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

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 20, 2010 Major News Stories

6 oil firms to cut gasoline prices Tuesday

Two major oil firms will cut the price of their gasoline products by P0.50 per liter starting Tuesday, April 20.

Price adjustments for Chevron, Phoenix Petroleum, SeaOil, Eastern Petroleum and Jetti's will take effect at 12: 01 a.m., while Petron will implement the rollback at 6 a.m.

The oil companies said the adjustments were made to reflect movements in the international oil market.

Employers reject wage hike

MANILA, Philippines - Business remain opposed to a wage hike this year, citing a fragile economic recovery, preferring non-wage benefits for workers instead.

Unemployment a 'time bomb' for RP, warns ADB


UNEMPLOYMENT in the Philippines is a "time bomb" with about 52 million Filipinos expected to seek jobs by 2030, according to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Tomas to allow work to go on; suspension may be lifted soon

The indefinite suspension order issued by the Office of the Building Officials against the construction of the two-storey Gaisano Capital building in barangay Tisa may be lifted soon following Mayor Tomas Osmeña's statement that he will allow the construction to continue provided that the contractor would make the assurance that the building is safe.

Mayor Tom to go 'gentle' on owners, but not on contractor

THE Gaisanos, who own the building in Bara-ngay Tisa where a firewall collapsed last April 8, can expect "gentle" treatment from Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, but it does not mean the City will not file a case against them or their contractor.

Cabillon to question dismissal of libel case against Vidal, et al

Former Marian monk Venancio Cabillon will seek reconsideration on the decision of the provincial prosecutor's office dismissing the libel case he filed against Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

Church to move US priest in Bohol over sex scandal

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - Church leaders in the Catholic Philippines said on Monday they would relocate an American priest after they found out he was convicted of sexual misconduct when he was a seminarian in 1988.

Father Joseph Skelton is to be moved from his ministry in central Tagbilaran city where he has served for years to a still undisclosed place, an official at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.

"The CBCP will issue an official statement on the matter within the next few days," a spokesman for the conference who did not want to be named, told AFP.

The spokesman declined to comment further, but referred AFP to a story published on the conference's official website at the weekend.

That article also said Skelton would be moved, but emphasised he was due for transfer to another assignment within the Tagbilaran diocese before news of the scandal broke.

The website story on the website said the bishops only found out in November that Skelton was convicted of sexual misconduct when he was a seminarian in Detroit, Michigan, in 1988.

"Had I known of his conviction, I would not have ordained him," the website quoted Tagbilaran's former bishop, Leopoldo Tumulak, as saying.

Tumulak served in Tagbilaran from 1992 to 2005, and it was during this period that Skelton was ordained.

Tumulak described Skelton as "happy, contented and very particular in celebrating the liturgy meaningfully and well," the website said.

Skelton has refused to discuss the case, according to the bishops' website, and calls by AFP to the Tagbilaran diocese on Monday went unanswered.

The conference did not give other details about Skelton's background and no explanation was given as to why he was allowed to continue to serve after his history of sexual abuse was uncovered., a US-based non-profit website that tracks sexual abuses in the church, said he resigned from the Michigan seminary in 1988 after pleading guilty to abusing a 15 year-old boy.

The Philippines is Asia's bastion of Catholicism, and details about Skelton past have surfaced amid a string of sexual abuse cases rocking the church.

Eversley union vs. two doctors

Members of the Eversley Child Sanitaruim Employees Union are asking the regional director of the Department of Health -7 to place under preventive suspension their Chief of Hospital and their Chief of Clinics following charges filed against them for alleged administrative offenses.

NAPOLCOM resets exams due to election

The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) has reset its entrance and promotional examinations for May 31 due to the general elections on May 10.

39 election, 35 rebel hotspots in Visayas

Security officials yesterday said that out of the 114 areas in the Visayas that they are closely monitoring, 39 are identified as election hotspots while 35 others are considered insurgency hotspots.

60 cops to secure possible poll conflict areas in east Visayas

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Eastern Visayas has assigned 60 policemen to areas where possible election-related incidents might occur during the May 10 elections.

The policemen have been tasked to prevent the eruption of violence in these areas during elections and immediately after the elections, PNP-8 community relations chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Cubillo said on Monday.

"We want the conduct of the elections in these areas to be peaceful and orderly as possible. That is why, these policemen are now on standby, ready to be deployed to any of these areas," Cubillo said.

The 60 policemen are assigned at the regional police headquarters located at Camp Ruperto Kangleon, Palo town in Leyte.

Cubillo also said that if needed, the PNP regional headquarters would assign its administrative personnel to conflict areas.

The PNP-8 earlier identified at least 54 areas where election-related violence could happen due to either intense political rivalry among candidates or the presence of armed men who were controlled by the politicians or were members of the New People's Army.

Twenty one of these areas are in Samar, 16 in Northern Samar, eight in Eastern Samar, six in Leyte, two in Biliran and one in Southern Leyte.

Cubillo said that so far, the entire region remained "peaceful" just less than a month before the conduct of the May 10 elections.

He said the police and the military in the region were coordinating with the regional office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make sure that the delivery of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the region would be safe.

The Comelec has not disclosed the dates of the delivery of the PCOS machines in the region for security reasons.

Comelec rules 'inadequate' for automated polls: judge

THE Commission on Elections' (Comelec) existing rules are "inadequate" to guide judges in resolving protests in the country's first automated election.

So said retired Court of Apeals justice Teresita Dy-Liacco Flores, a former Comelec commissioner who now lectures for the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja).

"I am afraid that when our judges are swamped with cases for revision of ballots, the rules are incomplete," she said during a forum with judges from all over the Visayas yesterday.

"We will update the judges as soon as new rules are available, even through electronic means," she said.

Retired Cebu judge Fortunato de Gracia Jr., Philja liaison officer for the Visayas and Mindanao, said yesterday's activity was to brief judges on important points with the
automation of the polls.

Over a hundred Municipal and Regional Trial Court judges attended, although two left early.

Flores said that while much has been said about automating the process of casting and counting ballots, processes like revision of ballots remain "manual and visual."

This, she said, places judges in the thick of things.

Republic Act 9369, the law which authorized Comelec to conduct an automated election, is silent on the subject of election protests.

RA 8046, which authorized the Comelec to conduct pilot-testing three times in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, relies on existing rules.

"The pertinent provisions of Batas Pambansa 881 and other election laws shall, whenever applicable, govern matters involving election contest/protests," it said.

The Comelec en banc issued last month its rules for the May 10 automated elections, in Resolution 8804.

But even then, Flores said, there still seems to be too much "reliance on the programming of the machine."

She cited how votes can be invalidated simply because the slot a voter should shade is not completely blackened. The rules do not state whether or not the vote should be considered valid during recount.

An election protest is defined as a petition questioning the election return of a victor.

For single-slot posts, only the candidate with the second or third highest number of votes can file the protest. For multi-slot positions, only the candidates within four ranks from after the winning group can file the protest.

The protest should be filed within 10 days of the proclamation of the winner.

According to Resolution 8804, the protestant should identify, in his or her petition, the protested precincts and protested votes through the Statement of Votes by Precinct.

The protest should also include a detailed specification of acts committed or omissions complained of while showing the electoral frauds, anomalies and irregularities in the protested precincts.

The protestee will have five days to answer the petition or file a counter-protest.

The counter-protest, just like the original protest, will carry the identified counter-protested precincts and votes.

Gibo backers in Cebu today

Governors and congressmen supporting Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro will hold a strategy meeting in Cebu today to consolidate their forces for the final push in their campaign.

Kusug-NP rally sa hapon; artista nia

MAGBAHA sa mga artista karong adlawa dinhi sa Sugbo tungod sa duha ka dagkong mga rally nga himuon sa Nacionalista Party nga tambongan ni Nacionalista Party presidential bet Manny Villar.

Ang rally himuon sa mga siyudad sa Sugbo ug Talisay nga tambungan sa mga kandidato sa Kusug pinangulohan ni kanhi mayor Alvin Garcia ug sa tanan nga mga kandidato sa Alayon-NP sa unang distrito.

Alas 4 karong hapon ang rally himuon sa Cebu Coliseum ug sa mga alas 6 sa gabii mosunod sab ang rally sa Tabunok, Talisay city.

Plano unta sa Kusog nga himuon ang rally sa may Fuente Osmeña aron daghang tawo ang makatambong apan matod ni Garcia nga nisabot na lang sila nga di mahatagan og permit gumikan kay rush hour na man ug makahuot lang sa trapiko.

Tibuok slate sa Kusog ang motambong sa rally samtang di pa siguro kon ang tibuok line-up ba usab sa NP ang mosalmot.

Gipaabot nga mamulong sa rally sila si Villar ug nag-unang kandidato sa Kusog sama ni Garcia ingon man kandidato sa pagka-kongresista sa south ug north district sa siyudad nga sila si negusyante Jonathan Guardo ug Barangay Kapitan Mary Ann delos Santos.

Apan gawas sa pagpakigpulong, duna say idalit nga kalingawan sa rally kay dunay mga showbiz personality ang gidapit aron molingaw sa mga supporter nga naglakip kanila ni Jessa Zaragosa, Randy Santiago, Mae Rivera, bandang 6 Cycle Mind ug uban pa.

Kini maoy unang higayon nga dunay ang NP ug Kusog sukad gisugdan ang campaign period. Hinuon nakapahigayon na og rally ang NP sa Mandaue City, apan wa pa sila magkahiusa niadto sa Kusug.

Matod ni Garcia nga dugay na siyang nidapit kang Villar apan karon nalang gyud kini nakalugar.

"Actually we don't need a major rally kay ang among gi-concentrate ang mga pulong-pulong sa kabarangayan. Pero amo ning gihimo para sa among mga supporter," pasabot ni Garcia.Gidapit ni Garcia ang mga supporter sa Kusug ug Nacionalista Party nga magsul-ob og orange color.

Samtang si Richel Bacaltos, campaign manager sa Alayo-NP sa Talisay nagkanayon nga dunay re-routing pasado alas 5 sa hapon hangtod mahuman ang rally.

Ang mga de pasaherong mga sakyanan di makasulod sa Tabunok, apan mangita og laing agianan nga maoy kaagian sa mga de pasaherong mga sakyanan.

Ang pribadong mga sakyanan mahimong makasulod pa sa Tabunok.Ang mga de pasaherong jeep ug traysikol gihangyo nga di moparada sa Tabunok ug mangita kini og laing lugar nga ilang kaparadahan. 

`Lapok campaign' ilusad

Charmaine P. Lirazan & Joselito Manabat-UP Intern l Sun.Star Superbalita

TUNGOD sa pagmakuli sa Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) pakigharong sa Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusog) aron tubagon ang mga nag-unang isyo ilabina na ang sa SRP, mopagawas nalang ang Kusog karong semanaha og TV ads nga magpakita sa tinud-anay nga kahimtang sa siyudad.

Kagahapon gilusad ang "Lapok campaign" diin gipakita niini nga daw sama sa lapok ang SRP nga gibayran og P800 million matag tuig apan wa pa mabawi ang investment ug ang resulta sa pagsige og bayad sa dakong utang mao ang pagkabalda sa mga basic services.

Si Jonathan Guardo nga niangkong maoy nipundo sa TV ads niingon nga dugay na silang nihagit og debate sa BOPK aron unta masayran sa mga Sugbuanon kon unsay tinuod nga estado sa siyudad ug aron sa ingon magiyahan ang mga botante kon kinsay angayang piliong mga opisyal nga sunod nga moduma sa dakbayan apan giisnab iang kini.

"Ang kuwarta nga gi-allocate for basic services gisuyop sa SRP. Tungod ana wa nay nabilin nga pundo alang sa basic services," pasabot ni Guardo.

Tumong usab sa pagpagawas sa TV ads mao nga maalkontra ang mga pamahayag sa mayor nga ang siyudad daghan og kuwarta.

"We are trying to show you the real state of the city because Mayor Osmena has been projecting a very rosy picture of the city. That we have so much surplus pero the real state of the city right now, the city is really suffering. Naa silay nakita nga kuwarta sa Filinvest ug sa SM pero unsa may ilang gihimo, imbes i-appropriate for basic services ang gihimo nila they're into vote buying spree," nagkanayon si Guardo.

Apan si Osmena dihang gikuhaan og reaksyon sa Lapok campaign nisumbalik og pasangil nga ang Kusog maoy naghimog lapok gumikan sa ilang mga poster nga gipamilit sa mga pader nga giingong maoy nakahugaw sa siyudad.

Apan kini gisumbalik og pahid ni kanhi mayor Alvin Garcia ngadto kang Osmena gumikan kay matod niini mas daghan og poster ang BOPK itandi sa Kusog.

"Naay isyo iya rang bugal-bugalan. Why doesn't he answer the question head on? Why not stick to the issue? Ing-ana na siya kon way tarong tubag iyang i-divert. He's good at diverting issue," nagkanayon si Garcia.

Kon modaog, matod ni Guardo nga mopasar siya og balaudnon nga magmugna og SRP Development Authority nga maoy moduma sa SRP sama sa usa ka private corporation ug di lang kini dumalaon og usa ka tawo sama sa gihimo karon ni Osmena ug wa pa kini master plan.

"SRP, as it is intended, should be a catalyst of economic growth, create jobs for the people and should not financially burden the city. I want SRP to succeed that is why we need change," ang pamahayag sa Lapok campaign.

Si Osmeña niingon nga kon gilimpyuhan ni Garcia sud lang sa duha ka mga semana ang siyudad human sa Sinulog, iya ning gihimo sud lang sa duha ka mga oras.

Matod niya nga bisan unsay gisaad nga buhaton sa iyang mga kaatbang sa pulitika, iya ning doblehon o pil-on pa sa makadaghan kon siyay pahimuon.

Iya sab nga gisumbalik si Guardo pagpangutana kon tinud-anay ba siyang concern sa kalimpyo sa siyudad.

"Does he really care about the cleanliness of the city? If he does, I can be better than him,"siya nagkanayon.

Blanco mihimakak nga toa nang Villar

KUSGANON nga gipanghimakak sa bise-mayor sa lungsod sa Ronda, Sugbo ang aligasyon nga uban siya sa mga mayor mayor sa segundo distrito nga ningtapon sa kampo ni Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Senador Manny Villar.

Si Bise Mayor Mariano Blanco atol sa press conference sa Kapitolyo nikompirmar nga adunay siyay gipirmahan nga papel sa miaging semana, apan wa siya magdahom nga kadto usa diay ka manifesto.

Nipasabot si Blanco nga gipapirma siya sa maong papel sa pasumangil nga kini panawagan kang Gobernador Gwen Garcia nga mopatawag og usa ka tigum sa One Cebu Party gumikan sa padayon nga pagtibugsok sa survey ratings ni Lakas-Kampi-SMC presidential bet Gibo Teodoro.

Giasoy ni Blanco nga sa miaging semana usa ka mayor nga iyang higala nidapit kaniya sa usa ka tigom sa siyudad sa Sugbo.

Nahibulong na lang siya nga didto ang ubang mga mayor ug kandidato sa pagkamayor sa mga lungsod nga sakop sa Segundo Distrito ug uban pang kalungsoran.

Atol sa tigom nahisgutran ang update sa survey ni Teodoro ug nitumaw ang mga pangutana nganong di sila mobalhin sa kampo ni Villar.

Nitubag siya sa sugo sa lawas samtang kini gituki.

Sa iyang pagbalik, gidunol kaniya ang usa ka papel nga gipirmahan sa uban nga mga opisyal nga nanambong sa maong tigom.

Nahasuwat sa tumoy nga bahin sa papel ang panawagan sa usa ka tigom sa One Cebu. 

Gipatuo nga patay na aron P100 mil ma-claim

NADAKPAN sa entrapment operation ang tulo ka gidudahang mga sakop sa us aka sindikato human ang usa ka 66 anyos nga tiguwang babaye gideklarar nga patay sa iyang mga kababanay.

Ilang gikobra ang P100,000 nga benipisyo niini sa ilang kapunongan sa usa ka banko sa dakbayan sa Danao.

Ang mga sakop nila ni Chief Insp. Rene Kyamko sa Criminal Investigation and Detective Unit (CIDU) sa Criminal Investigation and Detective Group (CIDG-7) uban sa mga tinugyanan sa Fairbank sa Poblacion Danao City, nipahigayon sa entrapment kagahapon sa buntag.

Ang mga suspek giilang sii Eva Gomez, 42, taga barangay Guinacot sa nahisgutang siyudad ug mga kauban nga sila si Sabina Barriga, 51, chief barangay health workers (BHW) sa ilang barangay ug ang deputy niining si Remedios Hermoso, 57.

Samtang ang biktima giilang mao si Luciana Gomez, taga barangay Cabungajan, kinsa giapil sa pagdala sa kapulisan apan hugtanong nanghimakak sa pasangil nga may kalambigitan siya sa maong krimin.

Si Arturo Pacifico chief security officer sa Fair Bank Danao nibutyag nga ang mga akusado pulos sakop sa Kaabag Program sa ilang barangay.

Nabulabog ang ilang modus dihang niadtong Abril 12, si Marivic Toring, administrative officer sa Fair Bank, nibutyag nga dunay gideklarar nga patay nga usa ka Luciana apan sa ilang pagsusi didto sa gipuy-ang lugar, dako kining buhi.

Apan gumikan kay naaprobahan na man ang pag-claim sa benipisyo, g-atngan nalang nila sa security sa banko ug sa CIDG-7 ang pag-claim ni Eva sa P50,000 nga unang gi-release sa bangko.

Gidakop usab ang iyang mga kuyog ug ang mga ebedensya toa sa PNP Crime Laboratory nga dunay ultra violet powder.

Matod ni Pacifico nga nakuhaag deth certificate ang mga akusado gikan sa tambalanan sa dakbayan sa Danao.

Kini gipirmahan usab sa ilang hepe sa BHW nga si Barriga ug sa ilang narangay kapitan nga si Flordelito Almago.

Natala niini nga namatay si Luciana niadtong Marso 31, 2010.

Si Eva nga gikahinabi sa Sun Star SuperBalita nibutyag nga wa gyuy kalibutan ang iyang ugagan nga si Luciana labot sa ilang pagdeklarar niining patay sanglit gihaylo lang siya sa ilang silingan nga si Henarra Montes, kinsa nipasalig nga hatagan silag P10, 000 matag usa uban kang Hemoso ug Bariga.

Sila pulos nipasangil kang Montes nga maoy nipasalig kanila nga mopirma lang ug mo-claim ug siya nay bahala sa pagpalusot sa uban pang mga pamaagi nga ma-approve ang dukomento ug ma claim ang P1OO,000.

Samtang si Chief Insp. Rene Kyamko sa CIDU nibutyag sa Sun Star SuperBalita nga kasong estafa through falsification of public document kagahapong adlawa ang ilang ipasaka.

Sumala pa niya nga kaduha nang higayon nga ang maong bangko nga nailad diin niadto dunay naka claim apan napasakaan na hinuog kaso.

Hinuon nagtuo siya nga di kini dako nga sindikato kon d inner circle sa ilang kapunongan ang nagpalusot apan way swerte kay nasakpan.

Opposition warns of military takeover if polls fail

Nagsususpetsa ngayon ang ilang taga-oposisyon sa ginagawang pag-iikot ni Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales sa mga kampo ng militar sa bansa. Pangamba kasi ng oposisyon,  kinokondisyon na ni Gonzales ang mga sundalo sa posibleng military take-over kapag pumalya ang halalan. Bwelta naman ni Secretary Gonzales, mismong oposisyon ang sumisira sa integridad ng halalan.

No order from Gonzales to put up junta - AFP

There was no order from Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales for the military to put up a junta in case the May 10 elections fail, an Armed Forces spokesman said on Monday.

Enrile: I will convene Congress in same week if elections fail

Senate President and reelectionist Juan Ponce Enrile said on Monday that in the "extreme possibility" that a nationwide failure of elections occurs on May 10, he will immediately convene Congress "not later than Friday of that week, announce that there was no election of president and vice-president," and follow the rules on succession.

Collusion seen in ballot secrecy folder contract

by By Aries Rufo,
MANILA, Philippines — The P690-million contract for ballot secrecy folders, cancelled by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for allegedly being overpriced, has just become more questionable.

Documents obtained by indicate that there could have been collusion between poll officials and winning supplier One Time Carbon (OTC) Paper Supply to effectively do away with the bidding and ensure that OTC would bag the contract.

Ballots ready ahead of April 25 deadline

THE PRINTING of 50.7 million ballots for the May automated elections will be completed ahead of the April 25 deadline, a poll official said, as over 90% of ballots have already been printed.

Comelec to deliver poll ballots starting April 25

The Commission on Elections has printed nearly all of the 50.7 million ballots needed for the May 10 polls, and it expects to finish the task this week ahead of its April 25 deadline, an official said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will conduct another round of mock polls to prove that it will be able to serve 1,000 voters in each precinct on election day.

Villar's wife never visited Ampatuan patriarch—military exec

DAVAO CITY, Philippines A military spokesman on Monday denied that Las Pias Representatibe Cynthia Villar visited Andal Ampatuan Sr. at his hospital room inside Camp Panacan weeks ago in preparation for the dropping of charges against one of his sons and a relative in connection with the November 23 Maguindanao massacre.

"No Cynthia Villar," said Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Cynthia Villar is the wife of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate and Senator Manuel Villar.

But another military officer, who asked not to be named for not having been authorized to speak on the matter, said NP senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla visited Andal Sr. a month ago.

"He was here for less than an hour," the military officer said.

The same military officer said several Maguindanao town mayors also visited Andal Sr., to discuss the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates they would campaign for in their respective towns.

"They (mayors) consulted the old man," the source said.

"I saw their line-up -- Villar for President, Mar Roxas for vice president; and their senatorial candidates included Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla, Gilbert Remulla, Bongbong Marcos and Miriam Defensor-Santiago," the source said.

Cynthia Villar was indeed in the city two weeks ago, or on April 9. But she was here to meet with televangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

Mangudadatu links clearance of 2 Ampatuans to poll fraud plot

MANILA, Philippines -- Maguindanao gubernatorial bet Esmael Toto Mangudadatu warned on Monday that acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra's decision to drop charges against two prominent members of the Ampatuan clan over the November 23 massacre was connected to a plot to cheat in the May 10 presidential elections.

Mangudadatu, currently the vice mayor of Buluan town in Maguindanao, arrived at the Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday afternoon to confirm for himself the news that Agra has scrapped the multiple murder charges against suspended Governor Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Akmad Ampatuan.

Mga Ampatuan magagaling sa election fraud. Magagaling yan. Si Zaldy yan ang expertise niya, kung paano gawin madaya ang resulta ng election. Palagay ko gagamitin yan. Hindi ko lang alam pero magagamit yan (The Ampatuans are very good in election fraud. That is Zaldy's expertise, how to manipulate the election results. I think he will be used. I'm not sure how but he will be used), he told reporters.

When he was asked who, he thought, would use Zaldy Ampatuan's influence for election cheating, he said he had A-1 information that a wife of a presidential candidate had visited the patriarch, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in his detention place in General Santos City about two weeks ago. (Andal Sr. had since been transferred to the Camp Bagong Diwa detention center in Taguig City.)

Pressed to identify the presidential candidate, he only dropped hints.

He said Liberal Party candidate Benigno Aquino III had no wife and added that administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro's wife had not been doing the rounds of the campaign on her own.

And then he pointed out that one of the Ampatuans expressed support for the presidential candidacy of Nacionalista Partys Senator Manuel Villar.

It's A-1 information from my feelers. She told me that the wife visited the old man Ampatuan Sr., said Mangudadatu, whose wife and sister were among the 57 people brutally killed then buried in shallow graves in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last November 23.

He said he was so disgusted with Agra's action and vowed to take all means available to prevent the release of the two Ampatuans.

We will do everything. The moment we receive the resolution we will file an MR (motion for reconsideration). We know that our MR will be denied. We will elevate the case to a higher court, Mangudadatu said in Filipino when interviewed at the Department of Justice office.

Before talking to reporters, he conferred with private prosecutor Nena Santos, who was at the DOJ office Monday to talk to state prosecutors.

The case is before the court anyway. The battle is (in the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court) Judge (Jocelyn) Solis-Reyes, Mangudadatu added.

State prosecutors protest DoJ chief ruling for Ampatuans

MANILA, Philippines -- The country's top state prosecutors publicly defied their superior, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, over his controversial resolution last Friday clearing two prominent Ampatuan clan members of involvement in the massacre in Maguindanao last November.

No less than Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano led the protest of state prosecutors over Agra's resolution issued Friday afternoon absolving Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Puti Ampatuan and his cousin Mayor Akmad Tato Ampatuan Sr. of Mamasapano, Maguindanao from the murder case.

The Department of Justice is supposed to be the sword and shield of law and order. We are deeply concerned that the resolution will all the more convince a long skeptical public that our criminal justice system is impotent when the accused are politically influential, Arellano said in a statement he read at the steps of the Department of Justice building in Manila Monday morning.

We pray and hope that despite difficulties and setbacks, justice will ultimately be served to the victims of this tragedy. It is along this line that we earnestly and respectfully request Acting Secretary Agra to revisit this resolution," Arellano said.

Otherwise, we dishonor the primary reason for which our institution exists and its very name: the Department of Justice, he stressed.

He issued the statement on behalf of the members of the National Prosecution Service and the panel of prosecutors handling the multiple murder case filed against 197 suspects, including members of the Ampatuan clan and their supporters, for what has been considered the most brutal election-related killings committed in memory.

As professional career prosecutors, it pains us to publicly disagree with the resolution of the Secretary of Justice. We recognize the appellate jurisdiction of the Secretary and his authority over us, Arellano said.

But we being in the frontline still believe with due respect that there is probable cause to indict the two accused, he stressed.

Disputing Agra's claim that there was no witness against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan, Arellano said there was a witness who positively identified the two as among those who conspired to murder 57 people, 31 of whom were journalists, to prevent a political rival from running against Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. for Maguindanao governor.

It is a rule in evidence that positive identification by a witness prevails over a negative assertion. Interestingly and ironically, while Secretary Agra basically implies that witness Kenny Dalandag is very credible as to his positive identification of the other accused during the planning of the murders, he is not at all credible when he identified Zaldy Ampatuan, Arellano said.

He said the supposed plane tickets, flight manifests and phone statements submitted by Zaldy Ampatuan have yet to stand scrutiny through cross-examination in court.

The resolution basically redefined the plain and ordinary meaning of probable cause, he said.

"This is not the role of the DoJ in a preliminary investigation or in a petition for review. This is the sole function of the courts. Our task is merely to determine probable cause, Arellano stressed.

AFP chief orders more troops to Basilan

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will send additional troops to Basilan to run after the Abu Sayyaf group and other lawless elements who continuously destroy and disturb the peace and order situation in the province, the military chief said.

Noynoy bares meetings with soldiers over poll fears

Several military officers had met with opposition presidential bet Sen. Benigno Noynoy" Aquino III (Liberal Party) to express their fears on the possible failure of elections on May 10.

In an ambush interview Monday after an LP press briefing in Quezon City, Aquino said the officers were mostly members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) classes of 1977 and 1978, with some coming from younger batches" in the PMA.

I take it in the context na pare-pareho silang mamamayan na may mga concerns sa parating nating election at ine-express lang nila sa public servant, they are part of the public that I serve," he said.

(They, as citizens, have concerns about the upcoming elections, and they wanted to express those concerns to a public servant.)

Aquino, son of the late President Corazon Cory" Aquino and slain Sen. Benigno Ninoy" Aquino Sr., said he met with the groups of soldiers separately. He did not elaborate.

The PMA class of 1978 recently earned controversy after several of its members were appointed to key positions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The batch includes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as an honorary member.

AFP chief Gen. Delfin Bangit was a member of PMA class of 1978, as well as commanders of the Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Administration critics said the appointment of PMA class of 1978 members could be part of a government plot to establish a military junta and keep President Arroyo in power in case the elections fail. The May 10 elections will be the first ever nationwide automated elections in the country.

Both Malacañang and the military have repeatedly denied the alleged junta plot.

Aquino said the groups of soldiers he talked to were concerned about how they should react if the elections fail since the military is one of the biggest stabilizing forces in the country."

There will be a lot of pressure on them to stabilize the situation. So they are also thinking what exactly their duty is," he said, adding that the soldiers have yet to figure out their possible response in case such situation arises.

Aquino said he merely listened to the soldiers concerns. I gave them an ear that was sympathetic to their concerns, to give them the idea that even their concerns are being addressed."

He added that he was very particular they [soldiers] will not be involved in partisan political activity." 

Freedom came as a surprise—rebel soldier

MANILA, Philippines Armed Forces chief General Delfin Bangits decision to free 10 rebel soldiers came as a surprise, one of them admitted Monday.

In a press conference at his residence in Taguig City, which also serves as the headquarters for his group, the Magdalo, Lieutenant James Layug admitted that they were expecting Bangit to revoke the decision of the General Court Martial which recommended their release after they pleaded guilty to four charges over their participation in the November 2007 siege of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

With all the perception sa kanya [against him], we were really expecting na iipitin [that he would sit on it], Layug said.

It was a surprise for us that General Bangit upheld the decision of the general court martial. He was professional enough to uphold the general court martials decision, he added.

When asked by the media if they had struck an agreement with the military for their release, Layug said: Walang [There was no] agreement.

He added that friends and supporters had paid the P30,000 bail bond to the insurance company.

Wala kaming cash na pangbayad ng [We dont have cash to pay the] bail, Layug told reporters.

Layug said that the first thing that he did when he was released was go to church in Baclaran.

Now that he is free, Layug said he could now concentrate on his campaign for the congressional seat for Taguig Citys second district.

However, Layug admitted that since he was discharged from service, his salary and other benefits have been waived and that he would be relying on donations and sales of Magdalo t-shirts to fund his campaign.

Despite having barely three weeks to campaign before the automated polls in May 10, Layug said that he remained confident.

I am confident Three weeks is ample time, Layug said.

The other nine soldiers who were ordered freed were Lieutenants Eugene Gonzalez, Andy Torrato, Manuel Cabochan and Arturo Pascua Jr., Captains Gary Alejano and Segundino Orfiano, 1st Lieutenant Billy Pascua, 2nd Lieutenant Jonnell Sangalang and Ens. Armand Pontejos.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and senatorial candidate Brigadier General Danilo Lim, however, will remain detained pending resolution of their court martial cases in relation to their alleged participation in the 2003 mutiny and the 2007 Marine standoff at Fort Bonifacio, respectively.

The general court martial had dropped the mutiny charges against the Magdalo soldiers.

The Makati regional trial court branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda granted the 10 soldiers request for bail but remained detained in Camp Crame pending the military courts decision on their charges of conduct unbecoming an officer, conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, disrespect to the President, and escape from confinement.

A week ago, the 10 soldiers were given an eight-month jail term after pleading guilty to the charges. However, the military court has deemed their jail term served since the soldiers had been detained since 2003.

8 more Magdalo mutineers step out of detention

MANILA, Philippines -- Eight renegade soldiers stepped out of a detention facility at Camp Crame on Monday, a day after Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit approved a military court order freeing them from prison.

Lieutenants Eugene Gonzalez, Andy Torrato, Manuel Cabochan and Arturo Pascua Jr., Captain Segundino Orfiano, 1st Lt. Billy Pascua, 2nd Lt. Jonnell Sangalang and Navy Ensign Armand Pontejos were released from the Philippine National Police Custodial Center around 6:40 p.m.

We are very happy. We look forward to spending more time with our families, Torrato told reporters as he walked out of the jail compound.

We still maintain what we believed in then. We still feel the same, he said when asked if he regretted his decision to join the November 2007 Manila Peninsula takeover.

The group of junior military officers, known as the Magdalo, had been locked up inside the prison center since their arrest following the short-lived takeover of the Manila Peninsula hotel in what was perceived to be a staging point for a larger destabilization move against the Arroyo government.

The general court-martial sentenced them to eight months in prison after they pleaded guilty to four charges in connection with the takeover of the posh hotel in Makati City.

Capt. Gary Alejano and Lt. James Layug were released from prison on Sunday as they had earlier posted bail before a Makati court regarding the criminal cases they were facing.

We allowed their release from the custodial center after they were able to show us the copy of a court order for their discharge, said Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman.

Bro. Eddie, JC continue campaign for alternative politics

Tuloy ang laban sa pagka-pangulo para kina Bro. Eddie Villanueva ng Bangon Pilipinas at JC delos Reyes ng Ang Kapatiran! Kahit napag-iwanan sa numero sa mga survey, panatag ang dalawang maipararating sa mga botante ang kanilang motibo sa pagtakbo: ang makapaghain ng alternatibong pulitika! 

Foreign, local investments to grow under Noynoy, ex-Arroyo adviser says

Foreign and domestic investments in the Philippines will increase if Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III wins in the upcoming elections, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's former economic adviser said on Monday.

$1: P44.630

$1: P44.630

Euro 1: P60.0290

Govt income tax collections to reach P477.2 billion in 2010


The national government sees income tax collections registering a 9.6 percent growth this year after it slipped last year, data from the Department of Finance (DoF) showed.

Backing on economic rebound, DoF sees taxes on net income and profits to be collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue would reach to P477.23 billion from P435.37 billion preliminary collection in 2009.

Income tax collections last year was 7.4 percent lower compared with the P470.34 billion target for the period due to the slowing economy. The gross domestic product grew 0.9 percent in 2009 from 3.8 percent in the previous year.

The GDP is expected to grow between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent this year.

The government sees corporate income tax collected by the BIR rising 9 percent to P277.47 billion this year from P2254.37 billion despite the reduction in the minimum corporate income tax rate to 30 percent from 35 percent.

Income tax collected from individual taxpayers will increase by 9.4 percent to P143 billion from P130.6 billion despite the tax relief law that exempted minimum wage earners from withholding tax and increased the amount of personal exemptions.

UP TO 400 IN CEBU: 3,000 PAL workers to lose jobs

At least 3,000 employees of Philippine Airlines, up to 400 in Cebu, are feared to lose their jobs by end of next month after the country's flag carrier reportedly decided to end its in-flight catering services, airport services and call center reservations and its support units.

PAL union vs. planned layoff of 3,000

MANILA, PhilippinesPhilippine Airlines (PAL) employees on Monday held a motorcade on Monday in protest at a massive retrenchment to be implemented on May 31.

An estimated 3,000 employees, or more than half of the total PAL workforce, will be laid off due to the closure of the in flight catering services, airport services (which includes ground, cargo, and ramp handling), and call center reservations including all support units.

The motorcade of some 40 cars and motorcycles started around 11:30 a.m. at the PAL Center located at the PNB Compound along the Diosdado Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City. The motorcade moved on to Nichols airport terminal then onto the PAL In Flight Center (IFC) along Airport Road in Paranaque and finally ended at the Terminal 3 of the airport.

Gerry Rivera, newly elected president of the PAL Employees Association (Palea) and vice chairman of the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), said the spin-off aims to outsource work to companies also owned by Lucio Tan where workers will be non-union and thus receive cheaper wages, fewer benefits, and have no security of tenure.

Regular workers will be retired and then rehired as contractuals. This has happened before when work was spun off to Lufthansa Technik and Macro Asia, in which Lucio Tan both had major interests. Employees retrenched from PAL because of the spin-off were employed by Macro Asia and Lufthansa Technik on new contracts.

Meanwhile, PM chairman Renato Magtubo expressed support to the struggle of the PAL workers.

We challenge the presidential candidates to state their position on the scourge of contractualization and their platform on job generation. The workers are not satisfied with motherhood statements but want to hear concrete programs, Magtubo said.

Rivera explained that the motorcade is only the opening salvo in the fight against massive layoff in PAL. Last years plans to spin-off the same departments were stopped by PAL workers protests led by Rivera.

Spin-off is not a solution to company losses but a scheme to contractualize labor and raise more profit not from better efficiency of work but from greater exploitation of workers, Rivera said.

Palea was furnished a memo by PAL president and CEO Jaime Bautista dated April 16 which announced the planned layoff. Before the motorcade, the Palea protesters attended a hearing at the Metro Manila office of the labor department for an inter-pleader filed by PAL management.

The PAL union is alleging that an election protest filed by losing candidates in union elections held last February is part of the scheme to weaken Palea in the face of the fight against spin-off and layoff.

More changes at San Miguel - Maiki Oreta

by By Maiki Oreta, ABS-CBN News
My sources tell me that San Miguel chairman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuanco may cash out of San Miguel Corporation and pass on the torch to a consortium led by his peers -- former Trade Minister Roberto "Bobby" V. Ongpin and San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang -- before the elections.

Telcos pay P460-M to NTC for frequency use

MANILA, Philippines - Telecommunication companies offering 3G (third-generation) mobile services paid a total of P460 million in fees this year for the use of frequencies which were awarded by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to them 5 years ago.

Electricity price at spot market hits P12.96/kWh

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (Wesm), said on Friday that electricity price at the power market has increased to P12.96 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in March from P11.29/kWh in February but had no comment on how it would impact on consumer billings.

41 Filipino seafarers stranded in Ukraine


At least 41 Filipino seafarers have been stranded at Kiev International Airport in Ukraine because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland that has affected air traffic in parts of Europe.

Work in China"s quake zone switches to rebuilding

JIEGU, China - Heavy construction machinery and trucks carrying aid to earthquake survivors clogged streets on Monday morning as this shattered town in remote western China turned to rebuilding, and search teams and other rescuers left.

US: Deaths of 2 al-Qaida in Iraq leaders big blow (AP)

BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi forces killed the two top al-Qaida figures in the country in a nighttime rocket attack on a safe house near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, a joint operation the U.S. called a significant blow to the insurgency and a sign Iraqi security forces are strengthening.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has remained a potent force, seeking recently to sow chaos after the March 7 elections and ahead of a planned U.S. troop withdrawal. The terror group has shown a remarkable ability to change tactics and adapt despite repeated blows to its leadership.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at anews conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. The deaths were later confirmed by U.S. military officials.

The Iraqi leader said ground forces surrounded a house and used rockets to kill the two, who were hiding inside. The U.S. military said an American helicopter crashed during the assault, killing one U.S. soldier.

In Washington, Vice President Joe Biden called the killing of the two a "potentially devastating blow" to al-Qaida in Iraq.

U.S. forces commander Gen. Raymond Odierno praised the operation.

"The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaida in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency," he said. "There is still work to do but this is a significant step forward in ridding Iraq of terrorists."

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the operation targeting the two leaders showed the growing capability of Iraqi security forces.

U.S. military officials have been highlighting the role of Iraqi security forces in the country as a way to demonstrate their ability to take over security as American forces draw down. Under a plan by President Barack Obama, all combat forces will be out of Iraq by the end of August, leaving about 50,000 U.S. forces in the country for such roles as trainers and support personnel.

Al-Maliki described the deaths as "a quality blow breaking the back of al-Qaida."

Al-Masri was the shadowy national leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, which he took over after its Jordanian-born founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a June 2006 U.S. airstrike. Al-Masri's real name was Abdul-Monim al-Badawi, according to a 2009 al-Qaida statement describing the makeup of a new "War Cabinet."

Al-Qaida in Iraq emerged after al-Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, leader of the global al-Qaida network, in October 2004. It has survived a series of setbacks in recent years.

At its height, the group was able to inflame sectarian violence so intense that some described it as a civil war.

Though al-Qaida has shown it is still capable of staging its hallmark coordinated suicide attacks against high-profile targets in the heart of the capital, U.S. and Iraqi military operations have diminished its power since the height of the violence several years ago.

A revolt against al-Qaida by Sunni Arab tribes in Western Iraq in late 2006 and 2007 deprived the group of its main bases of support. Taking advantage of the vulnerability, the U.S. pummeled the group during the 2007 troop surge.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has been led primarily by foreigners, but Iraqis form its backbone. At its height, it was estimated at close to 10,000 fighters but it is believed to have dropped off in recent years.

Al-Masri, an Egyptian, kept a lower public profile than al-Zarqawi, who appeared in militant videos on the Web including one in which he personally beheaded American Nicholas Berg.

The deaths are a significant boost for al-Maliki, who has staked his reputation on being the man who can restore stability to Iraq after years of bloodshed.

The news came as Iraq's election commission announced it would recount ballots cast in Baghdad in the March 7 election, after al-Maliki's State of Law coalition raised accusations of fraud and irregularities in the capital as well as four other provinces.

Al-Maliki's coalition is currently trailing one led by a secular challenger, Ayad Allawi, and the recount could potentially give the Iraqi prime minister the lead.

Volcano-stranded Europeans seek alternate routes

BANGKOK - Frustrated European travelers stranded overseas struggled to find alternate routes home, desperate for information on flights into the continent"s few airports not closed by a dangerous cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano.

Indian minister resigns over IPL row

NEW DELHI - India"s junior foreign minister has resigned amid allegations of corruption in the bidding for a new team in the lucrative Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

Police: boxer Edwin Valero kills self in jail

CARACAS, Venezuela Former boxing champ Edwin Valero committed suicide in his jail cell on Monday just hours after he was arrested in his wife's killing, police said.

The former lightweight champion used his own clothes to hang himself in his cell early Monday, Venezuelan Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores told reporters. He said Valero tied his clothes to a cell bar to hang himself.

He said Valero was found by another inmate, who alerted authorities in the police lockup in north-central Carabobo state. Valero still showed signs of life, but they were unable to save him, Flores said.

The 28-year-old was detained Sunday on suspicion of killing his wife, the gravest in a string of problems that had threatened to derail his career. Prosecutors said Sunday night that they had planned to charge Valero after they found the body of his 24-year-old wife in a hotel in Valencia.

The boxer left the hotel room around dawn Sunday and allegedly told security he had killed Jennifer Viera, Flores said.

The fighter was a household name in Venezuela and had a huge image of President Hugo Chavez tattooed on his chest, along with the country's yellow, blue and red flag.

His all-action style and 27-0 record all by knockouts earned him a reputation as a tough, explosive crowd-pleaser. Venezuelans called him "Inca," alluding to an Indian warrior, while elsewhere he was called "Dinamita," or dynamite.

The former WBA super featherweight and WBC lightweight champion had been in trouble with the law before.

Last month, Valero was charged with harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel who treated her at a hospital in the western city of Merida. Police arrested Valero following an argument with a doctor and nurse at the hospital, where his wife was being treated for a series of injuries, including a punctured lung and broken ribs.

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement that Valero was detained March 25 on suspicion of assaulting his wife, but his wife told a police officer her injuries were due to a fall. When the boxer arrived moments later, he forbade Viera from speaking to the police officer, and spoke threateningly to the officer, prosecutors said in a statement.

The Attorney General's Office said a prosecutor had asked a court to order Valero jailed but that the judge instead placed him under a restraining order that barred him from going near his wife, a condition he repeatedly violated.

I'm better than Ali, Robinson, says Mayweather

MANILA, Philippines – Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr. let out a mouthful of confidence as he was gearing for his May 1 showdown with fellow American "Sugar" Shane Mosley.

Orcollo, Manalo win openers in Asiad 8-ball qualifier

MANILA, Philippines – Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo and Marlon "Marvelous" Manalo posted victories at the onset of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) 8-ball qualification tournament on Sunday.

Torre aims for Subic Asian chess supremacy

MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster (GM) Eugene Torre said he is planning to return to the World Chess Cup in 2011 by setting his sights on the 2010 Asian Individual Chess Championships title.

2 mares give mayoral bets amusement in Mandaue race

A LITTLE humor found its way into the race to become mayor of Mandaue City, when two mares that belong to Mayor Jonas Cortes recently gave birth to two colts.

"Puros laki. Basin nagpasabot na nga hatagan kita og second term (Both ponies are male. Maybe that means we will get a second term)," said Cortes.

"Kaming duha sa mayor (Those two ponies are supposed to represent me and the mayor)," said his running mate, Banilad Barangay Captain Glenn Bercede.

But Cortes's rival, Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, pointed out a different potential explanation for the event. "Kinsa man ang nanganak, dili ba ang babayeng kabayo (Isn't it the female who gave birth)?"

Last Nov. 30, the mayor's horses Ella and King Ferdinand landed in the news when they went astray and entered an ancestral property of the Ruiz clan. Only a 10-foot-high concrete fence separates the Ruiz and Cortes properties in Barangays Centro and Alang-Alang.

Back then, both camps tried to give the incident their own spin.

Cortes said his horses were brave enough to enter a rival's territory. "Nanuong," he said.

Ruiz said the horses decided to join the better group. "Nitapon," she said.

At 11 p.m. last Feb. 11, four-year old Ella gave birth to a colt, said stable head Marianito Siat. The colt was named Lord.

Last April 9, another mare at the Cortes rest house in Barangay Casili also gave birth to a colt.

This is a portent, said Cortes, of the election results ahead. "Lalaki jud ang palingkuron nga mayor dinhi sa Mandaue (A man will be picked to serve as mayor of Mandaue)," said the first-term mayor.

When sought for reaction, Ruiz pointed out it is the mare that deserves credit for delivering and caring for her offspring.

"Igo ra nga gipahimugso ang mga anak (All the offspring had to do was get born)," she said.

The candidates' fate will finally be decided on May 10, when Mandaue City's 182,813 voters pick the next mayor. But right now, it's anybody's (horse) race.

Salceda says goodbye to Arroyo via text message

Former administration stalwart Albay governor Joey Salceda informed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of his departure from ruling party Lakas-Kampi-CMD in favor of the Liberal Party (LP) through a text message.

NZ man fined for leaving baby in car at strip club

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A New Zealand man who left his 18-month-old boy unattended in a car while he visited a strip club has been convicted of leaving a child without reasonable supervision and fined.

Tuesday: sunny, Max Temp: 34°C (93°F), Min Temp: 26°C (79°F)

Max Temp: 34°C (93°F), Min Temp: 26°C (79°F), Wind Direction: E, Wind Speed: 7mph, Visibility: moderate, Pressure: 1011mb, Humidity: 57%, Sunrise: 05:31PHT, Sunset: 17:55PHT

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