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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December 1, 2010 Major News Stories

LPG prices may go up by P5/kg in December

Consumers should brace for an increase in the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by as much as P55 per 11-kilogram cylinder this December as demand in the region continues to tighten, the representative of the LPG Marketers Association partylist in Congress said.

Diarrhea outbreak in Danao: 30 new patients bring total to 210

More patients suffering from diarrhea were brought to the Danao General Hospital yesterday bringing the latest count to 210 since last week.

Water contaminated

THE Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas recommended the rehabilitation of Danao City's water source, after initial water sampling results revealed fecal contamination.

At least 210 residents have been diagnosed with diarrhea in some of the northern city's barangays since Nov. 1.

Archdiocese, Cebu City Hall offer to help Danao cope with outbreak

CHURCH and Cebu City Government officials will send aid to Danao City, where over 200 cases of diarrhea have strained the local hospital's resources.

Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, in an interview with reporters, said he has asked Auxiliary Bishop Emilio Bataclan to find out what caused the outbreak and what the parish can do to help.

Solons scrutinize CCT; Bongbong seeks P8B-cut

Several senators scrutinized on Tuesday the administration's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. seeking to slash by P8 billion the program's P21-billion budget for 2011.

Country Club workers vote "yes" to strike

The Cebu Country Club Inc. Employees Union, an affiliate of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, voted yes to hold a strike against the management for alleged unfair labor practice.

The employees union held a strike voting yesterday wherein 117 out of the 140 members voted in favor of holding a strike.

Ferdinand Jumapao, ALU-TUCP director for membership and services department, said no one voted against the strike. The 23 members who were not able to cast their votes were either late or had important matters to attend to.

Jumapao said the union filed a notice of strike last Friday after 47 of the employees, 45 are union members, were retrenched by themanagement.

Lawyer Julius Neri, Country Club's legal counsel, denied the allegations of the union members. He said these were all lies and without basis.

"If they will go on strike that is illegal. They have no basis," Neri said.

Jumapao said they suspect that the management is planning to resort to contractualization. He said, if they will not act on it more employees will suffer the same fate in the days to come.

Jumapao said that the union will submit today the result of the strike voting before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. They are also scheduled for mediation today.

Union accuses VECO of "dirty legal tactics"

The Visayan Electric Company employees union yesterday accused company officials of using "dirty legal tactics" by withholding the salary of its president.

House to probe mandatory OFW insurance

The House of Representatives is set to start an inquiry into the mandatory insurance imposed on overseas Filipino workers amid complaints it will do more harm than good to migrant workers.

Algeria opens doors to OFWs

MANILA, Philippines - Algeria has opened its doors to Filipino skilled and non-skilled workers. 
The country is located in North Africa near the European continent. 
Booming infrastructure projects have caused the demand for construction-related jobs. 
According to FIR International Service Corporation, a placement agency based in Malate, Manila, in high demand in Algeria today are engineers, administrative staff, welders, port captains, port workers, divers, surveyors, pipe filter, iron workers, electricians, and other jobs related to construction. 
The salary ranges from US $1,800 per month for skilled workers and an average of US $700 per month for non-skilled workers. 
"Ang Algeria magandang opportunity, mas maganda ang klima, hindi mainit, karamihan kasi ngayon iniiwasan na ang Middle East," said Madilyn Caguimbal, president of FIR International Service Corp.
Caguimbal added that companies in Algeria also provide food, accommodation, and medical expenses of the employed overseas Filipino worker (OFW). 
Cagimbal, however, clarified that one of the major requirements is that the applicant for Algeria must be 28 years old and above, must have a valid passport, and sufficient working experience.
The initial contract would be for one year of work but renewable every year depending on the desire of the employer. 
For 2011, more than 1,000 vacancies must be filled by OFWs in the FIR-ISC placement agency alone. 
The total expenses of a successful application to Algeria is from P20,000-P30,000 for skilled workers, and P5,000-P10,000 for non-skilled workers. 
Working permits and working visas will be processed in Malaysia where the nearest Algerian embassy is located, and each applicant will only have to wait for 2-6 months before flying to their work destination in Algeria.

3 OFWs in Japan accident out of danger

by By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday that 3 Filipinos who were seriously injured from a bus-truck collision in Kameyama, Japan on Sunday morning are now all out of danger.

'Raped' Filipina in Saudi recants, is rescued

The Filipina maid who was allegedly sexually abused by her Arab employer multiple times has been rescued, the Philippine embassy in Riyadh said on Tuesday.

No list of OFW-friendly countries

The preparation of the list of countries where overseas Filipino workers can go to is on hold as Vice President Jejomar Binay suspended for 60 days the implementation of the required certification of host countries for the deployment of OFWs.

PRC denies leakage in ECE board exams

The Professional Regulations Commission denied that there was leakage in the recent ECE board examinations.

Unicef: Verbal abuse common in schools

A study conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has showed that several public school students, including those in Cebu City, have experienced violence while in school.

Pasko sa Sugbo kicks off tonight

The month-long celebration of the Yuletide season in Cebu City begins today through this year's Pasko sa Sugbo that will be marked by the lighting of the Giant Christmas Tree at the Fuente Osmeña Circle.

Faelnar wants to stay until Dec. 7

NEWLY-ELECTED barangay officials in Cebu City officially assumed their duties yesterday, but the president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) will sit for one more week, even if his term in the barangay has ended.

Eugenio "Jingjing" Faelnar, whose term as barangay captain of Guadalupe ended yesterday, said he will remain as ABC president for one more week, in a holdover capacity.

That's what he told the ABC board meeting yesterday attended by Cebu City Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Director Patricio Gabuya and City Election Officer Edwin Cadungog.

Faelnar told Ralota and the rest of the ABC board that the League of Barangays of the Philippines instructed him to stay in a holdover capacity, until a new set of officers is elected on Dec. 7.

"Ako ra man pud sila nga nakombinsir, pero kung ako la'y pabut-on, gusto gani ko nga karon dayon mupahuway na ko. Mao man gud nay giingon sa Liga nga magpabilin ko hangtud nga dunay mapili nga bag-ong president (I convinced them, although if it were up to me, I would prefer to rest right now. It was the league's instruction to stay until a new president is elected)," Faelnar said.

The outgoing ABC president gave Ralota the privilege to choose members of the committees on nomination, registration, canvassing and election.

But as far as the DILG is concerned, said Regional Director Pedro Noval, Ralota can take over as ABC president, with no need for an appointment or oath of office.

Noval announced the election of ABC presidents in all cities and municipalities will be on Dec. 7 and for ABC Federation president, representing the entire province, on Dec. 17.

The election of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) presidents in all cities and municipalities is set on Dec. 3 and for the SK Provincial Federation president, Dec. 9.

Today and tomorrow, candidates for the ABC elections in Cebu City will have to file their certificates of candidacy.

Ralota said all barangay captains can now vote and be voted upon even if they have pending annual dues.

But Ralota also clarified the barangay captains must submit a promissory note to pay their dues within 20 days.

A barangay chief who wins the election but fails to pay his obligations will be barred from sitting in the ABC board.

Ralota of T. Padilla was endorsed by Rep. Tomas Osmeña for ABC president, following a straw balloting among captains identified with the Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan.

Under the Local Government Code, presidents of the ABC and SK Federation will automatically become ex-officio members of the City Council.

Director Noval confirmed that Osmeña assisted DILG in the seminars for newly elected SK presidents, by providing them a portion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund.

"My advice to all speculators: Don't speculate. Let's look at the positive side of it, not the negative," Noval said.

Protests in 6 Cebu City barangays pending, as new terms start today

IT'S been a full month plus one week after the barangay elections and the question of who should sit as the rightful chief of six Cebu City barangays is still in contention.

The Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) is trying to resolve at least one of the cases, however, with Judge Monalila Tecson of Branch 1 ordering the revision of the ballots cast in nine 17 single and clustered precincts in Barangay Suba, beginning tomorrow.

In an order given in open court last Friday, she formed a revision committee that will be headed by her clerk of court, Clarina Villaruel.

Court grants ballot recount in Cambaro

Three ballot boxes were opened yesterday as soon as the Regional Trial Court granted a petition for a recount filed by a defeated candidate for barangay captain in the October election in Cambaro, Mandaue City.

Defeated reelectionist barangay captain Junil "Tata" Alindajao" Almodiel of barangay Cambaro yesterday said he had accepted his defeat but his supporters question the outcome in view of alleged erroneous counting.

Almodiel, 35, of Purok Batong, barangay Cambaro said supporters had raised money for the case, adding he never spent a single centavo for it.

The recounting was done at the court of Judge Carlos Fernando.

Almodiel's protest centered on the confusion brought about by one of the aspirants named Leonardo "Narding" Alindajao, who is known in the community as "Tata Alindajao."

Votes bearing the name were credited to Alindajao instead of to the petitioner.

The petitioner also questioned why the teachers allegedly rejected "Tata Almodiel" as a vote for him.

Chiefs told: Post deals on websites

THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded mayors and governors to post their budgets and transactions in their websites so the public may know about and comment on these.

Speaking before an Association of Government Information Officers forum, DILG 7 Director Pedro Noval said the posting of budgets for projects in websites is mandated in Memorandum Circular 2010-184, on the "full disclosure of financial transactions."

Coal ash dump site 'inadequate'

AFTER a court ocular inspection yesterday, environmentalists claimed waste is not properly contained in the coal ash dump facility in Toledo City, which allegedly has no proper equipment.

"Between Naga and Toledo, this area is worst," said Vince Cinches, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. executive director.

"They don't have the system or ways to contain the ashes. It's blown in all directions. It covers the water basin and there are no liners to prevent leachate," he told Sun.Star Cebu. 

Detainee attempts suicide; 3 policemen in hot water

Three policemen are now in hot water after a detainee attempted to take his life inside his cell at the Carbon Police Station.

The policemen allegedly failed to prevent one of the visitors of the detainee from sneaking in a sewing needle, which the suspect in a rape case used to puncture a vein before banging his head on the wall several times to take his life.

Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, Chief of the City Intelligence Branch of the Cebu City Police Office, said the three cops who served as jail guards last Monday will be subjected to a pre-charge evaluation.

The policemen, Santander said, have first been made to explain within 24 hours in affidavit form why they would not be charged after a visitor was able to sneak a sewing needle inside the detention cell past their inspection.

The duty jail guards that time were identified as SPO4 Eugenio Teves, PO2 Elebert Juaneza, and PO3 Reynaldo Labatig.

Santander said Paulino Dibdib stuck the two-inch long needle into his left shoulder then banged his head several times on the concrete wall inside the detention cell.

The detainee is reportedly afraid and depressed over the case he is facing, which might not be bailable.

He was arrested by Carbon Police last Sunday after reportedly raping a 23-year-old woman who hails from Tubod, Minglanilla town.

The woman, who temporarily stays in the house of Dibdib in Warwick Barracks in barangay Ermita, is reportedly the best friend of the suspect's 31-year-old live-in-partner.

Police immediately applied first aid on the detainee after seeing him bleeding, but Sr. Insp. Pablito Sarno, the station chief, later ordered to have him brought to the hospital as his head wound continued to bleed.

He is now at the Cebu City Medical Center under close watch, said Santander.

Santander said that the jail guards, who were then on duty from 8 am to 8 pm last Monday, could be suspended or dismissed for infidelity in the custody of a person and neglect of duty.

Sarno will also be included in the investigation for command responsibility, Santander added.

The police official said it was sort of too late for the victim as it was later found out through a medical certificate from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center that the complainant was not raped.

"Walay evidence of sexual molestation, so most possibly ma-downgrade jud iyang kaso," Santander said.

Santander said that since CIB is the one who filed the case against the suspect, it is up to the court to decide what will happen to the case.

PAO needs 1,000 lawyers to ease load of clogged courts

The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) needs at least 1,000 more lawyers to help rid courts nationwide of the massive backlog of cases.

Survey: Sex ed is stumbling block for anti-RH Pinoys

MANILA, Philippines - A majority of Filipinos support the reproductive health (RH) bill, a new survey by polling firm Pulse Asia revealed on Tuesday.

The survey, conducted last October 20-29, showed that 69% of Filipinos agreed with the bill on reproductive health, compared to only 7% who disagreed.

Support for the RH bill was strongest among Metro Manila (74%) and Class ABC (78%) respondents, the survey said.

At least 8 out of 10 Filipinos were aware of the bill, Pulse Asia said. 

The survey showed that among the 7% of Filipinos who disagreed with the RH bill, 44% said they disagreed with the inclusion of "Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education" in school curricula.

"At least half of those in the rest of Luzon (50%) and Mindanao (55%) are not in favor of including this subject in the school curricula. The plurality sentiment in Class E is also one of disagreement (47%)," Pulse Asia said.

Pulse Asia said public opinion in classes ABC and D was split on this issue, with 41%-43% expressing agreement and 42-43% supporting the proposal.

On the other hand, 50% of Metro Manila and Visayan respondents who opposed the bill agreed that sex education should be taught in schools.

Public indecision on sex education among anti-RH Pinoys was highest among Visayan respondents (32%), Pulse Asia said.

Anti-RH Pinoys support some RH provisions

The survey showed that majority of the Filipinos who disagreed with the RH Bill actually supported some of the provisions in the proposed law.

Seventy-nine percent of anti-RH respondents agreed with the RH Bill provision that recognizes the rights of women and couples to choose the family planning method that they want based on their needs and personal and religious beliefs.

At least 70% of anti-RH Filipinos also agreed with a provision to promote information and access to natural and modern family planning methods.

Meanwhile, 55% of anti-RH Filipinos agreed with the use of government funds to support modern family planning methods, compared to 27% who disagree.

The survey was conducted last October 20-29 and is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults. The survey has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level.

Biong release has no effect on Hubert's case, Webbs say

Naniniwala ang pamilya Webb na walang epekto ang pagpapalaya kay Gerardo Biong sa kaso ni Hubert Webb. Gayunman, umaasa sila na mapapansin ng Korte Suprema ang mga isinumite nilang ebidensya na nasa Amerika si Hubert nang mangyari ang Vizconde massacre.

Purisima leads Cabinet multimillionaires

MANILA, Philippines - Several Cabinet secretaries are going through confirmation hearings after submitting their statements of assets and liabilities (SALs).
The documents show all but one are multi-millionaires.
The richest is Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, whose net worth is more than P243 million.
He is followed by: 
  • Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo (P140 million),
  • Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala (P87.125 million),
  • Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson (P79.96 million),
  • Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras (P65.619 million),
  • Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo (P53.13 million),
  • Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim (P46.9 million), and,
  • Transportation and Communication Secretary Jose de Jesus (P44.58 million).
At the bottom is Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, who has a net worth of less than P90,000.  He has more than 79,000 pesos in the bank, and his personal belongings are worth only P10,000.
"Sa akin, that's very liberating. Kung may regalo - sobra pa nga sa akin. P70,000 na suweldo, napakalaki pa noon para sa akin," Luistro said.
While he is not at all bothered by this, Luistro is facing rough sailing before the Commission on Appointments (CA).
His obstacle: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has written the CA opposing his confirmation.
Santiago claimed that Luistro blocked her efforts to teach in De La Salle University where he was president. Luistro has denied this.
Lim is also allegedly on the commission's bad side following the controversial "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" slogan and other policies of his department.
There is really nothing to worry about, however.
Lawyer Agustinus Gonzaga, CA deputy secretary said officials can be bypassed as many times or reappointed as many times by the President
For a speedy confirmation, Gonzaga suggested that appointees find someone to intercede on their behalf.

Palace: Aquino's new approval rating reaches record high

The approval rating for the Aquino administration has reached a record-high of +64, Malacanang said, citing the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said 73 percent of respondents said they approve of the Aquino administration's performance.

In an ambush interview, Aquino said he was pleased by his high approval rating, although he noted that he has yet to read the full details of the survey.

Aquino said, however, that he is more pleased when he hears of news of Filipinos overseas who are returning to the country because they have regained confidence in the Philippine government. 

"I understand may reverse migration na tayo to a certain degree. People who are, shall we say, comfortable already in other coutnries have decided to come back," he said. 

Based on SWS's September 24 to 27 survey, only 9 percent disapprove of the administration's performance. 

The results of the SWS survey were made exclusive to BusinessWorld. 

"We have, in only the first few months of the administration, harnessed the trust and optimism of the people to provide results," Lacierda said.

The previous record high for net approval was in November 1998, when the administration of then president Joseph Estrada garnered a +36 rating.

The record low of -45, meanwhile, was set in March 2010 by the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, according to the Palace statement. 

"The administration will continue to establish the daylight of transparency and accountability on all fronts, despite vigorous opposition from those who want to return to the old ways of deceit and dishonesty for personal gain," Lacierda said.

Promise to stamp out corruption

Aquino is the only son of the late democracy icons former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. (1932-1983) and former president Corazon Aquino (1933-2009). 

Aquino sought the country's highest post in May this year with a campaign platform hinged on the promise to stamp out corruption. 

His first legal issuances included:
  • Executive Order No. 7: suspending the allowances and bonuses of the board of directors or trustees of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs), except "reasonable" per diem allowances, until new guidelines on their compensation has been issued.

    Rocked by controversies

    The five-month-old Aquino administration, however, was also rocked by several challenges and controversies. 

    On August 23, eight Chinese nationals from Hong Kong were killed in a hostage-taking incident in Manila which the government is accused of handling poorly. 

    Officials close to Aquino such as Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno were also caught up in a jueteng scandal where retired archbishop Oscar Cruz accused Puno and other officials of being on the payroll of jueteng lords. 

    Puno and the other officials involved in the controversy have denied the allegation.
  • Gen. Garcia's sons sentenced to time served in US

    CHICAGO - A United States District Court has sentenced to time served the two sons of a retired Philippine military general who were accused of smuggling $100,000 into the United States seven years ago.
    The sentence on Juan Paulo Garcia and Ian Carl Garcia was handed down by US District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California in San Francisco on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

    Time served, in criminal law, describes a sentence where the defendant is credited immediately after the guilty verdict with the time spent in remand awaiting trial. The time is usually subtracted from the sentence, with only the balance being served after the verdict

    Aside from the time served, Judge Patel also sentenced the Garcias to two-year probation.

    "[The sentence] is fair and we are not going to appeal," said private defense lawyer Julia Mezhinsky Jayne, counsel for Juan Paulo. Ian Carl's lawyer, Richard Tamor, has yet to comment about the court's decision.

    During the hearings, it was established that Juan Paulo and Ian Carl had already each served 108 days in custody in connection with the case, and approximately a year and a half on electronic monitoring with no prior criminal contacts. 

    The siblings had pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling charges two months ago, which meant they admitted smuggling $100,000 into the US on a flight from Manila in December 2003. The status hearing of their extradition case is set on Jan. 26, 2011, before US Magistrate Judge Edward M. Chen at the US Northern District Court of California.

    Meanwhile, the extradition of their mother, Clarita Garcia, 59, also implicated in the cash smuggling case, is pending before the US Eastern District of Michigan Judge George Caram Steeh, while the status hearing of the extradition of their other brother, Timothy Mark Garcia, is scheduled on Jan. 12, 2011 before US District Court Judge Richard Holwell of Southern District of New York.

    Their father, Carlos Garcia, a former comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is currently detained in Manila and facing an unbailable offense of plunder before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court. He was accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth in the form of funds, landholdings and other real and personal properties in the amount of P303 million that was deemed "disproportionate to" his legitimate income. 


    Jayne said the sentence was based on the agreement "among the US Attorney, the probation officer and the defense lawyers."

    "The judge did not digress from the agreement," she added.

    The $100,000 smuggled into the US was confiscated by the court, which also did not fine the Garcias.

    Jayne did not comment on the request of the Philippine government for the US government to return the $100,000 to them.

    In his sentencing memorandum filed last Nov. 22, Tamor asked the court "to impose a fair and just sentence of time served of three months and 13 days in custody, two years of supervised release, and forfeiture of any interest in seized property."

    The US Probation Office "took into consideration a variety of factors at play in Mr. Ian Garcia's case, including his absolutely blameless life prior to and after his offense, his three and one half (3 1/2) months of custody in North County Jail (in Oakland, California) and his over 18 months on home detention with electronic home monitoring."

    The defense also joined the Probation Officer's "recommendation and submits that a time served sentence with two years of supervised release is sufficient to adequately impress upon Mr. Ian Garcia the seriousness of his conduct, while addressing some of the sentencing objectives of just punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence."

    Assistant US Attorney Hartley M. K. West noted in a memorandum that the Garcias admitted smuggling $100,000 into the US "with the intent to evade the United States' currency reporting requirements." 

    "Juan Paulo signed a United States Customs Form 6059B, on behalf of himself and his brother, in which he falsely stated that they were not carrying more than $10,000 in currency. Upon arrival, both Garcias falsely advised a United States Customs and Border Protection Officer at the San Francisco International Airport that they were carrying a total of $1,000," part of the memorandum read.

    It further said, "The government believes that the sentence of time served and two years' supervised release, which it agreed to recommend in the plea agreement, is reasonable and appropriate under all of the circumstances."

  • De Lima gives NBI ultimatum to arrest Lacson

    by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
    MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to immediately arrest fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was charged in connection with the Dacer-Corbito killings.

    DOJ chief: P2-M bounty may be placed on Lacson's head

    (Updated 5:05 p.m.) Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she will support the Interior Department's possible recommendation to offer a P2-million reward for any information leading to the arrest of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, key suspect in the killing of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito a decade ago.

    DoJ chief endorses release of massacre cop, 123 others

    (UPDATE) Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Tuesday gave a signed endorsement for the release of 124 inmates, including former police officer Gerardo Biong, who was convicted as an accessory in the gruesome Vizconde massacre in 1991.

    De Lima prefers DOJ over Comelec

    MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday that she was not aware if she is being considered by Malacañang to replace retiring Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo.

    Aquino: Communist leader won't be arrested

    MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday placed confidence on Alex Padilla, the head of the government's panel in the peace talks with communist rebels, that he will "assuage any fear" that Luis Jalandoni will be arrested.

    Is NPA's 'Ka Roger' dead? AFP thinks so

    MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines has reason to believe Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Tuesday.

    AFP to NPA: Prove Ka Roger is still alive

    The military on Tuesday challenged the New People's Army (NPA) rebels to show proof that rebel leader and spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal is still alive.

    11 abducted in Basilan

    (UPDATE) At least 11 people were abducted in Basilan in what police said could be an offshoot of a family feud.

    9 kidnap victims freed in Basilan

    BASILAN, Philippines – Nine kidnap victims were freed on Tuesday morning by their abductors in Basilan province, authorities said.

    6 Indonesians held for alleged poaching in Tawi-Tawi

    MANILA, Philippines - Six Indonesians were arrested for poaching in waters off Tawi-Tawi province over the weekend.

    Fil-Am soldier killed in Afghanistan

    by Balitang America
    CALIFORNIA - The US Department of Defense announced that a Filipino-American soldier was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan last Wednesday.

    The fatality was identified as Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Buenagua, 19, of San Jose, California.
    It was learned that it was Buenagua's first deployment outside of Camp Pendleton in San Diego where he was assigned to the First Combat Engineer Battalion, First Marine Division, and First Marine Expeditionary Force.

    Buenagua was enlisted in the Marines after he graduated from high school last year.

    Situation in Seoul normal, says Cimatu

    MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Special Envoy to South Korea reported on Tuesday that the situation there is normal following the attack launched last week by North Korea.

    Fmr US lawmaker Solarz dies in Washington DC

    MANILA, Philippines - Former US Congressman Stephen Solarz,  known for his role in exposing the corruption of the Marcoses, died on Monday in Washington DC.

    BIR likely missed Nov goal; full-year target beyond reach?

    MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has all but abandoned this year's collection goal as it likely missed its target last month.

    Pagcor remits P813-M to gov't in Oct

    MANILA, Philippines - State-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P813 million to government coffers in October 2010, up 2.5% from P793 million in the same month last year.

    Ex-Finance exec brought to Sandiganbayan for plunder

    MANILA, Philippines - A former deputy director of the Department of Finance (DOF) was brought to the Sandiganbayan Tuesday after he was arrested for plunder.

    Uldarico Andutan Jr. was apprehended by members of the Aviation Security Group-6 on November 8 at the Iloilo Airport.

    He is accused of using his former position to amass over P73 million for 3 years.

    Andutan allegedly approved the spurious tax credit applications of Filstar Textile Industrial Corp even if the company was not entitled to it.

    He was first brought to a hospital in Camp Crame in Quezon City after his blood pressure shot up. He was then delivered to the Sheriff's Office of the Sandiganbayan, where he is currently detained.

    Andutan and his counsel refused to give any comment at this time.

    Andutan is accused together with 7 other government officials and private individuals, all of whom are still at large.

    One of those accused is former DOF Assistant Secretary Antonio Belicena.

    Report brands local IPR protection as 'far from satisfactory'

    MANILA, Philippines - Government protection of patents, trademarks and copyrights in the Philippines has been assailed by yet another trading partner, this time the European Union, for allegedly remaining weak despite earlier interventions.  

    Singapore's Lee calls N.Koreans 'psychopathic' --WikiLeaks

    Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew called North Koreans "psychopathic" and leader Kim Jong-Il a "flabby old chap" who craved public worship, a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said.

    Asean chief warns 2015 single market goal in peril

    KUALA LUMPUR - Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan Tuesday urged member states to step up intra-regional trade, saying it was "difficult" otherwise to see the bloc reaching its goal of economic integration by 2015.

    Japan culls 23,000 chickens to contain bird flu

    Japan began slaughtering about 23,000 chickens Tuesday at a poultry farm in western Shimane prefecture where an outbreak of bird flu was discovered, the local government said.

    Arum says Pacquiao-Marquez III a hard sell

    MANILA, Philippines – Boxing promoter Bob Arum is not likely to favor a third fight between Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and 3-time world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, citing the Mexican's lack of marketability.

    Court holds back $1.5 M of Pacman's winnings

    by By Balitang America staff
    CALIFORNIA - A Texas court issued a temporary restraining order on a portion of boxing champ Manny Pacquiao's winnings from his most recent fight, after a Filipino promoter sued the boxer for over $1.18 million in damages, reports

    Filipino promoter Edmundo Lozano of Imperial Ed promotions claimed that Pacquiao entered into a written contract with his company to make a number of social and promotional appearances in McAllen, Texas last September.

    Lozano alleged that in exchange for his appearances, Pacquiao was paid $100,000, which was reportedly wired to Pacquiao's wife Jinkee.

    Court documents show that Pacquiao signed the contract in General Santos City, Philippines.

    During Pacquiao's promotional tour in Dallas before his most recent fight, trainer Freddie Roach reportedly told another member of the Imperial team that the boxer cannot make it to Lozano's event, as it conflicted with training.

    Lozano had sent Pacquiao a demand letter.

    The court ordered that $1.5 million of Pacquiao's winnings from his fight with Antonio Margarito be held back, as it deliberates on the case.

    Filipino boxers receive cash for Asiad wins

    by By TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News
    MANILA, Philippines -- The country's top amateur boxers were given the cash incentives they were promised by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) for bringing home the medals and making the country proud.

    Another sorry Asiad stint?

    We have the best pound-for-pound professional boxer in the world. But in a regional amateur sportsfest, namely the recently concluded Asiad in Guangzhou, we only won one gold medal in boxing, thanks to Rey Saludar.

    Miami's Fil-Am coach gets support from LeBron

    MANILA, Philippines – The job of Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra as head coach of the Miami Heat is safe for now.

    Palace urges lotto winner to share blessings with the poor

    The lucky winner of the 6/55 lotto's P741-million jackpot received unsolicited advice from Malacañang: Use your money judiciously and share your blessings with the poor.

    Jackpot! Olongapo bettor wins P741.176-M lotto prize

    Weeks of suspense finally came to an end Monday night as a lone lucky bettor from Luzon managed to crack the biggest jackpot in the country's lottery history, winning P741.176 million. The winning bet was placed in Olongapo City. Even lawmakers and Palace officials had bought tickets for a shot at becoming instant mega-millionaires.

    Cruz to lone Grand Lotto winner: Pack up, go abroad

    Here's an unsolicited advice from the country's plucky anti-gambling advocate Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz to the lone Grand Lotto winner: Pack up and go abroad.

    Pacquiao glad to have inspired Mark Wahlberg

    MANILA, Philippines – Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao is pleased to have inspired American actor Mark Wahlberg, who observed the Filipino's training in the making of the film "The Fighter".

    Jinkee: Mommy Dionisia and I are best friends

    MANILA, Philippines – Jinkee Pacquiao, wife of 8-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, said she and Pacquiao's mom, Dionisia, have a great relationship.

    Court hears ABS-CBN's case vs Willie

    MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN on Tuesday presented its first witness before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66 during the initial hearing of the Kapamilya network's copyright infringement case against Willie Revillame.

    Sunshine Dizon's husband kills old woman in road mishap

    MANILA, Philippines – The husband of actress Sunshine Dizon was involved in a car accident that killed a 60-year-old woman in Pampanga province.

    Charice dating David Archuleta?

    by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
    MANILA, Philippines – The latest guy to be romantically linked to 18-year-old international singing sensation Charice is none other than fellow singer David Archuleta, an "American Idol 7" finalist.

    Camp of Denise Laurel denies pregnancy rumor

    by by Marie Lozano, ABS-CBN News
    MANILA, Philippines – The talent manager of Denise Laurel on Tuesday said there is no truth to the recent rumors that the actress is pregnant.

    Arroyo, son Dato push for standard labeling of toys, games

    Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and his son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo, are pressing for a standardized labeling for toys and games.

    Teen idol Justin Bieber says he plans to go to university

    MADRID, Spain—Canadian teen idol Justin Bieber said Monday he plans to go to university, even after selling millions of albums by the age of just 16 after being discovered on YouTube.

    Honest immigration officer gets promotion

    MANILA, Philippines - Honesty is still the best policy, especially in the Bureau of Immigration. An honest immigration officer was able to prove this after he was promoted to supervisor for returning an envelope containing $10,000 in cash to an outbound passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last Saturday.

    Amando L. Amisola, who has been with the Bureau of immigration for less than two years, also received a commendation from Immigration Officer-In-Charge Ronaldo Ledesma during simple ceremonies at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila.

    "Your honesty and integrity is the clearest indication yet that we now have in the Bureau of Immigration a cadre of young employees and officials whose sense of professionalism is unquestioned and beyond doubt," Ledesma said in a press statement.

    Amisola, whose mother is seriously ill in the hospital with stage 4 cancer, said he never hesitated to return the money when he found it.

    He narrated that he was conducting primary inspection on departing passengers at the NAIA Terminal I around 11 a.m. last November 27 when he noticed a brown envelope in front of his counter.

    He immediately checked the package and found a bundle of $100 dollar bills inside, along with the travel documents of an immigrant Filipino family bound for Canada, apparently on their way to stay there for good.

    "I immediately left the envelope to my fellow immigration officers so that I can leave my counter and find the passenger who left the money," he said. "I saw them approaching the boarding area and I called out to ask the man if has not forgotten anything."

    The passenger, Francisco Patricio, then realized that their money was missing. He told Amisola while walking back to the immigration area that there was almost a million pesos in the envelope. Patricio's wife, Maricel, was then already in tears.

    "I brought him to the counter again to check his envelope and counted the money, and he found it intact. He was thankful and expressed his gratitude," Amisola said in an incident report he submitted to lawyer Arvin Santos, acting chief of the BI Airport Operations Division, and Theodore Pascual, AOD head supervisor at NAIA I.

    Special leave for women in gov't who undergo surgery OK'd

    MANILA, Philippines - Women working for the Philippine government who are scheduled to undergo surgery for gynecological disorders can now file for special leave.

    The Civil Service Commission (CSC) promulgated on November 22 this year Resolution No. 1000432 which lays down the guidelines for availing the special leave benefit provided for under Republic Act 9710 (Section 18), known as the Magna Carta for Women (MCW).

    Eligible for the special leave benefit are women employed in the public sector, regardless of age and civil status, with at least 6 months' aggregate service rendered in the 12 months prior to the surgery.

    The leave may be for a maximum period of 2 months per year with full pay, based on the employee's gross monthly compensation (monthly basic pay including mandatory allowances).

    "It may be used for the period covering the surgery until recuperation. Absence incurred from the pre-surgery period, as well as those in excess of the two months allowed under the special leave benefit, may be charged against the employee's earned leave credits," said the CSC in a statement.

    Women may apply for the special leave benefit if they undergo any of the procedures in the List of Surgical Operations for Gynecological Disorders prepared by a Technical Working Committee composed of obstetrician-gynecologists, surgeons and medical doctors.

    The benefit is non-cumulative and not convertible to cash.

    Since the guidelines are to be implemented retroactively, CSC said the leave benefit may availed of by women who have undergone surgery due to gynecological disorders from September 15, 2009 onward. MCW took effect on that day.

    "Those who used their sick or vacation leave credits for surgery and recuperation that occurred between September 15, 2009 and November 21, 2010, the day prior to issuance of the CSC guidelines, can have their leave credits restored," said the CSC.

    Eclipse, meteor shower double treat for stargazers in Dec.

    A meteor shower and a lunar eclipse will top the treats for stargazers in December, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.
    PAGASA officer-in-charge Nathaniel Servando said the annual Geminids meteor shower will peak on December 14 while the total lunar eclipse will come Dec. 21.

    "Meteors or 'falling stars' can be seen at an average rate of sixty meteors per hour under a dark and cloudless sky which the Quarter Moon set just after midnight. The shower will appear to radiate from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, which will be located in the eastern horizon," Servando said in PAGASA'sastronomical diary for December.

    Meteor enthusiasts were encouraged to report their observation to the International Meteor Organization site,

    On the other hand, a total lunar eclipse will occur on December 21 and will be visible in the Philippines, Servando said.

    "The entire event is visible from North America to western South America. Observers along South America's east coast will miss the late stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset," he said.

    Likewise, most part of Europe and Africa experience moonset while the eclipse is in progress. Only northern Scandinavians can observe the entire event from Europe.

    "For observers in eastern Asia including the Philippines, as the Moon rises the eclipse is on its ending stage," Servando said, adding that the eclipse would not be visible from south and east Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

    Servando said the eclipse will begin at 1:29 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (PST) and will end at 7:04 p.m. (PST).

    In Manila, the moon will rise at 5:36 p.m. on December 21, and will set at 6:57 a.m. on December 22.

    Partial eclipse begins at 2:32 p.m., while the greatest eclipse occurs at 4:16 p.m. The partial eclipse ends 6:01 p.m. and the penumbral eclipse ends 7:04 p.m., Servando said.

    "Lunar eclipses are safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes. A pair of binocular will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the Moon brighter," he added.

    Winter solstice 

    PAGASA said the Sun will reach the Winter Solstice on December 22 at 7:38 a.m. (PST), marking the time when the sun lies at its farthest point south of the equator. It also signals the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

    "Philippine nights will be longer than daytime. Earth has now completed another annual circuit around the Sun," PAGASA said.

    The famous equilateral triangle in the sky, known as the Winter Triangle, rises after sunset.

    The Winter Triangle is composed of Betelgeuse, the super giant red star and the prominent star of the famous constellation Orion (the Mighty Hunter), Sirius, the brightest star in the sky of the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog), and Procyon, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Minor (the Little Dog).

    Venus and Saturn will be found 30 and 12 degrees above the eastern horizon two hours before sunrise during the first week of the December. Both planets will lie among the background stars of the constellation Virgo, the Virgin. They will remain visible in the morning sky throughout the month. 

    Mars and Mercury will be found very low in the western horizon during the first week of the month.

    "The best time to view the two planets will be on December 7, when Mercury will be 1 degree south of the thin crescent Moon," Servando said.

    After this conjunction, Mars and Mercury will also be found 1 degree apart on December 14. Mercury descends deeper into the twilight horizon and disappear from view two days after this conjunction, while Mars remains very low in the horizon until the end of the month. 

    Jupiter and Uranus will be found between the border of the constellations Pisces, the Fish and Aquarius, the Water-Bearer.

    Jupiter will easily located through its brightness as the sky darkens during the month. It will be shining at magnitude -2.4 and +5.8, respectively.

    "Both planets together with Neptune will be visible throughout the evening sky during the month," Servando said.

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