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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 19, 2010 Major News Stories


DOH preps schools in fight vs dengue

Di lang ang DTI at DepEd ang abala ngayong papalapit ang pasukan. Maging ang Department of Health pinaghahanda na rin ang mga eskwelahan para maging dengue proof. 

DTI keeps tabs on prices of school supplies

Ilang linggo bago magpasukan, nag-ikot ang mga taga-Department of Trade and Industry sa mga tindahan ng school supplies. Ito ay para tiyaking walang retailer ang nagtaas ng presyo.

P10-M budget set for freedom day

PRESIDENT GLORIA Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the release of funds for the celebration of Independence Day next month, her last to lead as the country's chief executive.

New ID system to serve voters

THE SOCIAL Security System (SSS)-managed multipurpose identification card would be issued starting in June.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Romulo L. Neri yesterday said in an interview at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday that voter information would be an additional service to members of the four agencies covered by the unified multipurpose identification, namely, SSS, Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Pag-IBIG Fund.

"We are giving Comelec free space so they can put in voter identification features," Mr. Neri said.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Y. Larrazabal said that the proposal would be discussed by the full commission. "We will submit it to the en banc for approval and we can adopt this as a voter ID," he said. 


Cebu Energy and Development Corp.'s (CEDC) Unit 1 has been undergoing maintenance since May 15.

To continue

With the increasing demand, the sporadic brownouts which have been experienced in Metro Cebu since last year will continue, said DOE-Visayas Director Antonio Labios.

Negative

"We have negative reserve since after the elections, primarily due to high demand of more than 1,300 megawatts (mw) for the whole Visayas grid plus the fact that CEDC Unit 1 with a capacity of 84 megawatts in Toledo City has been under maintenance since May 15," Labios said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.

Ethel Natera, corporate communications manager of the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco), also reported that at past 1 p.m. yesterday, the power supply shortage affected Barangays Inayawan, Pardo, Busay, Luz, Kasambagan, Banilad and some mountains barangays of Cebu City and Talisay City.

Rotation

At past 2 p.m., Natera said rotation brownouts were implemented in Mandaue City, Talisay City, part of Consolacion town and Barangays Pit-os, Basak, Punta Princesa and Pardo in Cebu City.

Labios did not answer why SPC Power Corp., which has a contract with the National Power Corp. (NPC) to operate the Naga Power Plant Complex (NPPC), did not operate the 50-mw gas turbines to reduce the power supply deficiency.

Last March, Labios announced that the two gas turbines at the NPPC were privatized by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management as mandated by the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

The gas turbines were acquired by SPC Power last January.

MCWD, distributor sign deal

Cebu's main water distributor signed a second joint venture agreement (JVA) with a private water distributor to address the needs of consumers in upland areas in Cebu City affected by the dry spell.

Meanwhile, the weather bureau forecast cooler and wet weather next month, saying the El Niño phenomenon may soon weaken.

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) officials yesterday signed a JVA with representatives of Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI) for the latter to supply more than 1,500 cubic meters (cbm) of water to MCWD's Banawa Injection Point, which supplies water to upland barangays in Cebu City.

Last month, MCWD signed a JVA with Abejo Builders to provide more than 2,000 cbm of water a day to Barangay Lahug and some adjacent areas in Cebu City.

Armando Paredes, MCWD's general manager, signed the JVA with representatives of the water district's board of directors and PWRI's William Maceren.

Water crisis

Ernie Delco, MCWD assistant manager for operations, said yesterday while the water distribution company is expected to enter into six more JVAs before the year ends, these will not help in alleviating the current water crisis.

Delco said it will still take months before they take effect, but these JVAs will be useful for water consumers as these will help in countering future dry spells during the summer months when water demand is at its peak.

MCWD's overall water production rate is about 161,000 cbm a day, said Delco.

This is down from MCWD's regular 172,000 cbm daily water production.

Meanwhile, Oscar Tabada, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)-Mactan, said there is a possibility that the rains may begin within the first week of June, as the El Niño phenomenon continues to weaken.

Supposedly, a southwest monsoon passes by the country by mid-May, but due to the El Niño, this may occur in early June, said Tabada.

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council's April 29 report on the El Niño impact assessment on agriculture, crop damage was estimated at P12 billion nationwide.

Ciudad stays blocked: City


CAPITOL officials will meet with proponents of the stalled Ciudad project in Banilad, to discuss their plans now that a new administration will take over Cebu City Hall on June 30.

Capitol spokesman Rory Jon Sepulveda said the Province wants to know the status of their joint venture partner's application for a locational clearance and what they intend to do about it once Vice Mayor Michael Rama takes over as mayor.

If Ciudad, a P1.2-billion multi-use facility, pushes through, Sepulveda said that will mean an optimal use of the Province-owned property.

Rama, who is abroad, declined to comment. But Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the ban on constructions in that area will remain in place, because of the traffic.

"It's all a matter of record. There's a ban," he said. "I don't think that project can be implemented. The traffic is really bad in that area."

Until a mass transport system that will help decongest the Banilad-Talamban corridor is in place, the Cebu City Development Planning and Development Office (CPDO) will not recommend to lift the moratorium on new development projects there.

CPDO Chief Paul Villarete said based on their technical recommendation, the Province's stalled development project, Ciudad, and other new construction projects should not be issued development permits.

"There is still a moratorium because of the traffic congestion and the rapid urban growth in the area and even if their investors will talk 1,000 times about their plans, that will not change... Why, are projects going to be decided by good relations?" he said.

Ciudad has been stalled since 2007, when the City Government suspended all development permits for the Banilad-Talamban area, citing heavy traffic.

Mayor-elect Rama reserved his official comment until he assumes office.

"I'm still on vacation. My term starts at noon of June 30. I hope you understand," he said in a text message.

Interviewed separately, Sepulveda said the Capitol is hoping the Ciudad project can take off, as it will promote economic activity.

The Ciudad project is supposed to host several establishments that will complement the adjacent IT Park and the Cebu Country club right across the property.

"It will be an added area in the city for economic activity," Sepulveda said.

Change?

However, he admitted the Capitol is not optimistic the change in leadership will mean the project will finally get its locational clearance and permits.

"Ninety percent of what we are saying, somebody is going to shoot this down again. But because it's (Ciudad) being asked (by media), then we have to answer the question," Sepulveda said.

"We don't want to politicize this project, much as some would like it to be done," he added.

While he does not have anything to do with politics, Villarete said it is his job to give technical recommendations to the mayor regarding planning and development.

He said, though, that it is up to Rama whether he will follow the recommendations.

Even before the Ciudad project was announced, he said, he already advised the mayor to rezone the Banilad-Talamban corridor because of the large number of locational clearances and development permits being issued for projects in the area.

"So it has nothing to do with Ciudad. It has to do with the rapid urban growth in the area. As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed. My technical recommendation is that unless a mass transport system, the Bus Rapid Transit, is there, the City should not lift the moratorium," Villarete added.

Asked whether he and Rama have discussed the Ciudad project lately, the mayor said: "No comment."

Carcar City mayor-elect asks for police escort amid threat

CARCAR City Vice Mayor Nicepuro Apura, who was proclaimed winner of the mayoral race in the city, has requested the Cebu Provincial Police Office to provide him a security escort.

This was after he reportedly received a threat sent through text after he was proclaimed winner.

Apura paid acting CPPO Director Erson Digal a visit yesterday and showed him the threatening text message, which warned Apura that he would not live through the
oath-taking and will not be able to serve as mayor.

Digal said a temporary escort was assigned to Apura while they evaluate the seriousness of the threat.

Apura, he said, did not apply for a security detail for the duration of the campaign period.

Drug problem

Also yesterday, a squad from the Special Reaction Unit was assigned to Barangay Liburon in Carcar City to help address the illegal drug problem there.

A few years ago, an outpost was set up in Liburon but Digal said this was later recalled when the problem simmered down.

Carcar City Police Chief Renato Malazarte explained the drug problem was not so widespread. What made things critical was the drug-related shootings that have occurred.

He said he is grateful the CPPO and Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 recognize the problem they are facing pertaining to drugs.

Peace and order

With a new team to focus on the illegal drug trade in Carcar City, Malazarte said his men will be free to focus on other peace and order problems in their area of jurisdiction.

Malazarte said in the three months he has been chief of police of Carcar City, there were some arrests of illegal drug personalities, but these were not enough to stop the operations.

The campaign against illegal drugs is seen as the motive for the death of Ocaña Barangay Captain Jose Husain last Friday.

Digal said they have identified two men who were the ones who shot Husain, but declined to divulge their identities.

He has assigned a task force headed by Provincial Intelligence Branch Chief Rodolfo Albotra to concentrate on solving the case.

6 One Cebu-allied lawmakers to form group

CAPITOL Consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda yesterday said the six House representatives in Cebu Province who are allied with One Cebu Party will form a bloc so they can have a strong voice in Congress once it will convene in July.

Sepulveda said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the Cebuano House representatives from the six districts are in Manila to meet with other legislators.

He said he expects the six legislators to invite newly elected House representatives-Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Rachel del Mar and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Arturo Radaza-as well as the other congressmen to join the Visayas bloc.

Radaza is with Lakas-Kampi-CMD but Osmeña and del Mar are with the Liberal Party.

When asked if the bloc will include Osmeña, who is at odds with the governor, Sepulveda said it will be up to the mayor.

"Theoretically, apil na siya (Osmeña) because he is a Cebuano congressman and must be part of the Cebu bloc, although in reality, they still don't know if the Cebu City mayor, now congressman-elect, will join the bloc or will choose to be alone.

The congressmen in the Visayas must have a common stand especially on economic development under the Aquino administration. They are persons of similar positions and of similar interests," Sepulveda said.

The bloc will include the congressmen in Bohol, namely Erico Aumentado (2nd district), Rene Relampagos (1st) and Arthur Yap (3rd).

Aumentado is the outgoing governor and Relampagos is a former governor, while Yap is the former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary who ran for congressman with the help of President Gloria Arroyo.

Sepulveda said the One Cebu Party, which is allied with Arroyo, is not sure if incumbent Lakas-Kampi-CMD congressmen in other parts of the country will remain with the administration or will jump to the camp of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is leading the presidential race.

"But I am sure the Cebu congressmen are thinking of how to promote Cebu's economy, especially in their respective districts (under the Aquino administration). They want that One Cebu's programs and policies will be adopted," Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda refused to comment on reports that Gov. Garcia and Reps. Pablo Garcia (Cebu, 2nd district) and Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd) met with LP officials yesterday. 

NPC's 39 to vote as bloc in speakership race -- solon

Reelected Rep. George P. Arnaiz (Neg. Or., 2nd district) said his party, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), would play an important role in determining the next Speaker.

LP eyes alliances to retake Senate presidency

by by Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente, abs-cbnNEWS.com Halalan 2010 Volunteer
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Franklin M. Drilon on Tuesday said the Liberal Party is willing to forge alliances with other Senate factions in a bid to retake the Senate presidency.

Drilon, who served as Senate president from 2000 to 2006, said the LP currently has 4 members in the Senate: himself, Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Ralph Recto and Teogisto Guingona III. He said that for the LP to retake the Senate presidency, it would have to get the support of senators aligned with the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Lakas-KAMPI-CMD.

Drilon confirmed that he and Pangilinan have both expressed interest in the position but noted that the LP will only field one candidate "so we can have solid four votes within the party."

Aquino asked to reveal members of search committee

To avoid any suspicion, President apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III must reveal to the public the members of his search committee that will screen applicants for any post under his administration, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said on Tuesday.

Aquino campaigners should not accept Cabinet posts—Escudero

MANILA, Philippines Senator Francis Chiz Escudero is urging those who campaigned for Senator Benigno Aquino III not to accept any position that he might offer if and when he assumes the presidency.

Hindi para sa akin masabing ma-disappoint ako pero marami marahil ma-disappoint [Its not for me to say that I will be disappointed but probably a lot of people will be disappointed, Escudero said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Nakahanda ako bigyan siya ng kalayaan. Binoto ko siya dahil may tiwala ako sa kanya. Sana anumang desisyon na gagawin niya naaayon sa prinsipyo at sinimula nating layunin sa pagbabagong ginawa natin [Im ready to give him a free hand. I voted for him because I trust him. I hope any decision he makes would be based on his principles], he said.

Escudero, a close friend and one of the principal endorsers of Aquino, said he himself would not accept any post from Aquino.

Para sa akin wala akong intention pumasok sa admin o Cabinet ni Senator Noynoy. In fairness to Noynoy wala siyang alok na binibigay sa akin. Tatapusin ko ang aking termino bilang senador until 2013. [For me, I have no intention of getting into the Aquino administration or Cabinet. In fairness to Noynoy, he has not offered me anything. I will finish my term as senator until 2013], he said.

At sa panig ng tumulong at sumuporta, hindi di naman sila tumulong at sumuporta at naghihintay ng kapalit na pwesto sa gobyerno niya. Sana bukal sa kalooban at malaya nila ginawa ang pagtulong at walang hinihintay na kapalit makakuha ng pwesto o makabalik sa pwesto [And on the part of those who helped and supported him, they did not help because they are waiting for something in return, like a government post. I hope it came from their heart without expecting to get a government post, he further said.

Asked who he was referring to, Escudero said, Yung dating may pwesto.

Asked again if he was particularly referring to the Hyatt 10, the senator said, Or previous administration during the time of President [Corazon] Aquino.

The Hyatt 10 is composed of 10 former Cabinet members of the present administration, who resigned in 2005 and called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to do the same after she was linked to cheating in the 2004 presidential election.

Noynoy warned vs appointing Cruz, Marcelo to Cabinet

A former Cabinet official in the Aquino administration has warned leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III against giving two former Arroyo Cabinet officials positions in his official family.

These erstwhile Arroyo Cabinet officials were former Defense secretary Avelino Cruz and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.

In the report, former Solicitor General Frank Chavez said Cruz is eyeing the Justice secretary post while Marcelo wants to be the head of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the eight-man body constitutionally mandated to screen nominees for vacant judicial positions.

Chavez said the two — both members of the influential Villaraza, Marcelo, Cruz and Angcangco Law Office, also known as "The Firm" — are using the controversial appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona to further their ambition.


"They are so noisy, demanding that the Supreme Court should've not appointed a new chief justice. They're doing that because they're pushing for one of the founders of their firm," Chavez said, referring to Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a contender in the chief justice post who was once part of "The Firm."

Both Cruz and Marcelo served under the current administration but withdrew their support to President Gloria Macapgal-Arroyo in 2005 during the height of allegations that she rigged the results of the 2004 elections. 

Marcelo denied Chavez's claim, saying he is too busy with the firm to accept a position in the Cabinet. "I want to help, but I can help as a private citizen," he said.

The "24 Oras" report said Marcelo has admitted that he is not in favor of Corona's appointment, saying the Supreme Court committed a "supreme mistake" when it allowed President Arroyo make the appointment during the election season.

The high court in March ruled the election ban on appointments does not cover the chief justice post.

Palace to Noynoy: Pick "cute" Cabinet officials

Pick Cabinet officials who are cute. This was the unsolicited advice given by Malacañang to leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is already searching for people who will compose his official family once he assumes office.

Frank Chavez presents 'witnesses' to poll fraud

MANILA, Philippines - Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez presented 2 men who claim to have witnessed anomalies being committed within the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

One of the witnesses is lawyer Melchor Magdamo, who worked for Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, while the second witness, Arwin Serrano, is connected with electoral watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

The 2 men presented documents to reporters to buttress their claims.

They claimed the Comelec deliberately delayed testing the compact flash cards used in Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines so there would not be enough time to test and correct flaws. They alleged that the delay allowed operators a chance to rig the results.

"Sinadya nilang i-delay para makapag-operate ang mga players sa loob ng Comelec, para makapang-daya," Magdamo claimed.

The 2 also alleged that Comelec officials, from the rank of director and up, raked in billions of pesos in 19 anomalous transactions, including the overpriced purchase of the ultraviolet (UV) lamps and ballot secrecy folders.

"Overpricing ito, yung P10 item nagiging P300, halos lahat ng transaksyon ganoon ka overpriced," Serrano said.

Magdamo explained he left the Comelec when he started receiving death threats. He later sought Chavez's help.

Chavez said that based on the testimony from these 2 men, it appears only Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento is "clean".

Another person is expected to surface to show how the PCOS machine's compact flash card was allegedly preprogrammed to favor certain paying candidates. That person will make public his story when he is ready.

There may be enough grounds to initiate impeachment proceedings against certain officials of the poll body once the new Congress is formed.

"Yung mga higher officials, puwedeng i-impeach, yung mga mababang empleyado puwedeng file-lan ng criminal case," Chavez said.

Binay, Comelec: So-called whistleblower's story is pure hogwash

Mariin namang itinanggi ni Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay na may kinalaman siya sa sinasabing pandaraya diumano nitong nakaraang halalan. Para naman sa Comelec, kalokohan ang sinasabi ng whistleblower na si Robin na nagkaroon umano ng dagdag-bawas.

Palace backs probe into poll irregularities

Even Malacañang on Tuesday backed a move by lawmakers to open an inquiry into alleged irregularities in last week's automated elections, but maintained that the elections were successful.

Deputy presidential spokesman Rogelio Peyuan said it was about time the government looked into whether the consortium Smartmatic-TIM Inc. delivered on its contract with the Commission on Elections.

He said the inquiry should look into whether the vote tallying machines, supplied by Smartmatic, functioned well, and if government funds spent on these machines were used well.

"I'd like to think that if we discover any flaw in the use of these machines, this is the right time because eventually we'll reach the stage of this whole exercise where we have to look back and draw lessons,'' he said at a news briefing.

Peyuan said Malacañang agreed with the proposal to withhold the balance of the payment due to the Smartmatic pending a review of its performance.

"I believe that the contract will not release the balance unless the questions surrounding this contract are satisfactorily answered.... I believe that the Comelec will do their job not to release the balance. And if they think that the Smartmatic has to account for something, then so be it,'' he added.

Peyuan said the House of Representatives should conduct the inquiry at its own pace, and as part of the government's preparation for the smooth transition to the next administration.

Peyuan said that regardless of the outcome of the inquiry, the Arroyo administration has left the automated elections as one of its legacies.

"The basic legacy will be there, and we've been able to carry this out peacefully,'' he said.

But he said that the government would not allow any irregularity to taint the successful conduct of the elections.

Controversial Antipolo PCOS machines taken to Senate

Inilipat na sa Senado ang 60 PCOS machines na nakaimbak sa Ynares Gym sa Antipolo City.  Pero dumaan muna ito sa masusing dokumentasyon sa grupo nina Senator Jamby Madrigal.

Polls not fair, not honest, not peaceful—foreign watchers

Rampant vote-buying, violations of laws on campaigning, and widespread intimidation of voters were among the reasons a group of foreign observers concluded that the May 10 general elections were not fair, not honest, and not even peaceful as declared by government officials.

PPCRV gets results from only 2 precincts

Results from only two precincts were the only data that were transmitted to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as of 12:50 p.m.

Noynoy, Roxas lead in OAV votes, DFA says

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and running-mate Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II dominated the votes cast by Filipinos abroad through the overseas absentee voting (OAV), data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed.

Corona's wife quits govt job to avoid controversy

The wife of newly appointed Chief Justice Renato Corona has filed her resignation as president of a state-owned corporation to spare her husband from accusations of conflict of interest.
Corona, whose appointment has been hounded by controversy, said his wife Maria Cristina resigned as president of John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC) upon his request. 

The resignation will be effective June 30, the same day President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will step down from office.

"Sinabi ko sa kanya, bitiwan na natin. Ayaw ko na kakong mabatikos dahil lamang sa walang kakwenta-kwentang (bagay)," Corona told dzMM radio in an interview Tuesday.

(I told her to resign. I don't want to be criticized over something that's not even an issue.)

Corona admitted that criticisms that his wife's position in JHMC., which has several pending cases before the Supreme Court, might be in conflict with his new position as chief magistrate. 

JHMC, a subsidiary corporation under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), administers the John Hay Special Economic Zone in Baguio City.

Corona said his wife has been working with JHMC since the Ramos administration, or even before he was appointed as associate justice of the Supreme Court. 

Mrs. Corona was appointed president of JHMC in 2007. Her appointment was one of the issues raised by members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) during the public interview of Corona as a nominee for the chief justice position. 

Corona, during the JBC interview, admitted that his family had been receiving death threats. 

During the dzMM interview, Corona said his family has been deeply hurt by accusations that he was a lackey of President Arroyo, and that he used his influence as Supreme Court justice to have his wife appointed JHMC president. 

"Ako po ay emosyonal kapag pamilya na ang pinag-uusapan. Naalala ko yung sakit na pinagdadaanan ng pamilya ko dahil lamang ako ay na-nominate sa pagka-Chief Justice. Apparently may mga taong ayaw sa akin," he said.

(I tend to become emotional when it comes to my family. I remember how they suffered when I was nominated for chief justice. Apparently, there are people who do not like me.)

Noynoy-Corona rift good for RP - Chiz

The apparent rift between newly appointed Chief Justice Renato Corona and leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is good for the government, an opposition senator said on Tuesday.

Can a barangay captain administer oath to Noynoy?

MANILA, Philippines - Can a barangay captain administer the oath to incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III? The Administrative Code of 1987, as amended, enumerates officials authorized to administer an oath. The list does not include chairmen or other officials of the barangay.

Presidential frontrunner Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is determined not to take his oath before Chief Justice Renato Corona in the event he is proclaimed winner in the May 10 polls.

This despite appeals for Aquino to respect the position even if he could not accept the occupant.

"It's not about Chief Justice Corona, it's nothing personal," said Atty. Edwin Lacierda, campaign spokesman for Aquino.

"Yun nga lang, yung decision nila ay hindi...sa kanyang pananaw, at sa pananaw ng karamihan in the legal community na mali ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema."

Refusing to recognize what he considers an unconstitutional appointment of a chief justice, Aquino is thinking of taking his oath before a barangay captain.

Barangay officials in Aquino's home province of Tarlac are excited at the thought.

"Kung matutuloy man yung plano ni Presidente Noynoy, na manunumpa siya sa barangay official, welcome sa mga Liga ng mga Barangay, at ngayon lang mangyayari. That will be history," said Danilo Malonzo, president of the Federation of the Liga ng mga Barangay-Tarlac.

But legal experts doubt the validity of an oath administered by a barangay captain to an incoming president.

Administrative Code excludes barangay chiefs?

The Administrative Code of 1987, as amended, enumerates officials authorized to administer an oath.

Among them are the President, members of Congress, governors, mayors, members of the judiciary and the executive branch.

The list does not include chairmen or other officials of the barangay.

At the same time, the incoming president may not forego taking his oath.

The 1987 Constitution explicitly requires an incoming president to swear that he will uphold and defend the Constitution.

Aquino's spokesman, meanwhile, said there are other options for the presidential frontrunner.

"Marami namang mga justices doon. Well, meron din isa doon na nag-dissent sa decision," Lacierda said.

Aquino added even if someone else was named chief justice, he still would not take his oath before him because Aquino believes the appointment of the new Supreme Court chief justice should have been left to the incoming president.

Aquino supporters launch 'Project Barong Tagalog' for inaugural event

A yellow volunteer group in Bacolod City has expressed support for the decision of presumed President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to take his oath before a barangay chairman and has launched "Project Barong Tagalog" to provide the village chief to be picked by Aquino with the formal wear for the historic event.

Popcom official urges Aquino to act on RH program

A Commission on Population (Popcom) official in Eastern Visayas expressed hope that the reproductive health program would be given more attention under the administration of presumed President-elect Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Aquino urged to free 'Morong 43'

Close relatives and supporters of the Morong 43 have urged presumptive President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to "do a President Cory" when he assumes his post next July.

Peace groups ask Aquino for Mindanao policy

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Peace advocates in Mindanao have sent a letter to leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino asking him what his plans are for Mindanao.

Explosive devices destroyed

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The military's anti-explosive experts and US troops have destroyed nearly 2,000 pieces of explosive devices recovered from the Abu Sayyaf and other bandits operating in Southwestern Mindanao.

Jailers probed for allowing psychiatrist to see Ampatuan

Prosecution lawyers asked a Quezon City court on Tuesday to direct jail officials to explain why they allowed a psychiatrist inside the cell of Maguindanao massacre suspect Zaldy Ampatuan without a court order.

Mangudadatu to put up memorial for massacre victims

Maguindanao governor-elect Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu said he would put up a statue for the 57 people, including at least 30 journalists, who were killed in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao nearly six months ago.

Special polls set in 7 Lanao Sur towns, 6 Basilan, Iloilo villages

The winners for many national and local races in the May 10 automated polls have been proclaimed, but for a handful of towns in Visayas and Mindanao, the elections hasn't happened yet.

OFW groups land in middle and lower party-list rankings

by by Ruben Jeffrey G. Asuncion, OFW Journalism Consortium
QUEZON CITY – Nine groups claiming to represent overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the House of Representatives failed again in the recently held party-list elections, initial results show.

Trial for murdered Pinay in Canada continues

by The Philippine Reporter
BRAMPTON - The trial of Jocelyn Dulnuan, the 27-year old housekeeper who was murdered at her employer's Missisauga mansion, is being held this month in a Brampton Court.

Armed forces says it can't fight NPA alone

by By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted Tuesday that it cannot defeat the Communist movement by itself, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

4 suspected NPA assassins arrested by Army

Government troops captured four suspected New People's Army (NPA) assassins on Tuesday in Barangay (village) Tabugon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

PCGG's Abcede: No regrets dancing with Imelda

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - He may be one of the officials assigned to recover billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth from the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos but that hasn't stopped him from dancing and singing a duet with the dictator's widow, former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

May 18 is International Museum Day

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Various museums and galleries around the world mount special exhibits this week to celebrate International Museum Day on May 18.

Peso continues slide amid concerns over Euro zone debt

The peso slipped further on Tuesday amid lingering concerns over the debt woes within the Euro zone.

$1: P45.240

$1: P45.240

Euro 1: P55.9501

Taliban bike bomb kills 12 in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH—A bomb planted on a bicycle killed 12 people in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday in the latest assault on security forces battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

6.0 magnitude quake hits Indonesia

JAKARTA—A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's Java island on Tuesday, seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

Thai govt says no peace talks unless protests end (AP)

BANGKOK – The Thai government rejected a proposal Tuesday for peace talks with leaders of the Red Shirtprotesters to end the deadly mayhem gripping Bangkok, saying negotiations cannot start until the demonstrators disperse.

The decision set back hopes of stemming the crisis after six days of violence that has left 38 people dead and destabilized a country once regarded as one of Southeast Asia's strongest democracies. Thousands of anti-government Red Shirts, many rural poor, remain camped behind barricades to press their demand for quick national elections. Their sympathizers battled soldiers in nearby streets.

Cabinet minister Satit Wonghnongtaey quoted the prime minister as saying he welcomed negotiations to halt the violence but that "talks will happen only after the protest has ended."

Tuesday's televised comments came in response to an offer made earlier in the day by Red Shirt protest leaders, who said they would unconditionally accept an offer by the country's Senate to mediate between the two sides.

The protesters' acceptance was significant, since they had previously set conditions for any talks.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva asked the Senate to maintain contact with Red Shirt leaders and urge them to end their protest, Satit said.

After hearing the government response, the Red Shirts vowed their demonstration would go on.

"As long as the troops are confronting the people, the people will fight," said Jatuporn Prompan, a key protest leader. "Peace will start when troops retreat and then negotiations can take place."

The Red Shirts have for a month occupied a 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) chunk of downtown Bangkok's toniest real estate, camping in the streets next to shuttered five-star hotels and upscale shopping malls. It was not clear exactly how many people were left there Tuesday. The government estimated 3,000, down from 5,000 on Sunday and 10,000 last week.

The protesters are demanding that Abhisit dissolve Parliament and call early elections. They say the current administration came to power through manipulation of the courts and the backing of the powerful military, and that it goes against results of a 2007 election to restore democracy after a military coup.

The standoff deteriorated into street clashes last Thursday after the military surrounded entrances to the protest zone in an attempt to cut off supplies of food and water, and a military adviser to the Red Shirts was shot by an apparent sniper. Since then, fiery battles have raged on streets in nearby areas.

Scattered clashes continued Tuesday between soldiers and the Red Shirts, though confrontations appeared less intense than in the days before.

A group of about 20 Red Shirt protesters held a "nude" rally near the site of previous deadly clashes, saying the military had shot defenseless civilians. Men and women, old and young, stripped down to their underwear and held a banner reading, "We Are Unarmed."

The military defended its use of deadly but limited force, saying troops only fired to protect themselves and Bangkok's citizens and did not pursue pre-emptive attacks.

"If they don't move close to us, there won't be any losses," army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. He also accused the Red Shirts of using a young child as a human shield, holding him up above a barricade in the streets.

At least 38 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and 295 wounded since the government began the blockade last Thursday. Most of the unrest has flared outside the camp, with troops firing live ammunition at roaming protesters who have lit tires to hide their positions. Earlier this week the military declared a Bangkok neighborhood where intense rioting broke out a "Live Fire Zone."

According to government figures, now 67 people have died and more than 1,700 have been wounded since the Red Shirts began their protests in Bangkok in March.

Amnesty International called on the military to stop firing live ammunition in its bid to suppress the protest.

"The government cannot allow soldiers to essentially shoot at anyone within an area it wishes to control," the London-based Amnesty said in a statement, adding it was "unacceptable under international law and standards, which provide that firearms may be used only as a last resort."

Authorities announced that a two-day public holiday was being extended to Friday because of the security situation and there would continue to be a ban on selling gasoline in several Bangkok districts. Police also outlawed the sale of tires in the capital without a police permit because rioters were using them to set fires.

"Right now the image people see from overseas, or even Thai people, makes it seem like our country is a mess. This is depressing," Police Maj. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano said, referring to the black smoke from burning tires that has darkened the sky in some parts of the city.

The United Nations called for a negotiated solution to the crisis, saying Monday that "there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control" and urging the military to show restraint and the protesters to "step back from the brink."

The country's upper house of Parliament offered Monday to broker negotiations between the warring sides providing they both stopped the violence.

Both sides Monday evening also revealed that the government's chief negotiator and a Red Shirt leader had discussed negotiations in a mobile telephone call — though the government's chief negotiator said the two sides remained far apart.

Previous attempts to negotiate an end to the standoff have failed. A government offer earlier this month to hold November elections fell apart after protest leaders made more demands.

Another government deadline for protesters to leave their encampment in the upscale Rajprasong district came and went Monday with no apparent mass exodus, despite threats of two year jail terms for those who stayed. Authorities have not spelled out what would happen after the deadline but there are concerns it could precede a crackdown.

A previous army attempt to disperse the protesters on April 10 — when they had congregated in a different area of Bangkok — left 25 people dead.


Michelle Obama touts $1.5-trillion calorie cut

by Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON - US First Lady Michelle Obama Monday praised U.S. food manufacturers for agreeing to cut 1.5 trillion dollars of calories from their products, in a boost for her anti-obesity campaign.

'Pacquiao needs a busy right jab to put Floyd into trouble'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Seven-division world champ and congressman-elect Manny Pacquiao will have to re-adjust his boxing style if he has to fight undefeated American Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr.

Pacquiao wants to prove political detractors wrong

MANILA, Philippines – World boxing champ and Sarangani congressman-elect Manny Pacquiao is excited to start his official function as a legislator partly because he wants to prove that he is competent enough to be with other honorable representatives in Congress.

Concepcion aims for JuanMa's WBO title

MANILA, Philippines -- Featherweight contender Bernabe Concepcion left for Puerto Rico on Thursday to attend a press conference announcing his July 10 title fight against undefeated world champion Juan Manuel "JuanMa" Lopez.

Bustamante, Corteza win US Open 10-ball openers

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Lee Van "The Slayer" Corteza won their opening games in the 2010 US Open 10-Ball championship at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

Reyes, Django advance in US 10-ball

Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante bested their American rivals to lead the mighty charge of the Filipinos in the opening of the 2010 US Open 10-Ball championship at the Riviera Hotel and Casino Tuesday in Las Vegas Nevada.

Reyes proved too hot for Bobby Weimar, 9-3 while Bustamante was far more deadlier, blanking Neil Cummins, 9-0 Lee Vann Corteza also triumphed, beating Tony Robles, 9-6, to likewise advance to the next round of the tournament using a winner's break format.

The winner in the event gets $20,000 – the same prize won by Dennis Orcollo in winning the 9-Ball Party Poker World Pool Masters Sunday.

Also getting off to fine start were Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo, who defeated Indian Raj Hundal, 9-4, and Roberto Gomez, who trounced British Imram Majid, 9-1.

Other Filipino winners were Al Lapena, who trounced American Peter Dimmick, 9-4, and Edwin Montal, who subdued American female player Jennifer Baretta, 9-6.

Other notable first round winners were former WPA World Junior champion Ko Pin-yi and Kuo Po-cheng of Taiwan, World 9-ball champion Daryl Peach and Karl Boyes of Great Britain, Marcus Chamat of Sweden, and Tony Drago of Malta.

Streaking TNT plays B-Meg

Games Wednesday (Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. — Alaska vs Coca-Cola
7:30 p.m. —Talk 'N Text vs B-Meg Derby Ace

B-Meg Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio has every reason to feel that his team is the underdog when they battle the newly-revamped Talk 'N Text squad this Wednesday in the PBA Fiesta Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

Gregorio said that its going to be tougher beating the Tropang Texters in their 7:30 p.m. encounter due to the addition of versatile forward Kelly Williams and do-it-all playmaker Ryan Reyes to the TNT squad, TNT is on a six-game winning streak – the second-best this conference behind the seven consecutive wins of defending champion and leader San Miguel Beer (9-1). Also, they currently occupy solo second with a 7-2 card.

Meantime, Alaska (5-4) tangles with Coke (4-6), a team out to end a five-game losing skid at 5 p.m.

The Aces are aiming for their first back-to-back wins in the post-Willie Miller era after winning their previous game against Rain or Shine, 82-73.

"Historically, Talk 'N Text is a major power in the league," Gregorio said. "Now add Kelly and Ryan without loosing any major player, they have become a superpower that no PBA team can match in terms of roster strength."

"They are very deep in every position. Every team that they play against will be considered as virtual underdogs," Gregorio added.

However, being the underdog is an added motivation for the Llamados.

B-Meg Derby Ace is coming off an 83-71 win over Air21 last Saturday in Panabo City, the team's third straight that improved their win-loss record to 6-3.

As in the past, Gregorio said they will rely much on their defense to beat the Texters, saying: "Our defense will be put to a test against a fluid offensive machine. It would be a disaster of we challenge them into a shoot-out."

The Texters are averaging a league-best 103.3 points per game They are fresh from a 103-93 win against Coca-Cola last Friday, the first game of Williams and Reyes, who were traded by Sta. Lucia Realty to TNT in a nine-player, three-team deal last week.

Against Coke, the 6-foot-7 Williams had 13 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two shot blocks, while the 6-foot-1 Reyes helped in orchestrating the offense of Talk 'N Text and finished with five points, three boards, and one assist.

"We intend to disrupt their rhythm by employing our lockdown defense, it has given us a tremendous boost," said Gregorio, whose team has limited opponents to 77 points per game this conference.

TNT coach Chot Reyes, nevertheless, expects an exciting battle against a defensive-minded B-Meg Derby Ace, saying: "It's going to be a classic battle. Let's see whose will will prevail."

The Llamados will continue to miss the services of forward Kerby Raymundo, who is still out with an injured right knee.

Lakers 128, Suns 107: Suns Have No Answer for Bryant or Odom

from NYT > Pro Basketball by By BILLY WITZ

Bryant, who had his bothersome left knee drained of fluid no more recently than the late stages of the first-round series against Oklahoma City — continued his hot shooting of late, scorching Phoenix for 40 points.

It was the sixth consecutive game that Bryant, who wore a padded yellow sleeve over his knee, has scored at least 30 points. All of them have come after the knee was drained.

"He looked pretty healthy to me," Phoenix forward Jared Dudley said. "Kobe was taking it in his hands to be aggressive tonight."

Bryant indicated that the procedure, along with having the last week off, had given renewed life to his legs.

``Just lost weight," he said. ``I feel a couple pounds lighter."

That weight may also be the burden that he seemed to be carrying around late in the season and early in the playoffs while trying to play with a swollen knee, an achy ankle and a throbbing finger, which he still tapes.

Bryant was back to his feisty self, eager to either physically joust with Grant Hill or send him falling to the court with a crossover dribble.

By the time he made it to the interview room, more than an hour after the game ended, he had not removed his game face.

A question about the sleeve prompted Bryant to remark: ``I've been wearing the sleeve the entire playoffs. Now people are so observant, they pick up on it tonight. I've got ones that are purple and yellow. The knee felt fine."

Though the Suns scored the game's first seven points and had the pace to their liking, the Lakers were in control much of the night. They led at halftime, 62-55, and then Bryant stepped into high gear. He scored 21 points in the third quarter, the last of which was a breakaway dunk that pushed the Lakers' lead to 89-72. They would lead by as many as 28 in the fourth.

``Now I feel like I have two legs to play with," Bryant said. ``I have a better balance on my shot so my shots aren't going short anymore. They're going in."

The Suns' coach, Alvin Gentry, said he could live with Bryant scoring 40, but he was disappointed with how easily many of the Lakers wing players were able to get into the lane.

"The shots he was making, you can't do anything about," Gentry said.

As encouraging as the night was for the Lakers, it was discouraging for the Suns, who have had little success against them since bouncing Los Angeles from the playoffs in 2006 and 2007. After those defeats, the Lakers went about remaking their roster. Since they acquired Pau Gasol more than two years ago, they have beaten the Suns eight times in 10 meetings.

Phoenix's gravest concern, that the Lakers' height would give it problems, turned out to be well founded. Gasol scored 21 points, Lamar Odom had his way inside with 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the Lakers shot 58 percent from the field.

The romp, in many ways, was typical of how this rivalry has gone — the beatings as unsightly as Steve Nash's right eye, which had opened since he took an elbow from San Antonio's Tim Duncan but was still discolored.

Nash had also been a target of Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who claimed last week that Nash, a two-time league most valuable player, got away with carrying the ball. On Monday, Nash could not carry his team. Though he had 13 points and 13 assists, he was not much of a factor.

Derek Fisher, after struggling to stay with Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams in the first two rounds, could finally pick on someone his own age. He did a reasonable job staying with Nash, and his teammates did a reasonable job hedging on pick-and-rolls long enough for Fisher to recover his position in front of Nash. When Fisher knocked Nash down, stripped the ball and fed Bryant for a breakaway dunk, the Lakers had an 89-72 lead in the third quarter and the rout was on.

Phoenix's offense was hampered by poor shooting from Grant Hill and Channing Frye and Dudley, who were a combined 2 for 12 on 3-point attempts. The Suns, who led the league in 3-point shooting, made just 5 of 22.

The poor shooting by Dudley and Frye was an ominous sign for Phoenix, which was supposed to have a clear advantage in bench play. But Odom was outstanding with 15 points and 8 rebounds in the first half, when he outscored the Phoenix reserves by himself.

The series seems well suited for the 6-foot-10 Odom, who does not have to worry about being muscled out of the game — as he was in the N.B.A. finals two years ago against Boston. Odom's presence could be a key for Los Angeles.

Andrew Bynum, who like Bryant has been bothered by a sore knee -- Bynum's because of torn cartilage — was also limited in practice. He managed just four points and four rebounds in 19 minutes.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Bryant, who has been nursing knee, ankle and finger injuries the last few months, had a significant amount of fluid drained from his knee recently, though the report did not specify when.

"It happened some time ago, so it's kind of old news," Jackson said.

Jackson acknowledged being concerned about the knees of Bryant and Bynum — not so much Monday, but as the series moved on. The Lakers are 5-0 when they have had two days or more between games. In this series, there will be one gap between games that is more than one day — the three days between Games 2 and 3.

"The pace of this series is important and how close these games are," Jackson said.

At least on the calendar.

Kris Aquino gives up celebrity shows for Noynoy

MANILA, Philippines - Kris Aquino will be leaving "The Buzz" and "SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon" to avoid creating controversy for her brother Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III when he becomes president, the TV host and actress said Tuesday.

"Sa tulong po ng aking mga kapatid na babae - dahil in fairness po kay Noy hindi naman niya ito in-impose - napagpasyahan po namin na for the duration of Noy's presidency magpapaalam po ako sa aking mga shows that could cause controversy for him," she said at the tail-end of Tuesday evening's broadcast of SNN.

She made the announcement after meeting with top ABS-CBN executives to discuss her decision to give up some of her shows.

"Ang ibig sabihin po niyan, iiwan ko po ang SNN on June 25, 2010, at ang last The Buzz ko po ay on June 27, 2010," she said.

"Hindi po nangangahulugan na wala na po akong show sa ABS-CBN. Hanggang August po ang run ng Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo. Humingi po ako ng tatlong linggong bakasyon kasama ng aking mga anak pagkatapos ng babang-luksa ng mom in August," she said, referring to the first death anniversary of the late former President Corazon Aquino, their mother.

"[In] September po, naghahanda na po sila ng mga programa na angkop at babagay po sa mga pagbabago ng buhay namin," she said.

She also had a message to her fans.

"[Sa] inyo po, most especially sa mga sumusubaybay sa The Buzz - kasi naman Boy [Abunda, her co-host], 11 years nating pinagsamahan iyon - sana po maunawaan nyo, hindi ko po minamaliit ang programa. In fact, I love the program. It is a choice, a sacrifice I'm making, kasi napakahirap po na any comment that I make can be misinterpreted," she explained.

"Kawawa naman po ang kapatid kong si Noynoy kung dahil nagpaka-taklita ako, eh siya po ang magiging tagasagot pa di ba? Eh opinyon ko naman ho iyon eh," she said.

"He will have enough problems, solving everything that is a crisis here. Lahat ng mga nagpapabigat at nagbibigay ng suliranin sa bawat Pilipino. I'm giving that to Noy. I want Noy to succeed," she said.

Her statement on SNN came she said on Sunday she is willing to make the sacrifice in order to help Noynoy fulfill his campaign promises.

Kris is co- hosting "The Buzz" and "SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon." She is also part of the daily soap opera "Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo", and the talent show "Pilipinas Got Talent."

Kris said Sunday she is making this sacrifice for the sake of her family and as a fulfillment of her promise to her mom to look after her siblings.

"Mom is happy and mom knows that her kids, si Ate (Ballsy), Pinky, Noynoy, Viel at ako, ay mas lalong naging close dahil sa experience na ito," Kris said.

She added: "Alam namin kung paano tapak-tapakan at mabatikos kaya mag-iingat po kami para wala kayong makitang kapintas-pintas sa amin talaga."

Dubbed as the Queen of All Media, Kris is considered one of the bankable stars in show business.

Robin Padilla draws flak over hosting job

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Action star Robin Padilla on Tuesday defended himself from some viewers who disapprove of him as Willie Revillame's replacement on "Wowowee."

Hayden Kho's mom posts bail

The mother of former cosmetic surgeon Hayden Kho posted bail Tuesday following the issuance of an arrest warrant for two counts of libel filed by actress Katrina Halili.

April 2010 the hottest April on record: WMO

GENEVA--April 2010 was the hottest April ever recorded, with an average temperature of 14.5 degrees celsius (58.1 degrees Fahrenheit), the UN weather agency said Tuesday.

Microsoft adds new tools, features to Hotmail

WASHINGTONHotmail is getting a facelift.

Microsoft's free email service, the world's largest with 360 million users, is adding a slew of new tools and features including the ability to send larger attachments and exchange instant messages and view Web content in the Hotmail inbox.

"You don't have to worry about attachment size anymore," said Walter Harp, director of product management for Windows Live.

Hotmail previously restricted attachment size to 10 megabytes but "with the new Hotmail we're going to up the ante by allowing you to send up to 10 gigabytes in a single message," Harp said.

The way it works, he told AFP, is by uploading documents or photos to Microsoft's SkyDrive, a free service which allows for up to 25 gigabytes of online storage.

"The email recipient gets a link to SkyDrive and can view the photos or download the photos," Harp said. "Or if it's a link to a document, they can open up that document using the free Web-based version of Microsoft Office, view it and edit it."

Files can still be sent as traditional attachments to an email if a Hotmail user prefers and the size limit has been increased from 10 megabytes to 25 megabytes, the same as Google's Gmail, Harp said.

The new features, which will be rolled out to users in July and August, include adding instant messaging in the inbox. "Right next to your inbox you can see your buddies, see if they're online, and send them instant messages," Harp said.

Another feature designed to "help people stay in their inbox" is called "active views" and gives users the ability to view Web content in their inbox instead of in a separate Web browser window.

"Ninety percent of the mail that comes into Hotmail contains a link and these links ask you or require you to leave your inbox," Harp said. "That's a lot of hopping out of your inbox.

"There's a space at the top of your email and you can interact with other websites without having to go to them," he said. "If you get photos sent to you from Flickr, you don't have to go to Flickr, you can see them right in your inbox.

"If you get a video from YouTube or Hulu you don't have to go to those websites, you can click and watch it right there in your inbox."

Another new tool called "1-click filters" allows users to "cut through the clutter" and organize messages according to sender or subject, Harp said.

"One click gets you to mail just from your contacts," he said. "Another click gets you to mail from your social networks whether it's Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, all in one place."

A new security feature allows Hotmail users to receive a single use password by SMS text message for use on a public computer. "If you're nervous about malware being on public computers you can use this one-time code," Harp said.

Harp also said Hotmail had made great strides fighting spam. "In 2006, 35 percent of the average Hotmail inbox was spam," he said. "We've got that number down to four percent."

He said Hotmail currently receives eight billion messages a day with users sharing 1.5 billion photos per month and 350 million Office documents per month.

Hotmail had 359.9 million users as of March 2010, according to online tracking firm comScore. Yahoo! Mail was the next largest email provider with 283.6 million users followed by Google's Gmail with 173 million users.

Study on cell phone link to cancer inconclusive

GENEVA - If there's one lifestyle tool that's ubiquitous, from American cities to remote villages of the developing world, it's the mobile phone.

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