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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 9, 2010 Major News Stories

NMIS mulls ban on unbranded processed meat

Balak nang ipagbawal ng National Meat Inspection Service ang mga walang brand na processed meat. Aminado kasi sila na walang ibang paraan para malaman kung ang mga ibinibenta ngayong processed meat sa mga palengke ay malinis o kontaminado.

DOH confirms: Typhoid fever in 2 Alegria villages

THE Department of Health (DOH) declared an outbreak of typhoid fever in two villages in Alegria town yesterday.

Epidemiology nurse Rennan Cimafranca of the DOH Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (Resu) said the affected barangays are Poblacion and Sta. Filomena.

At least 13 of the 16 blood samples taken from patients last Tuesday tested positive for typhoid fever.

Quick thinking saves families from landslide

A TEAM from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) was sent to investigate a landslide in Barangay Mayana, Naga yesterday that destroyed 11 houses and damaged two others.

Nobody was injured in the landslide, which occurred during heavy rains Tuesday and blocked portions of the barangay road. The barangay captain made sure those at risk had evacuated four hours before the disaster.

"Initially, the incident was attributed to the heavy downpour, which started early yesterday morning," said MGB information officer Dr. Eddie Llamedo.

BFP warns on fire risks during holidays

Idinekalara ngayong high-risk sa sunog ngayong Kapaskuhan ang mga pagawaan ng paputok, ospital, paaralan, at maging ang mga mall. Ayon sa Bureau of Fire Protection, dahil ito sa pagtaas ng konsumo sa kuryente sa mga gusali at bahay tuwing kapaskuhan. Nagbabala na rin ang BFP sa mga gusaling may Fire Safety Code violations.

Davide not quitting, not giving up on Truth Commission

Retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. was undaunted by the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the creation of the Truth Commission as unconstitutional.

Truth Commission: Pros and cons

by By Caroline J. Howard, ANC
MANILA, Philippines - The Truth Commission hopes the Supreme Court will reconsider its decision calling the creation of the body "unconstitutional."

Justice: Ruling 'grants criminals immunity'

THE Supreme Court (SC) ruling that declared the Truth Commission unconstitutional endangers "over two decades of hard work in recovering ill-gotten wealth."

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the majority opinion that the commission violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution also means that similar commissions before it, like the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), violated the same clause.

Aquino not singling out Arroyo but giving her chance to clear name

(UPDATE) President Benigno Aquino III defended the creation of the Truth Commission and said that he was not singling out his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He emphasized he will pursue solving cases involving officials in the Arroyo administration before his six-year term ends.

Aquino: GMA untouchable? Not in my administration

The Aquino administration will not stop trying to "find the truth" about the numerous scandals that hounded the nine-year presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even though the Truth Commission has been declared unconstitutional, President Benigno Aquino III vowed Wednesday, adding that he believes "he is in the right."

Saavedra sues Garcia for "plunder"

Self-styled anti-graft crusader Crisologo Saavedra yesterday filed before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas a criminal complaint for plunder against Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

Preventive suspension against DPWH 7 officials stays: appellate court

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the preventive suspension the anti-graft office earlier imposed on nine Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 officials implicated in the "lamppost scam."

Then DPWH 7 director Robert Lala and several others–Marlina Alvizo, Gloria Dindin, Agustinito Hermoso, Luis Galang, Restituto Diano, Buenaventurada Pajo, Cresencio Bagolor and Pureza Fernandez–questioned the preventive suspension, saying they were not given the chance to be heard.

Diamante eyes plunder case versus predecessor

Tuburan Mayor Democrito "Aljon" Diamante said he will file a plunder case against his predecessor after the Commission on Audit reported that a total of P48 million municipal funds could be missing.

Squabble over P3 billion budget: Governor, Sanchez submit position papers to RTC

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. submitted their position papers on the proposed P3-billion 2011 budget to Regional Trial Court Judge Gilbert Moises.

Militant youth group storms NFA in protest of price hike

Militant youth group ANAKBAYAN trooped to the offices of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Diliman, Quezon City Wednesday in their campaign against the price hike on the state-subsidized rice.

Coal's critics go after DENR

FIVE officials of the environment department are facing administrative and criminal complaints for their alleged refusal to release information on activities that endanger the environment and people's health.

The Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) filed the complaints against Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and four officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.

In Marian feast, a plea against RH bill

IN HONOR of the Virgin Mary, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal urged Catholics to respect and believe the idea of conception.

Vidal said respect for life should start with the Virgin Mary.

At what point life begins is a recurring debate between those who support reproductive health legislation and those who oppose it.

"If the Blessed Mother was a human being in the moment of conception, then we should respect the moment of conception," he said.

UST's 'Grand Living Rosary' draws 24,000 people

MANILA, Philippines - An estimated 24,000 students, faculty and staff of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) participated in the school's Grand Living Rosary event that commemorated the feast day of the Immaculate Conception.

Lorega graves to be removed

CEBU City Hall will start digging graves at the Lorega-San Miguel Cemetery on Friday to pave the way for the Gawad Kalinga Village, a socialized housing project that will benefit the informal settlers in the area.

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon announced yesterday that the City Council committee on housing has obtained permits from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Department of Health (DOH) and the City Health Department (CHD) to exhume the graves.

The contents of about 3,000 graves will either be placed in a bone chamber or buried in another cemetery.

Christmas parties delay House vote on amnesty

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA,  Philippines - House leaders missed their own timetable to approve the resolution concurring with President Aquino's amnesty  proclamation for anti-Arroyo soldiers.

Lacson camp wants judge to inhibit from case

by by Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Panfilo Lacson's camp on Wednesday said they want Judge Thelma Medina to voluntary inhibit from the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Robredo believes Lacson is in PH, calls for low-key search

With reported sightings in places like Batangas and Pangasinan, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo shares the "general prevailing impression and sentiment'' that fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson "is just within our midst."

Massacre victim 'could have been raped or had sexual contact'

Traces of seminal fluid were discovered in one of the female victims of the Maguindanao massacre, suggesting that she could have either been sexually abused or had sexual contact prior to the killings.
The findings were based on the autopsy report of Chief Inspector Dean Cabrera, a medico-legal expert from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, who continued with his testimony before a Quezon City court on Wednesday.

Cabrera, who autopsied 12 of the 57 massacre victims two days after the November 23 massacre, said vaginal swabs taken from victim Rahima Palawan tested positive for seminal fluid.

"It is positive for the presence of acid phosphatase. This means the presumptive test is highly consistent with the presence of semen on the specimen," Cabrera said.

Semen was also found on Palawan's underwear, added Cabrera.

Asked by prosecution lawyer Alexander Suarez during direct examination if the victim could have been raped, Cabrera said: "I can conclude, given the circumstances... I can say there is definite evidence that there is sexual abuse or sexual contact."

Cabrera said apart from looking for traces of seminal fluid, medico-legal experts have two other gauges in determining whether or not a woman has been raped.

"One, when there is a corroborative statement [from the victim] regarding the alleged incident. And two, when there is the presence of genital injuries during examination."

But Cabrera admitted he could not apply these two other tests on the victim who was already dead and whose hymen had already "disintegrated" because her body had begun decomposing.

The medico-legal expert said checking the hymen for any injuries could help determine whether a woman was sexually abused.

Cabrera said traces of seminal fluid can stay inside a person for a maximum of 72 hours or three days from the time of sexual contact.

But private prosecutor Nena Santos, who represents Maguindanao Gov. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, said the semen found on Palawan's body could not have come from the victim's husband.

"Mr. Muhamad Palawan said he did not have sex with the wife five days before November 23, 2009. So the semen found in the victim was not his," Santos told GMANews.TV.

"And that day, he did not sleep in their house. He went home at 5 a.m. and Rahima was already leaving to go to the Mangudadatu house to join the convoy," she added.

'Violent deaths'

Cabrera autopsied the body of Rahima on November 25 along with the other victims at the Subere Funeral Homes in Cotabato City.

Apart from testing vaginal swabs from the victim, Cabrera also discovered four gunshot wounds on Palawan's body – two of them fatal, one found at her right abdomen and another on her left buttocks.

Cabrera also presented to the court his autopsy report on another victim, Noel Decena, who died from 14 gunshot wounds.

The first autopsy to be presented in court last week was that of victim Francisco "Ian" Subang who, according to Cabrera, could have been shot while lying down on the ground, based on the trajectory of the bullets that hit him.

"It is possible that treachery is involved," Cabrera said. "I can describe his death as being cruel."

At this point, prime suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr.'s legal counsel, Sigfrid Fortun, stood up and asked Cabrera's statement on treachery be stricken off the court record, saying he was in no position to conclude that.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 agreed to Fortun's request.

Solis-Reyes is hearing the multiple murder case, in which 196 individuals where charged with 57 counts of murder in connection with the death of 57 individuals, including 32 journalists, in what is considered the worst election-related incident of violence in Philippine history.

Change of venue

Upon the request of the defense and without objection from the prosecution, Solis-Reyes agreed to hold Thursday's hearing at the QC-RTC Branch 221 inside the Quezon City Hall of Justice.

The defense said the accused individuals currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa no longer needed to attend Thursday's hearing since Cabrera would only be continuing with his testimony on the autopsy reports. 

Next week, venue for the proceedings will once again return to Camp Bagong Diwa where prosecution witness Noh Akil is set to be cross examined by other defense lawyers.

Senators, congressmen squabble over budget

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - If congressmen got as much as P140 million each in pork-barrel funding and lump-sum appropriations in the proposed 2011 budget, senators got an additional P400 million for their institutional budget for 2011.

Enrile: Confirmation of 3 Cabinet execs before Christmas possible

The Commission on Appointments (CA) can still confirm the appointments of at least three Cabinet secretaries before the Christmas break, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Wednesday.
Enrile, head of the CA, said before the lawmakers go on their holiday break on December 18, there might still be time to confirm the nominations of:
  • Education Sec. Armin Luistro;
  • Energy Sec. Jose Rene Almendras, and 
  • Tourism Sec. Alberto Lim 

    The Congress session will resume on January 17 next year.

    Earlier in the day, the CA deferred to December 14 the hearing on Lim's nomination after formal opposition was filed against his nomination.

    The commission also earlier deferred to December 14 the hearing on the appointments of Luistro and Almendras. 

    The CA will conduct its last hearing for the year on December 15, when it will hear the nomination of Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala.

    Enrile said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III does not have to worry that no Cabinet secretary would be confirmed before the year ends.

    "(If the) President will deal with these little things, the poor guy will not have time to relfect and think on what he will do on the array of problems coming to him internally and externally," Enrile told reporters on Wednesday.

    Senator Miriam-Santiago on Wednesday also withdrew her objection to Luistro's appointment as "a gesture of courtesy to the incumbent administration."

    The CA is composed of the Senate president as its head and 12 senators and 12 congressmen as its members. 

    The commission's duty as mandated by the 1987 Constitution is to confirm appointments made by the President of the Philippines: the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the Amed Forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, except those of the Ombudsman and Supreme Court justices.

    The CA discusses and deliberates on nominations at the standing committee level and at the plenary session. 

    Nominations or appointments may end up being confirmed, rejected or bypassed. 

  • Miriam withdraws objection to Luistro's nomination

    MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has withdrawn her petition against Bro. Armin Luistro's nomination as secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).

    UP Law's Leonen offers to resign over alleged plagiarism

    MANILA, Philippines - Atty. Marvic Leonen has offered to resign as dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law over accusations of plagiarism in an article he wrote in 2004.

    Doctors' group backs up Catholic Church on RH issue

    The country's biggest group of doctors, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), is throwing its support behind Catholic Church officials in supporting the proposed alternative to the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill pending in Congress.

    Filipinos sue California hospital over English-only rule

    LOS ANGELES - Dozens of Filipino hospital workers in California sued their employer Tuesday alleging they were the sole ethnic group targeted by a rule requiring them to speak only English.

    $1: 43.800

    $1: 43.800 (P43.55)

    Euro 1: 57.9887

    Palace to broker talks between PAL management, union

    MANILA, Philippines - Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has been designated by President Aquino to broker talks between the management and ground crew labor union of local carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).

    Rebel Marine officer now SMC consultant

    Rebel Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin has joined the business conglomerate San Miguel Corp. as a consultant.

    Thailand likely to end emergency rule by New Year --PM

    Thailand is likely to lift a controversial state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas by the end of this year, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Wednesday.

    Australia blames US over WikiLeaks

    Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd Wednesday said the United States, not WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was to blame for the leak of secret cables, pointing to a "core problem" with its diplomatic security.

    Hackers launch cyber attacks after WikiLeaks' funding cut

    ZURICH - Hackers claimed Wednesday to have attacked the websites of Mastercard and a Swiss bank in apparent reprisal for their decisions to choke off funding for the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

    2 trains collide in Bangladesh, 7 dead

    DHAKA—Two passenger trains collided at a busy station just outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and injuring scores, local officials told AFP.

    PH booters reach semifinals of AFF Suzuki Cup

    NAM DINH, Vietnam—(UPDATE) Just before the Philippine team marched out of the dugout for the national anthem, skipper Aly Borromeo gathered his teammates for one final pep talk.

    Filipino booters clinch semis spot in AFF Suzuki Cup

    NAM DINH—The Philippines made history Wednesday night when it clinched a semifinal spot in the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time after battling Myanmar to a goalless stalemate at the Thien Truong Stadium.

    Mayweather Jr. faces another felony suit

    MANILA, Philippines — Another obstacle is in the way of a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight after the American was officially charged with criminal battery for allegedly poking his finger on a security guard's face last November, reported celebrity website TMZ.

    Arum sees Pacquiao rejecting Marquez's proposal

    by By Dennis Gasgonia,
    MANILA, Philippines – Boxing promoter Bob Arum will submit to Manny Pacquiao proposals from three possible opponents of the new WBC super welterweight champion when he meets his ward at his birthday bash next week.

    Pacquiao hits US fund-raisers for misuse of his name, image

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday arrested three Americans, including a Filipino naturalized US citizen, for allegedly using the name of Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao in their campaign to raise donations to fight dengue and malaria.

    Lakers win eighth straight vs. Wizards (AP)

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 07:  Al Thornton #14 of the Washington Wizards is tied up by Derek Fisher #2 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on December 7, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Wizards 115-108.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    The Lakers have abandoned all hope of stopping Nick Young from throwing himself a raging homecoming party whenever the Washington Wizards visit. Yet Los Angeles still muddled through a victory that could have been a whole lot smoother without the hometown kid causing so much commotion. Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, Lamar Odom added 24 points and seven rebounds, and the Lakers held on to beat the Wizards.

    Sarah-Gerald team-up coming soon

    MANILA, Philippines - Pop Star Princess Sarah Geronimo finally confirmed that she will do a movie with controversial actor Gerald Anderson.

    Kris picks James to sub for Diether

    Kahit hiwalay na, pinili pa rin ni Kris Aquino ang ex- niyang si James Yap na maka-eksena sa pelikula niyang "Dalaw." Ibig sabihin kaya nito, may pag-asang magkabalikan pa ang dalawa?

    P741-M Grand Lotto winning ticket missing?

    MANILA, Philippines - It's been almost 2 weeks since a lone bettor won the biggest jackpot in the history of Philippine lotto at P741 million, but he or she has not yet claimed the prize. The question is, is the instant multimillionaire biding his or her time, or is the winning ticket missing (or stolen)? 

    WikiLeaks: Jeddah party scene throbs with drugs, sex

    by Agence France-Presse
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia might be an ultra-strict Islamic society, but princes' mansions in Jeddah hide a buzzing party scene replete with alcohol, drugs and sex, according to a leaked US diplomatic memo.

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