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

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 30, 2010 Major News Stories

(UPDATE) Oil companies will roll back prices of diesel, gasoline and kerosene products effective Tuesday morning.

Major oil player Chevron Phil. Inc. will reduce oil prices by P0.25 per liter effective Tuesday morning. Communications manager Toby Nebrida said effective 12:01 a.m., the oil firm will cut the prices of diesel, gasoline, and kerosene.

Petron Corp. will also reduce the prices of diesel, gasoline, and kerosene by P0.25 per liter effective 6 a.m. Tuesday, the firm said in an advisory.

Independent oil player Phoenix Petroleum will also roll back gasoline and diesel prices by P0.25 per liter at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Boats warned on rough seas during Holy Week

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) warned vessels ferrying passengers for the Holy Week to be alert for possible moderate to high waves at sea.

Pay rules on Holy Week, Araw ng Kagitingan

April 1 (Maundy Thursday), 2 (Good Friday), and 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan) are regular holidays throughout the nation, while April 3 (Black Saturday) is a nationwide special non-working day, the labor department said Monday.

Holy Week travelers told to lock houses, secure valuables

Travelers taking a break during the Holy Week were advised to lock their homes and secure their valuables. This was the advice offered by the Philippine National Police to travelers and tourists spending the Holy Week in the provinces.

PRC: 601 new mechanical engineers

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on Monday released the results of the Mechanical Engineer Licensure Examinations given by the Board of Mechanical Engineering.  A total of 601 out of 1,134 examinees passed the examination, given in Manila and Cebu this March 2010.

Successful examinees who garnered the ten (10) highest places in the
Mechanical Engineer Licensure Examination (PDF, 8.96 kb)

DLSU student tops 564 new mechanical engineers

A total of 564 graduates passed the Mechanical Engineer Licensure Examination given by the Board of Engineering this month, with a student from the De la salle University-Manila topping the list, the Professional Regulation Commission announced Monday.

Michael Raz Ochoa of the DLSU-Taft ranked first with 93.10 percent, followed by Richard Louie Sanchez Macapagal of University of the East-Caloocan with 92.50 percent.

Placing third and fourth are Ronald Yee Dy (90.50 percent) and Josue Robertson Samonte Reyes (89.10), who are both from the DLSU-Taft. Felix Manlapao Zaulda Jr. from Mindanao State University in General Santos City secured the fifth position with 88.50 percent.

Completing the top 10 list were:

6. Nico Deus Ochoa Villafranca of Mapua Institute of Technology (88.05 percent)

7. Marco Antonio Cariaga Sunico of the University of the Philippines-Diliman (87.95 percent)

8. Paul Bryan Castor Amagon of UP-Diliman (87.40 percent)

9. Anthony Bayawa Durano of the University of San Carlos (87.15 percent)

10. Noelizza Adia de Leon UP-Diliman (86.65 percent)

Supreme Court orders return of workers illegally dismissed 18 years ago

The Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement and payment of back wages of seven General Milling Corporation employees who were found to have been illegally dismissed from their work 18 years ago.

Shellfish from red tide areas still unsafe to eat

Shellfish from seven provinces affected by red tide remains unfit for human consumption, Department of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said, citing a report of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

These areas are the Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; Bislig Bay in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur; Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental, and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar.

Harvesting and selling of all types of shellfish, including alamang, from these places are prohibited.

"Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe to eat, provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and its internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking," she noted.

Symptoms of shellfish poisoning include facial numbness, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty, abdominal cramps and weakness or paralysis of one or more extremities. 

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be brought to a health care facility immediately for proper treatment, Cabral said. 

SRP tunnel opens next month

 The tunnel section of the Cebu South Coastal Road Project has already been passable since last February but has yet to be opened to the public next month.

City planning and development office head Nigel Paul Villarete said that he was told by the Department of Public Works and Highways that the contractors are just putting some details in place before it will be officially inaugurated.

He said that these details are not part of the structural works.

The tentative schedule for the inauguration which will be led by President Gloria Arroyo is set for April 5, according to a source. It was supposedly set for last March 25.

Villarete said that once the tunnel is open, it will decongest the traffic within the central business district of the city by over 50 percent.

Court requested NBI to present data on 'Princess Stars' victims

The court yesterday asked the National Bureau of Investigation to explain why until now it has not submitted the needed documents that had information on the cadavers recovered from the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars which sank off the waters of Romblon in June 2008 in relation to the case filed against the vessel owner, the Sulpicio Lines Inc.

NO POLITICS ASSURED: Sanchez' "issue" with trade partner settled

After reports of a complaint filed in court by a businesswoman against him for unpaid bills, Vice Governor Gregorio "Greg" Sanchez clarified that all has been settled and it was just a misunderstanding.

Defense chief wants generators on standby for the elections

Defense chief Norberto Gonzales yesterday instructed all the heads of National Disaster Coordinating Councils in the country to conduct an inventory all the generators in their respective areas of responsibility to ensure that there will be enough power supply during the elections.

Illegal campaign materials on private lots can be removed

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) can order the removal of oversized posters or campaign materials even if these are placed on private properties, said Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal yesterday.

25M ballots printed for May polls – Smartmatic

About 25 million ballots out of the 50 million ballot needed for the May elections have been printed, according to the automation partner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec, police to coordinate on transfer of poll machines

The Commission on Elections is coordinating closely with the Philippine National Police in securing the transfer of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to their respective voting precincts before and after the elections on May 10, Chairman Jose Melo said on Monday.

Over 2,000 security escorts deployed and counting—PNP

Over 2,000 escorts have already been deployed to secure candidates for the upcoming elections on May 10, and the number is still increasing, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported on Monday.

Comelec to reshuffle field officers after Holy Week

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will reshuffle its field officers in preparation for the May 10 elections after the Holy Week.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal on Monday said the revamp will be part of their "usual or regular" activity during election seasons.

"Some election officers will be moved [because] they've stayed in an location for over four years, or some of their relatives are running for elective positions in the area, municipality," he said.

The reshuffle will start on April 5.

Meanwhile, the poll body said it will coordinate with its local offices at the soonest time regarding the impending removal of oversized campaign posters.

This was after candidates, some of them for president, continued to maintain the assailed posters and billboards despite repeated warnings from the Comelec.

"This morning I noticed that they [candidates] haven't removed the billboards yet. We can take them down. We will be coordinating immediately with the local Comelec," said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez at a press briefing.

Jimenez said they would conduct a check on other candidates' compliance with their Resolution 8758, which requires candidates to put up their advertisements on common poster areas such as plazas, markets, and barangay centers. 

The resolution also mandates that posters should not exceed 2 x 3 feet while streamers should not be more than 3 x 8 feet. 

"If there is no compliance we will tear them down and hopefully we'll bring legal action against these people," he said.

No strict rules on party-list system—Melo

There are no stringent rules surrounding the formation of party-list groups, let alone the selection of their nominees, Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo said on Monday.

Palace washes hands off 'fake' party-list groups

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - A MalacaƱang official on Monday dismissed as baseless speculation reports that the Arroyo administration is backing several party-list groups in the hopes of gaining more allies elected in the coming May 2010 polls.  

One less Arroyo running for Congress

Umatras na sa pagkandidato si Kasangga partylist representative Lourdes Arroyo, kapatid ni First Gentleman Mike Arroyo! Pero sa kabila nito, may 4 pa ring miyembro ng pamilyang Arroyo na tumatakbong kongresista.

Transport group files disqualification vs Angelo Reyes

A transport group on Monday filed a disqualification case before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, who has been nominated to represent the party-list group 1-Utak in the May 10 polls.

25 gov't officials, pols among early batch of party-list nominees

by By Lilita Balane,
MANILA, Philippines—Of the first batch of party-list groups that submitted its list of nominees as of Wednesday last week, close to half are fielding government officials, politicians, uniformed men, religious leaders, and their relatives.

My brother died poor, Villar insists

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Senator Manny Villar lashed back at critics for allegedly distorting facts surrounding the death of his younger brother, Danny, to taint his reputation and discredit his campaign.

Court junks rebellion raps vs Ampatuans

(UPDATE 2) A Quezon City court has dismissed the rebellion case against members of the Ampatuan clan and other ccused after finding no probable cause that they planned an uprising to foil their arrest for the November 23 Maguindanao massacre.

'Ampatuan Sr. should be released'—lawyer

(UPDATE) Andal Ampatuan Sr., the patriarch of the Ampatuan clan, should be immediately released, his lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun said on Monday.

Military not letting go of Ampatuans yet

The military here refused to release Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., even if a Quezon court has dismissed the rebellion charges filed against him.

DOJ moves to keep Ampatuans in jail

Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said on Monday that former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and six other prominent members of the Ampatuan clan who were cleared of rebellion charges should not be released because of their pending murder charges for the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre with another court.

New probe sought on loss of Maguindanao guns to fire

Maguindanao gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife, sisters, and lawyers were among those killed in the massacre, pressed for the reinvestigation of the mysterious disappearance of 300 assorted firearms that a detained former police provincial director said were consumed by fire.

ASEAN human rights body fails kin of massacred journalists

by By Carmela Fonbuena,
JAKARTA, Indonesia--The newly founded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) cannot intervene and assist the families of the slain journalists in the world-denounced Maguindanao massacre of November 2009.

4 Abu Sayyaf rebels killed, soldier wounded in Sulu clash

At least four Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while two Marine soldiers were wounded in a three-day military operation in Patikul town in Sulu.

First Gentleman's condition stabilizes—doctors

The health condition of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo arising from his torn aorta has stabilized, his doctors at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig announced Monday morning.

Arroyo can still make appointments, says Justice chief

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can still make appointments despite the prohibition in the 1987 Constitution, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said.

Davide replacement to UN named

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed Philippine Ambassador Libran Cabactulan as the country's permanent representative to the United Nations, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza announced Monday.

Filipina hurt in Moscow explosion

A Filipina sustained minor injuries in the face from an explosion at a Moscow's subway station that killed around 37 people, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Philippine Ambassador to Moscow Victor Garcia III identified the victim as Maria Aileen Ponting.

Philhealth execs charged for fast reimbursement of claims

Five top executives of state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth), including its president and CEO, are facing graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for allowing health care providers get up to 75 percent of their Philhealth expense claims even without proper documentation.

Atlas completes 5th copper shipment this year

MANILA, Philippines - Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. said its subsidiary has completed its fifth shipment of copper concentrates for this year.

Somali pirates hijack merchant ship with Pinoy crewmen: NATO

by Agence France-Presse
BRUSSELS - Pirates boarded and hijacked a merchant vessel and its mixed-race crew of 24 in the Gulf of Aden before sailing it towards the Somali coast, NATO announced Monday.

Moscow subway attacks bear hallmarks of Chechen 'Black Widows'

by By Thair Shaikh, CNN
LONDON, England -- Monday's bomb attacks on the Moscow subway bear the hallmarks of an operation carried out by female Chechen suicide bombers called "Black Widows," according to security analysts.

Thai leader offers to disband parliament

BANGKOK - Thailand's prime minister offered Monday to dissolve parliament by the end of the year, but protesters demanding he step down did not immediately accept the compromise, which could have helped resolve the country's political crisis.

Miracle under scrutiny in John Paul beatification

The Vatican this week marks the fifth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death amid some doubts that the miracle needed for his saint-making cause will stand up to scrutiny and questions about his record combatting pedophile priests.

No funds for Cviraa

THE Region 7 delegation is set to leave for Tarlac on April 5 for the Palarong Pambansa but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) still has not released the budget for the region's participation.

Erik Morales wins title in comeback bout

MANILA, Philippines – Mexico's three-division champion Erik "El Terrible" Morales bagged another title in his return to the boxing ring on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) after two and a half years since his retirement.

Ruffa Gutierrez happy for ex-husband

by by Julie Bonifacio,
MANILA, Philippines - Walang bahid ng kalungkutan na sinagot ni Ruffa Gutierrez ang balitang magpapakasal na ulit ang ex-husband niya si Yilmaz Bektas sa dating Miss Universe at girlfriend niya for three years na si Zuleyka Rivera. Nakatakda raw maganap ang kasalang Yilmaz at Zuleyka sa June 21 sa Sardinia Island sa Mediterranean Sea.

Kris confident uncle Danding is for Noynoy

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines - Actress-TV host Kris Aquino sees no need to court the support of her uncle, San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco Jr., for the presidential bid of her brother, Liberal Party (LP) bet Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III.

Tito Sotto denies separation with Helen Gamboa

MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Monday belied rumor that he and wife Helen Gamboa have separated.

Angel Locsin bares rift with pa over alcoholic rumor

MANILA, Philippines – Angel Locsin has admitted that her father got affected by allegation that she is an alcoholic.

Brillante Mendoza's 'amBisyon' film rating lowered to R

MANILA, Philippines - The MTRCB on Monday changed its X-rating of Brillante Mendoza's film "Ayos Ka" for ANC's amBisyon2010 but retained its X-rating for Jeffrey Jeturian's "Ganito Tayon Ngayon, Paano Na Tayo Bukas?"

Visit 7 churches online

Nearly everything can be done on a computer these days, so how about the Catholic tradition of "Visita Iglesia" or visiting seven churches on Maundy Thursday to pray and reflect on the coming suffering of Jesus Christ.

2nd blue moon due Tuesday; 3 planets to be visible

Stargazers will have a chance to see the last of this year"s exceptional blue moon phenomenon on Tuesday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

Aside from the rare phenomenon, stargazers would also have the chance to see Uranus, Neptune and Venus before dawn on the same day.

PAGASA head Prisco Nilo said the occurrence of a blue moon - two full moons in one month - on March 1 and 30 is the second since January this year.

"The next blue moon will be on August 2 and 31, 2012," Nilo said in PAGASA'sastronomical diary for March. On the average, a blue moon takes place once every two and a half years.

Literally blue

PAGASA noted that since the moon takes 29.5 days to circle the Earth once in its orbit, it is possible that two full moons can occur within the same calendar month, like what happened last January when the moon was full on the 1st and the 30th, making the full moon on the 30th a "blue moon."

Nilo also said there have been times when the moon does seem to have a blue color due to dust particles in the atmosphere that scatter light. The effects of this dust on the light coming from the moon can cause it to appear bluish in color.

He cited the eruption of the Krakatoa Volcano in 1883 that gave us one such "blue moon."

"For about 24 months after this volcano erupted, the dust it spewed into the upper atmosphere which caused the moon to appear green and blue when viewed from around the world," he said.

3 planets visible

Pagasa said Uranus, Jupiter and Neptune may be "visible" at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. At that time, it said the three would be at 3, 10 and 30 degrees above the east southeastern horizon and would be glowing at magnitude +8.0, -2.0 and +5.9, respectively.

"Jupiter and Neptune will lie among the background stars of the constellation Capricornus, the Sea-Goat while Neptune will be found among the stars of the constellation Pisces, the Fish," it said.

PAGASA, however, said that a modest-size telescope would be needed to observe Neptune, the Blue-Green planet, while Uranus would be difficult to observe due to its proximity to the sun.

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