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

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 9, 2010 Major News Stories

11-kg LPG price drops by P6 on Tuesday

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) retailers are slashing prices by 50 centavos per kilogram effective 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday (February 9) due to the decline in the international contract price of LPG this month.

DOH to release new list of drug price cuts

A new round of drug price reductions would be announced soon, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said.

Cabral said the Department of Health would release in about two weeks a list of "voluntary" price reductions made by pharmaceutical companies to avoid a government-ordered mandatory price cut.

Last August, Malacañang, upon the DOH's recommendation, imposed a maximum drug retail price (MDRP) equivalent to a 50-percent price reduction on five essential medicines.

Under pressure from the Palace, pharmaceutical companies agreed to cut by half the prices of 16 other essential medicines.

The Cheaper Medicines Law allows the government to impose the MDRP if market competition fails to bring down the cost of medicines.

"Yes we will continue the policy to bring down prices of medicines. We're preparing a new list of medicines whose prices will be reduced under the government-mediated access price (or voluntary price reduction)," said Cabral, who was appointed health secretary last month.

She said the new list covers about 20 molecules, or the basic drug ingredient, for medicines against cancer and hypertension, and antibiotics among others.

Cabral said she preferred that pharmaceutical companies brought down prices on their own, rather than have another executive order.

"You don't need to make it mandatory because they're going to do it anyway," she said.

No bail recommended for "shabu queen"

Unlike in her previous arrests, the Regional Trial Court has denied bail to Chueve Lim tagged by police as the "shabu queen."

CPPO orders probe on 3 traffic policemen

Cebu Provincial Police Office director Erson Digal has directed the chief of police of Talisay City to conduct an investigation into the alleged lapses committed by three traffic policemen who responded to a road accident involving the controversial son of Talisay City mayor Socrates Fernandez.

RTC in Cebu gets two new judges

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu will get two new permanent presiding judges.  Judge Teresita Galanida who was previously assigned in Dumaguete City and Judge James Malalu-an, from Bohol will be the new presiding judges of RTC Branch 56 in Mandaue City and RTC Branch 62 in Oslob, Cebu, respectively.

Healing priest to celebrate Masses at the Basilica

Well-known healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez will be the main celebrant of a healing Mass this February 10, beginning 5:30 p.m., at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

MGB to finish geo-hazard mapping of barangays in Region 7 this year

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will complete this year the geological hazard mapping of 606 barangays in Central Visayas that are yet to undergo geo-hazard assessment.

GSIS offers scholarship to 200 students

- In its desire to enhance the welfare of its members and to give them the chance to help other people, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) once again opened its scholarship program that provides and grants scholarships to qualified and deserving scholar-designee of GSIS member-winner.

For this year, 200 slots are made available for interested members who want to join and win the raffle draw. The number of slots per region is based on the configuration of GSIS membership for that area.

In Visayas, 37 slots are available, 41 slots for Mindanao, 56 slots for Luzon and 66 slots for the National Capital Region.

Winners may nominate any student of their choice who may be an incoming college freshman or an enrolled college student in any four or five-year college course. Winning members may nominate any member of the family or even a friend.

GSIS president and general manager Winston F. Garcia said that program is one of the institution's premier corporate social responsibility programs that aim to help Filipino youths achieve their goals and live their dreams by providing them free tertiary education.

Cash for HS grads

HERE is something that over 8,000 graduating high school students in Cebu City should look forward to in enrolling in college.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday announced that the City Government is giving P10,000 to every graduate of a public high school and P10,000 more to one who comes from a mountain barangay.

The assistance, though, will not be given to the students but directly to the school where they intend to enroll in college.

"All high school graduates get P10,000 each…. Only public schools. This is for going to college. We will not give the money to the students, we will give it to the schools," the mayor said.

Commenting on the announcement of the mayor, opposition leader Jonathan Guardo said the mayor is using everything at his disposal for the elections.

"The survey results say it all. Because we are now tied, he's resorting to all sorts of tricks such as senior citizens cash gift and now P10,000 high school graduate cash gift.

I will make sure that I will overtake him in the next survey so he will come up with more gimmicks that will redound to the people's benefit. Taranta na ang kontra (My rival is panicking)," he said.

Asked about the propriety of giving the assistance on election season, Guardo instead said the mayor is "running scared."

"It's unprecedented in Cebu City politics. I think the mayor is running scared. I pity him. He's so desperate for power that he's spending everything in our coffers. The south district is now probably the most expensive congressional seat," he told Sun.Star through a text message.

But Osmeña said it is not his dream for the graduates to simply become salesladies in malls, hence the assistance.

"My vision of Cebu: I don't want to see our graduate students end up as sales girls of department stores hangtud sa kahangturan (forever). I want to give them an opportunity, a chance to be millionaires…to advance to a higher standard of living," the mayor said.

The student-beneficiaries should come from schools that are government-owned college or university; if a private institution, it must be one of those that agreed to sign a compromise agreement with the City for the payment of real property and business taxes.

As of now, only those students who want to enroll in the University of Cebu (UC) and the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) among private schools in the city can avail themselves of the assistance.

Only UC and CIT have agreed to sign an agreement with the City.

High school graduates enrolling in public universities like the Cebu Normal University, the University of the Philippines, the Cebu Technology University will also receive the assistance.

The mayor said those who like to take skills training classes at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or those who want to join the Philippine Marines can also receive the amount.

"If the payment in skills training is lesser than P10,000, they can take three courses," Osmeña said.

In a separate interview, City education consultant Joy Augustus Young said with an average of 82 percent of the 8,735 fourth high school students expected to graduate this March, only 7,163 are qualified to receive the financial aid.

Those from the mountain barangays will receive an additional P10,000 for their board and lodging.

The mayor acknowledged the amount may not be enough, but he said it is a start, adding that past graduates or those who stopped schooling in college would also be accommodated later if funds allow it.

Young, however, said guidelines will be crafted for the granting of the assistance.

"For example, only public high schools, the parents must be registered voters of Cebu City. There could also be a minimum number of (years of) residency (in a school) since there might be transferees who moved to Cebu City on their last year in high school," he said.

Follow the rules, Comelec tells candidates

A day before the official start of the election campaign, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is urging candidates running for the May 10 polls to follow the rules set under the Fair Elections Act.

Comelec has issued Resolution 8758, or the guidelines for fair election practices that sets the limits for the use of press, radio and television facilities for political advertisements.

"We call on voters to be vigilant and to take a proactive role in assessing and communicating to Comelec if candidates follow or violate these fair election rules," said, said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

Any person found guilty of any election offense or in violation of the fair election practices will face a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and will also be disqualified from voting and holding public office.

Any political party likewise found guilty will pay a fine of no less than P10,000, according to Jimenez.

The campaign period for national candidates begins February 9 until May 8 while campaign period for local positions is set from March 26 to May 8.

During this period, national candidates with a registered political party or parties with national candidates can air 120 minutes of political advertisements on national or cable television, and 180 minutes on radio, according to the resolution.

Local candidates or parties with local candidates are allowed 60 minutes on national or cable television and 90 minutes on radio, the ruling said.

Comelec ruled that the maximum size of print advertisement for each national or local candidate is one fourth page in broadsheet dailies and one half page in tabloids, said Jimenez.

Each political ad is required to identity the candidate or party and should indicate who paid for it, if it was donated or given free of charge by a publishing firm or broadcast media.
During election period, media outlets are mandated to give discounted airtime or publishing rates to political advertisements: 30 percent off for television rates, 20 percent for radio and 10 percent for print.

Candidates or political parties can only post campaign materials in authorized common poster areas in public and in private places provided there is consent of the owner.

The resolution also states that written or printed materials should measure eight and one-half inches in width and 14 inches in length while posters made of cloth, paper, whether framed or posted, should not exceed two feet by three feet.

"Posting of campaign materials outside of the designated common poster areas and allowed spaces such as streets, bridges, public structures, trees, electric posts, bridges and the like are prohibited. Persons posting the materials shall be held liable together with the candidates or persons who caused the posting," said Jimenez.

Members of the Philippine National Police and other law agencies can be called upon by the Comelec to apprehend violators caught in the act or voters can report the violators directly to Comelec hotline (02) 5259294, said Jimenez.

No Internet rules yet

As for Internet or online campaigning, Comelec has yet to issue rulings since existing election laws such as the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act 9006 only cover print, radio and television as media outlets for political campaigns and advertisements.

These political advertisements and campaign expenditures should comply with the allowed spending per candidate: P10 per voter for presidential and vice presidential bets; P5 per voter for independent candidates or those without political party running for senator down to local positions, said Jimenez.

Meanwhile, a political party can spend P5 for every voter registered in the constituency where they have official candidates, meaning campaign spending for a local candidate can reach P8 including the spending of his political party, he added.

He added that campaigns are prohibited on April 1 and 2, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively and on May 9 and 10, the eve of Election Day and the day of the national and local elections.

Close to 18,000 national and local positions—including one president and vice president, 12 senators and over 270 posts at the House of Representatives—are up for grabs in the May elections, according to Comelec data.

Comelec registered over 49 million voters and would print 50 million special paper ballots for the first automated elections in the country.

Bets given 3 days to remove pre-campaign posters

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will give candidates 3 days to remove campaign materials prematurely put up around the country, or else they would face sanctions under the Fair Election Practices Act.

Starting midnight Tuesday (February 9), the Comelec will give these candidates a grace period of 3 days to remove posters, tarpaulin banners, and other campaign materials placed outside of designated poster areas.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the Comelec will "strictly" implement the rules of the Fair Election Practices Act, especially with the placement of posters, in an effort to help lessen election spending.

Common poster areas will be put up, where candidates can place their posters. These common poster areas include plazas, markets, barangay centers, and the like, "where posters may be readily seen or read."

Barangay election officers will be the ones to determine such poster areas, the commission said.

The Comelec also said that it is also illegal to place banners that do not explicitly tell voters to vote for a particular candidate, such as posters of greetings by candidates.

Those found guilty of violating campaign rules can face 1 to 6 years in jail, disqualification, removal from office if elected, and possible removal of the right to be elected by the public.

The Comelec will coordinate with the Philippine National Police and the Metro Manila Development Authority, and will give them the authority to catch people guilty of violating campaign rules.

They also enjoin the public to be vigilant for any violations of the Fair Elections Act.

Comelec eyeing several options to resist signal jammers

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is currently considering several options to prevent electronic devices from delaying - however temporarily - transmission of results from automated poll machines.

Ballot printing begins after a half-day delay

(Updated 4:32 p.m.) Printing of ballots for the May 2010 elections has finally begun after "technical considerations" hampered the process, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday, half a day after the scheduled print run.

Comelec says teachers can vote ahead on April 24-26

Teachers serving as board of election canvassers (or BEIs) during the May national elections can vote ahead of the polls on April 24 to 26, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday.

Comelec to ban camera phones inside poll precincts

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Eastern Visayas has vowed to strictly enforce the ban on cellular phones with built-in cameras inside voting precincts on the May 10, 2010 elections, to protect ballot confidentiality.

Comelec sets up hotlines for poll violations

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set up hotlines that will receive poll complaints from the public, with less than 24 hours to go before the start of the campaign period for the May 10 national and local elections.

Binay blasts military for violating rights of 43 health workers

United Opposition president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay denounced the refusal of the military to grant the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) access to 43 health workers arrested in Rizal province over the weekend.

CHR's De Lima to visit detained health workers

The head of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will personally look into Saturday's arrest in Morong, Rizal of 43 health workers accused of being communist rebels.

Bayan Muna solons to sue AFP for partisan politics

Bayan Muna lawmakers on Monday scored the military for their latest attempt to vilify left-leaning organizations, and threatened to file criminal and administrative cases against the Armed Forces of the Philippines for partisan political activity.

4 NPAs slain in Davao Oriental clash — military

(UPDATE) At least four New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed following an encounter with government troops in a hinterland village in Lupon, Davao Oriental, on Saturday, the military claimed.

2 policemen wounded in Masbate ambush

Two policemen were wounded when they were ambushed Sunday afternoon by suspected members of the New People's Army in the village of Badling in Uson town in Masbate, an Army report said Monday.

All systems go for Aquino, Villar campaigns

It's all systems go for the frontrunners in the upcoming presidential race – Senators Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Manny Villar – as they launch their respective campaigns this Tuesday.

Villar on campaign ads: 'It's my money I'm spending'

Saying he has no popular relatives to help his candidacy, Senator Manny Villar defended the use of his "own" money to pay his political advertisements.

Villar 'doesn't care' about Charter change

Presidential candidate Senator Manny Villar said he "doesn't care" about Charter Change, adding that should he become president, it would not be his priority to amend the constitution.

Hounded by colleagues, Villar is Senate leader in absenteeism

Leading presidential contender Sen. Manuel Villar, whom his rivals have accused of spending more time campaigning than performing his duties as an elected official, had the worst attendance record of all the senators, with the exception of the incarcerated Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Of the 45 Senate sessions since the third regular session started on July 27, 2009, Villar was only able to attend 15 sessions. He was late – or arrived after roll call -- on 12 of those occasions. 

Villar, one of the two frontrunners in the presidential race, was recorded absent on official mission 24 times and was out on official business once. He was absent without any notice five times. 

Senators who went out on official mission or official business have the permission of the Senate President.

Villar's frequent absences occurred at a time when he was organizing his formidable campaign machine and deflecting corruption charges by his Senate colleagues.

Notably, Villar was among the 12 senators absent at the last Senate session on February 3 when the Senate was expected to vote on whether to censure him for allegedly profiting from the C-5 Extension project. 

Sen. Richard Gordon was among those who complained on the floor that the "boycott" by Villar allies prevented Senate work on other pressing matters. 

Villar did show up the day before to deliver a speech on the Senate floor to defend himself. That was the last time he was seen on the floor. The Senate adjourned the next day after less than half of its members attended.

The chamber is expected to convene again on May 31. However, it will assemble as the Board of Canvassers for the presidential elections.

Among other Senators with spotty attendance records are Villar's arch-enemy and primary accuser Sen. Jamby Madrigal, who was on time at only 20 sessions, and Villar's principal ally, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who was punctual 14 times, late at 16 other sessions, and absent without official permission four times. 

Perfect records

Only three senators were able to attend all the chamber's sessions on time, records of the Senate Journal Division indicated. 

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Pro Tempore Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada, and Senator Gregorio Honasan were able to attend all 45 sessions of the Senate.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was present at 43 sessions, arrived late – or after the roll call started – only once. He also went out on official mission only once.

Senator Joker Arroyo was absent only once and attended 44 sessions but was recorded late six times.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was present at 35 sessions and was absent only thrice due to a persistent illness, chronic fatigue syndrome. She went on official mission seven times.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel attended 34 sessions, was out on official mission six times and on official business once. He was absent five times due to illness.

The other presidential frontrunner – Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III – was present at 32 sessions, arrived after the roll call eight times and went on official mission thrice.

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero attended 31 sessions, present but late at 12 sessions, went out once on official mission and was absent once due to sickness.

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson was present at 30 sessions, went on official mission seven times and on official business four times. He was absent four times because he fled the country to avoid what he claims was "harassment" in connection with the double murder case filed against him.

Actor-turned-politician Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. was present at 29 sessions, arrived after the roll call 11 times, went on official mission thrice and on official business twice.

Senator Pilar Juliana "Pia" Cayetano was present at 29 sessions, was late twice, went on official mission nine times, on official business twice and was absent only once.

Senator Edgardo Angara attended 28 sessions, arrived late eight times, went on official mission seven times, and on official business once.

Senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid recorded an attendance at 28 sessions, was late once, and went on official mission 10 times, most of which when he was with the delegation of President Arroyo to meet US President Barack Obama. Lapid had six absences.

Vice Presidential candidate Senator Loren Legarda was present at 27 sessions, was recorded late five times, went on official mission nine times and on official business thrice.

Another VP candidate Senator Manuel Roxas II attended 24 sessions, arrived after the roll call thrice, went on official mission 10 times and on official business twice. He was absent without official permission four times.

Senator Francis Pangilinan was present and on time at 23 sessions, arrived after the roll call 15 times, went on official mission four times and on official business once.

Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal attended 20 sessions, was recorded late 15 times and went on official mission eight times.

Senator Richard Gordon was present in 19 sessions, arrived late 16 times and went on official mission nine times.

Senator Rodolfo Biazon attended 15 sessions, was recorded late 10 times, went on official mission four times, and was absent 13 times, mostly due to illness.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano was present at 14 sessions. He arrived late 16 times, went on official mission nine times, and on official business thrice. He was absent four times.

Enrile happy about Senate performance

Despite the controversies, feuding, and absenteeism, Enrile remained happy about the performance of the Senate.

"I am proud to say that this Congress has passed more bills than the 11th, 12th and 13th Congress combined," Enrile said in an earlier press release. 

"Out of around 500 Senate and House bills that were passed on third reading, more than half were enacted into law," he added.

He described the chamber's accomplishments for the Third Regular Session, which commenced last July 27 and adjourned on December 18 in time for the holiday season, and resumed on January 18 for a 3-week session, as "laborious but gainful."

"It was hard work but we are duty-bound to perform our mandate as duly elected Senators of the Republic," the Senate President said.

Aquino wants IRA funds cut for non-performing LGUs

Presidential candidate Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III wants reduced funds from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) for local government units who are not performing their mandate.

Aquino spends 50th birthday with Payatas students

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Monday celebrated his 50th birthday with students of an elementary school "squatting" on private land near the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City.

Madrigal draws jeers over red egg and staple fish

Presidential candidate Senator Ma. Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal got jeers from the crowd after failing to provide the correct answer to the question, how much a kilo of galunggong (mackarel scad) and salted red egg cost in the market today.

Teodoro ranks mother-in-law no. 1; Madrigal 'FG' has no role

For administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro, his mother-in-law is number one when asked to rank her, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and his uncle and business tycoon, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco.

Candidates who nail posters on trees to face charges

An environmental group on Monday threatened to file charges against candidates who damage the environment in the course of their campaign, saying the environment is the primary victim of "wasteful and indiscriminate use" of campaign materials.

Tesda chief accuses socialite of 'meddling' in graft cases

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director-General Augusto Syjuco has dismissed as "meddling" the accusations hurled against him by socialite Rosemarie "Baby" Arenas.

SC justice: No conflict-of-interest in Philweb case

Associate Justice Renato Corona has denied allegations that a litigant firm that earned a favorable decision from the Supreme Court funded his trip to the US in May 2009 to watch Manny Pacquiao fight Ricky Hatton.

Court administrator defends judge handling Lacson case

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez on Monday vouched for the integrity of Manila Regional Rrial Court Judge Myra Fernandez who was included in the list of nominees for a seat in the Court of Appeals a few days after issuing the warrant of arrest against Senator Panfilo Lacson.

NBI verifying report Lacson is back in RP

Fugitive senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson could already be back in the Philippines a month after he left the country apparently to evade arrest. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Nestor Mantaring told reporters during Monday's press conference that the bureau received an intelligence report regarding Lacson's whereabouts.

Explosives found near Ampatuan mansion

Assorted explosives were dug up by soldiers at an abandoned house just outside the mansion of detained governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. here on Monday.

Ampatuan scion mulls new lawyer due to health concerns

Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, the detained governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is seriously considering the services of a lawyer who is also a medical doctor to attend to his reportedly deteriorating health, and at the same time serve as his legal counsel in the place of Atty. Sigfrid Fortun's group.

10 private armies dismantled; crackdown continues

At least 10 private armed groups have been dismantled across the country since the government launched a crackdown on such organizations following the Nov. 23 massacre in Maguindanao province, police said on Monday.

Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, spokesman of Philippine National Police (PNP), said most of the disbanded groups came from Region IV-A, which is composed of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. 

Espina attributed the neutralization of the private armed groups to more aggressive police operations and to the installation of more checkpoints nationwide to enforce a nationwide gun-ban in preparation for the May 10 elections. 

He also said that although suspected private armies were arrested in Masbate province, the group was not yet disbanded because its leaders and other members are still at large. 

Last January, the government formed the Zeñarosa Commission, a body chaired by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Monina Arevalo Zeñarosa, to lead the campaign against private armies across the country. 

The creation of the commission was in response to calls which were triggered by the massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town that was carried out allegedly by members of the private army of the powerful Ampatuan clan.

Espina said 89 private armed groups are active in the country, 25 of which are based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

"We are always separating the ARMM because we have been using different template there in our operation to dismantle PAGs there. ARMM PAGs require more of a combat operation while those outside the region needs only special operations," he said. 

Citing intelligence information and PNP records, Espina also said Lanao del Norte has the most number of private armed groups with nine, followed by Pangasinan with six and Zamboanga Sibugay, Western Samar, Masbate, Iloilo and Cagayan with four each.

For the ARMM, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have the most number with 10 and seven, respectively. Basilan, meanwhile, has four, while Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur have two each, although they have the largest membership, with 1,166 and 800, respectively.

Other provinces confirmed to have private armed groups are: 

  • La Union, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga with three each; 

  • Isabela, Cavite, Negros Oriental and Eastern Samar with two each; 

  • Ilocos Norte, Abra, Bulacan, Batangas, Quezon, Rizal, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Northern Samar, Northern Leyte, Sultan Kudarat and Agusan del Sur with one each.

Accused AFP general appeals for bail anew

Former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia is continuing his quest for temporary freedom by appealing the "no bail" ruling of the Sandiganbayan.

Chief state prosecutor Zuno retires

Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno's 13 year career as head of over 1,800 prosecutors nationwide ends Monday.

Body of Filipina worker in Haiti mart found

The body of an overseas Filipino worker trapped in the rubble of a supermarket in Haiti was found Sunday morning (Haiti time), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

Haitian aid effort rushes out tents with anger building

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Aid workers in Haiti rushed to provide tents on Sunday with the coming rainy season threatening further misery and anger building among the desperate population over the stumbling relief effort.

Avalanche kills 17 Indian soldiers in Kashmir

SRINAGAR—Seventeen Indian soldiers were killed Monday in an avalanche that slammed into a group of 70 combat troops at a high-altitude warfare training camp in Kashmir, the army said Monday.

2,000 hit by Papua New Guinea cholera outbreak

Papua New Guinea's cholera outbreak has spread to 2,000 people, a World Health Organization official said Monday as he warned that poor water sanitation was making the disease hard to contain.

Tons of tainted milk powder still on China market

Authorities in China are hunting for nearly 100 tons of melamine-laced milk powder left over from 2008, when six babies died from consuming the toxic substance, state media said Monday.

Study links sugary soft drinks to pancreas cancer

by Reuters
WASHINGTON - People who drink 2 or more sweetened soft drinks a week have a much higher risk of pancreatic cancer, an unusual but deadly cancer, researchers reported on Monday.

Pacquiao braves the cold to train for Clottey bout

MANILA, Philippines – Despite being dubbed the world's pound-for-pound king, three-time Fighter of the Year Manny Pacquiao said he still toils to improve his skills to become an even better fighter.

Judy Ann Santos ready for her second honeymoon

by by Bernie Franco,
MANILA, Philippine - Last episode na ng weekly rom-com (romantic comedy) series na "George and Cecil" noong Linggo ng gabi, kung kaya't nakatakdang magbakasyon muna sina Judy Ann "Judai" Santos at asawang si Ryan Agoncillo sa loob ng isang buwan abroad.

PhilPost 'plays Cupid' with chocolates, Valentine stamps

by by Kristine Servando,
MANILA, Philippines - Scratch that e-mailed greeting card and forget about text messages this Valentine's Day, because according to the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost), real romance is "in the mail."

Noynoy distances self from sister Kris in debate

Presidential aspirant Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III on Monday distanced himself from his youngest sister, television personality Kris Aquino, saying she won't be calling the shots if he gets elected president of the country.

Erap is 'Orig Orange'

In case you haven't noticed, the 2010 campaign is a war of colors. Gibo Teodoro and Edu Manzano are green, Noynoy Aquino is yellow, Mar Roxas is blue while Bayani Fernando

During a free-wheeling dinner with the movie press last Saturday, Erap explained the orange "history."

"When I ran for senator, orange ang kulay ko. When I ran for vice president, orange ang kulay ko. When I ran for president, orange pa rin ang kulay ko. Why orange? The Marcos color is red and the Cory color is yellow. Sopara magkaroon ng unity, I chose orange as my color. Put red and yellow together and what do you get? Orange. Kaya akin ang kulay na 'yan."

Seconded Erap's son, reelectionist Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, "Of course, we are still using the color orange, even if somebody is copying not only our color butlahat-lahat na --- including being maka-masa. If you recall, since my father ran for mayor, for senator, for vice president and then for president, he has always been identified with the masa. His battlecry is 'Erap Para sa Mahirap.' 'Yung iba d'yan, matagal nang maraming pera, ngayon lang naging maka-mahirap."

Asked for his opinion when he shared merienda with the movie press (in case you haven't noticed, all candidates seem to be gravitating toward the movie press) yesterday at Annabel's (Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City), Senatoriable Gilbert Remulla (under Villar's Nacionalista Party) said, "Nobody has amonopoly of color."

Samar has most nutritionally poor towns -- NNC

PALO, LEYTE -- Eight out of the top 10 nutritionally depressed municipalities in Eastern Visayas this year are on Samar Island, the National Nutritional Council (NNC) last week reported.

The town of San Vicente in Northern Samar posted the highest malnutrition prevalence in the region with four out of every 10 preschool children having shown below normal weight.

Other towns with poor performance in fighting malnutrition are Gamay in Northern Samar (32.39%), Sta. Margarita in Samar (31.78%), Pastrana in Leyte (30.76%), Sta. Rita in Samar (29.76%), San Isidro in Northern Samar (29.73%), Lavezares in Northern Samar (29.48%), San Miguel in Leyte (29.21%), Sto. Niño in Samar (29.2%), and Lope de Vega in Northern Samar (28.54%).

Nutrition officials will visit the nutritionally depressed areas to assist in local planning.

Eastern Visayas has 105,241 malnourished children, representing 18.22% of preschoolers weighed in 2009.

Ms. Santiago said Samar province posted the highest malnutrition prevalence in 2009 at 25.95%, slightly up from 2008's 26.03%.

Northern Samar, which used to be the most nutritionally depressed province in the region, showed an improvement as malnutrition rate decreased to 23.62% in 2009 from 26.32% in 2008.

Ms. Santiago said the fight against malnutrition should start during pregnancy. Breast-feeding should be followed with proper complimentary feeding.

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

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