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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 15, 2010 Major News Stories



All is not lost for RP aggie amid El Niño-ex-Agri execs say

Despite the "El Niño" effects of parched farmlands, wilted crops, and depleted water sources, a group of former agriculture and fisheries officials on Wednesday said the Philippines still has a chance of reducing the phenomenon"s impact.

All that's needed, the officials said, are a little opening up of the agricultural market, a little convincing of the farmers, some supportive national policies, and of course, a lot of political will, among other things.

In a press dialogue in Quezon City on Wednesday, former Agriculture secretary William Dar, who served from 1998 to 1999, said the lack of "political will" in the country is among the culprits why the country is suffering not only from El Niño but also climate change.

"[But] there is still hope in a climate change environment... but effort is required," said Dar, who is the current director of the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). 

ICRISAT is a non-proft, non-political organization doing agricultural research for sustainable development in poor countries.

Dar said aside from budget constraints hounding the agriculture sector, the government still has the habit of being "reactionary" or being jolted only when a crisis comes its way.

"Year in, year out dapat may naka-prepare [na measures] sa area. Hindi iyong kung kailan lang may El Niño (there should be prepared measures in the area. Not just when El Niño is already here)… Why not have budgets released to implement this today," he said.

But the former Agriculture chief lamented how budget appropriated for several environmental projects have failed to trickle down to the grassroots in the past.

Asked if the officials of the Department of Agriculture have been remiss in their responsibilities, Dar said: "It's the government policy that has not been working."

He branded as a mere "stopgap solution" the Philippines' continued importation of agricultural products like rice, adding that developing agricultural facilities within the country and harnessing biotechnology is key to achieving "sustained self-sufficiency."

Arsenio Camacho, former director of the Bureau of Fisheries, said in the dialogue that more than relying on remittances from overseas Filipino workers to keep the economy afloat, the government should invest more on the agriculture sector.

"Sana unahin ang agriculture (We hope agriculture is prioritized). It's the basic foundation of the economy. Marami nang countries ang nag-succeed at tayo ay developing na (So many countries have succeeded, and we ourselves are now developing)," said Camacho, who is now based in Washington.

He even suggested that presidential candidates for the May elections be gathered in a forum where they would be asked to detail their specific plans for the agriculture sector should they be elected.

"Hindi kasi nila iyan nadidiscuss. Mayroon nga pero sobrang konti lang. Dapat tanungin natin sila ng detalyado (That's because they don't discuss these things. Or they do but there's too little. We should ask them for details)," Camacho said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Santiago Obien, former executive director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), said the government should invest more on alternative crops, especially those that survive in high temperatures.

He said that ICRISAT was successful in introducing some of these crops to India, where temperatures in some parts could exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

"There are varieties that can adapt to temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius. We can import those varieties. That has been the advantage [of those crops] to India," he said.

Water supply

The El Niño phenomenon has not only dried up lands but also threatened to bring down the water of major dams to critical levels. While these dams in Luzon are mainly used as sources of power and potable water, the water impounded in the reservoirs also goes to irrigation.

Dar said while it would have been helpful if the government had constructed water facilities for irrigation to battle El Niño, it would already have been too late, adding that construction should have been done late last year.

Just the same, he said government investment should pour into building such facilities to cushion the effects not just of this year's El Niño, but of the next El Niños in the years to come.

At the height of cyclones Ondoy and Pepeng in September-October 2009, a record amount of rainfall fell over Luzon, bringing water levels in major dams to spilling levels.

The situation forced dam administrators to release water to the rivers, eventually flooding a huge portion of several cities in Metro Manila and neighboring Rizal during Ondoy, and many provinces of Central Luzon and some parts of Northern Luzon during Pepeng.

Now that the long dry spell has made water supply in Luzon critical, the dams cannot help because of their own low water levels.

Dar said the government would not be facing water shortage problems if it had early on invested on cascading mini-dams. There are dams that catch spillover water from bigger dams upstream, thus storing the spillover instead of allowing it to flow out to sea.

He said another problem facing the agriculture sector is the "aging" farmer population in the country, adding that children in farming families tend to veer away from plowing farmlands when they grow up.

Dar feared that if young farmers are not encouraged to stick to farming, the country could lose its farmers in about a decade's time.

"We need to encourage the young farmers to go back to farming... We need to empower them because this is the group of farmers that will feed Filipinos 10 to 20 years from now," he stressed.

Dar said the ICRISAT had previously submitted these recommendations to Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap, but "we haven't heard from him since."

BIR says April 15 tax deadline stays

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will not be extending the April 15 deadline for the filing of income tax returns (ITRs) by both individual and corporate taxpayers.

OBO eyes changes in building design

CYC Construction admitted to city officials yesterday that they deviated from the building plans approved by the Office of the Building Official (OBO).

DOH: Dengue cases up 61%

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health on Wednesday warned the public about the rising number of dengue cases in the country, which reached 11,803 cases from January 1 to March 27, 2010.

Dengue claims boy's life in Talisay

DENGUE fever took the life of a young boy in the upland village of Barangay Tapul, the second death to happen in Talisay City this year.

More towns eyed for watchlist

ACTING Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal met with representatives from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last April 13 to discuss poll preparations.

Two teams, he said, will be assigned to the towns of Ronda, Dumanjug, Alegria, Naga, San Fernando and Dalaguete in the southern part of Cebu.

While in the north, the focus will be on Daanbantayan, Bogo, Carmen and Tabuelan where an election-related strafing recently happened. The regional mobile group will
also be assigned in these areas.

When asked about their current preparations, Digal said they are now planning to deploy more uniformed personnel in the towns.

"We are considered as the elite force in Cebu Province and should there be trouble during the election, we will handle it," Digal said.

Far-flung areas

The Army, on the other hand, will be assigned in far-flung areas in the province.

Digal will be appointing police officers as part of the Special Reaction Unit (SRU) who will be deployed in the entire province of Cebu.

He also assured to discuss with them the do's and don'ts during elections and how to be neutral in every situation.

Every SRU member will conduct checkpoints in their assigned towns for 2 or 3 days then move to another station.


National prayer for HOPE launched

The Police Regional Office-7 in collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and some religious and non-government organizations yesterday hosted a national prayer for law enforcers who will play the crucial role of ensuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

Mayors pledge 'solid' support

SAYING that Lakas-Kampi-CMD is a fairly well-oiled party, One Cebu mayors who have pledged their support to Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro don't have to eat their "palabra de honor."

Gwen meets mayors to prepare for Gibo rally

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia met yesterday afternoon with mayors and representatives of various groups to prepare for the grand rally of administration party presidential bet Gilberto 'Gibo' Teodoro on April 27.

Corro cries water terrorism

Daanbantayan mayoralty candidate Augusto Corro has accused incumbent Mayor Sun Shimura and his mother, Vice Mayor Maria Luisa Loot, of alleged water terrorism after failing to convince the people to support them.

Corro, in a press statement furnished to The FREEMAN, said that the water supply in barangay Bateria was disconnected by Shimura.

"The water concessionaries complained that their connection was illegally disconnected by Loot (Shimura) because they want change in the government administration," he said.

As of last Tuesday, there were about 50 households disconnected from the water system operated by the Barangay Waterworks Management. According to Corro, disconnection activities have been ongoing for the last three days.

Corro said that one of his supporters, Mamerto Pino, tried to oppose the disconnection but ended up being arrested by the police.

AS TOM DARES GUARDO TO SUE: Rama orders City Hall people not to speak in campaign

Vice Mayor Michael Rama has ordered that all of his supporters, who are Cebu City Hall employees, would not be allowed to speak or to act as emcees during their nightly pulong-pulong in different barangays.

Rama admits City staff spoke during sortie

FOR admitting there are Cebu City Hall employees who spoke in campaign events, opposition candidate Jonathan Guardo wants to get Vice Mayor Michael Rama as a witness in the case he will file against the mayor next week.

IF ELECTED MAYOR: Nerissa to build new city hall

Mandaue City mayoralty aspirant Rep. Nerissa Soon Ruiz plans to build a new city hall under the Cansaga Bay Bridge in barangay Paknaan once elected mayor.

Mayoralty bet slams Radaza

Lapu-Lapu City opposition Councilor Junard Ahong Chan yesterday accused Mayor Arturo Radaza of diverting public discussion away from alleged massive corruption allegedly committed during his nine-year term at city hall.

BFAD urged to probe claims on "cure all" herbal products

Alarmed over the increasing market of herbal products, the Cebu City Council has passed a resolution urging the Bureau of Food and Drugs to look into the claims of the suppliers of these products that they can "cure all ailments" because it might just give false impression to consumers.

Proponents fail to justify fund aid to solo parents

The City Council's committee on budget and finance finds as meritorious the proposal to give financial assistance to solo parents in the city, but it said the proponents failed to justify the proposed budget of P500,000 for the program.

Dumpit undergoes physical fitness test

Detained police officer SPO1 Adonis Dumpit underwent a PNP-mandated physical fitness test after clearance from the court despite opposition from prosecutors of his murder case.


Aquino: More defections to LP to come

SAN CARLOS CITY, Negros Occidental Albay Governor Joey Salceda is just one of the many personalities who will join the Liberal Party in the coming days, its standard-bearer Benigno Noynoy Aquino III said on Wednesday.

In fact, Aquino said, the oath-taking of new LP members might become their regular Monday feature.

He refused to say, however, if Salceda was the Lakas stalwart he was referring to Tuesday when he said that a defection by a member of the administration to the LP would shock the nation.

Isa po siya. Meron pa pong mga ibang darating at hindi ko na po sila magdedeklara para di ko naman po mapi-preempt ang kanilang announcement [Hes one of them. There are more to come but I cant name them so that I wont preempt their announcements], he said.

At hindi lang po sa administrasyon. May iba pong panggagalingan pero [And not only from the administration. Some will also come from other groups but] Im not at liberty to say it. I did agree that they will do it at their own time, he added.

Aquino said anyone was welcomed to join his group so long as they would adhere to their principle and platforms.

The LP standard-bearer admitted that he was one of those, who convinced Salceda to move to his camp and successfully got n the governors nod in just a matter of days.

Aquinos runningmate and LP president Manuel "Mar" Roxas confirmed that there were indeed ongoing discussions with more possible recruits but Aquinos cousin and rival in the presidential race, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, was not one of them.

Walang pag-uusap kay Secretary Gibo. Mataas ang aming respeto kay Gibo kahit ganun pa ang nangyari sa kanya, sa kanyang partido pero isyu na lang po nila yun [There was no talk with Gibo. We have high respect for Gibo despite what happened to him, to his party. But thats their issue], Roxas said in a separate interview.

Aquino and Roxas are in the city to attend a rally here and pay courtesy visits to Sagay City Mayor Freddie Maranon and Victorias City Mayor Severo Palanca.

LP welcomes administration 'maverick'

SAN CARLOS CITY, Negros Occidental With open arms, the camp of Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III welcomed the entry of Albay Governor Joey Salceda into the bandwagon.

At least three of Aquino's senatorial candidates Ralph Recto, Rufino Biazon and Risa Hontiveros described Salceda as a "maverick" and an experienced legislator.

They also agreed that Salceda, a former congressman, was a welcome addition to the group.

"I think he should be welcomed. He's a very intelligent governor. He's got the experience of being a legislator and also as governor. I think he should be welcomed in the LP. He brings value added to the party as well," Recto said in an interview here.

Biazon said Salceda was a "welcome addition, particularly since he has always been a maverick."

"His expertise in the economy will prove to be an asset to the Aquino-Roxas administration," he said in a text message.

"Yes, he would be a welcome addition," Hontiveros said in a separate text message.

"Maverick siya, at bilang ekonomista, magpapatibay sa aming sinasabi na si Sen Noy ay ang pinaka-may-kakayahang ibsan ang kahirapan ng mamamayan at sugpuin ang korupsyon [Hes a maverick and as an economist, he is proof that Sen Noy is the most qualified to alleviate poverty and eradicate corruption]," she said.

Aside from Salceda, several administration allies have also expressed their interest to join Aquino's camp, said LP vice president and also senatorial candidate Nereus Acosta.

"Marami-rami na rin na identified sa administration ang nagsasabi na interested sila [There are quite a lot from the administration who say theyre interested]. There are several overtures," Acosta said in a phone interview.

He refused, however, to identify them.

But Acosta and Hontiveros were quick to defend the entry of administration allies into Aquino's camp, saying it does not mean that the senator has the backing of the administration.

"Hindi magmumukhang administration ang aming camp dahil kami ang tumututol sa Aroyo administration. Sa pagsapi sa amin, ang mga dating Arroyo ally ay itinatakwil din ang administrasyon [We won't like an administration group because we are the ones opposing the Arroyo administration. In joining us, these former Arroyo allies have also rejected the administration]," said Hontiveros.

Acosta pointed out "that the goal of an election is to really win it."

"Kung talagang maraming administration nagdedecide na sumama sa amin, e di mabuti yan sa amin [If there are really a lot from the administration who will decide to join us, then that will be good for us]," he said.

Luisita farmers to storm Aquino home in Quezon City

MANILA, Philippines – Farmers from Hacidenda Luisita and student leaders from the University of Philippines are set to march today to the home of Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in Quezon City to demand the return of the land to its rightful owners.

Carrying seven makeshift coffins to the Liberal Party  presidential bet's home in Times Street, Quezon City, the protesters will also demand from Aquino, whose family controls and claims the property, justice for the massacre of farmers in November 2004. 

"Noynoy Aquino and his family is no different form the current administration. As one of the leading presidential candidates at present, Noynoy must answer directly to the farmers," UP Student Council president Rainier Sindayen said. 

He also noted that the Hacienda Luisita issue should be addressed now and the land given to the farmers.

For his part, Lito Bais, a farmer from Hacienda Luisita and head of the United Luisita Workers' Union, challenged Aquino to answer the issue of distributing the land to the farmers who have been tilling the property for years. 

Aquino and the LP ticket will start their campaign sorties in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental today.

Roxas challenged to debate on cheaper medicine law

MANILA, Philippines – Two principal proponents of the cheaper medicine law have challenged Liberal Party vice presidential bet Sen. Mar Roxas to a public debate to finally put to rest the issue of who really authored the measure.

Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron and Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, the first to file the Cheaper Medicines Bill when he was still a congressman, dared Roxas to accept the challenge. 

Biron and Suplico, both of whom branded Roxas as a liar and credit grabber, said the LP bet should be man enough to face them in a public debate. They want Roxas to reveal the truth behind the P1-billion lobby fund to water down, if not scrap, the measure. 

They said the senator cannot claim to be the author of the law because he only filed Senate Bill 101 during the 14th Congress seeking parallel drug importation, which would be beneficial to more multinational companies. 

They said Roxas "castrated" the law by making price regulation optional, limiting the coverage to only 22 essential medicines and reducing the price by only 50 percent. 

He said Roxas "should stop deceiving the people" and "should apologize to the Filipino for lying to them."

"He (Roxas) killed the heart and soul of the bill I authored," Suplico said. "How can he now say that he was the author of the cheaper medicine law when all he wanted was an amendment to the intellectual property law."

Nograles reaches out to Ramos to save Lakas-Kampi from collapse

MANILA, Philippines -- House Speaker Prospero Nograles said that with Gilbert ``Gibo Teodoro facing ``irreversible defeat in the May elections, he has been consulting former President Fidel V. Ramos and other senior Lakas Kampi CMD leaders on how to save the party and stop the wave of defections.

Defeat appears irreversible for the Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer. It was a mistake to choose him in the first place. In the past several months that he promised to reverse the trend of defeat, nothing happened. It only led to defections left and right, and disenchantment everywhere, said Nograles in a statement.

Nograles doubted that Teodoro could win, not even in the administrations traditional bailiwick in Mindanao for doing nothing while its key leaders in the region jump to rival parties..

Nograles continued his tirade against Teodoro for the fourth straight day as Lakas-Kampi continued to suffer from defections.

Nograles was incensed at Teodoro for calling him a weak party member for sounding off his plans to bolt the party since Sunday. Nograles said Teodoro joined Lakas-Kampi only because of his presidential ambition, since his original party, the Nationalist Peoples Coalition, did not have him on its list of potential standard bearers.

He also said Teodoro was the one who deserved to be called a ``rat and not those who left the party because of dissatisfaction with his leadership.

First he left the NPC, even his aunt is all over the media telling people to vote for anybody but Gibo. And then he left the chairmanship of the party at the start of the local campaign. A captain does not leave the ship in the hands of deck officers in the middle of a journey! Nograles said.

Nograles said that it ``pained him to see Lakas-Kampi ``collapsing, which was why he has moved to round up all disgruntled senior members to help steer the party to the right direction and probably adopt another candidate.

But Lakas-Kampi officer, Cavite Rep. Epidio Barzaga Jr., said that it was too late for the party to adopt another candidate. Also, he said that it would set a bad example to young leaders for a party to ditch its standard bearer in the middle of the campaign just because he or she was trailing badly in the surveys.

Nograles: We can adopt any bet but Gibo

MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Wednesday continued to distance himself from Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro, saying that choosing the former defense secretary as the party's presidential candidate was a mistake.

Teodoro to Nograles: Try to win as mayor first

ILOILO CITY, Philippines - Lakas-Kampi CMD standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro has this to say to Speaker Prospero Nograles who has threatened to form a faction within the party that would adopt a guest candidate: ``He should first win as a mayor before he does that.''

Nograles had threatened to quit the party and support another candidate over differences with the party and Teodoro, prompting the latter to say that the Speaker had never been supportive of his candidacy in the first place.

Nograles, a member of the party's advisory board who is running for mayor in Davao City, took back his pronouncement and said it was Teodoro who should ``shape up'' or ship out.

Teodoro did not mince words here when he attended a mammoth rally organized by resigned Secretary Raul Gonzalez, son Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., and their allies Tuesday night.

``He should not dump his frustrations on me. I won't dignify his comments,'' he told reporters before walking inside the Freedom Grandstand and facing a crowd of more than 5,000.

Hours earlier, he warned party officials against using him or the party as an excuse to defect to other camps.

Nograles had claimed that the party was in disarray after Teodoro quit as chair of the party to focus on his campaign and clear the way for a full-time chair to deal with the needs of local candidates.

At the rally, Teodoro took a subtle swipe at the defectors, and said he picked Edu Manzano, himself an Ilonggo, as his running mate because he was ``trustworthy.''

Teodoro also found an ally in the elder Gonzalez, who belittled any future decision by Nograles to bolt the party.

``We don't abandon the party. Only rats abandon a sinking ship. It's not yet sinking,'' he told reporters at the sidelines of the rally. ``I heard from Gibo that he (Nograles) has always been a reluctant supporter. It will not affect the situation on the ground except the psychology of people around.''

``What could he contribute to Gibo? He has a big constituency but we don't know his problems there [in Davao]. He is facing a great fight,'' he said of Nograles who is running against the daughter of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Gonzalez, former chief presidential legal counsel, said it was ``myopic'' for Nograles to blame Teodoro for the woes of party-mates and form a faction that would support another candidate.

``Too late for him. I don't think he can,'' Gonzalez said.

He said that Nograles' action ``could be acts inimical to the interest of the party,'' but stopped short of saying this constituted grounds for his expulsion.

Nograles had also accused Teodoro of having poor priorities, citing his preference to campaign in small provinces rather than in vote-rich provinces.

Teodoro's spokesperson, Mike Toledo, denied this.

``While Gibo has never had any sortie in Sarangani, he has been to Ilocos Sur three times and to Compostela Valley twice, contrary to what Speaker Nograles is saying,'' he said.

MILF suspends exec for signing 'pact' with Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hierarchy has suspended one of its ranking officials for six months for virtually signing a pact with Bangon Pilipinas Party standard-bearer Eduardo Villanueva.

Eid Kabalu, chairperson of the Civil-Military Relations department and military spokesman of the MILF, was suspected for six months beginning April 12 for "violating a major policy of the MILF on elections and for arrogating unto himsell powers that do not fall within his authority."

According to MILF's official website (http://www.luwaran.com), Kabalu's suspension was signed by MILF chief of staff Sammy Al-Mansoor based on the decision of the MILF Central Committee.

"You are hereby suspended from official functions in your capacity as the Chief of the Civil-Military Relations Department and Spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for a period of six (6) months effective immediately. This is pursuant to the decision of the MILF Central Committee made on the basis of the covenant you entered and signed as witness with Bangon Pilipinas Party (BPP) headed by its presidential candidate Bro. Eddie Villanueva and vice presidential candidate Perfecto Yasay Jr. which has seriously violated the policy of the MILF on its leaders not to take part in the electoral processes of the Philippine government," the memorandum read.

"More seriously, you have also breached the official position of the MILF not to subscribe to the Philippine Constitution to solve in its negotiations with the age-old Moro Question and armed conflict in Mindanao. In addition, you have also arrogated unto yourself powers and authority beyond your official capacity that put the MILF in bad light and odd stance," it added.

The website also said that Kabalu met with Bangon Pilipinas stalwarts and candidates, "affixing his signature as 'witness' to the covenant entered into by candidates of the BPP led by Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Perfecto Yasay Jr., presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively."

Namfrel accreditation in May polls pushed

MANILA, Philippines The Commission on Elections should reconsider its decision to deny the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) from holding a parallel count of the votes in the May 10 elections, a poll watchdog official said Wednesday.

Namfrel with its experience in holding quick count in manual polls would help Comelec in ensuring the transparency and accuracy of the results of the May 10 automated polls, said Ramon Caspile, chairman of Bantay Eleksyon 2010.

Casiple said they were monitoring negotiations between Namfrel and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) for the sharing of the fourth copy of the election returns (ERs) so that Namfrel can make [a] parallel count.

But Casiple said that even if there would be no agreement, Namfrel would still have the financial resources to do it [parallel count].

The parallel count will provide an independent count because right now, the law provides for a random manual audit that would direct the comparison of the votes in a ballot of selected poling precincts against the PCOS count, it would be done so that there is assurance that what is being reported and transmitted to the canvassing centers is actually the contents of the ballots, he said.

Under Section 24 of Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law, there shall be a random manual audit in one precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by Comelec in each province and city. Any difference between the automated and manual count will result in the determination of root cause and initiate a manual count for those precincts affected by the computer or procedural error.

Casiple added that an additional 2,000 precincts to be selected by PPCRV and Comelec would be included in the manual count after proclamation of results.

He said that with less than a month before election day, the Comelec has not yet released the guidelines for the random manual audit.

Casiple also criticized the Comelec for denying their proposal to put up large projectors in canvassing centers in all municipalities and provinces to allow the public to view the process, which was being done during manual polls.

At the end of the day, it will all boil down to credibility issue and to the transparency of the results of this coming election, said Casiple.

ABS-CBN says sorry to Ang Kapatiran for Chipeco snub

European Union to observe May 10 polls

from mb.com.ph

The European Union (EU) will be sending some of its personnel to observe in the 2010 national elections this May.

This was confirmed by Gabriel Munuera Vinals, head of the economic, political and public affairs division of the EU delegation to the Philippines, in an interview with reporters following the press briefing for the Viva Europa 2010 Wednesday.

"Definitely, some of us will be observers on election day," Vinals said. "There are a number of colleagues to be observing on Election Day."

Vinals added that the observers will be embassy personnel and not from an EU election observer mission.

"There has never been an EU election observer mission but definitely we'll have observation by members of Embassies," he said.

"There will be no EU election observer mission," Vinals stressed.

According to him, about eight or nine personnel from the EU had been accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to become observers on May 10. But he said that they have yet to decide where their personnel will be posted. (Madel R. Sabater)

Media watchdog hits ABS-CBN for Aquino mental health story

ABS-CBN denies 'to scoop' competitors was its goal   MANILA, Philippines- A media watchdog has criticized ABS-CBN for the way it presented its April 8 TV Patrol story on the fake document about Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's mental health. 

Powerful figures behind Abu Sayyaf's latest attack -- police

ISABELA CITY, Basilan, Philippines The Abu Sayyaf attack here on Tuesday, which killed 14 people and not 15 as earlier reported, appeared to have been instigated by some powerful figures, the police said.

"Based on information we gathered so far, there were indications the Abu Sayyaf was being used to sow violence, it was not pure terrorism, the Basilan police chief, Senior Supt. Antonio Mendoza, said.

Mendoza said the role of the influential persons whom he would not identify - in the attack also came out during interrogation made on two Abu Sayyaf members who were captured by pursuing authorities on Tuesday.

"These attackers are seemingly mercenaries. Based on some accounts, they were hired, forced to wear the police uniforms and were directed to implement some attacks and of course, there's money involved, he said.

Pressed as to who these people were, Mendoza said they could be politicians, although he would not give categorical answers.

Mendoza added the police were investigating the ownership of the cream Starex van, which was torn by the explosion near the Basilan National High School.

We have reports the vehicle was owned by a politician, we cannot make public yet the identity pending deeper investigation," he said.

Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the military considered the attack an act of terrorism.

"We see it as real terror attack but at the same time, we cannot discount the possibility of political color and it is being investigated by our police in Basilan," Dolorfino said.

He rejected insinuations the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was involved in the blast, which Mendoza described as well-orchestrated.

"There is no link established that may involve the MILF here, during a cellphone conversation between (Brig.) Gen. (Eugene) Clemen and the MILF, all their members are fully accounted for," Dolorfino said.

Meanwhile, a day after the explosion, fear was still gripping the city with businesses, banks and government offices closed.

Businessmen said they were selling only to people they knew.

Jessie Tan, a grocery store owner, said they were screening customers because they might be dealing with terrorists already.

Dolorfino said security has been tightened and that the city has been secured by two Marine battalions and a battalion from the polices Special Action Force.

Meanwhile, Mendoza, the Basilan police chief, said only 14, not 15 as earlier reported by the Inquirer, were killed.

Mendoza added that SPO4 Enrico Morales was only wounded, not killed.

Among those killed were Police Officer 1 Elmer Cajalne and civilians Edilberto Lela Luna, Jayjay Laracochea, Rodelio Francisco, Engr. Albert Cenibalo and Ivan Nabi.

Another victim, identified only as Enrico, was brought to Zamboanga City where he later died.

Mendoza could still not provide the names of the three Marine soldiers killed.

The Abu Sayyaf bandit who was killed in the grandstand explosion was named Benzar Indama.

Police and soldiers were pursuing the bandits, who allegedly took hostage a civilian identified only as Ramil, who withdrew towards Lamitan City.

"Wala pa kaming mga tulog, patuloy itong pursuit operation, lahat kumikilos (We have not had any sleep as pursuit operations go on and everybody is helping)," Mendoza said.

Dolorfino of the Western Mindanao Command, said they gathered reports that one of those being pursued was Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama.

Dolorfino said residents saw four bandits hiding in a mangrove area in the village of Tabiawan.

Mendoza said the two suspects who were arrested after the attack have been placed in the Don Navarro Hospital inside Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

Dolorfino said five more suspects have been under interrogation at the 1st Marine Brigade headquarters in Tabiawan here.

MILF denies hand in Basilan blasts

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front was not responsible for the simultaneous bomb attacks that resulted to civilian and military casualties yesterday morning in Basilan province, a ranking MILF official said today. 

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar refuted earlier reports that MILF militiamen participated in the attacks in Isabela City, which left 15 people dead.

"Definitely, it's not the MILF. We are ready to conduct an investigation to determine who is behind the attacks," Jaafar told Church-run Radio Veritas

Jaafar said the MILF hierarchy is condemning the terrorist acts of the armed group, allegedly led by the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf.

PNP: No additional troops to Basilan

MANILA, Philippines Despite of the atrocities committed by suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Basilan, the Philippine National Police said on Wednesday that it would not be deploying additional troops to the province, a police spokesman said.

Everythings in control there, said Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, a day after the extremist groups attack on Isabela City that left at least 15 people dead.

Espina said that as of posting time, the PNP force in the province consisted of the 1,000-strong Basilan police force, a company each from the elite units of the Special Action Force and the Regional Mobile Group.

He said that authorities were still in control of the province, as evidenced by the timely response of our troops there with the [Philippine] Marines yesterday [Tuesday].

Nevertheless, Espina said that PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa reiterated his directive to all police officials to immediately investigate incidents in their respective areas of jurisdiction through the formation of Special Investigation Task Groups and conduct hot pursuit operations against all malefactors with the objective of immediately solving said incidents and bringing all perpetrators before the bars of justice.

Taguig jail ready for accused in Maguindanao massacre

MANILA, Philippines -- The cell has been cleared of inmates, its floor scrubbed and beds given new sheets as both jail officials and prisoners at the Quezon city jail annex in Taguig city anticipate the transfer of Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. there from his detention at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila.

It takes at least 120 steps from the Ampatuan cell on the fourth floor of the building to the makeshift courtroom downstairs where Quezon city Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes will be holding hearings on the gruesome murder of 57 people, including at least 30 journalists, in Maguindanao, in 2009.

Weve been ready since last month, shared Senior Insp. Lloyd Gonzaga, deputy warden of the facility, who accompanied the Inquirer to the complex on Wednesday. Our personnel have been briefed about the security measures, and each of them already has tasks when Ampatuan arrives.

The Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the trial venue and detention of Andal Jr. to the jail facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, the headquarters of the National Capital Region police office. The high court granted the request of government prosecutors, saying it was practical to hold the hearings near the detention facility.

At present, Andal Jr. is detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila and he is motored to Camp Crame weekly for the hearings of his case.

Officials of the Philippine National Police funded last March the conversion of what used to be a conference room of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology into a courtroom. Construction work took about a month, said Gonzaga.

The air-conditioned courtroom has been fitted with wooden partitions to mark the bench of the judge, the witness stand and the court stenographers seat. In front of the bench, four long tables on opposing sides of the room serve as seats for the prosecution and defense panels.

At the back of the lawyers seats, four rows looking like church pews are allotted for spectators, while members of the media could take their seats at the far side of the room.

Two doors could be seen near the judges bench. One door leads to a modest, air-conditioned quarters where Solis-Reyes could take a rest during recess. It has a personal bathroom and a two-door wooden cabinet for her belongings.

The next door near the bench leads to the room for court personnel to conduct their business while the court is in session. They could set up shop there, Gonzaga said, but they would have to bring in their own equipment.

Andal Jr. would be detained in one of four cells on the buildings fourth floor, which has been emptied by jail officials for the suspect. The cell, measuring around 64 square meters, has 11 bunk beds made of steel and plywood, and each is painted grey, the official color of the BJMP.

Some of the beds have graffiti scribbled on it, some barely legible with words Batang City Jail and Bahala na Gang, which are among gangs in jails.

At the corner of the cell, three stalls with chest high partitions made of cement blocks serve as toilet and bath space for Andal Jr. Gonzaga said the facility has been provided with constant supply of water from a Manila Water line.

The spacious cell also has excellent ventilation because of the breeze coming from the Laguna de Bay, Gonzaga explained saying there hasnt been a case of heatstroke in the facility, even with the sweltering summer heat.

All in all, the jail has 33 inmates with sentences ranging from months to three years, according to the official. The prisoners used to be locked up in the congested Quezon city jail, Gonzaga said.

Jake Sakayan, 25, an inmate, said he was excited and cautious at the same time about Ampatuans transfer.

Excited because hes a high profile person, but Im cautious because there might be an encounter like some years back when some Abu Sayyaf [members] tried to break free, he said, referring to the bloody attempt of ranking members of the bandit group at the Metro Manila District Jail.

He recalled that the tear gas authorities fired at the prisoners to neutralize the jailbreak hurt in the lungs and the eyes.

In a statement, Taguig Mayor Sigrido Tinga aired his opposition to the transfer, citing the 2005 incident. We are against it and we will continue to oppose this move. I dont think they thought this through.

Sakayans fellow inmate Pablo Sabarillo, 38, said he wasnt scared of Andal Jr., insinuating that criminals from the city like him were tougher than people from the mountains.

Were also tough, he said. But he might not cross paths with the high profile inmate at all, as he is set to be released next week when he completes his sentence.

Gonzaga said Andal Jr. would be separated from other inmates to ensure his security while in detention. He will have a separate time for a walk upstairs, he said referring to an open space in the roof deck, where inmates exercise and spend some time outdoors.

The official said the accused could bring a television set, perhaps as big as a plasma TV, but he would have to share it with other inmates. It should be a common television unit for all, not for personal use.

Asked if Andal Jr. could have a provision for cable TV, Gonzaga said he was unsure about that. Just an antenna first.

US defense exec meets with RP officials

MANILA, Philippines A US defense official arrived in the country Wednesday and met with local defense and intelligence executives, said a spokesperson for the US Embassy.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Garry Reid is here, US said Press Attach Rebecca Thompson in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.

Philippine Daily Inquirer sources not authorized to talk to media said initially that it was Michael Vickers, assistant secretary for defense for Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict and Independent Capabilities, who was scheduled to go to DND and to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

When sought for a confirmation, Thompson told INQUIRER.net in a separate interview, Mr. Vickers has not come but rather, deputy assistant secretary of defense Garry Reid is here.

Reid was welcomed by defense undersecretary Antonio Romero, DND undersecretary for finance and Armed Forces modernization affairs, defense undersecretary Arturo Lumibao, and an unidentified senior military official, a defense source also told INQUIRER.net, adding that Vickers name was initially on the advisory that was circulated around DND.

It was not immediately known why Vickers did not come or if there were talks that took place. But when the Inquirer called Romeros office, his staff said he was attending a meeting.

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales was not present as he had pending matters that required his attention, Inquirer sources said.

Thompson downplayed Reids visit, saying this was part of a routine trip through the Asia-Pacific region.

Vickers is a former member of the US Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to the US Defense Department website.

In the 70s and 80s, Vickers was part of covert action, espionage, and counter-terrorism operations in Central America, the Middle East, and Asia.

The US considers the Philippines as an important ally in its fight against global terrorism and the maintenance of US superiority in the region.

Binay says Arroyo spent P2.5B on travel since '07

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's scheduled trips to the United States and to Spain in the last few months of her term could make her travel bill since 2007 reach P2.5 billion, opposition vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay said Wednesday.

From US, Arroyo leaves for Spain

from mb.com.ph

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left Washington to continue the third leg of her three-nation swing which will be highlighted with a meeting with King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia at the Palacio de la Zarzuela at the Spanish capital of Madrid, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Mrs. Arroyo is "en route to Spain" after her she attended the two-day Nuclear Security Summit which was hosted by United States President Obama in Washington from April 12-13.

Starting her Madrid sojourn, the President will meet with a large delegation of Filipino community in Spain. There are some 50,000 Filipinos living and working in Spain.

The meeting will be held few hours upon her arrival at Madrid's Barajas Airport. She is due to arrive in Madrid at 1:15 a.m. (7:15 p.m. Manila time tonight, April14, for a one-day official visit.)

During her visit, the Spanish King will confer the Premio Internacional Don Quixote de la Mancha on Mrs. Arroyo at his residence for promoting Spanish language in the Philippines. This is the second award received by the President in a span of two days after she also became the recipient of the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award, which drew flak from local and international environmental and religious groups.

Ex-radio reporter shot dead in Ozamiz

MANILA, Philippines - A former radio reporter was shot dead in Ozamiz City in northwestern Mindanao on Wednesday afternoon.  Edwin Sigue was shot dead after unidentified suspects blocked his multicab vehicle at past 3 p.m., according to Ozamiz City police chief Supt. Raul Diones Pasado.

$1: P44.525

$1: P44.525

Euro 1: P60.8538

Peso sustains rally, climbs to P44.525 per dollar

The peso sustained its rally on Wednesday, posting a fresh 20-month record on the back of continued investor optimism on the rescue package for debt-saddled Greece.
The local currency gained another 15 centavos to close at P44.525, beating the P44.72 close on August 13, 2008.
"Its more of the same reasons. Basically its still on the risk appetite of investors brought by the financial aid to Greece. Everybody was actually expecting the peso to sustain its positive performance today," a trader told GMANews.TV.
The peso opened at P44.60 its weakest for the day and climbed to as high as P44.50 against the greenback.
Trade was brisk at P1.05 billion, which the trader traced to central bank intervention.
"There was strong intervention from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas today. It bought a lot of dollars today and traders actually stayed on the sidelines. But eventually, the peso sustained its strength, along with the other currencies in the region," the trader said.
While the outlook for the peso was intact, all eyes would be on the central bank on Thursday, the trader pointed out.
"Tomorrow is going to be the BSPs call," the trader said, adding that the pesos strength would depend much on whether the central bank would allow it to rise further to P44.50 per dollar.

No Filipino casualty in China quake: DFA

MANILA, Philippines - No Filipino has been injured in the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit China's Qinghai province on Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Quake in western China kills 400, buries more (AP)

BEIJING – A series of strong earthquakes struck a mountainous Tibetan area of western China on Wednesday, killing at least 400 people and injuring more than 10,000 as houses made of mud and wood collapsed, officials said. Many more people were trapped and the toll was expected to rise.

The largest quake was recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey as magnitude 6.9. In the aftermath, panicked people, many bleeding from their wounds, flooded the streets of a Qinghai province township where most of the homes had been flattened. Students were reportedly buried inside several damaged schools.

Paramilitary police used shovels to dig through the rubble in the town, footage on state television showed. Officials said excavators were not available and with most of the roads leading to the nearest airport damaged, equipment and rescuers would have a hard time reaching the area. Hospitals were overwhelmed, many lacking even the most basic supplies, and doctors were in short supply.

Downed phone lines, strong winds and frequent aftershocks also hindered rescue efforts, said Wu Yong, a local military chief, who said the death toll "may rise further as lots of houses collapsed."

With many people forced outside, the provincial government said it was rushing 5,000 tents and 100,000 coats and blankets to the mountainous region, where the average daily temperatures were around 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius).

Workers were racing to release water from a reservoir in the disaster area where a crack had formed after the quake to prevent a flood, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

The Wednesday quake, which struck at 7:49 a.m. local time (2349 GMT, 7:49 p.m. EDT), was centered on Yushu county, in the southern part of Qinghai, near Tibet, with a population of about 100,000, mostly herders and farmers.

The USGS recorded six temblors in less than three hours, all but one registering 5.0 or higher. The ChinaEarthquake Networks Center measured the largest quake's magnitude at 7.1. Qinghai averages more than five earthquakes a year of at least magnitude 5.0, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. They normally do not cause much damage in the sparsely populated province.

Residents fled as the ground shook, toppling houses made of mud and wood, as well as temples, gas stations, electric poles and the top of a Buddhist pagoda in a park, witnesses and state media said. The quake also triggered landslides, Xinhua said.

"Nearly all the houses made of mud and wood collapsed. There was so much dust in the air, we couldn't see anything," said Ren Yu, general manager of Yushu Hotel in Jiegu. "There was a lot of panic. People were crying on the streets. Some of our staff, who were reunited with their parents, were also in tears."

More than 100 guests of the hotel, which was relatively undamaged, were evacuated to open spaces such as public squares, Ren told The Associated Press by phone. After transporting guests to safety, hotel staff then helped in rescue efforts in other buildings, Ren said.

"We pulled out 70 people, but some of them died on the way to the hospital," Ren said, adding other survivors were put in tents in the hotel yard while they awaited assistance.

The death toll rose to about 400 by afternoon, according to CCTV. Emergency official Pubucairen, who goes by only one name, was quoted as saying that the number of injured has risen to more than 10,000. The official said rescuers were treating the injured at hospitals, race tracks and sports stadiums.

Yushu and its environs are among the Tibetan areas caught up in the anti-government protests that swept the region in March 2008. Tensions simmered for several months, during which China closed the region to foreigners for months.

CCTV reported that soon after the quake, troops secured banks, oil depots and caches of explosives.

Yushu was for centuries home to important Buddhist monasteries and a trading hub and gateway to central Tibet. In recent years, the government has poured investment into Yushu, opening an airport last year and building a highway to the provincial capital of Xining.

The earthquake comes a little less than two years after a magnitude-7.9 quake in neighboring Sichuan province left almost 90,000 people dead or missing.

That quake flattened several schools, killing thousands of students. Poor design, shoddy construction and the lax enforcement of building codes were found to be rampant.

In Jiegu, the main town in Yushu county, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the epicenter, the local fire brigade was trying to rescue 20 students stuck inside a school, Kang Zifu, head of the rescue team, told state television. It did not say what type of school it was.

Five students were killed and others trapped in a primary school, a teacher told Xinhua, saying morning classes had not yet started when the quake struck. Another official said students were buried at several primary schools.

More than 85 percent of houses had collapsed in Jiegu, which Tibetans call Gyegu, while large cracks have appeared on buildings still standing, the official Xinhua News Agency cited Zhuohuaxia, a local publicity official, as saying.

"The streets in Jiegu are thronged with panic and full of injured people, with many of them bleeding from their injuries," said Zhuohuaxia, who goes by one name.

A monk named Luo Song from a monastery in Yushu county said his sister who worked at a local orphanage told him three children were sent to a hospital but the facilities lacked equipment.

"She said the hospitals are facing a lot of difficulty right now because there are no doctors, they have only bandages, they can't give injections, they can't put people on intravenous drips," the monk said by phone while on a visit to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Rural hospitals typically are not well equipped.

The provincial emergency office told Xinhua that 700 soldiers were trying to clear the rubble and rescue buried people and that 1,000 more troops would be dispatched.

A local military official, Shi Huajie, told CCTV rescuers were working with limited equipment.

"The difficulty we face is that we don't have any excavators. Many of the people have been buried and our soldiers are trying to pull them out with human labor," Shi said. "It is very difficult to save people with our bare hands."

Cyclone kills 68 people in eastern India (AP)

CALCUTTA, India – A cyclone packing winds of more than 100 mph (160 kph) demolished tens of thousands of mud huts in northeastern India, killing at least 76 people, officials said Wednesday.

The cyclone struck Tuesday night in northeastern parts of West Bengal and Bihar states, uprooting trees and snapping telephone and electricity lines, West Bengal Civil Defense Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said. Hundreds of people were injured.

Television footage showed uprooted trees lying across shanties and sheets of corrugated metal ripped from the roofs of homes. Small children sat outside their damaged huts as parents tried to salvage their belongings from inside.

The cyclone demolished nearly 50,000 mud huts in West Bengal and more than 1,000 in Bihar, officials said.

The worst-hit villages in West Bengal state were Hematabad, Raiganj and Kiran Dighi, where police and rescue teams have recovered 39 bodies, Ramanuj Chakraborty, a senior local official told The Associated Press.

Another 37 people were killed in the northeastern Bihar districts of Araria, Kishenganj and Purnea, top Bihar state official Nitish Kumar told reporters.

By Wednesday evening, authorities had begun rushing medical teams and food supplies to the cyclone-hit area, Chakraborty said. Temporary shelters were also being set up for those who had lost their homes, he said.

A prison wall collapsed in Bihar's Araria district, forcing authorities to shift more than 600 inmates to another prison, Kumar said.

Cviraa nabs 5 golds

TARLAC - The athletes who are in the last year are sure a mark in the Central Visayas Region Athletic Association (Cviraa) books after pulling off dramatic performances yesterday in the Palarong Pambansa.

Unso sets NCR machine in motion

TARLAC CITY – The National Capital Region ended a two-day shutout in athletics with two gold medals Wednesday in the Palarong Pambansa.

Patrick Unso, son of former track star Renato, broke the meet record in the boys' secondary 400-meter hurdles to give the Big City its first victory in the centerpiece event.

Unso clocked 54.1 seconds to best the previous mark of 55.7 seconds set by Jorge Pinanonang of Central Visayas in 2005.

Western Visayas' Robert Francisco, whom Unso overtook in the last 200 meters, settled for the silver in 56.9 seconds followed by Cagayan Valley's Alejandro Mendioro (57.4).

Unso now sets his sights on the 110-meter hurdles and the high jump.

John Robertson Madayag gave NCR its second gold in the 400m hurdles (elementary boys) in 1:04.47 seconds, beating Richard Roselim of Northern Mindanao(1:04.90) and Rey Rublon of Mimaropa (1:05.90).

Meanwhile, Alysa Marie Andrade of Western Visayas chalked up her second meet record in the elementary girls' long jump.

A three-gold medalist in the regional meet held last March in Aklan, Andrade smashed the 10-year-old record of Angeline Cabreros which stood at 4.99 meters.

WV coach Alan Urate was elated with Andrade's performance.

"Masayang-masaya ako dahil nanalo siya at record pa.Wala na akong mahihingi pa. nagawa niya yung dapat gawin," said Urate.

A fifth record in athletics fell by the wayside when Central Visayas' Gia Bucag topped the girls' elementary javelin throw in 40.63 meters.

The previous standard was held by Elena Camiring of Western Visayas (39.63) two years ago.

Four meet records have so far been broken in athletics.

Calabarzon cornered two gold medals courtesy of Gina Umali in the girls' secondary 400 meters (1:05.7) and Rocena Chua in the girls elementary 400m hurdles (1:11.2).

Following its 10-gold medal romp in swimming late Tuesday, the NCR pulled away from the medal race with 17 gold medals.

NCR also triumphed in secondary softball girls at the expense of Central Visayas, 1-0, behind a two-hitter by Agape Llave.

The Big City softball team, represented by Quezon City-based Miriam School, recorded its second straight shutout win since blanking ARMM, 5-0, in Day 1.

NCR elementary and second baseball teams also advanced to the quarterfinals with similar 3-0 records.

Coke snaps B-Meg's win run

Games Friday (Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. – Coca-Cola vs Rain or Shine
7:30 p.m. – Talk 'N Text vs Barako Bull

Coca-Cola import James Penny left midway of the fourth with a deep cut on his right brow but that did not stop the Tigers from handing the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados their first setback in the PBA Fiesta Cup Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

With Gary David and veteran center Asi Taulava making the big plays at crunch time, the Tigers carved out a 79-76 win to tie idle San Miguel Beer for the lead at 4-1.

David scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter while Taulava contributed 11 points, including a tear-drop shot that gave Coke a 76-70 lead with 1:05 left to play.

The Tigers' woeful 2-of-7 shooting from free throw area allowed the Llamados to close the gap.

In that stretch, B-Meg import Lorenzo Wade made two free throws, while James Yap split his own and Niño Canaleta buried a three-pointer that made it a two-point game, 76-78, with 20.5 seconds to go.

B-Meg actually had the chance to tie or take the lead when Dennis Espino turned the ball over, but the veteran forward made up for that mistake when he forced Wade to a jump-ball, and eventually winning the tap.

David, fouled by Yap with 1.8 seconds left, made his first foul shot and missed the second. Roger Yap grabbed the rebound, but with no timeout left, he was forced to throw the ball from the other court for a possible three-point shot but was way off the target.

"That was a really character defining moment for us," Coca-Cola mentor Bo Perasol said. "To get back on the game although we didn't have Penny. I think the energy of the players and determination to fight for slot to be on top really showed."

"Everybody else contributed on their little ways. I hope we can carry playing this way," Perasol said, adding that an offensive foul should have been called right away on Wade when his elbow made contact on Penny, who finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds.

First Game
Coca-Cola 79 – Penny 20, David 18, Macapagal
15, Taulava 11, Lanete 5, Ross 4, Gonzales 4, Rizada 2, Allera 0, Cruz 0, Espino 0.

B-Meg Derby Ace 76 – Wade 26, Yap 11, Canaleta 9, Yap 7, Simon 6, Reavis 5, Maierhofer 4, Artadi 4, Allado 4, Pingris 0.
Quarters: 20-17, 34-33, 50-57, 79-76.

Lapu-Lapu tourism body to keep "Kadaugan" free from politicians

Tourism Cultural and Historical Affairs Commissioner and former Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Damian Gomez yesterday assured that the celebration of the "Kadaugan sa Mactan" won't be used to promote political candidates and their platforms.

Dismissed case vs Korina resurfaces; Mar slams 'black propaganda'

Hindi lamang mga kandidato ang binabato ng putik! Pati lumang reklamo sa misis ni vice presidential bet Mar Roxas na si Korina Sanchez, muling binuhay. Itinanggi naman ni Sen. Loren Legarda na may kinalaman siya sa muling paglantad ng dating kasambahay ni Sanchez.

Pacquiao gets support from Mosley in Congress bid

Puspusan ang pangangampanya ni Manny Pacquiao para sa pagkakongresista ng Sarangani. Suportado naman ng boksingerong si Sugar Shane Mosley ang kandidatura ni Pacman.

Mommy Dionisia has last say on Pacquiao's career

MANILA, Philippines – "People's Champ" Manny Pacquiao expressed his gratitude to "Sugar" Shane Mosley, who praised the 7-division world champion for trying to embark on a political career.

Kim Chiu's dream house takes form

from mb.com.ph

Young star Kim Chiu is excited over the dream house she bought for her 20th birthday on April 19.

"May form na (ang bahay). Nakakatuwa kasi sa lahat ng hirap, dugo't pawis, ito ang kalalabasan. Dream house...parang Barbie house," she said on "Showbiz News Ngayon April 13.

Whenever the "Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition" winner looks back on her journey in show business, she still couldn't believe she has gone this far.

"16 [years old] ako nagsimula, ngayon 20 na ako pero nandito pa rin ako [kaya] sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng taong tumulong sa akin. Ang wish ko, sana tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang career [at] magkaroon pa ng maraming TV shows," she said.

Kim said she "warned" her perennial leading man Gerald Anderson against giving her an expensive gift.

"Sinasabi ko sa kanya, 'Hoy, 'wag mo akong bibigyan ng nakakagulantang na regalo, nakakahiya!' Sabi ko, tama na 'yung pink na kotse pang-Pasko, pang-birthday, pang lahat ng okasyon 'yon."

Kim said she won't hold a party on her birthday because she doesn't have time for one.

"May taping kami ng 'Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo.' Buong week may work. Okay lang, mas gusto ko nga 'yon."

KC gets Sharon's designer bag, diamond earrings as b-day gifts

from mb.com.ph

KC Concepcion's birthday was made even more special with a special gift from her mega mom Sharon Cuneta: A designer bag and diamond earrings.

"Siguro, bilang importanteng taon naman din, she decided na isa sa mga bag niya [na] lagi niyang ginagamit [ibinigay niya sa akin]. So, mas mahalaga pa nga 'yung gano'n na ginamit ng mom mo," she shared on "Showbiz News Ngayon," April 13.

Mega mom Sharon and grandmother Elaine Cuneta had to persuade KC to accept the diamond earrings because the young star has no penchant for such.

"Nagagalit [nga] 'yung lola ko saka 'yung mom ko. Bakit ayaw ko raw maghikaw? Sabi niya, 'No, you have to wear earrings, you're a woman.'"

The thoughtfulness has moved KC to appreciate family even more. "Mamahalin man o hindi, kapag pinasa sa 'yo ng nanay mo, tatay mo, ate mo, lola mo, iba 'yung feeling. Para talagang gusto mong alagaan."

Apart from the material gifts, KC also treasures the birthday cards her younger sisters gave her. She also cherished her conversation with her younger sister, Chloe [daughter of Gabby Concepcion and Jenny Syquia], who called all the way from Sweden.

"[It's] one of the best gifts that I received this year. 'Yung Facebook na dati-dati pa college, in-open ko uli para mahanap siya. Nag-reply siya sa akin. Sabi niya, "Hi KC, this is Chloe. Wow, I can't believe that you remember me. Hope to see you soon". Masarap kasi nga, siya na lang sa lahat ng mga kapatid ko ang hindi ko nakikita. Hay naku, tiningnan ko 'yung mga picture niya, magkamukha kami," she said.

KC looks forward to seeing Chloe soon. "Hopefully this year, magka-opportunity kami."

KC's birthday celebration was spent on a beach with close friends and family.

Sam Pinto turns down 'Wowowee' hosting job

MANILA, Philippines - "Pinoy Big Brother" alum Sam Pinto has turned down an offer to become a host of popular noontime show "Wowowee" to concentrate on her acting career.

The farmer's daughter who went to New York and moved the world

from mb.com.ph

Not once in her simple life in the province of northern Samar did high school senior Donnady Coquila Lao imagine she would ride a plane, travel to New York City, much more speak before an important gathering of state leaders and influential personalities.

But yes she did, and yes, she even made quite an impression with her speeches as one of the youngest delegates at the recent 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York.

Fifteen-year-old Donnady, a farmer's daughter, represented Plan Philippines, an NGO that caters to children in need, and touched the hearts of the audience with her story and effort to help her fellow youth in her hometown in Lope de Vega.

The UNCSW discussed ways to implement the provisions of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, which addresses issues such as gender equality and the rights of women and children, particularly in poor countries.

Donnady shyly shared the stage with fellow panelists and participants that included UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon; Queen Rania of Jordan; broadcast journalist Katie Couric, Finland Minister of Gender Equality Affairs Stephen Wallin; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; Charlotte Bunch, founding director and senior scholar at the Women's Global Leadership and Rutgers University; and Audun Lysbakken, Norwegian Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

They all raved about Donnady's powerful voice, and her relevant message.

THE CYCLE OF POVERTY

Donnady was taken to this global stage by a simple essay on the global economic crisis which she wrote.

Corazon Obra, area supervisor of the Northern Samar Program Unit of Plan Philippines says Donnady's one-page essay was chosen among many written by students from various public schools because it was very clear, concise, and meaningful.

"Bago kami magsulat ng essay sinabi sa amin na may chance daw kaming makapunta ng ibang bansa pag napili yung essay, kabilang na ang New York, USA. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, 'maniwala ka sa Plan! Iniisip ko na hindi totoo yun at panaginip lang na magsusulat ka ng essay tapos makakaalis ka na papunta ng ibang bansa," reveals Donnady, also the editor-in-chief of Lope de Vega National High School publication.

In that essay, Donnady wrote about the cycle of poverty that girls go through in her place. Such cycle begins in childhood and continues until the girls get married and have children.

"Pag may economic crisis, mahirap mapalaki yung bata. Una yung health niya mahirap ma-provide, tapos education. Pag walang education, mag-iisip na yung bata kung pano siya mamuhay. Yung mga inosenteng babae pag walang education habang lumalaki naiisip nilang kumita ng pera through prostitution, by going to Manila to work as housekeepers or storekeepers. Tapos pangatlong stage, pagiging wife. Pag hindi ka educated yung mga anak mo, magiging tulad mo rin. The cycle of poverty continues to be passed on from generation to generation," Donnady explains.

TRANSFORMATION

What was surprising though, according to Lydia Domingo, gender adviser of Plan Philippines, was that this shy, soft-spoken youth leader has transformed into a confident and powerful speaker at engagements which most often required her to deliver impromptu speeches. She has that "Pacquaio magic" which wowed her audience, describes Domingo.

Among the events where Donnady was a panelist/ speaker were the Universal Day of the Girl, a Plan International side event; UNICEF side event dubbed "Making Women Remember Girls," and the UN reception where panelists tackled how additional resources being allocated by the UN Foundation for adolescent girls can impact on them.

The youngest in a brood of five, Donnady comes from a poor family that survives on the meager income of her father, a farmer and a barangay official.

Since the death of her two siblings, Donnady's father has become protective of her because she is asthmatic. But despite her condition which often gets in the way of her studies, Donnady has been a consistent honor student and graduated valedictorian in elementary. In high school, she joined many interschool and regional contests on essay writing and math, giving pride and honor to the remote school which once topped the National Achievement Test (NAT) in 2007.

PEERLESS

Donnady is also active in school as secretary of the school's Supreme Student Government (SSG) and a peer counselor and mentor. She gives tutorial lessons to fellow students, or serves as substitute teacher. She also counsels her colleagues on family problems and on pursuing their goals. On top of these, she regularly writes in her school paper about global issues and enjoins the youth to be proactive.

"Pinaka problema sa lugar namin yung kawalan ng interes ng mga estudyante na mag-aral. Kahit pa sabihin ng mga parents nila, madalas napipilitan lang sila at hindi sineseryoso ang pag-aaral. Nag-aaral lang sila kasi uso. In my own way, sinusubok kong mabago ito, sa pagsusulat at counseling. Kahit 10 lang sa 50 na classmates ko na mabago ang isip, isang accomplishment na para sa akin yun," discloses Donnady.

LESSONS FROM NEW YORK

Donnady dreams of becoming a nurse someday. She has applied for a college scholarship at the Department of Science and Technology just so she can finish college.

"Pangarap ko hindi lang basta makatapos sa pag-aaral, kundi matuto. Kasi puwedeng makatapos ka pero wala ka pa ring natutunan. Sayang lang ang pag-aaral mo. Gusto ko ma-gain yung knowledge na dapat kong makuha. Sa family ko, gusto kong matulungan sila sa financial needs," relates Donnady who recently graduated at the top of her class.

She says she will always look back at her accomplishments in New York which has given her the strength and drive to face life's problems and the future with much enthusiasm.

"Natutunan ko kung paano makisalamuha at makisama sa mga matataas na tao. Una mahirap kasi tingin ko sa sarili ko napakababa lang. Natutunan ko ding magtiwala sa kakayahan ko. I also learned how to be confident. Naging proud din ako sa sarili ko because I was able to represent my country well," ends Donnady.

More plagiarized speeches from MVP

MANILA, Philippines - Prominent businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan may have been delivering speeches with plagiarized passages since 2007 without him even realizing it.

Blogger Katrina Stuart Santiago, in a public Facebook note, first noted everal similarities between speeches of Pangilinan and other well-known figures such as Barack Obama, Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. 

Columnist and book author Jessica Zafra (in her blog jessicarulestheuniverse.com) and other bloggers, such as thenashman.blogspot.com and saintbarry.wordpress.com, followed suit, citing examples of Pangilinan's speech writers' apparent plagiarism of other people's speeches.

"MVP needs to seriously fire his speechwriters. Or make them write 'I will quote my sources responsibly' 100 times in a chalkboard. Or better, he should start writing his own speeches -- a man of his caliber should be able to do so in a jiffy," the user, called Saint Barry, said in the blog.

Here are some of them:

Pangilinan's keynote remarks during the inauguration of Ateneo's new Rizal Library, January 2010 (see full speech here):

Libraries are as old as civilization. From the 30,000 clay tablets found in the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, to the computers of a modern library -- stretch more than five thousand years of man's insatiable desire to establish written immortality, insure the continuity of culture and civilization, to share his wisdom, his dreams, his memory, and his story with the rest of mankind, and with future generations.

Dr. Vartan Gregorian of Carnegie Corp.'s keynote remarks during the White House Conference on School Libraries (see full speech here):

Libraries are as old as civilization-- the object of pride, envy and sometimes senseless destruction. From the clay tablets of Babylon to the computers of a modern library stretch more than five thousand years of man's and woman's insatiable desire to establish written immortality and to insure the continuity of culture and civilization, to share their memory, their wisdom, their strivings, their fantasies, their longings and their experiences with mankind and future generations.

--------

Pangilinan's keynote remarks at the 8th Asian forum on Corporate Social Responsibility (after typhoons "Ondoy" and "Pepeng"), November 2009 (see full speech here):

From the streets of Marikina to the flooded plains of Pangasinan , Filipinos should write the next chapter in their stories. Together, we should ensure that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and better prepared for the tragedies that may come.

Obama's remarks at the 4th anniversary of hurricane "Katrina," August 2009 (see full speech here):

From the streets of New Orleans to the Mississippi coast, folks are beginning the next chapter in their American stories. And together, we can ensure that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come.

-------

Pangilinan's commencement address at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, March 2007 (see news article on the speech here):

As for myself, I have always believed in the strenuous life, in the life of labor and effort. The highest form of success comes not to the man who desires easy peace or inherits instant wealth, but to the man who does not shrink from risks, from hardship, or from bitter toil.

Roosevelt's speech at the Hamilton Club, April 1899 (see full speech here):

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that the highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

Where it all started

Pangilinan first got into hot water after several posts from blogs and social networking site Facebook compared a speech that he delivered during Ateneo's commencement exercises last month to speeches of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and J. K. Rowling. (Read Pangilinan's speech here).

They found out that parts of his speech were lifted from passages of other graduation remarks, something that Pangilinan immediately apologized for.

"I had taken a look at the side-by-side comparison at Facebook, and must admit to this mistake. For this, I wish to express my sincerest apology to you, the University and to the 2010 graduating class," Pangilinan said in a letter to Ateneo President Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J.

"I have had some help in the drafting of my remarks, but I take full and sole responsibility for them," he added.

Pangilinan, currently the chairman of the Ateneo's board of trustees, has offered to "retire from his official duties" as a result of the incident.

The Board, however, rejected his resignation. Nebres said what took place was not intentional on the part of Pangilinan since it was a speech writer who drafted the address in question.

"The Board accepts Mr. Pangilinan's apology as the appropriate response to this unfortunate incident," Nebres said in a statement.

Mixed views

The Ateneo board's decision to reject Pangilinan's resignation, however, did not sit well with some people.

One of them was Andrew Crane, a business ethics professor at York University in Canada, who said that Ateneo has "not demonstrated that it is willing to reclaim the moral high ground."

"Ateneo should be taking this opportunity to reinforce its commitment to academic integrity, and making a stand about the importance of tackling plagiarism, not spending its efforts convincing the disgraced businessman to reconsider his decision to resign," Crane wrote to abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak via email.

Others, like the Ateneo board, were satisfied with Pangilinan's apology and offer to resign from his post. United Kingdom-based corporate social responsibility strategic advisor Mallen Baker, for one, said what he did is "a genuine act of leadership."

"Pangilinan is mindful of how such controversies can mushroom, and the academia connection sends a message beyond the gravity of the offense. So it wasn't disproportionate to offer to resign," Baker said.

Blessed Peter Gonzalez (April 14, 2010)

St. Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13th century to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused.

Thursday: heavy rain shower, Max Temp: 30°C (86°F), Min Temp: 27°C (81°F)

Max Temp: 30°C (86°F), Min Temp: 27°C (81°F), Wind Direction: ENE, Wind Speed: 12mph, Visibility: good, Pressure: 1012mb, Humidity: 72%, Sunrise: 05:33PHT, Sunset: 17:54PHT

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