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

Monday, January 31, 2011

February 1, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokyo@blogger.com)

February 1, 2011 Major News Stories
February 1, 2011 Major News Stories

Jeepney fare in Central Visayas now P7.50

by dr_tangarorang

Jeepney fare in Central Visayas now P7.50

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CEBU CITY -- The minimum fare for passenger jeepneys will go up from P6.50 to P7.50 in Central Visayas effective Wednesday, February 2.

There was no need for a public hearing because the increase is provisional and may be repealed later, said two officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Greet your friends and families this Sinulog season. Sun.Star covers Sinulog 2011 live!

LTFRB Chairman Nelson Lalucis and Board Member Samuel Julius Garcia said while they are bound to protect the interest of passengers, they also have to consider the plight of jeepney operators and drivers.

Both voted for the fare increase.

But the increase is only for the minimum rate and the charge of P0.90 per subsequent kilometer remains the same.

It's the fifth time the LTFRB has adjusted the minimum jeepney fare since May 2008, when it set the minimum rate at P6.50. That was also a provisional increase, granted while the LTFRB studied a petition to increase the minimum fare by P1.50.

In its latest petition, Piston, a group of jeepney operators, said the fare rate must be increased to help them deal with the rising prices of commodities, fuel and spare parts.

Board Member Manuel Iway, who is from Cebu, opposed the increase and urged the operators to support their reasons with evidence.

Iway said the petitioner for the rate increase failed to submit to proof that they are losing money, like a financial statement that will reveal their operating costs.

Iway also noted that while the minimum rate of P6.50 for the first five kilometers is supposed to be implemented in Cebu and Central Visayas, drivers are actually collecting P7 by telling passengers they have no loose change.

Some jeepney drivers have refused to give mandated discounts to students and senior citizens, he said.

He said the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which is the LTFRB's law enforcement arm, must implement the mandated discounts to help the intended beneficiaries.

Two months after the provisional increase granted in May 2008, the LTFRB raised the minimum jeepney fare to P8 effective that July.

Iway, as a private citizen, filed a petition asking the agency to bring the minimum rate down to P6.

LTFRB decided in November 2008 to bring the rate down to P7.50. A month later, however, it again reduced the minimum fare, this time to P7. It also scrapped the P10 that taxi drivers had been temporarily allowed to charge, to help them cope with rising prices of fuel.

Meanwhile, LTFRB-Central Visayas Director Ahmed Cuizon said the agency will not test and reseal the receipt-issuing meters of taxis whose drivers fail to wear their uniforms.

If the drivers of taxis with resealed meters still do not wear uniforms while at work, Cuizon encouraged passengers to file complaints with the LTFRB.

Cuizon also said the LTFRB will not test and reseal the meters of dilapidated taxis, especially those more than 13 years old. The units, if caught, will be impounded. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)

P8 jeepney fare starts on Wednesday — LTFRB JERRIE M. ABELLA, GMANews.TV

01/31/2011 | 07:19 PM

(Updated 8:15 p.m.) Starting Wednesday, jeepney riders nationwide will have to shell out an extra P1 for their fare, after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved a fare hike.

Following the increase, the minimum jeepney fare in Luzon will now be P8 from the original P7, while minimum fare in Visayas and Mindanao will be P7.50 from P6.50.

A provisional fare increase of P1 for the first five kilometers for passenger jeeps will likewise be implemented.

In a report by Julius Segovia on GMA News “24 Oras" Monday, the LTFRB said the hike does not need to undergo hearings and may be immediately implemented as it was the original minimum fare approved by the board in 2008.

"That was the authority or rate given to them previously in 2008 which they voluntarily reduced because of the reduction in fuel price before," said LTFRB chairman Nelson Laluces in the newscast.

Even with the increase, the new jeepney fare is still below the P8.50 originally approved by the LTFRB in July 2008. Operators voluntarily reduced the rate to P7 in February 2009 after a rollback in fuel prices.

Sa ngayon tumataas. Mabuti nga nagpaalam pa sila sa amin (Now the fare is being increased. It’s good that they asked permission from us). I think they have the prerogative to just tell the people na teka, balik na kami (that we’re going back to the original rate)," Laluces said.

Radio dzBB's Manny Vargas meanwhile reported that LTFRB Board Member Manuel Iway cited higher costs of fuel, spare parts, and other operating expenses as the reason for the increase.

Transport groups not satisfied

Some drivers said they are happy with the increase, according to the GMA News newscast, but transport groups believe otherwise.

"Sa 8 pesos medyo maligaya na kami ng konti roon, pero hihingi pa rin kami ng pagpupulong sa board para pag-usapan pa namin yung mga darating na pagtaas ng petrolyo," said Obet Martin, president of the Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila & Suburbs Drivers Association (Pasang Masda), in the "24 Oras" newscast

George San Mateo, secretary general of the Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston), said oil price regulation remains to be the solution to the unabated hikes in prices of petroleum products.

"Hindi pa rin iyan ang magiging tunay na solusyon sa problema. Talagang ‘yung pagkontrol pa rin sa presyo ng langis at yung pag-ensure na walang overpricing (Controlling the price of petroleum products and ensuring that there is no overpricing remain to be the real solution to the problem)," San Mateo said in the same newscast.

The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto) meanwhile is batting for a “win-win" solution that will benefit both the oil companies and the jeepney drivers.

"(Sana) magkaroon ng standard ang LTFRB na win-win solution, wala na yung hearing-hearing. Kapag bumaba, rollback ng 50centavos. ‘Pagka tumaas, taas kaagad ng 50 centavos, para lumalabas, parehong panalo," said Acto president Efren de Luna.

(We hope the LTFRB will implement a standard that will be a win-win solution and will not require hearings anymore. If fuel prices go down, a rollback of 50 centavos in jeepney fare should be automatically implemented. If fuel prices go up, there should be an automatic 50-centavo increase so that both parties will benefit from it.)

SLEX toll fee hike

In a related development, the South Luzon Tollway Corp. (SLTC) is also implementing its second wave of toll fee increases in the South Luzon Expressway on Tuesday.

The toll from Alabang to Calamba for class 1 vehicles will be increased to P76 to P79; for class 2 vehicles, from P152 to P159; and for class 3 vehicles, from P238 to P228.

Class 1 vehicles include private cars, jeepneys and other vehicles with two axles and not more than seven feet in height. Class 2 vehicles are trucks with two axles and over seven feet in height, while class 3 vehicles are trucks with three or more axles and a height of more than seven feet.

"It's voluntary on their (SLTC) part to effect the graduated increase," said LTFRB spokesperson Julius Corpuz in the same newscast.

The SLTC implemented the first wave of toll fee increases in January 1, 2011, while two more hikes are scheduled on March and April this year.

P8 jeepney fare approved

P8 jeepney fare approved - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines— (UPDATE) The government on Monday approved an increase in the minimum jeepney fare in Metro Manila fromP7 to P8 amid what is said are rising “commodity prices.” The fare hike, it said, will take effect Wednesday.

A P1 provisional increase for provincial fares was also approved.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said it had approved the fare hike to help jeepney operators and drivers cope with rising commodity prices.

“The provisional increase was granted because the board took judicial notice that the prices of goods have been going up, as well as the cost of maintaining jeepney operations, affecting the livelihood of operators,” LTFRB board member Manuel Iway said in an interview.

“While the interest of the public is still the main concern, we must also protect the rights of the jeepney operators, who are serving vital industries,” Iway said.

The provisional increase is still below the P8.50 fare approved by the LTFRB in July 2008. Jeepney operators voluntarily implemented a discounted rate of P7 in February 2009 following a sharp drop in fuel prices.

Meanwhile, in a Radyo Inquirer report, Iway was quoted saying that the P1.25 per succeeding kilometer rate will be retained. He added that the fare hike is only provisional thus it may be revoked if there is an oil price rollback.

Iway said this goodwill showed by jeepney operators also helped convince the LTFRB board to approve the provisional increase.

The decision was made following requests by several jeepney operator groups including Pasang Masda and the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines.

The militant group Pagkakaisa ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) also supported the requests but did not submit a formal position paper.

LTFRB chair Nelson Laluces and board member Julius Garcia had voted in favour of the provisional increase while only Iway had voted against the fare hike, Radyo Inquirer said.

The approved jeepney fare hike is the latest in a series of transportation-related price increases that have taken effect or have been approved since the start of the year.

On New Year’s day, increases in toll rates at the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clarl-Tarlac Expressway and South Luzon Expressway were implemented by the roads’ respective private sector operators.

The gradual implementation of a hike in taxi fares, to a flag down rate of P40 from the current P35 also began on January 14. The rate for every succeeding kilometer for taxis was also raised to P3.50 from the previous P2.50.

Likewise, the Intercity Bus Operators Association and the South Luzon Bus Operators Association have separately asked for increases in fares for Metro Manila and provincial buses, respectively.

LTFRB approves jeepney fare hike

by By Reinir Padua

MANILA, Philippines - The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday approved a P1 increase in the minimum fare for jeepneys.

Jeepney operators can already impose the new minimum fare of P8 on Wednesday, according to LTFRB board member Manuel Iway.

The LTFRB resolution was approved by chairman Nelson Laluces and board member Julius Garcia. Iway had a dissenting opinion.

Based on the LTFRB resolution, jeepneys all over the country can now charge P8 for the first four kilometers from the previous rate of P7. The charge for every succeeding kilometer is still at P1.40.

LTFRB records show that there are some 229,000 jeepneys all over the country, 49,612 of which are plying the streets of Metro Manila.

The board has taken judicial notice of the operators’ argument that prices of goods are going up and that maintenance of their vehicles are already affecting the livelihood of the operators.

While the board is also aware of the plight of the passengers, the LTFRB argued that it must also protect the rights of jeepney operators, “who are serving a vital industry.”

The LTFRB noted that jeepney operators had voluntarily reduced their fares whenever diesel prices went down, Iway said.

The last was in February 2009, when the price of diesel went down to P23 per liter. The minimum fare was reduced to P7.

Iway said he posed a dissenting opinion to the resolution because he said every allegation of income loss on the part of the operators should be backed by evidence.

Activist workers call PNoy 'fare hike president'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

Activist workers call PNoy 'fare hike president' | ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – Leftist workers on Monday lashed out at the government for approving a P1 jeepney fare hike following a similar increase in MRT and LRT fares, as well as toll fee increases.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said President Benigno Aquino III should be called a “fare hike president” for allowing the increases.

"The recently-approved jeepney and MRT-LRT fare hikes, as well as the fare hikes resulting from the increase in toll fees in the SLEX and NLEX, are definitely added burdens on the backs of the Filipino workers and people,” KMU secretary-general Roger Soluta said in a press statement.

He added that oil companies, and not jeepney drivers, will benefit from the fare increase.

“It will not provide jeepney drivers a modicum of relief, for their earnings have long been eaten up by soaring prices of petroleum products and other commodities,” he said.

Soluta warned that Aquino could be toppled by a popular uprising similar to what happened recently in Tunisia and the ongoing riots in Egypt.

Cooking gas prices cut effective Tuesday

Business - Cooking gas prices cut effective Tuesday

MANILA, Philippines—Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and liquefied petroleum gas retailers have slashed prices of cooking gas effective Tuesday due to the decline in the international contract price of LPG.

In an advisory, Shell said it has cut the price of its Shellane by P2.50 per kilogram, or about P27.50 per 11-kilogram LPG cylinder.

Other retailers, meanwhile, are implementing a rollback of P1 per kg or P11 per tank, according to LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) party-list Representative Arnel Ty.

In a phone interview, Ty explained that the latest price cut could be attributed to the $100-per-metric-ton decrease in the international contract price. This would bring the LPG prices of its member companies to P689 per 11-kg tank from P700.

Should LPG prices abroad continue to decrease, households can look forward to another price cut of P3 per kg this February.

LPGMA member companies, which supply LPG products to an estimated 30 percent of the Luzon market, carry brands such as Island Gas, Regasco Gas, Pinnacle Gas, Cat Gas, M-Gas, Omni Gas and Nation Gas.

LTO chief, accused of registering carnapped vehicles, cries ‘demolition job’

LTO chief, accused of registering carnapped vehicles, cries ‘demolition job’

MANILA, Philippines -- Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres has denied any involvement in the registration of stolen vehicles during her stint as the head of the agency’s Tarlac provincial office.

In a statement, the embattled transportation assistant secretary dismissed the allegations as a “demolition job” launched against her by parties with vested interests in the LTO.

Torres was earlier accused of approving the registration of a Mitsubishi Pajero in Tarlac using the file number of a motorcycle originally registered in Roxas, Isabela.

But the LTO chief, appointed by President Benigno Aquino III last July, said the vehicle with a special plate number RPJ-111 was already registered with the LTO when she became the head of the agency’s Tarlac Regional Office.

“What I handled was a subsequent registration of a motor vehicle previously registered in the same District Office, documents pertaining to that previous registration are deemed to have been in order and on file already. I only had to make sure other requirements were complete and authentic to approve it,” Torres said.

On February 2, 2008, Torres said she approved the registration and transfer of ownership from one Cristina Macasaet to Arnel and Cheryl Lou Sicat of a Mistubishi Pajero.

The Certificate of Registration (CR) presented showed that the Pajero was previously registered under the name of Macasaet on June 7, 1999 at Tarlac District Office.

That particular registration was approved by then District Head Luciano Llanillo.

Together with this CR were the other required documents, which were found to be complete and authentic. She said any irregularities in the registration of the said vehicle could not have happened during her time, but that of her predecessor’s.

“I cannot really assume what happened on the first Tarlac registration of the Pajero during the time of Llanillo, whether the lapse was done on purpose or negligence. But obviously documents would show that any irregularity in the registration process happened at that time,” she said.

Without being more specific, she said an organized demolition job has been going on against her since she assumed office last July.

“Since I became Assistant Secretary in July, I have initiated my reform programs for LTO consistent with the President’s program of ‘matuwid na daan (straight path),’” she said.

She said she would continue these reforms, despite the propaganda against her.

Last Friday, she issued Special Order 2011-01 creating the Committee on Anti-Carnapping. Its functions include investigating possible involvement of LTO officials and personnel in registering “hot cars.”

It will also be coordinating with other government agencies like the police and local government units in their investigation.

New HPG-7 chief: Stolen vehicles dumped in Cebu

by By Niña G. Sumacot/FPL

CEBU, Philippines - Newly-installed Highway Patrol Group (HPG)-7 chief Felixberto Castillo vows to intensify the anti-carnapping campaign in the region by denying the entry of carnapped vehicles from Luzon as he believes that Cebu is one of the areas where stolen vehicles are being dumped.

Castillo, who assumed as the new HPG-7 commander on Friday, said that based on their data 90 percent of the carnapped vehicles seized in Central Visayas last year came from Manila and its neighboring areas in Luzon.

Castillo dismisses the possibility that the gruesome killing of car dealers in Manila will happen in Cebu.

“The situation in Metro Manila and Visayas with regards to carnapping is different. Ang tunay na laban nasa Manila, not here. So yung dapat na tingnan ay yung mga sasakyan na pumapasok dito. Ito yung mamanmanan namin,” he said.

Castillo believes that most of the carnapped vehicles in Manila are being brought mostly here in Cebu and Mindanao.

“If we are suspicious of what we are buying, then wag na lang. Wag tayong ma-entice sa murang sasakyan, baka ang papeles hindi genuine,” Castillo advised the would be buyers.

The charred bodies of car dealers Emerson Lozano and Venson Evangelista were found less than a week apart last month with gunshot wounds in the head.

Lozano, son of Marcos lawyer Atty. Oliver Lozano, was believed to have been abducted while accompanying a prospective buyer for a test drive. His charred body was found in Pampanga two days after he was reported missing.

Evangelista was also found in Nueva Ecija six days after he was reported missing on January 12. He was also meeting with a prospective buyer for a test drive before he went missing.

Low pressure area seen to bring rains in Mindanao, E. Visayas

Low pressure area seen to bring rains in Mindanao, E. Visayas

MANILA, Philippines—A low pressure sighted 280 kilometers east of Mindanao is expected to bring rains in Visayas and Mindanao, the state-run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said Monday.

Robert Sawi, Pagasa chief forecaster, said heavy rains will be felt almost all parts of Mindanao in the next three to four days.

Sawi said the eastern part of Visayas will also experience rains.

Heavy rains hit Agusan del Norte

by By Charmane Awitan, ABS-CBN News Caraga

Heavy rains hit Agusan del Norte | ABS-CBN News

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines - Agusan del Norte province and Butuan City are experiencing heavy rains since early Monday morning.

State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said a low-pressure area near the region is causing the torrential rains.

Due to bad weather, classes have been suspended in all public and private elementary and secondary levels in Butuan City.

City disaster management officials are also monitoring the Agusan River, as they expect its water level to rise Monday afternoon due to heavy rains in Compostela Valley.

Disaster alert level 2 has also been raised in Surigao del Norte.

Surigao del Norte Gov. Glenda Ecleo also wants alert level 2 to be hoisted over Dinagat Island, based on a recommendation from PAGASA.

The move will result in the suspension of pre-school, elementary, and high school classes.

Meanwhile, bad weather also prompted Cebu Pacific airlines to cancel a Butuan to Manila flight scheduled 9 a.m. Monday.

Philippine Airlines, meanwhile, has yet to either cancel or delay scheduled flights to and from Manila and Butuan.

CH to spend P80M for dredging

by cebuweb

CH to spend P80M for dredging

THE Cebu City Government will spend P80.8 million of the P100 million it tapped from the City’s calamity fund solely for the dredging of creeks and rivers.

The dredging operation will be first conducted in nine areas of the city: Barangay Tinago, Sitio Lahing-Lahing in Barangay Mabolo, Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Barangay Bulacao, Barangay Tejero, Barangay Cogon Pardo, Kinalumsan, Manalili and Tagunol.

Greet your friends and families this Sinulog season. Sun.Star covers Sinulog 2011 live!

But in order for the dredging operation to proceed, City Hall will have to conduct a mass demolition of the homes of some 3,000 families that live within three meters from rivers and creeks.

Councilor Alvin Dizon, who chairs the council’s committee on housing, asked the Squatters Prevention, Elimination and Encroachment Division (Speed) to do the demolition in a just and humane way.

“Because even if they are informal settlers, they also have rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor Joy Augustus Young said he would prefer to use the calamity fund for garbage collection.

“The city’s garbage is the main problem of the city. Why? Because it does not only clog our drainage but it also affects, among others, tourism and the health of the city’s constituents,” he said.

Recovery

Young said improving the garbage collection includes the establishment of materials recovery facilities in the 80 villages of the city and teaching the public how to recycle.

With recycling, he said, it may be unnecessary to establish a second landfill of the city.

“If the garbage does not reach the landfill, why create a second landfill? The whole point is just we have to recycle everything. So mao na’y solution diha,” he said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 is prepared to help disaster victims in case local governments need assistance, DSWD 7 assistant director Nemia Antipala said yesterday.

She said the agency has P300,000 in disaster funds available and family packs containing food, clothing and other items that can immediately be given to disaster victims.

The agency has distributed family packs to residents of Mabolo, Cebu City and some communities in Bohol that were affected by the recent floods, Antipala said.

Local governments and other public agencies came under pressure to prepare for floods or landslides, after an unusually large volume of rainfall last Jan. 25 caused floods in at least 13 barangays of Cebu and Mandaue cities.

Several landslides were also reported, but these caused minimal damage to property.

To shelter families whose houses will be demolished, Danny Gabiana, chief of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), said they will establish again the Devotee City originally set up for transients during the Sinulog.

Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, who chairs the council’s committee on infrastructure, has requested 50 20-footer vans. He said each van can accommodate at least three families.

But since not all families will be accommodated, Gabiana said some of the families will be housed in the different sports complexes, while the others will be registered in the City’s Balik Probinsiya program.

For those who will be accommodated by the Devotee City, City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete said it will only be temporary.

Asked if financial assistance will be given to the families, Poblete said officials are still discussing that.

Why pay?

The chairman of the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem, said he does not favor the giving of cash aid to the families.

“I would object to the idea of paying them. They are not supposed to be there in the first place and had been warned for many years to leave. The millions we will spend for that can be used for the actual drainage rehabilitation that we are even having a hard time looking for money in the first place,” he said.

For this year, the City has appropriated at least P149 million for its calamity fund.

Administrator Poblete said, though, that the City can appropriate additional funds for calamities in supplemental budgets.

DSWD’s Antipala, for her part, pointed out the DSWD has a contract with the National Food Authority allowing them to request for rice anytime for disaster victims.

The first line of response to disasters should be local government units, and the DSWD comes in when they can no longer handle the magnitude of the disaster, Antipala said.

“We don’t depend on Pag-asa (the weather bureau). We are always prepared,” she added.

In an earlier interview, Michael Solera of the DSWD 7 crisis intervention unit said the agency has nearly 2,000 family packs that can be distributed to victims of floods.

Each family pack is worth P250 and contains three kilos of rice, canned goods and used clothes.

The agency may also extend financial assistance and stress debriefing services if these are needed by residents of affected areas, he said.

DENR to seek help of 123 biz firms in river cleanup

by cebuweb

DENR to seek help of 123 biz firms in river cleanup

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 wants to tap at least 123 business establishments located near waterways to help clean the rivers and creeks traversing the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

DENR 7 Director Maximo Dichoso said he aims to get business establishment owners to help local government units (LGUs) and government agencies in cleaning and dredging the waterways that tend to overflow during heavy rains.

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The agency has identified 66 business establishments along Butuanon River, 14 along Guadalupe River, and 12 along Lahug River. There are also four businesses, including a hotel, along Camputhaw Creek, 13 along Tipolo Creek, and 15 along Mahiga Creek.

The move came after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) Mactan announced that the region will experience above-normal rainfall brought by the La Niña phenomenon.

“Pagasa has announced that we have to brace for heavy downpour in the coming months.

Therefore, what we need to do now is to ensure the free flow of rainwater by mounting

a massive clean-up of our drainage, canals, esteros and other waterways through the help of the private sector and local government units,” said Dichoso.

According to the state weather bureau, a low-pressure area was seen 240 kilometers east of Davao City at 2 p.m. yesterday.

Alexander Padin, weather observer at the Pag-asa Mactan Cebu station, said the bureau will monitor the development of the low-pressure area, which is “not likely” to develop into a storm.

This weather system is expected to bring widespread rains over Visayas and Mindanao, particularly over the eastern section, Pagasa said.

Visayas and Mindanao are experiencing cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms, which became widespread rains over Eastern and Central Visayas and Eastern Mindanao.

The bureau warned the rains may trigger flashfloods and landslides, and advised residents living in low-lying areas, along river banks and on the mountain slopes to take precautionary measures.

The bureau also advised fishermen in Luzon, Visayas and Eastern Mindanao not to venture out into the sea due to big waves generated by strong to gale force northeasterly winds.

Padin said cloudy skies and scattered rainshowers will continue until the end of May due to the northeast monsoon.

In an interview yesterday, Dichoso said DENR 7, the LGUs and the private sector will sign a tripartite memorandum of agreement to adopt esteros and creeks and assist in the clean-up activities.

“This program will showcase a collaborative effort to reduce pollution that will eventually lead to a healthy, safe and clean environment for all the communities that surround it,” Dichoso told Sun.Star Cebu.

He also advised the leaders of coastal cities and municipalities to engage in mangrove planting and rehabilitation to protect the coastal barangays from storm surges.

He added that it is the mandate of the LGUs to relocate families living along waterways and to strictly impose the solid waste management law.

For Dichoso, the sustainable solution is to stop people from throwing garbage into the rivers and creeks to keep them from clogging.

“What we can do is identify areas suited for sanitary landfills by assessing geologic sustainability of the area,” he said.

The agency can help in disseminating information on Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law through radio programs.

“The Cebu City (flooding) phenomenon is not only the concern of DENR, it is a universal phenomenon. This is a concern of everybody,” said Dichoso.

Mandaue preps for disaster

by cebuweb

Mandaue preps for disaster | Sun.Star Network Online

By Oscar C. Pineda

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

MANDAUE City Mayor Jonas Cortes yesterday activated the City Disaster Brigade and ordered the training of 135 barangay tanods to respond to calamities.

“The brigade will be composed of city employees and national agencies’ personnel assigned in Mandaue. They will be tasked to undertake pre-disaster, during disaster and post-disaster activities,” Cortes said in a memorandum to department heads.

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During the meeting of the City Disaster Coordinating Council, the mayor divided the city into five clusters: north cluster, northeast cluster, west cluster, southeast cluster and south cluster. Each cluster will be led by a department head.

Barangays Subangdaku and Tipolo in the west cluster, Guizo in the south cluster and Basak in the northeast cluster were submerged in water last Jan. 25, when a cloudburst dumped heavy rains on parts of Metro Cebu.

Response process

Yesterday afternoon, the mayor met with barangay captains to lay down a system of work in case another calamity, similar to last Tuesday’s, hits the city. That way, everyone will know his role and what cluster his barangay belongs to.

The cluster brigade will be the first line of defense in the event of a calamity. But once the situation becomes unmanageable, the brigade will call the command center, located in the old garage at City Hall, for help.

The command center will call the attention of government agencies that can provide aid. This may come in the form of rubber boats, dump trucks or even an ambulance.

It will then direct rescue operations towards the area in distress.

Roger Paller, the City’s public information chief, said the cluster head will serve as the focal person, receiving distress calls from his area and calling the command center. The cluster head will also coordinate with barangay captains.

Paller said the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation and the Bureau of Fire Protection will also train five tanods from each of the city’s 27 baragays to respond to calamities.

Clean-up, declogging

Meanwhile, the mayor directed barangay captains to lead the general clean-up and de-clogging of the city’s canals today. They will be assisted by the City’s Clean and Green workers.

In a related development, Emmanuel Arong, officer-in-charge of the Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo), sent letters to 119 residents whose shanties are built along the Mahiga Creek.

The City will meet with these informal settlers to explain to them why they have to leave the danger zone.

According to Hudo records, there are 2,380 households living along Mandaue City’s rivers and creeks.

Drainage, squatter relocation, traffic to be discussed in meet

by cebuweb

Drainage, squatter relocation, traffic to be discussed in meet

By Rizel S. Adlawan

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GOV. Gwen Garcia will call for a meeting of all mayors under the Metro Cebu Development Council to discuss the creation of a general master plan on drainage and sewerage.

The governor said each local government unit (LGU) should not have one of its own and operate it as though it is an island entire of itself.

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Garcia said towns and component cities, from Danao in the north to Carcar in the south, should come together to address the problem.

Otherwise, the consequences will be worse, she said.

“We should act now. We must act together,” she said.

Garcia set the meeting on Feb. 9. A representative from the National Economic and Development Agency, who sits in the council, will also be invited.

She said they will also discuss the growing traffic problem in Metro Cebu.

Capitol’s plan

The governor reiterated that illegal settlers contribute to the clogging of rivers and creeks. To address this problem, she said an inventory or profiling must be conducted.

She had suggested implementing the Balik-Lungsod program, or enticing squatters to return to their hometowns.

She said this will be in the meeting’s agenda, adding the Capitol may hook up with the Office for the Urban Poor of Cebu City and Mandaue to address the issue.

Garcia said they plan to relocate squatters on Capitol lots to the Gawad Kalinga Village in Minglanilla, which the Province is building.

In case the squatters are on private land, she said the Capitol can sit down with the landowner, with the participation of the mayor.

She said she can also work with government agencies tasked to help with relocating the urban poor and building decent housing for them.

The governor issued an executive order, directing all component LGUs to promote and participate in the Community Defense Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Trainings.

She said the frequent occurrence of disasters or calamities means a need for people to be resilient and to be prepared.

Gwen defends PB over alleged misuse of 'pork barrel' funds

by By Gregg M. Rubio/JMO

CEBU, Philippines - Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has defended members of the Provincial Board amidst reports that they have spent most of their Legislative Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” for fiesta celebrations instead of allocating the money for projects.

“It is not also fair to try and compare what the legislative assistance fund can do as compared to the budget that falls under the chief executive and the executive branch,” Garcia said yesterday.

Garcia explained that the fund appropriated for board members is only to enable them to help barangays in their respective districts. Projects like agriculture, she said, are primarily funded under the appropriations of different departments.

“It’s taking a conclusion from a wrong premise because there is no point in comparing,” Garcia said, referring to the argument that the LAF is intended to help finance the implementation of agriculture projects. She said enough assistance has been extended to farmers and the agriculture sector in general.

Board Members can have their LAF expanded through resolutions from barangays.

Garcia stressed that there is already enough assistance being extended to farmers and agricultural sector in the province.

For the past six years, Garcia has made it a point to limit financial assistance on socio-cultural activities. Garcia has extended P30,000 per barangay but increased the amount to P50,000 recently.

Garcia said the financial assistance extended to local government units is closely monitored. The Provincial Tourism Office, for example, monitors the funds extended for social-cultural activities and festivities.

PB Members Peter John Calderon and Wilfredo Caminero both said they only give P5,000 for socio-cultural activities, but can extend the amount for other projects such as agriculture.

Calderon said the report was just based on approved resolutions and these were not yet released to the requesting LGUs.

About P5.7 million of the LAF of PB members were spent mostly to finance fiesta celebrations last year. Only P15,000 was spent for agriculture.

According to a summary report of the Priority Development Fund (PDF) expenditures in 2010, a total of P10.4 million were used by all the 15 Provincial Board Members including Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. to finance requests from the towns.

The report divided the expenses into six main categories including “infrastructure projects,” which was allocated a total of P3,373,705; P335,000 for “community development outreach projects”; P441,385 for “social services development”; P485,000 for “economic development”, and P40,000 for “Peace and Order”.

Agriculture expenditures fall under the category Community Development Outreach Projects. The financial assistance granted to fiesta celebrations were categorized under “sports, arts, and culture development.”

The projects listed in the report, were all contained under various approved Board resolutions from January to December 2010. The report forms part of the Accomplishment Report submitted by the Secretariat to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. (FREEMAN NEWS)

Govt seeks coal supplier for Naga power plants

Govt seeks coal supplier for Naga power plants The government has started accepting bidders that will supply coal to the Naga power plant complex in Cebu, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said Monday.

At stake in the bid are 140,000 metric tons of coal that will fuel some power plants in the complex this year, according to PSALM.

All bids must be in by Feb. 21, the state-owned firm said.

PSALM said at least P860 million has been alloted for the procurement of coal. The amount will come from PSALM's corporate operating budget for this year.

The Naga power plant complex in Cebu consists of the Cebu power plant complex I with an installed capacity of 55 megawatts (MW), Cebu power plant complex 2 (55 MW), and Cebu diesel power plant (39 MW).

Capitol decides to extend loan to coop so Camotes will have electricity

by cebuweb

Capitol decides to extend loan to coop so Camotes will have electricity

By Elias O. Baquero

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CAPITOL has decided to intervene and prevent a blackout in Camotes Islands.

In a meeting with officials of the National Power Corp. (Napocor), Camotes Electric Cooperative (Celco) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said Capitol can lend money to Celco with minimal interest so that the distribution utility can buy fuel needed to operate its power generation plant.

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Napocor President Froilan Tanpinco, in a presentation on the Small Power Utilities Group (Spug) financial and operating situation in missionary areas, said it does not have enough funds to purchase fuel for Celco’s facility.

He said Napocor’s Spug get funds from the universal charge on missionary

electrification (Ucme), 38 percent; subsidized approved generation rate, 61.3 percent; and the transmission delivery service rate, 0.7 percent.

Napocor projects the fuel requirements under Spug for 2011 to cost P7.452 billion.

Advance

Tanpinco, however, said only P3.308 billion was approved for the Ucme, or a shortfall of P4.144 billion.

He proposed that Celco make an advance payment of its fuel requirements, which will

amount to P3 million a month.

But Celco general manager Rolando Camaso said the cooperative cannot afford to advance P3.2 million a month so Napocor can purchase and deliver fuel to Camotes.

He admitted, though, that it has collected more than P5 million from its customers.

Capitol Consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda said Capitol can lend money to Celco with minimal interest under the general welfare provision of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code.

But ERC 7 Director Joel Bontuyan said that if Celco intends to pass on the interest to consumers, the distribution utility will have to seek approval from the ERC.

To operate 24 hours a day, Celco needs 6,000 liters of fuel a day. With fuel prices at P34 per liter, Celco would spend P204,000 a day or P6 million a month.

At present, Tanpinco said Celco operates only nine hours a day, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Garcia and Tanpinco explored the possibility of delivering fuel directly to Napocor from Petron Corp. to avoid the spread of charges that occurs when the fuel is purchased from distributors.

However, Tanpinco said that while this is allowed by law, the most convenient way is to lend money to Celco.

Sepulveda said the loan that Capitol will extend to Celco will be payable in 30 days.

DPWH hesitant to give funds: guv

by cebuweb

DPWH hesitant to give funds: guv

By Jujemay G. Awit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the issue on widening the North Road is a tug-of-war as far as funds are concerned.

She said there is hesitance on the part of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to allow Capitol to implement the project in order to save.

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She said during the last days of then President Gloria Arroyo, Capitol signed an agreement with DPWH for the project to be devolved to the Province. Garcia said until now, she’s “still in the dark.”

“Under the Aquino administration, I was in the dark whether this was signed by DPWH. But what I do know is that DPWH is very interested in the P50-million road right of way fund,” she told reporters.

She said it when asked to comment on the resolution of Provincial Board (PB) Member Thadeo Ouano asking the officials of DPWH 7 to update the PB about the project in the next PB session.

She said the goal of her administration is to implement the project. She said when Capitol constructed school buildings, they only spent P650,000 for two classrooms.

If the DPWH had done it, the cost would have reached P1.2 million.

“Capitol’s thrust is to do this by administration. Kita mo-implement para dako og maabtan (The funds will go a long way if we are the ones to implement it),” she said.

Garcia said she always reminds DPWH about the project. She said she intends to call for another meeting with the agency.

“I do know that there is some hesitance somewhere along the way. I’m not saying diri sa local. But somewhere along the way, there is reluctance by some sectors in DPWH that this fund should be given to the Province,” she said.

Ouano, who represents the sixth district at the PB, said he was still mayor when the project was started.

His term ended in 2007.

He said he wanted to be briefed on its development because the roads in Consolacion and Liloan towns, after crossing the Cansaga Bridge, are too narrow for big vehicles.

Two women found hanging

by By Ria Mae Y. Booc and Niña G. Sumacot/FPL

CEBU, Philippines - Two women, including a 24-year-old pregnant wife, were found dead after they allegedly hanged themselves in separate incidents.

Maricris Tampon, 24, was found hanging at the ceiling of their house in Barangay Panadtaran San Fernando Sunday morning.

Ronelyn Gumban, 28, single, resident of S. Osmeña St., Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City and a native of Calamba, Misamiz Occidental, was also found hanging at the ceiling in a downtown pension house yesterday afternoon.

Marital problem was believed to have prompted Tampon to commit suicide using a blanket to tie around her neck.

Initial police investigation shows that Tampon and her husband Edgardo had a misunderstanding because the latter was drunk and attended a benefit dance when they went to a fiesta celebration last Saturday.

The couple allegedly went home from the fiesta at 5:00 a.m. already having a misunderstanding. Edgardo told the police that when he woke up at 10:00 a.m. he could not find his wife prompting him to look for her.

To his surprised he found her pregnant wife already hanging at their ceiling.

Another suicide incident happened in one of the rooms of L.A. Pension House at the corner Juan Luna and Manalili Streets yesterday afternoon.

Gumban was discovered by the pension house personnel already hanging at the ceiling of the room she occupies when they checked on her yesterday noon to ask if she was extending her stay.

Joana Cadungog, checker of the pension house, said the victim did not answer their call prompting them to open her room using the duplicate key.

A suicide note was found on the bed indicating that she was sorry for her parents for not being a good child to them and to her siblings.  (FREEMAN NEWS)

Woman hangs self, leaves notes

by cebuweb

Woman hangs self, leaves notes

By Kevin A. Lagunda

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A 28-YEAR-OLD woman hanged herself inside a pension house at the corner of V. Gullas St. and Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

Ronelyn Gumban, a native of Misamis Occidental, was found hanging lifeless near the comfort room by a pension house attendant, PO3 Victor Ayuman said in a phone interview.

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Ayuman, a homicide investigator, said Gumban checked in at the pension house Sunday around 8 p.m. and she was billeted at room 410.

After Gumban did not come out yesterday, the attendant opened the locked door with a key around 1:30 p.m. and was shocked to see Gumban, who used a nylon rope, Ayuman said.

One of the items police recovered from Gumban is a 50-leaf notebook. Ayuman said almost half of its pages are filled with notes, believed to be written by the victim herself.

“Nangayo siyag pasay-lo kay di kuno siya maayo nga tawo, liar kuno siya (She asked for forgiveness for she said she was not a good person, that she was a liar),” Ayuman said.

Fifty-five minutes earlier, a man attempted to take his life in Sitio San Jorge, Barangay Guadalupe.

Jovito Andales stabbed his stomach with a knife after he allegedly got angry that his live-in partner was drunk last Sunday, Ayuman said.

Before the incident, Andales and his partner argued. Moments later, he took a knife and stabbed himself. But his partner was able to stop him.

Andales was rushed to Cebu City Medical Center for treatment, Ayuman said.

Rabusa: Reyes’s wife, children also received AFP money

Rabusa: Reyes’s wife, children also received AFP money | ABS-CBN News

Retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, former budget officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will submit an affidavit to the justice department detailing the alleged corruption in the military. Speaking to ANC, Rabusa said it was not only former AFP chief Angelo Reyes who received money from AFP funds        but his wife and children as well. He added two other former AFP chiefs received a bigger send-off money than Reyes.

Generals' wives also benefited from AFP corruption - senator

The wives of former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes and former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot also benefited from corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Sen. Jinggoy Estrada alleged on Monday.

Stop ‘pabaon’ in military, ex-president urges Aquino gov’t

Former President Fidel V. Ramos called on the present administration to put a stop to the "pabaon" system within the military, as exposed by whistle-blower and former military budget officer George Rabusa.

Miriam livid over military corruption

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

The Department of Justice (DOJ) must file charges as soon as possible against former military chiefs accused of receiving millions of pesos in "pabaon" (send-off) gifts upon retirement, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Monday.

Palace welcomes lifestyle checks for AFP chiefs

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang welcomed a proposal for a lifestyle check of former chiefs of the military.

Arroyo ally says Rabusa cleared GMA

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Arroyo ally says Rabusa cleared GMA | ABS-CBN News

A key ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo noted that retired budget officer George Rabusa cleared the former leader of any wrongdoing in the military "pabaon" controversy.

Speaking for the minority, Senior Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez noted that on Monday morning, Rabusa himself told a radio interview that Arroyo had nothing to do with the controversy now hounding former military chiefs of staff of Arroyo.

“This morning, there was an interview with Colonel Rabusa about GMA being linked and just this morning he said that GMA had nothing to do with this payola,” Suarez said.

Rabusa on Monday said he has enough documentary evidence to prove his allegations against his former bosses, Jacinto Ligot and Carlos Garcia, as well as 3 former AFP chiefs of staffs.

The former budget officer also refuted a Philippine Daily Inquirer story that said the corruption could go all the way up to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"I was misquoted. They promised me - tapos banner headline. I did say something but indirectly. Iba po yung nakita mo at documented sa verbal. Parang chismis lang. Talagang, in fairness to the former president, hindi niya po alam yan," he said.

Suarez said Arroyo had abolished the controversial position of military comptroller, the same position which former military official Carlos Garcia held.

“Take note that J6 which is the office of the comptroller, including N6 of the navy, G6 of the army and A6 of the air force were abolished during her term. If you notice, ang cut-off nitong allegations of payola ay nung ma-abolish ang Office of the Comptroller. Kaya nga we should give due credit to the fact that during the creation of the Feliciano Commission, one of the weaknesses found was the weakness in the Office of the Comptroller, which the President acted (on) during the time of then chief general Abu and General Abaya," he said.

He also said the pabaon system was practiced in the military even before before Arroyo’s term.

“This tradition is not monopolized by the 3 chiefs of staff. Apparently, this has been going on for a while," he said.

Suarez said the former President was irritated that she was dragged into the controversy. Arroyo met with her allies over lunch Monday at the minority’s office.

“Frankly she was irritated that her name was linked. I have my personal communication to Colonel Rabusa and with my channel also, he said that former PGMA has nothing to do with this expose."

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said it was unfair to say that corruption in the military happened only during the Arroyo administration. "As Col. Rabusa said in the Senate hearing, he said this is a long ongoing practice so even before the term of President Arroyo, it’s been happening," she said.

For his part, Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez refused to say if Arroyo is complicit and liable for plunder. ”It will depend on further statements of Colonel Rabusa. It will have to go as far as evidence will go," he said.

Philippine lawmaker hid drug in underpants: court

by by Joyce Woo, Agence France-Presse

Philippine lawmaker hid drug in underpants: court | ABS-CBN News

HONG KONG - Philippine congressman Ronald Singson admitted Monday he had attempted to smuggle cocaine into Hong Kong as a court heard the lawmaker hid the drug in his underpants to elude airport security.

The colorful 42-year-old, who is from one of the Philippines' most high-profile political families, admitted to bringing 6.67 grams of cocaine and two tablets of the narcotic Nitrazepam into the city on July 11, 2010.

He was arrested at Hong Kong's international airport by customs officers who found a small amount of cocaine and pills in his luggage, with six grams of cocaine hidden in his underpants.

The total value of the cocaine was about $2,000.

The politician, also a music promoter whose business interests include the music station Channel V in the Philippines, admitted to trafficking and faces a maximum life sentence and a possible fine of up HK$5 million ($640,000).

But he denied any plan to re-sell the drugs and pleaded for leniency.

"(They) were solely for his own consumption. He had no intention of engaging in commercial or social trafficking," Singson's lawyer John Reading told Judge Joseph Yau.

Singson said he had the drugs because of "political pressures", "pressure of faltering businesses" and relationship problems, adding that he was suffering from depression.

"Even though I was successful in my own right, I didn't feel happy," he said.

He testified that he snorted cocaine daily, consuming between four and five grams a day, costing him as much as 25,000 Philippine pesos ($570), in several month-long binges starting in 2004.

"Whenever I took (cocaine), I took large amounts, frequently every day," he told the court.

"I apologize to the people of Hong Kong. This was a very big mistake and in the process, I have ruined my name and reputation, embarrassing my family and causing pain to my girlfriend."

Singson added: "I've never been more remorseful in my life. This is just the beginning of my problems. Not knowing my fate back home has cause me a great deal of pain."

"I ask you to find it in your heart to... sentence me with leniency. There's nothing more I want than to go on with my life," he added.

"You are convicted on your own plea and admission of the facts," Hong Kong Judge Yau told Singson in a packed courtroom.

Last week, the original trial judge stood down from the case after receiving a letter he said contained "prejudicial allegations" against the lawmaker, and ordered the letter to be kept sealed.

Singson juggles jobs promoting US rhythm and blues acts in the Philippines with holding a parliamentary seat.

He won a second three-year term in the House of Representatives in May, in the seat long held by his family in the northern province of Ilocos Sur.

The legislator is one of seven children by an estranged wife of Ilocos Sur governor and political kingpin Luis "Chavit" Singson, one of the most controversial political figures in the Philippines.

The 69-year-old patriarch was in Hong Kong in August to attend his son's bail hearing, and denied claims his son was a drug dealer. "It's a set-up," he told reporters at the time.

The sentencing hearing was set to continue Tuesday.

Solons call on Singson to resign after guilty plea

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Solons call on Singson to resign after guilty plea | ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Colleagues of Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson  crossed party lines to call on him to resign after he pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking charge in Hong Kong.

However, at least one of his colleagues indicated that resigning now may only pave the way for Singson  to come back to Congress at a future date.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay  said, “As far as I'm concerned, I maintain my position that anybody who violates the law and is a public servant should resign because for one, we should always uphold, we should always be above reproach.”

Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Arlene Bag-ao made similar calls to spare the House from the divisive process of an ethics investigation.

Bello said, “I have said several times, Congressman Singson, if found guilty, should really consider resigning because it will not be good for  the House to go through long process where he will be judged by his colleagues.”

Bag-ao said, “We’ve already said our position before: we think it's in his best interest ay pag-isipan ang pagreresign."

Last week, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao already said,  “Kung halimbawa, may confession of guilt, kung totoo may plea bargain agreement, alam naman na pag may plea bargain agreement, may confession of guilt in exchange for being prosecuted for a more grievous offense. Dapat may parusa yan, whether suspension censure or expulsion, ako naniniwala dapat may parusa yan. Hintayin na lang natin mangyayari sa Hong Kong at kung totoo may confession of guilt.”

House leadership cautious

The House leadership  as well as other senior lawmakers as of this writing remains cautious about the matter, with Speaker Sonny Belmonte still not yet issuing a statement.

Minority leader Edcel Lagman and Senior Deputy Minority leader Danilo Suarez  both likewise declined to comment saying the minority has no position on it yet.

Suarez said, “there's a hearing going on, we don’t know yet what happened. The minority is reserving our position because while Congressmen Singson is a member of Lakas, he is part of the majority, not minority. I have to wait for the final decision of the Hong Kong judiciary. Everyone will be given a day in court in the committee to explain his side, but it will be a numbers game."

House ethics should act

Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, however, went as far as saying, now the House ethics and privileges committee should take cognizance and initiate its own disciplinary proceedings.

“Sa ngayon, pagkaalam ko, wala pang case sa ethics committee kaya kailangan, ang ethics committee ang gumawa ng hakbangin to take jurisdiction at pag aralan. Maraming dapat malaman, unang-una, ano ba nakasulat sa indictment. Dapat malaman natin kung ito'y final and executory.”

Daza, however, stopped short of asking for Singson to resign. “Alam mo, yung resignation, that’s personal to the person. Mahirap yung sabihin natin dapat siya magresign. Nasa kaniya yun.”

Singson is the son of influential politician, former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis 'Chavit' Singson.

Ronald can run again, win in 2013

Magsaysay, however, conceded that resigning now may still pave the way for Singson returning to the House should he win again in the 2013 elections. Magsaysay noted that convictions overseas are not automatically enforceable in the Philippines.

“Definitely, when he resigns, he can still run because he did not violate any local laws, because if ever he gets convicted, he’s convicted in a foreign country and I heard that if you’re convicted in a foreign country it does not follow that you have a conviction here in our country, so as far as I'm concerned Congressman Ronald Singson can still run in the 2013 elections."

Daza said a possible candidacy in 2013 is also something for the House ethics committee to determine, “dapat pag aralan iyan kasi batas ng Hong Kong, di gaya ng batas natin, pag aralan dapat."

In the past, congressmen were just prevailed upon to leave Congress after a court conviction to spare the institution the divisive process of an ethics proceeding. A two-thirds vote of all members is required before anyone can be expelled from Congress.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said that with Singson's admission to drug possession, use and even addiction, his status as a congressman has become untenable.

"It is now incumbent on the House ethics committee to initiate proceedings for his suspension or expulsion from Congress. Either that or he resigns. That is the sad consequence of his wrongdoing," Casiño said.

PPCRV hopes that the ARMM elections on August would be automated

by By Evelyn Macarian

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) today expressed hope that automated counting machines would be used in the upcoming Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections slated this August.

Consolidated RH bill goes to House plenary

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives committee on population and welfare of children has voted to discharge to the plenary the consolidated version of the 6 Reproductive Health Bills filed  in the 15th Congress.

Bishops blast RH bill anew

by By Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a pastoral letter on the reproductive health (RH) bill, to be read in all parishes starting Monday.

31 new officials take oath before PNoy

31 new officials take oath before PNoy - Nation - GMANews.TV - Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs

Thirty-one new appointees on Monday took their oaths before President Benigno Aquino III. They were:Secretary Elisea Gozun, presidential assistant II for climate change;

Ronald Llamas, presidential adviser for political affairs;

Alfredo Pascual, 20th president of the University of the Philippines (UP);

Erlinda Basilio, undersecretary for policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA);

Rafael Seguis, undersecretary for administration (DFA);

Esteban Conejos, undersecretary for migrant workers (DFA);

Cattleya Amador, assistant secretary, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson;

William Varias, assistant secretary, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (CPLC);

Hernani Panganiban, chairman as Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, Department of Agriculture (DA);

Ramon Alikpala, chairman of the Board of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (MWSA)-Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH);

Gerardo Esquivel, Acting Administrator, MWSA-DPWH;

Teresita Manzala, chairman of Professional Regulatory Commission, Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE);

Carlos Cao Jr., administrator of the POEA-DoLE;

Jose Martin Aliling, chairman and member of the board of the NorthRail-Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC);

lawyer Daniel Henares, member of the board of the Northrail-DoTC;

Dr. Alex Ayco, member of the board of the PhilHealth-Department of Health (DoH);

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, chairperson of the Albay – Region V, Regional Development Council under the office of National Development Economic Authority (NEDA) with

Father Leo Casas as Salceda's co-chairperson;

Governor Victor Tanco Sr., as chairperson of the Capiz – Region VI, Regional Development Council-NEDA with

Ma. Luisa Segovia as co-chairperson;

Arego Melisimo, co-chairperson of the Negros Oriental –Region VII, Regional Development Council;

Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, chairperson of the Leyte Region VIII, Regional Development Council-NEDA with

Tiburcio Morales as co-chairperson;

Mayor Evelyn Uy as chairperson of the Dipolog City Region IX Regional Development Council-NEDA with

Enrico Montano as her co-chairperson;

Vicente Lao as co-chair of the Davao City Region XI, Regional Development Council;

Mayor Darlene Magnolia Antonino-Custodio as chairperson of the General Santos City Region XII, Regional Development Council with

Ramon Floresta as co-chairperson.

Governor Joel Baac, chairperson of the Kalinga-Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) Regional Development Council-NEDA with

Virgilio Bautista as co-chairperson.

Also sworn in was Mr. Ramon del Rosario as member of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) representing the private sector also under the office of NEDA.

‘Healthy’ economy sustainable—Palace

The Aquino administration on Monday said it is confident it will be able to sustain a "healthy'' economy, following reports that the country's economy grew by 7.3 percent last year.

Bomb threat delays Cebu Pacific flight from Kota Kinabalu to Manila

A Cebu Pacific return flight to Manila from Kota Kinabalu was delayed as a result of a bomb threat made while the plane was on its way to the popular Malaysian tourist destination.

DOLE stops PAL from retiring 8 flight attendants

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has barred flag carrier Philippine Arlines (PAL) from retiring female flight attendants aged 55 years old.

Peso down due to global risk aversion

Business - Peso down due to global risk aversion

MANILA, Philippines—The peso fell on the first trading day of the week, mirroring the movement of currencies of other emerging markets, as political tensions in Egypt increased risk aversion globally, traders said.

The local currency closed at 44.27 against the US dollar, down by 17.5 centavos from Friday’s finish of 44.095.

Intraday high reached 44.19:$1, while intraday low settled at 44.35:$1. Volume of trade amounted to $773.55 million, down from $891.22 million previously.

Market players said the depreciation of the peso had to do more with external rather than domestic factors. They said risk aversion rose globally to adversely affect performance of currencies of emerging markets vis-à-vis the US dollar.

They said an uncertain environment usually prompted investors to shift funds into dollar-denominated instruments, considered the most liquid.

The peso dropped despite the government’s report released in the morning that the Philippine economy grew by 7.3 percent in 2010, the fastest pace seen in over 30 years.

Traders said, nonetheless, that the overall outlook on the Philippine economy has been positive and that the peso’s fall would likely be temporary.

Palace: Routes out of Egypt being readied for OFWs

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - While Malacañang sees no need yet for the evacuation of Filipinos from crisis-stricken Egypt, safety routes out are already being prepared in case the violence continues to escalate.

Governments, firms evacuating tourists from Egypt

by By Chris Buckley, Reuters

BEIJING - Governments and tour operators took steps on Monday to pull their nationals out of Egypt on chartered or scheduled flights as protesters pressed their campaign to topple President Hosni Mubarak.

OPEC ready to act on supplies amid Egypt turmoil

OPEC stands ready to increase oil production if the Egypt crisis cuts the flow of crucial supplies through the Suez Canal to the West, its secretary-general Abdalla Salem El-Badri indicated on Monday.

Mubarak shuffles cabinet but protesters say 'Go!'

by Reuters

Mubarak shuffles cabinet but protesters say 'Go!' | ABS-CBN News

CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak overhauled his government on Monday to try to defuse a popular uprising against his 30-year rule but angry protesters rejected the changes and said he must surrender power.

On the seventh consecutive day of unrest in the Arab world's most populous nation, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square chanting "Get out ... We want you out" and singing Egypt's national anthem.

Troops backed by tanks made no effort to disperse the crowd.

"This is all nonsense," said protester Omar el-Demerdash, 24, a research executive, adding:

"The demand is clear: We want Mubarak and his men to get out. Anything other than that is just not enough."

Egypt's powerful army now appears to hold the key to Mubarak's fate. Although the generals have held back from crushing the revolt, they have not withdrawn support for him.

The uprising, unprecedented in scale and intensity in this once tightly-controlled country, erupted last week when frustration over repression, corruption, poverty and the lack of democracy under Mubarak boiled over.

About 140 people were killed in clashes with security forces in scenes that overturned Egypt's standing as a stable country, promising emerging market and attractive tourist destination.

Mubarak, a close U.S. ally and a stalwart in Western policy toward the Middle East, responded by offering economic reform to address public anger over hardships.

On Monday he named General Mahmoud Wagdy, previously head of Cairo criminal investigations department, as the new interior minister. Wagdy's predecessor was reviled by many Egyptians because of the repressive tactics used by the police force to quash the opposition and criticism of the president.

Mubarak, clinging to power as his legitimacy vaporizes, on Saturday named his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, a former military man, as vice president, a post vacant for 30 years. It was a move seen by some as a prelude to a transition in power.

He also appointed former air force commander Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister after sacking the entire cabinet.

But it appeared the moves would do little to turn back the groundswell against the 82-year-old ruler.

"This new cabinet is too little, too late. I think Mubarak will probably be gone well before 30 days is up," Zaineb Al-Assam, a Middle East expert at London-based Exclusive Analysis, told Reuters.

"There are some figures in the cabinet who are deeply unpopular. An example is General Wagdy. That's going to add to the protests. Mubarak will be seen by the army as a liability."

Protesters called for mass rallies on Tuesday, saying one million people could take to the streets to mark a week since the uprising broke out.

Although the movement started with no clear leaders or organization, the opposition is taking steps to organize.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, said it was seeking to form a broad political committee with Mohamed ElBaradei to talk to the army.

ElBaradei, a Nobel peace laureate and former head of the U.N. nuclear agency, has urged Mubarak to go and has lent his international stature to a movement that has lacked a leader.

The Brotherhood, which has wide support among poor Egyptians, has until now kept in the background of an uprising spearheaded by the young urban poor and students, fearing a harsh crackdown.

West wait-and-see

World leaders were trying to figure out how to respond to a crisis that threatens to tear up the Middle East political map.

Most have urged Mubarak to introduce reforms but stopped short of calling for him step down, preferring to emphasize their desire for stability and democratic elections.

The United States, which has poured billions of dollars of aid into Egypt since Mubarak came to power has called for an "orderly transition."

Washington has long seen Mubarak as a bulwark in the Middle East, first against communism then against militant Islam.

As the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel, Egypt plays a key part in the peace process, and a change in leadership could have big implications for these efforts.

"We certainly don't want Egypt to fall into the hands of extremists," British Foreign Minister William Hague said in Brussels. "That is why we want an orderly transition to free and fair elections."

The crisis in Egypt follows a revolt that toppled the leader of Tunisia earlier this month and the wave of popular anger is also sweeping other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It was the generals who persuaded Tunisia's leader to go.

Exclusive Analysis' Assam said Yemen, Sudan, Jordan and Syria all looked vulnerable to "contagion" but the greatest risk was in Saudi Arabia.

"U.S. interests are the first casualty. Indeed, U.S. allies in the region will be alarmed at the rapid drain of U.S. public support for an erstwhile ally like Mubarak," she said.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said there was no chance the upheaval might spread to Syria, which has been controlled by his Baath Party for the last five decades.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Assad said Syria's ruling hierarchy was "very closely linked to the beliefs of the people" and that there was no mass discontent.

Tumult hits tourism

Foreign governments scrambled to ensure the safety of their nationals trapped by the unrest. One group of tourists was hunkered down in the Marriott Hotel in the Egyptian capital waiting to be taken to the airport.

"I had heard a lot about Egypt's history and the pyramids so I am very disappointed I cannot see all that, but I just want to get out," said Albert So, an accountant from Hong Kong.

American Susan Market, 43, from Ohio, said she saw a demonstration in Luxor.

"You can tell people are poor, you can tell there is a division between rich and poor, people were asking for money all the time," she said.

Egypt's financial markets and banks were closed for the second day in a row.

International markets are also watching anxiously. Global stocks flattened out after opening down and developed market stocks were up.

Europe's benchmark Brent crude was just short of $100 a barrel on fears the unrest could spread among regional oil-producing nations.

Moody's downgraded Egypt to Ba2 with a negative outlook from Ba1, saying the government might damage its already weak finances by increasing social spending to calm the protests.

Fil-Am boxer to play if Olympics allows ex-professionals

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Filipina-American boxing champion Ana "Hurricane" Julaton said she is willing to drop her professional boxing status to represent the country in next year's Olympics Games.

Pacquiao to star in online game -- UAE news report

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao in an online video game? Not impossible. An Abu Dhabi-based company is planning to create a game which will feature the boxing champion as one of the characters, according to a report in The National, a news website in the United Arab Emirates.

Orcullo rips American foe to top Derby 9-Ball

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Dennis "Robocop" Orcullo defeated American Shane "The South Dakota Kid" Van Boening, 7-2, in the finals to rule the Derby City Classic 9-Ball division, at the Horseshoe Casino, Elizabeth, Indiana, US, over the weekend.

Toni confirms reconciliation with Mariel

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - All's well that ends well for tv host-actress Toni Gonzaga after patching up her friendship with actress Mariel Rodriguez.

Venus Raj to join 'Umagang Kay Ganda'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - It's a major, major dream come true for Ms. Universe 4th runner up Venus Raj as she will be joining the roster of Kapamilya talents in a morning show.

Bond film composer John Barry dies aged 77

Oscar-winning composer John Barry, who wrote the scores for "Out of Africa" and numerous Bond films including "Goldfinger", has died at the age of 77, his family said Monday.

Gov't owns PNoy's Lexus?

by By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Gov't owns PNoy's Lexus? | ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Malacañang on Monday again denied that the government owns the Lexus sports utility vehicle (SUV) with plate no. PIZ 808 that is being used by President Benigno Aquino III.

ABS-CBN News checked with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and found out that the SUV's plate is not a regular plate but a "security plate."

LTO chief Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres said security plates are only issued to government-owned vehicles.

Administrative Order No. 82-004 states that issuance of security plates should be limited to government vehicles.

Last week, the President appeared annoyed that his use of the Lexus had become an "issue."

The President claimed that the Lexus was leased by his brother-in-law, and then lent to him.

Reports about the Lexus came on the heels of news reports he had purchased a second-hand Porsche.

He explained to members of the Malacañang Press Corps that he is using the borrowed Lexus because the official Presidential car, a Mercedes Benz, keeps breaking down.

He lamented that another vehicle he uses, a Land Cruiser, is not bullet-proof.

Aquino said he prefers the Lexus for official functions because it is an armored vehicle.  

Malacañang issued Memorandum Circular 9 last December, which prohibits the purchase of SUVs and luxury cars by government agencies.

Purchases authorized by the President, Senate president, speaker of the House, and chief justice are exempted from the ban.

The Palace, however, insisted that the Lexus is not government-owned.

Secretary Ricky Carandang, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning head, said the Presidential Security Group installed new plates on the rented vehicle.  

He explained that the PSG can request for a security plate for any vehicle that the President is going to use.

New US diet guidelines push calorie reduction, exercise

by Reuters

New US diet guidelines push calorie reduction, exercise | ABS-CBN News

WASHINGTON - Americans need to cut salt, eat less but at the same time eat more fruits and vegetables, the Obama administration said on Monday in releasing its latest set of dietary guidelines.

They also advise Americans to drink water instead of sugary drinks, cut fat and switch to whole grains.

The "bottom line" is that Americans are too fat, said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in releasing the guidelines.

More than one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

"It's important to have guidelines that will help us deal with that issue of obesity," Vilsack said. "These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity."

The new dietary guidelines include 23 key recommendations for the general public, and six for specific groups such as pregnant women. General recommendations include avoiding oversized portions, choosing foods with lower sodium, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

The guidelines are based on a review of scientific literature and form the basis of nutrition education programs, federal programs such as school meals and Meals on Wheels for seniors, and inform advice provided by health professionals, the agriculture department said.

First lady Michelle Obama has been leading initiatives to help US schoolchildren slim down and eat more healthily.

Grocers and food and drink makers last week announced a new system of displaying nutritional information on packages. The "Nutrition Keys" display information about calories, saturated fat, sodium, total sugars, and other nutrients.

Critics say the industry labels fail to distinguish good and bad nutrients in products.

The Agriculture Department guidelines are available at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm.

World's oldest woman dies at 115 in Texas—caretaker

World's oldest woman dies at 115 in Texas—caretaker

JACKSONVILLE—The world's oldest woman died Monday in her Texas home at the age of 115, her caretaker told AFP.

Eunice Sanborn held the title of world's oldest person for less than three months after the death of Eugenie Blanchard, a nun from the French West Indies on November 4, 2010.

While an organization which tracks and verifies supercentenarians listed Sanborn's age as 114, her family claims the US Census Bureau erroneously recorded her birth year as 1896 rather than 1895.

Sanborn celebrated her 115th birthday on July 20.

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, she moved to Texas after her first husband, Joseph Orchin, died.

Although she never worked outside the home, Sanborn stayed busy with community activities her entire life. She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and sang in the choir there for many years.

Sanborn has credited her long life and good health to her belief in Jesus Christ and her salvation.

Her "adopted" son David French – a longtime friend of Sanborn who first met her when he was five years old – and his wife Rena provided 24-hour care for Sanborn so that she could remain in her home.

Rena French said Sanborn died at 6 a.m.

Besse Cooper of the US state of Georgia – born August 26, 1896 – is now the world's oldest woman, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Cooper was born Besse Brown in Sullivan County, Tennessee, the third of eight children. She graduated from East Tennessee Normal School and was a teacher in her native Tennessee before moving to Georgia.

She married Luther Cooper in 1924, and was widowed in 1963.

She has credited her longevity to minding her own business and not eating junk food. She lives in the Walton Regional Medical Center Nursing Home in Monroe, Georgia.

As of her 114th birthday, Cooper has 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

 


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