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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 27, 2010 Major News Stories

Oil prices dip below $75 in Asian trade

SINGAPORE—Oil prices dipped below $75 a barrel in Asian trade Tuesday after overnight gains, amid concerns China would make further moves to tighten credit, analysts said.

PCCI warns vs inconsistent policies over BoC-Shell row

Another business group has expressed alarm over the "unpredictable changes" in public policies affecting business operations in the country, citing the tax row between oil giant Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and the Bureau of Customs.

SRA: Sugar pricing to prevent 'reverse smuggling'

The government has not been keen on suggesting a low retail price for sugar because that could prompt sugar producers to smuggle it out of the country, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Rafael Coscolluela said Monday.

Militant group wants price ceiling on sugar

by By Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Militant women's group Gabriela staged a so-called breakfast protest in front of the Department of Trade and Industry's office in Makati City to call on the government to impose a price ceiling on sugar.

Gov't to shut down stores of sugar profiteers

The Department of Agriculture (DA) vowed on Tuesday to padlock stores of profiteers caught selling sugar above the suggested retail price of P52 per kilo.

'Philippines may import more rice if El Nino hits output'

by Reuters
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer, may import more of the grain if an expected moderate dry spell hits its harvest, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Arroyo reactivates El Niño Task Force

The government has reactivated the El Niño Task Force in preparation for the onslaught of the abnormal dry season that is expected to cause billions of pesos in agricultural losses.

DepEd to meet with school owners over no-tuition-no-exam rule

Education officials will meet with private school owners to "appeal" to them to let students take their final examinations even if they have not fully paid their tuition.

No CHED memo yet vs. "No permit, no exam" rule

The order against the "no permit, no exam" policy directed by the Commission on Higher Education is unfortunately not yet in effect in Central Visayas because the memorandum has not reached the CHED Regional Field Office as of yesterday.

Colleges, universities heed CHED's call vs 'no permit, no exam' policy

Handa ang mga kolehiyo sa bansa na sumunod sa utos ng Commission on Higher Education na payagan ang mga estudyante na mag-exam kahit hindi pa nakakabayad ng matrikula.

PRC: 550 pass Architect Licensure Exams

A total of 550 out of 1,092 passed the Architect Licensure Examination given by the Board of Architecture last January 15 and 17 in Manila, the Professional Regulation Commission announced.

The top 10 placers in the exams are (with school and rating):

1. Romanuel Abuel Contreras of Mapua Institute of Technology (86.80%)
2. David Xander Torres Lacson of University of the Philippines-Diliman (86.00)
3. Deniece Sy Yusun of University of the Philippines-Diliman (85.40)
4. Franco Lintag Flores of University of Santo Tomas (85.20)
5. Joaquin Generoso Corpuz of University of the Philippines-Diliman (85.00)
6. Jumar Taganas Balicao of Pangasinan State University-Urdaneta (84.70)
Pia Raimonda Ozaeta Maranan of University of the Philippines-Diliman (84.70)
7. Michael Velasco Abuan of University of Santo Tomas (84.60)
8. Iris Ina Yolanda Dorol Almazar of University of the Philippines-Diliman (84.50)
9. Anne Lorraine Del Rosario Caban of Mapua Institute of Technology (84.40)
10. Jerold Seng King of University of Santo Tomas (84.10)

View complete list of successful examinees

Gwen renews contracts of seven staff of Sanchez

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has renewed the employment contracts of seven people assigned to the office of Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, including those of four allegedly detailed at his farm in northern Cebu.

Gwen: Greg not after justice but reelection

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday downplayed the privilege speech of Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, Jr. calling it "not in defense of an institution but in aid of re-election".

Gwen hints of filing usurpation charge vs. vice governor

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday dared Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez to make good his declaration to rehire casuals and to order the Provincial Treasurer's Office to release the legislative assistance fund (LAF).

After the dare, Garcia hinted of filing a possible case of usurpation of authority against her former ally.

"If the vice governor declares that he will appoint employees under the Office of the Vice Governor or orders the Provincial Treasurer to release the LAF then I dare him to do that because he would be gravely, not only abusing his authority, he would be usurping my authority," Garcia said in a press conference yesterday, a day after Sanchez made the declarations in a privilege speech at the Provincial Board session.

Garcia was flanked by Provincial Atty. Marino Martinquilla, Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon, Provincial Human Resource Management Officer Vincent Valencia, Capitol consultant on information and revenue generation Rory Jon Sepulveda and Provincial Board (PB) Member Jose Ma. Gastardo.


Sanchez, in a mobile phone interview, said he intends to do what he declared in his privilege speech but he will carefully draft a letter addressed to the Offices of the Governor and Provincial Treasurer and will cite laws to support his claims that he has the right to rehire casuals and to order the release of the LAF.

He said he is not afraid of Garcia's threat of a possible case for usurpation of authority.

"All I said is anchored on the law. Everything is to protect the function of the legislative (department)," said Sanchez.

Sanchez, who called the governor a tyrant, said Garcia encroached on the vice governor's powers when she made orders on matters involving the Provincial Board (PB).

But Garcia argued that the casuals and contractual employees in question were those under the Office of the Vice Governor and not the PB.

"Direct the provincial treasurer to release..." Garcia said quoting a part of Sanchez's privilege speech. "Excuse me. I think Mr. Sanchez is running for the wrong position. I think he is again confused what his position really is," Garcia said of Sanchez yesterday.

Martinquilla cited the governor's authority as stated in the Local Government Code.

"As governor and chief executive of the Province, the governor shall exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services and activities of the provincial government," he quoted the code.

Garcia said yesterday that she was amused at being labeled a tyrant when she heard that Sanchez is still campaigning for a "Gwen-Greg" tandem.

After they tangled on many issues, Garcia severed ties with Sanchez and is now running for reelection with businessman Glenn Anthony Soco under One Cebu.

Sanchez, for his part, is seeking reelection under the Liberal Party with resigned Cebu City councilor Hilario Davide Jr. as standard bearer.

Sanchez denied he is still campaigning for Garcia.

Gastardo, for his part, said the PB session was a wrong venue for Sanchez to air his gripes against the governor.

Although he expected the PB not to be sympathetic to him since it is composed of Garcia's allies, Sanchez said, "There were some (PB members) who sacrificed their rights. They value more the privileges they could get rather than their rights."

But Gastardo said, "The battle for 2010 should not be at the PB."


Garcia also revealed that some PB members actually asked Sanchez not to deliver his speech supposedly during the session last Jan. 11 because they did not want the PB to be used as a battleground.

Sepulveda also explained that the issues raised by Sanchez could not be resolved by the PB.

"He urged the PB members to rally behind him but nobody did. Perhaps he failed to credit our board members with the intelligence that they possess. He must have thought they will be swayed by his antics, which according to Sepulveda is in aid of reelection," Garcia said of Sanchez.

Meanwhile, Garcia yesterday directed the Office of the Provincial Administrator to get the musical equipment that were lent to the Office of the Vice Governor because of a band that Sanchez sends to barangays asking for financial assistance.

While Sanchez gives P30,000 in assistance, Garcia alleged that some barangay captains told her that Sanchez would also ask the barangay officials to give the band some amount.


Sanchez said he only asked the barangay captains to give the band members an honorarium of P500 each since they are not receiving any salary from the government.

Sanchez also does not mind if Garcia gets the instruments because even when the band was still active, the Province-owned instruments did not function anymore.

Also, Garcia renewed yesterday the contracts of seven employees who were earlier questioned for working in the private farm of Sanchez in Tuburan.

Each employee was allowed to work for another six months but they will no longer be reporting to Sanchez and will instead report to Dr. Necias Vicoy, head of the
Provincial Agriculturist's Office.

The Casuals, Outsourcing and Insourcing Committee, headed by Martinquilla, had recommended the renewal of the contracts of Lolita Yaun, Ranulfo Montebon and Joyce Tabotabo.


The contracts of four others—Manuel Montebon, Edilberto Esdrelon, Chrissie Jane Iman and Elmer Botilla—were not renewed since they were identified as field employees and have been reporting only at the Capitol on Mondays.

But Garcia said she still renewed the contracts of the four, contrary to the committee's recommendation.

"I will still renew the four because I recognize that they are mere employees, subject to the direction and orders of the head of office. Kung sugoon niya, mao na buhata. Mutuman pud intawn.

Kay wa man sala, kinhanglan ug trabaho. Malooy ta (They are just following orders. I have to be considerate)," she added.

Sought for comment, Sanchez initially expressed his gratitude to the governor but he immediately took it back when he was informed that the employees were re-assigned by Garcia to the Agriculturist's Office.

He said he will try to talk to these employees today and he may give them work opportunities in his private companies.

Benhur-Tining face-off sought

The Office of the Solicitor General is requesting the Supreme Court for an oral argument in order for Cebu 4th district Rep. Benhur Salimbangon and former Bogo Mayor Celestino "Tining" Martinez III to ventilate all arguments in open court and for the SC members to be given the opportunity to interpolate the two contending parties.

Cebuano nominated as CA presiding justice

THE Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) submitted to Malacañang yesterday the list of three aspirants for the presiding justice of the Court of Appeals (CA).

The list includes Acting Presiding Justice Portia Aliño Hormachuelos, a Cebuano, who was recently awarded as most outstanding alumna of the University of the Visayas (UV) Alumni Association.

City gets P25 million advance business taxes from SM

 The Cebu City government has again received P25 million from SM Prime Holdings Inc. last Monday and is also set to receive another P25 million next week as an advance payment for business taxes.

Cebu City officials, workers to get 25% salary increase

EFFECTIVE this month, Cebu City's mayor, vice mayor, councilors and some 6,000 employees will get a 25-percent salary increase, which City Hall will implement after the City Council approves today the second supplementary budget (SB).

The salary increase will cost the City Government another P98 million this year. The amount is included in the proposed P483.8-million SB 2.

It also includes the P78-million funding for the financial aid to the City's 32,000 senior citizens, P16 million for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and P6-million burial


A total of P30 million was also allocated for the City's medical assistance program, with the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
(VSMMC) and "Tambal ni Mayor" getting P10 million each.

As promised by the mayor to the barangay captiains, some P150 million worth of projects will also be funded in SB 2.

"This is a socially-oriented budget. We have forgotten some of the social welfare programs and we are funding them now and we hope this will continue. We have funding for medical assistance programs but it only totals P3 million for CCMC and VSMMC. Now it's P10 million," City Administrator Francisco Fernandez said.

For the first time, the City will give P2,000 each to every PWD residing in the city starting this year. Like last year, senior citizens will get P4,000 each.

SB 2 also includes P19.7 million for the honorarium increase of 1,600 barangay tanods, 115 day care teachers and 1,600 Lupon Tagapa-mayapa members from January to April.

Fernandez said once the budget is approved, the City will implement the increase of all regular and casual employees of the City.

New year, new rate

From P34,939, Mayor Tomas Osmeña's mayor's salary will increase to P45,941, while Vice Mayor Michael Rama's pay will go up to P39,026 from P29,474.

The councilors' salary will also increase from P28,340 to P36,923. The increase is retroactive Jan. 1 this year.

"Under the budget circular, the salary increase will take effect on Jan. 1, 2010. So as soon as the budget is approved, all employees, including the mayor, will collect their salary differential," said lawyer Ralph Sevilla, head of the Human Resource Development Office (HRDO).

Local Budget Circular 2009-92 is the implementing guidelines of the first tranche of the salary increase for government officials and employees approved by President Arroyo in June last year.

It prescribes a 100-percent salary increase spread over a four-year period, subject to the availability of funds.

The increase covers all casual and regular employees of the city, which Sevilla said numbers to around 6,000. Consultants and job order employees are not covered by
the increase.

During the budget hearing yesterday, City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva said the identified fund sources for the budget are P272.57 million from the General Fund proper, and P193.98 million from the special accounts of income-generating offices of the City.

City Councilor Jose Daluz III, chairman of the City Council committee on budget and finance, said there will be no changes in the proposed budget.

"It's good as approved because most of the items are obligations we have to pay, such as the P98 million for the salary increase mandated by the National Government. We will approve the budget tomorrow," he said yesterday.

Warrant vs. Dumpit returned to court

Cebu City Police Office director Sr. Supt. Patrocinio Comendador said he already returned his copy of the warrant of arrest against SPO1 Adonis Dumpit to the court yesterday after it expired 10 days after its issuance.

Dumpit won't surrender yet, ready to be sacked

SPO1 Adonis Dumpit is ready to be dismissed from the police service. He is even contemplating not returning to Cebu.

Dumpit, who gave an arranged interview with a reporter of radio dyHP yesterday afternoon, said he decided on his own to go into hiding and did not enjoy the protection of anybody.

The controversial policeman is wanted for the murder of Ronron Go, 15, a suspected robber.

Dumpit said he is willing to surrender, but only after he gets hold of information that he claims should have been attached to court documents.

He did not tell reporter Arnold Bustamante where he is, but mentioned that he was confused if he would return to Cebu or not. He filed for a 15-day leave of absence.

If he fails to report to work after his leave expires, his superiors have the option to file an administrative case against him for being absent without official leave.

While his superiors fear for his safety in jail, Dumpit said he is not afraid to spend time there.

"Wa ko nahadlok mapriso, uy. Ang ako lang, ang tan-aw sa among organization sa PNP, labi na katong ubos og ranggo na pulis, maka low-morale. Kami pa ang mutubag og alarma, kami pa ang mapriso (I'm willing to go to jail. I'm just disappointed at how we're treated. We respond to alarms and this is what we get?)," Dumpit said.

In a mobile phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu, Dumpit also took offense at rumors that he was spotted with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña at a campaign sortie in Mambaling last week.

"Dako kaayo nang bakak. Iapil man ta sa away sa politika (That's a lie. They should spare me from politics)," Dumpit said.

He added that the last time he saw Osmeña was on All Saints' Day at a cemetery.

Dumpit said his absence did not mean he is defying the court order.

He said he is just waiting for RTC Judge Ester Veloso to decide on his motion asking the court to recall the warrant of arrest issued against him.

He said whatever will be the decision of Veloso, he will turn himself in.

However, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) yesterday returned to the court the warrant of arrest for murder against Dumpit, after the city police force failed to find and arrest him in his home address on Villagonzalo St., Barangay Tejero.

Dumpit, through his lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva, also considered as a "mere scrap of paper" the motion the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas filed in court seeking an explanation from top police officials in Cebu within five days why they failed to arrest him despite the arrest warrant issued against him.

Show cause

Dumpit filed an opposition to the urgent ex-parte motion Graft Prosecutor Alfred Oguis filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 last Monday afternoon.

"There is no showing that the movant (Oguis) is duly authorized to prosecute the case. There is no authorization coming from the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and
Other Law Enforcement Offices (Moleo) directing to prosecute this instant case," the motion read.

Last Monday, Oguis, in his two-page motion, sought show-cause orders against Chief Supt. Lani-o Nerez, Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, Supt. Rex Derilo, and the
chief of the warrants and subpoena section of the Cebu City Police Office.

Salva said the motion of the anti-graft office "directly affects" not just the right of Dumpit "but even the very life of the accused by unreasonably forcing the authorities to arrest (the suspect)."

The motion, the lawyer said, was also in contrast to the admission in open court of the prosecution that they were "duly informed" about the downgrading of the murder charge to homicide by the military ombudsman.

Comendador, in a separate interview, said he will wait for the court to approve the motion, before he will submit a report about the effort of the CCPO to serve the arrest warrant.

Meanwhile, Dumpit urged complainant Janeth Badana to give a reward to any policeman who can arrest him, to boost that officer's morale.

As for his superiors, he said they should not take the heat for his decision to go into hiding.

He said that when Supt. Rex Derilo approved his leave of absence, he would not have known his plan not to surrender.

Court convicts killer of Pagadian radioman

The Regional Trial Court sentenced yesterday to reclusion perpetua or 40 years imprisonment the accused in the 2005 killing of Pagadian City journalist Edgar Amoro.

DILG-7 gets new assistant director

The Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) announced the appointment of Elias F. Fernandez as its new assistant regional director replacing Lilibeth A. Famacion who was transferred to DILG-13 to serve the same position.

Small-town lottery to be launched in E. Visayas

The small town lottery (STL) will operate in the region within the year, a top official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Eastern Visayas has confirmed.

Comelec dilemma: How to regulate new campaign media

by by Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak
MANILA, Philippines - As the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prepares guidelines for the conduct of the campaigns this year, it faces the challenge of how to deal with modern campaign methods and media that are not covered by practically obsolete election laws.

Manufacturing of machines for May polls 100% finished

Smartmatic-TIM, the consortium that will automate the May 10 elections, on Tuesday said it has finally finished manufacturing the 82,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that would be used in the polls.

Poll machine source code available for review February 4

by By REYNALDO SANTOS JR., Newsbreak
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) gave assurances Tuesday that the public will be able to see the source code of the software to be used in the vote counting machines for the May elections.

Power outages will not hamper May polls - Melo

After parts of Metro Manila and the Calabarzon region experienced rotating brownouts last Monday, the Commission on Elections reiterated on Tuesday that such power outages will not hamper the conduct of the automated polls in May.

PPCRV insists on getting copies of election returns

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said it has not, and would not oppose the petition of fellow poll watchdog, the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) to be accredited as the Commission on Elections' citizens' arm in the May 10, 2010 national elections.

Senate panel OKs early voting in national polls

The Senate committee on constitutional amendments has agreed in principle to approve a bill allowing the holding of early voting in national elections.

The committee, however, has yet to wait for the Commission on Elections to submit the list of areas that would be covered by the bill, said Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, chairman of the committee. 

House OKs early voting for media

by by Carmela Fonbuena,
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives early evening on Tuesday approved on third and final reading House Bill 6928 allowing early voting to qualified members of the media.

Aquino vows to free detained general

Leading presidential bet Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said he would release detained General Danny Lim should he win in the May elections.

'No need' for term extension—AFP chief

Despite growing talk regarding his possible term extension, Armed Forces chief General Victor Ibrado maintained that there was "no need" since the military institution has enough qualified officials to replace him.

Polls to remain battle of good vs evil—Roxas

Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas said on Tuesday that the Liberal Party has been winning the hearts and minds of the electorate because it has successfully taken the side of "good" in an electoral battle between "good and evil."

Villar tried to buy me off – Enrile

(UPDATE) Senator Manuel Villar was trying to "buy me off," Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile disclosed Tuesday.

Villar 'deeply hurt' by Enrile's 'false story'

Senator Manny Villar has strongly denied offering help to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in exchange of any favors as the C-5 road controversy brews again at the upper chamber.

Aquino camp: No way is Villar like Ninoy

MANILA, Philippines - Don't compare Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar's situation to what my father faced under the martial law government of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Senator Joker Arroyo on Tuesday compared the situation faced by Villar to what the late former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr faced during the martial law years.

This was quoted by Villar in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News.

"Sabi nga ni Joker Arroyo kagabi, mismo si Ninoy Aquino, doon sa Military Commission, hindi siya nagparticipate dahil alam niya ang desisyon - hindi siya makakakuha ng hustisya," Villar said.

Aquino III, however, was alarmed at this comparision, saying that Villar, who trails him in the polls, cannot compare his situation with what his father faced back then.

'Ninoy a hero, Villar a coward'

"Villar should defend himself according to his own merits, and not by disparaging the untarnished memory of a national hero," a statement from Aquino campaign spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda said.

"In the case of Ninoy, he was tried for his obstinate opposition to authoritarian and repressive rule, even in the face of certain death, while Villar is being asked to answer serious corruption charges and unethical conduct where the penalty is censure and retribution, a far cry from the death penalty imposed on Ninoy," Lacierda said.

"Ninoy was tried by a kangaroo court that was subject to the whims of a dictator while Villar was accorded every opportunity to defend himself in a democratic and transparent process which he repeatedly ignored," he added.

"There is simply no comparison; Ninoy is a hero. Villar is nothing but a coward," Lacierda said.

Aquino III also had some harsh comments for Sen. Arroyo, who served as executive secretary of the late former President Corazon Aquino.

Aquino III said that Sen. Arroyo today is different from the human rights lawyer and freedom fighter of the past.

Enrile will not be ousted – Roxas

The move to replace Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will not succeed, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas of the Liberal Party said.

Sen. Santiago walks out over C-5 row

The Senate's resumption of session on Tuesday was marred by a walkout from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who expressed dismay over how some of her colleagues conducted themselves during Monday's session.

Pimentel urged to apologize for 'insertion' joke

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel should apologize to Sen. Mar Roxas and his wife, Korina Sanchez, for his "insertion" joke during the Senate hearing on the C5 controversy involving Sen. Manuel Villar, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros said on Tuesday.

Pimentel apologizes for 'insertion' remark through a prayer

After making a blatant reference to Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II"s sex life, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. decided to apologize for the "insertion" remark that he uttered in the heat of an exchange on the Senate floor. He made the apology through a prayer that he recited before the opening of the Senate session on Tuesday.

At the height of Monday's debate on the ethics case faced by Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. in connection with the "double insertion" of P200 million in the 2008 budget for the C5 road project, Roxas asserted that he never pushed for any insertions or amendments in proposed national budgets involving his projects. 

"I have no insertion on any matter. In fact, I have no insertion period because we were in the minority. Let alone an insertion for a road to pass through any such property," Roxas said.

In what could be regarded as the lowest point of the heated session, Pimentel replied: "Well, I'm sure that after your marriage you've had some insertions." 

The senior lawmaker, however, did not categorically apologize to TV host Korina Sanchez. After Pimentel's remark, Sanchez's husband, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, urged the Senate minority leader to ask an apology from the TV host. 

"Dear Lord, we, your senators, are embroiled in a stormy debate over a controversy involving a colleague of ours. In the heat of the discussion, some of us tend to use words that are coarse and vulgar. To those who I might have hurt in this chamber by the use of intemperate language or unseemly expressions, I apologize and beg their forgiveness through you, Lord," said Pimentel. 

Is the Senate's image 'going down the drain'?

Nakakahiya na nga ba ang nangyayari ngayong bangayan sa Senado? Para sa dating star witness sa NBN-ZTE na si Jun Lozada, at dati nang sumalang sa panggigisa ng Senado, nakakalungkot na baka dumating ang araw, wala nang magtiwala sa Senado.

Allies in House standing by Villar

The left-leaning militants running for the Senate under the Nacionalista Party are standing by Senator Manuel Villar despite his refusal to face his colleagues about the C-5 road project controversy.

Roxas: Villar acting like GMA

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Manuel Roxas II on Tuesday likened Sen. Manny Villar to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for using the usual line of "politicking" to dodge allegations of corruption.

On its 64th anniversary, LP vows never to steal from people

"We will never steal from the people." This was the promise made on Tuesday by over 700 Liberal Party candidates and supporters led by standard bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and his running mate Manuel Mar Roxas II during the party's 64th anniversary celebration at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.

Liberal Party honors Arroyo's father

by by Carmela Fonbuena,
Drilon says Diosdado Macapagal didn't steal MANILA, Philippines - The Liberal Party (LP) may be a fierce critic of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but the party has all respects for her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal.

Pamatong released from jail

Lawyer Ely Pamatong was released Tuesday night from the Manila City Jail, where he was detained on a direct contempt charge leveled against him by the Commission on Elections.

No takers for Estrada's Boracay mansion

No bidder showed up at Tuesday's public auction of the P142.9-million "Boracay Mansion" of former president Joseph Estrada.

Devanadera's road to Congress hits an obstacle

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera's road to Congress is being threatened by a blunder committed by her sister, whom she had replaced as candidate for a congressional seat in Quezon province's first district.

New DOH chief backs reproductive health bill

by by Frankie Llaguno, Newsbreak
MANILA, Philippines - Newly-designated Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral recently repeated her support for the reproductive health (RH) bill pending in the House of Representatives, saying it is needed to help ease the country's population problem.

Irish priest returns to Pagadian despite kidnapping

(UPDATE) Barely two months after he was freed by his kidnappers, Irish priest Michael Sinnott returned to Pagadian City, the same area where he was taken at gunpoint by a band of armed men, a police official said.

PNP forms special task group 'Maguindanao'

As part of the continuing probe on the gruesome Maguindanao massacre, the Philippine National Police has formed a special task group that would oversee the entire investigation and assist in the prosecution of suspects.

'Missing' cop in massacre is with DoJ—PNP

A potential star witness in the Maguindanao massacre who was reported to have left the custodial center in Camp Crame had actually gone to the Department of Justice (DoJ) to seek protection, a police official said Tuesday.

CHR to probe Agusan del Sur killings

The Commission on Human Rights is set to conduct a formal inquiry into several incidents of extrajudicial killings in Agusan del Sur province, particularly against the indigenous peoples.

7 hurt in roadside bombing in NCotabato

MAKILALA, North Cotabato - Seven soldiers, including an official, were injured in roadside landmine blast in this town Tuesday evening, police said.

US to train more Zambo cops on anti-terrorism

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The US government's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the Department of State Counter-Terrorism Office intends to conduct more trainings and seminars for a number of policemen based in Zamboanga City.

NBI: Jason Ivler wanted in US over drug case

Jason Ivler, the suspect in the murder of a Malacañang official"s son, has a standing bench warrant in the United States for skipping court hearings on a drug-related case, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) bared on Tuesday.

KMU official passes away at 56

The Kilusang Mayo Uno announced on Tuesday afternoon the death of its vice president for federation affairs Douglas Dumanon at age 56.

Green coalition calls for deeper study of Copenhagen climate accord

A coalition of environmental groups has called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to conduct a thorough review of the Copenhagen Accord, a widely criticized agreement crafted on the final day of the climate talks as the meeting faced collapse in December.

Atlas unit completes 2nd copper shipment

MANILA, Philippines - Publicly listed Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. said its subsidiary has just completed its second shipment of copper concentrates from its Toledo mine in Cebu City for the year 2010.

2 Filipinas remain missing in Haiti

Four more bodies were recovered from the rubble of a collapsed supermarket in quake-hit Haiti Monday evening but they did not belong to the missing Filipinas believed trapped in the establishment, the Philippine military said Tuesday.

3 RP peacekeepers' remains from Haiti to arrive Thursday

The remains of the three Filipino peacekeepers killed in the Haiti quake are expected to arrive by the end of the week, a spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Tuesday.

DFA: 70 Pinoys from Haiti to arrive Fri to Sat in 3 batches

A total of 70 Filipinos from earthquake-ravaged Haiti are due to arrive this weekend in three batches, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

Two new aftershocks rock Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Two new aftershocks rattled Haiti Tuesday exactly two weeks after a massive quake left 150,000 dead, US officials and witnesses said.

John Travolta lands in Haiti piloting relief supplies

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - John Travolta has landed his own jet in Haiti carrying relief supplies and a team including doctors and Scientology ministers.

Five killed, forensics building destroyed in Baghdad bomb

by Agence France-Presse
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle in central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least five people and destroying the government's forensics headquarters, an interior ministry official said.

N.Korea may be readying missile test - TV report

by Reuters
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea has declared a no-sail zone off its west coast, indicating it may be readying to test test-launch missiles in the area, South Korean news broadcaster YTN on Tuesday quoted a military official as saying.

Mentally disabled forced to work at China brick kiln

BEIJING—Staff at a Chinese brick kiln used the mentally disabled as slave labor, controlling them with electric batons and killing one in a case concealed for more than a year, state media said Tuesday.

Obama to take questions via YouTube, answer them online

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will take questions from the public via YouTube about his "State of the Union" speech on Wednesday and answer them online next week, the White House said.

'Bata' scores 2nd in Derby 9-Ball Banks

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pool maestro Efren "Bata" Reyes landed second place in the 12th Annual Derby City Classic 9-Ball Banks at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Indiana, United States.

RP prisoners in new Jackson Internet hit

A group of dancing Philippine prisoners has created a new Internet video hit with a spectacular routine led by Michael Jackson's choreographer dancing to the title track of his posthumous DVD.

Dad of Pinoy Big Brother's director passes away

The father of "Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up" director Lauren Dyogi has passed away, broadcast network ABS-CBN said Tuesday.

Priests to confess sins to fellow priests

Catholic priests, including those who are bishops, will be confessing their sins to their fellow priests when the five-day 2nd National Congress of the Clergy at the World Trade Center in Pasay City enters its third day Wednesday.

The Beach Boys back in Manila for one-night concert

MANILA, Philippines - American rock band "The Beach Boys" arrived here Monday for a one-night concert at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, lead vocalist Mike Love and Bruce Johnston said they are excited to perform again in front of their Filipino fans.

King of Paparazzi in focus at Sundance

He was punched by Marlon Brando, sued by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and beaten up by Richard Burton's bodyguards.

To some he's a national treasure whose work has been deservedly exhibited in some of the world's most prestigious art galleries.

To others he's an "obscene pseudo-photojournalist" responsible for helping create the ravenous monster known as modern day celebrity culture.

The colorful life and times of Ron Galella—the godfather of paparazzi style photography–are the subject of a mesmerizing documentary being screened at the Sundance Film Festival, "Smash His Camera."

The movie is the latest offering from Leon Gast, the US director famous for his Oscar-winning 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings," about Muhammad Ali's 1974 heavyweight contest with George Foreman in Zaire.

Galella, a self-styled "paparazzi superstar," said he chose to pursue a career in photography because "it is the art of today."

"We are all born with talent," Galella told AFP. "Everybody. And it's up to each individual to find what he is good at, early in his life.

"I chose photography because it is the art of today. I don't think painting and sculpture are great any more. But the medium of today is photography," he said.

Galella, 79, is delighted with the sympathetic portrait of him which emerges through Gast's entertaining film. "I earned it. It shows my work, my achievement, my energy. I'm a workaholic," said Galella, a camera slung around his neck.

It is hard to dislike Galella after watching the film that reveals a man with a wicked sense of humor and over-sized ego, who fills the garden of his New Jersey home with artificial plants and rabbits who keep him company.

"I love myself, because I'm an artist. I'm an actor, sort of, to get in the picture too," said Galella, speaking under the watchful eye of his wife Betty, to whom he proposed only five minutes after their first meeting.

Director Gast admitted he was surprised by Galella's "kindness, his generosity" having only been aware of the photographer's "horrible" reputation when he first set out to make the film.

"He was this guy with his camera who was intruding in the life of Jacqueline Kennedy, our beloved first lady," Gast said.

"But after my research, I found out that Jackie wanted the pictures taken on her terms. She wanted to control her image. 'You can take my picture when I allow you to take my picture.' And that's not how Ron operates.

"He's an artist and he takes his picture when he wants to take it."

Galella's relentless pursuit of the former first lady eventually led to court. He was ordered not to come within 25 feet of Onassis, an injunction the photographer accepted with humor, quickly adding a tape measure to his array of camera bag equipment.

In the same spirit, Galella took to wearing an American footballer's helmet whenever he was seeking out Marlon Brando. The iconic actor left Galella nursing a broken jaw and missing several teeth after attacking him outside a New York restaurant in 1973.

As well as the work of Galella, Gast's film evokes a time when celebrity photography was in its infancy, when the relationship with stars was franker and more direct. Galella laments the current state of affairs, where swarms of photographers hang around fashionable bars and clubs hoping for a shot.

"Today, it's become a sad thing," Galella said. "There are too many photographers, too many people in the way, bodyguards in the way, fans.

"It's against the conditions to take good pictures. When I shot all these celebrities, it was usually a one-on-one."

Nonplussed by his legions of critics, Galella insists on viewing himself as an artist, a position supported by Gast who cites the photographer's images of Onassis as evidence. "If you look at pictures that Ron Galella took of Jackie, and the ones taken by everybody else, he's superior," Gast said.

Galella expresses a particular fondness for a photo of Onassis taken in New York. Dressed casually in jeans and a sweater, she turns to face the camera and flashes an enigmatic smile.

"It's my Gioconda. I think she didn't know it was me. She wouldn't have smiled like that (if she had)," Galella laughed.

Samuel Goldwyn  - "I don't think anyone should write their autobiography until after they're dead."

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