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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 29, 2010 Major News Stories

Bishops condemn Easter whippings and crucifixions

Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines on Sunday criticized the traditional Easter rituals of people publicly whipping themselves or having themselves crucified.

Pope Benedict uses popemobile in Palm Sunday outing

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI used the popemobile for the first time on a Palm Sunday for his traditional outing to greet pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

RP one with the world in Earth Hour 2010

from by by Caroline Howard, ANC
MANILA, Philippines – For the third year in a row, the Philippines took part in Earth Hour, a global call to action against climate change.

RP tops Earth Hour for second straight year

The Philippines has once again topped the global participation in Earth Hour, the biggest climate awareness campaign in the world.

According to Gregg Yan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) communications officer, around 1,076 towns and cities in the country switched off their lights for an hour last Saturday, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. 

"This placed the Philippines as first in the world for the second time in a row," Yan said, citing information from the Department of Energy (DoE).

According to the Earth Hour blog, more than 1000 cities, towns and municipalities in the country took part in the annual event.

"This amazing show of support for Earth Hour was complimented by some of the countries most iconic landmarks switching off as well, including Manila Cathedral, Fort Bonifacio, Global City, Rizal Monument and El Nido Limestone Cliffs," it said.

The three-year-old Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007, with 2.2 million residents and 2,100 businesses participating. It has since spread around the world.

Sugar producers allege worsening smuggling problem

Sugar producers have asked the government to address what they claimed as the escalating incidence of sugar smuggling.

Local flour millers seek stop to Turkish flour imports

The importation of Turkish flour should be stopped pending the results of the laboratory tests being conducted by the Department of Health on the flour imports, a leader of the local flour miller association said.

South Korea may hire more workers - POEA

South Korea may hire more workers in the manufacturing industry than as originally planned with the requisite Korean Language Test (KLT) set to be held anytime soon, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) announced recently.

Labor disputes in FEU, Silliman U resolved—DoLE

The labor disputes at the Far Eastern University in Metro Manila and Silliman University in Central Visayas have been resolved, the Department of Labor and Employment said in a news release.

At Silliman University, the parties also arrived at an amicable settlement of their CBA deadlock last March 12, and concluded their CBA with an economic package estimated at P12.2 million benefiting 300 workers.

Altogether, an estimated 111.9 million in cumulative CBA economic packages benefiting 1,361 workers in the country have resulted from the successful dispute settlement from January 1 to March 15 this year, according to the NCMB.

Only 6% of applicants get jobs in call centers: BPAP

from by
MANILA, Philippines - Call center jobs will be harder to find for those who are not prepared. Data from an industry group showed that out of every 100 applicants in a call center, only a handful are able to make it to the final cut.

Vidal tells youth to avoid gangs

AS crimes perpetrated by minors continue to rise, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asked the youth to remain faithful to the calling of God and to sway themselves from gang-related violence.

During last Saturday night's celebration of the 25th Local World Youth Day, Vidal, in his message, said he is saddened that crimes perpetrated by minors continue to increase.

Nerissa says she's dropping Teodoro and backing Villar

Cebu Sixth District Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, who is running for mayor and her entire slate in Mandaue City, announced that they are supporting the presidential bid of Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manuel Villar, but remain loyal to One Cebu Party and will still support the candidacy of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and her running mate Glenn Soco.

The announcement came after Villar met with five Cebu congressmen last week fuelling speculations that One Cebu will go for Villar instead of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro.

"That is expected. I already expected that," said the unfazed Gov. Garcia when asked for a reaction on this latest political development in the province, which she has dubbed as "Gibo country".

Soon-Ruiz said that after consultation with her leaders and political allies in Mandaue City, she  realized that most, if not all of them would like to support a presidential bet that has the interest of our city in his heart.

She said that her leaders and political allies are clear about their choice and as the head of Nagkahiusang Mandauehanon, she agreed with them and they have reached a consensus.

"We have decided to support a presidential candidate that I am very confident will not turn his back on the people of Mandaue," Soon-Ruiz said.

However, according to political observers in Mandaue, the decision of Soon-Ruiz and her allies stem from the governor's penchant to play footsie with the camp of Mayor Jonas Cortes, who is supporting the candidacy of Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino.

"Murag namangka sa duha ka barko, si Gwen kay samtang naa kuno siya gasuporta ni Nerissa, iya man sad giabi-abi si Jonas," the political observer noted.

Soon-Ruiz  explained that while serving in Congress for three terms,  Villar and his wife Rep. Cynthia Villar were at one time or another a colleague and their working relationship assures her that Villar will be there for Mandaue when he becomes president.

She said that her platform is to provide 24/7 service to Mandauehanons, which is her higher commitment to the people of Mandaue and, if necessary may rise above partisan consideration.

The mayoralty candidate said that she wants the city to progress even surpass its neighbors because at this time we are lagging behind.

She contended that the city's growth and development has stalled because the administration has no vision and the needed leadership to bring it to new heights.

"My working relationship with the Villars can assure Mandaue of national government support. This is a big political risk for me, but if this is what it takes to ensure that Mandaue will develop and progress in the next three years so be it," Soon-Ruiz said in a press statement sent to The FREEMAN.

With this shift of support, Soon-Ruiz said that her local slate, with her as the head has tendered their resignation from Lakas-NUCD-CMD party yesterday.

She further said that they are ready to submit their courtesy resignation to Governor Garcia as members of One Cebu party to show our deep respect to her leadership.

"We believe that Gov. Garcia deserves another term as she has ably served the people of Cebu province for the last six years. Hence, we will continue to work hard and campaign to ensure the victory of Gov. Garcia and her running mate Glenn Soco in Mandaue," Soon-Ruiz added.

The governor however assured that her personal relationship with the Ouanos will remain the same even if  the daughter of former Mayor Thadeo Ouano, Emmarie is one of  Soon-Ruiz candidates for councilor.

When asked as to how the shift of support will affect Teodoro's winning in the presidency, the governor said, "One person cannot make a candidate win even myself. That's why I am campaigning hard," the governor added.

Davide: "One Cebu" party weak

The shift of support by some members of the One Cebu party of reelectionist Governor Gwendolyn Garcia shows that the party is weak.

Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III said the move of some members of One Cebu shows that the party is led by someone who cannot even control or unite her members.

He said pledging support to a variety of candidates is allegedly only for the purpose of getting more funding but the intelligent Cebuanos will never fall into the scheme.

It was reported recently that several allies of One Cebu have shifted support to Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manuel "Manny" Villar following the governor's proclamation of support to Lakas-Kampi standard bearer Gilberto Teodoro.

"That's where you see the instability. But who are they fooling? I don't think Cebuanos will fall for that," Davide said. "They're the money candidates, so adto gyud sila. It's really for funding because they think that they can fool the Cebuanos."

Incumbent vice governor Gregorio Sanchez, Davide's running mate, said that One Cebu's variety of choices is only "for the fund of it."

"Ilang gidakop tanan para daghan sila'g kwarta sa pagpangampanya pero bahala na sila. Basta kami, bisan wala'y kwarta, limpyo among kasing-kasing," Sanchez said.

Cebuano lawyer Democrito Barcenas, on the otherhand, said that the result of the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) that set to be released today, LP standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III garnered a 37 percent rating while Villar, former president Joseph Estrada and Gibo earned 28 percent, 17 percent and six percent, respectively.

"Gibo is a losing candidate, if you were Gwen, do you think you will stick to that? Syempre mubalhin ka og lain. Mao na nga lain-lain ang ilang gisuportahan," Barcenas said.

He added that the Garcias are like "buying an insurance," so that, should one of their candidates lose, they still have the other's support granting the next president will be between Villar and Gibo.

Barcenas and the rest of the LP supporters are also not worried over the pledge of support by mayors and governors in the Visayas region to Gibo "because the mayors and governors cannot deliver votes, it is actually the people. "If Gwen is banking on her machineries, we will take care of the sentiments of the people."

Meanwhile, close to 15,000 Tuburanons and residents of the rest of the towns comprising the third district of Cebu attended the second grand campaign rally of the local LP in Tuburan town yesterday.

"Nadasig gyud ko, na-inspire ug natandog gyud ko sa kainit sa ilang pagdawat kanato ug sa ilang grabeng suporta sa Liberal Party. Confident gyud ko nga hangtod sa piniliay sa Mayo 10 magpabiling kusog sa ilahang suporta sa Liberal Party labi na nila Noynoy ug Mar. Grabe gyud, nanlimbawot gyud akong balahibo," Davide said.

Supplier sues Sanchez for his "failure" to pay raw materials

A businesswoman has lodged a complaint before the Regional Trial Court against businessman and reelectionist Vice Governor Gregorio "Greg" Sanchez for his alleged failure to pay his dues for the materials supplied by the plaintiff to his Lacto Pafi business.

Selpha Trinidad sued Sanchez to compel him to pay the amount of P681,393.91 for raw materials that she supplied to him for his business.

Sanchez, who is seeking another term as vice governor under the Liberal Party, is the owner of the "Greg Cares Lacto Pafi," his business' registered name.

Sought for comment, Sanchez questioned the timing of the filing of the complaint, saying he thinks there is politics behind the move.

He explained that the company is now being managed by his daughter and what happened was just a misunderstanding.

Further, Sanchez claimed they have already paid Trinidad but acknowledged that there was a little conflict, which, he said is the reason why they have scheduled a meeting tomorrow to talk about the problem. However, he added he was surprised when told that Trinidad has already filed a complaint in court.

Trinidad, in her complaint stated that on November 21, 2006, a delivery of raw materials amounting to P278, 530 was made to Sanchez's office. But he allegedly failed to pay the amount, which accumulated an interest of two percent per month.

She said that another delivery of US Soya was made on March 23, 2007 which he also failed to pay and has accumulated interest over the time being.

In her complaint, Trinidad said that they already presented a final demand but Sanchez failed to pay the amount which prompted them to file a complaint in court.

Adding to the said unpaid dues, the plaintiff is also seeking for the payment of attorney's fees worth P20,000 and litigation fees amounting to P10,000.

One Cebu says Senate choices champion Cebu

ONE Cebu has chosen aspiring senators who will prioritize Cebu in their agenda, even if none of them is a Cebuano, a party official said.

Shut out of the selection were Cebuanos Sergio Osmeña, a former senator; Emilio "Lito" Osmeña, former Cebu governor; and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Regalado Maambong.

When asked why there is no Cebuano in One Cebu's senatorial line-up, the governor cited their selection criteria.

One Cebu formally endorsed the following last Saturday night: Franklin Drilon, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Guico Jr., Lito Lapid, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Gilbert Remulla, Bong Revilla, Vicente Sotto III, Adel Tamano and Francisco Tatad.

Filipinos will never accept a military junta -- Enrile

Filipinos will not accept being under a military junta even if the May elections fail and produces no clear successor to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Ruling on chief justice issue doesn"t cover executive appointments - SC

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can appoint the next chief justice but not any official in the executive department until she steps down from Malacañang on June 30, a Supreme Court official said on Sunday.

Palace defends 'midnight appointments'

MANILA, Philippines - Nito lang nakalipas na linggo nalaman ni Ambassador to Germany Delia Domingo Albert na pinalitan na pala siya sa pwesto ni Amnassador Alfonso Yuchengco. Taliwas umano ito sa isa hanggang dalawang buwang notice sa pag-recall ng ambassador. Ayon naman sa Office of the Press Secretary, political at hindi career ambassador si Albert dahil 2005 pa siya nagretiro sa pwesto kaya pwede siyang i-recall anumang oras depende sa kagustuhan ng Pangulo.

NDF: May polls a chance for change

Some members of the communist New People's Army see the May 2010 elections as an opportunity to install into government office people "who truly represent the interest of the masses."

Noynoy stretches lead versus Villar in latest SWS survey

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III has opened up a nine-point lead over his nearest rival for the presidency, fellow legislator and Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manuel "Manny" B. Villar, Jr., based on the results of the latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations Pre-Election Survey.

Mr. Aquino picked up a point to score 37% and further benefitted from a six-point loss for Mr. Villar, now at 28%, in the March 19-22 poll conducted just before campaigning for local posts began last Friday. The gap between the two frontrunners was just two points, within the error margins used, a month earlier.

Spokesmen for both pointed to retweaked strategies working or needing further adjustment, and analysts have said local-level campaigning – where endorsements by their parties' bets will ostensibly add a new dimension – could change things anew with still a little over a month and a half left to go before the May 10 elections.

Former President Joseph M. "Erap" Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, meanwhile, gained four points to 19%, narrowing his gap with Mr. Villar to nine points from 19 previously. 

Administration candidate Gilberto "Gibo" C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD remained in single digit territory with his score staying at 6%.

There were minimal changes with respect to the rest of the "presidentiables": Bagumbayan's Sen. Richard "Dick" J. Gordon picked up a point to score a fifth-placed 3%, overtaking Bangon Pilipinas' Eduardo "Bro. Eddie" C. Villanueva who lost a point to 2%. Following were Ang Kapatiran bet John Carlos "JC" G. De Los Reyes with 0.3%, and independent candidates Jesus Nicanor "Nick" P. Perlas (0.1%) and Sen. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" A. S. Madrigal (0.04%).

Votes for disqualified Kilusang Bagong Lipunan candidate Vetellano "Dodong" S. Acosta were classed under the undecided and others.

As with the previous Feb. 24-28 survey, the SWS respondents were asked to privately fill out a ballot containing the names of the official candidates in alphabetical order.

The question asked was "Kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon, sino ang pinakamalamang ninyong ibiboto bilang Presidente, Bise-Presidente, at mga Senador ng Pilipinas? Narito ang listahan ng mga kandidato. Paki-shade o itiman po ang naa-angkop na oval katabi ng pangalan ng taong pina-kamalamang ninyong iboboto (If the elections were held today, whom would you most probably vote for as President, Vice-President, and Senators of the Philippines. Here is a list of candidates. Please shade the oval beside the name of the persons you would most likely vote for).

A total of 2,100 registered voters were polled nationwide, divided into random samples of 300 in Metro Manila and 600 each in the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The sampling error margins used were ±2.2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, and ±4% for the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The results put Mr. Aquino ahead of the pack in terms of both geographic area and socio-economic class, although he saw his support drop in Metro Manila (39% from 42%) and Mindanao (32% from 35%). He overtook Mr. Villar in the Balance of Luzon (35% versus 30%), and among the class ABC (45% vs. 17%) and class E (33% vs. 31%).

Mr. Villar saw his support eroded in almost all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes, except in Metro Manila where he kept his score of 20%, keeping him third behind Mr. Estrada.

Mr. Aquino's nationwide gain was limited to one point as his three-point losses in Metro Manila and Mindanao offset increases of four points in the Visayas and two points in the Balance of Luzon.

Mr. Villar's nationwide loss of six points, meanwhile, was due to seven-point drops in the Balance of Luzon and the Visayas, a six-point fall in Mindanao, and a steady score in Metro Manila.

Mr. Estrada's four-point gain nationwide was due to an additional six points in Mindanao, five points in the rest of Luzon, four in Metro Manila, and a steady score in the Visayas.

Mr. Teodoro's score failed to improve as despite picking up a point each in Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao, he lost a point in the Balance of Luzon.

Mr. Gordon leapfrogged Mr. Villanueva by gaining a point each in the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and holding steady in Mindanao while losing a point in Metro Manila.

Mr. Villanueva lost a point each in both the Visayas and Mindanao, gained one in Metro Manila, and held steady in the Balance of Luzon.

By class, Mr. Aquino gained 15 points to 45% among the ABC. Mr. Villar lost 16 to 17% while Mr. Teodoro gained five to 12%. Mr. Estrada lost three (11%), Mr. Villanueva gained two (3%), Mr. de los Reyes one (1%), and the rest were unchanged.

Among class D or the "masa," Mr. Aquino's score was unchanged at 38%; Mr. Villar lost seven to 27%; Mr. Estrada gained five to 18%; Mr. Teodoro was unchanged at 6%; Mr. Gordon picked up a point to 3%; and Mr. Villanueva lost a point to 2%. There were minimal changes with respect to the scores of the rest of the candidates.

Among the class E, Messrs. Aquino and Villanueva gained a point each to 33% and 3%, respectively. Mr. Gordon gained two points (3%), Mr. Villar lost three points (31%), Mr. Estrada was steady (21%), while Messrs. Teodoro and Perlas lost a point each (4% and 0.1%, respectively).

Sought for comment, Mr. Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a telephone interview: "This is good news for us. We mapped out a strategy to improve our ratings in areas where we are weak, and it looks like the people are responding well. We will continue to work to increase our lead."

Nacionalista Party senatorial bet Gilbert C. Remulla, who also speaks on behalf of Mr. Villar, said: "The latest ratings of the SWS are a challenge for us to work much harder in the remaining 40 days of the elections. This Holy Week is a time for us to recalibrate our strategies.

"Coming from over a 40-point deficit in September, the NP believes that we still have the right momentum going for us. As campaigns go, there are ups and downs but in the end we are confident that we will be able to emerge victorious. We are currently working on solidifying our national machinery."

Margaux M. Salcedo, Mr. Estrada's spokesperson, attributed the improvement in the scores of the former president to recent visits to various provinces and towns.

"We are pleased with the results. Although we would have wanted a bigger jump because we are aiming for continuous [increase], we believe the increase was due to the rounds that he has made recently. We have been working really hard to reach out to the masses," she said in a telephone interview.

Mike Toledo, Mr. Teodoro's spokesman, said the administration candidate remained confident even if his ratings were not moving, insisting that the ruling party does not rely solely on surveys.

"We look at surveys but we don't rely on them. They don't reflect the outcome of elections and history is replete with such cases. We have been seeing massive outpouring of support but that is not reflected in the surveys. We will continue doing what we do," he said in a separate telephone interview.

Arroyo puts on hold public engagements

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's public engagements and her campaign for a seat in Congress have been put on hold indefinitely due to her husband's confinement at a hospital for the treatment of his heart condition, Mrs. Arroyo's deputy spokesperson Gary Olivar said on Sunday.

Military overruns Sayyaf camp in Sulu, kills suspected member

A suspected Abu Sayyaf member was killed while two Marines were wounded after a unit of the military"s Joint Task Force Comet, with the help of the Army"s Scout Rangers, overrun a camp of the terrorist group in Sulu, the military said on Sunday.

Kin of massacred journalists bring case to ASEAN

from by by Carmela Fonbuena,
JAKARTA, Indonesia--Unhappy with local courts, relatives of journalists killed in the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre have brought their case before the Association of Southeast Asean Nations (ASEAN).

Clamor for justice still on 5 years after Esperat slay

As they marked the fifth year of Marlene Esperat"s murder, journalists from here and abroad renewed their call for justice for the slain Mindanao journalist.

Reds torch construction equipment in Surigao

from by By Trini Velasco, ABS-CBN News
BAROBO, Surigao del Sur - Suspected New People's Army guerrilas set fire to 4 backhoes and 2 bulldozers owned by a DOLE Philippines sub-contractor at the company's plantation area in Guinhalinan village, Barobo Saturday evening.

CPP-NPA has evolved into a terrorist group - military

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People"s Army-National Democratic Front has transitioned from a revolutionary movement into a terrorist group given the "path of violence" it had chosen over the years, the military said on Sunday. But the CPP-NPA scored the military for what it claimed were slanderous charges against the group, which is celebrating its 41st anniversary on March 29.

Pinoys to benefit from bill legalizing status of US Army families

CHICAGO - A bill seeking the granting of permanent residency to families of immigrants, including Filipinos, actively serving in the US military is now pending before the US Senate.

PCSO funds not used in rent-a-car scam -- spokesman

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office assured the public on Sunday that no PCSO funds were used in a rent-a-car scam which involved a PCSO employee.  At least 15 stolen sports utility vehicles were "mortgaged" to PCSO employees by a rent-a-car company.

The spokesperson also confirmed that Edwin Esteban, one of the three suspects involved in the scam was a PCSO employee.

Thai PM accepts to negotiate with anti-government leaders

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjejiva has accepted to negotiate with four anti-government core leaders, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office Satit Wongnongtaey said Sunday.

British Catholic leader says no reason for pope to quit

LONDON – The leader of Catholics in England and Wales said Sunday there was "no strong reason" for the pope to resign over abuse scandals rocking the Church, adding he had taken action to tackle the problem.

S. Korea resumes hunt for 46 missing in warship sinking

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND-- South Korean ships and aircraft resumed the hunt Sunday for 46 sailors still missing after a warship sank in choppy waters near the border with North Korea following a still-unexplained explosion.

At least 152 trapped in flooded China coal mine

BEIJING – At least 152 workers were trapped when a vast coal mine in northern China flooded on Sunday, state media reported, in the latest incident in the country's hazardous mining industry.

Obama makes surprise stop in Afghanistan

KABUL - President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday for a firsthand look at the 8-year-old war he inherited and dramatically escalated.

PBA: Air21 zips Barako, 113-108

MANILA, Philippines - Air21 handed Barako Coffee its second straight loss with a 113-108 win Sunday night in the KFC-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Julaton, Batawang fail to score wins

from by
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-American Ana "The Hurricane" Julaton failed to bag her third world title after losing to Canadian Lisa "Bad News" Brown by unanimous decision Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Casino Rama in Canada.

Cesar Montano bids farewell to fallen son

MANILA, Philippines - Sama-samang namaalam sina Cesar Montano, mga malalapit na kaanak at kaibigan sa cremation kanina ng yumaong anak ng aktor na si Angelo. Para kay Cesar, mananatiling inspirasyon sa kanya ang anak lalo't nahaharap siya sa panibagong hamon sa kanyang buhay pulitika.

Anne Curtis taking no legal action vs tabloids

MANILA, Philippines- Actress Anne Curtis, whose photo of her "wardrobe malfunction" recently circulated in the Internet, on Sunday disclosed that she is no longer taking any legal action against tabloid newspapers that published her controversial picture.

Robin Padilla on kissing Toni: 'I'll be a gentleman'

from by
MANILA, Philippines - Actor Robin Padilla and Toni Gonzaga will finally shoot their first film together this coming April. Padilla confirmed that the filming will start soon.

"Dragon" stokes up box office with $43.3M debut

LOS ANGELES - "How to Train Your Dragon" has breathed a bit of box-office fire with a $43.3 million opening weekend and a No. 1 debut.

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