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

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 10, 2010 Major News Stories

Enough rice, corn, water in CV in next two months

The advent of El Niño has greatly affected the supply of food and water in many areas in the country, but the Department of Agriculture said residents in Region 7 have no reason to panic, as there will be enough supply of rice, corn, and water here until June.

Power charge up P1.83/kWh

MANILA ELECTRIC CO.'s (Meralco) customers may see a P1.8298 per kilowatt hour (kWh) rise in generation charge to P6.76/kWh in their bills this month, unless the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the utility's plea to spread this cost.

Power crisis hits Mindanao the hardest

The energy crisis has hit Mindanao the hardest, with areas there experiencing power interruptions lasting up to 8 hours. Malacañang is looking at several solutions to the power problem in the region, including a change in companies' work schedules. The Palace says government can ask companies to do their businesses at night when demand for electricity is low.

Night operations thumbed down by Mindanao businessmen

Tutol ang ilang negosyante at mga manggagawa sa Mindanao sa panukala ng Malacañang na sa gabi paganahin ang ilang pabrika bilang solusyon sa krisis sa kuryente.

No work for SRP employees from 10am - 3pm

The more than 30 "job order employees" of the city government assigned at the South Road Properties will no longer be required to work from 10am until 3pm.


Earthquake strikes Eastern Visayas

A 5.0-magnitude tremor hit parts of Eastern Visayas at 2:01 p.m. on Tuesday.

The tremor was located 33 kilometers southeast of Borongan City, Eastern Samar.

The tremor was felt at Intensity 4 in Borongan and nearby towns in Eastern Samar; Intensity 3 in Tacloban City, Leyte and in Basey, Samar; and Intensity 2 in Jaro, Carigara, Baybay City, all in Leyte.

(Intensity 4 is strong enough to rock parked cars and swing objects inside a house, is felt by most people indoors and some people outside. Intensity 3 means the movement is felt by many people indoors, is strong enough to shake objects indoors but may not be felt outdoors. Intensity 2 is felt by people at rest.)

The tremor has a depth of 43 kilometers with the Philippine trench, a major fault line that runs along the eastern side of the country, as the source, according to Bobby Cañete of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

The Philippine Trench, also known as Philippine Deep, is a submarine trench on the floor of the Philippine Sea of the Western North Pacific Ocean, which is over 10,000 meters below sea level.

Cañete said there were no reports of deaths, injury or damage to property.


Arroyo eyes new round of price cuts on medicines–DoH

The Department of Health has been "working" on another round of drug price cuts to be enforced before end of the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

But Cabral said they were "not making any promises."

The first two rounds of voluntary price reductions by 20-plus local pharmaceutical companies covered over 200 types of drugs and health care products sold in drug stores and hospital pharmacies nationwide.

Doctor Robert Louie So, head of the DoH's National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, said their "initiatives in bringing down the prices of medicines do not stop."

Talks between the DoH and drug firms are "ongoing," So said, adding, "We always keep the channels of communications open."

The President has the mandate to regulate the prices of essential medicines under the "Cheaper Medicines" law.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the non-government Center for Legislative Development disclosed that despite drug price cuts of 50 to 70 percent, the Arroyo administration's "access to cheap medicines" program benefited mainly the middle-class, not the poor, its intended beneficiaries.

"The Filipino poor are so poor that price cuts would not result in greater access to medicines," said the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City-based CLD.

In a 20-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, the CLD said "even the price ceiling on medicines were lowered considerably, the poor still find it difficult to buy the number and quality of drugs they need to cure or control their illnesses."

"Most of the poor can hardly avail of the medicines they need in the market no matter how cheap the generic medicines may be because of insufficiency of income," said the report, titled "Assessing the Government's Medicines Access Program."

The same report noted "most of [the study's 600 respondents, all transient residents of Barangay [villages] 164 and 165 in Tondo, Manila; Barangay Marulas and Maypajo in Caloocan City; and Barangay Botocan and Pinyahan in Quezon City] reported sporadic or even rare consumption of medicines."

"Only 15 out of the 600 respondents were able to meet the complete amount of medicines they need, while the rest had insufficient access. The numbers suggested that the lower the income, the lesser is their access to medicines and physicians," the report also said.

That is why, the CLD study asserted the state's "mediated access to medicines programs, including the Botika ng Barangay, may not benefit the poor after all. The middle class who have more financial resources than the poor and who already have access to medicines may be the ones primarily enjoying these programs."

"Government resources channeled to these programs meant to benefit the poor population may have been wasted as the target group may have not been properly served," the study also said.

According to the CLD, "nobody is a winner in the current programs, but [everybody] may all have been losers as the poor could not afford the medicines, the government may have wasted resources and the private sector [pharmaceutical companies] may have not earned from an expanded market, including the poor even after the price reduction."

The CLD, headed by Professor Emmanuel Leyco, stressed the need to "find a new approach in dealing with the health care demands of the poor."

"Mandated price ceiling will be ineffective in broadening access to health care of the poor unless such ceiling is substantially low enough to reach the poor. The recent 50 percent reduction [in drug prices] was a substantial reduction but still failed to reach the poor," said the NGO, established in 1988 as an independent legislative support structure. It was initially based at De La Salle University's political science department.

It suggested, "if the government wishes to reach the poorest sector [of society], it may have to explore other means, like adopting a drug subsidy program for the poor, financed and administered by the National Health Insurance Program."

The state-run Philhealth Insurance Corp. "could be an instrument by expanding its coverage to include medicines for the poor."

"Otherwise, if the market is still applied as a yardstick in providing for their health care needs, even if the barest minimum price is offered, the program may still marginalize the less privileged for the same reason that their income would never be sufficient as it is only meant for the most basic commodities," the CLD added.

Asked to comment on the report, So pointed out "there's no perfect system."

So insisted "mas maraming mahihirap ang natutulungan ng DoH [the DoH has been helping a lot of people to have] access to medicines program."

He cited, among others, the "price cuts on paracetamol."

"Unlike in the past when some medicine brands like paracetamol cost as much as P22 per tablet, today they are down to only 50 centavos," he pointed out.

'Poor getting poorer under Arroyo administration'

At the Palace's full-year economic briefing for 2009, President Arroyo took the opportunity to trumpet her administration's economic achievements. But on Tuesday, her own economic adviser, Joey Salceda, painted a different picture of her government's legacy. Salceda said the 9 years of unprecedented growth under the Arroyo administration have not made the poor better off. In an interview with ANC Business Nightly, Jessica Cantos, president of Action for Economic Reforms, echoed Salceda's view. She said President Arroyo neglected agriculture, which employs a third of the national work force and accounts for a fifth of total domestic production.

OFW in Singapore 'jumps' to death after 'attacking' employers

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino household domestic service worker allegedly jumped to her death from a condominium after reportedly attacking her employers in Singapore, an online news provider reported.

According to Web site of The Straits Times the incident happened on February 27 at the Draycott 8 condominium on Draycott Park, off Scotts Road.

The name of the Filipino and the victims were not mentioned in the report.

The report said the Filipino was a 30-year-old maid working for a 47-year-old Caucasian and his 45-year-old Japanese wife. She had reportedly been under their employ for just a few months.

The maid reportedly hit her female employer on the head with a clothes iron. She then allegedly grabbed 8 knives from the kitchen and wept while allegedly waving by a window at a balcony.

After that, she allegedly attacked both her employers when they attempted to pacify her. They sustained minor injuries.

The maid then later reportedly jumped off from the window of the condominium unit and died on the spot.

74 OFWs repatriated from Saudi to arrive Wednesday

MANILA, Philippines – Seventy-four overseas Filipino workers, including children, repatriated from Saudi Arabia are set to arrive on Wednesday.

DepEd wants pre-school mandatory in public schools

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - In an effort to strengthen the academic preparation of children across classes, the Department of Education (DepEd) asked Malacañang to certify as urgent a bill providing for mandatory pre-school education in public schools.


BoC-Cebu arrests 2 Chinese, seizes undeclared $1M

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Cebu seized on Saturday HK$1 million from two Chinese nationals after they failed to declare the money, as required by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Sandigan drops 1 of 4 lamppost cases

THE Sandiganbayan has reportedly dismissed one of the four re-filed cases on the purchase of allegedly overpriced lampposts, raising doubts on just how solid the anti-
graft office's case is.


Ombudsman urged to probe BOC executive

A ranking official of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu was accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth and alleged involvement in the 2004 smuggling of the P3.6 billion worth of pseudo-ephedrine from China.

Hans Ernest Tan Aparice III, a businessman from Subangdaku, Mandaue City, yesterday asked the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas to investigate and file the appropriate criminal and administrative charges against a Customs official, whose name has been withheld by The Freeman until he can officially answer the complainant as he has not yet received his copy.

Aparice, who claimed to be a trucker and an importer, accused the official of having amassed a "sizeable fortune, displaying lavish lifestyle disproportionate to his monthly take home salary."

He alleged that the official is only receiving a P14,000 monthly salary and it is unthinkable how he could have amassed properties.

The complainant alleged that among the properties are houses and vast agricultural land.

 In his request, Aparice attached pictures of the two houses.

He also alleged that the official owns luxury vehicles.

Aparice claimed he has personal knowledge that some of these properties were registered under the name of official's siblings allegedly to avoid getting detected by the anti-graft office and other agencies of government mandated to investigate corruption.

Aparice alleged the official has actual beneficial use of these properties because he and his family reportedly actually occupy the mansion and frequent the three-storey building.

Moreover, Aparice also tagged the official of being involved in the smuggling of the 1,800 kilos of pseudo-ephedrine from China in 2004. The shipment was seized at the Cebu International Port on March 5, 2004.

Former Cebu Vice Governor John Gregory Osmeña was linked to the smuggling along with his two foreigner friends Mike Cummings and Dirk Hultz. The official, Aparice alleged, was the connection at the BOC.

He was allegedly present during the meetings of Osmeña with the people involved in the transaction at a hotel in barangay Guadalupe.

The importation was listed in the In-Ward Foreign Manifest as ephedrine, which is not illegal because it is an ingredient of cough syrup, allergies, fever and cold. When the shipment arrived on board a cargo vessel MV Intrra Bhum on March 5, 2004, it was reportedly declared in the import entry as pseudoephedrine.

It was allegedly the official's office that became the starting point of the entry and some other customs documents relative to the shipment.

When the shipment was seized, the official allegedly eluded investigation by using his influence and buying the silence of the media.

When sought for comment, the official asked that the complainant first be verified if indeed he is a real person.

The official said that one of the houses that he allegedly owns was acquired long before he joined the Bureau of Customs and was acquired through a loan while he doesn't have any idea about the other.

The agricultural land was also an inheritance, which his family is now developing.

A source said that the complaint could be a mere smear campaign.

The official, however said, that this is part of the hazards of the job.

Apostol ordered to pay for stolen vehicle

The Commission on Audit has ordered Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol to pay the monetary value of the vehicle issued to him in Manila, which was allegedly stolen three years ago while parked in front of his residence.

In a decision issued on March 30, 2009, the COA adjudication and settlement board denied Apostol's request to relieve him of accountability pending completion of the required joint affidavit of two disinterested persons cognizant to the facts of the loss of the Isuzu Crosswind the Office of the Ombudsman issued to Apostol.

In its 2008 annual audit report, COA held Apostol liable to pay the monetary value of the lost XUV net of the insurance which was computed at P93,253 based on the formula provided under COA Memorandum Circular 98-569A issued on August 1998.

The amount that COA has ordered him to pay was the excess of the insurance claim that the Government Service Insurance System has paid to the anti-graft office. GSIS paid P531,247 in 2007 following the non-recovery of the vehicle, which the government bought at P834,000.

Apostol reported on January 04, 2007 that the Isuzu Crosswind assigned to him while he was in Manila was lost while parked in front of his house. Apostol reported the alleged carnapping to the Traffic Management Group Task Force Limbas but the police failed to recover the vehicle.

The Freeman tried to get the side of Apostol, but the deputy ombudsman no longer entertains questions from the media.

City to reinstate two traffic enforcers

Two of the 31 traffic enforcers terminated last week will be reinstated for being mistakenly included in the list.

RTC orders status quo on contested DA lot

The Regional Trial Court has ordered a 30-day status quo on the contested property occupied by the Department of Agriculture which the Cebu provincial government sought to recover.

RTC Branch 5 Judge Antonio Marigomen issued the order after yesterday's hearing on the application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction filed by the Cebu City government on behalf of the occupants of the six-hectare property along M. Velez St. in Barangay Guadalupe.

During the hearing, the lawyers of the City Hall and the Capitol contested the ownership over the property.

Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla said the claim of the city government over the property is based "not only on a shaky but imagined ground."

Lawyer Benjamin Militar, who represents the city government and Mayor Tomas Osmeña, said that a photocopy of the certificate of title that they obtained from the Register of Deeds showed that DA is the lawful owner of the property.

Osmeña earlier filed the civil complaint against Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and local DA officials for turning over the lot to the Capitol.

Aside from Garcia and Yap, Osmeña also implicated in his petition DA regional director Ricardo Oblena, Angel Enriquez, DA-7 technical director; Edwardo Alama, DA-7 administrative officer; lawyer Samuel Dinoy, DA-7 legal officer and the Register of Deeds of Cebu City.

The mayor asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction. The petitioners also asked the court to declare DA as the lawful owner of the contested property.

During the hearing, Militar asked Marigomen to issue an injunction to prevent the province from claiming ownership of the property and until such time that the issue of ownership of land is established.

Militar maintained that the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 19334, which the province has claimed, is spurious.

Martinquilla objected and told Marigomen that the transfer of the DA regional office to its new office in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City has already been done. A decision made by DA officials in Manila, he said.

In fact, Martinquilla said the DA-7 has already made "sufficient preparations" for the transfer of their new office.

Martinquilla reiterated that the title of the property was issued by the Register of Deeds under the name of the Province of Cebu. He said that the national government, through the DA, already acknowledged that the lot title was issued under the name of the province.

He said the city government could not just easily claim the property by merely using a machine copy of it.

Martinquilla also downplayed the claim of the petitioners that the transfer of the DA-7 office may disrupt of laboratory facilities and cause negative effect on agro-business enterprise, health care of livestock production and even human health such as biologic vaccine production lab, bird flu lab, diagnostic lab, and feed analysis lab.

He said the province may allow laboratories to stay in the DA office if these are proven to be impracticable to be transferred to the agency's new office.

The provincial officials assured not to evict about 80 informal settlers living inside the Velez compound.

They will also not, for the meantime, remove existing laboratories inside the old DA office and that they will not enter the property until the court resolve the City Hall's petition.

Marigomen set the hearing on the application for issuance of a writ of injunction for April 13 – or 30 days after the status quo period shall have expired.


Comelec waits for court ruling on Banawa split

Preparation will continue for the plebiscite on the splitting of barangay Guadalupe this Saturday even with the pending civil complaint filed against the Commission on Elections (Comelec-7) in court.


Fisherfolk group wants Yap disqualified as Bohol bet

An activist fisherfolk group filed on Tuesday a disqualification case against former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, questioning his residency in Bohol province"s third district in which he is seeking a congressional post in May.

Some retired generals wary of Bangit appointment

Retired military generals "who are in touch with the still idealistic elements of the Armed Forces" expressed apprehension on Tuesday that the military under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit "will again be used to frustrate the people's will."

Former generals warn vs use of military in poll cheating

Nagbabala ang ilang dating heneral na mauulit ang pag-aalsa ng mga sundalo! Ito ang kanilang nakikita kapag ginamit ulit ang militar sa halalan, para sa personal na interes ng ilang pulitiko! At ang paggamit sa militar, hindi lang pwedeng mangyari kapag nagkaaberya sa halalan!

Outgoing AFP chief Ibrado defends successor

Outgoing military chief General Victor Ibrado on Tuesday vouched for the integrity of his successor, Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit saying "he will make a good chief of staff."

Palace says Bangit is a pro

Newly appointed Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza insisted on Tuesday that Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit was a "very professional soldier'' loyal only to the Constitution and the people.

Bangit urged to help ensure clean elections

Administration senatorial candidate Silvestre Bello III dared incoming Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit on Tuesday to prove critics wrong by helping ensure "credible elections."

'Partial failure of elections can make Speaker Arroyo acting president'

Whistleblower Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada on Tuesday reiterated warnings of a partial failure of elections that could allow President Arroyo to extend her term in Malaca ñang.

Estrada: AFP chief an Arroyo loyalist, not good for RP

Former president Joseph Estrada believes the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff is more loyal to the Commander-in-Chief than to the Constitution.

Aquino sees appointment of 'loyal' chief justice

Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy'' Aquino III said Tuesday that President Macapagal Arroyo's appointment of her most loyal military officer as head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines could be a precursor to her appointment of an avidly loyal magistrate as the next chief justice.

Danding's daughter to campaign for Noynoy

While Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) chairman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. has kept silent on which among the nine presidential candidates he will support in the May elections, his daughter has started campaigning for Liberal Party bet Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Cojuangco's daughter Lisa Cojuangco-Cruz is also campaigning for Aquino's running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II, saying that she believes the Aquino-Roxas tandem is the best hope for a better Philippines.

Noynoy, Villar skip Quiboloy forum; pastor "very disappointed"

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III"s failure to attend a presidential forum here organized by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy has made the influential religious leader "very disappointed."

Quiboloy hits Noynoy for skipping presidential forum

MANILA, Philippines - Six presidential candidates attended on Tuesday "Sukatan 2010", a presidential forum in Davao City sponsored by the religious group, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Former president Joseph Estrada, Lakas-Kampi CMD bet Gilbert Teodoro, senators Richard Gordon and Jamby Madrigal, Brother Eddie Villanueva and Nicanor Perlas were at the forum where they discussed various issues, including the power problem.

Ang Kapatiran's JC de los Reyes and Manny Villar did not attend even if the Nacionalista standard bearer earlier confirmed his participation. However, it was the no-show of Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III that drew the ire of Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader, Apollo Quiboloy.

Quiboloy said Aquino had "no honor" for not showing up at the forum at a date which the senator himself supposedly picked.


Villar not paying NPA for permit to campaign

by By Dennis Carcamo

MANILA, Philippines -- The spokesman of the Nacionalista Party has denied that standard bearer Sen. Manny Villar has been giving money to communist rebels just to be able to campaign in strongholds of the New People's Army.

Villar 'land grabbing' issue revived by Jamby

Hindi lang si Senador Aquino ang may problema sa kampanya dahil maging si Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar patuloy na pinupukol ng mga isyu. Muling binuhay ni Senador Jamby Madrigal ang umano'y pangangamkam ng lupain ng kumpanya ni Villar. Pero sagot ng kampo ni Villar, ligal ang pagkakabili nila sa lupa.

Arroyo sis-in-law may not be in next Congress

If it's any consolation to critics of the administration, there is a chance that one member of the Arroyo family may not be back in Congress after the May 2010 elections.

Norman Tayag, secretary general of the Ang Kasangga party list group, said Tuesday that its current representative, Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, the President's sister-in-law, may not be among the group's nominees in the May 2010 polls.

"It seems she might not be with us in 2010," Tayag said at the Ilustrado forum in Manila.

In an interview, he said there were members of the group who wanted Arroyo to continue on as the group's nominee, and there were those who believed that other members should be given a chance to represent the group.

Replying to a question, he said there were more members who wanted other candidates to serve as the group's nominees.

Ang Kasangga is currently in the process of selecting its five nominees, whose names it would have to submit to the Commission on Elections by March 26.

Tayag said the group was conducting consultations and discussions with members in various regions in the country.

The entry of Arroyo into the House of Representatives as a party list representative raised to four the number of her family members in Congress, and drew criticism from those who say that there were too many members of the First Family in Congress.

The other Arroyos in Congress are Ma. Lourdes' brother, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, and her nephews Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo.

Ang Kasangga represents micro entrepreneurs, such as the vendors of balloons.

Tayag trumpeted the value of the micro enterprises, which he said absorb the unemployed members of society and provide input to the formal sector.

But even if Ma. Lourdes would not be a party list nominee, her prominent sister-in-law, President Macapagal-Arroyo, may join Congress.

Ms Arroyo is running for representative of Pampanga'second district in the May 2010 elections. Her son, Mikey, may be a party list nominee as well.


New DOJ chief: Arroyo can appoint next Chief Justice

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera on Tuesday turned over her position to Solicitor-General Alberto Agra.

Saludo promoted as Arroyo spokesman

From deputy spokesperson, Ricardo Saludo is now the official spokesperson of President Macapagal Arroyo, newly appointed Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said on Tuesday.

Lontoc takes over DOTC

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Anneli Lontoc has been named new chief of the agency.

Dureza heads Mindanao development body

Presidential Assistant Jesus Dureza has been named head of the newly created Mindanao Development Authority (Minda).

MILF pact no longer possible under Arroyo—chief negotiator

The Philippine government and Muslim guerrillas can no longer strike a final peace accord before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo steps down in June because of limited time and differences in ongoing peace talks, the country's chief negotiator said Tuesday.

2 women 'collateral damage' in clash vs Abu Sayyaf—military

Consider their deaths collateral damage. This was how the Western Mindanao command chief, Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, described the civilians—particularly the two women—killed during an anti-terror operation in Siasi, Sulu on Sunday.

Militiaman surfaces to tag Ampatuans in Nov. 23 massacre

A man claiming to be among the gunmen who killed 57 people, including 32 media workers, in Maguindanao, has surfaced to boost the accusations against members of the Ampatuan clan.

The man, who called himself "Jesse," owned up to his participation in the massacre, saying he was a "special bodyguard" of Datu Kanor Ampatuan, one of the principal suspects in the carnage.

Jesse is now in the custody of a group helping some of the massacre victims' families.

"I decided to come out because I want Datu Unsay (Andal Ampatuan Jr.) and Datu Kanor behind bars and pay for the crime they committed," Jesse told a select group of journalists in an interview somewhere in Metro Manila Tuesday.

"Nakokosensiya ako. Naaawa ako sa mga pinatay nila na taong walang kasalanan (My conscience has been bothering me. I feel pity for the innocent people they killed)," he said in a thick Maguindanaoan accent.

He also admitted that a member of the Ampatuan clan had ordered him killed.

Describing himself as a neighborhood toughie, Jesse said he started working as security escort for Kanor almost two years ago.

He said he was with 200 armed men who seized members of the Mangudadatu clan, their lawyers and members of the media at a checkpoint a few kilometers away from the massacre site in Sitio Malating, Barangay (village) Salman in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009.

The convoy was on the way to the local Commission on Elections office for the filing of the certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu for Maguindanao governor.

As soon as they reached a remote hilly area, he said, Andal ordered the victims to alight from the vans and to lie on the ground face down.

On Andal's orders, Jesse said they started to shoot at the victims.

"I could hear some of the journalists crying as they begged Datu Unsay to spare them. But he just laughed at them," he narrated.

After the massacre, Jesse went with Datu Kanor and 200 of armed paramilitary members loyal to the Ampatuans to the hinterlands of Maguindanao.

He said he decided to leave their lair after he allegedly heard Andal ordering Kanor to kill him during a cellphone conversation.


Mass grave a propaganda ploy of the military, says NDF

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Eastern Visayas dismissed the military's claim that it discovered a grave containing the remains of four persons allegedly executed by the New People's Army (NPA) in a remote village in a Northern Samar town.

Forfeiture case vs Imelda Marcos' sis stays—court

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied a motion seeking the dismissal of the forfeiture case against the youngest sister of former first lady Imelda Marcos.

RP is 4th most corrupt country in Southeast Asia—poll

The Philippines is ranked as the fourth most corrupt country in Southeast Asia out of 16 surveyed by over 2,000 expatriate businessmen, according to an annual poll.

The 16 countries surveyed from the least corrupt to the most corrupt are:

1. Singapore, 1.42
2. Australia, 2.28
3. Hong Kong, 2.67
4. United States, 3.42
5. Japan, 3.49
6. Macau, 4.96
7. South Korea, 5.98
8. Taiwan, 6.28
9. Malaysia, 6.47
10. China, 6.52
11. India, 7.18
12. Thailand, 7.60
13. Philippines, 8.06
14. Vietnam, 8.07
15. Cambodia, 9.10
16. Indonesia, 9.27

RP advises vs travel to Thailand on Mar 12

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday advised Filipinos against traveling to Thailand on Friday, March 12, in view of the protest rallies being planned in key areas of Bangkok that day.

Bali bomb mastermind believed killed by security forces

JAKARTA—Indonesian counter-terrorism forces on Tuesday killed a man believed to have been one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings, during a raid in the capital Jakarta, police and reports said.

IMF boss defends plan for 'green fund'

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday defended plans to create a $100 billion fund to help countries mitigate the effects of climate change.

Pope's brother: sexual abuse at choir school 'not discussed'

BERLIN—The pope's elder brother, Georg Ratzinger, said Tuesday that alleged sexual abuse at the German choir school in the 1950s and 1960s he worked at for 29 years was "never discussed".

Pope's brother says slapped pupils at choir school

BERLIN, Germany - The brother of Pope Benedict said in an interview on Tuesday he slapped pupils in the face at a German school where he led the choir, but had been unaware of the brutality of discipline there.

Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 86, made the comments to a German paper following charges of sexual and physical abuse in Catholic schools in the pope's native Bavaria. Sexual abuse scandals have also rocked the church in the United States and Ireland.

"Pupils told me on concert trips about what went on. But it didn't dawn on me from their stories that I should do something. I was not aware of the extent of these brutal methods," Ratzinger told the Passauer Neue Presse.

"If I had known about the excess of force he was using, I would have said something ... I ask the victims for forgiveness," said Ratzinger who led the "Regensburger Domspatzen," or Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows, the official choir for the Regensburg diocese, from 1964 to 1994.

"At the start, I also slapped people in the face but I always had a bad conscience," said Ratzinger, who said the school headmaster punished pupils in the same way.

The Regensburg diocese is one of three Catholic schools in the southern state of Bavaria where the charges of sexual and physical abuse have surfaced recently.

The diocese has said one priest abused two boys sexually in 1958 and was sentenced to two years in jail. Another clergyman served 11 months in jail in 1971 for abuse. Other former pupils have said they suffered sexual abuse and excessive beatings and humiliation in the early 1960s by unnamed teachers.

German Pope Benedict, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, taught theology at Regensburg University from 1969 to 1977.

Sexual abuse

Reports last month said Catholic priests had sexually abused over 100 children at Jesuit schools around Germany. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops Conference, has issued a public apology and is due to travel to the Vatican on Friday to discuss the scandal.

Ratzinger acknowledged he physically punished students but said he never beat them to an abusive extent, and that and his Regensburg colleagues never talked about sexual abuse. He said he was glad when corporal punishment was banned in 1980.

A German Bishops Conference representative responsible for dealing with the issue of abuse has welcomed a roundtable discussion organised by the Family Ministry about the sexual abuse of children and said the Church would take part. The discussion will not focus solely on the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church has faced charges of abuse in several countries.

Pope Benedict summoned Irish bishops to the Vatican last month for a scolding over a paedophilia scandal after a government report said Church leaders had covered up widespread abuse of children by priests for 30 years.

More than 200 Catholics in the Netherlands have come forward to report alleged sexual abuses by priests, often decades ago. Dutch bishops are to meet on Tuesday to discuss this.

The Archabbott of the Salzburg monastery of St. Peter, Bruno Becker, 64, offered his resignation on Monday after confessing to having abused a boy 40 years ago, when he was a monk.

The victim, who is now 53 years old, said Becker had abused him in a grotto during a bicycle trip. He also accuses two other Benedictine monks of having abused him sexually decades ago.

Austria's Catholic Church was last rattled in 1995, when then Vienna archbishop Hans Herrmann Groer was accused of child abuse. He never commented on the accusations but resigned from his post later.


Manny charters 'Air Pacquiao' for flight to Dallas

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao on Monday took a flight from his training base in Los Angeles, California to Dallas, Texas where his March 13 fight with Joshua Clottey will take place.

Pacquiao, entourage arrive in style at Dallas

Dumating na sa Dallas, Texas si Manny Pacquiao para ipagpatuloy ang ensayo sa nalalapit niyang laban kay Joshua Clottey. Umarkila pa si Pacman ng eroplano para isakay ang 170 Pinoy na kabilang sa kanyang entourage patungong Texas.

Clottey trainer says nothing new in Pacquiao's arsenal

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines -- Lenny de Jesus, Joshua Clottey's new trainer, claims he didn't need to watch Manny Pacquiao's fight tapes in designing their strategy versus the Filipino champion.

Vegas fight odds put Manny at minus 800

by by Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star
HOLLYWOOD – The fight odds suggest that the only way Manny Pacquiao would lose to Joshua Clottey on March 13 is if he climbs the ring blind-folded.

Donaire predicts Pacquiao via decision

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino boxer Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr. believes that world's best pound-for-pound king Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao has enough goods to win against his challenger from Ghana, Joshua "The Grand Master" Clottey.

PSC Asiad goal: Less athletes, more medals

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Sports Commission chairman Harry Angping again eyes a "lean and mean" delegation for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games (Asiad) this November.

Ruffa Gutierrez accepts Kris Aquino's apology

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Ruffa Gutierrez has admitted that she got hurt by Kris Aquino's remarks on "The Buzz" last Sunday about her decision to move to network TV5 that she decided to leave in the middle of the celebrity talk show.

Kris Aquino willing to leave 'The Buzz'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Actress-host Kris Aquino is willing to take a leave from "The Buzz" if ABS-CBN management tells her to do so.

Arnel Pineda to sing anthem in Pacquiao-Clottey bout

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines -- It's confirmed. Arnel Pineda, the Filipino front man of popular American rock band "Journey," will sing the Philippine national anthem in Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao's much-awaited fight with Ghanaian Joshua "The Grand Master" Clottey on March 13 (March 14 in Manila) at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

DOH mulls tapping celebrities to promote condom use

The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to tap the services of a celebrity to promote the use of condoms as a safety measure against HIV/AIDS infection, a television report said Tuesday.

Princess Caroline's husband fined for assault

HILDESHEIM—A German court fined Princess Caroline of Monaco's husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, €200,000 ($272,000) on Tuesday for causing bodily harm to a hotel manager.

Chile quake moves city more than 10 feet

by CNN
(CNN) -- The magnitude-8.8 earthquake that rocked the west coast of Chile last month was violent enough to move the city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west and the capital, Santiago, about 11 inches to the west-southwest, researchers said.

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