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

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 18, 2010 Major News Stories

Palace declares June 30 non-working holiday

THE PALACE has declared June 30 a special non-working holiday for the inauguration of Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III as the country's 15th president.

CHED asks Noynoy to subsidize private schools

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education is asking incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to subsidize private schools to prevent the yearly increases in tuition.

Iran envoy thanks officials, rescuers

The ambassador of Iran to the Philippines thanked some officials in Cebu for taking care of his 20 compatriots who died in last Sunday's tragedy in Balamban town. The bodies are to be repatriated on Saturday.

Seven more cars pass roadworthiness tests

Seven vehicles owned by JD Rent-a-Car that earlier failed the roadworthiness test conducted by the Land Transportation Office Motor Vehicle Inspection Center passed after tune-up yesterday, bringing down the number of unsound vehicles to 21.

Marina seeks revocation of captain's license

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is seeking to revoke the license of a cargo ship captain in charge of a ship that cut through 10 meters of the concrete pier of a power plant in Toledo City Wednesday afternoon.

LTO to go after school buses without papers

THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 yesterday said school buses and car pooling businesses are required to get franchises from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Traffic around Basilica to be rerouted Fridays starting today

CITOM and Traffic Group, Cebu City Police, Cebu City yesterday announced that vehicular traffic will be rerouted every Friday starting today to decongest the vicinity of the Basilica del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Back to manual for barangay polls, says Comelec

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Commission on Elections will likely revert to pen-and-paper voting for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October.

The automated election system used in the May 10 national elections would be too expensive for the barangay and SK polls, said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Traditionally we have always had manual elections even though automated solutions are available. Why? Because for barangay and SK elections, we do not have consolidation on a nationwide scale, he explained.

In the automated election system used for the May 10 elections that the Comelec leased from Smartmatic TIM Corp. for P7.2 billion, voters cast machine-readable ballots. Precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines recorded, counted and transmitted the votes to canvassing centers where the numbers were electronically added up.

The counting and consolidation of votes through the automated system is more expensive and takes a lot longer, Jimenez said.

The barangay and SK elections have been scheduled for Oct. 25, unless the Congress passes a law canceling it.

Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay, who has expressed interest in heading the Department of Interior and Local Government, said he was in favor of abolishing the barangay and SK polls. Binay said barangay officials may be appointed by local executives, while the SK should be scrapped entirely.

Jimenez said the Comelec was not in any position to favor or disfavor the changes suggested by Binay.

He said the next batch of barangay and SK leaders should take Binays statements as a challenge and clean up their image as training ground for traditional politicians.

Greg: Recall of multicabs is "terrorism"

The Capitol recalled three multicabs from three barangays in Tuburan town last week after the barangay officials allegedly failed to observe the agreed rules for its use.

7 ka mga barangay bawiag multicab?

TULO na ka mga barangay sa lungsod sa Tuburan ang gibawian sa kapitolyo sa ilang mga service nga multicab.

Ang kapitolyo dunay napulo ka mga multicab nga gihatag ngadto sa Tuburan apil na ang usa ka ambulansiya niadtong Abril 23,2009.

Apan niadtong Hunyo 11 gibawian si Kapitan Julieto Talaugon sa iyang multicab samtang wa siya sa ilang barangay sa Lusong.

Si kapitan Talaugon nitug-an sa Sun.Star Superbalita nga gibawian na sab ang Barangay Summon ug Kalangahan. "Dako gyud kaayo og kagamitan ang multicab sa barangay tungod kay mao man kini ang sakyan sa higayon nga dunay emergency. Gigamit gyud ni 24 oras alang niadtong atong constituents nga manginahanglan,"matod ni Talaugon.

Lakip sa mga barangay nga bawianan og mga multicab mao ang Kabkaban, Caridad, Marmol, Mag-antoy, Macupa, Kansi ug Amatugan. Apan di lang ang multicab ang giplano nga bawion sa Kapitolyo tungod kay iapil man sab ang ambulansiya.

Si Bise Gobernador Greg Sanchez niingon nga siya ang naghatag sa maong mga sakyanan dihang siya ang acting governor niadtong higayona.

Aquino on CNN: No to patronage politics

MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III feels he is not indebted to those who helped bolster his election campaign.

Noynoy anxious about car ride with Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is anxious about the "car ride" he will be taking with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 30, the day of his inauguration.

Arroyo won't mind criticism in Aquino's inaugural speech, says palace aide

MANILA, PhilippinesPresident Macapagal-Arroyo wont mind sharing a farewell limousine ride with incoming President Benigno Aquino III for her successors inauguration on June 30, Malacanang said on Thursday.

Ricardo Saludo, presidential spokesperson, downplayed speculation that the two leaders political differences would figure prominently during the inaugural rites scheduled at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

Saludo said it would not be an issue to the Palace if Aquino spent a portion of his inaugural address criticizing the outgoing Arroyo administration.

This is a free country. People will say what they want to say and certainly, if you are the President, nobody can tell what to say and not to say, he told reporters in a briefing.

He added: Differences, they dont matter in this democratic process. If there are differences, the democratic process is able to subsume them and let the whole thing still happen.

Beyond the rituals of the inauguration, he said Ms Arroyo was more concerned about a smooth transition of power, which would be her final act of governance.

The Presidents intention from the very beginning is the conduct of orderly elections and smooth transfer of power, he said in Filipino.

She is certainly happy, very fulfilled that she was able to bring the administration to that conclusion, which, again, is part of our democracy, underscoring our political strength and stabilitythats really what this is all about.

Unless changes are made, Ms Arroyo and Aquino are to share the short limo ride from Malacaang to the Quirino Grandstand as part of tradition in the turnover of the presidency, according to Elena Bautista-Horn, chief of the Presidential Management Staff.

From the inauguration site, Ms Arroyo will then hand over the keys to her successor and leave the venue in her private cara ritual intended to allow Aquino to have the stage all to himself, the PMS official added.

Saludo said Ms Arroyos departure from Malacanang has left a number of government employees wondering if they would still keep their job under the new dispensation.

He made it clear that employees could not be forced to resign, saying their removal would have to go through certain rules and processes.

As far as I can remember, there is no such thing as forced resignation in government, said Saludo, who used to chair the Civil Service Commission. You leave if you want to leave. You can resign. Of course, you can be requested to resign, but I dont think there is such a thing as to be ordered to resign.

Regarding employees appointed during the constitutional ban on midnight appointments, he said they need not tender their resignation because their jobs were co-terminous with Ms Arroyos.

No one needs to resign because (these employees) appointments are terminated on June 30, he explained.

But with at least 4,000 vacancies still to be filled, he said these employees could still keep their jobs on a holdover capacity until the new administration has found suitable replacements.

2 new books on Arroyo mum on 'Hello Garci,' ZTE

MANILA, PhilippinesThere are two books coming out about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly on how she handled the different crises and scored the major accomplishments of her nine-year administration.

But the books, both written by members of her Cabinet and bearing almost exactly the same title, are silent on an issue that could have surely given them best-seller potential.

Both skipped the Hello Garci 2004 election cheating scandal.

The authors are launching Beating the Odds and Beat The Odds on Tuesday in Malacaang, with their subject, Arroyo, as special guest.

One of authors, Secretary Ricardo Saludo, said the books are all about governance which students and academicians could use as reference material.

These two books will look very specifically at how governance was undertaken. I think it will be very helpful to academics and people in the government, not necessarily the next administration, Saludo told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

In our view, the books would be first and foremost informative. Secondly, they would be, we feel, a fair assessment of what the government has done and also how governance decisions were made, said Saludo, a presidential spokesperson.

He maintained that the bookscoming out with less than two weeks to go before the curtains close on the Arroyo presidencywere not an attempt to put her in good light.

Arroyo, considered the most unpopular Philippine leader since the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is relinquishing power to President-elect Benigno Aquino III on June 30.

Whether people will see it in a good or bad light, its actually up to the person. You can try giving it to some people in the opposition and see if they see a good thing in it, Saludo said.

Beating the Odds is written by Saludo and Renato Velasco, a UP political science professor who also sits on the board of the Local Water Utilities Administration.

The book tackles the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the threat posed by the SARS virus, terrorism and illegal drug trade, as well as the budget deficitand how Ms Arroyo responded to these challenges.

A newspaper ad on Thursday described the book as a crisis-management bible for the 21st century.

These are the very major battles that we fought, Saludo said.

The book, however, skipped any reference to the July 2005 Hello Garci scandal, which hounded Ms Arroyo with allegations of massive fraud in the 2004 presidential elections based on wiretapped phone conversations ostensibly between her and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

The scandal, the worst to hit her administration, triggered calls for Ms Arroyos resignation. She later publicly apologized and admitted that she called an election official but not to cheat.

Saludo said he and Velasco only selected the crises that happened between 2001 and 2004. These were the topics that we felt we could handle, he explained.

Saludo said he and Velasco felt the wiretapping scandal should not be lumped together with the other crises because it required a more extensive treatment.

Somebody else might want to write about it, he said. If we were going to write about it, it might just be seen as self-serving whereas the other controversies are clearly an assault on the nation.... I feel we can write about (the other scandals) without us being considered self-serving.

The book includes interviews with key personalities that figured in the handling of the crises, Saludo said.

Beat The Odds, on the other hand, is more about Ms Arroyos accomplishments. It is written by another deputy presidential spokesperson, Gary Olivar.

The title is based on the acronym Ms Arroyo coined when she assumed power in 2001 to summarize her 10-point agenda.

Beat The Odds stands for for Budget reform, Education for all, Automated Elections, Transportation and digital infrastructure, Terminate Hostilities with MILF and NPA, Heal the wounds of Edsa I, II and III; Electricity and water for all, Opportunities and livelihood and 10 million jobs, Decongestion of Metro Manila, and Develop Subic and Clark.

It was not immediately known if Ms Arroyo had commissioned the two books.

Im not privy with the discussion regarding the publication of the book. On the other hand, knowing the books and all, I could not see why she would object because its a fair assessment of her administration, Saludo said.

First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo launched two coffee table books last Tuesday.

These included The First, which purportedly aims to set the record straight about his alleged involvement in the $329-million National Broadband Network scandal and the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, among other controversies.

FG Arroyo admitted to hospital ahead of surgery

MANILA, Philippines - Two days before his scheduled spinal column surgery, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo visited St. Luke's Medical Center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig for his regular rehabilitation therapy and pre-operations preparations.

Roxas: I'm not chief of Noynoy's transition team

MANILA, Philippines - Defeated vice presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II on Thursday denied that he is the head of the official transition team of incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Aquino defends choice of Roxas in transition team

MANILA, PhilippinesWhy not Senator Mar Roxas?

This was how President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III defended on Thursday Roxas' inclusion in his transition team.

"This is the team that helped me in the campaign. This is the team that is at the last portion of what I consider the electoral process. We are getting ready to govern, why will I not utilize the talents of Senator Roxas among the other people I nominated to the transition team?" Aquino told reporters.

Aside from Roxas, the team includes incoming Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former Education Secretary "Butch" Abad, and his daughter and Aquino's chief of staff, Julia Abad.

"You will note Cesar Purisima is part of the team giving special emphasis on the fiscal condition of the country. And consideration of feelings, I dont think any of us are below 50 years old," Aquino said when asked if he considered the feelings of vice-president elect Jejomar Binay when he decided to appoint Roxas in the team.

Roxas was Binay's closest contender in the May 10 elections.

"We are all seasoned politicians. I think we are mature enough to be able to look
at the bigger picture, which is how do we advance the interests of our people at this time," Aquino said.

He also underscored Roxas' experience in financial management to assess the condition of the country.

Besides, Aquino pointed out that the whole transition team was "purely volunteer.

"None of them are getting any compensation for his work, he said.

"He (Roxas) helps us by his expertise and we have the same mindset in terms of mission. In effect he is actually representing me in a lot of aspects to be able to get the necessary data," Aquino said.

No Press Secretary for Aquino, but...

Namemeligrong tuluyan nang hindi magtalaga ng Press Secretary si president-elect Aquino. Sa halip, isang Communications Group ang pina-planong mamamahala ng press relations ni Aquino, kapag ito'y naupo na sa Malacañang. 

Marcos regime victims see another chance with new administration

Nabuhayan ng loob ang mga biktima ng human rights abuses noong panahon ng regimeng Marcos ngayong si president-elect Noynoy Aquino ang uupo sa palasyo. 

Rights body gives Arroyo failing grade'

There is still a culture of impunity' -- De LimaTHE ARROYO administration will exit with a dismal performance in human rights protection, the head of the Commission on Human Rights said (CHR) yesterday.

No P37-million excess poll funds – Noynoy camp


The camp of President-elect Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III has belied claims by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that it still has P37 million worth of excess campaign funds at hand.

Aquino's spokesperson, Atty. Edwin Lacierda, said the funds left from their campaign kitty were already used to finance their camp's printing of sample ballots, their poll watchers' allowances, and their lawyers' fees.

"These expenses are not required to be reported under the law because they are expenses incurred after May 8. So it is no longer true that there are funds still left from our campaign contributions," Lacierda told reporters in an interview outside the residence of Aquino along Times Street in West Triangle, Quezon City.

Lacierda reiterated that the Comelec cannot compel them to include in its expenditure report the campaign materials contributed by their supporters, citing the difficulty to monitor the initiatives of campaign volunteers.

"Some tarpaulins, T-shirts, ballers etc. came from our volunteers. Those items did not pass through our office. It will be difficult to monitor them so we did not declare them. But what is certain is that all campaign contributions that we got and all expenses we made are all accounted for," he said.

"What we have control over is only what we spent and what we produced.

Those were all published in the report we submitted to Comelec," he added, referring to the expenditure report that disclosed the Aquino camp's spending of P403 million out of the P440 million campaign contributions it got.

Aquino's declaration is well within the half-a-billion limit for campaign contributions but the Comelec said it is possible that some of the donations were not divulged.

Comelec Resolution 8944 allows candidates for president and vice president with political parties to spend P10 per registered voter while other candidates who also have parties may spend R3 per voter. Candidates without the support of political parties may spend P5 for every voter.

Noynoy urged: Do a Cory, free Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines - A lawyer of detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday urged President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to "do a Cory" and allow the detained senator to attend the regular sessions of the Senate.

Kiko making headway in Senate presidency

by By Christina Mendez

Sen. Francis Pangilinan is making a headway in his bid for the Senate presidency after presidential sister, popular TV host Kris Aquino-Yap, reportedly courted some of the senators to vote for him. 

Belmonte confident of grabbing House Speaker post

Sobra pa sa kinakailangang bilang ng mga kongresista ang susuporta sa pagtakbong House Speaker ni congressman-elect Feliciano Belmonte. Kasama rito ang malaking grupo ng mga taga-Lakas at pati na ang mga kongresista mula sa Nacionalista Party at Nationalist People's Coalition.

Beware of rabid Arroyo supporters, Belmonte warned

MANILA, PhilippinesWatch out for those rabid Arroyo supporters.

Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares has this to say to representative-elect and Quezon City mayor Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr. in farming out juicy committees to members of Arroyos Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats party who will be jumping over to the Liberal Party (LP).

With a month before the 15th Congress opens, support for Belmontes bid for the speakership has been snowballing, as lawmakers, including those from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, begin their exodus to his political party, the LP.

However, getting the backing of lawmakers from other political parties almost always happens in exchange for choice positions or committees.

We understand his needs to coalesce for his speakership bid, but he should remember also that politics is not just politics of addition, but politics of principled addition, Colmenares said in an interview after speaking at the Serye forum in Quezon City Thursday.

Colmenares said that the ones who lorded it over in the incumbent administration, should not be the same people who would lord it over anew in the new administration.

It could be a dangerous move for Belmonte since the Lakas-Kampi members can still be used later by President Arroyo to grab power, he said.

Arroyo is being pushed by some members of Lakas-Kampi-CMD to run for House speaker, but she begged off and chose to simply remain the party chief.

Its dangerous for Mayor Belmonte because these (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) congressmen, whom he had given leading positions could still shift (loyalties) in the opportune moment, maybe not in six months, maybe in the next several months, remember they are in leading positions, he said.

If Arroyo thinks she has the numbers, they can easily take over because they are in leading positions, Colmenares said. Kaya nga nagpapaalala kami dito laban sa mga sagad-sagaring Lakas-Kampi members (Thats why we are reminding him against these rabid Lakas-Kampi members).

Colmenares, who will serve his second term in the House, said the militant partylist bloc would likely support Belmonte over Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, who will be fielded by Arroyos party.

Colmenares said Lagman was the killer of impeachment complaints against Arroyo.

In the same news forum, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo said several neophyte lawmakers, who have bonded under the Neophyte for Reforms, would support Belmontes bid.

Castelo, one of the conveners of the group, also said the new lawmakers intended to make a difference in the chamber by religiously attending sessions, avoiding expensive and unnecessary foreign trips and being transparent on how they spend their priority development assistance funds or pork barrel.

Villar still richest House member, Mariano poorest

MANILA, Philippines Las Pias Representative Cynthia Villar, wife of defeated presidential candidate Senator Manuel Villar, remains the richest member of the House of Representatives, but is no longer a billionaire unlike last year, as her networth dropped to P947.8 million, according to the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net (SALN) Worth of congressmen as of Dec. 31, 2009.

Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano is still the poorest lawmaker with P42,219.00 in networth, according to the same report.

Rounding the top 10 wealthiest lawmakers in the House are:

1. Villar, P947,883,619 networth, no liabilities;

2. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leytes 1st district, with P477, 263, 295 networth and without liabilities;

3. Businessman Julio Ledesma IV of Negros Occidentals 1st district with P447,529,000 networth (P571,979,000 assets, P124,450,000 liabilities);

4. Ilocos Norte Representative Ferdinand Marcos Jr., P315.5 million;

5. Iloilo Representative Judy Syjuco with P288,514,367 networth and without liabilities;

6. Tarlac Representative Monica Louise Teodoro with P231,253,585 networth (P301,253,585 assets, P70million liabilities);

7. Iloilo Representative Ferjenel Biron with P192,071,000 networth, without liabilities;

8. Representative Glenda Ecleo of Dinagat Island, P166,400,000 networth (P172,400,000 assets, P6million liabilities);

9. Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. with P158,488,820 networth (P166,472,300 assets, P7,983,480 liabilities); and

10. Zambales Representative Antonio Diaz with P153,718,040, without liabilities.

Marcos, who will join the Senate in the 15th Congress, almost doubled his networth from last year, according to his 2009 SALN report. In 2008, Marcos was ranked eighth, with a networth of P179.9 million.

Ecleo is a new entry into the top 10 wealthiest congressmen.

Meanwhile, the 2009 declaration of Ledesmas assets and liabilities was the same as that of his 2008 SALN.

Danilo Suarez of Quezon province is the 11th richest congressman with a networth of P151,668,234 (P159,266,140 assets, P7,597,906 liabilities), according to his SALN.

The four Arroyos in Congress landed among the top 30 richest lawmakers Representative Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidentals 5th district has P138,541,515 in networth; Representative Juan Miguel Mikey Arroyo of Pampanga, P101,347,933 in networth; Representative Diosdado Dato Arroyo, P90,393,644; and Representative Ma. Lourdes Arroyo of Ang Kasangga partylist, with P88,654,259 in networth.

Speaker Prospero Nograles is the 33rd richest with P75,711,600 networth (P151,561,600 assets, P75,850,000 liabilities).

Out of the top 10 but rich just the same is Representative Arturo Robes from the lone district of San Jose del Monte City, a businessman, whose P25,535,712 networth (P44,464,655 assets, P18,928,943 liabilities) in 2009 put him at 108 from a number 4 in 2008, with a P440 million networth.

On the other end are the top 10 poorest lawmakers:

1. Mariano, P42,219.00 in networth;

2. Bayan Muna partylist Representative Teodoro Casino with P118,000 networth;

3. Anakpawis Representative Joel Maglunsod with P145,000 networth;

4. Kabataan partylist Representative Raymond Palatino with P150,000 networth;

5. Trade Union Congress of the Philippines partylist Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza with P270,000 networth;

6. Alliance of Rural Concerns partylist Representative Narciso Santiago III with P700,000 networth;

7. Bohol Representative Adam Relson Jala with P782,000 networth;

8. Abakada-Guro partylist Representative Jonathan dela Cruz with P800,000 networth;

9. Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares with P1.1 million networth; and

10. and Anak Mindanao partylist Representative Mujiv Hataman with P1.4 million networth.

The SALN covers the declaration of 270 congressmen in compliance with Section 10 of the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The latest declaration shows a total of 22 lawmakers having a networth of over P100 million.

US yet to respond to RP request in 'Hello Nico' probe

MANILA, PhilippinesThe National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it has yet to receive response from the United States government on its request for help in the Hello Nico probe.

The Department of Justice sought US assistance to pinpoint who uploaded the purported recording of phone conversation between Commission on Elections Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno on cheating in the May 10 polls.

Justice Secretary Alberto Agra has said that the website which carried the recording was based in the US and re-routed on a Germany-based site.

He said his office wrote Washington, invoking the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), to determine the source of the uploaded taped conversation.

But the US government has yet to respond to their request for assistance, said NBI Director Nestor Mantaring.

The audio file was uploaded on, a website which is no longer available.

Mantaring said it was possible a Filipino uploaded the supposed recording here in the Philippines.

Bangit wants to retire on June 22

MANILA, Philippines -- Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Delfin Bangit said on Thursday he wants to retire on June 22, eight days before President-elect Benigno Aquino III will take his oath of office.

Bangit made the statement in a chance interview at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila wherein he was given a final testimonial parade.

However, Bangit said his request may not be followed.

Thats the date I am requesting but it has to be, the actual date of retirement, has to be decided by the commander in chief, Bangit said.

Bangit has been conducting his farewell visits to all military units nationwide. On Tuesday, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force gave their final testimonial parade for the outgoing military chief. In his farewell speeches, Bangit gave his final orders to military personnel.

Bangit also expressed his confidence that whoever will be appointed by Aquino as his successor will do a better job than him.

Bangit earlier announced that he will be retiring a year earlier than his mandatory retirement date following Aquinos pronouncement that Bangit will not be his chief of staff.

When asked if he has any regrets for filing for early retirement, Bangit said: Hindi naman talaga ano, sa amin sa military we come and go (None. Here in the militarywe come and go).

Bangit, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 78, has until July 31, 2011 before turning 56, the mandatory retiring age in the military.

Noli: Aquino camp wants me to remain as housing czar

Vice President Noli de Castro bared that the camp of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III wants him to remain as the country"s housing czar.

Noli: I turned down chance to be president twice

Tinanggihan ni Vice President Noli de Castro ang alok na posisyon ni president-elect Benigno Aquino III. Ibinahagi rin niya ang dalawa pang alok na pwedeng magluklok sa kanya sa mas mataas na puwesto, pero hindi rin niya pinatulan.

FVR to Noynoy: Don't over-celebrate, start working

Former President Fidel Ramos on Thursday advised President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III not to dwell so much on his victory in the May polls, and to start working towards a "harmonious" government.

Bandits strike anew, abduct businessman off Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A day after authorities rescued a kidnapped victim, bandits have seized another businessman in high seas at the east coast of this city, police said.

Kidnapped Malaysians taken to Tawi-Tawi – report

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Authorities in southern Philippines are trying to verify reports that 2 abducted Malaysian nationals have been brought to Philippine shores by their kidnappers.

Palace admits information lack on peace talks

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Inadequate information on the Mindanao peace talks could explain for the lack of broad-based support on the negotiations, according to a study by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP).

Seafarers to govt: Protect us from piracy

Nanawagan sa gobyerno ang mga seamen para tulungan silang maproteksyunan mula sa mga pirata sa Somalia. Ang Department of Labor and Employment, nanawagan na rin sa United Nations. 

Arroyo delivered 8-million jobs in 9 years – DoLE


She may be the most criticized Chief Executive by the country's workers, but President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was able to deliver the millions of jobs she promised during her nine-year stint in office.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) disclosed this on Thursday, adding that over eight million jobs were generated under the Arroyo administration.

And as President Arroyo steps down after ending her term on June 30, she will leave some 50,000 job vacancies for government rank and file, on top of the 4,301 vacant positions for the management and executive levels, Malacañang had earlier reported.

"The annual averages of the quarterly Labor Force Survey (LFS) from 2001 to 2009 showed that the total employment generated during this 9-year period was over 8 million, indicating that the Arroyo administration generated an average of 0.890 million jobs each year since 2001,'' said Labor Acting Secretary Romeo Lagman.

"This was double of the less than half a million jobs generated during the previous administrations,'' he added.

Lagman's reaction was an offshoot to the latest survey released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicating a 5 percent rise in the country's unemployment rate, from 7.5 percent in 2009 to 8.0 in April 2010.

The NSO had affirmed that the 5 percent increase does not make any significant dent, said Lagman.

He said that despite the devastating effects of the El Niño, the country has managed to pull off and registered an increase, achieving a robust growth in the services and industry sectors, and a marked improvement in the number of persons engaged in full time jobs.

As of April this year, he said the number of employed persons increased by 1.2 percent reaching 35.411 million from 34.997 million a year ago.

The number of persons in full-time employment also rose by 9.5 percent (+1.892 million) while persons in part-time employment fell by 9.6 percent (-1.376 million), allowing an increase in the mean hours of work from 39.8 to 41.2 over the period.

These significant gains were seen in the services sector, which expanded 4.7 percent (+822, 000), and the industry sector which grew by 7.8% (+396, 000).

Employment growth in the two sectors contributed to the 7.3 percent economic growth achieved during this year's first quarter, said Lagman.

The major contributors were wholesale and retail trade (+202,000), public administration and defense, compulsory social security (+163,000), and transport, storage and communications (+113,000) for the services sector; and manufacturing (+221,000), construction (+120,000), mining and quarrying (+46,000), and electricity, gas and water (+9,000) for the industry sector.

Improvements were also noted in the number of workers who want to work longer or the underemployed – as this dropped considerably by 17.8 percent, from 7.1 million in January to 6.3 million in April this year.

"By looking at these figures, hindi natin pwedeng sabihin na walang dent sa Arroyo administration (We cannot say there was no dent). Hindi pa natin naisama dito ang (we have not yet included) gains sa overseas employment, which obviously are bigger over the last few years,'' stressed Lagman.

He lamented, however, that the gains were offset by a large decline in agricultural employment particularly in Regions 2 (Cagayan Valley), 6 ((Western Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 11 (Davao), 12 (Central Mindanao), and Caraga.

"Employment in these regions fell due to the impact of the severe drought brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.''

The official admitted that unemployment remains one of government's biggest challenges even as efforts for job generation, as were being done by the Arroyo administration, are doubled.

Lagman also acknowledged that the wage issue is a key concern that should be urgently addressed as this will advance the quality of employment in the country.

'Aquino's target of health care for all by 2013 realistic'

by By Caroline J. Howard, ANC
MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III hopes to give every Filipino access to health care by 2013. Speaking on ANC's "The Rundown" Wednesday night, health experts believe, if the Aquino administration uses its resources right, it can achieve this goal.

PRC: 35 new environmental planners

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Thursday that 35 out of 56 passed the Environmental Planner Licensure Examination given by the Board of Environmental Planning in Manila this June 2010.

$1: P46.140

$1: P46.140

Euro 1: P56.8227

Solving the coco levy controversy

One of President Benigno Aquino III's major challenge in his vow to eliminate graft and corruption, would be to resolve the long-drawn issue of the coco levy. Making this complicated is his uncle and major campaign donor, businessman Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, whose shares in San Miguel Corp. are linked to the coco levy fund.

CEDC: Coal ash landfill in Toledo City has ECC

The Cebu Energy Development Corporation has denied accusations that its proposed coal ash landfill in Toledo City does not have the Environmental Compliance Certificate.

Bangladesh floods, landslides leave 12,000 homeless

by Agence France-Presse
COX'S BAZAAR, Bangladesh - More than 12,000 people are homeless and receiving emergency relief in makeshift camps after flash floods and landslides hit Bangladesh's southeast, officials said Thursday.

Troops boost relief effort in Indonesian quake zone

by Agence France-Presse
MANOKWARI, Indonesia - Indonesian troops were delivering aid Thursday to thousands of people left homeless by an earthquake which killed two people and destroyed hundreds of homes, officials said.

Blast traps 75 miners in Colombia coal mine

BOGOTA--A blast in a northwestern Colombian coal mine trapped some 75 miners, an official said Thursday, warning the likelihood of survivors was "practically none."

Late Wednesday there was an explosion in the San Fernando mine in the town of Amaga, in Antioquia province, said Luz Amanda Pulido, head of the national disaster prevention office.

"Three bodies were recovered and 75 other miners are still trapped," she said.

Regarding the likelihood of survivors, she said: "They are very low, practically none."

Nelson Mandela attends funeral of great-grandchild

by Agence France-Presse
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Nelson Mandela joined hundreds of mourners on Thursday at the funeral of the former South African president's great-granddaughter who was killed in car crash last week.

World Cup of Pool returns to Manila

MANILA, Philippines – The prestigious World Cup of Pool, a battle among nations, returns to Manila with the tandem of Filipino pool legends Efren "Bata" Reyes and Francisco "Django" Bustamante leading the way for the country's bid alongside the pair of Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo and Roberto "Pinoy Superman" Gomez.

Cebuanos rule youth masters finals in PBC bowling tilt

MANILA, Philippines – Cebuanos Jomar Jumapao and Alexis Sy stamped their class Wednesday to bag the boys' and girls' youth masters crowns of the 39th Philippine International Open Tenpin Bowling Championships at the Paeng's Midtown Bowl at the Robinson's Place in Ermita, Manila.

Game 7 Familiar to Celtics and Lakers, but Not to Players

from NYT > Pro Basketball by By JONATHAN ABRAMS

Now comes Game 7, only the second one in the N.B.A. finals in the last 16 years and the first for Lakers CoachPhil Jackson despite his league-record 10 championships. Either the Celtics will earn their second title in three years — both by toppling the Lakers — and their 18th over all. Or gold and purple streamers will fall as the Lakers repeat as champions and adorn the Staples Center with a 16th championship banner of their own.

Thursday night will present the kind of moment that at least some players dream about, the kind of game that can cement a reputation or permanently damage it. "When you're outside messing around as a kid in the backyard on the court, you're visualizing making the winning shot in Game 7 of the finals," said the Lakers' Derek Fisher, who, like every one of his teammates, including Kobe Bryant, has never been in one of these games, either.

"This is what the N.B.A. wants," said Boston's Glen Davis, another newcomer to this kind of Game 7. "This is what the fans want. This is what the world wants."

What the Celtics didn't want was to go into the game with a significant injury. But that's exactly what has happened with center Kendrick Perkins definitely out of the contest with damaged ligaments in his right knee.

It is a significant loss. Although he is not among the Celtics' flashiest players, Perkins is a linchpin for their defense, a thick-chested, 6-foot-10 player who fills the lane, contests shots and sets hard picks. He has started every game for the last three seasons, but either Davis or Rasheed Wallace will start in his place.

Meanwhile, the Lakers' gimpy center, Andrew Bynum, is expected to start Thursday night, despite another flare-up in his injured right knee.

Both Perkins's injury and the Lakers' emphatic 89-67 victory in Game 6 would seem to leave Los Angeles with all the momentum going into Game 7. Still, it is the Celtics, not the Lakers, who have history on their side in this long and resounding rivalry, and that could be a factor, too, Thursday night.

This is the 12th time these two teams are meeting with a championship at stake and the fifth instance in which they are taking the battle to a seventh, and deciding, game. Not only have the Celtics won nine of those previous 11 finals, but they also have captured all four series that went to a seventh game. Sometimes, they prevailed with some odd Celtic bounces helping the cause.

In Game 7 in 1962, Frank Selvy, who once scored 100 points in a college game on the basis of his steady shot, missed an open jumper that would have spared the Lakers from going to overtime. Instead, they lost in overtime, 110-107, with Celtics fans roaring in Boston Garden.

Four years later, Celtics Coach Red Auerbach openly invited other teams to come after his club after declaring it would be his final season on Boston's bench. The Lakers tried, but failed, losing Game 7 in Boston, 95-93, after staging a late rally. With Auerbach exulting, the Celtics claimed their record eighth straight championship.

Three years later, in Los Angeles, with the shot clock running down and with 20 seconds left in still another Game 7, the Boston reserve forward Don Nelson gathered a ball poked away from teammate John Havlicek and threw up a shot that hit the back of the rim, bounced upward and dropped into the basket. Final score: Celtics 108, Lakers 106.

"It was just a lucky shot," Nelson, now the coach of the Golden State Warriors, recalled Wednesday in a telephone interview. "We had been 20 points ahead, they were roaring back and it looked like a train we couldn't stop."

The fourth, and final, Game 7 in this rivalry did not come for another 15 years, and when it did the teams were back in Boston Garden one last time. And in this instance, Larry Bird and the Celtics trumped Magic Johnsonand the Lakers, 111-102.

After that game, a group of Celtics fans rocked the Lakers' bus and threw trash as the players tried to make their unhappy exit.

"It was frightening," Johnson recalled in Jackie MacMullan's book "When the Game Was Ours." "Our nerves were shot to begin with because of the devastating loss and now everyone is freaking out because we were surrounded and we couldn't go anywhere. We had no choice. We had to sit there and take it."

Bryant probably felt the same way in 2008, after the Celtics clinched their 17th championship with a Game 6 win against the Lakers. This time, the Lakers' bus was parked outside TD Garden instead of that old intimidator, Boston Garden. Celtics fans rocked the vehicle all the same.

Johnson earned his payback by claiming a championship over the Celtics the next year and again in 1987. Bryant can get his payback Thursday. After Tuesday's game and again at practice Wednesday, he maintained the dead-serious posture he has projected the entire series, batting away every question that hinted at the mystique of a Game 7.

"When I'm in the moment right now, I've got to play," he said. "I've got to focus on that. I can't focus on the hype about it."

In their shared tenure on the Lakers, Bryant and Jackson have gone 3-1 in Game 7s in earlier rounds. More willing to acknowledge the moment than Bryant was, Jackson said Wednesday that "you just have to stay in character" for a Game 7 in the finals.

"It's a different type of game, but it's something you have to be able to confront and hold your composure on," he said.

The only player on either squad to play in a Game 7 of the finals is Wallace, who was on the Detroit Pistonsteam that lost to San Antonio in 2005, the last time an N.B.A. championship went down to the wire.

Now it is happening again, but this time it's Lakers vs. Celtics. And Nelson, who knows all about this rivalry, who can still remember that lucky shot falling through the hoop 41 years ago, seems to favor the Lakers.

"Phil's done a marvelous job on the matchups," he said.

And if Jackson can do it one more time, the Lakers will finally have a Game 7 to call their own.

Before Game 7, an update from Lakers' final shootaround of 2009-10

Here's the word from El Segundo, where the Lakers held their final shootaround of the 2009-10 season just a few hours before they will head to Staples Center to get dressed and pressed for Thursday's Game 7 bout against the Celtics.

Only Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was made available to reporters, so we'll do this quick-hit style:

-- Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who has struggled with a sore right knee, got some therapy Thursday morning and should be good to go for the game, Jackson said.

-- Jackson said he doesn't feel any anxiety about coaching in his first NBA Finals Game 7, noting that the other Game 7s he has played in helped prepare him for this.

-- Asked what he would tell his team before the game, Jackson said: "Just play with the same energy you played with in the last game. If you can summon that type of energy, that's what we want."

-- Jackson said the absence of Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who won't play in Game 7 after tearing right knee ligaments in Game 6, will affect the Lakers most not on offense, but on defense. 

"Depending on whether it would be Glen Davis or Rasheed Wallace [in the game], that's two very different players," Jackson said. "One is a three-point shooter, the other is an interior guy who is going to rebound and drive to the basket. So, we have to be aware of the fact of what the difference is when they set picks."

-- And Jackson said he expects the unexpected. "I think there's always something that's going to pop out in a game like this that you have to be prepared for," he said. 

Ogie Alcasid composes tune for a new Philippines

Idineklara kanina ng Malacañang na holiday ang June 30 para sa inagurasyon ni president-elect Noynoy Aquino. Kaugnay nito, inilahad ng singer-composer na si Ogie Alcasid, ang detalye ng espesyal na kantang "Bagong Pilipinas" na kinompose niya para sa okasyon. Sinagot din ni Alcasid ang isyung inalok sya ng puwesto sa administrasyong Aquino.

Noynoy turns down date with ex-Miss Universe

MANILA, Philippines - With a girlfriend from Valenzuela City and with important national matters to attend to, the Philippines' incoming leader sees no need to entertain requests for personal visits--even if it's from a woman from the land of the beauty queens, Venezuela.

Aquino sisters: Noynoy not distancing from Binay

Bumisita sa Negros Occidental ang mga kapatid ni president-elect Noynoy Aquino para mamahagi ng school supplies at pasalamatan ang mga tumulong sa kanila sa kampampa. Doon, nilinaw din ng magkapatid na Ballsy at Pinky ang mga puna na dumidistansya umano kay Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay ang bagong halal na pangulo.

Pennsylvania town mayor is Filipino

by By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
RIDGWAY, Pennsylvania - The new mayor for Ridgway, Pennsylvania is Filipino.  The 70-year-old Guillermo Udarbe became the first-ever Asian and Filipino mayor of Ridgway early this year.

Udarbe, who is a doctor by profession, said he survived a car accident in 2008. He said it was God's will that he lived to serve the people of Ridgway, which has a population of about 5,000.

The town is predominantly Caucasian, and has less than 1% Asian population.

Udarbe said he has ideas on how to bring in money to this cash-strapped small town in the northwest region of Pennsylvania.

Hayden's mother pleads not guilty to libel charge

Irene Kho, mother of controversial celebrity doctor Hayden Kho, on Thursday morning pleaded not guilty on the two counts of libel filed against her by actress Katrina Halili.

Toni Gonzaga in talks with ABS-CBN bosses over 'The Buzz' offer

by by Bernie Franco,
MANILA, Philippines – Toni Gonzaga has confirmed that her camp and the management of ABS-CBN are now discussing the possibility of her replacing Kris Aquino on "The Buzz."

NDCC: 649 flee from restive Taal volcano

At least 649 people have evacuated their homes and sought shelter from restive Taal volcano in Batangas province.

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