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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 15, 2010 Major News Stories

Pagasa's weather forecasting misses on Basyang hitting Metro

This year's typhoon season got off to a bad start for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) as its warning that "Basyang" would directly hit Metro Manila might have come too late.

PAGASA to Aquino: We need better equipment for accurate forecast

Sinermunan naman kanina ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino ang pamunuan ng PAGASA dahil sa mabagal at maling weather forecast nito. Paliwanag naman ng PAGASA, panahon na para i-upgrade nila ang kanilang mga kagamitan para makapagbigay ng mas maaga at wastong weather forecast.

Malacañang set to review weather forecasting system

Malacañang is set to review the country's weather forecasting system after President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III admonished the state weather bureau for failing to predict that Typhoon Basyang was headed for Metro Manila.

20 dead as 'Basyang' rips through Luzon

At least 20 people were confirmed dead on Wednesday after Typhoon "Basyang" (international codename: Conson) ripped across the Philippines, sweeping shanties into the sea and bringing the nation's capital to a standstill.

8 dead, 8 missing in Batangas and Laguna

by By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog
BATANGAS, Philippines - Tropical storm "Basyang" left 8 people dead, including 2 children, and 8 more missing in Batangas and Laguna provinces, local officials said Wednesday.

8 dead, 57 missing in 'Basyang's' wake

MANILA, Philippines - Eight people were killed while 57 more remain missing after Typhoon Basyang (international codename Conson) ripped through Metro Manila and nearby provinces Tuesday, authorities said.

P2-B gov't calamity fund nearly depleted: DBM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Budget and Management  on Wednesday said it is scrambling to allocate additional funds for typhoon relief operations after 70% of the government's P2 billion calamity fund was depleted by the previous administration.

Aquino visits 'Basyang' victims, distributes relief goods

Pagkatapos ng NDCC briefing ni Pangulong Aquino, binisita naman niya ang mga taga-Maynilang sinalanta ng bagyong basyang. Ito ang unang kalamidad sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Aquino. 

Basyang disrupts flights in Mactan

HUNDREDS of airline passengers failed to travel abroad the other day when airline companies cancelled at least 10 outbound flights because of typhoon Basyang and diverted these to the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Other passengers failed to depart yesterday after Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled some of their Manila-Cebu flights, while the typhoon raged.

The Manila International Airport Authority said 63 flights were affected since late Tuesday, as the country's first typhoon this year hit Luzon.

President Benigno Aquino III scolded the weather bureau for failing to predict the storm would hit Manila.

"This is unacceptable," Aquino told officials during a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, noting that government agencies were relying on the weather bureau for their preparations. "I hope this is the last time we are all brought to areas different from where we should be."

Weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo explained it takes forecasters six hours to update weather bulletins. The weather bureau has complained of lack of funding and equipment.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year.

Last year, back-to-back typhoons in September flooded large portions of Metro Manila and outlying provinces, killing nearly 1,000 people.

Among the international flights cancelled since Tuesday were those leaving Manila for Osaka, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Inchon in South Korea, Bangkok, Singapore, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Seven Cebu-Manila flights were cancelled in Mactan between 5 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. yesterday. At least five other flights were cancelled in the afternoon and last night.

Jerome Oyao of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority said that in between, a handful of flights in the Manila-Cebu-Manila routes operated.

Late yesterday afternoon, Engr. Oscar Tabada of the weather bureau's station in Mactan said typhoon Basyang was downgraded to a weaker tropical storm and was on its way out of the country.

5 police trainees still in ICU

FIVE of the 17 police trainees struck by lightning while on field were transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) yesterday due to a "minor irregularity" in their heart condition.

PO1s Aldrin Laurente, Mark Joel Molina, Edmund Sumalinog, Wilfred Aparece and Barry Entea, who were badly hurt, were placed under observation at the ICU of South General Hospital, Police Regional Office 7 Director Lani-o Nerez said.

Nerez, however, said the condition of the five trainees already improved and stabilized.

Regional Public Safety Management Battalion (RPSMB) 7 Commander Rey Lyndon Lawas, in a phone interview, said the five trainees underwent electrocardiography (ECG) tests.

Those who were confined at the ward will be released today, said Chief Insp. Floriser Radaza, chief of the clinical service of the PNP Regional Health Service.

At the police health service hospital, Radaza said three trainees, identified as PO1s Darryl Biolangco, Paulino Galarce and
Sylvano Bascones, were being monitored yesterday morning because their cardiac rates were fluctuating.

If their condition will stabilize, they will be released together with the four other trainees who were taken to the PNP hospital after the accident in Sitio Kamansiles, Barangay Poblacion, Sibonga.

PNP Chief Jesus Versoza, who was informed about the accident, ordered Nerez to provide the trainees the needed medical assistance.


Nerez said his office will shoulder the hospital expenses and the needed medicine of the trainees.

But Versoza told him that, if the need arises, Camp Crame will assist in paying the hospital bills of the police trainees.

PO1 Benedicto Ejan, one of the injured trainees, said they thought they were ambushed when lightning struck them at 12:30 p.m.

They were inside a tent and eating their lunch in a traditional boodle fight.

The lightning sounded like a bomb explosion, he said.

Ejan was among the seven trainees confined at the ward inside Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City.

PO1 Caesar Gabule said he was sitting on top of a rock when he saw a bolt of lightning struck PO1 Aldrin Laurente's shotgun.

Once hit by the lightning bolt, the shotgun Laurente carried looked like it was on fire. Laurente collapsed.

Gabule said he was conscious when he saw his comrades fall to the ground.

He was able to move after PO1 Leah Serana bumped him.

He and Serana then assisted their fellow trainees.

Gabule thanked Christino Antier, a resident in Sitio Kamansiles, who let them into their house and changed their wet clothes.

Ejan and Gabule said they will continue training once they are well.

"Parte sa pagsuway lang to (It was just part of the test)," Ejan said.

Nerez said the field training exercise resumed yesterday morning.


He said no one can be blamed for the accident.

"Nagpasalamat lang ta nga wa'y nakalas nga kinabuhi (We're just thankful that lives were spared)," he said.

Nerez said the most common complaint of the injured trainees was numbness in their lower extremities.

They will be given time to rest to fully recover.

Nerez said the accident last Tuesday put the trainees to the test, particularly in responding to a crisis.

He said the trainees were able to make improvised stretchers using their jackets in the absence of a real stretcher.

They also learned how to carry an injured person without having to cause any more injuries.

Nerez said the exercise served as the last phase of the training since the trainees were scheduled to graduate by the end of the month from the RPSMB (formerly known as Regional Mobile Group 7).

Another miner dies in Danao

Another miner died after he was buried alive while working in the coal mine in the mountainous part of Danao City last Monday evening.

Celso Damiles Perez, 31, of Sitio Portland, Barangay Cahumayan died before reaching the hospital after he was buried when part of the soil above where he was working collapsed and fell on him.

The fatality worked for SKI Energy Resources Inc. (SERI), a mining corporation, which operates under coal operating contracts granted by the Department of Energy.

Police said it was Melchor, 24, brother of the victim, who informed their office of the incident through telephone call.

Investigation conducted by the police revealed that at around 10 p.m., Perez was working in the mine when suddenly part of the ground above his head suddenly collapsed.

Other workers tried to rescue Perez until policemen arrived and retrieved his body from the pit. Perez was rushed to Danao District Hospital but he did not reach the hospital alive.

The FREEMAN tried to contact Department of Energy regional director Antonio Labios through his phone but several calls went unanswered.

Gerald Cabizares, senior science physicist specialist of DOE-7, who handles coal mining safety, refused to give further details about the incident but assured that their office has already started its investigation into the matter.

Barely a month ago, DOE-7 has ordered for the suspension of operation of Adelina Hermita Coal Mine in Barangay Lawaan, Danao City after three of its workers also died when they accidentally fell into the mine pit.

The fatalities Ramonito Tagalog, 42; Michael Valdez, 46, and Junrey Bayo, 28, were reportedly going down the hole hitching a ride with a drum when the cable that held the drum suddenly snapped.

The DOE-7 said that Adelina Hermita Coal Mine is just a small-scale mining company but despite that, the agency still went on with the investigation to determine the lapses and liability of the company on the incident.

Meanwhile, habal-habal driver was electrocuted when he suddenly touched a live wire while he was trying to cut the leaves of a coconut tree in Catmon town.

Efipanio Colonia Jr., 29, died after he hit a nipa hut before falling to the ground.

According to the police, the victim climbed the coconut tree, which is located near his house, to cut its leaves that are already touching the electric wire.

At that time, it was allegedly brownout so the victim was confident that he would not get electrocuted even if he touches the Cebu Electric Cooperative II's main line.

However, when Colonia climbed the coconut, he had no idea that the power had already returned.

Colonia was immediately brought to Juan Dosdado Memorial Hospital in Sogod but died after a minute.

Police said that they do not know why Colonia decided to cut the said leaves himself when it is the duty of the CEBECO personnel to cut those leaves that touch their electric wires.

Flooding in Tisa affects classes, damages books

TWO days after a broken water pipe caused flooding in the Tisa Integrated School, classrooms were still not ready for use, forcing students to attend classes in the school's covered court.

Health department warns public against dengue

Be careful with your dish drains and water dispensers.

DOH: "We did not close Regional Blood Coordinating Council"

The Regional Blood Center (RBC) operated by the Department of Health-Center for Health Development-Central Visayas yesterday clarified that they did not issue any closure order for the Regional Blood Coordinating Council (RBCC).

RBC Chief Reynette Christine Ligaray clarified that it was voluntary on the part of the RBCC in not renewing its memorandum of agreement with the health department.

"DOH-Central Visayas did not issue any closure order," Ligaray said.

The RBCC, after 19 years of operation, ceased to operate last July 1.

RBCC is a non-profit organization operating since 1989. It is composed of volunteers,doctors and retired medical professionals who joined hands in providing safe and affordable blood for patients.

RBCC acting president Romeo Tapayan said that under the administrative order issued by DOH, it was declared a national policy that a local blood council is no longer allowed to set up a blood service facility.

Under the said order, a local blood council such as RBCC will now be in-charge for advocacies and public awareness, which means they could no longer collect and screen blood.

Ligaray said that it has been the function of RBC to collect and screen blood and even if RBCC no longer do this, their function will still continue.

Tapayan said that from 1998 up to 2009, when the RBCC was under the leadership of Dr. Jovita Ceniza, it was able to collect 70,250 bags of blood which helped more or less 70,000 patients.

Tapayan said ten percent of the total blood bags that they were able to collect were given to indigent patients for free.

Tapayan said that the government did not spend even a single centavo for their operation and they were merely relying on funding coming from different foundations. Their operating cost per month was between P180,000 to P200,000 including the salaries of seven personnel.

Luigi says Consolacion, Cordova residents covered by medical aid

Sixth District Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing yesterday assured funds will be set aside for residents of Consolacion and Cordova towns who will be admitted to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City and Eversly Child Sanitarium Hospital in Mandaue City.

Transparency is needed, Tom tells Rama

WITH an administration-dominated City Hall, Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) raised the need for more transparency in the City Government so the public will know all about the affairs of the City and be part of the check and balance process.

Osmeña, the former mayor, frowned on Mayor Michael Rama's policy to keep the department heads from being interviewed by news reporters, saying it could hurt the mayor's administration and the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) in the end.

In an interview with reporters yesterday, he said he does not find anything wrong with the department heads saying what they want to the media, and keeping them from doing so would not be helpful to the mayor.

"But that's his style. In the end, it will not be helpful to him. There's also another need for more transparency because we don't have an opposition in the City Council, and so it leaves people in the dark, that I wish we can have some opposition, but now no one is allowed to talk," said Osmeña.

But Rama yesterday said there was no "gag order" issued to the department heads. He only warned them they might lose their posts if they will issue a statement to the media that will get City Hall in trouble.

Rama clarified he is not preventing department heads from facing and answering questions from reporters but they should be ready to face the consequences of their actions.

Yesterday, Rama called for a meeting with all the department heads to make it clear to them that they are not prevented from talking to members of the press.

"I will have to check with them (department heads) I will clarify that to them. Kanang bawal, it's not correct. It is not absolute," he said.

"I am not saying they cannot talk. They can talk but they have to be responsible for what they are going to be telling. When they will be coming out with a statement without the mayor being aware and when they bring the whole city government in trouble, that (can) cost a position because professionally, there is such a thing as command responsibility. Anyone cannot just be talking and talking and talking, otherwise you will have miscommunication in the end," he added.

Reporters covering City Hall have noticed that the department heads started declining to be interviewed since last week.

They told reporters they are under the directives of Rama not to discuss anything with the media.

In a news conference yesterday, Rama said he is not hampering the media's access to information but said reporters cannot not just barge into the offices of the department heads since there is always a proper time for interviews.

"No. I would never have media access hampered. If you need the department heads, of course, naa man gud na'y set up.

You cannot just be barging in everywhere because there is always a proper time for everything. You can always arrange with the PIO (public information officer)," he said.


If members of the media want to interview department heads, Rama said they should go to the office of the PIO, who would call the heads and set a press conference.

"Who's going to be correcting (the statements)? The mayor. That's my point. So this is just a new situation and I am a new mayor…I have planned (that) this is the way I will run city hall," he said.

In his 18 years in serving the City Government, Rama said he has witnessed and experienced many instances where the City has been put in a bad light due to inaccurate information released to the media.

But Osmeña said he said he finds it strange that department heads cannot directly make any comments to news reporters.


Although Rama's verbal order does not cover the city councilors, Osmeña said he wants to think aloud because
"government is dealing with policies, not personalities."

"That's why I said this could hurt his (Rama's) administration.

If not his administration, then maybe next time dili na straight ang BOPK... We have an obligation to prove it's really not necessary to have an opposition but if you have a situation like this where you tell people to shut up. We're just showing them that they made a mistake by voting straight," said Osmeña, the founder of the BOPK party, which won all the seats in the City in the May 10 elections.

"This would be my message to the councilors. If you're going to play that role, next elections you're on your own," said Osmeña.

He repeatedly said yesterday he does not want to comment on Rama's activities in City Hall, and that the new mayor should be given some time to adjust and implement his own style of managing the City's affairs, including the Mayor's
Management Team (MMT).


Osmeña said he would leave it to the public to judge whether or not Rama's style is good and helpful to the City.

He reminded Rama, though, of the risks of changing BOPK's programs and policies, because the people who voted for them expect the same programs from City Hall.

Also yesterday, the former mayor reiterated his objection to how lawyer and former councilor Jocelyn Pesquera treated the MMT members, for reportedly telling them they may be demoted and giving them the option to resign.

He said with Rama having others plans for the MMT members, he plans to bring one or two of them to work for him in Congress.

Osmeña also said he is relieved that Rama did not seek any position in the League of Cities of the Philippines, so the latter can focus on doing his homework in running City Hall, especially since he is still on his first term.

'City can't tax Perpetual'

THE Cebu City Government was shut out from enforcing its tax ordinance on a private hospital after a Cebu City judge ruled the institution is "undoubtedly" a non-stock, non-profit corporation.

Judge Simeon Dumdum Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 has granted the petition for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction Perpetual Succour Hospital, Inc. (PSH) filed in June this year against the City, over the implementation of the city's tax ordinance.

"In all, the court finds that Perpetual has a right that needs protection during the pendency of this case," Judge Dumdum said in his four-page order dated July 8.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, said he will just wait for a copy of the court decision and refer it to the City Attorney's Office for appropriate action.


The PSH has lodged a petition against the Cebu City Government and the City Treasurer's Office before the Regional Trial Court for imposing business taxes on the hospital.

PSH, through its lawyer, Cornelio Mercado, earlier questioned the validity of the City's Omnibus Tax Ordinance, which imposes business taxes "on any business…a percentage of two and one half of the gross receipts or sales" of proprietary schools and hospitals.

The city treasurer's office issued a certificate of delinquency to the hospital management last April 13 for failing to pay business taxes from 2000 to 2009 amounting to about P62 million.

The City Government sent a certificate of delinquency to the PSH and warned it would levy its land or building if unpaid business taxes remained unsettled.


Mercado, in a phone interview yesterday, said they were glad about their latest legal victory. He also pointed out the City Government can still file an appeal or a motion for reconsideration on Dumdum's order.

Judge Dumdum, in his order, directed the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, which stops the City Government from collecting taxes from the hospital based on its certificate of delinquency to the PSH.

The issuance of an injunction will be completed once PSH puts up a bond amounting to P20 million.

Citing Section 65 of Revised Omnibus Tax Ordinance 69, as amended by Section 14 of City Ordinance 82, the City Treasurer's Office issued a certificate of delinquency to PSH for alleged non-payment of business taxes from 2000 to 2009.

The PSH, being a non stock, non-profit institutionis exempted from business tax, Mercado said.


To support its claim, the PSH presented its Articles of Incorporation, which show that it is a non-stock, non-profit corporation

The articles of incorporation do not mention capital stock divided into shares, said Dumdum. They merely state that "the corporation shall be maintained by whatever amount it may obtain from fees for services rendered and any money and or property it may receive by donations or investments."

But the City Government, in its memorandum, argued that it wasn't enough for PSH to claim that it is a non-stock, non-profit to be exempted from business tax.

The City said it should comply with the requirements set by the law on proprietary institutions.

Since PSH is registered, Dumdum said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recognizes its status as a non-stock, non-profit corporation.

"The law prohibits this. Perpetual has a right not to be taxed. If respondents persist in collecting the business tax from Perpetual, they would violate this right."

SM pays 2nd tranche for SRP lot

THE coffers of the Cebu City Government have nearly P110 million more as SM Prime Holdings Inc. handed over to Mayor Michael Rama yesterday its payment for the lot they bought in the South Road Properties (SRP).

Sherry Tuvilla, SM City Cebu manager, handed over to the City Government the P109,023,568.75 check-their second of the 24 quarterly installments spread over six years after purchasing the 30-hectare lot worth P2.7 billion in SRP.

SM, which is planning for a mixed-use development project at SRP, has paid over P896 million to the City. This already includes SM's bid bond payment amounting to P270.9 million, which is part of the down payment.


For six years, SM, as specified in the contract, will pay the balance of P2,032,284,000 in quarterly installments with a five percent annual interest.

With the payment made by SM yesterday, it now only has a balance of P1,862,927,000.

The next schedule of SM's payment to SRP will be in October.

For this year, the investor will make four quarterly payments that will amount to P433 million.

SM will be investing at least P20 billion for its project at SRP that will include a convention center, hotels, residential condominiums, a school and a hospital.


The first structure to rise at the SM's lot at SRP is a shopping mall that is expected to be the 10th biggest in the world.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. is the second investor to buy lots in the SRP following the City's deal with Filinvest Land Inc.

Sanchez wants all province-owned vehicles tested for roadworthiness

Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. wants all provincial government vehicles to undergo roadworthiness test to ensure the safety of the people using it.

LTO holds road safety seminars for free

A free road safety seminar is being organized by the Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the bus and mini-bus operators in Cebu to educate public utility drivers to prevent future accidents.

De Jesus to review RFID, IT contract

Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus has said he wants a second look on the radio frequency identification (RFID) system and review the contract with the IT company providing interconnectivity services between the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In an interview aired over ABS-CBN's radio DZMM last Tuesday, De Jesus promised to review the merits of the RFID system, which seeks to electronically distinguish registered vehicles from the colorum, and help curb incidents of car theft.

The RFID was supposed to be implemented towards the end of the Arroyo administration but it was postponed as it drew great opposition from private and public vehicle owners, saying it breaches privacy as it translates to additional expense.

"We are going to remove colorum on the street but I want to see the substance of the (RFID) proposal. If we can have a simpler identification of colorum, it would be better," de Jesus said.

He also said the DoTC will review the agency's contract with the Stradcom Corporation, which was being criticized for allegedly collecting interconnectivity fees from vehicle owner registrants.

Despite the innovation of interconnectivity, De Jesus said, "we have to look deeply about it" so as to prevent corruption from marring the intention of the project.

De Jesus also described as "a sensible solution" the number/color coding scheme for public utility vehicles.

"But it needs to be studied again. The DoTC will sit down with MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) and bus and jeep operators to come up with a win-win situation," he said.

Aside from strictly enforcing speed limit along national roads, de Jesus said the DoTC needs "to look for an alternative compensation acceptable to bus operators and drivers" so as to resolve rising incidents of vehicular accidents involving PUVs.

De Jesus, meanwhile, said regulating the operation of tricycles and pedicabs along national roads should be handled by the concerned local government unit.

Also, the operator of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT 3) has denied owing the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) at least P1-billion worth of development rights payment.

In a July 6, 2010 confidential letter to DoTC Assistant Secretary for Administrative and Legal Affairs, Pio Marasigan of the MRT Development Corporation (MRTDC) said they do not owe the DoTC P1,009,727,506. 94 as outstanding amount covering the development rights payment for the undeveloped airspaces above MRT 3 System Stations.

The development rights payment includes the rights to develop and lease out commercial spaces on the depot and stations of the MRT 3 as well as the rights to derive revenue from advertising.

Ideally, the DRP was supposed to be a source of income for the DoTC to help offset the cost of operating the transit system and sustain the government subsidy that makes up for the affordable cost of MRT tickets sold to the riding public. Without government subsidies, MRT ticket prices could reach as high as P72 each.

It would be recalled that the DoTC sought the settlement of P1 billion in outstanding payments from Sobrepena-led MRT Devco, in which the amount covers the monthly amortization for the Development Rights Payments to the MRT-3, which was extended to MRT Devco in August 1997.

As of June 22 this year, MRT Devco owed the DoTC P1,009,727,506.94, representing the principal amount due, plus interest.

MRT Devco, led by College Assurance Plan (CAP) owner Robert John Sobrepena, has not paid the DoTC since 2005. It has supposedly received the DoTC's final demand letter on June 29 and was given five days to pay the amount in full.

But Marasigan said the MRTDC denied owing that much to DoTC, even asserting that they have overpaid the agency of at least P64,933,054.01 for the undeveloped airspace above the MRT 3 system station.

"Based on our schedule of payments, MRTDC has been paying the appropriate DRP... as well as inadvertent payments of DRP for the undeveloped airspace above MRT 3," Marasigan said in a letter to DoTC Asec. Raquel Desiderio.

Marasigan said that the DoTC demand on MRTDC to pay the P1 billion DRP is a violation of the BLT agreement between the two offices in May 2002.

"Kindly be advised that in our June 2, 2008 letter to then Secretary Leandro Mendoza, we emphasized that there is no DRP due to DoTC nor to which DoTC has any right to claim for payment on the undeveloped airspace above the stations of the MRT 3 system as these were automatically forfeited to DoTC on July 15, 2000," he said.

Marasigan even said the MRTDC is demanding the DoTC to return the P64.9 million worth of overpayments it has made to the agency.

"Otherwise, we shall be constrained to take the necessary legal actions under the revised BLT Agreement and pertinent laws," he said.

DoTC's incoming Public Information Division chief Under Secretary Dante Velasco said they will have to "verify records first before commenting."

Lapu-Lapu City Police Office named best station in RP

The Philippine National Police-Camp Crame has chosen the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office as the best police station in the country in environmental protection.

Binay eyeing another gov't post, says Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - After refusing to accept any Cabinet post, Vice-President Jejomar Binay has apparently changed his mind and is now eyeing a government post.

Ex-party-list rep is new Tesda chief

MANILA, Philippines - Former Cibac party-list representative Joel Villanueva confirmed Wednesday he is the choice of President Benigno Aquino III for director general of the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

New TESDA head aims to improve agency's image

Changing the image of the agency tasked to provide technical education and skills development will be the main priority of former Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Rep. Joel Villanueva under the Aquino administration.

DILG chief to use scorecards to show accountability

by By Ira Pedrasa,
MANILA, Philippines - A clampdown on big jueteng operators will take a backseat for now as newly-appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo focuses on the accountability of local government units (LGUs).

Number of Senate bills filed a record-high

MANILA, Philippines - The 15th Congress has yet to open but legislative measures filed in the Senate have already reached around 3,000.

Aquino chides Ombudsman for 'sins of omission'

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III said he will talk to embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez whom he described as being guilty of "sins of omission" in her work as the country's top anti-graft investigator.

Aquino willing to talk to Gutierrez

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is willing to sit down with Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez instead of backing an impeachment move against her.

AFP: De Lima never linked us to extrajudicial killings

The military on Wednesday maintained that it has nothing to do with the recent killings of activists, noting that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, contrary to reports, has never linked soldiers to the crime.

Yusoph kidnapper killed in Lanao clash

MANILA, Philippines – The leader of a bandit group allegedly holding the son of a poll commissioner captive was killed in an encounter in Lanao del Sur, Wednesday afternoon.

Yusoph son's kidnapper untouchable to cops due to blood ties—mayor

The leader of an armed group that ambushed soldiers sent to rescue the kidnapped son of Commission on Elections Commissioner Elias Yusoph in Lanao del Sur on Tuesday managed to escape because Poona Bayabao policemen were reluctant to run after him, an official said on Wednesday.

Ex-Air Force man linked to massacre witness bribe try

MANILA, Philippines - An official of the National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday linked a retired Air Force colonel to an alleged attempt to bribe a witness in the November 23 Maguindanao massacre.
NBI regional director Ric Diaz said retired Air Force colonel Juanito Mariano went to his office last June 10 at 3 p.m. and asked for access to Kenny Dalagdag, a vital witness in the Maguindanao massacre.

INC backed appointment of new NBI chief

MANILA, Philippines - The powerful religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) backed the appointment of one of its members, former police official Magtanggol Gatdula, to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

RP post in Guangzhou warns Pinoys anew against drug trafficking

With 100 Filipinos in prison for drug trafficking charges within its area of jurisdiction, the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Guangzhou, China reiterated its warning against accepting and carrying suspicious packages in exchange for money.

Dubai court upholds Pinoy's conviction for stabbing Iranian

A Dubai appellate court upheld Tuesday a five-year jail term for a 22-year-old Filipino convicted of stabbing an Iranian woman and robbing her in a parking lot in Badaa area in April 2009.

RP welfare officer in Riyadh held on false charges, says wife

For almost thirty years now, welfare officer Bashir Ayob has been assisting overseas Filipino workers in distress in Saudi Arabia. Recently, however, the 47-year-old native of Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat himself became the one needing assistance, as a detainee.

Pinoy workers in Qatar stop work in protest vs violations

At least seven Filipino workers in Qatar, all women, have stopped working and are now seeking repatriation, after complaining of labor violations by the company that hired them.

$1: P46.260

$1: P46.260

Euro 1: P58.8879

BIR, BOC to go after tax cheats, smugglers

by By Rachel Hermosura, ANC
MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares and Bureau of Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez have vowed to run after tax cheats and smugglers as part of their marching orders from President Benigno Aquino III.

DoF revamping Revenue Integrity Protection Service

MANILA, Philippines - In line with its promise to crack down on corruption, the Department of Finance is revamping the Revenue Integrity Protection Service or RIPS.

Afghanistan attacks kill 8 US troops in 24 hours

KABUL, Afghanistan - American forces suffered a deadly 24 hours in Afghanistan, with eight troops killed in attacks including an audacious Taliban raid on a police compound in the key southern city of Kandahar, officials said Wednesday.

Iraq: US hands over Tariq Aziz, other detainees

BAGHDAD - The U.S. this week handed over nearly 30 former members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including the longtime international face of the regime, Tariq Aziz, officials said Wednesday.

Iranian scientist heads home for official welcome

by by Parisa Hafezi, Reuters
TEHRAN, Iran - An Iranian nuclear scientist, who turned up in Washington saying he was abducted by U.S. agents, was on Wednesday on his way back to an official welcome in Iran after the United States dismissed his accusation.

Former MI6 agent admits breach of secrecy

by Reuters
LONDON, United Kingdom - A former agent of Britain's foreign secret service MI6, charged with trying to sell stolen intelligence files, pleaded guilty to breaching the Official Secrets Act in court on Wednesday, but denied theft.

Over 10,000 evacuated during China storms

BEIJING - Workers raced to build waterways to drain overflowing reservoirs in southeastern China and thousands were evacuated following torrential rains that triggered flash floods on Wednesday.

Deadline for Mayweather to sign contract nears

MANILA, Philippines – Will Floyd Meaweather Jr. sign on to fight World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao on November 13?

Koncz blames 'bad game plan' for Concepcion's loss

MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao's Canadian adviser, Michael Koncz, claimed that Bernabe Concepcion's loss to Puerto Rican champion Juan "JuanMa" Manuel Lopez over the weekend was a result of a "bad game plan".

Lapid seeks pension fund for RP boxing champs

The World Boxing Council (WBC) may consider Rolando Navarrete as one of the best superfeatherweight champions in history, but in his hometown in General Santos City, he is just an ordinary fish vendor.
Senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid seeks to end this cycle of Filipino boxing champions winding up in poverty and living in the shadow of their former greatness.

Lapid initiated the Boxer Welfare, Insurance, and Pension Act of 2010 because "these stories are all too familiar and bespeak the need to eradicate this blemish on the sport of boxing." 

Under the bill, an "International Boxer Pension Fund" will award Filipino boxers who have won international boxing titles a monthly pension of P20,000 upon reaching the age of 45.

Lapid proposes a P50 million fund to be administered by the Games and Amusement Board (GAB).

Lapid says the GAB can also establish an alternative livelihood training program and referral system for retired and injured Filipino boxing champs.

When a boxing champion dies, the senator says his legally surviving spouse may claim the monthly pension.

Two of the boxer's children will also be granted a full scholarship grant and at any government-owned school, college, university, or institution. All other school fees will also be shouldered by the government.

He says the GAB can create a databank and registry of all Filipino international boxing champions to identify the possible beneficiaries of the proposed law.

Health insurance for other professional boxers

Lapid is also seeking to create a compulsory health insurance for all Filipino professional boxers.

He says all professional boxers will be enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program of the government, allowing them to avail of adequate personal health service such as in-patient hospital care, out-patient care, and emergency services.

Lapid says the Senate can shoulder the cost of the insurance for the boxers.

"All professional boxers shall be automatically entitled to full enjoyment and and availment of essential health services," he says.

When an international bout is held outside the country, Lapid says the promoter will be mandated to grant a fighter a comprehensive health insurance package. 

The promoter will shoulder the monthly insurance premiums and the government will subsidize 50 percent of the cost.

James Yap scores 34 but B-Meg still loses

MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine took a 2-1 lead over B-Meg Derby Ace in Game 3 of their 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-5 quarterfinals showdown on Wednesday after posting a 117-111 overtime win at the Araneta Coliseum.

Gin Kings fight back, beat Aces

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra had a strong game against Alaska in Game 3, 91-87, to extend their 2010 PBA Fiesta Conference best-of-5 quarterfinals series.

N.B.A. Roundup: Knicks Add Another Center to the Mix

Timofey Mozgov, a 23-year-old from Russia, who agreed to terms over the weekend, signed a three-year, $9 million contract. He is the third center to join the roster this summer, following Ronny Turiaf and Jerome Jordan. Eddy Curry is also in the mix.

One of them will probably start on opening night, but there is no obvious leader in the pack.

Curry has been beset by injuries and fitness issues for the last two years. Turiaf, who was acquired in the David Lee trade, has never been an everyday starter. Jordan, a second-round pick, is a marginal project who might not make the team.

Then there is Mozgov. He is mostly a mystery, having played exclusively overseas.

"The Russian kid, it's hard to evaluate him," Coach Mike D'Antoni said.

The Knicks know Mozgov is long (7 feet 1 inch, 250 pounds) and athletic, a decent shooter and a competent shot-blocker. He averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1 block in 18.9 minutes per game for Khimki last season.

D'Antoni said it was not clear whether the modest statistics meant that Mozgov was limited in ability or whether the team was simply "hiding him" from professional scouts.

"But we're excited about having him," he said. "He's a great kid, speaks pretty good English. It's a little bit of a gamble. But I think it could be well worth it."

Curry was expected to work out with the Knicks' summer-league team but has yet to show up. At the moment, Turiaf — an energetic, defensive-minded veteran — seems to be the most reliable candidate.

"He's good enough to start at center," D'Antoni said.

Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks' marquee acquisition, can also play center, but his preference (and the team's) is for him to start at power forward.

CHANDLER GOES TO MAVERICKS The Charlotte Bobcats completed 24 hours of trade discussions with a deal that includes center Tyson Chandler. He is just not heading to the team he thought a day earlier.

After a potential trade with Toronto fell apart, the Bobcats sent Chandler and his fellow center Alexis Ajinca to the Dallas Mavericks for center Erick Dampier, forward Eduardo Najera, shooting guard Matt Carroll and cash considerations.

The 7-foot-1 Chandler, acquired from New Orleans for Emeka Okafor last season, spent one injury-riddled season in Charlotte.

"He gives our front line a defensive, shot-blocking, athletic punch we haven't had here in awhile," Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson said of Chandler.

It is possible the trade is a salary dump for Charlotte. Dampier's $13 million salary for next season is not guaranteed and he could be waived. Chandler is due $12.7 million next season. (AP)

ANOTHER CAVALIER FOR HEAT Zydrunas Ilgauskas is following LeBron James to the Miami Heat. Ilgauskas, a center who started playing for Cleveland in 1997 and has never suited up for another N.B.A. team, expected to sign a two-year contract with the Heat later this week, the agent Herb Rudoy said. The two-year deal would come with a player option for the second season, Rudoy said. The Heat had no immediate comment. (AP)

ALLEN RE-SIGNS WITH CELTICS Ray Allen is back with the Boston Celtics, signing a two-year deal worth about $20 million.

The Celtics now have the core of the team that won the 2008 N.B.A. title back. The Celtics lost this year in the finals to the Los Angeles Lakers(AP)

Philippines' Mistica wins LA 9-Ball

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino Ramon "Maestro" Mistica went undefeated at the Hard Times Bellflower, Los Angeles last weekend to win the LA 9-Ball Open.

Calm before the storm: PNoy sings to reporters before 'Basyang'

It didn't take much prodding from reporters for President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to grab the microphone and sing Tuesday night. At a dinner with Palace reporters, Aquino dished out two songs - Florante's "Handog" and Dennis Lambert's "Of All the Things" - before some 150 reporters, Malacañang staff, and white-clad members of the Presidential Security Group.

James Yap on family: 'Miss ko na sila'

MANILA, Philippines - Basketball star James Yap has appealed to his fans to pray that he will still be able to reunite with his wife actress-TV host Kris Aquino.

Oyo Boy and Kristine getting married, says mom

MANILA, Philippines - Veteran actress Dina Bonnevie disclosed that her son Oyo Boy Sotto will be marrying his longtime girlfriend Kristine Hermosa soon. Bonnevie, however, refused to give more details.

Mariel Rodriguez admits dating Robin Padilla

MANILA, Philippines - "Wowowee" co-host Mariel Rodriguez has admitted going out on a date with action star and temporary "Wowowee" host Robin Padilla.

Gerald Anderson to take short break from showbiz

MANILA, Philippines - Hunk actor Gerald Anderson is now doing fine after fainting almost two weeks ago due to hyperventilation.

New Zealand dog shoots owner

by Agence France-Presse
WELLINGTON - A New Zealand man has good reason to question whether his dog is truly his best friend after his family pet shot him in the backside in a potentially fatal accident.

The 40-year-old man was sitting in the backseat of his car when the dog stepped on the trigger of a loaded .22 rifle and shot him, police told the Northern Advocate newspaper on Wednesday.

The wounded man was with a group of friends who had just finished killing and butchering a domestic pig and he thought the rifle had been unloaded.

He was rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital in the far northern town of Dargaville where doctors said he underwent surgery to remove a bullet from his left buttock.

Dargaville police constable Ian Anderson said the man was lucky not to have been more seriously injured.

Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol to wed father of her baby

WASHINGTON DC, United States - Sarah Palin's daughter is to marry her sometime boyfriend, father of her infant son and nemesis of her former vice-presidential candidate mother -- who had not been told of the engagement, Us magazine reported Wednesday.

Accused 'Barefoot Bandit' has US court appearance (AP)

MIAMI – The teenager authorities call the "Barefoot Bandit" appeared in federal court Wednesday, telling a judge he needed more time to confirm he has an attorney.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube he thought his mother had hired him an attorney, but he wanted to talk to her. Dube then set a second hearing for Friday to discuss whether Harris-Moore should be granted bail or sent back to Seattle, where he was charged in a criminal complaint.

His mother has hired attorney O. Yale Lewis, who has handled several high-profile cases in the Seattle area, though it's not clear if he will represent Harris-Moore on the criminal charges.

The Bahamas extradited Harris-Moore back to the United States on Tuesday so he could face prosecution for a two-year string of break-ins and plane thefts across the country. That came just hours after he pleaded guilty in the Bahamas to illegally entering the country. He had been arrested in the island country Sunday after police ended a high-speed chase by shooting out the engine of a stolen boat he was driving.

The charge stemmed from his alleged crash of a stolen plane on Great Abaco Island. It carried a $300 fine. His lawyer, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy would pay it. Gomez said Harris-Moore wanted to go home.

Authorities say he earned the "Barefoot Bandit" nickname by committing some crimes while shoeless, and in February he allegedly drew chalk-outline feet all over the floor of a grocery store during a burglary in Washington's San Juan Islands.

Harris-Moore is suspected in about 70 property crimes across eight states and British Columbia, many of them in the bucolic islands of Washington state. He is accused of stealing a plane from an Indiana airport to fly to the Bahamas.

During Wednesday's hearing, Harris-Moore wore jail-issued white socks and sandals along with a tan jumpsuit.

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