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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 26, 2010 Major News Stories



Fish kill reports mount due to drought

Fishermen here said they lost 30 tons of tilapia cultured in fish cages and pens along the Magat River as the water level there has started to drop due to the prolonged dry spell and the absence of rainfall, so far, in 2010.

BFAR monitoring reported fish kill, red tide

Low levels of dissolved oxygen in fish ponds due to the dry spell have resulted in fish kills in aquaculture areas in Central Luzon and Isabela province, but authorities quickly said the problem can still be mitigated.

Palace downplays El Nino effect on country's output

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Thursday downplayed the impact of the El Nino phenomenon on the country's output.

Heat kills hundreds of chickens in La Union

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - From brownouts to dried up crops, the dry spell has also taken its toll on chickens in La Union province.

FAO okays $6.6-M food projects for RP

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has approved three agriculture-related projects worth almost $7 million for the Philippines to address food security that is threatened by the ongoing El Niño episode, Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier said on Thursday.

Wednesday warmest day of the year; hotter times ahead

The hottest day of the year so far was recorded on Wednesday afternoon at 34.5 degrees Celsius, but state weather forecasters expect even hotter days ahead. A 40-degree weather is possible. PAGASA advised the public to avoid exposure to the sun especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and take precautions against sunburn.

Fire destroys 4 houses in Mactan

Fire destroyed four houses in sitio Dapdap, barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City alleged to have been set off by faulty electrical wiring.

PRC: 621 new physicians

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on Thursday announced that 621 out of 1,344 passed the Physician (Complete, Finals and Finals with Prelims) Licensure Examination.

FEU graduate tops medical board exam

A Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation graduate topped the 621 who passed the physician licensure examination this month, the Professional Regulation Commission announced on Thursday.

Marie Jo-Ann Beltran Cabanting got an 85.42 rating in the tests taken by 1,344 medical graduates.

Arlyn Dizon Salut of the Our Lady of Fatima University-Valenzuela obtained the second highest rating at 85.08, followed by Reginald Ricasa Cordial, also of Our Lady of Fatima University, 84.92.

Two other Fatima graduates made it to the top 10—Rod Mark Memoracion Clavel, 84.67 (4th), and Jan Edward Espino Sayco, 84.08 (7th).

Bianca Katrina Escaro Villanueva of the University of the East-Ramon Magsasay Memorial Medical Center ranked fifth with a rating of 84.25.

Following are rest on the list of top 10 examinees:

6) Charlene Rose Khe Haw, University of Santo Tomas—84.17
8) Michael Ramos Arrosas, West Visayas State University-La Paz—84
9) Noreen Antoinette Garcia, Ateneo de Zamboanga, 83.92
10) Suzette Bungay Sagun, University of the Philippines-Manila, 83.83

Read complete list of successful examinees

List of successful examinees for the Physician Licensure Examination (PDF, 65.55 kb)

List of successful examinees who garnered the ten (10) highest places in the Physician Licensure Examination

20100225_PHYS_Top10

Roxas: HIV threat should not overshadow benefits of BPOs

- Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Sen. Mar Roxas said he is not worried of reports of increasing HIV cases among call center agents because steps can be undertaken to counter the risk.

Shippers ready to cancel strike

IF the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) suspends the circulars Cebu-based shipping operators have been opposing, the latter would postpone a province-wide strike planned for Marc

Brgy capt. Charged for illegal detention

A criminal complaint for unlawful arrest and arbitrary detention were filed against a barangay captain in Carcar City and seven of his tanods for allegedly detaining two people they caught transporting minerals without a delivery receipt and transport permit.

Lawyer Rodolfo Dacalos, Jr., on behalf of his client Liberato Bitangga, filed the complaint before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office against Guadalupe barangay captain Leopoldo Alcordo and barangay tanods Manuel Ferrer, Michael Canape, Trinidad Canada, Romy Elorde, Araceli Genobisa, Arvin Ababa and Juanito Alcuirez.

Alcordo and his tanods arrested Liberato Bitangga and Aurelio Bitangga on October 23, 2009 while transporting rock phosphate from Aloguinsan town. The complainants claimed they were brought to the Carcar Police Station where they were detained for two days despite their protest and presentation of the permit of Erlinda Quiba who owns the minerals they were transporting.

The complainants said they were only released after the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered their release because they could not be held criminally for transporting minerals.

TRO ISSUANCE SOUGHT: City sues Capitol for DA lot

The Cebu City government yesterday filed a complaint against the provincial government before the Regional Trial Court to prevent the Capitol from taking over the six-hectare lot previously occupied by the Department of Agriculture.

UV raps P19M tax bill

A PRIVATE university yesterday sued the Cebu City Government and City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva, and asked that its tax assessment of more than P19 million be declared void.

DAANBANTAYAN POLITICAL ROW: Judge charged with contempt for issuing writ of execution

Bogo City Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Marigomen was charged with contempt before the Commission on Elections for issuing a writ of execution to implement his previous decision that declared Augusto Corro and his running mate Jose de Leon as winners in the May 2007 elections in Daanbantayan even before the decision could become final and executory.


60,000 poll machines pass stress tests, ready for polls—Comelec

Over 60,000 poll machines are ready to be used for the first-ever national automated polls in May, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo announced on Thursday.

Melo made the announcement after his visit to the Comelec warehouse in Laguna. Melo expressed satisfaction over the results of the laboratory stress tests and other operational tests conducted on the machines.

After all 60,000 poll machines passed the operational and security testing, Melo said they are ready to load the machines with the automation software certified by international agency Systest Labs.

About 13,000 precinct count optical scan machines are set to arrive February 26, two days earlier than the delivery deadline. Installing the certified software on the poll machines will continue until March, when all poll machines have been tested.

Asked to rank in a scale of one to 10, with 10 signaling Comelec as most prepared for the May elections, Melo said "nine", citing the 100 percent passing rate of the poll machines when subjected to several stress and functionality tests.

The poll chief was quoted Wednesday as saying he would quit Comelec "if poll automation fails."

During the testing, the poll machines are fed with hundreds of marked paper ballots to ensure they can read and scan all the shaded ovals opposite all pre-printed names of candidates and, after scanning, that they can print the Election Returns (ERs), said Smartmatic warehouse manager Louie Campos.

Of the 68,000 machines delivered to the Laguna warehouse, only four percent failed the test on the first run but was able to comply with the requirements when tested for the second time, he said.

"The four percent of the machines which failed the tests are quarantined and are subjected to another testing based on the cause of its non-compliance. For example, if the machine fails in the scanning test, we fed it another batch of papers. So it's not the machine's problem but the paper itself and after we diagnose this, the machines pass the test," said Campos.

The warehouse official added that no machine was sent for repair at the warehouse despite the four percent failing the test for the first time due to "scanning problems."

Melo also gave an approval for the printing of the ballots. Presently, six million ballots have been printed at the National Printing Office for use in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the provinces of Bohol, Cagayan, Batanes and Palawan, among others.

Melo also showed the media that the ballots to be shipped per clustered precinct were sealed in vacuum plastics and placed in black plastic box that is finally covered by a stretch plastic film for protection against humidity, high temperature and sunlight that might damage the invisible UV ink, one of the ballot's main security features.

Also present during the site visit, automation law co-author and Makati Representative Teddy Boy Locsin gave the Comelec "two-thumbs up" for its vigilance to continue the project.

"The Comelec did a great job here and it seems we are sure to have the country's first automated elections in May 10," Locsin told INQUIRER.net.

Comelec installs security features on ballots

To ensure that the ballots would go to its designated municipality and voting precincts, the Commission on Elections has installed redundant security features to the ballots such as putting them in vacuum sealed packages, Chairman Jose Melo said.

6M ballots printed for May polls –Comelec exec

(UPDATE) Six million ballots for the May automated polls were printed at the National printing Office as of Thursday, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

Senators no-show in ballot printing inspection

Ininspeksyon ng Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automation ang pag-imprenta ng mga balota para sa halalan pati ang warehouse ng Smartmatic-TIM sa Cabuyao, Laguna. Pero hindi sumipot ang mga senador at mga kongresista lang ang dumalo sa inspeksyon.

CHR chief slams communist rebels' 'permit to campaign'

The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday slammed the New People's Army's "permit to campaign" scheme, calling it an "extortion" by "non-state actors" who have regard for free, fair and genuine elections.

4 soldiers killed in Agusan Sur ambush

(UPDATE 3) At least four soldiers, including a junior officer, were killed when communist rebels set off a landmine in Veruela, Agusan del Sur, the military said Thursday.

PNP preparing list of absentee voters

  The Philippine National Police is preparing the list of those who will avail of the absentee voting this coming April 24, 25, and 26 this year.

5 Arroyo Cabinet members quit for May poll bids

Five members of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's official family no longer waited for the final Supreme Court decision and have tendered their courtesy resignation to prepare for the May 10 local elections.

Leading the way was Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who is running for congressman in Batangas. He filed his resignation last Tuesday.

Joining him were Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, and Ed Pamintuan, Malacanang's point person in the urban Luzon beltway project.

Ermita said Augusto Syjuco of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authorit (Tesda) had informed him Wednesday night that he, too, was stepping down.

"We are submitting our resignation. It depends on the final decision of the President," Ermita told reporters shortly after Ms Arroyo's inspection of the MRT-LRT "closing the loop" project in Santolan, Quezon City on Thursday.

But Ermita made it clear that Cabinet members seeking elective posts would not violate the law even if they stayed on until the start of the official campaign period on March 26.

"Legally, it's okay for us to still be there because (the SC decision) is not (yet) final and executory," he pointed out.

His position was backed by Romulo Macalintal, Ms Arroyo's election lawyer, who cited a 2009 high court ruling, which said: "A candidate is liable for an election offense only for acts done during the campaign period, not before."

"Government officials shall be deemed resigned only on March 26—the start of their campaign period—and not when they filed their (certificates of candidacy) on Dec. 1, 2009 since, at that time and up to the present, they are not yet considered as 'candidates,'" he said in a statement.

Ermita announced the resignations the day after Ms Arroyo reportedly frowned upon the presence of Cabinet officials earlier named by the SC as considered resigned since filing their COCs.

"All those who were mentioned in the Supreme Court decision, all of you guys are just guests here today," Tourism Secretary Ace Durano quoted his boss as saying at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

Pamintuan said his resignation letter would be delivered to the Palace first thing Friday morning.

He criticized the high tribunal for initially ruling that appointed officials were not considered resigned when they filed their COCs on 2009, but only to reverse its position recently.

"How's that? Now, we're considered resigned. Question is, when is the resignation effective? It's not our fault for the SC to flip-flop," he told the Inquirer in a text message.

Thousands celebrate people power at Araneta Coliseum

Thousands of people, all clad in yellow shirts, gathered at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City for the 24th anniversary of the EDSA people power revolt that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III led the commemoration, which started at around 3:00 p.m.

Prominent personalities were also present to join the celebration like Aquino's running mate, Senator Mar Roxas II, Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, former Manila Mayor Mel Lopez, and members of Aquino's senatorial slate.

Aquino's girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, was also present.

Aquino claimed the crowd filled up the coliseum, which has a 20,000 seating capacity.

And he expected more number outside the coliseum.

Singers Ogie Alcasid, Christian Bautista, Jim Paredes, Sponge Cola were among those who performed inside the coliseum while a separate concert was also being held outside the venue.

This is the first time that the country commemorates the so-called historic bloodless revolution without Aquino's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who was extolled as an icon of people power.

The former leader died of colon cancer in August last year.

And the thought of this saddened Senator Aquino.

"Yan ang senti moments talaga," he told reporters at the sideline of the event.

But the senator was sure that his mother as well as his father, martyred Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., were happy to see that the Filipinos love for each other

are still very much alive.

Roxas was overwhelmed when he saw the huge crowd, who joined the celebration.

"Ang dilaw po ay kulay ng tapang at pag asa. Kulay ni Tita Cory (Yellow is the color of courage and hope. This is the color of Tita Cory," said Roxas in his speech.

"This is our country and we will get it back," he said.

After his speech, actor Ding Dantes was called on the stage to give a brief speech.

Dantes supposedly rejected a big offer to endorse another candidate in exchange for his support for Aquino.

"Simple lang ho yan, ang prinsipyo ko ay walang presyo (It's simple, my principle has no corresponding price)," said the actor in explaining his choice.

Noynoy calls his "yellow army" to arms

MANILA, Philippines -- Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III  warned  corrupt officials in government tonight that their days are numbered, with the May 10 elections drawing near.

Halalan wrap: LP, NP concerts, Erap and Eddie in the provinces

Mistulang nag-showdown sa concert ang Liberal Party at Nacionalista Party! Sa malalalayong lugar naman nanuyo ng botante sina dating pangulong Joseph Estrada at Brother Eddie Villanueva, habang si Gilbert Teodoro, nangampanya sa mga estudyante. Si JC delos Reyes, nakuha ang suporta ng dalawang obispo.

Villar spent X'mas on streets? Noynoy has own sob story

'I spent X'mas with my innocent dad in jail' MANILA, Philippines - So you think the childhood of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manuel Villar Jr. was so bad because--as his popular TV ads tell us--he spent Christmases on the streets and experienced living amid garbage?

AFP chides Villar, partymates for unity walk inside camp

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What was supposed to be a simple visit by the Manny Villar-led Nacionalista Party bets to their fellow senatorial candidate detained inside Camp Aguinaldo turned into a campaign sortie on Thursday when they held a unity walk and raised each other"s hands - a stark violation of a military regulation against campaigning inside camps, according to AFP public information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr.

Abu Sayyaf leadership crippled, demoralized – PNP

With two of its high-ranking officers neutralized, the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group is effectively demoralized and their capabilities reduced, the Philippine National Police said on Thursday.

No widowmaker tag on our planes, please-PAF

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Thursday appealed to the media and the public to refrain from using the terms "widowmaker" and "flying coffins" in describing its mostly secondhand aircraft.

EU gives DOH P60-M for reproductive health services

The European Union (EU) on Thursday provided the Department of Health (DOH) with P60 million as support for the government's programs on reproductive health-including the distribution of contraceptives among poor barangays-amid the continuing Church objection to such programs.

Pinoys from cash-strapped casino ship in US arrive home

A total of 44 Filipino seafarers working in a bankrupt casino ship docked in the United States arrived home Thursday, amid assurances from Philippine officials of assistance in getting their back pay.

PCSO stopped from awarding wireless lotto betting deal

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has temporarily restrained the state-owned Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from awarding any new contract for wireless lotto betting upon the petition of technology solutions provider DFNN Inc.

Philip Morris, Fortune Tobacco in 'marriage of equals'

MANILA, Philippines - It's being called a marriage of equals. Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro, with a 30 percent share of the local cigarette market, and Lucio Tan's Fortune Tobacco, with a 60 percent market share, have agreed to combine their businesses under a 50-50 joint venture company called Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) Inc.

11 injured, homes damaged in China quake

BEIJING—At least 11 people were injured and a lot of homes severely damaged by a 5.1-magnitude quake which hit southwest China Thursday, state media reported.

Obama opens health summit with plea for agreement

WASHINGTON D.C., United States - President Barack Obama opened a last-ditch bid to save his stalled healthcare overhaul on Thursday, telling a televised summit that health reform was critical to boosting the ailing economy and emphasizing areas of agreement with Republicans.

Sonsona confident of world title win

MANILA, Philippines – "Marvelous" Marvin Sonsona shoots to reclaim boxing glory when he faces Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Pinay gymnast hopes to join RP team

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina gymnast Amanda Louise Alejandrino wants to rejoin the national gymnastics team and get the chance to represent the Philippines in an Olympic qualifier next year.

P12.5 million savings to go to youth sports programs

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña will be allocating P12.5 million in savings of the city government for its sports program in time for the summer vacation only a month away from now.


Maricel Soriano marks 45th b-day

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Seasoned actress Maricel Soriano, or Maria Cecilia Dador Soriano in real life, turned 45 years old today, February 25.

Sam Pinto denies asking P1.5-M talent fee

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Even before she can make a mark in show business, former Pinoy Big Brother Double Up housemate Sam Pinto is already being inundated with intrigues.

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