunmen near his residence in Masbate City Monday.

Jesus Chiu, 57 years old, was shot by at least 2 unidentified persons near his residence in Medina St., Masbate City.

The victim, an incumbent Sangguniang Panlalawigan member from the province's 3rd district, was about to alight a passenger tricycle at around 3 p.m. when he was shot.

Witnesses said they heard 2 gunshots fired during the incident.

The victim is presently confined in critical condition with 2 bullet wounds at the Masbate Colleges Hospital in the city.

The victim is a known supporter of Masbate Rep. Rizalina "Dayan" Seachon-Lanete, and was a supporter of Rep. Antonio Kho.

Arroyo's disqualification from congressional race sought

by By Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak
The President will prejudice the chances of her opponents Akbayan Rep. Rissa Hontiveros on Monday filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a petition to disqualify President Arroyo from the congressional race in Pampanga in 2010.

Tatad now with UNO senatorial slate

by By Dennis Carcamo

Former senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad has joined the senatorial ticket of the United Opposition, bringing to 10 the coalition's senatorial lineup for the May 2010 polls, according to the spokesperson of UNO standard-bearer Joseph Estrada.

SWS: Half of Pinoys dissatisfied with gov't

MANILA - Fifty percent of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the Arroyo administration's performance, according to the latest survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Senate starts discussions on 2010 budget

The Senate on Monday began its marathon session on the proposed P1.4-trillion national budget for 2010.

As legislators weigh Martial Law, 2010 national budget hangs

by By Purple S. Romero,
MANILA, Philippines – With Congress shifting its focus from the 2010 budget deliberations to the issue of martial law in Maguindanao, some Senators are expecting the government may operate on a re-enacted budget for '"a short period" next year.

Proposal to increase VAT, cut income tax under study

by BusinessWorld
MANILA - A proposal to raise taxes on consumption and reduce the levy on income is being studied by the Finance department, with the hope that this could form part of the next administration's fiscal policy.

Dubai crisis could cost RP $300M in remittances

The Philippines could lose as much as $300 million worth of remittances from Filipino workers based in Dubai due to the debt woes of Dubai World, one of the flagship holding firms of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said.

MOA vs visa fraud signed

The British government has forged a cooperative agreement with Philippine banks in an attempt to crack down on United Kingdom (UK) visa fraud, an increasing number of which involve Filipino nationals with fake bank documents.

Filipinos passing through NZ visa-exempt—DFA

Starting November 30, Filipinos transiting through New Zealand en route to other destinations have been exempt for securing transit visas, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Suicide blast at court kills 25 in Pakistan's Peshawar

by Agence France-Presse
PESHAWAR - A suicide bomber struck outside a court in Pakistan's Peshawar on Monday, killing 25 people and wounding 49 others in the latest blast in a city beset by Taliban violence, officials said.

5 killed as blast hits Iraq school - police

BAGHDAD - A bomb exploded at a school in Baghdad's Shiite district of Sadr City, killing five people, including four students, Iraqi officials said.

Pacman-Floyd purse split 'done in 5 minutes'

MANILA – It's all systems go for the blockbuster fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., much to the surprise of fight fans who were expecting grueling negotiations between the fighters' camps on the revenue split.

Roach sees superstar future for Amir Khan

by Agence France-Presse
NEWCASTLE - Amir Khan has the potential to rise through the weight divisions and win multiple world titles like his training partner Manny Pacquiao, according to the British boxer's trainer Freddie Roach.

KC opens up about marriage

MANILA – Young actress KC Concepcion said marriage is not part of her immediate plans. In an interview during the farewell party of her first television series, "Lovers in Paris," Concepcion said "marriage can come later." She added that she is still focusing on her career.

Khos break silence on Hayden's 'suicide attempt'

MANILA – The family of embattled doctor Hayden Kho Jr. on Monday shot down all "sinister speculations," including his alleged suicide attempt, that surfaced following his sudden hospitalization last week.

PBB Update: 1 house, 14 housemates, no Yuri

by by Stephanie Manhit,
MANILA - Ten of the housemates were able to breathe easy Saturday night.  The merge of houses already began, with each housemate who was announced safe entering House A. It was home sweet home for Catherine "Cathy" Remperas, Johan Morielle Santos, Paul Jake Castillo, Steve "Tibo" Jumalon, and Jason Veron Francisco.

Cory Aquino, Chiz Escudero books launched

MANILA – Keeping "Cory Magic" alive is as easy as launching a commemorative book.   ABS-CBN Publishing, in partnership with the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), and the Ayala Foundation recently launched a book titled "Cory Magic."

Obama on Bruce Springsteen: 'He's the Boss'

President Barack Obama told Bruce Springsteen that the rocker was indeed "the Boss," at an awards ceremony that also honored actor Robert De Niro, film director Mel Brooks, composer Dave Brubeck, and opera singer Grace Bumbry.

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

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