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

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 4, 2010 Major News Stories

El Niño finally over; 2 cyclones expected in June

After almost a year, the El Niño weather phenomenon that caused severe dry spells in the country is finally over, state weather forecasters said Thursday.

Brownouts in Cebu to last until June 8

CEBU CITY – The Department of Energy (DoE) in the Visayas said the rotating brownouts now prevailing in Metro Cebu will last for one week or until power plants Cebu Thermal Power Plant 1 and Cebu Energy Development Corporation (CEDC) Unit 1, both of which are currently under maintenance, are back in operation.

DoE Regional Director Antonio Labios said the public should bear with the rotating brownouts until the power situation is restored to normalcy next week. The brownouts plaguing the metropolis have lasted for about an hour and 30 minutes, except for last Tuesday when maximum outage reached two hours and 30 minutes.

Labios, who met with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia Wednesday afternoon, said the Cebu Thermal Power Plant 1, which has a capacity of 50 MW, and the CEDC Unit 1, with a capacity of 82 MW, are scheduled to be back on the grid on June 8.

"By then, the power situation in Cebu should have stabilized already," said Labios, who added that the Leyte Geothermal Power Plant, with a capacity of 35 MW, is also expected to get back to its normal operation next week.

Garcia, who initiated the meeting with Cebu's power industry stakeholders, expressed hope that the assurance of the power stakeholders and the DoE for a stable power supply next week will materialize.

She also appealed to major businesses and companies to participate in the Capitol-initiated interruptible load agreement, where establishments turn off their electricity and use generators in the event of power shortage so that residential areas are not greatly affected.

The program has been proven to be effective, said Garcia, citing an incident last year when the Visayas grid showed a shortage of 11 megawatts, prompting Cebu's Visayas Electric Co. (VECO) to immediately call on establishments to turn off their power and shift to generators, thereby solving the shortage problem.

For the past few months since the program was implemented, VECO, the power utility firm that distributes electricity to Metro Cebu areas, admitted that business establishments participating in the interruptible load agreement program can only de-load 17MW, which is actually not enough to adequately address the problem.

Ethel Natera, corporate communications manager of VECO, has appealed to the public to do their share in conserving electricity by turning off unnecessary lights, appliances, and other electrical gadgets especially during peak hours.

DA bans bird, poultry imports from Lombardy, Italy

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture on Thursday has imposed a temporary import ban on birds and poultry, including their products, from the city of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy, after the World Organization on Animal Health or Office International des Epizooties (OIE) confirmed outbreaks of the bird flu or avian influenza (AI) virus in the area.

'60% of OFW families are poor'

by By Estrella Torres, Business Mirror
MANILA, Philippines - Despite the steadily rising remittance levels of Filipino migrant workers—reaching $18 billion in 2009—at least 60% of their families remain poor, according to a Church-backed group doing support work for the sector.

Sinkholes may occur in Cebu

THERE is a big possibility that a sinkhole similar to the one that formed in Guatemala City will appear in Cebu, even in urban areas, a geologist said yesterday.

The Guatemala City sinkhole caught the attention of people all over the world because of its size, which is reportedly 66 feet across and 100 feet deep.

Al Emil Berador, chief geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Central Visayas, said sinkholes can appear in Cebu because a large area of the island is composed of limestone.

Berador said sinkholes are natural formations that occur after limestone deposits gradually corrode when in contact with weak carbonic acid, a combination of water and carbon dioxide.

Carbonic acid can gradually corrode hard limestone, which explains why there are limestone caves, said Berador.

Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by circulating ground water. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground.

These sinkholes can be dramatic because the surface land usually stays intact until there is no longer enough support. Then, the surface area can suddenly collapse.

Berador said majority of the areas in Cebu have limestone deposits.

About 60 to 70 percent of Cebu, including areas that are habitable such as urban areas, is composed of limestone, he said.

Berador said a sinkhole can only occur if a corroded limestone area is disturbed by natural tremors such as earthquakes or by human-induced activities.

He said the only way to detect if an area is susceptible to sinkhole formation is through core drilling or ground-penetrating radar.

Berador said there have been sinkhole formations in some areas in Central Visayas.

A few years back, a massive sinkhole formed in Anda town in Bohol after an earthquake hit the area. Berador said the sinkhole swallowed a couple of houses.

He also said there are sinkholes in Barangay Talamban in Cebu City and Barangay Cabancalan in Mandaue City. Berador said the sinkhole in Cabancalan was found in an area being developed by a private firm.

Tom 'freaks out' at sight of Castro, opposes allowance hike for fiscals

IF it were up to him, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña would not grant the request of city prosecutors for additional allowances, saying he was turned off by their spokesperson, Assistant City Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro.

Ask SC to return P1M fund

CALLING the P1-million Judiciary Equalization Fund an "unnecessary expense," state auditors yesterday asked Cebu City officials to request the return of the City's funds from the Supreme Court (SC).

While the P30,000 to P45,000 monthly allowance for judges was not included in the initial audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) officials also cautioned the City Government in giving huge allowances to officials of the Judiciary, saying certain budget circulars have to be followed.

During an exit conference yesterday, state auditors reportedly noted the P30,000 to P45,000 monthly allowance of the judges could be too much.

City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva said they were told to check Department of Budget and Management (DBM) rules on deciding on the rates of allowances for the judges.

"Their findings are still subject to change. They were not final because there are other things that have to be reviewed. COA wants us to refer to the circulars because we might have violated some rules. I want to check also if we could exceed. But if in the final audit they would say the amount is not allowed, we will comply," she said.

In the initial findings on the audit of the City's transactions, auditors also noted the release of P1 million to the SC for the establishment of a Local Government Unit-Judiciary Equalization Fund (LGU-JEF) for judges whose allowances are unreasonably withheld by LGUs where they are assigned, "an unnecessary expense of the City Government and contrary to section 3.2 of COA Circular No. 85-55-A."

The circular "prohibits the unnecessary, irregular, excessive and extravagant expenditures of public funds," while section 3.2 specifically defines "unnecessary expenditures" those that do not support the "objectives and mission of the agency" in relation to the "nature of expenditure not dictated by the demands of good government."

"The City Treasurer should request for the return of the funds from the SC so it can be used for other basic services of the city," the report read.

Despite the auditors' findings, Oliva believes the City can justify the allocation for the LGU-JEF once they present all the documents, including the memorandum of agreement entered into by the City Government and the SC.

Oliva said she will also give COA a copy of the third supplemental budget, where the P24-million lump sum appropriation for the judges' allowance was included.

"There was a slight error in their findings, so we will enlighten them on what this is all about. We don't have to ask the Supreme Court to return it because the agreement was also approved by the Supreme Court," Oliva told Sun.Star Cebu after the exit conference, which Acting Mayor Michael Rama and other department heads also attended.

In a separate interview, Rama said he will study both the LGU-JEF and the memorandum of Mayor-on-leave Tomas Osmeña on the increased allowances of the judges, so he can help explain the matter to COA.

"They have other assumptions. That's why we will explain in writing that portion of the report. There was a suggestion that we ask the Supreme Court to return the P1 million, but we will still have to clarify that... But that's not a problem, we can justify it because no less than the SC signed the MOA," Rama said.

Osmeña offered P1 million a year to SC as seed money for the LGU-JEF, subject to replenishment when necessary.

The City entered into an agreement with the SC in March 2009 for the setting up of the JEF, to cover the allowances of judges taken away by the LGUs.

The fund was set up after Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia cut off the P6,000 monthly allowance of a judge who ruled against the Province on the case that sought to clarify whether it is the mayor or the governor who has the right to appoint members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District board.

NBI nabs Atan for fund misuse

DEFEATED congressional candidate Jonathan Guardo was arrested yesterday by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents for malversation of public funds.

Guardo was charged by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in September 2009 with malversation of public funds in connection with the P10-million financial assistance for Cebu's hosting of six events in the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2005.

Guardo was chairman of the Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) when the country hosted the SEA Games. He was named chairman of the Cebu Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Cebusoc).

A team of 10 NBI agents arrested Guardo past 5 p.m. inside the Alta Vista tennis court in Barangay Pardo. He was playing tennis with friends, among them Barangay Tinago Councilor Joel Garganera.

Guardo will reportedly post bail today.

The businessman, who ran for the Cebu City south district congressional seat but lost to Tomas Osmena, was detained on the basis of an arrest warrant issued last May 25 by National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 11 Judge Cicero Jurado.

Senior NBI agent Rey Villordon Jr. said Guardo was cooperative during the arrest.

Villordon said Guardo called up his lawyer before going with the agents to the NBI 7 office.

Guardo declined to issue any statement to the media last night.

PSC, in filing the case against Guardo, alleged that he "misappropriated and misused" the P10 million handed by PSC to Cebusoc for the repair and refurbishing of facilities in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Danao.

Guardo said in an interview in September 2009 in response to the charge, that he has settled all his obligations with the Commission on Audit (COA) and that PSC was just engaging in a witchhunt. He said Cebusoc has properly liquidated the P10-million.

"The COA and the PSC did not accept our liquidation because they were looking for infrastructure built when the Cebusoc used the P10 million for the operational expenses of the event," Guardo had said.

He had said Cebu was chosen as one of the satellite hosts because the national government had been assured that it did not have to spend a lot on infrastructure and the province had several venues ready.

"Because Cebu already had venues that were ready for the hosting, we need not spend a lot for them. I don't think we could have hosted that event well if we misused the money. We had a lavish opening and closing ceremonies. The dancesport event held at the Waterfront Hotel cost a lot of money as well. In Danao, we had to bulldoze a mountainous area to give way to the race course for mountain bike. And every single centavo was well-accounted for," Guardo had said.

Guardo had said the PSC could not expect the Cebusoc to use the P10-million for infrastructure.

"Ten million pesos is not enough to build anything. Besides, they gave us the money in September and the SEA Games was in December," Guardo said in the 2009 interview.

Tomas says Capitol in dire straits

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña described the Province as in dire financial straits.

The mayor wants Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to challenge him to put the figures of the Province and the City on the table to show how incompetent she is in handling Capitol's finances.

In a press conference last Wednesday, Garcia said that after allocating P1.8 billion for road asphalting projects in a span of six years, the Cebu Provincial Government still has billions of pesos in liquidity and is still growing.

"No problem. But they have to disclose how much money they have left in the bank. Richest in the Philippines kuno. Richest in what?" Osmeña said.

He said in spite of the approved P1.5 billion supplemental budget, the City's cash balance is pushing to P3 billion.

Christmas bonus

Osmeña said even the City Hall Christmas party and Christmas bonus are funded.

Osmeña, who was elected congressman for Cebu City south in the last elections, said he also made a P400-million advance payment of the city's debt.

He said, though, that the only thing left unfunded is the college scholarship for the second semester.

The city government has appropriated P100 million for the scholarship program for 7,000 public high school graduates in the city who wish to enroll in college.
He said the next administration does not have any difficulty of funding it since the city has money reserved in the banks.

Osmeña also cited financial aid to senior citizens and buses to barangays in the city.

Senior citizens

"You ask our senior citizens how much did they get then you ask the senior citizens in the Province how much did they get. That's not money in the bank, that's money in the pocket of the people… Just tell the governor that our barangays have buses, all. How many of her barangays have buses? Bawion pang gubaon nga multicab.
Hambugera kaayo na uy (She's very arrogant)," Osmeña said.

Osmeña also cited ongoing constructions of high-rise buildings in the city in comparison to the lack of such structures in the Province.

Cardinal Vidal expresses concern over proposals to teach sex education in schools

CEBU Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal considered "very alarming" the proposal of education and health officials to introduce sex education to school children, including kindergarten pupils.

Null votes won't be counted

The decision of the joint national canvassing committee to turn down a motion by Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Roxas II to review election returns (ERs) and determine the veracity of the unusually high three million null votes is final, Speaker Prospero Nograles said on Thursday.

But former Education Secretary Florencio Abad disclosed that they have evidence to show that there is indeed reason to look into the ERs to determine the truth about the three million null votes for the vice presidential post.

This developed as a defective central canvassing system (CCS) threatened on Thursday to delay the completion of the tabulation of returns reflected in the remaining 71 certificates of canvass.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they expect the 30 provincial and city CoCs and 41 CoCs from overseas absentee voting centers to be canvassed last night to pave the way for the proclamation of winning presidential and vice presidential candidates on Monday.

However, the failure of the CCS to read the statement of votes from Davao City threatened to derail the plans.

Commission on Election Executive Director Jose Tolentino said the malfunctioning CCS will have to be sent to the Smartmatic-TIM plan in Cabuyao to be fixed.

Lawmakers who are members of the canvassing panel said this can delay the completion of the canvassing.

Lawyers for Sen. Roxas appeared adamant to the advice of the canvassing panel to bring their protest on the null votes before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

In supporting the call to review the questionable ERs, Abad cited the case of the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao which was the first to electronically transmit the results of the elections on May 10, sending the tally of its votes as early as one hour even before the voting closed at 7 in the evening

There were 464 registered voters in the clustered precincts covered by the PCOS machine. Of this, 463 voted for the same candidate for vice president.

There were no null votes.

This is just one of the incidents why the Aquino-Roxas Bantay Balota vote protection volunteer group has been pressing for an exhaustive look into the 2.6 million null votes and more than 300,000 other votes for the vice presidential race that face nullification if the Joint Canvassing Committee continues to stonewall appeals to include them in its joint canvass of the presidential and vice presidential elections, Abad said.

Abad said a study conducted by IT experts showed that between 5 p.m. and 5:59 p.m. of May 10, before election precincts closed at 7 p.m., ARMM had transmitted 1,064 votes for vice president – all from Maguindanao. By midnight, ARMM had transmitted 393,196 votes for vice president, which includes 196,626 votes from Maguindanao and 72,005 votes from Lanao del Sur.

The early transmissions, he said, was surprising, especially following concerns prior to the election of possible transmission problems in the ARMM.

Meanwhile, in Regions 6 and 7 where Roxas won overwhelmingly over other VP bets, there are more than 500,000 "null votes". If 50 to 60 percent of these votes are for Roxas, which is the voting trend in the two regions, this would be equivalent to about 250,000 to 300,000 votes.

In reaction, the camp of leading vice presidential candidate Jejomar C. Binay asked Roxas to file the appropriate case if he has proof of irregularities in the May 10 election.

Otherwise, the Liberal Party (LP) is merely engaging in a "desperate propaganda drive" that will not alter the outcome of the canvassing being conducted by Congress, said lawyer JV Bautista, who acts as the spokesman of Binay.

Nograles said the joint panel of canvassers is not in a position to act on the complaint, saying that the controversy should be raised before the PET, in case Roxas loses the vice presidential race.

"The public controversy regarding the number of "null votes" which were not read by the PCOS machine allegedly numbering more than a million votes for the president and an allegedly whooping 2.6 million for vice president won't be considered by the joint canvass committee," Nograles explained.

He added: "This issue is beyond the function fo the joint congressional canvass body. This is an issue that is proper in an "election protest" in the proper venue where votes can be recounted swiftly by merely cross checking the actual ballots cast and the electronic image and the pictures of the ballots that entered the PCOS machine."

Nograles said the PET is not expected to spend much time in determining the truth behind the null votes.

"We also expect protests to be resolved just as fast as the elections were conducted and the winners proclaimed. That's the automation that we approved and we have implemented under the 14th Congress," Nograles said.

The joint canvassing panel chaired by Nograles and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has finished tabulating the results reflected in 207 of 278 CoCs.

Zubiri said majority of the 40 of the CoCs, all coming from the OAV's, reflect no votes. These were sent from countries in Europe.

The official canvass results as of 2:27 p.m. Thursday: President – Aquino, 12,735,059; Estrada, 8,142,527; Vice President – Binay, 12,208,562; Roxas, 11,736,878.

Comelec 'violates' own rules in sending blank CF cards

Napag-alaman sa pagdinig ng Kamara sa poll automation, na ipinadala agad ang mga blangkong CF cards at card readers na bahagi ng contingency plan sa halalan sa ibat-ibang lalawigan kahit wala pang opisyal na utos ang Comelec en banc.

Comelec says special polls generally peaceful

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said special elections in 4 provinces on Thursday were "generally peaceful."

Vote buying mars special polls in Lanao Sur towns

MARAWI, Lanao del Sur - Vote-buying incidents marked elections in 3 of the 7 municipalities in Lanao del Sur where special elections were held on Thursday as Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials described the polls here as "generally peaceful."

Binay camp denies junking Erap

The camp of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) leading vice-presidential bet Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay on Thursday denied deserting the party"s standard bearer, former President Joseph Estrada.

Justice Morales new HRET head

The Supreme Court announced on Thursday changes in the composition of its three divisions and contingents to the Senate and House electoral tribunals.

Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the magistrate handpicked by President-apparent Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to administer his presidential oath, benefited the most from the first major revamp under the Corona court.

The revamp was triggered by the retirement of former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and the assumption into office by new Chief Justice Renato C. Corona last May 17.

As Chief Justice, Corona automatically sits as head of the High Court's First Division and ex-officio chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Prior to his appointment as Chief Justice, Corona was the chairman of the SC's Third Division and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

In one of the first two administrative orders he issued, Corona designated Associate Justice Carpio-Morales as the new chairperson of the Third Division and HRET head.

Aquino had earlier said that once he is proclaimed the new President, he would be inclined to take his oath before Carpio-Morales, the lone dissenter in the March 17 decision that exempted appointments to the SC from the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.

The ruling became the basis of President Arroyo, who is barred by the Constitution to make permanent appointments starting last March 10 until her term ends on June 30, to appoint the successor of then Chief Justice Puno, which turned out to be Corona.

Meanwhile, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio retained his chairmanships of the Second Division and the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Court Administrator and SC Spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the appointments of Carpio-Morales and Carpio are crucial since the country has just undergone elections.

"Their appointments are important considering that we just had elections. There might be protest filed before these tribunals (SET and HRET)," Marquez told reporters in an interview.

Under Article VI of the Constitution, the SET and HRET act as sole judges of all contests, relating to the election, returns and qualifications of senators and congressmen, respectively.

In Special Order No. 838, Corona reorganized the three divisions of the SC by designating the chairpersons and members thereof.

Corona named Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. as the working chairman of the First Division, which members include Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Mariano C. Del Castillo, and Jose P. Perez.

The Carpio-led Second Division will have Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, Diosdado M. Peralta, Roberto A. Abad, and Jose C. Mendoza as members.

The Third Division is now composed of Carpio-Morales as chairperson and Associate Justices Arturo D. Brion, Lucas P. Bersamin and Martin S. Villarama Jr. as members.

Under Special Order No. 839, Corona designated Velasco and Leonardo-De Castro as SET members.

He also appointed Nachura and Brion as members of the SC contingent to the HRET.

PCGG drops case after Marcos associate waives right to seized assets

A case against an associate of the late president Ferdinand Marcos has been dropped after he waived all rights and interests to ill-gotten assets - including two small planes - seized by the government.

DND seals P2.8-billion deal for Polish helicopters

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring eight brand new combat utility helicopters from Poland instead of Israel, Defense Undersecretary for Modernization Antonio Romero said yesterday.                                                      

Romero said a government-to-government contract worth P2.8 billion was recently signed by the defense department with its Polish counterpart for the purchase of the combat utility helicopters.   

"We expect initial delivery of four units within a year," Romero said.  The defense department earlier closed a P3-billion deal with Israel for the acquisition of a fleet of reconditioned single-engine Cobra attack helicopters.                                                            

Romero said the deal did not push through because the Philippine Air Force (PAF) rejected it.                                    

Poland-based helicopter manufacturer Swidnik will produce the helicopters which, Romero said, had met PAF requirements, particularly the lifting capability.

Romero said the helicopter purchase deal with the Polish government underwent scrutiny by defense acquisition monitors from the Makati Business Club and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.             

Romero also belied reports that the defense department has been rushing the acquisition of military equipment before the term of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales ends on June 30.                                                  

Sen. Francis Pangilinan earlier accused Gonzales of engaging in midnight deals for the procurement of second-hand military equipment worth P300 billion before his term expires.

Gonzales said Pangilinan was not properly informed about the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"I am just a phone call away. It would have been a good practice if the good senator sought explanation from me directly," he said. Gonzales also denied allegations that there is an attempt to use the entire P300-billion AFP modernization fund under his term.

"The amount represents the unbudgeted portion of the P331 billion total funds earmarked for the AFP modernization 15 years ago. It is impossible to use up the entire amount in seven months and we were not crazy to attempt to do so. We simply sought to maximize what we thought was achievable in my seven months' stay in the DND," he said.                     

The modernization program, Gonzales said, is expiring this year so they are looking at ways to speed up acquisitions. 

"Processes had been made and we looked at how we could speed them up. We introduced government-to-government mode of purchase precisely to make things move faster and at the same time to do away with controversial biddings," he said.

He said the AFP had started preparing for acquisitions before he was appointed defense secretary last November.

He said deliveries made under his term would be made in the next two to three years.

Gonzales confirmed there are exploratory talks with countries that have offered to modernize the AFP.

Sources in the diplomatic community, however, said these countries have decided to proceed with the deal under the next administration. Gonzales said the documents related to the defense deals are open to public scrutiny.

No deal reached in last talks between MILF, gov't

KUALA LUMPUR - The Philippines government and Muslim rebels Thursday pledged to continue working towards a peace deal as they ended a final round of talks under President Gloria Arroyo's outgoing administration.

CBCP dismayed over DOH sex education plan

Dismayado ang Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines kay Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral! Ito'y matapos ang pahayag ng kalihim tungkol sa umpisa ng pagtuturo ng sex education, kahit sa mga batang nasa kindergarten pa lang.

$1: P46.380

$1: P46.380

Euro 1: P57.1210

WHO: Next Philippine leader should raise tobacco tax

by Agence France Presse
MANILA, Philippines - Benigno Aquino, the chain-smoking president-elect of the Philippines, should raise tobacco taxes even if he himself cannot kick the habit, a World Health Organization official said Thursday.

Turkey's Catholic church head killed, suspect held

ANKARA—The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey was stabbed to death at his home on Thursday, raising concern over attacks against Christians in this mainly Muslim country.

BP cuts off broken oil pipe with giant shears

NEW ORLEANS—BP on Thursday successfully cut off a fractured oil pipe using giant shears, pressing ahead with its latest bid to seal the leak as President Barack Obama announced a third trip to the region.

Pacquiao to start training in August

MANILA, Philippines – World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will have to begin training sometime in August to prepare himself for his next bout in November possibly against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

ABS-CBN to air Cotto-Foreman fight

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcasting network ABS-CBN will be airing in the Philippines the World Boxing Association (WBA) junior middleweight title clash between champion Yuri Foreman and erstwhile opponent of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto on Sunday.

Atilano bags bronze in Asian Grand Prix

Sheena Atilano lived up to her status as the country's new track queen by seizing a bronze medal in the first leg of the 2010 Asian Grand Prix on Tuesday in Pune, India.

Alcantara, partner fall in French Open

Francis Casey Alcantara and Fil-American Raymond Sarmiento bowed out in the boys' doubles second round of the French Open.

RP youth dribblers face tough test in Youth Olympic Games

The Philippine 3-on-3 basketball team to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore landed in a tough bracket, which reigning world champion Spain and European basketball hotbed Croatia are expected to dominate.

Filipino swimmers win 7 golds over other Asean tankers

The top Philippine swim bets in the coming Youth Olympic Games immediately made a big splash on Thursday.

Bynum's knee 'doing pretty good,' Jackson says

Injured Lakers center Andrew Bynum will be in the starting lineup Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals three days after getting fluid drained from his right knee.

"He's doing pretty good," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Thursday morning after the team's shoot-around. "He said it felt good today and he's ready to go."

How much can the Lakers get out of Bynum, whose size will be needed to counteract the physical front line of the Boston Celtics?

"I hope we get over half a game," Jackson said.

Bynum has been fighting through torn knee cartilage since late April. He did not talk to reporters Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, NBA officials contacted the Lakers and asked the team's coaching staff to stop offering players $50 incentives to take charges.

It is believed that the NBA was concerned that such incentives would circumvent the salary cap. In reality, the incentives were a reallocation of a season-long "fine pool" that Lakers coaches collected from players for being late to practices or games, among other misdeeds.

Jackson said he would come up with a different incentive for players.

"I told them I'd give them a gold star or a red star," he said dryly.

Sharon, Gabby to reunite on KC's show

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines - Good news to all fans of Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion. For the first time since their marriage fell apart more than a decade ago, Sharon and Gabby will appear together in their daughter's own television talk show next week.

Ai-ai returns to school to boost political plans

Ang "Reyna ng Komedya" na si Aiai de las Alas, magbabalik-eskwela! Nag-enroll na si Ai-ai sa UP Diliman. Kinuha niya ang kurso na maghahanda sa kanya sa paglilingkod sa mga kababayan niya sa Batangas. 

Charice records 'Pyramid' in Simlish

MANILA, Philippines - International singing sensation Charice's "Pyramid" has found its way into a popular computer game, Sims 3 "Ambitions" expansion pack.

Lapu-Lapu historical office accepts Soliman as 1st Filipino freedom martyr

The Lapu-Lapu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission would not object to the naming of Pampanga native Tarik Soliman as the first Filipino freedom martyr.

But the commission could not accept that the Battle of Bangkusay had more historical significance than the Kadaugan sa Mactan (Victory in Mactan) in which Cebu chieftain Lapu-Lapu killed Spanish Ferdinand Magellan and defeated his troops in battle.

Naming Tarik Soliman, a Kapampangan, as the first Filipino freedom martyr would not diminish the status of Lapu-Lapu as the first Filipino hero, according to Ahmed Cuizon, a commissioner of the Lapu-Lapu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission.

Cuizon said that identifying Soliman as the first Filipino martyr would have no effect on the acknowledgement of Lapu-Lapu as first Philippine hero for having survived the Battle of Mactan.

"Let them claim it and we'll be happy if their move will succeed," Cuizon said.

Neither could a recognition of Soliman erase the Kadaugan sa Mactan (Victory in Mactan), formerly called Battle of Mactan, from the annual Philippine tourism calendar, Cuizon added.

Cuizon made the statements in reaction to a story that came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer about the assertion of the Center for Kapangpangan Studies (CKS) that Soliman was the first Filipino freedom martyr and that the Battle of Bangkusay has more historical significance than the Battle of Mactan.

The Lapu-Lapu commission said it would assert that the Kadaugan sa Mactan had more historical significance than the Battle of Bangkusay, which occurred in June 3, 1571 in Tondo.

Cuizon said the Battle of Bangkusay was one of the defeats of the Filipinos against foreign invaders.

"If they claim that the Battle of Bangkusay has more historical significance than the Kadaugan sa Mactan, then I would say that it is not. Because ours signified victory while the Battle of Bangkusay was a case where a native lost to foreign invaders," Cuizon said.

"Therefore, ours was exactly the first real victory for the Filipinos against the foreign invaders," Cuizon said.

Cuizon said it would be better if the National Historical Institute (NHI) would settle the issues but the commission, which has been active in the annual commemoration of the Kadaugan sa Mactan, would not exert any effort to seek the NHI's clarification.

Paul McCartney honored at White House

WASHINGTON – Forty-six years after the Beatles invaded America, Paul McCartney rocked the White House Wednesday, honored by President Barack Obama at a star-studded concert celebrating his songwriting legend.

Though British Petroleum is target number one for the White House over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, British pop, in the form of Sir Paul, was more than welcome, along with a host of stars who performed Lennon/McCartney classics.

McCartney's appearance was part of a two-day series of events marking the award of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress.

He bounded on stage and kicked off the evening, in a decorated East Room with the song "Got to Get You into my Life," from the "Revolver" album, before Stevie Wonder appeared with a rampaging cover version of "We Can Work It Out."

"Sir Paul, you have written some of the most beautiful music ever heard by humans in this world," said US comedian Jerry Seinfeld who helped compere the evening, to be broadcast by television network PBS in July.

Also playing McCartney songs were Elvis Costello, Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang, teen favorites the Jonas Brothers with "Drive My Car" as well as Country star Faith Hill and Herbie Hancock.

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