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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 23, 2010 Major News Stories

Prominent Cebu hotelier killed in ambush, say police

CEBU CITY -- A prominent hotelier in Cebu City was killed in an ambush Tuesday night, barely 24 hours after the failed attempt on his brothers life.

Manuel Ting, owner of the Parklane Hotel in Cebu City, died from multiple gunshot wounds at the Chong Hua Hospital at 7:30 p.m., according to Chief Insp. George Ylanan of the Cebu City Police Office.

Ting was driving his silver-gray Mercedes Benz along F. Llamas Street in front of the new Gaisano Capital mall in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City and was slowing down to make a right turn at the San Jose Village road when he was shot several times by unknown assailants.

Nobody heard any gunshot being fired, not even a beat patrol policeman who was then in front of the mall, according to Ylanan.

Because Tings BMW was automatic, it still ran and bumped into an incoming Toyota Avanza vehicle that came from the Katipunan area and was about to enter F. Llamas Street.

The driver of the Avanza did not also hear any gunshot, prompting authorities to believe that the suspects used a gun silencer, Ylanan said.

Ylanan said they recovered 26 empty shells from a 9 mm pistol.

Ylanan said the driver of the Avanza, who asked not to be named for security reasons, did not see any suspect as he was focusing on the road because he was about to make a right turn to F. Llamas Street.

But witnesses in the area told the police that two persons fired shots at the windshield of Tings vehicle from the right portion of the road, he said.

The two suspects fled riding in tandem on board a motorcycle, Ylanan said.

They did not wear helmets and a cartographer has been asked to make sketches based on the description given by the witnesses, Ylanan said.

Ylanan said they have yet to establish if the suspects were tailing Ting or were waiting for him in the area, which is a crowded intersection.

Ylanan said Ting was returning to the city proper from Barangay Mambaling where he owned a home construction material store.

A police team has been sent to coordinate with Tings family to find out if the attack was connected to the attempt on Tings brother, Nick, who survived an ambush Monday evening in Cabancalan, Mandaue city.

The Mandaue police have earlier said they have yet to establish the motive behind the failed attempt on Nick Tings life.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama, the incoming mayor of Cebu City, meanwhile ordered the police to solve the killing of Ting and appealed to all witnesses to cooperate and give statements to the police.

Cebu City Councilor Sylvan Jakosalem, one of Manuel's friends who rushed to Chong Hua Hospital, said the businessman suffered four wounds in the head and seven in the chest, along with other injuries on his arms.

Manuel was attacked around 6 p.m., nearly 24 hours after his younger brother Nicolas was ambushed at 9:15 p.m. in Cabancalan, Mandaue City last Monday night.

Nicolas, father-in-law of Mandaue City councilor-elect Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, survived three gunshot wounds, one in the left side of his face and two in his chest.

Manuel was alone, driving his gray Mercedes Benz (MGT 168), when he was attacked.


SPO3 Rey Cuyos of the Homicide Section said Manuel was making a right turn toward San Jose Village St. from F. Llamas
St. when a man, wearing a black sleeveless shirt, pulled out a gun and fired at the car.

The lone gunman was believed to have used an Uzi submachine gun. The shots shattered the window at the driver's side.
Manuel's car collided with a Toyota Avanza (YGX 842) when he tried to avoid the gunman.

A male witness, who refused to be identified, said he saw the gunman hanging out in a bakeshop for about an hour before committing the crime.

Homicide investigators and personnel from the Crime Scene Investigation Unit recovered at least 23 empty shells.

After the shooting, the triggerman, who was not wearing a mask, then boarded a motorcycle driven by an accomplice and fled.

Chief Insp. George Ylanan of the Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) said the police are still establishing the motive.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. immediately called for a case conference at the headquarters attended by the IDMB, Homicide Section and the crime scene investigation unit.

Comendador told Sun.Star Cebu all angles are being considered. As of 10 p.m., the case conference was still ongoing.

Joint team

Shortly after Manuel's death, a task force composed of the Police Regional Intelligence Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Cebu City Police Office and Mandaue City Police Office was organized.

Senior Supt. Vicente Loot, deputy regional director for operations who also went to the hospital, relayed this information to

The task force will find out, among other things, if the attacks on Nicolas and Manuel were related.

"It was a professional hit. Most magazines from submachine guns are 30 rounds, so it is safe to say this guy emptied his entire magazine on Manuel's car," Jakosalem said.

Cebu City mayor-elect Michael Rama, who went to the hospital, asked the police to solve the killing.

"Solve the problem. Look for the assassin," said Rama, a family friend of Manuel.

Both Rama and Jakosalem said Manuel was a "very diplomatic person" who had been very accommodating to the city government.


Before the attack, police in Mandaue City said they were looking into at least two angles in the shooting last Monday night of Manuel's brother, Nicolas.

Days before the attack, Nicolas reportedly had an argument with a Korean national with whom he has done business.

Senior Supt. Noel Gillamac, Mandaue City police director, said they are looking into a business rivalry or a personal grudge as motive of the attack.

Nicolas was ambushed shortly after a woman (name withheld, pending investigation) left his Honda CRV and walked inside her rented apartment in Barangay Cabancalan past 9 p.m. Monday.

The culprits drove their motorcycle beside the driver's side and fired before Ting could restart his car.

Homicide investigator Chief Insp. Elmer Fernandez said witnesses helped them make the sketches of the suspected assailants.

Before the attack, the culprits bought beer from a store not far from the apartment and boarded their motorcycle as soon they saw the victim's car approaching.

Former Mandaue City mayor Thadeo Ouano, the councilor-elect's father, said he was with his "compadre" in a casino the other night. He suspected a business rivalry or a personal grudge motivated the ambush.

Transport groups want jeepney fare hike

MANILA, Philippines -- Several transport groups are pushing for  higher fares after oil companies hiked pump prices of gasoline and diesel by P1 per liter.

Oil firms hike fuel prices

MANILA, PhilippinesLocal oil companies hiked prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene by P1 a liter beginning Tuesday to reflect the rising prices of petroleum products in the international market.

Petron Corp., Eastern Petroleum and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines were the first to announce their oil price hikes late Monday night. They were followed by Chevron, Total Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., all of which made their respective advisories only on Tuesday

PTT Philippines, meanwhile, said it would implement a P1 increase in pump prices beginning Wednesday.

The companies based their price adjustments on the movements of oil prices last week compared to the previous week.

On a month-to-month basis, however, the price of regional benchmark Dubai crude was lower at $73 a barrel as of June 18, compared to the $77-a-barrel average in May.

The price of unleaded gasoline based on the Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) benchmark also fell to an average of $82 a barrel in the first 18 days of the month, from the previous months average of $85 a barrel.

Similarly, MOPS-based diesel prices dropped to $85 a barrel in the June 1-18 period, compared to $89 a barrel in May.

Sex ed modules to be uploaded for public scrutiny

Education Secretary Mona Valisno on Tuesday said her department would upload on its website the modules being used for the pilot-testing of sex education in primary and secondary schools.

Ched: 2 more years to benefit students

Education officials in Central Visayas are expecting a strong opposition from the parents once the government starts adopting the proposed additional two years of education before students can enter college.

Cebu schools gear up for two additional years


CEBU CITY – Schools and colleges in Cebu are now taking measures and steps in preparing an additional two more years in the educational system which is in accordance with international standards. This move will make basic education in the Philippines 12 years, instead of the current 10.

However, the Department of Education (DepED) in Central Visayas is apprehensive about the expenses to be incurred by the two-year addition to education, both by the Department and by parents of school-going children.

DepEd 7 Director Recaredo Borgonia is suggesting that the two additional years be implemented in the basic years, like pre-elementary or elementary levels, to ensure that this benefits majority of the students.

"We should put the additional two years at the lower levels because our statistics show that only a few percent of our elementary and high school students go to college," said Borgonia in esterday's 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel.

Borgonia said placing the additional two years to basic education, especially in the elementary level, would surely better the situation for students who cannot afford to go to college.

"What we can do is strengthen pre-elementary and elementary education and there, the DepEd can help," said Borgonia.

Fr. Felino Javines Jr., Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of San Carlos (USC), said the University is now gearing up for the transition from K10 to K12 levels, to comply with said international standards.

K10 means a student has to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, and four years of college. K12 means two more years but where to put the additional two years remains a questions, said Borgonia.

Fr. Javines said the USC is hopeful that the new administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will implement the additional two years the soonest time possible.

The additional years is necessary so as to meet the Bologna Accord, which comes into effect this year in the European Union. As it is, currently, if one were to send one's child to a EU-member country to study, the child's Philippine diploma will not be recognized because graduates of Philippine schools would have gone through an insufficient number of years in school.

One negative effect of the Bologna Accord will be to deprive Filipinos of many job opportunities abroad. Once adopted by the European Union, educational experts foresee the United States taking a similar, critical attitude toward Philippine education credentials.

"We cannot emphasize enough the devastating effect this would have on the employment prospects of Filipinos abroad," said Fr. Javines.

Pag-Ibig bares new payment schedules

The Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-Ibig has announced the new schedules of payments for their members effective next month.

HDMF officer-in-charge Ma.Victoria Ty, in a letter to all the employers, said that effective July 1 employers with names starting with letters A to D their due dates shall fall on the 10th to 14th day of the month.

For employers names starting from letters E to L their due dates shall fall on every 15th to 19th of the month while letters M to O will be on the 20th to 24th day. For letters R to Z and numeral will be on the 25th up to the end of every month.

"Hence, we encourage you to pay on or before the due date since failure or refusal of the employer/trade association/cooperative to pay or to remit the contributions shall be charged a penalty equivalent to one-tenth of 1% per day of delay of the amount due starting on the first day immediately following the due date until the date of full settlement," Ty's letter reads.

Through the signing of Republic Act No. 9679, or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009, membership to the Fund was made mandatory for all employees – including their employers – coverable by the Social Security System (SSS) or Government Service Insurance system (GSIS), regardless of the status of employment or nature of appointment.

US envoy to speak at human trafficking forum

United States Ambassador Harry Thomas, Jr. will be in Cebu tomorrow to participate in the Local Government Unit Forum on Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

'Make program voluntary, not mandatory,' lawyers to SC

LAWYERS in Cebu asked the Supreme Court (SC) to change the "mandatory character" of its free legal aid initiative and instead make the program voluntary.

Gica wants son probed by DOJ Manila

Lawyer Edgar Gica is requesting the Department of Justice to send a team of prosecutors from Manila to conduct the preliminary investigation into the criminal charges filed against his son.

Joavan wants Talisay police to release SUV

JOAVAN Fernandez got back at the Talisay policemen who arrested him recently for allegedly pointing a gun at a businessman after their vehicles almost collided in Barangay Bulacao.

Toledo city truck accident: Truck driver to face homicide raps

Toledo City Police Station chief Teofilo Siclot said truck driver Joel Pepito will be facing charges of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and serious physical injuries and damage to property in relation to the accident in Barangay Poog, Toledo City, the other day.

2nd Mambaling flyover rejected

The Cebu City Planning and Development Office rejected the proposal of the Department of Public Works and Highways for another flyover in barangay Mambaling going to the South Road Properties.

Young to hold paperless sessions

CEBU City vice mayor-elect Joy Augustus Young will strictly implement a paperless session in the next City Council.

Council to discuss today whether city needs 2 additional cockpits

AN ordinance adding two more cockpits in Cebu City is among the five measures the 11th Sangguniang Panglungsod is scheduled to pass during their session this afternoon, their last before their fresh term starts.

6 houses razed in Compostela

At least six houses were burned down, including one owned by Compostela outgoing mayor Ritchie Wagas, when a fire hit an area near the town's hall past 1pm yesterday.

Comelec moves registration for SK, barangay polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has moved the registration dates for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls to mid-July and for the barangay polls to early August, a poll official said Tuesday.

Glenn files protest against Greg

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila has ordered Cebu Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. to answer an election protest filed against him by vice gubernatorial candidate Glenn Soco.

Reluya: Set aside PCOS authentication

In order to save time and avoid delays in the resolution of her election protest, outgoing San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya is asking the Revision Committee of the Regional Trial Court to dispense with the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines authentication in the 47 duly secured and uncompromised ballot boxes.

Aquino's Cabinet choices will be his own, analyst says

While bombarded left and right with advice on who should be in his Cabinet, in the end the final selection will be nobody else's choice but incoming President Benigno Aquino III's own, a political analyst said Tuesday.

Mon Casiple, chair of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said that Aquino would still be exercising his own discretion in the selection of members of his Cabinet.

"I think it will be a personal choice. Meaning, at the end of the day, he will select his Cabinet," Casiple told reporters at a forum. "It will depend really on who is Noynoy Aquino, not his group, not his family."

This independent decision will both be "an advantage and disadvantage" for Aquino, said Casiple, as it will reflect how well the Senator knows how to handle the vacancies he is about to fill.

"It will be a disadvantage if Noynoy does not know the job, but it will be an advantage if he knows what to do in his position. It will really reflect his choices based on his ideas and platform," he said. 

Asked how he would assess the incoming administration's Cabinet selection so far, Casiple said it was "so far, so good."

"It seems like he is giving a huge premium on who he says he will get. These are trusted people. Second, they are competent for their jobs," Casiple said.

Casiple said he was watching appointments to critical Cabinet positions, among them the finance, foreign affairs, interior, and trade and industry portfolios.

"We will look at the record of the secretaries he will appoint. If we see old faces, we will look for new ideas," the political analyst said.

"There are identified groups within who are chasing each other to get appointments for people they are endorsing to the Cabinet. We have yet to see policy differences," said Casiple, adding that rifts on policy, if they crop up, would weaken the administration.

Feeling the effects of administration change may well come at least a year down the road, said Casiple, as the outgoing Arroyo administration would leave behind "political landmines," among them midnight appointments, contracts and policies.

"Expecting changes to happen within the first 100 days is too high. It might take one or one-and-a-half years before we see the fruits of reform that he will institute," he said.

US envoy pays courtesy call on RP's 'Obama'

MANILA, Philippines - US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas on Tuesday paid a courtesy call on Vice-President-elect Jejomar "Jojo" Binay and urged the incoming leader to intensify efforts by the Philippine government to combat human trafficking.

Drilon: Binay should get gov't post

MANILA, Philippines - If he fails to get a Cabinet post, Vice-President elect Jejomar Binay would most likely be appointed to a government body especially created for him.

Peping Cojuangco regrets supporting Roxas

MANILA, Philippines - Former Tarlac Congressman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco said he now regrets having supported his nephew's running mate, Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas, in the vice-presidential elections.

Peping Cojuangco: Some Noynoy supporters maligning me

Masama ang loob ni dating congressman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco sa ilang taong nakapaligid ngayon kay president-elect Benigno Aquino III dahil sinisiraan siya ng mga ito sa kanyang pamangkin.  Itinanggi rin ni Cojuangco na siya ang namuno sa pagsulong ng tambalang Noy-Bi. Si Roxas daw ang kanyang ikinampanya, pero pinagsisisihan na niya ito ngayon.

Peping Cojuangco regrets supporting Roxas

MANILA, Philippines - Former Tarlac Congressman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco said he now regrets having supported his nephew's running mate, Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas, in the vice-presidential elections.

Cojuangco also categorically denied allegations that he backed the vice-presidential bid of Roxas' opponent, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, the running mate of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, Cojuangco said he's had enough of criticisms President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's advisors are leveling against him and the rest of the Cojuangco clan.

"Masama ang loob ko dahil imbes na gumawa sila ng tama, na magtulong-tulong ang lahat para makita ang problema ng ating mga kababayan na mahihirap, huwag na silang maghangad na maisolo ang administrasyon," said Cojuangco.

Cojuangco's wife, socialite Margarita "Ting Ting" Cojuangco, is president of the Public Safety College under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

He added these critics resurrected the term "Kamaganak, Inc." so that the president-elect would not listen to him.

"Ang dapat nating pagbawalan, yung mga taong maski anong administrasyon ay nandun sila. Kung sila'y nanggaling sa isang administrasyon na naitabi na ng tao, dapat tumabi na rin sila," said Cojuangco.

Members of the so-called Hyatt 10, who were former allies of President Arroyo, are among Aquino's closest advisers.

A number of them are supposedly being offered Cabinet positions.

"Kasi ito ang mga nakikita ko ngayon eh, I heard na kasali na rin daw 'yung ibang mga Gloria people. They're included in the set-up. Hindi na maganda 'yun," he said.

Cojuangco, however, refused to say that the Hyatt 10 members are the ones criticizing him.

'I should have supported Jojo'

Cojuangco also insisted he supported Roxas amid rumors that he secretly backed Binay's campaign.

Binay and the Cojuangco-Aquino families have long been political allies.

Binay was one of the human rights lawyers of MABINI. He helped in the 1986 people power uprising which installed Mrs. Cory Aquino to the presidency.

After the fall of the Marcos government in February 1986, Aquino appointed Binay officer-in-charge of Makati, and the Binay family has never lost control of the city since.

"I never, never campaigned for Binay. That's very clear," said the former Tarlac representative. "Pero itong nariring ko ngayon, baka mali ako. Maybe I should have supported Jojo (Binay)."

Cojuangco hopes that despite the criticisms against him, Aquino will listen to his advice, and that other people who helped in the campaign, will be given the chance to serve in his administration.    

ABS-CBN tried to get the reaction of Roxas over Cojuangco's statements, but Roxas declined to give a comment as of posting time.

Roxas lost a closely-fought vice-presidential race to Binay by around 720,000 votes. He intends to file an electoral protest.

Senate presidency not yet settled, says Drilon

None of those vying for the Senate presidency, including himself, has the numbers yet to clinch the post, according to Sen. Franklin Drilon.

Manila ready for Aquino inaugural, says Lim

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on Tuesday joined the members of the group coordinating the preparations for the inauguration of President-elect Noynoy Aquino III in conducting an ocular inspection of the Quirino Grandstand.

Bangit quits post

MANILA, Philippines "No regrets today, no tears today."

This was how outgoing Armed Forces Chief General Delfin Bangit opened his farewell speech during the formal turn-over of command at Camp Aguinaldo Tuesday.

"My loyalty to the Constitution has been doubted to have been misplaced... I have delivered sincerely every oath I've made," Bangit said in his speech.

In his speech when he assumed the position early this year, Bangit was emotional after being dubbed as a lapdog of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Critics also said that Bangit's appointment was part of a plan to derail the May 10 polls and extend Arroyo's term.

Bangit was forced to retire earlya year and a month ahead of his 56th birthdayafter President-elect Benigno Aquino III repeatedly said he would not retain Bangit as military chief.

In his speech Tuesday, Bangit said that his resignation is for the good of the military service, adding the Armed Forces of the Philippines should not be embroiled in political controversies.

But at the same time, he expressed concern over the implication of Aquinos insistence he should step down by June 30.

"What happened to me may happen to any chief of staff," Bangit said, adding that the AFP chief position is not co-terminous with that of the President.

Nevertheless, Bangit reminded soldiers to remain apolitical and loyal to the Constitution.

"Us soldiers, we do not live to be rewarded. We live to protect the country and its people," Bangit told the troops.

"Protect the Armed Forces no matter what," he said.

Also present during the turn-over ceremony were Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and former AFP chief retired General Hermogenes Esperon.

Bangit warns of 'dangerous precedent' in AFP

MANILA, Philippines - Outgoing Armed Forces chief of staff Delfin Bangit stepped down Tuesday as head of the country's 130,000 strong military but not before issuing a warning to future leaders of the military.
"My concern is that this might set a dangerous precedent. What has happened to me may happen to any chief of staff who may be in the position during a transition of government. I am concerned that because of what happened to me people would think that the position of chief of staff is co-terminus with the commander in chief. It is not and will never be," he said.

Arroyo all praises for Bangit

Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was all praises for Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Delfin Bangit who prematurely retired Tuesday.

Ochoa replaces Bangit as military chief; choices down to 2 senior officers

GEN. DELFIN N. Bangit yesterday retired as Armed Forces chief-of-staff after holding office for a little over three months, relinquishing the post to Lt. Gen. Nestor Z. Ochoa until a new chief is appointed by President-elect Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III after June 30.

Comelec refuses demands of Yusoph abductors

MANILA, Philippines- The Commission on Elections on Tuesday reiterated it will not give in to the demands of the abductors of a commissioner's son, saying it is not cowed by any threat.

Comelec exec's kidnapped son still in Lanao Sur – police

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Elias Yusoph's 22-year old son, who was abducted Sunday in Marawi City, is still being held somewhere in the province of Lanao del Sur, a police official said on Tuesday.

Comelec official"s abducted son is unharmed, father says

(Updated 2 - 4:16 p.m.) Nuraldin Yusoph, the 22-year-old son of a Comelec official who was kidnapped on Sunday night, is 'unharmed," his father Commissioner Elias Yusoph said on Tuesday. He was reportedly kidnapped by men who demanded the nullification of votes in Lanao del Sur. But the incident will not affect how the Comelec makes its decisions regarding various matters, another official said.

Cops believe relatives kidnapped Yusoph's son

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Police believe that Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Elias Yusoph's own relatives kidnapped his son in Marawi City on Monday night.

DoJ: Susano may have violated election laws

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said Representative Annie Susano may be liable for violation of election laws for possessing compact flash cards used during the first automated polls on May 10.

7 'winning' party-list groups seek proclamation

MANILA, Philippines - Seven party-list groups, whose number of votes guarantee them seats in Congress, on Tuesday urged the Commission on Elections to proclaim them as soon as possible.

The Comelec deferred the proclamation of the party-list  groups Ang Asosasyon Sang Mangunguma Nga Bisaya-Owa Mangunguma, Inc. (MBIS-OWA), Ako Bicol Political Party, Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD), Butil Farmers Party (BUTIL), Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC), LPG Marketers Association, Inc. (LPGMA) and 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE) because of pending disqualification cases against them.

The groups said the delay in proclamation would disenfranchise some 7 million people who voted for them in the May 10 elections.

"A lot of people are asking us 'When will you take office? What happened?'" Atty. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol said.

In an interview, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the commission en banc still needs to finish hearing the disqualification petitions, which question some of the nominees for the congressional seat.

"These would have to be expedited before they can get proclaimed. For the most part, a lot of them are arguing on the basis of projected results. Some have the right computations but there are procedural matters that have be disposed of before they are proclaimed," he told ANC.

Political analyst Ramon Casiple, meanwhile, said there is a need to reform the party-list system because the law has too many loopholes.

Republic Act 7941 or the Party-list System Act states that those who received at least 2 percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one congressional seat each while those who received more than 2 percent of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes.

The incoming 15th Congress will have 57 seats for party-list groups.

Abalos posts bail to evade arrest over graft charges

For temporary liberty, former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, charged for his alleged involvement in the botched overpriced ZTE-NBN deal, has posted bail before the Sandiganbayan.

Sandigan issues HDO v. Abalos and Neri

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Sandiganbayan 4th and 5th divisions issued a Tuesday hold departure orders against former Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos and Social Security System (SSS) Chairman Romulo Neri.

Neri has posted bail before the Sandiganbayan for his temporary liberty while Abalos is expected to post bail Tuesday.

Neri and Abalos are facing graft charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the botched $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE (NBN-ZTE) deal.

Abalos was accused of brokering the deal and bribing Neri who was then the head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Neri is scheduled for arraignment on July 16.

CHR takes over Jonas Burgos probe

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos after noting significant lapses in the police investigation of the case.

SC suspends former Marcos lawyer, daughter

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has indefinitely suspended from the practice of law Atty. Oliver Lozano and daughter Evangeline for their "disregard for our system of justice."

DFA assures mechanisms in place for fast processing of passports

The Department of Foreign Affairs has already put in place mechanisms to address the current issue of long waiting period for a passport processing appointment, especially for workers bound overseas.

$1: P45.700

$1: P45.700

Euro 1: P56.1250

Cebuano exporters hope for a retention of P46 forex rate


CEBU CITY – In order to remain competitive in the world market, exporters in Cebu are hoping that the US dollar-Philippine peso foreign exchange (forex) rate will remain at the current level.

"If the (forex) rate stays at the P46 level, exporters can ride on the recovery track of the global market," said Jenifer Cruz, past President of the Gifts, Toys and Houseware-Cebu (GTH-Cebu) export organization.

But while Cruz admits that the forex rate cannot be pegged at a certain desired rate, he said exporters here are hoping that Government will help stabilize the peso to the US dollar exchange rate. "We understand that we cannot demand for abrupt changes of the forex because of the law of supply and demand," he added.

Cebuano economist Ruben Almendras said that if the peso stabilizes at the P46 level versus the greenbuck, this could provide positive impact on the Philippines since its economy is driven mostly by remittances from overseas Filipino workers, tourism, business process outsourcing and exports.
A previous report showed that the peso exchange rate stood at P5.90 to the US dollar, which was the closing rate last Friday at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp.

"A P46-to-the dollar rate should be good for the economy," Almendras stressed.

Cruz meanwhile remarked that at present, local exporters are busying themselves on how to remain competitive as world markets are now starting to recover.

"The concern for the forex is still there and everyone is on their toes when it is volatile. We are happy with the current level. But now, exporters are more concerned on how to market their products in emerging countries and keep up with the demand of buyers," he said.

Cruz said that after the global recession, the market trend and buying pattern of markets overseas have significantly changed.

He said earlier that foreign buyers are now careful not to order in huge quantities. "When they buy new products, they first order in small quantities. If the product sells well in the market, they immediately order in bigger amounts, but we have to ship these in 30 to 60 days and no longer at a 120-day grace period," Cruz explained.

Filipinos still mired in economic woes as Arroyo leaves

MANILA, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo will step down next week after overseeing nine years of economic growth, but analysts say the poor masses have missed out and her successor will inherit major problems.

A third of the nation's 92 million people remain in deep poverty, a figure that has barely changed since she took office in 2001, while corruption has flourished and the rich have mainly enjoyed the benefits of the boom, they say.

"The things that really matter to our daily lives like food security, poverty, health and education have really deteriorated over the last six to 10 years," Manila-based economist Arsenio Balisacan told AFP.

Arroyo will leave office on June 30 with the unenviable reputation of being one of the country's most unpopular leaders, but she has repeatedly insisted that her economic record is a source of pride.

"There has been constant growth... for almost a decade under my administration in the face of global crises like international terrorism, high global oil prices and a worldwide recession," she said in a speech this month defending her legacy.

Undoubtedly, economic growth began to rebound after Arroyo took office in 2001, culminating in 7.1-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2007, the highest annual figure in 30 years.

Even after the global financial crisis broke out in 2008, the country still squeaked by with 3.8-percent growth that year and recorded an expansion of 1.1 in 2009.

Inflation also fell to an annual average of about 5.4 percent under Arroyo compared with 10.4 to six percent under the four previous presidents.

Gross international reserves surged, the stock market climbed and top companies announced record profits under Arroyo.

And as she prepared to bow out, economic growth hit an unexpected high of 7.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010, prompting government planners to raise the year's growth forecast to 5.0-6.0 percent.

University of the Philippines' economist Cayetano Paderanga gave Arroyo a mixed grade, saying she had "some hits, some misses".

He credited her with controlling the runaway budget deficit, largely through the passage of key fiscal reforms in 2005 despite widespread opposition.

But he said much of the growth under Arroyo came from a few sectors -- the remittances from millions of Filipinos overseas and a flow-on boom in consumer spending, plus earnings from call centers and other outsourced businesses.

These sectors are all out of reach of the millions of poor, who have largely missed out on any of the benefits of economic growth, according to Paderanga and Balisacan.

"Economic growth (under Arroyo) made incomes less equal," said Balisacan, head of the Asia-Pacific Policy Centre, a local research group.

The World Bank's country director for the Philippines, Bert Hofman, also said recently that economic growth under Arroyo had not made a serious dent in tackling poverty.

Amid this backdrop, opposition senator Benigno Aquino won last month's presidential elections in a landslide after campaigning on a platform of fighting corruption and addressing the poverty problems.

Aquino complained last week that he would inherit a range of crises from Arroyo, singling out the budget deficit that hit 3.6 percent of GDP last year.

The head of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines, Edgardo Lacson also said tackling the deficit would be Aquino's most difficult issue.

"The biggest challenge for Aquino will be the deficit -- how to cover it. The second challenge is employment. We have 10 million Filipinos unemployed or marginally employed," he told AFP.

Other problems include making the Philippines as competitive as other Asian nations while bringing down energy prices and ensuring a stable power supply, Lacson said.

Aquino dared to reverse mom's neo-liberal policies

Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello on Tuesday dared President-elect Benigno Aquino III to reverse his mother's neo-liberal policies that he said have killed Philippine agriculture and industry.

Fiscal deficit widens by 167% to P30.5B in May

The national government"s fiscal deficit in May ballooned by more than 167 percent year-on-year on higher government spending, the Bureau of Treasury said Tuesday.

Congo train disaster kills 60, injures hundreds

BRAZZAVILLE—A rail disaster in Congo-Brazzaville killed at least 60 people and injured hundreds Tuesday, as a senior official warned that many more victims may still be pulled from the wrecked carriages.

China says it has cracked 'major' terrorist ring

BEIJING - China said Tuesday that it had uncovered an unspecified "major terrorist organization," a claim that came just ahead of the anniversary of bloody ethnic rioting in the far western region of Xinjiang.

Saudi convicts 15 men, women for mingling at party

RIYADH - Judicial officials say a Saudi court has convicted four women and 11 men for mingling at a party and sentenced them to flogging and prison terms.

Pacquiao: Floyd is afraid to fight

MANILA, Philippines – Although Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao has confirmed that talks for his anticipated fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. are ongoing, he said details of the negotiations "are not yet clear".

Pacquiao: Talks still on for fight vs Mayweather

MANILA, Philippines - Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao has confirmed that talks for his anticipated fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. are still ongoing.

RP to have heavyweight boxers soon?

MANILA, Philippines – The Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) on Tuesday said that 2 Filipino-foreign heavyweight prospects have expressed interest in fighting under the Philippine banner.

Nine arrests during Lakers' toned-down victory parade

by Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES – Police arrested nine more people during a victory parade, bringing the total number of Los Angeles basketball fans arrested in the wake of the Lakers championship win to over 50.

Thousands of fans cheer Lakers in tribute

LOS ANGELES - Tens of thousands of jubilant Los Angeles Lakers fans have lined a two-mile route, many waving purple and gold flags and T-shirts that read "Back 2 Back" as they cheered the NBA champions during a parade to celebrate the team's second consecutive title.

Lani Mercado, Lucy Torres join class on Congress 101

MANILA, Philippines - Congresswomen-elect Lani Mercado and Lucy Torres-Gomez were among the 40 new legislators who attended the first class of the "Effective Legislation and Governance" course on Monday at the University of the Philippines.

Shalani Soledad gets thumbs up from P.Noy's eldest sis

MANILA, Philippines – Ma. Elena "Ballsy" Aquino-Cruz, eldest sister of president-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, has given her seal of approval to her brother's girlfriend, re-elected Valenzuela 2nd District Councilor Shalani Soledad.

Boy Abunda: Yes, Kris and James are having marital problems

Inihingi ng paumanhin ng talk show host na si Boy Abunda ang hindi pagsipot ni Kris Aquino-Yap sa ipinangako niyang gift giving ng school supplies sa Cebu. Umamin si Boy, may problema si Kris at ang kanyang mister na si James Yap kaya't hindi nakarating si Kris sa Cebu.

Sisters hand-carry notes for Aquino from Zamboanga pupils

"Dear Noynoy, sana mapalitan na ang upuan namin para hindi na giba-giba para masaya naman sa klase namin (we hope our chairs are replaced so they will no longer be broken and our class would be happy)," was Anderson James' note in his handmade paper card for President-elect Benigno Aquino III.

Arroyo loosens up before media at farewell party

With Abba's "Dancing Queen" playing in the background, a media photographer cajoled President Macapagal-Arroyo to take it to the dance floor.

The usually reticent President remained in her seat, but swayed her arms to the music, laughing alongside reporters who were surprised by her gaiety.

Ms Arroyo loosened up before the media Monday night, perhaps as a way of saying goodbye to reporters covering the Palace beat.

After all, her presidency, which lasted nine years and was rocked by scandals, was covered by a besotted media.

With a week to go before stepping down from the most powerful post in the land and easing into a new career as a member of Congress, Ms Arroyo bid Palace media farewell by hosting a sumptuous dinner at the Red Crab restaurant inside the Mimosa Golf and Country Club in Clark, Pampanga.

There was no big press conference to mark the end of her stint as President. Instead, Ms Arroyo went from table to table posing for pictures and engaging in small talk with reporters and photographers.

Ms Arroyo likes songs by the Carpenters but when asked to sing a line or two, she declined.

Then photographer Jack Burgos of the tabloid, Police Files, tried to persuade the President to be the night's "Dancing Queen'' and she just grooved to the music.

Later, she expressed her true sentiments: "I will miss serving the people all over the country."

Without skipping a beat, she said she was "excited to serve her countrymen'' as the newly elected representative of Pampanga.

President Arroyo was visibly happy that her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, would soon be released from the hospital.

She said the First Gentleman, who had a successful spinal surgery, would be released from the St. Luke's Medical Center in "two to three days.''

Ms Arroyo said her husband was "OK... otherwise I would not be here."

At the end of the farewell dinner, the President again posed for pictures—this time for solo shots with reporters and photographers.

Finally, she bade them goodbye.

Outgoing Cabinet members to take vacations, spend time at their farms

Several outgoing Cabinet members of the Arroyo administration are looking forward to their vacations, spend more time with their families and at their farms, or move back to their previous jobs.

Charice Twitts: I'm on Glee, let's party!!!

MANILA, Philippines - International singing sensation Charice "Twitted" Tuesday that she is set to join the hit US musical Glee in its second season.

People Asia names 'Men Who Matter'

MANILA, Philippines - Box office king John Lloyd Cruz and sexy actor Derek Ramsay are two of the 16 people who made it to People Asia's  "Men Who Matter" list.

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