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

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 21, 2010 Major News Stories

Private hospitals to DOH: Declare dengue epidemic

MANILA, Philippines – Private hospitals urged the Department of Health on Monday to declare a dengue epidemic amid a record-high number of cases across country this year.

The declaration will prompt the public to be more aware about the dangers posed by the disease, according to Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) President Rustico Jimenez.

He claimed that many Filipinos are still complacent about the illness.

"Sabihin na sa tao para mas mag-ingat… ang ugali kasi ng Pilipino, kapag di mo inalarma, di sila magdo-doble ingat," he said.

A total of 77,012 dengue cases, including 543 deaths, have been recorded from January 1 to September 4 this year.

The DOH, meanwhile, refused on Monday to declare either an epidemic or a state of calamity because some provinces have already seen a drop in the number of dengue cases, said Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the National Epidemiology Center.

He added that an epidemic can only be declared if the following conditions are met:

  • People who have fallen ill from dengue can no longer be treated at home because of the virulent nature of the disease.
  • A high number of deaths resulting from the disease.
  • Hospitals can no longer accommodate patients seeking treatment.
  • Dengue cases are widespread in all communities.

"Sa ngayon, naninindigan pa rin kami na wala pa tayo sa estado na magdeklara ng state of calamity," Tayag said.

Jimenez criticized the DOH's stand on the issue.

"Bahala sila! Kung ayaw nilang tanggapin na may epidemya basta kami nasabi na namin na tingin namin talagang maraming kaso ng dengue," he said.

The PHAP president plans to discuss the issue with DOH officials. 

RP's FDA issues recall order vs 2 milk products

MANILA, Philippines – Two milk products were ordered recalled Monday by the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Two separate orders dated September 16 and signed by acting FDA Director Nazarista Tacandong said Sustagen Junior Milk Drink Powder Vanilla Flavor (for toddlers 1-3 year old) and Alactagrow Bibo Trio Milk Supplement each have fat level content that were non-compliant with FDA standards. The 2 products are from well-known pediatric nutrition manufacturer Mead Johnson Nutrition (Philippines) Inc.

The FDA said it requires 3 to 6 grams of fat per 100 calories under the CODEX STAN 156-1987 which is the standard for follow-up formula.

The FDA order said, however, that its evaluation and determination showed that the Sustagen Junior Milk Drink Powder Vanilla Flavor only contained only 1.5g fat per 100 calories.

The Alactagrow Bibo Trio Milk Supplement, on the other hand, has fat content of 1.34g per 100 calories, according to the FDA order.

The agency said continued sale of the 2 milk supplements may result in "gross deception to the consuming public and may even present risk of illness or injury to the consuming sector of the public, the young children."

The FDA urged the people who bought to products to return them to either manufacturers or licensed distributors and get their money back.

ABS-CBN News, as of posting, tried but failed to contact Mead Johnson Nutrition (Philippines) Inc. for a statement.

IPHO tasks to check district hospitals' capability to admit dengue patients

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia wants the Integrated Provincial Health Office to look into the capabilities of the district hospitals in the province to see if it can still accommodate additional dengue patients.

Garcia said some district hospitals cater patients depending on the level of services they can give since primary hospitals only have 10 beds and secondary hospitals have 25 beds.

"In Carcar, we are aiming for 100 beds but we are also planning to provide additional equipments," she said.

Results from the IPHO show that Minglanilla has the most number of dengue cases. It has recorded 120 cases with four fatalities.

The rise in the number of dengue patients has worried primary and secondary hospitals where to confine the other patients that could no longer be accommodated by them.

Garcia explains that the province is willing to support whatever help they can give but still awaiting for requests from Provincial Board member Sergio Restauro, chairman of the Committee on Health and head of the Task Force Dengue in the province.

"Providing chemicals and blowers are quiet considerable amount but the Province of Cebu is ready to purchase additional equipments as requested by PB Restauro," she said, adding that it is better to know the facts in the field so that the province can assists the Department of Health in treating dengue cases.

The governor said it is the primary task of the LGUs to spell out preventive measures since they are the front liners.

"LGUs are in the front line and the province will back them up. They have my full support. If they need more chemicals and blowers we will buy basta wala lay den-gue," she said.

Labor groups: Abolish RTWPB

Fifteen independent labor unions and three labor federations have called for the abolition of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in lieu of their ear-lier plan to sue the Department of Labor and Employment because of its alleged failure to enforce the minimum wage law.

Cash transfer program a 'life-saver' to poor families—DSWD chief

A "life-saver" to families mired in poverty is how Secretary Corazon Juliano "Dinky" Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) justified its controversial conditional cash transfer program that will receive billions in funding next year.
The DSWD will get its biggest budget in history in the proposed outlay for 2011 with P34.2 billion or 123-percent increase from its 2010 budget.

"The justification for the increase is due to the large amount of money directly given to the poor… This is the first time we were given this much money," Soliman told the members of the appropriations committee that deliberated on the department's budget proposal Monday.

Defending the direct cash subsidy to the poor amid criticisms by some lawmakers that it is a dole-out and that it should have been given as micro-financed aid instead, Soliman said it is the "life-saver (salbabida) to those drowning in poverty."

"The poor have long been waiting for something like this," she added.

Soliman, who also served as department secretary during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now Pampanga congresswoman, said the poorest of the poor households need immediate cash assistance, not microfinance support.

The family that has a sick member will use the money for microfinance to buy medicine, it will use it to buy slippers for their children so that they can go to school, and buy food to pave away the hunger, Soliman said.

Of its P34.2 billion budget, the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) will get P29 billion covering programs such as the conditional cash transfer, supplemental feeding program, food-for-work for internally-displaced persons and rice subsidy.

A US$400-million loan from the Asian Development Bank will also be used for the conditional cash transfer, Soliman said.

The Kalahi-CIDSS (Kalahi Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) program, a program which village leaders and residents decide what social services such as water systems, schools, roads and health centers are needed most in their communities, will get P1.7 billion.

From the one million expected beneficiaries until the end of this year, Soliman said they are targeting 1.3 million households more as beneficiaries for 2011.

The 4Ps aims to grant a monthly stipend of up to P1,400 per family identified by the DSWD as among the poorest of the poor through a national household targeting system.
Soliman said they have instituted six criteria that the beneficiaries should comply with to receive the stipend, including the mother's visits to health center, the immunization of their children and attendance to school at least 85 percent of the time.

Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros Magsaysay criticized the program as "dole-out" and "band-aid" solution that will not give the lives of the poor lasting progress.

Joavan's alleged cop ally not with Talisay police

Guillermina Barredo, who claimed to be a former security guard of Joavan Fernandez, controversial son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez, did not find the po-licewoman who allegedly dealt in drugs with Joavan in the Talisay City roster.

Barredo said this after Talisay City Police Station chief Supt. Henry Biñas showed her the files of the policewomen assigned to Talisay City. Barredo earlier said a cer-tain Rosalie Flores was dealing drugs with Joavan.

Comelec warns vs carrying guns during election period

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has warned the public of carrying firearms during the election period.

Rama asks police to ease up on banning kids from bikes

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said that he will discourage the police from apprehending motorcycle drivers, who will be forced to make their children ride their ve-hicles, but only in areas where there are no other means of public transportation.

Missing Philhealth checks: Woman charged for estafa, falsification

A woman who allegedly claimed to be PhilHealth employee was charged with nine counts of estafa through falsification and two counts of falsification over the loss of 28 PhilHealth checks issued to the Cebu City Medical Center.

Janice D. Tecson, who used the alias Ruth Adlawan Concha, 28, of Banilad Greens Subdivision, Banilad, Cebu City, is facing charges before the Cebu City Prosecu-tor's Office after she encashed the PhilHealth checks she got from PhilHealth checks in-charge Mary Ann Lopez.

Attorney Reynan Oliva of National Bureau of Investigation said that they conducted an investigation upon the request of Myrna Go, chief of hospital of the Cebu City Medical Center.

He said that while there is an actual Ruth Adlawan Concha who works in the Mactan Economic Zone II, Lapu-lapu City, she is not involved in the case.

The one who posed as Concha was actually Tecson as attested to by witnesses Peter Regalado, Bert Colong and Josephine Utrera who identified the woman through a photograph as the one who approached them and encashed the checks.

The witnesses said that they encashed the checks brought by Tecson as it had some references that it has authorization letter from Go believed that Tecson was author-ized to encash the checks.

Tecson was able to encash nine checks amounting to P129,719.75

In the afternoon of April 30, 2010, Rita Avilluna, administrative aide of the CCMC billing section received a call from a certain "Kristine", who claimed to be con-nected with PhilHealth. Avilluna forwarded the call to Maria Lourdes Archua, head of CCMC billing section.

Archua allegedly informed by Kristine that there was a system change in PhilHealth and that all check payments issued by the company must be withdrawn to be stamped with PhilHealth seal otherwise, the checks will not be accepted by the new system.

On May 4, in the morning, Avilluna again received a call and forwarded it to Lopez, the PhilHealth check in-charge of their office.

The caller identified herself as Mary Ann Garcia, who claimed to be connected with PhilHealth, asked Lopez if they had in their possession PhilHealth checks intended for doctor's fees.

Lopez said that professional fees of doctors are sent directly to them and not to CCMC. Garcia asked Lopez which Lopez did not understand so she passed the caller to Maria Lourdes Archua, her superior in the office.

Garcia informed Archua that she needed to withdraw all PhilHealth checks issued to CCMC for stamping with the PhilHealth seal as required in their new system. Garcia further told that she would send a PhilHealth trainee to withdraw the checks from CCMC and to return them immediately after these were stamped with the PhilHealth seal.

Meanwhile, on May 25, 2010 Josette Bacalso, a fiscal controller of the PhilHealth Regional Office-7 wrote Archua, providing her a copy of six checks negotiated by Landbank, the depository bank as part of the 28 checks which have been fraudulently endorsed with forged signatures of Go.

Oliva confirmed that the signature of Go in checks was forged.

Capitol bonus, incentives: Greg signs budget just as Gwen leaves the country

Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez finally signed the P114 million supplemental budget that covers the bonus and incentives of Capitol employees, but the employees may have to wait a little while longer.

The FREEMAN received information that Sanchez signed the budget at 3pm yesterday and thereafter forwarded the documents to the executive for Governor Gwendo-lyn Garcia's signature, however, Garcia was no longer at the Capitol starting at 2pm.

Garcia was preparing for her flight to Russia at 1am today to attend a business forum together with members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She is scheduled to return on Saturday yet.

The bonus and incentives could not be released without her signature, but Garcia told reporters yesterday morning that she has endorsed the budget even before she left for Vietnam last September 13.

"Before ko nilarga ako naman na gi-endorse. I don't think the delay is with us," Garcia said.

She waited for the documents yesterday morning, but the same did not come apparently.

What happened was that the Provincial Board approved the budget on September 13, but Sanchez did not immediately affix his signature reportedly because he had to study a provision that did not have a breakdown of expenses.

This despite Garcia certifying the budget as urgent to beat the election ban for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, which will start on September 25.

"We've done our part, I certified it urgent," the governor said.

The employees are expected to receive bonus and incentives ranging from P8,000 to P25,000 each. 

"I think they (employees) also know the supplemental budget contains the incentives that I have promised, the CNA incentives… they also know that I have acted on it and any further delays are not coming from us," Garcia said.

The bulk of the budget is from different offices amounting to P86 million.

The vice governor's function over the executive budget is but ministerial. A copy of the approved supplemental budget is needed as attachment to paper works to re-lease the incentives.

Pelayre asks one week to clear Tinaan Plaza

Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre has asked for one week to clear the Barangay Tinaan plaza of the filling materials dumped in preparation for the development pro-ject of the controversial Balili property.

Pelayre assured Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong that the clearing operationstarted yesterday and will be done soon.

Residents of Tinaan, Naga earlier complained that they could no longer use their plaza because 20 to 30 truckloads of filling materials were dumped on their basketball court.

The filling materials will be used for the road construction project leading to the controversial Balili property.

"Engineer Pelayre said nga maareglar niya ang concern one week from now, several days from now maybe dili na kaayo dako ang occupied area sa court," Chiong said.

The four-meter wide single-lane barangay road will be converted into a 15-meter wide two-way lane road that extends 300 to 400 kilometers to serve as access road to the sea of the Balili property.

Chiong explained that there are existing properties that will be affected before reaching Balili property including a portion of the Apo Cement but not residential areas.

"Portion ra man sa Apo ang ma-affected and in fact all the barangay officials kahibaw na ana. Ang methodology lang sa work ba ang akong gitan-aw," he said. 

He added "nalipay ra sad ko ana kay maayo na nga development for Naga, dili naman pud na ingon ana one week after maareglar na. Whatever ang madisplace like the learning center and the basketball court ibalik jud na kay mao na among gisabotan ni gov."

The province also promises to restore whatever will be displaced during the construction of the project.

Aquino leaves for US

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III left for the United States Monday night on board Philippine Airlines flight PR 104.

The flight, which is bound for San Francisco, left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 10:30 p.m.

All Cabinet officials, including Vice-President Jejomar Binay, attended the send-off ceremony for the President and his delegation that will accompany him in his 7-day working visit.

Four Cabinet officials - Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo, and Energy Secretary Rene Almendras - joined him in the trip. 

The delegation also includes 34 businessmen and 12 officials and support staff of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the number of the support staff was reduced to limit expenses for the trip, which are expected to reach around P25 million.

In his pre-departure speech, Aquino expressed confidence that his US visit will help create jobs.

According to a Palace statement Monday, Aquino will address a gathering of over 150 world leaders at the 65th United Nations General Assembly and meet with US President Barack Obama and leading American businessmen. 

The trip is Aquino's first overseas travel since he became President in June.

Before his UN address, Aquino will attend the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders' Meeting to discuss international and regional issues, and cooperation between the regional group and the world's leading economy.  

He will have an opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with Obama, as well as his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines is the country coordinator for the ASEAN-US Dialogue relations from 2009 to 2012.

In New York, the President will also attend the signing of the US$434-million Millennium Challenge Compact Agreement between the Philippine government and the US Millennium Challenge Corp.

The agreement will fund the Aquino administration's various programs on poverty reduction, revenue generation, and infrastructure development. 

Aquino will also meet with World Bank President Robert Zoellick, chief executive officers of several companies, US businessmen, and potential investors.

He will also address an economic conference organized by Citibank.  

The President will also meet with Filipino-American communities in New York and in San Francisco to enlist their involvement in the new government's national and economic agenda. 

There are around 2.84 million Filipinos living in the US, accounting for 34% of Filipinos overseas, according to the Commission on Filipino Overseas.

They contribute about 42% of the total remittances sent home by overseas Filipinos. 

NCRCom on red alert as President leaves

MANILA, Philippines - The military command in Metro Manila is on its highest alert status in line with the departure of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III who is attending a United Nations general assembly in New York.

OVP: Yes, caretaker is not needed

MANILA, Philippines - Appointing a caretaker to carry on the job of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III while he is in the United States is unnecessary, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) said.

Aquino, Clinton to meet after signing of $434M grant

President Benigno Aquino III will have a "handshake meeting" with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when the US leader participates in the signing of the $434 million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant in New York, according to a Malacañang official here.

Nograles urges Aquino to address infighting

MANILA, Philippines - A lawmaker on Monday said President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III should be ready to axe any member of his official family to settle alleged infighting in his Cabinet.

Hostage probe charge list: 13 persons, 3 TV networks

MALACAÑANG YESTERDAY furnished the Chinese government a copy of probe results on last month's bus hostage crisis that listed persons who may be liable over the failed rescue with the death of eight Hong Kong tourists.

President Benigno C. Aquino III said he has also tasked a legal team composed of Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. and presidential legal counsel Eduardo de Mesa to review recommendations by the Incident Investigation Review Committee (IIRC) in its 83-page report, including charges against 13 persons and three media networks.

Recommended to be charged are former Philippine National Police chief Jesus A. Verzosa; Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, former Manila Police District chief; Chief Superintendent Leocaldo S.C. Santiago, Jr., Metro Manila police chief; Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno; Superintendent Orlando Yebra, chief negotiator during the crisis; Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual, Special Weapons and Tactics commander; Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez; Deputy Ombudsman Emilio A. Gonzales III; Jake Maderazo, Erwin Tulfo and Michael Rogas of radio station dzXL-RMN; Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim; and Vice-Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso.

The President mentioned three media networks but he refused to name them.

They were, however, identified in a separate interview by Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima as ABS-CBN Corp., GMA Network, Inc. and TV5.

The report, however, appeared inconclusive, thus the need for a review of the recommendations.

"From my reading, it seems that there are no specific charges. [That's why I've] tasked both the ES (Executive Secretary) and presidential legal counsel to review in terms of how do we implement the recommendations," Mr. Aquino said.

The President said he will study the report and his legal team's evaluation when he returns from a week-long trip to the United States.

Mr. Aquino left last night for the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly, witness the signing of a grant by the US-based Millennium Challenge Corp. and present to US businessmen public-private partnership projects.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino explained that Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao first received a copy to prevent misunderstanding as "we are repairing relations with China."

"I'm hoping it will restore confidence... [The report will show that] we know how to run our country," Mr. Aquino said.

The hostage-taking incident has chilled relations with Hong Kong, a Chinese territory. The government initially offered to send high-level delegation to China composed of Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda days after the Aug. 23 crisis, but Beijing preferred to have a complete and thorough probe before the meeting is held.

Aside from identifying those involved in the incident, the government is also reviewing and improving protocol for emergency crisis situations, and preparing a new crisis management manual, said Mr. Aquino.

In an ambush interview at the Department of Justice, Ms. de Lima said that the Palace legal team's review "will identify the exact course of actions to be made in light of the specific findings of the committee... The President just wants to make sure that the certain specific charges we will file are correct."

She said the recommendations could be accepted at face value or modified, while the other individuals may also be included in the charge list.

"As for the media, our recommendations are in relation to possible violations of the code of ethics," Ms. de Lima said.

The IIRC report contains results of the investigation and recommendations behind the hostage incident involving former senior inspector Rolando D. Mendoza who commandeered a tourist bus in Manila in a desperate attempt to be reinstated. He was sacked two years ago on extortion charges.

The 10-hour standoff ended in front of the Quirino Grandstand with eight Hong Kong tourists and Mendoza dead.

The five-man IIRC was led by Ms. de Lima and co-chaired by Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo. It members are Teresita Ang-See representing the Chinese community, Roan I. Libarios of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Herman Z. Basbaño of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas.

Senate request

In a related development, senators yesterday urged Malacañang to furnish the Senate a copy of the IIRC report.

"I believe that the President owes it to his constituents, the Filipino people, to be given a copy of the report first," Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri of the opposition yesterday said in a privilege speech.

For his part, Senator Jose "Jinggoy" E. Estrada, also from the opposition, agreed with Mr. Zubiri's motion, calling for transparency in the report.

"Let the axe fall where it may," Mr. Estrada said.

Earlier, in the day, senators also expressed reservations in giving priority to the Chinese government.

"It has raised a lot of questions. The Office of the President should consider the opinions expressed by the other sectors on this," Senator Franklin M. Drilon, an Aquino ally in the Liberal Party, told reporters.

Minority Leader Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano said that the incident highlighted the need for a Freedom of Information law.

"If we have the Freedom of Information law we could have demanded a copy of the report," he said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, on the other hand, agreed with Malacañang's tack.

"With respect to the Filipino people this is of no moment, the fact is that the country has produced the report and should disseminate it to whoever is interested. We owe it to the Chinese people to submit to them the findings," he said.

IIRC report draws mixed reactions

Hindi minasama ni Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ang gagawing review ng mga abugado ng Palasyo sa report ng kaniyang komite sa Manila hostage crisis. Nainsulto naman si Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim na isa siya sa mga inrekomendang managot. Nagbabala naman si Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno sa komite.

'PNoy wants succesful prosecution of those liable'

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III ordered a thorough study of the Manila hostage crisis report because he wants to make sure that the recommended charges can be successfully prosecuted in court, President Aquino's chief legal adviser said on Monday.

De Lima: Palace has final say on who will face raps

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang's legal team could either expand or trim the list of people and media companies found liable for the August 23 Manila hostage crisis, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday.

De LIma justifies 'China-first policy' on IIRC report

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima risked a contempt citation from Congress for refusing to divulge the salient points of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report on the Manila hostage crisis on Monday morning.

IIRC report sends 'chilling effect' to the media

by By Ira Pedrasa,
MANILA, Philippines - The inclusion of the names of several members of the media on the list of those who should be held liable for the hostage crisis sends a "chilling effect" to those who have long been fighting for the freedom of the press.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Chairman Nestor Burgos, Jr. said "no journalist should be charged. While we admit that there were journalists who committed lapses, the nature of the lapses is professional and ethical. In no way can those be considered criminal."

The National Press Club agreed.

In a separate statement, NPC President Jerry Yap said "there is no criminal law that punishes the act of interviewing a hostage-taker.  There is also no criminal law that punishes the act of covering all incidents in a hostage crisis as these events unfold."

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III revealed earlier that TV5's Erwin Tulfo and Radio Mo Nationwide's (RMN) Michael Rogas will be accountable for their role in the hostage fiasco last August 23.

Both had talked to the gunman, dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza, hours before he went on a shooting rampage.

While Aquino has not mentioned what their liabilities could be, he noted "nakita naman natin sa transcript…napaka-incumbent na wag ipagsiksikan ang sarili [while negotiations are going on]."

Aquino said the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) has also recommended the filing of charges against "3 broadcast networks." He did not name the networks.

For his part, former University of the Philippines journalism professor Luis Teodoro said: "Dapat linawin kung ano ang charges. It must be based on specific violations. It is a threat against media. This has a chilling effect on media. Sanctions must be specific because it might infringe on the freedom of the press which is guaranteed by the Constitution."

Teodoro is also deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.


Alyansa ng Filipinong  Mamamahayag's Ben Antiporda, on the other hand, said the journalists' inclusion is "nothing but blame passing over official incompetence in the handling of the crisis. It does not also bode well for the future of press freedom under the Aquino administration."

He said journalists will not hesitate to go to the streets "to express our sentiments."

NPC's Yap alleged if there are persons who should be charged "with multiple homicide through reckless imprudence, it should be the officers on the ground who recklessly disregarded the need to follow the PNP manual for the media coverage of a hostage crisis."

He added "if these media men cannot be held liable criminally, there is also no justification for a civil or administrative liability for each of them or their broadcasts franchises, respectively.

Isko willing to face raps over Manila hostage crisis

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Vice- Mayor Isko Moreno on Monday expressed willingness to face charges in connection with the botched rescue of hostages in the August 23 Quirino incident.

RP faces new tensions with China over Spratly Islands

by By Tessa Jamandre, VERA Files
Even before the diplomatic tension created by the Aug. 23 hostage crisis has subsided, President Benigno Aquino III will have to deal with another strain on the country's relationship with China: the dormant yet sensitive issue of the contested Spratly Islands.

Imelda Marcos gives up on UN MDG summit

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos has thrown in the towel in her fight to be allowed to attend the United Nations summit on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this week.

No budget for 733 govt lawyers

The country's courts will remain lacking by 733 prosecutors because no budget has been allotted for their hiring in the 2011 proposed outlay for the Department of Justice.

Malacanang is proposing a P7.7 billion budget for DoJ, representing 0.46 percent of the P1.654-trillion national budget for next year.

But De Lima said the proposed outlay does not include budget for the hiring of the needed 733 prosecutors all over the country.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said hiring the 733 prosecutors is part of the "phase by phase implementation" of Republic Act 10071 or the National Prosecution Service Act, to achieve the ideal ratio two prosecutors for every regional trial court judge; one prosecutor for every municipal trial court; and one prosecutor for every two municipal circuit trial court.

He said a total of P914 million is needed for the full implementation of the law.

De Lima said a number of their proposals for funding were also not considered in the 2011 budget, including the P10 million increase in inquest allowance for prosecutors; P10 million hazard duty pay for prosecutors; and P1.5 million for the creation of personnel for the Witness Protection Program.

Despite the budget cuts, De Lima assured her department will continue doing its job and will not engage in "prosecutors' revolt" amid last week's threat by some members of the judiciary to launch a "judicial revolt" because of cuts in their budget.

Robredo calls ARMM 'weakest link,' to introduce reforms

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Monday vowed to introduce reforms to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which he described as the country's "weakest link."

Robredo said reforms would be introduced to the region's local government processes, particularly financial transactions.

Robredo said he will order all LGUs in the region to "fully disclose" procurements, budget and bidding.

Cruz, Robredo headline Senate probe on jueteng payola

MANILA – Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo lead the list of personalities expected to attend Tuesday's Senate investigation into the jueteng payola.

29 officials involved in jueteng - DILG report

Twenty-nine out of the over 50 jueteng operators in the country are incumbent government officials, a television report said Monday quoting a confidential four-page report by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The list included seven governors, six congressmen, 16 mayors, according to a report in GMA News' "24 Oras." The rest are private individuals.

The report said the names were compiled by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DILG.

The League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), meanwhile, said it is open to submit its members to any investigation on the popular illegal numbers game. 

"Willing naman, open naman yung liga, para ma-imbestiga talaga kung sino ba itong mga sinasabing governors na ito (the league is open to any investigation to unmask these governors)," said Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali, national president of the LPP. 

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and known anti-jueteng crusader Oscar Cruz confirmed that around 90 percent of the DILG list corroborated with the list prepared by his own group, the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ).

More lucrative

KBLJ said more and more officials are getting involved with jueteng operations since it is reportedly more lucrative than accepting monthly payoffs, which Cruz said amounts to at least P2 million.

"Bago pumayag ang mga jueteng lords na ibigay yung jueteng operation sa isang pulis, sa isang barangay captain, sa isang mayor, sa isang gobernador, malaking usapan yan. Ang usapan diyan bilihan. 'Eto sayo, ako na ang operator dito'," Cruz said.

(Before jueteng lords agree to give the jueteng operation to a policeman, to a barangay captain, to a mayor, to a governor, there are negotiations involved. The negotiations are about paying people off.)

It would be easy to stop jueteng if the government had the political will to do so, Cruz said. "Bobo lamang ang hindi makakapaghinto ng jueteng sa Pilipinas (Only a fool would be unable to stop jueteng in the Philippines)."

Senate hearing

On Tuesday, the Senate will conduct a hearing on the jueteng problem in the Philippines. Cruz, who is slated to attend, says he will give senators the KBLJ list of jueteng operators. 

"Ngayon pag hindi ko nasagot pagka't delikado ang mga pangalan hihingi ako ng executive session, tapos doon ko sasabihin lahat (If I cannot publicly name the recipients I will ask for an executive session and tell the senators)," Cruz said on Church-run Radio Veritas.

Excerpts of the interview were posted Monday night on the news site of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

Cruz, who heads a nationwide crusade against gambling, said earlier he will testify before congressional probes on jueteng payolas but said this will be the last time he does so.

He is expected to be the lone informant on alleged jueteng payoffs after other witnesses, including Sandra Cam, who had testified in previous hearings on the illegal numbers game, said they will not attend Tuesday's investigation.

The prelate also said he plans to go to the Senate alone, with neither a security aide nor a lawyer.

"Pupunta akong mag-isa, walang abogado, walang security. Ano man ang itanong nila sasagutin ko basta alam ko (I will go alone, without security. I will answer whatever questions they have)," Cruz said.

DILG officials have also been invited to attend the hearing.

Palace names Roberto Vergara as GSIS president

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has named Roberto Vergara as the new president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Before the GSIS appointment, Vergara served as a fund manager and director of Lionhart (Hong Kong) Ltd. specializing in equity arbitrage and relative value trading, according to a report on radio dzBB Monday.

Vergara, who replaced Winston Garcia, finished his Master of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and graduated magna cum laude in Bachelor of Science degree in Management Engineering and Mathematics from Ateneo de Manila University.

Roman Felipe Reyes, Danilo Gozo, and George Yu were appointed as members of the GSIS board of trustees, according to the report.

Appointed as the new Land Bank of the Philippines' board members were Domingo Diaz and Tomas De Leon Jr. who will represent agrarian reform beneficiaries and the private sector, respectively, dzBB said.

New commissioners appointed to the pension fund for private sector workers — Social Security System — were former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Jose L. Cuisia Jr. for the employer's group and Daniel Edralin and Marianita Mendoza for the worker's group.

The newly installed National Dairy Authority administrator was Grace Cenas, the report said.

Ponciano Batugal, Cesar Villariba Jr., Rafael Sarucam, Marcos Dumandan were also appointed as new members of the Philippine Coconut Authority's governing board.

3 Customs execs suspended over entry of melamine-laced milk

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has preventively suspended 3 officials of the Bureau of Customs for their alleged links to the importation of melamine-tainted milk.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said the continued stay of Customs Operations Officers Emmanuel Reyes, Akmad Noor and Dante Crisostomo "during pendency of the administrative adjudication can affect the disposition of this case considering their positions…"

They will be suspended without pay.

The 4, along with 11 other officials and private individuals, are undergoing preliminary investigation following the criminal and administrative charges filed by the Field Investigation Office (OMB-FIO) in August.

The latter said the Customs officials "failed to verify the correspondence of the Certificate of Product Registration with the Sales Invoice and Bill of Lading for Jolly Cow (Slender) High Calcium Low Fat Milk prior to its release."

The Bureau of Food and Drugs revealed that the Jolly Cow brand had traces of melamine, which is hazardous to human health.

Melamine is a chemical used in manufacturing plastic products. China recorded several infant deaths after several companies had used the chemical to bolster the protein levels in their milk.

Crisostomo was the examiner tasked to conduct documentary and physical examination of the goods for proper collection of customs duties and taxes.

The findings of Crisostomo went for review to Noor, the Principal Customs Examiner. Their findings were transmitted to Reyes, the Principal Customs Appraiser.

OMB-FIO said the officers "caused the entry into the country of Jolly Cow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk without requiring the Certificate of Product Registration."

If found guilty, the respondents will be charged with Unlawful Importation under Sec. 3601 and Commission of Statutory Offenses of a Customs Officer under Sec. 3604 in relation to Sec. 1403 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines; as well as violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

The public respondents are also facing administrative charges for Gross Neglect of Duty, Grave Misconduct, Inefficiency and Incompetence in the performance of official duties and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.

PRC: 49 new sanitary engineers

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Monday that 49 out of 99 passed the Sanitary Engineer Licensure Examination given by the Board of Sanitary Engineering in Manila this September 2010.

Firemen leaving RP

Kulang na nga ang mga bumbero sa bansa, lalo pang nababawasan. Base sa tala ng Bureau of Fire Protection, pati mga bumberong Pinoy, nangingibang-bansa na rin. Ang reklamo nila, maliit na suweldo.

DOLE suspends agency of OFW who died of acid burns, stab wounds in Saudi

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has suspended the recruitment agency of the domestic helper in Saudi Arabia who died of acid burns and stab wounds early this month.
Labor Attache David Des Dicang of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Eastern Region Operations (POLO-ERO) said the DOLE has temporarily suspended the Manila-based PRA Solidworks Manpower Resources & Promotion, the agency of Romilyn Eroy-Ibañez. 

Ibañez, a 22-year-old domestic helper in Al-Khobar, was taken to the King Fahd Hospital on September 8 after she was found unconscious and injured in the kitchen of her employer's residence. She died later on at the hospital.

Initial investigation showed that Ibañez had knife wounds in her neck, abdomen and wrist, as well as acid burns in her mouth area, arms and legs.


Dicang said PRA was suspended for recruitment violations, after documents from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that Ibañez was recruited as a nursing aide in a polyclinic, but ended up working as a domestic helper instead. 

"She was only 22 years old. According to Philippine laws, domestic helpers employed overseas must be at least 23 years old," Dicang told GMANews.TV. 

"The agency must have circumvented the law to be able to deploy her abroad," he added. 

The DOLE will further look into Ibañez's papers to check if more cases of labor violations may be filed against PRA, Dicang said. 

He explained the suspension was based on the recommendation of the POLO-ERO.

Ongoing investigation

Meanwhile, Dicang said local authorities have yet to conclude their investigation on the death of Ibañez, but vowed to inform the Philippine post as soon as the autopsy and case report are completed. 

"Ambassador [Antonio] Villamor has already sent a letter to the Eastern Province Governor [Prince Muhammad bin Fahd] to request for his intervention to speed up the investigation," said Dicang.

The Governor has yet to respond to the Ambassador's request. 

Dicang said authorities refused to confirm if the suspects for the death of the Filipina worker were already arrested. 


The remains of Ibañez, a native of North Cotabato province in Mindanao, can only be repatriated as soon as investigations are complete, according to the labor attaché. 

"Once her remains are repatriated, her family will receive P200,000 as death benefit and P20,000 as burial assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration," Dicang added. 

Ibañez had been working in the Kingdom for barely four months prior to her death. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said an almost empty container of sulfuric acid was recovered from the scene.

Representatives of the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia earlier met with the police and the attending physician, who said that it was impossible for Ibañez to have committed suicide by stabbing herself and ingesting the acid at the same time.

The medical staff purportedly said that the Filipina's internal organs could not sustain the acid ingestion, which caused her death.

Cagayan de Oro cop nabbed for allegedly raping 4 girls

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Four young girls in Cagayan de Oro City were rescued on Monday from a police officer who allegedly raped them, police said.

The suspect, Police Officer 2 Lonie Rementizo, was arrested in an entrapment operation inside a motel in the city.

Rementizo, who is stationed at the Macabalan police station in Cagayan de Oro, started having sex with the minors in August, police said.

He allegedly sent them text messages urging them to meet with him at a gasoline station.

He then brought them to a motel where he abused them, according to police.

One of the victims said Rementizo had sex with 2 or more of the girls at the same time.

He reportedly introduced himself as a businessman and promised to feed them.

"I want him sent to prison," one of the girls said.

The authorities were informed of the case after the victims sough help from their teacher.

Senior Inspector Ariel Philip Pontanillas, head of the Macasandig police office, assured the victims and their parents that justice will be served.

"There won't be a whitewash," he said.

Rementizo is now facing child abuse and qualified seduction charges.

Binayug pinned on inmate's torture caught on video

MANILA, Philippines –  Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug will face criminal charges after being positively tagged by witnesses as the man seen torturing an inmate in a cellphone video clip, authorities said on Monday.

SC urged to transfer massacre trial to QC

MANILA, Philippines - Three members of the Ampatuan clan on Monday urged the Supreme Court to order the transfer of the trial of the Maguindanao massacre case from Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City to Quezon City's Hall of Justice.

$1: P44.065

$1: P44.065 (P44.21)

Euro 1: P57.7116

ERC approves NGCP proposal to improve substations in Visayas

The Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines proposal to take on a P420-million transmission project in Visayas.
The project will upgrade the NGCP's substations in Talavera in Ormoc, Leyte and in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, ERC said.

The project is aimed at increasing capacity of the substations to support the projected growth in power demand in major load centers like Cebu, Leyte, and Negros islands, the power sector watchdog said.

NGCP likewise said the project would help reduce power outages in these provinces in Visayas. "Moreover, the proposed additional transformers at the said substations will provide single outage contingency at the substation level, [preventing] power interruption to the customers should any of the transformers malfunctions," NGCP said.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the current power demand in Visayas is growing at 5.4 percent a year – that as the economy grows, consumption of electricity also grows.

There is a need to reinforce and upgrade the facilities to support economic growth, Almendras pointed out.

Visayas now has a dependable power-generating capacity of 1,505 megawatts (MW) while peak demand is at 1,430 MW, with a required reserve margin of 335 MW.

"The region may be experiencing brownouts simply because of that limited reserve. By the year 2018-2030, the peak demand is targeted at 2,150 MW," Almendras said.

"Clearly, this growing need for energy only means more opportunity for our partners in the private sector. We must continue to invest in exploration, development, and production while, at the same time, maintaining high standards of management and minimizing environmental impact," he said.

Gov't posts P1.3-B surplus in August

MANILA, Philippines - The government posted a budget surplus of P1.3 billion in August, the first surplus in three months, the Department of Finance (DoF) said on Monday.

Offices, schools shut in Taiwan after typhoon flooding

by Agence France-Presse
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Schools and offices were closed in typhoon-hit parts of Taiwan on Monday as residents started clearing up after their homes were flooded by the storm.

Suu Kyi officially barred from Myanmar election

YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is officially barred from voting in November elections, according to electoral rolls posted Monday that left her name off the list of eligible voters.

US exits longest recession since World War II

The US economy exited recession in June 2009, the National Bureau of Economic Research said on Monday, ending the most sustained downturn since World War II.

Roach gives Pacquiao a passing mark

With training camp for his upcoming title fight not yet formally on the go, Manny Pacquiao already got a passing mark from no less than trainer Freddie Roach.

Budget for Pacquiao's projects delays Baguio training

MANILA, Philippines - Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao's training in Baguio City has been delayed as he works on securing the budget for his provincial projects on Wednesday's (Sept. 22) hearing.

Arum: Pacquiao-Mosley unlikely after Mora draw

MANILA, Philippines – The possibility of a showdown between "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao dimmed because according to the Filipino's promoter, the American fighter is already past his prime.

Rubilen Amit enters main draw of China Open

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino pool player Rubilen "Bingkay" Amit clustered 5 straight racks to beat compatriot Iris Ranola, 7-2, on Sunday to book her seat in the main draw of the 2010 China Open.

Newsweek on Charice: Asia's rising pop star

MANILA, Philippines – Asia's rising pop star. This was how prestigious weekly news magazine Newsweek described international singing sensation Charice, 18, in its article posted on September 16.

Erik Santos to host new talent show

MANILA, Philippines - Singing champion Erik Santos is set to host ABS-CBN's upcoming talent search program, "Star Power," with Megastar Sharon Cuneta.

Robin, Mariel 'just engaged, not married'

Iginiit ngayon ang mga kaanak ni Robin Padilla hindi kasal kundi isang engagement ceremony lang ang nangyari sa pagitan nina Robin at Mariel Rodriguez. Pero, isang testigo ang lumutang para patotohanan ang kasal! Banta pa niya, idedeklara nilang persona non grata sina Binoe at Mariel sa Baguio kung patuloy nilang itatatwa ang kasalan!

Allih Padilla flies to Australia

Sa gitna ng mainit na mata ng publiko sa relasyong Robin Padilla at Mariel Rodriguez, tumulak patungong Australia ang bunsong anak ni Robin na si Allih. Kasunod ito ng reklamo ng dating asawa ni Robin na si Liezl Sicangco na napapabayaan ni Binoe ang kanilang anak dahil umano kay Mariel! 

Elderly doctor accuses Jaworski son of grave threats

A son of former basketball star and senator Robert Jaworski was charged before the Quezon City prosecutors' office for allegedly threatening an elderly female physician two months ago.

Dr. Iraida David lodged a complaint of grave threats against Ryan Jaworski, a resident of Corinthian Hills, Pasig City.

Police who filed the complaint on Monday morning say the respondent is a son of the former senator and the once high profile cager.

David, 56, and a resident of Barangay (village) San Antonio, San Francisco Del Monte in Quezon City, alleged that the younger Jaworski made threats against her on July 1, 2010, at a variety store near her home.

She claimed Jaworski shouted invectives at her and even allegedly threatened to kill her. She said Jaworski was a frequent visitor of a neighbor.

David's complaint did not indicate Jaworski's reasons for verbally abusing David.

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