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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 16, 2010 Major News Stories



Meat dealers sue agency

AT LEAST 18 imported frozen meat dealers from various provinces, including the cities of Talisay, Mandaue and Cebu, complained about "discrimination" in an administrative order on monitoring meat imports more strictly.

They filed a petition for declaratory relief and asked the Cebu City Regional Trial Court to stop Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala from enforcing the order, which takes effect this week.

Poorly-vendedimported meat confiscated

The city veterinary's office has confiscated almost 225 kilos of poorly vended imported meat from three public markets yesterday morning.

Typhoid in Alegria, cholera in Danao test health systems

THE Department of Health (DOH) regional director warned residents of Alegria town not to drink water from the local system, and to boil and chlorinate water for household use.

DOH 7 Director Dr. Susana Madarieta issued the directive after another typhoid fever patient died, the second death in less than a week, at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City.

DOH 7 reported that a 15-year-old typhoid fever patient died, but no other details were available because the agency still has not received a copy of the death certificate.

LGUs urged to check water sources

The Cebu provincial government has called on all local government units to check their water sources to prevent outbreaks such as the case of diarrhea in Danao City and typhoid fever in Alegria town.

Veco to Napocor: Double offer

METRO Cebu's biggest power distributor will get less supply from the government's National Power Corp. (Napocor) after Christmas, when its current supply contract ends.

In a meeting yesterday, the Visayan Electric Company Inc. (Veco) proposed that Napocor's power supply offer be adjusted from 75 megawatts to 155 mw.

The Department of Energy (DOE) assured it will recalculate Veco's power supply allocation from Napocor.

At present, the state-owned power firm supplies Veco with 240 mw a day. It's responsible for about 60 percent of the power distributor's requirements.

DOE to recalculate Veco power from Napocor

The Department of Energy (DOE) is assuring the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) that there will be a recalculation on the National Power Corporation's extended contract with the power distribution utility.

City's laws on pyro still stand

THE Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and the City Treasurer's Office (CTO) can still conduct raids on firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the City that are sold outside the designated firecracker and pyrotechnic zone, which is the South Road Properties (SRP).

City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez clarified that as long as the ordinance regulating firecrackers/pyrotechnics and a resolution that designates a firecracker/pyrotechnic zone are existing, they can be enforced anytime by authorities. 

Rama refuses to release confiscated firecrackers

Mayor Michael Rama rejected the request of firecracker and pyrotechnics dealer Brian Lim to release his almost P3 million-worth of products that were confiscated by the police and City Hall personnel.

Millionaires among cops

OF 273 police officials holding posts in the region, 37 are multi-millionaires but 46 are in debt, a list submitted to the anti-graft office reveals.

The list, prepared by Supt. Marciano Batiancela of the PNP Regional Office (PRO) 7, showed that close to three-fourths of the 27 millionaires are superintendents and higher, and hold command ranks or head departments.

Batiancela, acting chief of the personnel and human resource development division of the PRO 7, is one of the millionaires. He posted a net worth of P1.6 million.

Meanwhile, 90 percent of those in debt, 42 out of 46, are junior officers. They hold the ranks of inspectors, senior inspectors and chief inspector. Most of them are assigned to stations in the towns.

One, a chief of police, is P245,963.26 in the red. Another, a deputy commander, has liabilities amounting to P243,465.94.

Debt

On the other hand, some 118 other police officers, with the ranks of SPO4 and below, posted a net worth of over one million pesos.

Vicente Loot, former PRO 7 deputy chief of operations, is the wealthiest police officer in the region, with a net worth of P106.7 million, according to his annual Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth.

Currently assigned in Eastern Visayas, he is the richest among the police senior superintendents who had been assigned here.

The next richest with a rank similar to that of Loot's is Edgardo Ingking, who held Loot's post prior to being detailed to the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame, with P14.4 million.

Edward Carranza of the regional comptrollership division comes third at P9.9 million, followed by Erson Digal, Cebu Provincial Police Office director, at P9.8 million, and Augusto Marquez, formerly with the PRO 7 intelligence division and now with the Negros Oriental Provincial PNP, with P3.1 million.

Among the police superintendents, Clifford Gaira-nod of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office has the highest net worth with P2.9 million, followed by Rex Derilo of the Firearms Explosives Security Service Agency and Guards Supervisory Section with P2.3 million. After Derilo are, Aaron Recla of the Police Community Relations Office with P1.9 million, Audie Villacin with P1.7 million, and Renato Dugan and Batiancela with P1.6 million each.

Lifestyle checks

Among the chief superintendents, former PRO 7 chief Lani-O Nerez is richest with P4 million, followed by Silvestre Primero, PRO 7 deputy chief for administration, with P1.5 million.

Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol, in an interview yesterday, warned against "erroneous conclusions," which might be drawn from the figures.

"It is possible that they already had that money before they entered the service," he said.

He, however, confirmed that the anti-graft is conducting lifestyle checks on several police officials.

Loot, for example, was recommended for prosecution by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last year for alleged anti-graft law and code of conduct violations and falsification.

He has denied the charges.

In recommending Loot's prosecution, the NBI had noted a sustained increase in the net worth he posted for 2005 (P83,075,143), 2006 (P87,645,800) and 2007 (P106,701,628).

Explanation

"There is no sufficient explanation on the exorbitant increase," said the document, signed by then NBI Deputy Director for Special Investigation Services Victor Bessat.

It added that "the increase in net worth is not proportionate with the annual taxable
income declared by the subjects."

Loot, in an interview after the NBI recommendation was issued, acknowledged that there was indeed a variance in the net worth he and his spouse, Daanbantayan Mayor Maria Luisa Loot, declared between 2005 and 2006 (about P4.5 million) and between 2006 and 2007 (P19.05 million).

However, he said, this was because they included figures corresponding to new baseline declarations now required in SALN forms but not in the forms used in the previous years.

He noted that items, including insurance and investment policies like pre-need plans, even those acquired in the 1980s, were now required for declaration. Hence, his assets appeared to have ballooned.

Apostol did not give an update on the investigation, adding that incidents involving police officials fall under the Office of the Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices.

PRO 7 unit: 5 cops' transfer from town 'inappropriate'

THE Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (RIDMD) has recommended the return of the five Daanbantayan police officers who were earlier relieved and transferred.

RIDMD Chief Patrocinio Comendador Jr., in his recommendation to Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Ager Ontog Jr., said he found the transfer of the policemen "inappropriate."

Loot gets P500T from Cebu City

CEBU, Philippines - The city government has turned over the P500,000 financial assistance it has promised the municipality of Daanbantayan.

Tom: It is my right to speak vs. Rama

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City South District Rep. Tomas Osmeña will not stop speaking against Mayor Michael Rama in public, because it is his right as a citizen.

Mike to stick it out with girlfriend Joy Pesquera

CEBU, Philippines - Mayor Michael Rama does not want his girlfriend Joy Pesquera to leave despite calls by Cebu City South District Rep. Tomas R. Osmeña for him to let go of her.

Executive wants P498M for infra in 2011 budget

INFRASTRUCTURE will have the biggest allocation if Cebu City's P4.454-billion proposed budget for 2011 will be approved as is.

The Office of the Mayor decreased its proposed allocation because some items were listed under the budget for all offices.

There was no capital outlay listed under the proposed budget of the Office of the Mayor, but there were major increases in particular items, which the councilors raised during the second day of the budget hearing yesterday.

Rama keeps Montecillo, appoints Legaspi in MCWD

FORMER Cebu City councilor Manuel Legaspi will be appointed by Mayor Michael Rama to the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) board.

He will replace Benjamin Militar, who took the slot vacated by Joy Augustus Young, who resigned when the latter was elected as vice mayor last May.

Legaspi, who is also a consultant of the mayor, said he will wait for the formal announcement on his appointment this week.

Militar's term, like that of MCWD board chair Juan Saul Montecillo's, will expire at the end of the month.

Garcia meets Sanchez's employees, reappointment assured

The 53 employees under the office of Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. yesterday heaved a sigh of relief after they were personally assured by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia of reappointment next year.

Acquittal does not mean innocence, says SC spokesman

The acquittal of Hubert Webb and six of his co-accused in the Vizconde massacre case did not mean that they were innocent of the crime, a Supreme Court spokesman said Wednesday.

Webb, others may seek damages from govt - SC spokesman

Hubert Webb and his six other co-accused may seek civil damages from the Philippine government after having been acquitted for a crime they were accused of committing almost two decades ago, the spokesman for the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

Palace supports reopening of Vizconde case

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Wednesday said it supports the reopening of the Vizconde massacre case, saying it is the "duty of the state" to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime.

Vizconde open to reinvestigation, asks SC to help find real killers

Lauro Vizconde is open to a reinvestigation of the case involving the massacre of his family for "as long as my lawyers will allow this kind of process" and challenged authorities to help him find the real killers.

Prescriptive period doesn't apply to missing Vizconde suspects

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that the 20-year prescriptive period for the Vizconde massacre case does not apply to at-large accused Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura.

Administrative complaint readied vs judge in Vizconde massacre

An administrative complaint is being readied against the judge that convicted Hubert Webb and 6 others in connection with the Vizconde massacre case, a lawyer said.

Maguindanao Massacre victims' kin worry about Vizconde-like acquittal

Sa ibang balita, ibinunyag ni Maguindanao Gov. Toto Mangudadatu ang tangkang panunuhol ni dating ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan para iurong ang kaso. Pinawi naman ng prosekusyon ang pangamba ng ilang kaanak ng mga biktima ng Maguindanao Massacre na matulad ang kahihinatnan nito sa Vizconde Massacre case.

2.8 million jobless Filipinos as of October

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - There were 2.8 million unemployed people in the Philippines as of October, translating to a higher jobless rate of 7.1%. This represents a slight increase from 2.7 million unemployed in July, a jobless rate of 6.9%.

Philippine wages down due to global crisis - ILO

Wages in the Philippines suffered one of the steepest cuts in the last two years following the global economic crisis, the International Labour Organization said Wednesday.

Robredo orders LGUs to set up firecracker zones

The Department of Interior and Local Government on Wednesday ordered all local government units to designate firecracker and pyrotechnic zones in a bid to curb accidents as Filipino revellers welcome the New Year.

CA confirms appointments of Luistro, 3 others

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The bicameral Commission on Appointments confirmed Wednesday the appointments of 4 secretaries of the Aquino Cabinet.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro was first to sail through the CA after Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago softened her stand to oppose his appointment.

He was followed by Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim whose appointment was opposed by tourism groups who are against his proposal for an open skies policy.

The 2 other secretaries confirmed by the CA are Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala.

House consolidating 6 RH bills

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The House Committee on Population and Family Relations is consolidating all 6 versions of the reproductive health (RH) bill.

PHL, HK officials to discuss Manila hostage fiasco

Nearly four months after the bloody Manila hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead, Philippine Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim will try to smooth the country's relations with Hong Kong by meeting with its Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, on Thursday.

Trillanes, 2 others want ruling on coup case set aside

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and 2 other officers facing coup charges before a Makati regional trial court has asked the judge to cancel promulgation of the judgment on the case after President Benigno Aquino III granted amnesty to participants of 3 uprisings during the Arroyo administration.

Military doubts NPA sincerity after Northern Samar ambush

The military on Wednesday voiced doubts about the sincerity of the New People's Army in announcing a holiday truce after 10 government soldiers were killed in an ambush by communist rebels in Northern Samar.

10 soldiers, boy slain in Northern Samar clash

Ten soldiers and a nine-year-old boy were killed while two other soldiers were wounded in an encounter between communist rebels and government troops Tuesday afternoon at Barangay (village) Perez, Las Navas town in Northern Samar.

NPA commander, 4 other rebels captured in Sarangani

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
SARANGANI, Philippines - A suspected New People's Army (NPA) leader and 4 other alleged communist rebels were captured by government forces during a raid on their safehouse in Malapatan town in Sarangani on Tuesday morning, the military said.

 Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said high-powered firearms - an M16 rifle and a Garand rifle - were also seized in the operation mounted by troops from the 73rd Infantry Battalion.

Ortiz said the soldiers swooped down on the safehouse located in Upper Suyan village at around 5:30 a.m., resulting in the capture of Toning Mungkil, alias Commander Monkey, and his 4 men.

Ortiz said Mungkil heads the Yunit Milisya of the NPA Platoon Mazda under Guerilla Front 71.

Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, spokesman of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said Mungkil is wanted for cattle rustling, frustrated murder, and other criminal cases.

The 4 other suspects who were captured were identified as Joel Mungkil, alias Joe; Benito Balbino, alias Ben; Ricky Mungkil, alias Muril; and Anthony Salway, alias Gusting.

In Surigao del Norte, meanwhile, 3 NPA rebels surrendered to the 30th Infantry Battalion on Sunday night, said Maj. Eugenio Julion Osias, commander of the 4th Civil Military Operations Battalion.

The 3 were Ernesto Estoque, Charlito Ebdalin, and Jestone Salve. They all hail from Malimono town in Surigao del Norte.

They were affiliated with the Guerrilla Front 16 of the communist movement's North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command.

Osias said the 3, who brought with them a cal. 45 pistol, a 2 cal. 38 handgun, and various ammunition, are undergoing debriefing.

Mangudadatu 'lies low' after roadside bomb found

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu admitted on Wednesday he remains unsure whether he was the real target of a possible foiled bomb attack in Maguindanao last week, but for now is avoiding trips especially plying the highway where the explosive device was found.

SC justice facing impeachment risks House summons

by By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - A Supreme Court magistrate may be summoned before the House of Representatives justice committee next year due to an impeachment case filed against him.

House justice committee chairman Neil Tupas said the impeachment complaint filed against Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo will be discussed once Congress resumes session on January 17, 2011. He said the complaint must be calendared within 10 session days and then referred to the justice committee.

"Once the complaint is referred, we will give this our priority since a member of the institution which is the final arbiter of law is involved...The summons will come at the later stage. We need to find out if it is sufficient in form and substance. Sufficiency of grounds has to be determined. After we determine the sufficiency of ground, that's when we will call the witnesses and the respondent," he said.

Eleven congressmen and 5 so-called comfort women filed on Tuesday an impeachment case against del Castillo for his failure to properly attribute portions of an April 2010 ruling to foreign sources.

The Supreme Court had earlier cleared del Castillo on the accusations of plagiarism, saying that the lack of attribution was just "a case of bad footnoting."

Tupas said the complainants accused del Castillo of betrayal of public trust when he copied portions of the works of Evan Criddle, Evan Fox-Descent, Mark Ellis and Christian Tams in his ponencia on the Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary case. He said betrayal of public trust is a catch-all provision in the Constitution for impeachment that must be determined by Congress. 
"The SC, in a  long line of cases, have set the standards for justices, standards of integrity. It will be tested here at the committee of justice in this impeachment case because according to SC, the standard does not apply to one of its members with respect to plagiarism. It said that plagiarism in the academe is different from plagiarism of an SC member," he said.

Once the complaint is referred in late January, the justice committee will determine if the complaint is sufficient in form and substance in 2 weeks' time.

However, Tupas said this will only happen if the Supreme Court does not issue a status quo order, like what they did in the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. The SC has ordered the House justice committee to stop impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez pending its decision on the Ombudsman's request to dismiss the cases.

Tupas said majority of House justice committee members do not recognize the SC's status quo order on the Ombudsman's impeachment. "The status quo order issued by the Supreme Court has not been recognized by the House committee on justice. It is just out of courtesy and request from the Speaker of the House," he said.

If a status quo order is issued on del Castillo's impeachment, Tupas said the justice committee cannot abandon its constitutional duty and accountability. He pointed out that the impeachment is a political process, and that the SC had already exonerated del Castillo of plagiarism.

A big question, he said, would be if the Supreme Court decides not to recognize the impeachment proceedings against del Castillo in the House of Representatives.

"If it reaches that stage, that we summon Justice del Castillo and he does not appear, we can still go on with the proceeding including the vote on probable cause. The essence of due process is we give them the opportunity to defend themselves. If they pass up and waive the opportunity, then we proceed," he said.

Tupas said the impeachment proceedings should not be seen as an attack on the highest court of the land.

"It is the duty of Congress and the people to ensure that not even the final arbiter of all questions of law will overstep its bounds. There's no infallibility. No one is infallible," he said.

Arroyo was 'good leader,' says WikiLeak document

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a "good leader" because she had shown she was "in control" during her nine-year administration, according to a secret memo from the US Embassy in Beijing released by the online whistle-blower WikiLeaks.

The document, which recorded a series of dialogues between Chinese and American foreign ministry officials in March 2007, was the first US cable released by WikiLeaks that extensively discussed the Philippine government.

The Philippines was mentioned in only two out of 20 paragraphs in the cable (number 07Beijing1448), tagged RP for Republic of the Philippines.

Asked for comment, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman J. Eduardo Malaya said, "These documents are internal to another government and inasmuch as gentlemen are not supposed to snoop on each other's' mails, it is best to reserve one's judgment."

"Besides, there are not much in the reports released so far which are not publicly known already," Malaya told the Inquirer.

Rebecca Thompson, spokesperson of the US Embassy in Manila, said, "As a matter of policy, we don't comment on documents that purport to contain classified information."

Thompson added, "Any unauthorized disclosure of classified information by WikiLeaks has harmful implications for the lives of identified individuals that are jeopardized, but also for global engagements among and between nations."

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Ethan Y. Sun, spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, for comment on the issue.

The dialogues took place only a few months before the controversial NBN-ZTE contract with a major Chinese firm was canceled by Arroyo for alleged irregularities.

Despite the positive reviews of Arroyo, now a member of the House of Representatives, the diplomats pointed out that corruption remained a "significant problem facing the Philippines."

China believed it "cannot do much about that," the US cable quoted Hu Zhengyue, then director-general for Asian affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

Citing the Philippines as part of a trend in Southeast Asia away from military rule, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told US diplomats, "While there are persistent rumors about military coups in the Philippines, they rarely happen."

For his part, Eric John, then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asian Affairs of the US Department of State told his Chinese counterparts of the "extremely successful approach to counter-terrorism the government of the Republic of the Philippines has taken in Mindanao, with the support of the US," said the cable.

John agreed with his Chinese hosts that "President Arroyo has stabilized Philippine leadership and enacted strong fiscal and economic policy."

But he stressed that Washington and Beijing "must encourage Manila to continue working hard to promote transparency and good governance."

Hu told the Americans that Beijing had invested in Philippine agricultural development and transportation infrastructure, "seeing poverty as the key challenge" facing the Southeast Asian country.

The diplomats did not take up the dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where Beijing and Manila have overlapping claims.

Much of the US-Chinese dialogues was actually about the political troubles in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Cui said that "if the US wants to make a difference on Burma, it should engage directly with General Than Shwe," the Burmese leader.

The cable said the US and China "concur on the message we need to send Burma's generals. That is, that they should accept US engagement, release political prisoners, permit NGOs to operate in-country and settle differences peacefully with ethnic minorities. To advance the process, the US would like work in parallel with China."

According to Cui, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was growing "frustrated" with Myanmar and had "lost its appetite to pursue new efforts."

The diplomats also discussed their "mutual interest" in the region.

Cui assured their visitors that "Beijing's interest in Southeast Asia is not a threat but a logical result of geography, including China's 2,500-mile land border with Southeast Asian nations and sharing of the South China Sea."

He added that the US and China "must discourage the Cold War mentality that cooperating with one of us is an inherent rejection of the other."

Cui and Hu are now vice minister and assistant minister of the Chinese foreign ministry.

John is the current US ambassador to Thailand.

PH 'a basket case,' China 'paranoid'—leaked cables

The Philippines is a "basket case" that could become a haven for terrorists while China is paranoid, according to top Australian diplomats who were quoted in leaked diplomatic cables that were published Wednesday.

The memo of October 2008 talks between Australia and the United States, handed to WikiLeaks and published exclusively by the Sydney Morning Herald, gave a scathing assessment of the "troubled" Asia-Pacific region.

The Herald reported top foreign official David Ritchie referring to "an increase in illegal immigration from Indonesia... continuing political instability in Thailand; the basket case of the Philippines."

It said that there was an "ongoing downward slide in the Philippines, where the collapse of the peace process in the south threatened to make this area the new regional incubator of terrorist jihadis."

Then-prime minister Kevin Rudd termed China as "paranoid" about Tibet and Taiwan, and "sub-rational and deeply emotional."

Fellow diplomat Graham Fletcher told US officials China was "running rings around Japan" in Southeast Asia but was plagued by internal issues, the published excerpts showed.

"While China might look impressive externally its internal politics were characterized by nervousness, paranoia and uncertainty," Fletcher said, according to the Herald.

On East Timor, Ritchie said there was "the continuing burden of providing security and development assistance to East Timor (and) problems of bad governance in many of the Pacific Island states."

The current foreign minister also reportedly urged the US to consider using force against the Asian giant in a worst case scenario.

The fresh cables came as support mounted in Australia for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, with activist group GetUp! raising almost $365,000 to fund full-page ads locally and in the United States condemning his treatment.

Filipino seamen survive ship sinking off Antarctica

Three Filipinos were among 20 seafarers who survived the December 12 sinking of a South Korean fishing vessel off the northern coast of Antarctica, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Another Pinoy arrested for assaulting girl inside store

by By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North American News Bureau
SAN LEANDRO, California – Just more than a week after 36-year-old Filipino Eugene Ramos, a registered sex offender, was charged with sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl inside a Dollar Tree store in Union City, California, another Filipino was arrested for the same crime.

Peso falls as more news of Euro debt woes come in

The Philippine peso nearly touched the 44-to-a-dollar territory and led the decline among major Asian currencies on Wednesday, as concerns over the debt situation in Europe prompted investors to shift to the US dollar.

$1: 43.940

$1: 43.940 (P43.80)

Euro 1: 58.6758

OFW remittances hit $15.5 billion for Jan.-Oct. period

FILIPINOS WORKING overseas sent home a total of $1.7 billion in October, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday reported, bringing the remittance tally so far for the year to $15.5 billion, a 7.9% increase compared to the same 10-month period a year earlier.

BIR's Nov. collects P3.6B short of target

Collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue totaled P82.43 billion in November, an amount P3.6 billion short of its P86.03-billion target for the months.

Aquino assumes jurisdiction over PAL row

President Benigno Aquino III has assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute at the Philippine Airlines, which temporarily suspended the implementation of the layoff plan by management that had been approved by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Aquino temporarily stops PAL layoffs - PALEA

(Updated 8:58 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III has temporarily stopped the retrenchment of 2,600 employees and the planned strike at the Philippine Airlines (PAL) as he assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute hounding the flag carrier.

Thai queen accused over 2006 military coup: US cable

by Agence France-Presse
LONDON, United Kingdom - A former Thai premier accused the queen of responsibility for a 2006 military coup, a leaked US diplomatic memo showed, prompting Bangkok to insist Wednesday the monarchy was above partisan politics.

50 feared dead in Australia asylum boat tragedy

Fifty asylum seekers, including children, were feared dead Wednesday after their boat smashed to pieces in violent seas off Australia as helpless witnesses looked on in horror, medical officials said.

Pakistan world's deadliest place for journalists: study

NEW YORK- Forty-two journalists were killed around the world this year and Pakistan was the deadliest country of all, a study by the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

Pacquiao's next fight moved to May

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao has decided to move his next fight from April to May 2011 to give him more time to attend to his duties as lone representative of the southern Philippine province of Sarangani.

Roach impressed with Donaire but warns him on Montiel

Trainer Freddie Roach, who watched Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire (25-1, 17 KOs) knock out former WBA bantamweight champion Wladimir Sidorenko in the fourth round on December 4, said he was impressed with Donaire's performance.

China offers help in training Filipino athletes for SEA Games

China has offered a hand to boost the country's bid for the overall crown in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

Bynum back, Lakers top banged-up Wizards (AP)

Washington Wizards center Hilton Armstrong , left, and Gilbert Arenas , right, trap Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16), of Spain, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, in Washington. The Lakers won 103-89.

Kobe Bryant said it was a first for him. Never had he missed all three free throws after getting fouled attempting a 3-point shot. He heard the crowd boo and laugh at his expense, especially as shot No. 3 badly clanked off the front of the rim. "Never happened to me," Bryant said. "Never." And it was the worst thing that could happen to the undermanned Washington Wizards.



Durant named USA Basketball's top male (AP)

Kevin Durant has been chosen USA Basketball male athlete of the year after leading the U.S. to its first world championship in 16 years. Durant was the tournament MVP after averaging 22.8 points, a U.S. record in the event, while shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and 45 percent from the 3-point line.

Kris eyes gubernatorial seat of Tarlac in 2016

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Kris Aquino, the controversial youngest sister of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, is joining politics after the term of her brother expires in 2016.

Hubert Webb OK with movie about his life

by By Reyma Buan-Deveza, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Hubert Webb, the acquitted suspect in the Vizconde massacre, said he is open to the idea of a film about his life.

'Hubert Webb' reminisces on Twitter

by By Barry Cyrus R. Viloria, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – After 15 long years in prison, looks like the recently-vindicated Hubert Webb has finally caught up with the technological advancement overnight–and in this case, with the social networking site Twitter.

Hayden Kho should regain license first –PMA official

Cosmetic surgeon Hayden Kho Jr. should first petition the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) for reinstatement of his license to practice medicine before he could appeal for reinstatement as a member of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

More 'Hayden Khos' feared after judge junks sex video case

Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. on Tuesday warned against the emergence of Hayden Kho copycats after the Pasig City regional trial court junked the case filed by actress Katrina Halili against the suspended physician for videotaping their lovemaking without her consent.

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