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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 23, 2010 Major News Stories

Dengue cases now over 84,000

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health on Wednesday said it has recorded a total of 84,023 dengue cases from January to September 11 this year.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the number is 117.73% higher than the number of cases recorded in the same period last year. A total of 543 people have died from dengue as of September 4 this year.

Ona said dengue incidence is increasing in Cebu while decreasing in other regions.

Dengue fever is an acute illness caused by a bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. In the Philippines, dengue usually occurs during the rainy season, or from June to September.

The DOH earlier devised a strategy to educate the public on home treatment of mild dengue cases in an effort to decongest hospitals.

Ona said patients should be brought to the emergency room if they exhibit dengue warning signs such as abdominal pain or persistent vomiting, red spots or patches on the skin, signs of bleeding, black stools, drowsiness or decreased consciousness, difficulty in breathing, and pale or cold clammy skin.

FDA: Recalled Mead Johnson products fit for consumption

MANILA, Philippines - The 2 recalled formula milk products from Mead Johnson Nutrition (Philippines), Inc. are still fit for consumption, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) said.

Plan to issue paper drivers' licenses opposed

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) should review its plan to change drivers' licenses from plastic to paper, a transport leader said on Wednesday.

CITOM: No arrests if kids on motorbikes wear helmets

The City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) board yesterday clarified that motorcycle drivers with children as their passengers will not be apprehended if the kids are wearing the proper crash helmet.

Appointed officials, employees running for barangay polls must resign

Appointed government officials and employees who are seeking for elective position in the barangay next month must vacate their positions upon filing of their certificate of candidacy.

Commission on elections promulgated resolution no. 9029 the other day providing the guidelines on the filing of the COCs in connection with the October 25 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

According to the Comelec guidelines, all appointed barangay, city, municipal, provincial, regional, or national officials or employees, or those in the civil or military service, including those in government-owned and controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of filing of his or her COC.

Even incumbent municipal, city, provincial and national elective officials running for any barangay elective position shall also be considered resigned upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy.

The Comelec has set the period to file the COC from October 1 to 13, 2010. All COCs shall be filed during regular working hours with the office of the election officer except on the last day of filing wherein COCs will be received until 12 midnight.

The Comelec said COCs shall be personally filed or through an authorized representative with a written authorization under oath. COCs that are filed through mail, telegram or facsimile shall not be accepted.

Any candidate who wishes to withdraw his candidacy may do so at anytime before the day of the election.

The resolution added that there shall be no substitution of candidates for SK, but substitution by the spouse shall be allowed for candidates for barangay elections.

The substitute for a candidate who died or suffered permanent incapacity or disqualified by final judgment, may file his certificate of candidacy up to midday of the election day.

The Comelec said that if death or permanent disability occurs between the day before the election and midday of election day, substitute candidate may file the COC with any Board of Election Tellers in the political subdivision where he is a candidate.

In a separate resolution, Comelec sets the election period from September 25, 2010 until November 10, 2010.

During this period carrying of firearm/deadly weapons, including wearing of uniforms, insignias, etc.; illegal release of prisoners; alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment of a new precinct; organizing or maintaining reaction/strike forces or similar forces; transfer and detail of officers and employees in the civil service, including public school teachers; suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer; and use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of officers of the Philippine National Police or the ArmedForces of the Philippines or other government law enforcement agency are prohibited.

The campaign period begins on October 14 until 23, 2010.

'Secrecy folder' supplier still a Comelec bidder

MANILA, Philippines - A paper company who bagged the "overpriced" P689.7 million contract to provide secrecy folders in the May 2010 elections has not been blacklisted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Over 2,000 marijuana stalks seized in Carmen, Balamban

A total of 2,978 fully grown marijuana stalks amounting to P600,000 were uprooted in Carmen and Balamban towns last Tuesday.

Spratlys issue to be taken up during Asean meet with Obama—Romulo

The conduct of countries with claims to South China Sea territories, including the disputed Spratlys, would be one of the issues that would be taken up in the Asean leaders meeting with US President Barrack Obama later this week.

China knocks US-ASEAN statement on South China Sea

Beijing lashed out Tuesday at plans by the United States and Southeast Asian countries to issue a joint statement calling for the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying that would only complicate matters and sharpen differences.

Aquino to speak on int'l cooperation at UN assembly

For the first time since he assumed the presidency, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will speak on international cooperation before world leaders at the United Nations general assembly in the United States on Saturday morning (Manila time).

PR deal for Aquino's trip to US less than P45M—Palace

Malacañang admitted on Wednesday that it hired the services of a public relations firm to help in the media blitz for President Benigno Aquino while he was in the United States.

Aquino sticks to frugal lifestyle in New York

True to his word not to tread in the footsteps of his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III and his entourage have not taken lavish meals so far in the US.
A list of the president's agenda as of Tuesday evening in New York (Wednesday in Manila) showed that Aquino hasn't dined anywhere near the likes of Le Cirque restaurant in New York's East 58th Street, where former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her entouragereportedly had a $20,000 (P960,000) dinner during her US trip last year.

When Aquino arrived in San Francisco on Sept. 20, he and his Cabinet secretaries had burgers from In-N-Out Burger at the airport's holding area.

"Hamburgers in San Francisco In-N-Out, so 
parang batang-bata 'yung ating mga secretary Tuwang tuwa. First time ko nasubukanMasarap naman talaga (Our secretaries were like young. Overjoyed. My first time to try. It was really good)," the President said in an interview.

On Sept. 21 in New York, the president had lunch at 
Serafina Fabulous Grill between Park and Madison Avenue, where prices on the menu are capped at $30, according to the government's Official Gazette.

The Official Gazette said the President went for a steak dinner at Keens Steakhouse in Manhattan, where a plate costs around $40, according to the restaurant's 

Ricky Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning office, told reporters that Aquino will likely stick to "comfort food."

Prefers simple food

"The president doesn't really like having fancy dinners in five-star restaurants. He likes comfort food, as we said before. 
Siyempre may pagkakataon na (Of course, there are times when) he will be hosted by certain people and they will have sit-down dinners but if it's his personal preference, you know him, he prefers simple food," Carandang said.

The President trimmed down the number of his official delegation to 55 -Arroyo's was 107 – to save money. Malacañang pegged the budget for the weeklong trip at P25 million.

Aquino decided to stay at the Sofitel Hotel, not at the Waldorf-Astoria where most world leaders in New York for the United Nations general assembly are staying.

Arroyo's lavish dinner at Le Cirque last year sparked outrage - which happened around the time Aquino's mother, former President Corazon Aquino, died of colon cancer - as the Philippines was reeling from the pinch of global recession.

An Arroyo ally, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, claimed he footed the bill for the Le Cirque dinner. Another lawmaker, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, also claimed he footed the bill for the Arroyo entourage's dinner at 
Bobby Van's Steakhouse in Washington DC where the bill reportedly reached $15,000.

Aquino flew to the US Monday night (Manila time) to witness the signing of the $434-million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant for anti-poverty programs during the UN summit. His agenda also included attending business conferences and meeting American businessmen with a view to attracting investments and generating jobs for Filipinos.

Aquino invited to China, Vietnam on Day 2 in US

Armed with 12 attaché cases containing papers for the various meetings that he is scheduled to attend, President Benigno Aquino III has so far been invited to visit at least two countries, Vietnam and China, on the second day of his stay in the United States on official business.

Aquino to go to Vietnam in October

President Benigno Aquino has accepted the invitation of Vietnamese President Nguyen Min Triet to visit Hanoi next month.

Romulo confident Hong Kong appreciates RP hostage probe

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo expressed confidence that Hong Kong leaders would fully appreciate the results of the country's investigation into the August 23 hostage-taking tragedy upon the enforcement of actions against those found liable.

Palace shrugs off complaints on IIRC report

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has advised government officials and journalists to stop complaining about a special panel's report on the August 23 hostage crisis.

RP delegation push China, HK trip to discuss hostage report

The high-level Philippine delegation tasked to present the report on the August 23 hostage crisis by the incident investigation and review committee would still push through with their trip next month.

Jueteng money can hold President hostage – Miriam

by By Jojo Malig.
MANILA, Philippines – Jueteng money, through the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Interior and National Government (DILG) chiefs, can hold "hostage" the nation's President, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Wednesday.

DILG, PNP heads receive P300-M jueteng payoffs yearly - Miriam

The heads of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have allegedly been receiving at least P300 million a year in jueteng money, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago revealed on Wednesday.
"By allowing jueteng, the two men together will receive at least one percent of jueteng gross receipts every month, or one percent of annual receipts of some P30 billion," Santiago said in her privilege speech at the Senate on Wednesday.

Santiago is on sick leave because of chronic fatigue due to a hereditary heart condition, but briefly appeared at the Senate to deliver her speech about jueteng.

Santiago accused the following persons of allegedly receiving payoffs from the illegal numbers game jueteng:

  • Former DILG chief Ronaldo Puno;
  • DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno; and 
  • Former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa.

    The following are alleged operators, according to Santiago: 

  • Charlie "Atong" Ang;
  • Rodolfo "Bong" Pineda, husband of Pampanga Governor Lilia "Baby" Pineda;
  • Danny Soriano (Cagayan, Quirino);
  • Aging Lisan (Olongapo, Navotas and Malabon);
  • Tony Santos (Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela, Rizal).
  • Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur);
  • Bonito Singson (Abra)
  • Congressman Singson (La Union);
  • a certain "M. Urduna" (Pangasinan);
  • a certain "Boy Bata" (Pangasinan);
  • one Col. Delos Santos (Zambales);
  • Ronald Lim (Manila);
  • Don Ramon (Laguna)'
  • Boyet Aransa
  • a certain "Haruta" (Laguna)
  • Eddie Gonzales (Quezon);
  • a certain "Don Ramon" (Mindoro Occidental), and
  • a certain "Santiago" (Mindoro Occidental). 

    Jueteng recipients, operators

    Ronaldo Puno was the DILG Secretary from 1998 to 2000 during the term of former President Joseph Estrada. He became DILG chief again from 2006 to 2010 during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Santiago has repeatedly accused him of corruption her in privilege speeches. She also accused him of orchestrating the alleged vote shaving and vote padding operations in the 1992 elections that allegedly caused her defeat to President Fidel Ramos. 

    On the other hand, Verzosa was named PNP chief on September 27, 2008. He retired on September 14 this year. 

    Verzosa and Rico Puno had earlier been 
    tagged by retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz in the jueteng mess, saying they were the ultimate recipients of payola.

    Meanwhile, Santiago said long-rumored jueteng lords Ang and Pineda are allegedly the top jueteng operators in five provinces in the Philippines.

    Santiago also said Bong Pineda is the alleged main operator in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pampanga, Angeles City, Bataan, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon where jueteng earns at least P35 million every day.

    On the other hand, she alleged that Ang is the operator in Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Cavite, Mindoro Oriental, Camarines Norte, Albay where jueteng reportedly earns at least P14 million daily.

    Santiago said she only covered Regions I to V because her "informants" are still compiling information from other regions.

    The flow of jueteng money

    Santiago said money from jueteng bets are called "gross receipts" which supposedly reach about P30 billion annually. 

    She said the provinces with the biggest gross receipts on a daily basis in the five regions are:
  • Laguna (P14M); 
  • Pampanga (P9M); 
  • Pangasinan (P9M);
  • Batangas (P8.5M);
  • Bulacan (P8M); 
  • Nueva Ecija (P7.5M), and 
  • Quezon (P7.5M).

    Santiago explained that from this daily income, the jueteng operator substracts his operation expenses and the jueteng prize money. She said the operator gives the remaining to the syndicates as protection money monthly.

    She also listed the alleged flow of jueteng payoffs.

    National level 
  • 1 percent to DILG secretary or undersecretary, PNP chief, and CIDG head; 
  • 2 percent to PCSO chair, general manager, board directors, legal department, Romualdo Quiñones, a certain Sabella, and their own version of "taxes"; and 
  • 1 percent to the Games and Amusement Board, Intelligence Officer, and to media)

    Provincial and Regional level
  • 3 percent to the governor, vice-governor, and provincial council members; 
  • 1 percent to the PNP Provincial Director; 
  • 2 percent to the NBI Provincial Director; and 
  • 1 percent to the PNP Regional Director.

    Municipal level
  • 5 percent to the mayor, vice-mayor, and city council members; 
  • 2 percent to the congressman; and 
  • 1 percent to the local chief of police.

    What to do

    Santiago said the penalties imposed by the Penal Code on illegal gambling are "inadequate," making it harder to diminish or at least reduce the jueteng operations in the country.

    Because of this, she said there is a need to amend the code and provide for a new law penalizing "conspiracy to obstruct justice to facilitate a gambling business." 

    "Congress should penalize more harshly the party responsible for promoting or facilitating gambling, rather than the person engaging in gambling," she said.

    If all else fails, she said they can legalize jueteng and amend the Internal Revenue Code to tax revenues from the illegal numbers game. 

    "If we cannot prohibit, should we not regulate?" she asked.

    No jueteng

    On the other hand, Santiago commended the province of Aurora and its Governor Bellaflor Angara Castillo because apparently there is "no jueteng to speak of" in her province.

  • New PNP chief vows to validate jueteng list

    MANILA, Philippines - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Raul Bacalzo announced Wednesday that he will order an investigation to "validate" retired Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz's allegations that his predecessor as well as Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno are recipients of jueteng money.

    Puno included in DILG probe on jueteng - Palace

    Malacañang on Wednesday said the alleged involvement of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) undersecretary Rico Puno in jueteng operations will be included in the ongoing investigation being conducted by DILG secretary Jesse Robredo.

    Puno willing to offer courtesy resignation

    Maghahain ng courtesy resignation kay Pangulong Noynoy Aquino ang kanyang matalik na kaibigan na si DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno. Kasunod ito ng alegasyon na tumatanggap siya ng buwanang payola mula sa jueteng.

    Senators welcome Puno's offer of resignation

    At least four senators on Wednesday welcomed Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno's statement that he will tender his courtesy resignation after President Benigno Aquino III returns from the United States.

    Chiz to Aquino: Time to let go of Puno

    MANILA, Philippines - Even if the jueteng allegations are not true, it would be best for President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to let go of a favored member of the Cabinet, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said.

    Aquino not keen on accepting Puno's resignation

    NEW YORK—President Benigno Aquino III is not about to accept the resignation of his good friend Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno over allegations that he is receiving millions of pesos in jueteng money and after his involvement in the bungled hostage rescue that killed eight Hong Kong tourists.

    DND belies alleged kill-Noynoy plot

    The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday belied statements made by the mayor of Cagayan de Oro that a local official from Mindanao is plotting to kill President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, explaining that the Defense secretary was quoted "out of context."

    Angelo Reyes disqualified as 1-UTAK nominee

    MANILA, Philippines - Voting 4-3, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc on Wednesday disqualified former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as the first nominee of party-list group 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK).

    House now has 274 members

    The 15th Congress now has the largest number of members since the restoration of democracy over two decades ago.

    DPWH to upgrade all Philippine roads

    Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson vowed on Wednesday to upgrade all national arterial roads to meet international quality and safety standards by the time President Benigno Aquino steps down in 2016.

    Solon twits DPWH on P1.87B double entry budget proposal

    A lawmaker on Wednesday sought explanation from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for some P1.875 billion worth of double appropriations for various road projects in its 2010 budget.

    COA chief bares P5B 'ghost projects'

    The Commission on Audit (COA) will refer to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and possible filing of charges the P5 billion worth of "ghost projects" funded by the road user's tax.

    P1.3-B budget for rivers went to Arroyo admin's campaign, Drilon says

    Some P1.3 billion of the 2010 national budget allocated for the dredging of rivers all over the country was used by the Arroyo administration for the May 10 elections, Sen. Franklin Drilon said Wednesday.

    MILF now pushing for 'sub-state'

    The chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said Wednesday they would propose the creation of a Muslim "sub-state" in Mindanao in the upcoming peace talks with the government.

    13 Pinoys fall in UK immigration crackdown

    MANILA, Philippines – A total of 13 Filipinos were arrested in a series of crackdown operations against illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom.

    $1: P43.880

    $1: P43.880 (P44.00)

    Euro 1: P58.3595

    Superfast mobile 3G networks boom: UN telecoms agency

    GENEVA - Superfast third generation (3G) mobile phone networks have expanded nearly tenfold in four years, outstripping fixed line broadband, UN's telecoms agency said on Wednesday.

    UN chief to launch women, children health drive

    by Reuters
    UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will announce on Wednesday a $40 billion launch to a plan to save the lives of 16 million women and children over the next five years, U.N. officials said.

    Bomb kills 12 at Iran military parade

    TEHRAN—A bomb tore through a military parade in Iran on Wednesday killing 12 people as the Islamic republic showcased its weaponry at events marking the start 30 years ago of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

    Pacquiao to begin training in earnest Monday

    Manny Pacquiao has decided to leave for Baguio only this Sunday, with his training camp to officially open the next day, followed by a sparring session Tuesday.

    Golden Boy sues Top Rank over 3 Pacquiao fights

    MANILA, Philippines – Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) has filed a suit against Top Rank Inc. over revenues generated from 3 Manny Pacquiao fights.

    According to, GBP accused Top Rank chief Bob Arum and his financial officer David Lopez of racketeering as well as fraud amounting to miliions of dollars.

    GBP, which is entitled to a share of revenues from Pacquiao's fights, claimed that Top Rank owes them millions of dollars from the Filipino champion's fights against David Diaz in 2008, Miguel Cotto in 2009, and Joshua Clottey in March 2010.

    In a suit filed before the US District Court in Nevada, De la Hoya's promotional outfit claimed that Arum allegedly ordered Lopez to send 16 accountings to GBP in the Diaz fight.

    The accountings "falsely claim[ed] that TR (Top Rank) received no income from sponsorships even though pictures of the Diaz bout show that Tecate beer, Affliction [a clothing company] and a company known as Smart were featured sponsors."

    GBP alleged that in the Cotto fight, Top Rank falsely reported Pacquiao's purse. GBP's asserted that based on its financial reports, Pacquiao's purse was $15 million, which is different from the $7.5 million filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

    GBP likewise claimed that similar "deceptions" were also present in the Clottey fight with regards to the money generated by sponsorships. There were also questions regarding the alleged inflation of travel expenses, sanction fees and training expenses for the fighters, which were allegedly done to mark down the reported profit of the event.

    De la Hoya's firm admitted it does not know if Top Rank is cheating Pacquiao and his MP Promotions of

    Top Rank's Bob Arum.


    Atty. Judd Burstein, who represents GBP, told that his client is seeking $3 million to $5 million in damages plus attorneys fees.

    Burstein added that the damages would be tripled under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute if GBP wins a judgment.

    Arum denied the allegations, saying the charges are frivolous. (Click here for related story).

    GBP and Top Rank have previously been locked in a legal battle, particularly over the promotional rights of Pacquiao.

    In 2006, the Filipino signed contracts with both companies. Pacquiao eventually stayed with Top Rank, sparking a bitter legal dispute between the two promotional firms.

    The case was settled under the mediation of retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein.

    Top Rank now enjoys the Filipino's promotional rights but gives GBP a percentage Pacquiao's fight revenues.

    Arum: GBP suit over Pacquiao fights 'frivolous'

    MANILA, Philippines – Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. has branded Golden Boy Promotion's (GBP) racketeering suit as "frivolous," and that it expects that the case will eventually be thrown out of court.

    Revillame calls ABS-CBN countersuit 'horrendous'

    Television host Willie Revillame, reported to have earned P40 million a month for hosting a daily noontime show, described as "horrendous'', the nearly half-a-billion-peso counterclaim of his former network, ABS-CBN, and asked a Quezon City court to strike down the network's "compulsory counterclaims"

    Kim, Gerald to work on new film after 'breakup'

    MANILA, Philippines - After their much-talked about breakup, actor Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu surprised their fans and supporters when they bared the news that they will be doing a project together again.

    RP shuts out Korea in Chess Olympiad

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine chess team scored shutout victories over its foreign counterparts in the opening round matches at the 39th World Chess Olympiad on Tuesday.

    Jovit working on second album

    MANILA, Philippines - After the success of his self-titled debut album, "Pilipinas Got Talent" grand winner Jovit Baldivino shared his excitement over his second CD.

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