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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September 1, 2010 Major News Stories

LPG retailers hike prices by P2/kg

MANILA, Philippines - Liquefied petroleum gas retailers have increased prices of their products by P2 per kilogram to reflect higher contract prices abroad.

Hearings on discount for senior citizens' electric bills to start

Public consultations on the 5 percent discount on electric bills of senior citizens will start next month, the Energy Regulatory Commission said Tuesday.

53 die of dengue in Northern Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines - A total of 53 people have died due to dengue in Northern Mindanao, the regional health office said Tuesday.

Unpaid rentals may displace T. Padilla fire victims

About 78 of the more than 700 families who were left homeless during the T. Padilla fire will not be allowed to rebuild their houses because of their alleged failure to pay the rentals of the lot.

MGB 7 notes abnormal level of rain in Naga

AN initial report of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 showed there was an abnormally high amount of rain that fell in a short span of time in the City of Naga Sunday afternoon.

Capitol to provide assistance to Naga flood victims

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday said the provincial government will give assistance to the three young siblings and their grandmother who were swept by a flashflood in the mountain Barangay of Cogon in Naga town Sunday afternoon.

PRO-7 revives Task Force Motorsiklo

The Police Regional Office 7 will be reactivating the Task Force Motorsiklo to address the resumption of crimes perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects in the region.

'Flying voters' provoke case

ELECTION fever is back. A group of Barangay Buot-Taup residents yesterday asked the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) to order the exclusion of 82 people from the barangay elections, virtually calling them flying voters.

Hostage probe body may summon Aquino, Robredo

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima does not discount the possibility that President Benigno Aquino may be invited by the very committee he created to investigate the August 23 Manila hostage-taking incident.

Robredo washes hands off hostage fiasco

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo has refused to resign amid calls for his head to roll in the wake of the August 23 hostage crisis.

Gov't probes unanswered calls by HK execs during hostage crisis

Government investigators have been looking into the circumstances of the phone calls from Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang that President Aquino failed to take during the Aug. 23 hostage crisis in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

Hong Kong cops finish forensics check on 'hostage' bus

Hong Kong police have completed their forensic evaluation of the tourist bus where eight of their compatriots were believed to have been shot dead by their hostage-taker on Aug. 23, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday.

Senators agree to suspend hostage drama probe

Senators on Tuesday have agreed to suspend its own inquiry into the hostage-taking crisis last week until appropriate authorities have concluded their investigation.

Mayor Lim laments finger-pointing

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim is willing to undergo investigation in connection with the hostage incident last August 23.

More local funding for police operations OKd--Robredo

The Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police have approved additional funding for policemen in the local level to support their operational expenses, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo disclosed on Tuesday

Palace urges media restraint after hostage chaos

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government  on Tuesday urged the media to show more restraint in covering crisis situations amid concerns live broadcasts fuelled tensions in a hijack standoff that left 8 Hong Kong tourists dead.

Ricky Carandang, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino, said he would hold talks this week with executives of Manila television and radio networks about their coverage of the siege.

"We're not trying to impose restrictions on them. We want to try to reach a common ground, how we're all going to behave if this thing happens again," said Carandang, head of Aquino's Communications Operations Office.

"We've called a number of broadcast stations because they were the most active in real time during the hostage crisis," he told a news conference.

The ordeal on August 23 began when sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza hijacked a busload of Hong Kong tourists in Manila in a bid to clear himself of extortion charges and get his job back.

The government has admitted to making many errors in handling the crisis, which chilled diplomatic ties with Hong Kong and damaged the Philippines' tourism industry.

Security experts roundly criticized the live broadcasts that had allowed Mendoza to monitor movements of the police around him by watching a television monitor inside.

One radio network also broadcast a lengthy live interview with Mendoza shortly before the assault, which critics said meant police negotiators could not talk to him before he decided to kill his hostages.

Carandang said Aquino did not support a proposed law that would bar the media from making live broadcasts of hostage-taking situations in the future.

Senate: GOCCs liable in paying fat bonuses to execs

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Committee on Finance said government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) violated several laws in their allocation of excessive bonuses to its officials.

At the third hearing on Tuesday of the Senate's probe on the fat salaries and bonuses of employees and board members of GOCCs, it was the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System's (MWSS) and the Local Water Utilities Administration's (LWUA) turn to be grilled.

Finance Committee Chair Frank Drilon said revelations at the hearing showed a classic case of conflict of interest.

What is striking, he said, is that board members decided among themselves the amount of their compensation package.

Moreover, their excessive salaries, allowances and bonuses are in clear violation of Memorandum Order 20 of former President Gloria Arroyo that states that wages of GOCC executives should not be more than twice higher than those of Cabinet secretaries.

MWSS officer-in-charge Macra Cruz said that the agency's board directors received at least 25 kinds of bonuses totaling P5.4 million in 2009 and P3.5 million in 2008.

These include mid-year bonus, year-end performance, clothing allowance, GOCC incentive, privatization bonus, efficiency bonus, scholarship, educational and Christmas package, among others.

MWSS board members also received P14,000 per diem per board meeting, a discretionary fund of P50,000, and other extraordinary miscellaneous allowances.

"All these while the MWSS was operating at a loss of P3.5 billion in 2008," said Drilon.

Senator Ralph Recto said the MWSS has only remitted P483 million out of the P741 million dividends from 1998 to 2009, and owes the state at least P258.6 million in remittances.

He said the fact remains that outstanding liabilities (such as claims of retirees) were smaller compared to the bonuses that board members had been receiving.

LWUA, on the other hand, has P263 million in unremitted dividends due to the government in 2008, while receiving a government subsidy of P1.9 billion.

Drilon said the chairman of LWUA received last year P2.5 million in miscellaneous expenses which was simply liquidated by issuing a certification that such amount was disbursed and accounted for.

LWUA Acting Administrator Daniel Landingin said that the agency's chairman in 2009 got a total compensation of P3.3 million. These included additional benefits, representation allowances, birthday cash gift, incentive bonus, hospitalization and other medical benefits.

The LWUA also last year acquired First Express Bank for P80 million with no approval from the Office of the President and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

"It is not within LWUA's charter to buy a bank," said Drilon.

Landingin said the LWUA board also asked Malacañang to exempt the agency from remitting half of the P368.4 million in earnings to the government in 2008.

GOCCs are required to remit to the national government 50% of their annual net incomes.

"The law is clear that there can be no exemptions granted," said Drilon.

Abolition of 36 'non-performing' GOCCs, GFIs sought

Two lawmakers on Tuesday sought for the abolition of at least 36 "non-performing and unnecessary" government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and financial institutions (GFIs).
In House Bill 2867, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez noted that taxpayers continue to pay for the expenses and salaries of the officials and employees of these underperforming and losing GOCCs and GFIs. 

They said the government extended P7.28 billion in subsidies to state-owned firms from January to May of 2010, or P2.25 billion more than the P5.03 billion recorded in the same period last year, based on data from the Department of Finance (DOF).

"These subsidies are booked as expenses and put a strain on the government's widening budget deficit. Consistent with [President Benigno Aquino III's] austerity measures, it is high time that the government removes the excess fats and spends only for things that are truly vital to the country," they said. 

Among the GOCCs and GFIs they want to abolish are the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel; Batangas Land Company Inc; BCDA Management and Holdings Inc; Cottage Industry Technology Center; DBP Data Center Inc; DBP Management Corporation; DBP Maritime Leasing Corporation; Freeport Service Corporation; GY Real Estate Inc; Human Settlements Development Corporation; Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund.

Also, Kamayan Realty Corporation; LBP Insurance Brokerage Inc; LBP Leasing Corporation; Luzon Integrated Services Inc; Manila Gas Corporation; Marawi Resort Hotel Inc; Masaganang Sakahan Inc; National Agribusiness Corporation;; National Precision Cutting Tools Inc; National Slipways Corporation; National Stevedoring and Lighterage Corporation; National Trucking and Forwarding Corporation; Natural Resources Development Corporation; NDC Infrastructure Corporation. 

The lawmakers also seek the abolition of Northern Foods Corporation; Partido Development Administration; Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation; Philippine Center for Economic Development; Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation; Philippine Institute for Development Studies; Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care; Pinagkaisa Realty Corporation; Tacoma Bay Shipping Company; Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines and ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation.

They, however, did not provide explanation why these corporations are considered non-performing.

Under the bill, officers and employees of the abolished GOCCs and GFIs will be given two and half months salary for each year of service as separation pay, while the functions and duties of the affected corporations will be transferred to the different departments of the government exercising the same or similar functions.

The DOF, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Audit shall issue the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of the law and the necessary funding for the payment of the separation pay shall be included in the General Appropriations Act.

Water execs willing to cut 13 bonuses

Under fire for alleged excessive salaries and bonuses of its officials and employees, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System has recommended to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III the immediate suspension of nine months' bonuses and a review of four other bonuses.

Aquino gov't gives zero budget to anti-smuggling, anti-graft bodies

The Aquino administration has effectively decommissioned the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission after it gave the two agencies a zero budget under the proposed 2011 budget.

Palace tells gov't agencies: Be content with budget allocations

Malacañang has ordered government agencies to refrain from lobbying for increases in their allocations under the P1.645-trillion national expenditure program that the executive branch has submitted to Congress.

Drilon asks SSS trustees to refund money from private firms

Trustees of the Social Security System of should return the money they received as directors in private corporations on behalf of the pension fund, the Senate finance committee said Tuesday.

LWUA must pay govt P263M in unremitted dividends

The Local Water Utilities Administration must pay the government P263 million in unremitted dividends, instead of giving its officials perks and bonuses, Sen. Franklin Drilon said Tuesday.

Former VP urged to speak up on bogus housing loans

Former Vice President Noli de Castro should speak up to shed light on how government funds were used to finance bogus housing loans in the planned investigation in the House of Representatives.
"I think he should be invited," Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said on Tuesday in a text message when asked if De Castro should be called to the inquiry.

At the time he was Vice President, De Castro also served as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the highest policy-making body for housing that coordinates the activities of the government housing agencies to ensure the implementation of the National Shelter Program. 

Barzaga and Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Gonzales II filed separate House Resolutions for an investigation on the reported large-scale fraudulent use of the Home Development Mutual Funds (Pag-Ibig funds) to finance bogus housing loans and questionable housing development projects.

The resolutions stemmed from a two-part Inquirer special report entitled: "Pilot Housing Project: Firm breaks Pag-ibig rules on loans" and "Pilot Housing Project: Bogus borrowers bought houses," which contained allegations that at least P6.6 billion in housing loan proceeds were taken out by Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corporation for buyers of its units in housing projects in Pampanga, who turned out to be fake Pag-Ibig members.

The report also said that Globe Asiatique took out billions of loan proceeds even as housing units to be financed were not yet completed or unfinished, with thousands of completed units below standard, unoccupied or closed.

Globe Asiatique is the accredited developer of the pilot program for Other Working Groups (OWG) or workers who are not formally employed but earn through small businesses.

The said developer was also in-charge of loan evaluation program for OWG, Barzaga said in his resolution.

"The said borrowing scheme seems to be intended to circumvent the law and is repugnant to the purpose for which the Home Development Mutual Fund was created," Barzaga added.

Gonzales said the alleged irregularities should be looked into because "unlawful housing activities may lead to a financial crisis affecting the overall state of the national economy."

No party stand yet on impeachment, says House majority

The majority coalition in the House of Representatives led by the Liberal Party (LP) has yet to take a party position on the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, stalwarts of the party said Tuesday.

Robredo to LGUs: Post transaction reports in public places

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo on Tuesday instructed all local government units (LGUs) to post their transaction reports in public places, local newspapers, or websites.
Robredo and the heads of leagues of local government officials signed the "Circular on the Full Disclosure of Local Budget and Finances, and Bids and Public Offerings."

The DILG has crafted new features on its website to ensure transparency in the agency, as well as to make feedback gathering from the public more efficient.

The circular complies with the provisions under the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 and Republic Act (RA) 9184. 

Section 354 of the LGC requires the monthly posting of an LGU's revenues and collections, while RA 9184 requires LGUs to make public all bids, notices of awards, and other procurements.

Robredo admitted that making LGUs more transparent would be a difficult task. However, he said he just wanted to implement at a national level what he had long been practicing in his home city of Naga, where he served as mayor before becoming the DILG chief.

"We need to set standards that are difficult because that's the only way to keep the government on its toes," Robredo said.

Robredo recounted that as the Naga City mayor, he also shortened the period for approving building permits, from 15 days to only three days. 

He said he hoped that the DILG's program for transparency and honesty in governance would set an example not only for other government agencies, but also for the public.

"Ang mahusay na pamahalaan ay sinusundan ng mahusay na nasasakupan. "We get the kind of officials we deserve and we elect in office. This [order] is one step to make them more accountable," the DILG chief said.

Like Robredo, Transparency and Accountability Network head Vince Lazatin, who partnered with the DILG in its program, shared Robredo's sentiments.

"We urge other agencies to follow the example of full public disclosure," said Lazatin, who were among the non-government organization representatives who showed support for the DILG program.

Those who witnessed the signing of the new DILG circular and the manifesto of support for it were leaders from the League of Province of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and the League of Vice-Governors of the Philippines.


Robredo admitted that LGUs were not required to strictly observe the DILG circular on public disclosures, saying it was only "voluntary" for now.

"But we will have a mechanism [to check which LGUs are complying]. Magkakaroon kami ng programa para ma-define namin ang qualifications," he said.

For now, Robredo said they would first observe how the circular would affect LGU operations for about "a month or a month and a half" before possibly making it mandatory.

"If you do not participate in the full disclosure [policy], hindi ka na rin kasali sa ibang programa ng DILG. Hindi puwedeng hindi ka kabahagi sa hirap, pero kabahagi ka sa ginhawa," he said.

Ever since he assumed office at the DILG, Robredo said he has always made it a point to have department circulars posted on their website a week before the actual signing, giving the public time to send feedback on them.

"We want everything we do to be a two-way process. We don't impose anything to anyone," he said.

Public Assistance Center

Robredo promised to make public the salaries of all chiefs of police by early September as part of the DILG's transparency program. This will be done either through LGU websites or through public announcements.

Through its Public Assistance Center, a new feature on its reconstructed website, the DILG has not only started allowing the public to send comments and complaints to the agency, but has also devised a way to track the progress of the resolution of the complaints.

He said complainants would be assigned cellphone numbers from where they could follow up whether their complaints have already been resolved.

"We don't want to just receive complaints and that's it. We want to close the loop by resolving it in any way possible," Robredo said.

The DILG has also set up a text hotline where people can send in their complaints, by texting "DILG " and sending it to 2256.

Robredo said the resolution of the complaints they receive would depend on their gravity, adding that "simple" complaints could be resolved in just one day.

Aquino to go to US as scheduled, resets trips to Vietnam, Indonesia

President Benigno Aquino has announced he is postponing his trips to Indonesia and Vietnam originally scheduled within September.

Malaysia stays as 3rd party facilitator of GRP-MILF talks

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said the government of Malaysia will remain the third party facilitator of peace negotiations between the Philippine government the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Incoming CHR chief targets cases of 'desaparecidos'

MANILA, Philippines - A Palace spokesman on Tuesday said former Akbayan party-list representative Etta Rosales is determined to investigate cases of enforced disappearances in the country in her new capacity as chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights.

Aquino urged to criminalize acts of enforced disappearance

As it observed the International Day of the Disappeared on Monday, an alliance of human rights organizations urged President Aquino to criminalize acts of enforced disappearances in accordance with a United Nations' resolution on the issue.

AFP to hold its 1st human rights conference, to invite activists

The Armed Forces will be hosting its first ever human rights conference in October, according to the military spokesman.

P900M benefits for judges, justices still unpaid - SC official

The country's 2,308 justices and judges have yet to receive the benefits entitled to them since 2007 amounting to some P900 million, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez told lawmakers Tuesday.
At a briefing with the House justice committee, Marquez said the unpaid benefits were from the salary increases made by the government through four executive orders it issued in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In 2003, Marquez said, Congress passed Republic Act 9227 that grants special allowance to justices and judges equivalent to 100 percent of their salary to be given in a period of four years.

But in 2007, when the first EO was issued mandating the 10 percent increase in their salaries, the 100 percent special allowance of justices and judges was slashed to 90 percent because the increase was charged to the special allowance.

The special allowance went down further to 80 percent after another EO was issued in 2008 which also seeks a 10 percent increase in the salaries of judges and justices.

"Beginning 2007, mayroong EO na sinasabi na lahat ng opisyal ng gobyerno ay mayroong 10 percent increase sa salary, kinuha ito sa 10 percent special allowance ng mga mahistrado na dati nang ibinibigay sa halip na maghanap ng ibang pagkukunan ng pondo, charged against the special allowance so ang epekto noon wala talagang increase," Marquez said.

(The salary increases were charged against their special allowance so in effect, there's really no salary increase.)

Affected by this were 2,200 judges across the country, nine justices in the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), 69 justices in the Court of Appeals (CA), 15 justices in Sandiganbayan and 15 justices in the Supreme Court (SC). 

Marquez also said the increase based on the EO, unlike the special allowance, was subject to tax deductions. "Nalugi pa ang huwes (The judges were shortchanged.)

"Mas matindi noong 2009, 33 percent increase na ang kinuha sa special allowance at P10,000 naman noong 2010 na doon rin kinuha sa special allowance. Dati nang tinatanggap ito as allowance at walang tax," said Marquez.

(In 2009, 33 percent increase was sourced from the special allowance. In 2010, it was P10,000. They've been receiving these increases as allowances but before it was not subject to tax.)

Marquez said the judiciary is counting on the Congress to approve its P23 billion budget for next year to settle the unpaid benefits of the justices and judges.

Palawan town mayor nabbed for alleged rape

by By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog
PALAWAN, Philippines – A town mayor of Palawan province was arrested by authorities here Monday morning after allegedly raping a manicurist in Cebu City last July of this year, police said.

Superintendent Rolando Amurao, Puerto Princesa police chief identified the suspect as Nicolas Montaño, Sr., 64, a resident and town mayor of Rizal in Palawan.
Amurao said Montaño was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Gilbert Moises of Branch 18, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City.
"He did not resist arrest when he was accosted by joint elements of Puerto Princesa City police, Palawan police and Police Security Protection Group (PSPG) of Cebu while attending a conference in Legend Hotel before noon last Monday," Amurao said in a phone interview.

Montano, as quoted by Amurao, just said "haharapin ko ito, wala akong kasalanan dito". 
Amurao said a certain Police Officer 3 Pajo from PSPG-Cebu arrived in Puerto Princesa City police station to coordinate the arrest, after presenting the warrant for Mayor Montaño.
After the arrest, Montaño was brought to Ospital ng Palawan for medical check-up before bringing him to Cebu City. 
However, when they were already at the airport, Montaños blood pressure allegedly shot up to 170/110, prompting the arresting officers to bring him to hospital.

As of press time, Montaños condition was being monitored at the Ospital ng Palawan.

A manicurist filed the rape case against Montaño.

Reports said the alleged rape happened last July 8. The mayor allegedly went to a salon at the Danao City Public Market for a manicure and a pedicure. He was introduced to "Jane" by another salon worker identified as Dina.
The complainant said Montaño brought her to an inn in Cebu City, where the alleged rape happened.

Nursing grad commits suicide after failing board exam

by By Jenel Baclay, ABS-CBN Iloilo
MANILA, Philippines - A nursing graduate who failed the 2010 board examination committed suicide inside their home in Leon town, Iloilo province, Sunday morning.

81 RP seamen still held by Somali pirates

A total of 81 Filipino seafarers are still being held by pirates in the east African state of Somalia and "negotiations for their release continue," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ramon Magsaysay Foundation honors awardees

Two Filipino science educators, three Chinese environmentalists, a Japanese advocate for nuclear disarmament, and a Bangladeshi advocate for the rights of disabled persons were honored Tuesday by Ramon Magsaysay Foundation for excellence in their respective fields of endeavor.

$1: P45.370

$1: P45.370

Euro 1: P57.2192

Flight cancellations from HK, China balloon

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines reported Tuesday that the number of booking cancellations from Hong Kong and China continues to balloon following the deadly hostage drama in Manila last week.

UK will not ban travel to RP

by By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
LONDON - The United Kingdom will not bar its citizens from traveling to the Philippines despite the outcome of the 12-hostage crisis in Manila.

HK recruiters to come out with re-hiring program

Both private and government sectors are laying down contingency measures in case Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are terminated by their employers as a backlash of the Aug. 23 hostage incident in Manila that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

Another OFW in HK loses job after hostage crisis - DOLE

Another overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong was fired from her job following the bloody hostage crisis in Manila last week, which left eight tourists from Hong Kong killed, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Tuesday.
DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that a Filipina domestic helper, whose name was not disclosed to media, was fired after her employers in Hong Kong found it "uncomfortable" to have someone from the Philippines in their household after the hostage-taking incident.

She however added that the DOLE managed to find another job for the Filipina OFW days after she was fired.

Baldoz likewise said that she does not expect any more OFWs to lose their jobs after the bloody hostage-taking.

"Hindi ako nag-eexpect ng backlash… I don't think it [the situation] will worsen, and it will only be a few cases," she said in an interview aired over "24 Oras" on Tuesday.

She however advised OFWs in the Chinese territory to "respect" the "grief" being felt by Hong Kong residents due to the tragedy.

"Patuloy pa rin irespeto ang national grief na nararamdaman ng buong gobyerno ng Hong Kong… Doblehin pa ang maayos na serbisyo sa employers nila," she said in the same television interview.

(Let's continue to respect the national grief being felt by the entire Hong Kong government. Let's redouble the good service we provide their employers.)

Baldoz added that there have been no further reports of maltreatment and discrimination among OFWs in Hong Kong as of posting time.

On August 23, dismissed Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a bus carrying 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos. After an 11-hour hostage drama, nine people died— the hostage-taker and eight Hong Kong tourists. (See: Hostage crisis ends in bloody carnage; 8 hostages dead)

Filipinos based in Hong Kong are reportedly feeling the backlash of growing outrage over the way the police handled the incident. The Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong confirmed last week that a domestic helper was dismissed by her employer in reaction to the hostage crisis.

Some 150,000 Filipino workers are currently based in the Chinese territory, based on government records.

Cambodia to prepare for upcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum

In a way to get well-prepared for the upcoming Cambodia 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2011), the Cambodian government and other key stakeholders met Tuesday in the country's capital to discuss things to be done by then.

Customs officials rapped for entry of melamine-tainted milk

MANILA, Philippines - Investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman found several officials of the Bureau of Customs and certain private individuals accountable for the importation of melamine-tainted milk.

Grenade fired at Thai state TV station in Bangkok

by by Ambika Ahuja, Reuters
BANGKOK, Thailand - A grenade exploded in the compound of a Thai state-run broadcaster on Tuesday, damaging vehicles but causing no injuries, the fourth mysterious blast in five weeks during a state of emergency in Bangkok.

Fire bombs thrown at Russian embassy in Belarus

by Reuters
MINSK, Belarus - An unknown assailant threw two fire bombs at the Russian embassy in Minsk late on Monday, in an attack that hurt nobody but destroyed an embassy car, a Belarussian Emergencies Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

200 flights cancelled as typhoon hits southern Japan

TOKYO--Japan cancelled more than 200 flights and many ferry services to its southern islands Tuesday as a typhoon churned in before likely heading toward the Korean peninsula.

Pakistan's flood victims frustrated with medical care

by by Kamran Haider, Reuters
MUZAFFARGARH, Pakistan - Victims of Pakistan's floods on Tuesday queued at hospitals where scant resources were available to treat a rising number of patients.

Iranian insults against Carla Bruni 'unacceptable': France

by Agence France-Presse
PARIS, France - France said Tuesday that insults in the Iranian media against first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who has been branded an "Italian prostitute" who "deserves death", are unacceptable.

Pacquiao expects explosive showdown with Margarito

Expect the November 13 showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito to be action-packed and explosive. That suits Pacquiao just fine. That suits to boxing fans as well.

Margarito's trainer sees upset win over Pacquiao

Robert Garcia, the mild-mannered trainer of controversial two-time world champion Antonio Margarito, believes the underdog tag attached to the Mexican boxer would eventually work to his advantage come his Nov. 13 showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

'Boom Boom', Barrera to clash in rematch

MANILA, Philippines – The rivalry between Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista and Mexican Alejandro "Zorrito" Barrera will continue as they are set to clash again, the promotions company that handles the Filipino divulged.

Hostage crisis prompts PBA to scrap HK meeting

MANILA, Philippines – The PBA board has canceled its 3-day planning session slated in Hong Kong while the former British colony grieves over the bloody hostage crisis that killed 8 Hong Kong tourists.

Amid calls for public apology: Ex-Miss Universe will not apologize

Former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz will not apologize for what has been tagged as a slur against the Cebuanos when she was interviewed on national television.

Boycott Diaz's movies: vice mayors

THE Vice Mayors' League of the Philippines (VMLP) Cebu Provincial Federation wants to declare 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz persona non grata in Cebu.

Venus Raj meets P. Noy

MANILA, Philippines - Miss Universe 4th runner-up Venus Raj paid a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang on Tuesday afternoon.

Fil-Am groups vie for 'Showtime'

by By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
REDWOOD City, California - Hip-hop dance groups from the San Francisco Bay Area showed off their moves during the auditions for "Showtime," the highlight of ABS-CBN's One Kapamilya Go on September 12 at the Great America in Santa Clara, California.

Pal reveals Nora Aunor's vocal cord surgery

by by Boy Villasanta,
MANILA, Philippines - It's for real. Superstar Nora Aunor has undergone vocal cord surgery.

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