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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 12, 2010 Major News Stories

Central Visayas gets new chief

A NEW regional director of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will take office this week, less than a month until the country's first automated elections.

Regional Director Ray Rene Buac will be reassigned to Western Visayas while his assistant regional director, Veronico Petal-corin, will move to Eastern Visayas.

Buac will trade places with the director of Region 6, lawyer Dennis Ausan, while Petalcorin will assume as the new assistant regional director in Region 8. Nationwide, at least 10 regional directors received new assignments.

The Comelec assured the changes will not derail preparations for May 10, although some adjustments can be expected.

"They (the new officers) are not aware of the Cebuano culture; they do not know the politicians and officials of the police and the Army in Cebu," said Buac.

"I know I also have a lot of work to do when I arrive there (Iloilo) kay wa pa pod ko'y kaila (because I hardly know anyone), but I have already met the regional director of the PNP and some officials of the Army in Iloilo," he said.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano confirmed he will also be affected. He will assume as assistant regional director of Comelec 7, while still sitting as Cebu provincial supervisor.

Castillano said the Comelec en banc's order on the new assignments was supposed to take effect last Saturday. A formal turnover will still take place, probably today.

When asked if it would be hard to get acquainted with a new job, Castillano just said, "We can't do anything about it. As a soldier, we just have to follow."

He said it will not affect the elections, though. The bulk of the work for this year's elections will be carried by the election officers, he added.

Castillano said he is still awaiting approval of his recommended transfer of some election officers, because of the creation of three new cities that will need lawyers as election officers.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the movement of the poll body's regional directors is exempted from the ban to reassign government officials and employees during the election period.

Petalcorin said he received the Comelec en banc resolution last week and the order will take effect immediately.

They still have to orient their successors before they will assume their new assignments.

Buac and Petalcorin have both served Comelec 7 for over three years.

Petalcorin said, though, the reshuffling is only temporary and he is confident they will be reassigned back in Region 7 when the election period ends in June.

"As the elections draw near, some movements in field officers are expected," he said.

Petalcorin said that election officers will be reshuffled in the next few days, after the regional and assistant regional directors assume their new posts.

Cebu City North District Election Officer Marchel Sarno is also waiting for his new assignment, after his transfer to another city was recommended.

The Comelec needs more lawyers in the province to preside over the canvassing in the new cities of Naga, Carcar and Bogo.

In the 2007 election, Sarno chaired the board of canvassers in Cebu City, but under Comelec policy, one should not serve in successive elections in the same place.

Election officers with relatives running for office in their jurisdiction may also be transferred.

Interviewed separately, Buac said he will serve as an adviser to the new regional director, who is expected to arrive today. He also will rely on Ausan as his adviser when he assumes office in Region 6.

El Niño prayer revised for polls

ORIGINALLY intended to ward off the dry spell, a special required prayer has been revised so that it will also focus on asking for a peaceful and credible elections.

The Archdiocese of Cebu recently released its revised "oratio imperata," which is a special prayer for a special intention that the Pope or bishop of a diocese may require to be said at mass.

The special prayer is usually recited after the communion rite.

Msgr. Esteban Bing-hay, episcopal vicar of the Cebu South District II, said yesterday that Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal ordered the revision of the oratio imperata for the El Niño, now that the May 10 election is fast approaching.

Through the special prayer, Binghay said, the parish is one in dealing with a particular issue in the community—in this case, a dry spell that has threatened food security and power supply, and the country's first automated elections.

This is how the prayer goes: "O Ginoong Dios, diha Kanimo nabuhi, naglihok ug nagpuyo kami. Hatagi kami'g igong ulan, og panalipdi kami sa tanang katalagman.

Itugot nga ang umaabot nga pinili-ay, mahimong hapsay, husay, maangayon og malinawon, aron nga human matagbaw sa mga panabang dinhi sa yuta, mas malaumon kaming manginahanglan sa mga hinabang gikan sa langit padulong sa among paglakaw nganha sa kinabuhing dayon, pinaagi ni Cristo, among Ginoo."

Partylist bet: I was mauled

The Regional Chairman and 4th nominee of Kabataan partylist group accused the son and alleged goons of vice-mayoralty candidate Rico Palcuto of mauling him and his companion late Saturday night.

Renil Oliva, 26, alleged that they were also accused by a man, who he identified as Supt. Ariel Palcuto, that they tore off the campaign posters of the candidate, who is the father of the police officer.

The incident happened in front of Cebu Country Club along Governor Cuenco Avenue.

Oliva, in an interview with The FREEMAN, said that he was with Bryan Laguna, 23, a volunteer of the partylist group, when they stopped in front of PopCom Office to check on the campaign materials posted by their companions.

They were in front the compound of the lechon business owned by the elder Palcuto, a retired police officer, when a black Honda CRV arrived.

Bulk cooking gas seller: No price cut

A BULK seller of cooking gas does not expect price movements for the commodity this month due to stable world rates.

Bakers seek govt advisory on Turkish flour

A group of bakers on Sunday appealed to the government to issue an advisory on whether or not Turkish flour is safe for public consumption.

South tunnel opening hinges on Arroyo

THE P1.7-billion tunnel connecting the South Road Properties and S. Osmeña St. in Cebu City is ready for public use, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said yesterday.

The 610-meter, four-lane tunnel that passes underneath the Plaza Independencia will be inaugurated once President Gloria Arroyo is available, said DPWH 7 Public Information Officer Marie Mignon Nillama.

The project was supposed to be inaugurated last April 5, to coincide with the president's birthday, but it was postponed because First Gentleman Mike Arroyo was hospitalized.

"We are waiting for the schedule of inauguration from Malacañang," Nilla-ma said.

Meanwhile, the beautification of the Plaza Independencia, just outside Fort San Pedro, will be the responsibility of the Cebu City Government and not DPWH, Nillama

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama said he did not receive any response yet from the government agencies he has asked to fund the beautification of Plaza Independencia and its nearby landmarks.

Rama said he also wrote the Office of the President to ask for funds, and learned in a recent meeting with President Arroyo that his letter has been endorsed to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Rama, however, said there is no feedback yet from the DOT.

He plans to send another letter to follow up the request, as well as a separate request for the DPWH to help beautify the plaza.

The tunnel project started on June 28, 2006 and was supposed to be finished by Nov. 25, 2009 with an original budget of P1.3 billion.

However, the construction was extended for four months due to some revisions in the project plan. The changes also increased the cost to P1.7 billion.

The tunnel project, Nillama said, will decongest traffic on M.J. Cuenco Ave., M.C. Briones St. and the vicinities of Carbon Market and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

It is among the big projects funded by the Arroyo administration in Cebu. The other one is the P2.4-billion Cebu North Coastal Road Project (CNCRP), which officially opened last month and has decongested traffic in Basak, Mandaue City.

DPWH Secretary Victor Domingo earlier told Sun.Star Cebu that CNCRP contractor Frank Soriano and tunnel contractor Kajima, a Japanese construction firm, are "excellently" implementing their projects.

Engr. Nilo Pamaylaon, DPWH 7's director for the Metro Cebu Development Project, said all the specifications of the tunnel project were followed by Kajima.

Pamaylaon, who handles foreign-assisted projects, said the tunnel will cut the travel time from southern Cebu to the Cebu port area and the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Dumpit asks court to let him undergo physical fitness test

Controversial policeman SPO1 Adonis Dumpit is asking the court to allow him to undergo the physical fitness test required by the Philippine National Police for all its members.

Comelec claims to be '90% ready' for the May 10 polls

MANILA, Philippines -- With a month to go before the country's first automated elections, the Commission on Elections said it was 90 percent ready to conduct the polls, with the remaining weeks to be focused mostly on delivering the voting paraphernalia.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body might set up a situation room where the progress of the delivery of ballot boxes, counting machines and other election materials would be tracked and monitored. The area would be open to the public. 
We're thinking of coming up with a monitoring facility here centrally located where we-- I mean the Comelec, the administrators as well as of course members of the media-- will be able to monitor the arrivals and the progress of the various materials that we're transporting, Jimenez told reporters.

He said the area would be where the reports from all over the country on the status of the delivery of the materials would be sent.

It will be I think a very, very useful tool for the public to keep informed of the progress of the election, he added.

Jimenez assessed the Comelec as being very much ready to handle the elections, saying the major components of the event, such as the ballot boxes and the precinct count optical scan machines, have been manufactured and have been placed in the poll body's custody.

Considering that all the major elements in conducting an election are already in place, I would say we are about 90 percent ready to conduct the elections. The fact that we've already started elections for the overseas absentee voting, that's already a good sign for us, he said.

The poll body would now need to ensure that the election paraphernalia reach their intended destination. The delivery of the ballot boxes and the PCOS machines has begun, with the Comelec focusing first on the far-flung areas, he said.

Over the next few weeks, we would be looking at the deliveries. That's where we need to focus our attention, making sure that these elements arrive on time and in the proper order, he said.

The delivery of the other election paraphernalia, such as the pens, would come at a later date.

While the ballot boxes and counting machines are ready, the Comelec is still in the process of printing the ballots, which will number some 50 million.

Jimenez said about 35 million ballots have been printed, and he believed the April 25 deadline for completing the project would be met.

The Comelec is also still in the process of acquiring ballot secrecy folders, the indelible ink and the ultraviolet lamps, to check if the ballots were authentic. The purchase of 80,000 UV lamps became necessary after it was found that the PCOS machines were unable to read the UV marks on the ballots because these were either misaligned, or the ink used to print them lacked the necessary density.

The training of the teachers making up the board of election inspectors has been completed, Jimenez said. The BEI are the ones who administer the elections at the polling places. The training of the canvassing system operators was nearly finished, he added.

But the election watchdog Kontra Daya said the Comelec could not claim to be truly prepared unless it agreed to test the automated election system through a mock poll that would simulate the actual conditions of election day.

Kontra Daya convenor Renato Reyes said the group would continue pushing its call for the Comelec to hold mock polls that would involve 1,000 participants -- the number of voters expected to troop to one polling place on May 10.

Reyes also said the mock polls should utilize the actual general instructions for the board of election inspectors.

Readiness can be seen in the actual testing of the whole electoral system from the time the voter looks for his name on the actual list, he said. We have yet to see it really work the way it's supposed to work on election day.

He noted the Comelec's last mock poll only involved 50 people.

He also voiced concern about the problems that the poll body encountered in the procurement of election paraphernalia.

Earlier, another Kontra Daya member called on the Comelec to scrap its plan to buy the UV lamps, and asked it to let Smartmatic shoulder the cost, on the ground that it was not the poll body's fault that the counting machines could not detect the UV marks on the ballots. Smartmatic is the technology supplier for the automated elections.

Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar Jr. (Nacionalista Party) has cut down the lead of frontrunner Sen. Benigno Noynoy" Aquino III (Liberal Party) in a recent survey commissioned by his ally.

According to the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from March 28 to 30 and commissioned by House Minority Floor Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Villar scored 29 percentage points, or eight points behind Aquinos 37.

This was an improvement from the 12-point lead enjoyed by Aquino in the March 21 to 28 survey by rival pollster Pulse Asia, where the LP bet got 37 percent compared to Villars 25.

Thats a leap of four points [25 percent in Pulse Asia to 29 percent in SWS], immediately after the field personnel of the other survey firm were just wrapping up their own results," said NP senatorial candidate and spokesperson Gilbert Remulla in a statement.

In the SWS survey last month that was commissioned by BusinessWorld, Villar got 28 percent while Aquino scored 37 percent.

Misleading the public"

The LP, meanwhile, castigated NP for allegedly trying to mislead the public with the latest SWS survey.

In a text message, LP spokesman and Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada said if the Zamora-commissioned SWS survey is true, then it showed that Villar gained only a point from 28 percent to 29 percent compared to the SWS poll that preceded it.

You do not compare survey results from different survey companies," he pointed out, adding that the four-point cut in Aquinos lead that the LP stated in its statement was actually based on the results of SWS and Pulse Asia surveys.

Again the NP is trying to mislead the public," Tañada said. Obviously the NP is desperately trying to look for ways to cover up the fact that the lead of Senator Aquino seems to be stable if you compared the commissioned and the non-commissioned surveys of the SWS."

He added that the one-point gain by Villar in the two SWS surveys is within the margin of error and is negligible."

The LP has accused Villar of being the secret candidate" of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Zamora-commissioned SWS poll also showed former president Joseph Estrada (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino) falling to 17 percent from previous 19 percent, and administration bet Gilberto Teodoro (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) picking up two points to score eight percent.

The statement did not indicate the preference ratings for other presidential aspirants Sen. Richard Gordon (Bagumbayan), evangelist Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas), Sen. Jamby Madrigal (independent), environmentalist Nicanor Perlas (independent), and Olongapo City councilor John Carlos delos Reyes (Ang Kapatiran). 

Joma Sison favors Villar over Noynoy: report

MANILA, Philippines - The founder of the reorganized Communist Party of the Philippines believes Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar has a relatively better program of government compared to his rival, Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

LP courts Quiboloy


Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III may have earned the powerful endorsement of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte but not Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

In separate press conferences in Davao City and Tupi town in South Cotabato, the Liberal Party standard bearer hinted about visiting Quiboloy, the influential leader of Mindanao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC), after his political sortie last Friday where he formally endorsed the candidacy of Duterte for vice mayor and his daughter Inday Sara Duterte for the mayoral post his father is vacating after the May 10 elections.

Quiboloy, "Pastor Q" to his followers, is the founder and leader of the KJC which claims a membership in continents such as North America, Africa and Europe, and has a total of three million registered voters in the upcoming polls.

Before meeting Quiboloy last Friday evening, Aquino told the local and national media that he is not privy as to who the pastor is going to endorse among the presidentiables courting his support.

"I'd rather not be the spokesman for Pastor Quiboloy. I have not been authorized to do so. I'd rather not put words into the mouth of Pastor Quiboloy, It might be taken as a sign of disrespect," he said.

In Tupi, South Kotabato, however , Senator Aquino disclosed that it was Duterte who invited him. "We just dropped by his place. We chatted a little and ate. We stayed there for less than an hour," he said.

"It was the very first time I met him and he appears to be approachable but with a touch of formality. We had to talk and get to know each other," he added.

It was recalled that last Month, Aquino failed to attend the presidential forum organized by Quiboloy's KJC because of barosinusitis.

More than 4,000 overseas Filipinos have already cast their votes for this years local and national elections as of Sunday morning, according to the government.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 4,141 Filipinos most of them from Hong Kong, London and Riyadh had voted as of 11:20 a.m. (Manila time).

The breakdown was as follows: 997 in Hong Kong, 558 in London, 266 in Riyadh, 242 in Chicago, 218 in Singapore, 180 in Jeddah, 144 in Berlin, 135 in Madrid, 118 in Bangkok and 117 in Barcelona.

The first Filipino to vote in Hong Kong was Rowena dela Cruz, an overseas Filipino worker. It took her roughly one-and-a-half minutes to complete the process of voting.

Seventeen would-be voters, however, were unable to find their names on the Certified List of Overseas Absentee Voters (CLOAV). The help desk constituted by the Consulate General immediately informed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) about these cases.

Despite this, DFA said that based on the monitoring by its Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) Secretariat, the first day of overseas voting went smoothly and orderly.

Voter turnout is expected to increase on the second day of voting, since it falls on a Sunday, the usual day-off of overseas Filipinos," the DFA said.

According to the Comelec, there are 589,830 registered overseas voters for the May 2010 elections.

These voters are only allowed to vote for the president, the vice president, 12 senators and one party-list representative.

Overseas voting in all the 92 Philippine embassies and Philippine Consulate Generals worldwide started last Saturday, April 10, and will end on May 10, the day of the first ever nationwide automated elections in the Philippines.

HK poll machine conks out, is back up again

HONG KONG(UPDATE) Voting for Filipinos stalled for a short while in Philippine polling precinct no. 15 here when a Precinct Count Optical Scan machine kept rejecting a ballot on the second day of automated overseas voting.

Commission on Elections officials later blamed the malfunctioning of the machine on the humid Hong Kong weather.

Henrietta de Villa, head of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, said the machine kept "jamming, and the ballot was rejected."

Smartmatic TIM Corp. officials replaced the PCOS machine but the ballot was still not accepted. The machine accepted the ballot after the technician re-installed the original machine.

The machine was a little humid. Let it warm up in an air-conditioned place, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores said.

Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the room that contained the machine was too humid affecting the machine's performance. The whole area was full of moisture, he said.

Larrazabal said the contingency measure worked. The whole thing was up and running after an hour, he added. We saw this [when it] happened and the back-up kicked in right away, he said.

Meanwhile, about 1,300 voters had cast their votes in Hong Kong as of noon Sunday, the second day of the month-long overseas absentee voting. Organizers at the Bayanihan Kennedytown Center opened the precincts at 8 a.m. and the flow of Filipino voters has been steadily increasing.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials say they expect more voters today as Sunday is the day-off of migrant workers in Hong Kong.

Military tightens rules vs campaigning

MANILA, Philippines - A spokesman of the Armed Forces on Sunday warned military officers and AFP civilian employees that they face sanctions if they violate military guidelines prohibiting them from endorsing or campaigning for a national or local candidate in the 2010 elections.

MILF won't endorse any presidential bet

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Sunday said it is not keen on endorsing any of the presidential candidates in the May 10, 2010 election.

Arroyo rating hits all-time low

Net satisfaction score of -53 eclipses president's previous recordPUBLIC SATISFACTION with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has fallen to the lowest on record with less than 100 days left before she is scheduled to step down from her post, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The quarterly poll, conducted last March 19-22, also found that most Filipinos do not believe Mrs. Arroyo is intending to "extend her term" by seeking a congressional seat in her home province of Pampanga.

The poll results, made exclusive to BusinessWorld, showed Mrs. Arroyo's net satisfaction rating at a "very bad" -53 , the lowest notched by a president since the independent survey research institution began the survey in 1986.

It is the difference of the 16% who said they approved of her performance and the 69% who said otherwise.

The president's latest rating, which eclipsed the previous record of -50 she obtained in July 2008, also reflected a 15-point drop from her "bad" net score of -38 last December 2009.

Mrs. Arroyo's best net satisfaction score is +30, hit in March 2004. Her rating fell into negative territory seven months later and has remained there since. None of her predecessors -- Corazon C. Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada -- received a negative score.

The highest presidential satisfaction rating recorded by the SWS is +72, notched by Mrs. Aquino in October 1986.

The SWS considers score of +50 and above as "very good"; +30 to +49, "good"; +10 to +29, "moderate"; +9 to -9, "neutral"; -10 to -29, "poor"; -30 to -49, "bad"; and -50 or lower, "very bad."

The survey, conducted from March 19 to 22, involved face-to-face interviews of 2,100 registered voters 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 were ±2.2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, and ±4% for the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

The respondents were also asked to react to the statement: "Balak ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na habaan pa ang kanyang termino; kung kaya't tumatakbo ito bilang kongresista/representante sa distrito nito sa Pampanga. (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is planning to extend her term; that is why she is running for Congress in her district in Pampanga.)

Sixty percent of the respondents said they disagreed, while 24% said otherwise. The remaining 16% were undecided.

Mrs. Arroyo is barred from seeking a second term by the Constitution, which limits the president's term to six years. She has, however, been president for nine years, serving the rest of Mr. Estrada's term after the latter was deposed in the 2001 People Power Revolution.

Mrs. Arroyo, whose term will end on June 30, has been accused of trying to stay in power by running for congresswoman of the second district of Pampanga, making her the first president to seek an elective post after vacating Malacañang.

Her critics allege that Mrs. Arroyo's candidacy is part of a plan to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, amend the Constitution, and eventually become prime minister.

Asked to comment, deputy presidential spokesperson Gary B. Olivar said in a text message yesterday, "The continued unpopularity of the president is no surprise given the toxic campaign being waged by certain oppositionist parties especially through certain media networks.

"In fact her unpopularity might be described as unthinking ... Once the campaign poison is over, we're confident that a rational public can finally take full measure of this president's substantial achievements."

Earl G. Parreno, political analyst at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said the respondents "got it right" when they disagreed that Mrs. Arroyo was looking to stay in power.

The president, he said, is not assured of the backing of her current allies in the House if she becomes a congresswoman.

"She may win but she is not sure if she will have support of her so-called allies. She is no longer president, and historical trends show that loyalty of congressmen is with whoever is in power because that person can withhold the funds for their districts," Mr. Parreno said in a phone interview.

Mrs. Arroyo saw her net satisfaction rating fall to "very bad" from merely "bad" in all geographic areas except in the Visayas, by socioeconomic class, and in gender terms.

It was down 20 points to -64 in Metro Manila from -44 previously; by 19 points to -54 in Mindanao from -35, by 17 points to -52 in the Balance of Luzon from -35, but was barely changed at -46 in the Visayas from -45 a quarter ago.

Net satisfaction in urban areas went down by 16 points to -56 from -40 and likewise fell, by 14 points to -49 from -35, in rural areas.

The president's score also fell to "very bad" across all socioeconomic classes: by 18 points in class E to -53, by 17 points to -51 in class ABC, and 12 points to -52 among the class D or masa (masses).

In terms of gender, Mrs. Arroyo's net rating among men fell by 16 points to -55, and was down 13 points to -50 among women.

Arroyo to embark on a two-nation trip on Monday

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will leave on Monday for Washington D. C. to attend a two-day summit aimed at averting nuclear terrorism.

The trip to US for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on April 12-13 will precede a jaunt in Spain where President Arroyo will receive an award from the King for pushing for the teaching of Spanish in Philippine schools.

The President, who will step down from office on June 30, 2010, will leave Manila at 9 a.m. and is expected to be back on April 16 or 17.

President Arroyo was among the 43 other world leaders invited by US President Barack Obama to discuss the threats of illegal diversion of nuclear materials, secure vulnerable nuclear materials, combat nuclear smuggling, and detect and avert nuclear terrorism, and promote nuclear security.

The summit comes before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May at the UN headquarters in New York, which will be presided by the Philippines.

The NPT, which started in 1970, was meant to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, pursue nuclear disarmament, and promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

After the nuclear summit, President Arroyo will fly to Madrid on April 15-16 to receive the Premio Internacional Don Quixote de la Mancha from Spanish King Juan Carlos I at his residence in the Palacio de la Zarzuela.

The jury of the Premio announced on June 8, 2009 that President Arroyo is the 2009 recipient of the award in the institutional category while Peruvian/Spanish writer Mario Vargas Llosa bagged the award for the individual category.

Through Arroyos issuance of Memorandum Order No. 2765, the teaching of Spanish was piloted in 15 high schools nationwide for the school 2009-2010. The teachers were trained at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila last summer and are presently undergoing further on-line training.

Also in Spain, President Arroyo will have a private meeting with the King and a lunch with members of the royal family.

Arroyo draws jeers for award on environment protection

MANILA, Philippines -- More environmental and religious groups have expressed outrage over the prestigious conservation award President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to receive at the US Congress in Washington on Tuesday.

Ms Arroyo is also scheduled to receive another award this week in Madrid from Spanish King Juan Carlos I for her efforts in promoting the Spanish language in the Philippines.

A Switzerland-based organization has written the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), saying it was shocked and very angry over the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award to be conferred on Ms Arroyo during her visit to the United States.

Will President Roosevelt, the founder of the US National Park system, not turn in his grave at the idea that a destroyer of fragile protected areas, vital water catchments and marine environments, is being given an award for conservation in his name? said Clive Montgomery Wicks, consultant of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ms Arroyo will be in the US capital to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on April 12-13, together with 43 other world leaders invited by US President Barack Obama.

The summit will discuss the threat posed by the illegal diversion of nuclear materials and seek to develop steps to secure vulnerable nuclear materials, combat nuclear smuggling, and deter, detect and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism.

The IUCN wrote ICCF chair Bill Archer on April 8, warning that the award-giving body would risk damaging its name in the eyes of many Filipino NGOs and other civil society organizations internationally should it proceed with the recognition.

In a separate letter dated April 6, religious groups cautioned that the award would damage the reputation of the awarding organizations among all those who know the recent history and current situation in the Philippines and the role of the President in worsening that situation.

Honoring President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a conservationist and protector of biodiversity is akin to giving a fox an award for chicken husbandry, said the letter that was signed, among others, by Rev. Michael Doe of the Anglicans in the World.

President Arroyo has led a deeply corrupt regime that has promoted and profited from environmental despoilation by mining, logging, overfishing and the promotion of unsustainable plantation production.

Quoting Fr. Frank Nally of the Columban Fathers in the United Kingdom, Wicks said: It not only is a dishonor to biodiversity but the whole planet by a woman who has made a virtue of plundering the Philippine archipelago.

Malacaang earlier welcomed the award, saying it would be most gratifying to the President whose legendary personal commitment to the environment has earned a higher profile for the country on various environmental issues.

As for those [opposing the award], who are likely motivated by their own murky ideological agendas, wed only be too happy to line up the Presidents green credentials against theirs, said Gary Olivar, Ms Arroyos deputy spokesperson.

The award will put Ms Arroyo in the company of Prince Albert II of Monaco, who received it in October last year for his great personal commitment to good natural resource management, particularly in biodiversity and water conservation, and his leadership in focusing other world leaders on these important causes.

Wicks group acknowledged that Ms Arroyo would be feted for her work in the Coral Triangle, an area covering six countries in the Indo-Pacific, including the Philippines, where 75 percent of all known coral species are found.

However, she is also pushing for a massive expansion of mining even in key protected areas like Mount Guiting-Guiting on Sibuyan Island (The Galapagos of Asia) where a former WWF-Philippines colleague of mine, and a Philippine Municipal Councilor, was murdered by a mine company guard in 2007, he wrote.

The Protected Seascape in Pujada Bay and Mt. Hamiguitan Range, a declared protected area in Davao del Sur, Mindanao, is another case in point where mining tenements have been allowed, Wicks added.

We are also concerned with other mining plans, including the important central Mt. Sugarloaf range in the Zamboanga Peninsula (western Mindanao), he said.

An alliance of environmental groups led by the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Freedom earlier asked the ICCF to reconsider giving the award to Ms Arroyo.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Premio Internacional Don Quixote de la Mancha would be given to Ms Arroyo in a ceremony scheduled for April 15 at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, the principal residence of the Spanish monarch.

She will also have a private meeting with the king and attend a lunch with members of the royal family.

The DFA said Ms Arroyo would also have talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, currently the president of the European Union.

The Premio jury recognized Ms Arroyos educational initiative in introducing the Spanish language in national study plans, which amplify areas for political, institutional and economic cooperation in developing the Spanish language.

Through Memorandum Order No. 2765, Ms Arroyo directed the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education Skills Development Authority to encourage the teaching and learning of Spanish.

Jointly funded by the education department and Agencia Espaola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo, the teaching of the Spanish language was piloted in 15 secondary schools nationwide for school year 2009-10.

Teachers were trained at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila last summer and are undergoing further online training, according to the DFA.

DAR chief's power to place lands under agrarian reform upheld

MANILA, Philippines -- Amid the rampant conversion of agricultural lands for residential and commercial use, the Supreme Court affirmed the exclusive authority of the agrarian reform secretary to determine which landholdings may be distributed to tenant-farmers under the agrarian reform program.

The Supreme Court declared that the secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform had the exclusive jurisdiction to classify and identify landholdings to be covered by the comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP).

The high court made the ruling in the case brought up by Alangilan Realty and Development Corp. (ARDC), which questioned then Agrarian Secretary Ernesto Garilao's decision in 1997 denying its application to exempt its 17-hectare property in Batangas City from agrarian reform.

Garilao ordered the property placed under CARP because as of 1993, the land was categorized as agricultural, (but) reserved for residential.

Garilao decided that the land was only classified as residential-1 based on a resolution passed by the Batangas City Council on Dec. 12, 1994. He said the phrase reserved for residential meant that the property was still classified as agricultural at the time CARP was implemented in 1988, and therefore, covered by CARP.

Garilao's order was affirmed by the Office of the President in 2003 and by the Court of Appeals in 2007.

The ARDC appealed the case before the Supreme Court, claiming that the DAR secretary should not have overruled the Batangas City Council, arguing that the power to classify lands was essentially a legislative function that exclusively lies with the legislative authorities.

But the Supreme Court's Third Division in a decision dated March 26 denied ARDC's petition and ruled that the exclusive jurisdiction to classify and identify landholdings for coverage under the CARP is reposed in the DAR Secretary.

The matter of CARP coverage like the instant case for application for exemption is strictly part of the administrative implementation of the CARP, a matter well within the competence of the DAR Secretary, said the court in a decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Nachura.

The factual findings of the DAR Secretary who by reason of his official position has acquired expertise in specific matters within his jurisdiction, deserve full respect and without justifiable reason ought not to be altered, modified, or reversed, the high court said.

Small plane crashes in Tagum, 1 hurt

MANILA, Philippines - A small Cessna aircraft crashed in Tagum City, Davao del Norte Sunday morning while spraying pesticide at a banana plantation.

2 dead, 6 hurt in collision in Ozamiz

MANILA, Philippines - Two persons died when a passenger bus smashed into a tricycle in Misamis Occidental yesterday afternoon, police said today.

Police Officer 2 Larry Omilda, case investigator, identified the fatalities as Winifreda Bato and Ethel Claudio.

Meanwhile, six others were brought to a nearby hospital where they were treated for injuries.

The accident happened at around 1 p.m. at Brgy. Gango, Ozamiz City in front of the National Food Authority.

Initial report said the CMA Rural Transit bus bound for Ozamiz overtook another vehicle in front of it and rammed into a tricycle carrying eight people on board. The tricycle was headed for Clarin when the accident happened.

New US envoy to RP arrives in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – America's newly appointed ambassador to the Philippines arrived in Manila Saturday night.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. was welcomed by the staff of the US Embassy.

"I am delighted to be here to take up my responsibility as ambassador of the United States to the Republic of the Philippines," he said in a speech.

He also highlighted the fact that the United States and Philippines are "long standing treaty partners."

"We are great friends and we have much to do together. I look forward to working with the people of the Philippines," he said.

Thomas was appointed by US President Barack Obama last November to replace Kristie Kenney, the first woman US Ambassador to the Philippines.

Thomas is the first African-American to serve as US Ambassador to the Philippines.

Thomas disclosed that his father, Harry Thomas, Sr., went to the Philippines after World War II.

He said his father always told him "what a great time he had with the people of the Philippines and I hope I can live up to the work he and his colleagues did here."

Kenney earlier told ABS-CBN News in her farewell interview last January that Thomas was already studying Tagalog. 

In fact, he opened his arrival speech with "Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat" and ended it with "Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat."

"He's a wonderful guy. He's one of my favorite people in the diplomatic corps so I know Filipinos will give him a really warm welcome… I think you'll love him," Kenney said.

Thomas is a former Director General of the United States Foreign Service. His previous postings included Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Peru. He was also the executive secretary of the US State Department, director of the Department's Operations Center, and special assistant to former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 

Envoy to RP: Why not be like Norway?

COTABATO CITY, Philippines A bright future awaits the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao if peace is achieved for good, a foreign dignitary has said

It would be a waste of time and resources waging an unnecessary war where victims are your own fellowmen. Why not devote your time and resources to peace and development-building and be like Norway? said its ambassador, Knut Solem.

Solem was here Saturday with other embassy officials to formalize his governments interest to be part of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The IMT will specifically check on the implementation of the ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF troops.

Norway is the latest entry into the IMT, the fifth, after Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Japan. Still to formalize its IMT participation are the governments of Indonesia and Qatar.

Citing the rich potentials of Mindanaos natural resources, including the abundance of gas and other petroleum products, Solem said these resources and other untapped ones would continue to remain idle and unproductive if the people would refuse to unite and work for lasting peace.

He said Norway, a small country with a population of less than five million, has been the third largest gas exporter in the world today.

It has been achieved, he said, because of a stable peace and order which could also be duplicated here in the Southern Philippines.

Mindanao has a large area of mineral and gas deposits, one of which is the abundance of natural gas in the Liguasan Marsh, a Moro rebel sanctuary, and the vast off-shore oil reserves that has yet to be explored in the Sulu Sea.

Diamadel Dumagay, ARMM planning and development board chair, said that while the autonomous government under acting Governor Ansaruddin Adiong has been pursuing the peace process with the Moro separatist group, it has not been vested with the authority to explore the economic potentials of ARMMss existing natural resources.

Only the national government could tap ARMMs natural resources, Dumagay said.

Norway has a long-term commitment to peace with the Philippine governmentand we are here to serve as witness on how much we can do to help (attain it), to make sure that the international community has its eyes on Mindanao, said Norwegian envoy Vegar Brynildsen.

Peace-building is a very difficult task, needing sufficient patience and understanding to obtain through peaceful dialogues which we feel is very necessary to development, said Brynildsen of his first ever visit to Mindanao.

I cannot promise anything, but we are here to help in whatever way in the name of peace and development, he added.

The statements of the two Norwegian emissaries have served as a challenge for us in the local government and non-government organizations to help fast-track the ongoing peace negotiation, said Romeo Sema, head of the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission.

The MILF would wish that an interim agreement could be hammered out before President Macapagal-Arroyos tenure shall have been over.

The accord, when finalized, will have the mechanics on governance for the proposed Moro homeland which will be known as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

Sema said the ARMM government must be empowered to explore and develop its own natural resources, which he described as rich, fertile and abundant.

Another push, he said, would be the need for foreign investments to propel faster social and economic growth.

Rights abuse victims win vs. Marcos estate


FILIPINO victims of human-rights violations scored an apparently major victory in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 5 when the appellate court ruled that a class judgment of the Hawaii District Court against the Marcos estate was valid in Illinois and that the $150-million estate should be transferred to Texas.

6 terror suspects arrested in Indonesia

MEDAN Indonesian police said Sunday they had arrested six terror suspects during a police patrol on Indonesia's Sumatra island.

The group tried to flee when police stopped their car in the North Sumatra capital of Medan, provincial police chief Oegroseno told reporters.

"We've arrested six people suspected to be terrorists. One of them had a gunshot wound on his hand," he added.

"Two managed to run away and we're still hunting for them," he said.

Oegroseno declined to say if those arrested, all Indonesians, were connected to a group detained in February after a major anti-terror raid on an extremist training facility in a remote region of Aceh province.

"We're still investigating," he added.

During the Aceh Besar raid police found rifles, Malaysian military uniforms and propaganda material including videos of the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali which killed more than 200 people.

Costa Rica frees 36 Asians from 'modern slavery'—media

Costa Rican police Sunday freed 36 Asians from "inhumane" conditions aboard two fishing boats operated by a foreign shipping company, where they were beaten and forced to work for no pay, local media said.

Polish president's body returns to Warsaw (AP)

WARSAW, Poland – Tens of thousands of Poles softly sang the national anthem and tossed flowers at the hearse carrying the body of President Lech Kaczynski to the presidential palace on Sunday after it was returned from Russia, where he and dozens of political, military and religious leaders were killed in a plane crash.

The plane carrying Kaczynski's body arrived from the Smolensk airport, where he and 95 others had been heading Saturday to honor 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940 in the western Soviet Union.

The coffin bearing Kaczynski's remains were met first by his daughter Marta, whose mother Maria also perished in the crash. She knelt before it, her forehead resting on the coffin.

She was followed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former prime minister, and the president's twin brother. He, too, knelt and pressed his head against the flag-draped coffin before rising slowly and crossing himself.

Standing sentinel were four Polish troopers bearing sabers.

There was no sign of the twins' ailing mother Jadwiga, who has been hospitalized. The president had canceled several foreign trips lately to be by her side.

The coffin was placed aboard a Mercedes-Benz hearse and slowly traveled several miles to the palace, watched by thousands of weeping Poles.

Earlier, the country held two minutes of silence in memorial for those killed in the crash.

Church bells pealed at noon and emergency sirens shrieked for nearly a minute before fading. Hundreds bowed their heads, eyes closed, in front of the presidential palace. Buses and trams halted in the streets.

No date for a funeral has been set and the presidential palace has not yet said if Kaczynski will lie in state.

The death of the president and much of the state and defense establishment in Russia, en route to commemorating one of the saddest events in the neighboring nations' long, complicated history, was laden with tragic irony.

"He taught Poles how to respect our traditions, how to fight for our dignity, and he made he made his sacrifice there at that tragic place," said mourner Boguslaw Staron, 70.

Among the dead were Poland's army chief of staff, the navy chief commander, and heads of the air and land forces. At the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army in Warsaw, hundreds gathered for a morning Mass and left flowers and written condolences. Government spokesman Pawel Gras said the country's armed forces and state offices were operating normally despite the devastating losses.

Michal Boni, an official in the prime minister's office, said they remained in constant contact with deputy head of the National Bank of Poland, Piotr Wiesiolek.

He said the bank's Monetary Policy Council will hold a meeting on Monday, as previously planned.

"We are prepared to take various decisions, but we do not see that anything dangerous could happen in the economy," Boni said. The economy has so far managed to avoid recession.

The acting president, Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, said he would call for early elections within 14 days, in line with the constitution. The vote must be held within another 60 days.

Kaczynski had indicated he would seek a second term in presidential elections this fall but was expected to face an uphill struggle against Komorowski and his governing party, the moderate, pro-business Civic Platform. Kaczynski's nationalist conservative Law and Justice Party could benefit, however, from the support of a country mourning the loss of their president, particularly with elections now set to take place by late June.

In Moscow, Russia's transport ministry said that Russian and Polish investigators had begun to decipher flight data recorders of the aging Soviet-built Tu-154 airliner that crashed while trying to land in deep fog in Smolensk.

Russian officials had said 97 people were killed but revised the figure to 96. Poland's Foreign Ministry also confirmed the figure.

The Smolensk regional government said Russian dispatchers had asked the Polish crew to divert from the military airport there because of the fog and land instead in Moscow or Minsk, the capital of neighboringBelarus.

Former president, Solidarity founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa, said it was too soon to cast blame.

"Someone must have been taking decisions on that plane. I don't believe that the pilot took decisions single-handedly," he told reporters. "That's not possible. I have flown a lot and whenever there were doubts, they always came to the leaders and asked for a decision, and based on that, pilots took decisions. Sometimes the decision was against the leader's instructions."

Polish-Russian relations had been improving recently after being poisoned for decades over the slaying of some 22,000 officers and others in Katyn forest and in other areas. About 4,000 Polish army officers were killed in the forest by Josef Stalin's NKVD, the forerunner to the KGB, in 1940

Russia never has formally apologized for the murders but Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's decision to attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week in the forest was seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation. Kaczynski wasn't invited to that event because Putin, as prime minister, had invited his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk.

Kaczynski, 60, was the first serving Polish leader to die since exiled World War II-era leader Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski was killed in a mysterious plane crash off Gibraltar in 1943.

Kaczynski's twin brother flew to Smolensk on Saturday evening and identified the body of his brother and sister-in-law.

In Warsaw's historic center, large sections of the street were blocked to traffic to allow the flow of people expressing their grief. Mourners carried candles and roses and joined a long line to sign a book of condolences in the palace.

Also aboard the plane were the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the army chaplain, the head of the National Security Office, the deputy parliament speaker, the Olympic Committee head, the civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers.

Some on board were relatives of the officers slain in the Katyn massacre. Also among the victims was Anna Walentynowicz, whose firing in August 1980 from the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk sparked a workers' strike that spurred the eventual creation of the Solidarity freedom movement.

Walesa was among those who signed a condolence book in Gdansk.

"The elite of our country has perished," he said the day before.

Children also placed simple drawings and messages of mourning: "I love our president," said one, alongside a picture of a human figure and a cross.

Polish television carried black-and-white montages of those killed in the crash and devoted nonstop coverage to the crash, including lingering looks at Kaczynski and his wife, Maria.

President Dmitry Medvedev declared Monday a day of mourning in Russia.

The Tu-154 was the workhorse of Eastern Bloc civil aviation in the 1970s and 1980s. Poland has long discussed replacing the planes that carry the country's leaders but said it lacked the funds.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 66 crashes involving Tu-154s in the past four decades, including six in the past five years. The Russian carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew its Tu-154 fleet from service, largely because the planes do not meet international noise restrictions and use too much fuel.

The Polish presidential plane was fully overhauled in December, the general director of the Aviakor aviation maintenance plant in Samara, Russia, told Rossiya-24. The plant repaired the plane's three engines, retrofitted electronic and navigation equipment and updated the interior, Alexei Gusev said. He said there could be no doubts that the plane was flightworthy.

Thai protesters reject talks after deadly clashes (AP)

BANGKOK – Both government and protesters mourned their dead Sunday after a night of savage street fighting that left 21 dead, but neither side appeared ready to compromise to end the political stalemate that has bedeviled Thailand for five years and threatens more violence.

At least 874 others were injured when security forces tried to crack down Saturday on demonstrators who have been staging a month of disruptive protests in the Thai capital, seeking to have Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajvadissolve Parliament and call new elections. It was the country's worst political violence in nearly two decades.

Bullet casings, pools of blood and shattered army vehicles littered the streets near a main tourist area where soldiers had pitched nighttime battles with the protesters.

The fighting halted after the army pulled back its troops and initiated an informal truce. However, there was no sign that either side was willing to negotiate the issues underlying the protests.

Jatuporn Prompan, a leader of the "Red Shirt" protest movement — which contends the current government is illegitimate because it does not reflect the results of the last elections — said Abhisit's hands were "bloodied" by the clashes.

"Red Shirts will never negotiate with murderers," Jatuporn announced from a makeshift stage. "Although the road is rough and full of obstacles, it's our duty to honor the dead by bringing democracy to this country."

The government, meanwhile, focused on the immediate issue of public safety.

Government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn defended the soldiers' performance and accused the demonstrators of using heavy weapons against them. He said a return to normalcy would be difficult when people do not respect the rule of law, and because any talks on a solution should include other groups in Thai society — a complex and contentious process.

The demonstrations are part of a long-running battle between the mostly poor and rural supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the ruling elite they say orchestrated the 2006 military coup that removed him from power amid corruption allegations.

The protesters, called Red Shirts for their garb, see the Oxford-educated Abhisit as a symbol of an elite impervious to the plight of Thailand's poor and claim he took office illegitimately in December 2008 after the military pressured Parliament to vote for him.

"Within the next two weeks there will be more violence. The standpoint from both sides is clear — that negotiation and compromise will not happen," said Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee, a political scientist atBangkok's Chulalongkorn University. "This fight will not end any time soon. It's too complex."

Dr. Tomas Larsson, a political scientist at Cambridge University, said concerns about Thailand's international image could act as a restraint on a more violent crackdown.

"Quashing the protests with disproportionate force, along lines that we have come to associate with the military regime in Burma, would do irreparable damage to Thailand's standing in the international community," he said by e-mail. "But I'm afraid cooler heads may not prevail in the coming days and weeks."

Protesters held a procession for the dead Sunday near their rally site in historic Bangkok. Marching with Buddhist monks, they held aloft several coffins and carried photos of the victims. One mother called her son "a hero" before breaking down in tears.

Earlier, protesters showed off a pile of weapons they had captured from the troops, including rifles and heavy caliber machine-gun rounds. More than half a dozen military vehicles, armored personnel carriersHumveesand a truck were crippled by the protesters, who ripped the treads off the armored cars.

Some of the heaviest fighting occurred near the backpacker mecca of Khao San Road, where protesters came in throngs Sunday to pose for pictures on top of seized army vehicles. Others strolled around in confiscated army riot gear.

Apichart Sankary, an executive with the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations, said that if street protestscontinue the number of foreign visitors could drop to 14.5 million this year, against an earlier projection of 15.5 million.

Four soldiers and 17 civilians were killed, according to the government's Erawan emergency center. It said at least 874 people were injured. The deaths included Japanese cameraman Hiro Muramoto, who worked for the Thomson Reuters news agency. In a statement, Reuters said he was shot in the chest and the circumstances of his death were under review.

Police spokesman Lt. Gen. Pongsapat Pongcharoen said an autopsy committee, which would include two Red Shirt members, was set up to examine corpses of those killed, including Muramoto.

Manny is king of the ring – says US writer


While talks continue to swirl about who is the rightful holder of the title of pound-for-pound king, which is boxing's most coveted accolade, an esteemed staffer of The Ring magazine on Sunday said the only way Manny Pacquiao is knocked off that throne is for him to lose a fight on top of the ring.

Michael Rosenthal wrote in the publication's blog that Pacquiao's string of impressive wins over top-of-the-line foes makes him deserving of being called the pound-for-pound king.

Rosenthal, The Ring's associate editor, presented 10 key questions going into the May 1 slugfest between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley and he shrugged off claims that the winner of that bout will shove Pacquiao out of the top spot.

"No. An argument can be made that Mayweather should be ranked above Pacquiao now," said Rosenthal.

"Thus, one could say with some legitimacy that Mosley should be No. 1 if he beats him. However, Pacquiao earned the top spot with a series of spectacular victories and has done nothing to lose it."

Rosenthal continued: "The only way either Mayweather or Mosley can supplant Pacquiao is to beat him. That could be problematic for Mayweather because he and the Filipino star might never be able to agree on a contract. However, should Mosley win on May 1, a profoundly compelling matchup with Pacquiao would determine the best fighter on the planet."

Owing to the massive differences in opinion involving Pacquiao and Mayweather, they might not get to face each other but if Mosley upsets Mayweather, it would be a lot easier for Pacquiao's people to reach a deal with him.

And should that take place, Rosenthal said it would end up breaking "all pay-per-view and money-generating records."

Pacquiao is running for a congressional seat in Sarangani province.

Melligen scores unanimous decision over Mexican

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Mark Jason "MJM Grand" Melligen vanquished his Mexican foe, Norberto "Demonio" Gonzalez, via unanimous decision in their 10-round welterweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Ageing boxer Holyfield stops Botha in 8th round

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Evander Holyfield stopped Frans Botha in the eighth round Saturday in a battle of aging heavyweight warriors.

2010 Palaro gets going in Tarlac

BY FRANK CALAPRE Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Tarlac: Exciting actions start today with a total of 15 gold medals to be contested in day one of the 53rd Palarong Pambansa being held at the Tarlac Recreational Park.

Talk 'N Text mauls Sta. Lucia

MANILA, Philippines - Talk 'N Text drew big games from its locals to notch a second straight win, 102-89, over Sta. Lucia Realty Sunday night in the KFC-PBA Fiesta Conference at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

N.B.A. Roundup: Spurs Help Playoff Position, and Hinder Nuggets'

from NYT > Pro Basketball by By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The victory lifted the Spurs into seventh place in the Western Conference, avoiding — at least for the moment — a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. For the Nuggets, the loss was a blow to their hopes of securing the No. 2 seed, and dropped them into a tie with Utah for the Northwest Division lead.

Martin, who returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with patellar tendinitis in his left knee, had 6 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points for Denver but received two technical fouls for arguing with officials and was ejected with 6 minutes 48 seconds left.

PACERS 115, NETS 102 Troy Murphy had 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead Indiana past the visiting Nets. The Pacers have won 4 straight games and 10 of 12. Brook Lopez had 20 points and Yi Jianlian added 18 points and 7 rebounds for the Nets, who had won five of their previous nine games, their best stretch of the season. The Nets led by 12 points in the second quarter, but the Pacers took control in the third, shooting 59 percent from the field and converting 4 of 8 3-point attempts.

CELTICS 105, BUCKS 90 With Kevin Garnett resting, Paul Pierce scored 24 points as Boston won a rough-and-tumble game at Milwaukee that included a technical foul (Celtics forward Glen Davis), a flagrant foul (Milwaukee's Kurt Thomas) and an ejection (Bucks Coach Scott Skiles).

BOBCATS 99, PISTONS 95 Larry Hughes scored 18 points, D. J. Augustin hit the go-ahead jumper with a minute left and host Charlotte used its depth to hold off Detroit and end the Pistons' winning streak at three games. The Bobcats improved to 31-9 at home and kept alive their hopes of overtaking Miami for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and avoiding a first-round matchup with Orlando. Ben Gordon scored 21 points for the Pistons, who missed four straight shots with a chance to take the lead in the final minute.

HAWKS 105, WIZARDS 95 Jamal Crawford scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half as Atlanta ended a six-game road skid with a victory at Washington. Andray Blatche scored 24 points for the Wizards, who lost to the Hawks for the ninth straight time.

76ERS 120, GRIZZLIES 101 Marreese Speights scored 22 points in 21 minutes off the bench for visiting Philadelphia, which matched a team record with 14 3-pointers and ended a six-game skid.

KC Concepcion joins 'The Buzz' as new host

MANILA, Philippines - After several glitches in negotiations, KC Concepcion has finally accepted an offer to be the third major host of showbiz talk show "The Buzz."

New 'Wowowee' hosts named

MANILA, Philippines - Sa unang pagkakataon ay ipinakita na ang bagong set ng "Wowowee" kahapon, April 10, at talaga namang bongga kaagad ang production numbers ng Wowowee Boys and Girls umpisa pa lamang ng programa.


alang nabawasan sa kanyang female co-hosts na sina Pokwang, Mariel Rodriguez, Valerie Concepcion at RR Enriquez na nagkaroon pa ng grand entrance para samahan sa stage si Revillame.

Pagkatapos nito ay ipinakilala na rin ang mga bago nilang makakasamang female hosts kabilang ang Malaysian star na si Carmen Soo, Star Magic artist Isabelle Abiera, Jed Montero at model na si Kelly Misa.

Metro Manila sizzles under 36.3-degree weather

MANILA, Philippines -Temperatures in Metro Manila reached a record 36.3 degrees Celsius on Sunday, making it the hottest day of the year, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

St. Stanislaus (April 11, 2010)

Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government.

Black ops and the nature of the 2010 campaigns - Maria A. Ressa

On the morning of Thursday, April 8, I called a meeting of our top editorial minds to discuss a potentially explosive document given to us by a source from the Nacionalista Party.  It was a report allegedly done by Ateneo's Psychology Department on Sen. Benigno Aquino III signed by Fr. Carmelo Caluag.

Pacquiao, Lakers, iPad top Google searches in RP

MANILA, Philippines - Sports figures and gadgets seem to be top of mind for most Internet-using Filipinos this month.

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