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

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 24, 2010 Major News Stories

Petron cuts oil prices

Petron Corp. will implement another round of price cuts effective Tuesday morning, the firm said in an advisory Monday.

Effective 6 a.m., Petron will cut the prices of premium gasoline, diesel and kerosene by P0.75 per liter.

Petron will also cut the prices of regular gasoline by P0.25 per liter, the firm added.

Hostage-taker killed as drama ends

It's over. The dismissed policemen who held over 20 foreign tourists hostage for close to 12 hours was killed by sniper fire, according to a television report.

Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza's bloodied body clad in fatigue pants and a red jacket which was used to cover the hostage-takers face has been taken away from the site and brought to the Ospital ng Maynila (Manila Hospital).

The law enforcers broke the windows and tried to enter the door of the stalled bus but were stopped by gunshots coming from inside the bus.

Bursts of gunfire were heard from inside the tourist bus as lawmen have gone to the backdoor to force it open in the hope of seizing Mendoza and rescuing his hostages.

A bystander, identified as a 10-year-old boy, was hurt following the gunshots and was brought to the hospital for treatment.

A police car moved closer while members of the raiding team continued to break into the back of the vehicle, video showed.

Ambulances have surrounded the bus.

Mendoza seized the tourist bus with over 20 Chinese nationals early Monday morning in Manila to demand his reinstatement into the force.

Mendoza was dismissed due to drug-related offenses but he denied the charges.

Earlier, the bus driver, identified as Alberto Lubang, 38, was able to escape despite being handcuffed to the wheel says told police that some of the hostages have been killed by Mendoza.

Lubang pleaded several times to Mendoza to be freed adding that he was eventually released since he was Filipino.

Nine hostages have been released earlier and at least 17 Chinese Nationals were left on the bus with Mendoza.

The armalite-wielding suspect, has earlier freed eight other hostages identified as, photographer Danilo Medril, 64, tour guide Rigor Cruz, 73-year-old Lee See Que (Lee See Kyu in some reports), Tsang Yee Lai, 40, and her children Fu Chang Yin, 4, Fu Chak Yin, 10, and family friend Wong Ching Nat, 12, Diana Chan. Another unidentified woman was also released at around 10:30 am.

A national police statement said at least 22 tourists from Hong Kong were on board the bus. The statement said that, aside from the driver, they were believed to be the only people aboard the bus. Earlier reports said that aside from the 22 Chinese nationals, three Filipinos were on board the bus.

Mendoza posted the "Media now" message some 30 minutes after 3 p.m., the hour by which police negotiators and media were expecting something to happen following a message from Mendoza that stated "Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today."

Earlier in the day, Mendoza posted the message: "Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.

It was not clear what the armalite-wielding hostage-taker exactly meant by these messages, as police negotiators continued to work to convince Mendoza to let the hostages go.

Negotiators had hooked up a phone line to the bus to facilitate negotiations with Mendoza.

As of late Monday afternoon, the bus' gasoline supply had been replenished at least two times.

Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador have taken the lead in the negotiations with the hostage taker.

According to records in Camp Crame, Mendoza was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman early in January together with four other policemen

Mendoza was relieved from his post as chief of the Mobile Patrol Unit in 2008 for his alleged involvement in drug-related crimes and extortion, and was demanding to be reinstated, police said.

Mendoza, who has reaped awards for his work in the police service, was protesting his dismissal early this year for allegedly forcing a hotel chef to swallow shabu and for allegedly attempting to extort P20,000 from him during interrogation. Mendoza has denied the charges and has filed an appeal with the Ombudsman.

Earlier, negotiators delivered a letter from the Office of the Ombudsman regarding his pending case.

The signed and sealed letter was delivered to on site by Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno who has met with officials of the Office of the Ombudsman earlier in the day.

Moreno revealed in a telephone interview aired over the ABS-CBN News Channel that the contents of the Ombudsman's letter could help clear up things on the status of the appeal he filed regarding his dismissal from the service.

Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador have taken the lead in the negotiations with the hostage taker.

Mendoza has been passing messages to police negotiators through pieces of paper he posts on the windshield and doors of the parked bus.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said that the bus was operated by a Hong Thai, a Hong Kong-based travel agency.

The incident brought back memories of a similar hostage taking in 2007, when a troubled civil engineer armed with a grenade took over a bus and took hostage 30 kindergarten students but freed them after a 10-hour standoff with police.

That hostage-taking happened near the Manila city hall, just off Rizal Park. with reports from Tetch Torres,; Alcuin Papa, DJ Yap, Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Agence France-Presse

Hostage-taker watched TV inside bus

MANILA, Philippines - Albert Lubang, driver of the tourist bus hijacked on Monday by disgruntled former police officer Rolando Mendoza, cut with a nail-cutter the handcuff that tied him to the bus steering wheel before making a dash for freedom.

Lubang's cry that "Everyone is dead!" appeared to have prompted the police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) squad attack on the bus that killed Mendoza and 8 Hong Kong tourists, ending the 11-hour hostage drama. Seven tourists were injured while 9 hostages were freed prior to the attack.

Lubang jumped off from the driver's window after freeing himself from the handcuff, ran for several meters with his arms raised, and was greeted with throng of media and police. His first words were, "Patay na lahat!" (Everyone is dead!")

Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) officials who debriefed Lubang said the driver recalled Mendoza demanded that the television on the bus be put on so that he could see what was happening to his relatives at the Luneta Police Community Precinct (PCP).

Lubang said Mendoza was angered by the sight of some of his relatives, including his brother police officer Gregorio Mendoza, being accosted by police, and started firing his gun wildly inside the bus.

Police suspect that Gregorio Mendoza was an accessory to the hostage-taking and took him into custody. But Gregorio denied this and said his brother must have been angered by what the police did to him prompting Rolando to fire his weapon.

Lubang even saw the bloodied body of a hostage before he got off the bus. The PNRC said Lubang's statement about everyone being dead showed how traumatized the driver was.

Concerned about TV 

Citizens, meanwhile, were concerned about television broadcasting the SWAT attack after Lubang escaped.

During the live chat at, citizens expressed concern that the hostage-taker may be monitoring the television broadcast of events.

"Hindi po kaya may TV sa loob ng bus kaya po nang nagkagulo sa labas ang mga pulis at pamilya ni Mendoza kaya po nagdesisyon din 
s'yang patayin ang mga hostage?" live chat participant 'Fred' said after the SWAT started positioning themselves around the bus.

Chat participant 'batang_munti' advised, "Dapat barilin nila (police) yung upper front portion ng bus para mapatay yung TV monitor kung meron man."

'TV Peeps Ron,' a regular chat participant, meanwhile, requested that TV Patrol place a "Parental Guidance" sign to alarm parents about the need to guide young viewers about the graphic visual of the news coverage.

TV Patrol, during its broadcast, had this sign at the upper right corner of the screen. Anchor Ted Failon also reminded viewers about the need for parental guidance. -- report from Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

7 Hong Kong tourists killed in hostage crisis

(UPDATE 2) At least seven Hong Kong tourists were killed during a dramatic hostage siege in Manila on Monday, doctors said.

Four of the bodies were taken to the Manila Doctor's Hospital, where a fifth victim was alive but in critical condition, said Faith Gaerlan, the facility's emergency medicine chief.

"Four are confirmed dead. One is in a critical condition," Gaerlan told AFP.

Two other hospitals also reported having received three dead victims, according to their emergency medical staff.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Director Leocadio Santiago said police could not immediately give an exact figure for the casualties and those who survived.

HONG KONG - A survivor of a dramatic hostage siege in the Philippine capital which left seven Hong Kong tourists dead Monday accused the authorities of acting too late and turning a blind eye to their ordeal.

The Hong Kong woman, who identified herself as Mrs Leung, told reporters that her husband was killed as he tried to stop ex-policeman Rolando Mendoza from attacking other passengers on their tour bus in Manila.

Leung, still in shock as she was carried out from the bus following a 12-hour standoff, demanded to know why Manila police came to their rescue so late.

"It's too late. Why were there no one to help us after so many hours?" she said at the scene of the siege, in comments broadcast on Hong Kong's Cable TV.

"There were so many people on the bus -- no one came to our rescue. Why? For money? Sacrificing so many lives for money? We were in fear for so many hours. I find it really cruel."

The tragedy began when disgruntled ex-policeman Rolando Mendoza, armed with an M-16 assault rifle, hijacked a busload of Hong Kong visitors in Manila's tourist district in a desperate bid to get his job back.

Negotiations broke down after nightfall when the gunman began shooting the passengers, and commandos stormed the bus.

Police said Mendoza was shot dead by a sniper after he used his captives as "human shields" in the final moments of the 12-hour standoff.

Leung said her husband sacrificed himself for others on the bus. "I actually really wanted to die with him. But I think of my children."

"I miss him," she said in tears.

She said she did not know the whereabouts of three children, aged 14, 18, and 21, who were also held hostage on the bus.

Hong Kong gov't 'disappointed' about RP hostage siege

HONG KONG—The Hong Kong government said Monday it was "very disappointed" about the outcome of a dramatic hostage siege in the Philippine capital which left at least seven Hong Kong tourists dead.

Hong Kong travel agency says to send chartered plane to Manila to bring back tourists

Lau Mei-sze, manager of Hong Thai travel agency which had organized the Hong Kong tour group to the Philippines, said the Hong Kong government has decided to send a chartered plane to the Philippine capital Manila tonight to carry back tourists involved in the abduction incident.

Hong Kong issues 'black' travel alert for Philippines

Hong Kong issued its top-level black travel alert for the Philippines on Monday after at least five Hong Kong tourists were killed in Manila in a bus hijack by an armed ex-policeman.

Ombudsman, Isko take up hostage-taker's case

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman is keeping mum over the case of a hostage-taking Manila policeman it had recommended for dismissal.

Hostage-taker accused of making suspect swallow shabu

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 1) -- Former police officer Rolando Mendoza, who held hostage 25 people aboard a tourist bus in Rizal Park on Monday, was dismissed last year over allegations of extortion and forcing a chef to swallow shabu.

Manila hostage crisis gunman was frustrated cop

MANILA, Philippines - The gunman killed Monday in one of the Philippines' deadliest hostage incidents was a decorated ex-policeman depressed over his sacking for various alleged crimes, his family said.

Ex-chief inspector Rolando Mendoza was once named one of the country's top 10 police officers and had served as head of Manila's Mobile Patrol Unit, the force's frontline group dealing with the city's street crimes.

He graduated from the Philippine College of Criminology in the early 1980s, before joining the force as a young lieutenant and later rising through the ranks, his service record showed.

Mendoza's downward spiral began in 2008 when a chef accused him of framing him over a drugs charge to extort money.

Press reports at the time quoted the chef as saying that Mendoza allegedly harassed him and once stuffed a packet of a banned methamphetamine called "ice" in his mouth as a warning for him to pay up.

An internal investigation later found Mendoza guilty of the accusations, and he was suspended then kicked out of the force along with four subordinates in 2008, official police records showed.

"He knows the law. He was been a police officer for many years," said younger brother, Gregorio Mendoza, also a police officer.

"He believed he was relieved from his post without due process and felt the police leadership did not help him despite his sacrifices."

Extreme frustration boiled over into violence when Mendoza, 55, wearing combat pants and armed with an assault rifle, commandeered a tourist bus carrying 22 Hong Kong tourists and three Filipinos in Manila on Monday.

Mendoza and at least eight of the hostages were killed when his former colleagues stormed the bus to end the 12-hour stand off.

In conversations with a radio station and local television hours before the police siege, Mendoza could be heard shouting and repeatedly claiming he was not given a fair trial.

"What is the use of living? I will just waste my life now," he said, and subsequently warned police commandos he would kill the hostages one by one if his demand was not met.

His father, 79-year-old Leonardo Mendoza, told ABS-CBN television that his son was not known to be a violent man, but had complained of being stabbed in the back by the organisation he had devoted his life to.

"He is a very good man," he said from the family home in Tanauan town, a few hours' drive south of Manila. "We are calling on the president to look at what happened to his case."

Aquino not satisfied with how hostage crisis was handled

President Benigno Aquino III on early Tuesday said he has tasked various government agencies to investigate the circumstances surrounding the hostage crisis in Manila that resulted in the deaths of eight people.

Aquino condoles with kin of Chinese nationals killed in hostage tragedy

President Benigno Aquino III condoled early Tuesday with the families of Hong Kong nationals who were killed in Monday's hostage-taking incident in Manila.

Facing the nation more than three hours after the conclusion of the hostage-taking incident, the President spoke on government television station NBN about the incident and his directives.

He said Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo has conveyed to the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong the Philippine government's "deep sorrow" following the deadly outcome.

President Aquino said that he will ask Justice Secretary Leila De lima to conduct an investigation but at the same time will ask Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa to conduct a parallel probe.

"We want a thorough investigation of everything that transpired," Aquino told reporters in the media briefing past midnight Monday.

He said he has directed Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to be on top of the recovery and return home of the survivors.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the way the police operation was handled, Mr. Aquino said there was a need to improve on some things.

"How can you be satisfied if there were some people who were killed?" he said.

Mr. Aquino said the government was prepared to "wait out" Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

"But the situation deteriorated rapidly when, during the course of the negotiations, he was given the letter of Ombudsman Mercedita Guitierrez in which she promised to personally review his case. As he was reading the contents of the letter while talking to an unknown individual on the phone, he became increasingly agitated," Mr. Aquino said.

He said the presence of Mendoza's brother also "added to the tension."

The President also said media coverage of the arrest of Mendoza's brother "further agitated the hostage taker."

PNP asked to evaluate grievance procedure after Manila hostage drama

Senator Francis Escudero on Monday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) should evaluate its grievance procedures after a dismissed policeman held a busload of Chinese tourists hostage in Manila for several hours.

US embassy condemns Manila hostage-taking

MANILA,Philippines - The US embassy in Manila on Monday condemned the hostage-taking incident in Rizal Park that left 8 Hong Kong tourists dead.

Bus assault 'badly prepared': French expert

PARIS - A police assault on a bus of tourists taken hostage in the Philippines Monday was "badly prepared and risky", a French expert said, after eight hostages and the gunman were killed.

The police who stormed the bus in Manila did not have specialist training and "visibly lacked adequate equipment and tactical competence," said Frederic Gallois, who once commanded France's elite hostage rescue unit.

After seeing live television images of the operation, the former colonel told AFP that "one cannot understand what justified this badly prepared and risky assault."

The police, for example, did not attempt a surprise tactic like entering the bus at several points and had also stayed too long outside the vehicle before launching their assault, he said.

Gallois was the commander of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group between 2002 and 2007.

The unit in 1994 freed 173 passengers and crew from a plane hijacked by four Algerian Islamists, who were killed in the operation.

Torture victim's 'wife' sues police officer, 8 others

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The wife of the alleged torture victim in the cell phone video first shown over ABS-CBN News last week filed a complaint on Monday against 9 policemen before the Department of Justice.

Cop who "slapped" reporter transferred

Senior Insp. Vicente Velasquez, the policeman accused of slapping a reporter, is out as chief of the Homicide Section of the Cebu City Police Office.

Raps filed vs torture cop, victim identified

(UPDATE) The Philippine National Police (PNP) Task Force Asuncion on Monday filed a criminal case against Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, the cop caught on camera apparently torturing a robbery suspect.

Aquino won't just veto bill postponing barangay polls--Lagman

President Benigno Aquino III will think twice about vetoing a bill calling for the postponement of the barangay elections, saying it will go against the will of Congress, Minority leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Monday.

Lawmakers remind President: We can override veto

While they respect the power of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to veto a bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election, lawmakers reminded the President that Congress can override such veto.

Barangay chief accuses Loot of being behind "water terrorism"

A barangay captain in Daanbantayan town has accused Mayor Maria Luisa Loot as being behind the "water terrorism" in Barangay Bateria, which reportedly affected 50 households.

Barangay Captain Arsenio Luciano told the media yesterday that residents in the barangay have to travel about a kilometer to the neighboring barangay in order to get water for their daily consumption.

Dengue claims one more; fatalities now 10

The dreaded dengue virus has claimed one more victim in Cebu City bringing the total number of fatalities to 10 this year.

Assistant epidemiologist Dorinda Macasucol of the Department of Health, however, said they have yet the details of the latest fatality from a private hospital. Macasucol said they received the information about it from the hospital management yesterday.

Mayor Michael Rama also instructed yesterday the officials of Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) to find a way that patients at the pediatric ward will no longer share the same bed.

This after the hospital did not help but again implement twin sharing due to the surge of child patients either because of dengue or other diseases like pneumonia.

CCMC chief of hospital Myrna Go admitted that there are many patients admitted than usual in the past few days.

"Normally, gamay ra man na sila. Nidaghan lang gyud karon. We will find a way nga magtagsa na sila og bed," Go said.

Rama said that they can use for the meantime the hospital auditorium located at the same floor as an extension. Go said they can also use the adjacent ward and later the Gyne ward that is soon transferring to the ground floor where the pedia ward used to be.

The pedia ward has existing 37 beds maximized to accommodate 77 patients as of today.

Of the 77 patients, 22 of them were afflicted with the dangerous dengue disease.

Go said that there is no death recently due to dengue and was glad that there were critical cases the other day saved by the doctors due to constant monitoring of the patients' conditions.

Marivic Warque, a mother of an eight-year-old boy admitted due to dengue said that they are satisfied by the hospital services because doctors constantly check the patients.

There was never an instance also that the hospital refused to accommodate a patient.

The city offers free medication for dengue-stricken patients as per order of then Mayor Tomas Osmeña. CCMC is receiving an additional P5 million assistance for the medical expenses of patients from the laboratory tests to their confinement.

Go said that the order is still existing and they are implementing the free medication program but said that in cases when the hospital lacks the medicine needed, the patients still need to buy it outside.

"Fluid ra man ning among i-provide but if naa'y kinahanglan nga tambal pareha sa patients nga naa'y complications, they have to buy it. Hapit na gani mahurot among supply pero naa na sad mi muabot," she said.

Rama said that proposal for expansion to accommodate more city residents at the hospital is still being studied but as of the moment, he assured that they will address the immediate concerns.

CCMC is currently being renovated and repainted to give patients a comfortable feeling when they enter and stay at the hospital.

Among the changes at the hospital since Rama took over as mayor is the transfer of the pedia ward to the third floor because Rama did not like the idea that the pedia ward used to be at the ground floor beside the morgue.(FREEMAN)

Cover-up in death of inmate?

Is the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center trying to cover-up the death of an inmate at the jail and the severe wounding of another last week?

This after the Committee on Discipline and Investigation said in its initial result that one of the two inmates who reportedly died last week after he allegedly lost his balance while hanging his clothes actually died as a result of mauling.

It was CPDRC warden Alito Gabuya who earlier said Angelito Cabalquinto died after he lost his balance while hanging his clothes last Thursday.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia earlier assigned lawyer Lito Astillero to head the committee to investigate the recent deaths in the CPDRC saying she does not want to hear the speculations of her brother Byron Garcia, who used to manage the jail as her consultant.

Aside from Cabalquinto, another inmate, Simplicio Taoy, died reportedly died of a heart attack last Wednesday, but Astillero's committee determined that it was indeed a heart attack that killed Taoy.

Astillero also said that Gabuya's report regarding Cabalquinto's death was only based on hearsay and testimonies from the inmates. He said many inmates are associated with gangs that enforce their own code of silence.

Astillero told reporters yesterday that based on his information gathering at least 16 other inmates mauled Cabalquinto and inmate Benjie Undit last Thursday.

Their initial investigation revealed that inmate Roger Repuyla who is an assistant of inmate Leo Suico, who is the "minarya" or "bosyo" (inmate leader) received information Undit was planning to stab him.

Based on the tip Repuyla and his lieutenants called Undit and brought him to a room which had no CCTV cameras.

It was during the "investigation" that Repuyla concluded Undit was indeed a threat after they confiscated from him a shank made from a sharpened toothbrush.

Undit allegedly caved in and implicated Cabalquinto, who was then brought into the room.

But when Cabalquinto arrived, he immediately punched Undit for dragging his name and told the latter "nganong i-apil-apil man ko nimo nga imo ra man ning plano?

This was when 16 inmates all allied with Repuyla allegedly took turns in mauling both Undit and Cabalquinto.

Cabalquinto was then brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center where he later died of celebral hemorrhage due to secondary head injury, while Undit was severely injured.

Byron earlier said the CPDRC has been hiding Undit, keeping him inside a cell in the jail until his wounds are no longer discernible. But Astillero said the reason why Undit remains in jail is because there was no recommendation for him to be brought to the hospital yet.

But as of last night Undit was taken for confinement to VSMMC accompanied by his mother.

Astillero also brushed off allegations that the recent events in the CPDRC have to do with inmates being forced to join the "dancing inmates" as inmates themselves allegedly compete with one another for this opportunity.

It was Byron who earlier said that Cabalquinto may have been killed to scare resistant inmates into joining performances again.

Gabuya for his part said that he is willing to face whatever consequences arise from the recent events.

Astillero also said he has yet to question the 16 inmates who allegedly mauled the two before he submits his final report to the governor this week.(FREEMAN)

Cebu plants temporarily disallowed from dumping coal ash

Two companies running two coal power plants in Cebu province have been temporarily disallowed from disposing their waste in areas near their facilities.
This developed after the Mandaue City Regional Trial Court issued a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) against the both facilities, the Manila-based Ecowaste Coalition said in a statement Monday.

The order, which will remain in effect for three days, was made possible after the Supreme Court during the term of now retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno adopted "Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," the coalition added in the same statement.

The order — the second such ever issued since the Supreme Court approved such rules —may be extended or terminated, depending on results of the hearing to be held on August 27, Ecowaste Coalition's Manny Calonzo told GMANews.TV in an interview.

The two power plants are an 89 megawatt (mW) plant operated by the Toledo Power Corp. in Sangi, Toledo, which is run by Toledo Power Corp., and a 59 mW plant in Colon, Naga City, which is operated by the Salcon Power Corp.

Both facilities "indiscriminately" dumped coal ash, which contain toxic chemicals like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, Cebu-based organizations — including the Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc. — claimed in a case filed in August 6, 2010 in Mandaue City.

Coal ash worsens asthma, causes lung cancer, and stunts lung development in children, among others, the groups said in the same case.

Since it was established in 1993, Toledo Power "has not built nor set up…an impoundment pond or landfill facility which is enough to sufficiently carry and systematically manage all the coal combustion residuals it generates," the groups claimed in the case.

As a result, coal ash from the Toledo facility — which in 2007 was allowed to expand its generating capacity to three plants that can produce 84 mWs each — "was and is still being dumped indiscriminately and improperly around the Toledo City's open spaces and its immediate environs."

In July 2008, Toledo residents later sent a notice to sue the company, a unit of Global Business Power Corp., and the various officials of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

However, coal ash dumping remained "unabated," the case said. 

The group also leveled the same accusations against Salcon Power Corp., which has been running the first coal-fired power plant in Colon, Naga City.

The 59-mW plant "has not built up nor set up at the very least an impoundment pond or landfill facility sufficient enough to carry and systematically manage all its generated coal combustion residuals," the groups said.

As a result, "all coal by-products from its plant operations were and still being dumped indiscriminately and improperly around open spaces in Naga City."

The situation became pronounced after the company entered into a joint venture with Korea Power Co. (KEPCO) Philippines Holdings to construct and run a 200 mW expansion plant across its plant.

The project's expansion was funded by a $100 million Korean Export-Import Bank which was approved in June 2008 and a separate $120 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Repeated requests for reactions from executives and company representatives of both Toledo Power and Salcon Power have been made by GMANews.TV but none have made any comments as of posting time.

Triumph of environmental justice

The TEPO decision was considered as "a triumph for environmental health and justice," the coalition said.

"We commend and congratulate the PEJC and other concerned groups and residents who acted as petitioners for invoking the precautionary principle to uphold the constitutional rights of affected communities from improperly disposed coal ash, which constitutes a public health
hazard," Rei Panaligan, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator, said in a statement.

"Precaution, a universally-accepted principle, tells us to err on the side of caution if only to ensure the health and safety of our peopleand the environment from toxic risks," he added.

In a citizen's suit filed last week, PEJC and other petitioners said that "even in the absence of full scientific certainty as to the how much harm coal ash affects the health of petitioners and the ecosystem, the [Mandaue] court is still required under the rules to exercise and adopt a precautionary attitude."

As stated in the "Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," the following factors may, among others, be considered in applying the precautionary principle: 1) threats to human life or health, 2) inequity to present or future generations, or 3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected.

SRP tunnel now opens 24 hours daily

Starting at 6 a.m. today, the tunnel at the Plaza Independencia will be opened for traffic 24 hours everyday to help decongest the traffic problem within the vicinity and other nearby areas.

Cebuano legislators bat for changes in MCIAA Charter

Three Cebuano congressmen are pushing for amendments in the Charter of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority.

Separate resolutions seeking to amend Republic Act 6958 were filed by Lapu-Lapu Rep. Arturo Radaza, Cebu City North District Rep. Rachel Marguerite Del Mar and Cebu Third District Rep. Pablo John Garcia.

Radaza wants Section 6 of RA 6958 be amended in such a way that the mayor of Lapu-Lapu City and the governor of Cebu Province or their duly authorized representatives will sit as eighth and ninth members of the MCIAA Board.

Radaza contended that MCIA has been situated within the territory of Lapu-Lapu City every since its Charter was approved on July 31, 1990. Ever since, not a seat in the 11-man board was given to a representative of the city.

Because Lapu-Lapu City has already become fully independent from the provincial government, Radaza said the more that it is now entitled of a seat at the MCIAA Board.

"It is also necessary policy-wise, beneficial, and practicable for it ensures swift coordination between the city government's and MCIAA's policies. The charter must also be reworded to reflect recent legislative developments," said Radaza.

Radaza said the corporate powers of MCIAA shall be exercised by and vested in the Board, which shall be composed of a chairman, vice chairman and nine members. The secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications and the general manager of MCIAA should serve as ex-officio chairman and vice-chairman of the board.

The lone district representative also wants the assistant secretary of the Air Transportation Office and the secretaries of the Department of Finance, Department of Justice, and Department of Tourism be made ex-officio members of the MCIAA Board.

In addition, two members recommended by the mayor of Lapu-Lapu City and one member of four members recommended by the governor of the Province of Cebu from the private sector shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines for a term of four years.

The MCIAA Board shall promulgate its rules relative to its meetings, quorum requirements and compensation or allowances of its members.

Radaza further proposed amendments to Section 14 of Republic Act 6958, saying that pursuant to the concept of local autonomy, the MCIAA should be governed by Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 "including, but not limited to, its provisions on the imposition of local taxes, securing of building permits, and local police power."

Radaza said the authority shall be exempt from realty taxes imposed by the national government or any of its political subdivisions, agencies and intrumentalities "provided that no tax exemption herein granted shall extend to any subsidiary which may be organized by the authority."

Meanwhile, under her bill, Del Mar wants three representatives from the private sector to serve for four years in the board upon recommendation by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry with four years term.

Del Mar also wants the governor and the mayor of Lapu-Lapu City to be ex-officio members of the MCIAA board.

Likewise, Del Mar said that should MCIAA's international port be transferred to another city or municipality in the future, the mayor of that local government unit or his duly authorized representative shall become a member of the board.

Garcia, for his part, also wants three members from the private sector to sit in the board for four years, but only upon recommendation of the governor and appointment by the President of the Philippines.

Garcia wants that the governor and the mayor of Lapu-Lapu City also become the eight and ninth members of the board.

As regards the appointment of the MCIAA general manager, Garcia proposed that the appointment should not be subjected to any qualification standards, rules and regulations, and/or review by the Civil Service Commission.(FREEMAN)

SC says suspension of two GSIS lawyers was without due process

The Supreme Court has denied the petitions filed by former Government Service Insurance System president and general manager Winston Garcia against two lawyers of GSIS relative his decision to suspend the lawyers from service for grave misconduct.

Garcia's petitions asked the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling of the Court of Appeals, which favored lawyers Mario Molina and Alberto Velasco.

In a decision dated January 2, 2003, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the lawyers and ordered Garcia to set aside his order that the lawyers submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the committee created to investigate the administrative case filed against them.

Garcia then elevated the case to the Supreme Court, but the high tribunal also ruled against him.

The Supreme Court said Garcia is vested with the authority and responsibility to remove, suspend or discipline his personnel for cause, however, this power is not without limitations and must be exercised in accordance with Civil Service rules.

The Supreme Court said it appears that Molina and Velasco were charged without due process "after the sole determination by the petitioner as the disciplining authority that there was a prima facie case against respondents."

"To condone this would give the disciplining authority an unrestricted power to judge by himself the nature of the act complained of as well as the gravity of the charges. We, therefore, conclude that respondents were denied due process of law," the High Court ruled.

The Supreme Court said the Court of Appeals committed "no reversible error in ordering the payment of back salaries during the period of respondents' preventive suspension."

"The principle of "no work, no pay" does not apply where the employee himself was unlawfully forced out of job," the decision further reads that was handed down last August 18, 2010.

The high court said the administrative proceedings involved in this case were void, thus, no delinquency or misconduct may be imputed to respondents and that the preventive suspension meted them is baseless.

The decision was penned by SC Associate Justice Antonio Educardo Nachura and concurred to by former SC Chief Justice Renato Corona and associate justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Presbitero Velasco, Jr..

Garcia charged Molina for grave misconduct for allegedly 1) directly and continuously helping some alleged disgruntled employees to conduct concerted protest actions and/or illegal assemblies against the management and the GSIS president and general manager; 2) leading the concerted protest activities held in the morning of May 22, 2002 during office hours within the GSIS compound; and 3) continuously performing said activities despite warning from his immediate superiors.

Velasco, for his part, was also charged for allegedly performing the same acts, which allegedly violated the Rules on Office Decorum and for allegedly leaving his office without informing his supervisor of his whereabouts, as well as gross insubordination for persistently disregarding Garcia's instructions for him to report to the latter's office. (FREEMAN)

'Justice on Wheels' travels to Cebu

Several detainees at the Cebu City Jail in Barangay Kalunasan may enjoy their freedom soon as the Supreme Court justices will come to Cebu on September 6 to conduct speedy trial of cases as part of the Enhanced Justice on Wheels program to help decongest the jails.

Govt to review OP's need for intel funds

Malacañang, on the eve of submitting the proposed P1.645-trillion national budget for 2011 to Congress, will make a "proper review" to determine whether or not the Office of the President deserves intelligence funds.

Sen. Villar gives way, Senate settles CA membership

Senator Manuel Villar Jr. gave up his seat in the Commission on Appointments (CA) so that the Senate could finally settle the committee's composition, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said on Monday.

Sotto said Villar gave up his seat so that two members of the minority - Senate Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Joker Arroyo - would both be given seats in the CA.

Aside from Cayetano and Arroyo, also sitting in the CA are Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Francis Escudero, Serge Osmeña, Gregorio Honasan, Jinggoy Estrada, Edgardo Angara, Ramon Bong Revilla, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Meanwhile, Sotto also announced on the floor on Monday the members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). This includes Senators Honasan, Angara, Pangilinan, Lito Lapid, Pia Cayetano, and Loren Legarda.

Honasan will be replaced by Escudero and Angara by Senator Teofisto Guingona III on July 1, 2011, said Sotto.

Senate revises reso seeking Trillanes's custody

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate has approved a revised version of Resolution 84 urging the Makati Regional Trial Court branch 148 to allow them custody of detained colleague and former Navy officer Antonio Trillanes IV.

Malacañang backs cancellation of Lacson's passports

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Monday backed the move of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel the regular and diplomatic passports of fugitive Sen.Panfilo Lacson last Friday.

Andal Jr. vs 33 co-accused as state witness

Andal Ampatuan Jr. is objecting to the prosecution's plan to have 33 of his co-accused as witnesses against him in the Maguindanao massacre case.

Massacre case enters ninth month; relatives, friends see hope

KORONADAL CITY -- Family members and friends of the victims in the Maguindanao massacre marked the ninth month of the brutal manslaughter yesterday with graveyard visits and prayers, lighting candles for a speedy trial of the worst election-related killings in the country's contemporary history.

SBMA chief: I earned only P1.85M, not P26.8M, in 2009

The head of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority—tagged as the highest paid among executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations—defended himself anew, as he stressed that his actual compensation and benefits amounted only to P1.85 million in 2009.

Sen. Drilon: Neri must attend Senate inquiry or face subpoena

Former Social Security System (SSS) chief Romulo Neri will be faced with a subpoena if he fails to show up during the Senate inquiry on government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) on Tuesday, Senator Franklin Drilon said.

Lorenzo says Bolante had full control of fertilizer funds

Breaking his silence on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, former agriculture secretary Luis Lorenzo said it was then agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc'' Bolante who had full control of the money.

Akbayan rep faces ethics complaint for anti-GMA tirade

MANILA, Philippines - Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello is facing an ethics complaint before the House of Representatives for alleged unparliamentary remarks against former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo earlier this month.

CHR official apologizes for scolding media

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Cecilia "Coco" Quisumbing on Monday apologized for scolding some members of the media during a recent press conference.

DOJ chief hospitalized, takes one-week leave

Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was brought to a hospital and was advised to take a one-week leave starting on Monday.
Her subordinate, Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, said De Lima is confined at the University of Santo Tomas hospital in Manila and is suffering from pneumonia and fatigue. 

16 suspects in frat hazing death face raps

MANILA, Philippines - Sixteen people including 5 members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity are facing criminal charges for the death of a University of Makati (Umak) student during alleged initiation rites.

PRC releases lists of new mining engineers, geologists

A total of 15 out of 30 passed the Mining Engineer Licensure Examination given by the Board of Mining Engineering in Manila this month, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) said on Monday.

$1: P45.060

$1: P45.060 (P45.01)

Euro 1: P57.1966

Graft court admits evidence vs Tan in ill-gotten wealth case

All evidence submitted by government lawyers in a forfeiture case against the assets of businessman Lucio Tan were admitted by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.

Contractors 'looting and stealing', says Karzai

by Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON – Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai defended his decision to disband private security contractors, charging that they loot and steal, have links to criminal groups and might even fund insurgents.

Speed Pacman's best weapon vs Margarito

Speed, no doubt, will again serve as Manny Pacquiao's biggest weapon once he steps up in the ring and faces Antonio Margarito three months from now.

US basketball team downs Spain in warm-up

by Reuters
MADRID – The United States survived a spirited comeback from world champions Spain to win 86-85 in thrilling a warm-up game Sunday, sending out a warning to their rivals ahead of the world championships.

NBA stars ready for Asia Challenge

MANILA, Philippines – Former National Basketball Association (NBA) players Chris Webber, Gary Payton and Glen Rice arrived in the country Sunday evening for the 2nd NBA Asia Challenge.

Amid controversy, James Yap flies to US

by by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
LOS ANGELES, California - James Yap, the estranged husband of Kris Aquino, has arrived here for a much needed break.

PEP: Willie Revillame files P11.5-M suit vs ABS-CBN

Pormal nang nagsampa ng reklamo sa korte ang TV host na si Willie Revillame laban sa ABS-CBN kaugnay ng pagkakatanggal niya at ng noontime show niyang Wowowee sa ere noong July 31.

Vice Ganda returns to 'Showtime'

MANILA, Philippines – After taking a short break abroad, comedian Vice Ganda on Monday returned to ABS-CBN noontime program "Showtime."

83 global beauty queens seek Miss Universe title

A set of 83 beauty queens plan to show off swimsuits, evening gowns and quick-thinking interview skills in hopes of impressing a panel of celebrity judges and winning the 2010 Miss Universe crown.

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