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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 20, 2010 Major News Stories

Winds, floods wreak havoc on homes: Nature unleashes fury around Cebu

Two houses were literally blown away and several others were damaged when winds wrought havoc in several areas around Cebu Province yesterday.

Warrant issued vs. Joavan for skipping conference

Talisay City's Municipal Trial Court in Cities judge Mario Manayon yesterday issued a bench warrant against Joavan Fernandez after he missed yesterday's scheduled pre-trial conference for his grave threats case.

Governor Garcia to expel Mayor Loot from One Cebu party

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is expelling Daanbantayan Mayor Maria Luisa Loot from the One Cebu Party after Loot called her a dictator.

Gwen says Vice Governors League not challenging her

The draft resolution showed by Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez last Tuesday did not come from the Vice Governors League, said Governor Gwendolyn Gar-cia, who added the league told her they will come up with their own stand that they will not interfere in local problems.

Rama retains 90 percent of CH casual employees

Ninety percent of the 3,000 casual employees of City Hall temporarily heave a sigh of relief after Mayor Michael Rama renewed their contracts for the next two months.

City to cut phone allowances of 125 officials, employees

TO cut down on expenses and avoid abuse of the privilege, Cebu City Hall will suspend the post-paid and pre-paid celphone lines of some 125 city officials and employees effective end of this month, and will be restored only after they can justify the need for it.

City has no budget to pay Castro's allowance

The Cebu City government has no budget to pay for the P132,500 accumulated allowance of assistant city prosecutor Mary Ann Castro which she is now de-manding payment.

BIR has too few people to run after usurers

The officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Cebu City cannot act on the request of councilor Nida Cabrera to run after informal moneylenders unless the concerned local government unit will assist them.

2 inmates at CPDRC die of 'medical causes;' 1 stabbed

TWO inmates at the provincial jail died allegedly of medical causes and another one was reported stabbed.

In his report, acting warden Alito Gabuya said inmate Simplicio Ta-oy had a heart attack and was brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) where doctors pronounced him dead at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Another inmate, Angelito Cabalquinto, reportedly died of cerebral hemorrhage due to secondary head injury at 9:49 a.m Wednesday.

Gabuya's report said Cabalquinto was hanging his clothes when he lost his balance and hit his head and fell unconscious. He was brought to the CPDRC clinic but didn't reach there alive.

The third inmate, Pete Acosta, was stabbed and is confined at the VSMMC.

The governor said she will call for an autopsy on Cabalquinto and ordered the acting jail warden to investigate the deaths of the two inmates.

She wanted verified the information that Ta-oy and Cabalquinto were mauled inside the jail by fellow inmates, specifically by those led by Leo Suico, who has been convicted of murder and is awaiting transfer to the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa.

Elizabeth Francia, the governor's chief of staff, said Cabalquinto had a lacerated wound in his right eyebrow.

CPDRC jail guard Roberto Cabanag said Cabalquinto was not mauled but simply slipped and hit his head on the floor and fell unconscious.

Cabalquito's body lies in wake at the St. Anne Funeral Homes in Mandaue City.

Student alleges teachers "mauled" him

A second year Criminology student of the University of Cebu-Main Campus who was earlier detained for allegedly assaulting a college instructor yesterday went to the office of the Investigation and Detective Management Branch of the Cebu City Police Office to deny the latter's accusations and have the "real" story recorded in the police blotter.

Edgardo Martinez, 20, told police that if something happens to him, there's only one person to blame and that is David Mark Maramba, who serves as com-mandant among Criminology interns of the school and happened to be an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Martinez, a native of Misamis Occidental, was released from the Cebu City Jail last August 11 after he was arrested last August 4 for allegedly assaulting Maramba while inside the school.

Still weak from fever, the student appeared before the media yesterday and said he wanted Maramba, if possible, terminated from the PDEA-7 and be held re-sponsible for anything that may threaten his life.

The reporters tried to get the side of Maramba but he was not available as he was allegedly out of town, according to his co-workers at the PDEA-7 office.

He, however, sent text messages to one of the reporters saying he was attending a hearing.

"What assurance imong mahatag nga dili mo biased? Kay mura'g lingaw kaayo mo sige'g duot nako. Inamigo ni nga hangyo kay dugay man kaha ta kuyog simbahan. Ambot ngano na inyong gidaginot," his text message reads.

Martinez narrated that around 4 p.m. last August 4, he was on his way to the comfort room after attending his class when a Criminology intern confronted him and told him to take his earring off. Martinez said he took off his earring and was about to proceed to the CR when the intern demanded for his identification card to which he refused.

The intern, who was largely-built, suddenly choked him and dragged him towards the nearby Criminology intern office. The intern then called up Maramba, who is their commandant.

"Miabot si Maramba 'nya gisumbag ko dayon. Gisumbag sad ko sa intern ug ni Dennis Chiong. Si Maramba iyang gibira ang duha nako ka kamot dayon gi-yatak-yatakan akong ulo. Gi-tunob-tunoban akong likod, hasta akong paa gitamakan," Martinez disclosed.

Martinez said the intern, including Dennis Chiong, also a Criminology instructor, punched him but claimed most of the attacks came from Maramba. Chiong is allegedly the son of Crusade Against Violence chairperson Thelma Chiong and a personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation.

"Ingon pa g'yud siya (Maramba), 'Wa ka kaila nako? Taga-PDEA ko. Commandant ko sa UC 'nya nag-cock-cock pa g'yud siya sa iyang armas. Gusto nako ma-tangtang siya. Dili lalim iyang gibuhat nako. Gipakaulawan ko niya," Martinez added.

Two policemen from the Carbon Police Station then came, handcuffed him and brought him to the police station for detention. He was committed to the city jail on August 7 and was temporarily released four days later.

Martinez said he never did fight back at Maramba, Chiong and even at the intern who took turns in attacking him.

Maramba was also accused of leading a team of PDEA agents who reportedly harassed sharpshooters of the Cebu City Police Office who were partying at a beach resort in Pinamungajan September last year.

PDEA-7 Deputy Regional Director, lawyer Mauro Licen, said he still has to hear the side of Maramba and if the evidence warrants, they will conduct an inves-tigation against him.

"We will look into that in what context he used or if ever he uttered the word PDEA in the course of the incident. That will be part of the investigation. We want to assure the public, the complainants that we will not tolerate such kind of behavior in our organization," Licen said.

Licen said they will forward the case to the agency's Internal Affairs Office then to the national office if proven that there is probable cause on the incident. He said this is the first time they received a complaint lodged against an operative for maltreatment or physical injury.

For Chairman, Vice Chairman: Regional Development Council sends nominees to Malacañang

Four governors and a mayor from Central Visayas were nominated yesterday for the chairmanship of the Regional Development Council 7, while two private sec-tors were also nominated for the selection of vice chairman.

Nominated were Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Governor Orlando Fua of Siquijor, Governor Edgardo Chatto of Bohol, Governor Agustin Perdices of Negros Oriental and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

Meanwhile, Jose Ng and Argeo Melisimo, both from the private sector, were nominated for the position of vice chairman.

During yesterday's full council meeting, a debate ensued after Cebu second district congressman and Deputy House Speaker Pablo Garcia, who is a member of the advisory council, moved that they vote for the selection of the new RDC chairman and vice chairman before the list is submitted to the President.

This way, Rep. Garcia said, the President would know the ranking of the nominees.

But Gov. Fua also moved that the list of nominees be submitted to the Office of President Benigno Aquino III without going through a votation, so the President will have a free hand on whom to appoint.

Since both officials insisted that their motions be carried, this prompted the presiding officer Marlene Rodriguez to call for the division of the house.

During the voting, at least 40 members favored Fua's motion while only nine favored the motion of Rep. Garcia.

The RDC also yesterday confirmed the inclusion of 16 private sector representatives, who shall comprise one-fourth of the council.

The following nominees were chosen during the elections held in each province and were confirmed as private sector representatives of the four provinces: Engr. Jose Mari Bigornia, Teresa Fernandez, Robert Go, Jose Ng, Emmanuel Rabacal, Abundio Gultiano Jr and Fr. Margarito Alingasa for the Province of Cebu.

For the Province of Bohol, these are Mr. Argeo Melisimo, Panfilo Asares and Marietta Gasatan while Negros Oriental has Gregorio Uymatiao Jr., Engr. Ed-gardo Pedrosa and Atty. Gloria Futalan.

Siquijor, for its part, has Mr. Carmelito Bulaybulay. Two of the 16 seats also have Josefina Lim, appointed representative for the labor sector while Carmelito Canoy Sr. was appointed for the basic sector.

DOH: Dengue is no longer a 'rainy season disease'

The Department of Health (DOH) said trends have changed and dengue is no longer just a "rainy season disease" as cases are being reported nationwide throughout the year. DOH Head Executive Assistant Dr. Yolanda Oliveros said the DOH is closely watching the dengue fatality rate to make sure it does not double in the coming months.

PhilHealth claims rise with increase in dengue cases

An increase of PhilHealth claims filed was noted with the rise of the number of dengue cases in the country.

Move to postpone barangay polls still tops House agenda

The chairman of the suffrage committee in the House of Representatives on Thursday served notice that the chamber will continue tackling the bills and resolutions calling for the postponement of the barangay elections.

Eddiegul convinced polls will be delayed

With more than 15 House bills filed plus the collective opinion of his colleagues, first district Rep. Eduardo Gullas believes that the October synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will be postponed to a later date.

Even if Brgy polls moved, P3.4-B budget stays with Comelec - lawmaker

Even if the upcoming barangay elections in October will be postponed, the P3.4 billion Commission on Elections (Comelec) budget for the polls could not be used for other purposes unless the poll body allows it.

PPCRV warns vs SK being used by political dynasties

The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK),or youth council, is fast turning from a vehicle for developing leadership skills among Filipino youths into a tool for extending political dynasties.

Judges undergo defense training in Cebu

MANILA, Philippines - Around 80 judges from various parts of the country are undergoing self-defense and firearms training in Cebu.

Legacy Group owner transferred to Ormoc jail

MANILA, Philippines - Celso de los Angeles, owner of the controversial Legacy Group of Companies, has been transferred to the Ormoc provincial jail Thursday.

De los Angeles isolated from other inmates

The sub-provincial jail here, with its limited and cramped facilities, may not be the appropriate detention center for a sick man such as businessman Celso de los Angeles who has been indicted in several cases of syndicated estafa or fraud, according to the officer-in-charge of the jail, Domingo Plimaco.

'Torture cop' says he is not a criminal, denies knowledge of video

Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, the Manila police community precinct commander accused of torturing a robbery suspect inside his detachment, maintained he is not a criminal and denied any knowledge of the video purportedly showing him as the torturer.

Ombudsman forms task force to probe cop torture

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday said it has formed a task force that would investigate the alleged torture of a suspected street robber by a Manila policeman.

More torture reports in Tondo emerge

MANILA, Philippines - A National Police Commission (Napolcom) official said Thursday that they are investigating other reported cases of torture that happened inside a police detachment on Asuncion Street in Tondo district, Manila.

'Torturer-cop' exposes flawed justice system: Rosales

by By Caroline Howard, ANC
MANILA, Philippines - What are the implications of the cellphone video showing the alleged torture of a criminal suspect by a Tondo police officer? According to incoming Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales, the torture video lays bare the tenuous relationships between the police, government prosecutors and the criminals that they are prosecuting.

Angue vows to keep his mouth shut, for now

Former National Capital Region Command chief and Navy Rear Admiral Felicano Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue has promised to keep his mouth shut and would just wait for a congressional inquiry into his supposed demotion.

Angue to 'speak it out' in House probe on military promotion

Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue, discouraged from speaking to the media by his superiors due to his accusations of politicking among military officers, on Thursday vowed to "speak it out" once Congress starts its investigation on the Armed Forces' promotion system.

Drilon asks Aquino to suspend excessive perks of GOCC execs

President Benigno Aquino III should suspend the "excessive" allowances and other perks some executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC) receive, Senator Franklin Drilon said Thursday.

Solon: P100K monthly is enough for Cabinet execs with GOCC seats

Cabinet members should only receive a total of P100,000 a month in exchange for serving as board members of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), a congressman said on Thursday.

Recto urges Ombudsman to focus on disallowed expenses

The government is hauling in close to P5 billion in illegal expenses every year and Sen. Ralph Recto wishes Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez would focus on these disallowed charges rather than on unliquidated cash advances of government agencies.

SC reminds state execs: double compensation is illegal

Receiving additional, double or indirect compensation without any law authorizing it is a violation of the Constitution, the Supreme Court said.

The high court's reminder came on the heels of investigation on the alleged excessive bonuses and other perks received by several officials of government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs)

"The Constitution provides that no elective or appointive public officer or employee shall receive additional, double or indirect compensation, unless specifically authorized by law, nor accept without the consent of the Congress, any present emolument, office or title of any kind from any foreign government," the high tribunal said, quoting Section 8 Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution.

In a decision, the high court, through Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta upheld the findings of the Commission on Audit that the right to compensation of the board of directors of the Philippine International Convention Center Inc. (PICCI), who were also officers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is limited to a P1,000 per diem for every meeting under the PICCI by-laws.

The PICCI corporate auditor on June 7, 1999 issued a notice to Araceli Villanueva, one of the PICCI board members, disallowing the payment of representation and transportation allowance (RATA) worth P1.565 million to petitioners Villanueva, Gabriel Singson, Andre Navato, Edgardo Zialcita, Tyrone Reyes, Jose Clemente Jr., Federico Pascual, Alejandra Clemente, Albert Fenix Jr. and Melpin Gonzaga.

The P1.565 million was the total RATA received by petitioners from January 1996 to December 1998 or P1,500 per month as member of the PICCI board.

The COA explained that the PICCI By Laws prohibits the payment of salary to directors in the form of compensation or reimbursement of expenses. Neither could the payment of RATA be legally found on Section 30 of the Corporation Code or the voting of the stockholders, it said, adding the board resolution allowing a RATA of P1,500 is a violation of the PICCI By-Laws.

The high court agreed with the COA but took note that the passing of the board resolution granting additional RATA does not violate any laws. As such, the high court said there is no need for the petitioners to return the P1.5 million to the PICCI.

House inquiry sought into stock options in lieu of land redistribution

Two lawmakers are seeking an inquiry into whether a scheme of distributing stocks instead of land by Hacienda Luisita and other farming estates complied with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).

Lawmakers agree to take shorter breaks

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers from both houses of Congress have agreed to take shorter vacations to have more time to discuss and pass more bills and resolutions.

In the last regular session of the 14th Congress, lawmakers only worked for 136 days from July 27, 2009 to June 4, 2010.

The legislative calendar includes session breaks. Congress has three regular sessions on one three-year term.

"There are many things to take up on the floor... All vacations were shortened except for the Holy Week break, giving us more time to do our mandate. Shortening the break will give us chance to do more legislation," Senate Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III said in a statement yesterday.

Congress will be on recess in the following dates: Oct. 16 to Nov. 7; Dec. 18 to Jan. 16; March 26 to May 8; and June 10 to July 24.

Mr. Sotto said the Senate is expecting the House of Representatives to pass the proposed 2011 budget on second reading on Oct. 16.

President Benigno C. Aquino III is expected to submit the budget to the House on Aug. 25.

Meanwhile, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio A. Abaya (1st district) toldBusinessWorld that the Lower House will target an Oct. 16 deadline to approve the budget.

"Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad has said the President doesn't want a reenacted budget. We want to have the 2011 budget as proposed to be signed before [the year ends.] No re-enactment [in the budget] is a reflection of good government," Mr. Abaya, who has yet to be appointed appropriations committee chairman, said by phone.

In a separate statement, Senator Franklin M. Drilon said the longer working schedule will give the Senate enough time to scrutinize the budget.

"This will, perhaps, allow us to make sure that every single centavo will go to deserving projects, and not the pockets of dishonest government officials," he said.

Mr. Drilon, finance committee chairman, said shorter breaks would prevent a repeat of experiences in the previous administration wherein the previous year's budget was reenacted due to failure of Congress to pass the budget bill on time.

The government fiscal year is from January to December. The 2010 budget was enacted only last March 14.

"We hope that we will be able to do away with the practice in the past administration of reenacting the previous years' budget because Congress failed to pass the current year's budget on time," Mr. Drilon said.

Police nab Samar town mayor linked to private army

MANILA, Philippines - Police on Wednesday afternoon arrested a town mayor of Samar province, who allegedly maintains a private armed group responsible in killings in the province.
Chief Superintendent Arnold Revilla, Eastern Visayas regional police director, said Gandara town Mayor Antonito Cabueños was arrested at a police checkpoint in Sta. Margarito town around 3 p.m..

Senate bill seeks compensation for wrongfully accused

A person wrongfully convicted of any crime will be compensated for every year he or she spends in jail, if Senator Loren Legarda's bill becomes law.

CHED urged to act on nursing school scam

COSTA MESA, California – A former student of a bogus nursing school ordered closed by the California Attorney's General Office is planning to file a complaint with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the Philippines.

Former RN Learning Center student Leticia Nicasio is worried that other schools, knowingly or unknowingly, may be involved with the center's alleged scam.

"I just want them to be aware of Mr. Jun Enterina transacting business to schools over there. Schools in Manila, schools in the Philippines, I'm not mentioning any schools, but I hope the CHED will issue a circular being explicit about the distance learning especially about nursing," said Nicasio.

Nicasio sent complaints to the Attorney General's office and the Board of Registered Nursing since last year, angry about the RN Learning Center.

Last winter, Luisa Najera spent $20,000 and joined a group of students along with the school's founder Junlou Enterina for a month long trip to the Philippines.

She was expecting hands on clinical training, but instead, she found herself in the classroom.

"When we got there, they told us they're not going to give us clinical. They give us algebra, they give us chemistry, both those classes, and they didn't give us clinical," said Najera.

When Najera returned to California, she said the school recommended she needed to take more classes to get her RN license. She quit the school instead.

Though one flier says the school is not accredited, former students claimed that school officials verbally promised them chances to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) test and get their RN (registered nurse) licenses.

Chau Nguyen said he was already skeptical about the school when they offered him a chance to go to the Philippines.

"They promised me after I finish over here; you can do the NCLEX, go to the Philippines, come back, and then take the NCLEX over here. But I don't want to take too much risk because they told me you had to pay $20, 000," Nguyen said.

Enterina denied any wrong doing, but has agreed to pay back $500,000 dollars to students. That penalty may increase as the attorney general continues to investigate the case. However, the attorney general's office says Philippine schools are out of their jurisdiction and will not investigate the relationship that Philippine schools had with Enterina. 

$1: P44.990

$1: P44.990 (P45.10)

Euro 1: P58.0460

Probe into smuggling in oil industry underway

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Finance (DOF) is looking into reports of oil smuggling in the country.

DOF eyes purge of erring BIR, Customs personnel

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Finance (DoF) has announced that it will begin to file cases against erring officials and personnel within the agency and its attached agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BoC).

Senate to probe P16B in 'non-remittance' by BSP

(Updated 7:47 p.m.) The Senate will summon next Tuesday officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for alleged non-remittance of more than P16 billion to the national government, Senator Franklin Drilon said Thursday.

Flight attendants: PAL has enough savings for bigger pay hike

Philippine Airlines (PAL) reportedly posted substantial savings worth hundreds of millions of pesos, a union of flight attendants said, disputing assertions that the firm is unable to offer its workers increased pay.

Latest China mudslides leave 14 dead, dozens missing

BEIJING—Mudslides in a remote area of southwest China have killed 14 people and left dozens missing, state media said Thursday, while a train derailed in another flood-hit area, sending two carriages into a river.

Pakistan flood survivors struggle to save livestock

by By Robert Birsel, Reuters
SUKKUR, Pakistan - Many Pakistanis displaced by the country's biggest floods in decades are struggling to save their livestock, not just survive themselves.

Last US combat brigade pulls out of Iraq

by by Prashant Rao, Agence France-Presse
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The last American combat brigade pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait at dawn on Thursday, almost seven and a half years after the US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, a US military spokesman said.

Margarito denied California fight license

by Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES  - Antonio Margarito was denied a license to fight in California by the state's athletic commission on Wednesday, leaving him to ponder options for a planned fight against Filipino star Manny Pacquiao.

Foreman: Pacquiao doesn't need Mayweather

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing icon "Big" George Foreman is not among the pack of clamoring fans who are awaiting the super showdown between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

Bachelor P-Noy rejects divorce; mum on Kris' woes

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' most powerful bachelor is against divorce for fundamental reasons.

James, Kris to meet in Makati court

Posibleng magkaharap muli sa Biyernes ang celebrity couple na sina Kris Aquino at James Yap sa pagdinig ng apela sa visitation rights kay Baby James.

Ninoy assassination a closed book for Aquino sisters

Twenty-seven years after the murder of opposition leader and former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., his daughters say the search for the brains behind his assassination is over, and that the Aquino family has already achieved justice.

HK judge scolds Lovi Poe for loud 'yes'

MANILA, Philippines - Young actress Lovi Poe was reprimanded by a judge in Hong Kong after her voice echoed in a courtroom where the case of her rumored boyfriend 1st District Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson was being heard.

Chavit says son could have been set up

Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson said his son, Rep. Ronald Singson, would be out of jail soon after a Hong Kong court allowed the lawmaker to post bail for a drug offense on Thursday.

Kuya Kim diagnosed with hypothyroidism

MANILA, Philippines - "TV Patrol's" resident weatherman Kim Atienza, who suffered from a mild stroke last week, bared he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Dulce adapts gospel lyrics to her signature song 'Paano'

by By Boy Villasanta,
MANILA, Philippines - Blame it on her becoming a born again Christian or her penchant for inventiveness, singer Dulce has just replaced the original lyrics of her signature song "Paano" with gospel lyrics.

Miss Universe judges to pick top 15 semi-finalists

Nagsimula na ang preliminary judging sa mga kandidata ng Miss Universe. Sa Biyernes sisimulan na rin ng mga hurado ang pagpili sa mga kandidatang papasok sa top 15 semi-finalists. 

Pinoy nabbed for 'semen' in co-worker's drink

by By Steve Angeles and Joseph Pimentel, ABS CBN North America News Bureau
ORANGE, California – Authorities arrested a 31-year-old Filipino for allegedly sneaking into his co-worker's office and ejaculating into her water bottle on 2 separate occasions.

Michael Lallana was nabbed on Tuesday. Friends and classmates of Lallana confirmed his ethnicity as Filipino.

Lallana was said to have committed the lewd acts in January and April of this year.

According to the district attorney, the unnamed victim felt sick after drinking out of the contaminated water bottle.

Testicle festival cooks up in Serbia

MANILA, Philippines – An international cooking competition will kick off in a Serbian village next week with testicles of animals at the forefront.

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