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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 28, 2010 Major News Stories

Ex-state fiscal killed at home

Retired regional state prosecutor Hernando Masangkay was found dead with a single stab wound on his throat yesterday noon inside his house in a subdivision in Barangay Lawaan I, Talisay City.

Masangkay,72, widower, is believed to have been dead for more than 24 hours before his body was found because it was already in advanced state of decomposition.

Members of the Talisay City police responded to the house of Masangkay shortly after 12:00 noon yesterday after receiving a call for help from the victim's relative, Carl Montenegro.

The former RSP of Central Visayas has been living alone in his house since his wife died because his three children have already a family of their own.

Masangkay's third son, Reggie, 27, who lives in Ormoc, requested Montenegro yesterday to check on his father because he has not been answering his phone calls since Friday.

Reggie arrived later yesterday afternoon while his two other siblings are still in Manila and Dubai.

Montenegro said when he visited the house at 11:30 a.m. he immediately sensed that something was wrong because the door of the house was left opened.

Montenegro said he immediately called for police assistance. The responding policemen found Masangkay's body inside his room with a single stab wound on this throat.

Police Officer 3 Mikey Espina said that Dr. Jose Marie Montenegro, Masangkay's relative, told them that the victim had been dead for more than 24 hours already.

Espina said they believe there was foul play in it because the victim's house was already opened when they arrived.

He added that the victim's face was also covered with three pillows believed to have been used to smother him before he was stabbed on the throat.

The victim's underwear was also down when the police found him on his bed.

Espina said they are now checking on the victim's mobile phone hoping to find leads that would lead to the identity of the perpetrator.

The police are still facing a blank wall as to the motive of the killing. They have already ruled out the possibility that it was robbery-related because the victim's cash and valuables were still intact. His drawers inside the room were not ransacked.  

The police are still checking on the information that Masangkay has a driver who is only known by the name of Daryl who would come to his house whenever he would call for his service.

However, none of Masangkay's relatives have known Daryl since they have not met him.

According to the police, Daryl was reportedly last seen by the neighbors of Masangkay at 6:30 AM of Friday. Espina said that information was relayed to them by the relatives.

Masangkay had been living in Barangay Lawaan I since he transferred from Quezon City in 1995.

1 dead, 3 injured in San Fernando, Carcar shootings

One was killed when a still unidentified gunman fired shots at four men who were on their way home 3am yesterday in Barangay Can-asojan, Carcar City.

30 fully-grown marijuana plants uprooted in Dalaguete

Elements of the Dalaguete Police uprooted 30 fully-grown marijuana plants in sitio Latawan, barangay Nalhub, Dalaguete, Cebu around 4am the other day.

Arroyo in Cebu today for various activities

Two days before she turns over the rein to president-elect Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her apparent last visit to Cebu today shows her gratitude to the overwhelming support the Cebuanos gave her administration by administering the oath of office of newly-elected local officials and inaugurating projects largely funded by her government.

Tomas: LP applying double standard

Cebu City south district congressman-elect Tomas Osmeña expressed his disappointment over the reported coalition between One Cebu Party of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Liberal Party of president-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino that is being dubbed as the "One Cebu Bloc."

"They (LP) are applying double standard. Binay is not welcome in the Aquino administration but the Garcias are welcome. Who are not supporting the candidacy of Noynoy?" the outgoing mayor lamented.

Osmeña said the Garcias who he is referring to are second district Rep. Pablo Garcia and his son, third district Rep. Pablo John Garcia, the father and brother of the governor, respectively.

The Garcias, who are officials of the administration's Lakas-Kampi-CMD had supported the presidential bid of Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro.

Osmeña's Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) was all out support for the entire slate of Aquino's party.

"I suppose this coalition is not a symptom of another trapo government," the outgoing Cebu City mayor said.

The outgoing chief executive expressed his apprehension that in the event the governor is being investigated by the Department of Justice for the alleged irregularities in the Capitol purchases like in the controversial multi-million Balili property, the Aquino administration may not be able to thoroughly investigate it because of the coalition.

Osmeña added that he was told that the coalition is only for the purposes of "speakership" but when asked whether there is something brewing behind this coalition, he said, "there is."

In the event the coalition pushes through, he said it would appear that the Aquino administration is sleeping with the enemy.

"If given a chance, I will talk to Noynoy. The people surrounding Noynoy already knew my complaints," Osmeña said, adding he has no regrets supporting Aquino's bid for president.

Butch Abad, former campaign spokesman of Aquino and currently LP's vice president for policy and platform said he is not aware of anything brewing between LP and One Cebu.

"No such thing, as far as I know. Any move along that line will have to be cleared with our Cebu LP chapter and allies like Jun-jun Davide and Rep. Tommy Osmeña," Abad said in a text message sent to The FREEMAN.

LP's leadership is currently tossing up outgoing Quezon City mayor and congressman-elect Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte to be the next speaker of the House, but LP lacks in number as majority of those who won in the congressional seat were members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

There are a total of 110 congressmen elected under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, 44 congressmen-elect under the Liberal Party, 30 congressmen-elect from the Nacionalist People's Coalition, 23 congressmen-elect from NP and several other congressmen coming from the PDP-Laban, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan as well as those who ran as independent.

In order to secure the House Speakership seat, LP's Belmonte must have a total of 144 congressmen and judging from the number, he has to have the support of 100 other representatives to win the position.

First District Rep. Eduardo Gullas had earlier said that he is not joining the "One Cebu Bloc," a coalition organized by One Cebu Party which is headed by Governor Garcia. Majority of those who won in the congressional race in the province belongs to One Cebu.

Meanwhile, Osmeña said that he is not attending the inauguration of Aquino on June 30 in Manila even if his party campaigned so hard to ensure the victory of the latter in Cebu.

"But it seems we were left out. They told me I have my invitation and I am instructed to pick up my invitation somewhere in Quezon City. Never mind. I am not going anyway," he added.

Job creation, help for cities with 'local OFWs'

SENATOR-ELECT Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III pledged yesterday to build more schools and to help cities deal with migrant workers, after taking his oath in Cebu City.

74 factory workers released by employer after 28-hr 'detention'

SEVENTY-FOUR newly hired factory workers were held for 28 hours inside the furniture export company they are working for since their employer feared for their safety.

Over 200 unionized workers of the firm affiliated with the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines have been holding a picket outside the firm in Barangay Pagsabungan in Mandaue City since the owner refused to let them report back to work.

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Christoper Basut, the president of the union, accused the management of R and Y Inc., which previously operated in Barangay Sangi, Lapu-Lapu City, of changing its name to Chagrin and relocating to Mandaue City to evade them.

Last April 26, R and Y shut down its Lapu-Lapu City firm and, without the knowledge of its 200 workers, rented a building in Mandaue City under its new business name.

Basut said the new company is registered under the name of the owner's sibling.

The group had filed a notice of strike against R and Y before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) due to the company owner's failure to remit their monthly Social Security System, Pag-ibig and Philhealth contributions and to pay them 70 percent of their 13th month pay last year.


Nestor Maglasang, the barangay captain of Lamac, Consolacion, negotiated for the release of the "hostaged" workers since 13 of them are his constituents.

The parents and spouses of the workers, who were released at 4 p.m. yesterday, sought his help last Saturday evening.

But the standoff began at 10 a.m. last Saturday when the workers were brought inside the compound of Chagrin Inc. on board a tourist bus, which failed to enter due to the blockade set up by the protesters.

However, the workers were later transferred to a Rough Rider bus, which gained entry to the compound past 12 noon.


The workers claimed their employer told them they will have a picnic in a beach resort in Compostela town.

As the bus was about to enter the compound, some of the protesters attempted to get past the guards. Others demanded that the new workers get out of the bus.

Since then, the 74 workers were no longer allowed to go out of the compound for fear of reprisal by the protesters.

Sun.Star Cebu tried but was not allowed to interview any representative of the company.

Maglasang said the son of Consolacion mayor-elect Teresa Alegado lent him a bulletproof vest before he proceeded to the area to negotiate for the release of the 74 workers.


The negotiation started at 10 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. yesterday, with 30 policemen and NCMB officials escorting the
workers out the compound.

Maglasang said the workers were not informed they were to work last Saturday since they told there will be a picnic that day.

Basut said the hiring of new workers is a violation of the agreement they had with the management that no new workers will be hired and only those with company identification cards will be allowed to enter the compound.

Cayanong: OSY computer training starts next month

The Department of Labor and Employment announces the start of the registration for its computer training program for the out-of-school youth starting next month.

Arroyo, Aquino in for the longest limo ride of their lives

It may turn out to be the longest ride of their lives, but expect no fireworks when President Macapagal-Arroyo and her successor share that ceremonial limousine drive on their way to his inauguration on Wednesday.

Malacañang assured incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Sunday that his predecessor – whom he has vowed to prosecute for corruption—would behave properly on their way to Quirino Grandstand.

"I don't know how the two leaders would feel, especially on the part of President-elect Aquino, once they're in the same car together," Gary Olivar, Ms Arroyo's deputy spokesperson, said in Filipino.

"But on the part of the President, whatever is inside her, whatever she feels is not important … we can expect her to be gracious and formal and this kind of behavior will continue until the final moments of her administration."

Olivar said Aquino could not expect unsolicited advice from Ms Arroyo, pointing out that he had made it clear that he needed no such thing from his former economics professor at Ateneo de Manila University.

"I think what he wants is very, very clear so there's no reason for President Arroyo to force any piece of advice," he said. "President Arroyo will not force herself on our president-elect."

Going by tradition, Aquino will pay a courtesy call on Ms Arroyo in Malacañang before they proceed together to Quirino Grandstand in the presidential car. There, Ms Arroyo will leave in her private vehicle as Aquino ascends the stage for his inaugural address. She is scheduled to proceed to Pampanga for her own oath-taking as representative of its second district.

The drive should take not more than 10 minutes, but it could present some discomfort for the two presidents. Aquino ran a campaign that consistently criticized the Arroyo administration—from corruption to its poor human rights record.

Olivar was apparently incensed over continuous attacks on the outgoing President, blasting a newspaper that he said "refuses to outgrow its mosquito press origins." He went on attacking its opinion page and its columnists' negative assessments of the Arroyo presidency.

"A sociologist who's an on-again, off-again politician berates the President, not for breaking any law, but for, as he puts it, 'exploring the outer limits of executive prerogative,'" he said.

"This is a newly created sin of public office, one that joins similar offenses like 'no delicadeza' or doing badly in popularity surveys."

Olivar added: "Unlike economic issues which require hard numbers, the advantage in criticizing governance is that you can speculate all day about scenarios, assumptions, motives, rumors—all the little half-truths that inhabit the conspiratorial mindset."

"In the event that the President is exonerated of all the charges that may be filed against her—something that I know is inconceivable to these possessors of journalistic infallibility—might we expect these critics to apologize, or at least to hold their peace for a change?" he asked.

Worsening poverty, pervasive corruption, decades-long insurgencies, empty state coffers and crumbling infrastructure are some of the massive challenges Aquino will face, according to Raul Fabella of the University of the Philippines' School of Economics.

"In this country, hope has often been dashed in the past. There is no guarantee it will end differently this time," Fabella said.

Aquino, a 50-year-old bachelor with an economics degree, rode to his victory on a promise to end corruption and fight poverty.

But ahead of his inauguration, he has been careful to play down expectations, particularly over the issue of how to get 27 million of his compatriots, nearly a third of the population, out of poverty.

"You have to be humble to say you are not Superman and Einstein combined. You don't have all the solutions at your fingertips from Wednesday," he told reporters.

And amid enormous expectation following nine years of rule under the deeply unpopular Ms Arroyo, Aquino said his six-year term in office might well be too short to make a major difference.

"The focus now is really achieving everything we want to achieve cognizant of the fact we cannot transform our society in six years' time," he told Agence France Presse in an interview immediately after the May 10 national election.

"But we are hoping to be able to provide that impetus and momentum to carry over into the next administration."

One of Aquino's biggest hurdles to tackling corruption and implementing major reforms could emerge immediately through Congress.

With Aquino's Liberal Party not winning enough seats to enjoy a majority in either house, people question whether he will have to lower his standards and wade into the morass of the nation's corrupt politics to get things done.

Quirino Grandstand: No-fly zone

Director General Jesus Verzosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), has declared the Quirino Grandstand a no-fly zone during the inauguration of President-elect Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III as the 15th President of the Republic on June 30. Verzosa also placed the entire police force in Metro Manila on highest alert status starting Sunday in preparation for the Aquino inaugural. Police also said that all seacraft will not be allowed to sail in the nearby Manila Bay as part of the security measures for the inauguration. "The PNP has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) declaring the airspace over Quirino Grandstand as a no-fly zone for the duration of the inaugural ceremony," said Verzosa. He said that only helicopters owned or rented by television stations that sought special permits will be allowed to hover over the Quirino Grandstand for the taking of aerial footages of the event. "A Notice to Mariners will also be issued for seacraft in Manila Bay along the shoreline of the Quirino Grandstant and Ocean Park area," he added. Verzosa said policemen were placed on highest alert to maximize the deployment of policemen in providing security to all venues where inaugural ceremonies and related activities will be held. The center of activities will be at the Quirino Grandstand where President-elect Aquino will take his oath of office before Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales Police officials who will composed the leadership of the Task Force Panunumpa under Deputy Director General Jefferson Soriano, PNP deputy chief for Administration, met Thursday in Camp Crame to further map out the security measures for the activity. Police Director Roberto Rosales, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and deputy commander of Task Force Panunumpa, said they will be deploying at least 5,500 policemen for Aquino's inauguration activities. Aquino Cabinet As this developed, President-elect Aquino said he will announce the composition of his Cabinet on Tuesday, June 29, the eve of his inauguration. And Aquino's first order of the day for his Cabinet - assess the conditions of their respective areas of concern. "We want to know the picture, and the picture presents the problems, the proposed and possible solutions...We want to make sure the details we are addressing are the real details, not the assumed details, we want to make sure they are the correct ones," Aquino said as he pointed out that three weeks after his inauguration on June 30, he will present the solution during his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SoNA) when the 15th Congress opens July 26 at the Batasang Pambansa building in Quezon City. He acknowledged the difficulty he went through in choosing the right persons for the Cabinet posts. Aquino said his first consideration is a recognized skill in the particular field he is being proposed to occupy. There are certain departments where financial skills are very intense, there are others for social networking, he said. "To each specific task, there is a specific criterion. After the skills, there's the track record. Does he have a position to uphold or does he just ride with the wave? If he is the latter, then he is not right," Aquino said. "There will be bold strokes of exactly what the people can expect. But more of the details will be fleshed out come SoNA," Aquino added. According to the incoming Chief Executive, his administration will be strictly adhering to a time frame so everything will be properly addressed before amendments to the budget are made. "We have to present the budget about a month after the SoNA. So there's something like 7 weeks to complete all the plans," Aquino told reporters. "July 1, we assume our post, and we promised zero budgeting. SoNA is three weeks after. One month after SoNA you have to submit the proposed budget. So we will be filling up all the items in the budget, the amendments, the additions, and deductions. Learning the ropes of your department all in about 1.5 months, so it is exigent that when they are already there, they will be ready," he stressed.

US, China lead inaugural guests

The United States and the People's Republic of China will send their respective delegations to the June 30 inauguration of President-elect Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III and Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay. United States President Barack Obama designated US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to head the American delegation, while Chinese President Hu Jintao will send Yan Junqi, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the PROC to head the Chinese delegation during the inauguration. "The Honorable Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative and a member of President Obama's Cabinet, will lead the delegation," the US Embassy said in a statement on Saturday. Kirk will join other world representatives who confirmed to attend the historical inauguration, including Chinese Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Yan Junqi; Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva; East Timor President Jose Ramos- Horta; and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said President Obama's personal selection of the delegation is a proof of the US government's commitment to further strengthen its bilateral ties with the Philippines. "I am delighted that President Obama personally chose Ambassador Kirk to lead the US delegation to the inauguration. This signals the US Government's commitment to increasing trade opportunities with the Philippines. We look forward to working with the new government on these and many other issues," Thomas said. On June 9, Obama personally called Aquino when the President-elect and Binay were proclaimed as the 15th President and Vice President of the Philippines by the joint Congress. The Philippines is known as one of the US's "treaty allies" due to the long-standing strong and vibrant ties between the Philippines and the US - be it the political, economic, and cultural arena. There are now about 2.5 million Filipinos residing in the US and more than 100,000 Americans living in the Philippines. Over $157 million had been given to Filipino World War II veterans under the Filipino World War II Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC), a one-time benefit signed by US President Barack Obama in February 2009. The US and the Philippines have close cooperation in the area of defense, particularly on regional security, counterterrorism, combating human trafficking, disaster relief and rehabilitation. It is the Philippines' number one trading partner and largest foreign investor, with bilateral trade amounting to $6-billion in 2008. "It is expected that the visit by H.E. Yan would help maintain the sound momentum of high-level exchanges between China and the Philippines. The visit would also contribute to ensure that China-Philippines strategic and cooperative relationship gets off to a good start under the new Philippine administration and continues to forge ahead," the Chinese embassy statement said. The Philippines and China celebrated its 35th year of bilateral relations earlier this month. The two countries established its bilateral relations way back in 1975. China is the Philippines' third largest trading partner as well as ASEAN's third largest trading partner. Chinese President Hu and Vice President Xi Jinping were among the world leaders who sent their congratulatory statements to President-elect Aquino and Vice President-elect Binay following their proclamation last June 9.

Aquino retains Romulo at DFA

(UPDATE) President-elect Benigno ``Noynoy'' Aquino III is holding on to one of President Macapagal-Arroyo's most trusted and longest-serving Cabinet members, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, despite fierce opposition from a bloc in his coalition.

Binay to push for higher salaries of cops, soldiers

by By Zyann Ambrosio, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Vice-President-elect Jejomar Binay was the special guest at the alumni homecoming of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) at Silang, Cavite on Sunday.

'RP can make strides vs corruption in 6 years'

MANILA, Philppines - Transparency International estimates 20% of the Philippines' budget is lost to corruption. But the group is optimistic the incoming Aquino administration can move the Philippines up the Corruption Perception ranking within the next 6 years, if it takes serious steps early on to fight corruption.

Budget deficit still manageable – Saludo


Confident that the budget deficit is still manageable, Malacañang asked on Saturday President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's critics to "look at the big picture" of the country's improved economic state, rather than focus on her foreign travel expenditures.

This was the Palace's reaction to Senator Francis Escudero's statement that Arroyo is set to leave behind a P340-billion budget deficit, which he tagged as "the highest in the history of the country."

Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo pointed out that when Arroyo assumed office, she inherited a ballooning budget deficit, which was almost five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and managed to bring it down to zero.

However, in 2009 during the financial meltdown, the Arroyo government enforced deficit spending to sustain the economy, Saludo explained.

He also defended the President's foreign trips because they drew in billions of dollars worth of investments and promoted and safeguarded the interest and welfare of the Filipino workers abroad. (Charissa M. Luci)

Solon withdraws support for law creating 16 new cities

One of the authors of the law that turned 16 municipalities into cities has joined the pending appeal before the Supreme Court for the reversal of its decision in December last year upholding the creation of 16 new cities.

RP seeks Mideast prisoner transfer deal

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the government is working on having bilateral transfers of sentenced persons agreements (TSPAs) with countries in the Middle East (ME) that would enable Filipino prisoners in those states to serve their jail term in the Philippines. The TSPA provides the legal framework for the transfer of sentenced individuals, for humanitarian reasons, to their home countries in order to serve the remaining portion of their sentence. "We will continue to negotiate bilateral TSPAs with countries which are not members of the Strasbourg Convention, particularly those in the Middle East," Malaya, who is also the head of the DFA's Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), said. "Let me add that these prisoner transfer arrangements may take place only with the consent of the sentenced prisoner. If he is fine where is currently confined, so be it," he said. Malaya said the DFA is working with the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the Philippine accession to the 1983 Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The Strasbourg Convention, he explained, is the multilateral framework on prisoner transfers involving 63 countries, including Japan, Australia, the whole of Europe and the United States. The first instance of a transfer under the TSPA is that with Spain, wherein Francisco Juan "Paco" Larrañaga was transferred to the Centro Penitenciario Madrid 5-Soto del Real penal facility in Spain in October, 2009. Larranaga will serve the remainder of his life sentence at the Spanish penal facility after being convicted for the kidnapping, rape, and killing of sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong in Cebu in 1997. Larranaga was convicted, along with six others, by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court in 1999. Larrañaga has family members in the Guipuzcoa and Catalonia areas in Spain. Malaya, meanwhile, said they are working on the first transfer of some Filipinos imprisoned in Hong Kong. "We are currently working on the first return of the first two or three Filipino sentenced persons from Hongkong," he said. There are about eight million Filipino migrants, including OFWs, all over the world, an estimated 5,000 of whom are detained for various offenses.

Gov't prosecutors slam lawyer over slain witness

Lawyer Harry Roque has antagonized state prosecutors anew by accusing the Department of Justice of being in cahoots with the Ampatuans who are on trial for the massacre of at least 57 people in Maguindanao last November 23.

MILF denies taking custody of slain massacre witness

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front denied reports indicating that massacre witness Suwaib Upham was in its custody when he was shot dead on June 14 in nearby Parang, Maguindanao.

Govt troops overrun NPA camp, recover 4 bombs

Camp Apolinario, Panacan, Davao City - Two members of New People's Army were killed by government troops following a clash in Sitio Carampel in the village of Aliwagwag in Cateel, Davao Oriental Sunday morning.

Military hospital ill-equipped, says CoA

An ill-equipped military hospital has been declared by the Commission on Audit (CoA) as dangerous to both patients and its own medical staff. In a recent audit report of the Air Force General Hospital (AFGH) for 2009, CoA said the medical facility also lacks medical staff and equipment to pursue its objectives of rendering "complete, efficient, and quality patient care." The AFGH counts on Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel and their families as patients. An inspection conducted by CoA audit examiners in the 150-bed hospital showed that the facility does not have a waste and sewerage treatment plant. The CA said a treatment plant is an "indispensable facility" used to remove contaminants from hospital wastewater that includes physical, chemical, and biological wastes. (Ben Rosario)

$1: P46.450

$1: P46.450

Euro 1: P56.8761

TUCP appeals P22 wage hike, asks for P75 increase for all

THE TRADE Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has asked the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) to reconsider the P22 daily minimum wage hike ordered by its Metro Manila Board and reiterated the P75 increase the labor group sought.

P15B is price tag for rice self-sufficiency – DA

The Philippines, the world's largest rice importer, needs to invest more than P12 billion in 2011 to boost paddy yield and minimize dependence on already-tight global supplies.

ExxonMobil drills third oil well in South Sulu sea

Exxonmobil Exploration and Production Philippines B.V. has started drilling its third exploration well in the South Sulu Sea early this month, in view of encouraging indications from the first two wells it earlier drilled.

Thousands protest in Taiwan against China trade deal

by Reuters
TAIPEI – Tens of thousands of Taiwanese decried a landmark trade deal with rival China in a protest on Saturday that will not stop their government from signing the agreement to boost around $100 million in annual two-way trade.

Thai speedboat collision injures 33 tourists

BANGKOK – Two speedboats carrying Thai and Western tourists have collided in the Gulf of Thailand injuring at least 33 people, while two were thought to be missing, hospital staff and media said Sunday.

Police arrest more than 400 at Toronto summit

Police say more than 400 arrests have been made after black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters at the global economic summit in Toronto, torching four police cruisers and smashing windows.

World leaders pledging to reduce global deficits

World leaders are lining up behind a bold pledge by rich nations to cut budget deficits in half by 2013.

Julaton to battle Mexican with Freddie Roach's game plan

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-American boxer Ana "The Hurricane" Julaton is ready to battle Mexican Maria Elena Villalobos with her A-game courtesy of famed trainer Freddie Roach.

Barrera, Chavez Jr. prevail in 'Latin Fury'

MANILA, Philippines – Mexicans Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. scored unanimous decision victories over their opponents on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in "Latin Fury 15: La Furia de Mexico."

Orcollo, Alcano off to Qatar for World 9-Ball tilt

MANILA, Philippines – Dennis "Robocop" Orcollo and Ronnie "Volcano" Alcano are set to compete in Doha, Qatar at the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Pool Championships (World 9-Ball), which begins on Monday and will run until July 5.

B-Meg beats Barako, sets playoff for automatic semis

MANILA, Philippines - B-Meg Derby Ace has set a date with San Miguel Beer for the last automatic semifinal seat after trouncing Barako Coffee, 106-100, Sunday night in the KFC-Philippine Basketball Association Fiesta Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

Near brawl taints TNT's win over Chinese club Dongguan

The Talk 'N Text and Dongguan New Century match only served as an appetizer for the championship game but the battle for third in the 2010 Smart Philippine Invitational Challenge nearly turned into a brawl at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Bulls May Be Front-Runners in James Sweepstakes

from NYT > Pro Basketball by By JONATHAN ABRAMS

But the meetings might not be much more than a formality. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A.executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.

"I think it's a done deal," the executive said.

He said he thought James was going ahead with the meetings in Ohio "to be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops," a reference to the clubs, like the Knicks, who traded reasonably talented players like Jamal Crawford the last two seasons in an effort to open up as much salary-cap space as possible. But if James and Bosh are indeed going to Chicago, moves like the ones the Knicks made will have been done at least partly in vain.

The executive also said that the Dallas Mavericks were trying to join the Ohio meetings with James. Unlike the other potential suitors, however, the Mavericks are over the salary cap and could obtain James only through a sign-and-trade deal with the Cavaliers.

Even if the Bulls are now perceived to have the inside track, the other teams will make their pitches to James, who has been in the league for seven seasons, all with the Cavaliers, and has yet to win a championship.

But their proposals will be without the flair and drama of a free-agent tour, because James has decided to have everyone come to him. Various teams, like the Knicks, had lined up chefs and celebrities to help attract James, but with the meetings in Ohio, the discussion will be about rosters, not restaurants.

"He is going to make a basketball decision, so all that is unnecessary," the executive said. "He just saved a lot of people a lot of money."

In last Thursday's draft, the effort by a number of teams, including the Bulls, to open up salary-cap space overshadowed the introduction of new players to the league.

On draft night, the Bulls traded Kirk Hinrich, a solid and gritty contributor who had helped them make the playoffs in five of his seven N.B.A. seasons, and the 17th overall draft pick to Washington for a future second-round pick.

It certainly did not make the Bulls a better team on paper, but it did put them $29.2 million under the projected salary cap of $56.1 million for next season.

That in itself is not enough cap room to sign both James and Bosh to maximum free-agent contracts, and it means the Bulls would have to make another move. But the team executive said he felt the Bulls would be able to do so, and if they can land James and Bosh, they will form a formidable core with Joakim Noah and the electrifying point guard Derrick Rose.

As for the Knicks, they are projected to be about $34.15 million below the cap, with the Nets at $27 million and the Heat at $27.6 million if they re-sign Dwyane Wade and waive James Jones. It is unclear what the Knicks and the Nets will do with all that money if they can't sign James or Bosh and if Wade stays put.

Free agency officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Later that day, teams will start meeting with James, although not all of them on the first day.

The Knicks can try to lure him with stories about how he would become even more rich and famous than he already is by playing at Madison Square Garden. However, their best player, David Lee, is about to become a free agent as well, and few other players are under contract.

The Nets can try to convey the buzz being created by their new owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, and by their planned move to a yet-to-be-built arena in Brooklyn.

Even the often overmatched Clippers can point to a respectable young core of players.

The Cavaliers can cite loyalty and the comfort of home and the fact that James has already been to the N.B.A. finals once as a Cleveland player. Under the terms of free agency, they can also offer him somewhat more money and an extra contract year — six versus five — compared with the other teams trying to land him. They have talked to James all along, of course, and will continue to do so.

The decision for James to host teams in Ohio was first reported by Yahoo. Maverick Carter, James's business manager, told ESPN that his client "never planned to go on a tour and has not been a part of any team's plans for a recruiting trip."

Instead, he will stay near home and will probably be joined in the meetings by Carter, his agent Leon Rose and his longtime confidante William Wesley. They will listen to everyone, although at this point, it appears they may be listening a little more closely to the Bulls.

World Cup draws Kobe Bryant to South Africa

JOHANNESBURG - On his first trip to Africa, Kobe Bryant looked very much at home Sunday - bantering with teen athletes in Soweto, using his trilingual skills with the World Cup press corps, and displaying a keen knowledge of international soccer.

Kris Aquino: My marriage to James is over (transcript)

MANILA, Philippines - This is a transcript of Kris Aquino's interview on "The Buzz," Sunday (June 27), where she disclosed that she has given up on her marriage to basketball star James Yap.

Fil-Aussie is PBB Teen Clash Big Winner

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino-Australian James Reid emerged as the 2010 Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen Big Winner during the show's grand finale at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City on Saturday.

Aussie overcomes health crisis to win Pinoy Big Brother teen

Although his two-month run on the ABS-CBN reality show "Pinoy Big Brother Teen Clash of 2010" almost ended because of a health crisis, James Reid of Australia still emerged on top – beating favorites Ryan Bang of Korea and Fretzie Bercede of Cebu in the finals held at the Yñares Sports Center in Antipolo City

Supermodel-actress Viveka Babajee hangs self in India

A former Miss Universe contestant who also got involved in the 1994 Manila Film Festival scandal was found dead in India last Friday. Reports said that Viveka Babajee, 37, was found hanging inside her apartment in Khar, Mumbai. The rope was tied to a ceiling fan, police said. Probers said that Babajee committed suicide due to depression. Unconfirmed reports said that she got depressed when she broke up with her boyfriend. They also found a suicide note in the crime scene. Reports said that neighbors got concerned about Babajee when she failed to come out of her flat despite the smell of leaking gas. Neighbors rang her doorbell several times but to no avail. It was then that they decided to call the police. Babajee represented Mauritius in the 1994 Miss Universe beauty contest held in Manila. She also joined the Miss World beauty pageant in 1993. But Babajee became the center of controversy when she got involved in the Manila Film Festival scam when she announced the name of actress Ruffa Gutierrez, instead of Aiko Melendez, in the best actress category. During the awards night, Babajee was overheard as saying her classic line "take it, take it" to a male co-presenter, as she gave the envelope containing the name of Melendez. Joining them on stage was actress Gretchen Barretto. Babajee left the country. After the scandal, Babajee went back to Mauritius. Then she decided to migrate to India where she became a sought-after supermodel and appeared in high-profile ads, including Kamasutra condoms. She also appeared in Bollywood films from 2000 to 2004. Gutierrez and talent manager Lolit Solis, alleged mastermind of the filmfest scandal, have expressed their condolences to the family of Babajee.

Conrad Poe, FPJ's half-brother, dies

MANILA, Philippines - The late Fernando Poe, Jr.'s low-key half-brother-actor Conrad Poe died Saturday morning at his home in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

PAGASA keeps track of low pressure area over Visayas

State weather forecasters are keeping track of a low-pressure area over the Visayas, which may bring rains to Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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