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

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 28, 2010 Major News Stories

Shell to slash oil prices

(UPDATE)The Big 3 oil firms—Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Chevron Phil. Inc.—announced on Monday a cutback gasoline and kerosene prices by P0.25 per liter effective Tuesday.

Pilipinas Shell vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi said that their price adjustment will take effect at 12:01 a.m..

Likewise, Chevron will implement its adjustment at 12:01 a.m. while Petron will adjust prices at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Witness tags Alpha Kappa Rho fraternity in DLSU blast

(Updated 11:01 p.m.) A man wearing a black polo shirt with three Greek letters printed on it was tagged as the one who planted the explosive device that went off near the De La Salle University campus in Manila Sunday afternoon, leaving at least 47 people injured. Police investigators said the Greek letters mean Alpha Kappa Rho.

Fraternity war behind bar exams blast -- police

A treacherous bomb attack on a rival fraternity that fell short of its target.

This was how the Manila Police District (MPD) described late Sunday afternoon's blast, which marred street festivities marking the end of the Bar examinations at the De La Salle University, as police officials confirmed that the explosion had been triggered by a clash between warring fraternities.

At a press conference on Monday, Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla, the MPD officer-in-charge, confirmed that the trajectory of the explosive launched by a still unidentified person, fell short of its target, the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity, and instead landed on a festive crowd of San Beda College law students, particularly members of the Alpha Phi Beta fraternity and sorority.

The blast, apparently caused by an MK2 fragmentation grenade, and the subsequent stampede wounded 44 persons, mostly women. Of the casualties, San Beda College law student Joanna Ledda, was reported to be in critical condition.

Rongavilla admitted that the only clue MPD investigators had to identify the bomber was the shirt he wore bearing the Greek letter emblem of the Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO).

"We have something to start on. While it is true that a member of the fraternity (AKRHO) may be a suspect, it is also possible that the bomber only wore the shirt to mislead investigators. But it is still something to start on," the MPD-OIC said.

He explained that several men who were near the site of the explosion had chased the man after the blast and noticed the shirt he wore. A witness, Rongavilla pointed out, has come forward to provide information on the suspect's features for an artist's sketch.

Rongavilla ordered the creation of special investigation task group "Bar Operations 2010" to focus on the investigation and summon for questioning members and officials of the AKRHO as well as the Tau Gamma Phi fraternities in connection with the blast.

"The time frame for the result of the investigation is ASAP (as soon as possible)," he emphasized.

When asked what type of explosives was used in the blast, Chief Inspector Oliver Navales, the head of the MPD Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD), said the blast could have been caused by a pillbox, Molotov cocktail or a hand grenade.

"We have to wait for the results of the chemical analysis of the Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO). We cannot make a conclusion without the result of the chemical analysis on the fragments recovered at the site," Navales explained.

He further said that it would be too soon to speculate on what type of explosives was used. The chemical analysis, SOCO officials said, would take at least five days to complete.

However, a source requesting anonymity, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it was possible that the explosive device was an MK2 fragmentation grenade based on the power of the blast.

Asked how a fraternity could have obtained such a weapon, the source remarked it was fairly easy for the groups to get hold of the grenade and cited other instances where previous incidents of fraternity wars involved grenades. "They have long been using those (grenades)," he stressed.

Law students were celebrating the last day of the month-long Bar examinations when at around 5:15 pm, Sunday, a blast rocked the southbound lane of Taft Avenue near the DLSU.

The 44 casualties in the explosion were taken to six hospitals around Manila: the Philippine General Hospital; the Manila Doctor's Hospital; the Medical Center Manila; the Manila Adventist Medical Center; the Ospital ng Maynila; and the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

SC condemns Bar exam bombing

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Monday condemned the acts of violence by alleged warring fraternities near De La Salle University campus in Manila during Sunday's closing of the 2010 Bar exams.

Chief Justice Renato Corona said he has ordered the Supreme Court Security, the Manila Police District and the National Bureau of Investigation to look at all possible angles "to identify the perpetrators of this senseless act of cowardice, and bring them to the bar of justice."

"The Chief Justice sympathizes with the victims of the explosion and has directed Court Officials to attend to the victims' medical needs," he said.

The Supreme Court Public Information Office and Security Division have turned over to the investigators a video of the incident, and statements of eyewitnesses.

The High Court encouraged other witnesses to come forward and shed light on the incident for a more comprehensive investigation.

The Chief Justice has also called for a review of the security protocol, not only within the venue of the bar examinations where everything went on smoothly, but also in its periphery to prevent the occurrence of similar accidents.

Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, chairperson of the 2010 Bar Examinations, has assured everyone that the unfortunate incident will not in any way hamper or delay the checking of the examination booklets and the release of the results.   

Grenade may have caused clash

Police said a member of a fraternity may have thrown a grenade at a rival group during Sunday's closing of the 2010 Bar exams.

At least 44 were reported hurt when a melee erupted near the De La Salle University campus in Manila, where thousands have convened for the traditional Bar operations.

In an interview with ANC, Manila Police District officer-in-charge Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla said "an unofficial information (I got), there is a sketch account of a male person wearing a t-shirt with Greek letter emblem 'AKRHO' who then threw the suspected bomb at [the] Tau Gamma fraternity."

Police earlier ruled out terrorism, saying a fraternity war may likely be the case behind the incident.

Rongavilla said "theoretically, we really thought it was a pillbox. On the other hand, we also thought it was a Molotov bomb. It could also be a grenade. This will be revealed later."

He said they are now coordinating with hospital officials to confirm this theory.

"Last night, we gave instructions [to the police] to coordinate with the hospitals. That if there's shrapnel found in the victims, it should be preserved," he said.

The injured were brought to the Ospital ng Maynila and the Manila Adventist Hospital.

He said the police are still in the thick of threshing out the events that happened on Sunday.

A taskforce has already been created to specifically focus on the matter, called the "Task Force Bar Operations 2010."

The taskforce intends to release the investigation results late Monday or Tuesday.

Law students in Cebu condemn Manila blast

The Association of Law Students of the Philippines-Visayas had denounced the "bombing" that occurred along Taft Avenue in Manila that injured at least 40 bar examinees.

DepEd backs proposal to make students' bags lighter

MANILA, Philippines - After proposing a ban on the giving of homework during weekends, Education Secretary Armin Luistro is now backing a proposal to limit the weight of school bags being carried by pupils.

Private schools also want homework ban, says DepEd chief

Private schools are also supporting a Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum prohibiting public elementary school teachers from giving their pupils homework to do over the weekend, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro said Monday.

Instead of buying handbooks: School board told to put up buildings

The Commission on Audit has reminded the local school board of Mandaue City to construct more school buildings, provide facilities, and equipment rather than prioritize the procurement of instructional materials and handbooks for students.

Green groups urge tax on plastic bags

Environment groups on Monday called on lawmakers to impose a total ban and taxes on plastic bags to force consumers and commercial stores to limit its use.

Senate bills vs plastic bags gain support

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday backed two Senate bills that seek to regulate the use of plastic grocery bags and push for the use of environment-friendly alternatives.

Shellfish from 5 RP areas unsafe for eating - gov't

Shellfish collected from five areas in the Philippines have tested positive for paralytic shellfish poison (red tide toxins) beyond the regulatory limit, and are "not safe for human consumption."
According to a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) bulletin, dated September 23, the five areas are: 
  • Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; 
  • Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; 
  • Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental; 
  • Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon, and 
  • Cariaga Bay in Leyte.

    The warning is based on the latest laboratory results of the BFAR, conducted with the help of local government units.

    All types of shellfish and members of the acetes species (shrimp/prawns) gathered from the listed sites were tested. The results showed that they were unsafe for eating, according to the bureau.

    However, "fish, squids, shrimps and crabs are safe for human consumption provided they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking," the BFAR said.

  • Due to fat content: PB member wants chicharon warning

    The crunchy chicharon, crispy fried pork rind, has taken centerstage with the proposal of Cebu Provincial Board Member Arleigh Jay Sitoy to require those who make the delicacy for commercial consumption to reflect the nutritional component and to place appropriate health warnings on the product packaging.

    PB passes ordinance vs. lingam massage

    The Cebu Provincial Board yesterday passed the ordinance banning lingam massage service in the province without further debates even in the absence of six PB members.

    "Anomalous" barangay projects: Faelnar's help welcomed

    Cebu City south district Rep. Tomas R. Osmeña welcomed the move of Guadalupe barangay captain Eugenio "Jingjing" Faelnar to help reveal the persons involved in the reported anomalous barangay projects worth more than P100 million.

    Durano starts move to defer Comelec budget

    Cebu 5th district Rep. Ramon "Red" Durano IV yesterday started to move on his threat to have the budget of the Commission on Elections deferred for next year pending resolution of the election dispute in the municipality of Compostela in his district.

    Crame orders all-out war vs masiao

    The Philippine National Police has declared an all-out war against all forms of illegal gambling in Cebu and the rest of the Central Visayas effective today.

    Sept 13 proceedings stir PB discussion

    Board Member Arleigh Jay Sitoy has questioned the status of the board's proceedings last September 13 when it approved the P114-million supplemental budget, which covered the allowances of Capitol employees.

    During the board's session yesterday, Sitoy pointed out that the proceedings on that day may be null and void because Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. was not supposed to preside over the session.

    Sitoy said that if Governor Gwendolyn Garcia already left for Vietnam when the session commenced, Sanchez, technically, was supposed to be acting governor and should not have presided over the session.

    City releases financial aid to PWDs

    The Cebu City government yesterday started distributing P2,000 financial assistance to each of the over 4,000 differently-abled residents of the city.

    Aquino back from US visit

    President Benigno Aquino III arrived early Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after a successful official visit to the United States.

    Global P-Noy: Townhall sa TFC

    President Aquino called on Filipinos overseas to unite and push for better conditions, wherever they are in the world. Speaking at an ABS-CBN townhall meeting in California, his first as the Philippine's chief executive, Aquino also said his administration remains a work in progress.

    Aquino won't ban birth control, risks church's ire

    by Agence France-Presse
    MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government will provide contraceptives to poor couples who request it despite strong opposition from the dominant Roman Catholic church, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday.

    Mar didn't use fake ID: Palace

    MANILA, Philippines -  A Malacañang spokesman on Monday denied rumors that President Aquino's adviser, Mar Roxas, used a fake ID to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York last week.

    AFP: 'Kill' plot vs President not true

    A military spokesman said on Monday there was no truth to reports of an assassination threat against President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

    Senate to resume hearings on 'jueteng' on Thursday

    Senator Teofisto Guingona said the Senate would resume its hearings on "jueteng" (illegal numbers game) on Thursday with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa as the main witnesses.

    New STL guidelines eyed to curb 'jueteng'

    The fresh guidelines in place for the implementation of the Small Town Lottery (STL) are seen to finally stamp out "jueteng" (illegal numbers game) operations in provinces, a top official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Offices (PCSO) said Monday.

    PCSO directors got luxury cars from 'jueteng' operators—whistleblower

    (UPDATE) In the continuing saga of the illegal numbers game expose, whistle-blower Sandra Cam said that several directors of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office each received mini cooper from "big time operators" of the "jueteng", who at the same time own franchises of the government-run Small Town Lottery (STL).

    Cruz: Jueteng grew under Aquino admin

    Lumala ang jueteng sa ilalim ng administrasyong Aquino. Ito ang ilan sa mga rebelasyon ni retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz sa hearing sa Kamara kanina. Inakusahan naman ni jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam ang ilang opisyal ng PCSO na tumanggap ng suhol mula sa jueteng lords.

    Rocamora is new anti-poverty commission head

    MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Joel Rocamora, research fellow of the Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD) and member of the Akbayan party-list group, as lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

    GMA proclamation on Mindanao U land nullified

    by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
    MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court en banc has ruled as unconstitutional Presidential Proclamation 310 of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which appropriated land of Central Mindanao University (CMU) for distribution to indigenous peoples and cultural communities in Bukidnon.

    Comelec wants P2.5-B for ARMM polls

    by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
    MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) wants  an additional P2.5 billion for the 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    $1: P43.900

    $1: P43.900 (P44.09)

    Euro 1: P59.4779

    Aquino: US trip secures $2.8B investments for RP

    SAN FRANCISCO, California—President Aquino on Sunday proudly announced that his trip to the US has yielded $2.8 billion or more than P121 billion in investments.

    PDIC files biggest case vs Legacy's De Los Angeles

    The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) has filed before the Justice Department its 23rd and biggest complaint against discredited businessman Celso de los Angeles, the principal suspect in the Legacy insurance and pension scam.
    De los Angeles and some officers of Legacy-affiliated banks were charged with syndicated estafa involving P5.37 billion of deposits, the PDIC said in a statement Monday.

    De los Angeles and 21 officers and employees of Dynamic Bank supposedly created fictitious loans, including motorcycle loans, and remitted the proceeds to accounts under Legacy Motors Inc. and OneCard Co., both allegedly owned by De los Angeles, the deposits insurer noted.

    The mishandling of depositors' money ended only when the PDIC placed all Legacy-affiliated units under receivership in December 2008, according to PDIC.

    Auditors of PDIC and audit firm Punongbayan &Araullo (P&A) established that De los Angeles and Dynamic Bank officers withdrew a total of P5.37 billion from the savings accounts, the PDIC said.

    Charged with De Los Angeles were Germiniano Noche Jr., Ampere Elman, Flora Bulasag, Danmilo Consul, Teofila Garcia, Bartolome Quintana, Emilio Quintana, Vicente Quintana Analea Galban, Cleofas Ordonia, Brenda Sombillio, Leny Yanoria, Jocelyn Arroyo, Rafael Cueto, Grace Delgado, Emylyn Geli, Carmela Illenberger, Sherwin Masusi, Arnel Ligan, Rizalina Alvaez, and Geraldine Palo.

    Some P14 billion worth of deposits in 48 banks across the country were allegedly scammed by De los Angeles and his cohorts before the government stepped in and put a stop to the scheme in 2008.

    The PDIC earlier filed three other cases — one for syndicated estafa and two for large scale estafa — against De los Angeles and Legacy officers and employees before the Justice Department.

    The insurer said more cases are being prepared against Legacy officials as the forensic audit of P&A comes to a close.

    The PDIC had announced it had settled more than half of the almost P14 billion claims from depositors of the 13 affiliated banks of the Legacy Group.

    It said that it paid 74,779 claims equivalent to P7.8 billion or 56 percent of the total claims that cover 121,354 accounts amounting to P13.83 billion.

    Claims approved by the PDIC as of June 18 amounted to P8.9 billion covering 80,448 depositors, while the remaining P4.93 billion involving 40,866 deposit accounts of Legacy banks were still being verified. 

    Regional disputes testing China's regional ambitions

    by by Chris Buckley, Reuters
    BEIJING, China - The jarring noise reverberating across Asia is the sound of a region shifting gears, adjusting to the prospect of China growing bigger, bolder and possibly bossier as the United States looms less large.

    Japan demands China pull back boats from disputed islands

    by by Kyoko Hasegawa, Agence France-Presse
    TOKYO, Japan - Japan demanded Monday that China pull back two fisheries patrol boats from near a disputed island chain that is at the centre of the worst diplomatic row in years between the Asian giants.

    North Korea military appears to back Kim succession

    by by Jeremy Laurence, Reuters
    SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea's military has nominated the third son of ailing leader Kim Jong-il as a delegate to a rare meeting of the ruling party, a South Korean newspaper said, supporting reports he is his father's chosen successor.

    Chavez wins Venezuela parliament, opposition takes a third

    CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's ruling Socialist Party won a majority in parliament, but the opposition surpassed the crucial one third of seats, electoral authorities said on Monday.

    Pacquiao starts training camp in Baguio

    If plans don't miscarry, Manny Pacquiao begins on Tuesday the first in a projected 150 total rounds of sparring Freddie Roach wants the Filipino boxing champion to undergo for his November date with Antonio Margarito.

    MTRCB loses appeal vs 'Showtime'

    MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board's (MTRCB) appeal seeking to reverse the appellate court's earlier decision to set aside a 20-day preventive suspension order it issued against "Showtime."

    No need for First Lady: PNoy taps Kris' friends

    MANILA, Philippines - Who needs a First Lady when PNoy gets a lot of help from his celebrity sister's friends?
    The 50-year-old bachelor President said celebrity stylist Liz Uy and designer Paul Cabral helped him look neat for his US trip.

    What's on PNoy's iPod?

    by By Karen Flores,
    MANILA, Philippines - Just like any ordinary person, the country's 15th chief executive likes munching on hotdogs, wearing plain t-shirts and listening to his iPod.

    Speaking before the Global P-Noy Town Hall sa TFC meeting in California, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III bared that he likes listening to different kinds of music on his iPod -- from broadway to disco.

    "[I listen to] OPM, broadway, disco, trance [and] house, except rap," he said.

    Aquino has a soft spot for OPM (Original Pilipino Music). A local newspaper earlier reported that Aquino enjoys original songs by Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, APO Hiking Society, Noel Cabangon, Jose Mari Chan, and Mitch Valdez, saying that their compositions "reflect his moods."

    Alcasid, Velasquez, Cabangon, APO, and other big names in the local music scene performed at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila during Aquino's inaugural, causing many to call the event a "musical show."

    Pacquiao's mother-in-law robbed of P250,000 in valuables

    The mother-in-law of pound-for-pound boxing king and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao lost some P250,000 worth of valuables to unidentified members of a gang specializing in breaking into cars, late Sunday afternoon here.

    Rosalina Jamora, mother of Pacquiao's wife Jinkee, said that she was hearing mass at Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish here when robbers smashed thewindshield of her car parked on Beatiles Street, beside the church.

    Taken were P50,000 worth of earrings; three Louie Vuitton wallets worth P150,000; P10,000 cash and other valuables.

    The Pendatun Police Precinct nabbed Ali Kirana, a "car watch" boy, but he denied any hand in the robbery.

    Senior Police Officer 4 George Orbista of Pendatun Police Precinct warned churchgoers against leaving valuables inside their vehicle.

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