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

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 12, 2010 Major News Stories

Low pressure area to bring rains to Palawan, Visayas, Mindanao—PAGASA

A weather disturbance was sighted on Monday east of the Visayas that could intensify the rains in Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said.

After Sunday's incident in Lahug: Rama: Clear area above old tunnel

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama ordered the evacuation of residents living above a World War II tunnel in sitio Maracas, Nivel Hills, barangay Lahug that collapsed for the second time due to excessive rainfall last Sunday.

In another incident, two teenagers were hurt when a landslide destroyed their house in barangay Basak-Pardo, Cebu City.

A portion of this tunnel first collapsed last June fortunately in an open area so no houses were affected and there was no casualty.

But even then, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-7 recommended the evacuation of residents after they found the probability of another cave-in especially that they were expecting more rain at the time.

There are three houses located within the marked danger zones that need to be evacuated immediately, according to the MGB-7 report.

The tunnel, which is believed to have been built by the Japanese army during World War II, is 12 meters long, three meters wide and 1.5 meters high.

Alvin Santillana, Executive Director of the Cebu City Crisis Management Office said that residents were duly informed of the MGB recommendation last June.

The residents left the area, but came back immediately after the issue cooled down.

Rama said that if MGB sees an imminent danger in the area, he wants a copy of his recommendation which he will use as basis for an Executive Order.

The E.O. shall task the CMO to evacuate the affected residents and take charge of their temporary relocation.

Santillana said that they are scouting for a possible evacuation center but initially, they have identified an area where they install tents to temporarily house the residents.

Residents will only be housed temporarily because the CMO is also considering the rest of the MGB recommendations to make the area stable against extreme ground movement.

For a long-term solution, MGB-7 recommended for tunnels to be filled to stabilize the ground surface. But for the meantime, recommended the construction of drainage in such a way that surface water or rainwater will be diverted away from tunnel site.

In a follow-up inspection conducted by MGB in the area, 12 other tunnels, possibly interconnected to the one that collapsed were found which has to be addressed by the city.

Susan Auditor, who owns the house that was damaged by the "sink hole" last Sunday, will welcome it if the government transfers them to safer areas but as much as possible, she doesn't want to leave her house.

"Musamot kahugmak ang among balay kung biyaan namo. Mas maayo nuon kung ila ming tagaan og tent pero diri na lang mi magtent, total dili na man ni mahugmak diring dapita," she said, referring to the area near her house.

Auditor, 46, said that that they have no other place to go. Susan Regidor, owner of the house which sagged after a portion of the tunnel collapsed last June, said the same.

Regidor said that her family feels quite secure anyway where their house currently stands.

In a separate incident last Sunday, two teens were injured in sitio Lusimba, barangay Basak-Pardo after a landslide caused part of their wall to collapse.

Ed Jean Bertulfo and her younger sister Eugene were in the living room at the ground floor of their house when the incident happened.

Ed Jean who was buried by hollow blocks, had to be rushed to the Cebu City Medical Center.

20 fishers survive collision at sea

Twenty fishermen were rescued after their boat was hit and sunk by a cargo vessel in the waters off Compostela midnight yesterday.

Coastguard District Station chief of staff Capt. Anelito Gabisan said the victims were tying ropes on a fish attractor cage locally known as payaw when the cargo vessel hit their which weighed about 11.5 gross tons.

Lyn Khe, Gabisan's secretary, identified the rescued victims the boat's captain Anecito Beduty, 53; engineer Arnie Aroma, 32; and their crew Joseph Balero, 29; Junrey Morillo, 26; Lucio Seballos, 53; Edgardo Lomoc, 51; Dante Batiquin, 36; Edgardo Lomoc, Jr., 20; Ranulfo Matiga, 50; Rodelio Villamonte, 38; and Anatalio Barriga, 43; Joselito Arias, 43; Ricardo Barriga, 38; Jake Formentera, 29; Noel Aroma, 45; Edwin Beduya, 30; JR Formentera, 53; Alfredo Albios, 58; Renel Albios, 34; and Lorenzo Montalban, 58.

Gabisan withheld the name of the cargo vessel as they are still verifying its name in their investigation, but he said the vessel was then carrying 25,000 sacks of cement from Naga bound for Semirara Island in San Jose, Buenavista in Region 6.

The vessel reportedly did not stop to help the crew.

In a report over GMA, the cargo vessel was identified as M/V Andrea Princess.

Gabisan said they learned of the incident after the boat's operator, Ely Daño, a resident of Looc, Danao City, called their office past noon yesterday and told them his boat carrying the fishermen sank.

The PCG immediately sent rescue vessels for the victims who all survived after clinging to debris from the sunken boat.

Higher pump prices expected this week

by By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Motorists will see a considerable spike in prices of petroleum products this week.

Industry sources said diesel and gasoline prices may increase by P1.25 to P1.40 per liter. The increase, however, may be tempered to P1.00 to P1.25 per liter due to the appreciation of the peso against the US dollar.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras asked motorists to brace for further price increases, citing the upward trend of oil prices in the world market.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices are also up.

Petron already implemented a P0.50 per kilo increase in LPG prices over the weekend.

LPG Marketers Association president Arnel Ty said others may follow suit.

Chevron hikes oil prices

Chevron Phil. Inc. will increase oil prices effective 6 a.m. Tuesday, an official said.  Communications manager Toby Nebrida said a P1.25 per liter increase will be implemented on their regular, premium, e10 gasoline, and kerosene products, while there will be a P1 per liter increase on their diesel products.

LTO suspends RFID refund

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) postponed again on Monday the refund of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) fees.  

The agency has yet to secure the signature of its information technology partner, Stradcom Corp., regarding the refund, according to LTO officer-in-charge Virginia Torres. 

Torres earlier said the LTO had already fulfilled the 15-day publication requirement for the P30-million refund. 

The Supreme Court, in a ruling in January, ordered the LTO and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to stop implementing the controversial RFID project.

The decision was made in response to a motion for intervention filed by militant groups that sought to declare the project null and void.

The Commission on Audit has given the LTO the green light to refund the RFID fees to around 90,000 motorists.

2,000 taxi units to lose franchise

This after the Land Franchising and Regulatory Board learned that several taxi operators were able to get franchises for their taxi units by submitting fake documents. These "illegally-issued" franchises were reportedly issued since 2003 to the present.

Mayor Michael Rama yesterday said he will strongly support the campaign launched by LTFRB-7 director Benjamin Go if proven that these illegal activities really exist.

Go said the concerned taxi operators shall be given due process. "That's what I'm planning to do. After investigation, they will be summoned to a hearing."

According to Rama, the LTFRB director should show to the public that he is really serious in his drive to weed out the undesirable personnel from their office. The mayor added that former LTFRB officials had also made the same announcement but failed to translate it into action.

When the LTFRB-Manila suspended the granting of taxi franchises in 2003, there were only about 4,000 taxi units in Metro Cebu. The number has now gone up to 6,000 taxi units.

Go brushed aside allegations that he launched the campaign against the illegally-issued franchises for personal interest, saying he is really serious in his cause.

Go told The FREEMAN he will send another letter request to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to ask Secretary Jose de Jesus to conduct an audit of all issued taxi franchises in Metro Cebu.

The LTFRB-7 director said he could not seek the assistance of some of his lawyers here because they will also be included in the investigation.

Richard Cabucos, president of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Associations (MCTOA), said they support Go's campaign to clean the LTFRB office of corrupt personnel.

If no conflict with Filinvest proposal: Rama open to coal-fired power plant at SRP

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is agreeable to have a coal-fired power plant at the South Road Properties provided that this does not conflict with the proposed waste-to-energy power plant of the Filinvest Development Corporation.

DOH: HFMD may spread in day-care centers

MANILA, Philippines – Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) may spread among children in day-care centers, the Department of Health (DOH) warned on Monday. 

Parents of dengue victims form group

Parents, relatives, friends of dengue victims in Cebu City and Metro Cebu has banded together and launched a massive education campaign to educate the public about the dengue disease.

CCMC doctors belie rumors of a walkout

Doctors at the Cebu City Medical Center denied rumors circulating at City Hall about a massive walkout by doctors due to alleged corruption by the management.

Market administrator charged with slight physical injuries

Cebu City market administrator Racquel Bohol-Arce was charged with slight physical injuries before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas for allegedly maltreating a 15-year old boy at the Taboan Public Market.

PPCRV seeks voters' master-list to prepare for village polls

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has appealed to the Commission on Elections to provide its volunteers a copy of the computerized voters' list soon so they could continue their work in securing a clean and orderly barangay (village) elections.

Irate man hacks ma to death, burns her body

A 26-year-old man was arrested for killing his mother, chopping her body to pieces and burning her remains inside their house in Bogo town, Cebu, after he had an argument with his father early Monday.

Chief Inspector Alvin Balio, Bogo chief of police, identified the fatality as Victoria Pelayo Moraca, 55, of Barangay (village) San Pedro, Bogo, 101 kilometers north of Cebu City.

Police investigators learned that at about 3 a.m., the suspect, Rolando Pelayo Moraca, was arguing with his father. Victoria advised her husband to leave the house and calm himself down.

However, when Victoria's husband left, Moraca turned on his mother and, with the use of an ax, hacked her and cut her into pieces and then burned her body inside their house, which was made of light materials.

The police and the firemen went to the area to respond to a fire alarm.

However, the police could not enter the house as the suspect remained inside the house, holding an ax.

Balio said they tried to talk to Moraca but the latter only stared at them and would not answer them.

After several minutes, Moraca, using the ax, hit himself on the head, giving the police a chance to overcome him.

The police arrested Moraca and brought him to the Severo Verallo District Hospital in Bogo for treatment.

Balio said that when the police entered the house of the Moracas, they saw the body of Victoria with the head, hands and feet cut off.

He added that the police was checking if Moraca had a history of mental instability or drug use.

Charges of parricide and arson would be filed against the suspect, the police said.

Aquino orders rap vs. Lim, spares Puno

President Benigno Aquino III ordered on Monday the filing of administrative charges against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila police chief Rodolfo Magtibay and four other officials over their handling of the deadly bus hijacking last August 23.

Versoza says it's time to move on

Former Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa on Monday welcomed the pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III, absolving him of any accountability in the botched rescue of Hong Kong tourists on August 23, and urged the public to "move on."

Aquino warns Robredo, Puno on 'squabble'

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Undersecretary Rico Puno may have been unscathed in the aftermath of the Aug. 23 hostage crisis, but President Aquino has warned them to get their acts together or get the boot.

Mayor Lim, Yebra keep mum on the IIRC review

Kung dati naging emosyonal si Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim sa unang  rekomendasyon ng IIRC, ngayon nanahimik na muna siya sa utos ng pangulo na sampahan siya ng kasong administratibo kaugnay ng hostage crisis. Ayaw na rin munang magbigay ng reaksyon ng isa pa sa pinakakasuhan na si chief negotiator Orlando Yebra.

CMFR officer raps PNoy for clearing Puno, Verzosa

MANILA, Philippines – A media analyst is confused as to why 2 top officials escaped charges over the August 23 hostage taking crisis.

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) director Vergel Santos believes that Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno and former Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa should have been included in the Palace recommendations released Monday.

Santos said Puno and Verzosa should have made a difference in the results of efforts to end the hostage taking crisis.

He was also dismayed with the type of charges that Malacañang wants to be filed against those found liable.

"Sabi nila ganun ka serious ito, tapos ganyan lang ang pinataw na sanction. Sino ngayon ang maniniwala na serious ito?" Santos asked.

He was pleased, however, that media organizations and personalities were spared from any criminal charges.

He added that the Palace is correct to let the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) determine whether some media organizations and personalities violated the industry's code of ethics.

Santos said he is wary about the implications of the Incident Investigation Review Committee's (IIRC)recommendations that were mostly junked by the Palace review panel.

Santos believed this is an indication of an "amateur government" that does not exactly know what to do.

He said it was unusual that a President would ask a fact-finding body to make recommendations that will just be junked in the end.

"Ang maliwanag na nangyari dito, this government has not got it act together, and it is not easy for them to get their acts together because of the intramurals and factionalism that are being apparently promoted," Santos said.

'What IIRC recommended, what was changed'

by Compiled by David Dizon,
MANILA, Philippines - The Palace legal team watered down several of the recommendations of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) with respect to the filing of criminal and administrative charges against 13 individuals in the August 23 hostage crisis.

Specifically, the legal review absolved Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, retired Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, and Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno of any administrative or criminal liabilities in the hostage fiasco.

The Palace legal team said chief negotiator Supt. Orlando Yebra should be sanctioned for neglect of duty instead of gross incompetence, and did not recommend criminal charges against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, head of the crisis management committee tasked with solving the hostage tragedy.

Below is a comparison of the original IIRC recommendations and the final recommendations of Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa Jr. and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Ed de Mesa. 

Persons charged
IIRC Recommendations Palace recommendations
MPD Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay Administrative charges for serious irregularities in the performance of duties, gross incompetence
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
Administrative charges for gross incompetence, Serious Neglect of Duty under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules
No recommendation for further investigation for possible criminal liability
NCRPO chief Leocadio Santiago Jr Less Grave Neglect of Duty under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PUR
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
Less Grave Neglect of Duty under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PUR
No recommendation for further investigation for possible criminal liability
PNP Director General Jesus A. Verzosa Less Grave Neglect of Duty 
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
No finding of fact that justifies holding Versoza accountable for any administrative or criminal offense in the conduct of PNP operations during the hostage-taking incident
DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno Gross negligence 
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
No basis to file any administrative or criminal complaint
No recommendation for further investigation for possible criminal liability
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim Administrative and criminal proceedings for assuming the authority of the on-scene commander in negotiation and tactical action or intervention in contravention of  Section 1.7.2 of the CMC Manual;
  • for negligence in his failure to properly organize and constitute the Crisis Management Committee
  • for issuing an illegal order during the arrest of Gregorio Mendoza
  • for abandoning and ordering the on-scene commander to abandon the Advanced Command Post
  • for failure to perform his duties as CMC Chairman
Simple Neglect and Misconduct in Office under Sec. 60 or the Local Government Code
Manila Vice-Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso Administrative charges for negligence No basis to file any administrative or criminal complaints against Domagoso
Supt. Orlando Yebra Administrative charges for gross incompetence;
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
Neglect of Duty under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PUR
No recommendation for further investigation for possible criminal liability
Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III Gross incompetence
Preliminary investigation for possible criminal liability
Gross Incompetence under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PUR
No recommendation for further investigation for possible criminal liability
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez Further investigation to determine whether offenses qualify as grounds for impeachment Send IIRC Report to the House of Representatives for appropriate action.
Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III Referral of IIRC findings to the Office of the President for further determination of possible administrative offenses Gross Neglect of Duty and/or Inefficiency in the Performance of Official Duty under Rule XIV, Sec. 22 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. 292 and other pertinent Civil Service laws, rules and regulations.

Gross Misconduct under Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

RMN anchor Michael Rogas Endorsement of IIRC report to Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas for the purpose of imposing sanctions for violating KBP Code of Ethics;
DOJ to initiate investigation to determine any other culpability
Referred to the KBP for possible violation of the applicable Code of Ethics
RMN anchor Erwin Tulfo Endorsement of IIRC report to Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas for the purpose of imposing sanctions for violating KBP Code of Ethics;
DOJ to initiate investigation to determine any other culpability
Referred to the KBP for possible violation of the applicable Code of Ethics
Jake Maderazo Endorsement of IIRC report to Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas for the purpose of imposing sanctions for violating KBP Code of Ethics;
DOJ to initiate investigation to determine any other culpability
Referred to the KBP for possible violation of the applicable Code of Ethics
TV5, ABS-CBN and GMA7 Endorsement of IIRC report to Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas for the purpose of imposing sanctions for violating KBP Code of Ethics Referred to the KBP or to the appropriate media watchdog for possible violation of the applicable code of ethics.
SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza No recommendations Serious Neglect of Duty under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP

PNP: Media handbook is a guide, not law

by By Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines- A police official on Monday said the Philippine National Police safety handbook for journalists is a guide aimed at helping journalists protect themselves from threats and dangerous situations.

Arroyo invokes right to remain silent on ZTE-NBN deal

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not want to testify in the graft trial of former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general  Romulo Neri concerning the scrapped US $329-million ZTE-National Broadband Network (NBN) deal. 

21-member Senate won't be able to work effectively—Enrile

With only 21 members actively working in the Senate, how can the chamber decide on important matters like treaties, impeachment, or election of a new Senate President?

MILF protests senior leader's arrest

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - Muslim rebels in the Philippines  on Monday protested the arrest of one their senior leaders on terrorism charges, warning that his detention could scuttle planned peace talks.

Mohammad Ameen, chairman of the MILF central committee secretariat, said on Monday that Engineer Educard Guerra (passport name: Abraham Yap Alonto) was on his way to Geneva to attend the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when nabbed by authorities at the Davao airport on Sept. 22.

Ampatuan driver the 71st to be jailed for Maguindanao massacre

The driver of the Ampatuan clan arrested early Sunday in Pasay City was the 71st accused in the Maguindanao massacre to be jailed while undergoing trial for the November 23, 2009 slaughter.

Ex-CAFGU recants confession in 'Florence' rape case

A former militiaman who initially admitted that he was one of the men who took part in the gang-rape of a volunteer nurse in Maguindanao has backtracked and said he was tortured by his neighbors into "confessing" to a crime he did not commit.

Pirates seize Japanese ship with 20 Filipino sailors: EU

by Agence France-Presse
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Pirates hijacked a Japanese ship carrying 20 Filipino sailors in the Somali Basin, the European Union's anti-piracy mission said on Monday.

Aquino asked: Appoint career envoys to OFW-host countries

For a change, prioritize career diplomats over political allies in the appointment of ambassadors in the country's diplomatic missions abroad, especially in countries hosting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Pinoy protesters in Greece demand ouster of Amb. Tiglao

Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Greece staged a protest in front of the Philippine Embassy in Athens Sunday to demand the removal of Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, whom they accused of dismal performance and a lavish lifestyle.
Athens-based Filipino organization Kasapi Hellas urged President Benigno Aquino III not to re-appoint Tiglao, saying he has not done much to assist Filipinos in Greece.

"(Tiglao) has nothing to show in terms of performance after more than four years… (He) has overstayed his 'tourist visa' in Greece and must go home immediately," the group said.

Reached by phone in Athens, Tiglao declined to comment on the allegations and demands of the protesters, saying he was on leave and the matter was "sensitive."

In the brief telephone interview with GMANews.TV, Tiglao dismissed the protesters as a "small group" that had no permit to stage a picket in front of the Embassy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also refused to comment on the protest against Tiglao.

A political appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose term ended last June 30, Tiglao managed to hold on to his post after President Aquino extended the terms of ambassadors for three months or at least until September 30.

In their statement, Kasapi-Hellas said, "Filipinos are strongly concerned that, despite the lapse of extension of three months for political appointees, Mr. Tiglao is exerting his influence within the Aquino administration for his re-appointment as ambassador to Greece."

A former journalist, Tiglao has served as ambassador to Greece and Cyprus since 2005. Before his foreign posting, he served as Presidential Spokesperson, Press Secretary, Chief of Staff and head of the Presidential Management Staff of Mrs. Arroyo.

The protesters seeking Tiglao's ouster accused him of renting a lavish house while Filipino migrants live in underground flats and earn only 700 euros a month due to the economic crisis in Greece.

"Among the five ambassadors posted in Greece, Tiglao, the 5th and the only political appointee, surpasses them all in terms of expensive style of living, a house complete with swimming pool in a posh village in the suburbs of Athens, whose monthly rental ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 euros ," the group said.

Kasapi also claimed that Tiglao has been spotted touring the islands of Greece, while a Filipina who has been detained since March this year and 12 Filipino seafarers marooned inside their ships did not get a call or visit from the ambassador.

The picket ended after Charge d'Affaires Constancio Vingno talked to the group and promised to bring their demands to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

2010 Bayaning Pilipino finalists named

MANILA, Philippines - Out of many entries, 5 individuals were chosen as finalists in this year's Bayaning Pilipino Awards. Now, it's the public's turn to determine the winner of the highly coveted distinction.

Through short films aired on ABS-CBN channel 2 on Sunday, the public witnessed the stories of Rex Bernardo, Welthy Villanueva, Beatriz Evangelista, Jose Antonio Socrates and Norberto Puasan. (View the videos again here.) 

After watching the clips, some 100 members of the audience were made to vote for one finalist through the Wireless Audience Response System (WARS) for the People's Choice Award.

Partial results showed that more than 50% of the audience preferred Villanueva, a doctor who goes to Palawan's far-flung areas to teach and to provide medical services.

The official results of this year's Bayaning Pilipino Awards as well as the People's Choice Award, which include online and SMS votes, will be announced the during Awards Night set on November 4.

Launched in 1995, the annual Bayaning Pilipino Awards is a brainchild of the late Eugenio Lopez Jr., founder of ABS-CBN, through a partnership with Ugat Foundation.

Since then, it has awarded Filipinos who had stretched the whole 9 yards in the name of public service.

Lawmakers urged: Pass anti-spanking bill

by By Nina Corpuz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - In the Philippines, it's considered normal to spank a child when they've done something wrong.

The proposed Anti-Corporal Punishment Bill aims to prohibit corporal punishment and all other forms of humiliating or degrading punishment of children in all settings and promote positive and non-violent discipline of children.

The child rights advocates stressed that corporal punishment is ineffective and often produces anger, resentment and low self-esteem among children.

Bill seeks to repeal law allowing 'caught in the act' slay

A bill has been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to repeal a law that allows the killing of spouses caught in crimes of passion.

Chemical odor downs 14 people in Iloilo

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Thirteen students and a teacher at a college in Iloilo City were brought to a hospital Monday when they fell ill after reportedly inhaling a foul chemical.

Colegio de San Jose students said the chemical odor wafted through the school at around noon.

Students attending Grade 7 classes, first-year high school, and special science classes were directly affected, reports said.

The chemical odor allegedly came from a hypermarket being built near the school.

School officials were forced to suspend classes and ordered students to go home.

City officials, including Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, went to the school to look into the situation.

He also went to the hypermarket to find out if the chemical odor indeed came from the site.

Officials of the hypermarket denied that the odor came from the facility.

Peso falls, BSP intervention expected

The peso fell on the first trading day of the week as the market expected monetary officials to cap the net appreciation in the past weeks.

$1: P43.600

$1: P43.600 (P43.45)

Euro 1: P60.4477

DoE eyes second natural gas station

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) may put up a second compressed natural gas (CNG) station to support the country's Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport (NGVPPT).

US firm sole bidder in Philippine plane tender

by Reuters
MANILA, Philippines - A unit of US firm United Technologies Corporation is set to be awarded a $40 million Philippine Air Force contract for a refurbished Hercules C-130H plane after it was the sole bidder, a defence official said.

Gates backs multilateral dispute approach in Hanoi

by Reuters
HANOI - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday said Asian nations should deal with territorial disputes multilaterally, a concept backed by Vietnam and others in the region but opposed by China.

Death toll from Indonesia's flooding jumps to 145

Rescue officials say the death toll from massive flooding in eastern Indonesia has climbed to 145 and more than 100 still are missing.

Pacquiao's training on schedule

Tuloy ang ensayo ni Manny Pacquiao bilang paghahanda sa kanyang laban kay Antonio Margarito. Kanina, sa Rizal Memorial Stadium tumakbo at nag-training si Pacman bago nakipagpulong kay Pangulong Aquino. 

'10.10.10' run breaks world record

Nadaig ng 10-10-10 Takbo para sa Ilog Pasig kahapon ang world record sa karera. Mahigit 116,000 runners ang sumabak sa takbuhan para sagipin ang Pasig River!

PNoy spurned by woman?

MANILA, Philippines – Did a woman refuse the romantic advances of President Benigno Aquino III?

The question was left in the mind of reporters who attended a Malacañang briefing Monday on Palace lawyers' recommendations for those found liable over the Manila hostage crisis.

Aquino hinted during the press conference that he recently had a romantic date with a woman.

"I'm just being friendly at this point in time," he said. 

He did not mention the woman's name but said that he has known her for years. 

The woman reportedly does not want to become a center of public attention. "Yung nakasama ko dun, di na kami magkikita muli dahil ayaw niyang center of attraction siya," he explained.

"Kapag may dumating na changes, I guess I'll inform you but at this point in time, priority has to be matters of the state," he said.

"In matters of the heart, ipapanood ko na lang sa debede (DVD)," he joked.

According to the Manila Standard, Aquino and an unidentified woman had a date at the Nuvo Restaurant and Wine Bar in Greenbelt 2 in Makati City on Saturday night.

Aquino has reportedly broken up with his girlfriend, Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad.

They have kept mum on their alleged break-up, with the President asking the media to respect his private life.

Two women have been linked to Aquino in recent days.

They are celebrity stylist Liz Uy and Patricia Ann Roque, a TV5 reporter.

Anne Curtis reacts to Liz Uy-PNoy 'romance'

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines – Celebrity stylist Liz Uy is laughing off rumors romantically linking her to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, her close friend said Monday.

"Showtime" host Anne Curtis told that the Aquino-Uy supposed romance is an old issue, and Uy has long been aware of the spreading speculations.

Patrick de la Rosa still mum on rape complaint

by By Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – Actor-turned-politician Patrick dela Rosa remains in detention at the Quezon City Police District Station 7 after an alleged rape complaint of a 20-year-old woman on Saturday morning.

Vhong Navarro's marriage annulled

MANILA, Philippines - Vhong Navarro is single again.

The "Showtime" host revealed that his marriage to former actress Bianca Lapuz has been annulled.

Navarro said he is happy with the court's decision to annul his marriage to Lapuz.

But he maintained that they remain friends and are in fact helping each other in raising their son.

The actor is now dating a non-showbiz girl.

Judy Ann Santos talks about giving birth to Lucho

MANILA, Philippines- Queen of Teleserye Judy Ann Santos on Sunday said she was overjoyed after giving birth to a baby boy named Juan Luis on October 7.

Kim Chiu: I did not attempt to commit suicide

MANILA, Philippines - Young actress Kim Chiu has blasted speculations about her supposed attempt to commit suicide following her break-up with rumored boyfriend and on-screen partner Gerald Anderson.

Gay TV host Ogie Diaz to marry female partner

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines – Gay television host and entertainment columnist Ogie Diaz and his long-time female partner, Mirasol, are planning to get married soon.

Adam Lambert's dancer caught carrying bullets

MANILA, Philippines – A male back-up dancer of "American Idol Season 8" runner-up Adam Lambert was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday for carrying 18 M-16 bullets in his luggage.

Going to bars hazardous to health: study

MANILA, Philippines - Going to entertainment clubs and bars could be hazardous to health, a new study by the Department of Health (DOH) warned.

The study found out that the level of pollution from cigarette smoke inside bars is 6 times higher than the acceptable level set by the World Health Organization.

DOH official Dr. Ivan Escartin said that even if bars have smoking and non-smoking areas, non-smokers would still inhale second-hand smoke that is dangerous to health.

"There's this myth propagated by bar owners that we should smoke inside bars, na dapat wala na iyan eh," he added.

The DOH is calling on local governments  to totally prohibit smoking inside bars.

According to a multi-sectoral health study headed by the Philippine Society of Hypertension, smoking is the number 1 cause of heart attacks and strokes that killed more than 40,000 Filipinos in 2008.

Aside from warning the public, the DOH is pursuing a campaign to regulate tobacco use through legislation like raising sin taxes and putting warning pictures on cigarette packs.

Ruling vs TV episode on marijuana use affirmed

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals has affirmed a 2006 decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) suspending the showing of "The Correspondents" for 3 consecutive episodes for airing scenes that project smoking marijuana is an enjoyable activity.

ABS-CBN tops TV ratings in September

ABS-CBN led national TV ratings for September, a survey by global media specialist Kantar Media showed.

ABS-CBN said it garnered an average audience share of 40 percent, trumping second placer GMA Network's 34 percent share.

ABS-CBN said it dominated national TV ratings with its strong programs particularly on prime time. Its newest prime time offering "Imortal" premiered strongly recently with a rating of 34.4 percent, beating its rival program's 22.7 percent.

TV5 ranked third with 8 percent audience share. Fourth placer Studio 23 chalked up a 5-percent share. ABS-CBN said Studio 23's share has been on an uptrend month-on-month since January 2010.

Nine out of the top 10 most-watched programs nationwide in September were produced by ABS-CBN, the network claimed.

These are "Noah" (34.1 percent), "Agua Bendita" (32.6 percent), "TV Patrol" (32.6 percent), "Wansapanataym" (29.1 percent), "Momay" (27.7 percent), "Maalaala Mo Kaya" (27.4 percent), "Idol" (26.9 percent), "Kokey@Ako" (25.9 percent) and "TV Patrol Weekend" (24.8 percent),

In the meantime, ABS-CBN's AM radio station, DZMM Radyo Patrol 630, continued to conquer radio airwaves in Mega Manila in August with an audience share of 32 percent. ABS-CBN said this was based on the 2010 Nielsen Mega Manila RAM.

Maria Ressa to leave ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – Journalist Maria Ressa formally announced Monday night she is leaving as ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Division (NCAD) chief effective January 2011.

She will be replaced by Regina Reyes, currently ABS-CBN North America News Bureau chief.

Reyes will arrive in Manila on Oct. 18 to begin the leadership transition.

Ressa said she will not renew her contract which ends Jan. 3, 2011. She said in an internal document sent to the News and Current Affairs group that she will go on terminal leave beginning Nov. 15.  

Ressa, former Jakarta bureau chief of CNN, leaves after a six-year stint as head of the network's news and current affairs unit.

Below is her internal e-mail to the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs team which was later officially released by ABS-CBN Corporate communications:

Dear Team,

There is a time and place for everything in our lives. My time and place as head of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs is nearing its end.

My contract ends on Jan. 3, 2011, and I will not be renewing. I have nearly six months of accumulated leaves so I will go on terminal leave beginning Nov. 15.

It's time for me to move on, but it's important we transition properly and prepare our organization – and its new leader – for the challenges ahead.

Ging Reyes will be taking over as news head. She will be arriving in Manila on Oct. 18 to begin our transition. Home-grown ABS-CBN, she has more than twenty years experience as a journalist, the last eight years as North America bureau chief. Please give her your full support as she takes the helm of our multi-platform operations.

I want to thank you for six amazing, incredible years where we took risks together to help define the future of journalism and our nation. We decided to take a stand and say no to corruption; to embrace the growth of social media; and to join hands with citizen journalists to patrol our votes and our nation . Thank you for your trust and support, for following me even when I tilt at windmills.

Journalism faces challenging days ahead. Value and protect your editorial independence. I wish you clarity of thought, stamina, and courage to fight for what is right and avoid the compromise of mediocrity.

You have taught me so much about what it means to be a Filipino. While my time with this company is ending, one of the most precious things it has given me are our friendships, which I hope will continue to grow even when I'm no longer with ABS-CBN. 

My very best,


IIRC statement on the release of the Palace review

by DOJ-DILG Incident Investigation and Review Committee
The Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) on the August 23, 2010 Rizal Park hostage-taking incident welcomes the  President's announced directive to release to the public the full text of the IIRC report, together with the Palace action plan on the Committee's recommendations. 

With the disclosure of the full IIRC report, the public is now fully informed of the IIRC's recommendations on the accountability of public officials and the media in the hostage-taking incident. The agenda is now set for the implementation of the IIRC's recommendations.

The Committee believes that in the review of the Report, the President exercised his executive prerogatives judiciously. When the IIRC submitted its report, it was with full knowledge that the President was not bound to adopt the recommendations en toto. The IIRC, however, notes that the findings of facts remain unchanged in the review process and its recommendations substantially adopted, indicating that the IIRC position was well-considered and respected. As such, the IIRC fully respects the Palace review process.

The IIRC believes that the action plan of the President will result in the imposition of the appropriate sanctions against those culpable. The IIRC trusts that the Palace action plan will put closure to the issue of accountability for the hostage-taking incident. From here, the IIRC can now focus its efforts on the immediate task of coming out with proposed measures and institutional reforms to prevent or avoid similar incidents from happening in the future.

The Power of Cheche's Dream

(Editor's Note: ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs chief Maria Ressa's tribute to colleague Cheche Lazaro, broadcast journalist best known for her long-running award-winning TV news magazine show, Probe, at the Town and Country magazine's "Wonder Women of Style and Substance" achievement awards. Ms. Lazaro was cited for her work in the field of media. An ABS-CBN monthly special, Cheche Lazaro Presents, will air on Oct. 17, 2010)

The energy in the room was electrifying.  People were hugging, kissing, screaming.  Network rivalry collapsed as journalists from competing stations created a safe zone under the sanctuary of Probe.

I raised my glass to the woman who cajoled us, pushed us, nurtured us – the boss who never asked us to do anything she didn't do first, whose humility put us all to shame.

"To Cheche Lazaro," I said, "for showing us we have the power to make our dreams come true."

I looked at the smiling faces, felt the closeness of the group – Probers coming together to celebrate a common experience that bound us across many "generations" and programs.  Every person in this room – in some way – was touched and became part of the vision of this petite woman with the distinctive widow's peak.

Let me tell you how she changed my life.  Cheche, then head of ABS-CBN's Public Affairs, recruited me in 1987.  I was at the tail end of a one-year Fulbright, my private search for "roots" – the first time I had returned to the Philippines since my family left thirteen years earlier.  I had deferred admission to law school and had several job offers in NY.  I was ready to go back.  That all changed when ABS-CBN decided to cancel Probe and turn it into a monthly special.  That was when Cheche decided to resign from ABS-CBN and start her own company.  

A network executive who wanted me to stay with the station said, "Bakit ka sasama kay Cheche?  Probe can't work.  That's not what Filipinos want.  Mabuti pa, pag-tanggahin niyo na lang si Cheche."

Strangely, that only made me want to help her more.  Cheche believed it was time for an investigative news magazine program, and she infected me with that zeal.  We wanted to prove that Filipinos deserve better programs, and there was no better time to try than after people power.  

We had one problem: I had expensive student loans to pay, and Probe couldn't afford a salary that would allow me to rent an apartment. Cheche offered a solution: in addition to working for her, she wanted me to live with her family.  It was an unorthodox solution, particularly given my American upbringing.  I didn't know her well at that point, but I didn't hesitate.  I accepted.  

My parents in the US thought I had gone crazy:  they said I was throwing my Princeton education away.  It was a life-changing decision – one of the best I ever made.  Much of what I am today as a journalist began with Probe, where I set up systems and developed our program template – writer, director, producer, video editor rolled into one.  Cheche's faith in me gave me courage to create, to improvise, to set up my ideal.  I know she did the same for others behind me, and because I worked for her, I hope to do the same for those who work for me today.  That time proved to me that a small group of people can change the world.

When we left ABS-CBN, we moved our office into Cheche's house.  I was tasked to buy our first camera and our editing deck.  When I returned from New York with our equipment, Cheche and her husband, Del Lazaro, were at the airport to pick me up.  We turned their son's room into our editing suite – on one side were the decks, on the other, my bed.  On the average, I would be up editing at least three nights of the week.

Probe gave the most rigorous training in the broadcasting industry.  That's what happens when you let crazy dreamers set up the system. Through succeeding generations of Probers, it would be normal for a producer to pull at least two all-nighters a week.  We were the only company that trained our editorial staff in the technical aspects of video production – a very different approach from broadcast stations during that time.  We hired no editors because our writers/producers did the actual video edits.  It changes your writing.  If you're a Prober, you understand what I mean.  You've been through it, and it made you better at your craft.

I lived with Cheche and her family for more than two years.  When you do that, you really get to know people through the best and worst times.  You see their darkest secrets, and hard as I looked, there were none!  Although they were public figures, they lived private lives, shunning ostentatious behavior.  Their whole family was incredibly generous to a stranger.  I never felt different or alone.  

I admired the life Del and Cheche modeled – Filipino values in their purest forms – delicadeza that showed professionalism and pride, utang na loob that never degenerated into patronage.  Until today, when the tables are turned and I am now, as Cheche says, her boss, she takes the initiative by telling me to treat her like I treat everyone else I manage.  She has never asked for special treatment.  (If only everyone I manage is like that!)

That time in my life showed me it's possible to live your ideals – to successfully bridge the gaps between the way you choose to live and the realities of our society.  It's a choice! Choose to be better.  Cheche and Del taught me not to compromise.

Cheche taught me to embrace and love the Philippines – despite its imperfections.  Like most Filipinos, Cheche's life revolved around her family, but her heritage turned that love for family into love for her nation.

She saw her family live those values. Her grandfather, Gen. Vicente Lim, was the first Filipino graduate from West Point. She told me stories about how he led the last front against the Japanese and even after defeat, he refused to collaborate with the enemy, turning down the position of Chief of Staff of a puppet government.  Instead, he pretended to have cancer and led an underground resistance until he was captured and later beheaded.  It's a story of conviction, courage and passionate belief in a people fighting for its freedom.

That love of country is a core value of Probe, and because we were young, we gave everything we had.  We set no limits – stretching ourselves physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  That pushed us to accomplish goals we never thought we could. Cheche called us "the little train that could."

Probe may be the only company to stand up to two broadcasting giants: its survival proved the ABS-CBN exec wrong because Filipinos were ready for serious in-depth news analysis; and in 2003, Probe rebelled against GMA7's censorship of Bernadette Sembrano's lifestyle check of Efraim Genuino and Pagcor.  Publicly, GMA7 said Probe did sloppy work.

"That's the biggest insult," said Cheche. "We mind when someone tells us you aren't being responsible. Or you are not doing thorough research.  Because we knew we did. So that was a major affront."  

Cheche stood her ground.  GMA7 cancelled Probe's contract, and Probe moved on to ABC5.  Today, all three broadcasting networks have been "infiltrated" by Probers both on-camera and behind the scenes.

Even in conflict, Cheche remained gracious, and at times, it cost the company.  She refused to use gutter tactics.  When the fighting dropped to those levels, Cheche would stand by her principles and – without giving up - leave the fight.  

Today, I look back at how Cheche managed us, looking for guidance so I can do my job better.  Such passion also meant there were great conflicts within Probe, and yet at that July 4th reunion, those conflicts faded.  Everyone who could came to say good-bye.

"I was overwhelmed.  You remember the good times.  You remember the bad times," Cheche said.  "They've all moved on and become successful.  So whatever petty disagreements there were at that time that we were together have dissolved into nothingness.  We pushed aside the complaints – they were underpaid; they were under-recognized; you remember them.  I guess because each one has been successful, they are now more gracious in their own ways."

On that July 4th reunion, we Probers felt sadness and joy.  I saw our past living in our present, and I know Probe will still help determine our future.  

Onstage, I saw the faces of our team looking at her – Cheche's children, all of us - together one last time.  We had grown up and scattered in different directions.  Some are working for international networks.  Others are known faces in Philippine broadcasting.  Still others are now decision-makers in the networks which at some point shunned the independence of Probe.  

I raised my glass one last time: "Cheche's the only person who could've gotten us to set aside rivalries and come together. From Probe we supply the best we have to offer to all of Philippine broadcasting."

Like some of our most poignant episodes, this story about Cheche Lazaro's Probe follows the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.  Probe was born in the crucible of People Power.  It thrived on the drama of Philippine politics, of a nation that never found its soul.  It ends as another Aquino comes into power, a fitting stage for its rebirth.  

For me, that decision to join Cheche in 1987 changed my life: I never left Asia, never moved back to the United States. I fell in love with journalism, leading to nearly two decades with an international network as an Asia specialist.  When it was time to choose my home, one of my first calls was to Cheche, who helped me decide to come back to the Philippines. Today, I am a Filipino.

I know I am not alone because I'm certain everyone in the room that night has a similar story to tell.  This is the power of Cheche's dream.

Trio of labor market specialists wins 2010 Nobel Economics prize

STOCKHOLM - Three labor market specialists, including one nominated but blocked for the US Federal Reserve board, won the 2010 Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for analyzing and helping tackle unemployment.

The Nobel jury said the work of Peter Diamond and Dale Mortensen of the United States and British-Cypriot Christopher Pissarides helped resolve puzzles such as why people remained unemployed despite a large number of job openings.

It lauded the three economists "for their analysis of markets with search frictions," which helps explain how unemployment, job vacancies and wages are affected by regulation and economic policy.

Such labor analysis was likely a primary factor in President Barack Obama's decision early this year to nominate Diamond to one of seven seats on the Federal Reserve's board of governors and its Federal Open Market Committee.

Diamond, 70, is widely considered a world authority on labor analysis, but Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, blocked his nomination in August, saying that it did not appear that his background "is ideally suited for monetary policy."

In a sharply worded piece in The New York Times, the 2008 winner of the Economics Prize, economist-turned-columnist Paul Krugman, reacted strongly to the blocked bid. He described Diamond as writing "the seminal paper on the whole subject" of the relationship between unemployment and the job vacancy rate.

The three winners have had a big impact on how policymakers view benefits for the unemployed and what can best be done to get them back into jobs.

The choice comes as governments face increased pressures to review benefits and labour market policies as unemployment has risen and state budgets have come under intense pressure.

According to traditional theory, markets should work on their own to establish -- in this case, job seekers finding available jobs.

The Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides, or DMP model, however, shows that markets do not always work that way and helps explain why unemployment persists and proves stubbornly resistant even when economic circumstances improve.

"In this theory, incentives in job search and recruitment are crucial determinants of unemployment as well as other labour market phenomenon," Bertil Holmlund of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in explaining the committee's choice.

The laureates' work also helps identify areas for government policy action, pinpointing for instance what they can do to improve employment and prevent long-term unemployment through training.

In London, 62-year-old Pissarides of the London School of Economics told a press conference that winning had not sunk in completely.

"I'm beginning to realize that it's reality and not a hallucination from the cold I've been suffering from the last three days," he joked.

He earlier told reporters in Stockholm by telephone that he started research in his field when unemployment in Europe was rising and he foresaw it becoming a "very big" problem.

"This is what I wanted to study, to contribute something to society," he said.

At INSEAD business school near Paris, assistant professor of economics Amine Ouazad, said that the laureates' work "helps us to understand why an increase in wages gives an increase in employment, contrary to what might have been expected." In other words, more workers are encouraged to look for work by higher wages.

Their work also helps identify areas for policy action, pinpointing for instance what governments can do to improve employment and prevent long-term unemployment through training.

The jury noted the trio's work in search theory can also be applied to a number of other areas, including the housing market and public economics.

Diamond works at the Massachusetts institute of Technology and Mortensen, 71, with Northwestern University, Chicago.

The Economics Prize is the only one of the six Nobel prizes not created in Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel's 1896 will. It was introduced in 1968 to mark the 300th anniversary of the Swedish central bank and was first awarded in 1969.

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