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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

February 1, 2010 Major News Stories



Small oil players slash fuel pump prices Monday

SEAOIL Philippines, Flying V Philippines and Eastern Petroleum Philippines have slashed prices of diesel and kerosene by 75 centavos a liter, and of gasoline by 50 centavos a liter, effective 12:01 a.m. Monday (February 1).

Weeklong brownouts expected in Visayas

The Visayas islands are expected to experience power interruptions for at least a week starting Monday due to the shutting down of a major plant in Leyte for maintenance services, the National Grid Corp of the Philippines (NGCP) announced on Sunday.

The NGCP, in an advisory, said preventive maintenance services on the 120-megawatt Mahanagdong geothermal power plant started on Saturday and would last for 10 days.

The Visayas grid, which sources the bulk of its power supply from Leyte, will temporarily lose 200 megawatts of power because of the shutting down of other major plants in Cebu, which are undergoing maintenance services, said Belinda Sales-Canlas, corporate communications officer of NGCP Visayas.

The drop in supply is expected during peak hours on weekdays starting Monday and will be distributed among major island and cities in the Visayas.

The Visayas grid covers Western Visayas (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental), Central Visayas (Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor) and Eastern Visayas (Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar and Eastern Samar).

The regions have a total population of around 17 million based on the 2007 census. For years, the Visayas have been experiencing rotational brownouts due to a critical power situation.

The power plants in the Visayas have a dependable capacity (maximum output that a power plant can provide at any given time) during the evening peak of around 1,215 mw (as of July last year), just slightly more than the peak demand during the day reaching 1,143 mw, according to the Department of Energy Industry Management Division of the DOE Visayas Field Office.

Leyte's geothermal plants supply the bulk of the Visayas grid through submarine cables. It has a dependable capacity of 576 mw but Leyte-Samar only needs 184 mw at its peak demand. The surplus of 399 mw is exported to Bohol, Cebu, Negros, Panay, and, during off peak, to the Luzon grid.

Palace appeals to public to refrain from panic-buying of sugar

Malacañang appealed to the public anew over the weekend not to engage in panic-buying of sugar amid reports that prices have shot up to as high as P60 a kilo in the past weeks.


RP growth not enough under Arroyo – SSS chief

Filipinos have mostly not benefited from the country's economic growth –equal to about five percent annually – during President Gloria Arroyo's seven-year term, a top official admitted Sunday.

1,000 grandparents to march to Mendiola

Some 1,000 senior citizens are scheduled to march from Morayta to Mendiola in Manila Monday morning to press President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately sign the Congress-ratified Expanded Senior Citizens' Act, it was learned Sunday.

November '09 nursing board exams result out

A total of 37, 527 out of 94,462 nursing graduates passed the November, 2009 licensure examination.

The successful examinees who garnered the 10 highest places are the following:

1. Clarie Morales Bontol of Iligan Medical Center College, Inc. (87.80%)
2. Bryan Noel Cueto Asis of Lyceum of Batangas (87.60)
3. Dickson Araza Laude of St. Scholastica's College of Health Sciences-Tacloban (87.00)
4. Sarah Beth Zapanta Bendoy of First Asia Institute of Technology & Humanities (86.60)
Cyrel Alexandra Infistan Diolazo of Arellano University-Manila (86.60)
5. Cliff Richard De Dios Bermudez of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (86.40)
Katrina Isabel Villa Doromal of Saint Paul University-Iloilo (86.40)
Rio Michelle Yap Renomeron of San Pedro College-Davao City (86.40)
6. Greatsky Calayag Castuciano of Our Lady of Fatima University-Valenzuela (86.20)
Jobilee Sahagun Foronda of De Los Santos-STI College, Inc-(Delos Santos S.N.) (86.20)
Donald Bancud Paloma of Saint Paul University-Tuguegarao (86.20)
Karla Andrea Corneja Yap of University of Saint La Salle (86.20)
7. Chastine Dela Cruz Jambalos of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (86.00)
Felina Joyce Llamado Posadas of Saint Paul University-Iloilo (86.00)
Perla Bargo Santiago of Saint Dominic Savio College (86.00)
Camille Abiera Sistoso of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (86.00)
Dennis Michael Esteban Zequerra of Cotabato Medical Foundation College (86.00)
8. Joanna Marie Sajise Alvaro of Central Philippine University (85.80)
Karen Lim Cheng of Xavier University (85.80)
Krizzia Mae Villareal de Guzman of Our Lady of Fatima University-Valenzuela (85.80)
Richard William Dulalas Domondon of Ramon Magsaysay Technological University-Iba (85.80)
Angelo Garcia Galvan of Central Luzon Doctor's Hospital Educational Institution (85.80)
Lilia Calle Piramide of Saint Dominic Savio College (85.80)
Robert Carandang Reña of Lyceum of Batangas (85.80)
Vyklyn Jimeno Testa of Aklan State University (Aklan S.C.A.)-Banga (85.80)
Cornelio Cezail Flores Villanueva of Mabini College (85.80)
9. Sheila Perico Casano of Our Lady of Fatima University-Valenzuela (85.60)
Krystle Go Din of Saint Paul University-Iloilo (85.60) 
John Stephen Tiongson Humiwat of Saint Mary's University (85.60)
Woodrose Charm Paciente Kwan of Dr. Carlos S. Lanting College-Q.C. (85.60)
Nerissa Naval Layag of Saint Dominic Savio College (85.60)
Kristin Angeli Pastor Legislador of University of Saint La Salle (85.60)
Myrtle Shekinah Cabuyao Lopez of Southern Luzon Polytechnic College-Lucban (85.60)
Suzanne Joie Napod Maño of Adventist University of the Philippines (85.60)
Manelee Pescadilla Mijares of University of Saint La Salle (85.60)
Juan Alfred Germino Norte of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (85.60)
Garlene Anne Estanislao Rebollos of Sultan Kudarat Educational Institution (85.60)
10. Joanna Iris Lee Avena of Saint Paul University-Iloilo (85.40)
Erwin Garces Bodiongan of Misamis University-Ozamis City (85.40)
Steve Oliver Yap Coo of Central Philippine University (85.40)
Stephen Albert Lim De Castro of Southern Luzon Polytechnic College-Lucban (85.40)
Princess Camille Rodriguez De Guzman of Pamantasan ng Lungsod Ng Maynila (85.40)
Felamie Anne Vigo Ducotan of Saint Paul University-Iloilo (85.40)
Mary Kristine Teraza Labanta of St. Scholastica's College of Health Sciences-Tacloban (85.40)
Giselle Dawn Vijar Mamaril of West Visayas State University-La Paz (85.40)
Samuel John Sayoc Saludez of Saint Paul University-Tuguegarao (85.40)
Angelo John Villasana Tacuban of West Negros College (85.40)
Maria Cecilia Cervantes Tejedor of Saint Dominic Savio College (85.40)

Random drug test for college studes

The Commission on Higher Education is now preparing all public and private colleges and universities in Central Visayas for the Random Drug Testing of at least 30 college students per school that will be conducted on the last week of February until the first week of March.

Benhur goes to SC again to stall Tining oathtaking

Cebu 4th District Rep. Benhur Salimbangon is optimistic that the Supreme Court will give due course to the motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General seeking to grant them the time to have an oral argument before the Highest Tribunal and the House of Representatives will not allow former Bogo Mayor Celestino "Tining" Martinez III to take his oath at the Plenary Hall today due to the pending motion.

Lapu barangay captain accused of coddling five suspects

A former village chief of an islet in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday accused the incumbent barangay captain of allegedly harboring suspected criminals when he failed to surrender to the police the suspects in the killing of a supporter of Mayor Arturo Radaza.

Pangan-an former barangay chairman Virgilio Casiao told The FREEMAN that he is set to consult first a lawyer before he decides to file a case against Pangan-an barangay captain Climaco Tatoy.

Casiao said 30-year-old Nicasio Sumalinog Pogoy, a fisherman and a supporter of Radaza, suffered a gunshot wound on the head last Saturday dawn.

Lapu-Lapu Police investigators identified the suspects as Arnulfo "Roque" Pogoy, Jerry Nanoy, Joselito Mellino, Jonas Pogoy and Benigno Menguito.

Casiao told The FREEMAN they learned after the incident that the suspects ran inside the house reportedly owned by Tatoy.

Comelec Releases tentative list of bets

The Commission on Elections has started releasing the list of candidates for the May 10 elections.

Comelec: New delay in ballot printing is for quality control

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed on Sunday that it has postponed anew the start of the printing of ballots for the May 10 polls but immediately clarified that it will not cause any delay in the other preparations for the country's first nationwide automated polls.

Lawyer James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, told ABS-CBN News Channel's Dateline Philippines Sunday said that the start of printing of the ballots will now start on February 7, instead of Sunday January 31. The latest postponement was the second time since it was originally scheduled January 22.

He clarified however that the latest delay will not change other parts of the Comelec's schedule of preparations for the May 10 polls.

"It wont, because the deadline we set for shipping is actually April 25, and if we had started printing today, then we'll finish printing by April 19. We actually have a lot of time left to spare if we started printing today, that would being the case and we don't want the ballots be shipping around, really be waiting for shipping, doing nothing. So as a matter of prudence, it would be better to slide the production date so that we finish printing right about the time we're ready to ship them out," said Jimenez.

The Comelec spokesman added that the postponement by another 6 days of the start of ballot printing would not change the schedule of shipping the ballots to the precincts.

"What's very important thing is that the original shipping date has not moved, in other words the net result for the project really is nil. We were supposed to ship by the [April] 25th if hadn't moved the start date, we've moved the start date [of ballot printing] but still shipping by the 25th of April," said Jimenez.

"More quality control"

Jimenez said that the postponement would actually give them "more time to control the quality of the ballot."

"Meaning to say, we are able to make sure that everyone who should be in the ballot is in there. Its very important thing that this ballot is very accurate for every single one of the 1,631 jurisdictions that we are holding elections in May," said Jimenez.

The Comelec had earlier decided to postpone the printing of ballots to wait for the resolution of disqualification cases against candidates at the national and local levels so that the ballots would, as much as possible, reflect the final and accurate list of candidates.

The Comelec has to print some 1,700 unique sets of ballots to reflect the national candidates and the local bets specific to towns and cities.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento had previously explained that if they start printing the ballots as originally scheduled, there is the danger of some candidates being disqualified, and it will be a problem if their names are already printed on the ballots.

He said the Comelec has ruled out printing new sets of ballots in the event that the list of candidates are revised based on the results of the disqualification of cases.

Jimenez, on Sunday, said most of the disqualification cases still pending involve groups participating in the party-list system of elections.

"I think there are about 10 or 12 if I'm not mistaken are still pending, and almost for the most part the ballots faces have been finalized, we just want to make that sure we're not missing anyone out… These are mostly partly-list cases," said Jimenez.

PCOS delivery

Jimenez also said that the 50% of the Precinct Counting Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines which would be used to count the votes and transmit the election results from the precincts have already arrived.

"We've about 50% of the PCOS, we have about 50,000 here, actually 48,700. We have more than 50% of that. The rest are either in shipping, in transit… We expect we have full delivery by February," said Jimenez.

Each clustered precinct is set to have its own PCOS. The Comelec had ordered the production of 82,200 machines, based on its initial count that there would be about 82,000 clustered precincts. Comelec later announced that there are only about 75,000 clustered precincts based on its data.

Smartmatic is the Venezuelan company that is manufacturing in China the PCOS machines that will be used in the 2010 elections. Its local partner is Total Information Management (TIM).

Jimenez also said that that the testing of the PCOS machines are proceeding.

"The machines themselves are being tested and that's proceeding on a daily basis. We then assured by the group that handles the testing, the COMELEC group that handles the testing that we will be finish on time," said Jimenez,

He also said that of the machines they have tested, none have required to be returned to Smartmatic.

When asked if there had been any lemons, Jimenez replied: "So far we haven't sent any back, so far our lemon count stands at zero."

Jimenez also said that the source code, the programming codes of the applications that will be used by the PCOS machines will be made available for review.

"This Monday we will have the source code review, so that the software itself can be accredited, We'll allow third parties to have a look-see at that," said the Comelec spokesman.

Trainings preparations

Jimenez also assured that the preparations are underway for the training of the more than 200,000 teachers and other personnel who will compose the Board of election Inspectors (BEIs) in each of the precincts.

"The trainings for the operators are scheduled to start, if I'm not mistaken in March and that's being prepared even as we speak, we're preparing modules for that, and we're preparing our people as trainors precisely to go to the field and talk to the teachers and the people who will be running the PCOS on the election day.

"We already trained core officials from the Department of Education, 150 of them, and we're lining up training for more. So by March we'll be ready to really roll out this training program, and that will be very, very quick. The training itself is not very difficult, 2 or 3 days will be more than enough to assure that the operators have the skill to assure that the operators have the competence and skills required to operate the PCOS," said the Comelec official.

BGAN satellite antennas

Jimenez also said that Smartmatic has increased the number of satellite antennas that would be used in areas where there are weak or no cellphone signals for the transmission of poll results from the precincts through the PCOS.

Based on Smartmatic's site surveys of network availabilities in the various precincts nationwide, only 65% of the total number of polling centers have stable cellphone signal capacity.

To address the transmission issue, Smartmatic opted to acquire Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite antennas.

"Yes, actually there are already 5,000 BGANs with the provider, with Smartmatic and they put in an order for lots more especially to deal with this finding of the site survey… The 5,000 units and the additional units that they are buying. I think they put in an order for about 10,000 more," said Jimenez.

Jimenez said that Smartmatic purchase of additional BGAN satellite antennas would not be shouldered by the Comelec.

"So yes, it is a huge number but the supplier is contract bound to provide transmission for the entire country and they say they will do it and we believe them. We see the work they're doing on this problem. We see the investment that they're making. By the way none of these will add any cost to the COMELEC," said Jimenez.

Jimenez said the BGAN antennas would be the contingency measure that would address the transmission issues in areas without or with weak carrier signals from cellphone companies.

"The most important to note here is that the contingency measure works, the contingency measure which is the BGAN, a satellite antenna technology. That works very well. We have no worries at all that comes election day transmission in the entire country will experience very minimal problem," said Jimenez.

He said however that the Comelec still does not know which precincts would need to use the BGAN satellite antennas.

"I think we will come out with a report in the site survey some time this week, and that's how we will see exactly how many precincts will be affected," said the Comelec spokesman. 


Printing of 50M 'scannable' ballots begins Sunday

The printing of over 50 million 'scannable' ballots – 8.5 inches wide and 26 inches long – started on Sunday at the National Printing Office in Quezon City, the Commission on Elections said.

The printing of the ballots is expected to be finished by April, said Comelec spokesman James Arthur Jimenez, also the director of the Education and Information Department.

"The ballots' width is the same as an ordinary [short] bond paper, 8 1/2 inches," Jimenez told reporters.

At 26 inches in length, the ballot to be shaded by voters on May 10 would be over two feet long, Jimenez said.

The Comelec had earlier said the ballots would be color-coded and printed back-to-back with the names of the candidates— national candidates in the front and local candidates in the back.

The names of the local candidates would be unique for every local legislative district in the country since voters in each area would be choosing from different sets of provincial board members and city or municipal councilors.

Voters will be asked to shade ovals beside the candidates' names, which will be printed in 10-point font.


Danding still very much active in politics -- group

A militant farmers' group said on Sunday they believed businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco would always remain active behind the scenes in national politics.

Baby boom to be blamed for Luisita farmers' poverty

The poverty and discontent among Hacienda Luisita farmers should not be blamed on the landed Cojuangco clan but on the tenants' lack of family planning, Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's eldest sister said on Sunday.

Senators to vote on C-5 report vs Villar on Wednesday - Zubiri

Members of the Senate majority bloc and allies of Senator Manuel Villar Jr. are expected to go head to head on Wednesday when they vote on the report seeking the censure of the embattled presidential aspirant in connection with the C-5 Road extension project controversy.

Critics to miss Arroyo as whipping girl -- Palace

You'll miss her when she's gone. Malacañang assailed opposition figures gunning for the presidency for allegedly campaigning at the expense of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Case necessary to rule on chief justice appointment

The question on whether President Macapagal-Arroyo could appoint the replacement for outgoing Chief Justice Reynato Puno in the last two months of her term would only be addressed if a case would be filed in court, Puno said over the weekend.

Arroyo ready for lawsuits in chief justice issue

Despite the supposed constitutional ban on "midnight appointments" by an outgoing chief executive, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will appoint the next chief justice even if it costs her lawsuits, a Malacañang official said on Sunday.

Mangudadatu kin, 4 escorts briefly held at checkpoint

Police on Friday held for six hours Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Khadaffy Mangudadatu and his four security escorts.

Comelec Commissioner Lucelito Tagle, chair of the committee overseeing the implementation of the gun ban in the region during the election period, eventually called and informed the police that the four security men and their firearms were covered with permits.

Insp. Melgrace Driz, town police chief, said Mangudadatu's group was apprehended at a checkpoint in the village of Sinawilan, after they failed to present documents for the four M-16 Armalite rifles in the possession of two police and two military escorts.

Mangudadatu was with PO3 Anuar Mangelen, PO1 Joehali Panigas, Cpl. Bernardo Patricio and Pfc. Renante Alcalde, when held in the checkpoint at 10:35 a.m. Friday.

Two Maguindanao town officials shot dead

by Agence France-Presse
COTABATO, Philippines - Two town councilors of Maguindanao province were shot dead in an ambush in the southern Philippines, police said on Sunday, adding the violence could be linked to May national elections.

NPA rebel leader captured by cops, soldiers

A high-ranking communist leader in southern Mindanao was captured following an encounter between government troops and New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Compostela Valley on Saturday afternoon, police and military officials confirmed Sunday.

Rizalde Cañete alias Ka (Comrade) Jinggoy was wounded during the 4 p.m. clash in Barangay Lorenzo Sarmiento, Laak town, Brig. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario, commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said.

Homeland issue still casting shadow on GRP-MILF talks

The Philippine government is not keen on giving Moro rebels their most sought after "Bangsa Moro homeland" - a step that is casting a shadow on moves to end decades of armed conflict in the troubled region of Mindanao.

8 missing after boat sinks in Bataan—coast guard

Eight fishermen have been missing at sea for almost a week after their boat went down west of the Philippine capital, the coast guard said Sunday.

4.9-strong quake rocks General Santos City

A moderate 4.9-magnitude quake struck General Santos City on Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

SC eyes new writ to speed up environmental cases

The Supreme Court will soon issue rules for yet another writ, this time, to expedite the resolution of cases concerning the environment. This will be called "writ of kalikasan (environment)."

CHR backs temporary ban on banana aerial spraying

The Commission on Human Rights has called on President Macapagal-Arroyo to order a stop to the aerial spraying of pesticides in banana plantations in Mindanao, pending a comprehensive study on its impact on the health of residents in surrounding communities.

Congress ratifies 'Legal Assistance for the Poor' act

May pagkakataon nang maipagtanggol ng mga pribadong abugado ang mahihirap na nahaharap sa kaso! Naratipikahan na ng Senado at Kamara ang Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010 na magbibigay ng libreng legal services mula sa mga abugadong hindi kabilang sa public attorney's office!

Bicam body OKs 'freedom of information' bill

The bicameral conference has approved the proposed Freedom of Information Act, moving a step closer to providing citizens with an enabling law that gives flesh to their right enshrined in the Constitution 23 years ago to have easy access to information being held by the government.

6-year-old among 5 killed in Thai violence

YALA – Suspected separatist militants have shot and killed five Muslim villagers, including a six-year-old boy, in the latest violence in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said Sunday.

Photos of drinking, grinning aid mission doctors in Haiti cause uproar

by CNN
San Juan, Puerto Rico -- A humanitarian mission to aid Haitian earthquake victims turned into a major embarrassment in Puerto Rico on Friday as pictures emerged of doctors drinking, mugging for cameras and brandishing firearms amid the victims' suffering.

3rd batch of Filipino OFWs from Haiti arrive home

MANILA, Philippines - Emotions ran high as the third batch of Filipino repatriates from quake-hit Haiti arrived in Manila Sunday.

Pacquiao: 7-wk training enough for Clottey bout

He only has seven weeks to train for his March 13 title defense against Joshua Clottey of Ghana but Filipino champion Manny Pacquiao assured everyone that it would be enough to get him geared up for the showdown at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

Tropang Texters seize 2-0 lead vs Ginebra

Jared Dillinger scored on a perfectly executed alley-oop play in the closing seconds, capping a big Talk `N Text comeback from 18 points down in a pulsating 106-105 win over Barangay Ginebra Sunday in Game 2 of their KFC-PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals series at the Araneta Coliseum.

15-year-old is Philippines' Sudoku Grandmaster

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - A 15-year-old student beat 21 other contenders to become the country's Sudoku Grandmaster in the 4th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge finals, held Saturday.

Sarah Jane Cua, a 3rd-year high school student of the Pangasinan Universal Institute, won the title after garnering the highest number of points in the Grandmaster division, a statement from the Mathematics Trainers Guild (MTG) said.

Federer wins 16th major, prolongs British drought

MELBOURNE, Australia - Roger Federer dismantled Andy Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday to extend his own record to 16 Grand Slam titles and prolong the British drought.

Does Jinkee Pacquiao make Angelica Panganiban jealous?

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Is the battle between Team Jinkee and Team Angelica now on? The feisty Angelica Panganiban, who portrays the equally strong-willed "Rubi" in her latest television series of the same title, is unfazed by reports romantically linking her hunk boyfriend, actor Derek Ramsay, to Jinkee Pacquiao.

Mommy Dionisia takes center stage in Imelda Papin concert

Muling pinatunayan ng jukebox queen na si Imelda Papin ang galing sa concert stage! Pero hindi nagpatalbog sa entablado ang special guest na si Nanay Dionisia! Dinaluhan naman ng mga haligi ng showbiz ang kaarawan ni Boots Anson Roa.

Nasty text message targets Gary Valenciano

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – "Mr. Pure Energy" Gary Valenciano has recently become the subject of a nasty text message, "The Buzz" reported Sunday. According to the entertainment television show, a text message claiming that Valenciano met an accident and was killed has begun to circulate, triggering panic among his closest friends.

Kath says adios to PBB Double Up

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – For the first time ever in the history of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB), there will be no Big Four in the Big Night. Instead, 5 housemates will be given the opportunity to bag the title of the Big Winner as Big Brother revealed that there will be a Big Five.

No winner of P102-M Super Lotto pot

MANILA, Philippines – There was no winner in Sunday's draw of the 6/49 Super Lotto, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced.

Malaysian couple fined buffalo over affair

KUALA LUMPUR – A tribal court in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island has fined a man and his lover four buffalo and a pig for having an extramarital affair, a report said Sunday.

Britain's Thatcher 'went on egg diet'

by Agence France-Presse
LONDON – Margaret Thatcher went on a crash diet eating 28 eggs a week to get in shape ahead of the 1979 election when she was elected British prime minister, papers out Saturday suggested.


Samuel Goldwyn  - "I'm willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."

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