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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 30, 2010 Major News Stories

4 suspects caught

FOUR men were taken into police custody yesterday for their alleged involvement in the attacks on brothers Manuel and Nicolas Ting, while his family laid Manuel to rest.

"There is a significant development, and follow-up operations have been made in the twin cases," said Cebu City Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr.

He declined to discuss how the four were arrested, while follow-up operations are being conducted, but said the developments will "put a conclusion to the case."

Two of those arrested were reportedly the gunman and the driver of the motorcycle used when Nicolas was shot in Mandaue City last June 21. His older brother Manuel was shot the next day and died.

One of the policemen, identified as SP01 Raul Cosido of the Theft and Robbery Section, was taken to the Cebu City Medical Center after the patrol car he was driving collided with a civilian vehicle during one of the operations downtown. He was wounded.

While the police kept mum on the details, a mother of one of the arrested suspects said her son is innocent. (Sun.Star Cebu is withholding her name, as the police have not yet confirmed if her son was one of those arrested.)

She said the police picked up her son in Barangay Ermita at noon yesterday. He is a "habal-habal" driver, who was not aware that the man who hired him was out to shoot a member of the Ting family in Mandaue.

"Gisakyan siya. Igo ra siyang mihatod. Wa siya kahibawo ana (A man rode on his motorcycle. All he did was drive the man there. He didn't know about the attack)," the mother said.

The mother said her son, who used to belong to a fraternity, later told her about the shooting and insisted he had nothing to do with it.

Nicolas, 69, survived three gunshot wounds in the face and chest, after being attacked in Cabancalan, Mandaue City.

A day after, 72-year-old Manuel, a hotelier, was gunned down in an ambush in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.

Shortly after Manuel's death, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez organized a special task force composed of the Regional Intelligence Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, PNP Crime Laboratory 7, Cebu City Police Office and Mandaue City Police Office.


Task Force Ting head Senior Supt. Ramon Melvin Buenafe said one of those arrested is a minor and that the suspects belong to a group known for taking assassination jobs. He said they also found a lead that could point to the mastermind.

"The operation is still going on. The investigation is still not complete," he said. But "may development na maganda (There's a good development)."

Buenafe said there is "no indicator" that a dispute over land provoked the shootings, but they have yet to reach a conclusion on the motive.

Yesterday's breakthrough coincided with Manuel's burial.

Security was tight during the ceremony, from the requiem up to Angelicum Garden of Angels where Manuel was laid to rest.

Most of those who attended the ceremony wore T-shirts marked "Justice for Maning" and "We miss you, our beloved friend Maning."

Fr. Raul Buhay, OAR, said in his homily he hopes justice will take its course. In an interview with reporters, Buhay said he trusts the police will pursue the case to put the perpetrators behind bars.

He advised victims of violent crimes not to take justice in their own hands and not to answer with more violence.

Fr. Buhay said Manuel had proven himself to be a good person, who raised his family well.

Davide chosen to lead investigation vs Arroyo

(Updated 5:48 p.m.) The chief justice who in 2001 swore in then Vice President Arroyo as president has been chosen to lead the investigation into the corruption allegations against her.
Retired chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. will lead the "independent" body that will try to provide closure to unresolved controversies under the Arroyo administration, President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III announced Tuesday.

"This Truth Commission is the commission I promised the people we will set up to put closure on so many issues. They will be collators of data, evidence, the proof as to who committed what and what transgression of our laws was committed," said Aquino, who also announced other members of his official family.

An investigation on President Arroyo by an independent commission was one of Aquino's campaign promises.

With the "active assistance" of the Department of Justice, the commission will "as necessary, prepare and prosecute the cases to make sure those who committed crimes against the people will be made to pay," Aquino said.

Aquino clarified that the body will not tackle Marcos-era-related controversies and the assassination of his father, the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., in 1983.

He said the commission will be an "independent" body that will not produce "manufactured results for political purposes" but findings that are "based on solid evidence and facts."

List of controversies

In 1995, a similar body called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established by former South Africa President Nelson Mandela that examined atrocities committed by the apartheid government.

Controversies that hounded the nine-year Arroyo administration include the "Hello, Garci" scandal in 2005 where she was accused of manipulating the results of the previous year's elections, the P728-million fertilizer fund scam where money for poor farmers was allegedly diverted to her campaign kitty in the 2004 polls, and the $329-million broadband deal that was scuttled after whistleblowers alleged the First Couple and other administration allies received millions of pesos in kickbacks.

In 2001, Davide presided over the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada.

The proceedings were aborted after the deposed president's allies in the Senate voted not to open an envelope that supposedly contained incriminating information against him.

Anti-Estrada sentiments culminated in a massive street uprising that forced Estrada to step down on January 20, 2001. That day, Davide administered Mrs. Arroyo's oath as the 14th Philippine president.

That year, the Supreme Court under Davide ruled that President Arroyo's assumption to the presidency was legitimate.

Davide retired in December 2005 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

In 2007, President Arroyo, who won a full term as president in 2004, appointed Davide as representative to the United Nations.

Davide resigned from his post in April 2010 after his family aligned itself with the Aquino-led Liberal Party. 

Ties with the Aquinos

Davide's ties with the Aquino family date back to the restoration of democracy in 1986. 

Shortly after she was swept to power that year, the late President Corazon Aquino formed the Constitutional Commission to draft a new Constitution, which was ratified in 1987. Davide was among those picked to become a ConCom member. 

Mrs. Aquino later appointed Davide as Commission on Elections chair in February 1988. He left the post in 1989 when the President named him head of the commission that probed the December 1989 coup against the Cory administration. 

Mrs. Aquino then appointed Davide as Supreme Court justice in January 1991.

Davide says yes to Truth Commission, but declines to say much

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. confirmed having accepted the chairmanship of the Truth Commission incoming President Benigno Aquino III would form to investigate graft and corruption in the outgoing Arroyo government.

President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III announced in a press conference that he has named Davide to head the commission that that would "put closure on many issues."

When asked in an interview Tuesday if he had accepted the position, Davide said, "I guess so. Yes."

However, Davide was evasive over the role of the commission, refusing to specify what the commission would be doing.

He declined to answer when he was asked if the commission would be investigating the alleged anomalies under President Macapagal-Arroyo's administration.

He said the creation of the commission has just been announced by Aquino and the commission's specific tasks have not been defined.

Davide said he has not met the members of the commission, whom he refused to name.

"I could not discuss any details now. I have to meet the people who will be with me," he said.

A banker will head the GSIS, says President Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday that a banker will head the state-pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Aquino said in an interview with Ted Failon of TV Patrol that a banker will replace Winston Garcia, currently the president and general manager of the GSIS.

Aquino refused to name his appointee.

"Hindi ko pa pwedeng banggitin. Sa kasalakuyan, ay kailangan muna niyang magpaalam sa kanyang pamilya, kasi drastic reduction sa kanyang income,tapos yung privacy niya mawawala. Pero nag-express na siya ng willingnesss to serve in any of financial institutions of the state."

Garcia, the outgoing chief of the GSIS was mired in another controversy when last month, he threatened to file a complaint before the Ombudsman against officials of the Department of Finance over the planned sale of the government's 100-hectare property in Taguig City.

Garcia alleged that the move of the DoF to talk with a private firm for the sale of the property, which houses the Food Terminals Inc. complex, and to ignore the proposal of the GSIS to buy the same asset was anomalous.

He said GSIS had formally submitted an offer as early as last year to buy the property for P7 billion. He said GSIS was willing to buy it in cash. However, he complained that the DoF considered the offer too low and turned it down.

Greg calls for unity after taking oath as vice guv

VICE Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. took his oath of office yesterday before Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes and called for unity among political parties.

With the elections over, bickering should stop.

"Let us blend and mix our political colors--yellow, green, orange and others--into a beautiful combination of a legendary rainbow indicating harmonious unity. Our old folks say 'there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.' Somehow something good happens when there is unity," Sanchez said in his speech to a crowd at the Mariner's Court in Cebu City.

He said after June 30, all the winners in the elections will start working.

"Most of our agenda may not be finished in the first 100 days. Others, the substantial and lasting ones, not even in our lifetime. The road is long and hard. But let us begin. We are given the mandate of the people, the mandate to serve,"
Sanchez said.

Sanchez urged the public and members of the Liberal Party to strongly support the administration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III, especially in the fight against corruption.

"If we unite in flushing out corrupt practices and witnessing against corrupters, beginning from barangay up to Malacañang, then corruption will surely be a thing of the past. It is a very, very uphill fight, but not impossible," Sanchez said.

Sanchez, in his speech, also recalled the response of the constituents when he and his runningmate Hilario "Junjun" Davide III visited the different areas during the campaign.

"During the campaign, I still cannot forget the sweat and tears, the frustration and joy in the campaign which I shared with Junjun Davide and our party mates. Now, we gather again and all are happy. Both winners and those who did not make it are here as one. We believe their defeat are more triumphant than the victory of some," Sanchez said.

Sanchez administered the oath of office of officials from the different municipalities, including Mayor Antonio Canoy of San Fernando, Mayor Teresa Alegado of Consolacion, Mayor Geraldine Yapha of Pinamungajan and Mayor Democrito "Aljun" Diamante of Tuburan.

Canoy, in his speech, said he won in San Fernando despite the efforts of Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, 1st district) and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who campaigned against him.

"Imagine, Gullas was running for congressman unopposed, and Gwen was very popular, with matching money, but I won, together with my son who is now the San Fernando vice mayor," Canoy said.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeñas also attended Sanchez's inauguration, where he praised Davide for putting up a good fight with Garcia.

Osmeña said while Davide did not win the election, his ally was was to demonstrate the Garcia administration is very vulnerable.

Davide, he said, showed it doesn't need a big budget but dedication and the support of volunteers in order to win against Garcia.

"So, my prediction is very clear that the next governor of Cebu will be Junjun Davide," Osmeña said.

Compostela leadership in question

The Commission on Elections has issued an order Monday suspending the effect of the proclamation of Joel Quiño as new mayor of the Municipality of Compostela, as well as that of the town's vice mayor and eight councilors.

In an order dated June 28, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, presiding commissioner of the Comelec Second Division, granted the "Extremely Urgent Motion to Suspend the Effect of Proclamation" filed by outgoing Compostela Mayor Ritchie Wagas.

Wagas ran against and lost to Quiño in the May 10 polls.

The Comelec, however, clarified that the suspension does not mean that the proclamation of the winning candidates has been declared null and void, as the order only pertains to the urgent motion for suspension and not the Petition for Annulment of Proclamation that Wagas filed on May 21.

"We are not at this(sic) stages ready to grant the petitioner Wagas' prayer to declare the proclamation of the winning candidates in the Municipality of Compostela, Cebu, from the mayor down to the vice-mayor and the eight municipal councilors as null and void," Ferrer said.

The other newly-elected officials are Mary Antonette Dangoy (vice mayor) and Josephine Abing, Joy Ann Cabatingan, Wilfredo Calo, Tessa Cang, Alfredo Cabatingan, Homer Canen, Francisco Oliverio, and Glenn Villaceran (councilors).

In filing the Petition for Annulment of Proclamation, Wagas alleged that the errors and discrepancies in Compostela during the May elections could not be used as basis for proclaiming the newly-elected candidates.

In his order, Ferrer said, "this is something we cannot treat lightly or turn our backs on, for the Commission lives and breathes to see to it that the voice of the people as expressed in the ballots be held sacred such that any error or irregularities that would desecrate it no matter how small should be treated with the end view of upholding the true will of the people, no matter what the costs is."

Because only Quiño was impleaded in the Petition to Annul Proclamation, Ferrer gave Wagas three days to implead the other "indispensable parties" like the newly-elected vice mayor and councilors.

Wagas said he filed the petition to avoid the danger that unelected officials will assume office. Newly-elected officials will assume office today.

Wagas alleged that the audit or print log of the consolidating machine of the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) did not reflect the Electronic Election Returns (EERs) in 14 clustered precincts or simply saying the results of these precincts were not transmitted.

To his surprise, despite the absence of the audit log, the machine allegedly still generated a Certificate of Canvass and Statement of Votes per precinct reflecting the alleged "unlogged" EERs in the 14 questioned precincts.

Wagas alleged that the appearance of the EERs in the COC and SOV is manipulated since it is already stored in the consolidating machines. He also questioned a particular precinct No. 19 that allegedly did not reflect the right number of votes cast because there were allegedly 700 votes cast but the SOV only reflected 10.

On June 10, Wagas again filed a motion, this time for Manual Recount and Injunction now pending in Comelec.

On his third motion, the "Extremely Urgent Motion to Suspend the Effect of Proclamation," Wagas attached affidavits and reports of members of the MBOC informing the commission of errors during the elections.

"Much as we would like to think that indeed the errors are too consequential to affect the outcome of the election, we cannot do so bearing in mind that it is not only Wagas who is telling us that the election was marred by error but other people who have played a major role in the election in the said place," Ferrer said.

Ferrer also cited Supreme Court pronouncement in the case of Flauta vs. COMELEC that "any error in the SOV ultimately affects the validity of the procalamtion. If a candidate's proclamation is based on an SOV which contain erroneous entries, it is null and void. It is no proclamation at all."

Quiño's lawyer Jorge John Cane said his client will assume office today, as they have not yet received an official copy of the Comelec order as of 5pm yesterday.

Cane said his client and the other newly-elected officials of Compostela can assume post in the absence of official communication or order from Comelec preventing them from doing so.

For his part, Wagas told The Freeman he will continue serving as mayor until the "right person" takes over the post.

"Kay duna may mando ang Second Division sa Comelec nga isuspenso una ang epekto sa proclamation magpabilin una ko nga mayor sa Compostela isip usa ka maayong membro sa pamilya," said Wagas.

In an interview with The Freeman, however, election officer Marchel Sarno opined Wagas cannot continue serving as mayor because his term technically ends midday today. Sarno said the suspension is just tantamount to having no officials for the town.

In a separate interview, Department of Interior and Local Government 7 Director Pedro Noval said he would still need to verify the authenticity of the document, once he receives a copy of the order.

Noval said the proclaimed winners can also seek reprieve with the court through a Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order to suspend the Comelec order.

He said that because Compostela is a component municipality of the Province of Cebu, the Governor may designate a caretaker and can even recommend an officer-in-charge to the President for appointment if and when the need arises.

OFW advocate lauds Baldoz appointment as DOLE secretary

MANILA, Philippines – The appointment of a new female labor chief to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's cabinet hopes to boost the campaign against human trafficking.

Aquino Cabinet already preparing disaster response

The incoming head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Tuesday the agencies concerned with addressing poverty and disaster response have been getting their act together in preparation for the rainy season and the floods.

Members of the Aquino Cabinet (list)

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Here is a list of the members of the Cabinet of President-elect Benigno Aquino III, announced on June 29, 2010.

Paquito Ochoa Jr., Executive Secretary
Julia Abad, Presidential Management Staff
Edwin Lacierda, Presidential Spokesperson
Eduardo de Mesa, Presidential Legal Counsel
Sec. Alberto Romulo, retained for Foreign Affairs
Cesar Purisima, Finance
Leila de Lima, Justice
Voltaire Gazmin, National Defense
Cayetano Paderanga, NEDA
Br. Armin Luistro, Education
Florencio Abad, Budget and Management
Rep. Proceso Alcala, Agriculture
Usec. Ramon Paje, Environment and Natural Resources
Jose de Jesus, Transportation and Communication
Rosalinda Baldoz, Labor and Employment
Dr. Enrique Ona, Health
Gregory Domingo, Trade and Industry
Alberto Lim, Tourism
Corazon Soliman, Social Welfare and Development
Mario Montejo, Science and Technology
Jose Almendras, Energy
Rogelio Singson, Public Works and Highways
Virgilio delos Reyes, Agrarian Reform
Teresita Deles, Adviser on the Peace Process
Patricia Licuanan, Commission on Higher Education
Kim Henares, Bureau of Internal Revenue

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide will lead a "Truth Commission" which will "collate data on who committed what."

Aquino will handle the Department of Interior and Local Government, pending talks with three nominees for the portfolio.

Maj. Gen. Ric David will become Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff; Gen. Jesus Verzosa is retained as Philippine National Police chief.

Arroyo leaves a presidency littered with landmines

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo exits the presidency before noon Wednesday, June 30, bequeathing her successor, Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, a path littered with "landmines" that could weaken his control over the bureaucracy, former government officials said. These landmines come in the form of hundreds of "midnight" appointments, said former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) member and columnist Lito Banayo.

Contracts of govt workers ending on June 30 will be extended, Mendoza says

Government employees whose contracts are set to end on June 30 - outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo"s last day - are expected to be extended by the incoming president.

Erap, James to grace Aquino inaugural; Mar shying away


Former President Joseph Estrada, in an act of statesmanship, will attend Wednesday's inaugural ceremonies to swear-in incoming President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, just across the historic landmark Manila Hotel.

And so does basketball star James Yap despite his break-up with Aquino's sister, Kris.

However, Aquino's running mate, Sen. Mar Roxas, has opted to stay away from the inaugural rites.

An ardent stickler to one of the nation's most revered tradition, Estrada said he is attending Wednesday's rites just as former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and the late former President Corazon C. Aquino attended his oath-taking ceremonies as President at the Barasoain Church in Bulacan on June 30, 1998.

"Both former Presidents Ramos and the late President Cory were at my inauguration which is a tradition that must not be broken, but should instead remain untainted by any political color or differences," Estrada said Tuesday night.

An invitation from the Aquino family to attend Wednesday's rites was delivered to Estrada's home in North Greenhills, San Juan City, last week for him and his wife, former First Lady and Senator, Luisa "Loi" Ejercito-Estrada.

Dra. Loi, according to Estrada, is out of the country with their daughter Jackie and son-in-law, Beaver Lopez, and therefore, will not be able to attend the inaugural ceremony.

Political observers said Estrada's attendance this Wednesday at Rizal Park program, should not be taken as diminishing his decision not to file any electoral protest on the highly questioned results of the recently concluded presidential elections that marked the May 10 race one of the only two most controversial polls in the nation's electoral history.

Aquino confirmed his brother-in-law's attendance in his inauguration.

In a report on TV5's "Aksyon" on June 28, Aquino III said he has talked to Kris about James through text.

Minutes before the "Queen of All Media" sat down last Sunday with "Buzz" co-hosts Boy Abunda and KC Concepcion to announce that she has given up on her high-profile marriage with James, the popular cager himself confirmed that he will be at Noy's induction.

"Of course," he quipped in a taped interview aired on "24 Oras" on Monday.

However, he remains mum on his marital woes. "Alam mo naman pag personal diba… sana maintindihan mo," he told GMA-7 showbiz reporter Nelson Canlas an hour after his game at Araneta Coliseum last Sunday.

In a separate report on "TV Patrol World" on the same night, James said that he respects his wife's decision. He also thanked his team mates and friends for their prayers.

It seems that the five-year marriage of Kris and James is heading towards dead end, as their separation is set to be legalized soon.

While Estrada and Yap will join other high-profile personalities in the inauguration, Roxas said he'd rather miss the inaugural ceremonies than be misunderstood for his facial expressions and gestures.

Roxas, however, will grace the victory street party set at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City later Wednesday night.

"I opted not to attend though invited to prevent any issue to surface when I'm seen smiling or not, clapping or not. I don't want to be misunderstood," Roxas told reporters last Monday.

Apparently, Roxas doesn't want to be seen with Vice President Jejomar Binay who will also be inaugurated with Aquino at Quirino Grandstand.

Roxas has refused to concede to Binay and is still pursuing an electoral protest.

Although Roxas said his lawyers are still working on the protest, he refused to disclose details.

"There is an appropriate time for that to be discussed. As of now, let's just focus our full attention to the inauguration," he said.

Roxas has been vital to the ascension of Aquino to the Palace. He had dropped his bid for the presidency in favor of Aquino.

Roxas claims he has no regrets taking the back seat for Aquino, saying he is very much happy that their sacrifices and hardships have been fruitful.

When asked what's his message for Aquino, Roxas said: "Listen to your mind, to your soul, and to your parents and you will stir the country into the right direction. The whole country is behind you!"

110 foreign dignitaries to attend Aquino inaugural

by by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - In what could be seen as a sign of support for the new administration, 85 countries and international organizations will send representatives to attend the inaugural of President-elect Benigno Aquino III and Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay on June 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Of these, at least 21 states are sending high-level delegations.

"We have received a lot of requests from the international community to allow them to attend the inauguration ceremonies. Confirmations were easy to secure from those whom we invited," the foreign office's chief of protocol, Eduardo Pablo Maglaya, said in a press conference.

Of the foreign representatives attending the ceremonies, 84 are resident and non-resident ambassadors while 21 are special envoys of their respective countries.

The first to arrive was East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta who planed in on June 28, along with other members of his delegation.

A close friend of the Aquino family, Horta was also present during the interment of former President Corazon C. Aquino, the mother of President-elect Aquino.

The United States will be represented by Trade Representative Ron Kirk with US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. as a member of the delegation.

Australia was sending Julie Owes, a member of Parliament; Brunei was sending Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awang Lim Jock Send, second minister of foreign affairs and trade; Cambodia was sending Khieu Kanharith, minister of information; and Canada was sending Jim Abbott, member of Parliament and parliamentary secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation.

The Chinese embassy in Manila said the visit of the China delegation to be led by National People's Congress Vice Chairperson Yan Junqi would help maintain the sound momentum of high-level exchanges between China and the Philippines.

Japan will be sending its State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Osamu Fujimura and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, also a close friend of the Aquino family.

The Holy See's representative is the Apostolic Nuncio to Korea,the Most Rev. Osvaldo Padilla, a Filipino born in Sogod, Cebu.

Spain will be represented by its Defensor del Pueblo (Ombudsman) Enrique Mugica. In a May 14 letter coursed through the Spanish Embassy, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wished Aquino success during his presidency, adding that Spain is ready to cooperate with his administration.

Singapore will be sending its Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo, while Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Abaid Madani will lead Saudi Arabia's delegation.

Cambodia will be represented by Minister of Information Khieuk Kanharith, and Indonesia by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Dr. H.R. Agung Laksono.

Other guests of ministerial rank include South Korea's Chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection Kim Hwang-Sik, Laos' Chief of Cabinet to the President Souban Srithirath, Malaysia's Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Senator Dato Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Thailand's Minister in the Prime Minister's Depatment Ongart Klampaiboon, and Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang.

Members of Parliament attending the inauguration include Australia's Julie Owens, Canada's Jim Abbott and New Zealand's John Hayes.

The Organzation of the Islamic Conference will be represented by its Assistant Secretary-General Samir Diab, while Peru will be represented by its Ambassador to Indonesia Jorge Castaneda Mendez.

Representatives of international organizations attending the inauguration include the United Nations' Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Babcock, Food and Agricultural Organization's Kazuyuki Tsurumi, International Committee of the Red Cross' Jean-Daniel Tauxe, International Labor Organzation's Linda Wirth, and International Monetary Fund's Dennis Bothman.Other representatives of international organizations include: International Organization for Migration's Duc Tran, United Nations Children's Fund Vanessa Tobin (represented by Colin Davis), UN Development Programme Renaud Mayer, UN High Commission for Refugees Rico Salcedo, UN World Food Programme Stephen Anderson, World Banks' Bert Hoffman, and World Health Organizations's Dr. Linda Milan.

NAIA ready to receive dignitaries despite malfunctioning VOR

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the absence of a fully functional navigation aid, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will be ready to receive foreign dignitaries who will witness President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's inauguration on June 30.

Nolcom head David is new military chief

MANILA, Philippines - Incoming President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday named Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo David as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces.

David, who served with the Presidential Security Group during the term of President Corazon Aquino, is tentatively set to assume the top military post on Friday, according to AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.

He will replace acting AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa, who assumed the post after the early retirement of Gen. Delfin Bangit. Bangit resigned from military service earlier this month after learning that Aquino would replace him.

David, a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1977, was born in 1955 in San Fernando, Pampanga but spent most of his childhood days in Victoria, Tarlac. He assumed the post of Nolcom chief in June last year.

He has handled several other key positions in the military, among them commander of the 4th Infantry Division, commander of the Army Support Command, chief of the AFP Command Center, commander of the 402nd Brigade, among others.

David handled a total of seven positions at the PSG from 1987 to 1992. He was head of the PSG training branch and went on to serve with the presidential guards. His last position at the PSG was as personnel chief.

He finished a basic management program from the Asian Institute of Management and went on to complete master's degrees on security studies and business administration from the Naval Post Graduate School in California and at the Xavier University.

Nolcom spokesman Maj. Rosendo Armas said David was "very proud and happy that he was chosen by the (incoming) commander-in-chief."

"He (David) promised that he will do his best to perform to the best of his ability as chief of staff of the AFP. At the same time, he will support all the policies and projects of the national government," Armas said of David.

For his part, Burgos said the military establishment welcomes the appointment of David who he described as having "professional competence."

"He is a good choice for the Armed Forces. At the same time, we are confident that his able leadership will greatly contribute in the fulfilment of the mandate of the AFP to the people," added Burgos.

Aquino to appoint new peace negotiators, says adviser

MANILA, Philippines - The incoming administration of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is expected to appoint new government negotiators that will pursue peace initiatives with the two largest rebel groups in the country.

Backhoe operator reveals other Ampatuan 'crimes'

MANILA, Philippines - A backhoe operator for the powerful Ampatuan clan, main suspects in the Maguindanao massacre, is fearful for his life after he failed to qualify for the government's witness protection program.

Abu Sayyaf suspect in Basilan bombing nabbed

The suspect in the deadly bombing attack in Basilan province in southern Philippines two months ago was arrested Tuesday in a hospital in Zamboanga City, a police official said.

Marcos millions still hidden abroad: gov't

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - Millions of dollars stolen by the late deposed Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos are likely still hidden in bank accounts abroad, officials from a government watchdog said Monday.

Imelda Marcos to revive late husband's good legacies

Elected Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos said whether she will join the opposition or the administration depends on what will be good for the people.

Marcos family to skip Noynoy inaugural

Members of the Marcos family who were elected into office in the May 10 elections will skip Wednesday"s inauguration of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay due to conflict in schedule.

Aquino on sex ed: 'Zero education might lead to wrong decisions'

While he withheld his position on sex education, President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III believes that "zero education" "might lead to wrong decisions."

Aquino, incoming DepEd chief yet to discuss sex ed

President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Tuesday said he has yet to speak with incoming Education Secretary Armin Luistro regarding sex education in schools.

No VIP treatment for Noynoy on RP roads

MANILA, Philippines – Although President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will still have police escorts for security reasons, he announced on Tuesday that he will not be getting any special treatment when travelling on the country's roads.

June 30 busy day for Chief Justice

Chief Justice Renato Corona will swear into office some 20 officials—from senators down to councilors—on June 30, a day-long schedule that a spokesman indicated might keep him away from President-elect Benigno Aquino III's inauguration.

Comelec recommends charges vs execs in ballot folder deal

A Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel tasked to investigate a botched P690-million ballot secrecy folder contract has recommended the filing of charges against individuals involved in the controversy.

770 pass Social Worker Licensure Exam

A total of 770 out of 1,321 passed the Social Worker Licensure Examination given by the Board for Social Workers in nine cities nationwide, according to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

RP, Iran ink pact for Filipino seafarers" employment

Filipino seafarers stand to get better work conditions in Iran after the two countries signed a bilateral agreement recognizing Filipino seafarers" certificates of competencies.

P7-M worth of illegal logs intercepted in Agusan

BUTUAN CITY - Illegal logs estimated to be worth P7 million were intercepted by an interagency body in various areas of Trento town in Agusan del Sur on Monday.

$1: P46.370

$1: P46.370

Euro 1: P56.8594

New finance chief plans to cut budget deficit in 3 years

MANILA, Philippines  - Incoming Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Southeast Asian country plans to cut its budget deficit to 2%t of gross domestic product in three years.  

Abad says there's scope to trim 2010 fiscal deficit

MANILA, Philippines - The incoming administration of President Benigno Aquino III may have room to narrow the projected P300-billion financing gap this year, newly-minted Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said on Tuesday.

Fix leaks first before hiking taxes - Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - Incoming Philippine president Benigno Aquino III, who will be sworn in as the Southeast Asian country's 15th president on June 30, said that forecasts of the outgoing government will be reviewed, and said he would first fix tax collections before looking at any tax increases.

RP needs $12.8B to avert power crisis in 2011

The Philippines needs some $12.8 billion in new investments for new power projects in Luzon alone, to avert a possible crisis by 2011, when supply and demand are expected to even out.

Romania floods kill 21

DOROHOI—Heavy rains sparked floods that killed 21 people in Romania and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes on Tuesday as rivers burst their banks.

McChrystal to retire from US Army: official

by Reuters
WASHINGTON – General Stanley McChrystal, who President Barack Obama fired last week as the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has informed the U.S. Army he plans to retire, an official said on Monday.

If no Mayweather, it's Margarito or Cotto for Pacman

MANILA, Philippines -- If the Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight doesn't push through, "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao might face former world welterweight champion Antonio Margarito or newly-crowned junior middleweight king Miguel Cotto.

Donaire, Concepcion in world title bouts in Puerto Rico

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire and Bernabe "The Real Deal" Concepcion will figure in world title bouts against Latino fighters on July 10 (July 11 in Manila) in Puerto Rico.

Pinoys through to Wimbledon juniors 2nd Round

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Francis Casey Alcantara and Filipino-American Raymond Sarmiento of the United States won their opening round matches at the Wimbledon Boys' Singles on Monday.

Alcantara beats French rival to advance in junior Wimbledon

Filipino hope Francis Casey Alcantara pulled off a hard-earned win over Gregoire Barrere of France, 6-1, 1-6, 11-9, on Tuesday, to advance to the second round of the Wimbledon juniors tournament.

Alba upsets Manalo in 1st round of World 9-Ball

MANILA, Philippines – Middle East-based Joven Alba secured a thrilling come-from-behind victory over compatriot Marlon Manalo, 9-8, to lead the opening round winners in the 2010 WPA World Pool Championships (World 9-Ball) at the Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation hall in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

Yap, Mercado are PBA Week's bests

MANILA, Philippines – B-Meg Derby star James Yap and Rain or Shine's Solomon Mercado are Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) picks for the week's best players for their roles in boosting their respective teams' campaign in the Fiesta Cup.

Sports leaders back Jaworski for PSC chairmanship

MANILA, Philippines – Several sports officials expressed their support for the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairmanship bid of former Senator Robert "Sonny" Jaworski, also known as "The Living Legend" of Philippine basketball.

'Bring yellow umbrellas on rainy Aquino inauguration day'

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of yellow ribbons, bring yellow umbrellas on the inauguration of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on June 30.

Pacquiao to attend Aquino-Binay inauguration

To show his loyalty to his new party, boxing champion and newly-elected Sarangani province Representative Manny Pacquiao will be attending the inauguration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III and Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay on Wednesday.

Pacquiao among Forbes ' most powerful celebrities

World boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao has been included in Forbes magazine"s list of most powerful celebrities in the world for the year 2010.

Charice 'nervous' but will try to sing anthem perfectly

After singing with music heavyweights such as Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli and performing in the world"s biggest stadiums, is there still anything that makes Charice Pempengco nervous on stage?

Only P55,000 left of P10-M inaugural budget

A little more than just P55,000 has been left over from a P10-million government budget for the June 30 inauguration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III and Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay.

Binay's last act as Makati mayor: Officiate whistleblower's wedding

Vice president-elect Jejomar Binay administered the wedding vows of Jose de Venecia III and his fiancee, his last official act as the mayor of Makati City, a post he held for over two decades.

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