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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 7, 2010 Major News Stories

Cheaper meds law 'useless'

Halos isang taon mula nang ipatupad ang cheaper medicine law, aminado ang pamahalaan na hindi pa rin ito gaanong napapakinabangan lalo na ng mahihirap. Kahit kasi nagmura ang presyo ng ilang piling gamot, hindi naman sapat ang perang pambili ng mga kakarampot lang ang kita.

MCWD to build five water reservoirs to ensure 24/7 supply

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District will be constructing five water reservoirs in Cebu City to ensure a continuous water supply even in elevated areas starting next year.

Almendras to tackle power supply crunch

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-minted Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said fixing the power supply crunch is on top of his marching orders from President Benigno Aquino III.

This is not an easy task for the new man at the helm of the Department of Energy, but Almendras is fast tracking his learning curve, setting aside every Monday as power outlook review day.

"Unfortunately, the solutions are not short and coming. It takes a few years to build power plants. It takes a few years to put new energy sources in place. The plan is to move as fast as we can, as soon as we can," Almendras said in an interview with Alvin Elchico of ABS-CBN News.

Cebu customs collector denies rampant sugar smuggling

Cebu Customs Collector Ronnie Silvestre on Tuesday denied that sugar smuggling has been rampant in Cebu.

"We don't tolerate any sugar smuggling here in Cebu," Silvestre told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in reaction to the complaint of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) that smuggled sugar proliferated in Cebu.

NFSP president Enrique Rojas had sent a letter to Bureau of Customs officer-in-charge Alexander Arevalo informing him about the alleged sugar smuggling occurring in Cebu.

Silvestre said on Tuesday he met with the Cebu Customs intelligence agents after he read the report on the INQUIRER to discuss the complaint but the agents maintained that there was no sugar smuggling in the province.

"That's their general conclusion. That report was unfair to us," Silvestre said on Tuesday afternoon.

However, he said he would be willing to meet Rojas if the latter was willing to provide information on the alleged sugar smuggling.

In his July 5 letter to Arevalo, Silvestre said that since he assumed the position on December 15, 2009, he has ordered Customs personnel, particularly the Enforcement and Security Service and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, to be more vigilant to ensure there would be no smuggling of sugar.

Silvestre also said that he had also established continuing coordination with Jose Escobañez, the representative of the Federation of Philippine Industry based in Cebu on the monitoring of sugar shipments.

The Cebu Customs Bonded Warehouse (CBW) division had also been tasked to ensure that imported sugar intended for Customs bonded warehouses (CBWs) would not be diverted to local consumption, he said in his letter.

Silvestre added that the Cebu Customs has also maintained its linkage with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrative Director Bernardo Trebol in order to address the sugar smuggling issue.

He also urged Rojas to file a report with the Cebu Customs office so they could discuss his complaint.

In a report submitted to Silvestre, Elizabeth delas Llagas, chief of the Cebu Customs Bonded Warehouse Division, said that they did not find any discrepancy in the imported sugar stored in the Customs bonded warehouses in Cebu.

Erap: Davide appointment as SC chief a favor for Lucio Tan

The appointment of Hilario Davide Jr. as chief justice in 1998 was done as a favor for business tycoon Lucio Tan, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada said Tuesday. He also said he doubts Davide, as head of the recently formed Truth Commission, will prosecute Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her alleged wrongdoings. GMANews.TV tried calling Davide for comment, but he was not answering his phone.
Estrada, who got more than 9 million votes in the May 10 presidential race despite his conviction for plunder, also assailed Davide's recent appointment as head of an independent body that will investigate unresolved controversies in the Arroyo administration.

"Ang totoo, noong ako ay presidente inimbitahan ako niLucio Tan sa penthouse niya sahotel niya. Sabi niya magdi-dinnerlang kami. Inimbita lang ako. Pero pagpasok ko sa penthouse,nandoon na si Chief Justice Davide. Iyan (Tan) ang lumakad para ma-promote iyan at maging chief justice," said Estrada in a dzMM interview.

(When I was President, Lucio Tan invited me to a dinner at his penthouse. There I saw Chief Justice Davide. It was Tan who worked to get Davide promoted to chief justice.) 

Estrada did not say when and where the meeting took place.

He said he heeded Tan's request and appointed Davide.

GMANews.TV tried calling Davide for comment, but he was not answering his phone.

In 2002, Davide was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service — a singular honor that is often viewed as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He was also recognized for his life of principled citizenship and his profound service to democracy and the rule of law.


During the interview, Estrada expressed doubts on whether Davide, now retired, could be trusted to lead the Truth Commission since he knew that the former Chief Justice and Tan were always doing favors to each other.

Hilario Davide Jr., former Chief Justice and Ambassador to the UN, has been tasked by President Aquino to investigate anomalies that hounded the past Arroyo administration.GMANews.TV/File Photo
He claimed that when it was Davide's turn to return the favor to Tan, the former magistrate did not disappoint. He said Davide was instrumental in the dismissal of what was considered as the country's biggest tax evasion case — the P25.3-billion lawsuit filed against Tan, owner of Fortune Tobacco Corp. and Asia Brewery.

"Noong in-elevate ko sa Supreme Court [ang kaso], ang ginawa niDavide ni-remand sa lower court.Hindi na nag-apela kaya na-dismiss ang tax evasion case," said Estrada, whose administration was cut short by a corruption scandal.

(When I elevated the case to the Supreme Court, Davide remanded it to a lower court. There was no appeal so the tax evasion case was eventually dismissed.)

Estrada said Tan asked him to no longer bring the tax evasion case all the way to the Supreme Court, but he said he turned him down. "Alam kong interes ng gobyerno ang nakataya, kaya hindi ko na siya pinagbigyan at in-elevate ko," he said.

(I knew the government's interest was at stake so I didn't give in to his request and the case reached the Supreme Court.)

Estrada said the two incidents became the catalyst for Davide to "gang up on me." He said he would be baring more details about these incidents in his upcoming memoir, which he is planning to finish by December.

"Lalabas po iyan kapag natapos iyong memoirs sa libro ko. Lahat yan dokumentado at nakasulat (This will go public once I finish my memoirs. All these are documented and written down)," he said.

Indebted to Arroyo

In the same radio interview, Estrada said it would be hard to believe Davide would pin down Arroyo since he is indebted to her for appointing him as Philippine ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York.

"Paano niya ipo-prosecute ang isang taong may utang na loob sya (How can he prosecute someone he is indebted to)?" he said.

Lucio Tan (right) allegedly was responsible for Hilario Davide Jr's appointment as SC chief justice in 1998, former President Joseph Estrada claims. Gil Ancheta/File Photo
Davide quit his post last April after he aligned himself with then presidential contender Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who went on to win the presidency. 

Aquino earlier named Davide to head the Truth Commission, although he has not yet issued an executive order creating the investigative body and defining its parameters.

Esteada also maintained that Davide committed an illegal act in 2001 when he took the oath of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as new president following his departure from Malacanang by boat at the height of the People Power 2 revolt. 

"Bakit siya magsusumpa sa pagka-presidente, wala namang vacancy dahil presidente pa ako noon (Why would he swear in a president when there's no vacancy as I was still the president back then)?" he said.

Davide was the presiding judge in the impeachment trial against Estrada in December 2000. Arroyo assumed the highest post in the land after a mass uprising - similar to the 1986 People Power Revolution – put an abrupt end to Estrada's reign.

Estrada was convicted of plunder in September 2007 but was granted executive clemency by Arroyo a month later.

Estrada also pointed out the impeachment complaint filed against Davide in 2003 for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He was then accused of disbursing some P47.6 million to purchase curtains, furniture, luxury vehicles, and to construct vacation houses in Baguio City for members of the high court.

Gullas mulls inquiry into spate of bus accidents

Alarmed of the spate of accidents involving buses in Cebu which has already claimed at least 40 lives in a short span of time, First District Rep. Eduardo Gullas mulls a possible congressional investigation into the matter.

Supporters of Quiño hold rally: Tension flares in Compostela

Tensions flared yesterday afternoon as supporters of Joel Quiño, who was declared winner of the mayoralty race in the town Compostela, but hasn't been able to sit due to a protest, milled around the municipal hall and staged a rally.

Reluya asks court to clarify order denying her motion to dispense with PCOS authentication

Defeated mayoralty candidate Lakambini Reluya has asked the court's clarification to its order denying her earlier motion to dispense with the authentication of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines relative to her election protest against San Fernando Mayor Antonio Canoy.

New memo to "unburden" PB members, secretary

Doing away with Provincial Board (PB) resolutions releasing financial assistance charged against their discretionary funds saves time and a lot of papers, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia explained yesterday.

Gwen orders review on Greg's use of 'pork'

IF THAT was a truce, it lasted only a day. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said yesterday she will pursue the investigation on projects funded by legislative funds assigned to Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr.

Greg gives in, turns over vehicles

Cebu Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. yesterday agreed to turn over the vehicles assigned to him, in response to an order of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia recalling the vehicles charged against the Office of the Governor but were being used by the Office of the Vice Governor.

Sanchez to file disbarment vs. provincial legal officer

Cebu Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. yesterday confirmed that he is planning to file a disbarment case against Provincial Legal Officer Marino Martinquilla for allegedly coercing witnesses against him.

Ex-fiscal gets 10-year jail term for graft

The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former prosecutor to suffer a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he failed to immediately file the information of a case assigned to him in 1991.

In a 21-page decision promulgated last June 2, 2010, the Sandiganbayan third division found former assistant provincial prosecutor Crispulo Truya guilty of violating Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019.

The decision penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz meted Truya a minimum imprisonment of six years and one month to 10 years and one day as maximum. The anti-graft court also imposed upon him perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The anti-graft court ruled that Truya's failure to immediately file the proper information of the case assigned to him in 1991 constitute a "gross inexcusable negligence" on his part.   The case stemmed from an indictment issued by the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas against Truya. The anti-graft office investigated Truya and found probable cause to charge him before the Sandiganbayan because of his failure to file the information of the case against Jesus Gelig Sr. who was charged with direct assault with attempted homicide in 1991.

Truya's failure to immediately file the information in court against Gelig within the reglementary period has resulted to the detention of the accused for more than five years without the proper charges in court.

City inspects 100 vehicles

MORE than a hundred of service vehicles and response units from the different barangays in Cebu City were inspected yesterday at the city's motor pool.

City provides free vaccination for hogs

The Cebu City Veterinary Office will provide free vaccination for hogs raised in backyard piggeries as part of their intervention program to prevent the classical swine fever or hog cholera.

Ermita has biggest number of malnourished kids in city

Barangay Ermita, this city has the most number of severely underweight or malnourished children according to the latest monitoring by the Cebu City Health Department this year.

Public elementary and high school students up

The number of students who enrolled in the various public elementary and high schools in Cebu City for this school year has increased to 146,177 or 1,880 more compared to the enrollees last year, education officials announced yesterday.

City administrator to hold office at CH ground floor

Newly appointed Cebu city administrator Jose Mari Poblete will hold office at the ground floor of the City Hall building as ordered by Mayor Michael Rama.

Cortes reveals priority projects

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes revealed his priority projects and said he expects the full support of the City Council.

Paz won't impose new taxes, to improve collection efforts

LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Paz Radaza assured her administration will not impose new taxes.

However, she said it could be a last resort.

Rama wants Malacañang sa Sugbo

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama is interested in taking the Malacañang sa Sugbu if the Aquino administration won't use the building anymore.

Aquino frowns at 'holiday economics' - spokesman

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will review the "holiday economics" policy instituted by his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a Malacañang spokesman said Tuesday.

DOTC to draft measure penalizing sale of blinkers, sirens

A proposed measure will be drafted to impose penalties on dealers of illegal blinkers and sirens, also known as "wangwang."

PSG chief: Aquino may have to use 'wangwang' if there are security threats

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III may have to use sirens when traveling by land if his life is under threat, the head of his security detail said Tuesday.

US ambassador won't use 'wang-wang', too

Inulan ng tanong si US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas sa pagharap sa Manila Overseas Press Club kanina. Hiningan siya ng opinyon tungkol sa human trafficking at terrorismo, maging sa isyu ng mga wang wang.

Binay convoy beats red light

MANILA, Philippines – The convoy of Vice-President Jejomar Binay beat a red light on Monday despite calls from President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III for high-ranking government officials not to abuse their power by following traffic rules.

New office for VP Binay up to Congress: Palace

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday said it is leaving it up to Congress to decide whether it should allocate funds for a new office for Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

DepEd chief gets an education in media manners

MANILA, Philippines - Less than a week after criticizing the media, Education Secretary Armin Luistro became the first Aquino Cabinet member to undergo a crash course on media interaction Tuesday.

De Lima vows to speed up wheels of justice

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-appointed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants to fast-track the handling of criminal cases in the country's courts.

DOJ to give priority to cases of political, media killings

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Department of Justice will give priority to cases involving political and media killings, said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

She said the DOJ would coordinate with Task Force 211, which was formed to curb political killings, to determine the status of cases of extrajudicial killings the presidential task force is handling.

De Lima issued the statement following the death of Fernando Baldomero, a Lezo town councilor and militant leader killed in Aklan, and Jose Daguio, former radio broadcaster killed in Kalinga.

Meanwhile, Task Force 21 chairman Ian Norman Dato said the Task Force Operations Group has been deployed to Tabuk City, Kalinga Province to investigate and get vital leads on Daguios death.

The investigating group is joined by members of the National Bureau of Investigation Special Investigator.

Aquino won't tolerate political killings - Lacierda

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino will not tolerate extra-judicial killings under his rule since his own father was also a casualty of political vendetta, the president's spokesman said Tuesday.

PNP chief assures more active campaign vs media killings

by By Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN Zamboanga
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) has directed its regional offices to conduct training seminars on how to prevent Media killings.

PAGCOR probes P21-M 'midnight disbursement'

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. on Tuesday said it has started an investigation to identify the people behind the foiled encashment of a multi-million PAGCOR check issued during the time of former Chairman Efraim Genuino.

Ex-DA chief back in RP, urged to bare all in fertilizer scam

A former government official who may have vital information on the multi-million fertilizer fund scam involving the Arroyo administration has returned to the country after fleeing to the United States four years ago.
Luis "Cito" Lorenzo Jr., a former Agriculture secretary, has been urged to come forward and help the Aquino government in investigating the alleged diversion of some P728 million fertilizer fund for poor farmers to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's campaign kitty in 2004.

Trillanes seeks court permission to attend Senate opening session

The camp of detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has asked the court to allow him to attend the Senate's opening session on July 26, giving him a chance to participate in the election of the chamber's new president.

Panfilo Lacson back in Metro Manila?

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation on Friday said it is verifying reports that fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson is already in the country.

NBI admits trail for Lacson has gone cold

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Nestor Mantaring admitted on Tuesday that unconfirmed reports of sightings of fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson in different places have kept the bureau's agents busy.

Aquino, LP hold seminar on priorty bills

Sumabak sa seminar ang mga mambabatas ng partido Liberal para pag-usapan ang mga batas na isusulong sa ilalim ng administrasyong Aquino. Hiningi naman ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino ang suporta ng mga kapartido sa kandidatura bilang Senate president ni Senador Francis Pangilinan.

NDFP asks Aquino to free all remaining political prisoners

One of the top ranking leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) challenged President Benigno Aquino III to follow the example of his mother and set all political prisoners free.

Gov't to CPP-NPA: Don't impose conditions on talks

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration on Tuesday urged the Communist Party of the Philippines not to impose conditions that would stall planned peace talks between their group and the government.

RP forms peace panels, says Palace

The government is now forming two panels to talk peace with communist and Moro rebels in the country, a Palace spokesman said on Tuesday.

DOJ chief: Something wrong in Ampatuan Sr.'s transfer

May mga puna si Justice Secretary Leila de Lima sa paglilipat kanina kay Andal Ampatuan Sr. mula Bicutan papuntang V. Luna Medical Centre. Naging kapuna-puna kasi henry na personal na sasakyan ni ampatuan senior ang ginamit niya kahit pa guwardyado ng mga otoridad habang bumibyahe.

Maguindanao Massacre suspect chauffered to hospital

Umalma ang abugado ng pamilya ng biktima sa Maguindanao Massacre dahil ang sasakyan mismo ni Andal Ampatuan Sr ang ginamit sa paglipat sa kanya sa ospital matapos itong dapuan ng herpes zoster, sakit sa balat na pwedeng makuha sa bulutong tubig.

Aquino has 'political will' to crush private armies - spokesman

The Aquino administration will exhaust all efforts to abolish private armies, Malacañang reiterated Tuesday following the transfer of Andal Ampatuan Sr., suspect in the Maguindanao massacre case, from jail to a hospital.

SC proposes changes in bar exam

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday said it will be instituting reforms in the format of the bar exams starting 2011.

SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad, Bar Exams Committee chairman, proposed that the exams be divided into two parts, where the first part will be multiple choice and the second part will be in essay form. The present format of the bar exam is mostly essay form.

SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said Abad proposed that all questions pertaining to law codes be done in multiple choice to accurately test the student's familiarity with the law.

He said the second part in essay form is supposed to test how well the student can argue.

Marquez said the SC made the announcement so that law schools can prepare their students in advance. 

SC on Facebook, Twitter

The SC, meanwhile, opened its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, in the hopes of bringing the high tribunal closer to the masses.

Marquez said Chief Justice Renato Corona proposed the idea but denied that it is a reaction to the controversies that have hounded the court in recent months, such as the controversy over midnight appointments to the high court.

"It is hoped that through technology, people will get news and information about the courts faster and complaints can be messaged directly to the SC," he said.

DFA seeks release of 18 Pinoy seafarers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said it is addressing the recent hijacking of another vessel with Filipino seafarers on board, in waters off Somalia.

Filipino activist among 13 arrested by Indonesian cops

A Filipina environmental activist was detained in Indonesia after joining a training with 13 other members of international nongovernment organizations in the state of West Java in Indonesia.

63 RP aviation schools to be probed for issuing fake pilot licenses

Sixty-three aviation schools across the Philippines will be probed and audited after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) discovered that some of their graduates hold fake pilot licenses, an aviation official said on Tuesday.

$1: P46.400

$1: P46.400

Euro 1: P58.3158

State earns P490-M from Galoc oil output

MANILA, Philippines - The government has earned P490 million worth of royalties from Galoc Production Corp., operator of the Galoc oil field in northwest Palawan, an energy official said on Tuesday.

Inflation slowed down to 3.9% in June

The increase in consumer prices slowed to a six-month low of 3.9 percent year-on-year in June as most commodity groups showed abating price hikes, according to the National Statistics Office.

PBA chair is new Bureau of Customs chief

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday that Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chairman Lito Alvarez is the new commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.

Thailand extends emergency rule in Bangkok, other areas

by Agence France-Presse
BANGKOK - Thailand on Tuesday extended by three months a state of emergency across about one quarter of the country, including Bangkok, due to lingering fears of unrest following deadly protests.

Queen Elizabeth II makes rare NY visit

NEW YORK—Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was due Tuesday for a rare, whirlwind trip to a sweltering New York where she was to address the UN General Assembly and pay homage at Ground Zero.

Cotto sees 'great fight' between Concepcion, 'JuanMa'

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico's big boxing star Miguel Cotto has predicted a close fight between his compatriot, Juan Manuel "Juanma" Lopez, and Filipino Bernabe "The Real Deal" Concepcion.

Ramos, Gregorio take over Alvarez's dual role with Express

Yohann Ramos, president of some of the companies under the Lina Group, and Allan Gregorio, member of the coaching staff of the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, were tapped to replace Lito Alvarez's dual functions with the Air21 Express in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Garcia will be next PSC chief, says Go

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will appoint former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Richie Garcia as the new PSC chief, according to Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) head Go Teng Kok.

Tissue sample taken from Fischer's remains to settle paternity issue

A tissue sample was taken from the remains of Bobby Fischer in Iceland Monday to determine whether the former world chess champion is really the father of a Filipino child.

Yap's kin hoping for James-Kris reconciliation

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The relatives of James Yap here are hoping that the professional basketball player and his wife, Kris Aquino, will eventually reconcile.

Toni Gonzaga to replace Kris Aquino on 'The Buzz'

MANILA, Philippines – Toni Gonzaga is replacing host Kris Aquino on top rating celebrity talk show "The Buzz," ABS-CBN has announced.

Who are the Philippines' richest?

Nananatiling pinakamayamang Pilipino ang real estate mogul na si Henry Sy, may-ari ng SM malls. Sa listahan ng mga pinakamayayaman para sa 2010 ng Forbes Asia-Philippines, nanguna si Sy sa kanyang kabuuang asset na P5 bilyon.  

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