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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 27, 2010 Major News Stories

Police failed to bring gas masks—official

Police failed to bring their masks when they used tear gas in an attempt to rescue Hong Kong tourists who were held hostage by a dismissed officer who took over their bus in Manila Monday, an official admitted before the Senate Thursday.

Mayor ordered hostage-taker's brother arrest—Manila police chief

(UPDATE 4) It was Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who ordered the arrest of the brother of the dismissed policeman who held hostage Hong Kong tourists in Manila last Monday that resulted in the deaths of eight tourists, the city's chief of police told a Senate investigation Thursday.

Lim denies ordering Mendoza's arrest

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has denied ordering the arrest of the brother of former police senior inspector Rolando Mendoza, which allegedly triggered the deadly outcome of Monday's hostage crisis.

Villaroman shrugs off being 1-day Manila police chief

MANILA, Philippines – Did police Senior Superintendent Francisco Villaroman's perceived ties with fugitive Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson result in the recall of his appointment as Manila Police District (MPD) chief?

Manila police OIC an expert in hostage situations

It may sound a little ironic, but the new officer-in-charge of the Manila Police District (MPD), Senior Superintendent Francisco Villaroman, is an expert in hostage crisis.

Call for more heads to roll over hostage crisis grows

MANILA, Philippines - Calls for more heads to roll snowballed as the 55-day-old Aquino administration now grapples with its first political crisis.

Heads to roll in bungled hostage rescue operation -- Aquino

THOSE WHO committed lapses in Monday's hostage rescue will be held accountable, President Benigno C. Aquino III vowed yesterday, while a Palace official virtually blamed the past administration over the police's lack of equipment and capacity to handle the situation.

AFP elite team offered for hostage crisis but never used -- spokesman

The Armed Forces of the Philippines offered a special and elite military strike force as a "viable alternative" to deal with Monday's hostage drama in Manila but was never used by the police ground commander in resolving the crisis.

PNP tests guns used in hostage tragedy

MANILA - Philippine police said Thursday they were carrying out ballistic tests to determine if their commandos fired any of the bullets that killed eight Hong Kong tourists at the end of a hostage siege.

Last 2 bus hijacking survivors return home to HK

HONG KONG - The last two survivors of the Manila bus hijacking have returned home to Hong Kong, a day after the bodies of eight victims were flown back to the southern Chinese city, a report said Thursday.

China seeks quick, thorough probe on hostage tragedy

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese government has urged Philippine officials to ensure that an investigation into the August 23 hostage-taking crisis in Manila will be swift and comprehensive.

HK coroner orders hijack victim autopsies

HONG KONG  - Hong Kong's security chief said Thursday that autopsies would be performed on all eight victims of the Manila bus hijacking, possibly clearing the way for an official inquest.

HK lawmaker: They owe us an apology

Dapat humingi ng paumanhin ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas kung mapatunayan na nagkulang ito sa paghawak sa hostage crisis. Giit ng isang mambabatas sa Hong Kong, kailangang magbigay ng diretsong sagot si Pangulong Aquino sa marami nilang katanungan.

Palace spokesmen differ on whether HK exec called

There is an apparent communication breakdown among Malacañang Palace's spokesmen.

RP to end hostage probe before meeting with China

The Philippine government will have to finish first the investigation on the bloody hostage-taking in Manila three days ago before meeting with Chinese authorities, officials from the two countries' foreign affairs department agreed Thursday. Police authorities are meanwhile working around the clock to complete the probe.

Arroyo seeks to calm diplomatic tensions after hostage fiasco

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo moved to calm tensions between the Chinese government and the Philippines over Monday's hostage incident which killed 8 Hong Kong tourists.

Hostage taker's kin apologize through HK media

Dumayo naman sa burol ng hostage taker sa Batangas ang ilang miyembro ng Hong Kong media. Sa pamamagitan nila, humingi  ng tawad ang anak ng hostage taker sa pamilya ng mga biktima  at sa mamamayan ng  Hong Kong.

No cancellation of job orders from HK

MANILA, Philippines - Amid the stigma caused by the hostage crisis to the Hong Kong people, a recruitment industry leader said deployment of Filipinos there remains vibrant.

500 HK, China flight bookings cancelled--PAL

In the wake of Monday's tragic hostage incident where eight Hong Kong residents were killed and several others injured, Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Thursday said that more than 500 tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China have cancelled their bookings with the airline.

Hostage-taker's brother says Rolando not a murderer

MANILA, Philippines - Hostage-taker Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza's brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, has posted bail before the prosecutor's office following charges of conspiracy to commit serious illegal detention.

'Media, not gov't, should set coverage guidelines'

MANILA, Philippines – It is the media, not the government or the police, which should establish the guidelines on coverage of life-threatening incidents such as hostage-taking, an expert has advised.

Mendoza's last phone call was with radio station

MANILA, Philippines – Hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza, who was killed during the police assault on the bus with Hong Kong tourists, was speaking with a radio station's anchor and reporter before going on a shooting rampage Monday.

Senate panel wants hostage-taker's phone record

Senators investigating Monday's bloody hostage-taking incident in Manila want to know who the unidentified person Rolando Mendoza, the hostage-taker, was talking to over the phone before he started firing shots.

ABS-CBN statement on Aug. 23 hostage tragedy

We will always cooperate with authorities in trying to resolve complex situations like the Aug 23 hostage crisis. If the government had called for a news blackout, ABS-CBN would have supported it.

ABS-CBN to RP press: Let's collectively decide when to stop live coverage

Broadcast network ABS-CBN on Thursday stressed that it exercised "self-restraint" in its coverage of the bus siege on Monday, even as it acknowledged that it reported the detailed position of policemen as they attempted to storm the bus with Hong Kong tourists as hostages.

HK journalists to Aquino: Don't use tragedy to curtail media

Journalists from Hong Kong have asked President Benigno Aquino III not to use perceived lapses in Philippine media's live coverage of last Monday's Manila hostage tragedy to curtail press freedom in the country.

Tourist bus driver missing?

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman said Thursday that Hong Kong tourist bus driver Nestor Lubang may have gone into hiding.

'Torture cop' denies crime during Senate probe

Police Inspector Joselito Binayug on Thursday denied during a Senate hearing that he was the policeman shown in a video torturing a suspect in a Manila precinct.

Crisis management team formed

Following the hostage taking incident that is hurting the tourism industry of the country, the Cebu City Government has formed a crisis management team that will handle, with expertise, emergency situations such as what happened in Manila.

"Excess" councilors from demoted cities should be removed, says DILG

The Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday said that the two councilors who got the lowest votes in those cities that were reverted back to towns should be removed from their posts once the Supreme Court ruling will be made final.

COA orders barangay honoraria withheld

All barangays officials of the 80 barangays in Cebu City will not be receiving their monthly honoraria next month if they cannot comply with the recommendation of the Commission on Audit requiring them to submit their financial statements.

SK revises trip contract, budget to follow COA rules

CEBU City's Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials revised their agreement and the fees charged by the organizer of their seminar in Boracay Island in compliance with budget rules and to avoid a possible disallowance by the Commission on Audit (COA).

SK Federation President Rengelle Pelayo, an ex-officio member of the City Council, assured they will follow the budget circular limiting the seminar fees to P1,200 a day for each participant.

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But even if budget rules are complied with, City Councilor Margarita Osmeña said the SK should be discouraged from going to other provinces for trainings that can be done here in Cebu to avoid unnecessary expenses and to allow more SK officials to attend.

"I don't think it's necessary for them to go to Boracay for that. Since it's too late and we'll only be throwing away money if we cancel it, maybe in the future they should not. If it can be done here, then do it here. I think there are a lot of seminar venues here that are more conducive for training, unless it's just for rest and recreation," the councilor said.

Pelayo said they will make sure all their expenses can be justified, and only those that are necessary would be charged to the SK funds.

After learning about the limitations on seminar expenses, she asked the seminar organizer to adjust the training package so they can meet the amount set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The seminar organizer originally charged the SK P9,400 per participant for the meals, accommodations, seminar kits and speakers' fees.

But after being reminded by the City Accounting Office and COA the other day on the limitations set by the DBM, Pelayo said Marywoods Training Center agreed to lower the seminar fee to P4,800 for the four-day training, so they can stay within the P1,200 a day limit.

National Budget Circular 486 states the registration fee for seminars of government employees and officials should not exceed P1,200 a day per participant, "and any amount in excess of the prescribed rate shall be at the expense of the participant.

The reduced seminar fee, however, would cover only the seminar kit and venue, snacks and the facilitators and speaker's honorarium.

Pelayo said they would just use their P800 per diem to cover their meals and accommodations in guest houses in the resort island of Boracay in Aklan Province.

"It's really too late to back out so we have no choice but to push through with the seminar and just comply with the budget and audit rules. And I told all the participants that if their expenses are not supported by official documents and receipts, the participant is bound to shoulder the expense. Any excess will also have to be returned to the SK funds," she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Yesterday afternoon, the councilor gathered the 76 SK officials who will join the seminar on Aug. 28 to 31 to brief them on the last-minute changes.

She reiterated that they can justify their trip since they would be given training and workshop on promoting the welfare of children and the youth.

As for questions on why the training has to be conducted in Boracay, she said this is also a chance for the SK councilors who are not compensated to have fun.

"Some people might think na naglaag-laag lang mi but I can say that Cebu City SK is not like the SK of other cities. We also make sure that we will learn something from this trip before we have fun, and that we would be able to share the learning with our successors," Pelayo said.

Rep. Tomas Osmena (Cebu City, south district), who questioned the priorities of the SK when he was mayor, also asked why the SK are holding the seminar now that their term of office is coming to a close.

"These seminars should be given at the start of their term, not at the end," he said.

Mayor Michael Rama said he does not find anything wrong with the SK officials' trip, especially since it is not the first time that SK officials would go out of town. It would be an opportunity for the youth leaders to go to the world renowned beaches of the island.

The mayor pointed out the barangay officials and city councilors have gone to Boracay and other provinces countless times to attend similar trainings and seminars.

Warden tried to hide "mauling" at CPDRC?

The result of the investigation conducted by the committee on Discipline and Investigation of the provincial government shows there was an attempt to hide the death of an inmate and the mauling of another detainee at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

Gwen giving donation directly to T. Padilla

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said it is okay for the Cebu City government to extend assistance to Daanbantayan town as long as the city has sufficient funds.

City is picking up a fight: Gwen

THE hope of the 93-1 renegotiation between the Province and the City Government may begin to falter after the Cebu City Government involved itself in the clash between Gov.

Requests for cash assistance flood City Hall

After the city government granted allowances to its senior citizens, state prosecutors, high school graduates and judges, many individuals and groups have started knocking on its door requesting the city to grant them the same benefits.

City seeks legal rights to develop waterfront area

The Cebu City Government is seeking legal rights to develop the reclaimed area near the City Hall building where the century-old Compania Maritima and other warehouses stand.

Developer to build P25-B project in December

FILINVEST Land Inc.(FLI) requested Cebu City Hall to finalize the power supply, telecommunications and transport utilities at the South Road Properties (SRP),

Cebu City to RTC: Cebu Doctors' University Hospital not tax exempt

Cebu City Assistant Treasurer Tessie Camarillo testified before the court yesterday and insisted that the City Government has the right to collect business taxes from the Cebu Doctor's University Hospital because it is not a non-stock and non-profit corporation.

CIT grad places 3rd in mining engineer licensure exams

The CIT University has again produced a topnotcher in the recent mining engineer licensure examination conducted by the Professional Regulations Commission earlier this month.

Luigi seeks to amend an already repealed law

Sixth District Rep. Gabriel Luis "Luigi" Quisumbing has proposed the amendment of the already repealed Dangerous Drugs Act to designate a Regional Trial Court within the city or province as a special drug court.

CITOM warns public vs buying vehicles with pending violations

Those who want to buy second-hand passenger jeepneys and taxis in Cebu City are advised by the City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) to verify first their records from the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB).

Judge orders issuance of arrest warrant against Leo

JUDGE Raphael Yrastorza has ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant against broadcast journalist Leo Lastimosa for the libel charge Cebu Gov.

In his one-page order dated Aug. 25, Yrastorza of Regional Trial Court Branch 14 found probable cause to issue an arrest warrant against Lastimosa.

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The order came two days after the case was raffled off to Yrastorza's sala last Aug. 23. A court staff member said the arrest warrant would likely be served today.

Sought for reaction, Lastimosa said "I'll continue serving my radio and TV programs until they come to stop me."

"Gov. Garcia is so used to getting whatever she wants. I'm too insignificant to make her think otherwise," he said in a text message.

Asked if he would post bail, Lastimosa said, "I am not wealthy but I hope to raise bail money for my temporary liberty. I won't let Gov. Garcia prevent me from doing my job."

Lastimosa's lawyer Celso Espinosa also reportedly said the Court of Appeals has yet to resolve their appeal on the Department of Justice ruling, which earlier denied their petition for review.

Last Aug. 12, the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office recommended the filing of a libel case against Lastimosa relative to the publication of his column in The Freeman entitled "Si Doling Kawatan" on June 29, 2007.

Garcia believed the piece was about her and that Doling was merely a play on her first name.

The column talked about a fish vendor who suddenly got rich, using unexplained sources of wealth. It did not name Garcia.

Lastimosa described Doling in his column as "unreasonable, ill-tempered and foul-mouthed."

CA upholds suspension order vs 5 Comelec officials

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals Special 15th Division has affirmed an Ombudsman order placing 6 poll officials under preventive suspension pending an ongoing preliminary investigation of a complaint against them for the botched P690-million ballot secrecy folder deal supposedly for the May 10 elections.

Sulu bomb attack suspect nabbed

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Joint elements of the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group and the Task Force Zamboanga International Airport have arrested one of the suspects in the 2009 bomb attack against Sulu Governor Sakur Tan.

Cops nab 2 suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Zamboanga

MANILA, Philippines - Police arrested 2 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members in Zamboanga City, Wednesday afternoon.

DoJ seeking terrorist tag for Abu Sayyaf

... as test case for Human Security ActTHE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has sought the court's declaration of Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist group in a test case of the Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372.

Soldier killed in Bukidnon encounter

One soldier was killed in an encounter with communist rebels in Sitio (sub-village) Gamot in the village of Sta. Filomena, Quezon, Bukidnon on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

PMA cadet dies of head injury after boxing bout -- AFP

A sophomore cadet died of head injury on August 21 inside the Philippine Military Academy, the country's premier military school, in Baguio City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported on Thursday.

105 stranded OFWs, kids coming home from Saudi

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 105 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their children who were stranded in Saudi Arabia are returning to the Philippines Thursday night.

RP seeks security for OFWs working in Iraq

Filipinos who are based in Iraq despite a government ban on travel to the war-torn Middle East country may continue working there until their contracts expire, according to a Malacañang-led inter-agency task force.

PRC: 213 new agricultural engineers

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Thursday that 213 out of 475 passed the Agricultural Engineer Licensure Examination given by the Board of Agricultural Engineering in the cities of Manila, Baguio and Davao this August 2010.

Visayas State U grads top list of new agri engineers

Graduates of the Visayas State University (VSU) topped the 213 passers of the agricultural engineer licensure exam given this month, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Thursday.

Passage of 2011 national budget eyed by year-end

MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Thursday they are eyeing to pass the 2011 national budget before the year ends, with the pork barrel intact.

Palace allies, foes to get fair share of pork barrel

Members of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives need not worry about their pork barrel because they are sure to get it this year, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said on Thursday.

Gloria Arroyo will be given pork barrel - Belmonte

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who withheld the pork barrel of several of her critics in Congress during her term as president, will be receiving her share of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Thursday.

Palace slashes GOCC subsidies

Sending a strong message to officials of government corporations, President Benigno Aquino III has slashed the allocation for subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

GSIS trustees get P6M each for attending board meetings

How much do officials deserve to get for running a pension fund involving 1.3 million members and 300,000 pensioners?

Ombudsman starts probe of 'noodle scam'

The Office of the Ombudsman has begun determining the liability of Department of Education (DepEd) officials and some private individuals in the controversial noodle scam.

CA affirms Ombudsman suspension order vs poll execs

The Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday the suspension order imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman against officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) implicated in the Ballot Secrecy Folder scam.

Pacquiao fights for funding for anti-human trafficking body

Saranggani Representative Manny Pacquiao is batting for funds for a government inter-agency fighting human trafficking.

$1: P45.130

$1: P45.130 (P45.28)

Euro 1: P57.3555

Economy posts 7.9% growth in Q2

The Philippine economy grew by 7.9 percent, higher than expected, in the second quarter, the National National Statistical Coordination Board said Thursday.

BIR accuses businessman of cheating gov't of P5.5B

The Bureau of Internal Revenue is accusing a businessman of defrauding the government of P5.5 billion by underdeclaring his income and wrongfully classifying land sales in 2007 and 2008.

China plants flag in South China Sea amid disputes

BEIJING, China - China said on Thursday it had used a small, manned submarine to plant the national flag deep beneath the South China Sea, where Beijing has tussled with Washington and Southeast Asian nations over territorial disputes.

Pakistan orders nearly half a million to evacuate

HYDERABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan ordered nearly half a million people to evacuate towns on Thursday as rising floods threaten further havoc in a country straining to cope after its worst humanitarian disaster.

Myanmar opposition in disarray as polls approach

YANGON, Myanmar - Boycotts, draconian election laws and resignations of opposition figures have put Myanmar's ruling generals within easy grasp to sweep the first polls in two decades, just two weeks after setting an election date.

Jimmy Carter in N.Korea on rescue mission

SEOUL – Former US president Jimmy Carter arrived in North Korea Wednesday on a mission to win the release of an American serving eight years of hard labor in the communist state.

Greek fighter jets in mid-air collision--defense ministry

Two Greek fighter jets collided in mid-air on Thursday, the defense ministry said, with one of the pilots apparently managing to eject safely.

Roger Mayweather trash-talks Pacquiao-Margarito bout

MANILA, Philippines – While Floyd Mayweather, Jr. keeps a low profile these days, his trainer and uncle Roger Mayweather can't seem to stop trash-talking "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao.

Hagler: Floyd Jr. scared of fighting Pacquiao

Look who's labeling Floyd Mayweather Jr. scared of fighting Manny Pacquiao?

'Boom Boom,' RP boxers set for brawl in Cebu

MANILA, Philippines – Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista, Jimrex Jaca and Milan Melindo are expected to put on exciting fights when they see action in "Philippines vs. The World" in Cebu City on Saturday.

Gloria Diaz "slur" angers Cebuanos

Saying in an interview, that "a Cebuana can hardly speak English and Tagalog" seems to be a "major, major" blunder for 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz.

Miss U runner-up Venus back in Manila

Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 from Los Angeles on board Philippine Airlines flight PR-107 at around 4 a.m. Thursday.

Mediation in Katrina Halili libel case vs Hayden Kho's mom fails

Mediation efforts failed between actress Katrina Halili and the mother of cosmetic surgeon Dr. Hayden Kho, whom she charged with libel, as a Quezon City court is set to conduct a full blown trial on the merits of the case.

YouTube video shows animation of Manila hostage crisis

MANILA, Philippines - A video of what could have happened inside the bus during the hostage crisis in Manila last Monday has been uploaded on YouTube. A user named leon137 uploaded the video entitled "Recreated Video of hostage bus drama in Philippines, Manila."

'A Day in the Life' tops Rolling Stone's Beatles' list

NEW YORK – Rolling Stone magazine has for the first time rated the greatest 100 Beatles' songs, with the 1967 track "A Day in the Life" written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney topping the list that was released on Wednesday.

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