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

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 8, 2010 Major News Stories

DepEd orders public school execs to accept all enrollees

The Department of Education (DepEd) announced on Monday that there is no reason for public elementary and secondary schools not to accept students during enrolment for this school year.

DepEd issued the statement after receiving complaints that there are schools that do not accept students due to incomplete documents.

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said principals and teachers should accept enrollees despite lacking the documents required by the school. She said parents who are transferring their children to public schools and do not have the official records of the child yet due to various reasons are welcome to enroll them.

"But I must remind them that they should submit these documents as soon as they can," she said.

Valisno also encouraged school principals and teachers to be more creative and innovative to make sure that they can accommodate all those who wish to enroll. "We have a menu of teaching methods that they can apply. Similarly, there are various means our school heads can do to manage large school populations," she explained.

Meanwhile, amid the inevitable problem of shortage of classrooms, DepEd is also campaigning for the accommodation all children of school age in the more than 45,000 public schools nationwide.

Valisno said these students, including the enrollees and transferees with incomplete documents, must be accepted in public schools as well as those estimated 10 million children who were never enrolled or those who have been out of school for years. Based on DepEd reports, this number has also increased in the last several years.

"Every Filipino child must be assured of the opportunity to get high quality education that will make him or her whole person, a responsible citizen, and lead him or her to a successful entrepreneurial venture," she added.

Valisno also called on all the school heads to work with the community and the private sector in campaigning for more enrollees. "With your support, we can very well go beyond the estimated 23.4 million school children and move towards reaching 100 percent participation. It may not happen this year but we can be well in our way to achieve the EFA 2015 millennium goal set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)," she said addressing the public.

To ensure that all students can go to schools despite having work, financial problems physical handicap, family and health issues, among others, Valisno also reiterated DepEd's 'no collection of fees' and 'no uniform' policies.

Valisno said that DepEd continues to implement several programs like the Open High School Program (OHSP), the Effective Alternative Secondary Education (EASE), and the Schools Initiated Interventions (SII) to keep students from dropping out.

"There are also alternative delivery modes like the Modified In-School/Out-School Approach (MIS-OSA), parent assisted learning, and multi-grade education. For those who were out of school, they will be given the accreditation and equivalency test (A&E) under DepEd's Alternative Learning Systems (ALS) to get them back to the mainstream of formal education," she added.

Valisno also added that the DepEd also has the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) to decongest our high schools by supporting poor but deserving students to enroll in private high schools.

"Tuition fee subsidies of P10,000  for those in the National Capital Region (NCR) and P5,000 for those outside NCR are given to each student paid directly to the schools," Valisno explained.

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday assured parents that it would look into reports that at least five school supplies contain potential carcinogens.
Radio dzXL reported that DepEd Secretary Mona Valisno said her office is now verifying information to confirm the findings of EcoWaste Coalition about toxic school supplies.
On Sunday, EcoWaste Coalition warned that at least five school supplies being sold in time for the opening of classes June 15 have tested positive for suspected carcinogen.
It said five samples of PVC school supplies it sent to laboratories for testing yielded suspected carcinogen di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate/DEHP.
EcoWaste said it bought the five typical PVC school supplies from popular stores May 24 to 31, and had them analyzed by Intertek Testing Services Philippines.
Found to have high levels of DEHP were a green long plastic envelope (19.881 percent DEHP), a PVC plastic book cover (18.997 percent), a PVC notebook cover (18.543 percent), a PVC plastic lunch bag and a PVC bagpack (both with 17.120 percent DEHP).
The limit for DEHP and five other types of phthalates as per US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is 0.1 percent of any childrens product for ages 12 and below.
Phthalates are toxic industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, softer or durable.
But the European Union and the United States have banned the use of some phthalates in plastic toys and childcare articles.

Rama meets with power stakeholders

CEBU City Hall will work closely with power stakeholders in Cebu to avert another power crisis by 2013, if facilities that will increase power supply are not in place by then.

City eyes help from Malacañang on power problem

Seeking national intervention is one of the options arrived at by the city government to address the existing problem on power.

SRA, group optimistic over stable sugar prices

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) Sugar prices should remain stable in the coming weeks as imports add to local warehouse stocks before the lean months of August and September.

According to the Sugar Regulatory Administrations (SRA) regular market monitoring report, prices of raw sugar remained at P44 per kilo from May 17 to June 2.

The price of refined sugar increased slightly to P52 per kilo as of June 2 from P50 per kilo on May 17 but it is not seen to further rise as the sugar imports contracted earlier this year have started coming in. The government has allowed private traders to import a total of 150,000 tons of sugar for delivery by July 31.

As of May 28, some 25,000 tons of imported sugar have arrived in the Philippines, according to Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) legal officer Jesus Barrera. The bulk of the sugar imports are scheduled to come in before the 2009-2010 crop year ends on Aug. 31. A new round of planting will start on Sept. 1.

The SRA also said in a statement that sugar mills still had more than 600,000 metric tons of sugar in warehouses and these excluded the inventory in the warehouses of traders and wholesalers.

While it is true that the milling season has ended, we still have enough supply of sugar for our requirement up to the next milling season, SRA Administrator Bernardo Trebol said.

Trebol said the government would not allow unscrupulous businessmen to project a shortage situation to their advantage.

We will work with other government agencies and run after the retailers who are unnecessarily increasing the prices of their sugar, Trebol said.

The Philippines is importing sugar for the first time after eight years of being a net exporter to cope with a host of challenges: Sugarcane farmers shifted to other crops in response to depressed prices last year, when supply was higher; estimates on this years harvest were lowered due to drought linked to the El Nio phenomenon; and the Philippines commitment to help the United States cope with a tight global supply in sugar by shipping 36,000 tons of raw sugar, on top of the yearly quota of 137,000 tons, to this market.

Flour millers dare DTI: Charge us for overpricing

Kasuhan na kung kakasuhan! Ito ang hamon ng flour millers sa Department of Trade and Industry matapos nilang suwayin ang utos ng dti na ibaba ang presyo ng harina. 

3 ka kaso gipasaka batok Joavan

WA mahadlok ug labaw nang wa mahulga kang Joavan Fernandez kadtong negusyante nga labing uwahi nga giingong gitionan og armas sa sinagop sa mayor sa dakbayan sa Talisay.

Napasaka na kagahapong adlawa sa Talisay City Prosecutor's Office (TCPO) ang mga kasong illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions, violation sa Comelec gun-ban ug ang grave threats.

Si Vincent Joe Castrodes, 28,ulitawo nga taga F. Llamas, Labangon, Cebu City niangkon sa mga tigbalita nga wa gyud maapiktahi ang iyang kinabuhi sa ilang panag-engkwentro karon ni Joavan.

"It doesn't affect me. Wa ko mahadlok kay wa man koy sala niya. Ipadayon gyud nako ang akong kaso batok niya," matod ni Castrodes.

Si Piskal Benjo Luther Macion nihatag og napulo ka adlaw ni Joavan aron sa pagtubag sa mga kaso nga gipasaka batok kaniya.

Apan si Joavan ni waive sa iyang katungod pagtubag sa kaso ug nisugot nga isang-at na kini sa korte.

Sila si P03 Arnold Damasco,P02 Roy Lofranco ug P01 Rusty Pelayo maoy nisang-at sa kasong illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions ug sa kalapasan sa Comelec gun-ban.

Samtang sila si SP01 Ricardo Balbutin, SP01 Ciriaco Luab ug P01 Rusty Pelayo maoy nagsilbe nga arresting officer kang Joavan sa reklamo nga grave threats ni Castrodes.

Way pyansa ang kasong gipasaka ni Castrodes apan moabot sa P160, 000 ang alang sa duha ka kaso.

Nalangay ang pagsang-at sa kaso kagahapong adlawa tungod sa brown-out nga niigo.

Wa mahinayon ang pagpasaka sab og kaso nga obstruction of justice batok kang Mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Kini tungod kay gikuhaan pa og testimoniya kagahapong adlawa sa Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) kadtong mga police nga nagbantay sa sakyanan ni Joavan apan giablihan sa mayor ug may gikuha nga bag.

Ang testimoniya sa mga pulis mao unya ang basehan sa kapulisan sa pagpasaka sab og kaso batok sa mayor.

Pulitika motibo sa pagpatay sa bana sa kapitan: pamilya

PULITIKA ang gituohan sa pamilya sa gipatay nga bana sa kapitan sa Barangay Cantao-an, City of Naga nga motibo sa pagpamusil niadtong Sabado sa gabii dihang paingon na silang mamauli.

Gikan nga nitambong sa victory party sa grupo ni Mayor Valdemar Chiong sila si kapitan Fe Godoy ug ang iyang bana nga si Florante,40 dihang gisundan ang ilang sakyanan sa usa ka motorsiklo nga gisakyan sa tulo ka wa hiilhing mga lalake.

Si Florante naigo sa wang bahin sa kilid sa dughan hinungdan sa iyang kamatayon.

Ang iyang asawa nga si kapitan Fe nikompirmar nga sa miaging eleksyon, duna gyud silay gikasungi nga mga tawo ug giadto gyud gani sa iyang bana.

Apan ang hepe sa kapulisan sa Naga nga si Supt. Henry Biñas wa pa gyud hingpit motuo nga pulitika ang motibo sa pagpamusil.

Matod ni Biñas, tanang anggulo ang ila karon nga gitun-an sa nagpadayon nga imbestigasyon.

Gibutyag sa hepe sa kapulisan nga padayon karon ang gihimo nila nga manhunt operation batok sa wa hiilhing mga mamumuno.

Theft, graft filed v. Citom

THE Cebu Provincial Legal Office filed before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas yesterday criminal and administrative complaints against Cebu City traffic officials for towing its trailer truck.

Capitol to probe 3 bry. chiefs for 'discrepancies' in projects

THE Capitol will conduct a fact-finding investigation on how government funds were spent for road projects in Tuburan.

Ballots to be transferred to City

THE 49 contested ballot boxes from San Fernando town will be transported from the municipal treasurer's office to the Palace of Justice in Cebu City for authentication and review.

Rama pledges not to hire relatives for CH posts

CEBU City mayor-elect and Vice Mayor Michael Rama has assured Cebu-anos he won't hire his relatives for any position at City Hall.

New officials to take oath at SRP

TO show the youth they can still trust government, Cebu City mayor-elect Michael Rama said the president of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation Rengelle Pelayo will administer the oaths of office.

Relocation site for San Roque informal settlers uncertain

Whether or not the city can provide a relocation site for residents of Barangay San Roque who will be affected by the impending road widening project, which will be implemented several months from now remains unclear.

Judges allowances to depend on financial status of city

Mayor-elect Michael Rama is reviewing the city's financial status to determine whether or not to continue granting allowances to judges of the lower courts and the Court of Appeals in Cebu.

Mga diakono ordinahan ni Vidal karong buntag

ONSE ka mga diakono ang ordinahan karong buntag sa pagka-pari sa Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral ni Cebu Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal.

Ang ordinasyon mao say magsilbing closing ceremony sa usa ka tuig nga kasaulogan sa year for the priests.

Ang onse ka mga diyakono mao sila si Rev. Nazario Caiban, Rev. Lyle Carungay, Rev. Chris Ian delos Santos, Rev. Randy Edano, Rev. Charles Louis Jayme, Rev. Domiciano La Rosa III, Rev. Jan Thomas Limchua, Rev. Philip Pepito, Rev. Simplicio Pugasan Jr., Rev. Edward Verame ug Rev. Abel Villarojo.

Gawas sa sacerdotal ordination, duna say himuong diaconal ordination kay lima usab ka mga seminarista ang ordinahan sa pagka-diyakono ug kini sila Ian Fel Balankig, Fiel Suico, Alvin Medina, Rhanmar Singuran ug Romeo Vitor.

Gihulagway nga makahuluganon ang ordinasyon kay natunong gyud kini sa pagtapos sa Year for the Priests dinhi sa simbahan sa Sugbo.

Ang Year for the Priests sa universal church tapuson karong Hunyo 11 didto sa Roma ni Pope Benedict XVI.

Subay sa pagtak-op sa usa ka tuig nga year for the priest, usa ka clergy recollection ang gipahigayon alang sa kaparian kagahapon.

Noynoy, Binay to be proclaimed tomorrow

MANILA, Philippines - Nearly a month after the elections, president-apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and vice president-apparent Jejomar Binay will finally be proclaimed tomorrow.

The proclamation is a day behind the original schedule.

The delay resulted from the decision last night of the joint Senate-House canvassing committee to defer the tallying of votes from Lanao del Sur for today.

The committee, co-chaired by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Prospero Nograles, made the decision during a closed-door caucus in which it also turned down the request of Aquino's lawyers that he be proclaimed ahead of the winning vice presidential candidate.

"We wait for Lanao del Sur tomorrow, so proclamation is on Wednesday," Nograles said in a text message after the caucus.

"We will canvass Davao City tonight and Lanao del Sur tomorrow, and make the proclamation of the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates on Wednesday," House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor told reporters.

Enrile said the canvassing committee could not disregard the votes from Lanao del Sur as this would disenfranchise the more than 350,000 who cast their ballots in the province.

"After we canvass Lanao del Sur tomorrow, we would have accounted for all provinces and cities and absentee votes...," he said.

Before it held its caucus at 6 p.m., more than four hours into its session, the panel had canvassed three of the five certificates of canvass (COCs) that remained to be tallied.

These were the COCs from Bacolod City, Mt. Province and Eastern Samar.

After the Davao votes were tallied, Aquino padded his lead over former President Joseph Estrada to 5.6 million votes from 5.5 million last Thursday. He had 15,072,053 votes against Estrada's 9,471,029.

The other presidential candidates and their votes are Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., 5,484,747; Gilberto Teodoro Jr., 4,065,524; Eddie Villanueva, 1,122,896; Sen. Richard Gordon, 498,414; Vetellano Acosta, 180,839; Nicanor Perlas, 54,256; Sen. Jamby Madrigal, 46,041; and JC de los Reyes, 44,031.

In the vice presidential race, Binay kept his lead with 14,501,371 votes against Sen. Manuel Roxas' 13,889,416.

Sen. Loren Legarda remained in third place with 4,212,152; followed by Bayani Fernando, 1,014,846; Edu Manzano, 803,738; Perfecto Yasay Jr., 363,912; Jay Sonza, 63,914; and Dominador Chipeco, 52,275.

The canvassing panel took some time discussing what to do with the votes from Davao City and Lanao del Sur.

The Davao City canvassing board had transmitted both the electronic copy of its COC to the Congress server and the hard copy to the Senate but failed to send the required statement of votes by precinct.

Nograles demanded to see the statement of votes, but Commission on Elections (Comelec) executive director Jose Tolentino told him that the document was stored in a server kept at the Cabuyao, Laguna warehouse of Smartmatic, Comelec's automation contractor.

He said the document consists of 10,000 pages and it would take some time to print it.

To cut the discussions short, Enrile asked Smartmatic chief Cesar Flores to look for the server in Cabuyao and start printing the statement of votes that Nograles wanted to see.

In the case of Lanao del Sur, the problem was that there were 28 precincts in eight towns where a special election would still be held.

Because of this, Comelec officials told the canvassing committee that their provincial board of canvassers could not yet send both the electronic and hard copies of its COC.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the votes in 32 towns had already been tallied and that the 28 precincts where a special election would still be held would affect only 12,000 registered voters.

In fact, he said the Comelec submitted a "canvass report" indicating the votes for president and vice president for purposes of the joint committee's tally.

However, Enrile asked the Comelec to instruct its canvassing board in Lanao del Sur to submit both the electronic and hard copies of the provincial COC today.

"We cannot be held hostage by the special election (in 28 precincts). We have to finish this canvass this week. We have to use the coercive powers of this board if we have to," he said.

Melo said the Comelec would comply with the request.

Before canvassing the three additional COCs, the committee delved again into the existence of a "national support center" run by Comelec and Smartmatic until May 18.

Flores told the committee that under Smartmatic's contract with the Comelec, his company was required to set up a call center, which processed inquiries sent through text by their 48,000 technicians as well as the center's responses to such messages.

He said the inquiries had been mostly about problems in the operation of the precinct optical count scan (PCOS) machines.

"Our call center did not receive any electoral data like election results," he said.

"Your Honors, many people do not understand this, but it's just a simple call center that processed calls. It was open to the public. In fact, we invited the media to the center," Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. resented Larrazabal's statement, telling him, "Yes, we don't understand it, that's why we are asking questions."

It was Enrile's turn again to cut the debates short. He asked Flores to open the call center's records for examination "to erase suspicions that it was used for something else."

"We have no problem with that. But we think there is no need for it. However, we will comply with the request," Flores said.  

Much earlier

The Comelec spokesman said the proclamations for president and vice president could have come earlier had it not been for procedural requirements under the law.

"This (proclamation), for us, is rather late considering that the results were available two days after the elections except that we have to give compliance to the law and all of that," spokesman James Jimenez told The STAR.

"Again, while this is all very fast, by Philippine standards, it could have been quicker," he added.

He said results of the automated polls were already available two days after the elections but there were some requirements in the canvassing that had to be met.

But Jimenez said the joint congressional panel sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) should not be blamed for the delay because they were just complying with some requirements in law.

Jimenez said that while results were transmitted automatically from the polling precincts to the NBOC, the votes had to be canvassed in a "ladderized process," meaning they had to go to the municipality/city board of canvassers and then to the provincial board of canvassers, and finally to the NBOC.

He said procedures would be tackled in the post-evaluation being readied by the Comelec. 

Proclamation of pres, VP could have been earlier - Comelec

The proclamation of the winning presidential and vice presidential candidate could have been made earlier given the quick release of the election results, the spokesman for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday.

In an interview, poll spokesman James Jimenez said the country's current canvassing process is delaying the proclamation because it was not designed to match the automated election system (AES).

"It is rather late considering that the results were available two days after the elections except that we have to give compliance to the law and all of that. While this is all very fast, by Philippine standards, it could have been quicker," he told reporters Monday.

A joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), is expected to proclaim the winners for the presidential and vice presidential race anytime this week.

Article 7, Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution requires a joint session of Congress to canvass the votes and proclaim the winners for the presidential and vice presidential races not later than 30 days after the elections.

But Jimenez said that the procedural requirements in the law are hampering a supposedly faster proclamation.

Under the AES, election results were electronically transmitted from the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to the differents servers immediately after voting ended on election day.

Under the current canvassing process, however, the votes still have to be canvassed by the municipal or city board of canvassers, the provincial board of canvassers, and the NBOC, before any proclamation can be made.

"What we have now is an automated system overlayed over a manual set-up. It's like forcing a round peg into a square hole. You can pound on it and it will fit but it will be an ugly fit," he said.

Jimenez said they plan on addressing this concern during their post-election evaluation conference. "You have to make the peg match into the hole... you have to make the legislative framework match the automated system," he said.

He noted, however, that it would be great if Congress would be able to make the proclamation on Monday.

"If it happens today, very very early, good. We want it to be earlier because that is the point of automation precisely... to have proclamation over with as soon as possible," he said.

On the other hand, the Comelec also sitting as the NBOC traditionally proclaims the senatorial and party-list group winners.

The poll body has already proclaimed the 12 new senators and the first 28 winning party-list organizations.

But Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said they plan on releasing a separate resolution indicating which party-list nominees can assume their seats in the House of Representatives.

Larrazabal issued the statement after some nominees of winning part-list groups were not allowed yet to take their seats because of pending disqualification cases against them. Included in these are Ang Galing Pinoy first nominee Pampanga Rep. Jose Miguel Arroyo and 1-Utak's first nominee former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, both of whom are accused of not being a member of the sector they seek to represent.

Binay to seek tips from ex-vice presidents

MANILA, Philippines – Jejomar Binay will be seeking advice from previous vice presidents as he prepares to assume the second highest elective post in the country on Wednesday, his spokesman said.

Bypassed AFP officers stay

MANILA, Philippines - Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza announced Monday that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has approved a recommendation by the Department of National Defense (DND) to allow senior officers by-passed by the Commission on Appointments to hold their present respective posts.

Bangit: Treat AFP with dignity, honor

Caught in the web of politics, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit on Monday stood for the military institution as he appealed to the public to treat the armed forces well – with dignity and honor – and to stop using them as a political instrument.

Bangit, who admitted disappointment over new attempts to politicize the AFP, also emphasized he is "a soldier of the Republic and not anybody's soldier" prepared to turn over to the incoming Commander-in-Chief a "very professional armed forces."

Bangit made the statement at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo where he broke his silence three days after the Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed his promotion and that of 301 other senior military officers.

According to the AFP Chief, he was "too ashamed" thinking that probably because he is one of them, the other officers who needed confirmation of their ranks were denied that privilege. "After all that they have done in fighting for a credible election and after they have proven that they are professional, very professional officers, is that what they will get?" said Bangit.

"The past few days have been unfortunatefor the armed forces. After warding off attempts to politicize the armed forces during the elections and after our success of being non-partisan, we've been seeing new attempts of destroying the armed forces, the organization that we have worked so hard to professionalize. I therefore cannot hide my disappointment," he stated.

Saying that he would not waste his remaining time in the armed forces, "no matter how long and no matter short that can be," Bangit vowed to fight any side that drags the military organization into politics.

"AFP's professionalism is already at the level that we can all be proud of and therefore, I ask the members of the armed forces, the officers here who were together with me in the bypassing of the CA, to defend the armed forces and fight for our institution," said the AFP chief.

"We are not above the law. We are not above our civilian leaders but the honors of the soldiers, our honor as soldiers rest on how far we can sacrifice in defending our country. I always tell our soldiers, to be able to do that, we must be a very professional soldier," he added.

Bangit, at the same time, appealed once more for the AFP to be spared from politics, saying there is so much the military organization can do if they are not dragged into politics.

Aquino faces tough test in RP gov't's talks with MILF—peace adviser

MANILA, Philippines -- The presidency of Senator Benigno Noynoy Aquino III could "do more and better in brokering peace with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by using political will and by listening to the people, outgoing officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said on Monday.

Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Nabil Tan said the incoming administration should prepare for tough times as negotiations had entered the thorny phase where contentious issues of ancestral domain and control of natural resources should be discussed.

We, in the family of the peace process, are trained to be optimistic. The incoming administration has a good chance of doing more and better, Tan said on Monday on the sidelines of a peace forum in Pasay City.

However, he said the new administration should be prepared to tackle big, unresolved issues.

Tan said the new government could build on the experience of the Arroyo administration in its peace talks with the MILFa protracted process that tanked in 2008 with a botched ancestral domain deal.

The agreement, which granted the MILF virtual territorial sovereignty over its claimed land, was suspended by the Supreme Court in August 2008 and voided in October 2008, spurring a vindictive fit of violence among MILF factions in central Mindanao.

Tan, who has been with the OPAPP since the Ramos administration, said "the next peace adviser will have a lot of literature to go over as we will be making a transition report."

Current peace adviser Annabelle Abaya said the new government should complement political will with consultations with the people.

Engagement with the public, consensus decision-making and information-giving should continue. We can't just force an agreement down peoples throats, Abaya said.

If we force them and just use political will, its going to create instability. We need to know the pulse of the people, she said.

Ombudsman urged: Resolve missing P170-million OPAPP fund

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process expressed hope on Monday that there would be a resolution with regards to the ongoing probe on the reported missing funds at the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPAPP) totalling P170 million.

In an interview at the sidelines of the Peace Forum for Sustained Partnership held at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City on Monday, Peace Process Adviser Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya said she is confident that the Ombudsman's Office, which is leading the probe on the missing funds, will be able to finish its investigation soon.

The alleged missing funds, it was recalled, was supposedly intended for the government's P500-million Social Integration Program (SIP). 

Abaya said that under the program, New People's Army (NPA) rebel returnees are given P20,000 each upon their 'surrender' and an additional P50,000 for the turnover of weapons with promises of jobs and livelihood projects.

"Yes, hopefully there will be a resolution to it. They (resident Ombudsman handling the case) are currently conducting a thorough probe on the matter," Abaya said.

Abaya, whose term will end on June 30, said the budget for the SIP was released in two tranches amounting to P250 million each since 2009.

She explained that half of the P500 million for the program were already used in just one year and that only 36 percent of the budget went to the intended recipients. She said some of the money was used to buy cars, set-up and beautification of offices, representation, travel, supplies, for allowances, bonuses, and other perks.

"A total of P170 million of the P250 million remain unaccounted for," Abaya said.

"Money in allowances, bonuses and perks were liberally given but not in accordance with law. Funds, assets, office property, and equipment were unaccounted for. Documentation was missing or defective. We couldn't even find the registration papers of 14 new cars.Of these, two cars were missing for four months but then suddenly manifested in our parking lot, without keys and papers. It was only four months after I joined that we were able to fork out the registration papers. I was initially told we had 24 cars. I found out we had more than 60 cars in various parts of the country, some in various stages of rot and decay," Abaya claimed.

Abaya said that at least 10 to 15 OPAPP officials, who were relieved from their posts due to their alleged involvement in the anomaly, are presently facing charges before the Ombudsman's Office.

Abaya said a reorganization of OPAPP also resulted in the downsizing of its personnel from 350 to 270 people, some of whom were part of the questionable activities.

"My people call it "right-size." First of all, those who were part of questionable activities had to go. Second, those who didn't have the qualifications or did not have the specific fit for the positions available also had to go. We realized that we are doing a disservice by keeping them when we are not contributing to their personal growth," Abaya said.

Abaya also cited the role of the directors within the organization in her efforts of cleansing OPAPP of corruption.

Trouble brews at SSS over Neri nephew

Social Security System (SSS) personnel are indignant over the insistence of management to implement a P1.6-billion unified ID deal for the fund's 27 million members as well as the reported plan to extend the services of SSS President Romulo Neri's nephew, who sports the title special assistant to his uncle.

But Neri said on Monday that he did not extend the services of his nephew, Antonio Neri Echevarria.

"I did not extend his term because he's a coterminous, when I go on June 30, he'll go. I have no authority to extend his term," Neri said in a phone interview.

In letters written to the SSS board, union officers and rank-and-file employees said Echevarria has already written an 11-page accomplishment report to SSS Chairman Thelmo Cunanan, who promptly endorsed the latter's appeal to be retained by SSS last May 25.

However, union officers have slammed the attempt at prolonging Echevarria's stay at the fund that manages P250 billion in assets, 5,000 employees in 133 branches and representative offices in 17 countries.

Rank-and-file employees claimed that Echevarria was instrumental in crafting the Unified Multi-purpose Identification System (UMID) that would also cover GSIS, Pag-Ibig and PhilHealth and would cost each member P140.

Instead of awarding the deal to a private consortium, Neri has offered PhilPost to act as contractor which would build "capture stations" across the country, with SSS shouldering the cost to the tune of P100 per member.

SSS employees claimed PhilPost is practically bankrupt and the SS might end up lending the agency the money to buy equipment, computer software and paraphernalia at minimal interest.

But said the SSS board has yet to receive the letter of complaint from the pension fund's personnel.

He also clarified that PhilPost is not bankrupt and it is capable to enroll all SSS members to the new identification system of the pension fund.

"We chose PhilPost because it's a fellow state-firm and it has 2,200 branches nationwide, who among our state-owned firms have that coverage?" Neri asked.

"If PhilPost is bankrupt, why does the government still use it as our official courier?" he added.

Updated list of House members absent during FOI roll call

Faced with heavy criticism for the non-ratification of the Freedom of Information Bill, House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Saturday released the names of at least 135 congressmen who were either absent or were present but did not respond to the roll call.

Their absence during roll call resulted in a lack of quorum, which in effect killed the FOI bill as the 14th Congress adjourned on Friday.

Senior Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Anak Mindanao Rep. Mujiv Hataman, South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy and Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit were previously on the list, but they told GMANews.TV on Monday that they were present during the session. [See: Lawmakers cry foul over list of 'absent' congresmen on FOI ratification]

GMANews.TV highlighted in bold the names of those who were authors or co-authors of the FOI bill but were absent during the roll call.

1. Abaya, Joseph Emilio A.

2. Agbayani, Victor Aguedo E.

3. Agyao, Manuel S.

4. Albano, Rodolfo III T.

5. Alcover Pastor Jr. M

6. Almario, Thelma Z.

7. Alvarez, Antonio C.

8. Amante, Edelmiro A.

9. Amatong, Rommel C.

10. Angping, Maria Zenaida B.

11. Aquino, Jose II S.

12. Arnaiz, George P.

13. Arquiza, Godofredo V.

14. Arroyo, Diosdado M.

15. Arroyo, Ignacio T.

16. Arroyo, Maria Lourdes T.

17. Balindong, Pangalian M.

18. Barzaga, Elpidio Jr. F.

19. Bautista, Franklin P.

20. Bichara, Al Francis C.

21. Biron, Ferjenel G.

22. Bondoc, Anna York P.

23. Bravo, Narciso Jr. R.

24. Briones, Nicanor M.

25. Britanico, Salvador B.

26. Cagas, Marc Douglas IV C.

27. Cajayon, Mary Mitzi L.

28. Canonigo, Ranulfo P.

29. Castro, Fredenil H.

30. Celeste, Arthur F.

31. Chiongbian, Erwin L.

32. Chong, Glenn A.

33. Clarete, Marina P.

34. Climaco, Mara Isabelle G.

35. Cobrador, Ceasar A.

36. Cojuangco, Mark O.

37. Coscolluela, Ma. Carissa O.

38. Dangwa, Samuel M.

39. Dayanghirang, Nelson L.

40. Daza, Paul R.

41. De Venecia, Jose Jr. C.

42. Diasnes, Carlo Oliver D.

43. Dimaporo, Abdullah D.

44. Dumarpa, Faysah RPM

45. Durano, Ramon VI H.

46. Dy, Faustino III G.

47. Enverga, Wilfrido Mark M.

48. Estrella, Conrado III

49. Estrella, Robert Raymund M.

50. Fabian, Erico Basillo A.

51. Fernandez, Danilo Ramon S.

52. Ferrer, Jeffrey P.

53. Fua, Orlando B.

54. Fuentebella, Arnulfo P.

55. Garcia, Albert S.

56. Garcia, Pablo P.

57. Garcia, Pablo John F.

58. Gatchalian, Rex

59. Gonzales, Aurelio Jr. D.

60. Gonzalez, Raul Jr. T.

61. Guanlao, Agapito H.

62. Gullas, Eduardo R.

63. Gunigundo, Magtanggol I.T.

64. Hernandez, Ariel C.

65. Hofer, Ann K.

66. Ilagan, Luzviminda C.

67. Jala, Adam Relson R.

68. Jalosjos, Cesar G.

69. Jalosjos-Carreon, Cecilia G.

70. Jikiri, Yusop H.

71. Kho, Antonio T.

72. Lacson, Jose Carlos V.

73. Lagdameo, Antonio Jr. F.

74. Lazatin, Carmelo F.

75. Ledesma, Julio IV A.

76. Leonen-Pizarro, Catalina G.

77. Lim, Teodoro

78. Lopez, Carol Jayne B.

79. Lopez, Jaime C.

80. Macapagal-Arroyo, Juan Miguel

81. Malapitan, Oscar G.

82. Mamba, Manuel N.

83. Marañon, Alfredo III D.

84. Marcoleta, Rodante D.

85. Martinez, Celestino

86. Matugas, Francisco T.

87. Mendoza, Raymond DC

88. Mendoza, Vigor Ma. D

89. Mercado, Roger G.

90. Miraflores, Florencio T.

91. Nava, Joaquin Carlos Rahman A.

92. Nicolas, Reylina G.

93. Omar, Haron D.

94. Palparan, Jovito Jr S.

95. Pancho, Pedro M.

96. Pancrudo, Candido Jr. P.

97. Plaza, Rodolfo G.

98. Ponce-Enrile, Salvacion S.

99. Prieto-Teodoro, Monica

100. Puno, Roberto V.

101. Ramiro, Herminia M.

102. Remulla, Jesus Crispin C.

103. Reyes, Carmencita O.

104. Reyes, Victoria H.

105. Robes, Arturo B.

106. Rodriguez-Zaldirriaga, Adelina

107. Romarate, Guillermo Jr. A.

108. Romualdez, Ferdinand Martin G.

109. Romulo, Roman T.

110. Roxas, Jose Antonio F.

111. Salvacion, Andres Jr., D.

112. Santiago, Narciso III D.

113. Santos, Estrella DL.

114. Sarmiento, Ulpiano II P.

115. Seachon-Lanete, Rizalina L.

116. Singson, Ronald V.

117. Solis, Jose G.

118. Suarez, Danilo E.

119. Sy-Alvarado, Ma. Victoria R.

120. Talino-Mendoza, Emmylou J.

121. Tan, Sharee Ann T.

122. Teodoro, Marcelino R.

123. Teves, Pryde Henry A.

124. Tieng, Irwin C.

125. Tomawis, Acmad

126. Tupas, Niel Jr. C.

127. Umali, Czarina D.

128. Uy, Edwin C.

129. Uy, Rolando A.

130. Uy, Reynaldo S.

131. Valdez, Edgar L.

132. Villar, Cynthia A.

133. Villarosa, Ma. Amelita C.

134. Yu, Victor L.

135. Zamora, Ronaldo B.

Some 17 packs of cocaine believed to be buried by a South American international drug syndicate were unearthed by the Presidential Anti Smuggling Group (PASG) in a mountainous area in Eastern Samar.

Weighing 19.35 kilos, the P76 million cocaine batch was personally turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday by PASG head Antonio "Bebot" A. Villar Jr.

The batch of cocaine was dug up on the midnight of June 5, 2010 by PASG operatives led by lawyer Lilibeth A. Llagas, SPO1 Tito Q. Macatugob, and Hilario Yalung following a tip from a fisherman, Villar said.

The PASG team was assisted by the Philippine National Police-Mercedes Station, which helped transport the illegal substance to Tacloban City, and was later aided by the National Bureau of Investigation.

The recovered cocaine was believed to have been part of two tons of cocaine dumped by an international syndicate in high seas off Samar Island.

The 11 packs were dug in Barangay Hagnayan, Salcedo, while the other six packs were recovered in Barangay Minanod and Sitio Jaklagan, Barangay Buyayawon, all in Mercedes town, Eastern Samar .

PDEA Director General Undersecretary Dionisio Santiago, who personally received the recovered cocaine, said the prohibited drugs were believed transported by South American drug ring.

China Narcotics Central Commission took custody of the vessel used to transport the seized cocaine.

200 Muslim leaders urge global support for Mindanao peace bid


Over 200 Muslims and their leaders from the academic, professional, religious, women and youth sectors have issued a call to the international community, such as the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to continue helping the Mindanao peace processes between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to achieve lasting, just and comprehensive peace in Southern Philippines.

Aleem Naguib Taher, head of the National Capital Region chapter of the Insan Islamic Assembly (IIA), which organized Sunday's "Forum on Islam and Terrorism," told the Manila Bulletin that the participants overwhelmingly passed a resolution to address the issues confronting Islam and Muslims in the Philippines.

"We are thankful to the many speakers and the more than 200 participants from the various communities, tribes and organizations of Muslims in the country," said Taher.

He said the participants appealed to the UN, the OIC and other members of the international community to continue helping achieve peace and economic prosperity in the war-torn areas of Mindanao.

In the resolution, they urged Congress to pass bills that will bring peace, unity and harmony among Filipinos; asked the government to fully implement the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA); appealed to the government to stop using terrorism as an excuse to raid Muslim communities; called on the incoming administration of presidential front-runner Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino III to allow Muslims to participate in nation-building through appointments in the Cabinet and government line agencies and corporations; and sought more interfaith dialogue among Filipinos of various religions, among other appeals.

In the June 6 forum in Greenhills, San Juan City, various speakers rejected the Western world's linking of Islam to terrorism, stressing that Islam means peace and has no place for violence.

Agra set to announce decision on Ampatuan massacre panel

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Alberto Agra is set to announce his decision on the appeal to replace the members of the prosecution panel handling the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre case.

Maguindanao massacre suspects party—prison visitors

MANILA, Philippines(UPDATE 2) The Wonder Girls Nobody was playing in the loudspeaker last Saturday afternoon as the Ampatuans, principal suspects in the Maguindanao massacre, welcomed visitors to their prison cells and treated them to fast-food fare.

This was what three visitors of other detainees at the Camp Bagong Diwa told

However, top jail official in National Capital Region has denied that Ampatuans partied over the weekend

Detained at the five-story jail facility inside the 48-hectare compound of Camp Bagong Diwa are Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.; his father, Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.; his brother, suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan; and relatives Mamasapano mayor Akmad Ampatuan, former acting Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan, and Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar Ampatuan.

The facility was constructed to house the over 100 accused in the November 23 massacre.

The sources, who did not know each other, separately confirmed to that the party, also attended by children, happened at around 3 p.m. Saturday. They said Jollibee food was served.

One of them said the music from the loudspeaker caught their attention.

They asked that they not be named because their visiting rights might be imperiled.

Chief Superintendent Serafin Baretto, director of the National Capital Region office of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, said that some jailers whom he spoke with denied that the party occurred.

Nevertheless, Baretto, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview that he has ordered an investigation regarding the purported party.

Baretto explained that regulations on holding events have been firmly in place, and it would be up to the warden to allow any party to be held.

"It depends on the occasion. We allow them to [hold] parties so long as jailers implement security measures to ensure that any detainee won't use the event to escape," he said.

When asked about the incident, Justice Secretary Secretary Alberto Agra maintained that the Ampatuans should be treated like any other prisoners.

They (Ampatuans) should be treated like any other prisonersWe will verify this report, Agra said over the phone, surprised at the information.

He said the detention facility of the Ampatuan is not under the control of the Department of Justice but of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which is under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)

Meanwhile, lawyer Nena Santos, counsel of newly elected Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu was also surprised about the information. She said she will talk to the warden about it.

$1: P46.835

$1: P46.835

Euro 1: P55.6112

May forex reserves at record $47.65-B

MANILA, Philippines - The country's gross international reserves (GIR) rose to a record P47.65 billion at end-May from the revised $47.65 billion in April, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

GSIS inks P3.5-B joint venture with Megaworld

CEBU CITY -- State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has formed a joint venture with Andrew L. Tan-led Megaworld Corp. for a P3.5-billion residential project in Pasay.

Turkish warplanes bomb PKK camp in north Iraq - TV

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkish warplanes have bombed a Kurdish guerrilla camp at Hakurk in northern Iraq, Turkish media reported on Monday, in what would be the second such attack in less than three weeks.

Guilty verdicts 25 years after India's Bhopal gas disaster

by by Sonma Luxmi, Agence France-Presse
BHOPAL, India - An Indian court on Monday found eight people guilty over the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, including the then-head of the company blamed for poisoning tens of thousands of people.

With Floyd out, Cotto rematch eyed

by by Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - Floyd Mayweather Jr. can retire if he wants to and Manny Pacquiao will just end up fighting whom he wants to.

GM Paragua takes home 11th US overall chess title

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Mark Paragua extended his winning streak in the United States as he emerged as the overall champion in the recently held New York June Action Grand Prix.

Aquino to be proclaimed president in a JC Buendia barong

MANILA, Philippines - President-apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will be wearing a traditional barong Tagalog designed by designer JC Buendia, who has been designing most of President Arroyo's outfits.

Manny Pacquiao to host 'Wowowee?'

by by Julie Bonifacio,, and Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines – Did People's Champ Manny Pacquiao offer his services to ABS-CBN?

Rumor has it that ABS-CBN was talking to Pacquiao's camp to see if the congressman-elect of Saranggani province was interested in hosting "Wowowee," the network's popular noontime show.

But Jay Montelibano, "Wowowee's" business unit head, clarified that there was no offer to the boxer.

Jinkee, Pacquiao's wife, also denied that there was an offer to host "Wowowee."

In a phone interview, Jinkee maintained that Pacquiao is fully aware of the contract he signed with GMA 7. "Hindi totoo kasi may kontrata siya sa GMA 7."

When asked if Pacquiao would be open to the possibility of hosting the show, Jinkee said: "Hindi ko alam. Parang wala naman sa kanya kasi wala pa ding sinasabi."

"Wowoweee" is now searching for a new male host after its main man, Willie Revillame, took an indefinite break from the show.

For two weeks, action star Robin Padilla hosted "Wowowee." He was replaced by Billy Crawford, Luis Manzano and John Lloyd Cruz.

Reports also said that Boy Abunda is being considered by the ABS-CBN management.

Halili, Kho camps agree to ocular inspection of hotel room

MANILA, Philippines – An ocular inspection of the hotel room where the sex tape of Katrina Halili and Hayden Kho was allegedly recorded has been set during the continuation of the hearing of the criminal case filed by Halili against the cosmetic surgeon.

Australian cafe claims world's biggest burger

by Reuters
An Australian cafe is claiming a world record after cooking a giant hamburger with an 81 kg (178 lb) patty that took 12 hours to cook and 4 men to flip.

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