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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 28, 2010 Major News Stories



DepEd urged: 'Let jejemon be; it will pass'

MANILA, Philippines -The Department of Education (DepEd) may be concerned about the effect of the jejemon subculture in schoolchildren's future, but a Filipino professor says there is no cause for alarm.

Results of marine engineer officers' licensure examinations now out

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Thursday that 1,047 out of 1,901 passed the various grades of the written phase of the Marine Engineer Officers Licensure Examinations.

The examinations were given by the Board for Marine Engineer Officers in Manila this May 2010.

The results were released after four (4) working days from the last day of examinations.

Registration for the issuance of Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Cards for those who are exempted in the practical assessment will start on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 until June 11, 2010 in the Central Office; and on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 until June 7, 2010 in the Regional Offices.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) also announces that 622 examinees passed the computer based Walk-in-Examination System – Theoretical Phase for the Second Marine Engineers and Officer-In-Charge - E.W., that were held from January 1, 2010 to May 21, 2010.

In addition, 580 applicants were approved for upgrading without examination as Chief Engineer Officers as per Board Res. No. 21 dated Feb. 4, 2010, Board Res. No. 28 dated Feb. 22, 2010, Board Res. No. 32 dated Mar. 8, 2010, Board Res. No. 43 dated Mar. 29, 2010, Board Res. No. 47 dated Apr. 14, 2010, Board Res. No. 51 dated Apr. 22, 2010, Board Res. No. 57(A) dated Apr. 30, 2010 and Board Res. No. 63 dated May 21, 2010 Series of 2010.

The oathtaking ceremony of the successful examinees as well as the previous ones who have not taken their Oath of Professional and those who opted to submit ERS Assessment Certificates will be held before the Board on Friday, June 25, 2010 at 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon at the Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Roxas Blvd., Manila.

Certificate of Competency and Certificate of Endorsement shall be distributed during the oathtaking ceremony to the Chief Engineers and Second Engineers who successfully passed the board examinations and completed the required STCW 95 compulsory training and sea service.

They shall proceed to MEOD and STCW section for registration and validation as soon as possible in order to expedite the processing of the above-mentioned certificates.

Registration for membership with the Marine Engineer Officers Association of the Philippines (MEOAP) will start after registration as a professional with the board and the Commission.

RESULTS (all in PDF format)

List of successful examinees who garnered the top places in the Chief Engineer, Second Engineer (Written Phase) and OIC (Written Phase) Licensure Examinations

List of successful examinees in the Written Phase of the Chief Marine Engineer Licensure Examination and Operaional Level Watchkeeping Engineer Licensure Examination

List of approved applicants for upgrading as Chief Engineer Officer

List of successful examinees: Computer-based licensure examination for Second Engineer, Officer-in-Charge of an Engineering Watch

Probe 'Hello, Ronnie' yarn, Agra orders NBI

Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to start investigating the "Hello Ronnie" wiretapped telephone conversation as well as the complaints regarding compact flash (CF) cards and precinct count scan (PCOS) machines in connection with the May 10, 2010 elections.

Agra directed NBI Director Nestor Mantaring to conduct the probe after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asked the Department of Justice (DoJ) to investigate the incidents.

The NBI probe will center on the wiretapped phone conversation allegedly between Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno and Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, which circulated in the Internet.

Both Puno and Ferrer have already denied being the persons involved in the wiretapped phone conversation.

Melo mulls charges vs ballot folder whistleblower

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo on Thursday said he is considering filing libel or slander charges against one of the whistleblowers in the botched P690-million ballot secrecy folder deal.

In an interview, Melo said he is thinking of filing charges against his former staff, lawyer Melchor Magdamo, for tagging him as one of the poll body officials who are involved in alleged anomalous contracts connected with the elections, including bidding for indelible ink.

"Hindi naman siya pwede magdadaldal nang ganun (He cannot talk about me like that)," Melo told reporters.

The poll body chief issued the statement after Magdamo said in a television interview that he was suspicious why Melo did not follow his suggestion to stop the bidding for the indelible ink used in the May polls, even when no bidders supposedly passed the process.

But Melo countered that the Comelec went on with the awarding of the contract because there was no time to conduct a rebidding. "Definitely we could not have gone into elections without the indelible ink," he said.

He likewise said that a second testing of one of the bidder's indelible inks proved that their product meets the standards set by the Comelec.

The contract to supply and deliver 720,000 bottles of indelible stain ink was eventually awarded to Texas Resources Corp. for P76 million last March 29. Texas was the same company that supplied the ink during the 200 Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections.

For his part, Melo said that Magdamo's assertions were made out of ill will. "He's not the one who decides these matters," he said.

Ballot folder controversy

Melo even questioned why Magdamo did not report to him directly when the latter first learned about the "overpriced" ballot secrecy folder contract. "I placed him sa Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to be my eyes and ears... walang report (but I received no report)," he said.

Magdamo first reported the supposed irregularities in the contract to Comelec law department head Ferdinand Rafanan, who told Melo about the matter through a letter.

Upon receiving the letter, the Comelec en banc scrapped the contract because the contract to supply and deliver 1,815,000 pieces of 25-inch long ballot secrecy folders for P690 million was supposedly "extravagant beyond the ordinary needs of the Commission."

It also said that the number of folders to be purchased exceeded what was actually needed during the elections.

Melo admitted that the Comelec en banc and the BAC committed a "lapse" in judgment when it awarded the contract to One Time Carbon (OTC) Paper Supply.

The poll body likewise created a three-man panel last April to look into the recommendation of the BAC to award the contract to OTC.

No results yet

However, the panel headed by Rafanan has yet to release a report of its findings.

Also on Thursday, Melo said Rafanan asked the en banc for another extension for still unknown reasons.

"Ewan ko sa kanya, tanungin ninyo siya (I don't know why, you should ask him)," he said. Rafanan could not be immediately reached for comment.

In a separate interview, BAC chairman Lea Alarkon said the department head has been sending them notices regarding the probe and that they have been complying with them.

"We believe we have submitted all the records concerning the procurement... the documents will speak for itself," she said.

On Wednesday, the poll body said that it has also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the ballot folder controversy. 

Witness seeks Comelec help vs cheating in Lanao del Sur town

A local resident from Tugaya, Lanao del Sur on Thursday came forward and asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help prevent widespread cheating from happening again in their municipality once the special elections are set.

Bai (not her real name) said that the polls in some areas in Tugaya were marred with poll violence on election day, giving some candidates the chance to manipulate the elections.

"Nakita ko po diyan yung kabastusan, kawalanghiyaan, kawalang-respeto sa gobyerno, kawalang-respeto po sa tao na katulad po naming mga botante na ni wala na kaming karapatan para makaboto (I witnessed meanness, shamelessness, disrespect for the government and disrespect for people like me who were denied even just the right to vote)," she told GMA News in an interview.

Voting in three barangays in Tugaya (Buadi Alawang, Bubong, and Pagalamatan) was halted on election day, forcing the Comelec to declare failure of elections there. The poll body, however, has yet to set a date for the special elections in the area where there are 1,251 voters combined.

Bai said that she personally witnessed a gunfight between the camps of two mayoral candidates on the morning of election day in one of the precincts in Tugaya. She said that one wanted to allow voters who did not have enough identification to vote while the other wanted to demand more documentary proof from voters.

"Sa awa ng God wala namang nanggaling na putok sa baril (Thank God no shots came from the gun)," she said.

But she said that the incident scared most of the voters, leaving almost no one in the clustered precincts. She likewise said that what happened gave some camps the chance to fill up some of the ballots and feed them into the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

"May nagsamantala... binoto niya ang gusto niyang kandidato (Someone took advantage of this, they voted for their candidate)," she said, adding that PCOS units which were never even opened suddenly had votes when canvassing came.

Bai said she hopes that the Comelec will be able to prevent widespread cheating from happening again.

"Sana mapagsabihan po ang masamang tao na huwag na nila gawin yun... kung ano po yung mali, sana itama (I hope someone warns these evil men not to do that anymore what was wrong should be corrected)," she said.

The witness already gave a statement to the lawyers of the Comelec on Thursday. But she said that she is ready to go to court and testify about what she knows if she needs to.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, for his part, thanked her for coming forward to share the information, adding that the poll body will definitely prevent the incident from happening again.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said that even if some teachers refuse to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) again in the area, they will proceed with the special elections.

"Baka ang kukunin natin, teachers from the outside o police trainees (Maybe we will get teachers from the outside or police trainees)," he told reporters in a chance interview.

Congress may subpoena 76,000 CF cards

 Manila, Philippines - Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers for the second day, wants to get hold of some 76,000 compact flash (CF) cards used in the machines for processing votes during the May 10 elections because of questions of authenticity and accuracy of the transmitted election returns.

Was 'malicious software' placed in recalled CF cards?

MANILA, Philippines - An international election observer disputed statements from poll automation contractor Smartmatic that the compact flash (CF) cards recalled just days before the May 10 elections were 100% cheat proof.

IT expert: RP wasted P7-B on poll automation

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines wasted P7.2-billion of hard-earned money with an error-ridden automated election system, an IT expert said Thursday.

Morato says 2 operators work in Comelec's 'anti-fraud' unit

MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Manoling Morato said on Thursday that 2 of the 7 fraud operators, who allegedly offered to cheat for Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. for P1 billion, work in the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) "anti-fraud division."

5 Comelec 'poll fixers' arrested by NBI

Limang nagpakilalang miyembro ng Comelec ang inaresto ng NBI matapos alukin umano ng panalo ang Buhay partylist ni Brother Mike Velarde kapalit ng P10 milyon. 

Even non-bets can file cases vs election cheats—lawyers' group

MANILA, Philippines—A group of lawyers is encouraging the public to file charges against persons who were involved in tampering election results, saying that the law doesn't limit to losing candidates the parties who are allowed to complain.

Melo: Initial audit shows low discrepancy rate

MANILA, Philippines - The initial results of the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) Random Manual Audit (RMA) of selected precincts in the May 10 elections show only a small difference between the electronic and manual counts.

People's will seen in May 2010 poll results—AFP chief

"The people have spoken" and the results of the May 10 elections must be supported and respected, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit said on Thursday.

Aquino: Poll cheating allegations a 'fishing expedition'

A "fishing expedition" was how President-apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III described the cheating allegations being hurled by losing candidates in the just recently concluded elections.

National canvass finally begins

Nag-umpisa na ang pag-canvass ng boto ng presidente at bise presidente matapos ang isa't kalahating sesyon ng debate. 'Yon nga lang, inuna muna ang resulta mula sa ibang bansa na mano-mano ang botohan. At ang mga kuwestyon sa "technical glitches" sa automated na halalan -- ipinaubaya sa technical working group. 

Binay belittles Roxas lead in OAV

MANILA, Philippines - The Liberal Party tandem of Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas led the initial canvass of Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) results, prompting the camp of Roxas' chief rival, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay to stress that while they expect Roxas to lead the OAV round, it only represents a small portion of the votes cast.

Aquino meets Japan envoy; JPEPA not discussed

Japan Ambassador Makoto Katsura paid a courtesy call to president-apparent Sen. Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, but the two did not talk about the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA.

"We did not discuss the JPEPA," Katsura told reporters shortly after the meeting in Aquinos home on Times Street in Quezon City. Aquino opposed the Senate's ratification of the agreement in 2009.

Under JPEPA, 95 percent of Philippine exports to Japan will have zero duties, with the tariffs on most industrial goods to be removed 10 years after the agreement is in place.

The review of JPEPA is among his legislative concerns, Aquino said during the election campaign, criticizing the deal ─ the terms of which were negotiated by the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and ratified by the Senate ─ for its supposed one-sidedness in favor of Japan.

What they did talk about was the "splendid cooperation" between Japan and the Philippines, Aquino said.

He and Katsura also talked about Japan's anti-corruption measures, the senator noted, saying there is too much red tape and a lack of infrastructure in the Philippines.

They talked about the Mindanao peace problem, Aquino added.

But Katsura said he went to Times Street on another note. "I came here to congratulate the senator. I expressed my heartfelt congratulations," Katsura said.

Katsura is the third foreign dignitary to acknowledge Aquinos superior lead in the ongoing count of election returns from the May 10 polls.

Earlier in the day, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao paid the senator a courtesy call, while US Ambassador Harry Thomas visited him last week. 

Fading stars of the men in uniform - Miriam Coronel Ferrer

For the first time since 1995, no former military or police officer made it to the Senate in the election. Are we seeing an end to the allure of the men in uniform in the national psyche?

National candidates spent P4.3B on ads, says watchdog body

Candidates for national office, including party-list groups, spent a whopping P4.3 billion and local candidates, P162 million, on media advertisements during the 90-day election period in 10 cities for the May 10 elections.

Party-list groups spent more on ads than bets in 10 cities

MANILA, Philippines--Party-list groups spent more on advertising than local candidates did in the 2010 elections. The groups spent a total of P597 million while all local candidates' expenditure totaled P162 million, according to AGB Nielsen data.

Palace won't block suspension order vs Neri

MANILA, Philippines - A Palace spokesman said Friday that Malacañang will do nothing to defend former National Economic and Development Authority director-general Romulo Neri from the graft charges recommended against him by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the aborted $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE deal.

Neri hurting but will fight to clear name in NBN-ZTE deal—lawyer

Social Security System president Romulo Neri was "shocked and saddened" by the Ombudsman's decision to suspend him for his alleged involvement in the aborted $329-million national broadband network deal, his legal counsel said Thursday.

PCGG exec rues Arroyo's decision to stop sale of Imelda jewelry

MANILA, Philippines Presidential Commission on Good Government Commissioner Ricardo Abcede expressed regret over President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos decision to hold off plans to sell sets of jewelry seized from former first lady Imelda Marcos.

He said the government could have pursued even just the appraisal of the jewelry.

Abcede noted that with the Presidents decision, the next administration would have to go through the tedious process of selling the jewelry all over again.

On Wednesday, a representative from Christies auction house arrived in Manila to start the appraisal process. On Thursday night, the representative of competing auction house Sothebys also came to Manila to do the same.

However, the decision of Arroyo forced Abcede to break the disappointing news to the foreignersthat they had to postpone the appraisal.

I am quite embarrassed because their efforts [of coming over to Manila] were wasted, Abcede said, noting that Thursdays event was the fourth time the Philippine government had held off plans to sell the assets, which could help beef up government revenues.

If he were the one to call the shots, Abcede said, the Arroyo administration could have allowed even just the appraisal of the jewelry so that the Aquino administration would no longer have to observe the process, should it decide to sell the jewelry.

I hope that even with the decision [to hold off plans to sell the jewelry], they [auction houses] will still be willing to help us, Abcede said.

Still, he said, he was just a government servant and would not contradict the Presidents order.

I am just a public servant and I was just doing my job. I dont want to be involved in any political matters [surrounding the sale of the jewelry], Abcede said.

Lucio Tan asks Sandiganbayan to junk PCCG claim on assets

MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Lucio Tan wants the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, to dismiss the Philippine Commission on Good Government's (PCGG) petition to forfeit his assets, saying the state has insufficient evidence to prove its allegations of ill-gotten wealth.

$1: P46.470

$1: P46.470

Euro 1: P57.1021

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