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

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 26, 2010 Major News Stories

2,341 villages fail to hold barangay, SK polls

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections said 4.12% or 2,341 of the 42,025 barangays in the country were unable to hold barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Monday.

The Comelec said special elections will be held in these barangays on Tuesday from 7 a.m.  to 7 p.m.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo earlier admitted that delayed deliveries of election materials affected the conduct of the barangay elections in various parts of the country. He blamed the late arrival of the election paraphernalia to several factors including delays in the printing and dispatch of the poll materials.

He said the poll body had to reconstitute the Comelec bids and awards committee after the Ombudsman suspended the former committee members for the botched ballot secrecy folder deal.

Melo said moves by both chambers of Congress to postpone the elections also prompted the poll body to take a cautious stance as far as spending is concerned.

"Sometime ago, the Congress and Senate held hearings and we were invited. Our take was that the general sentiment was to postpone the polls by both Houses. On our part naman, we did not want to second-guess anybody. We did not want to spend unnecessarily. Baka naman sinabi ng iba kung ginastos sinayang pera ng bayan kung nagdecide na huwag ituloy," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he was dissatisfied with the reported delays in the opening of poll precincts in numerous barangays all over the country.

In a press conference, Aquino said Comelec should have prepared more for the electoral process. "Compared to the automated elections, this is a simpler undertaking. We need to know the reason for the delay," he said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the late delivery of poll materials problems was caused by road hitches and shipping delays.

"There were several instances where delivery trucks suffered flat tires. In some cases, they left Manila late because of shipping scheduling and flights not being available. (But) they tried to recover as much as possible because the schedule was very, very tight," he said.

Melo said that some ballots have to be reprinted due to unintentional duplication of serial numbers which also caused the delay. He said the antiquated printing presses at the National Printing Office are partly to blame for the delays.

He also echoed Aquino's sentiment expressing dissatisfaction with the conduct of the polls. "He is not alone siguro. Personal yun. Nasa kanya yun. Tayo hindi satisfied because a little delayed ang bidding," he said.

The Comelec has issued Resolution 9079 allowing Board of Election Tellers (BET) to add one arabic numeral after the last digit of the duplicated serial number to render the ballots usable.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the printing of ballots was suppose to run for just 45 daysbut was cramped into just 16 days.

Comelec blames nat'l printing office for delivery delays

Delays. Delays. Delays. Saying that it was also dissatisfied with how the barangay elections were held, the Commission on Elections on Monday blamed the delay in the delivery of election materials for the postponement of the elections in many areas of the country, particularly in the Bicol region.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said the delivery of election supplies was delayed in turn due to earlier delays in the printing of ballots by the National Printing Office and the delays in the bidding for the election materials.

He added that areas that did not hold elections on Monday will still be on public holiday Tuesday so that voters could still cast their ballots.

Even President Aquino has said he was also dissatisfied with how the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls were conducted.

"He's not alone," Melo said in a press briefing. "It's not 100 percent so we are not ... We want of course to have 100 percent but (still) as it is, it is not failure [of elections].

"We are not satisfied in the sense that the bidding was a little delayed and then the NPO did not perform up to par because their printing presses are not very modern," Melo said.

"[The President's opinion] is personal. That is up to him but we may share that dissatisfaction," he added.

Melo said the bidding was delayed because Congress was not able to immediately decide whether the barangay and SK polls should push though this year.

Aquino asked to declare Oct. 26 or 27 as holiday for special polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday asked President Benigno Aquino III to declare October 26 or 27 as special non-working holiday in areas where special barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls will be conducted.

Classes suspended Tuesday nationwide—DepEd

The Department of Education on Monday said classes in the elementary and high school levels in public schools throughout the country are suspended until Tuesday to allow teachers who served as election tellers in the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections to rest.

Reynaldo Laguda, chief of staff of Education Secretary Armin Luistro, also said classes in schools in villages where elections have been moved to Tuesday are suspended until Wednesday.

Naguda added that elections in roughly 1,500 villages were postponed for Tuesday mostly due to delays of the delivery of election paraphernalia.

In a separate interview, DepEd Communication Unit Director Cristina Ganzon explained that the suspension of classes nationwide on Tuesday will give teachers a "rest day."

PNP, AFP: Polls 'peaceful' despite 47 violent incidents

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls were "generally peaceful" despite the 47 election-related violent incidents reported on Monday. Meanwhile, according to the Commission on Elections, the polls were postponed in 1,732 barangays nationwide due to delays in the delivery of election materials and damage from super typhoon Juan.

DILG denies last-minute release of list of ineligible candidates

Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) denied that the list of barangay candidates ineligible to run were released only on the weekend before Monday's polls.
Barangay chairpersons who have already served three consecutive terms or more (three years per term) are disqualified from running for the same position in Monday's polls.

Contrary to the allegation of election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Robredo said the list of ineligible candidates was received by the Office of Comelec Chairman Jose Melo on September 24. 

"The intent was to forewarn Comelec before the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy last October 14," he told reporters in a text message on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Macalintal said the Department of Interior and Local Government committednegligence because it only released the names of the ineligible candidates on the weekend before Monday's elections.

"Bakit ngayon lang magsa-subit? Hindi lang isa itong malaking kapabayaan ng DILG. Dapat noon pa nila ginawa iyan," said Macalintal, who used to serve as former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's election lawyer. 

(Why did the DILG submit only now? This is a serious negligence on its part. They should have submitted the names before.)

Over the weekend, the poll body issued a resolution authorizing its law department to to file petitions to disqualify candidates who are "multiple-termers." 

The Comelec resolution was based on the DILG's list of 4,433 barangay chairmen nationwide who are no longer eligible to run in the polls because "they are already over the term limit."

The list of disqualified barangay chairpersons from the DILG has been distributed to all election officers across the country on Saturday for validation. 

Loot makes scene in polling center

Tensions run high at Tapilon Elementary School in Daanbantayan when Mayor Maria Luisa Loot allegedly took a woman's digital camera.

Shellice Faith Coyoca, 26, of Barangay Tapilon accused Loot of forcibly taking her digital camerawhile she was taking pictures for personal use inside the school premises.

Coyoca claimed, while taking pictures, Loot arrived and immediately confronted her what she was taking pictures of.

The Mayor allegedly asked her, "kinsa man imo gi-picture-picturan day, picture pud ko."

Immediately, Loot grabbed the camera and passed it on to her bodyguard Helmar Cañete then later to Senior Police Officer 4 Jose Dupay.

Dupay, who was identified as police escort of Loot, also invited Coyoca to the Daanbantayan Police Station. She was however released few minutes later upon the order of the town police chief Laurel Almirante.

Dupay explained that he was outside the Tapilon Elementary School when she heard somebody calling for police assistance prompting him to respond. On his way he met Loot's driver, Cañete, at the gate of the school who handed to him a camera.

The camera was no longer returned to Coyoca because it is allegedly in the possession of Loot's legal counsel. Tapilon is one of the barangays listed on the Comelec watchlist because of the candidacy of retired police Col. Hiram Binatiro, a known political rival of the incumbent mayor.

Despite the incident, however, the police and the Comelec described the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Daanbantayan as generally peaceful compared to the previous elections.

Provincial election supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano who was in northern Cebu the whole day yesterday also said that the entire voting process was alright except for the delays in the start of the voting.

The delay was caused by the delayed delivery of election paraphernalia.

BRT, MCIAA development among P.Noy's top projects

The Cebu Bus Rapid Transit and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) Development Project are among the top 16 projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) of President Benigno Aquino.

Senior citizens get discounts on more goods

SENIOR CITIZENS will now be able to get a 5% discount on more food and basic items after the Agriculture and Trade departments tagged additional commodities other than those mentioned under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

The Agriculture department, in a statement issued yesterday, said firewood, charcoal and candles had been identified as basic necessities. Diapers; feed and veterinary products for poultry, swine and cattle; construction materials such as nipa shingles, plyboard and nails; steel wires; electrical supplies; light bulbs; and batteries were classed as prime commodities.

Joint Administrative Order 10-02 was issued last Oct. 15 by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo. It was published in a newspaper last Oct. 17 and took effect immediately.

"Each senior citizen can enjoy the 5% discount on said food and prime commodities, which however are not exempted from the value-added tax," the Agriculture department said.

Senior citizens are defined as any Filipino citizen aged 60 years old or above who is a resident of the Philippines.

Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, the basic necessities refer to "rice, corn, bread, fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products, fresh pork, beef and poultry, meat, fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, coffee, sugar, cooking oil, salt, laundry soap, detergents, and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health (DoH)."

Prime commodities include "fresh fruits, flour, dried, processed and canned pork, beef and poultry, meat, dairy products not falling under basic necessities; noodles, onions, garlic, and all drugs not classified as essential drugs by the DoH."

The IRR allows for the inclusion of "other commodities as maybe classified" by the Trade and Agriculture departments.

Civil Service Commission to seek 6-month extension of non-career officers

THE CIVIL Service Commission (CSC) will seek a six-month extension for officials who are not qualified to occupy career executive service (CES) positions.

"Heads of agencies should convince Palace to extend the term of non-CESOs (career executive service officer) for another six months because there is a dearth in CESOs. There is no choice but to extend their term or lots of positions will be left vacant," CSC Chairman Francisco T. Duque III said by phone last Friday.

For his part, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. told reporters last week that the Palace is reviewing all appointments.

"There are many of them [CESO] who have already been reappointed. Some people were already terminated for the service, so it's a continuing process."

Memorandum Circular (MC) 2, issued by Mr. Ochoa, extended the tenure of non-CESOs occupying CES positions to Oct. 31.

MC 2 amended MC 1, which set the termination deadline on July 31.

MC 1 implemented Executive Order (EO) 3 which revoked EO 833 issued by the previous administration that granted CES positions to state lawyers.

A stay order had been sought on EO 3, but this was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Career executive service is the third level or managerial class in the group of career positions in civil service, according to the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) Web site.

CES was created by Presidential Decree 1 to "form a continuing pool of well-selected and development-oriented career administrators who shall provide competent and faithful service."

CES groups undersecretary, assistant secretary, bureau director, bureau assistant director, regional director, assistant regional director, department service chief and other equivalent rank as maybe identified by CESB.

GMA can't just refuse subpoena, prosecutors insist

MANILA, Philippines - Prosecutors are asking the Sandiganbayan 5th Division to overrule objections raised by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against a court summons for her to testify in the graft trial of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri.

Aquino OK with probe into Peace bonds

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III welcomes a possible probe into the controversial bond float involving a member of his Cabinet, saying this would finally put closure to the controversy.

Aquino: I hope SC sees wisdom in EO 7

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino hopes the Supreme Court will see the wisdom behind his Executive Order 7 (EO 7), amid a new complaint filed before it.
A lawyer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in Butuan City questioned before the high court Executive Order 7, which stopped the undue increase in the salaries and benefits of board members, officials and regular employees of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions.

Aquino denies neglecting foreign affairs

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will finally meet his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the first time this week, with the end goal of sourcing more initiatives for the benefit of the Filipinos.

Aquino leaves for Vietnam Tuesday, assigns no caretaker

President Aquino said on Monday he would continue to be in charge of the government during his state visit in Vietnam.

RP wants code of conduct in South China Sea amid disputes

President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he hopes Asian countries can come up with a code of conduct that will prevent further disputes over territories within the South China Sea during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit next week.

Freedom of 14 kidnapped Pinoy seafarers sought

MANILA, Philippines - Efforts are underway to secure the swift release of 14 Filipino seafarers who were abducted by Somali pirates on Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. 

RP hires lawyer for brutally murdered OFW in KSA

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has hired a lawyer to fight the case for a 22-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who suffered a brutal death from stab wounds and acid burns in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of al-Khobar over a month ago, the embassy said on Monday.

Cafgu runs amok in Zambo Sibugay; 7 killed

MANILA, Philippines - A member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) went amok in a military detachment in Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay Sunday evening, shooting 6 of his comrades before he was killed.

Church ready to mediate in GRP-NDFP peace talks

Catholic Church officials have expressed willingness to mediate in peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels.

ILO chief tells Filipino graduates to get BPO jobs

While waiting for the chance to land a job abroad, nursing, engineering, and accountancy graduates in the Philippines should help expand the skills gap in the country, the ILO director to the Philippines said over the weekend.

Tetangco to banks: Use funds parked in BSP vault

To bolster the country's strong economic growth, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has urged financial institutions to use the nearly P1 trillion parked in its vault.

Major 7.5 quake strikes Indonesia

JAKARTA—(UPDATE) A major 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia Monday, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage or casualties and an earlier tsunami warning was lifted.

Thousands ordered to flee as Indonesia on volcano alert

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Indonesia ordered thousands of people to evacuate from around Mount Merapi on Monday as it raised the alert for its most active volcano to red, warning of a possible imminent eruption.

Death toll from Thai floods hits 41

BANGKOK—The death toll in Thailand from two weeks of flooding rose to 41 on Monday after emergency officials reported a further three fatalities, as Bangkok stood on guard for rising river levels.

27 dead after cyclone pounds Myanmar—state media

YANGON—At least 27 people were killed and 15 are missing after a powerful cyclone struck western Myanmar, state media reported late Monday.

South Korea sends promised flood relief aid to North Korea

by Agence France-Presse
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea is sending the first dispatch of relief supplies including 5,000 tons of rice to North Korea on Monday, after it was battered by torrential rain this summer, officials said.

Arum to support ALA Gym fighters with ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines — Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has pledged to support fighters from the ALA Boxing Gym, along with ABS-CBN, which will cover their big fight cards in Cebu and Bohol this coming Saturday.

Last hurrah for Manny? Roach not standing in Pacman's way

Some good things never last. This is the reason why Freddie Roach will in no way prevent Manny Pacquiao from leaving boxing if and when he decides to retire after his title fight with Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Pacquiao goes to basketball game on 1st day in US

Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao gave his training mentors the slip Sunday, spending his first day in the United States on a trip from Los Angeles to San Diego to coach his basketball team in an exhibition game.

Pacquiao's pick Zyrene vows to sing anthem in 55 seconds

by By Caroline J. Howard, ABS-CBN News Channel
MANILA, Philippines - When international boxing champ Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao and Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito slug it out in Dallas, Texas on November 13, a new face in the music industry will be taking centerstage to render the Philippine national anthem.

'Kapamilya Blockbusters' beats 'Willing Willie's' debut

MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN's "Kapamilya Blockbusters" toppled its rivals, including Willie Revillame's new program, "Willing Willie," based on national television ratings of Kantar Media/TNS last Saturday October 23.

Luis says persisting to win Angel back

MANILA,Philippines- TV host-actor Luis Manzano has slashed off intrigues that he has grown tired of trying to win back his ex-girlfriend Angel Locsin.

Piolo on KC: We want to keep things private

MANILA,Philippines- To keep themselves away from the "huzzles and buzzles" of showbiz, hunk actor-singer Piolo Pascual says he wants to maintain his private yet special relationship with KC Concepcion.

List of FAMAS nominees bared

FAMAS reveals its 2010 nominees. It will be held on Nov. 19 at the Teatro GSIS.

Here's the list:

Best Picture — Ang Panday, Dukot, I Love You, Goodbye, In My Life, Mano Po 6, Sagrada Familia and You Changed My Life;

Best Director — Mac Alejandre (Ang Panday); Laurice Guillen (I Love You, Goodbye); Joel Lamangan (Dukot and Sagrada Familia); Olivia Lamasan (In My Life); and Brillante Ma. Mendoza(Kinatay);

Best Supporting Actress — Gina Alajar (Dukot); Gloria Diaz (Sagrada Familia); Heart Evangelista(Mano Po 6); Rhian Ramos (Ang Panday); Manilyn Reynes (Ded Na Si Lolo); Dimples Romana(Love Me Again); and Miriam Quiambao (Kimmy Dora);

Best Supporting Actor — Robert Arevalo (Dukot); Ricky Davao (Love Me Again); Emilio Garcia(Sagrada Familia); Baron Geisler (Nandito Ako... Nagmamahal Sa'yo); Luis Manzano (In My Life); Phillip Salvador (Ang Panday); and Fanny Serrano (Tulak);

Best Child Actress — Mara Panganiban (Last Viewing) and Justine Rose Rosal (Sagrada Familia)

Best Child Actor — Nash Aguas (Love Me Again and Kamoteng Kahoy); BJ "Tolits" Forbes (Ded Na Si Lolo); JP Mesde (Tulak); and Robert "Buboy" Villar Jr. (Ang Panday and Kamoteng Kahoy);

Best Story — Roni Bertubin and Romualdo Avellanosa (Last Viewing); Carlo J. Caparas (Ang Panday); Roy Iglesias (Mano Po 6); Joel Lamangan and Bonifacio Ilagan (Dukot); Raymond Lee and Olivia Lamasan (In My Life); Vanessa Valdez (I Love You, Goodbye); and Raquel Villavicencio and Joel Lamangan (Sagrada Familia).

Ateneo prof gets award for making math cool

MANILA, Philippines - A math professor won a special award from the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) for inspiring popular interest in the said numbers subject through her newspaper column.

Queena Lee-Chua, a teacher at the Ateneo de Manila University, is the first winner of TWAS' Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science in the East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific for her column "Eureka!" at the Learning section of local newspaper The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

She won alongside Mahaletchumy Arujanan, who is the executive director of the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre.

Lee-Chua and Arujanan will share the prize during an awards ceremony to be held soon, and will each take home $2,000.

"I know that the general public appreciates the column, from the volume of mail I receive, but to get validation from internationally renowned scientists and a prestigious science organization is certainly an honor, and I am humbled," Lee-Chua said in an interview with the local newspaper.

Lee-Chua has been teaching Math at the Ateneo for 21 years, and has written 24 books on mathematics, popular science, information technology and education, among others.

She thanked the university's outgoing president, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., for "encouraging excellent research and teaching on and out of campus."

TWAS, founded by a group led by late Nobel laureate Abdus Salam of Pakistan in 1983, aims to promote "science-based sustainable development in developing countries."

Making math fun

Earlier, Mathematics Trainers Guild - Philippines (MTG) president Dr. Simon Chua noted that most Filipino students tend to be intimidated by math, thinking that it's a complicated subject.

Because of this, MTG invited 6 well-known math experts from China, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand to train Filipino teachers on how to make the so-called "fearsome" subject more fun for kids.

"Math should not be a fearsome subject for students. It can be taught in a fun-filled classroom environment," Chua said.

This year alone, MTG-trained Filipino students won medals in various contests in Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and China, among others.

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