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

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 5, 2010 Major News Stories

Close to 100 families homeless: P18 million lost in Sambag 1 fire

Property worth at least P18 million went up in smoke yesterday morning when fire gutted 85 houses and one floor of a building of a university in barangay Sambag I, Cebu City.

Almost the entire sitio Atis along Urgello Ext. was wiped out.

In that area alone an estimated 50 houses, including several that also served as boarding houses, were gutted.

Another 35 structures, also made of light materials, were gutted in the nearby sitio Upper Kawayan.

The fourth floor of the Engineering Building of Southwestern University (SWU) also caught fire and was totally destroyed.

That floor housed 20 classrooms for the Maritime students as well as the audio-visual room.

Close to 100 families reportedly lost their homes along with several students, who are renting rooms or bed spaces.

Fire Chief Insp. Virginia Toledo, Chief of Operations of Bureau of Fire-7, said they received the report at 9:10 am.

A few minutes later, the fire was raised to Task Force Charlie as fire trucks and firemen from as far as San Fernando, Carcar and other towns also responded to the alarm.

Cebu City Fire Marshall Esmael Codilla said the fire was controlled an hour and 10 minutes after it was reported.

Senior Fire Officer I Nilo Daculan, the investigator, said that according to some residents, the fire started at the house of Caridad Sanchez in sitio Atis.

Concepcion Navarro, who also lost her house, told Daculan that shortly before the fire, there was a power outage.

Navarro said that she suddenly heard a neighbor shouting that there was a fire.

"Di pa ta makasulti kung unsa ju'y cause sa sunog. According to Navarro, nakabati kuno sila ug piti-piti which is ma-associate jud nato sa kuryente. Siya pa man so far ang cooperative kay busy kaayo ang mga tawo gahapon salbar sa ila mga butang," Daculan said.

Daculan said they will also include in their investigation the allegations of illegal wiretapping by the some residents in the place especially those who own boarding houses.

Sylvan "Jack" Jakosalem, chairman of the City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM), who went to the area, said that some residents told him that illegal wiretapping was common in the place that was hit by fire.

In an interview over TV Patrol Central Visayas, Sanchez said the fire started outside her house, but she could not figure where exactly.

Grace Genobiagon, 40, said she was about to go out of the house to send snacks for her child attending a nearby elementary school when she saw Sanchez' house near hers already ablaze.

The house was made of light materials and the fire immediately spread to her house.

"Gitabangan sa among mga silingan para mapawng nya dili na man g'yud. Naa na la'y misinggit na gawas na lang. Pagawson na lang ba labi na tong mga tiguwang. Wala jud ko'y nasalba," Genobiagon said.

She managed to save only her mini-stove and rice cooker.

"Wala mi kahibaw ug unsa ju'y hinungdan sa sunog kay kalit-kalit ra man kaayo. Mingaw kaayo man gud kay nangiskuyla ang mga estudyante nya ang kasagaran nanarbaho," she added.

Rosa Casol, 52, also one of those left homeless by the fire said, "Paglingi nako sa gawas, wa na, di na g'yud matabang kay dako na kaayo ang kayo. Wa pa gyud mi na da. Ang akong anak wala na lang nako pabalika kay ma-trap unya. Kay pagtan-aw nako, wa na…wa na g'yud, di na ma da."

Christine Ban-os, a Nursing student of SWU, could only cry after realizing she has nothing to save anymore when she rushed to her boarding house from school.

"Nasunog tanan nakong sanina, pati unifom. Ambot na lang jud unsaon ni nako ug asa ko ani paingon," she grieved.

Daculan said a certain Gliceria Garcia, an old woman, was almost trapped inside her house.

They are also verifying the report that one of their fire volunteers was taken to the hospital after collapsing while fighting the blaze.

The said volunteer was reportedly suffering from fever but still responded to the alarm.

Daculan said that the firewall nearest to SWU's Engineering Building, which stood as high as the third floor of the said building, prevented the fire from affecting the lower floors.

The students, instructors and faculty members were advised to leave the school even before the fire started eating up a portion of the building.

There were many students yesterday as the school started conducting the final examinations for the first semester.

The school's President then called for the suspension of class at all levels yesterday.

Rouel Longinos, Director of SWU's Center for Information and Publication, informed the students, parents, teachers and alumni that classes will resume today.

"Students from the College or Computer Studies, College of Engineering and Maritime College should be guided on the new room assignments. Classes of these colleges are mostly held in the Anunciacion B. Aznar Bldg. Other room assignments are posted on the bulletin boards," the announcement showed.

A Student Assistance Center was also put up at the lobby of the Medicine Bldg. to assist the students who are fire victims.

The examinations, graduation and other activities will go on as scheduled.

Toledo admitted they encountered a problem on water supply yesterday.

"Nahurot dayon ang tubig sa mga fire trucks. Layo kaayo ang hydrant, tua pa sa E-mall," she said, saying they have to connect several fire hoses together to access water.

She added that kibitzers and the narrow roads leading to the fire scene were also a problem for them. They also had a hard time controlling immediately the blaze because of the strong winds.

To stop snatchers and thieves from taking opportunity of the difficult situation yesterday, a sufficient number of policemen were deployed to the area.

Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, director of the Cebu City Police Office, was also at the scene.

According to barangay captain Jerry Guardo, they were having a flag ceremony when the incident happened.

"Ni rescue me dayon, kami tanan officials diri to make sure nobody will get hurt and nag allocate pod me og funds to assist the fire victims."

He also added that "the good thing about it is buntag siya nahitabo ma klaro nato ang panghitabo kaysa ngit-ngit lisod kaau basin mag connect na nuon ang fire ug daghan ang maangol."

The staff of the city's Department of Social Welfare and Development went to barangay Sambag 1 Sports Center to assist the victims and provide free meals. 

Secretary Robredo meets settlers, Governor Gwen on 93-1 concerns

The problem of the urban poor families living in the province-owned lots in 11 barangays of Cebu City was not settled yesterday despite the visit of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo here to discuss the issue with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the city officials.

But Robredo, who has been tasked by President Aquino III to help solve the problem of the urban poor residents living in the so-called "93-1 lots" of the province, had promised to come back within one week to hold series of discussions.

Before the DILG Secretary met with the leaders of the urban poor homeowners associations at the Pagtambayayong Inc. conference room yesterday afternoon, he first visited the governor and said he was happy because the latter is willing to pursue negotiations.

Robredo, however, said he could not easily come up with a solution without knowing the arguments of the respective parties because as an independent negotiator he needs to listen to both sides.

He advised the leaders of the urban poor groups here to furnish him their sentiments, recommendation and arguments so he could bring such to the governor.

"The governor is very amenable of coming up with an acceptable solution to the 93-1, so it is a matter of setting out the details on evaluation and details on how we go about the settlement as far as the obligations are concerned," he said.

But former city mayor and now Cebu City South District Rep. Tomas Osmena, who accompanied Robredo in going to the meeting with the urban poor, had already provided the DILG secretary with some background of the issue for him to understand it.

It was learned that there are 1,215 beneficiaries or supposed buyers of the province-owned lots, who paid their obligations in part, but the governor earlier said she does not want them to continue paying their amortizations.

One of the urban poor leaders asked Robredo to bring their sentiments to the governor that if they will be allowed to continue pay their amortization it should be based on the old rates.

Former city administrator Francisco "Bimbo" Fernandez, an official of the Pagtambayayong Inc. that is actively helping the urban poor families, said he is happy of the development even if Robredo failed to quickly solve the problem.

Fernandez said what is important is that both parties, meaning the Capitol and the urban poor families, acknowledged that Robredo is neutral in solving the issue.

In his short speech before he asked the urban poor representatives to speak, Robredo said both parties should be open to any possible suggestions that could lead to peaceful solution of the problem.

Osmeña earlier said the Cebu provincial government acquired the subject lands in the 11 barangays of the city through the Friar Lands Act, but he said it was clearly provided in that law that the lands will be used only for public purpose.

The former mayor has assured that the city officials will protect the rights of the urban poor families as provided for under the provisions of the UrbanDevelopment and Housing Act. 

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia who appreciates Robredo's presence said that his sincerity to be of assistance to both sides could give a fair solution to the issue.

"He is sincere to be of assistance to both sides and to find a doable, just, level-headed and fair solution to this issue. We also give Secretary Robredo the side of the province supported by specific data and specific evidence," she said.

Garcia added that Robredo is the person who would understands the mechanics, the dynamics as well as the needs of the local government.

Robredo's visit was in line with the 2010 World Habitat Day Celebration.

Robredo said that building partnerships is one way to address the issue confronting the urban poor and informal settlers.

He said that the best thing to do is for the LGUs and the private sector to work together to address housing needs and spur economic growth in communities.

"We understand that some LGUs lack the capacity and resources to implement shelter programs, so the DILG has been helping the LGUs develop their capabilities to undertake socialized housing initiatives," he said.

Tom asks COA to look into books of schools, hospitals

The Commission on Audit might soon intervene to help Cebu City solve its problem with some schools and hospitals that have refused to pay their 'tax obligations' to the city that already ballooned to P698.676 million.

Filipino PT grads can again take US licensure exams

Sa mga balitang bumabandila. Puwede na ulit kumuha ng licensure exams ang mga Pilipinong physical therapists na gustong magtrabaho sa Amerika. Una nang na-suspend ang mga Pinoy sa pagkuha ng exam dahil sa pagkalat umano ng mga exam questions sa ilang paaralan at review centers dito.

The US Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) said it did not find evidence to prove that Filipino PTs cheated in the 2007 tests.

There were allegations that answers to the 2007 exams were leaked in some schools and review centers in the Philippines.

The FSBPT launched an investigation into the issue and banned Filipino PTs from taking licensure tests starting in July.

Filipino PTs need to pass the exams before they can work in the US.

Dr. Reynaldo Matias, president of the Association of Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist Schools of the Philippines, welcomed the FSBPT's decision to lift the ban.

"This is a positive development. We want the therapist to embody the oath of professionalism and keep commitment to the country, profession, and public that we promise to serve," he said. 

He added that the suspension also served as a lesson for them. 

"Through the Commission on Higher Education, we wanted the schools to teach the students that there is ethics. There should be ethics regarding contractual agreement," Matias said.

The FSBPT, meanwhile, has revised the format of its licensure exams that will be offered in May and December next year.

Under the new format, examinees must answer 250 items in 5 hours.

The public can get more information at the FSBPT's website .

18 victims of illegal recruiter return from Malaysia

Sa halip na mga pasalubong gaya ng bagong damit o tsokolate, luha at mapait na karanasan ang naiuwi ngayong gabi ng 18 OFW mula sa Malaysia na biktima ng illegal recruitment. Karamihan sa kanila, inabuso at hindi pa naswelduhan. 

Illiteracy ground for disqualification of bet—Comelec

Do your village officials know how to read and write? Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez on Monday said candidates in the upcoming barangay (village-level) elections should be able to read and write in Filipino or their local dialect.

VECO sees no major hitches in barangay, SK polls preparations

The Visayan Electric Company expects lesser problem in their preparation for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections because most of the systems have been in place during the May 10 presidential elections.

Compostela department heads can't act as council members

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo yesterday rejected the request of Compostela town officer-in-charge Pedro Noval to appoint the town's department heads as the temporary municipal council.

SC renews call to exempt judges from gun ban

The Supreme Court on Monday renewed the call for the Commission on Elections to exempt judges across the country from the election gun ban after another judge was shot and killed in Ilocos Sur.

SC condemns brazen killing of Vigan RTC judge

Kinundena ng Korte Suprema ang pagpaslang sa isa na namang hukom. Si Vigan RTC Judge Reynaldo Lacasan-Dile ang ika-dalawmpu't isang hukom na napaslang sa bansa mula noong 1999.

Palace appeals to bishops to rethink 'civil disobedience' threat

A Catholic bishop's statement on civil disobedience as a possible response to President Aquino's policy to provide contraceptives to needy couples would not help in reaching an understanding on the issue of birth control, Malacañang said on Monday.

Aquino may not attend govt-Church dialogue on RH

If his schedule will not permit it, President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III may end up merely sending an official representative to the government's dialogue with Catholic bishops on the controversial reproductive health issue.

Group says women know importance of family planning

Kinontra ng isang grupo ng mga kababaihan ang Simbahang Katolika kaugnay ng isyu ng Reproductive Health Bill. Giit nila, ang mga babae ang mas nakakaalam ng kahalagahan ng family planning dahil katawan nila ang nalalagay sa peligro tuwing nagbubuntis.

Bishops observe ceasefire with Noy

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday declared a unilateral "ceasefire" by momentarily keeping a vow of silence and not issuing "incendiary statements" in an attempt to defuse the growing Church-government row over contraceptives.

Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda, however, said that the Aquino administration will not back down on its pro-choice stand on the reproductive health issue and will seriously push for responsible parenthood as a means of family planning.

Fr. Melvin Castro, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) executive secretary, said the Church is complying with the request of Malacañang that "we should have a ceasefire so everyone would calm down."

"We are acceding to the request of the President and would not issue unnecessary statements until we would have a face-to-face dialogue, the bishops with the President. We are respecting that request," said Castro, adding he believes that it will also be good for the public that "during this moment of silence we would study all the issues."

"He is the President so we respect his call to have a moment of reflection and assessment," he said, but clarified that their silence "does not mean that the Church is compromising."

"It simply means that it is good that there is this lull moment, to pause, to assess things and to pray and hope for a genuine dialogue," he said.

However, he emphasized that they would not stop lay groups who had earlier announced plans to hold protest actions over President Aquino's pronouncement to push for the distribution of artificial contraceptives to couples who want to use them.

"As I have said, we respect our laity. They will pursue what the initiatives they think are best but the Church leaders would accede to the request of the President, to avoid unnecessary public sentiments so as to not confuse the public, without prejudice to the right of the laity to pursue the initiatives that they have started," Castro added.

The CBCP official said that whether or not the bishops and the priests would be physically present in the protest, he assured the laity that the Church leaders are totally supportive of their cause.

"The leaders are silent but strongly supporting them," he said.

But he also expressed belief that even the laity groups would wait for the outcome of the dialogue before launching any demonstration.

Besides, he said it seemed that the organizers of the lay groups protesting against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and distribution of contraceptives are still in the process of networking with other groups.

"The idea is to fully network everyone, fully assess everything but the very good thing is it is no longer a Catholic issue. Muslim and different Christian churches are with the Catholic Church in this issue. So we are still increasing our numbers, in the sense that the action would be cohesive at the proper time," Castro added.

Palace won't budge

But Malacañang said President Aquino won't be trapped in the popularity ratings game and that it will not be a reason for the Aquino administration to back down on its pro-choice stand when it comes to the highly sensitive reproductive health issue.

"He (Aquino) said he will do his job regardless of what other people, the pundits, would have to say. He will do his job as President. It's (popularity ratings) a non-issue for him," Lacierda said.

Compared to his predecessors, including his late mother Cory, who all caved in to pressure from the Catholic Church, this administration "is serious in pushing for its policy to advocate responsible parenthood for couples as a means of family planning."

"We are serious in pushing for responsible parenthood. There is a big difference. The President's position is very clear (compared to past presidents). That's the clearest message coming from a President, bar none," he said.

The President's pro-choice stand has been consistent, even during the campaign period.

Lacierda added that Mr. Aquino will designate a member of his Cabinet who will meet with the CBCP, and clarified that he would not want to preempt the President if he would attend the meeting.

"It depends on his schedule. His attendance would depend on his schedule," he said, clarifying that Mr. Aquino is not taking the issue for granted, but pointed out there's a need to arrange his schedule.

"It does not diminish the fact that he regards the dialogue with importance," Lacierda explained. "We are going to inform the bishops, because there have been misconceptions as some claim that the President is pro-abortion."

"That's (pro-abortion stand) not true, it's against the Constitution and the revised penal code," he added.

"We are calling for sobriety. They are coming from another spectrum so it's good to have a dialogue. We are calling on all parties to be sober in their statements."

Lacierda reiterated the Feb. 25 invitation the President sent to the CBCP for a dialogue over the same issue when he was still a presidential candidate and standard-bearer of the Liberal Party.

"We were the first ones to ask for dialogue. We never got a response. Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales invited us to attend the red Mass. That's the only extent of our communication with them," he said.

Lacierda pointed out that Mr. Aquino was elected by at least 16 million Filipinos, who all know his pro-choice stand from the very beginning, which could somehow explain why Malacañang is not likely to change its stand.

He said he is of the same belief that most Filipinos have the same advocacy that the President has, based on the 69 percent survey among Catholics who favor the RH bill and approve of the family planning method.

Sotto: Clergy too pious for their own good

Meanwhile, several senators said that while the Catholic Church has a right to issue statements about civil disobedience to protest the passage of the RH Bill, they should always remain sober.

Sen. Franklin Drilon reiterated that threats and intimidation have no place in a national debate on a critical issue and that "civil disobedience is uncalled for."

"Let us be rational about this debate. I am sure that all of us have the interest of the country at heart. Threats of disobedience have no place in this debate," Drilon said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said that the call for civil disobedience is the prerogative of the Church but believes that this and some threats of excommunication were too harsh.

He said that the clergy should keep an open mind on the issue in the sense that the proposed law could end up being just a way to improve reproductive health and not promote methods on population control.

"If it touches on population control then I am against it," Sotto said. "But for some members of the Church to call for civil disobedience this early was a bit too harsh."

Sotto also took a shot at the clergy for being too pious for their own good.

He surmised that not all of the priests were able to make it to heaven in the past 100 years so it would be prudent for them to be a little less arrogant.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said that passions cannot be avoided on sensitive issues such as the proposed RH law.

He said that the priests can shout to high heavens against the RH bill but should leave it at that.

"What I said is we should not lose our heads. We debate, we discuss, but we maintain our sense of balance," Enrile said.

He said that he personally has not made up his mind about the use of contraceptives so he would welcome debates on this issue.

"I have to study it very carefully. It involves my faith, concept of morality, notion of what the society ought to be so I want to be prepared to answer that question because I have not made up my mind."

All three senators gave assurance that the bill would be tackled once it reaches the Senate.

A House divided

At the House of Representatives, Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez said the contentious RH bill would gain popular support if its proponents would remove provisions that encourage abortion.

Golez, who is also a medical doctor, said he fully agrees with the objectives of the RH bill, especially on reducing maternal and infant deaths.

He, however, said that most of the RH measures pending in Congress propose the provision of RH services to the poor that can be considered as abortifacients, like IUD and morning-after pills.

"A lot of comments have been given by lawmakers but we seldom hear from medical scientists and doctors. So before this is tackled in Congress, there must be a discussion on when life begins. A majority of doctors believe that life begins at fertilization," Golez said.

"Before we give options, we must make sure they're legal and safe," he said, adding that the medical community must say first whether these services are abortifacients or not.

He said IUDs, oral contraceptive pills, and morning-after pills are abortifacients as they kill fertilized ovum.

Iloilo Rep. Janet Garin, a staunch proponent of the RH bill, said she was willing to compromise and remove such services.

"But I hope that those who have this view would support the bill in the end," Garin said, adding in the past, they have been making compromises sought by its opponents but in the end they still refuse to support the measure.

Diwa party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, on the other hand, expressed support for the RH bill "because it protects our right to health, informed choice, reproductive self-determination and sustainable human development."

"The RH bill is not anti-life, nor does it promote abortifacients and is about time that we have a national policy on reproductive health," she said.

SC exec: Suspect in Bar exams blast faces SC probe panel

A suspect in the post-Bar examinations explosion outside a Manila university campus faced on Monday the Supreme Court's committee investigating the incident.
Supreme Court administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said law student Jed Carlo Lazaga was among the personalities invited by the eight-member committee, chaired by Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. 

"I understand the committee invited several witnesses. I know Jed Lazaga was invited, and I understand he agreed and he's supposed to be shedding light into the incident. I think, at the moment, he is being interviewed," Marquez told reporters on Monday afternoon. 

The media are restricted from covering the proceedings. 

Lazaga is a fourth year law student of the University of San Jose Recoletos Law School in Cebu province and a member of the Alpha Kappa Rho (Akrho) fraternity. 

He had earlier denied involvement in the grenade explosion. 

About 47 people, mostly well-wishers and law students, were injured on September 26 outside the De La Salle University campus along Taft Avenue in Manila. 

Mauled by rival fratmen

In a one-page affidavit complaint submitted to the Manila Police District (MPD), Lazaga said he was in Manila as part of his school's team supporting their graduates who were taking the Bar exams. 

"I was on my way to West Burgundy Tower in Vito Cruz to check the school's service bus for our examinees when suddenly I was choked from behind by a member of the Tau Gamma Fraternity who was wearing an orange shirt and I was forcibly brought to their booth," said Lazaga. 

He added that members of the Tau Gamma fraternity mauled him to force him to admit he had any participation in the incident. 

He also accused the group of taking away his earrings and wallet that contained three ATM cards, P1,500 cash and other important documents.

Earlier, Marquez said suspects in the violence may face charges ranging from physical injuries to frustrated murder.

Witness faces panel

An eyewitness, Ryan Ambrosio, also faced the panel and positively identified Lazaga as the person who threw the grenade, committee member Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said Monday evening.

However, Villanueva said Ambrosio and Lazaga did not meet face to face during the proceedings. He said Ambrosio only identified Lazaga through the latter's identification card that was found in the crime scene.

A certain Francis Yap also faced the panel to attest that he was a witness when Ambrosio executed his statement pointing to Lazaga as the suspect.

"(Lazaga) disowned any involvement in the alleged bomb explosion and according to him, he was a victim of robbery and was mauled," Villanueva told reporters.

Villanueva described Ambrosio as a hotel and management restaurant student who was eating at a fast-food joint with his friends near DLSU last Sept. 26.

"Because of the festivities, they (Ambrosio's group) stayed for a while. They went to the center island and noticed a person wearing a cap and black T-shirt, and from the moment that he (Ambrosio) noticed the unusual movement, he focused his attention on that person until the time the explosion happened," said Villanueva.

"Sabi ni Ambrosio nasa La Salle sila ng grupo niya dahil napag-tripan lang (Ambrosio said he and his friends were near La Salle because they just felt like it)," he added.

He added that the committee is looking into the possibility that Ambrosio and Yap are members of fraternities. Even if they are fraternity members, however, Villanueva said, "We cannot just say and conclude that it [is because of a fraternity war]."

P1-M bounty

An anonymous business group has put up a P1-million bounty for any information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspects. 

The Fraternal Order of Utopia, a fraternity based in Ateneo Law School, has also offered aP200,000 reward for information about the incident.

Bar exams will no longer be held in De La Salle, says Chief Justice

The 2011 Bar Examination will no longer be held at the DeLa Salle University in Taft Avenue, Chief Justice Renato Corona said Monday.
Corona said that as early as last year, La Salle no longer wanted to renew the contract due to the raucous activities outside the school and the trash left during the four Sundays that the exams were held.

'They allowed us another lease contract for this year's examination but they refused to renew it even before the incident happened," Corona told reporters.

Among the choices for next year's examination venue include the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University.

He said the Philippine International Convention Center also offered its place to the Supreme Court but Corona said their problem are the chairs to be used by the examinees.

Corona added that if he has his way, he will totally ban the traditional "Salubong" at "Hatid." 

In these traditions, law schools and law organizations give kits containing medicines, water, biscuits etc. to their candidates, cheer for them as they enter the DeLa Salle for the exam. On the last Sunday, armed with banners, balloons, food, bands, the barristers (bar examinees) are greeted by the schools and organizations for surviving the exams.

The last day of this year's bar exam on Sept. 26 was marred by a grenade blast that injured 47 students, including two victims whose legs had to be amputated.

Tau Gamma mulls reward money for Bar blast info

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Tau Gamma Phi fraternity also plans to offer reward money for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators behind the Bar exam blast.

Palace: 100 days ratings a 'non-issue' with Aquino

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will continue performing his duties as he sees fit regardless of what critics may say of his performance during his first 100 days in office, Malacañang said Monday.

100 days not enough time to judge Aquino, says senators

Several senators on Monday said that 100 days is not enough time to judge President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino's performance as the head of the country.

SC sets oral arguments on Mercy impeachment

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Supreme Court (SC) will finally hold the oral arguments on the legality of the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez tomorrow, October 5.

Impeachment bid vs Ombudsman assigned to new SC justice

The petition filed by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez with the Supreme Court seeking to stop and declare void the impeachment proceedings in Congress as well as the impeachment complaint against her has been assigned to Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

House Speaker asks SC to lift order on Ombudsman's case

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. asked the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the status quo ante order and respect the "exclusive power" of the House to hear the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

COA raises questions over Arroyo gov't seed distribution program

The Commission on Audit (COA) has raised questions about the seed distribution to the farmer-beneficiaries under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA, Golden Bountiful Harvest) program of the previous Arroyo government.

House vows to insure a transparent budget for 2011

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With stringent measures in place, the House of Representatives vowed greater transparency and accountability in spending the people's money as it pushes for the passage of the proposed P1.645 trillion budget for 2011.

US committed to 'eliminating' Abu Sayyaf in Philippines

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - The United States on Monday said it will keep sending forces to the Philippines until the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf was wiped out as part of its security engagement with Manila.

US willing to help in South China Sea code of conduct: envoy

by Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - The United States is willing to help craft a legally binding "code of conduct" to end a territorial dispute between ASEAN members and China that threatens regional stability, its envoy said Monday.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sarmiento dies

MANILA, Philippines - Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Abraham F. Sarmiento, Sr. has died of organ failure in Prague, Czech Republic. 

$1: P43.670

$1: P43.670

Euro 1: P60.5202

Peso rise not out of line, says finance chief

by Reuters
MANILA, Philippines - The peso's rise to its highest in more than 2 years largely reflected weakness in the US dollar and was not out of line with moves in other Asian currencies, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said on Monday.

Tax collections grew in September—BIR

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said tax collection likely registered a year-on-year increase in September, placing the government in a better position to meet its full-year revenue target for 2010.

Pag-IBIG stops collection accord with Globe Asiatique

MANILA, Philippines - The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) has asked clients of Globe Asiatique to request their respective banks to stop payment of checks issued to the property developer.

De Castro summoned to Senate probe on PagIbig housing loans

Former Vice President Noli de Castro has been summoned by the Senate committee on banks to shed light on the alleged irregular housing loan transactions between the Home Development Mutual Fund (PAG IBIG Fund) and private developer Globe Asiatique Realty Corporation, Inc during his term.

No Filipino hurt in Japan quake—DFA

No Filipinos were killed or injured in the magnitude 4.7 earthquake that rocked the Joetsu region in Japan's Niigata Prefecture on Sunday morning, according to the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

Singapore Airlines plane lands in India after bomb scare

KOLKATA, India - A Singapore Airlines plane flying from Moscow to Singapore made an emergency landing on Sunday in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata after a bomb scare, an airport official said.

Margarito confident of Pacquiao KO

MANILA, Philippines – "Tijuana Tornado" Antonio Margarito is confident that his bigger frame will pose a problem to Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao when they face off on November 13 in Arlington, Texas.

House grants Philippine citizenship to basketball player

The House of Representatives has granted Philippine citizenship to an American basketball player to allow him to play for the country's basketball team, amid objection by several lawmakers.
But the House's voting on another foreign player, a Chinese national, was deferred to allow the budget deliberations to continue.

Antipolo Representative Robbie Puno has filed separate House bills seeking Philippine citizenship for American Marcus Douthit and Chinese Zheng Xiaojing to allow them to play for the national teams and boost the country's chances in international games.

Douthit, who formerly played for the Los Angeles Lakers, is being eyed to beef up the RP Five for the Guangzhou Asian Games in November and the 2011 Fiba Asia Championship in Beiirut.

Zheng, meanwhile, is being tapped for the women's team for the Asean championship that the Philippines is hosting this month.

Corteza sets all-Filipino final in Pattaya 9-Ball

MANILA, Philippines – Two-time National Open Champion Lee Van "The Slayer" Corteza got a final round berth in the 2010 Sangsom Pattaya 9-Ball Invitational Pool Competition in Thailand.

Dionisio blasts 'shut out' in Asiad lineup

Pumalag ang kilalang atleta sa larangan ng shooting na si Jethro Dionisio sa umano'y pamumulitika sa sports. Hindi kasi sinali si Jethro sa line-up ng shooters team para sa Asian Games sa China, gayong siya ay isa sa tinuturing na pinakamagaling na player sa naturang sport.

House OKs bill criminalizing improper singing of RP anthem

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill criminalizing the improper singing of the national anthem 'Lupang Hinirang' and disrespect to other national symbols.

'Hitmakers' make their debut on 'Pilipinas, Win na Win'

MANILA, Philippines - The "Hitmakers," composed of Nonoy Zuñiga, Rico J. Puno, Marco Sison and Rey Valera, made their debut on ABS-CBN's "Pilipinas Win Na Win" on Monday.

Willie Revillame's CD bags major prize at Awit Awards

MANILA, Philippines - Controversial television host Willie Revillame won the Best Selling Album of the Year award for his CD "Ikaw Na Nga" at the 23rd Awit Awards held at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on September 30.

La Greta on Tonyboy's jueteng involvement: No comment

MANILA, Philippines - Veteran actress Gretchen Barretto on Sunday night got a bit irritated when asked about the involvement of her long-time partner, businessman Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, in the jueteng controversy.

PAL union scores CEB 'dancing attendants' as sexist

The union of flight stewards and attendants of Philippine Airlines, the country's largest airline, on Monday criticized Cebu Pacific Air for having lady flight attendants dance while giving out pre-flight safety instructions, branding the gimmick as "sexist and gender-insensitive".

IVF father Robert Edwards wins Nobel Medicine Prize

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Robert Edwards of Britain won the Nobel Medicine Prize Monday for the development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), the Nobel jury said.

La Niña is here, says PAGASA

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Monday declared the start of the La Niña weather phenomenon, noting that the country will experience above-average rainfall until early 2011.

Condom use routine for US teens, not adults

by By Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters
CHICAGO - US teens are not as reckless as some people might think when it comes to sex, and they are much more likely to use condoms than people over 40, according to a survey released on Monday that could help guide public health policy.

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