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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 14, 2010 Major News Stories

Death toll in Cebu bus accident rises to 20

(UPDATE 3) What was meant to be a leisurely day on the beach ended in tragedy when a tourist bus filled with mostly Iranian nursing students fell off a ravine in the mountain village of Cebu's western town of Balamban on Sunday, killing 20, as of the latest count.

The tourist bus filled with mostly Iranian nursing and medical students from different schools in Cebu, was going downhill when it went off the road and fell down a 30-meter ravine along the portion of the Trans Central highway in Barangay Cansomoroy, some five kilometers from the town proper of Balamban.

Thirty injured passengers were rescued from the crash site and were brought to different hospitals in Balamban and Cebu City, including the 10 critically injured who were airlifted by two military helicopters to Cebu City, according to Lt. Gen. Ralph Villanueva, commander of the Armed Forces Central Command (Centcom), based on information he received from Chief Supt. Lani-O Nerez, the regional police commander for Central Visayas.

Senior Supt. Erson Digal, the provincial police office director, said the bodies of some of the fatalities recovered from the accident site were also airlifted to Camp Lapu-lapu, the Central Command headquarters in Cebu City.

Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay, who rushed to the crash site said Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, (Cebu) Inc. (THICI), a shipbuilding company based in Balamban, sent a crane to lift the wrecked bus, owned by the Cattleya Bus Company, from the ravine.

Rescuers from the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and even civilian volunteers were still retrieving bodies, as of 5 p.m.

"So far, we have retrieved 20 bodies. I can't confirm their nationalities yet, but initially, most of them were Iranian nationals," Digal said in Cebuano.

Only two Filipinos were on board the bus, the driver, who was among of the fatalities and a 38-year-old nanny.

Lotlot Yap, 38, of Escario Cebu City, was miraculously saved with a 20-month-old boy, one of the twins entrusted to her by the Iranian teachers who were also in the group, said Digal.

Yap, who was brought to a hospital in Cebu City, said she did not immediately realize that the bus fell down the ravine because she was attending to her ward when the accident happened.

She said she saw her fellow passengers being thrown everywhere but she and the child seemed to have been glued to their seat until the bus stopped as it hit the bottom of the ravine.

Yap said she took the boy and struggled to get out from the bus through the window.

It was only when she was out of the bus that she realized that they had fallen down a deep ravine. With the help of the rescuers who threw her a rope, she was able to climb back to the main road with the child.

Unfortunately, Yap said, the boy's twin, who was in the care of the mother during the accident, did not make it.

But the mother and her husband, both Iranian nationals, survived.

Digal said the bus from Cebu City was headed towards Balamban for a day of sight seeing and recreation.

"Suroy-suroy ra gyud tingale ilang tuyo kay wa may nindot nga beaches sa balamban (They might just be out on a leisurely sight-seeing trip since there are no beautiful beaches in Balamban)," he said.

There were reports that the Iranian Embassy sponsored the trip but Digal said they had not confirmed this information.

Cansomoroy barangay captain Emilia Montecillo described the area as accident prone, and drivers who did not know the terrain in the area, were vulnerable.

Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay said witnesses believed that the driver was new to the terrain and that the bus was going too fast for the downhill curve of the road.

Binghay said the driver must have lost control of the brakes and caused the bus to go off the cliff.

Binghay said buses and trucks usually passed through the Trans Central Highway, but they had to follow the signs placed in the area by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

"You must be extra careful if you are not familiar (with the zigzag road of the) Trans Central Highway," he said.

Nursing attendant Edith KaamiƱo of the Balamban District Hospital, said she knew of 13 bodies already brought to the hospital.

Of the 13, two were children, one of the twin boys and an 8-year-old boy.

She said she knew of 27 survivors being brought to Cebu City hospitals through ambulance and two helicopters of the Air Force and Army.

They suffered fractures in the different parts of the body, she said.

As of 5 p.m., retrieval operations were still being conducted by policemen, paramedics of the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF), mountaineers, and other residents in the area.

`Nawad-an og brake'

MILAHOS ug wa na makaliko sa kurbadahon nga dapit sa sityo Z, Brgy. Cansomoroy ang bus hinungdan nga nalahos ug nahulog sa pangpang.

Gituohang wa na mokupot ang brake sa bus nga gihulagway sa pipila ka mga saksi nga kusog kaayo ang dagan.

Si Saleh, Iranian national nga nga usa sa naluwas nga mga pasahero sa bus, niingon nga nagdulhog ug hinay nga nagdagan ang bus, apan sa kurbadahon nga dapit, wa na makaliko ang driver.

"In the corner, he couldn't stop. Instead of turning left, he went straight," hulagway pa niya.

Siya nidugang nga diha siya sa tunga nga bahin sa bus naglingkod.

Ang nangamatay nga mga sakay anaa maglingkod sa atubangan ug nangamatay tungod sa kakusog sa impact, dugang pa niya.

Usa sa laing naangol nga naluwas mao si Lotlot Yap, 48, taga dan Escario, siyudad sa Sugbo.Si Yap nagtrabaho isip yaya sa kaluha nga anak sa Iranian.

Siya niasoy nga nag-atiman siya sa usa ka bata nga nag-edad og usa ka tuig ug walo ka buwan ang pangidaron nga nagsigi og suka.Mao na lay iyang nabantayan nga natuwad na ang bus nga ilang gisakyan

Ang iyang giatiman nga bata naluwas, apan ang kaluha niini nga gigunitan sa inahan namatay.

Si Mayor Alex Binghay sa Balamban niingon nga poisibling "mibato" ang brake sa sakyanan hinungdan nga wa na kini makontrolar sa drayber nga giila lang nga Jimmy sa pagsuwat ning taho.

Dugang pa sa mayor nga daghan ang nakakita sa bus ug kusog kining nagdagan sa maong dapit.

Kasagaran usab sa nangamatay anaa maglingkod sa atubangan.Nigamit og crane gikan sa Tsuneishi Heavy Industries sa Balamban ang mga rescuer aron maalsa ang bus ug maugkat ang mga patay nga nadat-ugan sa bus.

Gisugyot usab ni Binghay nga di moagi sa Transcentral Highway ang mga dagkong bus, gawas lang sa mga gagmay nga sakyanan aron malikayan ang mga aksidente.

DoLE issues pay rules for June 14 holiday

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Department of Labor and Employment has declared Monday, 14 June 2010 has a regular holiday nationwide this year in lieu of Saturday, June 12 (Independence Day.

DoLE Secretary Marianito Roque said the move is based on Presidential Proclamation 1841 issued 21 June 21 which in turn is based on Republic Act (RA) 9492 which provides that, holidays, except those which are religious in nature, are moved to the nearest Monday unless otherwise modified by law, order, or proclamation.

Roque thus reiterated to the countrys employers in the private sector the regular holiday pay rules to be applied during the regular holiday on Monday, 14 June 2010, as follows:

If the holiday falls on an employees regular workday:

* If worked, the employee is entitled to 200 percent of his [or her] basic wage for the first eight hours and, for work in excess of the 8 hours, to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day.

* If un-worked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of his or her regular daily rate, provided he or she was present, or was on leave with pay, on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.

If the day is the employees rest day:

* If worked, the employee is entitled, for the first 8 hours, to 200 percent of his or her daily rate plus 30 percent and, for work in excess of 8 hours, plus 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day.

* If un-worked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of his or her regular daily rate, provided he or she was present, or was on leave with pay, on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.

Where the day immediately preceding the holiday is a non-work day in the establishment or the scheduled rest day of the employee, he or she shall not be deemed on leave of absence on that day, in which case he or she shall be entitled to the holiday pay.

Any clarifications regarding the holiday pay rules may be made with the DoLE Call Center at tel. no. 527-8000.

Tag-iyag travel agency, 2 ka kauban gipangkiha

NAG-ATUBANG og kasong kreminal ang tag-iyag travel agency uban ang iyang duha ka mga kauban tungod sa giingong nailad sa ilang pagpanarbaho ngadto sa nasod sa Trinidad and Tobago.

Kasong illegal recruitment by syndicate ang gipasaka nila ni Regine Nellas ug Therese Marie Bas batok kanilang Maria Perpetua Baldemor, tag-iya sa Blue Pearl and Tours uban sa iyang mga kauban nga silang Leah Rama ug Imelda Calunsag.

Kini nahitabo niadtong Oktubre 2006.

Nirekomendar ang Cebu City Prosecutor's Office nga di makapiyansa sila si Baldemor ug kaubanan ning kaso nga ilang giatubang.

Kining kasoha tungod sa giingong pagpang-rekrut ni Baldemor alang sa panarbaho sa Trinidad and Tobago diin ilang narekrut si Bas isip housekeeper.

Si Nellas nahibawo sa naasoy nga panarbaho sa Trinidad and Tobago ug sa travel agency sa JY Square Mall nga nahimutang sa Lahug, dakbayan sa Sugbo.

Ang duha ka mga biktima ningsunod sa proseso nga maoy gipahimo sa mga nagrekrut.

Sila nibayad og 500 dolyares alang sa paghikay sa ilang mga papeles uban sa pasalig nga makatrabaho gyod sila sa gawas unya mahibalik ra ang ilang nagasto sa higayon nga aduna na silay trabaho.

Dihang nakabayad na silag 2,600 dolyares gipapirma na sila og "employment contract."

Apan ang ilang "employer" mao ang Prime Global Inc. nga gipanag-iya ni Rama apan ang address niini sa New York sa Estados Unidos.

Niadtong Disyembre 21, 2006, ang mga biktima uban sa laing 16 ka mga tawo nakalarga gyod sa Tobago, West Indies apan ang suweldo nga gidawat wa natuman sumala sa nalatid sa ilang kontrata.

Si Rama niadto sa ilang gitrabahuan sa Tobago ug giingnan nga dawaton na lang ang ilang gidangatan.

Niabot ang Disyembre 2007, natapos ang ilang mga kontrata sa ilang gitrabahuan.

Apan di sila makabalik sa Pilipinas kay di nila makaya ang pagpalit og tiket sa ayroplano. Ang ilang kinitaan kuwang ra sa ilang gastuhan.

Si Bas nauli sa Pilipinas niadtong May 2008 pinaagi sa tabang sa iyang pamilya samtang si Nellas uban sa grupo ni Engr. Jacqueline Fortuna gipadakop sa "immigration authorities" apan nakauli pinaagi sa tabang sa Philippine Consul sa Trinidad and Tobago ug kagamhanan sa lalawigan sa Sugbo.

Silang Baldemor ug kaubanan ninghimakak sa pasangil nga gibato kanila.

Nisaysay si Baldemor nga ang iyang agency way labot sa pagpangrekrut nilang Bas ug Nellas kay gigamit ra ang ilang agency aron magkaabot ang mga interesado nga aplikante aron maestoryahan ni Calunsag.

Sa iyang bahin, si Calunsag namahayag nga ang ilang kalambigitan mao lang ang paghatag sa ilang sakyanan aron makaadto sila sa Trinidad and Tobago.

Bisan niini, ang piskaliya nakakitag bug-at nga rason nga nagtumbok nga sila si Baldemor ug kaubanan ninglapas gyod sa balaod busa gipasaka ning kaso sa korte.

No increase in transport fares yet, says LFTRB

MANILA, Philippines - There will be no increase in transportation fares just yet, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LFTRB) said on Sunday.

Transport groups push for fare hike

Six transport groups are pressing for higher transport fares, but commuters are angry, saying this will be an added burden to them.

Retailers lower prices of school supplies

Marami sa mga malalaking supermarkets at grocery store  ay nagbibigay ng mga diskwento sa mga produkto na ginagamit ng mga estudyante. Malaking tulong ito lalong lalo na sa mga magulang na nahihirapan na sa laki ng mga gastusin.

Teachers press government to address problems

Sa pagbukas ng pasukan sa eskwelahan, humiling ang mga guro na mabigyan na ng solusyon ang kanilang mga ibat-ibang mga hiling at mga problema, kabilang na ang mas mataas na budget para sa edukasyon at Magna Carta for Teachers.

Only half of working students finish college: CHED

MANILA, Philippines - Lack of concentration, poor health and insufficient funds are among the reasons why half of the country's working students are unable to finish college.

DepEd: Enrollment surges in last 3 years

Despite economic hardships, the number of enrollees for this school year jumped by 6.5 percent, the highest in three years, to an estimated 23.43 million from 22 million in 2009, the Department of Education (DepEd) reported over the weekend as classes start Tuesday.

Statistics released by the DepEd to the Manila Bulletin indicated an annual upward adjustment in the number of enrollees both in private and public, in the last three years with school year 2008-2009 registering a 1.75-percent increase at 21.62 million.

It implies, among others, that the quest for learning remains the top priority of parents for their children. For this year, DepEd data showed that economic conditions play a role in the number of students enrolled in public schools, accounting for the biggest share at 86 percent or about 20.17 million. This has been the trend since 2008.

While those who can afford private tutelage reached only 3.26 million. Of the 23.43 million students now in schools, DepEd said 3.15 million are enrolled in Grade 1 and 1.73 million are first year high school students.

Further breaking down the statistics, it was learned that 880,000 are in public pre-schools while 450,000 are enrolled in private pre-schools. On the other hand, 13.44 million are in public elementary schools as against 1.17 million pupils who are attending primary education in private schools.

There are 5.65 million students pursuing secondary education in public high schools and 1.45 million in the same level in private learning institutions.

For the tertiary education, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) noted that nursing remains to be the top choice for incoming freshmen, followed by information technology (IT), and those aiming to be an educator taking the third slot.

A degree in hotel and restaurant management (HRM), likewise, is among the top choices as it is an avenue for graduates to seek employment abroad.

However, data from CHEd showed that enrolment in nursing and education courses dipped by 2.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

In contrast, those taking up HRM and IT courses leaped by 30.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Education Secretary Mona Valisno announced last week the plan of DepEd to establish education centers in all 1,500 cities and municipalities nationwide.

Valisno said that these education centers will harmonize existing DepEd programs that organize the involvement of local governments, local communities, and the private sector.

''We have the Library Hub, the Brigada Eskwela Plus, and the Adopt-a-School where all of these education stakeholders are already involved,'' Valisno said.

She explained that the ''Library Hubs'' are local government-funded and private sector-sponsored book warehouses where schools can borrow reference materials in bulk while the Brigada Eskwela (BE) Plus is the scaled up version of the annual Brigada Eskwela national schools maintenance week.

The ''Adopt-a-School Program,'' on the other hand, helps private donors direct their support to schools that need them.

These education centers, Valisno said, will be a venue for parent learning support for children and serve as knowledge management centers where basic family records and community data can be stored.

Meanwhile, to help schools meet their education targets, Valisno encouraged all regional and division officials of DepEd to engage and mobilize local government units and the community.

Lapu-lapu City College gibuksan; 370 ang pasiunang mga tinun-an

MOABOT sa 370 na ka mga tinun-an ang nakapa-enroll sa bag-ong natukod nga Lapu-Lapu City College sud sa unang higayon sa pagbukas niini nga school year.

Ang maong kolehiyo nagtanyag og upat ka mga kurso nga naglakip sa Elementary ug Secondary Education, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology ug Bachelor of Science in Criminology.

Giaprobahan sa konseho sa dakbayan sa Lapu-Lapu ang resolusyon niadtong miaging regular session nga naghatag og pagtugot kang outgoing Mayor Arturo Radaza nga mosud og usa ka memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Natala sa MOA nga katugotan ang siyudad nga temporaryo nga makagamit sa daan nga edipisyo sa Department of Education (DepEd) city division office alang sa city college nga nahimutang sa barangay Basak.

Sa sayo pa, ang DepEd city division office nakaangkon na sa ilang permanente nga edipisyo sa barangay Poblacion, Lapu-Lapu.

Ang DepEd Region VII nihingpit pa sa mga kinahanglanon alang sa permanente nga mahimutangan unya sa city college.

Nasayran nga ang city college naumol base sa city ordinance number 354-2010 kansang katuyoan mao nga kahatagan og higayon ang mga indigent nga mga tinun-an sa siyudad nga makaangkon ug quality ug affordable nga edukasyon.

Ang city college nagtanyag og mga kurso nga ubos kaayo ang tuition kon itandi sa pribadong mga tunghaan.

Gipaabot nga mosaka pa og maayo ang gidaghanon sa mga tinun-ang magpa-enroll sa city college sa umaabot nga katuigan taliwa sa pagsigeg saka ug nagkamahal nga tuition sa pribadong mga institusyon.

Gani ning tuig tigtungha, nagpaabot ang DepEd nga mosaka og maayo ang mamalhin sa mga tunghaang publiko gumikan sa pagsaka sa tuition fee.

College students to take disaster preparedness course

by By Alexis Romero

College students may soon be required to attend a 25-hour course on disaster preparedness and national security before selecting the National Service Training Program (NSTP) component they will enroll in.

Red Cross steps-up dengue preparedness

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Red Cross on Sunday ordered its chapters nationwide to step-up dengue preparedness, especially with the onset of the rainy season.

1 million families get 'Pantawid' aid from DSWD

by By Helen M. Flores

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said a total of one million poor Filipino families have received cash assistance from its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Re-elected governor of Negros Oriental dies

by by DX Lapid, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas
NEGROS ORIENTAL – Re-elected Negros Oriental Gov. Emilio Macias II passed away at 3 a.m. on Sunday at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Manila after losing his battle with liver cancer. He was 76.

Negros Oriental vice gov takes oath after governor's death

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines Vice Gov. Jose "Petit" Baldado formally assumed as governor of Negros Oriental, some 14 hours after the death of Gov. Emilio Macias II from liver cancer at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

Baldado, accompanied by his wife Janet and daughters Riana Inez and Reina Vida, was sworn in shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday at the Governor's Office by Regional Trial Court Administrator Rafael Cresencio Tan.

The hastily arranged ceremony was attended by a few of Baldado's friends, immediate family, relatives, and second district Rep. George Arnaiz.

In an interview after the ceremony, Baldado expressed his sympathies to the family of Governor Macias, saying he had "mixed feelings" about assuming the governorship in an "unusual manner.

He said he would call the department heads on Tuesday and find out what would need his immediate attention.

We will continue with the things that were initiated by the late Governor Macias," Baldado said.

The order for the next two weeks, he said, would be the celebration of environmental month and the undertaking of projects dealing with climate change.

Baldado, however, refused to comment on what could happen after the expiration of his term on June 30.

We will tackle that problem when it comes because there are implications that we cannot discuss now. We will cross the bridge when we get there."

Baldado ran for governor in the May 10 gubernatorial race but lost to Macias, who won his second term despite questions over his failing health.

Aquino Cabinet may be known next week

MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno Aquino III said on Sunday he expects to complete his Cabinet or official family by next week.

LP-Binay infighting to pose problems for Aquino

Posibleng maging problema para sa bagong Pangulong Benigno Aquino III ang pinag-uusapang hidwaan ng mga tiga suporta niya sa Liberal Party at ang kampo ni vice president Jejomar Binay tungkol sa mga pinagaagawang mga pwesto sa Gabinete.

President-elect advised: Be wary of impeach rap


A lawmaker advised Sunday President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to beware of the force in Congress that could render his impeachment, saying the number of solons who are not allied with him should be a threat to his presidency because it could already suffice to launch an impeachment against him.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Edno Joson said Aquino should not be complacent with the numbers he has at the House of Representatives considering that Lakas-Kampi-CMD has more than enough to propel an impeachment case against him.

He said Aquino should be aware of the reality that there is no such thing as "honeymoon" period in Philippine politics.

"Dito talaga sa pulitika natin tuluy-tuloy ang labanan. Sa speakership lang, tuloy agad yung labanan [In Philippine politics, the battle is continuous. In the speakership alone, the battle for speakership proceeds immediately]," he said.

"The president-elect should be aware of it. It (impeachment) happened during the Arroyo administration but the President was able to quell it. Can President Aquino do the same?" Joson asked. He said unless Aquino is able to address the number of lawmakers not allied with him, he should always be wary of the possibility of getting impeached.

"With Lakas having 109 members, President Aquino could be indeed be impeached shortly after his assumption especially since only 96 votes are needed in the House to merit any impeachment against Aquino," the lawmaker said.

But Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay , a senior Lakas member and one of the staunchest allies of Lakas presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. during the last elections, down played Joson's warning, saying Lakas members should not be rashly considered as adversaries of the incoming administration.

"Hindi naman tamang sabihin na maraming hindi maka-Noynoy. Hindi naman pwedeng sabihin na porke hindi Liberal Party e hindi na maka-Noynoy dahil marami naman sa amin ang professional na congressmen eh [It's not correct to say that many in the lower House are anti-Noynoy. It is improper to say that just because a lawmaker does not belong to the Liberal Party, he is anti-Noynoy because many of us congressmen in Lakas are professional]," she said.

The lawmakers said it is not easy to say if they are for or against Aquino at the moment because he has yet to assume as President. "It would be hard to judge President Aquino because he has not performed yet," she said. She said they will judge Aquino and make a position after he has laid down his national policies.

Transition employees to be proposed

THE TRANSITION team will present to the incoming administration a list of employees who may stay on a hold-over capacity to ensure a smooth change in government, a MalacaƱang official said yesterday.

Palace: 3 weeks needed to fix Noynoy's target home

Refurbishing the Bahay Pangarap may go beyond June 30, the date its intended occupant - President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III - will assume office.

Noynoy visits parents' tombs, asks for guidance

President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Sunday visited the tombs of his parents, democracy icons Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, to offer prayers, a television report said.

Amnesty International to new president: Uphold human rights

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- An international human rights monitoring group has appealed anew to president-elect Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to end the outgoing administration's "culture of impunity."

Rid RP of corruption

President-elect Benigno Simeon ''Noynoy'' C. Aquino III will have a lot of catching up to do in terms of achieving for the Philippines its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015.

As soon as he assumes the presidency on June 30, much will be expected from Aquino by the United Nations Millennium Campaign to address significantly at least three major challenges posed by the MDG - corruption, rapid population growth, and bad governance.

''It is crucial for the next administration to take decisive steps in implementing existing MDG supportive policies and formulating policies where they are lacking, so the country can get closer to achieving the MDGs,'' said Minar Pimple, UN Millennium Campaign Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

Pimple said the Philippines gained significant progress in MDG Nos. 4, 6, and 7: reducing child mortality; combating malaria; and ensuring environmental sustainability, particularly in access to safe drinking water.

However, more still needs to be done to achieve other issues covered by the MDG.

''There has to be a strong push for localization, making sure that the MDGs serve not just a few, but every Filipino,'' Pimple said.

''This year is particularly crucial, because it is the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Declaration. World leaders, including President-elect Benigno ''Noynoy'' Aquino III, will gather in New York in September for the MDG Summit. They have to come up with MDG Breakthrough Plans that not only sustain policies and programs that have worked for the achievement of the MDGs, but they also have to address the roadblocks that have derailed achievements in some areas,'' she said.

UN data revealed that 33 percent of Filipinos still live on less than US$1 a day, while 5.2 million children of school age are out of school. In addition, 11 mothers die each day due to pregnancy-related causes, and the incidence of HIV among the youth has increased five-fold from 41 in 2007 to 218 in 2009.

''We may have already lost ten years' worth of opportunities to work towards the MDGs, but it's not too late. With committed leadership, the right policies and resources, the Philippines can still achieve the goals by 2015,'' said Pimple.

''Now that the election fever has died down, we see this as the perfect time to remind the new President that there is a lot of work to be done, and the people that we have the right to demand from the new administration a renewed commitment to the MDGs, better policies, and more decisive action.''

The Philippines was one of 189 countries that signed the Millennium Declaration of 2000. The eight MDGs are: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achievement of universal primary education; promotion of gender equality and women empowerment; reduction of child mortality; improvement of maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensuring environmental ustainability; and development of a global partnership for development. The MDGs are hoped to be achieved by 2015.

Arroyo: I will turn over "new" RP to next administration

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday said she is going to turn over to the next administration a "new" Philippines that experienced "37 quarters of uninterrupted growth" and ready to become a First-World country in 20 years.

Arroyo foresees brighter economic future for RP

President Gloria Arroyo is optimistic of a ''brighter'' economic growth even after the end of her nine-year term, following the approval of a list of business activities and projects eligible for incentives this year.

Taking pride in how the country has been resilient and better-equipped in face new challenges after surviving the global recession, the President said she also looks forward to ''sustained economic growth.''

She said this would continue to translate into tangible benefits to the people.

The 2010 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) outlined the sectors that could avail themselves of tax perks based on the rules prepared by the Board of Investments (BoI) in a bid to retain and attract job-generating investments in the country.

The IPP, pursuant to Article 29 of the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, was approved by the President through Memorandum Order (MO) No. 314 last April 30, a few weeks before she steps down in office at noon of June 30.

''By 'Maximizing Opportunities of a Stronger Philippine Economy' and with the committed cooperation of the private sector and the government's resolve to provide a suitable business environment, we can assure the successful implementation of the 2010 IPP and realize the gains of my administration's development agenda,'' the President said in a message contained in MO 314.

''The future for the Philippine economy is brighter. I am optimistic and hopeful that with the country's internal strength and resilience, which we have built up, through investments in our country and sound economic policies, we can continue to march towards sustainable growth and bring the benefits of economic progress to every Filipino,'' she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said the IPP seeks to generate more investments and more jobs in agriculture, industry, and service sectors to optimize opportunities from the global economic recovery and implementation of international engagements.

The plan has also been made more significant with the addition of green projects that also address the climate change, she added.

Under the 2010 IPP, the government will continue to provide incentives for activities such as agriculture, infrastructure, energy, tourism, health care, mining, export, information and communications technology, among others.

Added to the list of preferred sectors covered by incentives are ''green'' business activities and disaster management projects.

Crisis-hit companies that have retained or expanded their investments and workforce were also entitled to tax breaks.

Other job saving-creating projects, including micro and small enterprises, were included in the contingency list to recover from the impact of the global financial turmoil. Among the projects not qualified under the micro and small enterprises list are banks, retail businesses, services, small-scale mining, non-agricultural basic consumer goods, and personal care products.

Corona: Over 3,000 inmates released under Justice on Wheels since 2008

MORE than 3,000 inmates have been released since 2008 under a Supreme Court-initiated project to declog court dockets and decongest jails, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona said on Friday.

Corona out to prove critics wrong

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has expressed his readiness to prove his critics wrong and said he would let history judge his tenure as head of the Supreme Court (SC) and the entire Judicial Branch.

Corona, whose controversial appointment by President Arroyo had been roundly criticized, vowed to work hard to achieve sustained judicial reforms during the next eight years - a tenure surpassing the term of incoming President Benigno ''Noynoy'' Aquino III.

''Mindful of the spectrum of public opinion, as well as the fact that I have more than eight years to serve our people, I say with all humility: Let history be the inerrant judge of the Corona Court,'' he Corona said in his speech during the Independence Day Celebration of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) held at the historic Manila Hotel last Friday.

He recognized that ''much still remains to be done as the quest for fairness, justice and right is a never-ending pursuit.''

For now, Corona said he will continue the reforms initiated by his predecessor, former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, who retired last May 17.

These reforms, he said, ''aim to improve the judiciary even further in every aspect possible, and strengthen the great institution of the Supreme Court.''

He promised that the country ''shall not have a dormant judiciary in my watch.''

''To be sure, a strong, competent, incorruptible and independent judiciary is the protector of our rights and liberties, and without doubt, the last bulwark of democracy,'' Corona said.

Just like everyone else, Corona was excited for June 30 when the new set of leaders elected during the May 10 elections will assume their posts, saying it would be the first time in the nation's history that the heads of the three branches of government are or will be newly installed.

''This is significant because the situation presents great opportunities to heal the painful wounds our country is suffering from and thereby usher in a new golden age of unity and economic strides,'' Corona said.

He expressed hope the three branches - the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary -would work in an environment where there is interconnectivity in order to ensure the success of much-needed reforms in the justice system.

''The proposition is that if we want to have successful reforms in our justice system, we must act as one, move forward together, be guided by the singular goal of giving justice to our people all in accord with the command of our Constitution,'' Corona said.

Under his watch, Corona said the Judiciary will continue to exercise its power to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.

He said the SC, using its rule-making power, will continue to come up with rules that are needed to further protect the people's individual, civil and political rights just like what it did when it promulgated the rules on the writs of Amparo, Habeas Data and Kalikasan (nature).

The Chief Justice also promised to increase the poor's access to effective and efficient justice.

DoJ backlog: Agra targets 1 MR ruling per 20 mins

Under his self-imposed zero backlog plan, outgoing Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra committed to resolve at least one case every 20 minutes in the next two weeks before stepping down on June 30 with the change of administration.

Comelec, PPCRV, SC receive presidential citations for role in automated polls

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday handed out citations to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Supreme Court for their contributions to the country"s first-ever nationwide automated polls.

Group seeks release of documents to assess auto polls


The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should release relevant documents related to the conduct of the May 10 polls for an unprejudiced assessment of the country's first nationwide automated elections.

"An objective study can only be done if pertinent data and information, relevant to the study at hand, shall be accessible and available to researchers and scholars, so that a no-nonsense body of knowledge can be developed in the interest of public service and good governance," CenPEG said.

Among the documents being asked by the group are the SysTest full report; source code walkthrough plan; source code of the PCOS program; source code of the CCS programs; file formats of all data files used or produced by the PCOS program; file formats of all data files used or produced by the CCS program; public keys used by all the PCOS computers; public keys used by all the CCS computers; user manual of the PCOS program; user manual of the CCS program, and the Smartmatic-Comelec contract with the complete annexes.

"Various stakeholders (need) to help find answers to many questions that affect the credibility of the elections, especially with regard to some unusual incidences occurring with the PCOS machines of the Smartmatic-propelled automated system," said CenPEG.

2 get life terms for killing Filipina in Canada in '07

Two Ecuadorean tradesmen have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the killing of a Filipina housekeeper in Canada in 2007 - a case that was considered as "highest-profiled" that year.

PCG sets June 18 deadline for "Princess" retrieval ops

The Philippine Coast Guard is giving its divers until this Friday to finish the retrieval of remains of victims of the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy two years ago.

Militants behead two loggers in Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines Islamist militants in Basilan beheaded two loggers they abducted just hours earlier Saturday.

Police on Basilan island retrieved the headless corpses of the two victims early Saturday after they were abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen while at work, said local police chief Antonio Mendoza.

It was the second report of killings of civilians by the Abu Sayyaf on Basilan this month.

Abu Sayyaf was set up with seed money from Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s and is suspected by the military of tactical ties with Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian Islamist group blamed for several attacks in Indonesia.

Brigadier-General Eugene Clemen, commander of the Philippine Marine forces on Basilan, said the latest victims were murdered late Friday, hours after they were taken.

"They had been warned not to venture in that area because it was dangerous," Clemen said of the loggers, adding they had no official permit to cut trees in the area.

Most of the Abu Sayyaf's top leaders have been killed or arrested in military operations backed by US Special Forces troops providing training and intelligence, but the rebels continue to pose a security threat.

Stay or quit? AFP chief Bangit to decide next week - source

Whether or not Gen. Delfin Bangit will cling on to his post as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be known in the next seven days, a military official said on Sunday.

$1: P46.640

$1: P46.640

Euro 1: P56.5613

Banks paid executives more than taxes in 2009, BSP says

While the banking industry paid only P18.9 billion in taxes last year, Philippine banks spent P74.4 billion to compensate executives, the central bank said in a report Friday. Such development prompted the Bangko Sentral to write banks a note, saying the numbers pertaining to executive compensation were being closely watched by the central bank.

15 killed in Baghdad bank siege

(UPDATE 3) Suicide bombers and gunmen wearing military uniforms killed 15 people and took hostages on Sunday in a daring raid on the Iraq Central Bank in Baghdad, triggering an ongoing siege with security forces.

91 people arrested on vote anniversary in Iran

TEHRAN – Iranian police arrested 91 people on Saturday as the nation marked the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election, police chief Hossein Sadjadinia said.

Pope praises priests despite abuse scandals

VATICAN CITY - The pope is publicly applauding priests for being a "gift" to both the church and the world, despite the clergy abuse scandals that have saddened or angered many Catholics.

Barako Coffee stops Sta. Lucia to boost wildcard hopes

Barako Coffee came up with one big fight Sunday night that no one other than the Coffee Masters themselves though they had.

Coffee Masters keep flickering hopes alive by stunning Realtors

Barako Bull tripped Sta. Lucia, 103-100, giving its frantic bid for a wildcard berth in the PBA Fiesta Cup a last-minute push Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

PBA Fiesta Cup: Tigers escape past Kings in a wild finish

John Williamson scored seven of Coca-Cola"s last 11 points and teamed up with Asi Taulava in the endgame as the Tigers pulled off a 96-95 come-from-behind win over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings Sunday in the PBA Fiesta Cup at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Lakers hopeful over Bynum for Game 5

by Agence France-Presse
BOSTON, Massachusetts – The Los Angeles Lakers are hopeful that Andrew Bynum's sore right knee can hold up enough for him to play substantial minutes in Sunday's Game 5 of the NBA finals.

Lakers' Bynum Expects to Play in Game 5 of Finals

from NYT > Pro Basketball by BY JONATHAN ABRAMS

"It is frustrating, especially during the series," Bynum said at Saturday's practice. "But I'm doing O.K. The draining worked, and on Sunday, I'm going to be ready to go."

In Bynum's short career, his knee problems have denied him more than any opponent. In five professional seasons, he has logged more than 65 regular-season games only once. Bynum did not play in the finals against the Celtics two seasons ago because of knee troubles, reduced to a spectator as Boston invaded the interior.

"I think we're still optimistic that he's going to give it a shot and see how he does," Lakers Coach Phil Jacksonsaid. "We have a day to work with him. He's had a day of therapy, and he can start getting some movement and maybe start activating himself tomorrow and get himself going."

Bynum played only 12 minutes in Boston's 96-89 Game 4 victory, including a cameo appearance in the second half. He complained of swelling in the knee and said that on one occasion, he could not jump for a Ron Artestpass.

The absence of the 7-foot Bynum hinders the Lakers at both ends of the court. Glen Davis and Nate Robinson found creases in the Lakers' interior as they weaved their way to the basket on drives and putbacks in the fourth quarter. When Davis was out, Boston's Kendrick Perkins defended Pau Gasol, while Kevin Garnett, a rangy and more active defender, latched onto Lamar Odom.

"He's got the ability to displace Pau even though that's not part of the standards of the game, but he does move him off the post," Jackson said of Perkins's defense, delivering another subtle message to the officiating staff. "He has less mobility on the outside perhaps than Kevin does, and so Pau has to step out and use his speed and quickness as opposed to perhaps post up position and size."

When asked how he would jump-start Odom, who struggled after receiving most of Bynum's lost minutes, Jackson quipped, "I was thinking of an electrode, something that would really be a stimulus." Jackson also suggested that he would use the reserve forward Josh Powell, who has not played more than a minute since May 17.

Bynum had a magnetic resonance imaging test Friday, and the test revealed no additional damage. His knee was drained shortly before the finals.

Bynum is expected to have surgery on the joint after the season. Jackson said he would not play Bynum if the knee could be further damaged. Bynum has been told that playing will not put the knee at additional risk.

Pacquiao thanks media with bowling tournament

The 1st Congressman Manny Pacquiao Tri-Media Bowling Tournament is set to be launched on Monday, (June 14) with big cash prizes up for grabs.

Kim Chiu named Princess of Philippine Movies and TV

by by Rachelle Siazon,
MANILA, Philippines - Aside from the teleserye "Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo," Kim Chiu will soon be busy taping a Your Song mini series together with the country's Comedy Queen Ai-Ai de las Alas.

Vicki Belo's daughter: I'll just be happy for her

by by Rachelle Siazon,
MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo has shrugged off the latest news about her mom's rendezvous with Hayden Kho in the United States.

First MTRCB film awards on June 25

Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, gananapin ang MTRCB Film Awards. Isa sa mga awardee ay si Lily Monteverde, ang popular na producer ng Regal Films.

Angelika dela Cruz eyes late brother's spot in Malabon council

Handa raw si Angelika dela Cruz na magsilbi bilang konsehal ng Malabon kapalit ng kanyang kapatid na si Edward matapos itong pumanaw sanhi ng isang aksidente sa Pampanga nitong nakaraang Lunes.

Lone winner bags P65.78-M lotto jackpot, says PCSO

A lone winner bagged the P65.78-million jackpot in Saturday's 6/42 lottery draw of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Warning raised vs travel to restive Taal

Coast Guard sets penalties for violatorsTHE TOURIST trade faces strict penalties for allowing visitors onto a volcano island south of Metro Manila after it began to show signs that it might erupt, the Coast Guard said yesterday.

When Jupiter saved the Earth

MANILA, Philippines - The recent meteor impact on Jupiter is said to be even stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during the second world war.  Without the solar system's largest planet to mop up asteroids and meteors, the Earth could've been hit many times, destroying life as we know it.

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