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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 18, 2010 Major News Stories

Palace: Don't wait for DepEd word on class suspensions

MANILA, Philippines – Students and their parents should not wait for an official announcement from the Department of Education (DepEd) on suspension of classes during a typhoon, a Malacañang official said Sunday. 

Isabela, Cagayan placed on Signal 4

Itinaas na ang public storm signal number 4 sa dalawang lalawigan sa bansa habang lumalakas at papalapit ang Bagyong 'Juan'.

Cagayan folk flee ahead of typhoon 'Juan'

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines - Residents of low-lying areas in Cagayan Valley have fled for higher ground as typhoon Juan (international name Megi) approaches the province. 

Super-typhoon 'Juan' reaches coasts of Cagayan

(UPDATE 3) Typhoon Juan showed no mercy as it bore down northern Philippines, escalating into a "super-typhoon" that has been threatening widespread damage across north Luzon and prompting the weather bureau to raise the highest storm signal in two provinces much earlier than scheduled.

In an 11 pm advisory on Sunday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces on public storm warning signal number 1 after the typhoon changed its track in the past six hours.

Juan, a super-typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 260 kph, was now moving west southwest at 20 kph, slightly slower than the 22 kph issued in the 5 pm forecast. As of 10 pm, the typhoon was 290 km east northeast of Tuguegarao, Cagayan.

PAGASA official-in-charge Graciano Yumul Jr. said Metro Manila and other parts of southern Luzon will experience rains as it was now within the typhoon's rain band.

"Just because it's signal number one, it doesn't mean that we should not be prepared. Manila was only under signal number one during Ondoy," Yumul said, referring to last year's storm that flooded 80 percent of the metropolis.

Under Department of Education standards, elementary classes in Metro Manila and other areas under signal number 1 are suspended, Yumul said.

Aside from Metro Manila, Signal number 1 was placed over Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Polillio Island, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, northern Quezon and Rizal.

Signal number 2 was declared over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Benguet, and parts of Aurora.

The following provinces were placed under Signal number 3: Batanes, Calayan Group of Islands, Babuyan Group of Islands, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, and northern Aurora.

Cagayan and Isabela remained under signal number 4, the ultimate public storm warning signal used by the PAGASA.

From 'portalets' to satellite phone: Govt all geared up vs Juan

A personal assurance from President Benigno Aquino III, a satellite phone system, and a high-alert status for police and health workers highlighted the government's final preparations for super typhoon Juan (Megi).
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Sunday evening said it has activated a satellite phone donated by the European Union to act as backup communication system.

"Satellite phone earlier donated by the European Union through Telecom Sans Frontier had been activated for use in case of local communication breakdown," NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said in a 6 p.m. preparedness report.

NDRRMC also said the Health and Social Welfare departments are ready to set up porta-lets (portable toilets) in evacuation centers.

At least 180 watercraft, 562 trucks, 153 ambulances, and 633 engineering assets have been deployed to Northern and Central Luzon for possible emergency situation. Classes on Monday are suspended in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera.

PNoy support

President Benigno Aquino III, meanwhile, personally assured residents of Cagayan province of support from the national government amid the threat from typhoon Juan.

Cagayan Governor Alvaro Antonio said President Aquino called him up and told him and other provincial officials his government is ready to give "support and assistance."

"He personally called officials of the province of Cagayan to assure us kung ano ang kakailanganin (they will provide us with what we need), the national government is willing to give support and assistance to the province and to Cagayanons," Antonio said in an interview on dzBB radio Sunday night.

Alvaro said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman also called him up to assure assistance.

"Sec. Soliman called up this morning and assured us what will be needed, ang pangangailangan tutugunan ng probinsya (they will help provide what we need), they will give us their support," he said.

Alvaro said he is thankful to Aquino for the offer of support and assistance.

Cagayan, along with Isabela, had been placed under Storm Signal No. 4 as Juan intensified further.

Code white

As this developed, health authorities went on Code White alert in preparation for the arrival of the typhoon.

NDRRMC said this was one of the courses of action taken following an emergency meeting Sunday morning.

"Drugs, medicines and medical supplies at the provincial level were prepositioned by the Centers for Health Development," Ramos said in a report posted on the NRDDMC website Sunday afternoon.

Under Code White Alert, ambulance and medical teams were placed on standby, he said.

The Philippine Red Cross also has standby equipment for water search and rescue, and ambulances that can go to priority areas.

Ramos also reported the Philippine National Police in the entire Luzon went on full alert.

The Bureau of Fire Protection also went on heightened alert and deployed personnel, fire trucks and rubber boats in areas likely to be affected.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education activated quick response teams in regional offices and advised regional directors concerned to announce class suspension.

"DepEd will coordinate to ensure that the education and classes will not be affected and disrupted in most likely to be affected areas," NDRRMC said.

For its part, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines activated its command centers nationwide and coordinates with PAGASA on typhoon tracking.

US military help offered on typhoon 'Juan'

by By Gretchen Malalad, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – The United States military offered its help to the Philippines on Sunday in response to the impending onslaught of typhoon Juan.

Gov't girds for 'Juan's' landfalln

Hiniling ng Pilipinas sa Aamerika na ipagamit ang anim na Chinook helicopters sakaling kailangan ng rescue operation sa Bagyong 'Juan'. Pinulong naman ng National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno.

China warns Megi will be year's strongest typhoon

by Agence France-Presse
BEIJING, China - Megi (PAGASA codename Juan) is expected to be the strongest typhoon of the year in China, as it intensified while approaching the northern Philippines on Sunday, forecasters said.

2 bridges destroyed in the province; more landslides occur in Cebu City

Two bridges have been destroyed in the southern towns of Alegria and Malabuyoc while two more incidents of landslides occurred in Cebu City because of heavy rains brought about by the typhoon "Juan" that is threatening the northern Luzon.

The heavy downpour has caused soil erosion in sitio Tumanduk, Barangay Legaspi, Alegria destroying an under construction concrete bridge. Another bridge was damaged in Barangay Montañeza, Malabuyoc after the river overflowed Saturday.

Passenger buses and private vehicles were reportedly stranded for several hours in Alegria because the bridge is no longer passable. A Ceres bus has to be towed by the Department of Public Works and Highways after it got stuck in the mud.

DPWH personnel have to use an improvised bridge Malabuyoc for the commuters coming from Cebu City to cross the river. Reports reaching the Cebu Provincial Police Office have it that the passengers to and from Cebu City have to transfer vehicles on the other side of the river because the bridge is not passable.

Meanwhile, two more landslides were reported in the roads of Barangay Kalunasan and Sapangdaku making it impassable to vehicles.

The Cebu City Disasters Coordinating Council was however able to immediately send personnel and equipments to clear the area. Another portion of a road in sitio Baksan, Sapangdaku also caved in.

Filling was immediately conducted to level the portion that caved-in while large vehicles were warned to take another route as authorities are uncertain of the stability of the ground.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama issued a general storm advisory directing all barangays, specially those flash flood prone and landslide prone areas, to inform their constituents of the current weather condition that may bring flooding and landslides.

"In order to better inform or warn your communities, you are reminded to disseminate there through local or community leaders and through your barangay vehicles with public address system," Rama said.

He also directed all barangays to activate their respective disaster brigades as well as the volunteers to undertake monitoring and precautionary measures in their area of responsibility.

"This is an opportunity for you to prove to your constituents that you are in command and in control of the demands in your areas during disasters as you meet their immediate needs," Rama told barangays officials.

CCDCC executive officer Alvin Santillana earlier complained that some barangay officials are too dependent to the city government when they have their own disaster brigades and they have their own calamity fund that is intended for these kinds of emergencies.

Santillana said that the CCDCC is doing its part in monitoring the affected areas and immediately sending personnel therein. He stressed that theirs is supposed to only assist the barangay disasters brigades.

Santillana said they need the cooperation of the barangay officials to ensure "zero casualty" because they are covering the 80 barangays of the city.

The CCDCC set up a command post at the City Hall where over 100 personnel are on stand by, ready to be deployed in case of emergencies.

On stand by are personnel from the office of the Mayor, the Department of Engineering and Public Works, the Department of Public Services, the Parks and Playground Committee, the City Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team, the 51st Reserve Marines, the Bureau of Fire, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, Basak-Pardo Emergency Rescue, City Traffic Operations and Management and the Cebu City Police Office-Mobile Patrol Group.

To report any incident or concern in the city, the CCDCC may be reached at 255-6983, 254-8637, 412-1998 and 255-6984.

Probe OFWs' recruiters in Afghan crash—labor chief

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Sunday ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to investigate the recruitment agency of the six overseas Filipino workers who died in a plane crash in Afghanistan last week.

Recruiters must pay insurance for OFWs - POEA

Amid complaints from recruiters, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has maintained that employers are mandated by law to pay for the insurance coverage of workers and seafarers they hire.

Kabul crash victims' remains to be brought home soon

MANILA, Philippines – The remains of 6 Filipinos who died in a cargo plane crash in Kabul, Afghanistan, last October 13 will be brought home as soon as possible, the government said Sunday.

Binay welcomed as PNoy's adviser on OFW concerns

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino migrants' group Migrante has welcomed the appointment of Vice-President Jejomar Binay as President Benigno Aquino III's adviser on overseas Filipino workers' (OFW) concerns. 

Commission on Audit: Compostela town is bankrupt

The Municipality of Compostela does not have sufficient funds to pay for its obligations, including salaries to employees and other payables, state auditors reported after reviewing the town's books for 2009.

The Commission on Audit (COA) in its report released October 7 said the municipality only has P1.55 million cash in its bank and treasury records, which are not enough to pay for its P14.8 million obligations by the end of 2009.

The auditors said the disparity is expected to increase when unrecorded disbursements and other unreconciled items are brought to light by a special audit team.

According to auditors, the municipal treasurer continued to certify that funds were available for expenses identified by officials including then Mayor Ritchie Wagas, causing the town to incur payables that could not be paid by their actual funds.

"The municipal treasurer, who was supposed to monitor income collections, continued to certify the availability of funds in the purchase request and disbursement voucher and subsequently issued checks despite shortfalls in collection," state auditors said.

"The foregoing practices are indications that the municipal treasurer was negligent and remiss in his duties."

The town also operated over the budget appropriated by the municipal council, awarded projects worth P4.477 million to contractors, who failed to submit proper eligibility requirements, did not bid out P6.7 million worth of supply procurement and spent allocated funds for different purposes worth P2.15 million.

It was found out the municipality gave out some P3.2 million in checks were also issued to unauthorized persons without proper documentation.

The municipality was also discovered to have failed to conduct an inventory of town property worth P47 million, among others.

"While it is true that in the forthcoming year 2010, there will be cash from collection of taxes and other revenues to be added to the available cash, we find this situation as a real threat to the financial position of the municipality of Compostela in the ensuing year," the auditors reported.

Cebu 5th District Rep. Ramon "Red" Durano VI earlier warned, through a privilege speech at the House of Representatives, that the town was bankrupt.

He was repudiated by municipal treasurer Lorenzo Almodiel.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Central Visayas Director Pedro Noval also said Durano was "deceiving" the public, a statement he later clarified.

Durano, who based his speech on the same COA report, was clamoring for the immediate resolution of the electoral protest of Wagas.

He said the finances of the town can be put in order if the legally elected officials led by proclaimed mayoralty winner Joel Quiño take their office.

The Commission in Elections prevented all elected officials of the town to take office pending the resolution of the protest.

The congressman earlier said that the grievances of the people from Compostela were not heard which also led him to seek solution of the protest.

Noval is sitting as OIC mayor and caretaker of the town.

Although the town officials including the treasurer promised to monitor cash advances as well as issued verbal warnings to officials with unliquidated cash advances, state auditors said negligence was not an excuse.

"Management had been informed through verbal communication, audit observation memoranda and in previous years' annual audit reports regarding their unliquidated cash advances and violations of COA (rules). The reason for being unaware of any circular to withhold salaries is not acceptable," the auditors said.

State auditors said that the town's operating budget for 2009 (P89.9 million) was different from the proposed budget of the mayor (P91.3 million) and almost double the approved budget (annual and three supplemental budget ordinances) of the municipal council amounting to P57.5 million.

Funds intended for specific purposes, like gender and development, as well as for local development projects were instead used for expenses like drum and bugle competitions, municipal youth council meetings, meals, Valentine's Day presentation, sports uniforms and sports fest activities.

"These disbursements neither contributed to the attainment of desirable socio-economic development and environmental management outcomes…As a result, the constituents in the municipality were deprived of developmental projects," the COA report stated.

The questioned expenses intended for GAD and the LDF amounted to close to P2.15 million.

COA asked officials, including the municipal treasurer, accountant budget and planning officers to explain in writing, rectify documentation errors and fix their systems or face further sanctions.

State auditors asked the municipality's bids and awards committee, who signed off two projects worth P4.8 million - the town's computerization program and the concreting of the Magay-Buluang Road - to submit a written explanation or face disallowance or suspension.

COA also asked the officials who gave themselves "productivity and efficiency" bonuses to return the moneyto the people.

Capitol Offers Help

The Provincial Government has offered to take care of the salaries of the municipal employees of Compostela town as its lack of a council also affected the submission of a budget.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said that in the proposed P3 billion budget she had submitted to the Provincial Board, she included an item for assistance to LGUs in crisis situation amounting to P5 million.

Compostela town employees still have not received the first tranche of their salary increase for this year. The second tranche, supposed to be given next year may also be stalled.

Another tranche of salary increase shall be implemented by January next year which is supposed to be covered by the new budget like what other LGUs are doing now. 

Compostela town acting Mayor Pedro Noval Jr., the regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government -7, has asked for help from the governor with regards of the town's annual budget.

Noval said that he has prepared the town's annual budget but there is no town council could accept and deliberate it for approval.

Compostela is expected to operate on a reenacted budget from 2009 because the council last year also failed to pass a budget.

Noval said no pay increase could be implemented without an ordinance from the legislative body. Neither can money be spent for development projects.

Garcia said that like what the Capitol did in Tudela town, the provincial government is willing to help Compostela.

The assistance for LGUs in crisis situations came about after employees in Tudela town did not get their salaries for months because of confusion over the rightful sitting mayor.

Tudela was allowed to borrow money from the Province to pay the salaries of the employees and it was already paid back.

Noval on the other hand said he will have to assess if it is legal since no salary increases can be retroactive.

He said that if they pay now, the municipality cannot pay that in succeeding years and they cannot refund.

He said he will think of other ways to manage and what the governor said will be studied as an option.

Noval was appointed caretaker of Compostela pending resolution of the election case before the Commission on Elections which suspended the effect of the proclamation of winners led by Joel Quiño as mayor in the May elections.

He said his request to their central office for the appointment of department heads as members of a temporary council has not yet been acted on.

Facebook leads to arrest of ex-prosecutor's "killer"

A message on facebook led the Talisay City police operatives to arrest in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental the 17-year-old accused in the murder of retired Regional State Prosecutor Hernando Masangkay.

Talisay City police chief Henry Biñas arrested the accused, name withheld for being a minor, Saturday evening inside a resto bar in San Carlos City where he joined a male fashion show.

Biñas said they were tipped off by one of Masangkay's children of the accused's whereabouts after the latter posted a message on his facebook account saying, "kita kitakits sa San Carlos City."

The information was pursued by the police after they have also confirmed that the accused already left the spa he was working in the uptown area of Cebu City.

Armed with the warrant of arrest for robbery with homicide issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 16 Judge Sylvia Paderanga, Biñas together with Police Officer 3 Mikie Espina and PO2 Stephen Sefuesca went to San Carlos City Saturday evening.

With the assistance of the local police, the accused was located by the team of Biñas in La Riquah Resto Bar where he was one of the models in a fashion show.

The police waited until the show was over before serving the warrant of arrest against the minor accused.

The minor and two other unidentified cohorts are accused in the killing of Masangkay in June.

The former regional state prosecutor was robbed of his P10,000 gold necklace and P4,000 cash inside his house in Talisay City.

The accused was said to be Masangkay's on call driver and he was the last person seen in the house before the victim was found dead.

The accused admitted working as driver of Masangkay until March 2010. On May 2010, he claimed to have already stopped working for Masangkay after he was hired to work in a spa.

Masangkay was found dead inside his house in Phase 3D, Camella Homes, Barangay Lawaan I, Talisay City on June 28.

The crime was discovered after his children got worried when he failed to answer text messages or phone calls from them.

The victim sustained stabbed wound on his neck and found three pillows placed on his head. The autopsy revealed that the victim had bruises on the right part of his face, nose, left ear, and lower left ear. Said bruises showed that there was pressure used and a pillow was used to cover the face of the victim while asleep.

Masangkay's former driver was charged based on circumstantial evidence, including finger prints lifted from the crime scene which matched to that of the minor.

Cardinal Vidal holds Mass for prisoners

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who is set to retire within three months, conducted a pontifical mass for the first time at the Talisay City Jail yesterday morning.

CPA has new Commissioners

The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) has a new set of port commissioners but they have yet to receive official communication from the President.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in an interview over the government-run radio station DZRB the other day, said that the new port commissioners are Vicente Suazo, Jr., Benjamin Akol, Arturo Barrit, Atty. Joselito Pedaria, Carlos Co, and Dennis Villamor.

Suazo is the current CPA general manager while Akol is the president of Philippine Cargo and Stevedoring Operators. Suazo and Akol will be representing the ship owners and the shipping operators.

Barrit, a labor leader from the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) and Pedaria, the legal counsel of ALU-TUCP will represent the cargo handling and stevedoring sector.

Co is former president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and owns the Cebu Oversea Hardware and president of Golden Great Value Properties Inc. He will represent the business sector alongside Villamor, currently the CPA deputy general manager.

The Cebu Port Commission is composed of a chairman, the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication and the six commissioners.

The commission's vice chairman shall be elected from among the six commissioners and shall be designated concurrent CPA general manager.

The CPA was created through the enactment of Republic Act No. 7621 signed on June 26, 1992 to administer all ports located in Cebu Province, thus, effectively separating these ports from the Philippine Ports Authority system.

CPA officially took over all Cebu ports on January 1, 1996. 

Senate to hear RH bill Monday

MANILA, Philippines – Reproductive health (RH) will be on top of the Senate agenda Monday when lawmakers hold their first hearing on Senate Bill No. 2378. 

Ombudsman loses 2nd case vs ex-AFP-RSBS execs

The Office of the Ombudsman, in hot water over its alleged poor prosecution record, has lost a second criminal case against former officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS), a state-owned pension fund for the military.

Palace announces six new appointments

Malacañang on Sunday announced six new appointments, including entrepreneur and professor Tomas Lopez as a board member of the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG).
Lopez, who had served the late President Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Benigno Aquino III, as agriculture undersecretary and executive director of the National Agricultural and Fisheries Council, will represent the government employees sector in the Pag-IBIG board.

He is the president and CEO of the Club Noah Group of Companies, a director of the Ateneo Center for Entrepreneurship, and a co-founder and director of South East Asian Airlines or Seair.

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also disclosed the appointment of lawyer Teresita Desierto — a commissioner of Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) — as a board member of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

Desierto, wife of former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, was earlier suspected of being a "midnight appointee" of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed Desierto as an HLURB commissioner sometime between March 1 and 10, 2010.

Valte also announced the appointment of Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Amando Dimarucot Jr. as board members of the Asian Productivity Organization under the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

New appointments in the Department of Trade and Industry are Ireneo Vizmonte as director III in acting capacity, and Celestino Negapatang as an acting provincial director. 

US-based lawyers ask PNoy to free Morong 43

An international group of human rights lawyers has called the attention of President Benigno Aquino III to release the 43 health workers who were arrested early this year in Morong, Rizal on suspicion that they were communist rebels.

NPA, village politics behind abduction of 2 brothers in Sarangani —police

The police said communist guerrillas were responsible for the abduction of two brothers in the remote Kinam village in Malapatan town, Sarangani Province on Thursday morning.

MILF cites new intl observers to peace process

The Moro Islamic Liberation Frontthis weekend welcomed the move of a Belgium-based nongovernment organization to send more people to monitor the Islamist group's peace process with the government.

Cops sought as election inspectors in Lanao del Sur

The local command of the Philippine Army in Lanao del Sur has recommended that police officers, instead of teachers, be tapped to run the October 25 barangay (village) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections in several towns of the province to ensure their peaceful and orderly conduct.

P800M needed for ARMM elections

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will need an additional P800 million next year to fully automate polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an official said.

Double-murder cop loses habeas corpus bid in US anew

CHICAGO - Michael Ray Aquino, a former police officer implicated in the high-profile double murder case of a publicist and his driver more than nine years ago, lost another bid for freedom after a United States court denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

60 Filipino diplomats' new appointments, promotions OKd

The Commission on Appointments (CA) last week confirmed the appointment of Monina Estrella Callangan-Rueda as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Hungary and 59 officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs in its plenary session.

Ambassador Callangan-Rueda will also have concurrent jurisdiction over Bosnia and Herzegovinia, and Serbia and Montenegro. The CA also confirmed the promotional appointments of 59 other DFA officers:

Chief of Mission, Class I: Eduardo Pablo G. Maglaya, Virginia H. Benavidez, Luis T. Cruz, Romeo L. Manalo, and Elizabeth P. Buensuceso.

Chief of Mission, Class II: Evelyn D. Austria-Garcia, Meynardo L.B. Montealegre, Ma. Teresa L. Taguiang, Constancio R. Vingno Jr., Amelita C. Aquino, Ma. Lumen B. Isleta, Alex G. Chua, Joselito Jimeno, Jaime Victor B. Ledda, and Leah B. Ruiz.

Career Minister: Giovanni E. Palec, Rosario P. Lemque, Ma. Josefina V. Ceballos, Arvin R. De Leon, Ma. Elena P. Algabre-Misrahi, Marian Jocelyn R. Tirol-Ignacio, Ezzedin H. Tago, Alan L. Deniega, Paul Raymund P. Cortes, Raly L. Tejada, Jose A. Cabrera III, Marshall Louis M. Alferez, Anne J. Louis, and Zaldy B. Patron

Foreign Service Officer, Class I: Felipe F. Cariño III, Renato N. Dueñas Jr., Jose V. Jacob, Ma. Theresa S.M. Lazaro, Porfirio M. Mayo Jr., Ivan Frank M. Olea, Raymund G. Toledo, Marie Yvette B. Abalos, Iric C. Arribas, Victorio Mario M. Dimagiba Jr., Emmanuel R. Fernandez, Romulo Victor M. Israel Jr., Anthony Achilles L. Mandap, Ma. Antonina Mendoza-Oblena, Dinno M. Oblena, Enrique Voltaire G. Pingol, Rhenita B. Rodriguez, Rosanna Marie Villamor-Voogel, Patricia V. Barrera, Adrian Elmer S. Cruz, and Ma. Angela A. Ponce.

Foreign Service Officer, Class II: Gerardo P. Abiog, Jabbar M. Adiong, Rodillo R. Catalan, Leilani S. Feliciano, Ma. Elena Cristina D. Maningat, Gonaranao B. Musor, Arnel G. Talisayon, and Joseph Anthony A. Reyes.

Foreign Service Officer, Class III: Cassandra Karemaeh B. Sawadjaan.

$1: P43.175

$1: P43.175

Euro 1: P60.8197

Shell denies engaging in oil smuggling

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (Shell) denied allegations that it has been involved in smuggling petroleum products and defrauding the Philippine government of some P24-billion excise and value added taxes.

House inquiry sought on gov't losses in Malampaya oil project

Congress should not let the government get the short end of the stick again in pursuing another project with private companies, according to Mindanao lawmakers who renewed calls for an inquiry into the government's loss of P53 billion in the Malampaya gas project.

Hope fades for trapped miners in China after 26 killed

BEIJING-- Rescuers said Sunday there was little hope of finding alive 11 miners trapped underground after a gas explosion in a central Chinese coal mine that killed 26 of their comrades.

14 dead, tens of thousands evacuated in Vietnam floods

BANGKOK – Flooding has killed at least 14 people in Vietnam and forced around 78,000 people to be evacuated from their homes in the center of the country, officials said Sunday.

Somali pirates seize S. Korean fishing boat—ministry

A South Korean fishing boat with 43 people on board has been seized by Somali pirates off the Kenyan coast, the foreign ministry said Sunday, the latest vessel to be captured by the bandits.

Pope Benedict XVI canonizes Australia's first saint

VATICAN CITY – (UPDATE) Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized Australia's first saint, Mary MacKillop, at a mass in Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on Sunday in front of some 50,000 cheering pilgrims.

Malaysian police probe 'puppy torture' pictures on Twitter

KUALA LUMPUR-- Malaysian police said Sunday they had launched an investigation after pictures of a puppy apparently being tortured appeared on micro-blogging website Twitter.

Bob Arum impressed on Pacman's training

Dinagdagan ang training regimen Ni Manny Pacquiao bilang paghahanda sa malaking si Antonio Margarito.  Muling gumamit ng rattan stick si Pacquiao. Sobrang sakit ang ganitong routine ngunit kailangan itong gawin.            Nag-limang rounds ng sparring si  Pacquiao kahapon kay Glen Tapia at apat na rounds kay Michael Medina. Nanood sa practice ang promoter na si Bob Arum at ang asawa ni Manny na si Jinkee.   Pagkatapos ng praktis,  isang oras at kalahati naman sa kantahan si Pacquiao.Naggitara rin si Manny at tumugtog ng organ. Napuno ng fans ang function room ng Coyeesan Hotel dahil sa mini-concert kasama sina Jinkee, Madonna Decena at Lito Camo. May nakaplano rin kasing concert si Pacman sa Amerika pagkatapos ng laban kay Margarito.

Pacquiao works on regaining speed

Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao will focus on regaining his old speed in the final weeks of his training for his Nov. 13 title fight with Antonio Margarito in Arlington, Texas.

Arum says Pacquiao saving best for fight

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing promoter Bob Arum witnessed his prized fighter Manny Pacquiao go toe-to-toe with taller sparring partners on Saturday as the country's boxing congressman stepped up his preparation for his super welterweight bout against Mexican toughie Antonio Margarito.

'Pacquiao should be satisfactory in Margarito fight to lure Mayweather'

MANILA, Philippines - Seven-division world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao should give Mexican Antonio Margarito a "satisfactory" fight if he wants a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr, a boxing examiner said.

Beermen beat Gin Kings 69-68; Powerade stops Barako Bull 87-77

Arwind Santos, after almost singlehandedly rallying San Miguel back from a 21-point deficit in the third period, came up with the defensive play of the night in the endgame to lift the Beermen to a 69-68 decision of Barangay Ginebra Sunday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Big Dome.

Agustin triumphant in SMB coaching debut

In his debut game as head mentor of the winningest team in the Philippine Basketball Association, collegiate champion Ato Agustin wasted no time and proved his worth in the big league.

ABS-CBN seeks immediate court ruling on TRO vs Willie

MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. filed a motion to resolve before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) on Friday after Willie Revillame announced that his show, "Willing-Willie," will be launched on October 23.

Jail inmates still hiding Patrick dela Rosa

by By Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Actor-politician Patrick dela Rosa – detained for more than a week now at the Cubao police station for allegedly raping a 20-year-old student he met at a party – was reported to have left his cell Sunday afternoon to meet privately with his lawyer inside the station. 

Credit card surcharges are unlawful, says DTI

MANILA, Philippines- Credit cards give consumers the advantage of purchasing goods and services without carrying any money since they are a convenient substitute for cash or check.

But do you know that unscrupulous business establishments are taking advantage of credit card holders by imposing 5-10% surcharges? Most of the consumers are not aware that these surcharges are illegal.

In an interview with "Mornings@ANC," Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya revealed the illicit tactics of some business establishments that are imposing additional charges on items purchased through credit cards.

"Surcharges are illegal. There is such a thing as one price tag policy. What you see on the actual price tag is the only cost that you must pay, no more, no less," said Maglaya.

Under Article 81, or the "Price Tag Requirement," of Republic Act 7394, otherwise known as "Consumer Act of the Philippines," goods and services must have only an appropriate price tag or label. It must not be sold at a higher price that what is stated and without discrimination to all buyers.

Maglaya also noted that some merchandisers, mostly of appliances and gadgets, trick consumers by giving in-store promos of discounts for cash basis to discourage credit card payments.

Maglaya also advised consumers who were tricked into paying the surcharges to ask for a refund and report the incident to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

"They (merchandisers) should not pass 5-10% surcharges to the consumers for they are already paying annual membership fee for using credit cards," said Maglaya.

In ensuring consumers' rights, Maglaya said the DTI is monitoring business establishments through secret marshalling. She also disclosed that DTI is closely working with retailers association.

Maglaya warned violators that they will be fined as much as P 300,000, depending on the gravity, and/or revocation of their business permit and license.

For complaints and questions, you may reach DTI's hotline number 7513330 or

Maglaya, meantime, gave the following tips to credit card holders:

1. Know your budget- Once you use your credit cards, you cannot track down the expenses and how much you have spent. 
2. Do not be tempted, do not let yourself be trapped- Unless it is really important, do not use credit cards. Paying through cash is better than paying through credits
3. Be a wise consumer. Know your rights.

PNoy, De Lima, Robredo, Luistro get high marks in survey

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, and Education Secretary Armin Luistro are the "top-performing" Cabinet officials, a survey of Metro Manila residents showed. The survey, done Oct. 9-13 by Makati-based StratPOLLS to mark President Aquino's first 100 days in office, gave De Lima highest in terms of performance rating, followed by Robredo, and Luistro.
The survey, done Oct. 9-13 by Makati-based StratPOLLS to mark President Aquino's first 100 days in office, gave De Lima highest in terms of performance rating with 18.4 percent, followed by Robredo (8 percent), and Luistro (6 percent).

The StratPOLLS survey on a national scale for the President also showed that eight of 10 Filipinos are satisfied with Aquino's performance, giving him a 62.4-percent rating.

"This is a very good benchmark grade for the President and from the layman's point of view. Everything is coming up roses, notwithstanding the botched hostage crisis and all the labor pains of birth for the new government," Sureta said.

StratPOLLS executive director Alfredo Sureta Jr. said the "high mark" De Lima got was due to her media exposure as Incident Investigation Review Committee (IIRC) chairman which did a marathon probe (Sept. 3-8) into the Aug. 23 hostage tragedy. Much of the hearings were covered live.

As IIRC chair, De Lima garnered "extra [media] mileage," Sureta pointed out in the national daily BusinessMirror.

De Lima was earlier in the limelight with her part in the preliminary investigations on the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, the worst election-related violence in Philippine history.

In a text message to GMANews.TV, De Lima pointed out that she was only doing her job with utmost sincerity.

"Such a rating is very humbling for me. I see it as a general public's testament to my serious and firm adherence to the principles of fairness, accountability and transparency — the very core principles I'm imparting to my co-workers in the Justice Department," the Justice chief noted.

Robredo meanwhile had a respected track record in local governance as Naga's long-time mayor and is the only Filipino mayor to have received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's version of the Nobel Prize.

On the other hand, Luistro got politically involved when he joined the call for the resignation of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Luistro — the concurrent president and CEO of De La Salle Philippines Inc. — was a prominent figure in the Black and White Movement, a group advocating for the resignation, impeachment, or ouster of then President Arroyo.

"The results of the performance ratings of members of the Cabinet… are still confined to the National Capital Region as data and statistical reports covering Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are still being completed," Sureta said.

The full survey results will be revealed this Thursday, StratPOLLS marketing head Art Valenzuela told GMANews.TV.

Aquino rates highest in Visayas

Aquino obtained a performance rating of 41 percent in Metro Manila, 66.2 percent in Luzon, 84.4 percent in Visayas, and 58.2 percent in Mindanao, the survey showed.

The performance of other top officials was also covered nationwide during the first 100 days of the Aquino presidency, StratPOLLS said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay earned a nationwide performance rating of 45.2 percent and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile got 22.2 percent.

"Aquino, Binay, and Enrile all earned surplus net ratings as they were among the top players in the last media-driven election campaign as subjects of daily but catchy commercial advertisements, mostly on television," said Sureta.

However, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte obtained a nationwide performance rating of -16 percent and Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona received -9.8 percent.

"Belmonte and Corona were not exposed to or did not get that much exposure to the public through the media during the same period," Sureta said.

Formed in 2009, StratPOLLS is a member of the ALC Group of Companies and is a sister company of BusinessMirror, Philippines Graphic magazine, and radio stations dwIZ and Home Radio FM.

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