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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 21, 2010 Major News Stories

'NTC can't compel telcos to reveal interconnection terms'

MANILA, Philippines - Telecommunications firms cannot be compelled by regulators to reveal interconnection terms with other carriers, according to phone giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

PLDT and other networks refused to provide the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) their "trade secrets" such as interconnection facilities and charging mechanisms. As a result, the NTC issued a show-cause order, asking them to explain why they should not be sanctioned for failing to submit a cost model for the reference access offers (RAO).

The NTC said the RAO is aimed at providing a regulatory measure to expedite interconnection negotiations, to ensure that terms and conditions of access are transparent, fair, and reasonable, and to minimize access-related disputes.

"PLDT's non-submission of its RAO is not designed to defraud or to seek an inconsiderable advantage, but merely to protect its trade secrets that will be ultimately disclosed had it filed its RAO. In the absence of malice, there is no basis to sanction PLDT administratively," PLDT said in its January 19 filing with the NTC.

PLDT added that the new policy is void and unconstitutional since it violates the declared national policy for a free enterprise system.

"A healthy competitive environment allows business enterprises, such as PTEs to freely make business decisions and enter into business agreements. However, by requiring PTEs to have uniform access agreements, PLDT's freedom to contract is impaired," PLDT said.

"Considering that only access providers are compelled to publicly disclose their trade secrets, undue favor and preferential advantage are afforded to access seekers. Also only access seekers are given the flexibility and latitude to negotiate terms and conditions specific to their requirements," it added.

Raped OFW may get 100 lashes after miscarriage

An overseas Filipino worker launguishing in a Saudi Arabian jail suffered miscarriage and now fears getting a hundred lashes before finally being freed. Camille (not her real name) has been in prison since August last year after getting pregnant out of wedlock.

Camille (not her real name) has been in prison since August last year after her employer turned her over to authorities because she got pregnant out of wedlock by a co-worker who raped her.

Camille, who lived with her in Quezon City, went to Dammam on May last year to work as a janitor in a dental clinic on a two-year contract, the victim's mother told GMANews.TV in an interview. 

Three months into the job, a co-worker – a Bangladeshi national – raped her.

But Camille chose to keep quiet, fearing her rapist would kill her if she reports the incident. 

In September, after undergoing a medical check-up – a requirement before she decided to return to the Philippines – she discovered she was pregnant and was reported to Saudi authorities by no less than her employer.

However, hard life in Hafr Al-Baten prison caused the miscarriage of her daughter's four-month-old baby in December, Camille's mother said. 

Although Camille was able to go to the hospital, she was sent to prison immediately after. 

The Shari'ah or Islamic law imposes imprisonment for women who get pregnant out of wedlock and, after giving birth, a penalty of lashes to be determined by courts before being freed. 

The law applies even to victims who claim to have been raped. 

Uncertain fate

Camille, 35 years old, was able to talk to her mother Monday night, during which she asked for help from back home.

"Sabi niya, sana makauwi na raw siya. Hindi ko naman alam kung ano ang gagawin. Hindi na ako tinawagan ng DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs)," the mother said.

(My daughter said she wishes to be sent home as soon as possible, but I don't know what to do. The DFA has not called me back.)

The mother added that Camille's case would still have to be heard in a Saudi Arabian court this January, according to the DFA. The exact dates of the hearings, and Camille's fate in the 
meantime, remain uncertain, she added.

"Natatakot siya ngayon kasi ganoon ang nangyari sa mga kasama niya sa kulungan, mga ibang lahi, nilalatigo nang 100 pagkapanganak," the mother said.

(She now fears getting 100 lashes because that's what happened to her fellow prisoners who are of different nationalities after giving birth.)

'Illicit affair'

"It is really saddening that instead of arresting and punishing the rapist, it was Camille who was charged with [having an] 'illicit affair' and brought to the Saudi authorities by her employer," said Gina Esguerra, secretary general of the migrants' rights group Migrante International.

Camille's mother also disclosed that the ordeal has angered Camille's three children in the Philippines, aged 15, 14, and five years old.

"Galit na galit sila. Naaawa rin sila sa nangyari sa Mama nila (They are enraged. They also pity their mother for what happened to her)," Camille's mother said.

Camille's children have also stopped going to school since money remittance from their mother, the family's only source of income, ceased in September last year. 

Camille previously worked as a domestic helper in Dubai, but she had problems with her employer who did not feed her, according to the mother. 

Migrante is currently in coordination with the DFA to assist Camille, Esguerra said.

Remonde's wife: Cerge didn't disclose health problem

Hindi inakala ng asawa ni Press Secretary Cerge Remonde na may iniinda na pala siyang sakit sa puso. Pero ayon kay Ginang Remonde, nagbigay ng ilang pangitain ang asawa. Samantala, mula pa kagabi ay buhos na ang mga nakikiramay sa pamilya ng namayapang press scretary.

Wife says Remonde rued lack of credibility

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde did not exactly die a happy man.

Midway into his job as President Macapagal-Arroyo's chief communicator, he began experiencing what his wife, Marit, called a "crisis of credibility" owing to the consistent negative publicity his boss was getting.

Marit said the issue of credibility meant a lot to Remonde, who was a long-time broadcaster before joining the Arroyo administration in 2001. She said he was planning to join a Manila broadsheet after Ms Arroyo steps down in June.

"He was bothered that people didn't believe him anymore," she told reporters at Remonde's wake at the Heritage Park in Taguig City shortly before Ms Arroyo paid a visit at 4:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Remonde was initially "very excited" about his new job, which he got in February last year. Marit said her husband got the appointment without political connections.

But things turned sour in August when Ms Arroyo and her entourage were accused of spending some P1 million in taxpayers' money for a lavish dinner at a classy French restaurant in New York.

Days later, another story came out alleging that Arroyo and company had spent around P700,000 for a separate dinner at a steak house in Washington, DC.

Marit said Remonde tried his best to defend the President against a deluge of criticisms and put the issue in the proper perspective. She said her husband was particularly hurt about the New York issue because the purported splurge was simply "not true."

"That's when it all started. He really felt bad about it. He felt he was not believed," she recalled.

Since then, Remonde "had no excitement anymore" about his job, she admitted.

"He felt that no matter what he said, it would still come out negative," she said. "We noticed that he was not really smiling so much… he was not really so happy anymore, but I think he was also tired… he was not getting enough rest."

In what proved to be Remonde's final visit to his beloved home province of Cebu for the "Sinulog" festival last weekend, his wife noticed that he had forgotten to bring his mobile phone charger.

Marit said it indicated that Remonde was no longer that excited to accommodate interviews unlike during his first few months in office.

Despite Remonde's image as a leading Arroyo defender, she said the man should be remembered for "who he really was."

"Cerge Remonde was a great guy. How can I explain that in a few words? You knew him. He was brilliant. He was very hard working. He was very humble," she said.

"Whatever he accomplished, he accomplished that on his own."

Masses for Cerge; Marit speaks out

Several Masses will be offered by friends, colleagues and relatives of the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde for the rest of week until his burial on Sunday.

Today, a mass sponsored by Mayor Tomas and Margot Osmeña will be held at the Basilica del Sto. Niño at 5:30 p.m.

On Friday, Remonde's remains will be flown to Cebu and is scheduled to arrive at 12 noon at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

The office of the Press Secretary advised his friends that they may not go to the airport to meet him to avoid delays.

The body will be brought directly to the Malacañang sa Sugbo where a necrological service will be held at 7 p.m. Remonde's remains will stay there overnight.

The following day, January 23, his remains will be brought to his hometown of Argao with the motorcade departing from the city at 1 p.m.

On Sunday, his remains will be buried in the Remonde family mausoleum in the Argao Public Cemetery at 3 p.m.

Several government officials are expected to attend the interment.

Remonde's remains would be brought to Malacañang Palace today where a Mass will be celebrated by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who is currently in Manila for a meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

The Office of the Press Secretary sponsored a mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday that was celebrated by Msgr. Achilles Dakay, the media liaison officer of the Archdiocese.

"Cerge was a man of faith, hope and charity, a man who has showed devotion to Señor Sto. Niño," Dakay said in his Homily.

The councils of Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Talisay City passed resolutions condoling with Remonde's family.

Argao town Mayor Edsel Galleos said that a hero's welcome awaits Remonde and the Philippine flag will be flown at half mast as the Argaowanons observe a day of mourning.

The staff of the Provincial Prosecutor's Office also expressed their sadness on the passing away of Remonde, who they thanked for facilitating the release of their allowances in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Not So Happy Anymore

In a report over ABS-CBN, Remonde was described to have looked unhappy and tired before his death on Tuesday morning.

"He was really not so happy anymore. But I think he was really tired, also physically tired," said Remonde's wife, Marit Stinus-Remonde, who is Danish.

"I think it was stress. Cerge had a lot of stress in his work and he was not getting enough rest. But I think he was also fulfilled. He had lots of frustrations and headaches and heartaches in his work but he was also fulfilled," Marit said.

According Marit, her hardworking husband worked his way up the bureaucracy. Remonde was appointed press secretary on February 1, 2009. He was director-general of the Presidential Management Staff before he was moved to the Office of the Press Secretary.

After Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over from President Joseph Estrada in January 2001, Remonde was appointed press undersecretary in charge of broadcast media.

"We lived in Cebu. We had some really good years in Cebu until in 2001, exactly 9 years ago, right after the Sinulog in 2001, Cerge joined the government," Marit said.

Remonde was also appointed by Mrs. Arroyo head of the Government Mass Media Group after she won a fresh six-year term in the 2004 presidential elections.

"Basically, he was the same person I met in '92. Very simple and humble and very hardworking always," Marit said.

'Love at first sight'

Marit recalled that it was in 1992 when a neighbor first introduced her to Remonde. They were both involved in the labor movement with her working at the International Labor Organization and him, at the Associated Labor Union.

Marit was all smiles when asked about what she liked about Remonde. "His eyes, his hands and everything. It was love at first sight."

However, after their first meeting, Marit had to go home to Denmark to attend to her grandfather's birthday.

"But when I got back to the Philippines I knew the first thing I had to do was go and see him again. I visited him and I was so excited that he was also expecting me to visit him. So this was before mobilephones. So you just have to take the chance to go and see the person," she explained.

She shared that one of her birthday gifts to Remonde back then was a key to her apartment.

Marit was wearing a hat recently bought by Remonde during a trip to Hong Kong. In an interview at Remonde's wake, she explained that she lost her hair due to stress.

"He wasn't so fond of the scarves I was wearing and bandanas so he forced me to wear this hat he bought for me on his birthday in Hong Kong. He cared. He wanted me to look nice," she said.

No regrets

Like any couple, they also had their share of life's ups and downs. But in the end, she has no regrets.

"I have no regrets. This is how we live our lives and we should never have regrets. I am so grateful that I had all these years with him. I would never have had this kind of life, all the experiences I've had had here I owe everything to him."

"I was not always the good wife, the perfect wife. We had our problems also but when I look back, I don't have regrets. We've had exciting lives," she said.

Marit accepted the fact that her life will be different now. But for her, her husband is still with her.

"For me, he's still here. My life will be very different from now on but I'm just really grateful that I had all these years with Cerge, and he really gave me a life here," she said.

Dengue cases in Eastern Visayas on the rise—DoH

The Department of Health in Eastern Visayas expressed concern over the rise of dengue cases in the region.

1,125 die from cancer in Metro Cebu a year

Cancer has caused the deaths of at least 1,125 persons per year in Metro Cebu with most cases were reported in Cebu City.

Ronald delos Reyes, health educator of the Eduardo Aboitiz Cancer Center, revealed that every year, over 1,700 new cases of cancer are reported in Metro Cebu.

Common types of cancer that are affecting Cebuanos are the cancer of the liver, colorectal, prostate, and lung for males while cancer of the breast, liver, lung, and cervical cancer for females.

Delos Reyes said most deaths occur among males because females are more open to checkup once they detect something wrong in their body.

"Women are more likely to see a doctor when they find something wrong in their body. Ang mga lalaki, maghuwat pa na mograbe ang sakit una magpacheck-up. But please know na bisan maka-afford paka, kung late or grabe na ang stage sa cancer, that's hopeless already," delos Reyes said.

In line with the Cancer Awareness Week, the EACC reminded the public that healthy lifestyle is really important as one way of preventing or minimizing one's risk to have cancer.

"Quit smoking. That is really what the DOH (Department of Health) is promoting right now because lung cancer remains the most common among the variations of the disease," Delos Reyes said.

He noted the growing number of people smoking mostly among call center agents.

Next to lung cancer is liver cancer which is also common to both females and males. The most common diseases associated with liver cancer are chronic viral hepatitis, alcoholism, and cirrhosis or the scarring of the liver.

Delos Reyes told parents that it is important for their child to complete the Hepatitis B (HPB) vaccines which protects their child from having Hepatitis B infections. "More than 50 percent of those diagnosed with liver cancer have hepa B infections."

For women, to prevent cervical cancer through early detection, they are advised to have Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

"Although mahal siya but compared sa risgo na ma-develop ang cervical cancer, mas barato kung maprevent siya," delos Reyes said.

While prostate cancer is easily detectable, still, most cases are diagnosed only at the late stage.

"Kay unfortunately, ang mga lalaki lagi di open magpa-check-up. Dapat unta moagi sila og DigitalRectal Examination or DRE," Delos Reyes said.

Other ways to prevent cancer are through low fat, high protein diet and exercise. He explained that high fat intake increases the risk of developing colon cancer.

Delos Reyes said that EACC continued to provide assistance to people diagnosed with cancer in various ways.

Some of the services they provide include pap smear (cervical screening), mammography, breast examination, breast and cervix biopsy and surgery in a form of primary treatment. Those who need assistance may approach EACC.

Meanwhile, delos Reyes said that the implementing rules and regulations of a city ordinance passed by Councilor Nestor Archival has been finalized just recently.

The ordinance, which seeks to create "a task force for the protection and welfare of people with cancer and providing funds," was approved on November 2008 and the IRR was finally completed.

Delos Reyes said they hope to implement it immediately because a lot of cancer patients will benefit from this ordinance.

UP high school closes in June?

Around 100 students and faculty members of the high school department of the University of the Philippines-Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) gathered yesterday in protesting anew the department's planned closure, which is set in June this year.

Sonny wants Kusug bets out

Former Senator John Henry Osmeña yesterday filed disqualification cases against former city mayor Alvin Garcia and Rodulfo Cabrera who are running for mayor and vice mayor for Cebu City under Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug).

Osmeña said the petition is based on the alleged failure of Kusug to comply with the regulationsgoverning the filing of the certificate of candidacy.

"Garcia and Cabrera should be disqualified from running in the May 10, 2010 elections because they filed their certificate of candidacy as substitute of an independent candidate. This is not allowed by law. Thus, their certificates of candidacy are null and void," Osmeña's nine-page petition reads.

Osmeña said the law is very clear that substitution of candidates applies only to candidates of registered or accredited political parties and not to independent candidates.

Osmeña said there is "a cloud hanging over the legitimacy of the candidacies of Garcia and Cabrera which will serve to benefit other candidates who are uncertain of whether they are voting for a qualified candidate and may lose their vote."

"This will operate to the advantage of BOPK candidate Mike Rama. In a round about way I can be said to be helping KUSUG. My only interest is that the contest for the mayorship of Cebu will not be affected by the issue," Osmeña said in a press statement.

Osmeña said he is even putting his candidacy for Cebu City mayor "on hold" so that he would not be accused of raising the issue simply to benefit himself.

Osmeña said he will actively campaign for the candidacy of businessman Jonathan Guardo and Lahug barangay captain Mary Ann de los Santos who are running for the city's north and south districts, respectively.

Sought for comment, Garcia said Osmeña's case simply reiterates the arguments raised by Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the group of Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

"Walay problema, wala ko mahadlok," Garcia said.

Reports had that Kusug's original candidates for mayor and vice mayor, Jonah John Rodriguez and Landolino Bontilao, could not be replaced by other candidates because Kusug had not secured a new letter of authority from the Commission on Elections allowing the party to nominate its candidates.

But Garcia said the issue has long been resolved.

"Dugay ra man kana nga naresolbar sa Comelec nga dili kadto fatal defect kay wala may changes sa signing authority sa among partido, ako ra man gihapon. Aw, maayo hinuon na kay mabalita man g'yud na nga gipasakaan mi ug kaso… libre hinoon nga publicity," Garcia said.

Council to Tom: File libel case vs. Guardo

The City Council has authorized Mayor Tomas Osmeña to file a criminal complaint for libel against businessman Jonathan Guardo for accusing the city of trying to stop the latter's distribution of rice to fire victims in barangay Calamba two weeks ago.

Tining finally takes oath before Nograles

THE Supreme Court (SC) denied with finality the motion for reconsideration that Benhur Salim-bangon filed in the fight for the congressional seat of Cebu's fourth district.

Rep. Celestino "Tining" Martinez III also took his oath last night before House Speaker Prospero Nograles and said that Nograles already advised Salimbangon to vacate his office.

"There's already a copy of the notice of the Speaker that he (Salimbangon) was advised to vacate his office. But I will check if we can get a copy because it's not for us," Martinez told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

In a resolution dated Jan. 19, the SC said "no substantial arguments were presented (in Salim-bangon's motion) to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision."

It also ordered that an entry of judgment be made.

The SC recently declared Martinez the winner of the May 2007 congressional elections, saying more than 5,000 votes that were previously declared as stray should be counted in his favor.

These were the votes marked "Martinez" or "C. Martinez."

Salimbangon, in a separate interview, said he heard about the SC's denial of his motion, but that it does not mean he can't file another motion. He said he was informed that the Martinez camp was seen bringing a photocopy of the SC order, but that he has yet to receive it.

He also denied that Nograles already ordered him to vacate his office. "I have not received a copy of that order," Salimbangon said minutes after the session ended at 8:30 p.m.

Delon Urot, one of Salimbangon's lawyers, said that "well-placed sources" at the SC informed them that their motion for reconsideration was indeed denied.

If that's true, Urot said, once the Salimbangon camp receives it, they will file a motion for leave of court to file a second motion for reconsideration.

Urot said his sources informed him that the SC's denial only contains one paragraph and no further details for the denial were stated.

"It's a standard denial of a motion for reconsideration. It has no cogent reason, without discussing the details. It's a generalization," Urot said.

"Even if it's true, we still have other legal options. But there's no formality yet. The fight is not yet over," Urot added.

A source close to Martinez said that the High Court found no cogent reason to disturb the Jan. 11 en banc ruling, which was favor of Martinez, and dismissed the motion "with finality."

In his motion, Salimbangon had said the SC cannot award Martinez 5,401 votes and say these were erroneously declared as stray ballots, having been cast for a disqualified candidate whose last name is also Martinez.

He maintained there were only 350 stray votes and that even if all were awarded to Martinez, he (Salimbangon) would still win.

Teodoro, Tamano join 'Suroy-Suroy Sugbo'

The opening day of the "Suroy-Suroy Sugbo" - Southern Trail has turned into a political venue, as governors, mayors and other elective officials across the three regions in the Visayas signed a manifesto of support to the presidential bid of Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro who was among those who joined the activity yesterday.

Special team formed to probe death of Samboan barangay Chief

The Police Regional Office-7 has organized a special team to investigate the killing of Cirilo Deniega, the barangay captain of Monteverde in the southern town of Samboan.

SC nips return of 2 justices

TWO Court of Appeals (CA) associate justices previously yanked out of Cebu upon orders of the Supreme Court returned the other Monday, ready to take over the chairmanships of two divisions.

But Associate Justices Pampio Abarintos and Isaias Dicdican got recalled on the same day they arrived, as Chief Justice Reynato Puno reportedly found their transfer not in accordance with the Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (IRCA) as amended.

"Justice Dicdican addressed the CA employees during the flag-raising ceremony that morning. He did not expect that they would be recalled in the afternoon," said Thelma Chiong of the Crusade Against Violence (CAV).

Chiong and her organization were, in part, responsible for getting the two justices transferred in April 2008. They had written Puno to allege that justice was "for sale" at the appellate court.

Both justices denied the allegation, which the Supreme Court did not deem worth taking up.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Chiong admitted she wrote Puno again immediately after hearing that the two associate justices were being transferred
back to Cebu.

"I cannot say that the recall was in direct relation to our recent letter but we were informed that they were recalled in the afternoon of the day they came back," she said.
She also acknowledged that nothing in the recall order referred to her earlier allegations.

Atty. Lucila Cad Enjambre, assistant clerk of court for the CA Cebu Station, declined to comment, stressing only that the organizational set-up puts Justices Abarintos and Dicdican in Manila, not in Cebu.

She referred all questions to Justice Ramon Cruz.

But Chiong said a CA office order was indeed issued covering the two justices' return to Cebu.

The order was signed by Acting Presiding Justice Portia Hormachuelos, who hails from Cebu. It was received by the CA Cebu Station last Jan. 8 and was immediately executory, having taken effect the day before.

The order assigned Dicdican and Abarintos as chairmen of the 18th and 19th divisions, respectively.

It was taken over by another office order, which took effect last Jan. 13 or two days after they were supposedly called back to Manila.

In this new order, both were assigned as senior members of the 1st and the 5th divisions, respectively.

Dicdican and Abarintos were transferred from Cebu pursuant to a Supreme Court (SC) en banc resolution dated March 18, 2008.

It stemmed from the investigation the SC ordered over the "justice for sale" allegation of Chiong and separate letters submitted by then Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) executive judge Fortunato de Gracia Jr. and one Rosendo Germano, a litigant.

At that time, Abarintos and Dicdican handled the 19th and 20th divisions, respectively.

Both divisions, together with the 18th division that was then chaired by incumbent Executive Justice Antonio Villamor, are based in Cebu City.

Chiong, in her 2008 letter to Puno, claimed that justice was "for sale" at the appellate court and said she has received a lot of information about it.

De Gracia, on the other hand, endorsed a newspaper report on the same subject. Germano sought the abolition of the Cebu CA Station, citing the allegedly "erroneous dismissal" of a Leyte case where "money did much of the talking."

The SC, in a ruling Feb. 22, 2008, didn't give much attention to the actual allegations and instead focused on the need to reorganize the appellate court.

In the 15-page resolution, it cited the need to impose a stricter rule on reassignments instead.

The ruling stopped the practice of justices signing a waiver when reassigned either through a promotion or transfer to another station, like Manila or Cagayan de Oro.

On the subject of justice for sale to litigants, all the ruling said is that the allegations all pertain to actions taken by trial courts in pending cases.

These, according to the ruling, are "subject to review" in the "proper judicial proceedings prescribed by the Rules of Court" and "not in an administrative investigation."

Dicdican and Abarintos, together with Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Franchito Diamante and Amy Lazaro-Javier, tried to block their transfer by filing a motion for reconsideration against the Feb. 22 ruling.

The SC, in its March 18 ruling, denied the motion "with finality" and said there were "no substantial matters raised to warrant the reversal" of the resolution.

Abarintos wrote a separate letter, dated March 15, requesting that he be retained in Cebu City, but this too was denied.

Money changers warned of Mindanao robbers

While saying that eight cohorts of Richard Mañala, the suspected pickpocket from Basilan who was shot dead near this city's pier area before the Sinulog festival, are no longer here in Cebu, the police disclosed they are still monitoring suspected big robbers from Mindanao.

Join mock polls, urges Comelec

SO voters can familiarize themselves with the machines that will be used in the automated polls, Cebu City's election officers urged voters and candidates to participate in the mock elections scheduled next month.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu City offices will hold a mock election as part of their voter education campaign.

Lawyer Edwin Cadungog, election officer for the south district, said it will be a chance for all candidates to see how the automated elections will be conducted, and how their watchers and election lawyers should function on Election Day.

Two Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines will be assigned to Cebu City, which will be used during the mock election on Feb. 6 in Barangays Bulacao in the south district and Mabini in the north.

Lawyer Marchel Sarno said there are no guidelines yet on the conduct of the mock elections but they were told it will be a simulation of the actual election on May 10.

"It will be good if the administration and opposition candidates can participate so they can give us their comments and suggestions, if they are amenable to the set-up or they want something changed, so we can also make recommendations to Comelec Manila," Sarno said.

He also encouraged the voters to participate and observe the automated elections, so they can try the machines before they go to the actual poll precincts.

Comelec has also scheduled next month the training of election officers in the cities and towns on the poll automation procedures.

After the election officers and Comelec staff are trained, Sarno said they will proceed with the training of the teachers who will compose the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in March.

"The training of teachers was moved to March so it can be held closer to Election Day. It was suggested that we hold it as early as November last year, but we preferred to do the training at a later date so the teachers will not forget and won't need to be retrained," he said.

Since this is the first time the national elections will be automated, there is a growing concern on whether or not the elections will proceed smoothly, considering that voters are not familiar with the machines.

But Sarno said they will do their best to educate the voters by holding voter education activities in all the sitios in the city.

'Fine Smartmatic for delivery delays'

MANILA, Philippines - Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wants poll automation machine provider Smartmatic to pay for each day of delay in the delivery of machines.

Comelec: Estrada can run for president in May

(UPDATE 3) The Commission on Elections Second Division allowed on Wednesday former President Joseph Estrada to run for president in the May 2010 elections.

Monsod: Comelec erred in Erap disqualification case

Former Commission on Elections chairman and one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution Christian Monsod on Wednesday said the poll body"s second division erred in allowing ousted leader Joseph Estrada to join the May 10 presidential race.
Monsod said it is clear in the Constitution that a person that has been elected president can no longer be allowed to seek re-election.

"Mali ang Comelec diyan. Basahin nila yung provision ng Constitution at saka basahin nila yung record ng Constitutional Commission. Hindi siguro nagbabasa ang Comelec commissioner," he said.

Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution states that a president shall not be eligible for any re-election. 

Monsod was reacting to the dismissal by the Comelec's Second Division of the two disqualification cases filed against Estrada for lack of merit.

The petitioners, however, could file a petition with the Comelec en banc.

Santiago says Enrile ouster plot 'a work in progress'

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday said the reported plan to oust Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile "is a work in progress."

Villar hurt by Pangilinan's sudden turnaround

Senator Manny Villar Wednesday admitted he was hurt by a friend's sudden turnaround on the ethics case filed against him over the controversial C-5 road extension project.

Villar shows up at Senate

(UPDATE) Taking up the challenge, Senator Manny Villar on Wednesday showed up at the Senate to attend session and address allegations he benefitted from the controversial C5 road extension project.

LP senators rally behind Enrile amid coup rumors

Liberal Party (LP) senators have pledged to throw their full support behind Senate President Juan Ponce–Enrile, who is reportedly facing coup attempts by supporters of beleaguered Senator Manny Villar.

Enrile: Senate cannot compel Villar to return P6.22B

Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Villar cannot be compelled by the Senate to return the P6.22 billion his corporations allegedly gained from the government"s C-5 road extension project, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Tuesday. Enrile said only the national government can initiate moves to force Villar to return the money.

Farmers group allowed to hold massacre memorial on Mendiola

The Manila government will allow militant groups to set foot on the historic Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge on Friday in commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre 23 years ago.

Lawyer ordered jailed over antics before Comelec execs

The antics of perennial nuisance candidate Ely Pamatong has landed him in jail.

The Commission on Elections on Wednesday charged Pamatong with direct contempt and ordered him to be detained at the Manila City Jail, after he interrupted the promulgation proceedings of the second division.

Pamatong, a self-proclaimed author and lawyer who once tried to sue Pope Benedict XVI, attempted to walk out of the Comelec session hall as the division was set to announce the ruling on the disqualification case he filed against ousted President Joseph Estrada and President Macapagal-Arroyo.

"I want to leave! Mga magnanakaw kayong lahat (You are all thieves)!" Pamatong yelled at the shocked Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph.

As Pamatong left the room, an angry Yusoph shouted an order to the guards to apprehend him. "Arrest him!" he said.

In a statement distributed to the media, Pamatong accused the commissioners of accepting P5 million each to include Vetellano Acosta, the candidate of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, in the presidential candidate list.

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, the standard bearer of Liberal Party, has asked the Comelec to declare Acosta a nuisance candidate.

Ferrer, the presiding officer of the division, has ordered Pamatong to be jailed for 10 days and to pay a fine of P200 for creating a scene.

Pamatong, who wants the Philippines to be annexed to the United States, did not resist the Comelec security guards when they surrounded him and transferred him outside the session hall. "Hwag nyo akong hawakan. Hindi naman ako tatakas, (Don't touch me. I am not going to escape)," he said.

After Pamatong was brought outside to stew, the Second Division proceeded with the promulgation.

Ferrer said Pamatong, whose certificate of candidacy for president has been denied time and again, crossed the line with his outburt.

In the past, Pamatong's dealings with the Comelec only dealt with paperwork and short appearances in the hearings, the commissioners said.

Pamatong's public accusation that they accepted bribes was like a "punch in the face," Ferrer said.

"We didn't want to pay attention to him, but unfortunately, what he did was unforgivable. He created disturbance in the presence of so many important personalities and lawyers there," Ferrer said.

"If we don't do anything, nobody might respect us anymore," he added. Pamatong will have to serve his jail time as direct contempt is not bailable, the poll official said.

Ferrer said the division was contemplating of asking the Supreme Court to disbar Pamatong and erase him from the roll.

Ivler mother barred from seeing son at hospital

Marlene Aguilar, mother of road rage suspect Jason Ivler, was barred by the National Bureau of Investigation from visiting her son in a hospital even though doctors had declared him out of danger and said he would be moved to a regular room anytime.

Marlene Aguilar to NBI: You treated my son like a pig

Matapos makapag-piyansa kahapon, nagpabalik-balik si Marlene Aguilar sa Quirino Memorial Medical Center kung saan naka-confine ang anak niyang murder suspect na si Jason Ivler. Bumuwelta pa si Aguilar sa NBI at pinaratangan na trinato na parang baboy ang kanyang anak nang ito'y arestuhin.

Authorities eye stripping road rage suspect's stepdad of diplomatic immunity

The Department of Foreign Affairs is coordinating with law enforcement authorities on the possibility of stripping the stepfather of road rage murder suspect Jason Ivler of diplomatic immunity.

Eduardo Malaya, DFA spokesperson, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, that the DFA was still awaiting, as of Wednesday, the results of the investigation on the possible culpability of British Stephen Pollard. Pollard enjoys diplomatic immunity as a senior economist of the Asian Development Bank, an international organization.

"Actions on the Ivler case are being handled and have to be coordinated with law enforcement authorities. We wish not to preempt and foreclose any possible action that they may wish to take, including against other family members," Malaya said.

Pollard's stepson, Jason Aguilar Ivler, was arrested last Monday, in a house Pollard shared with his Filipino wife and Ivler's mom, Marlene Aguilar, in Blue Ridge Subdivision.

Pollard is the registered owner of the sport utility vehicle driven by Ivler who had been wanted for the fatal shooting of the son and namesake of Malacañang Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr. during traffic altercation on Santolan Road in Quezon City on Nov. 18, 2009.
Ivler sustained gunshot wounds when he fought it out with NBI agents and is now out of danger at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. Two NBI agents were wounded during the raid.

"For now, we're not aware of any actual charges filed (against Pollard)," Malaya said earlier in a press conference on the the possibility of revoking Pollard's immunity.

"In general, if there are charges filed by the prosecutor, if international organizations think staff members are entitled to immunity, a certificate of entitlement to immunity is given by the DFA. If we don't think he is entitled to immunity, the certificate will not be issued," Malaya said.

Diplomatic immunity is a principle in international law by which certain foreign government officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of local courts and other authorities. This is provided under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.

The convention provides that while diplomats and other holders of diplomatic immunity and privileges are exempt from the criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction of the host country, this exemption may be waived by their home country.

Moreover, the immunity of a diplomat from the jurisdiction of the host country does not exempt him/her from the jurisdiction of his/her home country.

On reports that Ebarle wanted the DFA to declare Pollard a persona non grata, Malaya said the DFA has not received a formal request from Ebarle, who made the call in a press conference in Malacanang on Monday.

It is within the discretion of the host country to declare any member of the diplomatic staff of a mission persona non grata (or unwanted person). This may be done at any time and there is no obligation to explain such a decision.

A Filipino diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity for not having been authorized to speak to media on the issue, said the DFA could not declare Pollard a persona non grata until it had the results of the investigation on his involvement in the case.

"If we declare Pollard a persona non grata, he will have only hours, or a short period of time to leave the country. What if later on, the police and the prosecutor decide to file charges against him, how can you make him face the charges?" the diplomat said.

There is no extradition treaty yet between the Philippines and the United Kingdom although it is now being negotiated, according to the diplomat.

'Work of the devil' video in Ampatuan trial

(UPDATE 4) The prosecution on Wednesday presented raw video footage of the massacre site intended to implicate Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. in the death of 57 people in Maguindanao.

Ampatuan Jr. grins as court shows video of massacre

Ipinalabas sa korte kanina ang tatlong oras na video ng paghuhukay sa mga biktima ng Maguindanao massacre. Sa tindi ng video, hindi ito nasikmura ng ibang nanood! Pero ang pangunahing suspek na si dating Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., minsan ay pangisi-ngisi lang! 

Ampatuans behind the murder of key witness' kin, says Mangudadatu

Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu on Wednesday accused the Ampatuans of being behind the murder of a relative of a key witness in the Maguindanao massacre.

1,000 bullets seized from house of Ampatuan mom-in-law

Government forces on Wednesday raided the house of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.'s mother-in-law in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, and seized more than 1,000 bullets for various guns, police said.

Official media death count in Ampatuan massacre is now 32

The number of media workers killed in the massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province almost two months ago now stands at 32, with the inclusion of a community newspaper"s staff photographer who was previously unaccounted for, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Wednesday.

Jepon Cadagdagon, 28, was included in the list of media workers killed in the massacre last November 23 after the NUJP confirmed that he was a newly-hired staff photographer of the newspaper, Saksi News, published in General Santos City.

Cadagdagon was previously identified as a driver of a van included in the ill-fated convoy on its way to file Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao.

Despite the updated figure, only 31 bodies of media workers have been recovered so far. The remains of Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay, a photographer of Midland Review in Tacurong City, have yet to be recovered, although a set of dentures identified as his was found at the gravesite.

Below is the NUJP's complete list of the 32 media workers killed in the massacre, which has been called the "worst loss of life in a day in the history of journalism" by media organizations worldwide (surname first, followed by given name, media outfit, and city):

1. Adolfo, Benjie - Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
2. Araneta, Henry - Radio DZRH, General Santos City
3. Arriola, Mark Gilbert "Mac-Mac" - UNTV, General Santos City
4. Bataluna, Rubello - Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
5. Betia, Arturo - Periodico Ini, General Santos City
6. Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy - Midland Review, Tacurong City
7. Cablitas, Marites - News Focus, General Santos City
8. Cachuela, Hannibal - Punto News, Koronadal City
9. Cadagdagon, Jepon - Saksi News. General Santos City.
10. Caniban, John - Periodico Ini, General Santos City
11. Dalmacio, Lea - Socsargen News, General Santos City
12. Decina, Noel - Periodico Ini, General Santos City
13. Dela Cruz, Gina - Saksi News, General Santos City
14. Duhay, Jhoy - Gold Star Daily, Tacurong City
15. Evardo, Jolito - UNTV, General Santos City
16. Gatchalian, Santos - DXGO, Davao City
17. Legarte, Bienvenido, Jr. - Prontiera News, Koronadal City
18. Lupogan, Lindo - Mindanao Daily Gazette, Davao City
19. Maravilla, Ernesto "Bart" - Bombo Radyo, Koronadal City
20. Merisco, Rey - Periodico Ini, Koronadal City
21. Momay, Reynaldo "Bebot" - Midland Review, Tacurong City (still missing)
22. Montaño, Marife "Neneng" - Saksi News, General Santos City
23. Morales, Rosell - News Focus, General Santos City
24. Nuñez, Victor - UNTV, General Santos City
25. Perante, Ronnie - Gold Star Daily correspondent, Koronadal City
26. Parcon, Joel - Prontiera News, Koronadal City
27. Razon, Fernando "Rani" - Periodico Ini, General Santos City
28. Reblando, Alejandro "Bong" - Manila Bulletin, General Santos City
29. Salaysay, Napoleon - Mindanao Gazette, Cotabato City 
30. Subang, Ian - Socsargen Today, General Santos City
31. Teodoro, Andres "Andy" - Central Mindanao Inquirer, Tacurong City
32. Tiamson, Daniel - UNTV, General Santos City

An earlier list of the media victims of the massacre was posted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism last November 30, 2009. [See: The official list of 30 media martyrs of Maguindanao]

PNP: Private armies thrive in Ilocos, ARMM

Nagbabala si Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, wala raw silang sasantuhin at aarestuhin ang mga pulitikong may private army! Pero ayon mismo sa mga dating armadong tauhan ng ilang pulitiko na exklusibong nakapanayam ng ABS-CBN News, mahihirapan ang gubyernong lansagin ang mga private army! Sa report mismo ng PNP, lumalabas na patuloy ang paglipana ng private armies, lalo sa Ilocos region at ARMM.

PNP creates task force vs Masbate private armies

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed Masbate province in the Bicol Region under "special police watch" due to the reported presence of about nine partisan armed groups that may cause election-related violence there.

Magdalo backs extension of Ibrado's term as AFP chief

Extending the term of Armed Forces chief Gen. Victor Ibrado beyond March is better than appointing "a very unpopular candidate," a group of reformist military officers and men said on Wednesday.

RP task force to assist Filipinos reaches Haiti

A task force assigned to supervise the rescue and repatriation of Filipinos affected by a magnitude 7 earthquake in Haiti has reached Port-au-Prince and immediately put in place a repatriation plan for those who may wish to return to the Philippines.

Strong quake hits Haiti: US geologists

(UPDATE) A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on the moment magnitude scale hit Haiti early on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said.

Quake shakes Mexico-Guatemala border

WASHINGTON – An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Moment Magnitude scale rattled the border of Guatemala and Mexico, according to US seismologists Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

President says stricken Haiti cannot cope with aid

Haiti's President Rene Preval said emergency teams faced difficulties coordinating the huge deliveries of aid reaching his quake-stricken country, in comments to French radio on Wednesday.

Roach: 'Life goes on without Mayweather'

MANILA, Philippines – The boxing world still laments the cancellation of the showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., but American trainer Freddie Roach said the show must go on.

Pacquiao: 'I feel like a football player'

MANILA, Philippines – Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao said he felt like a football player with the atmosphere at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas during the press conference for his upcoming fight against Ghana's Joshua Clottey.

Clottey says touted Pacquiao is beatable

The last 10 fighters who climbed the ring against Manny Pacquiao wound up on the losing end, including big guys Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto who suffered humiliating TKO losses. But no, sir, this does not necessarily mean Pacquiao is invincible, if you ask his next rival, Joshua Clottey of Ghana.

Women's boxing added to Asian Games program

Women's boxing will make its debut at the Asian Games later this year ahead of its inclusion as an Olympic sport at London in 2012, officials said Wednesday.

BK thwarts Alaska's bid for automatic semis seat

MANILA, Philippines -- Burger King Whoppers jeopardized Alaska Aces' bid for an automatic semis seat after pulling off an 87-80 win Wednesday night in the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

MTRCB's 'abuses' slammed

MANILA, Philippines - Armida Siguion-Reyna has called on television stations and movie outfits to strengthen their system of self regulation to shield themselves from the alleged abuses of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Roxanne Guinoo says no to love scenes, backs out of 'Dangal'

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MANILA, Philippines – "Magkano Ang Iyong Dangal?," ABS-CBN's upcoming afternoon television series, was first offered to Roxanne Guinoo, but the young actress eventually backed out of the project because of the love scenes. This was confirmed by Raymond Gallegos Dizon, who is the show's business unit head.

Shaina Magdayao, John Prats call it quits

MANILA, Philippines – After weeks of keeping mum on the break-up rumor, Shaina Magdayao finally confirmed that she and John Prats have split up. Magdayao told that they ended their relationship in December of last year. "Gaya ng lahat ng break-up, hindi siya maayos. Pero ginagawa namin ang lahat para ma-save 'yong friendship namin."

Child abuse, kidnap charges to be filed vs brother of business tycoon

State prosecutors approved another set of criminal charges against Mariano Tanenglian, his wife and two children in connection with allegations of physical and verbal abuse of former members of their household.

American citizen

A Quezon City court has declared a daughter of tycoon Lucio Tan an American citizen which placed her run for a congressional seat in the city's first district in jeopardy.

In a seven-page decision, Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Augustus C. Diaz ordered Vivienne Khao Tan's name de-listed from the voter's registration list in Barangay Sto. Domingo because she was not a Filipino citizen when she registered on Oct. 26, 2009.

The court based its decision on the act of Tan to take her allegiance as Filipino on Dec. 1, or 36 days after she filed for registration, which it said was a clear manifestation of "her lack of Philippine citizenship upon her registration."

"A Filipino citizen would not be required to perform an oath of Allegiance to affirm his or her Filipino citizenship, because affirmation is no longer necessary because the citizenship has always been in his or her possession," said Diaz in his ruling.

Under Republic Act No. 9225 or the dual citizenship law, natural-born Filipinos like Tan who have gained citizenship in another country must first take an oath of allegiance to the Republic before he or she could re-acquire his or her citizenship. Tan became an American citizen on Jan. 19, 1993.

During the court hearings, Commission on Elections officer Ronald Allan Sindo testified Tan submitted a Philippine passport when she registered as voter but this was ignored by the judge.

Tan's citizenship was questioned by the incumbent representative of Quezon City's first district, Rep. Vicente "Bingbong'' Crisologo, who found out that she used an American passport as basis for her credentials in her certificate of candidacy.

Crisologo is expected to use the court ruling to bolster his petition with the Comelec to disqualify Tan as congressional candidate.

Cinemalaya bares 10 finalists in full-length film category

A peek into the hidden world of brides-to-be who are kept away from public view, a journey of a Badjao father and daughter as they illegally cross to Sabah and a woman ravaged by war.

These three entries by Mindanao filmmakers are among the 10 finalists in the Full Length category of this year's Cinemalaya competition. These are films which have 90-120 minutes running time.

Limbunan, by Maguindanaon filmmaker Gutierrez Mangansakan II, is a glimpse into the hidden world of the "limbunan" where women who are about to get married are barred from leaving their homes.

Sheron Dayoc's Halaw chronicles the journey of a Badjao father and daughter as they sneak through the southern backdoor and illegal enter Sabah.

Arnel Mardoquio's Sheika, meanwhile, is a story of a woman ravaged by war in Mindanao. In search of peace, she runs to the city but violence and death continue to haunt her.

"Last year, the number of indie films surpassed commercially-made films. Our indie films continue to receive international accolades so we continue to push forward despite the odds," said festival director Nestor Jardin.

The other finalists are Dan Villegas' and Paul Sta. Ana's Mayohan, Kim Homer Garcia's "Magkakapatid," Danny Anonuevo's "Rekrut," Francis Xavier Pasion's "Sampaguita," Art Katipunan's "Si Techie, Si Teknoboy at si JuanaB," Dennis N. Marasigan's "Siya ang Mayor Ko," and Ian-Dean S. Lorenos' "The Leaving."

The Best Full Length Feature film will receive a prize of P200,000 and the Balanghai.

The festival runs from July 9 to July 18.

"We lengthened the festival to nine days so it can accommodate more viewers," said Jardin.

Now on its sixth year, Cinemalaya is an all-digital film festival that aims to discover, encourage and honor the cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers who articulate and interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insights and artistic integrity.

The Cinemalaya Competition and Festival is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, CCP, Film Development Council of the Philippines and Econolink Investments Inc.

Tiger staying at sex addiction rehab clinic

Tiger Woods is receiving treatment for sexual addiction at a sex rehabilitation clinic in nearby Hattiesburg, according to two television stations and an author on the topic.

Gene mappers closing in on common cold cure

by CNN
(CNN) -- A cure for the common cold has eluded scientists since the dawn of mankind.

Common colds -- also known as human rhinovirus -- affect billions of people worldwide every year and have more than 100 different, but related, strains.

Each of these strains can cause a variety of symptoms in sufferers. Doctors say that variety is what makes the common cold so hard to understand and so hard to treat.

Last year, researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that they had taken the first step in finding a cure for rhinovirus by mapping each strain's entire genome.

Now, those same scientists have found some interesting things about all those different strains.

"We continue to see a new virus that appears to come from two viruses," said Dr. Stephen B. Liggett, co-leader of the project and a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "So a person can become infected with two viruses, and a third unique virus is formed."


Why those mutations develop is still a major question, but Liggett says most of them don't cause any harm.

"It's really more about why they develop ... because many are not very strong, but in some cases, they are," he said. "So we need to better understand them."

When the different strains of the common cold were mapped early last year, researchers were looking for ways to develop diagnostic tests and eventually possible treatments.

Since the completion of the mapping, researchers have been working on a diagnostic test for the virus.

Originally, the test was expected to cost about $2,000, but they have perfected the technique and found they can develop a much cheaper test for about $20.

That means a test for the cold may one day be common in doctors' offices. A fast and inexpensive test is good news for asthmatics and people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for whom colds can be life-threatening.

"Fifty percent of the exacerbations that occur in patients who have these two diseases are due to a rhinovirus infection," Liggett notes. "So it's that group of people we are targeting. Those would be the first group we'd like to help."

Unlikely to find cure?

Respiratory infections including colds and the flu are some of the most common causes of asthma flare-ups, especially in young children, according to the American Asthma Foundation.

Although the genetic mapping of the different strains is a positive step, many in the medical community say the virus itself is just too complex to tackle.

Dr. Andrew Shorr, a pulmonologist with Washington Hospital Center, says that mapping the genome of the different strains of the common cold is "no big deal" because the complexity of the virus makes the likelihood of finding a specific cure highly unlikely.

But Liggett ignores the naysayers; he says that by mapping the genome of the different strains and assembling the results into a "family tree," scientists can better understand how virus strains are related, as well as their differences.

Last year, researchers found that human rhinovirus strains are organized into about 15 subgroups, so a "one-drug-fits-all" approach to treat the cold probably won't work.

But Liggett says he and his fellow researchers hope to streamline those 15 subgroups into five, which would make it easier to treat the virus.

"Better to have five treatments than 15," Liggett said. "Right now, vaccines and other treatments aren't our main goal," Liggett said. "Hopefully, we will be able to design treatments some day. Taking our research little by little will help us understand a virus we've never been able to figure out before. And for now, that's what's most important."

More wives outearning their husbands

by By Julianne Pepitone, CNN
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NEW YORK -- The financial balance of power in American marriages is shifting.

A Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found that 22% of men made less money than their wives in 2007. By comparison, 4% of husbands earned less than their wives in 1970.

A shift in education patterns was a factor in the Pew report, which polled U.S.-born 30- to 44-year olds. In 1970, 28% of husbands had more education than their wives.

By 2007, that figure dropped to 19%. Slightly more than half of spouses had the same education level in both 1970 and 2007, the most recent year for which data were available.

Education counts

"For a long time, men didn't need education to make a decent wage -- they could go into manufacturing or other labor," said Jenny Wittner, associate director of the advocacy group Women Employed.

"Women had to get an education to keep up, and over the years that has started to translate into a difference in wages," Wittner added.

The report cited several societal and economic reasons for the jump. Marriage rates have declined across the board since 1970, and rates have gone down most sharply for the least educated.

The most educated are far more likely than those with less education to be married, and that gap that has widened since 1970.

And since more education is linked to higher earnings, marriage especially boosts a household's spending power.

Men felt job crunch

Pew's report was compiled from data collected before the recession hit, and said that the downturn will only exacerbate those trends as men have especially felt the job crunch.

The report cited government data that said males accounted for about 75% of the 2008 decline in employment among "prime-working-age individuals."

As a result, the percentage of women in the workforce continues to inch toward equilibrium, as women now comprise 47.4% of the total.

But Wittner noted "it may not stay a so-called 'men's recession' forever, and that shift will hurt households as the woman's income becomes more important."

Singles advantage

Unmarried adults and the marriage advantage: For singles at all levels of education, men's incomes fared worse.

In 2007, unmarried women had higher income than their 1970 counterparts.

But single men without any college education saw their inflation-adjusted earnings decrease, and they did not have a wife's wages cushion the decline.

Similarly, single men who did not complete high school or who had only a high school diploma had lower household incomes in 2007 than their 1970 counterparts -- those with some college education saw income remain the same.

One exception to the marriage advantage: Married women without a high school diploma saw their inflation-adjusted household incomes fall 2% from 1970 to 2007, while those of their single counterparts grew 9%.

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

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