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

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March 4, 2010 Major News Stories

Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao power grids on red alert

The country's three main grids have been placed on red alert after the power supply in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao swung back to critical levels as of Wednesday afternoon.

Power supply in Luzon fell and registered a deficit of 236 megawatts (MW) due to the breakdown of another power plant, causing two-to-three-hour rotating brownouts on Wednesday, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

At the same time, Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes warned that Luzon might continue to experience some difficulties in terms of electricity supply, due to the "continuing deterioration of the water levels," which has adversely affected the hydroelectric power plants in the island.

Meanwhile, the power supply situation in Mindanao continued to worsen as the deficit surged to a high of 498 MW as of Wednesday, while the Visayas grid posted a relatively smaller power supply deficit of only 25 MW.

In an update report, the NGCP said the outages experienced on Wednesday in Luzon was due to the breakdown in three major facilities namely the 315-MW Masinloc Unit 1 in Zambales; 180-MW Calaca Unit 2 in Batangas; and the 260-MW Sta. Rita module 30, also in Batangas.

NGCP explained that the Masinloc unit had stopped operations since Feb. 28. Plant owner and operator AES Corp. has tentatively scheduled the completion of repair works at the plant on March 7.

DMCI Holdings Inc.'s Calaca Unit 1 has been operational since Tuesday and is currently providing 162 MW to the grid. However, Calaca Unit 2, which previously provided 180 MW, was shut down on Wednesday due to the technical problems of its equipment at the coal-fired facility.

Module 30 of First Gas Power Corp.'s Sta. Rita plant has been undergoing recommissioning after a major outage last March 2 and would not be fully operational until the completion of all technical tests.

Meanwhile, the company also said that hydro-electric power plants have been running with limited capacities due to low elevation at water reservoirs.

According to Reyes, the government is now monitoring the situation of hydropower facilities closely, particularly the Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan facilities, which he said should have been generating about 700 MW.

The problem, he said, was that the El Niño weather disturbance has been causing water levels to drop, thus affecting the generation capacities of the facilities.

"If the water level continues to [go] down, we might be experiencing some difficulties in Luzon because of the continuing deterioration of the water level in Kalayaan," Reyes said at the sidelines of the yearend economic briefing.

According to the NGCP, the two units of Kalayaan hydroelectric plant are running at 152 MW each. A third unit is unavailable because of low elevation at Caliraya Lake. Current elevation is 286.16 meters, which is below the required elevation of 286.50 meters to keep all three units of Kalayaan running. The critical water level at the reservoir is below 286 meters.

The Caliraya is undergoing maintenance while the Botocan power plant is only generating 10 MW out of its 22-MW installed capacity.

Meanwhile, the Magat hydroelectric plant was reported to be generating only 30 MW instead of 90 MW.

In the Visayas, the NGCP said Cebu Energy Development Corp.'s coal power plant was generating only 21 MW. It previously provided the grid with 52 MW when technical problems with equipment made it unoperational Tuesday night. The plant, which has just been connected to the grid before this incident, was still undergoing technical tests and might increase its capacity to 42 MW within Wednesday.

Salcon Power's Cebu Thermal Power Plant Unit 1 and Unit 2 are both fully operational and loaded with 48 MW and 50 MW respectively.

Meanwhile, the Mindanao grid continues to experience generation deficiency of up to 510 MW today, which went down to 498 MW as of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. This huge supply deficits can still be attributed mainly to limited available capacities of hydroelectric power plants, most of which have very low water inflow to their reservoirs due to the El Niño weather disturbance.

According to the NGCP, there has been an 80-percent reduction in the capabilities of National Power Corp.'s Agus hydroelectric power plants and a 90-percent reduction for the Pulangi plant.

Lake Lanao elevation as of 6 a.m. on Wednesday stood at 699.06 meters, below the critical level of 699.15 meters

As of Wednesday, the Agus facilities had a total available capacity of 97 MW out of the total rated capacity of 727 MW while the Pulangi Plant was running at only 30 MW out of the total rated capacity of 255 MW.

Napocor's Iligan Diesel Power Plant is already operating with a 30-MW capacity. Aboitiz Power's power barges are also operational with a combined available capacity of 96 MW, NGCP added.

According to Reyes, the government would need P5.5 billion for the purchase of diesel generating sets, which can provide 160 MW in additional capacities to the Mindanao grid. The funds would have to be sourced from the budget of state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor).

Reyes, however, remained evasive when asked if a power crisis would soon be declared in Mindanao, and if the emergency powers granted under Sec. 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act would be extended also to Luzon, which has been experiencing fluctuating power supply, since last week.

Arroyo may be 'inclined' to declare power crisis in Mindanao

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be "inclined" to approve Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes" recommendation to declare a power crisis in Mindanao. If endorsed, Reyes" proposal to call for "emergency powers" will permit Arroyo to enter into contracts to build power plants without public bidding.

Gov't has P500-M emergency fund for power crisis—Nograles

Standing pat that the power crisis can be addressed without giving President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo special powers, Speaker Prospero Nograles disclosed on Wednesday that the government has a P500-million fund for the country's electricity problems.

1,823 pass marine deck officers exams - PRC

A total of 1,823 out of 3,532 examinees passed the written phase of the Marine Deck Officers Licensure Examination for the various ranks given by the Board for Marine Deck Officers in Manila last February 2010, according to the results released by the Professional Regulation Commission.

Fire destroys 20 houses in barangay Ibo

At least 20 houses made of wood were destroyed as fire erupted and spread quickly in barangay Ibo, Lapu-Lapu City yesterday afternoon.

CITOM board scolded: Mayor Tom fires erring enforcers

For failure to prove their innocence, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña fired yesterday the 31 traffic personnel accused of extortion.

Mandaue's traffic body wants more traffic enforcers

The Traffic Management Board of Mandaue City wants to hire additional traffic enforcers.

Nerez warns: Joavan is not "untouchable"

"He should not have considered himself untouchable. Dili siya exempted sa balaud."

Joavan 'used' car

THE involvement of a government vehicle in Joavan Fernandez's latest debacle may earn his adoptive father, Talisay Mayor Socrates Fernandez, an administrative case.

Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca Santiago, speaking generally, said government vehicles can be used only for official business and on official time.

Attacks on Balili probe 'unfair'

AN IRKED Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago yesterday hit back at those who criticized the anti-graft office for the lack of developments in the Balili controversy investigation.

City sends Cebu Doc P81 million tax assessment

Acting Cebu City treasurer Ofelia Oliva has already informed the management of Cebu Doctors' Hospital that it has an unpaid tax obligation to the city amounting to P81 million and government would be compelled to levy its property if it continue to ignore to settle it.

8 politicians' ties to drug traders in Visayas probed

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has confirmed that six candidates vying for various posts in Western Visayas and two in Central Visayas have links to drug personalities and groups.

PDEA regional director in Western Visayas Paul Ledesma said the six candidates in Western Visayas have been monitored since 2009.

"We have established their links with known personalities and groups involved in the drug trade," Ledesma told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

PDEA Central Visayas regional director Randy Pedroso also revealed Wednesday that two more local candidates, one in Cebu and another in Bohol, were also being investigated for their alleged links to the illegal drug trade. Pedroso said a candidate for councilor in Cebu City and a candidate for board member in Bohol were found to have a history of arrests due to their involvement in illegal drugs.

Although none of the six candidates in Western Visayas were directly involved in the drug trade, they have close relations with the drug personalities and groups, according to Ledesma.

Ledesma said some of the candidates have acted as lawyers in defense of the drug personalities and groups while others have been monitored to have regularly met with these groups.

He declined to identify the six candidates, saying they did not have enough evidence to file criminal cases before courts. But he said these candidates have filed their certificates of candidacy for various positions from councilor to congressman in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Antique and Capiz.

The drug groups and personalities have expanded their strategy from bribing and influencing law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and prosecution system to "infiltrating" the legislative and policy-making bodies, according to Ledesma.

He pointed out that officials who have friendly relations with drug groups could use their position to protect the operations of the drug syndicates.

Ledesma said that while they have established the six candidates' ties to drug traffickers, they have not found evidence to show that they have received drug money to finance their campaigns.

"Any support would understandably be clandestine and it could be in the form of influence or the promise of votes from those involved in the drug trade," he said.

He admitted that their hands were tied until they could get evidence to charge them in court.

"It is common knowledge who these candidates are. But we have no solid proof ...but as soon as we have enough evidence, we will file cases against them," Ledesma said.

The US State Department, in a report concerning countries receiving American aid, raised concern that money from illegal drugs could affect the outcome of the 2010 elections.

Pedroso, for his part, said they have been keeping a close tab on persons with links to narco-politics as part of their campaign against prohibited drugs.

He said their vigorous campaign has made Central Visayas the number one region in the fight against illegal drugs.

For 2009, PDEA has seized P26 million worth of illegal drugs, mostly marijuana and shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), a huge leap from the P4 million worth of drugs seized in 2008, Pedroso said.

He said that in the 1,075 operations they conducted in 2009, 1,220 drug suspects were arrested and charged in court.

Pedroso said the active participation of the public made it possible for PDEA and the Philippine National Police to succeed in their anti-drug campaigns in 2009.

US State Dep't told: Name poll bets in 'narcopolitics'

Senator Francis Escudero on Wednesday urged the US State Department to disclose the candidates receiving drug money from drug traffickers and if ever, charge them in court.

Gordon seeks probe of drug smuggling through rice shipments

Senator Richard Gordon wants the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to look into reports that rice importations to several Visayas ports included shipments of shabu.

P6-M cocaine seized by agents in Samar

A kilo of cocaine with an estimated worth of P6 million was seized in joint drug operations of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the police on Tuesday.

12 hurt in Manila pillbox explosion

Twelve were hurt when a pillbox exploded in front of a restaurant in Manila on Wednesday.

CHR summons AFP, PNP, DoJ officials on 'Morong 43' probe

The Commission on Human Rights ordered ranking officials in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice to (DOJ) to explain the continued detention of the 43 health workers who were arrested in Rizal and tagged as members of the New People's Army.

De Venecia: Only 30 hackers needed to rig automated polls

Is it really difficult to manipulate the results of the first-ever automated elections in the Philippines, as the Commission on Elections insists?

Comelec information chief James Jimenez and Smartmatic officials during a talk with Inquirer editors on Tuesday night, claimed it would be difficult to monkey around with the count in the PCOS machines because each machine would have its own code of protection and poll observers could, at any time of the counting, check on the results transmitted by one machine and compare that with the tallies being sent to the municipal, provincial and national centers. They added that any tampering with the results of any machine would surely leave a trace.

But Jose "Joey" De Venecia III, a self-proclaimed IT expert running in the senatorial race is convinced that one need not be a rocket scientist to maneuver the outcome—and some 30 people can do the job.

He said this lean group of operators would be enough to rig votes in about 20 percent of precincts around the country on May 10.

"A handful (of people) can do it," De Venecia, who belongs to former President Joseph Estrada's ticket, told reporters on Tuesday here.

"You just need a computer guy to be able to do it remotely. You can hack into (the system). They can hack into the servers of the Comelec."

Estrada warned of a political chaos in the event that the automated elections failed.

"I'm ... sure there would be violence, there would be a revolution because the people have been yearning for an election," he said.

De Venecia said cheating could be done by setting up what he called a "rogue terminal" or a computer configured to look like the official PCOS machines made available by Smartmatic-TIM Corp.

"It can transmit anything," said the candidate, who blew the whistle on overpricing and kickbacks in the $329-million National Broadband Network project in 2008 after his company failed to land the deal.

De Venecia said any extra space in the memory card of any PCOS machine could also be used to add votes favorable to a certain candidate.

"They can play with that," he said.

De Venecia was not too optimistic about the success of the elections, pointing out that it once took him one year to automate a bank.

"We take a lot of risks here," he said. "(Cheating is) a lot easier than manual (voting). This is all electronic."

Voter list cleansing at precinct level

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) yesterday admitted inability to cleanse the voter list of multiple registrants and that the problem could only be resolved at the precinct level on election day.

Quick count useless in May polls - Comelec

With the results of the upcoming May elections expected to be out in less than 48 hours, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday downplayed the need for a quick count.

'Euro general' now seeks party-list seat

MANILA,Philippines - After being involved in the so-called "euro generals" scandal, retired police comptroller Eliseo dela Paz is now seeking a congressional seat for party-list group Angat Ating Kabuhayan (ANAK).

Edu Manzano denies quitting VP race

MANILA, Philippines - The campaign manager of Lakas-Kampi vice-presidential candidate Edu Manzano denied Wednesday reports that the actor-host is backing out of the race.

Edu Manzano camp decries "lack of support" from Lakas

The camp of administration party vice-presidential bet Eduardo Manzano on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over Lakas-Kampi-CMD"s "lack of support" for the campaign of the actor-politician.

'Congress must elect a caretaker president'

MANILA, Philippines - Congress should convene and elect a "caretaker President" before June 30 as a safeguard against a military take-over if the May 10 elections fail, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon told ABS-CBN News in an exclusive interview.

PMA Class of '78: We're loyal to the country

Namamayagpag ngayon ang PMA class of 1978 sa mga posisyon sa AFP. Kaya naman may mga nangangamba na gamitin ito ng Pangulo sa kanyang plano sa pulitika. Idiniin naman ng class president ng Class '78 na sila ay propesyunal at tapat sa taumbayan.

Palace announces new Cabinet men

(UPDATE 2) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has named the new members of the Cabinet who would be replacing those who resigned following the Supreme Court order that appointive officials running for public office were deemed resigned as of March 2, a senior Malacanang official said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he would be replaced by Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza as he would be running for a congressional seat in Batangas.

Arroyo also named Solicitor General Alberto Agra to replace outgoing Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, a congressional candidate in Quezon; Elena Bautista to replace outgoing Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, a partylist nominee, as head of the Presidential Management Staff; and Rogelio Peyjuan (not Pijuan as posted earlier) to replace outgoing Secretary Augusto Syjuco, another congressional bet, at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Ermita said in a briefing Wednesday.

Arroyo has been considering Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin "Jake" Lagonera as a replacement for outgoing Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, he said.

Malacañang announced that outgoing Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap was replaced by undersecretary Bernardo Fondevilla.

Like Ermita, Devanadera, Esperon and Syjuco, Andaya, and Yap are running for seats in Congress in the coming May elections.

Arroyo is also considering Deputy Executive Secretary Naty Dizon as a replacement for outgoing Secretary Raul Gonzalez, chief presidential legal counsel, who is running for mayor in Iloilo City.

There is no replacement yet for Secretary Edgar Pamintuan of the Luzon Urban Beltway, who is running for mayor in Angeles City.

"The President is considering [Lagonera and Dizon], this means she must talk to the two probable appointees first," Ermita said in the briefing also aired live over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

But he added that the President has no other choice for the posts that would be vacated by Andaya and Gonzales but the two.

Ermita said Arroyo has not yet spoken to Dizon and Lagonera. Lagonera is currently in the Middle East.

Arroyo defends economic record

Outgoing Philippine President Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday defended her economic achievements during nine years in power, amid criticism that poverty levels had not improved and her government was corrupt.

First Gentleman's kin is new chief police investigator

A relative of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is now the chief investigator of the Philippine National Police.

Chief Superintendent Francisco Don Montenegro replaced Director Raul Castañeda as chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) during simple rites in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on Wednesday.

Director General Jesus Verzosa, PNP chief, said the designation of Montenegro was part of the ongoing reorganization in the PNP triggered by the retirement of ranking police officials.

The First Gentleman is related to Montenegro, a scion of the affluent Tuason-Montenegro clan of Batangas, through his mother. Also, Angela Montenegro, wife of Arroyo's son, Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo, is a cousin of the police chief superintendent.

In his speech, Verzosa directed the newly designated CIDG commander to intensify police operations against private armies in the run-up to the May 10 automated elections.

Montenegro was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981 and once served as the Batangas police director.

CA junks Lacson's plea to stop prelim probe on Dacer case

The Court of Appeals has junked the motion of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to stop the Department of Justice for conducting a preliminary investigation on the nine-year-old Dacer-Corbito double-murder case, in which he is implicated.

Lozada calls for stronger protection of whistle-blowers

ZTE-NBN whistle-blower Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. called for strengthened security for whistle-blowers Wednesday as he expressed alarm over the recent murder of a Senate witness who testified against First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo five years ago.

Lawmaker sentenced to over 10 years in jail over land deal

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Wednesday sentenced to up to 10 years in jail an incumbent Sorsogon congressman after finding him guilty of graft and falsification for wrongly classifying a government lot to favor a private claimant more than 10 years ago.

The court's 3rd Division also disqualified from holding any public office Sorsogon 2nd District Rep. Jose Solis, who is running for governor in the coming elections.

The court also found guilty of graft his co-accused Florencia Garcia-Diaz, the private claimant who stood to benefit from the wrong classification of almost 5,000 hectares of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija.

Solis, who was present when the decision was promulgated on Wednesday afternoon, was planning to appeal his conviction. His lawyers, however, refused to give any statement when approached by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Garcia and Solis, a former administrator of the National Mapping and Resource Information Administration (Namria). Included in the graft complaint were former Solicitor General Ricardo Galvez; former Namria officer-in-charge Salvador Bonnevie; former Remote Sensing and Resource Data Analysis Department (RSRDAD) Virgilio Fabian Jr.; and senior remote sensing technologists Ireneo Valencia and Arthur Viernes.

It also filed falsification charges against Solis, Bonnevie, Fabian, Valencia and Viernes.

The Sandiganbayan earlier dismissed the case against Galvez after he died in 2005 while it acquitted Bonnevie, Valencia and Viernes of the charges against them. Fabian remains at large.

The cases stemmed from the compromise agreement in May 1999 between Diaz and Galvez: The Office of the Solicitor General agreed to withdraw its opposition to Diaz's ownership of at least 4,689 hectares of government property.

The lot is part of the Nueva Ecija military reservation and therefore cannot be registered to any private owner. But a survey released by Namria and signed by Solis in February 1998 said the lot Diaz was claiming was already outside the government property.

This survey report became the basis of the settlement.

Namria has the power to "classify, reclassify, assess and re-assess lands in the public domain."

But the court said the agreement was "manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government" as earlier ruled by the Court of Appeals, which dismissed in a 1992 ruling the original claim on the Fort Magsaysay property.

The Sandiganbayan said: "In effect, the Republic gave away an inalienable and unregistrable part of the public domain in favor of a private individual, because in the first place, there was nothing to compromise, as the Republic owns the land."

The decision penned by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz added that it was Namria's survey, signed by Solis, which gave the illegal settlement a "semblance of propriety and legitimacy."

In his defense, Solis denied he knew Diaz. He told the court it was the Solicitor General who requested for a survey of Fort Magsaysay.

He said the report that found the property Diaz was claiming to be outside Fort Magsaysay was prepared by his subordinates and that he did not participate in the actual survey.

But the court said the "participation of accused Solis, the highest authority in Namria, being its administrator, completed the conspiracy and complemented the whole scheme."

The court said Solis' defense that he did not bother to examine the files submitted to him as the highest authority in the office was "incredible" considering that declaring 4,689 hectares to be outside Fort Magsaysay "is certainly a decision of great importance."

100 days on, justice for Maguindanao massacre victims still elusive

Ngayon ang ika-100 araw mula nang mangyari ang Maguindanao massacre. At sa pagtitipon-tipon ng mga naulila, iisa pa rin ang kanilang sigaw-- ang hustisya.

Gov't execs, rebels to meet in Malaysia Thursday

by Agence France-Presse
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Philippine officials will meet Muslim rebels in Kuala Lumpur Thursday but a peace deal is unlikely before President Gloria Arroyo steps down later this year, the Malaysian mediator said.

Catholic bishops want condom ads banned

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MANILA, Philippines -  The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday called for a complete ban on condom ads in the country, saying that condoms only imperil the morality of the youth.

Peso closes a bit better at 46.05 to the dollar

The peso inched up anew in Wednesday's trade, but which traders said was an indication of a mere market consolidation as risk aversion resulting from the fiscal problems on the Eurozone eases further.

Chile quake toll rises to 799

SANTIAGO—The official death toll from Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile and the tsunami it unleashed rose from 795 to 799 Wednesday, the national emergency office said.

80 dead, 400 missing in Uganda landslide: Red Cross - Lead

At least 80 people died and 400 were missing after a landslide triggered by torrential rain swept away entire villages in eastern Uganda, the Ugandan Red Cross said Wednesday.

Hamas founder's son: I spied for Israel

by CNN
NEW YORK, United States -- The son of a founder of the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, Tuesday told CNN that he was a spy for Israel.

Purefoods capture Philippine Cup title

MANILA, Philippines -- Purefoods captured the KFC PBA Philippine Cup All-Filipino title as it swept Alaska in 4 games to become the 3rd team in league history to win the crown via clean sweep.

The Giants outpointed the Aces, 86-76, in Game 4 of their best-of-7 championship series before a jampacked Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.

James Yap cops Best Player of the Conference plum

Purefoods star James Yap copped his first Best Player of the Conference award in the Philippine Basketball Association, beating Alask'a Willie Miller and Sta. Lucia's Kelly Williams for the prestigious prize.

PBA sets hefty P10M fine for future walkouts

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has toughened its rules on erring teams, coaches and players, setting stiffer penalties for teams that would walk out of a game (P10 million) and rookie draftees who would turn their back on the league (ban).

Tireless Pacquiao schools rising boxer in sparring session

Manny Pacquiao sent rising star Jamie Kavanagh to school as the man acknowledged as boxing"s top pound-for-pound fighter today battered the young Irish boxer during the two hour closed-door sparring held Tuesday at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood, California.

Pacquiao not into steroids, says foe Clottey

Unlike Floyd Mayweather Jr., Joshua Clottey doesn"t believe Manny Pacquiao is into performance enhancing drugs.

Mayweather raises doping issue vs Mosley, Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Undefeated American fighter Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has not yet put an end to his doping allegation against 7-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, even mentioning it during the press conference of his May 1 fight against compatriot Shane Mosley.

Donaire: Best opponents keep avoiding me

by by Dennis Gasgonia,
MANILA, Philippines – World interim super flyweight champ Nonito Donaire said he's again considering moving up in weight class since other fighters in his division are veering away from him.

Filipinos land 3rd, 4th in Hong Kong Marathon

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos Jho-an Banayag and Eduardo Buenavista ended their races in the recently-concluded Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2010 in 3rd and 4th places, respectively.

Drunk heckles Estrada as 'all talk' in Dumaguete

Take it from Joseph "Erap" Estrada: You can't let liquor go to your head.

Gretchen Barretto brushes off Botox rumor

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to rumors, Gretchen Barretto has never tried Botox, a botulinum toxin-based drug used to treat wrinkles and facial creases among others. In an interview with "SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon," Baretto was caught by surprise when told about the rumor.

Jake Cuenca denies he's using steroids

by by Julie Bonifacio,
MANILA, Philippines - Proud na rumampa at puno ng confidence dahil sa bago niyang seksing katawan ang aktor na si Jake Cuenca sa ginanap na Bench Body grand launch/fashion show.

ABS-CBN to air this year's Oscars live

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MANILA, Philippines - Will "Up" make history as the first full-length animation movie to win the Oscars' best picture? Will Sandra Bullock finally get her first Oscar award for her portrayal of a tough mother who took care of a young man and nurtured his football skills in "The Blind Side?" Who between former spouses James Cameron of "Avatar" and Kathryn Bigelow of "The Hurt Locker" will win as best director?

Malaysian woman meets royals over caning sentence

A Muslim Malaysian woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer was granted a royal audience Wednesday but her fate remains unclear six months after the punishment was suspended, her spokesman said.

Metro sizzles at 35 degrees; temp is hottest in a year

Metro Manila sizzled in the summer heat Wednesday as the mercury topped 35.5 degrees Celsius, the hottest day of the year so far.

Industry crackdown on salt could save US billions

by Reuters
CHICAGO - Working with the food industry to cut salt intake by nearly 10% could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the US government $32 billion in healthcare costs, US researchers said.

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