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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 29, 2010 Major News Stories

Non-working holiday on May 3

MANILA, PhilippinesIt will be a long weekend this week after Malacanang on Wednesday announced that May 3 will be a non-working holiday in the country so as to give Filipinos a chance to observe Labor Day.

Labor Day or May 1 falls on a Saturday this year but in keeping with its holiday economics policy, Malacanang has decided to move the observation of the holiday on the nearest working day, which is May 3 or this Monday, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said.

Labor officials the other day said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not make any wage increase announcements on Labor Day because wage boards in seven regions that have filed wage hike petitions were still holding deliberations that may conclude only in two or three weeks' time.

But they said the Palace will hold a mega, mega job fair on May 1 that will see the government offering 60,000 to 80,000 local and foreign jobs, the biggest ever in the nine-year-old Arroyo administration.

Employers' wage increase offer: P10

A LABOR REPRESENTATIVE OF the Western Visayas Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) expressed disgust over the management representatives' offer of a P10 increase in daily wages.

Wennie Sancho said the management representatives in the board made the offer during the wage board meeting held at the Stakeholders Consultation Forum of the National Wages and Productivity Commission held in Cebu City on Monday.

The Western Visayas wage board meeting was held to take advantage of the presence of all its members so they could deliberate on a petition filed by the Trade Union of Filipino Workers for a P50 wage hike in Western Visayas.

The government representatives on the wage board also said during that meeting it shouldn't be the outgoing president who should increase wages because it wouldn't look good, Sancho said.

He said the statements from the government representative in the board appeared be a convenient excuse for a wage-freeze policy, he added.

Sancho, along with labor representative Hernani Braza, walked out of the Monday meeting in protest.

"The management has no conscience as shown by its offer of only P10 in wage increase, which was an amount that one would give street beggars," according to Sancho.

"The workers are not beggars. They work to keep the economy going and should be justly compensated," he said.

Sancho called the wage board proceedings a farce, adding that he was calling for the wage board's abolition because it did not serve the interest of the workers but only that of management and government.

"The RTWPB was created to divide and rule at the workers' expense. I am calling for the decision on the wage hike petitions to be handed back to Congress," Sancho said.

He said the Labor Day on Saturday would be a sad one for labor but this would not deter them from continuing the struggle for workers' emancipation.

Sancho said the Negros Labor Coalition would hold a forum on Saturday and a series of rallies to manifest their indignation against what he said was the collaboration of the government and the management against the workers.

Ignored flood control law is test case for SC's writ of kalakasan

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Supreme Court's newly promulgated rules on the writ of kalikasan (environment) has its first test case.

Invoking the new court rules on environmental suits, a group of environmental lawyers led by Ramon Magsaysay awardee Antonio Oposa Jr. asked the Supreme Court to order the government to implement a 21-year-old law on flood control measures.

He was joined by lawyers Benjamin Cabrido, Dante Ramos and Gloria Estenzo-Ramos.

In a petition filed last April 23, the group called the Global Legal Action on Climate Change asked that concerned government agencies implement a 1989 law that called for the construction of rainwater collectors, water wells and springs in all the 42,000 barangay (villages).

They dug up Republic Act 6716 or the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law whose implementation became the responsibility of local government units when the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160 was passed.

The landmark writ of kalikasan, which will take effect on April 29, is part of the Supreme Court's new rules of procedures for environmental cases.

The rules also include provisions on citizen suits to force government to protect the environment, consent decree, environmental protection order, writ of continuing mandamus, strategic lawsuits against public participation and the precautionary principle.

The formal launching is scheduled for Thursday, April 29 at the Supreme Court.

The new rules also exempt environmental suits from docket fees but the petitioners said they had to pay a filing fee of P5,000 since the environmental rules have yet to take effect.

In their petition, the Global Legal Action on Climate Change took to task Malacaang, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Interior and Local Governments and the local government units for gross negligence.

They said the DPWH only started constructing rainwater catchments in 2009 and has so far only completed four out of the 100,000 required by law.

The anxiety of always alternating between flooding and water scarcity is too much to bear for us ordinary citizens. It must stop, they said, citing the successful implementation of rainwater collection projects in Singapore and India.

They said that water wells served as catchment areas to prevent flooding during the rainy season and as sources of freshwater during the dry season.

Mga balota nagsugod nag pangabot

NAGSUGOD nag pangabot sa Sugbo sugod kagahapon ang mga official ballot nga gikan sa ulohang buhatan sa Commission on Elections (Comelec) nga gamiton sa labing unang poll automation unya sa Mayo 10.

Gipaubos sa higpit nga seguridad ug pagbantay sa tanang mga nalambigit sa eleksyon dihang niabot ang mga balota mga pasado alas 9 sa buntag kagahapon.

Ang naasoyng mga balota alang sa San Fernando ug Sibonga nga pulos mga sakop sa unang distrito sa lalawigan sa Sugbo.

Human kini niabot, gihatod gilayon sa mga representante sa Comelec ngadto sa tagsa-tagsa ka mga lungsod ug gidawat sa mga municipal treasurer sa San Fernando ug Sibonga.

Nangabot usab ang ubang mga balota human sa paniudto kagahapon nga alang sa ubang dakbayan ug kalungsuran sa lalawigan sa Sugbo.

Gawas sa San Fernando ug Sibonga, gikatakda nga mangabot usab kagahapon ang alang sa Compostela, Liloan, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod, Borbon ug dakbayan sa Danao.

Kining pagpangabot sa mga balota gikatakda nga mahuman unya sa Mayo 3.

Sa samang kalambuan, gipahigayon kagahapon sa Comelec ang transmission testing.

Poll machines for Visayas, Mindanao 100% delivered - Comelec

The delivery of the machines that will be used in the May 10 automated elections has been completed in the Visayas and Mindanao, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said on Wednesday.

Elections Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said 35,279 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines 17,077 in the Visayas and 18,202 in Mindanao are now in their respective hubs in the two regions.

In Luzon, a total of 6,538 machines have been delivered as of Monday, Larrazabal said.

The PCOS machines must reach their designated precincts three days before the elections for the testing and sealing.

The Comelec hired three forwarders Germalin Enterprises, Ace Logistics, and Argo Forwarders to transport the poll machines. These forwarders will be held liable if the machines do not reach their locations on time.

Areas that already have their voting machines are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan (Region I); Abra, Benguet, Mt. Province, Ifugao (CAR); Cagayan, Batanes, Tuguegarao, Isabela, Aurora (Region II); Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija (Region III); Cavite, Batangas, Rizal (Region IVA); Marinduque, Masbate, Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan (Region IVB); Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Legaspi, Catanduanes, Sorsogon (Region V);

Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Roxas City (Region VI); Cebu City, Tagbiliran City, Dumaguete City (Region VII); Tacloban City (Region VIII); Zamboanga City, Dipolog City (Region IX); Cagayan de Oro, Ozamis City (Region X); Davao City (Region XI); Cotabato City, General Santos City (Region XII); and Butuan City (Region XIII).

Larrazabal also announced that as of 10 p.m., April 27, they have already sent 21 percent of the ballots for the Visayas (3,549) and 71 percent for Mindanao (12,936). "The ballots are currently in transit, or already in the provinces and cities/municipalities," he said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they are confident that the ballots would be safe from whatever condition because they were vacuum-sealed before deployment.

Technology provider Smartmatic bagged the contract to deploy the ballots with the help of forwarder Air 21.

Headquarter girapido

HEADQUARTER sa Lakas-Kampi CMD ug One Cebu sa lungsod sa Santa Fe girakrarakan sa duha ka armadong mga tawo nga sakay sa usa ka motorsiklong puwa alas 12:40 kagahapon sa kaadlawon sa barangay Talisay.

Ang maong pagpangrakrak maoy ikalima karong tuiga sa 4th district samtang nagkaduol ang automated elections karong Mayo 10.

Upat ka mga insedenti sa pagpangrakrak sa dakbayan sa Bogo, karong buwana: Abril 6, balay sa barangay treasurer sa Malingin; Abril 10, balay sa barangay tanod sa Banban, ug laing balay sa usa ka civilian sa barangay Cayam; ug ang labing uwahi ang chief tanod sa barangay Banban niadtong Abril 22.

Kahinumduman nga si kanhi mayor Rogelio "Dokdok" Illustrisimo Sr. sa lungsud sa Sta. Fe gipusil patay sa gawas nga buhatan sa Commission on Elections sa lalawigan niadtong 2007.

Si Sr. Insp. Leoncio Baliguat Jr., hepe sa Sta. Fe Police Station, nagkanayon nga ang headquarters ni mayoral candidate Adoracion Cabrera sa Lakas-Kampi-CMD girakrakan.

Maayong pagkabuslot sa billboards nga gibutangan sa poster nila ni Gobernador Gwendolyn Garcia ug Benhur Salimbangon.

Matod ni Baliguat nga sa wa pa ang pagpangrakrak gikataho nga ang mga gunman nakit-an pang nagpaatbang sa headquarters ug pipila gutlo ang nakalabay kalit lang namusil.

Hinuon way nangaangol sa insedenti diin dunay mga 10 ka tawo nga supporters ni Cabrera nga didto sa lugar nga padulong na mangatulog.

Dali kaayong nakasibat ang mga gunman nga wa makuha ang plate number sa motorsiklo. Nakuha sa kapulisan sa crime scene ang tulo ka kabhang sa 9mm, usa ka slug niini.

Usa ka Ely Senangote nagpailang political consultant ni kongresista Salimbangon ang nagpa-blotter sa maong insedenti ug nipahibawo nga siya maoy target sa mga suspek.

Si Senangote nitug-an sa mga police nga niadtong Abril 21 sa alas 5 sa hapon nakadawat siyag text message gikan sa usa ka Tagalog nga nipadayag nga dunay mahitabo kaniya. "Pare paghindi ka aalis nang Sta Fe patay ka. Itutumba ka namin" sumala pa sa maong tawo nga nipadala sa text message.

Nunut sa maong insedenti, ang pangulo sa kapulisan sa lalawigan sa Sugbu Sr. Supt. Erson Digal nimando gilayon kang Baliguat nga mopahigayon og mas lawom nga imbestigasyon aron mailhin ang mga naghimo niini.

Si Digal nga gikahinabi sa Sun.Star Superbalita nipadayag nga mahulagway nga usa lang ka harassment lang ang insidente nga gihimong pagpanghulga sama sa ubang nahitabo diha sa 4th district.

Apan bisan pa niini kagahapon sa hapon iyang gipadala ang usa ka ka team sa regional mobile group (RMG-7) didto sa Sta. Fe ug laing usa ka team niini sa Madridejos nga nakabase sa Bogo. 

LTO official questions confiscation of licenses

THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 yesterday said the policemen who intercepted eight Cebu City Government-owned buses were not deputized to confiscate driver's licenses or hold the buses for hours.

"Only LTO deputized agents can confiscate driver's licenses and apprehend motor vehicles violating provisions of Republic Act 4136. Even the police must be deputized before they can implement that law," LTO 7 Director Raul Aguilos said in a text message.

Policemen in Barili intercepted the buses at a checkpoint last Monday, because these lacked license plates and registration papers. But Mayor Tomas Osmeña blamed the Capitol for the incident and said some 1,000 children aboard the buses went hungry for about four hours.

Aguilos yesterday said that Supt. Erson Digal, the Cebu Provincial Police Office director, was right when he said the policemen have the duty to conduct checkpoints. But they had no authority to confiscate licenses or hold the buses, he said.

"That's not their duty. That's the duty of the LTO and its deputized agents," Aguilos said.


A Capitol consultant challenged newly-appointed regional director Aguilos to cite any law or rule that will prevent the police from enforcing a national law, which states all motor vehicles using public highways must be registered.

"Even an ordinary citizen can effect a citizen's arrest...if there's a clear violation of the law," said lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda.

He also clarified the buses were not impounded, and said the Barili policemen should not be condemned for enforcing the law.

"Wa'y pamulitika ani. Police ra man tawn ni. Wala gyud namulitika ani (No politics is involved here. It was a police action. No one went politicking)," he added.

One Cebu is asking its supporters to take pictures of Kaohsiung buses without plate numbers so they can come up with a comprehensive report.

Cebu City south district congressional aspirant Jonathan Guardo has also used the issue to question his rival, Osmeña.

Guardo said the mayor has shown a penchant for bending the law.

He cited the mayor's refusal to condemn a spate of vigilante-style killings in the city that began in 2004, as well as "vote-buying" using public funds. He referred to, among others, the mayor's previous announcement of a P600-million "political budget."

"Kon dili man gani makatuman si Tomas sa mga balaud, unsa man iyang katakus unya sa pagpanday ug balaudnon (If the mayor cannot even heed the law, what makes him qualified to craft laws himself)?" Guardo said.

The mayor dared Guardo to go to court and prove he has violated any law.

"He's talking about me spending money, what about him? Until now he will not answer, and now, I'm the one who broke the law?" Osmeña asked. He referred to a pending case the Philippine Sports Commission filed, over the allegedly unliquidated funds used for the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.

"If you like people like Guardo, go ahead, you elect him for Congress, because catching a violation for not having registration papers is more important to him than detaining 400 children," Osmeña said. "You want a government like that? You have a choice."

Also yesterday, a nongovernment organization criticized the Barili police force for being insensitive to the children's welfare.

Jacqueline dela Peña of Kaabag sa Sugbu said that while they respect the police force for trying to uphold the law, letting the children go hungry was uncalled for.

"The traffic violation should have been settled among the bus drivers, the authorities in charge of the Kaoshiung buses and the police officers, causing less anxiety to the passengers," said dela Peña.

Most of the children who were involved in the incident were reportedly beneficiaries of groups under Kaabag sa Sugbu, like the Stop Abuse of Minors Association, Share a Child Movement and Lihok Pilipina-Bantay Banay.

Rama sues Sonny's ex-aide over 'attack'

CEBU City Vice Mayor Michael Rama yesterday made good his threat to file a criminal complaint for libel against a council candidate who accused him of protecting drug pushers.

Rama lodged the complaint at the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office against James Philip Tiongko.

Tiongko, who is also executive director of Krusada Batok sa Droga, led 17 of its members in a recent protest against Rama, who they said has protected a drug lord.

In a press conference, Tiongko and members of the foundation also declared Rama "public enemy number one." He has admitted the group lacked evidence to bring the matter to court. He instead cited news reports quoting Mayor Tomas Osmeña's statements against Rama, about an incident when the vice mayor allegedly attempted to stop a raid against a suspected drug lord in 2008.

Tiongko reiterated the group was quoting newspaper reports online about the mayor's comments on his political ally. (The mayor has since clarified he did not accuse Rama of protecting any drug lord, but that the vice mayor may have made a poor judgment call in questioning that raid.)

Rama said the statements Tionko issued were "calculated falsehoods" that damaged not only his reputation as a public official, but also that of the anti-drug council he chairs.

Rama, who is also chairman of the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council, described Tionko's accusations as the worst attack he has received in his political career.

"The statements not only damaged the reputation of the undersigned, but also the entire Rama clan who are well-known in local politics," said Rama.

Rama's staff said they are still collating additional evidence before filing a separate libel complaint against former senator and now mayoral candidate John Henry "Sonny" Osmeña.

"It has been too much of a foul that needs to be resolved and the court will once and for all resolve who really are the real drug protectors, who really are drug users, who really are drug suppliers. Why should it be me?" said Rama.

He added: "In politics, even if there's a campaign period, you cannot just go beyond… because that's already bringing the entire campaign period as a means of destroying (someone)."

Jonas: My opponents should ask for pardon from Catholic Church

Mandaue City Mayor and reelectionist Jonas Cortes yesterday dared his opponents to publicly ask for forgiveness from the Roman Catholic Church and its flock for their pro-Reproductive House Bill stand in the past and to stop spreading lies designed to mislead people.

Cortes, apparently irked over accusations of alleged poor implementation of infrastructure projects despite a budget of P2.8 billion during his three-year term said spreading of lies is a sin notwithstanding legal violations.

The city mayor, the recipient of the Human Vitae International award given by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal two weeks ago, in a press statement said Mandauehanons know the brand of politics his opponents are adopting: rumor-spreading against a governance of performance.

Cortes said the issue is to choose a candidate who cares for the people, country and spiritual aspect of an individual but not to help propagate pro-abortion laws which encourage committing sins.

Cortes' opponent in the mayoralty race, Cebu sixth district Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, is one of the authors of the Reproductive Health Bill in the Lower House but has claimed that the RH Bill is not a pro-abortion bill.

Soon-Ruiz has been criticizing the mayor claiming that despite of the uncut P2.8 billion budget for the past three years, the delivery of the city's basic services has been dismal.

Cortes however countered that his three years in office has spurred more capital investments amounting to P35 billion from year 2007-2009 which is factual rather than fictitious.

As a result, Cortes said, Mandaue has earned the moniker "the capital city of Northern Cebu" adding, it is contrary to the opposition's claim that the local government is economically unstable and bankrupt.

Cortes added that documents released by the City Administrator's Office show that the annual increment of investments totaled P28 billion a year after he won in the 2007 elections and rose tremendously to P35 billion last year.

The mayor instead questioned the opposition as to how many people they have given jobs as well as how many scholars they have sent to school, among others.

Gwen for president in 2016, Gibo tells partisans

PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. promised yesterday to hit the campaign trail again in 2016, to help elect the first Cebuana president of the country.

Comelec reaches decision on manual count, but ruling to be released Thursday

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Commission on Elections already has a ruling on the proposed 100-percent manual count of election results, and the commissioners are unanimous in their decision.

The poll body would release its resolution Thursday, according to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

At least one poll commissioner has opposed the manual count proposal, saying it was unnecessary and that the random manual audit of the Comelec was enough to check the automated election system.

Jimenez disclosed that a six-page draft of the resolution was ready by Wednesday, but it was not released because it was still being finalized and the commissioners have yet to sign it. But all the commissioners have the same position on the matter, he added.

According to Jimenez, the Comelec took into account the effects of the proposal on the procedures and the sentiments of their personnel who would be saddled with the manual count, if ever it would be approved.

The main consideration was its effect on the process and the input, of course, of field officials having to do with the automation project itself. You have to understand, this is a very important measure. Its ramifications could not be dismissed just like that. So we have to take all of that into consideration in coming up with this resolution, he said.

Our field officials are very seasoned Comelec career officials. They know what its like to conduct an election, manual or otherwise. So their opinion matters very much to the banc, he added.

Earlier, Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, who disagrees with the 100-percent manual count, said some of the poll body's personnel had objected to the proposed manual count in all precincts because this would open up opportunities for fraud.

Influential business and lawyers' groups are proposing that a manual count of votes in three positions be held before the results of the elections are electronically transmitted by the counting machines.

According to them, this extra step would add to the credibility of the elections.

Manual count proponents willing to tally votes for president only

MANILA, PhilippinesThe groups pushing for a parallel manual count of votes in the May 10 elections said Wednesday they would settle for manually counting the votes for one electoral contestthe presidencyinstead of their original proposal of three races.

Instead of manually counting the votes for president, vice-president, and mayor from all 76,300 precincts, the National Movement for Free Elections and representatives of information technology groups said they were willing to count votes in the presidential contest only to make the process easier for the Comelec.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Namfrel officials said they were willing to negotiate with the Comelec to allow a parallel manual count.

We are willing to negotiate, Namfrel council member and Philippine National IT Standards executive Maricor Akol said.

We were saying three positions, the Philippine Bar Association wanted five. We're willing, if they are talking about the expense, the delay in proclamation, to negotiate on one: the presidential candidates, she said.

The Comelec was eyeing to reject the parallel manual count, saying this would delay the proclamation of the winners in the automated elections.

This would be a logistical and financial burden to the poll body and would open up various legal questions as the scheme is not part of any election laws, the Comelec said.

Bill Luz, another Namfrel council member, said counting for only one post would be easier to accomplish.

The Board of Election Inspectors can count by making nine stacks for the nine candidates vying for the highest office in the land.

It will take less than an hour, he said.

Namfrel chairman Jose Cuisia Jr. said the parallel manual count, which entails the manual appreciation and count of all the ballots from 76,300 precincts nationwide, will assure the electorate that the voting machines reflected the votes cast by the public.

Under the manual count proposal, the ballot boxes will be opened and the votes counted before the results are transmitted electronically to the canvassing centers.

Members of Namfrel-allied groups such as the Makati Business Club, Alyansa Agrikultura, and Finance Executives of the Philippines met with the Comelec en banc last Monday to press for the manual counting of votes.

Cuisia said he talked to Namfrel members who attended the meeting and said they were optimistic the Comelec would heed their suggestion.

Additionally, Namfrel is urging the Comelec to ensure that the Random Manual Audit of votes will be representative of the 76,300 precincts.

In a statement, Namfrel said the audit should be done before the proclamation of winners and must have a statistically valid sample size.

The random manual audit of the PCOS machines will determine the integrity and accuracy of the electronically transmitted results. The scheme, which is mandated under the Automated Election Law, entails the counting of all votes from randomly selected 1,110 PCOS machines.

The Comelec has yet to release the rules on the random manual audit.

Namfrel said two-and-a-half to three percent of the PCOS machines should be audited. The selection of the precincts to be audited should be done two hours before the voting ends at 6 p.m. to limit the risk of tampering with PCOS machines that are not included in the audit.

The audit should be conducted by the BEIs from another precinct but should be done in the same precinct where the ballot box is located, Namfrel said.

Melo assures no 'Hello Garci' in May polls

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo on Wednesday assured that because of automation, there would not be a "Hello Garci" vote-rigging operation in the May polls.

Melo said that even if there were election personnel linked to the "Hello Garci" scandal who are still with the Comelec, they wouldn't be able to cheat the automated polls.

"They may be just sleeping here (but) even if there are Garcis here, they cannot do anything more," he said in an interview with reporters.

The poll body chief issued the statement after Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel said that he wants a Comelec official who reportedly has links with controversial former poll body Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to be removed from office. (See: Pimentel wants poll exec linked to 'Garci' sacked)

The senator was pertaining to Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional director Ray Sumalipao, a supposed Garcillano protg who was allegedly part of an operation that rigged the results of the 2004 elections to favor administration bets led by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The alleged vote manipulation was exposed through the so-called Hello Garci" recordings, which contained wiretapped conversations between a woman presumed to be Mrs. Arroyo and a man she called Garci," presumed to be Garcillano.

But Melo said that such a thing cannot happen again because there won't be a manual transport of the election results and statement of votes to the canvassing centers.

"Wala na yun eh, kasi manual yun. Kaya nga nag-automate tayo para ma-short circuit yang system na yan.(We won't have that anymore, because thats during manual elections. That's why we automated, to short-circuit that old system)," he said.

He added that with automation, not just anybody will be able to rig the results of the elections. "The less human intervention, the safer the system will be," he said.

The Comelec had earlier said they would be reshuffling some 50 election officers to cast away doubts of cheating in the May polls.

Sumalipao has been transferred from one Comelec regional office to anotherfrom ARMM to Davao. (See:Comelec reshuffle to affect Garci boy, 9 other officers) 

Namfrel to do unofficial tally of election results

MANILA, PhilippinesDespite not being accredited as a citizens' arm of the Commission on Elections, the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections will still make an independent count of the votes in the May 10 elections.

Namfrel officials said they have advised their affiliated groups and volunteers to obtain copies of the election returns that will be printed before and after the results are transmitted by the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines (PCOS) to the official Comelec canvassing centers.

Namfrel used to be the Comelec's citizens' arm in past elections. The group used to get the sixth copy of the election return for its quick count of the results.

We will tally the results in our website, We will be collecting data from the field, said Bill Luz, Namfrel council member.

Namfrel said it will tabulate the consolidated results for the presidential, vice-presidential, and senatorial races on its website.

It's not quick count anymore. It's tally, count, and canvass, Luz said.

Luz said Namfrels count will not depend on the data that will be published on the Comelec website. The public, he said, can use their data to compare with the official results.

The Comelec did not grant Namfrel's application as citizens' arm, saying the group's leaders were known to be partisan. Namfrel has withdrawn its appeal for reconsideration.

Because Namfrel is not accredited and therefore does not have its own copy of the ER, its volunteers have to take pictures of the election returns that will be posted at the precincts immediately after the first eight ERs are printed.

They will also have to secure copies of the ERs that will be printed after the results are transmitted to the canvassing centers.

The PCOS machines will print a total of 30 ERs each after the close of the polls. The first eight copies to be printed before the transmission will be given to various election authorities. After the results are sent to the canvassing centers, the PCOS will print 22 more ERs for the use of various local parties, media groups, and poll watchdog organizations.

Palace warns Noynoy revolt is illegal

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has downplayed a warning by presidential bet Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III that there will be a people power revolt if he loses in the election.

In fact, Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Victorino said what Aquino warns about is against the law.   

"You don't have to be a lawyer to consider civil disobedience as not legal. We have duly constituted authority and governance must  be at play," he said.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza also hinted he doubts Aquino can lead an uprising.

"Political statements yan, and I don't want to guess him. Your guess is as good as mine tape," Mendoza said.

But still, Mendoza said the government is ready to counter any unrest.

"If ever it comes, then government also has to do some contingency, and also make sure that peace is maintained," he said.

But Aquino said people do not need to be called to the streets if there is massive cheating as they would go on their own.     "Palagay ko, tao ang naglalabasan, tao ang nagtulak sa kampanya, tao ang magdedesisyon kung saan dadaan," he said.  

Malacañang also reacted to the negative campaigning by candidates.   "The election is supposed to be a demonstration of how they are going to lead, I mean, you don't lead by destroying reputations," Mendoza said.

But Aquino and his running mate Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II said they have been victims of negative attacks.

Aquino also refused to respond to calls by his rival Sen. Manny Villar to undergo a psychiatric test saying the allegations come from fake documents.

"Pag mayroon ho bang nanakawan ng cellphone, siya ba dapat magpaliwanag bakit siya nanakawan ng cellphone?" he said.

The LP tandem added they expect the mudslinging to intensify as election day nears.

Villar won't sanction supporter for fake psych report

MANILA, Philippines - Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar on Wednesday said he will not impose sanctions against former National Power Corp. President and NP supporter Guido Delgado for releasing a fake psychiatric report on Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Ateneo's plea: Stop dragging school in smear jobs

After being linked to a controversy surrounding a leading presidential candidate's psychological fitness, Ateneo de Manila University expressed hope on Wednesday that it's name would not be used again in black propaganda.

Villar spokesman willing to resign from party

MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party spokesperson Adel Tamano said he will leave the party if he finds out that the smear campaign against Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III came from the NP camp.

In a media forum this morning in Greenhills, San Juan City, Tamano, an NP senatorial candidate, also denounced the second psychiatric report that was released to the public by NP presidential bet Sen. Manny Villar.

"Right from the start, we have been pushing for a positive campaign — on the issues and competence. We have that in the NP. We should condemn that (negative) type. It does more harm than good to us," Tamano said

He said that the NP should not deny that the second report was released by a supporter.

The alleged second report on the mental evaluation of Aquino was bogus, Tamano said.  

"Maybe I get some flak from NP but in the last two minutes of the campaign, we should stick to the positive campaign. We have a better chance in winning in the polls," he said.

He said he also denounced the "sham" endorsement by the Ampatuan clan of Aquino.

"It is very clear that it is a sham endorsement because an endorsement from the Ampatuans is an endorsement from GMA and an endorsement from the architects of the Maguindanao massacre," Tamano said.

Tamano is also included in the list the Ampatuans as one of the senatorial bets they will support.

In case he resigns from the NP, Tamano said he will continue to campaign for himself.

"This race is bigger than me. If I back down, I will destroy trust Muslims have given me," said Tamano, son of former senator Mamintal Tamano.

Villar: Magdalo continues to support my presidential bid

With the campaign in the final stretch and after taking a hit in the last survey, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar moved to consolidate his votes by paying a visit to Magdalo leader Sen. Antonio Trillanes.

Teodoro, Villanueva press survey firms

Sa gitna ng maiinit na kampanya, hindi napigilan nina Lakas Kampi standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro at Bangon Pilipinas presidential bet Brother Eddie Villanueva na kwestyunin ang kredibilidad ng mga survey firms.

Think tank sees Aquino victory, warns of tough job ahead

There is now only a slim chance that no winner will be proclaimed after the May 10 elections but the presidency may not prove to be a light crown to wear for front-running presidential candidate Senator Benigno Aquino III, according to the US-based think tank Global Source.

"In contrast to a failure of automation, which seems almost certain to happen in some parts of the country given the sheer difficulty of the exercise (moving from manual to automated national elections) and the apparent lack of preparedness of the government, a no-proclamation scenario can be no more than a 10 percent chance particularly if there is a convincing lead where a faulty count in parts of the country will not greatly influence the overall result," Global Source said in a quarterly report on the Philippines dated April 27.

In its commentary, titled "Hope Versus Fear," Global Source said Aquino as of now appeared to be the most likely to win the presidential race as his widening lead in the past survey was too large a chasm to overcome even with acknowledged superiority of Senator Manuel Villar's campaign in logistics and political machinery at the local level.

The Global Source research, written by Filipino economists Romeo Bernardo and Margarita Gonzales, looked into all presidential elections in the post-Marcos era and found that candidates who had led in the polls several weeks before the elections always won the vote.

In the most recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations in mid-April, the Aquino-Villar differential climbed back up to 12 points.

Except for some profit-taking on Wednesday, the local stock market turned upbeat this week on buoyant US global markets as well as on increasing expectations that the presidential elections would push through after all and that the next leader would be acceptable to many.

But Global Source said the post-elections scenario could be particularly hard for Aquino, noting that the son of the popular President Corazon Aquino, who died last year, was "running on a platform that almost hinged on prosecuting the outgoing President, who in turn has craftily lodged herself as a power to reckon with in Congress, some say with eyes on the Speakership and the ultimate goal of changing the Constitution and becoming Prime Minister."

As the country enters the homestretch to the May 2010 national elections, Global Source sai,d the sentiment was a tug-of-war between hope and fear. With politics rather than economics foremost in market players' minds for the moment, what happens in the political arena would color what would be its worst-case, best-case and central scenarios.

The most hopeful case, it said, would entail credible elections with a quick presidential winner who has a productive relationship with Congress, while the most fearsome would involve election failure and thereafter political turmoil that might not be quickly resolved.

"The central case would realistically be one where elections succeed and issues, if they occur, would eventually be settled. The new leader may not have a harmonious relationship with Congress initially," Global Source said.

It said such a scenario would not bode well for fiscal reform. "The scenario would mean some revival of business confidence that would perk up the markets but perhaps not enough to spur rapid growth. The recurring story would still be remittance-driven growth, which this year could see a helpful boost from export recovery and continued buoyant BPO (business process outsourcing) growth."

The most "fearsome" scenario, which Global Source noted was now turning to be a remote possibility, would involve election failure and thereafter political turmoil that might not be quickly resolved and that starts affecting the financial markets such as in Thailand's case currently.

Under such a scenario, the leadership vacuum plunges the country into a black hole with little indication as to how conflicts will be resolved, leading to a severely heightened level of uncertainty that threatens to sink the economy. This would be exacerbated by another round of weakness in the global economy, especially among the advanced markets.

But as Global Source said the central scenario would likely be the most probable one, it was keeping its gross domestic product growth forecast of 3.7 percent for the Philippines this year and 4.7 percent next year.

Under an Aquino presidency, which may be fueled by the promise he would run a clean government based on a revered family name rather than actual track record, Global Source said the new President would need the support of lawmakers to get the government running and to put the economy on track—such as in matters ranging from getting his Cabinet members permanently appointed to getting crucial fiscal and economic bills passed.

It said this would entail using the tools at the disposal of the presidency to "navigate through transaction-driven Philippine politics to take control and neutralize, co-opt, or cooperate with the forces aligned with the current administration."

"Failing to do so skillfully, he and the country may end up in a stalemate, meaning lost years for getting the economy finally moving forward as it locks horns with Congress," Global Source said.

Aquino's Liberal Party, the research said, was not expected to win the majority in either the Lower House or the Senate and would need to forge coalitions or encourage defections to get its agenda through.

"In the Lower House, former president re-incarnated as Representative Arroyo is expected to retain a substantial block. If coalitions with other blocks are forged, she can emerge as Speaker of the House of Representatives, which originates tax bills and impeachment proceedings," it said.

In terms of effecting economic policy, Global Source said Aquino was fortunate in that he could instantaneously come into office with an experienced economic team. It said that his likely Vice President, Mar Roxas—a Wharton-educated investment banker and former trade and industry secretary—would in all likelihood accept a key position in his Cabinet.

Moreover, Global Source said Aquino was surrounded by first-rate advisers, several of whom served with distinction in the administrations of his mother and of President Fidel Ramos as heads of the finance department, the central bank and the state economic planning agency.

In particular, the research noted that former Finance Secretaries Cesar Purisima who served briefly in the Arroyo administration, and Roberto de Ocampo, who served during the Ramos years, have been prominently mentioned in policy circles. Their acceptance of Cabinet positions in key portfolios in the new administration, even if only for a couple of years, jump-starts reform and signals early on seriousness of the administration to buckle down to business and will assure the international financial and investor community and the markets, Global Source said.

But in the event that current surveys reverse and self-made billionaire Manuel Villar ends up as winner—a scenanrio that Global Source said should not be entirely ruled out—Villar was seen recruiting his Cabinet in the same way as a business executive would—by doing an executive search and looking for the best and the brightest people, irrespective of political color.

Global Source said Villar would also be in good position to push an economic and political agenda at the House of Representatives, this being familiar turf for him, having served both as Speaker of the House and Senate President.

No directive given to support Legarda, NPC party man says

DANAO CITY, Cebu, PhilippinesSenator Loren Legarda is the Nationalist People's Coalition candidate for vice president, but NPC Representative Ramon "Red'' Durano VI claims there's no party directive to support her.

"To be truthful about it, I didn't get any directive to support Loren for vice president,'' Durano said at a rally for administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr. at the Freedom Stage here Tuesday night.

That is why, the re-electionist lawmaker said, Cebu's fifth district was supporting Legarda's rival, Senator Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party.

The Duranos are allied with One Cebu party, which has endorsed Teodoro for president, and Legarda for vice president.

"We are supporting Mar Roxas in the fifth district,'' Durano, who organized the rally with his father, Danao Mayor Ramon Durano III and other local officials, told reporters.

Neither is there pressure from NPC leaders to back Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., who has teamed up with Legarda for the presidential elections, according to him.

While Teodoro bolted the NPC founded by his uncle, tycoon Eduardo "Danding'' Cojuangco, to join the ruling Lakas Kampi CMD, Durano said he believed that some of at least 28 NPC congressmen were supporting Teodoro.

He also said that there was no pressure from NPC hierarchy not to back Teodoro.

"I dont think so. We are getting close to election. I do not see any reason they would do it in so late part of the game. Congressmen have given their commitments already to different candidates,'' he said.

"I am confident that Gibo will win here in the district. The only question is how big the majority is,'' he added.

Teodoro said he was aware that individual NPC congressmen were supporting him.

"There are many of them, like Red Durano and Tony Cerilles (Zamboanga del Sur Representative Antonio Cerilles), but they are not supporting me as a party,'' he said.

Chiz hands out Noynoy-Binay poll materials, but insists no tiff with Mar

Even as he insisted there was no tiff between him and Sen. Manuel Roxas II, Sen. Francis Escudero on Wednesday maintained his solid support for Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, who has a different running mate.

In a chance encounter at a Quezon City restaurant with reporters covering the Liberal Partys campaign, Escudero reiterated his support for Aquino and Binay even if Roxas is Aquinos running mate.

Binay is running alongside former President Joseph Estrada.

Upon the prodding of supporters, Escudero had his staff take out Noynoy-Binay campaign shirts and stickers. However, he clarified that he did not order or finance the production of the materials, which he said were only given to him.

Escudero also denied having anything to do with the Noynoy-Binoy posters seen along the Roxas Boulevard in Manila and Pasay cities.

Wala naman akong perang ganoon karami para sa mga ganiyang uri ng kampanya. Supisyante na yung nagboses ako at nagsalita tungkol diyan (I dont have that much money for that kind of campaign. My vocal support for the tandem is already enough)," Escudero said.

Escudero and Roxas are prospective rivals for the presidency in 2016.

However, Escudero insisted his support for Binay does not mean he is at odds with Roxas.

Hindi naman kami nag-away at wala kaming pinag-awayan (We had no argument and were not having any argument)," he said, adding that he is backing Binay because they have long been colleagues in the opposition.

My choice of Binay does not mean anything; anything does not say anything about the other candidates. It has nothing to do with them and it does not diminish in any way their ability to serve should they win," he said.

Escudero also slammed the latest fake report on Aquinos mental health, saying black propaganda is common during elections.

Hindi ko siya tutulungan at i-eendorso kung naniniwala akong totoo iyong paratang na iyon (I will not help and endorse Aquino if I believe in what the report alleges)," he said.

JV Ejercito blasts Chiz Escudero

Isinapubliko na ni San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito ang kinikimkim na sama ng loob kay Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero.  Dahil umano ito sa pagsuporta ni Escudero sa ibang kandidato sa pagkapangulo. Pero, buwelta ni Escudero, walang personalan.

Ammo recovered from lawmaker's house in police raid

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines -- Several ammunitions were recovered from the house of Samar first district Rep. Reynaldo Uy during a police raid on Tuesday, police said Wednesday.

Senior Supt. Manuel Cubillo, information officer of the Philippine National Police in Region 8, said a police team conducted the raid on Uy's residence in Barangay (village) Rawis, Calbayog City at about 7 a.m. by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Agerico Avila of the Regional Trial Court Branch 27 based in Catbalogan City.

Police said they recovered two live grenades, two live ammunition for a .45 caliber handgun, two bladed weapons and several rounds of empty shells of various firearms from one of the rooms of the raided house.

However, Uy dismissed the raid conducted in his house as "politically motivated."

He also said that he had not used the house for more than a year and a caretaker has been left to tend the house.

In a text message, Uy accused the police of "planting" the ammunitions allegedly recovered from his house.

Uy, who is on his last term as representative, is running for mayor of Calbayog City under the Liberal Party. He accused his political rivals of being in cahoots with Senior Supt. Pancho Hubilla, the provincial police director, in connection with the raid conducted at his house.

But Hubilla, in a separate interview, denied Uy's claim, saying he was only doing his job as a police officer.

"I cannot recall any incident that would manifest my being partisan as alleged by him (Uy)," Hubilla said.

AFP chief's plane makes precautionary landing

MANILA, Philippines - A plane carrying Armed Forces chief Gen. Delfin Bangit made a precautionary landing in Davao City Wednesday after precautionary lights started blinking on the plane's control panel.

$1: P44.800

$1: P44.800

Euro 1: P58.4285

Thai authorities, protesters clash near capital (AP)

BANGKOK – Thai security forces fired into a crowd of anti-government protesters during a clash just outsideBangkok on Wednesday as they tried to keep the Red Shirts from expanding their demonstrations from a base in the capital. One soldier was killed, and at least 18 protesters were hurt.

It was not immediately clear if troops shot live ammunition or rubber bullets in the confrontation along a major road connecting Bangkok with its northern suburbs that security forces had blocked with razor wire.

The Red Shirts, whose protests have paralyzed parts of the capital for weeks in their campaign to bring down a government they view as illegitimate, had announced that they were widening their demonstrations and dared the military to stop them as hundreds headed on motorbikes and pickup trucks to a planned rally in a suburb.

Along Vibhavadi-Rangsit road, riot squads fired into the air to push back protesters but several tried to remove the razor wire, prompting troops to level their rifles and shoot directly at protesters who fled into oncoming traffic. Police huddled behind riot shields, while soldiers wielding rifles took up positions behind concrete pylons.

The confrontation was chaotic and at one point security forces fired on a group of troops riding toward them on motorbikes in what appeared to be an accident, although some members of the security forces have been accused of siding with the protesters. At least four motorbikes crashed and one soldier was carried away on a stretcher, bleeding profusely from the head. Several others from the group threw their hands in the air.

According to the government's Erawan emergency center, a soldier was killed and 18 people wounded during the clash.

The confrontation ended Wednesday evening and the protesters headed back to their enclave.

But the shooting raised concerns that more violence was to come after government warnings that patience was running out in the seven-week standoff.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said troops were told to use rubber bullets but also had authority to use live ammunition for self-defense.

"We brought force out to stop them. At this point, society finds it unacceptable to have protesters traveling in a motorcade like this," Sansern said. "We try our best to prevent losses."

The demonstration appeared intended to provoke the government, which has repeatedly said it will not tolerate protests beyond the Red Shirts' enclave in the city. It was the first confrontation since five grenades were fired near a gathering of counter-protesters Thursday, killing one person.

At least 26 people have been killed and nearly 1,000 wounded since protesters began occupying parts ofBangkok in mid-March, barricading major roads with tires and bamboo sticks and forcing the closure of some of the city's ritziest malls and hotels.

The Red Shirts, who are demanding the dissolution of Parliament, said they were sending a team of activists to drum up support at an outdoor market north of the capital. They have set up barricades on roads leading to the capital in recent days to prevent police reinforcements from being sent to assist in a possible crackdown.

"We are going to send (protesters) out of the rally site," a Red Shirt leader, Nattawut Saikua, said. "If the military thinks it is necessary to use force to block us, it's all right. ... We are not afraid."

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has repeatedly said he hopes to resolve the conflict peacefully but has yet to outline a clear plan out of the crisis after calling off negotiations with the protesters. They are drawn mostly from poor, rural provinces and see the premier as a symbol of an elite impervious to their plight.

"We recognize that as every day passes by, the people of Thailand suffer, the country suffers, but we want to make sure that there is rule of law," Abhisit told CNN. "We will try to enforce the law with minimum losses and we will try to find a political resolution, but it takes time, patience and cooperation."

His government has been criticized for excessive leniency and standing aside as protesters occupied more than 1 square mile (3 square kilometers) in the heart of Bangkok.

The government also has accused the protesters of trying to undermine the monarchy and the revered king. Such a charge, which protest leaders strongly deny, could weaken their support.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the government was investigating opposition politicians, academics and media it believes are involved in an anti-monarchy movement, the newspaper Matichon reported. Thailand's lese majeste law mandates a jail term of up to 15 years for anyone who "defames, insults, or threatens" the royal family.

The Red Shirts' ranks are largely drawn from supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006 on corruption allegations. The group believes that Abhisit's government — backed by the urban elite — is illegitimate, having been helped into power by the country's powerful military.

UK campaign gaffe: Brown calls voter a bigot (AP)

LONDON – Britain's bedraggled Prime Minister Gordon Brown walked into a political train wreck Wednesday after forgetting to turn off his microphone.

He described a loyal Labour voter as a bigot for asking about immigration, blamed advisers for a "disaster" ahead of next week's election, then rushed back to the voter's house to beg her forgiveness.

All the country could do was look on — in shock, amazement and sometimes glee — as the painful, riveting drama played out over television and radio for hours. The debacle created a massive setback for Brown on the eve of the last TV debate ahead of the May 6 vote.

Grandmother Gillian Duffy, 66, met with Brown at a campaign stop in the northern town of Rochdale and questioned him about the influx of eastern European immigrants who have come to Britain.

Many people are angry that immigrants are taking jobs at a time when Britain's unemployment level is soaring. More than 1 million eastern Europeans have moved to Britain since the EU gained new members such asPolandBulgaria and Romania in 2004, but many have since left during the bruising recession.

Brown brushed the question aside and explained that Britons were also working in eastern Europe, leaving in his car in a hurry and forgetting to turn off his microphone.

"That was a disaster, they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous," Brown is heard saying.

Asked what Duffy had said to upset him, Brown told the aide: "Everything. She's just a sort of bigoted woman."

Duffy, a retired widow who had worked with handicapped children and whose family had all voted for Labour, had questioned Brown on taxes, university fees, immigration and Britain's record deficit of 152.84 billion pounds ($235.9 billion).

Brown's gaffe was immediately broadcast and he was then grilled about it on a televised radio show. Slumped over with his head in his hand, Brown said he realized he had made a mistake and regretted the remarks.

"He's an educated person, why has he come out with words like that?" Duffy said. "He's calling an ordinary woman who's just come up and asked questions ... a bigot."

Duffy said Brown had initially appeared receptive as they discussed policy. "I thought he was understanding but he wasn't, was he?" said Duffy, who said she had planned to vote Labour but would now most likely abstain.

Brown later telephoned Duffy to apologize, then unexpectedly showed up at her home.

Smiling broadly but awkwardly, Brown emerged 40 minutes later and said Duffy had accepted his apology. Duffy stayed in her house and refused to face the cameras.

"She has accepted that there was a misunderstanding and she has accepted my apology," Brown told reporters. "If you like, I am a penitent sinner."

The political consequences of Brown's blunder could be severe since he already is third in opinion polls for the general election and desperate to show his supposedly statesmanlike credentials to dispatch less experienced rivals: Conservative leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

In an ironic twist, Brown's campaign team had even overhauled its election strategy this week — betting that more contact between their leader and ordinary people would revive his flagging election hopes.

Wednesday's incident is the latest in a long line of gaffes where politicians whose private remarks have been made accidentally public — from President Ronald Reagan's 1984 joke declaration of war on Russia toPresident George W. Bush's overly familiar "Yo, Blair" greeting in 2006 to Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair.

Most recently in the United States, as President Barack Obama prepared to sign the big U.S. health care overhaul, Vice President Joe Biden said quietly into his ear, "This is a big (expletive) deal," not realizing the comment was being picked up on an open microphone.

Since then, the Biden episode has been repeatedly viewed on YouTube and even turned into T-shirts — but not seen as a political liability.

Brown had a previous gaffe last year when he sent a handwritten note to a mother whose son was killed inAfghanistan. He had misspelled the soldier's name and was forced into an embarrassing apology.

A book published in March accused Brown of regularly snapping at staff.

Brown's foes could barely disguise their delight at his high-profile misstep. "The thing about general elections is that they reveal the truth about people," George Osborne, a senior Conservative Party lawmaker, said.

Charlie Whelan, a former aide to Brown, used his Twitter Web site to defend the leader. "Who has not let off steam under stress and strain" of a campaign? he wrote. "He's apologized, move on."

Bookmaker William Hill said the gaffe could dent Brown's election chances, immediately lengthening the odds of a victory for his Labour Party to 16/1 from 12/1. "It could prove to be a very damaging blow to his chances of retaining power," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.

Ivor Gaber, a political campaign analyst at London's City University, said the incident would damage Brown but may not prove fatal.

"People know that Brown is no angel, and though this won't do him any good, it's not certain how this will play out," he said.

Other allies also rushed to Brown's defense. "This is something that he knows he shouldn't have said," said Treasury chief Alistair Darling, a Labour lawmaker.

Pacquiao still open for megabout with Floyd Jr

Manny Pacquiao is not closing the doors for a possible megabout with nemesis Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a fight that may likely be the Filipino boxing icons last before he retires.

"Yes, theres that big possibility. Its 50-50 at this point" said the 31-year-old boxing champion when asked about taking on Mayweather Jr. in the near future.

For that to happen, Pacquiao said both of them have to hurdle first the major challenges staring them straight in the face in the coming weeks.

Mayweather is set to clash with Sugar Shane Mosley in Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend with the winner being the top choice for the Pacquiao sweepstake.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, is busy with his political fight against the influential Chiongbian clan of Sarangani in his second bid for a congressional seat. The seven world division champion is up against Rey Chiongbian, brother of outgoing three-term Rep. Erwin Chiongbian.

The two top pound-for-pound fighters in the world are all set to duke out last March, only for the fight to be shelved at the last minute when the both parties failed to agree on the manner of drug testing to be conducted.

The Filipino opted to take on Joshua Clottey instead, and came out scoring a dominant 12-round unanimous decision.

A lot of names have cropped up as Pacquiaos next possible Pacquiao, including the late Edwin Valero and former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito.

But its Mayweather whos definitely the top choice of Pacquiao fans that the Pacman should fight next in what many believe would be the biggest in the history of prizefighting.

If ever the fight happens, Pacquiao sounded it off as possibly the last stop of his glorious 15-year career.

"I will discuss this with the entire family if and when the fight takes place," he said. 

Mayweather makes Ali-like claim ahead of Mosley bout

by Reuters
LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has never lost a professional bout, made a Muhammad Ali-like claim on Tuesday, the former five-weight world champion declaring himself the world's best ever boxer.

Ricky Reyes' hairdressers' coop backs Villar's bid

MANILA, Philippines -- Hairdressers, unite!

This may be the battle cry of Ricky Reyes as he endorsed on Wednesday the presidential candidacy of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar.

Villar secured the endorsement of Reyes and his army of haircutters and hairdressers belonging to Filipino Hairdressers Cooperative when the senator served as guest speaker at the 26th Hair and Make-up Trend Competition at Philippine Trade Center in Pasay City.

Ang Ladlad, the first gay political party in Asia allowed to run in the May 10 partylist election, earlier threw its support to Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino.

Asked by reporters about this, Reyes, without batting an eyelash, quipped: Kaya ngayon, nilaladlad ko na si Manny Villar (So now I'm endorsing Manny Villar). Should I endorse someone else? That's it, he is the one.

I always say that the hardship experienced by Filipinos will be solved by having jobs, declared Reyes, fondly called as Mother by his wards as a show of respect and admiration for the founder of Fil-Hair Coop., which gave birth to the successful privately run community livelihood project, Isang Gunting, Isang Suklay.

Reyes, whose rags-to-riches story inspired fellow beauticians like him to dream big, noted that he and Villar succeeded in business by starting as entrepreneurs.

Im one of his fans because of his work for the poor and we both came from the ranks of the poor, Villar told reporters after his speech, pointing out that both of them succeeded through Sipag at Tiyaga, his campaign slogan which meant hard work and patience.

Reyes said that Fil-Hair had chapters all over the country.

For me, my sector, the beauty sectorthe most beautiful sector in this countryyou will not see us in the streets rallying. But what we do is go to our shop, we will cut hair, we will make our own money, and we will feed our families, she said.

When asked about the nationwide membership of the Fil-Hair Coop, he said: I don't count people .. but when I call (them), I can fill the whole ballroom.

Reyes said he liked people who know what business is all about.

Instead of loitering about in the streets doing nothing, jobless people should work as haircutters to provide food and medicines for their families and pay for house rental and school fees.

His endorsement was music to the ears of Villar.

The endorsement of Ricky is a big deal for me because I really admire him. I am one of his fans. He is one of the Filipinos who should be emulated. He is helping our society and he really pushed for his profession and industry in the field of entrepreneurship. He is indeed a good example of success through hard work and patience.

Villar said that Reyes had combined business and love of country.

In his speech, Villar said he had been advocating entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty.

We should encourage hairdressers to go on, to excel, to compete, said Villar, again harping on his campaign platform to end poverty once elected as president.

Star Magic debunks reports of Piolo Pascual's 'death'

MANILA, Philippines - ABS-CBN's Star Magic on Wednesday disputed reports that hunk actor Piolo Pascual died while filming in New Zealand.

Sharon Cuneta walks out of own show

MANILA, Philippines – Megastar Sharon Cuneta has broken her silence on her reported walkout. The megastar reportedly left her self-titled television program in the middle of the taping because of a production number. She was reportedly crying when she hurriedly left ABS-CBN.

Nikki Gil, Sam Milby audition for 'Glee'

MANILA, Philippines - Singer-actress Nikki Gil and Rockoustic Heartthrob Sam Milby have auditioned for hit American musical series "Glee." In her Twitter page, Gil disclosed that it was Milby who told her about the online casting call.

Sandra Bullock files for divorce: People Magazine

by Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES, United States - Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock has filed for divorce, People magazine reported on its website Wednesday, one month after several women came forward claiming to have had affairs with her husband Jesse James.

Parts of Metro Manila drenched by rain

MANILA, PhilippinesDespite the record heat, rain fell in some parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas late Wednesday afternoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

According to Chris Perez, PAGASA weather forecaster, they received reports of rain falling in Cavite, parts of southern Metro Manila, and the city of Manila.

"This is considered normal. When the weather is warm and hot, we expect isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms to fall, mostly in the afternoon and early evening," Perez said.

He explained that this is all part of the water cycle where extreme heat causes evaporation and the formation of clouds. "When all this happens, you can expect rain to fall."

But Perez said the occurrence of rain does not mean the summer season or the El Nio phenomenon is over or that we would have cooler temperatures in the coming days.

Metro Manila's hottest day recorded on Wednesday

The hottest day in Metro Manila was recorded on Wednesday after temperatures breached the 37-degree mark, state weather forecasters of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) said.
The temperature in Metro Manila, particularly in Quezon City, reached a scorching 37.3 degrees Celsius at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pagasa senior weather Rene Paciente said in a radio interview.
This temperature surpassed a previous hottest day record" of 36.8 degrees Celsius last April 20.
Paciente also warned that Metro Manila temperature may even reach 38 degrees in May due to the El Niño dry spell.
The highest temperature in Metro Manila 38.5 degrees Celsius was recorded on May 14, 1987, Paciente said.
The highest temperature in the country, meanwhile, was recorded on April 29, 1912, when a sizzling 39.5 degrees Celsius was registered in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan Valley.

Thursday: light rain shower, Max Temp: 32°C (90°F), Min Temp: 26°C (79°F)

Max Temp: 32°C (90°F), Min Temp: 26°C (79°F), Wind Direction: ESE, Wind Speed: 10mph, Visibility: good, Pressure: 1012mb, Humidity: 58%, Sunrise: 05:27PHT, Sunset: 17:55PHT

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