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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September 17, 2010 Major News Stories

DOH: Be careful in fighting dengue

Iba't ibang paraan na ang sinusubukan ngayon sa buong bansa, para makontrol at mapuksa ang mga lamok na may dalang dengue! Tinatanggap naman ito ng DOH, pero may paalala sila sa publiko.

Close monitoring

A DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) 7 official said areas classified either under the dengue epidemic threshold category or a hot spot are being closely monitored.

Wayward truck runs over kids: 2 dead, 9 hurt in road mishap

Two died, including a 10-year-old girl, while nine others were injured after a truck ran over a group of students and hit a motorcycle and a minicab on the highway of barangay Don Andres Soriano, Toledo City yesterday noon.

CITOM:Funeral processions must stop at red lights

The Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) will no longer allow funeral processions to interrupt the flow of traffic, meaning that if the traffic signal is red they should wait for the green light before they proceed.

RID to probe claims Joavan uses drugs

The Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office-7 is now investigating claims Joavan Fernandez, the controversial son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez, is using illegal drugs.

Legislative Building Legal threats won't stop installation of cameras

Despite legal threats from Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, Jr., the executive department is determine to proceed with the plan to set up closed-circuit television cam-eras at the Legislative Building particularly the vice governor's office.

Cebu City to host Earth Summit this weekend

Non-government organizations, government agencies, local government units, businesses and universities will gather in Cebu City this weekend for the Cebu Earth Summit.

City Hall spends for cutting of palm trees

Since the Cebu City Government has to spend a million pesos to cut down giant palm trees locally known as buli, City Councilor Eduardo Rama yesterday said the City will just hire people from the mountain barangays to do the cutting of the trees.

"The cutting of buli trees was very expensive," Rama said, adding that the City will have to spend half a million pesos just to cut down 22 giant palm trees in the city to ensure the safety of the people living near the gigantic trees.

According to Rama, the City will have to spend as high as P50,000 per tree by hiring a contractor so the City will just tap instead residents from mountain barangays who have experience in cutting trees.

This way, the City will spend less and at the same time provide employment opportunity, he said.

Last year each palm tree cost the City between P20,000 to P30,000, depending on size and height.

The City appropriated P30,000 for each palm tree that will be cut down in Sitio Nangka, Barangay Luz; Sitio Magtalisay, Mabolo; near the barangay hall of Mambal-ing and beside the Aderan Hotel in Barangay Lahug.

It also spent P40,000 for the two buli trees in Tres de Abril corner Jabonero Street in Barangay Labangon; P50,000 for the two palm trees in Espina Compound in Barangay Guadalupe; P70,000 for three palm trees in A. Lopez Street and V. Rama Avenue in Guadalupe and P25,000 for the two buli trees in Sitio Saceda in Calamba.

The City spent P40,000 to cut down two palm trees in Filwood lumber and Fatima Street in Barangay Duljo-Fatima; P50,000 for the two trees in Upper Tabucanal, Pardo; P65,000 for the three buli trees along Ranudo Street in Barangay Cogon-Ramos and P40,000 for two palm trees in Sitio Bamboo in Basak-Pardo and another one in Sampaguita Street at the Capitol Site. 

Former Bohol town council member killed in ambush

A former ex-officio member of the Tubigon Municipal Council in Bohol died while his wife was critically wounded when they were ambushed shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday in one of the town's outlying villages.

Senior Police Officer 4 Anecito Alipoyo said Alphonseus Boligao, 34, of Pook Oriental sustained a gunshot wound in the back and was declared dead on arrival at the Tubigon Community Hospital.

Boligao's wife, Maricor, who had two gunshot wounds in the back, was transferred to a hospital in Tagbilaran City because of her critical situation, Alipoyo said.

Boligao was elected Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman of Barangay (village) Pook Oriental and eventually became the SK federation president of the town.

Police investigation showed the couple came from a store in Barangay Pook Occidental and was heading home on board their car at 10:50 a.m.

Alipoyo said the car had just left the store and was about 50 meters away when two motorcycle-riding men ambushed them on the national highway.

Tricycle driver Jojo Zoilo of Pinayagan Norte, Tubigon, told police investigators that he was driving his tricycle when he noticed two men with faces covered by shirts riding a black motorcycle without a plate number.

Zoilo said that the motorcycle-riding men went after Boligao's car and the back-rider pulled out a gun and fired several times at the rear windshields of the vehicle.

The gunmen then turned around their motorcycle and fled toward the nearby Clarin town, Zoilo told the police.

Bystanders took the couple to the hospital.

Alipoyo said they recovered 11 .45-caliber empty shells and three slugs of the same caliber.

He added that they were looking at personal grudge as a possible motive for the shooting.

Boligao had filed charges against a barangay official in another barangay.

Alipoyo said the case stemmed from an incident last year when Boligao was shot and a barangay official in Barangay Potohan was the suspect.

Alipoyo added that Boligao himself was also accused of murder in the town a few years ago, but he could not give further details on the case.

IIRC fails to beat Friday morning deadline

MANILA, Philippines – A multi-sectoral body investigating the August 23 hostage crisis in Manila will not be able to submit its final report to President Benigno Aquino by 8:00 a.m. Friday.

The 5-member Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) adjourned its deliberations at past 11:00 p.m. Thursday and will meet again at 10:00 a.m. Friday.

The IIRC is still fine-tuning its recommendations on sanctions to be imposed for those found accountable for the botched rescue of Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by former police officer Rolando Mendoza.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who chairs the IIRC, said the report is around 98% complete.

It will be submitted to Aquino Friday afternoon, she added.

De Lima said the IIRC report is "exhaustive and fact-intensive".

She has revealed that 10 people, including police officers, a government official, and a media personality, will face charges in connection with hostage crisis.

De Lima said the 10 will have to answer criminal and administrative complaints based on their respective roles in the botched rescue attempt.

She declined to name the 10 and said President Benigno Aquino III will have the first crack at thoroughly perusing the IIRC's final report.

She said the IIRC determined accountability "high enough" and expressed confidence that Aquino will act on the multi-sectoral body's recommendations.

"Did the President not say heads will roll? So we expect the President to act on the basis of our recommendations," de Lima said.

The IIRC, meanwhile, ruled out friendly fire as cause of death of 8 Hong Kong nationals in the hostage crisis.

De Lima said the testimonies of 3 Hong Kong nationals who survived the incident affirmed the statement of bus driver Alberto Lubang, who claimed that hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza shot the victims at close-range using an M16 rifle.

The statements supported Hong Kong autopsy reports on 6 of the 8 fatalities.

At least 10 people liable for failed hostage rescue

(UPDATE 2) At least 10 people will be recommended by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) to be held accountable for the bungled rescue of hostages during the carnage at the Quirino Grandstand last August 23, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

"More or less 10 will be recommended to face charges, some from the media ... yes, [there are those from] outside the PNP [Philippine National Police]," De Lima said in response to a battery of questions from reporters squeezing more details on who the investigating panel want to be sanctioned.

De Lima, chairperson of the IIRC, also said the panel's investigation has determined that the hostage-taker, dismissed police official Rolando Mendoza, had killed all the eight hostages.

"We have [had] discussions on specific accountabilities of specific officers and [other] personalities... We expect the president to act on the basis of our recommendation," De Lima told reporters.

"Our main mandate is to find out what happened – so fact-finding as well as evaluation of actions and to make appropriate recommendations on the evaluation of the actions, non-action, missteps, lapses, negligence, incompetence...."

De Lima said the panel concluded that the victims were all killed by bullets fired from the hostage-taker's assault rifle, officially dispelling doubts that they may have been accidently shot by police officers.

"Based on the survivors' accounts, they were really killed by the hostage-taker," she said.

Autopsies carried out by Hong Kong police also corroborated testimony by witnesses that those killed were shot by Mendoza, she said.

The IIRC was ordered convened by President Benigno Aquino III to look into the botched rescue operations that brought ridicule to the country and chilled relations with Hong Kong.

With the report 95 percent complete, De Lima said they would be submitting their recommendations on Friday.

"We will submit the report tomorrow. We are already 95 percent complete. We still have 24 hours," De Lima said.

"The government has to really show its resolve in going after those that we will recommend because as you know, the powers of the committee are only recommendatory, we were never clothed with quasi-judicial authority. It is a fact finding evaluation of the action and make appropriate recommendation based on the evaluation of the action, non-action, missteps, lapses and incompetence," she added.

Asked if high level officials were included in the list and "how high" their positions were, De Lima replied: "High enough."

Armed with an assault rifle and a pistol, Mendoza seized a tourist bus on August 23 in a desperate bid to get his job back and be cleared of extortion charges.

The day-long central Manila standoff ended in a bloodbath that was played out live on global television when police stormed the bus after negotiations failed and Mendoza began shooting.

Eight hostages were killed, while seven others were wounded, triggering public outrage in Hong Kong, which demanded a thorough and impartial investigation.

At public hearings, the inquiry was told of glaring errors by those handling the incident.

These included key officials leaving the scene at the critical moment, passing up chances to take down the gunman, and not involving the police's best trained unit in the rescue.

Members of the inquiry board had also accused a local radio network of hogging the telephone line to the hostage-taker shortly before he began shooting.

Aquino promised he would send the report to Hong Kong, along with a high-level delegation as his government attempts to repair damaged ties.

"The minimum expectations [of Hong Kong] is that this is going to be a thorough and credible report, and that is why... you will see that it's very exhaustive, fact-intensive and incisive in its analysis," De Lima said.

PNoy: I still have confidence in Puno

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said he still has confidence in embattled Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno amid allegations he is 1 of those on the payola of jueteng lords.

Aquino orders probe into bishop's 'jueteng' pay-off allegations

President Benigno Aquino said Thursday he has ordered an investigation into allegations that some government officials, including some of his trusted men, were receiving protection money from the "jueteng" illegal gambling racket.

Prelate agreed to identify jueteng payola recipients - lawmaker

Retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz has finally agreed to identify the government officials who are recipients of monthly payoffs from jueteng operators, but only in an executive session in the House of Representatives, according to Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles.

'Jueteng' whistleblowers won't participate in Senate probe

Members of the Whistleblowers' Associations of the Philippines have threatened not to participate in any investigation by the Truth Commission against the previous administration, unless the proposed Whistleblowers' Act is passed into law.

Palace clueless over new PNP chief's alleged jueteng links

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III was not aware of new police Director General Raul Bacalzo's alleged ties to illegal gambling and drug syndicates, a Palace spokesperson said on Thursday.

New PNP chief goes tough on jueteng

THE NEW Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Deputy Director-General Raul M. Bacalzo, has ordered an intensified nationwide campaign against an illegal numbers game amid claims that officials are receiving payoffs from operators.

Rural bank group denies laundering money for jueteng operators

The country's rural banking industry raised a howl against accusations that it has been facilitating money-laundering activities of jueteng (illegal numbers game) operators.

Commission on Appointments elects officers

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday elected its set of officers and named the heads of the committees.

In a press release, the CA, the 25-person bicameral panel, elected their officers and named committee chairmen and vice-chairmen.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has been automatically designated as the chairman, as stated in the Constitution.

The following are the officers of the Commission:

Las Piñas Rep. Roilo Golez, vice chairman
Zamboanga de Norte 2nd district Rep. Reosendo Labadlabad, Majority Floor Leader
Sen. Franklin Drilon, Assistant Majority Floor Leader
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Minority Floor Leader
Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Simeon Datumanong, Assistant Minority Floor Leader
Retired Police General Orvil Gabuna, Sergeant-At-Arms
Arturo Tui, Secretary

The following, meanwhile, are the committee chairmen and vice-chairmen:
Chairman:  Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad, Zamboanga del Norte 2nd district
Vice Chairman: Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero

Agrarian Reform
Chairman:  Sen. Gregorio Honasan II

Agriculture and Food
Chairman:  Rep. Erineo Maliksi, Cavite 3rd district
Vice Chairman:  Sen. Ralph Recto

Budget and Management
Chairman: Sen. Franklin Drilon 
Vice Chairman Rep. Erineo Maliksi, Cavite 3rd district

Constitutional Commission and Offices  
Chairman: Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada
Vice Chairman: Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Alagad partylist

Education, Culture and Sports
Chairman: Sen. Edgardo Angara 
Vice Chairman : Rep. Rex Gatchalian, Valenzuela 1st district

Chairman: Sen. Sergio Osmena III 
Vice Chairman: Rep. Rex Gatchalian, Valenzuela 1st district

'Magdalo amnesty by Aquino still in question'

MANILA, Philippines - The power of President Benigno Aquino III to grant amnesty to the so-called Magdalo soldiers is still in question, Malacañang said Thursday.

Aquino-Corona meeting won't push through

by By Ira Pedrasa,
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino has apparently backtracked from earlier plans to meet with Chief Justice Renato Corona over the judiciary's budget woes.

Judicial revolt and Aquino's mispriorities

by By the Policy Study, Publication, and Advocacy, Center for People Empowerment in Governance
The judges' threat to stage a "revolt" and resign is not just a reaction to poor priorities set in the national budget. It is indicative of dissatisfaction that has started to build up against a wavering and compromising presidential leadership and at slim prospects of seeing reform being undertaken under Aquino III.

Aquino-Obama meeting likely at UN general assembly—US exec

President Benigno Aquino III and United States President Barack Obama will have "key opportunities" to discuss Philippine-US relations when the Philippine leader goes to the United Nations General Assembly next week, Leslie Bassett, Deputy Ambassador to the Philippines said Thursday.

Belmonte vows fewer congressmen in junkets

MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte on Thursday indicated that fewer congressmen, if at all, will be going on junkets while he is speaker.

Arroyo leaves for Hong Kong

Former president and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left for Hong Kong Thursday evening, authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport said.

268 rescued in anti-human trafficking drive—De Lima

Over 200 victims of human trafficking, including at least 15 minors, were rescued Wednesday night during an inter-agency operation in Angeles City in Pampanga, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Thursday.

3 soldiers killed in Abu Sayyaf clash

TIPO-TIPO, Philippines – Three Army soldiers were killed in a clash between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Tipo-tipo town, Basilan early Thursday morning, the military said.

Influential people visited Ampatuan Sr. in hospital

Inaresto si dating Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Senior sa kasong rebelyon kaugnay sa Maguindanao masaker. Pero kahit na naka-hospital arrest noon sa Davao, labas-masok pa rin ang kanyang mga makapangyarihang bisita. Base ito sa kopya ng logbook na exklusibong nakuha ng ABS-CBN News. Isa sa mga nasa logbook si dating Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza, na kailan lang ay inakusahang sinuhulan ni Andal Sr. Inaasahang ihaharap ng prosekusyon ang logbook na ito sa darating na pagdinig upang patunayang makatotohanan ang testimonya ng kasambahay ng mga Ampatuan. 

DFA addressing safe release of RP seaman kidnapped by Nigerian pirates

The Department of Foreign Affairs has instructed the Philippine Embassy in Abuja to make representations with Nigerian authorities for the safe release of a Filipino seafarer who was kidnapped on September 12 by pirates in the West African nation.

House passes amendments to Flag Law

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has passed an amendment to the Flag Law on second reading, implementing stricter rules governing the use of the National Flag and Anthem.

House Bill 465, sponsored by Sorsogon 1st District Rep. Salvador Escudero III, said part of the bill's provisions is the proper singing of the National Anthem, and stricter rules in the use of the flag.

He said that HB 465 is just an amendment of the existing Flag Law, passed back in 1998.

He said that this time, the National Historical Institute (NHI) will be asked to make Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Among the new rules are:

  • The Anthem should be sung during flag-raising ceremonies, even if there is a band or back-up music
  • The Anthem should be sung in one manner only and should be compeleted in 2 minutes
  • The Flag should only be used during office hours in government and private offices, and should not be left flying for 24 hours except in designated areas

Bill co-sponsor Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez added that anyone can effect a citizen's arrest if someone does not stand up when the National Anthem is played.

For habitual violators, the penalty will range from 6 months to a year in prison, or a fine ranging from P5,000 to P50,000.

Escudero, however, said that before implementing the rules, there should be a "massive" information campaign by the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

$1: P44.400

$1: P44.400 (P44.26)

Euro 1: P57.6385

NFA wants Congress to retain its P15B budget allotment

The National Food Authority is appealing for Congress to block the Budget Department's proposal to transfer the agency's 2011 budget allocation of P15 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Legalize "ukay-ukay" and collect taxes - Customs chief

MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez is urging the government to legitimize the used clothes or "ukay-ukay" trade and tax importers of these items.

12.8 M Pinoy kids live in poverty, PIDS-UNICEF study says

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly half of all Filipino children, or 12.8 million of those under 15, were living in poverty in 2006, a study launched Thursday said.

'Too many skilled people unemployed'

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines  is creating more jobs but too many skilled people are still unable to find work, economic planning minister Cayetano Paderanga said Thursday.

13 OFWs win case vs Taiwanese firm

The 13 overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan who filed a case of human trafficking against a Taiwanese company and its broker scored a legal victory after majority of their demands were granted, according to a migrants' rights group.

Clinton meets Abbas as settlements threaten peace talks

by by Lachlan Carmichael, Agence France-Presse
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here Thursday renewed the US commitment to an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state despite a row over settlements that threatens fledgling peace talks.

Pope says Catholic Church lacked vigilance on pedophilia

The Catholic Church had not been vigilant enough on the issue of pedophile priests, Pope Benedict XVI told journalists Thursday on board the plane to Britain for a state visit.

Man holes up in Baltimore hospital after shooting doctor

WASHINGTON—A man shot a doctor Thursday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and then reportedly barricaded himself inside his mother's room, which was surrounded by police.

A gunman who wounded a doctor at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore and then holed up inside a room has shot and killed himself and a relative during a standoff with authorities, police said Thursday.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the suspect and his relative died in a hospital room.

The standoff lasted more than 2 hours.

Guglielmi said earlier that he did not know the relationship between the gunman — described as a man in his 30s — and the doctor. The hospital said in a statement that the doctor is a faculty physician but that it could not release more information because of privacy policies.

The doctor was shot in the stomach but was expected to survive, Guglielmi said.

"The doctor will be OK," Guglielmi said. "He's in the best place in the world — at Johns Hopkins hospital."

Michelle Burrell, who works in a coffee shop in the hospital lobby, said she was told by employees who were on the floor where the doctor was shot that the gunman was angry with the doctor's treatment of his mother.

"Basically, he was upset about his mother being paralyzed by the doctor," Burrell said. "It's crazy."

A small area of the hospital had been locked down before the gunman died, as about a dozen officers wearing vests and helmets and carrying assault weapons prepared to go into the hospital at midday. Guglielmi said the gunman had not taken any hostages, and people with appointments in other parts of the hospital were encouraged to keep them.

The FBI was assisting Baltimore police, said FBI spokesman Richard J. Wolf.

Hopkins spokesman Gary Stephenson said the gunman was on the eighth floor of the Nelson building, the main hospital tower. Guglielmi said the situation was contained to that part of the hospital, and no people had been locked in rooms or otherwise in danger.

According to the Hopkins website, the eighth floor is home to orthopedic, spine, trauma and thoracic services.

The rest of the massive hospital, research and medical education complex remained open, including the emergency department.

With more than 30,000 employees, Johns Hopkins Medicine is among Maryland's largest private employers and the largest in Baltimore. The hospital has more than 1,000 beds and more than 1,700 full-time doctors.

37 killed, 26 hurt in Sudan bus crash

KHARTOUM—Thirty-seven people were killed and 26 injured on Thursday when two buses collided in the northern Sudanese state of White Nile, the director of Sudan's traffic police said.

Pacquiao needs size to handle bigger Margarito

MANILA, Philippines – Seven-division world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao said that things are going well for him despite his busy schedule of training for his upcoming fight and fulfilling his duties as a congressman.

Chavez among Pacquiao's sparring partners

Unbeaten Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will join the training camp of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao in two weeks' time, according to Pacquiao's adviser Michael Koncz.

UK police to probe Hatton over cocaine video

by Reuters
LONDON - British police will investigate allegations that former world boxing champion Ricky Hatton snorted cocaine in a hotel toilet, they said on Thursday.

PSC stands pat on P30M budget for Asiad

The Philippine Sports Commission will stick to its P30-million budget for the Asian Games.

Palace mum on President's rumored breakup with girlfriend

Has President Benigno Simeon Aquino III broken up with his girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad?

Soledad denies blog about her split-up with Aquino

Given two versions, perhaps one is inclined to believe that of a woman in love.

Robin Padilla marries Mariel in Baguio City

MANILA, Philippines – Robin Padilla and Mariel Rodriguez tied the knot in Baguio City in a simple and very private ceremony officiated by a native priest, locally known as mambunong , from the Ibaloi tribe.

Shaina Magdayao on nasty rumor: Outrageous, cheap

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines – It's the most outrageous, cheap and offensive rumor. This was how Shaina Magdayao described a recent nasty gossip chasing her and celebrity boyfriend John Lloyd Cruz.

PBB's Jason denies cheating on Melai

by by Tinna S. Bonifacio, ABS-CBN Publishing
MANILA, Philippines - Pinoy Big Brother Double Up's Jason Francisco categorically denied rumors that he cheated on on-screen partner—and real-life girlfriend—Melisa "Melai" Cantiveros during a recent trip to Cebu.

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