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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 16, 2010 Major News Stories

Schools to see 2% more kids

THE Department of Education (Deped) expects a two percent increase in enrollment in public schools in Central Visayas, with a corresponding decrease in private school enrollees.

Schools may have double shift

DUE to the shortage of classrooms, the school divisions in Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay may have to implement the double-shift class schedules to accommodate the enrollees this year.

Students protest tuition hike

AT yesterday's opening of classes, a group of student activists gathered at the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to protest the approval of a tuition hike in some private colleges and universities.

DepEd: No condom classes for students

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said Tuesday that sex education in public schools does not include teaching students how to use contraceptives.

CBCP mulls legal action against sex education

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is considering to file legal actions against the Department of Education's move to teach sex education in public schools, an official said.

"We're submitting it to the legal department of the CBCP, and on the basis of the evaluation of the legal department, it will be sent to the corresponding Episcopal Commission for study like the Episcopal Commission on Catholic Education then (to the) Episcopal Commission on the Family," CBCP president Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar said.

He said the CBCP's legal staff is now looking into the possible implications if the plan would be legislated or institutionalized by the government.

Odchimar added that the issue will also be taken during the annual plenary of the collegial body on July.

12-yr education cycle under Aquino mulled

MANILA, Philippines - A plan to add 2 more years to the country's basic education cycle will soon be a reality under the Aquino presidency, according to Aquino's campaign manager Florencio "Butch" Abad.

Vice guv complains about Capitol's P32-M budget

THE Cebu Provincial Government is allocating more than P32 million for school bags and school supplies that will be distributed to pre-school, grade school pupils and high school students in public schools in Cebu.

School supplies ihatag sa Kapitolyo

LALAWIGAN sa Sugbo moapod-apod og school supplies alang sa tanang mga tinun-an sa pampublikong mga tunghaan.

Lakip sa magahinan niini ang mga magtutudlo.

Sa tibuok probinsya, ang siyudad sa Sugbo ug ang siyudad sa Lapu-lapu maoy di makapahimulos sa libring school supplies nga gilangkuban sa mga bag, notebook, lapis ug uban pa.

Si Capitol consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda niingon nga ang lalawigan sa Sugbo migahin og P32 milyones alang sa pagpalit og school supplies nga ihatag sa tanang tinun-an sa pre-school, elementary ug high school.

Gihuwat na lang sa Kapitolyo ang report gikan sa Department of Education (DepEd) kon pilay gidaghanon sa mga tinun-an nga nakapa-enroll karong tuiga.

Samtang gipaabot pa usab ang pag-abot ni Gobernador Gwen Garcia aron kaaprobahan ang design sa cover sa matag notebook nga ipanghatag sa Probinsya.

Ang gobernador atua pa karon sa San Francisco, California alang sa opisyal nga kalihukan.

Ilakip sa pag-apod-apod sa lalawigan mao ang karaan nga mga notebook nga napalit sa miaging tuig nga may hulagway ni Garcia ug Bise Gobernador Greg Sanchez.

Si Sanchez, sa sayo pa, nanawagan nga iapod-apod na unta sa Kapitolyo ang maong mga notebook nga anaa gipundo sulod sa usa ka lawak sa Cebu International Convention Center (CICC)0.

Niingon si Sanchez nga ang mga notebook gitaguan sa gobernador ug wa idayon sa pag-apod-apod kay anaa ang iyang hitsura.Niadtong higayona nagsugod na ang bangi nila sa gobernador, matod ni Sanchez.

Apan si Sepulveda sa iyang bahin niingon nga wa tagoi ang mga notebook nga adunay hitsura ni Garcia ug Sanchez.

Registration for barangay, SK elections moved to July

Registration of voters for the October barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections has been moved to next month instead of June 25.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said they moved the registration to July because June 25 is "too soon." He said that under Republic Act 7166, the Comelec can adjust the registration schedule "if necessary."

Under the law, registration is supposed to be conducted 120 days before the elections. In this case, registration should be conducted beginning June 25 because the 2010 SK and Barangay elections have been scheduled on October 25.

Atty. Marchel Sarno, election officer for the city's north district, said the Commission on Elections central office has given all its satellite offices until June 18 to conduct inventory of all election materials and equipment.

Among those the Comelec will look into in the inventory is whether or not their computers are working well and if they have sufficient copies of registration forms.

Sarno reminded the public, especially the first time voters, to register early to avoid the last minute rush. Those turning 15 and 18 years old should register for the SK and Barangay elections, but those who are over 18 and have already registered do not need to register again.

Reports have surfaced that the October elections might be postponed next year, but Sarno said no formal order has been issued to this effect and the Comelec is always prepared and ready to adjust should circumstances warrant.

On the other hand, Sarmiento said they still have yet to decide whether to automate the October polls.

"Yan ang pag uusapan (That's what we'll talk about). But the sentiment is it should be automation. It think that is the trend and the public is expecting that it be automated," he said.

He noted, however, that they have yet to talk with poll machine supplier Smartmatic about engaging in another contract for the SK and Barangay polls. The Philippines paid P7.2 billion to Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) to automate the May 2010 elections.

In a separate interview, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores said they welcome the idea of automating the October elections. He noted, however, that the poll body should set the filing of certificates of candidacy earlier because Smartmatic would need to print more ballot faces if ever.

Meanwhile, Comelec is also set to release today the honorarium of the election inspectors and support staff who manned the election at jail houses for the recent May polls. The money is reportedly already with the Comelec and may be released today or anytime during the week.

These special BEI's and support staff will receive the same amount received by their counterparts – P3,000 for BEI's and P1,500 for the support staff.

There were about 21 teachers who served at the Mandaue City Jail and about 40 at the Cebu City Jail in the last elections.

All teachers who served at the 561 clustered precincts in the city have already received their honorarium, Sarno said. – THE FREEMAN

Piston unsatisfied with meager oil price cut

MANILA, Philippines – Militant transport group Piston has remained unsatisfied with the rollback on oil prices, noting that these are too meager to improve the cost of living of workers in the transport sector.

"Walang silbi sa jeepney drivers ang bagong kakarampot na rolbak dahil halos wala itong halaga para maidagdag pambaon ng mga jeepney drivers sa kanilang mga anak na papasok ngayong unang araw ng eskwelahan," Piston secretary general George San Mateo said.

Big oil companies earlier have imposed a P0.25 per liter cut on the price of diesel, while gasoline price was trimmed by P0.50 per liter.

San Mateo claimed that the hike in prices of petroleum products by P1 per liter last June 9 is clearly a case of profiteering and overpricing.

The group has also been pushing for the incoming administration of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to immediately junk the oil deregulation law to lower the oil prices in the future.

More people unemployed now than a year ago, says NSO

MANILA, PhilippinesThe number of unemployed persons as of April 2010 was estimated at 3.1 million, about 11 percent higher than the 2.8 million recorded in the same month last year, according to the National Statistics Office.

The NSO's latest Labor Force Survey showed that the unemployment rate went up to eight percent, which is not significantly different from the year-ago estimate of 7.5 percent.

Workers seek DOLE's intervention

The intervention and mediation of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) is being sought to resolve the labor dispute involving the attack on the picket line at the alleged runaway shop of R&Y Augousti in Mandaue City.

RP authorities collude with human trafficking syndicates—US

by By Aries Rufo,
 MANILA, Philippines—The latest US State Department report on human trafficking has identified corruption in government and the collusion between authorities and syndicates among the factors to the unsuccessful prosecution of cases.

Tour bus accident prompts safety review

THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 began roadworthiness tests yesterday on all 33 vehicles registered under JD Tours, operator of the bus that fell from the Transcentral Highway last Sunday.

JD drivers worried over suspension

After the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board suspended the franchises of the 33 other vehicles of JD Rent-a-Car yesterday, the company drivers now wonder what will happen to their families in the next 30 days.

GMA orders probe on Cebu bus crash, task force formed


BALAMBAN, Cebu – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered concerned agencies to immediately launch an investigation on the tragic vehicular accident that killed 21 people, including 20 Iranian nationals, last Sunday in Barangay Cansomoroy, this town.

The President, who was in Cebu on an unannounced trip, inquired about the latest development regarding the incident through Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez and ordered the
Land Transportation Office (LTO) and other concerned agencies to conduct a thorough probe.

Nerez said the President asked for the exact details of the incident involving a J&D tourist bus that plunged down into a 30-foot ravine in said barangay before noon last Sunday, killing the Filipino driver who also owns the bus, and some 20 Iranians on board.

For his part, Nerez said he has ordered the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) to form a task force and conduct its own probe even as initial investigation revealed that the bus suffered brake malfunction while maneuvering a curvy downward slope.

Nerez said the task force had already been formed even before the Iranian consulate in the Philippines sent word that it is leaving the matter up to Cebu police authorities in making an inquiry into the accident.

Iranian Consul Mohammad Tavana, who arrived in Cebu late Sunday, is accepting that it was an accident, according to Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal Jr., owner of Cebu Doctors Hospital (CDH) where a number of the fatalities and the injured were working as medical residents.

Larrazabal, who met with Tavana Monday morning, said the consul's primary concern was to ensure that the injured, which includes 24 who are confined at the CDH, would receive proper medical care and that the remains of the fatalities would be brought home to Iran as soon as possible.

He said the Iranian consul did not ask for an investigation because it was clear to him already that it was an accident.

Nerez however, said the police will proceed with a thorough investigation into the incident to determine the cause and who should be held liable for it.

The bodies of the Iranian fatalities, currently lying in state in a local funeral parlor, will be sent back to Iran, a source said.

Retaining wall ibutang sa DPWH; dan palapdan

ANG 3rd District Office sa Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) mohimo og mga proyekto aron kalikayan ang lain na usab nga disgrasya sa Brgy. Cansomoroy, lungsod sa Balamban, Sugbo.

Ang proyekto gibana-bana nga mogasto og P8 milyones alang sa pagtukod og concrete retaining wall ug pagpalapad sa dalan sa dapit nga nahitaboan.

Si District Engineer James Delosa nga nahinabi sa Sun.Star Superbalita, niingon nga nag-andam na siya og program of work.

Iya kining iduso ngadto kang Regional Director Josefino Rigor alang sa approval ug iduso ngadto sa ilang ulohan nga buhatan.

Ang concrete retaining wall may gihabugon nga 2 metros gikan sa yuta ug usa ka metro ang gibag-on.

May gilapdon kini nga 30 ngadto sa 50 metros nga gibana-bana nga mogasto og P3 milyones.

Girekomendar usab ni Delosa nga palapdan ang dalan sa Sitio C pinaagi sa pagdugang og 5-8 meters ang gilapdon ug may gitas-on nga 100 meters.

Gibana-bana nga mogasto kini og P5 milyones. Matod pa ni Delosa nga pinaagi sa concrete retaining wall, mapugngan ang mga sakyanan nga mahulog sa pangpang kay igo lang kining mobangga sa concrete retaining wall kon di malikayan ang disgrasya. Ang pagpalapad usab sa dalan sa dapit makatabang nga malikayan ang disgrasya.

Ang pagtukod sa maong mga proyekto molanat og labing minos duha ka mga buwan.

Malaumon si Delosa nga magahinan og salapi sa ilang ulohan nga buhatan ang maong mga proyekto aron malikayan ang lain na usab nga disgrasya.

Dugang pa niya nga maghimo usab sila og samang mga proyekto sa ubang bahin sa Transcentral Highway, apan nagkinahanglan kini og dakong kantidad sa salapi.

Gibutyag usab ni Delosa nga gikinahanglan nga mopasar og balaudnon ang Konseho sa lungsod sa Balamban ug konseho sa siyudad sa Sugbo nga nagdili pagpasulod sa Transcentral Highway sa mga de pasaherong bus ug tourist bus, ilabi na sa mga sakyanan nga karaan na ang modelo ug depektuso.

Balili estate executor asks court to dismiss Capitol's refund plea

THE executor of the controversial Balili Estate sought the dismissal of a civil case Capitol filed in April seeking a refund of P37 million of the P98 million it paid for the Balili property.

Marigomen maoy mohusay ni Joavan

ANG sala sa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 maoy mohusay sa mga kaso nga gipasaka batok sa anak ni Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez nunot sa pagpanion og armas sa usa ka lumolupyo sa dakbayan sa Sugbo sayong bahin ning buwana.

Atol sa pag-raffle sa korte sa mga kasong illegal possession of firearms ug kalapasan sa Commission on Election (Comelec) gun ban nga gipasaka sa kapulisan batok kang Joavan Fernandez, kini napunta kang RTC 5 Presiding Judge Douglas Marigomen.

Wa pa matakda ang petsa kon kanus-a ipahigayon ni Marigom ang arraignment sa kaso ni Joavan nga ning higayona gawasnon human nakapiyansa og P160,000 sa mga kaso nga iyang giatubang.

Nasayran, sa hiniusang pinanumpaang pamahayag nga gisumiter sa mga pulis sa Talisay City Police Station nga silang Roy Logranco, Arnold Damasco ug Rusty Pelayo nisaysay nga dihang ilang gisusi ang puwang Isuzu Trooper ni Joavan nga maoy iyang gimaneho dihang nasikop, ilang nakit-an ang .45 caliber Colt pistol, mga bala lakip ang ubang mga kagamitan niini.

Rabies-free Bohol in 2010 eyed


TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol – The Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication Council (BRPEC) is looking at the possible eradication of rabies and freeing the entire province from the threat of the disease starting this year.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, who also heads the BRPEC, expressed confidence that the target of making Bohol rabies-free starting this year is achievable with proper coordination of local officials.

"If Bohol pegs a high dog vaccination rate, it is most likely that we can be declared free from the threat of rabies this year and beyond," said Lapiz.

Much of the success would come mostly from the Bantay Rabies sa Barangay (BRB) overseeing the registration and vaccination of dogs in their areas. "The continued active involvement of local leaders will also play major roles in this objective," Dr. Lapiz said.

BRB is a community-based volunteer group composed mostly of barangay officials whose main responsibility is to execute the anti-rabies program at the frontlines according to established implementing guidelines and adhere to provision of existing national and provincial laws.

Rabies causes a serious brain infection, a virus that can be transmitted to man from canines mostly by animal bites. A bitten and infected person would have said virus travel to his or her central nervous system and once there, the condition becomes fatal and is seldom treatable, says medical practitioners.

Bohol, an emerging tourist destination and an island aspiring to be a haven for tourists is "simply irreconcilable with rabies," Dr. Lapiz said, adding that "rabies and tourists are a dangerous combination."

Operating from a concept of sustainable program that is community-driven, the BRPEC members are rolling up their sleeves and have organized municipal and barangay councils charged with the thorough and effective implementation of the rabies eradication program.

Using dog population control and vaccination, coupled with a neuterization program as dog population management, the campaign to vaccinate dogs in Bohol have started to roll.

"We have gone from a slow start and we have achieved quite a lot from the fact that Bohol once topped Central Visayas in the number of rabies cases," she said.

In 2009, representatives from three Asian countries were in the province to observe the successful implementation of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication (BPRE) Program, which has caught the attention of the international community.

Delegates from China, Japan, and South Korea have gone to Bohol to learn about the province-wide implementation of the rabies prevention and eradication program, which the province partners with foreign donors.

Aside from observing program implementation, the study tour participants have also exchanged ideas with the BRPE Council members to gather significant insights on program implementation.

Papal Nuncio, ex-VP Guingona visit Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams and former vice-president Teofisto Guingona visited President-elect Benigno Aquino III at his Times Street home on Tuesday, just two weeks before his inauguration.

Noynoy faces acid test of increased debt, stalled talks

MANILA, Philippines - Increased public debt, stalled peace negotiations and lingering doubts about his electoral win are just some of the challenges being faced by President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, according to the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Benefits cited in PNP's exit honors for Arroyo

THE PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) yesterday bid farewell to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Director-General Jesus A. Verzosa outlined improvements gained by the organization under the administration.

First family vacates Palace

MANILA, PhilippinesUnknown to many, President Macapagal-Arroyo and the rest of the first family quietly moved out of their official residence last Sunday, with still 17 days to go before President-elect Benigno Aquino III officially takes over as head of state.

Since then, they have been staying in their residence at La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City and go to the Palace only to attend official functions, according to First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Weve packed our bags. Were not here anymore, he told reporters after gracing a book launch and a ceremony involving the Bagong Doktor Para Sa Bayan program of his FG Foundation Inc. at the ceremonial hall. We are happy to leave Malacaang.

Saying it was his last public appearance as first gentleman, Arroyo blasted media for their very unfair treatment of him and his wife during the past nine years.

Launched at the Palace were two coffee table books, one of which contained a chapter devoted to setting the record straight on some nasty controversies that hounded the First Gentleman.

Titled The First, the 176-page book contains a chapter where I set the record straight on all the malicious allegations hurled against me, Arroyo said in his speech.

Being the innately private person that the First Gentleman is, he has learned to roll with the punches at the right moments and deal with unflattering accusations with grace and patience, even choosing oftentimes not to dignify false charges with a reply, says a prefatory statement in the book. "Theres a time and place for setting the record straight, and this book is one of them.

The book tackles issues such as his alleged involvement in the $328-million National Broadband Network deal, the fertilizer fund scam, and fraudulent activities in the 2004 elections.

Asked if media treated him fairly, he replied, No, very unfair.

The last nine years, I think it was very unfair the way GMA was treated, he said. Her achievements were not highlighted. People dont know about her achievements and yet the country did not go to any recession. The country did well, but people dont seem to know that.

The First Couple could face prosecution should incoming President Aquino make good on his campaign promise to investigate all unresolved controversies under the present administration.

But Arroyo appeared unfazed, saying such investigation would produce nothing against his wife because theres nothing that she did thats bad. He said he could only hope for fair treatment if the probe got under way.

(If) thats what he (Aquino) wants, what can we do? he said. He should unite the country instead of dividing it. We are trying our best to unite the country. Maybe he thinks hes still the president of the opposition. He forgot that he will be the president of all the Filipinos already.

After the Palace affair, Arroyo went to see his confessor, Fr. Joseph Lu, assistance pastor at the adjacent St. Jude Parish.

I think he is (at) peace with himself, the priest said in response to a question about the First Gentlemans mood during confession.

He added: He regularly comes for confession and hes sincere. I believe in his sincerity. Anyway, Im a priest. I dont judge things. I am different from media people. I dont judge him from (the) media side. Im not saying (the) media side (is) wrong, but in confession, it is between him and God.

Mike Arroyo to undergo spinal surgery

MANILA, Philippines(UPDATE) The Presidents husband, Jose Miguel Mike Arroyo, will undergo spinal surgery before his wife steps down on June 30.

The surgery, scheduled on Saturday at St. Lukes Medical Center in Taguig City, is intended to avert a tear in his aortaa serious threat that landed him in hospital for two weeks from March to April.

[This] is for my spinal column. It has to be fixed. Its unstable. I guess its serious enough to be operated [on]. Thats what ails me, he told reporters in Malacaang on Tuesday.

President Macapagal-Arroyo rushed her husband to St. Lukes in the early morning of March 25 after he complained of severe back pain. Doctors said the pain was being caused by a new tear in the patients thoracic aorta.

He was discharged on April 7 with the injunction to lose weight and avoid highly charged events.

He has rarely appeared in public since then. But he was present at the Independence Day reception for the diplomatic corps in Malacaang, looking a bit lean.

He turns 64 on June 27.

On Tuesday, Mike Arroyo admitted that his back pain had become unbearable, and that his doctors at St. Lukes prescribed surgery.

They said it should be done while Im still OK, he said. Because if not, if I have that pain, it might cause a tear in my aorta again, which is what happened last time. I cannot stand the pain.

He said his hospital confinement would last 10 days.

Belmonte a shoo-in for Speaker's job, says TaƱada

MANILA, Philippines--The speakership is in the bag for congressman-elect and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr. as talks for possible coalition among the Liberal Party and other political parties in the House of Representative begin.

Yes, it is safe to say that the position for Speaker is in the bag, Quezon Representative and LP spokesman Lorenzo Erin Tanada III said, when asked if Belmonte is already a shoo-in for the chambers highest post.

Tanada said that coalition talks are going fine, stressing that they want the LP of Belmonte to be the dominant party in the coalition.

Belmonte is also expected to corner the support of the members of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC), a stalwart of the party said.

Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao said that the NPC will join the LP and other political parties and alliances of partylist groups to form part of the majority bloc in the chamber in the 15th Congress.

He said that the NPCs 37 district congressmen and seven partylist representatives are expected to go for Belmonte in the selection of the next speaker.

The NPC will definitely support en mass the bid of SB (Sonny Belmonte) for speakership, Aggabao said in a separate text message.

Aggabao also disclosed that about 20 members of the administration party Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats will be formally joining the party (NPC) anytime soon to boost their strength in the chamber.

Belmonte will be pitted against Albay Representative Edcel Lagman in the contest for the speakership. Lagman is a member of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Tanada also earlier said a number of Lakas-Kampi congressmen will also jump to the LP.

Prospero Pichay, presidential political adviser and Lakas-Kampi vice president, acknowledged that Lakas-Kampi will cease to be the dominant political power in Congress, but said that what will remain in the group will still be a formidable number.

Noynoy eyes Naga City mayor for DILG post

President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Tuesday said he is considering Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo to head the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) - a position being sought by Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay.

Aquino still has P37 million left in campaign funds

MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III declared P440 million in campaign contributions, but only P403 million of this was spent.

Smartmatic pitch: Buy our tech now, save billions in next polls

by By Reynaldo Santos Jr.,
MANILA, Philippines—Election machine provider Smartmatic started its marketing offensive Tuesday by pitching to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the idea of buying now the technology they used in the just-concluded presidential and local elections, so the poll body can save billions in the succeeding exercises.

AFP reorganization looms

MANILA, Philippines - A major reorganization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is imminent, with top positions in the military – from AFP chief down to the commanders of major units – expected to be affected, a military spokesman said yesterday.

"There are going to be major changes in the military leadership and key military field units of the Armed Forces," said Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, chief of the AFP Public Information Office.

Burgos issued this statement in the wake of pronouncements made by AFP chief of staff Gen. Delfin Bangit that he would opt for early retirement after president-elect Benigno Aquino III indicated that he would not retain the top military commander.

Aside from Bangit, the positions of AFP vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa, AFP deputy chief of staff Rear Admiral Mario Catacutan and Navy chief Rear Admiral Danilo Cortez will be deemed vacant once the new administration takes over because they are occupying their posts only in an acting capacity.

Ochoa, Catacutan and Cortez are members of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1977, a class that played a crucial role in defending the late President Corazon Aquino from nine coup attempts.

Other members of PMA Class 1977 – Lt. Gen. Ricardo David, commander of the Northern Luzon Command based in Tarlac; Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City; and Ochoa – are among the top contenders to replace Bangit who belongs to PMA Class 1978.

Maj. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, chief of the Intelligence Services of the AFP (ISAFP) and also a member of PMA Class 1978, is reportedly also planning to retire early like Bangit.

Bangit's other classmates now occupying key military positions include Army chief Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu and National Capital Regional Command commander Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue, and Marine commandant Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban.

The Philippine Air Force is currently under the command of Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena.

"Once the new (AFP) chief of staff is installed this will trigger major movements that would create vacancies from top down," a military officer said.

Burgos said filling the vacancies would not be a problem because there is a rule of succession in the AFP.

"We have procedures. We have systems in place. We believe it's based on factors like competence, merit. Seniority is one, and service reputation is another," Burgos said.

Burgos admitted that the new commander-in-chief would make the final decisions on the reorganization of the AFP.

Meanwhile, Bangit continued yesterday his farewell calls on troops as he stressed the need to maintain professionalism in the military service.

Burgos said Bangit made farewell visits to the 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur and the 803rd Infantry Brigade at Catarman, Northern Samar.

"The chief of staff continued his farewell visits and his objective is to revisit the areas that contributed his growth in the armed forces," Burgos said in a press briefing yesterday.

During his visit to troops in Camarines Sur, Bangit narrated his experiences as a captain who saw action against the communist rebels in the town of Nabua.

"As a young company commander, I already realized that the communist insurgency could not be solved by armed combat alone. The best antidote to the insurgency problem is to address its root cause, poverty. This can be addressed through good governance," he said.

"My request for the AFP is to make it more professional. We fight for our country, for our institution, for the people." 

Bangit also inspected the eight-room women's quarters and a power generator house, which will supply electricity to the 9th Infantry Division headquarters.

Bangit then proceeded to the 803rd Infantry Brigade, where he once served as platoon leader and staff officer of the 19th Infantry Battalion.

SC tackles Bangit's case

A Supreme Court official clarified yesterday that the justices are set to rule on the petition seeking the nullification of the appointment of Armed Forces chief Bangit despite his plan to retire early to escape being dismissed by president-elect Aquino.

SC spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the Court had started discussions on the petition filed by the Philippine Bar Association (PBA), headed by former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, seeking to nullify the appointment of Bangit and two other top military officers – Mapagu and Angue – that allegedly violated the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.

Marquez told a press conference that Chief Justice Renato Corona presided yesterday over the first full Court session that tackled Bangit's case.

"The Court requires petitioner (PBA) to submit reply on the comment of the respondents filed through Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) before it submits the case for resolution," he explained.

He said the PBA was given 10 days to comply with the order.

The OSG, in its comment, defended the appointments and argued that there was no violation of the Charter because Bangit and the two others were appointed before the midnight appointments ban took effect.

In a petition filed last May 4, the PBA alleged that the promotion of Bangit and the two other officials violated the ban on midnight appointments under Article VII Section 15 of the Constitution.

"According to the express provision of the Constitution, the two-month period prior to the May 10, 2010 presidential elections falls on March 10, 2010. Bangit was permanently appointed and assumed the office of AFP chief of staff after the retirement of Gen. (Victor) Ibrado from military service effective midnight of March 10, 2010," the PBA said.

PBA president Marcelo said Mapagu and Angue were appointed last March 12 and 13, respectively, and thus violated the ban on midnight appointments.

"It is a basic precept of law that no one may be appointed to an office which is not vacant. There can be no appointment to a non-vacant position and the incumbent must first be legally removed or his appointment validly terminated before any appointment is made," PBA said.

PBA also explained that the appointments violated Executive Order 292 (Administrative Code), which designates the vice chief of staff of the AFP in the absence of a duly appointed chief of staff, and Comelec Resolution 8737, which prohibits promotions in civil service from Jan. 10 to June 9 without prior authorization from the poll body.

The group also questioned the qualification of Bangit, considering what they described as "his well-documented close partisan ties with Arroyo, thereby placing his capability for independent judgment in serious question."

"The PBA is not questioning the competence of Bangit or his service record. Rather, by filing the petition, PBA intends to defend the rule of law and remove any cloud of doubt that may be cast on the nonpartisan and professional character of the AFP as a result of the questioned appointments," they stressed.

They told the Court that Bangit was senior security aide of Mrs. Arroyo when she was still vice president and he also served as group commander of Presidential Security Group from February 2003 to September 2007 and chief of Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces from August 2006 to September 2007 when she was already president.

"Bangit's extremely close ties with Arroyo are readily apparent upon reviewing his profile as commanding general of the Philippine Army," PBA said. 

SC postpones ruling on Bangit's fate

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has postponed deciding on the constitutionality of the appointment of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Delfin Bangit.

SC quashes attempt to reverse Chief Justice ruling

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has shut its doors on attempts to have it reverse a decision that allowed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to choose a new Chief Justice despite a midnight appointments ban.

Senator in hiding told not to expect special treatment

Sen. Panfilo Lacson may be inclined to come home after President-elect Benigno Aquino III assumes office, but he should not expect Aquino to give him special treatment, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Tuesday.

PAGCOR exec retires

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Spokesperson Edward "Dodie" King confirmed Tuesday night that Efren C. Genuino has filed his retirement from PAGCOR. Genuino filed his retirement on May 28. Malacanang received the letter on June 1. Genuino's retirement will take effect on June 30, the day President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially bows out from the Presidency. The move was a retirement, not a resignation, King stressed. Genuino assumed his post as chairperson and chief executive officer of PAGCOR in early 2001, after President Arroyo was catapulted to the presidency after a People Power revolt on Epifanio Delos Santos Ave. (EDSA). Genuino has been credited for multi-income generating projects in gaming and tourism. Last year, PAGCOR posted a gross income take of P30 billion. Before his stewardship in 2001, the state-gaming firm was only earning an annual gross income of P14 billion. Genuino is also credited for PAGCOR's Entertainment and Tourism City, expected to generate some 250,000 jobs for Filipinos.

Former rebels awarded cash

Camp Ruperto Kangleon , Palo, Leyte - The Philippine Army (PA) in Eastern Visayas has awarded a total of P110 thousand pesos to three former rebels, the highest military commander in the region told reporters in an interview here.

Major General Arthur Tabaquero, Commanding General of the PA's 8th Infantry Division (8ID) based in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, Samar, said his office has extended cash rewards to three former rebels who returned to the folds of the law and became the newest beneficiaries of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process's (OPAPP) Social Integration Program (SIP) in Eastern Visayas.

Tabaquero was in the PNP-8 regional office, based here, to receive his award from Chief Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Director General Jesus Verzosa last June 9, in recognition of the 8ID's exemplary participation in the recently conducted May 10 elections in Eastern Visayas, which was generally regarded as honest, orderly and peaceful.

He disclosed that Angelito Remojo, alias Gino/Dokdok in the underground movement and a former member of Pingkoy Platoon, and Francisco Terano of Consuegra, Leyte received fifty thousand pesos (P50, 000.00) each for surrendering an M16A1 rifle and a US rifle M2 carbine, along with magazines and live munitions.

He added that P10, 000.00 was also given to Gerald Perez known as Kino when he was still with the Mt. Amendawin Command, for negotiating the surrender of Reynaldo Batan, alias Jerry of the Front Operation Command (FOC) of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC).

In a previous related development, Tabaquero told reporters that sometime in March this year, Mr. Filomeno Somera Jr., OPAPP Region 8 coordinator also awarded P20, 000.00 each to close to 20 former rebels who came from Northern and Eastern Samar, as initial financial assistance. These rebels stand to receive additional cash awards after their papers are fully validated.

PGH doctors see no need to hospitalize Ampatuan patriarch

MANILA, PhilippinesThere is no need for one of the principal accused in the Maguindanao massacre to be held in a hospital while undergoing trial, according to government doctors.

In compliance with an order from Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, the director of the Philippine General Hospital said a doctor had examined Andal Ampatuan Sr. and found no compelling reason to have him confined in a hospital.

"It is our view that based on our finding and evaluation, there is at the moment no immediate need for hospital confinement of Mr. Andal Ampatuan Sr.," Dr Rolando Enrique Domingo said.

The court order stemmed from a petition by the Ampatuan patriarch that he be held under hospital arrest instead of jail because of poor health as he suffers from diabetes and hypertension. He has been charged along with members of his family, some police officers and a militia group with multiple murders for the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao, a province ruled by his clan for years.

Enclosed with Domingo's letter to the court was the diagnosis and recommendations of Dr Jubert Benedicto, a PGH critical pulmonary specialist who conducted the examination of Ampatuan Sr. on June 8 inside the Camp Bagong Diwa jail compound, where he is currently incarcerated.

MILF files ceasefire violation case over troop deployment

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) yesterday filed a ceasefire violation case against the military for failure to send advance information on the deployment of government troops to Maguindanao.

Freedom of Information bill to be re-filed

MANILA, PhilippinesConfident it will get the backing of majority of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, a party-list group on Tuesday vowed to revive the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the 15th Congress next month.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casino said his group will lead in filing the bill that the House failed to ratify due to lack of quorum.

Definitely, Bayan Muna will re-file the FOI bill, Casino said, but stressed that what they will file will be a tougher version.

Were planning to strengthen some of the provisions that may have been watered down in the House final version and the bicameral conference committee report, he added.

Casino said he expects that support for the bill will cut across political parties.

I presume that next Congress, we will be working with the Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, and even the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) and Lakas-Kampi on this one, he said.

The FOI bill, which guarantees the publics right to information and promotes disclosure of government transactions, was struck down in the House of Representatives because of the absence of quorum.

The bill needed only the ratification of the House before it was to be sent to the Office of the President for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos signature.

$1: P46.350

$1: P46.350

Euro 1: P56.8560

Lower 2010 budget deficit difficult says DoF

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Finance (DoF) said on Tuesday there is little room for the the government to lower the programmed P293.2 billion budget deficit despite the better-than-expected 7.3% gross domestic product  (GDP) growth in the first quarter.

At least 49 killed in Bangladesh landslides

(Updated 11:04 p.m.) COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - Powerful landslides triggered by heavy rains killed at least 49 people in southeastern Bangladesh on Tuesday, striking a coastal area as people slept and burying many alive inside their homes.

Dozens rescued as floods hit Oklahoma


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Firefighters helping a 17-year-old girl escape swift floodwaters were forced to cling to treetops and await rescue themselves after 10 inches of rain deluged parts of the Oklahoma City area Monday.

The boat carrying the rescuers sank just as it reached the teen along a North Canadian River tributary that had topped its banks. A second boat was able to safely recover the girl, the firefighters and the boat owner who lent his craft to the effort, which included more than 50 rescues of residents and stranded motorists.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported. The Oklahoma State Department of Health received 136 reports of mainly cuts, scrapes and exposure to flood water, but none required hospitalization.

When the rescuers' boat sank, they put a flotation vest on the teen and joined her in the tree, Cpl. Kyle Templeton said. The girl had waded into the fast-moving water to help a stranded motorist, who was able to get out of her vehicle safely, Templeton said.

"She was nervous, of course, but she was calm. For 17 years old, she was really calm," Templeton said. "I just stood there and hugged the tree. We were all just hanging out there together."

Slow-moving thunderstorms developed just south of the Oklahoma City area early Monday and dropped between 6 and 10 inches over most of the city by 11 a.m., inundating neighborhoods and stranding morning commuters. Several interstates were shut down, but reopened Monday afternoon.

About 6,700 homes and businesses lost power, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Waters had largely receded by Monday afternoon, but flash flood warnings remained in effect for several counties in southern and southwestern Oklahoma, and forecasters said more thunderstorms were likely.

"It certainly will aggravate the situation," said Daryl Williams, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Norman. "At this point, anything that falls in those areas will just run off and won't soak into the ground."

There's more water on the moon than anyone thought

by Reuters
WASHINGTON - There is far more water on the moon than just about anyone thought and it is likely widespread deep under its surface, according to a report released on Monday.

Pacquiao still top P4P fighter—Ring Magazine

MANILA, Philippines – After losing the top spot on the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound (P4P) list to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last month, Manny Pacquiao held on to retain his reign in the Ring Magazine P4P Ratings.

Bob Arum sees megafight happening


In the run-up to the epic 1985 brawl between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum spoke about jumping in and out of airplanes for 14 straight days covering 25 US cities.

If negotiations bear fruit to stage a November 13 super showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, there is no doubt in Arum's mind that the build-up to such a mouth-watering bout would set a new standard in pre-fight hype.

"Absolutely," Arum said on Tuesday from his home in Las Vegas as the conversation veered towards the talks to stage the Pacquiao-Mayweather match in Las Vegas.

With the proposed event less than five months away, Arum remains cool as a cat that everything is going right on schedule.

"There is no rush," said Arum in his classic New York drawl. "We still have time (to put together the fight)."

If the fight is made – and that should happen not later than the end of July – Arum will spearhead a cross-country tour of major US cities like the time in 1985 when he accompanied Hagler and Hearns.

It is estimated that the Pacquiao-Mayweather faceoff will break all existing attendance and box-office records.

Pacquiao has participated in four publicity tours and the largest scale were the fights involving Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.

PBA: SMB, Alaska in vital games


Games Wednesday (Araneta Coliseum)
5 p.m. — Coca-Cola vs San Miguel
7:30 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs Alaska

Defending champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska, two of the four teams hotly contesting the second and last outright semis berth, face separate opponents as the playoff race intensifies in the PBA Fiesta Cup this Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen, with the second-best record of 11-4, battle the Coca-Cola Tigers (6-9) at 5 p.m., while the Aces (9-6) meet the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (7-7) at 7:30 p.m.

Apart from SMB and Alaska, also in contention for the second automatic semis bert are Barangay Ginebra (9-7) and reigning Philippine Cup champion B-Meg Derby Ace (10-5).

Talk 'N Text has already claimed the first semis berth, having won its last 13 games for a 14-2 record.

The Beermen, who dropped their last two games, including an 85-82 defeat to TNT last Saturday in Victorias, Negros Occidental, are determined to get back on the winning track to boost their own bid.

Gabe Freeman will be back after missing the game last Saturday due to flu-like symptoms but coach Siot Tanquincen will not depend much on him since he has yet to regain his top form.

Still, Tanquincen remains confident of taking the last outright semis berth, saying: "Hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes. We have to come out strong, execute and play tough defense against a very tough opponent."

The Tigers are emboldened by their 96-95 win over Ginebra Kings last Sunday – thanks to John Williamson's all-around effort.

The third import of Coke after James Penny and Rashad Bell, debuted with 24 points and nine rebounds.

In their first meeting this conference, Coca-Cola defeated San Miguel (108-98) last March 27 with Penny then as the Tigers' reinforcement.

Lakers ready? Jackson, Fisher hope so

Jackson_400Simply stated, the Lakers' season is over if they lose Tuesday night at home against the Boston Celtics.

Apparently, though, they want to keep playing. At least that's the impression Coach Phil Jackson gets, and  veteran guard Derek Fisher backs that up.

"They're very anxious to play the game," Jackson said after the team's Tuesday-morning shoot-around, a little more than six hours before tip-off of Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

The Lakers trail the best-of-seven series, three games to two. Game 7, if necessary, would be Thursday, also at Staples Center.

"We're aware of what the circumstances are," Fisher said. "Are we excited to have an opportunity tonight? We are."

The Lakers are hoping for more from Lamar Odom, who has yet to have a double-digit rebounding game in the Finals, and Andrew Bynum, who had six points in Game 5, all of them in the first quarter.

"Everything that Drew got done was accomplished the first six minutes," Jackson said.

Odom has been diagnosed with sinusitis, a Lakers spokesman said. He took part in the Tuesday shoot-around.

"He's here for us," Fisher said. "We're not concerned about whether or not he's committed to the process. I don't think he's expecting anyone to feel sorry for him because he has the sniffles."

The Celtics staved off the Lakers in the fourth quarter of Game 5, ultimately winning, 92-86, though not before Jackson was heard telling Lakers players during a timeout that Boston often lost fourth-quarter leads. The video and audio were shown on ABC, which televised the game.

"I was surprised it was broadcast," said Jackson, who claimed to be trying to offer "encouragement" to his players. "I was just quoting a stat that was given to me by my scouts."

First Lady Obama praises young Fil-Am writer

CALIFORNIA – US First Lady Michelle Obama praised an 8-year-old Filipino-American writer when they met in San Diego over the weekend.

"You're doing a good job," Mrs. Obama said to Kiana Tuzon who won an award in the Armed Services YMCA essay writing contest.

Tuzon spoke with Balitang America from Oceanside, California about her experience with Mrs. Obama.

"It was very exciting because she said I did a very good job on my essay," said Tuzon. She is a daughter of US Marine Norman Tuzon who is now in Afghanistan.

The First Lady visited military families at Camp Pendleton and spoke with spouses and children of military personnel deployed abroad.

During her speech, Mrs. Obama read excerpts of an essay written by the little girl.

"My military hero is my Dad. When he is deployed to other countries, my military hero is my mom. She is a strong marine mom," read Mrs. Obama.

Tuzon said she wants to be either a "writer or a math teacher" when she grows up.

"He said I did a very good job and he's really proud of me," when asked what his dad thought of her award.

Her mother, Eliza, advised spouses of military men and women to "be with your family, support your kids in whatever they want to do." Balitang America

Arroyo loses temper over perceived slight to reporters

MANILA, PhilippinesAn otherwise exhilarating Philippine National Railways train ride from Calamba to Taguig on Tuesday was marred by a flare-up of President Macapagal-Arroyo over the late arrival of food for reporters.

Ms Arroyo blew her top after learning that PNR executives laid out a buffet table for her in one coach, but forgot the food for TV reporters covering her.

"Why did you prepare food only for me, and did not include the media?'' a Presidential News Desk writer quoted an irritated Ms Arroyo as telling blushing PNR executives during the ride.

She didn't touch the lunch prepared by the PNR, the writer said.

The train made a stopover in Bian, Laguna, and stayed for more than 20 minutes - longer than necessary - to wait for the next train to bring the food for the media.

When the boxes of food containing McDonald's packed meals of fried chicken and rice finally arrived, Ms Arroyo went out of her way to hand these out to the reporters, and had lunch with them.

"She ate lunch with us, and shared her personal memories with Malacaang reporters over the years,'' TV5 reporter Jove Francisco said.

It turned out that PNR officials failed to load the food for the media on the train before it left the Calamba station for Bicutan. The train had to slow down to wait for the next train to bring the food.

Press Undersecretary Maribel Dario confirmed this: "She didn't like the idea that there's no food for the media. She waited for the food to arrive, and then ate with everyone.''

Ms Arroyo motored Tuesday morning to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, for the soft opening of the interface between the South Luzon Expressway and the Star Tollway Loop (from Calamba, Laguna, to Sto. Tomas, Batangas).

She later proceeded to Calamba City for the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed realignment of Toll Road 4 project, a 54.2-km road that links Sto. Tomas, Batangas, with Lucena City in Quezon.

In Calamba, she boarded the PNR train with PNR general manager Ower Andal, members of the Malacaang Press Corps for a briefing on the PNR Southrail project, and inspection of the railway bridge in Bgy. San Cristobal in Calamba.

During the train ride, Andal briefed Ms Arroyo on the PNR Southrail Project, and informed her that the PNR would resume its train service from Lucena City to Bicol by June 25.

Andal said that the resumption of the Bicol trips would "close the loop'' linking the North and South Rail projects.

After the briefing, Ms Arroyo invited everyone to lunch, and had sat down at the buffet table when she realized minutes later she would be having lunch without the reporters having their own, the Palace news writer said.

According to the PNR, the 50-meter San Cristobal Bridge is a vital part of the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Phase II that runs from Calamba City to Lucena City. Its completion facilitates the reopening of the Bicol Train service, previously known as the "Bicol Express,'' from Manila to Ligao, Albay.

The railway bridge was destroyed by storms in 2006.

PNR managers also said that new commuter-type coaches are arriving from Japan next month to complement the regular train service from Tutuban in Divisoria, Manila to Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and 40 to 50 new coaches for long trips to Bicol are expected in November.

After the PNR stopped over at its Bicutan station in Taguig, Ms Arroyo hopped out, and boarded a bus for a "windshield inspection'' of the completed elevated toll road between Bicutan and Sucat, a project of the South Metro Manila Skyway Project. She was joined by businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, officials of Skyway, and developer Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. and DM Consunji Inc.

Smartmatic turns on the charm with ex-Miss Universe

MANILA, PhilippinesMiss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza is in the country to spread goodwill and foster a celebratory atmosphere among Filipinos to mark the success of the first nationwide automated elections held in the country last May 10.

The Venezuelan beauty, who arrived on Monday, was presented as Smartmatics Ambassador of Transparency to members of the media at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City Tuesday.

You may have already gotten tired of my face, said Smartmatic Asia-Pacific president Cesar Flores. So now I bring you a new face, nicer, younger and more passionate to deliver this gratitude, he added, as he presented the 24-year-old beauty queen.

Smartmatic is a part-owner of Smartmatic-TIM, the Commission on Elections technology partner for the May 10 elections.

Dayana is an icon of beauty, success, perseverance and hard work, said Flores, who is also Venezuelan. Shes been around the world supporting social initiatives, spreading goodwill to thousands of people around the world.

Flores said Mendoza was a token of our appreciation to remind Filipinos of the success of the May 10 automated elections.

Im here to congratulate the Filipino people for the amazing results of the election, Mendoza said.

She said she was proud of the Filipino people for successfully holding its first national automated elections.

Right now the world is chaotic, and you guys showed the whole world that things can get better, she said.

Asked why Smartmatic chose to present an ambassador only now, more than a month after the elections, Flores said, We wanted to bring her since day one, but we were very focused on making sure the elections will take place.

Supporting social causes is nothing new to the statuesque Mendoza. The Miss Universe title gave her the opportunity to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in different parts of the world. And even after relinquishing her title to compatriot Stefania Fernandez last year, Mendoza said she continues to support HIV/AIDS organizations in New York, where she is currently taking acting classes. The lessons are part of the prize package she received when she was proclaimed Miss Universe 2008 in Vietnam.

Whenever I can do something, Ill do it. Its selfish to always think about ourselves, our work, our lives, she said.

As Smartmatics Ambassador of Transparency, Mendoza will also contribute to the projects sponsored by the Philippines two Miss Universe titleholders.

Mendoza is to visit the Una Mano school on Wednesday to donate computers on behalf of Smartmatic. The school, located at the San Pablo Apostol Parish in Tondo, Manila, is run by the Canossa-Tondo Children Foundation Inc. sponsored by Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz.

Mendoza will also meet with Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran to help out with the latters initiatives for Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines.

Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic Worldwide CEO, said Dayanas presence in the country should foster a celebratory mood among Filipinos.

The success of the May 10 election is a great cause for celebration, he said. You have become a role model for the rest of the world.

He said Mendoza told him that even in New York, she learned of the success of the first automated elections in the Philippines.

Dont let anyone rain on your parade, he reminded Filipinos. The May 10 election is a testament that Filipinos can accomplish great things.

Mendoza, meanwhile, has this to say to losing candidates who complain of cheating: I understand how difficult the previous elections were. There has been a huge improvement this year. You should be proud of your peoples achievement.

Philippine prison orchestra in 1st public concert

he sound of Broadway medleys and love songs echoed inside the walls of the Philippines' maximum security penitentiary Tuesday when convicts, many of them serving life sentences for murder and other major crimes, gave their first public concert.

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