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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 18, 2010 Major News Stories

Petitioners told: Rethink P1.50 fare hike proposal

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama appealed to transport groups who are seeking a P1.50 fare increase to carefully study their petition before they file it before the appropriate authorities.

DoE: Latest oil price hikes are reasonable, justifiable

The Department of Energy (DoE) said the recent oil price hikes were reasonable and justifiable, based on the increases in the fuel prices in the international market.

Oil falls below $82 despite US crude supply drop

SINGAPORE - Oil prices fell below $82 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as fears of slower Chinese growth offset a report showing that US crude supplies unexpectedly plunged last week.

CEDC to supply 82MW more in December

The Cebu-Negros-Panay Grid will have an additional 82- megawatt power capacity early next month.

Rama to tell P.Noy hog raisers' gripe

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama will bring to the attention of the Malacañang the gripe of local hog raisers over the influx of cheap imported meat in the local markets.

'1 of 10 medicines in RP is fake'

MANILA, Philippines -  Based on Department of Health (DOH) figures, 10% or 1 of every 10 medicines in the country is fake, according to the Samahan Laban sa Pekeng Gamot (Samahan).

"Consumers unwittingly buy from drug stores with counterfeit medicines. If that patient dies, no one will be going to report anymore because the patient is already dead," said Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag, Samahan spokesman and chair of the Cosmetics Committee of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

Calimag said fake medicines should be flushed out immediately from market.

She said the true extent of the counterfeiting problem is "hidden" and that the 10% estimate is based only on cases reported to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

"From the point of view of the PMA, we strongly recommend that we buy only from Food and Drugs Administration-listed pharmacy. Source is important. As doctors we do our diagnosis, and then we depend on medicines to work," she added.

Samahan raised the warning against fake drugs as the nation celebrates this month the "National Consciousness Week against Fake Medicines" as mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 2082.

The federation comprises the FDA, the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPA), and the Drug Stores Association of the Philippines, among others.

Multibillion-dollar illicit trade

The international sources of fake medicines are China, India, and Pakistan, Samahan said in its Web site.

The local sources are found in Manila, Cebu, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Quezon.

The country's pharmaceutical industry is a P112 billion business.

PPA president Leonila Ocampo said the business from counterfeit medicines "go to as high as US $75 billion" worldwide.

"The proliferation of fake medicines in Asia is quite high. We really take this seriously as our advocacy in as much as pharmacists we all know are the very people who can get their medicines very easily," Ocampo said.

To detect counterfeit drugs, Calimag has advised consumers to "first carefully check the label on the medicine and in the packaging to avoid purchasing the fake ones."

"Check the color, the texture, and if possible, the taste of the medicine. Beware also if the packaging is different and if the price is significantly or unusually low," she said. "It is equally critical to buy only from FDA-licensed pharmacy," she added.

Health hazard

Calimag said fake medicines are hazardous to health because they "are neither tested nor approved, [and] may contain toxic, unlisted, and substandard ingredients."

Counterfeit products pertain to those sold under established product name without proper authorization, or those with insufficient, excess, or wrong active ingredients.

Julie Marquez, external vice-president of the Drugstores Association of the Philippines, said they have monitored some cases of locally made fake drugs but most are smuggled.  The group immediately refers such cases to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.  

"Ine-expel namin ang kahit sinong drugstore na magiging involved sa pagbebenta ng fake drugs" Marquez warned. 

She said they have a total of 5,000 members in their organization but so far, no one from their association has been caught selling fake drugs.

ABS-CBN News visited some pharmacies in Pasig City, like Botica Santa Ana and Rainforest drugstore near the Rizal Medical Center. 

Drug store officials said they monitor their products daily. The pharmacies have sections where items that are about to expire are placed and set aside to avoid confusion. 

Still alarming

FDA officer-in-charge Florita Descallar Moraleja said that even if there are only a few reported cases of fake drugs being sold in the market, the illegal trade is still alarming since fake drugs can worsen the sickness of a person and can even lead to death.

According to the FDA, some of the physical differences between fake and genuine medicines are: 

  • Fake drugs' labels are not clear and can be erased;
  • Some, like for paracetamol, fake ones have a lighter color compared to the real one;
  • Fake paracetamol become powdery, compared to the original that has a solid content;
  • Fake capsules have dark spots; 
  • The middle part fake medical pills is not straight.

According to the FDA, out of 25,694 registered drugs being sold in the country, only 37 were found to be fake. 

"We have already filed cases [against] 46 companies selling fake drugs found in areas in Metro Manila like Muntinlupa, Pasay and Quezon City," Moraleja said.

The cases are still ongoing.

Mandaue dads okay measure for fire victims

The Mandaue City council yesterday approved the resolution submitted by the City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) which requests the council to declare sitio Cabildohan in barangay Looc and sitio NKKP of barangay Pagsabungan under the state of calamity and to set aside an amount from the city's calamity fund for the relief assistance of the fire victims.

4 Cebu grads top teachers board

Four education graduates from Cebu City topped the recent Licensure Examination for Teachers supervised by the Philippine Regulatory Commissions which was conducted last September 26 in 15 testing centers all over the Philippines.

In Cebu, the test was conducted at the University of San Jose-Recoletos Basak Campus.

Among the 39,508 examinees for the Elementary Level only 7,737 examinees, or 19 percent, passed. Two of the topnotchers are from Cebu City, Aileen I. Menes from the University of San Carlos and Marie Cris C. Regner from the University of the Visayas.

Menes made it to the top four with an average rating score of 84.6 percent while Regner was seventh with an average of 84 percent.

The top spot for the Elementary Level was shared by Joyce Jackilynn C. Tan of the University of the Philippines-Diliman and Judy Ann K. Baloya from Saint Louis University who both scored 86 percent.

Of the 36,714 examinees for the Secondary Level only 9,493, or 25 percent, passed the LET. Two topnotchers are also from Cebu, Emy A. Espinosa of the University of San-Jose Recoletos and Marven Abello Piera of the University of Cebu.

Espinosa placed fifth with an average of 86.8 percent while Piera placed sixth with an average of 86.6 percent.

Jean M. Mandala Millare of the University of the Philippines-Diliman topped the LET Secondary Level with a percentage rating of 87 percent.

According to the LET exam results only the UP campuses of Diliman, Los Baños and Manila had a passing rate of over 50 percent.

Region 7 Department of Education Director Recaredo Borgonia said in an interview over dyLA, that these set of topnotchers will be prioritized for jobs in Region 7. 

Since January about 10,000 available slots for teacher were opened all over the region, about only half have been taken.

Borgonia added the low percentage of the exam passers will not affect the country's demand for good teachers because there will always be fresh graduates.

These teachers will be hired through their competency based on their LET exam, their English skills and a psychological test. He said that the demand for teachers will never decrease because there is always a vacancy for good teachers.

City increases cops' allowance to P2T

In consideration of the efforts of the police in maintaining peace and order in the city, the Cebu City government finally granted the P1,000 additional incentive to the 758 personnel of the Cebu City Police Office.

'Bullets did not come from soldiers,' says AFP commander on crossfire casualties

The highest ranking military officer in the Visayas immediately cleared the soldiers who figured in an encounter with communist rebels in Barangay Lim-ao in Kananga, Leyte on Monday, that resulted in the death of top Filipino botanist Leonardo L. Co, a forest guard and a member of a farmer's group.

Family doubts botanist killed in crossfire

MANILA, Philippines - Family and friends of plant taxonomist and ethnobotanist Leonardo Co have reservations about the military's version of events that led to the death of the scientist. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that soldiers were conducting security operations in the vicinity of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) compound in Kananga town in Leyte after recovering documents indicating an imminent attack on the facility. [Related story: Philippines' top botanist killed in crossfire]

Seven New People's Army (NPA) rebels were reportedly spotted and a firefight then ensued. Co and 2 other companions were caught in the crossfire.

Dr. Perry Ong, director of the University of the Philippines Diliman Institute of Biology, believes Co may have been mistaken as an NPA rebel by the AFP. 

He said botanists typically carry pole cutters and umbrellas during their field work, and these may have been mistaken as long firearms from a distance. 

The family of Co said the AFP's statements about the incident have created more questions than answers. 

They want to know why Co was allowed to enter the area if rebel presence had been reported there. 

In a statement, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas also said it is highly improbable that the group of Co strayed near a highly secretive squad of NPA rebels. 

They believe that the incident was a case of mistaken identity on the part of the AFP acting on "flimsy intelligence report." 

The top military commander in the Visayas, Lt. Gen. Ralph Villanueva, meanwhile, said that the military and the police have already started investigations into the possible violation of military regulations meant to ensure the safety of civilians in the conduct of its operations.

Villanueva, Armed Forces' Central Command (CentCom) chief, said the police investigation will determine whether the bullets that killed the civilians came from the soldiers of Army's 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) or from the side of the NPAs. 

Cayetano seeks independent probe into botanist's death

(UPDATE) Senator Pia Cayetano called for an independent investigation into the death of a prominent Filipino botanist and two of his research aides in a forested area in Kananga, Leyte.

Leyte 'crossfire' survivor: I did not hear exchange of gunfire

The killing of Energy Development Corporation biodiversity consultant Leonardo Co and two others in a forested area in Kananga, Leyte on Monday might have been a case of mistaken identity.

Sue me, Greg dares Noval

Cebu Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, Jr. has dared Director Pedro Noval, Jr. of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-7 to pursue charges against him for dereliction of duty for refusal to assume as acting governor.

PB committee approves P3B Capitol budget

Despite legal threats from Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, Jr., the members of the committee on budget and appropriation of the Cebu Provincial Board yesterday approved the proposed P3 billion annual budget of the Capitol next year.

Lahug tests Rama's sincerity on perks

Barangay Lahug Captain Mary Ann delos Santos challenged Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to prove that he is sincere in his call for unity by giving back her barangay's fuel allocation and financial aid for garbage collectors.

Palace willing to amend amnesty proclamation

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Conceding it may need further work, Malacañan on Wednesday told members of the joint House committees on justice and national defense that they could amend Proclamation 50 granting amnesty to soldiers who rebelled against the Arroyo administration.

Palace, solons clash on 'guilty' plea as condition for amnesty

Lawmakers insisted Wednesday that there must be admission of guilt before amnesty is granted to rebel soldiers, but Palace officials believe otherwise.

PNoy vows compensation to martial law victims

Victims of human rights violations during the martial law period will receive their compensation under the present administration, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday.

PNP renews call for permanent gun ban

Citing a dip in crime incidents during the election gun ban period, the Philippine National Police on Wednesday renewed its call to prohibit the carrying of firearms amid opposition from pro-gun groups.

Explosives found near US Embassy

MANILA, Philippines - A fragmentation grenade and grenade launcher were found near the United States Embassy on Wednesday morning.

Philippines-MILF talks stalled over negotiator

MANILA Philippines - Attempts to restart peace talks between the Philippine government and Muslim separatists have stalled over Manila's efforts to replace a Malaysian facilitator, and there are concerns the delays could increase tension on the ground.

Since 2003, Othman Razak has been facilitating the talks to end the conflict that has run for more than 40 years, but Philippine officials do not consider him to be a neutral player.

The impasse could erode trust and confidence on both sides and fuel brewing tensions on the ground. Some army officials have blamed a rogue faction of the MILF for a recent bombing on the southern island of Mindanao.

Judge allows twice-a-week hearing on Maguindanao massacre case

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes allowed the twice-a-week hearing of the Maguindanao massacre case for December upon request of the prosecution and the defense.

Aquino backs calls for televised Maguindanao massacre trial

President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday backed calls for the trial of the primary suspects behind the country's worst political massacre to be aired live on national television.

De Lima to NBI: Probe Ampatuan clan's other atrocities

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday said she will order the National Bureau of Investigation to look into other possible atrocities the Ampatuan clan committed even before the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao province.

Arroyo, Ermita dispute international human-rights watch report

Top officials of the previous administration led by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo balked at a report by the international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) for saying that the "rise and expansion" of the Ampatuans, the prime suspect in the Maguindanao massacre in November last year were "aided" by her regime.

Kin, supporters hope Morong 43 released before Christmas

After a dialogue with Malacañang two days ago, relatives and supporters of the "Morong 43" said Wednesday that they hope President Benigno Aquino III will put an end to nine months of imprisonment and intervene to free the detainees within the next two weeks.

Police file criminal raps vs dead hostage-taker Mendoza

Even if dead, the Manila Police District still filed criminal case with the Department of Justice (DoJ) against hostage-taker Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

South African raped by San Juan cop?

by By Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News
SAN JUAN, Philippines - A 41-year-old South African national has accused a rookie cop and one other unidentified person of raping her right inside the police headquarters in San Juan City. 

Maguindanao rape victim marks 22nd birthday in hospital

The volunteer nurse who was gang-raped in Maguindanao received a cake and gift from her family and well-wishers as she celebrated her 22nd birthday in a Davao hospital where she is recuperating.

Ex-Lacson aide appeals denial of habeas corpus bid in US

CHICAGO - Former police official Michael Ray Aquino, an accused in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, has appealed a United States' court decision denying his bid for habeas corpus and affirming his extradition to the Philippines.

DepEd's K+12 plan: Learning from the Netherlands

by By Dheza Marie Aguilar, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
NETHERLANDS - Time and money. These are the two main issues why a lot of Filipinos, lawmakers, parents and students alike, are questioning the feasibility of the K+12 proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd).

Ex-chief justice Puno, college dean, film writer take oath as UP regents

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno is back in the government service as one of the regents of the University of the Philippines.

Santiago vows to 'massacre' Aquino's 'lightweight' Cabinet execs

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago vowed Wednesday to "massacre" at least half a dozen "very lightweight" and "smug, self-satisfied, non-elected appointees" in President Benigno Aquino III's Cabinet.

Joker decries Papal Nuncio's 'snub' of Senate

Senator Joker Arroyo on Wednesday criticized Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams for supposedly ignoring a Senate resolution expressing concern for the lack of Filipino cardinals in the country.

Aquino: No plan to hold plebiscite on RH bill

(Updated 5:46 p.m.) The government is not keen on holding a plebiscite on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill because Congress is still deliberating on it, President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday.

PDEA chief appoints 2 more relatives

MANILA, Philippines - After the airing of the report on alleged nepotism committed by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Dionisio Santiago, ABS-CBN News received a number of text messages saying that he appointed 19 more relatives to permanent positions in the agency.  

Civil Service Commission (CSC) officials  found out in their initial investigation that of the 19 names listed in the text messages, only 2 were confirmed relatives of Santiago.  

They are Rowena Arlene dela Cruz and Maria Jesusa P. Mendoza, who are both nieces of the PDEA chief. 

The CSC earlier found out Santiago also appointed to permanent positions his daughter, Mylyn Santiago, as disbursing officer in 2008 and his nephew, Peejay Santiago Ponce, and another niece, Sarah Marie Santiago Ponce. 

The CSC said Santiago violated Executive Order 292 and Section 49 of Presidential Decree 807 on nepotism, which states that " all appointments in the national, provincial, city and municipal governments or in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, made in favor of a relative of the appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office, or of the persons exercising immediate supervision over him, are hereby prohibited. As used in this section, the word "relative" and members of the family referred to are those related within the third degree either of consanguinity or of affinity." 

When asked about the new findings of the CSC, Santiago admitted appointing them, but added the 2 are qualified for the positions. 

Santiago claimed that there is a "syndicate" in PDEA which is out to "demolish" his image. 

"My vulnerability is that I'm the appointing authority. Sindikato na ang labanan dito," Santiago said. 

He challenged the CSC to formally conduct an investigation to ferret out the truth. 

To his detractors in PDEA, Santiago said he will not resign. 

"Double dead na ako. Bakit masyado silang nagmamadali? Hindi ako magre-resign. Ilalaban ko ito. I will die with my boots on. You must have a nerve of steel," Santiago said.

$1: 43.950

$1: 43.950 (P43.70)

Euro 1: 59.1557

IBON says PPPs could still lead to more debt

by By Cai U. Ordinario, Business Mirror
MANILA, Philippines - Despite the government's assurances that resorting to more public-private partnerships (PPPs) will be more economical for the country, the local think tank Ibon Foundation Inc. (Ibon) said this could actually lead to more debt because of the guarantees and the "regulatory risk insurance" that the government would extend to investors.

DA allots P900M for 2011 organic agriculture

The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said it will allot an initial P900 million next year to boost the country's organic agriculture program.

World's cardinals gather for sex abuse talks

by by Michele Leridon, Agence France-Presse
VATICAN CITY - Cardinals from around the world will hold an unprecedented meeting in the Vatican on Friday to discuss the issue of sex abuse by priests, but officials are playing down hopes for any major outcomes.

PHL now a member of UN group vs piracy

With 97 Filipinos still held captive by Somali pirates, the Philippine government said it is intensifying its efforts against piracy off the coast of Somalia by clinching membership in a United Nations (UN) anti-piracy group.

Aung San Suu Kyi presses party's case

Myanmar's military government has warned against filing complaints over the Nov. 7 election — a move that could spell trouble for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has vowed to probe alleged voting irregularities.

Pay-per-view hits on Pacquiao-Margarito fight seen to reach 1.5 million

What the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight failed to generate at the gates it drew from pay-per-view (PPV).

Pacquiao expected to earn $10M from PPV

HOLLYWOOD - Manny Pacquiao, the reigning world's top pound-for-pound fighter, is turning out to be the biggest draw as well in pay-per-view these days.

Pacquiao simply the best of all time, says Arum

by By Mark Lamport-Stokes, Reuters
LOS ANGELES, California - When it comes to boxing, veteran promoter Bob Arum has seen it all in a career spanning almost half a century and he unwaveringly believes Manny Pacquiao has become the best fighter of all time.

Pacquiao commended as 'greatest Filipino athlete' in Senate

At least six resolutions have been filed at the Senate this week, commending the victory of world-boxing champion and now Saranggani Representative Manny Pacquiao over Mexican Antonio Margarito.

Margarito undergoes successful surgery

MANILA, Philippines — Doctors have successfully repaired Antonio Margarito's right orbital bone which was fractured during his 12-round encounter with now World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.

Safety first for refs in lop-sided bouts: WBC chief

by Reuters
MEXICO CITY – World Boxing Council (WBC) president Jose Sulaiman has urged referees to make better use of a rule introduced this month to end lop-sided bouts early if one of the fighters has suffered a severe pounding.

Ginebra extends streak in 90-78 win vs Barako Bulls

Ginebra stretched its winning streak to six games with a hard fought 90-78 triumph over Barako Bull Wednesday in the 36th PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

Asiad basketball: China crushes N. Korea; PH knocks off Qatar

GUANGZHOU—Defending champions China crushed North Korea 98-62 in Asiad basketball group play Wednesday, as the Philippines knocked off 2006 Doha Games silver medalist Qatar 90-68.

Orcollo, Kiamco advance to billiards' medal round

GUANGZHOU - Dennis Orcollo and Warren Kiamco thawed the anxiety of nearly a week's wait to finally brandish their cue sticks and march into the semi-final round of the 9-ball billiards event despite a rough day for the Philippine team in the 16th Asian Games here.

Lakers avoid third straight loss (AP)

Milwaukee Bucks ' Corey Maggette (5) is fouled as he goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Lakers ' Pau Gasol (16) and Matt Barnes during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, in Milwaukee. The Lakers won 118-107.

Shannon Brown said his goal is to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. To be a serious candidate, he'll need to keep repeating performances like this one. Brown scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-107 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Rose's 17 in 4th lift Bulls by Rockets (AP)

Chicago Bulls ' Joakim Noah (13) tries to get to the basket past Houston Rockets ' Brad Miller during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010 in Houston.

Derrick Rose had seen enough. Benched because of foul trouble in the third quarter, Rose watched the Chicago Bulls lose their lead to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. He was back on the floor to start the fourth, and from there, the Rockets didn't stand a chance. Rose scored 17 of his 33 points in the final quarter and the Bulls opened their seven-game road trip with a 95-92 victory.

Amid Anthony rumors, Nuggets beat Knicks (AP)

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony reacts to a foul called against him during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, in Denver. Denver won 120-118.

Maybe he will be trying to help them win games in the future. On this night, Carmelo Anthony was more than happy to hand the New York Knicks another loss. "I'm just glad we got the win," Anthony said after the Denver Nuggets' 120-118 escape Tuesday night when he scored 26 points. Said Amare Stoudemire, who led the Knicks with 24 points: "We did a solid job on Carmelo.

Fill-in Matthews has 30 in Blazers' win (AP)

Portland Trail Blazers center Marcus Camby (23) tries to pull down a rebound under pressure from Memphis Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur , right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010 in Memphis, Tenn.

Wesley Matthews let his Portland teammates know early they needn't worry about leading scorer Brandon Roy sitting out. Matthews, subbing for the injured Roy, scored a career-high 30 points, 22 in the first half, and the Trail Blazers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-99 on Tuesday night. "He did exactly what we needed," Portland coach Nate McMillan said.

Arenas gets Wall-less Wizards by Raptors (AP)

Toronto Raptors guard Jarrett Jack , right, strips the ball from Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee (34) during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game at the Verizon Center in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010.

With the new face of the franchise ailing, the Washington Wizards had little choice but to turn to an old friend, and Gilbert Arenas delivered. Arenas had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists to help the Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 109-94 on Tuesday night. With rookie sensation John Wall out with a sprained left foot, Arenas started for the first time since his suspension.

Hawks win despite Johnson's poor night (AP)

Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith , front, is fouled as he shoots under Indiana Pacers center Solomon Jones in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010.

The Atlanta Hawks made Joe Johnson's poor shooting night irrelevant. The Hawks shot 50 percent from the field in a 102-92 win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. Johnson entered the game averaging a team-best 20 points, but he shot just 4 for 12 from the field and finished with 11 points while Indiana's Danny Granger held him in check.

Cavs use big 3rd quarter to down Sixers (AP)

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott watches during the third quarter in an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 101-93.

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott opened his postgame comments by praising Cleveland's defense, effort and energy. "Especially," he said, "in the third quarter." For a change, the Cavs didn't fall flat on their faces after halftime. Daniel Gibson scored 18 points, Jamario Moon added 13 and the Cavaliers finally shook their third-quarter blues with a 101-93 win Tuesday night.

Longoria files for divorce from Parker (AP)

Eva Longoria filed court papers Wednesday to divorce basketball star Tony Parker, citing irreconcilable differences. Longoria, a star of TV's "Desperate Housewives," and Parker, an NBA All-Star with the San Antonio Spurs, were married July 7, 2007. They have no children together. In the filing, Longoria requested that her name be restored to Eva Jacqueline Longoria.

Mediation of Willie, ABS-CBN case to start next month

MANILA, Philippines – The camps of Willie Revillame and ABS-CBN agreed on Wednesday to hold their first mediation hearing early next month.

Sen. Santiago 'threatens' ex-Aquino girlfriend with firecracker

If Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had her way, she would throw a firecracker at the former girlfriend of President Benigno Aquino III so that she would become more "animated."

Senator Santiago loses temper over loud cellphone rings

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday lost her temper over the repeated ringing of cellphones during a Senate hearing and threatened to cite in contempt and jail the discourteous mobile phone users.

Enrile: No to Pacquiao as peace negotiator, yes as bodyguard

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday rejected the idea of getting Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao as a peace negotiator, saying the boxing superstar would probably be better off serving as a bodyguard.

Pacquiao urged to hold next fights in PHL

Manny Pacquiao's colleagues in the House of Representatives want him to be the country's poster boy for tourism and are even encouraging him to stage his next fights in the country, noting how it would rake in revenues.

DOT takes down

MANILA, Pilipinas - The Department of Tourism has taken down a website featuring the new slogan for the Philippines, "Pilipinas Kay Ganda," after finding out that a porn site uses the same keywords. 

'World's oldest champagne' uncorked

Amid much fanfare, wine experts Wednesday popped the corks of two bottles of champagne recently salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic Sea, where they had lain in a sunken ship for nearly 200 years.

Italian bankrupted by Mafia sells own organs

ROME—An Italian businessman who campaigned against the mafia has put his organs up for sale in a desperate bid to raise cash after gangsters destroyed his property and scared off clients, he told AFP Wednesday.

No one wins record P495.6-M lotto jackpot

The wait is still on for the bettor who will win the 6/55 Grand Lotto as no one won the over P495-million jackpot during Wednesday night's draw.

What are your chances of winning the lotto?

MANILA, Philippines - The probability of actually winning the lotto is really small, said a statistician. It's so small that one may be better off selling barbecue.

People hoping to be just as lucky are scrambling to place their bets for the biggest lotto jackpot in Philippine history, which is expected to balloon to P485 million tonight.

But what are the odds of actually winning?

For the 6/55 grand lotto, Pulse Asia chief research fellow and statistician Ana Tabunda said it's one in 28,989,675.

ONE CHANCE OUT OF 29-MILLION: Statistician and Pulse Asia chief research fellow Ana Tabunda explains the odds of winning the lotto jackpot. Credit: ANC

This means 28,989,675 is the total number of 6-digit combinations one can draw from 1 to 55. Buying 2 tickets bumps your chances only to 2 in 28,989,675.

"The probability of winning is really small," Tabunda told ANC's "Strictly Politics".

"By random, and by luck. You need all the help of the Almighty above," added Atty. Joy Rojas, general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the state-run lotto operator.

Despite this fact, Rojas said lines at their lotto outlets continue to be long.

Poor and rich alike have caught the lotto fever. Even government officials are taking their chances.

Sen. Miguel Zubiri said he has been sending his driver to buy him lotto tickets over the past weeks.

"Libreng mangarap. If I win, more than half of that I'll give away [to charity]," he said.

Tabunda described Zubiri as one of the "occasional bettors" who use only their disposable incomes in playing the lottery.

But she said there are those who look at the game as their way out of poverty.

"We ask the people in general, what do you think people will do when they are already desperate about getting out of poverty, and 13% of them said they will bet in the lotto.

"Even if there's just one-half chance of winning, one-half chance of losing, but you're betting against a casino with infinite capital, once in a while you will win. But if you average it out, you lose [in the long run]," explained Tabunda.

While she has nothing against luck and playing the lotto, Tabunda advised the public "to go the conservative way."

"Magtiyaga ka mag-aral...magtrabaho. There are more chances of generating income by sticking to tried and tested ways," she said.

"To look at the pot as your one chance out of poverty. It's really very small. You're better off selling barbecue or banana-cue," she added.

Zapping nerves helps control high blood pressure

CHICAGO - Some people who couldn't get their blood pressure under control despite taking a fistful of pills every day found relief from an experimental treatment that shows promise as a permanent fix for the condition.

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