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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 19, 2010 Major News Stories

TUCP urges GSIS to reveal status of investments

by By Mayen Jaymalin

The country's largest labor group yesterday called on the new chairman of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to fully disclose the condition the fund's Global Investment Program (GIP).

Hospital sale plan revived

A PLAN to sell the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) was revived while City Hall tries to figure out how to deal with problems like complaints about poor service and the recent loss of checks from an insurance agency.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is not keen on selling the hospital, but said there will be changes in its management.

But Councilor Jose Daluz III said City Hall should consider asking private managers to take over and selling 60 percent of the facility, with Cebu City retaining the other 40 percent.

"Without the private sector, it will be too difficult to improve the CCMC," said Daluz.

Councilor Ronald Cuenco said he disagrees with the proposal to privatize the hospital, because it will impair access to services, especially for poor constituents who can't afford health care. 

"We just need to improve its services, as well as the building itself, because there are structures in it that need rehabilitation," Cuenco said.

Mayor Rama said the current CCMC head, Dr. Myrna Go, will be replaced soon. He, however, clarified the move is not due to the loss of 28 checks amounting to at least P240,000.

"I think she knows where she will be going. She has already told me during our conversation in the first few days when I assumed office nga di na siya ganahan mag (that she no longer wants to be) department head," said Rama.

Cuenco declined to comment on the proposal to replace Go, whom he last saw at a meeting last Friday with the mayor.

"At that time, maayo man ang pag-meet namo, maayo man ang dagan sa among meeting. (The meeting went well.) We can't recommend anything kay kinahanglan makahibawo usa ta kung nganong ilisan, wa koy ideya nga naa diay ingon ana nga plano (We need to find out why replacing her will be necessary, and as of now, I have not been made aware of that plan)," Cuenco said.

Nine out of 28 missing checks issued by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) to CCMC have been cashed.

The rest are covered by a stop payment order, which the insurance agency filed before the Land Bank of the Philippines after hospital officials reported the loss of the checks.

In a phone interview yesterday, the mayor said he is still searching for the next CCMC head. He also said he will review hospital policies.

Asked if he is in favor of selling the 200-bed hospital instead, he said that option
"is not in my vocabulary."

"Just show me or tell me a better option instead na mao'y tubag ug makasulbad sa atong problema dinha," he said.

Councilor Daluz, who heads the council's committee on budget and finance, said he recommends that the management of CCMC operations be turned over to the private sector.

City Hall will be represented in the CCMC board so that it will have a substantial voice in making decisions about the hospital, he added.

Councilor Cuenco, who chairs the council's committee on hospital services, health and sanitation, said privatization might deprive the poor of access to the hospital's services.

Apart from repairs, he said the set-up of the rooms should also be examined.

Cebu City officials discussed the proposed sale of the CCMC in mid-2008, with then city administrator Bimbo Fernandez saying services could get better if the private sector manages the facility. He had also said City Hall can invest more on health insurance for the poor, or a voucher system that will enable the poor to pay for hospital care.

The proposal to sell the CCMC was reportedly hatched as early as 2002. 

Lawyer sees need for CH resident ombudsman

WITH an increasing number of complaints filed against Cebu City Hall employees, the city attorney is pushing to activate the office of the resident ombudsman to ensure a speedy and impartial investigation.

City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez said that instead of restructuring the employee-management committee on inquiry (Emcoi), he will request Mayor Michael Rama to appoint a resident ombudsman.

He observed the number of complaints filed against city employees before the Emcoi is increasing, particularly complaints about debts and domestic problems.

"Regarding the Emcoi or any body that may be created by Mayor Rama to replace the Emcoi, I would advise that we activate the office of the resident ombudsman.

That way, we can guarantee all investigations on our employees will be impartial," Bernaldez said.

Rama earlier said he will restructure the Emcoi so that administrative officers, instead of lawyers from the City Attorney's Office, will handle the complaints.

The Emcoi was created in 2005 through an executive order and operates under the control and supervision of the City Attorney's Office. It is tasked to conduct a preliminary investigation on complaints filed against an employee when it sees merit for doing so.

Bernaldez lamented Emcoi investigations add to the workload of the city's lawyers, who are also handling cases involving the City Government.

Although many of the cases filed against employees are not serious, he said these should be handled by the resident ombudsman instead of the Emcoi.

Based on the records of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, the designated resident ombudsman in City Hall is lawyer and City Registrar Evangeline Abatayo.

However, she has long stopped functioning as one, following the appointment of Romeo Cordova, then Orlando Secretario.

Bernaldez said the resident ombudsman does not necessarily have to be a lawyer or someone from the anti-graft office, but will have to be designated by the ombudsman to investigate cases involving employees of a local government unit or agency.

Like the Emcoi, the resident ombudsman may recommend the filing of an administrative case against the employee, suspension or termination from service.

"I have noticed a surge of cases filed against employees before the Emcoi and they are handled by our lawyers who also have other work to do... that is why I am requesting to activate the office of the resident ombudsman," Bernaldez said.

He said, though, that the cases are not usually work- related, such as those filed against employees who failed to settle debts, or complaints about employees having extra-marital affairs or those who do not give their salaries to their spouses.

Reluya: I was not forum shopping

San Fernando losing candidate for mayor Lakambini Reluya has filed a comment in reply to the motion of Mayor Antonio Canoy for clarification on the use of only one PCOS machine for the 49 contested ballot boxes.

PB dads: Road markers needed to assist tourists

Provincial board members Joven Mondigo and Sun Shimura have proposed the installation of road markers and signages to properly identify the different municipalities and component cities of the province.

Council asks laws committee to study Filinvest's request

FILINVEST Land Inc. (FLI) is asking the Cebu City Government for an exemption from paying P7 million in local transfer taxes for its purchase of two parcels of land in the South Road Properties (SRP).

Jonas asks for P231M budget

THE Mandaue City Council passed on first reading last week a P230.948-million supplemental budget, its first this year, to pay for senior citizens' benefits, road maintenance and other projects.

3 men take bag, but missed cash: Toledo bizman dies in robbery

A hardware store owner was killed in an apparent robbery in Toledo City Saturday night.

Three unidentified men, who were on board a motorcycle, took off with a backpack containing bank documents after shooting Proceso Anonas, 48 years old, who was about to enter his residence along D. Macapagal Highway, barangay Poblacion, Toledo City.

Anonas owned Four Star Enterprises, located in the barangay Poblacion of the city in the western side of Cebu province.The store sells lumber and other materials.

Police said that the victim had just alighted hismotorcycle when three men on board another motorcycle came near him.

Two of the three robbers got off their motorcycle and one of them pulled out a gun and fired without provocation.

After Anonas fell, the robbers took his backpack that contained a PNB checkbook, bankbook and certificate of long-term deposit; a Metrobank certificate of time deposit; six checks paid by clients; coins estimated to be about P2,000; and assorted documents.

Regina, the wife of the victim, was the one who gave the policemen the list of items inside Anonas' bag.The robbers, however, missed the P177, 380 cash that the victim placed inside his pants' pocket.

The money was recovered at the hospital when the police examined the body.

Witnesses said that Anonas was rushed to the Toledo City District Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.

He sustained gunshot wounds of the upper left portion of his chest and also his left arm.

Police recovered only one empty shell and one deformed caliber .45 slug from the crime scene.

SPO4 Gil Lastimosa told The FREEMAN that Anonas was one of the big time businessmen in Toledo City.

Witnesses also said that the robbers wore masks.

Chief Insp. Jovito Canlapan, chief of the Toledo City Police Station, told The FREEMAN that they are still working on identifying the suspects.

The police are also checking if there have been threats made against the victim.

Canlapan said that the robbers must have known that Anonas would be carrying a lot of money.

This is the second time in two weeks that a businessman was killed by unidentified robbers in Cebu's western side.

Last June 29, Vincent Delfin Recamora, 43, was killed after two robbers barged into his house in sitio Tunga, barangay Cantuod, Balamban.

The robbers shot Recamora at close range several times before taking away an estimated P300,000.

Recamora was watching television in his living room when the armed robbers, who were clad in all black outfits and had bonnets, entered his house through the backdoor.

The money taken from the victim was earnings from his store at the Balamban Public Market. 

Deadly 'milk shake' for sale

A POTENTIALLY lethal combination of pulverized shabu and the painkiller Nubain is being sold in Barangay Kamagayan, Cebu City, where it's called "milk shake," an anti-narcotics agency said.

Chief tanod falls in "drug bust"

He is supposed to be helping the police in the fight against illegal drugs in his barangay, but the chief tanod of Kamagayan ended up being arrested because of serious accusation that he himself was selling illegal drugs.

Hermogenes Borres, Sr. 57, was arrested by the operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency within the premises of the barangay hall at 4:00 dawn yesterday during a buy bust operation.

Borres denied the accusation claiming that he was just invited by the PDEA agents to come to their office.

PDEA-7 information officer Jessie Tabanao said Borres sold a pack of shabu to their informant for P300. The transaction that allegedly happened in Sitio Cabatigan was witnessed by Intelligence Officer I Jonar Cuayzon.

However, Borres was allegedly quick to notice the dragnet, immediately boarded his motorcycle and left the place. Tabanao claimed that a hot pursuit operation ensued.

 Cuayzon and I01 Kristian Ione Sesante tailed Borres to the barangay hall and subsequently arrested him. Incidental to the arrest, a .45 caliber pistol with three magazines and 21 rounds of ammunition were seized.

Borres belied Tabanao's claim saying there was no buy bust operation. He also denied having in his possession the firearm allegedly confiscated from him.

According to Borres, he first noticed the PDEA operatives in the place prompting him to approach them and asked if he could be of any help to them.

Borres said he was told that they were just conducting surveillance operations. The suspect said he left and went back to the barangay hall to prepare for his duty.

However, moments later the PDEA operatives arrived and invited him to go with them. As the chief tanod he obliged to the invitation but was surprised when he was treated a suspect in the PDEA office.

"Unsa ko nila gidakop, nakit-an pa nako na sila naka-posting sa area. Ako sila gipangutana nag-unsa mo diri Sir? Naa ra daw sila'y gi-surveillance. Ako giingnan na naa ko'y maitabang Sir? Wala daw. Miadto na ko sa barangay hall, naligo kay mu-duty na lagi. 'Nya miadto sila kay i-invite daw ko. Mikuyog lang pud ko. Pag-abot diri sa PDEA, gi-arrest ko nila," he said.

The suspect said that a suspected drug lord in their barangay, Allan Catalan, framed him up.

"Nasuko na siya nako kay nagtuo na siya na ako'y tigsumbong sa mga ilegal niya na binuhatan diha sa barangay," he said. Barangay Kamagayan is one of the barangays in the city where illegal drug activities are rampant.

Catalan, a suspected dug pusher, was already arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau of the Cebu City Police Office during a drug raid in 2006.

Kamagayan Barangay Captain Celestino Avila went to the PDEA headquarters yesterday to protest the arrest of his chief watchman.

Tabanao however insisted that the arrest was legitimate and that the PDEA-7 has already conducted surveillance and test-buy operations against Borres.

He said they will report Borres' arrest to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which has jurisdiction over erring tanods.

The suspect is temporarily detained at the PDEA-7 detention cell pending the filing of the criminal complaint for possession of illegal drugs today.

Borres claimed to be an asset of Pari-an Police Station and of the Anti-Street Hoodlum Operating Team (A-SHOT) of the Cebu City Police Office. He has been serving the barangay as village watchman for over 10 years and has been a chief tanod since three years ago.

PDEA buy-bust nets "shabu queen"

A woman whom the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency claimed to be one of the "shabu queens" in Danao City and her alleged runner were arrested for selling a small sachet of shabu to an undercover operative during a drug bust operation.

Jeanette Jasmin, 32, was arrested by PDEA operatives last Friday afternoon outside her residence in Barangay Poblacion, Danao City. Her runner, Roger Miao, 19, of Santo Tomas Village, was also arrested during the drug bust.

On top of the small sachet which Intelligence Officer 2 Jyxyvczky Escrupolo bought from Jasmin for P1,000, three more big packs of shabu were seized from her after her arrest.

PDEA-7 information officer Jessie Tabanao said that Jasmin is in their watch list being one of three "shabu queens" in Danao City. Although, it was the first time that Jasmin was arrested but they considered her as "queen" based on intelligence report.

"Tungod sa iyang pagkasikat anang lugara, grabe na 'na siya ka-known. Karon lang na siya namo nadakpan kay idlas maong lisod kuhaon. Di sad na siya mag-gawas-gawas sa ilang balay," he added.

 PDEA-7 tagged Jasmin as level two drug pusher being capable of disposing more than 200 grams of illegal drugs a week. Jasmin refused to be interviewed when sought for comment.

Tabanao said Jasmin's husband, William, was already charged with four criminal cases for possession of more than 200 grams of shabu, marijuana sticks and a gun last September 2001.Regional Trial Court Branch 25 in Danao City, however, dismissed the charges because the evidence was illegally obtained.

Tabanao said they will file a non-bailable case for possession and selling of illegal drugs against Jasmin today.

Son locks mother inside comfort room

His mother refused to give him money, so a 35-year-old dragged his mother inside their comfort room and locked her in.

The mother, 76-year-old Paz Tancinco of Miñoza St., Talamban, Cebu City, filed a complaint against her son, Ian Dexter, for serious illegal detention.

Paz Tancinco narrated that at around 7:00 p.m. last October 24, 2009, while she was resting inside her room, Ian Dexter went inside and demanded money from her.

When she was not able to give any, Paz said, her son got angry and held both her hands, brought her inside their comfort room and locked her inside.

Ian Dexter to her: "Kon dili ka mohatag og kwarta dili ka nako pagawason sa kasilyas," before leaving her. (You will stay locked here until you give me money.)

Paz shouted for help and she was rescued two hours later by her niece, Lucita Famador, who heard her shouts.

She also added she and her niece went to Talamban Police Station to report the incident and file a case in court.

Noel A. Cellona, Prosecutor 1, stated in a resolution that there was sufficient evidence that the accused deprived his mother of liberty.

Cellona added that what the accused did was illegal.

The detention was for the purpose of extorting money, so the death penalty is applicable in this case, the prosecutor said in the resolution.

Two men shot dead in Naga City

Three men were on their way home from a disco when two of them were shot by an unidentified person at around 2:00 a.m. at Barangay Balirong, Naga City, Cebu yesterday.

Noe Tapaso Omambac, 24, a checker in Apo Cement and living in Barangay Lanas and Geraldo Niño Abalorio, 26 was on their way home with their friend Michael Canillo, 19, living in Barangay Uling, Naga City, Cebu.

Investigation revealed that the three were on their way home when the two decided to stop at a corner to pee.Canillo walked ahead when he suddenly heard a burst of gunfire and turned to see Noe lying on the road.

Out of fear, Canillo ran to seek for help but he then again heard another burst of gunfire. He went straight to the Naga Police Station and the police ran to the crime scene, but the gunman already fled.

The two victims were immediately taken to the Minglanilla District Hospital but they did not reach the hospital alive.

Noe sustained a gunshot wound at his nape that exited at his forehead while Geraldo had a gunshot wound on his chest that exited his back.

PO2 Ken Cabrera told The FREEMAN that Canillo was not able to see the suspect's face. The assailant had a long hair and wore a red t-shirt and blue maong pants.

The bodies of the victims were brought to the Saint Francis Funeral Homes in Cebu City for autopsy.

Police are still conducting further investigation to identify the motive of the killing and possible arrest of the suspect.

Chagrin to file illegal detention charges vs. Mandaue City Police

Lawyer Ronald Baquiano of furniture company Chagrin Inc. plans to file a complaint for illegal detention against the policemen of Basak, Mandaue City.

Baquiano, in an interview with The FREEMAN, claimed that workers Jesus Ibarra and Dante Libra were illegally detained at the Station 3 in Basak yesterday morning.

According to the Basak Police Station report, Ibarra and Libra were accused of "conspiracy in committing grave threats, illegal discharge of firearms and physical injuries" by members of the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

But Baquiano said the two workers were arrested without basis. According to the lawyer, Libra and Ibarra were arrested after a striker overheard Libra, a known management leader, talking in the mobile phone to a striker.

ALU members who were working for the already closed R and Y furniture company had been picketing outside Chagrin Inc. for two months now, claiming that R and Y closed shop and opened using another name so they could bust the union.

Violence had erupted several times at the picket area and the most recent one was a commotion last Saturday night, when the strikers allegedly refused to let the workers get inside the company.

For Baquiano, there was clear intention on the part of ALU to cause trouble as one striker was caught with a 12-guage shotgun.

In a press statement, Chagrin Inc. also accused the police of "turning a blind eye" to the fact that some strikers were armed. They said they even photographed the police car which was parked near the man bringing the shotgun. The Chagrin Inc. officials also said they took a picture of a striker with a slingshot, as well as another striker with a homemade shotgun, locally known as pugakhang.

"They continue to refuse us free and unobstructed entry or exit from our company gates, even without court order," the management said in a press statement.

The management also criticized the police for what it labeled as "passivity" over all that the strikers were doing.

"The company has been harassed by these illegal strikers for nearly two months now," Chagrin added in the press release.

Last June 27, 60 workers were "trapped" inside the company premises for more than 24 hours, giving apprehensions to the families of the workers. The workers were told that business was back to normal and they could already go to work, so they rode the bus that the company sent to fetch them at a designated area in Mandaue City.

But they were "barred" from going home, prompting them to call their families through their cellphones. The strikers denied they prevented the workers from going out.

Around 20 of them "escaped" by jumping at the back portion of the company's building. The rest of the "detained" workers informed their families, who sought the assistance of Consolacion Mayor-elect Teresa Alegado.

Alegado asked for help from National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Director Edmund Mirasol, who mediated and succeeded in having the workers "freed."

One incident at the picket area also saw stones and mugs of hot water literally flying between strikers and the management.

Three women charged with "illegal recruitment by syndicate"

Three women are facing a criminal case before the Regional Trial Court for recruiting an employee abroad although they are not authorized by the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA).

Josephine O. Casianan, Merlyn Gacayan, and Marcelina Larayo of Be Glad Worldwide Agency are facing charges for "illegal recruitment by a syndicate" when they failed to deploy Stella M. Codera, a resident of Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu as factory worker in Tonga Islands.

Investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) disclosed that last year, the respondents convinced and recruited Codera at Be Glad Worldwide Agency with office address at Rias Jack Building, Baseline Complex, Juana Osmeña St., Cebu City, for a job deployment in the Kingdom of Tonga and earn a salary of US$650 per month.

The respondents demanded from Codera the amount of P12,000 as processing and placement fees. After they received the money, they promised Codera to deploy her within a period of one month.

However, after three and a half months, they still failed to deploy Codera as promised, despite repeated demands by Codera.

The NBI verified with the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) through its Region 7-Cebu City Office. Their investigation revealed that Be Glad Worldwide Agency's license was cancelled and the respondents are not included in the list of officers and staff of the agency.

Rodulph Joseph Val J. Carrillo, Prosecutor II, found a probable cause to elevate the case to the court.

"The uncontested allegations in the complaint establish that the respondents recruited Codera for employment abroad," Carillo said.

Carrillo stated that under Section 6 of Republic Act 8042, illegal recruitment is committed by any person who recruits workers for employment abroad although he is not licensed to do so.

Section 6 of RA 8042 also considers as illegal recruitment the failure to actually deploy a worker without a valid reason. Since there are three offenders in this case, illegal recruitment was deemed committed by a syndicate.

Farmers surrender P45M cocaine find to cops

Two fishermen from San Policarpo town in Eastern Samar have turned over to the police nine bricks of cocaine with an estimated street value of P45 million.

25 military trainees fall ill; food poisoning eyed

Twenty-five military trainees were rushed to the hospital here on Saturday due to suspected food poisoning.

The trainees of the 802nd Infantry Brigade based in this city were weak from severe stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea when they were brought to the hospital starting Saturday afternoon, said attending physician Dr. Noel Maico of the Ormoc District Hospital.

Maico said the trainees were believed to have suffered from food poisoning or gastroenteritis but this could not be confirmed until the release of the results on the laboratory tests given on the patients.

Lt. Jimson Masangkay, the commanding officer of the 802nd IB Training Model, said those who were taken ill were among the trainees who took part in a bloodletting activity on Saturday before they had lunch that consisted of chicken with sotanghon (vermicelli noodle) that they themselves prepared.

By mid afternoon of Saturday, few started to have severe stomach cramps and diarrhea and by 7:30 p.m., 25 out of the 193 trainees were confined at the ODH.

Masangkay said many others suffered minor diarrhea and felt better after being treated by the Brigade's medical staff.

Masangkay said they were still determining why only some got seriously ill, considering that all the 193 trainees drank the same distilled water and ate the same food for lunch.

The trainees were on the third week of their 12-week military training at the 802nd IB, Masangkay said.

Values formation school opened for 'kotong cops'

MANILA, Philippines – Neophyte cops approve of the government's drive to stamp out "kotong cops" or police officers who accept bribes and grease money.

The rookies said they support the newly-opened school of values, where "kotong cops" will be 'detained'  and given values formation courses.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III inaugurated the Philippine National Police (PNP) School of Values and Leadership (SVL) at the Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales on Friday.

"Pabor kami sa school na 'yan, para may pagkakataon namang magbago 'yung mga nagkakamali," said PO1 Ronnie Gonzaga.

"Meron talagang mga ganiyang mga pasaway! Okey kami diyan para malinis naman yung pangalan namin. Kami, ginagawa namin nang mayos ang trabaho namin eh," remarked another policeman.

But in the end, the public's lack of tolerance for such acts may still be the key to eradicating corruption in the police force.

The P14-million PNP SVL of the PNP Training Service (TS) was funded by the Presidential Anti Graft Commission.

The PNP TS will be conducting training courses and training programs for the skills enhancement, intellectual advancement and moral transformation of PNP members.

The PNP TS also has the following functional schools aside from the SVL: School for Field Training and Technical Services, School for Specialized Courses, and School for Sports and Skills Development. 

Comelec yearning to proclaim partylist winners

by By Mayen Jaymalin

Just like the winning partylist groups in waiting, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) also wants to proclaim rightful winners and longs to get the job done soon.

"We see the urgency… that is why we want to complete the party-list canvassing already," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told reporters in an interview.

Sarmiento said the poll body understands why various partylist groups are pressing the Comelec to proclaim the other winning partylist groups before the scheduled opening of Congress next week.

"Of course they also need time to undergo training and orientation, and seats to occupy in the various House committees," Sarmiento said.

So far, the Comelec has proclaimed the first 33 party-list congressmen after being able to identify which of them have garnered enough votes that will not be affected by results of special elections.

Partylist winners are supposed to occupy a total of 57 seats in Congress.

The Comelec stressed that it cannot proclaim the other winning partylist winners yet due to pending disqualification cases against the organizations and their representatives.

The poll body has also said the votes from areas where special elections will still be held would be material to the race.

Angara bloc to bare Senate President choice

Amid the race for the Senate presidency, Sen. Edgardo Angara on Sunday said his group would announce its pick for the position next Wednesday.

DoJ begins review of Trillanes' coup d'etat charges

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the Department of Justice (DoJ) has started reviewing the records of the coup d'état case against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes bail 'a welcome development,' says AFP

The military is considering detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy official charged for attempting to overthrow the Arroyo administration, as an ally whose temporary freedom would be "a welcome development."

Abcede is not PCGG OIC, says Justice chief

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MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima threw out a memorandum circular issued by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) commissioner Ricardo Abcede, announcing his assumption as officer-in-charge of the commission following the resignation of PCGG chair Camilo Sabio last June 30.

De Lima declared the circular null and void, clarifying that she has not designated Abcede or any of the PCGG commissioners to act as the agency's OIC.

De Lima said the DOJ is now in the process of determining from the records, who exactly is the next-in-rank and most senior official of the PCGG.

Once a determination has been made, De Lima stressed, an OIC will be designated.

Search on for Supreme Court associate justice

MANILA, Philippines - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will start this week its search for the lone vacancy in the Supreme Court (SC).

SC justice plagiarized parts of ruling on comfort women

The Supreme Court may have committed plagiarism in a decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo dumping the petition of 70 Filipino comfort women who wanted the government to compel Tokyo to make a public apology and reparations to victims of sexual abuse during WWII. Del Castillo allegedly lifted quotes and footnotes from materials by legal experts abroad without proper attribution.

Agra denies alleged Maguindanao witness bribery attempt

MANILA, Philippines - Former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra denied a report from National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) counter terrorism unit chief Ric Diaz about an alleged attempt to bribe a key witness in the Maguindao massacre case during his term.

Troops scour Sulu for missing Japanese

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines  - Philippine troops on Sunday fanned out across a remote southern island province where a missing Japanese man may have been kidnapped by Islamic militants, a senior military official said.

AFP probes two identities of kidnapped Japanese

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Sunday it has sought help from the Japanese Embassy to establish the identity of a Japanese herbalist kidnapped in Sulu on Friday, after finding out he has been using two names.

Poll commissioner's cooperation sought in tracking son

The military underscored on Sunday the need for Election Commissioner Elias Yusoph to cooperate with the military in helping troops track down the kidnappers of his son Nuralden.

Suspected bomber arrested in South Cotabato

Nadakip ng mga pulis sa South Cotabato ang isang hinihinalang bomber.

Pagcor probes attempt to enchash P21-M by ex-employee

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is continuing its investigation into an attempt by a former employee to encash a cheque worth more than P21 million.

Ronald McDonald must be laughing all the way to the bank after the former management of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) reportedly racked up a total of P21 million in food purchases in just eight days from the American fast-food chain McDonald's.

Based on documents obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former Pagcor chairman Efraim Genuino approved a check in the amount of P21.119 million and payable to former Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Francisco two days before President Aquino took office on June 30.

Former Pagcor senior vice president Edward F. King dismissed the check as a "small amount" in contrast to other transactions involving Pagcor.

King, who made the request for payment on June 25, said the check was meant to reimburse Genuino who paid for the food that was donated to policemen "for their activities and operations in line with their thrust to provide security to the population."

But Pagcor spokesperson Jay Santiago said the new management could not believe that policemen ate that many cheeseburgers and fried chicken.

Santiago presented 28 official receipts from Golden Arches Development Corp. issued on eight separate days – Jan. 15, March 11, April 5, April 14, May 4, May 12, May 13 and June 3, when the single biggest daily purchase of over P6 million was made.

Golden Arches holds the McDonald's franchise in the Philippines.

While the check was issued on June 28, a certification attesting to the purchases was made by Police Director Roberto Rosales only on June 29.

It read: "This is to certify that the assistance given by Pagcor to the Philippine National Police by way of food provisions was received and consumed by PNP personnel for our various activities and operations.''

In a phone interview, Rosales said he only attested to the receipt of the food but not to the actual value as stated in the receipts.

He said the police had to rely on food donations because the government did not have the funds to feed policemen on duty.

"We got food from McDonald's and Jollibee, mostly fried chicken and rice, because this does not spoil easily, and sometimes some cheeseburgers,'' said Rosales who noted that Pagcor also gave the police gas money to ensure that they would patrol their areas.

Pagcor is currently conducting an audit of its books, specifically into midnight deals and cash disbursements in the final days of Genuino's tenure.

Among the transactions being investigated are the P5-million monthly allowance given to over 200 consultants of the agency, a P29-million donation to Bida Foundation Inc., and cash donations to the campaigns of Genuino's children in the last elections.

COA quizzes DOTC on P320-M spare parts purchase

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) had spent over P500 million in three years on equipment that only ended up in storage, according to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Pinoy priest elevates US conviction in embezzlement case

CHICAGO, Illinois - On grounds of double jeopardy, a retired Filipino priest has appealed his embezzlement case involving over $1 million dollars before the Virginia Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeals upheld his sentence of 18 years in prison for state and federal offenses.

$1: P46.275

$1: P46.275

Euro 1: P58.9941

Vietnam rice growers face low prices as exports down

PHU NHUAN, VietnamOver-production and lower exports have left rice farmers in Vietnam's Mekong Delta holding on to their stocks in the face of lower prices, analysts say.

Vietnam is the world's second-largest exporter of rice and the Delta accounts for more than half of the country's production.

But surpluses, the beginning of the wet season, and a shortage of places for drying wet rice are adding up to heavy potential losses, says Vo Tong Xuan, an internationally-recognized rice expert.

He fears Vietnam will lose one million tons of the grain this season.

The country hopes to sell about six million tons on the international market in 2010, a figure similar to last year's, but shipments fell in the first half. Between January and June Vietnam exported more than three million tons, down 8.76 percent on the same period a year earlier, according to official statistics.

Export value for the period fell only 1.32 percent, which Xuan said indicates that shippers received a good price. The farmers, however, did not fully benefit from those proceeds.

Xuan, based in the Delta province of An Giang, said farmers may have over-produced this year on an expectation of earnings after state-owned VinaFood assured them the Philippines would buy in bulk.

But the Philippines had not yet confirmed all its purchases, Xuan said, while other buyers like those in Europe were betting on fresh falls in the price and delaying their orders.

Le Van Banh, director of the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, notes that competition from other exporters including India and Pakistan leaves less room for Vietnamese grain abroad, while at home "we have an abundance of rice so the prices are relatively low."

Bags of rice piled on the porch of Dang Thi Bay's house in Tien Giang province symbolize the problem.

With prices down she is not rushing to sell her 15 tons (16.5 tons) of stock.

"If we take into account the fertilizer price and the costs of production, selling now would bring a loss. It is too cheap," says the mother of five.

"We're waiting for the price to go up, but don't know how long that will be," Bay says at her home in Phu Nhuan commune.

For one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of paddyunmilled riceshe can get between 3,200 and 3,300 dong (about 18 cents) from a local processor. That is a drop from 4,000 to 4,200 dong last year.

Bay has started growing a new crop and says she can keep her current stock for two months before rainy-season humidity could take its toll. She fears losing her harvest.

To help farmers, the government has announced preferential loans to local businesses for buying up to one million tons of rice. They have been asked to purchase one kilogram at a minimum price of 3,500 dong, according to Vietnamese media.

In Phu Nhuan, just down the road from Bay's house, Ngo Thi Thanh Thuy works in a family trading business, buying paddy from neighboring farmers, milling it and selling to markets.

"We are still buying because certain families in difficult situations keep selling, but we are having problems reselling it," she said.

In normal times the paddy is milled in the morning and resold in the afternoon but lately four or five days pass before the business can resell.

Xuan, the professor, says too many farmers plant three crops of rice annually. He would like to see lower production in the Delta to assure them better prices.

"It's very easy to ramp up production but difficult to increase (their) revenues," he said.

3 missing in Vietnam after storm hits

HANOI – Three people were missing in Vietnam as tropical storm Conson hit the country, officials said Sunday, after leaving 68 dead in the Philippines when it roared in as a typhoon.

Flash floods stain Singapore's reputation as urban paradise

Singaporeans were salvaging cars, soaked belongings and damaged goods on Sunday after a third flash flood in two months submerged low-lying areas of the city-state.

27 missing after bus plunges off road in southwest China

BEIJING – At least 27 people were missing feared dead Sunday when a passenger bus fell off a mountainous road and into a river in southwest China, a local official and state media said.

ASEAN's credibility at stake on Myanmar vote – Amnesty

HANOI – ASEAN's credibility is at stake unless it defends freedom of expression and other rights ahead of elections planned in its military-ruled member Myanmar, Amnesty International said Sunday.

Suicide bomber kills 43 at Iraq army office – ministries

BAGHDAD – (UPDATE) A suicide bomber killed 43 people at an army office west of Baghdad on Sunday, as anti-Qaeda fighters gathered to receive their salaries, interior and defence ministry officials said.

Mubarak is in excellent health – Israeli minister

JERUSALEM – Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer said on Sunday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in excellent health and would remain in politics for a long time.

Gunmen kill 17 in Mexico party slaughter

Gunmen armed with machine guns shot dead at least 17 people on Sunday as they mowed down party-goers in a pre-dawn attack outside the northern Mexican city of Torreon, officials said.

HIV: Start treatment earlier, says panel

VIENNA – A major expert panel recommended ahead of the start of the world AIDS conference here Sunday that patients with HIV start antiretroviral drugs at an earlier stage of infection.

Planned Pacquiao-Floyd bout dead, says Arum

Top Rank Promotions chairman Bob Arum said that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has failed to meet the Friday night deadline (Saturday in Manila) on whether or not to accept a lucrative November 13 showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

No one can beat Pacquiao – Roach


Regardless of who it's going to be for Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 13 – Mexican Antonio Margarito or Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto – top trainer Freddie Roach believes the Filipino star will win hands-down.

"A hundred percent," Roach told The Ring magazine's on-line edition when staffer Michael Rosenthal suggested that the Mexican warrior charging into Pacquiao "would be as if Margarito would be walking into a meat grinder."

Roach prefers to pit Pacquiao against Margarito simply because Cotto had already tasted the fury of Pacquiao's punches last year.

"I just think Manny has his (Cotto) number," said Roach, who guided Pacquiao to a smashing 12th-round stoppage over the Puerto Rican.

"I think Margarito would be more interesting for the fans. They've already seen Cotto," he said. "Cotto was in the fight for about four rounds and that was about it. Margarito has been a pretty dominant fighter, except for the (Shane) Mosley fight. Cotto is at a higher weight now. And maybe there's some interest because of the world title. And, who knows, maybe having Emanuel Steward in his corner will make a difference. That might add some interest."

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is looking at either Cotto or Margarito as Pacquiao's next foe after efforts to tap Floyd Mayweather the last several weeks proved futile.

Arum, however, said Saturday that Mayweather has another 10 days or so to make a contact while he talks with other fighters.

Arum said the Mayweather fight is not dead but now he must start making plans for the Asian superstar's next bout.

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather: The Fight -- or Farce? -- of the Century

Don't hold your breath for the "Fight of the Century." The most anticipated fight to never happen won't happen again this year. Perhaps it never will. Ever.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., one of the craftiest defensive boxers in the history of the sport, has decided not to risk his undefeated record against Manny Pacquiao, the relentless Filipino fighter who has won an unprecedented seven world championships in seven different weight classes. They have never met in the ring and the sport and industry of boxing desperately wanted a gigantic moneymaker and potentially gargantuan showdown.

Fans demanded a fight. The rapper Snoop Dogg made a video pleading with the men to rumble in the ring. Michael Wilbon, a host on an ESPN commentary show, said Mayweather would be a "coward" if he didn't face Pacquiao. So, after about eight months of fits, feints, lawsuits and non-starters, the Filipino's promoter Bob Arum gave Mayweather an arbitrary two-week deadline to approve and sign the contract or he would start negotiating with other fighters. The deadline was midnight on Friday, July 16. The potential purse was $40 million — each. (See pictures of the rise of Manny Pacquiao.)

How could the fight not happen? It's never a fair fight when boxing people and logic go toe-to-toe: logic inevitably gets knocked to the canvas. Shortly after Friday passed into Saturday in Las Vegas, a weary Arum relayed the depressing news to a handful of bleary-eyed journalists. "Floyd, for whatever reason, didn't want to commit," Arum said. More accurately, he said, Mayweather had chosen to ignore the proposed contract and hadn't communicated with anyone. Or could it be that Mayweather just didn't like the unilateral nature Arum and the Pacquiao camp had taken the so-called negotiations?

The two best boxers in the world have enough personality and back-story to transcend their blood sport. Pacquiao, who grew up in a cardboard shack, sings and cuts platinum-selling albums despite having a high-pitched squeal of a voice, was just elected to the Filipino Congress. Mayweather enjoys trash talking, hanging out with rap artists, and was a contestant on the reality show Dancing With the Stars. He calls himself "Money" and carries thousands of dollars of cash in his pockets. (See the meaning and mythos of Manny Pacquiao.)

As good as they are in the ring, Pacquiao and Mayweather have proved to be laughably inept at actually holding a prize fight. And fans and boxing insiders are afraid the constant build-up and let-downs for the so-called "Fight of the Century" are black eyes for a sport that has seen its audience erode. Some say last night's announcement of a non-event may be the most embarrassing thing for the sport since Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear in a 1997 fight — though that was painful as well as shameful.

This week's ridiculous Pacquiao-Mayweather non-starter is only the latest in a series. The men were supposed to go at each other earlier this year, but the fight negotiations broke down after Mayweather insisted on Olympic style random blood-testing. He said he was crusading for more stringent drug tests as a way to clean up the sweet science. But many people believe the blood-testing requirement was simply a way for him to duck the PacMan and preserve his perfect record, which Mayweather is supremely proud of.

Pacquiao, who is very superstitious and claims to get weak when he gives blood close to a fight, refused Mayweather's testing regime and said that his opponent didn't have the right to create his own set of rules. Then the Filipino, who has never tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs, sued Mayweather alleging that he made false and defamatory statements. Pacquiao's entourage started wearing T-shirts that said, "100 Percent God, No Steroids." Disgusted with each other, both men fought other opponents this spring, winning decisively in fights that weren't exactly spellbinders.

Early this summer their representatives went to the negotiating table to see if they could line up a fight on November 13. A strict gag order was issued so insults weren't reproduced in the media. Arum worked through Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports, who acted as a mediator and communicated with the Mayweather camp. Arum wouldn't reveal the exact terms, but he says the blood-testing issue was settled. Sources say that Pacquiao was willing to overcome his fear of blood testing so he could have a chance to beat-up his arch-nemesis. "We want to knock this bum out," says Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer. When he shadow boxes in the gym, Pacquiao says he pretends he is fighting Mayweather.

But Mayweather wouldn't play and didn't bother to call by the deadline set by Arum. In fact, the usually loquacious Mayweather probably wasn't even listening. (He didn't respond to phone calls from TIME as well.) He has good reasons for not getting into the weeds of a PR campaign right now. His uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather will go on trial early on Aug. 2 on charges of assaulting and choking a female boxer. The elder Mayweather has pleaded not guilty but could face up to 16 years in prison. He has always been a seminal influence on his nephew.

"I understand Floyd's position, regarding Roger," said Arum. "I can understand Floyd delaying until there is a resolution of the Roger situation. I don't think you guys should be too harsh on Floyd." But when asked to speculate on why Mayweather wouldn't even bother to call him and explain his reasons for bowing out of the fight of the century? "I can't figure it out," Arum admitted.

As a good showman, Arum used the occasion to talk about what's up next for Pacquiao. He said he would talk with his fighter to figure out who he wanted to meet next: the Mexican-American Antonio Margarito or a rematch with the Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, whom he defeated in a spectacular battle in November 2009. If he fights Margarito, the bout will probably be held in Las Vegas or Monterrey, Mexico. If he fights Cotto, the fight will be held in Vegas or at Dallas' Cowboy Stadium.

Arum said the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight could still happen this year if Mayweather suddenly emerged, but it would be more likely that it happens next year, if ever. But interest in the mega-fight might evaporate if the men drag it out much longer, testing the patience of beleaguered and disappearing boxing fans. And the greatest fight ever might just turn into the biggest farce in the sport's history.

Bigwigs turn up for P1M derby

POLITICS in the Philippines is often compared to cockfights.

Last night in Mandaue City, the two worlds met, as some politicians from the Visayas and Mindanao competed or placed their bets in a derby that offered a champion's prize of P1 million.

Saranggani Province Rep. Manny Pacquiao sent a gamecock that saw action against an entry from Southern Leyte Gov. Mian Mercado.

Theirs was the 13th fight in last night's bill.

Banal, Pagara score KO victories

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pugilists AJ "Bazooka" Banal and Jason Pagara outplayed their Japanese and South Korean opponents on Saturday, scoring knockout wins in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Banal won the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) Asia-Pacific bantamweight title after stopping Japan's Big Yoo at 1:59 of Round 5.

The new WBO Asia-Pacific champ even suffered a cut on his scalp after an accidental head butt in Round 2.

According to, he fought on until he fired a right to his foe's temple and a sharp left uppercut which finished off the Japanese.

Banal now has 22 wins (with 18 knockouts), 1 loss and 1 draw while Yoo, who resides in South Korea, has a 16-3 (with 11 KOs) record.

Yoo's loss to Banal was his first defeat by KO.

Meanwhile, Pagara saw off South Korean Young-Bin Kim with a 2nd round technical knockout victory at 2:18.

In Round 2, Pagara let out a series of "sharp hooks" which caused cuts on his opponent's eyelids. They cuts on the Korean's eyelids prompted the ring physician to recommend a stop to the fight.

Pagara now has a 23-1 (with 12 KOs) card while Young-Bin Kim has 10 wins (with 7 KOs) and 2 losses.

The Banal and Pagara bouts were featured in "SANDUGO – Labanan ng mga Kampeon."

Other winners in the event were ALA Gym's James Bacon, Ricky Sismundo of Tagbilaran City, Rocky Bacor of the DDP Stable of Butuan City, Jomar Cordinillo of Tagbilaran City and Wilbeth Loberanis also of Tagbilaran City.

Aces survive Kings, 93-91, face Texters in Final 4

There was no miracle comeback for Ginebra. Not at the expense of one of the proudest franchises in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history. Not at the expense of the league's winningest coach.
Diamon Simpson found himself unmolested underneath the basket and banked in an easy lay up with five seconds left as the Aces hang tough for 93-91 win over the Kings and clinched the last semifinals berth in the Fiesta Cup Sunday night at the packed Big Dome. 

Washam erupts for 49, tows Llamados to PBA semis

Tony Washam carried B-Meg Derby Ace into his shoulders for four full quarters before the rest of the Llamados took over in the extra period of a dramatic 105-100 win over Rain or Shine Sunday at the Big Dome.

Lawyers waiting for Kris Aquino's return from US trip

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyers of Kris Aquino said they are still "ironing out some details" before a petition ending the actress's 5-year marriage to basketball player James Yap can be filed in court.

PNoy goes 'malling' with nephews, nieces

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III took a break from his official duties and spent his Sunday with family, enjoying lunch with his sisters and joining his nephews and nieces for a stroll in a mall.

Willie tight-lipped on return to 'Wowowee'

Naging mailap si Willie Revillame sa usaping babalik na siya sa popular na noontime show na 'Wowowe"

Kim Chiu open to other love teams

Bukas si Kim Chiu sa posibilidad na makasama naman ang mga ibang Kapamilya stars at magkaron ng ibang love-team matapos ang seryeng Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo kung saan naging patok ang tambalan nila ni Gerald Anderson.

Charice joins music greats in David Foster concert

MANILA, Philippines - Singing sensation Charice will join big named musicians like Natalie Cole and Peter Cetera in a concert with multi-awarded composer David Foster.

Charice undergoes cosmetic procedures for 'Glee'

MANILA, Philippines – Charice has recently undergone non-invasive cosmetic procedures at the Belo Medical Clinic as part of her preparations for the second season of "Glee."

It was Dr. Vicki Belo who did the thermage and Botox procedures on the 18-year-old international singing sensation.

While the 30-minute thermage procedure was painless, Charice was in tears as Belo injected Botox in her face, specifically in the jaw area. Charice admitted that she was afraid of needles.

Belo explained that the thermage and Botox were meant to make her "naturally round face" more narrow.

"Charice's face, I've been noticing, it's been getting wider… That's why she looks mataba, although the body is very small, because your face is getting wide. One of the reasons for that, nagchew-chewing gum [siya]… Our chewing muscles, if you chew a lot of gums, it gets bigger," Belo said.

"The other thing, she really has a natural round face. So what we did, we did thermage, pampaliit ng mukha 'yon... 'yong muscle [sa jaw area] na nagbu-bulge, puwedeng i-Botox para maging normal ulit. And then she will not chew gums anymore para maganda na siya sa 'Glee.'"

The celebrity doctor said the effects of thermage and Botox will be gradual and visible in several months.

She said: "Thermage works in about 3 months. 'Yong Botox, you will see the difference in about a month."

'Glee' preps

Charice, for her part, said undergoing cosmetic procedures was now paramount especially since she will be appearing in one of the biggest shows in the United States.

"Lahat po ng mga tao inaasahan nila, 'Ano kaya 'yong itsura ni Charice? Karapat-dapat ba siyang itapat kay Rachel Berry?' So, siyempre sobrang laki ng pressure," she said.

She added: "Isa ito sa mga big preparation namin for 'Glee.' Gusto ko naman mag-mukhang fresh paglabas ng kamera."

After the cosmetic procedures, Charice proceeded to Eastwood Park in Quezon City where 5,000 people watched her perform. Among Charice's special guests were Belo and the doctor's rumored boyfriend, Hayden Kho.

Katrina Halili taps psychologist as witness in sex scandal

The camp of sexy actress Katrina Halili will call to the stand a psychologist from the National Bureau of Investigation who examined her after videos of her sexual encounters with former celebrity doctor Hayden Kho had spread on the Internet.

Call center agent does a Hayden Kho Jr., gets arrested

For doing a Hayden Kho Jr., a call center agent is now in hot water. Edwardson Base of Quezon City was arrested by Manila police operatives Sunday morning after his former girlfriend accused him of posting their sex video on the popular social networking site Facebook.

'Melason' invades London

LONDON – Fans of the wacky love team of Melisa Cantiveros and Jason Francisco welcomed the 2 former housemates of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) when they arrived here for the "Barrio Fiesta sa London."

Paris Hilton caught with marijuana

PARIS - Paris Hilton was briefly detained in Corsica after sniffer dogs detected a "quite small" quantity of marijuana in her bag, a French newspaper reported Saturday.

Low pressure area seen to bring rains--Pagasa

The government's weather bureau has warned the public to be ready for rains, possible flash floods and landslides, especially in the eastern parts of the country due to an active low pressure area.

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