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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 9, 2010 Major News Stories



Palace mulls applying holiday economics on Ninoy's death anniversary

Malacañang is still in a quandary over whether to honor the holiday economics policy laid down by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, especially since the latest one coming up hits a personal chord with her successor.

Before stepping out of the Palace, Arroyo declared Aug. 23, Monday a non-working holiday as Aug. 21, the 27th death anniversary of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. falls on a Saturday.

"There is a law that says Aug. 23 is a holiday but whether President (Benigno) Aquino (III) would celebrate it is another matter, He said earlier he does not want to because of the date's association with the death of his father," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was shot in the head allegedly by communist gunman Rolando Galman while going down the plane that took him to the Manila International Airport from Taiwan on Aug. 21, 1983. His death galvanized the political opposition, eventually led by his wife, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, and millions of Filipinos to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship in the 1986 Edsa Revolution.

Outraged Filipinos had refused to believe that Galman, who himself was shot by soldiers, was the killer. They took to the streets and blamed the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos instead.

Lacierda was asked over government station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan whether the President "would honor the holiday economic policy left by GMA (Arroyo's initials)."

"We would clarify within the week because we understand people would like to make vacation plans (during the long weekend from Aug. 21 to 23). We will make sure to announce this week the final decision of the President," Lacierda said.

The Palace spokesperson stressed that the current administration has recognized that "there is a holiday economics law but again let me clarify, let me emphasize, because of the sensitivity of the President towards celebrating the death anniversary of his father, we would like to get a clarification from the President. There are personal sensitivities involved here."

Lacierda entertained the possibility that the observance of the President's father's death anniversary could trigger a new clamor to reopen the double murder case.

"That is going to be a very sensitive issue. I am sure the President would take a hands-off approach because he does not want to be accused of using his position to do anything in his favor," Lacierda said.

"Clearly, he would not want to get involved in any effort to reopen the case," the spokesperson added.

Lacierda urged parties willing to provide new evidence that would merit a case reopening to approach "agencies like the Department of Justice or probably the Public Attorney's Office."


Steel-laden vessel met rough seas: Cebu-bound ship missing

A cargo vessel bound for Cebu with 16 crew members and loaded with steel bars went missing in the waters of Dos Hermanas Island, Marinduque since Saturday dawn.

The vessel was identified as M/V SF Freighter owned by Seaford Shipping, a company based in Bacolod, but whose mother port is in Cebu.

Kevin Chua, Seaford operations officer, said that they lost communication with the vessel at 2:15 a.m. on Saturday when it was east of Marinduque.

SF Freighter left Manila at 8:33 p.m. last Thursday and was supposed to arrive yesterday in Cebu at 11:30 p.m.

The Philippine Coast Guard action center in Manila sent two vessels and one aircraft to search the area since Saturday. Seaford Shipping also sent three vessels to help in the search and rescue operations.

But rescuers failed to find the missing ship until they had to stop the search operation due to huge waves that prevented them from getting nearer the site.

Duty Officer Mikhail Desuasido of PCG Southern Tagalog District said that their headquarters in Manila ordered to suspend the operation until today due to the huge waves and less visibility at night.

Desuasido said they have sent notice to mariners to shipping and fishing communities especially passenger and cargo vessels passing Romblon and Calapan in Mindoro to also scout the area and to offer assistance should they find the missing ship.

Chua said that the last report they received from the information officer of the ship was that it experienced engine trouble. It went adrift until it lost radio communication.

Desuasido said that there was no typhoon threat but vessels were warned against big waves since Saturday.

A Coast Guard plane spotted a lone ship yesterday in waters off Marinduque but bad weather forced the plane to turn back before it could identify the vessel.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said another attempt would be made when the weather clears.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration strong winds associated with the southwesterly surface wind flow enhanced by tropical storm Ester is affecting the sea boards of Luzon and Visayas. Waves can go as big as 3.7 to five meters.

SF Freighter has a gross tonnage of 498 and was carrying 1000 tons of steel bars to be delivered to different consignees in Cebu. It is 65 meters long and colored blue with white on the bridge section.

Its crew members were mostly from Cebu and Negros.

Chua said that before they lost communication with the vessel, the crew members have already called their relatives regarding the situation.

Chua assured that Seaford Shipping will fulfill all its obligations to the kin of their employees if worse comes to worst.

But he said that they are focusing now on the search and rescue operation, because they have not lost hope that the vessel and its crew members are still safe somewhere.

Meanwhile, another vessel, SP Beijing, developed engine trouble while cruising at the vicinity of Cabra Island in Occidental Mindoro.

SP Beijing is a 4,599 gross tonnage cargo vessel with 18 crew members onboard en route to Indonesia from China when it encountered engine trouble and called for rescue.

The coast guard immediately sent Notice to Mariners and ordered it to be towed in Batangas.

Another Incident

Aside from the crew of SF Freighter, the Coast Guard is also searching for 12 people that went missing after the motorized banca they were riding capsized off San Miguel Island in Albay since Thursday.

The Coast Guard in Albay said they are still searching for the 12 teachers that went missing after their motorized banca capsized off San Miguel Island.

Bicol Coast Guard commander Elson Hermogino said they were informed by Adonis Collantes, a teacher of Fatima Elementary School that his colleagues went missing after boarding a banca going to barangay Maliktag in San Miguel Island.

Gusty wind and waves, meanwhile, pulled up the anchor of an oil barge M/T Big Town in Manila Bay late Saturday, causing the wayward vessel to ramseven fishing boats and destroy several shanties along the coast of Navotas, Tamayo said. No injuries were reported.

Police were forced to put up a barricade to prevent residents from attacking the crew of the oil tanker in blaming them for the damage to their homes.

The maritime accidents came as tropical storm "Ester," which has enhanced monsoon rains and winds in northern and central Luzon, has moved away from the country, the state weather bureau said.

Maritime authorities, however, warned to expect rough seas even as the storm continues to move away from the country toward Japan.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Ester was spotted some 410 kilometers northeast of Basco, Batanes with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness up to 80 kph. (THE FREEMAN)

Refloating of MV Princess postponed due to bad weather

Due to bad weather, the refloating of the MV Princess of the Stars has been moved further to "either next October or November," top officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Hourly weather bulletins a vain hope, says Pag-asa

A BILL that seeks to require hourly weather bulletins from the government's weather bureau is not feasible, an official of the bureau's Mactan station said yesterday.

RP is world's most disaster prone area

Nangunguna ang Piipinas sa disaster prone areas noong 2009 ayon sa Center for Research and Epidemiology of Disasters sa pagkakatalaga ng mga bente singkong kalamidad ng nakaraang taon. 

DOE asks players to bring fuel stations to remote areas

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras explains that competition and transportation cost are factors why gasoline prices in Cebu is more expensive than in other parts of the country.

Almendras, who was in Cebu to receive a Garbo sa Sugbo award along with others in celebration of the Capitol's founding anniversary, told reporters that he already asked all the gasoline companies why the price of gasoline in Cebu is not the same in all other places.

The industry players told him that places where there's not much competition such as remote areas normally have higher prices.

He said that the energy department is now asking the independent or small companies to start bringing fuel or gas stations in the remote areas.

Almendras added that the country imports oil from Singapore and these are first brought to Manila before reaching Cebu, so the transport cost is higher.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who had filed a case in May 2009 against the big oil firms for overpricing, had been told a similar thing in the previous months. But she did not buy these explanations.

She had said in previous interviews that representatives from Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp. and Chevron Corp. were not able to justify the discrepancies in prices of fuel.

Fuel prices in Cebu is higher by P5 to P8 than those of Metro Manila and Mindanao, so the firms could not cite higher transportation cost because Mindanao is farther than Cebu.

The complaint was also signed by officials of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mandaue City Chamber of Commerce, Filipino Business Chamber of Commerce and Lapu-Lapu City Business Chamber of Commerce.

The business chambers in Cebu cried fowl over the price discrepancy, stating that higher oil prices here have placed the Cebu business sector and the entire Cebuano population at a disadvantage. (THE FREEMAN)

CEDC targets 79T trees for Malubog watershed

The officials of Cebu Energy Development Corporation in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will formally start today planting 79,000 trees inside the 100-hectare Malubog Watershed Conservation Project.

Teachers hit pay hike delay

Dismayado ang mga guro sa pagkaka-delay ng kanilang mga dagdag suweldo na noon pa sanang June 24 nila natanggap.

The government issued Executive Order 900 last June 23, prescribing the 2nd tranche of increase for all government personnel in the government agencies, government-owned and -controlled corporations, government financial institutions, state colleges and universities, and civilian personnel of the executive, legislative and the judiciary.

National Budget 524 issued on the same date provided for the implementing rules and guidelines.

The increase should have been implemented last June 24.

This is part of the Salary Standardization Law III or Republic Act 6758 passed last year.

The law provides that the pay of government employees should be comparable with those in the private sector.

This adjustment in compensation shall be payable in four tranches for four consecutive years. Every year, an Executive Order and National Budget Circular are issued to provide for the implementation of the increase that is due.

The public school teachers are in the middle of the classification scheme, which means they will be getting a P6,500 increase for 4 years.

"Positions that are in the higher level of the salary classification, including that of the President of the Philippines, is entitled to a higher rate of increase. The whole classification system [already] seems inequitable and then the increase due us is unavailable. We thought there is no more 'wang wang' and 'counterflow,'" Castro asked.

In a separate interview, Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad promised the teachers would be getting their hopes fulfilled soon.

He said the government is just preparing the necessary documents. The money has already been released last Friday, he said.

Sugar industry: Cebu towns fail to implement minimum wage

Could you believe that some farm workers in northern Cebu are paid only P50 in exchange for their eight hours of work per day?

The Freeman learned that many, if not all, of the sugar planters in Bogo City and in some nearby towns are not paying their workers the exact amount of salary based on the minimum wage law.

The wage order issued by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7 in June 16, 2008 had set the minimum wage for workers in sugar plantations in Cebu at P217 a day.

Those workers in non-agricultural sectors in the Cities of Cebu, Carcar, Danao, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay, and the Municipalities of Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando are entitled P267.

However, workers in non-agricultural sectors in Bogo City, Toledo City and the rest of the municipalities in the province, except in the towns of Bantayan, are only entitled P247 and P237 for those in Bohol and Negros Oriental.

"Sus paita g'yud namo, maayo na lang unta ug P100 ang adlaw, pero kutob ra g'yud tawon sa P50 ang ilang isuhol namo," said a woman from Barangay Calambua, San Remigio.

The Freeman talked to some passengers of buses from the northern Cebu towns and all of them confirmed that the sugar planters in their place pay their workers with an amount below the minimum wage.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 7 Regional Director Elias Cayanong said the concerned workers should complain against their employers for non-payment of the minimum wage.

But Bernabe Arcillas of Barangay Anonang Norte in Bogo City explained, "Walay magpakaisog-isog ug reklamo kay dili na hinoon sila patrabahoon, mosamot nga wala na sila'y kita." (No one would be brave enough to complain as they will surely lose their source of income.)

Arcillas had stopped working at a sugar farm in Bogo City to work for a bakery in Cebu City. According to him, he was already fed up of the abuses of their employers.

"Paita g'yud tawon mokita ka ra ug P300 ang semana kon adto ka motrabaho sa hacienda unya wala pay libre nga kaon," Arcillas said. (Life is hard there, we only get P300 a week and we don't get free meals.)

They augmented their family's income by letting their wives and children work, for the same amount per day.

Both husband and wife would get a total income of P100 a day, which they could use to buy only two kilos of cheap rice and a few dried fish for their viand.

The RTWPB 7 headed by Cayanong is again expected to issue another wage order within this week, increasing the amount of the minimum wage from P15 to P20 a day.

But for the farm workers in northern Cebu, a new wage order, if not strictly enforced, will not make any difference in their lives. (THE FREEMAN)

Hacienda Luisita: Farmers weren't forced to sign deal

MANILA, Philippines - The management of the Tarlac-based Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) said it did not force farmers to sign the compromise settlement deal that gave them the option to either get farm lots in the 6,453-hectare plantation, or retain their stocks in the corporation.

SC can still void compromise deal of Luisita firm, farmers--DAR

Despite the fact that half of the 10,000 farmers of Hacienda Luisita Inc. accepted a compromise agreement with the management, an official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said the deal between the workers and the plantation owned by President Benigno Aquino III's family could still be voided.

Hacienda Luisita farmers too tired, too old to fight for land distribution

Esperanza Dalapa, 82, of Barangay Parang (San Sebastian), said she chose the stock distribution option (SDO) regarding her claims to the Hacienda Luisita because she could not work on the farm anymore. "I am too old to till the land," she said.

Police report 'break' in engineer's murder

THREE witnesses helped police investigators come up with sketches of the gunman and his driver in the fatal shooting of Engr. Ciriaco Salazar last Thursday.

Rama: Reclaiming Ermita land may encourage squatting

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is not entirely in favor of the filling project in Barangay Ermita, which is intended to cover a portion of the water that has been stagnant since the South Road Properties was constructed.

The barangay plans to reclaim about a hectare in Sitio Pulang Bato because the entrapped water might cause an outbreak of diseases. Barangay officials said that the water has become polluted after many years of being trapped.

They also want to reclaim the area to save the 124 families, who built their houses over the water, from danger.

But Rama said that the plan will set a bad example because it will attract more informal settlers from other places. Migrants will think that if they move to the city, the government will find ways to provide space for them.

The mayor, however, did not mention of any alternative plans for the sitio. A riprapping project was included in this year's P1.5-billion Supplemental Budget No. 3 where the city allocated some P2.2 million for its implementation.

The construction of a seawall along this coast is necessary for the filling project to come in.

There are more than 300 families living on the dry land within the sitio while about 124 families constructed their houses above the water.

Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta said that these people have been there for many years already. The barangay tried to control the construction of houses above the water but the number of structures kept increasing.

"That's why we are requesting the city government to fund the filling project. We already have all the necessary permits from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and all other agencies. We are just waiting for the city government to grant our proposal for funding," Rupinta said.

Rupinta said that Rama had promised him that it will be one of the priorities under the new administration.

They want to declare the area as a housing site but this could not be done unless the area will be reclaimed. Residents are not only in danger of waterborne diseases but also of flash floods, among others. (THE FREEMAN)

Airline halts Cebu to Davao flights

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) will suspend its Cebu-Davao-Cebu flights beginning today until Nov. 30, 2010, as newly resigned pilots continued to stay away.

The last Davao-bound flight from Cebu, PR 409, took off at 8:15 a.m. yesterday. Its return flight, PR 410, arrived in Mactan at 10:44 a.m.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

A written notice from the company said these flights will be suspended, starting today, said Arnie Follosco, PAL control station manager at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

A report aired by radio station DyAB cited low bookings as one reason for the suspension.

Follosco said the official notice did not state that reason. He also revealed the last flight had 114 passengers, below the Airbus 330's capacity of 156, plus two flight deck crew and a four-member cabin crew.

The notice did not confirm whether the flight will resume on Dec. 1.

"That's the only information we've got from our superiors in Manila. That's all we can tell you," Follosco said.

Jonathan Gesmundo of the PAL corporate communications department and Simuon Canton Jr. of PAL Cebu could not be reached yesterday for details.

Last week, Gesmundo said the management was trying to continue a dialogue with 25 resigned pilots, in the hope they will agree to return to work.

Eutiquio Bulambot, director of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) based in Mactan, has said the pilots resigned due to the lack of job security and the availability of higher-paying jobs abroad.

Businessman Robert Go, past president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he hopes the suspension of the Cebu-Davao-Cebu PAL flight will not affect passenger movement too much, because there are still similar flights operated by Cebu Pacific and a PAL sister-company, Air Philippines.

In its website, PAL said flight operations returned to normal as of Aug. 3, after it rescheduled one daily flight each to Iloilo, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro. It also said its average of 160 domestic and international flights per day "continue to operate normally and as scheduled." (EOB)

Aquino picks Garcia's successor at GSIS

Winston Garcia, the unpopular chairman of the Government Service Insurance System is definitely on his way out.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda refused to reveal who has been picked to replace Garcia, who once caused a furor over how he spent millions of government retirees' pension money to purchase a painting of Juan Luna from an auction overseas.

"All I know is that in the GSIS, they have already lined up a replacement. But right now, I am not allowed to disclose who the replacement would be," Lacierda said in Filipino.

Clark official explains 'fat paycheck' report to wife

For being listed as the official who gets the second highest salary and financial perks from government, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Clark Development Corp. (CDC) has found himself in "trouble" with his wife.

Benigno Ricafort said his wife had asked him where he kept the other funds. But he quickly added that his wife eventually "understood my situation and... sympathized with me."

Ricafort described as "inaccurate" the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the salaries and allowances of top executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

"My cell phone was also full of text messages, expressing disbelief," he said. "I guess they know my person and reputation."

Ricafort disputed the report that he got P14.506 million in 2009, saying that he received "less than P3 million a year" in salary and allowances.

He said the P10 million cited in the COA report was just "lumped under [my] name and accountability, not as compensation," and subject to audit and validation.

In e-mail and text messages sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday night, Ricafort said his basic salary was P173, 000, with a take-home pay of P117, 600 after taxes and deductions. [By contrast, President Aquino has a take-home pay of P63, 000 on a gross monthly salary of P95, 000.]

"Our salary structure is closely supervised, rationalized and justified. This, I know for some 17 years," said Ricafort, who served as CDC director from 1993 until he was appointed the CDC president in July 2008.

On a yearly basis, he gets a salary of P1.65 million, including 13th-month and 14th-month pay.

His salary has not been adjusted since he was appointed CDC head, Ricafort said.

The COA report showed that in 2009, Ricafort received P2.078 million in salary; P832, 400 in per diem for sitting on the boards of CDC and Clark International Airport Corp.; P606, 056 in representation and transportation allowance; and P396, 344 in bonus and incentives or a total compensation of P3.912 million.

The report showed that he also received P10 million in extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses and P497, 441 in "other expenses."

But Ricafort said the non-compensatory amount allotted under his name was pre-approved by the CDC board of directors for expenses like promotions, advertisements and public-client relations.

These expenses "cannot be predicted with strict accuracy" and cannot be capped and restricted "as it may impede corporate initiatives for growth and expansion," he said.

"[Since the fund usage is for] unpredicted and extraordinary items, it is entrusted under the authority and accountability of the president and CEO, not for his personal use, but for purposes left to his judgment and his executive officers, as this may occur and cannot await the special allotment by the board … that meets [only] twice a month," Ricafort said.

Armand Arreza, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator, who topped the COA list, welcomed the proposed congressional investigation of the salary and financial benefits of GOCC executives.

"Certainly, we have nothing to hide. Particularly with regard to matters of compensation, I believe there has to be greater transparency," Arreza said.

The SBMA has begun implementing austerity programs, which includes the cutting of subsidies to revenue-losing subsidiaries, he said.

Appear before Truth Commission, AFP tells Angue

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of going to the media, Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue should substantiate claims by tapping the military's grievance mechanisms or the Truth Commission.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said "we have the chain of command, we have the Truth Commission...These are the venues that are open to Admiral Angue and to whoever (who has knowledge on the officers politicking)...If evidence and data presented warrant further investigation, then we'll gladly accept it…"

Angue, commander of the military's National Capital Region Command, claimed senior officers in the military have participated in partisan political activities and are now reaping the fruits by getting key posts.

He had said the military should remain neutral or apolitical.

On Friday, AFP chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo David issued a gag order against Angue. He directed Angue to explain in writing why he should not be slapped with any administrative or disciplinary actions.

Mabanta himself evaded questions if some officers were indeed guilty of politicking.

Asked if David supported candidates during the last elections, he said: "It is with certainty that he did not side with any candidate."

David assumed as AFP chief last July 2, two days after Aquino was sworn in as president.

Mabanta also defended the recent assignment of military officers to key positions.

"We've always been saying that these designations have gone through the mill (process), where seniority is only one of the criteria," he added.

"The most important criteria is the ability or the perceived ability to produce results given a mission, coupled with the service reputation as one grows up and go through the various positions in the Armed Forces. That is what we are repeatedly saying," he said.

Mabanta said the designations went through a "very tedious" process, from the Board of Senior Officers up to the Office of the President.

AFP wants stronger force in Davao vs CPP-NPA

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines said it would strengthen its current force in the Davao region where the presence of communists is more pronounced.

Zambo blast suspects seen on CCTV

Kuhang-kuha sa CCTV camera ang pagsabog ng bomba sa Zambaonga airport, pati na ang  hotel kung saan tumira muna ang mga suspects bago ang araw ng explosion.

10 Maguindanao massacre suspects want to surrender--police source

At least 10 former militiamen – who were among those being hunted down for their alleged roles in the Maguindanao massacre – had signified their intention to yield, a police intelligence officer said.

RP won't be US lapdog over P20B aid – Palace

The government's acceptance of a P20 billion aid from the US government should not be misconstrued as an indication of subservience to the US government, the Palace spokesman said on Sunday.

Former CHR chair to head UN human rights body

Former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing was unanimously elected chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during its elections this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

Body of OFW murdered in Iran to arrive Monday

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Embassy in Iran said the remains of an overseas Filipino worker who died in Kish Island will arrive in the Philippines on Monday morning.

Mark Lloyd Carmen died when a Sudani national stabbed him in the chest with a knife during a fist fight.

The embassy there is already monitoring the case and is intent on bringing the perpetrator to justice.

The embassy is already assisting Carmen's aunt and sister-in-law, who arrived in Tehran last July 27.

About a month ago, Consul General Rosario Lemque asked the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to verify reports that there are other deceased Filipinos whose bodies have yet to be collected from Kish Island.

The latter is in the border of Iran, where access is difficult. It is where Filipinos usually wait for their work permits to Dubai.

If the reports are true, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and the embassy are ready to repatriate the remains and to provide assistance to their families.

PAGCOR suspends issuance of new casino franchises

Bad news for casino operators and investors. Philippine Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) announced on Sunday that it was freezing applications for casino franchises following President Benigno Aquino III's decision to stem the mushrooming of gambling facilities in the country.

PNOC mulls privatization of shipping subsidiary

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) said it may revive plans to undertake an initial public offering of its unit PNOC-Shipping Corp. (PSTC).

China mudslides leave 127 dead, 2,000 missing

BEIJING—At least 127 people were killed and 2,000 missing Sunday after mudslides swept away homes and destroyed roads in northwestern China as the nation battled its worst flooding in a decade.

Search for missing in Indian Himalayas after floods kill 137

LEH—Emergency teams in India's remote Himalayan region of Ladakh on Sunday struggled to deliver food and aid to survivors of flash floods that killed at least 137 people and left 500 missing.

5 killed in west Iraq petrol station car bomb

RAMADI – A suicide bomber on Sunday detonated a car packed with explosives, killing five people, at a petrol station in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, medical and security officials said.

Death toll rises to 43 in Basra blasts – medic

BASRA – The death toll has risen to 43 from a spate of blasts in Iraq's southern port city of Basra which officials said Sunday were caused by bombs and not a power generator short circuit as first believed.

Groom accidentally kills three at Turkish wedding

ANKARA-- A groom accidentally killed three relatives at his wedding in Turkey on Sunday when he fired into the air with an assault rifle in celebration, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Pacquiao calls out Floyd Jr: Let's get it on

Just look who's calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a potential mega-bout three months from now. Yes, it's Manny Pacquiao.

Aces nip Beermen anew, move 2 up in PBA title series

These Alaska Aces just continue to amaze even the cynics the way they've been playing in the PBA Fiesta Cup.
For the second straight game, Diamon Simpson came through with a brilliant double-double, from which, the Aces leaned on for another stunning win over San Miguel, 94-90, and a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Finals Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. 

I've lost 2-0 leads, I've lost 3-1 leads, I've lost leads you can possibly imagine. We've got to come out with a lot of energy and be aggressive in Game Three. 
 Tim Cone, Alaska head coach


Simpson had a team-high 29 points and snared 17 rebounds when he fouled out with 29 seconds left in the grind-it-out Game 2.

But he scored four straight from the foul line before finally calling it a night that put the Aces on top, 91-88.

Overall, he finished 12-of-14 from the 15-foot line and scored 18 of his total output in the second half.

"We're a great team and I know we can do it even without me on the court," said the lanky, 22-year old import.

Alaska's latest victory stretched its winning run to four, counting the last two games of its semifinals encounter with Talk `N Text. The Aces hope to carry the momentum of the streak into Game 3 Wednesday also at the Big Dome.

"We didn't expect this (2-0 lead)," said Alaska coach Tm Cone later. "The game was high quality. We did a great job of not panicking. We didn't buckle under their great shot-making."

It was the Beermen who crumbled under pressure.

The defending champions were within 90-91 on two free throws by Gabe Freeman when Simpson fouled out, but failed to capitalize after throwing away their final two plays.

After charities by Tony De La Cruz made it 93-90, San Miguel turned the ball over after Joe DeVance deflected a Jay Washington pass.

The stop resulted to a split from the foul line by Cyrus Baguio, 94-90, before the Beermen finally threw the white towel after Joseph Yeo's desperation three-point attempt failed to even hit the rim.

"I've lost 2-0 leads, I've lost 3-1 leads, I've lost leads you can possibly imagine," said Cone, aware that at least six teams in 35 occasions were able to hurdle and win a series even when down 0-2. "We've got to come out with a lot of energy and be aggressive in Game Three."

De Vance had 14 points, while Baguio and Dela Cruz contributed 12 each. L.A Tenorio added six points, despite playing with a bum stomach and a high fever.

The Beermen got 20 points from Yeo, Arwind Santos and Washington, with the former shooting 6-of-9 from the three-point range.

But Freeman was held down to just 13 points, this time on 4-of-13 shooting from the field, two nights after pouring in a game-high 37 markers. - RCJ, GMANews.TV
Scores:
Alaska 94 –
 Simpson 29, De Vance 14, Baguio 12, Dela Cruz 12, Borboran 8, Fonacier 7, Tenorio 6, Hugnatan 4, Cariaso 2, Robinson 0.

San Miguel 90 – Yeo 20, Washington 20, Santos 20, Freeman 13, Ildefonso 6, Cabagnot 5, Miranda 2, Racela 2, Villanueva 1, Hontiveros 1, Pennisi 0, Pena 0.

Quarters scores: 31-26, 50-45, 75-71, 94-90





Mendoza, partner win in boys' tennis in Belgium, despite injury

Filipino junior tennis ace Jurence Zosimo Mendoza bucked an injury to gain the boys' doubles finals with his Indian partner and win the singles consolation championship in the fifth and final leg of the 14-under Europe Tour over the weekend in Hasselt, Belgium.

Man held for alleged kidnap try on Sarah G's dad

Inatake at pinagtangkaang dukutin umano ng isang nagpanggap na sponsor ang ama ni Sarah Geronimo sa basement parking mismo ng ABS-CBN.

Suspect Paulino Mercado, 43, allegedly pretended to be Geronimo's fan to get inside the compound.

According to Delfin Geronimo, 55, he got a call from one of the security guards telling him that he has to pick up a gift for Geronimo in Basement 1. The gift reportedly came from a company being endorsed by the singer-actress.

Delfin allowed the man to lead him to a waiting van (with fake plate number WTA 741) and sign a document.

"Pinapasok niya ako sa loob. 'Yong pagpasok niya medyo patulak ng konti… nagkaroon na ako ng idea na medyo delikado. Sabi ko, 'Ang dilim baka puwede sa labas na lang.' Sinindihan 'yong ilaw, malabo yong ilaw," he said.

He got off the suspect's vehicle but was "obliged" to go back in.

"Noong umupo na ako doon… naramdaman ko ngayon parang kuryente. Nagwala na ako. Tinabig ko na siya. Hindi niya ako napuruhan… Nagtatakbo ako, nagsisigaw," he said.

The suspect was apprehended by the security guards and was brought to the Quezon City Police Station. He admitted to using a stun gun, but he refused to talk to the media.

"Natamaan ko po. Antayin ko na lang po ang abogado ko," Mercado said.

Delfin, on the other hand, was brought to a hospital to undergo a medical check-up.

The ABS-CBN management said it is now leaving it up to the authorities to investigate the incident.

"Ang suspect at ang kanyang ginamit na sasakyan pati na ang biktimang ama ni Sarah Geronimo ay nasa kustodiya na ng pulis para maimbestigahan ang mga pangyayari. Magre-release ang ABS-CBN ng official statement hinggil sa pangyayaring ito matapos makumpleto ang report ng pulisya," said Bong Osorio, head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications. -Reports from Zyann Ambrosio, ABS-CBN News, and The Buzz


Charlie Davao passes away

Binawian na ng buhay ang batikang aktor na si Charlie Davao, matapos itong nakipag-laban sa colon cancer.

Zanjoe says he's happy for Mariel

Sinabi ng aktor na si Zanjoe Marudo na masaya siya para sa kanyang dating girlfriend na si Mariel Rodriguez na may relasyon na kay Robin Padilla.

Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez set to say 'I do'

MANILA, Philippines – Long time couple Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez are tying the knot this year.

Alcasid declined to divulge the exact date of their big day as well as the venue to keep the ceremony private. He said only family and close friends are invited to the event.

He disclosed though that he will ask his former wife, Australian Michelle van Eimeren, to help in the wedding preparations. "Si Michelle ay magaling mag-ayos ng flowers. So, hihingin ko ang tulong niya."

Their 2 kids and van Eimeren's second husband will also be present in the wedding, he said.

President Aquino, he said, will be part of the entourage as well as Megastar Sharon Cuneta and businessman Manny Pangilinan.

Alcasid is also planning to ask Lea Salonga to sing in their wedding.

Alcasid, meanwhile, answered in the negative when asked if his fiancée is pregnant.

"Kay honey ko, salamat sa pagmamahal mo, paghihintay at pagiging patient mo. Ito na 'yon," he said. -The Buzz

James Yap's mother defends son from Kris

The mother of basketball player James Yap has come into the open to defend her son in the controversy involving him and wife, actress-TV host Kris Aquino.  

Mrs. Annie Yap said James had been honest with Kris, adding he had even told the popular celebrity about his child from a previous relationship even before they got married five years ago.

Ester intensifies into storm, continues moving away from RP

Tropical cyclone Ester on Sunday afternoon intensified into a tropical storm as it continued to move away from Philippine territory and toward the southern islands of Japan.

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