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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 10, 2010 Major News Stories

Court denies Shell plea in tax row with Customs

THE COURT of Tax Appeals (CTA) yesterday ruled in favor of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in a tax row with Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., effectively clearing the way for the agency to seize the oil firm's inventory to cover for an alleged tax deficiency.

NTC warns of inability to monitor telco service

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday warned of deteriorating telecommunication service given its inability to upgrade equipment to properly regulate the industry.

No link between call centers and HIV spread?

MANILA, Philippines - Though more gay and bisexual call center workers are getting infected with HIV due to unprotected sex, according to a study by the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), health experts say there is inconclusive data to prove that call centers are "breeding grounds" of HIV.

VSMMC receives P3 million from city government

The Cebu City government yesterday gave P3 million to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center as reimbursements of the hospital's expenses for patients who are residents of the city.

Fiscals want to move Dumpit trial to Makati

Prosecutors handling the murder case against SPO1 Adonis Dumpit are asking the court to transfer the hearing of the case to Makati City.

In a manifestation filed before the Regional Trial Court, State Prosecutor Llena Ipong Avila said the move is intended to "forestall a miscarriage of justice and protection of the witnesses."

Dumpit is facing charges for allegedly killing a suspected robber in 2004. Two of the witnesses in the case are now under the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program of the Department of Justice.

Avila said that on Monday afternoon, they received a copy of the letter request of DOJ Secretary Agnes Devinadera to SC Chief Reynato Puno for the transfer of the case to Makati City. The letter, however, was not attached to the manifestation filed before the RTC for being "confidential."

For his part, Dumpit's lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva said there is no legal basis to transfer the trial to Makati. He said there is no threat to the security of the prosecution witnesses whose affidavits are allegedly manufactured.

High Court rules for whistleblower

The Supreme Court has granted nominal damages to the late Ananias Dy after it found that the controversial whistleblower was not afforded due process when he was dismissed from his work in 2000.

Dy was put on the spotlight when he and former co-employee Bernard Liu accused their boss Peter Lim and the latter's brother Wellington of involvement into the illegal drugs trade. Lim is also a party in the labor case.

In a decision promulgated last February 2, the Supreme Court Second Division through Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, affirmed earlier decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission and the Court of Appeals that found Dy's dismissal from Hilton Heavy Equipment Corporation without due process.

Although the high tribunal sustained the findings that the dismissal was with just and valid cause, it said that Dy should have been given due process. The Supreme Court said that Hilton Heavy Equipment Corporation and Lim, its president, should pay the nominal damages.

The bad news for Dy and his heirs, however, is that they would no longer receive additional amount because the court considered the P120,000 separation pay Dy had received before his death to be more than enough.

Office of the President approves Cuenco's request

ONE hurdle against the holding of the Banawa-Englis plebiscite has been surmounted.  Cuenco, in an interview, said the Office of the President approved his request for P1.458 million for the plebiscite, which is scheduled on Feb. 28.

Jing-jing Osmeña succumbs to illness

Former Cebu City Councilor Rogelio "Jing-jing" Osmeña died at 1 a.m. yesterday after several days of confinement due to kidney problems.

Voters told: Shade whole ovals, do not `overvote'

The right way to vote in the May elections is by fully shading the ovals opposite the printed names of candidates in the ballot, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday.

Comelec legal chief Ferdinand Rafanan also said voters should not ``overvote'', or voting more than is necessary. For instance, if one is voting for the President, the voter should only shade one oval opposite the candidate he's voting for. If he shades more than one oval for the President, the counting machine will invalidate the vote for the position.

Rafanan made the points during a voters' education workshop here attended by 30 Nueva Vizcaya leaders in partnership with the Comelec's citizens' arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

He said that voters must learn these two steps so that the poll machines would count their votes.

"The most important thing that the voter should learn in the automated polls is to shade the ballots correctly and not to overvote. The manner of voting is not so very much hinged on the operation of the machine. The voter's only interaction with the machine is when he feeds his accomplished ballot in the machine scanner for counting after which he should see it go inside the translucent ballot box," said Rafanan.

The precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine is an automation technology that uses an optical scanner which reads marked ballots fed into the machine. It would not read a check, a cross, a dot or a line written inside the oval, only a half or fully shaded oval, said the poll official.

While the poll machines are configured to read as a vote a half-shaded oval, Rafanan encouraged voters to fully shade the ovals to ensure that they are counted as vote.

"The poll machines operate in a way that it would read an oval with a threshold mark of at least 50 percent or simply, a half-shaded oval. But note that a half shade differs per person. So, voters should practice full shading of these ovals so they are 100 percent sure that their votes are counted correctly," said Rafanan.

As guide to prevent an overvote, Rafanan said the ballots would also contain guidelines stating that a voter "can vote for not more than one candidate" for president, vice president and partylist and "not more than 12 candidates" for senator.

These instructions means a voter can undervote or select less than the total 12 senate candidates, for example, but not overvote, which is done by shading ovals of 13 senatorial bets instead of 12, would cause the machine to discard all votes for that office.

Rafanan also urged voters not to fold or put spurious marks on the ballot. He said this could compromise the ballot's security features such as bar code or invisible UV ink and result in the rejection of the vote.

A voter would be given only one ballot, under the law.

"We will print only 50 million ballots for the close to 50 million registered voters. One voter is entitled to one ballot only, no more second chances in filling up another ballot," Rafanan stressed.

Preparing a "kodigo" or list of candidates to be voted would also help the voter to shade the ballot faster, said Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento in another interview.

Since the new ballots would have the names of candidates arranged in number and in alphabetical order, Sarmiento said the "kodigo"or list should include both the name and the assigned number of a candidate.

Sarmiento also urged voters to help Comelec in monitoring election violations of candidates during the campaign period between February 9 to May 8 for national elective posts and from March 29 to May 8 for local bets. Comelec issued campaign guidelines onMonday.

To practice voting in the special ballots for automation, download sample ballots for non-ARMM and ARMM areas at the Comelec website

Noynoy: Hacienda Luisita distributed to farmers by 2014

TARLAC - With the ghost of Hacienda Luisita haunting his bid for the presidency, Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III vowed Tuesday to ensure the distribution of the 4,500-hectare plantation to farmer-beneficiaries by June 2014.

Bong-Bong Marcos, militant solons attend mass together

Two militant senatorial bets of the Nacionalista Party momentarily set aside their differences with the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos when they attended a mass here on Tuesday.

Santiago calls Villar's critics ugly, lizards

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago fired the first salvo on Tuesday, calling Senator Manny Villar's detractors "ugly" and looked like a lizard.

Arroyo skips Lakas proclamation; in Laguna with Villar

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Amid speculations that Malacañang has thrown its support to the Nacionalista party (NP), its standard bearer Manuel Villar and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were in the same city in Laguna, almost at the same time, as the campaign period formally kicked off Tuesday.

Arroyo visits Calamba, gives talk on 'Education for All'

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday morning visited Real Elementary School in Barangay Real here to discuss the pre-school and early childhood care and development curriculum program.

Teodoro vows to lead a 'positive campaign'

He will leave the mudslinging and brickbats to his rivals and embark on a "positive campaign" of political reconciliation and uplifting the Filipinos' morale, administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro said Tuesday as he sets off the start of the three-month campaign for his presidential bid.

'Edu Express' rolls out Feb 15

Showing himself as a serious candidate, actor Edu Manzano is coming out with his own campaign showcase with an initiative dubbed the "Edu Express."

Estrada vows to regain the presidency "stolen from him"

In what he said was his first step on the road to redemption, deposed President Joseph Estrada on Tuesday began his campaign to regain the presidency, which he was forced to give up after a massive anti-corruption protest movement led to the EDSA 2 uprising in 2001.

Bro. Eddie kicks off campaign at Luneta, unfurls RP's biggest flag

(Updated 12:20 p.m.) "Today marks the rise of a new beginning." This was the theme of the Bangon Pilipinas' (Arise Philippines) event in kicking off the campaign of its standard bearer Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Madrigal turns to prayer, fasting in poll campaign

Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal has sought Divine intervention at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, before embarking on a three-month "non-trapo" campaign for the presidency.

Gordon brandishes replica of Spanish era sword to recall ancestor's heroism

To fire up his campaign, presidential candidate and senator Richard Gordon brandished on Tuesday, a replica of the sword his great-grandfather, Jose Tagle, seized from a Spanish general in remembrance of the "first victory of the (1896) Revolution," in Cavite.

Perlas takes low profile during first day of campaign

Candidates of all colors and hues seized the day on Tuesday, the start of the campaign for national positions. But some, like presidential bet Nicanor Perlas, chose to take a low-profile.

JC delos Reyes courts townmates on Day 1

Una namang niligawan ng pambato ng Ang Kapatiran na si JC delos Reyes ang mga kababayan sa Olongapo City! Maagang nag-ikot ang grupo baon ang pa-almusal nilang plataporma, ang malinis umanong pulitika!

SC asked to order release of 43 detained health workers

(UPDATE) Relatives of the 43 health workers on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to immediately order the release of the 43 health workers who were detained inside Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

Army chief sees 'meltdown' NPA by June

The military on Monday said it has been well on track to defeating the communist insurgency within 2010, with the string of successes against the New People's Army across the country, causing the "meltdown" of rebel forces.

Padlocked town halls, closed offices proof rebellion existed

(UPDATE 2) Several witnesses brought by the prosecution showed evidence rebellion existed in Maguindanao, in an effort to implicate members of the prominent Ampatuan clan in the plan to usurp the authority of the national government in the province, after they were linked to the massacre there last November.

Murder raps filed vs Maguindanao gov

The Department of Justice filed murder charges against Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. before the Quezon City regional trial court, said Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera Tuesday.

197 charged with murder over Maguindanao massacre

A former close ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 196 other people were on Tuesday charged with murder over an election-linked massacre that horrified the nation, prosecutors said.

10 Ampatuans implicated in massacre are candidates

DAVAO CITY - Only two of the 12 prominent Ampatuans implicated in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao are not running for any posts in this year"s elections: Datu Unsay mayor Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan, Jr., and ARMM governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan. Just as well, their wives and a daughter are running, records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show.

Poll watchdog warns of more election-related killings

Even before the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre in which 57 people were killed, the poll watchdog group Bantay Eleksyon said it has recorded 36 other political killings since January 2009.

Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Basilan

A member of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf has been captured by authorities in Basilan province, the provincial police chief said on Tuesday.

2 Malaysian-Chinese abducted in Sabah brought to Mindanao

 ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - Two Malaysian-Chinese businessmen were abducted in Sabah, Malaysia on Monday and brought to Mindanao. 

Anti-crime group puts up 'Wanted' posters of Lacson

Members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) put up "Wanted" posters of fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson Tuesday.

Arroyo signs budget but vetoes diversion to pork barrel

President Macapagal-Arroyo has finally approved the P1.54 trillion national budget for 2010, but did not yield to the lawmakers' realignment of P64 billion from debt payment to their pet projects.

Marcoses regain 25-ha property in Laguna

MANILA, Philippines - The family of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos has regained possession of a 25-hectare parcel of land in Cabuyao, Laguna 22 years after it was confiscated by the government.

DFA ready to bring back remains of Filipino woman from Haiti

The remains of a Filipino woman who died in the rubble of a collapsed supermarket in Haiti when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, will be brought home upon the request of her family.

Angelina Jolie visits Haitian quake refugees

Screen star Angelina Jolie on Monday visited Haitian children being treated in the neighboring Dominican Republic after the devastating earthquake in their homeland killed more than 200,000 people.

Haiti aid effort hit by fake coupon scam

PORT-AU-PRINCE- The struggling aid effort in Haiti was hit by another setback Monday as the UN halted deliveries to some 10,000 quake survivors after discovering that fake coupons were in operation.

15 die in South Africa orphanage fire

JOHANNESBURG—Fire raged through an orphanage in South Africa on Tuesday killing 15 people, including 13 children, police and government officials said.

Talk 'N Text gets over P1-M fine for walkout

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has fined Talk 'N Text over P1 million for walking out during their Game 4 quarterfinal match with Barangay Ginebra last week.

TNT Texters to protest hefty fine for walkout

Deposed Philippine Cup champion Talk 'N Text is set to protest the hefty amount - over P1 million - the team was slapped with for walking out of and forfeiting Game 4 of its quarterfinal game with Barangay Ginebra last week.

Donaire to give his all in Pinoy Power 3

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito "the Filipino Flash" Donaire is raring to put on his best performance when he enters the ring on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) for the Pinoy Power 3 main event against Gerson "El Nene" Guerrero of Mexico.

Roach cuts down on Pacquiao"s sparring

Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao is not too far off his top fighting shape that trainer Freddie Roach will cut down on his sparring sessions in his preparations for his March 13 duel with Joshua Clottey in Texas.

Pacquiao to appear in '60 Minutes'

by The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao is being lined up for a special appearance on "60 Minutes" the long-running and award-winning television newsmagazine of CBS.

Kho Jr. loses appeal to regain medical license

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The Board of Medicine of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) denied for lack of merit the appeal of cosmetic surgeon Hayden Kho Jr. to have his medical license back.

Lea Salonga to remain apolitical

MANILA, Philippines - International artist Lea Salonga has clarified that she is not endorsing any political candidate amid speculation that she is supporting Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

An apple pie for Noynoy on his 50th birthday

Presidential aspirant Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III received an apple pie on his 50th birthday last Monday. It was not an ordinary apple pie, though. It came from his girlfriend, Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad.

Villar ends rally singing Revillame's 'ikaw na nga'

Nacionalista Party's standard-bearer, Senator Manny Villar pulled a surprise here Tuesday night when he ended his kick off campaign rally by singing "Ikaw na nga," a song popularized by TV host Willie Revillame.

Kate Torralba designs Valentine Couture Cake

Known for her whimsical fashion pieces, Kate Torralba has turned her romantic eye on pastries as she designs a Valentine Couture Cake exclusively for Hyatt Hotel and Casino.

Still no winner in 6/49 SuperLotto

No one won the almost P200-million jackpot of Tuesday night's 6/49 SuperLotto, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office said.

Manny, Jinkee Pacquiao ventures boom in GenSan

MANILA, Philippines – There's no stopping Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao and his wife, Jinkee, when it comes to opening business ventures in General Santos City.

Aside from a coffee shop, gas station and a high-end fashion boutique, the Pacquiaos also opened the Pacman H2O water refilling station along Salazar Street.

Jinkee even has 2 newly-opened shops in KCC Mall—her own fashion boutique and a franchise of a beauty clinic.

Jinkee's boutique carries her own clothing line.

According to store supervisor Virlyn Dagacan, the styles of Jinkee's clothes are formal yet sexy.

Compared to the designer brands that Jinkee sells in another boutique, the clothes, bags, shoes, slippers, watches, wallets and cosmetic products in Jinkee's boutique are more affordable.

"May US and Hong Kong items din kami binebenta dito. May mga turista rin namimili dito. (There are items from the US and Hong Kong here. There are tourists who buy here)," said Dagacan.

It is expected that employment opportunities will abound in General Santos City because of the various investments and business ventures of the Pacquiao power couple.

Boxing is not forever

Some General Santos City natives are happy with the success of Pacquiao in other fields aside from boxing.

"Diba ang boxing hindi naman yan forever," stated Cecyl Cabatingan-Taghap, a teacher. "Kaya okay ito. Gusto ko mga damit dito, trendy at nasa uso."

Jinkee is also a franchisee of Flawless in General Santos City, the beauty clinic's first branch in Mindanao.

Resident physician Dr. Katherine Cutab said, "People now are beauty conscious. Many want the medical service like Sclerotherapy that treats varicose veins."

The Pacquiaos also have a newly-opened building, their third in General Santos City.

Their multipurpose gymnasium, meantime, is expected to be finished by August.

The gymnasium project, which covers 1 hectare in Barangay Tambler, reportedly costs more than P20 million.

It will house a basketball court and boxing gym.

Broadcaster fined over killing a rat on TV show

by Reuters
SYDNEY/LONDON – British broadcaster ITV pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was fined by an Australian court on Monday after a rat was killed and eaten on the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."

Beer good for your bones--study

by Reuters
NEW YORK - Beer drinkers now have a good excuse to order another round -- the brew may help keep bones strong, a study has found.

Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California, have found beer is a rich source of silicon and may help prevent osteoporosis, as dietary silicon is a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density.

These were the findings after researchers tested 100 commercial beers for silicon content and categorized the data according to beer style and source.

Previous research has suggested beer contained silicon but little was known about how silicon levels varied with the different types of beer and malting processes.

"We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer," researcher Charles Bamforth said in a statement.

The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found the beers' silicon content ranged from 6.4 milligrams per liter to 56.5 mg per liter.

The average person's silicon intake each day is between 20 and 50 mgs.

The researchers found there was little change in the silicon content of barley during the malting process as most of the silicon in barley is in the husk, which is not affected greatly during malting.

They found pale ales showed the highest silicon content while non-alcoholic beers, light lagers and wheat beers had the least silicon.

"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," said Bamforth. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element."

But Bamforth told reporters that the results shouldn't be taken too serious.

The study examined the beers but it did not look at bone mineral density or analyze patients' data.

"I would first consider flavor and whether you like it or not," he told science and technology magazine Discover. "Choose the beer you enjoy, for goodness sake."

Pagasa: Temperatures to start getting warmer

Filipinos should expect temperatures to get warmer in the next few days as summer draws near and the El Niño weather phenomenon makes itself felt.

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

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