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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 17, 2010 Major News Stories



Not all gov't employees will get full P10K bonus

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Christmas has finally come to government employees.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it will finally release P8 billion to fund a major chunk of the P10,000 bonus that each government employee will get.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said government employees will get their performance bonuses starting next week.

He explained the national government will provide P7,000 for all its employees, while the remaining P3,000 will be shouldered by the different agencies depending on their collection for the year.

This could mean that some may not be getting the full P10,000.

Abad said, however, that the police and teachers will get the whole bonus. He said he was able to talk to Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who gave his assurance on the matter.

On the other hand, the DBM approved the P5.57 billion fund for the performance enhancement incentive for some 500,000 teachers, he said.

"We looked into our fiscal position. We will be comfortable in releasing [the P8 billion] without affecting the budget deficit levels," he said in Filipino.

The government is keeping a P325 billion budget deficit ceiling for the year.

Abad said the judiciary, local governments and Congress are not covered in the P8 billion fund since each has its own fiscal autonomy.

They are still required to give each of their employees a P10,000 bonus, however. 

Coast Guard on Christmas high alert

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – All Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) units are on high alert during the Christmas and New Year season, PCG Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said on Thursday.

CPPO to tape muzzle of cops' firearms today

THE muzzle of the policemen's firearms will be taped today to make sure they will not use it in indiscriminate firing during the holidays.

"At least this is to warn that they should not use their firearms during Christmas and New Year," Senior Supt. Erson Digal told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview yesterday.

Digal, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), said cops should act as law enforcers, not law breakers.

Cops search Soc's house

AUTHORITIES found two small plastic sachets with traces of white powder and some drug paraphernalia during a three-hour search on an uphill dwelling place called the house of prayer of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez in Barangay Candulawan yesterday afternoon.

Keep Joavan away from us

FED up with Joavan's abusive behavior, homeowners of two upscale subdivisions in Bulacao, Talisay City have banded together to ban the adoptive son of Mayor Socrates Fernandez from entering their neighborhood.

"Before he was a nuisance. Now he becomes a threat to the homeowners and the people in the neighborhood," Derlie Anderson, president of Vista Grande Homeowners Association, told reporters yesterday.

Court gives Balili widow five days to put back P14M

A TRIAL court judge yesterday ordered the widow of the late Luis Balili to return within five days part of the money she withdrew from a bank last Dec. 7 to replenish the P37 million, which represents the claim of the Provincial Government.

Judge Ester Veloso of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 directed Amparo Balili, Luis' widow, to return P14 million of the P44.483 million she had withdrawn.

Councilors question increase in treasury office's allocations

THE "huge" disparity between the 2010 and 2011 budgets of the Cebu City Treasurer's Office (CTO) raised questions among city councilors.

City councilors took note of the CTO's 2011 allocation for travel expenses, which is more than 10 times its 2010 appropriation.

The CTO proposed a budget of P178.3 million, which is about 98 percent higher than its 2010 budgetary allocation of P89.7 million. The CTO also increased its allocation for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to P102.6 million compared to its P14.9 million appropriation for the same item this year.

While the City Council found the CTO's budget to be too high, the councilors were surprised by the meager amount that the City Health Department (CHD) and the Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) proposed. They said the budget for the two departments should be increased.

During the last day of the marathon budget hearings yesterday, the councilors grilled City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva and took turns asking about the huge increase in the CTO's proposed budget for 2011.

Cut

Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. said the City Council might cut the proposed allocation for some items in the treasury department's budget.

But Oliva said the increase will help boost the city's tax collection. She added that they are proposing to raise the travel allowance of field personnel.

The increase, she said, will also allow CTO to hire 40 certified public accountants next year.

She said she hopes the City Council would approve their proposed budget because with the amount, they may be able to collect P2 billion more in taxes next year.

Return

Oliva earlier said the CTO aims to collect P4.4 billion in 2011, although collection could still be raised to P6 billion.

"If you want a big return of investment, you also have to invest big," she said.

During CTO's presentation yesterday, Oliva sought the council's approval of the P10-million allocation for travel expenses, which was only allotted P900,000 in this year's budget.

Of the total amount, P2.5 million will be for the travel allowance of employees who will be assigned to send notices to business establishments and real property units, conduct tax assessments, deliver check payments, debit memos and other communication.

At least P4.5 million will be used to cover the travel allowance of collectors, particularly those who are on night shift and those whose work hours end late. About P3 million will be spent to cover expenses for seminars, trainings and workshops.

Auctions

"The increase in the budget for travel was requested by our division chiefs because next year, we will be conducting four auctions. We will do it every quarter and because of that, we will have more things to do to comply with the legal requirements of the auction. We have to send a lot of demand letters to all the delinquent taxpayers in the city," Oliva said.

The amount for the purchase of supplies increased by 500 percent, while the advertising expenses, purchase of accountable forms, and tax mapping, among others, increased by 400 percent.

The amount for the purchase of supplies also increased from P1.1 million to P5.5 million, while the amount for the purchase of accountable forms increased from P5.8 million to P25 million.

From only P870,000 this year, the expenses for advertising increased to P5 million. The proposed budget for repair and maintenance of office equipment also increased from P60,000 to P5 million, while the budget for other maintenance and operating expenses increased from P1.1 million to P10 million.

The proposed amount for tax mapping operations also increased from P5 million to P20 million.
Oliva said, though, that she cannot do anything if the council decides to slash her department's budget.

In contrast, city councilors found the CHD and DSWS budgets too small.

CHD proposed a budget of P149.3 million while DSWS suggested P159.3 million. For this year, the CHD budget is P109.6 million while DSWS had P75 million.

Pe said he wants the CHD to increase its proposed budget for rabies control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The City Council finished yesterday the marathon hearings on the proposed budget for 2011 and immediately started deliberating on it.

Deliberations will continue today so they can approve the budget during a special session on Tuesday.

CPA revisits plan to construct international port in Liloan

THE Cebu Port Authority (CPA) plans to transfer the Cebu International Port (CIP) to lessen the number of cargo trucks in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu.

CPA Commissioner Vicente Suazo Jr. said they will review the feasibility study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which recommends a portion of the seashores of Barangay Tayud, Liloan, Cebu as the site of a new international port.

Jica spent $3.8 million for the feasibility study that includes a detailed engineering on the new port. The feasibility study was a grant from the Japanese Government.

Lower court rules in favor of Capitol in MCWD case

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has the right to appoint members of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

Presiding Judge Gilbert Moises of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 18 favored the position of Capitol in its decision dated last month.

Moises said the appointment of Joel Mari S. Yu as member of the MCWD board is illegal, null and void.
Rep. Tomas Osmena (Cebu City, south district) expressed dismay at the court's decision granting the governor's authority to appoint MCWD board of directors.

Rama defends personal audit of CH employees

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday defended his Human Resources Development Officer, lawyer Mary Ann Suson and her staff for conducting a personal audit and checking on employees of the City Council.

Mike to media: No questions please

So as not to make things worse, Mayor Michael Rama yesterday appealed to the members of the local press covering the City Hall, to refrain from asking questions relating to the falling out between him and his predecessor, south district Rep. Tomas Osmeña.

Police unaware of two deaths at Mandaue City jail

The deaths this month of two detainees in the Mandaue City Jail have not been reported to the police.

Arnulfo Utom, 50, died at around 2 p.m. last December 6 while Danilo Perez, 49, died at around past ten p.m. last Wednesday.

Utom was committed in jail last November for a murder case while Perez was jailed in May 2007 for a drug pushing case.

In an unofficial report, Insp. Anacleto Dusaran Jr, deputy warden of the Mandaue City Jail told reporters yesterday said Perez died of a cardiac arrest and confirming through the death certificate of Utom that the detainee died from myocardial infractions.

Dusaran said no foul play was involved in the two deaths.

He said the jail was not able to inform the Homicide Section of the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) because the jail had yet to receive the death certificates.

MCPO director Sr./Supt Noel Gillamac said the police have no knowledge of the deaths of the two inmates.

He said the police are informed only when detainees die of natural causes.

However, he said the BJMP does not prevent the police from investigating especially when relatives complain.

So far, the MCPO has not yet received any complaint about suspicious deaths inside the BJMP.

Last August, a couple detained in the city jail for the ambush of businesswoman Debbie Yu fell ill and were taken to the infirmary after feeling weak and complaining of dizziness.

Police said they received reports prior to the incident that inmates Maritess 'Barbie' Velasco and her husband Jonhjoy 'JB' Palo-palo would be harmed.

The couple got dizzy and were unable to get up the next day after drinking the juice given by Palo-palo's mother, Nerissa.

Police are looking into the possibility that someone tried to poison them.

Nerissa gave two bottles of C2 to Velasco and a bottle of Sunkist juice to Palo-palo.

Former jail warden Sr. Insp. Rusylvi Abueva said the three bottles of juice were brought to the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration (BFAR) for examination. 

Govt committed to ceasefire amid NPA ambush in Samar

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government remains committed to the ceasefire agreement with the communists despite an ambush in Samar that killed 10 soldiers, a 9-year old boy and wounded 2 others.

Court decision on 'Morong 43' release expected Friday

A local court is expected to release on Friday its decision on the government's motion to drop the criminal charges against the 43 health workers arrested in February for allegedly being communist rebels.

PAO to file motion for reconsideration over Webb et al. acquittal

Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta said Thursday that they would be filing a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court following its decision to acquit Hubert Webb and six others in the killing of three members of Lauro Vizconde's family.

DNA testing would have settled Vizconde case: NBI

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday admitted that lack of DNA testing is the reason for the uncertain ending of the nearly 2-decade-old Vizconde massacre case.

Palace: Vizconde massacre reinvestigation can still be done

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The reinvestigation into the Vizconde massacre case "can be done" despite the 6 months left for authorities to track down the killers.

Oakwood case moot: SC spokesperson

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The case involving soldiers who took part in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny has become moot and academic because of President Benigno Aquino III's proclamation granting amnesty to them, SC spokesperson Midas Marquez said.

Trillanes may be present at Senate resumption in 2011

by By Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Senate leaders are optimistic detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV will finally be able to attend his first Senate session early next year.

Ex-Gen. Garcia pleads guilty to direct bribery

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Retired military general Carlos F. Garcia, who is facing plunder charges for allegedly amassing P302 million while in active service, on Thursday pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of direct bribery.

RH bill not among the Senate's priorities in 2011

The controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill will not be among the priority legislations of the Senate in 2011, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday.

House still wants oversight on conditional cash transfer

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte on Thursday said the House of Representatives lost the battle to institutionalize an oversight mechanism on the P21 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the government.

House has oversight power to monitor CCT—Belmonte

The House of Representatives will insist on its inherent oversight function to monitor spending of the multi-billion fund appropriated for the conditional cash transfer (CCT), including possible savings, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Thursday.

Only 15% regularly attend House plenary sessions

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Only 43 of the 283 members of the House of Representatives or about 15% have been religiously attending plenary sessions of the 15th Congress in their first 6 months in office.

But the accomplishment report Belmonte presented to journalists did not contain those frequently skipping sessions. When asked about this, the House leader told the media to refer to the daily journals of the chamber.

For not missing a session, he said the 43 lawmakers, representing 15 percent of the total House membership, received a Parker ballpen as a token and that their names were announced in the chamber.

And for the frequent absentees, Belmonte said: "Let's face it, you will be the one to do the honor roll for them. Our honor roll is for those who worked."

Belmonte is among those who did not register an absence during the sessions.

Aside from Belmonte, the lawmakers who got perfect attendance were Representatives Pedro Acharon Jr. (South Cotabato), Romeo Acop (Antipolo City), Emmeline Aglipay (DIWA partylist), Rodolfo Albano Jr. (Isabela), Tomas Apacible (Batangas), Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo (Camarines Sur), Amado Bagatsing (Manila), Jorge John Banal (Quezon City), Elpidio Barzaga Jr., (Cavite), Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan),

Imelda Calixto-Rubiano (Pasay City), Winston Castelo (Quezon City), Jane Castro (Capiz), Emrique Cojuangco (Tarlac), Maximo Dalog (Mountain Province), Raul Daza (Northern Samar), Rachel Del Mar (Cebu), Salvador Escudero III (Sorsogon), Ben Ebardone (Eastern Samar), Erico Basilio Fabian (Zamboanga City),

Rodolfo Farinas (Ilocos Norte), Salvio Fortuno (Camarines Norte), Albert Garcia (Bataan), Roilo Golez (Paranaque), Agapito Guanlao (Butil partylist), Nur Jaafar (Tawi-Tawi), David Kho (Senior Citizen partylist), Edcel Lagman (Albay), Eleandro Jesus Madrona (Romblon), Niel Montejo (AN Waray partylist), Florencio "Bem Noel (AN Waray).

Angelo Palmones (Agham partylist), Rene Relampagos (Bohol), Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro), Herminia Roman (Batanes), Jesus Sacdalan (North Cotabato), Raden Sakaluran (Sultan Kudarat), Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes), Mel Sarmiento (Western Samar), Marcelino Teodoro (Marikina), Niel Tupas Jr. (Iloilo), and Jose Ma. Zubiri III (Bukidnon).

Belmonte also boasted of the House's ratification of the "most important piece of legislation," referring to the P1.645-trillion General Appropriations Bill for 2011.

The House ratified the budget bill Tuesday before it went on Christmas break. Congress will resume sessions on January 17.

Of the 4,697 bills and resolutions filed, 21 bills have been approved on third reading, including several measures of national significance such as the protection of students' rights to enroll in review centers act; bill providing for a longer period for the rectification of simulated births; bill authorizing the court to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for light offenses; the act prescribing the code of national flag, anthem, motto, coat-of-arms and other heraldic items and devices of the Philippines; and the bill amending the Revised Penal Code to give the fullest benefit if preventive imprisonment.

A total of six bills have hurdled plenary debates and have passed second reading, including the bill institutionalizing kindergarten education into the basic education system.

As for the performance of the committees, Belmonte said the committee on transportation had the most number of hearings at 15, followed by the ways and means committee (12), and energy committee (11).

Belmonte also said that they have approved a rule that would expedite the hearings on bills that have reached plenary level in the last Congress.

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council is expected to convene in January after Malacañang has finalized its list of priority measures, he also said.

PH, Kuwait discuss welfare for Pinoy household workers

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine post in Kuwait met with agency owners to discuss on how to further improve and promote the welfare of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) based in Kuwait.

Yugoslavian nabbed for allegedly raping minors

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
ANGELES CITY, Philippines – A Yugoslavian national has been arrested in Angeles City, Pampanga province for allegedly raping 5 minors, police said.

Bulusan spews ash anew

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
SORSOGON, Philippines – Mount Bulusan spewed ash anew on Thursday, government volcanologists said.

$1: 44.150

$1: 44.150 (P43.94)

Euro 1: 58.0597

Lim to Hong Kong: Never again to hostage fiasco

by By Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - In a 20-minute meeting with Hong Kong's top official Thursday morning, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim promised the hostage fiasco last August 23 will never happen again.

HK tourism may rise, Tsang hopes

Four months after the August 23 Manila bus hostage crisis, Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang said he is hopeful that interest in the Philippines as a travel destination will begin to rise again among residents of that special Chinese territory.

Manila to pay compensation for fatal hijacking: official

HONG KONG, China - Manila will pay compensation to the families of eight Hong Kong tourists killed during a botched hostage rescue in the Philippine capital, the country's tourism secretary said Thursday. 

PAL union: Strike still an option next year

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA), the ground crew union of the country's flag carrier, said Thursday that despite the stay order of President Benigno Aquino, a strike remains an option for the group should the labor dispute with management remain unresolved next year.

BIR chief prods DOJ to resolve tax-evasion cases by January

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said Thursday that her agency expects that the Department of Justice will be able to resolve the cases they had already filed before it by January.

WikiLeaks founder Assange granted bail in London

LONDON—(UPDATE) London's High Court granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange bail Thursday after rejecting an appeal to keep him in jail while he fights extradition to Sweden to answer allegations of sex crimes.

Anwar suspended from Malaysian parliament

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and three of his allies were suspended from parliament for six months on Thursday in votes that triggered pandemonium and an opposition walkout.

Nepal plane crash kills all 22 on board: police

by by Claire Cozens, Agence France-Presse
KATHMANDU, Nepal - All 22 passengers and crew on board a small passenger plane that crashed in a mountainous area in eastern Nepal were killed, police said Thursday, after a rescue team reached the site.

Azkals absorb loss in AFF Suzuki Cup semis

Bigo ang Philippine football team Azkals na maipanalo ang laban nila sa Indonesia sa unang match ng semifinals ng AFF Suzuki Cup. Mahigpit ang laban at sa huli ay isang goal lang ang nagpanalo sa Indonesia. Hindi man pinalad ang Azkals, naniniwala ang Pinoy fans na muling aarangkada at makakabawi ang Pilipinas sa Game 2 ng semifinals.

Pacquiao expected to name next foe on birthday

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – World champion Manny Pacquiao is expected to announce his next opponent during his 32nd birthday celebration in General Santos (GenSan) City on Friday.

Golden Boy cites Mexican holiday to sweeten Pacquiao vs Marquez

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Now that Manny Pacquiao's next fight date has been moved to May 7, a weekend following Cinco de Mayo, one of Mexico's most significant holidays, it looks like a Juan Manuel Marquez match would be the most exciting fight to arrange, according to the Golden Boy Promotions chief.

Nets confirm three-team trade sending Smith to Lakers

by Agence France-Presse
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – New Jersey made it official on Wednesday, confirming the three-team trade that will bring guard Sasha Vujacic from the Lakers and send Joe Smith from the Nets to Los Angeles.

Heat hold off Cavs, win 10th straight (AP)

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 15:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat passes around Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game  at American Airlines Arena on December 15, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

LeBron James had few words for his former Cleveland teammates this time. Dwyane Wade did more than enough talking with his play. Wade scored 17 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, James added 21 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, and the Miami Heat won their 10th straight game, holding off the Cavaliers 101-95 on Wednesday night.



Lakers lead throughout, beat Pacers (AP)

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) and Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5) and forward Luke Walton (4) battle for a loose ball during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. Los Angeles won 109-94.

Kobe Bryant scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 109-94 on Wednesday night. Pau Gasol scored 28 points and Lamar Odom had 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who never trailed. The Lakers shot 51 percent against the Pacers.



Celts' run hits 11 on Pierce's late shot (AP)

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers talks to New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) after an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010, in New York. The Celtics won the game 118-116. (AP Photo)

Paul Pierce made a tiebreaking jumper with 0.4 seconds left, Amare Stoudemire's 3-pointer at the buzzer was ruled too late, and the Boston Celtics pulled out a thrilling 118-116 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night for their 11th straight win. The Knicks had their eight-game winning streak snapped when a video replay of Stoudemire's shot showed the ball was clearly still in..

Belo happy over dismissal of case vs Hayden

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo, girlfriend of Hayden Kho, said the Pasig Regional Trial Court's decision to dismiss the case filed by Katrina Halili against her boyfriend is "a big blessing."

Judge inhibits self from Revillame vs ABS-CBN

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge inhibited himself from hearing the legal battle between ABS-CBN and its former talent, Willie Revillame.

"In the interest of fair play and in order to avoid suspicion from the parties, this presiding judge resolves to voluntarily inhibit himself from hearing this case," Judge Luisito Cortez said in his order.

The order was dated December 13, the same day that the Kapamilya network revealed in itspetition the "undisclosed relationship" between the spouse of Cortez, lawyer Angelita Ortega Cortez, and TV5 president Ray Espinosa.

Angelita and Espinosa, whose network airs Revillame's new program, worked in the same law firm in the past.

ABS-CBN feared that this "hidden fact" might affect the outcome of the case where Revillame is seeking to be allowed to work in another station despite his existing contract obligations with his former home network.

Aside from this, the Kapamilya network noted the "numerous conflicting orders and resolutions" handed down by Cortez.

It also charged the judge with bias and partiality for approving the P426-million bond posted by Revillame that purportedly contained the actor's "forged signature."

Cortez, however, said these fears were baseless.

"While the defendant's perception is mistaken and unfounded... the court cannot close its eyes to the fact that they have lost their faith that this presiding judge can fairly and impartially decide the case," he said.

Cortez previously declined to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the airing of Revillame's "Willing Willie" despite the TV host's existing contract with ABS-CBN.

With Cortez's inhibition, the case is set to be raffled off again.

Bong Revilla to be paired with Toni

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. is set to do a movie with ABS-CBN's contract star Toni Gonzaga.

'Showtime' set to crown new champion on Saturday

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - The whole country will stand still once again when the nation's most entertaining performers fight it out this Saturday, December 18, in the much-anticipated "Showtime Season 2 Grand Finals" on ABS-CBN.

Pacquiao, Venus, Belo top list of credible celebrity endorsers in 2010

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
Manila, Philippines – Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, 2010 Miss Philippines-Universe Venus Raj and cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo are among the most credible celebrity endorsers this year, a study conducted by a market research consulting firm showed.

Cory, Ninoy together again on new 500-peso bill

A smiling image of the late President Corazon Aquino has now joined the image of her husband, Ninoy Aquino, on the new P500 bill. The signature of their son, President Noynoy Aquino, graces the bank note. The Central Bank said it decided to put the Aquino couple on the note even before Noynoy decided to run for president.

James Yap no-show in court hearing

No-show si James Yap sa pagdinig ng kaso ng hiwalayan nila ni Kris Aquino. Sumalang naman sa panayam ng piskalya si Kris para malaman kung may sabwatan sila ni James kaugnay sa kanilang hiwalayan.

California mom sues McDonald's over Happy Meals

by Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES - A mother-of-two from California launched a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against McDonald's, claiming the toys given out with Happy Meals unfairly lure kids into eating unhealthy food.

Peso bills redesign adds Cory, landmarks

by BusinessWorld
MANILA, Philippines - New peso bills will be unveiled today by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), with former President Corazon C. Aquino and natural landmarks the most prominent design additions. 

"Corazon C. Aquino is the only addition to the present faces on the banknotes. She will join her husband [Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.], but take a more prominent place in the P500 bill because she is a former president," said historian Ambeth R. Ocampo, an adviser of the BSP numismatic committee.

"The reverse of the bills has been changed to represent natural landmarks of the Philippines -- Tubbataha reef, Chocolate Hills, etc.," he said in an e-mail.

Mr. Ocampo declined to be more specific about the designs. The BSP also refused to disclose advance details, with Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo yesterday saying "just wait for it" in Filipino in a text message.

The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, located in Palawan, has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Chocolate Hills in Bohol, meanwhile, is on UNESCO's tentative list.

Mr. Ocampo said the redesigned bills would have the same color per denomination.

"Present colors will remain but will take on a different tint to give us a sense that these are really NGC or 'New Generation Currency'," he said .

Mr. Guinigundo, meanwhile, said shipment of the new bills would be done a day after the launch.

"[It] takes time for the shipment to be completed and the banks to receive and release to the market. [The bills] should be available in a week after launching," he said.

While specific dates have yet to be set, roadshows for the new bills will follow in the following areas: Manila, La Union, Cebu and Davao.

The central bank has previously said that current peso bills would remain in circulation for another four years.

The existing 20-peso bill bears the image of former President Manuel L. Quezon with Malacañan Palace on the reverse. The 50-peso bill, meanwhile, shows another former president, Sergio S. Osmeña and the reverse side features the National Museum.
Another former president, Manuel A. Roxas, is on the front of the 100-peso bill, which has the image of the BSP complex on the reverse side.
The face of former President Diosdado P. Macapagal is on the 200-peso bill, the reverse of which shows People Power II and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo taking her oath.
The 500-peso bill, which carries Mr. Aquino's image, has on the reverse scenes of the former senator's life and some allegorical groups.
The 1,000-peso bill has the faces of Jose B. Abad Santos, who served as chief justice; Vicente P. Lim, the first Filipino graduate of West Point; and Josefa Llanes Escoda, one of the founders of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. The banknote's reverse features the Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao province, a manunggul jar and a langgal hut.
New designs for one-centavo, five-centavo, 10-centavo, 25-centavo, one-peso, five-peso and 10-peso coins are also being studied by the BSP.

Optimism for 2011 high in PH due to Aquino –survey

A vast majority in the Philippines expect things to get better next year, buoyed by the reform agenda of new President Benigno Aquino III, an independent polling outfit said Thursday.

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