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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 13, 2010 Major News Stories

For September implementation: Central Visayas workers get P18 wage hike

This as the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Region 7 yesterday granted an increase of P18 in the daily minimum wage of workers in Central Visayas to be effective next month at the latest.

The increase will not however be felt by the thousands of workers in the export sector, which has been given six months as grace period to make the adjustment in wages.

The export sector is still reeling from the effects of the worldwide financial crisis that hit in 2009.

RTWPB chairman Elias Cayanong, the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said that the board agreed to implement a uniform increase of P18 in all areas of the region.

This is unlike what happened two years ago when the board decided to grant different rates of increase for the four provinces of the region.

The board considered different factors in granting the increase which include the cost of living, inflation rate, the cost of fuel, and the expected effect on the unemployment and employment rate among others.

"From that gikuha nato ang average. Ang ubang sector niingon nga dako ra, ang uban sad niingon nga gamay, but we showed in our study that this is the best rate. So they all agreed to P18," Cayanong said.

The increase was a unanimous decision of all members of the board that is composed of representatives from the business sector, labor, DOLE, the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic and Development Authority.

Cayanong said that they gave the export industry an exemption because their costs have already been forecasted until the end of the year.

"Kung magpuno at this time, basin ilang growth ma-slanted, the more na di sila maka-comply. They promised to comply by the first quarter next year. Others have to comply immediately," he said.

RTWPB plans to publish the order tomorrow or Monday so the increase shall be effective 15 days after.

Cayanong said that the P18 increase this year is better than nothing, but he admitted that if one will closely look at it, it brings no big impact to an average Filipino family with five to six members.

Associated Labor Unions Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) director of the Membership Recruitment and Services Department Ferdinand Jumapao said that P18 could not even buy one kilo of National Food Authority (NFA) rice.

"Kuwang ra gihapon na sya. Pero ang mahitabo ani, bisag gamay ni, malipay lang gihapon ang labor sector, naa gihapon tabang sa pamlete ug pagkaon," Jumapao said.

The RTWPB trashed their petition for P100 across the board wage increase this year.

"Damgo na lang siguro nga makuha ang P100," he said.

Cayanong explained that they cannot go beyond P18 because Central Visayas has one of the lowest inflation rates in the country at 3.5 percent.

If 3.5 percent shall be added to the prevailing wage rate, the increase will only be P15.

"So we considered other factors like fuel cost, cost of living apart from the inflation rate. Kani gani questionable na because supposedly, inflation rate already covers everything. But since we want to give people a better life, we tried to find ways na mapasaka pa," he said.

Cayanong appealed to the labor sector to understand because they cannot just listen to their concerns but also to other groups that will be affected.

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) expressed its support to the decision of the local wage board although CCCI president Sammy Chioson admitted that the increase is an additional burden to the business sector, which is yet to fully recover from the economic crisis experienced last year.

Chioson said that it would have been better if the increase would be implemented next year.

"But we support the decision of the board because we know that it has undergone series of deliberation. But you know, mu-create na sya og chain reaction so it will be passed on to the consumers," Chioson said.

Roberto Go, director of the Philippine Retailers Association said that they also respect the decision of the board, but they have fears that more foreign investors, especially in the manufacturing sector will put up a business here since our cost of labor have once again gone up compared to countries such as China and Thailand.

August 30 not a holiday?

MANILA, Philippines - After declaring that August 23 is a regular working day, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is mulling a proposal to overturn his predecessor's proclamation declaring August 30, National Heroes' Day, a holiday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang is reviewing Proclamation 1841 signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declaring the regular holidays, special (non-working) days and special holidays for schools for the year 2010. Arroyo had previously set the schedule for holidays this year to allow businesses to adjust schedules and promote productivity.

Expect less non-working holidays—Palace

There could be fewer non-working holidays, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday.

Binay suspends 6-month contribution to Pag-Ibig of OFWs

Vice President Jejomar Binay, also the government's housing czar, has ordered the suspension of a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration directive for a compulsory six-month contribution to the Pag-Ibig fund as a precondition for migrant workers' deployment abroad.

T. Padilla fire victims to get bldg materials

Each of the 786 families left homeless by the fire in Barangay T. Padilla last Monday will receive building materials worth P5,000 from the city government within two weeks, said city treasurer Ofelia Oliva.

Guv to distribute goods to victims of T. Padilla fire

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is set to distribute donations in kind to the 3,000 fire victims of barangay T. Padilla today.

Alleged Ting killer pleads not guilty

The alleged gunman in the killing of a businessman Manuel Ting pleaded not guilty for the crime he was accused of during yesterday's arraignment.

Assisted by his lawyer, Atty. Democrito Barcenas, the accused, Ruel Velez, 44, married, a resident of Barangay Ocaña, Carcar City, appeared before the sala of Regional Trial Court Branch 58 judge Gabriel Inglis and denied the accusations thrown against him.

Barcenas insisted on the innocence of his client, saying was just a mere "fall guy" by the police officers who conducted an investigation into the ambush of Manuel Ting in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City last June 22, 2010.

One of suspects in cement firm official's ambush out on bail

One of the three accused in the ambush of Tahieyo Cement marketing manager Nestor Zamoras is now enjoying his temporary liberty after he posted bail for the crime of attempted murder last Tuesday.

Robert Tarcero, who allegedly drove the getaway vehicle after the attempt on Zamoras life, posted a bail of P120,000 before the sala of Regional Trial Court Branch 58 Judge Gabriel T. Inglis.

Tercero is facing a criminal case for attempted murder together with two other accused Joel Sagnoy, the alleged gunman and Jerome Noel, the alleged mastermind for trying to kill Zamoras.

Special account for SRP income sought

The city council is set to discuss today the proposal to create a special account where all the income of the South Road Properties shall be deposited and shall be used solely for purposes involving the SRP.

Pagcor privatization has good, bad effects - Daluz

The Privatization of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. could mean bigger funds for the various social services of Cebu City because the city can negotiate for a bigger allocation otherwise it will not allow the corporation to operate here, according to a Cebu City official.

Environmental protection order sought vs coal ash

A citizen's suit for environmental protection order was filed yesterday by a group of environmentalist and individuals before the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

, Department of Energy and the local government officials of Cebu Province and the cities of Naga and Toledo including coal-fired power plants operators for alleged indiscriminate dumping of coal ash.

The Philippine Earth Justice Center represented by its executive director Gloria Ramos, Farmers Development Center, Fisherfolk's Development Center and the concerned residents of the cities of Toledo and Naga have asked for the issuance of a temporary environmental protection order from the court.

Media groups condemn slapping of reporter

The Cebu Media Legal Aid, the legal arm of Cebu Citizens-Press Council, has condemned the alleged slapping of dyLA and Banat News reporter Leslie Caminade by a police official.

In a statement released by CCPC executive director Pachico Seares, CEMLA demanded a categorical admission and apology, in writing, from Sr. Insp. Vicente Velasquez not only to Caminade but to her news organizations and to the media community.

"The assault was inexcusable, even if taken in the context of his grief over the news of disaster," the statement reads.

Velasquez has already apologized to Caminade through the Defense-PNP Press Corps and was reprimanded by his commander officer Patrocinio Comendador.

But, CEMLA believes it was not enough. A written apology should be made not only to the reporter concerned but to the media community at large.

Cemla fears that the incident would set a precedent wherein a public official who physically assaults media practitioners gets away with his act of violence by simply giving an apology afterwards.

Caminade is not very keen to press charges against Velasquez.

"I am not interested to take any legal action against Velasquez. Though others may not understand me, I myself chose to just rest the case. I also chose to understand the situation Velasquez was and is in. I have already accepted Velasquez's apology for he admitted being sorry for what he has done to me," Caminade's letter to her managing editor John Rey Saavedra states.

The Media Alliance for Law Liberty and Truth (MALLET), an organization of reporters covering the justice beat, is also set to pass a resolution condemning Velasquez's act.

Velasquez reportedly slapped Caminade last Monday when the latter asked to go with him. Caminade was thinking that the police official will respond to an alarm because he was in a hurry.

Nerez leaves Central Visayas, gets Camp Crame assignment

After a year and three months, Chief Supt. Lani-O Nerez steps out as Director of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 and will assume a higher position at the National Headquarters tomorrow.

Nerez disclosed to reporters yesterday that he already received a confirmation from his superiors about his reassignment as head of the Directorate for Research and Development. A turnover of command is scheduled for tomorrow at the PRO 7 Headquarters in Camp Sergio Osmeña, Sr.

Chief Supt. Ager Ontog from Camp Crame will assume the post to be vacated by Nerez tomorrow.

Ombudsman orders preventive suspension of 2 Bogo officials

THE Office of the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of two Bogo City Hall officials for their alleged participation in the P26.5-million Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) fund controversy about six years ago.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez placed Bogo City treasurer Rhett Minguez and accountant Cresencio Verdida under a six-month preventive suspension without pay for dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

"A careful examination of the record and the pieces of evidence presented would reveal an initial finding of acts which show an intent to violate the truth," Gutierrez said in her five-page order dated Jan. 8, 2010 but was released by the Ombudsman-Visayas yesterday.

The order did not mention any action on former congresswoman Clavel Asas-Martinez, who allegedly disbursed the fund from her Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) to her personal bank account by using the GSP as a conduit in 2002 and 2003.

The case stemmed from an unsigned complainant alleging Martinez, wife of Mayor Celestino "Junie" Martinez Jr., connived with City officials and GSP officers in taking about P11.5 million from her Pdaf in 2003 and "misappropriated such sum for her own personal benefit."

Sun.Star Cebu tried to get the side of the former congresswoman, through her husband Mayor Martinez, but his mobile phone was off.

The Ombudsman-Visayas launched its fact-finding inquiry into the incident after it received on April 26, 2004 documents from a "concerned and troubled official of GSP-Cebu Council" narrating how the former congresswoman disbursed her Pdaf and deposited it in her personal account.

According to the unnamed complainant, the transfer was made convenient by Martinez's incumbency as head of the GSP council at that time and the assistance of her daughter, Ma. Cielo, who was then the council's treasurer.

The Ombudsman-Visayas filed three counts of malversation of public funds against Martinez and eight others.

Gutierrez, in her order, said the two respondents were charged for allegedly conspiring to cause the release of the P11.5-million "causing undue injury to the government through manifest impartiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."

"Moreover, it also shows some transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction from duty, unlawful behavior, improper or wrong behavior and unlawful behavior by public officers in relation to the duties of their office which are willful in character," Gutierrez's order further read.

Minguez was charged for attesting to the availability of funds while Verdida was impleaded for certifying the supporting documents were complete and previous cash advances were liquidated.

Gutierrez also directed the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government to implement the order and submit a compliance report within five days upon receipt of such order.

Widow charged for claiming she is single

A widow was criminally charged in court for misrepresenting herself as single when she applied for a Philippine passport even if she was already married to a Korean national.

Noemie Aspiras alias Noemie Nabatilan Felipe De Kwon was indicted for violation of the Republic Act 8239 otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act. A P20, 000 bail was recommended for her temporary liberty.

Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Ernesto Narido, Jr. however dismissed the complaint for falsification of public documents that the National Bureau of Investigation earlier filed against her.

Aspiras, who operates BK Travel and Immigration Consultancy Agency, was charged by the NBI for assuming two identities when she applied for clearance and passport.

Aside from using the family name Aspiras wherein she claimed to be single, she also used Felipe De Kwon in applying for a passport at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to the investigation conducted by the NBI, the accused is originally a passport holder under the name Noenie Felipe De Kwon.

However, she applied for another passport using Aspiras as her family name and this time claiming to be single. She presented documents before the DFA when she claimed her second passport leading to her arrest last August 10.

"In claiming the passport, respondent presented her birth certificate and certificate of no marriage. This confirmed the fact that respondent made false statement in her application with intent to secure the issuance of said passport," Narido said.

Lightning kills man, hits town police station

LIGHTNING killed a man in the southern town of Sibonga and damaged the communication equipment of a police station in Daanbantayan in the north Tuesday night.

Joseph Coliflores Presbitero, 31, died before reaching the Juan Dosado Memorial Hospital in Sogod town.

Presbitero, a mechanic, had just opened the main door of his house in Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Damolog, Sogod when lightning struck at 7 p.m.

It happened an hour before lightning struck the Daanbantayan Police Station and damaged the station's radio receiver, computer sets and TV set.

The six policemen on duty thought they were being attacked, desk officer PO2 Columbus Noynay said.

The police station is located in an open space and near the sea.

In the City of Naga, a nine-year-old boy drowned after getting swept away by a strong current while swimming in a river.

John Alimento Tolentino was with his friends, aged 15 and 14, swimming at the riverbank of Barangay Pandan at 2 p.m.

They were in a shallow part of the river when a strong current suddenly swept them away.

The two teenagers got help from two persons who were nearby.

Residents scoured the riverbank until they found Tolentino floating several meters away.

He was rushed to the Cebu South General Hospital but the attending physician said he was already dead when he arrived. 

Mandaue to reroute traffic on Aug. 14

A temporary rerouting of vehicles starting at 1 p.m. on August 14 will be in effect to give way to the "Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival" parade at the Cebu International Convention Center.

PUJs from Cebu City bound for Ibabao Estancia will take M.C. Briones, right turn to AC Cortes, left turn to SB Cabahug, down to destination.

In going back, right turn to AC Cortes, proceed to fly-over in barangay Maguikay, left turn to MC Briones and proceed to Cebu City.

Vehicles from Cebu City bound for Ouano Wharf must make a right turn to M. Logarta St., left turn to E.O. Perez St., left turn to A. Soriano Avenue, left turn to J. Briones St., right turn to C. Ouano, down to Ouano Wharf. In going back, vehicles have two options:

Left turn to J. Briones, proceed to A. Soriano Avenue, right turn to E.O. Perez, right turn to M. Logarta St., left turn to Lopez Jaena St., and proceed to destination.

PUJ's and Multicabs from Talamban-Foodland passing A.S. Fortuna left turn MC Briones, right turn to A.C. Cortes Avenue, left turn to Plaridel proceed to United Nations Avenue down to destination.

PUJ's and Multicabs from the north to public market - take Ubos fly-over in Maguikay, left turn to A.C. Cortes, left turn to Plaridel, proceed to United Nations Avenue down to destination.

Tricycles from the north via market from Burgos left turn to Orlacsan, right turn to J. Briones, right turn to C. Ouano. In going back, right turn to Burgos back to destination.

Tricycles from Looc via market take C. Ouano, left turn to Burgos, left turn to A. Soriano Avenue, left turn to J. Briones St., right turn to C. Ouano down to destination.

Tricycle from Maguikay-Cabancalan via Market, take same route.

Traffic officials said that A. Del Rosario St. and C.D. Seno St. will be closed due to the mardi gras.

The temporary rerouting will be lifted after the affair.

SC asks Palace to defer order sacking 'midnight appointees'

MANILA, Philippines  - The Supreme Court on Thursday urged Malacañang to defer the implementation of Executive Order No. 2 revoking all the midnight appointments made by former President Arroyo until after the Court has ruled on separate petitions questioning its legality.

Palace confirms Ochoa-Montejo ties

MANILA, Philippines – Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa Jr. is a brother-in-law of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo, Malacañang confirmed Thursday.

Aquino appoints personal optometrist Sarabia to PRC

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed his personal optometrist as a member of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC)'s Optometry Board, Malacañang said on Thursday.

New SC justice known by Aug 17

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said he will name the new associate justice of the Supreme Court "on or before August 17."

Embattled justice inhibits from 'comfort women' case

Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo inhibited from the "comfort women" case amid accusations he plagiarized parts of a court ruling he penned throwing out the plea of the elderly women for official apology and compensation from Japan over its wartime crimes against them.

Senate reviews laws that discriminate against women

The Senate committee on youth, women, and family relations on Thursday reviewed several laws which supposedly contain provisions that discriminate against women.
Among the provisions tackled during the committee hearing were:
  • articles 96, 124, 211, and 225 of the Family Code, which uphold the husband's decision on conjugal disagreements over property, parental authority and legal guardianship;

  • article 130 of the Labor Code, which prohibits night work for women;

  • article 266 (c), 333, and 334 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which cover marital rape and the grounds for adultery and concubinage, respectively;

  • articles 16, 122, 162, and 180 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, which govern early and arranged marriage, polygamy, and unequal inheritance, respectively.

OWWA vows to repatriate all distressed OFWs

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) vows to repatriate all distressed Filipinos who are temporarily staying at the Filipino Workers Welfare Centers abroad.

DOH: Dengue cases up by 50% from last year

Some 40,000 new cases of dengue have been recorded by the Department of Health (DOH) in the first seven months of 2010, or an increase of almost 50% compared to the same period last year.

Spokesman: NFA is ready for possible downsizing

The National Food Authority (NFA) is ready for the possible downsizing of the agency's functions.

Senate working groups to discuss 12-year basic ed plan

The Senate will organize technical working groups (TWG) to study the proposal to add two years to the current 10-year basic education system in the country, Senator Edgardo Angara said on Thursday.

Malacañang to court allies' support for stand on brgy, SK polls

MANILA, Philippines - Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said Thursday that Malacañang's stand to push through with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections has yet to get the nods of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's allies in Congress.

Senate to discuss proposals to defer barangay, SK polls

Despite President Benigno Aquino III's preference to go ahead with the scheduled barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday said the Senate will still hear the bills seeking to postpone the October polls.

SK should be strengthened, not abolished, says youth party-list

Instead of abolishing it, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) should be strengthened to make it an effective venue of youth participation in governance, Kabataan partylist Representative Raymond Palatino said on Thursday.

Congress needs to pass bill to amend SK, barangay polls

Congress will still have to pass a measure amending the existing law on barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls even if the local election pushes through on October this year, leaders of the House of Representatives said Thursday.
And with just two months before the scheduled elections, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., chairman of the suffrage committee, expressed optimism that the House of Representatives can come up with the needed legislation if President Benigno Aquino III will certify it as urgent.

"I think there's time and the fact of the matter is it enjoys some support even now," Belmonte told reporters in a news conference.

In a separate phone interview, Barzaga said that a law amending the existing Republic Act 9340 is needed to state that the term of the elected barangay officials should be only up to June 30, 2013, instead of three years.

There is also a need to amend the law on Sagguniang Kabataan, if only its chairman would be elected in October, he said.

RH bill to reach House plenary vote—Belmonte

Advocates of the reproductive health bill can pin their hopes that under the leadership of the Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in the 15th Congress, the controversial measure will be voted on in plenary.

CAAP suspends 4 flying schools

MANILA, Philippines - In a bid to bring back the integrity of the aviation industry in the country, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended Thursday 4 flying schools that failed auditing standards.

CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi said the regulatory office has temporarily stopped the operations of Strike Wing Aviation Training Center, National Aviation Specialist Academy, Aviation Link and Manila Aviation.

Hacienda Luisita gives out initial P20-M aid to farmers

MANILA, Philippines - Around P20 million in initial financial assistance is being distributed to farmers who entered into a compromise agreement with Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) with regards to the sugar estate owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.

Fewer lawmakers attend House plenary sessions

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - From a high of 258 on day 1, the number of lawmakers attending plenary sessions in the House of Representatives has dwindled to 209 just three weeks into the 15th Congress.

House having a hard time filling up committees

Three weeks after the 15th Congress opened its session, the House of Representatives has yet to organize its more than 50 regular committees. As of Wednesday evening, only 45 of the 57 regular committees have been organized.

House to start impeach proceedings vs Gutierrez this month

The House justice committee will start hearing the impeachment complaint filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez this month, panel chairman, Iloilo Rep. Neil Tupas, said Thursday.

Arroyo won't participate in Gutierrez impeach hearings

Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not participate in the impeachment hearings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who has been accused of sitting on high-profile graft cases involving former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her family.

SC asked to nullify EO on Truth Commission

(UPDATE) Citing a violation in the 1987 Constitution, members of the minority block in the House of Representatives have asked the Supreme Court to nullify the executive order that created the Truth Commission.

Graft charges filed vs 'Euro Generals' over 2008 Moscow trip

Almost two years after their controversial trip to Moscow, graft charges were filed against 14 so-called "Euro Generals" of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and former PNP Chief, Director General Avelino Razon Jr.

Euros kept by police generals did not come from gov't -- Ombudsman

Initial findings of the Office of the Ombudsman revealed that the 12 senior police officials and three private respondents involved in the so-called "Euro Generals" case lied about the source of what turned out to be private funds.

MILF's firepower claim psywar - DND chief

MANILA, Philippines - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday dismissed as psywar the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader's claim that it has has enough armaments to go to war again against the Philippine government.

Gov't urged to boost troops in Spratlys

If the country wants to be taken seriously in its claim on the Spratly Islands, the government must beef up security forces in the area, a spokesman from the Department of National Defense said Thursday.

Miriam wants Congress to terminate RP-US VFA

Senator Miriam Defensor has filed a joint resolution asking both houses of Congress to terminate the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because it is supposedly not a valid treaty recognized by the United States.

American, Pinay nabbed in anti-drug raid

An American national and his Filipino wife were arrested in an anti-drug raid in Cotabato in Mindanao Thursday.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Jeffrey Bennett, 24, and wife Sarah Cabugatan during the raid, Radio dzXL reported Thursday night.

The report said Bennett yielded 10 kilos of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and drug paraphernalia.

Members of the raiding team also seized from him several high-powered unregistered firearms.

Chocolate box used to hide $140K

 MANILA, Philippines – A 59-year-old Filipino woman was arrested for attempting to smuggle into the country P5.7 million worth of dollars hidden in a box of chocolates.

Attack on tanker with 29 Pinoys foiled

MANILA, Philippines – Somali pirates attempted but failed to attack a chemical tanker with 29 Filipino seafarers on board in the Gulf of Aden, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported Thursday.

Filipinos in Iraq press govt for ruling on travel ban

Filipinos in Iraq are asking the Philippine government to decide on the possible lifting of the travel ban to the war-torn country, days after the United States military's August 9 deadline for the start of the repatriation process for third-country nationals whose countries have such bans lapsed.

$1: P45.385

$1: P45.385 (P45.23)

Euro 1: P58.0579

Raising the tax on tobacco

by Caroline J. Howard, ABS-CBN News Channel
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) is pushing for a 400% increase in the tax on cigarettes. The tax hike would bring up the price of a cigarette stick from P2 to P7, and a pack from P30 to P120.

Coconut export up 128% in first half of 2010—PCA

The Philippines' coconut export jumped by 128 percent to 1.3 million metric tons in the first half of the year compared to data in the same period in 2009.

PAL ground crew union prepares for strike

The Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (Palea), the ground crew union at Philippine Airlines (PAL), on Thursday said it is prepared to do everything to stop the disputed contracting out of jobs.

PAL asks DOLE to rule on legality of labor outsourcing scheme

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has asked government to rule on an appeal filed by workers who are contesting the company's plan to outsource 2,600 jobs.

Deadly typhoon Dianmu slams into Japan

by Agence France-Presse
TOKYO, Japan - Typhoon Dianmu slammed into northern Japan on Thursday after passing across South Korea and killing five people there, officials said.

Rains bring new misery to China mudslide town

by by Marianne Barriaux, Agence France-Presse
ZHOUQU, China - Heavy rains on Thursday compounded the misery of a Chinese town devastated by mudslides that have killed 1,117 people, with new floods hampering relief efforts and the stench of death pervasive.

US heat wave just preview of future: study

by Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON, August 11, 2010 (AFP) - The US East Coast is sweltering in a record-hot summer but it could endure twice as many sweaty days by mid-century without action on climate change, an environmental group said Wednesday.

Russia steps up fire battle as crops wither

MOSCOW, Russia - Russia on Thursday stepped up efforts to halt wildfires near its main nuclear research site, as President Dmitry Medvedev said a quarter of crops had been lost in a record heatwave.

Rwanda grenade attack marks Kagame's presidential win

by Agence France-Presse
KIGALI, August 11, 2010 (AFP) - A grenade attack shook the Rwandan capital on Wednesday, wounding at least seven people as President Paul Kagame was declared winner of a much-criticised election devoid of real opposition.

White House: US combat role in Iraq to end soon

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is satisfied that the United States can safely end its combat role in Iraq at the end of this month and meet the deadline for removing all US troops from the country by the end of 2011, White House officials said Wednesday.

Devout Muslims renew faith with Ramadan fast

by Agence France-Presse
CAIRO - Ramadan began for most Sunni Muslims on Wednesday with calls by world leaders for the holy fasting month to reinforce piety, mercy and reconciliation.

Pacquiao regains top ranking in Yahoo! P4P

MANILA, Philippines – After losing the top spot to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May, Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao regained his status as the number one pound-for-pound boxer in Yahoo! Sports' ranking.

Speaker nixes Pacquiao's plan to use Batasan for training

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr. is against the idea of having Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao train for his coming boxing bout at the Batasan Pambansa grounds in Quezon City.

Pinoys in NBA? Just a matter of time, says Miami Heat coach

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-American basketball coach Erik Spoelstra said he will not be surprised to see a Filipino playing in the NBA someday, citing the Pinoys' sheer love for the sport.

Fired-up Beermen try to level series

MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Beer could come out with an even polished game while Alaska Milk is expected to plot a lethal comeback as they clash in the crucial Game 4 of their PBA Fiesta Cup title showdown at the Astrodome on Friday.

Kris: Court officials only did their job

MANILA, Philippines - Kris Aquino said Thursday she had nothing to do with the serving of papers to her estranged husband James Yap by court officials last Wednesday.

Mariel: I understand Robin Padilla's ex-wife

MANILA, Philippines - Actress-host Mariel Rodriguez finally broke her silence on rumors that Robin Padilla's former wife, Liezl Sicangco, is mad at her and the actor.

Young Pinoys inseparable from cellphones: survey

MANILA, Philippines - Mobile phones are considered a must-have among young Filipinos, with product ownership in the country at 67%, a survey showed. One of out 4 of them, the study said, can't live without the said gadget.

Palace reacts on Twitter use in gov't offices

MANILA, Philippines - A law need not be passed just to regulate the use of Facebook and Twitter in government offices, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Miss Universe 2010 kicks off in Sin City

by By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - The countdown for Miss Universe 2010 officially began in Las Vegas, as 83 women from all over the world posed Wednesday morning for a photo-op at the famous sign welcoming visitors to this city.

Mrs. Phils-Universe bet off to compete in Lithuania

MANILA, Philippines - Mrs. Philippines-Universe 2010 Maria Muriel Moral-Pandi left the country Thursday to represent the Philippines in the Mrs. Universe 2010 pageant in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Jon Santos to impersonate Charice

MANILA, Philippines – International singing sensation Charice is one of the newest "subjects" of stand-up comedian and impersonator Jon Santos.

Kuya Kim on the road to recovery

MANILA, Philippines – The health condition of Kim Atienza continues to improve a day after he was rushed to a hospital after suffering a mild stroke, his doctors said Thursday.

Bone marrow stem cells used to treat skin, lung diseases

In two groundbreaking studies published Wednesday, doctors have used stem cells from bone marrow to help heal children with a killer skin disease, and to repair injured lungs.


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