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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 9, 2010 Major News Stories



Prayer to help fight dengue: Cardinal eyes oratio imperata

On top of all human efforts to help stave off the dreaded dengue fever, the church is also going for Divine intervention as the Archbishop of Cebu is planning to issue an oratio imperata, a prayer for the fight against the disease.

Don Sergio Osmeña's 132nd b-day: Grand Old Man honored today

A mass and a short program will be held today to commemorate the 132nd birth anniversary of the late president Sergio Osmeña Sr. at the marker at the corner of Lapu-Lapu St. and Osmeña Boulevard.

Comelec, PNP, AFP check "tension-filled" areas

They refused to divulge the names of the places yet, but authorities identified 15 areas which have "political tension" in relation to the upcoming barangay and youth elections this October.

During audit at Vice Governor's Office: Five, not 3 employees were unaccounted for

There were five and not only three employees of the Vice Governor's Office who were "unaccounted for" when a random audit of personnel was conducted last Mon-day afternoon.

T. Padilla to get P5 million worth of projects from Capitol

Instead of the traditional cash assistance that the Cebu provincial government is giving out to fire victims, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia veers from the usual and de-cided to convert into infrastructure projects the P5 million cash assistance she earlier promised to Barangay T. Padilla.

Naga stops firm from quarrying

Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong the other day issued an executive order to JLR Construction and Aggregates Inc. (JLR) directing it to temporarily suspend its quar-rying operations while it has not complied with the recommendations set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Filinvest eyes investment at landfill

Filinvest Land Inc., the property unit of Taipan Andrew Gotianun Sr., expresses interest to invest on the construction and operation of a waste management facility and power plant in Cebu City.

Buyer proposes SRP waste-to-energy plant

FILINVEST wants to enter into another joint venture agreement with the Cebu City Government, this time to construct, operate and own a P1.4-billion waste management facility that will convert solid waste facility.

Governor Garcia remains RPOC chairman

Members of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) 7 yesterday agreed to have Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia as their head, making this the governor's third term as RPOC chairperson.

Balamban bus accident: Iranian officials question amount of victims' insurance benefits

A team of Iranian officials is in Cebu to check on the updates of the investigation into the fatal bus accident in Balamban killing 21 Iranian students and injured 26 oth-ers in June.

Iran officials accept findings

IRANIAN officials were satisfied with the report onthe Balamban tragedy as relayed to them by acting Police Provincial Director Erson Digal yesterday at the Capitol.

Taxi operator told not to use street as garage

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board ordered a taxi operator in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City to refrain from using the road as garage for his units.

DepEd seeks P12B for new school buildings, repairs

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The Department of Education (DepEd) is seeking more than twice its current funding for the construction and repairs of school facilities across the country as officials hope to address the perennial shortage of classrooms and a backlog of repairs in public schools.

PRC: 910 pass Med Tech board exams

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on Wednesday announced that 910 out of 1,278 passed the Medical Technologist Licensure Examination given by the Board of Medical Technology in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cebu and Davao this September 2010. 
RANK
                    NAME
SCHOOL
RATING(%)
1
George Michael Ngo Sosuan
University of Santo Tomas
92.30
2
Joshua Tay Uyboco
University of the Immaculate Conception-Davao
91.90
3
Irish May Galicia Co
Trinity University of Asia (Trinity-Qc)
90.70
4
Jericho Miranda Carmona
Colegio De San Agustin-Bacolod City
90.30
5
Francisco IV Patling Tria
University of Santo Tomas 
89.40
6
Rashid Tugo Ibrahem
Manila Central University-Caloocan City
89.20
Aileen Geobee Go Uy
University of Santo Tomas
89.20
7
Patrick Nuique Vera Cruz
Silliman University
89.10
8
Rhea Malou Amancio Moran
Velez College
89.00
Angela Christy Lim Parcon
Cebu Doctors' University 
89.00
Kenneth Bryan Pamplona Pasco
Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation
89.00
Jude Anthony Cervas Trinidad
University of Santo Tomas
89.00
9
Joseph Israel Rull Guanlao
Trinity University of Asia (Trinity-Qc)
88.90
10
Honey Gladys Duero Potutan
San Pedro College-Davao City
88.60






 

De Lima probe panel to check link between hostage-taker, Mayor Lim's son

(UPDATE) Justice Secretary Leila de Lima indicated on Wednesday that her fact-finding and investigative panel would have to check "persistent" reports that slain hostage-taker and dismissed senior inspector Rolando Mendoza was among the police officers who arrested the son of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

De Lima's statement immediately drew a denial from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago, who said the raid that led to the arrest of Lim's son was a PDEA operation, which Mendoza was in no way involved with.

The camp of Mayor Lim, meanwhile, dismissed the information on Wednesday as "baseless and irrelevant".

Rafaelito Garayblas, secretary to the mayor, said the question posed by incident investigation and review committee panel member Roan Libarios of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to PO2 Dennis Rivera was "way out of line."

"As a lawyer, shouldn't Libarios be at least aware that the Mendozas could not have had anything to do with the case of Mayor Lim's son?" Garayblas said in a statement.

He said the question was better directed to the mayor himself, "although it was hardly relevant or material to the issue at hand."

At the resumption of the marathon hearing at the Department of Justice, De Lima asked broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo if he knew about the purported role of dismissed Senior Insp. Ronald Mendoza in the arrest of Mayor Lim's son, Manny, for possession of illegal drugs. 

"Yes ma'am I did, but it was only now that I remembered it," Tulfo replied, adding that he personally knew Mendoza as he had previously covered the Manila Police District.

De Lima said the five-member panel had been receiving "persistent reports" that Mendoza was involved in the anti-illegal drugs operation in Binondo that led to the arrest of the younger Lim.

Interviewed later by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the justice secretary said she herself had been getting information on the matter from several persons she knew.
"We can't ignore those kind of persistent information. It can help us assess the actuations and instructions of the mayor as chair of the CMC (crisis management committee)," she said.

Lim has denied there was a connection, saying in a recent ambush interview: "That's not true," although he did not elaborate.

Lim as Manila mayor also headed the local crisis management committee that oversaw the botched police rescue and assault on the bus seized by hostage-taker Mendoza on Aug. 23.

Garayblas said the younger Lim's arrest on March 14, 2008 by PDEA agents "did not involve anyone from the Manila Police District (MPD)."

He also said the PDEA agents who arrested Lim's son had already been dismissed by the PDEA on extortion charges involving another case.

Garayblas said the issue was being spread around by individuals identified with Lim's political rival. Lim is the subject of an electoral complaint filed by former Mayor Lito Atienza, who is protesting his defeat in the May polls.

The younger Lim, a businessman, was arrested with two other men on Espeleta Street in Sta. Cruz for allegedly trying to sell 100 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) worth P600,000 to an undercover PDEA agent.

At the time, the mayor said he would not intervene in the case. He said PDEA chief Santiago called him up to inform him of his son's arrest. "I told him [Santiago], 'Congratulations to your men'," Lim said. "'Treat him as an ordinary violator and throw the book at him.'"

The case against Lim's son was later provisionally dismissed by a Manila court.

Sought for comment, the MPD spokesman, Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo said the public and media should not just believe rumors being bandied about. He said he was not familiar with the case but added that the PDEA should be able to shed light on the controversy.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer went to three MPD offices, including the District Tactical Operations Center and the Anti-Illegal Drugs Unit, on Wednesday seeking records of the coordination between PDEA and MPD at the time of Manny's arrest, but was told these were confidential and required clearance.

Tulfo was invited as a resource person in the hearing as he was able to interview Mendoza a few minutes before he purportedly shot the Chinese hostages at point blank range.

Some points clarified but others still muddled, says De Lima

Where did some "intriguing" shots come from? Did the hostage-taker use his M-16 or a pistol in his deadly rampage? Did sniper fire really kill Rolando Mendoza?

On what was supposed to be the last day of its fact-finding mission, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) found even more questions surrounding the Aug. 23 bus hostage tragedy in which eight Hong Kong tourists and gunman Mendoza ended up dead.

The IIRC held an almost two-hour ocular inspection of the tourist bus, kept under tight security and 24-hour video monitoring at the logistics warehouse of the Philippine National Police's Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on Tuesday afternoon. The visit provided the panel a picture of what they had so far heard from witnesses in marathon proceedings since late last week.

"There were points that were clarified but there were points that became unclear," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, IIRC chair, Tuesday afternoon.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo also revealed that the trajectory of bullets coming from the outside, as examined by the National Bureau of Investigation, indicated that Mendoza may have been fatally shot by a member of the assault team, not one of the snipers as widely reported.

"It's somebody from this side, the other side of the bus (pointing to the right side of the bus, opposite the sniper's line of sight). That's the most possible position where Mendoza could have been shot," Robredo told reporters.

"It's very likely that what happened was the sniper fired, then another shot came from the right side, Mendoza fell down and probably the sniper thought the fatal shot came from him," said Robredo, among officials who went inside the bus and observed the map of bullets inside and outside the vehicle.

But this still has to be verified with the ballistics examination, he said.

Bus driver Alberto Lubang was also invited to return to the driver seat and give visual references to his testimony, especially how much of the bus he could see from the rearview mirror.

"We verified that he can see up to the very end of the bus (from the mirror). We also verified that if he were just seated, he can't see the [bus] TV [which aired LIVE pictures of the hostage crisis] unless he moved to look," De Lima said.

The team also wanted Lubang to re-enact how he released himself from his handcuffs but the original pair used to restrain him was not available.

Lubang was also able to re-enact Mendoza's movements at the time of the shooting up to the point where he (Lubang) escaped.

A partial ballistics examination of the NBI meanwhile revealed that none of the eight slain hostages sustained wounds from "near fire," indicating that they were not shot at close range. Correlating this with Lubang's re-enactment, De Lima said the panel still has yet to find out whether Mendoza used his M-16 or a pistol in the shooting.

"We want to know how feasible it was for Mendoza to be using that same gun (M-16) and then we'll correlate that with our evaluation of the other results: ballistics, the blood splatter, the amount of blood seen and examined and the others," De Lima said.


She also pointed out "intriguing shots" at the rear of the bus—bullet holes above the glass panel that could not have come from the SWAT assault team crouched below.

"That's very far, didn't come from below. The assault team said they never moved away from the side of the bus. But you can see from the bullet trajectory that there are several bullets that were far off. We do not know how conclusive, how accurate it is," De Lima said.

She said the IIRC would likely set further sessions and invite experts to help the panel recreate "at least the most substantial parts of the incident."

The IIRC is also counting on forensics data, ballistics findings, eyewitness accounts and other relevant testimony to put together the most complete retelling of the 11-hour crisis that brought the Aquino administration and the Philippine National Police to international shame.

"We cannot yet make any conclusion, I'm sorry. We have certain theories, ideas, but as to specific conclusions, it will be difficult for us at this point to make a conclusion," De Lima told reporters.

The National Bureau of Investigation team that traveled to Hong Kong Monday is expected to return on Friday, bringing home critical ballistics examination results jointly undertaken with Hong Kong authorities.

They are also expected to turn over statements from eight survivors who were aboard the bus until the last shot was fired.

"We are counter-checking the results of the autopsy and, most importantly, the results of the ballistics examination. We might get those on Friday, so everything will be difficult. It cannot be just dependent on the autopsy or the bullet trajectory examination. All of these should be taken together," said De Lima.

Magtibay admits stopping delivery of Mendoza's papers to DOJ

Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, chief of the Manila Police District during the August 23 hostage crisis, admitted on Wednesday evening that he stopped the case documents of dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza from being delivered to the Department of Justice.

Journalist rebuked for 'obstructing' hostage negotiations

The broadcast journalist who interviewed hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza during the crucial moments of the crisis received another rebuke on Wednesday from a member of the inter-agency body probing the August 23 hostage tragedy.

NBI ready with findings of forensics probe on hostage crisis

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has completed a report on the results of its forensic investigation and analysis into the bloody August 23 hostage fiasco.

NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula said his office has prepared its chemistry, ballistics and medico-legal reports for submission and presentation to the five-member investigating panel headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Gatdula, however, said the bureau's medico-legal team just interpreted the autopsy conducted by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory on some of the slain Chinese hostages.

NBI: No conclusion yet whether hostage victims shot at close range

Government agents have found no initial indication that the fatalities in the August 23 hostage tragedy were shot at close range, but it still needs a more detailed and comprehensive review of the autopsy reports to conclude that hijacker Rolando Mendoza indeed shot his victims point-blank.

Hostage-taker may not have been killed by sniper

Posibleng hindi nanggaling sa sniper ang balang nakapatay kay dating senior inspector Rolando Mendoza. Ito naman ang inihayag ni DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, matapos na mag-inspeksyon kanina ang mga miyembro ng Incident Investigation and Review Committee sa tourist bus na pinangyarihan ng hostage crisis.

Robredo says ready to leave DILG, any time

Handa si DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo na bakantehin ang kanyang pwesto. Ito'y matapos aminin mismo ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino na hindi niya gaanong kasundo si Robredo.

Robredo calls supporters 'good angels'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – "Good angels." This was the phrase used by Ramon Magsaysay awardee Jesse Robredo to describe people who are calling for his confirmation as full-fledged secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

'Aquino a weak leader, Robredo a political eunuch'

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Allies of former President Arroyo on Wednesday lashed out at President Benigno Aquino III for mishandling the August 23 hostage crisis.

Aquino to face 3 big networks on Thursday

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will face anchors from the country's 3 largest television networks for an interview in Malacañang on Thursday.

The President will be taking questions from ABS-CBN, GMA-7, and TV5.

ABS-CBN News Channel's (ANC) special live coverage entitled "Harapan with President Aquino" has been scheduled at 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

ABS-CBN's news website, abs-cbnNEWS.com, will live stream the interview and will also host a chat session.

The live stream can be accessed at http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/ancliveevents once the coverage starts.

The chat session, however, will start earlier at noon.

The interview will be conducted by Ted Failon of ABS-CBN, Mike Enriquez of GMA 7 and Paolo Bediones of TV-5.

After the interview, President Aquino will proceed to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig to observe the capability of the Special Action Force on handling hostage situations, he said.

Earlier President Aquino told reporters that his government will show soon the SAF's upgraded capability to operate in hostage situations.

PNoy's communication chiefs miscommunicate

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Is it a case of miscommunication between members of the Presidential Communications Group?

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang expressed surprise Wednesday on an announcement made by Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma that Malacañang and media groups have agreed on coverage guidelines during crises.

He said Coloma's statement was premature and baseless, as the Communications Group members have yet to talk to all major stakeholders in the media industry.

Carandang said he has only met with officials of ABS-CBN and Radio Mindanao Network so far, and needs to talk to executives of GMA-7 and Channel 5 next week.

He added that Coloma, who was tasked to meet with officials of Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), was not given the authority to announce the media guidelines.

Coloma has owned up to his mistake, clarifying also on Wednesday that agreements with media on crisis coverage protocols are not yet final and are merely informal.

He also said that he and his colleagues in the Communications Group have updated each other on the agreements.

Coloma said Cabinet officials also need to assess any agreement reached between the Palace and media groups.

He earlier said that Malacañang does not believe in silencing media, and instead wants journalists to practice self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-regulation when covering crises similar to the August 23 Manila hostage-taking drama.

Coloma had also claimed that the Palace and journalists agreed during a dialogue to apply 4 "generally accepted" points: an expanded "safety zone" for media and the public; journalists should refrain from involving themselves in hostage negotiations; delayed broadcast of reports; and, the appointment of an official spokesperson for the government, police and the military who will relay information to media.

ABS-CBN sources, meanwhile, believe that the gaffe was caused by alleged infighting between members of the Communications Group.

The sources said it was not the first time that the officials clashed on issues.

Coloma reportedly belongs to the "Samar" faction in the Palace while Carandang is allegedly part of the "Balay" group.

The "Samar" faction is composed of close allies and loyalists of the Aquino and Cojuangco families, who were based at the Samar Street office in Quezon City during the Aquino campaign. It includes members of the PNOY lawyers group that was headed by now Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa, a long time close friend of the President.

The "Balay" faction is made up of Liberal Party and Hyatt 10 stalwarts and supporters, and was named as such because they were based in the Balay Aquino-Roxas campaign headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

The two officials denied any infighting in the Communications Group, with Carandang saying that their differences in opinion are not a sign of any rift in the Palace. 

Verzosa: Vacation first before possible govt post

Outgoing Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa on Wednesday hinted getting offers from Malacañang for a government post after he retires from service, but added that he is not thinking about it for now.

GMA to join Lozada, de Venecia as ZTE trial witnesses?

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Former President and current Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could soon be joining Senate whistleblowers Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada and Jose "Joey" De Venecia III as witnesses in the graft trial of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri scheduled on October 13.

Imelda excluded in RP delegation to UN summit - Palace exec

She may be the chairperson of the House committee on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but former First Lady and incumbent congresswoman Imelda Marcos won't be joining President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III when he goes to the United Nations summit on the MDGs late this month.

Aquino suspends bonuses, perks of GOCCs and GFIs

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Wednesday is suspending  for 3 months the bonuses and other perks of top officials of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs).

Executive Order 7 which will be in effect until December 31, was signed by President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino also ordered a moratorium on increases in salaries, allowances, and other benefits of top officials of these agencies, except salary adjustments provided under EO 811 and EO 900.

EO 7 also created the Task Force on Corporate Compensation (TFCC) which will make an inventory of salaries, allowances and other benefits given to all members of the board of directors, and rank and file employees of GOCCs and GFIs.

The TFCC will be composed of the Office of the President as chairman, the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance and the Civil Service Commission.

In his first state of the nation address, Aquino scored GOCCs for rewarding themselves with fat paychecks and bonuses, even while some of these agencies are losing heavily. 

Pagcor-PhilWeb 'sweetheart deal' exposed

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile on Wednesday dubbed as a "sweetheart" deal a contract that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) entered into with PhilWeb during the past administration.

Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat disclosed that the contract that authorized the PhilWeb to operate online bets was not only bidded out but was also co-terminus with Pagcor, which is until 2033. The contract was signed in 2008.

"(Until) when is the contract with PhilWeb? Forever?" asked Enrile.

"I think the term... is co-terminus of Pagcor...I think up to 2033," said Naguiat.

"Oh my God! How lucky can Ongpin be? Was this bidded?" Enrile exclaimed, referring to PhilWeb chairman Roberto Ongpin.

"No your honor, as far as I know, it's not bidded out," said the Pagcor chairman.

Naguiat even shared Enrile's sentiment when he questioned why the contract was awarded to PhilWeb instead of other entities or persons.

"Why is it that Pagcor did not do it directly? Why the PhilWeb? What is so special about PhilWeb? Because it's Bobby Ongping? Yun lang ba (Is that all)?" said the Senate leader.

Pagcor's corporate secretary and chief legal counsel, Jay Santiago, explained that based on their investigation, the contract was granted to PhilWeb because it had its own "propriety software or propriety programs" needed to establish the gaming facilities.

But Enrile was not satisfied by the explanation as he urged the leadership of Pagcor to look into the project.

"I hope you'd look into that and make a report to us and find a way to better the share of the government because I think that's a sweetheart deal," said Enrile.

Pagcor's projected income from the project this year was P1.3 billion.

PNoy to host dinner for end of Ramadan

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will host a dinner to celebrate Eidul Fitr or the end of Ramadan.

The dinner will be held next Monday but a venue has yet to be announced.

Ramadan, a month-long fasting period for Muslims, will end Thursday night. September 10, Friday, has been declared a regular holiday.

Palace officials said the dinner wasscheduled days after to avoid intruding with Eid celebrations, which Muslims usually spend with their families.

Government officials, civil society leaders and diplomats are invited to the dinner, where "halal" meals will be served.

Malacañang said this will be the first formal sit down dinner hosted by President Aquino.

Military blames Al Khobar extort group for blasts in Maguindanao, Cotabato City

The military said Wednesday that the series of bomb explosions that rocked Maguindanao and Cotabato City starting Friday last week was the handiwork of a notorious extortion group.

Ex-house help testifies vs Ampatuans in massacre trial

Nagsimula na sa wakas ang unang araw ng paglilitis ng pangunahing akusado sa Maguindanao massacre na si Andal Ampatuan Jr. Sa testimonya ni Lakmudin Saliao, dating  kasambahay ng mga Ampatuan, sinabi niyang si Andal Jr. ang may gustong patayin ang lahat ng kasama sa convoy ng mga Mangudadatu.

Ampatuan Sr. believed Arroyo would take care of his son—witness

Former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. only agreed to surrender his son and namesake who was tagged in the Maguindanao massacre when he got assurances that he would be put "under the care" of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a government witness said on Wednesday.

Aquino urged to free all political prisoners, scrap plan vs rebels

Six political prisoners in Bohol on Wednesday are on hunger strike to press President Benigno Aquino III to release all political prisoners and scrap the government's anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.

PNoy's help sought for death row couple in Malaysia

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – The family of a Filipino couple on death row for drug charges in Malaysia has appealed to President Benigno Aquino III for help.  Timhar Jimdani Ong and his wife Nurie were both found guilty of drug trafficking in Kota Kinabalu in 2005.

Palace cuts by half OFW legal help fund in 2011 budget

Malacanang has cut by almost half the legal assistance fund for overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in the proposed 2011 national budget from P50 million this year to P27 million next year, it was disclosed Wednesday at the budget hearing in Congress.

MECO admits to excessive pay, non-remittance of funds

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office on Wednesday admitted that its board members have been receiving excessive retirement benefits and that it has not remitted dividends to the national government.
MECO chair Amadeo Perez, who assumed his post in August, said that board members serving two consecutive years are entitled to P600,000 for each year of service.

"That is to me scandalous... That is in the board resolution that I was able to find out," he said during a Senate hearing on the alleged excessive perks that executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC) enjoy.

Perez, a former congressman and a former mayor of Urdaneta City, said he was scandalized because his retirement pay after 35 years of government service was just P1.2 million.

The chair and directors of MECO each receive $300 per diem when traveling to Taiwan, where MECO has an office, and P4,000 a day for travels within the country, Perez added.

Its former chair Tomas Alcantara reportedly received P150,000 a month, plus 13th month pay and performance bonus equivalent to one month's salary. "As far as on paper, my scrutiny, those are all being received by the directors," he said.

Non-remittance

MECO is the de facto Philippine embassy in Taiwan. 

It collected about P150 million in visa, passport, and notary fees from Filipinos living in Taiwan, according to Perez.

In 2008 and 2009, the office in Taiwan transmitted a total of $3,395,000 to the Manila office, he said, noting that the money was originally appropriated to the scholarship program of children of Filipino workers in Taiwan.

Republic Act 7656 requires GOCCs to declare and remit at least 50 percent of annual net earnings – cash and stock or property dividends – to the national government.

In the case of MECO, Perez said that it has not turned over any amount of dividend to the national government since its inception in 1975.

"The funds being spent by the main office in Manila comes from the income in Taiwan. [But] as far as the records will show, none has been remitted by MECO to the national treasury," he said.

Unaudited

MECO is not being audited by the Commission on Audit (COA), because it has always maintained that it is a "private corporation" despite being created under the Office of the President, according to him.

Sen. Franlkin Drilon, chair of the Senate finance committee, said that under the Philippine Constitution MECO as GOCC must undergo COA audit.

COA assistant commissioner Jaime Naranjo clarified that the state auditor attempted several times to audit MECO but was "not given access" to its financial records.

Perez, however, said that MECO is now ready to submit the necessary documents so that COA can audit the office.

MECO is also willing to remit funds to the national treasury on orders of the President, he added.

"To be truthful, I believe in some ways... that these should be treated as public funds, Perez said. "We'll pave the way to correct the wrong."

Drilon commended Perez for "recognizing that something was wrong" with MECO's operations.

"MECO has been operating as a government of its own," Drilon said. "Somebody must be held responsible for this."

MECO was mandated to look after Philippine-Taiwan trade matters; promote Philippine culture in Taiwan, and look after the welfare of Filipinos who live and work in that island state.

Gov't losing P60B yearly to oil smuggling—energy chief

Oil smuggling in the country may have been costing the government as much P60 billion in taxes annually, or about double the industry's earlier figures of only P30 to P35 billion yearly, according to Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras.

More alleged scams in Globe Asiatique-Pag-IBIG loans

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - More alleged anomalies are surfacing in the Home Mutual Development Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund and Globe Asiatique loan scam, with two real estate agents admitting they recruited people to sign up for home loans for the latter's property project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Senate probes Pag-IBIG housing loan mess

There must be some sort of connivance among employees of Pag-IBIG Fund and those of developer Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. in a scam involving at least P6.6 billion in housing loan proceeds, Sen. Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III said Wednesday.

Australian PM used 'bribes' to win power, say press

by Agence France-Presse
SYDNEY - Australia's first woman prime minister Julia Gillard used "electoral bribes" to claw her way back into power with the support of independent MPs, media said Wednesday.

Photos show Floyd cheered for Pacquiao in 2006

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Before he became a potential opponent of Manny Pacquiao, undefeated fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. was actually a fan of the Filipino boxing superstar.

More physical games, consistent calls seen in PBA's 36th season

Is the PBA keen on bringing back the 'no harm, no foul' rule? Coaches want more action and more consistency in officiating in the league's 36th season.

Taulava affirmed by DOJ, cleared of falsification charges

After playing 11 seasons in the Philippine Basketball Association, Asi Taulava has finally received his much-awaited document from the Department of Justice - a decision which affirmed his status as a Filipino citizen.

Charice parties with 'Glee' stars

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Songstress Charice attended the red carpet premiere party of the second season of American television series "Glee" in California on Tuesday (US time).

Angelica Panganiban won't close Twitter account

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Young actress Angelica Panganiban is not closing her Twitter account despite her much talked about "tweet war" with former ABS-CBN contract star Claudine Barretto.

Baby James brought to hospital

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – The 3-year-old son of estranged couple Kris Aquino and James Yap was brought to a hospital due to recurrent fever.

John Lennon's killer is again denied parole in NY

John Lennon's killer was again denied parole in New York, nearly 30 years after gunning down the ex-Beatle outside the musician's New York City apartment building.

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