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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 6, 2010 Major News Stories



Oil firms hike petroleum prices

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Several oil firms have raised prices of their petroleum products Tuesday.

Caltex Philippines Inc., Seaoil Philippines and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. hiked gasoline and diesel prices by 50 centavos and 25 centavos per liter, respectively.

They noted the price adjustments were meant to reflect the upward movement in the prices of refined petroleum products in the world market.

Meanwhile, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) dealers said they will not increase prices in the next few weeks.

"We are not increasing prices as competition is really stiff now at the market. Nobody wants to move their prices given the prevailing lower demand," said LPG Marketers Association president Arnel Ty.

The contract price of LPG rose to $698 per metric ton this month from only $644 per MT in the previous month.

2-hour brownouts yesterday: Power and water shortage in Cebu

Cebuanos suffered not only a lack of power supply yesterday, but also the lack of water.

The reason for such was the rotating brownouts that lasted for two hours within the franchise area of the Visayan Electric Company.

VECO has to once again implement the rotating brownouts due to the lack of supply.

The lack of power also affected the ability of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District to supply water.

The Department of Energy-Region VII is still waiting for the report on the investigation of the National Grid Power Corporation, whose Naga-Sigpit transmission line tripped off at 2:34 a.m. yesterday.

The Naga-Sigpit transmission line was, however, restored at 7:30 a.m. on the same day.

With the unexpected tripping-off of the said transmission line, the two coal-fired power plants of Cebu Energy Development Corporation that have a total combined capacity of 160 megawatts went out from the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid.

As a result, the CNP grid, which already sustained a power supply shortfall for the past several months, suffered an additional shortage of 160 MW.

VECO, which also gets some of its power supply from CEDC, was left with no choice but to resort to rotating brownouts.

VECO spokesperson Ethel Natera said that their power consumers in Metro Cebu and towns as far as Liloan in the North and San Fernando in the South experienced at least two hours of outage.

Mae Melchor, CEDC corporate communication officer, said that CEDC's Unit I went on start-up at 9 a.m.

As of 2 p.n. yesterday, Melchor said more than 20 megawatts were already generated by Unit 1 while Unit 2 is also on start-up.

"The two units of CEDC are expected to be back on line within the day," Melchor said yesterday.

Engr. Rey Maleza, supervisor of DOE-Energy Industry Management Division said that for several months, six power plants that are part of the CNP grid are either undergoing preventive maintenance or repair.

DOE regional director Antonio Labios said that the Cebu Thermal Power Plant 2 in Naga went out from the grid last October 4 due to a condenser trouble.

Labios said that CTTP 2 is expected to be back on line on October 9.

Maleza said that there were no power outages from July to September due to the increase in capacity of CEDC.

"Pagsulod na sa CEDC sa grid, mao to nga wala na tay brownout. Since na-down ang CEDC gahapon kay ni-trip off ang NGCP transmission line, mao nang daku gyud ang brownout karon," Maleza said.

MCWD production head Henry Mejor said that their water pumps that are in various areas around Metro Cebu need electricity to pump water.

Mejor said that since the water interruption is unscheduled, he does not know when the water supply will normalize.

"Depende gyud ni kung kanus-a ma-stabilize ang power. Dili man maka-pump og tubig ang ato-ang mga water pumps kung walay kuryente," Mejor said.

He added that once there is a brownout, it would take at least two hours to build up water pressure, which means the moment power is stabilized, it does not follow that water will automatically come out from the tap. 

Pinoy Tasty, generic bread, debuts at P36 per loaf

Filipino bakers and flour millers and retailers on Tuesday launched the country's first nationally distributed generic bread loaf: Pinoy Tasty.
Pinoy Tasty sells for P36 per 450 gram loaf, compared to regular brands that sell for P42 to P54.

Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said the price should be kept despite changes in the cost of flour and other ingredients.

Pinoy Tasty is cheaper because it contains only the basic ingredients and is subsidized by bakers and flour millers.

"We are holding the price at least for one month based on current flour prices," Walter Co, president of the Philippine Baking Industry Group (Philbaking), said at the launch of Pinoy Tasty at the Board of Investments building in Makati. 

Makers of the Pinoy Tasty will make the bread available to consumers Monday via 500 supermarkets and 800 convenience stores and drugstores.

Barkers of the new bread include Gardenia Philippines, Creative Bakers, Uncle George, Marby, MLM Fortune Bakeshop, FrenchBakers, Sunmaru, Julies, and community bakeries under the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. and Philippine Federation of Bakeries Association Inc.

There would be no fix allocation for Pinoy Tasty in the production schedules of Gardenia, Simplicio Umali, general manager of Gardenia and former president of Philbaking, said. 

"The production will be based on consumer demand. We still don't know how the consumers will shift to the generic [bread]. But we hope they will start buying bread more because right now there is a lot of excess capacities in the industry to meet the spike in demand," he said.

In addressing possible supply shortages of Pinoy Tasty, Umali said bakers would make sure that retailers have specifically assigned suppliers.

In terms of packaging, Pinoy Tasty will carry the names specific makers so that consumers may choose their preferred baker.

Unlike the regular brands, Pinoy Tasty is not enriched with milk, eggs, margarine, cream and butter, and uses the cheaper non-vat washed sugar.

Still, Nazarita Tacandong, director of the Food and Drug Administration, said that Pinoy Tasty is nutritious because bakers use flour fortified with Iron and Vitamin A.

P1.2 million sought for relief of Sambag I fire victims

The Cebu City Crisis Management Office (formerly the Cebu City Disaster Coordinating Council) needs some P1.2 million to defray the expenses for the purchase of relief goods and materials for the victims of the fire in barangay Sambag I last Monday.

The Department of Social Welfare and Services has so far listed 543 individuals comprising 203 families who are temporarily housed at the gym in sitio Katangkungan.

The CMO has started distributing packed meals since noon last Monday until today. The Metropolitan Cebu Water District also agreed to supply water to the evacuation site.

CMO today passed a resolution recommending to the City Council the declaration of the fire-stricken area under a state of calamity so the city can use its calamity fund to purchase relief materials for the victims.

The release of funds under the calamity fund is pretty much easier and faster because it will no longer require a long and complicated process of bidding as a simple canvass will suffice.

CMO recommended the release of P1.224 million for the purchase of relief materials such as canned goods and rice, enough for a week's supply for the victims.

Tomorrow, the council is set to start distributing take-home goods such as mosquito nets, blankets, mats, plates and basic kitchen utensils, pots and pails aside from rice and canned goods.

The city is also planning to conduct mist spraying in areas prone to dengue at the evacuation site.

CMO is in the process of determining whether or not there is a need for road restoration just like what they are currently doing in T. Padilla.

Last week, the demolition of houses that encroached in the original road plan of T. Padilla started, this was in preparation for the road widening to increase the access of emergency vehicles in the area.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Rama reiterated the need of the city for a new fire marshal to handle the city fire department and replace current city fire marshal Esmael Codilla.

He does not know when the Department of Interior and Local Government will heed his recommendation to appoint Supt. Aderson Comar but he said he will wait because he believes that it is time for Codilla to be promoted.   He, however, clarified that his eagerness to have a new fire marshal does not mean he is not satisfied with Codilla's performance.  

Meanwhile, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia assures Sambag I fire victims that the province will extend them assistance if the officials allow them to.

The governor said that immediate help they can offer are rice, noodles, canned goods, cooking utensils, clothing and milk for the children.

"They may not be our immediate neighbors but rest assured if they will request for help nga nagkinahanglan sila og tabang and if they would welcome the assistance of the Province of Cebu, I can immediately direct the social welfare office," she said.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said hopefully they can give more fire trucks to Cebu City next year.

Robredo admitted that the DILG is currently a "little handicapped" that is why they are also negotiating with foreign donors to acquire fire trucks and other firefighting equipment.

"Hopefully we will be able to help Mayor Rama," he said.

The secretary said there are around 600 local government units nationwide that have no fire trucks and the DILG's budget can only buy 200 fire trucks.

Rama has earlier asked the DILG to provide them with more fire trucks to boost the city's capability in fighting fire.

Gwen vows to settle 93-1 controversy before her term ends

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday gave the assurance that the 93-1 controversy will be settled before she steps down from Capitol in 2013.

Cessna crash-lands; pilot, student unhurt

A Cessna plane crash-landed on Camotes Island yesterday after its engine shut off while the pilot and his student were on their way back to Mactan after a training flight to Ormoc.

Captain John Almero and student-pilot Alaa Mehdi escaped from what could have been a fatal accident without any serious injury.

"The pilot has no injury while may bukol lang yong student pilot," says Ken Madrid, spokesman of Avia Tours Flight School in Lapu-Lapu City.

Almero and Mehdi were on a routine training flight yesterday morning from Mactan to Ormoc City. The single-engine Cessna 152 plane reportedly encountered engine problem at 11:00 a.m. on their way back to the hangar in Mactan.

Almero said the engine suddenly shut off prompting him to find an open space for emergency landing. Almero said he found an open space in Lake Danao Barangay Campo, San Francisco Camotes where he successfully crash-landed.

Madrid said the plane worth P1.5 million could have only sustained minor damage but since some residents stepped on the plane's wing the damage could be bigger.

Madrid said since their school was established in 2005 they have been very strict in its safety.

The said flying school has 35 airplanes, 20 of which are for training while the other 15 are chartered planes.

Kirk Segovia, airways communicator of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (formerly Air Transportation Office) said that as their standard operating procedure, an aircraft accident investigator from the Flight Standard Inspectorate Service will conduct an investigation on the said accident.

Segovia added that they already forwarded an initial report to their head office in Manila about the incident for them to conduct the investigation.

Guilty plea for suspect in slay attempt on manager

The gunman in the attempted killing of Taiheiyo Cement Marketing Manager Nestor Zamoras has pleaded guilty to the attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms charges filed against him.

Orlando Sagnoy, 30, entered his plea with lawyer Charter Tayora during his arraignment yesterday.

The Regional Trial Court sentenced Sagnoy to imprisonment of at least four years for the illegal possession case and at least six years for the attempted murder case.

However, the driver of the getaway vehicle, Roberto Tercero, 27, pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder charges. He was assisted by lawyer Vernie Berillos.

The arraignment of the alleged mastermind, Jerome Noel, 41, was reset owing his pending motion to quash the information filed against him in court.

Judge Gabriel Ingles said Noel will be arraigned after the motion to quash will be resolved.

Zamoras' lawyer, Braulio Padilla, told reporters they are confident of their case and they intend to have Tercero discharged as accused so he can be used as state witness.

But Attorney Rodulfo Valmoria, Jr., counsel of Noel, said yesterday's developments had nothing to do with his client. He said it is still very early to see the outcome.

"Layo pa ang kaso, nag-warm-up pa mi sa kaso," Valmoria said.

Valmoria also commented on the recent ambush of Ernesto Silverio Porras, 49, the assistant plant manager of Taiheiyo Cement, saying his client never knew about the incident until he heard of it from media reports.

"They should make a deeper investigation of the incident. My client has no knowledge or any relation with the ambush besides when I asked my client with regards to the incident, he said he only knew the incident from the reports of the media," Valmoria said.

The ambush on Zamoras happened about two months ago, just as he was making a turn for the Ayala Access Road on his way to lunch. Two men on board a motorcycle fired shots at his vehicle, but the bullets from the Ingram machine pistol used by the suspects failed to penetrate Zamoras' bullet-proof car. 

Minor, who stabbed dead store owner faces charges

The minor who voluntarily surrendered to the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7 after killing a storeowner in Sitio Highway, Barangay Basak-San Nicolas is now facing charges before the court.

Prosecutor Aurora Peñaflor conducted the inquest proceedings for the complaint and affirmed the 16-year-old respondent has voluntarily surrendered to DSWD. The case against him is also set to be forwarded to court.

It was Rosalio Ando, chief tanod of Barangay Basak-San Nicolas, who received information that the young man was the one who stabbed store owner Ernesto Ceballos Ricablanca, 43, last Sunday noon.

Ricablanca died due to a stab wound on the chest.

Ando and some other officials of Basak-San Nicolas then went to DSWD to verify the information and there, they learned from the boy himself that it was not his intention to kill Ricablanca nor was it true that he robbed the victim before running away.

The boy said he went to Ricablanca's store to buy a pair of slippers worth P30, but Ricablanca allegedly refused to give the change to his P500.

The boy alleged Ricablanca tried to choke him, but he managed to free himself and ran home, only to return to the store with a 12-inch knife.

Still, Ricablanca allegedly refused to give his change and pointed a finger to his forehead, which irked the boy and made him stab the victim on the chest.

The boy said he ran to Quiot, Pardo where he met a nun who helped him after he confessed to her what he did. The nun reportedly handed him P600 and advised him to surrender to DSWD.

But Ando said that they are not certain as to who actually brought the boy to DSWD nor did they identify the nun mentioned by the boy.

Ricablanca's store is estimated to be 50 meters away from the house where the accused lived with his aunt while his father and mother were in Talisay City selling toys.

One more case filed vs. Joavan

Another criminal case was filed yesterday in the Talisay City Prosecutor's Office against Joavan, the controversial son of Mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Guillermina Barrido accused her purported former boss Joavan Fernandez for alleged grave threat.

The case is the second one filed against Joavan. The first was filed by Vincent Castrodes who accused him of pointing a gun at him during a traffic altercation last June 24.

The case is now pending at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities-Talisay City.

Barrido, who has been under the custody of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) together with four policemen from the CPPO's Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) went to the office of city prosecutor Marshal Rubia to officially charge Joavan, 27.

Rubia said the complaint is under preliminary investigation, and by Monday, the case will be raffled to determine who will handle it.

The city has three investigating prosecutors.

Rubia said Barrido accuses the mayor's son of threatening to kill her after she quit her job as his bodyguard.

Last month Barrido first went to the Pardo Police to report the alleged threat.

She then went to the Talisay City Police Station for security, where she stayed the whole weekend. She was later transferred to the CPPO where her husband and her two children-a 12-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy-moved with her from their house in barangay Bulacao, Talisay City to a CPPO safe house as ordered by Senior Supt. Erson Digal, CPPO chief.

Aside from that grave threat allegation, Barrido also claimed that Joavan was engaged in illegal drugs and has implicated some Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agents as alleged suppliers of illegal drugs to the mayor's son.

And because of the seriousness of her allegations, Barrido has undergone a psychiatric evaluation.

Meanwhile, PDEA regional director Adrian Albarino has already ordered an investigation of the allegation that some of his men are involved in illegal drugs.

PDEA monitors officials involved in illegal drugs

Some 20 local government officials in Cebu City and other parts of the region are now being closely monitored by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 because of reports that they are involved in the illegal drug trade.

But PDEA 7 Regional Director Adrian Alvariño refused to name these elected officials at the 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel yesterday.

Alvariño explained that PDEA 7 has nothing to do if these local government officials will run for the barangay positions during the synchronized barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 25.

He explained that the residents of the barangays already know the background of these persons and it is up to them whether to support these people.

Alvariño said even the drug addicts can file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for any elective positions if they want to because the Supreme Court already ruled that requiring the candidates to submit drug test results as requirements in the filing of COCs is illegal.

The PDEA 7 top official admitted that they still need the cooperation of the public because they only have limited number of personnel and he has no intelligence funds that could be used to buy information from informers.

Also, Alvariño asked the public to help rid his office of undesirable personnel if they know that a PDEA agent is involved in any illegal activities. He said, though, that there should be a formal complaint or report about it.

Until yesterday the PDEA 7 is still waiting for the affidavit of Guillermina Barrido, the one who claimed she knew of a PDEA agent who protects Joavan Fernandez's involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

Joavan is the son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez who has always been involved in different cases from possession of illegal drugs, illegal possession of guns to grave threats.

Alvariño said he will not allow his personnel to be lined up in front of Barrido only to be falsely pinpointed as culprits unless if she will make her accusation formal by issuing a sworn statement.

Meanwhile, the director of a Cebu-based drug rehabilitation center expressed his belief that nobody would like to accept Joavan for drug rehabilitation because he is a controversial figure.

Vicente "Tico" Aldanese, director of We Do Recover Inc., said he expects mediamen to follow Joavan all the time, which might expose the identities of drug dependents in the center.

"In my case, I don't want to accept high profile drug dependents," Aldanese said.

4,400 barangay chiefs disqualified in October polls

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday reminded voters that 4,400 incumbent barangay chairmen are no longer allowed to run for the same post in the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said these local officials are currently on their third or even fourth term and are thus disqualified from vying for the same post. 

Section 2 of Republic Act 9164, or An Act Providing for the Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, states that no barangay elective official may serve for more than three consecutive terms.

Based on records from the DILG's National Barangay Operations Office (NBOO), there are 4,433punong barangays (barangay chairmen and chairwomen) nationwide who are now on their third term and are thus no longer allowed to run for a fourth term.

Calabarzon has the highest number of third termers with 499, followed by Western Visayas with 460. Eastern Visayas has 431; Bicol Region, 360; and Ilocos Region, 342.

The DILG chief said his field officials will provide the Commission on Elections a list of these third-termers for the poll body's reference or appropriate actions.

Curiously, DILG records also showed that there are even 23 cases of barangay heads now serving their fourth term, which is prohibited by RA 9164.

Of the fourth termers, 14 came from the National Capital Region, particularly in Caloocan City; three came from Northern Mindanao Region; two each from the Cagayan Valley Region and Cordillera Administrative Region; and one each from MIMARAOPA Region and Davao Region.

Robredo did not say whether the 14 fourth-termers are liable for any electoral offenses.

The same RA 9164 provision also states that voluntary renunciation of office shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of service for the full term for which the elective official was elected.

This means, in practice, that incumbent barangay officials who are serving their third terms cannot resign now and then run again for another term, on the claim that they did not complete their current stint.

The term of office of incumbent barangay officials ends on November 30.

"The figures for now are just for barangay chairmen. We are still coming up with the figures for kagawads and other local officials," DILG public information officer Julian Meneses told GMANews.TV over the phone.

For easier public access, Robredo said the names of these officials would be posted on the DILG website, as well as on the websites of the agency's regional offices.

"We will make full use of our DILG website to disclose to and inform the general public, most especially the barangay electorate, on who among the current crop of barangay officials are no longer eligible to run as they have already reached the term limit imposed by law," he said in a statement.

Apart from using the website to post names of disqualified local officials, the DILG under Robredo has recently used the website to promote transparency in local governments, which have earlier been ordered to submit all their transaction reports for posting on their regional websites. (See:Robredo to LGUs: Post transaction reports in public places)

In the October 25 grassroots elections, voters will select one barangay chairman, one SK chairman, seven Sangguniang Barangay members, and seven SK members. Around 672,400 elective posts in 42,025 barangays are expected to be filled in after the local polls.

The filing of certificates of candidacy started Friday last week and will go on until October 13.

PNP chief orders 24-hour checkpoints to enforce election gun ban

(UPDATE) Philippine National Police Director General Raul Bacalzo has ordered his men to run 24-hour police checkpoints to intensify the enforcement of the gun ban in the wake of a string of shooting murders possibly linked to the Oct. 25 barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections.

Deactivated teachers may serve in Oct polls

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has moved to allow teachers previously deactivated from the voters' list to serve in the coming polls.

In a press release, the poll body said this would address "the possible shortage of public school teachers" for the Baranggay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.

This was also what Comelec did last May.

In its Resolution No. 9034, the poll body said "for purposes of the October 25, 2010 [elections] and future elections, there is a need to reinstate above-cited policy in order to address possible shortage of public school teachers by reason of inadvertent deactivation so that they shall continue to serve in the elections."

More than 500,000 public school teachers are expected to man 36,739 voting centers on October 25.

The announcement coincides with the celebration of the World Teachers' Day.

"Today we honor our teachers' selfless sacrifice and dedication each time the country troops to the polls," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

On World Teachers Day, DepEd bares K+12 by 2012

On World Teachers' Day, October 5, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro presented the 12-year "Enhanced Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K+12)" basic education program that the government hopes to implement by school year 2012 to 2013. The DepEd has to work with Congress to amend the existing law, Batas Pambansa 232, which states that the basic formal education is a 10-year program.

'12-year education cycle won't work'

MANILA, Philippines - The newly-unveiled K+12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) '"won't work" until the quality of education improves first, students and parents against the program said Tuesday.

On Teachers' Day: Aquino vows better training, equipment for educators

President Benigno Aquino III promised to give Filipino educators better training, classrooms and related equipment on Tuesday during the celebration of World Teachers' Day.

Senators criticize unjust GSIS policies vs members

Unjust policies of the GSIS are a burden to members who contribute their hard earned money to the pension fund only to get vexed in return that those policies should be removed, senators said Tuesday.
"Taliwas sa dapat sana'y benepisyo, perhuwisyo ang isinusukli ng GSIS sa premium contributions ng kanyang mga kasapi (Instead of benefits that members should get for their premium contributions, the GSIS has vexed its members in return)," Sen. Teofisto Guingona said in his privilege speech at the Senate.

Guingona stressed that the GSIS should remove its burdensome policies and review the GSIS Act of 1997 for possible amendments. If things do not improve, he said the government should abolish the agency.

Under the fund's Premium-based Policy, the benefits of members are based only on the amount equal to their contributions, while in the Automatic Premium Loan Policy members must pay should their office fail to pay or remit their contributions.

Then there is also the Claims and Loans Interdependency Policy that allows the GSIS to reduce a member's benefits on grounds that there are unpaid accumulated loans even though these loans are questionable.

"Nauuwi sa pambayad ng mga utang ang dapat sana'y claims at benepisyo ng mga kasapi (The claims and benefits of members end up as payments for unpaid dues, which should have been claims and benefits )," Guingona said.

Unexplained deductions

Government employees are plagued with unexplained deductions in maturity claims — or retirement lump sum — and deductions in salary loans, according to Senator Loren Legarda.

Members also suffer from non-payment of dividends, non-deduction of loan payments, questionable deductions of loan payments, and non-payment of funeral benefits and education plans, the senator added during her manifestation on the Senate floor. 

She said she received information that as of July 2010 the pension fund has been unable to post P6 billion in payments made by its members to their individual accounts. 

"The GSIS is the institution tasked to promote the efficiency and welfare of government employees. But with the current set-up, it has even become the source of their problems," Legarda said.

More teachers' benefits 

Meanwhile, Legarda asked the Senate to pursue the passage of laws that seek to promote the welfare of public school teachers in commemoration of World Teachers' Day on Tuesday.

"Let us reaffirm our support for our teachers and other non-teaching personnel in the education sector in their continuous quest for proper recognition that goes beyond lip service," she said.

She said that as legislators, the Senate should pass the following bills to provide better compensation packages, benefits, and privileges for the country's teachers:
  • Senate Bill 1397, the Philippine Teachers' Hospital Act

  • Senate Bill 10, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers

  • Senate Bill 1429, Regionalizing the Department of Education Payroll System

  • Senate Resolution No. 3, the Uniformed Personnel in the Military Service, and the Police Establishment, Teachers and Nurses
"We have about 500,000 public school teachers who seek higher remuneration. They demand that from the current Salary Grade 11 they be elevated to Salary Grade 15 and be provided with non-wage benefits, most importantly medical benefits," said Legarda.

According to the senator, an entry-level teacher in the Philippines gets P14,000.

This, she said, pales in comparison with the rates in Singapore (P122,400 or SGD$2,600), Japan (P77,889 or JY156,500), and Malaysia (P17,806 or RM1,300). 

Legarda said she plans to file a resolution that would push for the declaration of a National Teachers Day.

"Our mentors also long to be recognized for the role that they perform in our society. Aside from guiding us through our academic growth, we call them our surrogate parents as they shape our values and teach us discipline," she said.

Grenade fragments in Bar exams blast given to NBI

Matapos mabuo ang pira-pirasong fragments ng granada sa pagpapasabog sa bar exams, ibinigay na ito sa NBI. Umaasa sila na sa pamamagitan ng serial number ng granada, matutunton nila kung kanino o saan ito nanggaling.

SC: Pinpointing Bar blast perpetrator tricky

MANILA, Philippines - A Supreme Court-created committee is having a hard time pinpointing the suspect in the September 26 Bar exam blast.

Palace open to discussing RH bill with other religious groups

The Aquino administration is open to discussing reproductive health issues with other religious groups, a Malacañang spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday.

Aquino to announce decision on hostage probe Wednesday

The moment of truth will likely come on Wednesday.

President Benigno Aquino hopes to make known by Wednesday the charges that the government would pursue against certain personalities in connection with the August 23 bus siege at the Quirino Grandstand.

"We're coming out hopefully by tomorrow (Wednesday) the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee and the specific charges to be filed against individuals," the President said in a chance interview after speaking before an employment Congress in Tagaytay City.

Aquino reiterated that he had adopted most of the recommendations of the IIRC, which had sought to file administrative and criminal charges against 13 personalities and three television networks for the botched rescue operations more than a month ago on Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

Eight Hong Kong tourists and Mendoza were killed after a 13-hour standoff that turned bloody in the end.

"(The report) is more or less in line with the recommendations of the IIRC. More, rather than the less," President Aquino told reporters.

The President earlier named the personalities that the IIRC wanted to be charged and held responsible for the incident, but withheld the specific charges against them pending a Palace review on these recommendations.

Aquino had since received the results of the Palace review done by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

In Malacañang, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the public that the charges that the government would file against these personalities were strong and would hold in court.

"That was the purpose why the President took a bit of time to make sure because he does not want charges to be filed that later on will be junked," Valte told reporters.

"He wants to make sure that the evidence is there, that the sufficient charges was identified so that when the case is filed, the case will progress and will prosper."

Asked whether the President had finally met with his friend, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno, who was among those recommended to face sanctions by the IIRC, Valte said she was not aware if they already met.

The Palace earlier said that Puno was in Vietnam for an official engagement when President Aquino returned home from a working visit to the United States.

The release of the much-awaited decision of Aquino on Wednesday will come exactly a week ago after he came back from the US.

Among those recommended to face sanctions were Puno, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, former Manila Police District chief Rodolfo Magtibay, National Capital Region Police Office chief Leocaldo Santiago, as well as media personalities Erwin Tulfo of ABC5 and Radio Mindanao Network and RMN anchor Michael Rogas.

The three television networks recommended to be liable as well were ABS-CBN, GMA 7 and ABC5.

Aquino stops helicopter deals over alleged graft

President Benigno Aquino has blocked the purchase of nine military helicopters worth nearly $93 million after allegations of corruption, military spokesmen said Tuesday.

The Philippine Navy and Air Force both rejected the allegations of collusion to favor a particular supplier of the seven air force attack helicopters and two navy helicopters saying the correct process had been followed.

However the military deferred to Aquino's decision to review the contracts, according to navy Lieutenant-Colonel Edgard Arevalo and air force Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Ernesto Ocol.

"It's not possible to rig that (process) to cater to anybody's requirement," Ocol insisted.

He said the specifications for the P3.2 billion ($73 million) air force contract, which was awarded to Polish firm PZL Swidnik on September 9, were based on Philippine military flight requirements.

"When you come up with that circular of requirements you look at it based on doctrine and based on actual operational use," Ocol told reporters.

"It isn't possible to influence the specs (specifications) to suit a particular manufacturer in that bottom-up process," Arevalo said in a statement.

The Philippine Star newspaper reported Tuesday that the navy contract was yet to be awarded.

The navy's deadline to accept bids for the P850 million contract lapsed last Monday, it added.

"Given the specs, there certainly are other companies who can comply, but the budget could be the major delimiting cause why other bidders may have backed out," Arevalo said.

"We hope that the issue can be resolved really soon. We have an acute need for air assets like helicopters," Arevalo added.

Aquino came to power on June 30 after winning a landslide election, campaigning on a platform of good government and vowing to prosecute predecessor Gloria Arroyo for alleged corruption.

Aquino estimates the government loses P300 billion a year to corruption, or the equivalent of this year's budget deficit forecast.

Drilon to veterans office: Check for 'ghost pensioners'

Senator Franklin Drilon on Tuesday asked the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to double-check its list of pensioners to cast away doubts that the Department of National Defense (DND) is funding the pension of "ghost" veterans.

DSWD to probe irregularities in anti-poverty drive—report

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will investigate alleged irregularities in the distribution of funds to the poor under the Cash Transfer program of the government, Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman was quoted as saying on Radyo Inquirer.

House to vote on govt's P29-B cash transfer program

As more lawmakers have opposed the government's Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, the House of Representatives will vote on whether it will scrap or retain the P29 billion fund set aside for it in 2011.

House confident SC will allow impeach hearings

The House of Representatives is confident that the Supreme Court will heed its motion to lift the status quo ante order that will allow the hearings on the impeachment complaint filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to proceed before the lower chamber.

House body sets November hearings on ouster case

A STAY order from the Supreme Court (SC) will not inhibit the House committee on justice in conducting hearings next month on the impeachment case against Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez, the chairman of the committee said yesterday.

Aquino gets passing grade from Senator Arroyo

Senator Joker Arroyo gave President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III a passing mark despite what he described as "unimpressive performance" of his ministers.

Teachers partylist gives PNoy fail mark for 'copying from seatmate'

A teachers' partylist representative in Congress on Tuesday gave President Benigno Aquino III a failing mark on his first 100 days, for "copying the most prominent programs" of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

3 children die in Iloilo City fire

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
ILOILO City, Philippines - Three children died in a fire that razed 10 houses in Iloilo City, Tuesday afternoon.

A radio dzMM report said that the charred bodies of the 3 children were found during mopping up operations in Barangay Rizal Ibarra around 4 p.m..

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m.

It took firefighters more than an hour to pacify the blaze because the affected houses were made of wood and light materials.

Confessed rapist of volunteer nurse clears 6 suspects

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - A former militiaman has absolved 6 men earlier arrested by police for the alleged gang rape of a volunteer nurse inside the compound of the South Upi municipal hospital in Maguindanao province last September 25.

 Melchor Fulgencio alias Boy Beling, 52, said in his affidavit that he and a buddy named Edwin raped the volunteer nurse.

Malinao said that Fulgencio admitted in his affidavit that he and his friend were drunk when they saw the 21-year-old volunteer walking and was busy texting.

He said that according to the self-confessed rapist, his friend hit the volunteer in the head with a wood. They then dragged the victim at the back of the hospital and raped her.

Malinao said that the former militiaman, who now works for Korean construction firm Hanjin, told them that his friend has already left.

He said that Fulgencio claimed that he surrendered because was being bothered by his conscience.

Police fetched the suspect from his home in Barangay Rumangaop on Saturday night.

Earlier, Task Force Joy commander, Senior Superintendent Federico Castro, said that Fulgencio's confession was not immediately accepted by the police.

Castro said that Fulgencio went through questioning by the investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which has formed a special team to investigate the September 25 rape upon the orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The task force commander earlier admitted during an interview on radio dzMM that the rape complaints filed against the 6 suspects -- Michael Calendario, Jeffrey Fernandez, Glen Saldua, Roscon Sanglap, Darwin Escalona and Eugene Biscarra -- may not hold up in court.

Castro said the rape cases against the 6 suspects were filed by the South Upi Municipal Police's investigators based on circumstantial evidence. He admitted that the rape cases were hastily filed by the local police.

Meanwhile, Castro said that South Upi Vice-Mayor Jordan Campong has already been subjected to police questioning regarding his supposed involvement in the alleged gang rape.

Castro said that Campong has denied the allegations, but investigators were still checking for evidence against the local official.

Group says 16 extrajudicial killings during PNoy's 100 days

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - At least 16 people have become victims of extrajudicial killings during President Benigno Aquino III's 100 days, a human rights group said Tuesday.

$1: P43.760

$1: P43.760 (P43.67)

Euro 1: P59.8420

Pag-IBIG readies charges vs officers involved in loan mess

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) is readying charges against some of its officers in cahoots with property developer Globe Asiatique in taking out fraudulent loans.

Labor chief says PAL labor dispute can be resolved in 5 to 10 days

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on Tuesday she would be formally assuming jurisdiction over the labor dispute between Philippine Airlines and its flight attendants' union by Wednesday, a move that would bar any strike in the flag carrier.

ExxonMobile to conclude drilling 4th well in Sulu Sea

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Philippines B.V. will conclude this week the drilling of the fourth exploratory well Babandil-1 in offshore South Sulu Sea, official sources said Tuesday.

14 OFWs in Saudi among apprehended for 'forbidden' worship

(UPDATE) About 100 expatriates, including 14 overseas Filipino workers, were apprehended by Saudi cultural police on Friday during a Christian religious service, a migrants organization in the Middle said Tuesday.

Indonesian flood toll rises to 26

The death toll from flash floods that smashed through a remote area of eastern Indonesia's West Papua province has risen to 26 with many victims still missing, an official said Tuesday.

Thailand extends emergency rule in Bangkok

BANGKOK – The Thai government said Tuesday it was extending a state of emergency in Bangkok and three surrounding provinces for three more months, in the wake of deadly street protests in April and May.

3 dead in bomb blast at apartment near Bangkok—police

BANGKOK—A bomb exploded Tuesday at an apartment building on the outskirts of Bangkok, killing at least three people, Thai police said.

Myanmar's Suu Kyi sues to keep her party intact

YANGON, Myanmar - Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday launched a legal battle against the ruling military junta, suing to keep her political party intact after it was disbanded earlier this year under Myanmar's new party registration law, her lawyer said.

Defiant Times Square bomber jailed for life

NEW YORK—A Pakistani-American warned Americans "the war with the Muslims has just begun," as he was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for a botched attempt to bomb New York's famed Times Square.

Roach: Pacquiao has a long way to go

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Acclaimed trainer Freddie Roach admitted that boxer-congressman Manny Pacquiao is not yet in tip-top shape, two weeks after they kicked off their Baguio City training camp.

Amir Khan to join Pacquiao training camp: reports

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – British boxing superstar Amir Khan will reportedly assume once more his role as a sparring partner of 7-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao to join 10.10.10 Pasig River run

MANILA, Philippines – "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao will join more than 120,000 runners on Sunday's "Run for Pasig River," which seeks to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of participants in a foot race.

Donaire on to bigger fights

by By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
LOS ANGELES, California – Nonito Donaire, Jr. will be fighting for the interim and he is ready to take on the best. Top Rank Promotions announced that Donaire will fight former world champion Wladimir Sidorenko from Ukraine on December 4th in Anaheim, California.

Peñalosa hopes to end 21-year career with a win

Former two-division world champion Gerry Peñalosa hopes to end his colorful 21-year boxing career on a winning note when he faces Thailand's Yodsaenkeng Kietmangmee on October 10 in Zamboanga City.

Carlo J. Caparas' P1.3-B contract stuns PCSO

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) wants to stop the airing of 2 television programs featuring lottery winners amid concerns regarding alleged irregularities in the shows' funding.

The PCSO discovered that the shows' producer, filmmaker Carlo J. Caparas, was given a P1.3-billion contract for 5 years under the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Caparas was the brains behind "Ang Pangarap Kong Jackpot" and "Kroko," which are shown on government-owned TV stations NBN 4 and IBC 13.

PCSO chairperson Margie Juico said the agency's board wants to know if people watched them and if the money for the shows were spent properly.

Between P550,000 to P1.2 million are reportedly spent to produce each episode of the 2 shows.

The amount does not include airtime fees.

PCSO documents revealed that the agency's previous board approved the contract with Caparas, and his production unit was paid even before the shows were aired.

The deal also reportedly did not go through bidding.

Caparas has yet to comment on the allegations.

Former PCSO director Manolong Morato, meanwhile, claimed that the government agency saved money in its deal with Caparas.

He said the amount given to the filmmaker is comparable to broadcast industry standards.

He also warned that lotto sales will plunge if both TV programs are stopped.

Morato claimed that poor marketing resulted in a 44% drop in PCSO sales during the administration of then President Joseph Estrada. 

ABS-CBN star, TV series receive Int'l Emmy nominations

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - ABS-CBN contract star Sid Lucero and the network's television series, "Dahil May Isang Ikaw," were named official nominees at the 38th International Emmy Awards.

ABS-CBN seeks TRO on Willie's new show

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - ABS-CBN Corporation on Tuesday filed a petition seeking to prevent Willie Revillame from hosting his much-hyped upcoming show on competitor TV5.

'Imortal's' pilot episode gets high TV rating

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – The pilot episode of the much awaited ABS-CBN television series of Angel Locsin and John Lloyd Cruz on Monday drew an impressive high TV rating and rave reviews from the viewers.

Jennifer Aniston voted world's most eligible single woman

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughn and John Mayer may have left her, but Jennifer Aniston is still the most desired woman in the world.

That is based on a poll conducted by Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes.

Aniston was voted the world's most eligible single woman in the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, beating fellow actress Halle Berry.

The "Friends" star got 29% of the votes while 21% went to the Academy Award winner Berry.

Despite being unlucky in love, the 41-year-old said she does not want people to feel bad for her.

She added that she is right where she's supposed to be.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods' ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, came in third place with 15%. Nordegren is a former Swedish model.

American actress and comedienne Betty White also made it to the poll's Top 5 most eligible single women. The 88-year-old got 11%.

Pop superstar Lady Gaga got 5% and Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Elena Kagan received the nod of 4% of the voters.

PAGASA shows new flood-warning equipment

May 5 hanggang 8 bagyo pang inaasahan ang PAGASA ngayong huling bahagi ng taon. Kanina, ibinida ng ahensya ang bagong rain gauge na sinasabing mas mabilis at mas tumpak ang maibibigay na impormasyon sa lakas ng ulan bilang babala sa mga babahaing lugar.

PAGASA: Comet, meteor shower visible in October

A bright comet, a meteor shower, and various stars and planets will give stargazers a treat this October, state astronomers said.

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