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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 18, 2010 Major News Stories

Talisay councilor's brod arrested for shabu pushing

The police arrested the brother of a Talisay City councilor after seizing 25 grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) from the suspect Wednesday morning.

Inspector Glenn Hife, leader of a team from the police's Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, identified the suspect as 60-year-old Hermegildo Capala, younger brother of Talisay City Councilor Aaron Capala. Councilor Capala is running for reelection.

Hife said their team conducted a buy-bust operation in Barangay Poblacion, Carcar City at about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

He said they seized 25 grams of suspected shabu worth P150,000 from Capala during the operation.

When interviewed by the media, Capala said he would answer the charges in court and refused to comment further.

Cardiologist: Ecleo needs an immediate heart bypass

The supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, who is accused of parricide in a Cebu City court for allegedly killing his wife eight years ago remains unfit to go back to jail because of coronary artery disease.

19 areas in province may be placed in watchlist

Sr. Supt. Sylvestre Primero, Deputy Regional Director for Administration of the Provincial Police Office, said they have already identified 19 areas in the province that they may include in the watch list for the 2010 polls.

Primero said 14 of these areas fall under Category 1 or those areas have history of intense political rivalry and previous election-related incidents. Five areas reportedly fall under Category 2 or those areas with the presence of armed groups.

Primero said there are six specific areas in the southern part of the province, four in north, one in Lapu-Lapu City and one in Camotes Island. There are five specific areas in Bohol and two areas in Negros.

Primero said they are preventing election-related violence by conducting checkpoints and saturation drives.

Meanwhile, Provincial Police Director Sr. Supt. Erson Digal said he will suggest to the Comelec to place under the watch list those areas whose mayor and vice mayor are running for the one position. 

"Mayor ug vice-mayor magkontra kay mao na ako gi-tan-aw kay basin magka- political rivalry," Digal said.

Digal said they are looking at San Fernando town in the first district; Alegria and Ronda towns in the second district, and Tuburan town in the fourth district.

Digal said they are currently monitoring towns that already have a history of intense political rivalry.

Church won't accept money from candidates, say three bishops

Candidates' money, seemingly overflowing this campaign season, will not be welcome during the Catholic Church's Palm Sunday fundraising activities for the poor, according to several bishops.

Villar biggest political ad spender

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Senator Manuel Villar continues to be the biggest political ad spender among the presidential candidates one month into the official campaign for the May 2010 elections, an election watchdog monitoring campaign expenses said Wednesday.

In its latest report, the Pera't Pulitika Network said that Villar spent a total of P195.1 million in total advertising value in print, radio and TV, from Feb. 9 to March 15.

Following closely is Senator Benigno Aquino III who spent P154.6 million for the same period.

Deposed president Joseph Estrada had spent P103.2 million.

The figures were based on the monitoring of AC Nielsen and does not include the discounts given by the networks and newspapers, Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and a member of the election watchdog said in a press conference Wednesday.

Administration bet, former Defense Chief Gilbert Teodoro had spent P330,680 while evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva spent P149,252 for his political ads.

In a report for Pera't Pulitika, PCIJ said that Villar, Aquino, and Estrada "have already used up more than half of their allowed air time" in ABS CBN and GMA 7 networks. Candidates are given up to 120 minutes of airtime for their political ads for each TV network.

Comelec to beat April 30 deadline for ballot printing

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections on Wednesday said it is confident that it will be able to print all 50 million ballots needed for the May 10 automated elections by April 30.

Printing of manual ballots stopped, full automation on—Melo

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will no longer print manual ballots because "it's too late" and that to mix these with those prepared for the automated polls on May 10 will be "problematic," said Chairman Jose Melo.

"We will no longer print manual ballots, too late na [it's too late]," Melo said, explaining that mixed manual and automated polls would be "problematic" in terms of consolidating the total votes cast, especially for national candidates.

As with previous elections, results in manual polls for national positions are tampered through "dagdag bawas" (vote padding and shaving) by election operators to favor a candidate and winners are proclaimed after a month, he said.

Melo added that partial automated polls might pave the way for cheaters to introduce fraud into the system or sabotage elections in areas where manual ballots have been distributed, which might result in failure of elections in the area.

"Hypothetically, let us say that we automate 90 percent of the country and 10 percent have manual polls. For automated polls, the results are out in three to four days and who knows how many weeks it would take to consolidate the votes for areas with manual elections," said Melo.

The scenario might prevent the declaration of winners for national positions, especially if the remaining votes are statistically significant to result in a margin between candidates, he said.

Out of the 50 million ballots – one for each voter – about 17 million ballots have been printed by the National Printing Office and had passed the security tests.

All 77,000 poll machines to be used in clustered polling precincts nationwide have passed the laboratory and stress tests at Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM's warehouse in Laguna. Installation of the certified automation software for the configuration of the poll machines is ongoing, with two configured units shipped to Kalayaan Islands Wednesday.

ERs to be delivered before May 13 - Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered all its provincial supervisors to deliver the printed election returns (ERs) to the poll body"s main office in Manila and the Congress not later than three days after the May 10 elections.

Based on Comelec resolution 8803 promulgated on March 16, Jimenez said the board of election inspectors will deliver to the election officer (EO) the envelopes containing the printed ERs intended for Comelec, Congress and Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC). Each will get one of the 30 ERs to be printed by the poll machine.

Comelec and Congress will serve as national boards of canvassers.

The EO will then segregate the envelopes and deposit them in ballot boxes. The EO will secure each ballot box with three padlocks and deliver them to the concerned office.

In Metro Manila, all ballot boxes from EOs will be delivered to the National Capital Region's regional election director (RED), who will transmit them to Congress and Comelec. Those intended for the PBOC will be kept in custody of the NCR RED.

For areas outside Metro Manila, ballot boxes will be delivered by the election assistant (EA) to the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor (OPES) "no later than 12 noon of May 11," the resolution said.

The most senior election assistant in the OPES will receive the copies and issue the proper receipt, the resolution added.

For purposes of transmitting the copies of ERs for Congress and Comelec, the Provincial Election Supervisor will designate a senior and able Comelec election assistant to transmit the ERs to the office of the Senate president, "within 12 hours from delivery, using the fastest means of transportation," the resolution added.

"In all instances, the provincial election supervisor must see to it the delivery of copies of the ERs at intervals of 12 hours or shorter and that all copies of the ERs for Congress and the Commission are delivered not later than May 13," the resolution said.

Members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with watchers of political parties, candidates and accredited citizen's arm, will have to be present during the delivery of the ballot boxes, Jimenez said.

Comelec to name 29 unaccredited partylist groups

Twenty-nine partylist groups that will appear on the ballots of the automated elections on May 10 remain unaccredited pending the resolution of their petitions for reconsideration, Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo said Wednesday.

Melo said the poll agency would issue a resolution identifying the 29 of the 187 partylist and sectoral groups whose names, along with 158 others, were included in the ballots that were printed starting in February.

"We would come down with a breakdown of which of the 187 partylist groups are duly accredited and those that are not. Previously, we have approved the petition for accreditation of 158 groups but we printed 187 because back then, some 29 groups have pending unresolved cases," said Melo.

Melo declined to say whether the six allegedly government-sponsored partylist groups mentioned by Kontra Daya in its petition for non-accreditation were among the 29.

These are: Batang Iwas Droga (Bida), Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (Adam), Agbiag Timpuyog Ilokano (Agbiag), Babae para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka), League of Youth for Peace and Development (Lypad) and Kalahi Advocates for Overseas Filipinos (Kalahi).

But Melo noted that the poll watchdog might be more concerned with the "probable nominees that the groups would field for the May polls" more than the advocacy of the party itself.

In a separate interview, Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the public, for the first time, could question the qualifications of a partylist nominee after the Comelec ordered all partylist groups to submit the list of their nominees with the poll body's legal department on or before March 26.

Arroyo to appoint Chief Justice after final SC ruling

MalacaƱang thanked the Supreme Court on Wednesday for swiftly deciding to allow President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appoint a replacement for Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, upon his retirement in May.

Comelec respects SC ruling on Chief Justice post

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will respect the Supreme Court's decision that allowed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint a new Chief Justice, a spokesman for the poll body said.

SC go-signal for Arroyo to appoint chief justice is premature-Melo

The Supreme Court (SC) decision allowing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato Puno within a period of two months before her term ends was premature, said Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo.

Carpio is chief justice while Puno is on leave

MANILA, Philippines- Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has named senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as acting chief justice while he is on leave, but the designation is not expected to have any major impact in decisions of the high court.

Noynoy: Key to dad"s murder still alive in USA

Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III believes a soldier who holds the key to the murder of his father Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. is still alive and can provide information that may led to the closure of the 27-year-old murder case.

Aquino told reporters here that the official was a team commander who was in the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) van at the Manila International Airport on the day his father was killed on Aug. 21, 1983.

"Ang pagkaintindi ko buhay pa (From what I know, he is still alive)," he said.

Noynoy said the man was not included in the investigation of the Agrava Commission, which was formed to look into the Aquino assassination.

Instead, the man resigned from government service and went to the United States of America where he had his identity changed at least twice, he said.

Villar's trust ratings fall 11 pts

Noynoy stable; Erap up 7 pts MANILA, Philippines - The public's trust of Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar fell by a big 11 percentage points in the latest survey of Pulse Asia on trust ratings of public figures.

In the survey, Villar's trust ratings fell from 70% in January 22-26, 2010 to 59% in February 21-25, 2010.

LP presidential candidate Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III's trust ratings were stable at 64% during the two survey periods.

In a statement, LP general campaign manager Butch Abad attributed the drop in Villar's trust ratings to the C-5 road controversy.

"Sen. Manny Villar suffered a huge 11% erosion in his trust ratings attributable mainly to his inability to extricate himself from the anomalous C-5 Road Extension Project and his association with the much distrusted Gloria Macapagal Arroyo," Abad said.

"This is a triumph of character over cash, empowerment over patronage," Abad said. "Their baseless lies have failed. LP presidential standard bearer Sen. Aquino is now the most trusted presidential candidate with a rating of 64%."

Villar was the most trusted presidential candidate in the January 22-26 Pulse Asia survey.

Pwersa ng Masang Pilpino (PMP) presidential bet Joseph Ejercito Estrada's trust ratings went up by 7 percentage points, from 33% in January 22-26 to 40% in February 21-25.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilbert 'Gibo' Teodoro's trust ratings fell slightly from 32% in January to 29% in February.

Bagumbayan presidential candidate Richard Gordon's trust ratings were statistically the same at 25% in February (26% in January).

Bagong Pilipinas bet Bro. Eddie Villanueva's trust ratings were also stable at 15% in the two survey periods.

Sen. Jamby Madrigal's trust ratings increased slightly from 14% in January to 17% in February.

Olongapo City Councilor JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas's trust ratings were statistically the same in the two survey periods at 5% and 4% respectively.

Mar still most trusted VP bet

Among the vice-presidential candidates, Sen. Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party was on top with 70% trust rating.

NP-Nationalist People's Coalition vice-presidential bet Loren Legarda's trust ratings fell from 61% in January to 58% in February.   
Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay was the third most trusted vice-presidential bet with 45% trust rating, statistically the same as in January.

Bagumbayan bet Bayani Fernando was fourth with 22% trust rating followed by Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet Edu Manzano at 19%.

In Pulse Asia's trust surveys, respondents are asked how much they trust the public figure, whether "malaking-malaki, malaki, maaring malaki at maaring maliit, maliit o maliit na maliit."

The Pulse Asia survey of 1,800 respondents has a margin of error of plus/minus 2%. 

Disgruntled generals told: Respect PGMA's decision

MANILA, Philippines -  A MalacaƱang official on Wednesday said he is confident that military officials will respect the chain of command despite reports that some generals feel demoralized by President Arroyo's choices for the new Armed Forces chief of staff and Army chief.

New AFP chief to troops: Don't obey unlawful orders

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit said Wednesday that soldiers should reject unlawful orders even if they would come from their most senior officers.

Present 'Morong 43' before CHR, military told

The military should respect the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and produce the Morong 43 during Thursday's public hearing on the matter, the commission said Wednesday.

Tripoli agreement key to attaining peace in Mindanao—diplomat

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is not happy with the slow implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement in the Philippines which he helped drafted in 1976 when he was still foreign affairs minister in Libya, to resolve the Moro conflict in Mindanao.

Dacers ask court to cancel Lacson's passport

The family of slain publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer has asked a Manila court to cancel the Philippine passport of fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Pinay murdered in Singapore

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said an investigation has been launched into the murder of a Filipina who was allegedly stabbed to death in Singapore.

A report identified the victim as Rosalyn Pascua, 30, a resident of Peony Mansion in Bencoolen Street. Pascua's body allegedly bore multiple stab wounds.

BIR partners with NBI to pursue tax evaders

by By Michelle Orosa, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The country's main tax collection agency is beefing up its monitoring, investigation and asset seizure of delinquent taxpayers by teaming up with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Thai protesters hurl own blood at PM's house

BANGKOK - Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand's prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

Haiti reveals ambitious reconstruction plan

Haiti has unveiled the first draft of its grand reconstruction plan, saying $11.5 billion would be needed to help the country rebuild after January's devastating earthquake.

Relief effort launched in storm-ravaged Fiji

by Agence France-Presse
SUVA, Fiji - International relief supplies began arriving in cyclone-ravaged Fiji on Wednesday as reports emerged of widespread destruction in isolated parts of the Pacific nation.

Irish Catholic head apologises over child abuse row

by Agence France-Presse
DUBLIN, Ireland - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland apologised "with all my heart" Wednesday over his role in a clerical sex abuse probe which has rocked the church.

Cardinal Sean Brady has faced calls to quit from victims' groups over his attendance at meetings in 1975 where children allegedly abused by one of Ireland's worst serial paedophiles were asked to take a vow of secrecy.

Fr. Brendana Smyth, who is believed to have abused hundreds of children over a 40-year period in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the United States, was finally jailed in the 1990s and died in prison.

Roach says Valero could be next for Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines -- Boxing coach Freddie Roach said he would pick undefeated Edwin Valero as a possible opponent for his prized fighter Manny Pacquiao.

Roach suspects Pacquiao fight plan leaked to Clottey

HOLLYWOOD -- Did Joshua Clottey know in advance the traps laid out by Manny Pacquiao during "The Event" on Saturday?

Floyd claims not seeing Pacquiao-Cottey fight yet

MANILA, Philippines – Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn't seen the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight yet, at least according to some members of his team.

Big money will make Floyd Jr fight Pacquiao

Wakee Salud, one of Manny Pacquiao"s closest advisers, believes the aborted fight between the Filipino boxing icon and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will push through owing to the potential big money involved with it.

Analyst: Concepcion faces rough sailing vs 'JuanMa'

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Bernabe Concepcion will have to prepare himself for a hard bout against world featherweight champion Juan Manuel "JuanMa" Lopez in case their fight deal pushes through.

Pacquiao's Hawaii concert canceled- report

MANILA, Philippines – The concert of People's Champ Manny Pacquiao in Hawaii has been canceled due to poor ticket sales, an online report said.

Quoting Ryan Chang of Island Fire Productions, the report said only 603 tickets have been sold 4 days before the show. Chang said the promoters needed to sell 2,500 tickets to break even, according to the online report.

ABS-CBN set to launch summer station ID

MANILA, Philippines - Welcome the season of summer with more than 150 Kapamilya stars as ABS-CBN officially launches its highly anticipated summer station ID (SID) dubbed as "Summer ang Simula" this Sunday on "ASAP XV."

The song "Summer Ang Simula" features "Pinoy Dream Academy" Grand Star Dreamer Yeng Constatino and Kean of Callalily.

Jericho Rosales admits dating SNN reporter

MANILA, Philippines – Jericho Rosales is dating former courtside reporter and now celebrity reporter Cesca Litton.

Rosales admitted that he and Litton, reporter of "SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon," are now exclusively dating. The actor described Litton as "very cute."

Eddie Gutierrez to appear again on ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran actor Eddie Gutierrez, father of actress-host Ruffa Gutierrez, is making a comeback on ABS-CBN via afternoon series "Precious Hearts Romances (PHR) Presents: Kristine." After 3 decades, Eddie is thrilled to work again for the Kapamilya network.

Philippines gets 10 Doppler radars

MANILA, Philippines -  The Philippine government on Wednesday said it has acquired 10 new Doppler radars, 5 of which are expected to be fully operational in the next two years.

DOST Undersecretary Graciano Yumul said Doppler radars are useful in providing detailed weather information including intensity and volume of rainfall in the country.

PAGASA officials earlier said a Doppler radar costs around P100 million.

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