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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 10, 2011 Major News Stories

January 10, 2011 Major News Stories
January 10, 2011 Major News Stories


555 Nazarene devotees get first aid for minor injuries, health conditions

(UPDATE) The Philippine Red Cross has attended to 555 devotees who suffered minor injuries or inconveniences during the Black Nazarene procession from Rizal Park to Quiapo church.

81-year-old among injured in Black Nazarene feast

The Philippine Red Cross has tended to more injured devotees this year, including an 81-year-old man, Radyo Inquirer reported Sunday.

Released Marine captain joins Nazarene feast a free man

Rebel Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon joined this year's Black Nazarene procession on Sunday a free man.

Vendors accuse cops of extorting money during Black Nazarene feast

These men in uniform probably forgot what the event was all about.

Calamity damage could reach P1 billion: NDRRMC’s Ramos

DAMAGE FROM landslides and floods in Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao could reach P1 billion if heavy rains persist, a disaster management official said yesterday.

2 Eastern Samar towns cry for help from floods

Officials from the towns of Maslog and Jipapad, both in Eastern Samar, are calling for assistance as flood waters reaching as high as 12 feet have isolated their towns from the rest of the province, stranding hundreds of families.

Jipapad Mayor Delia Monleon said in a phone interview Sunday that all the 13 barangay (villages) in her town were flooded, with the four villages at the center of the town under 12 feet of water.

“We are in dire need of assistance. Our entire town has been flooded since Friday with flood waters reaching as high as 12 feet. Some of my people are staying on top of their houses just to avoid being swept by the flood waters,” Monleon said.

In Maslog, all its 12 villages have also been flooded brought about by days of non-stop rain, the town’s local operation officer, Kenneth Balase, said in a text message Saturday.

Balase said the over 800 affected families took temporary shelter in a military camp and at a multi-purpose farmers’ training center, both located on higher ground at the town proper.

Others chose to evacuate to hilly areas located just within the town center, he added.

“Our transportation is paralyzed due to the high water… only the roofs of some of the houses could be seen. We need assistance from outside,” Balase said.

Jipapad and Maslog are adjoining low-lying towns on Eastern Samar’s border with Northern Samar. The two towns are separated by a river from the provincial capital Borongan and could only be reached by boat, according to Monleon.

In Jipapad, families have been abandoning their houses since Friday to find safer ground. And most of them are now staying at the town’s church and at the municipal hall, said Mayor Monleon.

Both structures are located at an elevated portion of the town, according to Monleon.

The mayor said water has entered the ground floor of her two-story house located on a slightly elevated area.

But the mayor said her main concern has been to provide food assistance to the affected families.

Around 1,967 families or 9,835 persons in Jipapad have been displaced due to the flooding, she said.

Monleon said that their P500,000 calamity fund for the year has been consumed.

The provincial government headed by Gov. Conrado Nicart has sent P200,000 as assistance, which she said the municipal government would use to buy relief goods for the displaced families.

But even if Jipapad has gone under water, Monleon said not a single person has been reported missing or injured.

DA worried rains may have reduced crop production

The rains that submerged the eastern seaboard at the start of the year has affected some crops, officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said they have been receiving reports of flooded farmlands and delayed planting of certain crops in Visayas and Mindanao due to the heavy rains brought by the cold front that covered Mindanao and Visayas for weeks.

Alcala said the country's agricultural output would be hit by the severe rains but it was too early to tell if the damage was big enough to make a dent.

“There is always an effect. We just have to pray that it won't be a big effect,” he said.

National Food Administration chief Angelito Banayo said he received reports that planting of rice was delayed in some parts of northeastern Mindanao, which was badly hit by the rains and floods.

DA officials assured the public of enough supply of rice for Filipinos. Recently, the Philippine government signed a memorandum of agreement with Vietnam to buy rice from the latter.

Under the pact, the Philippines can buy as much as 1.5 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam annually for three years.

Gina Martin, administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration said there were delays in the harvest of sugar cane in Visayas and Mindanao, which has been accounting for the bulk of sugarcane production in the country.

She also expressed fears that the rains could affect the quality of the harvest. “It won't be as sweet,” Martin said in a phone interview.

Alcala said the DA has been coordinating with other government officials to mitigate the effects of severe weather on crops. “We are working with those who are experts on climate change. We cannot escape this,” he said.

The DA chief also noted that he has ordered local agriculture officials to distribute the planting of commodities to protect some crops from the ravages of weather in one region.

Northeast and central Mindanao, eastern Visayas, and the Bicol region have been getting heavier-than-usual rains since the start of the year.

According to the weather bureau, the severe weather was brought by the tail end of the cold front and aggravated by the La Niña weather phenomenon, which refers to the abnormal cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

La Nina's effects in the Philippines is the opposite that of the El Niño phenomenon, the warming of ocean temperatures, which the Philippines experienced in 2009.

In the Philippines, La Niña brings more rains and stronger storms than usual. The weather bureau said La Niña would likely peak in January to February and last until May. The country last experienced La Niña in 2007.

DA doubles import volume of rice traders to 440,000 MT

Rice traders may import up 440,000 metric tons of the commodity this year from 220,000 MT in 2010, the National Food Authority said during weekend.

VECO: Discount, subsidy both available for elderly

by By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/FPL

The Visayan Electric Company announces that qualified senior citizens can both enjoy the senior citizens discount as well as the lifeline subsidy discount.

VECO spokesperson Ethel Natera said that the lifeline subsidy discount will apply in the following manner;

For those consuming 0-20 kWh, the discount is 100%; 21-30 kWh, 65% discount; 31-40 kWh, 50% discount; 41-50 kWh, 40% discount; 51-60 kWh, 30% discount; 61-70 kWh, 20%; 71-80 kWh,15%; 81-90 kWh,10% and 91-100 kWh,5%.

On top of this subsidy senior citizens can avail of more discount starting this month as VECO also starts implementing the 5-percent discount as mandated under the Republic Act 9994 otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Section 4 (a) of the law grants five percent discount on the electricity consumption of senior citizens.

Section 5 (d) on the other hand grants at least 50% discount to qualified senior citizens center and residual care/group homes.

The senior citizen or his representative shall apply for the discount with VECO. There shall be an annual renewal of the application. The applicant must also submit documents as proof of age and citizenship, proof of billing and proof of residence.

VECO said that they will advise the public on further developments and the actual date that the discount will be given.

Complaints on non-payment of 13th month pay continue

The deadline for the mandatory payment of 13th month pay has lapsed two weeks ago, but the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) continues to receive complaints of non-compliance from workers all over the country, mostly in Metro Manila, Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in a news release.

Big investors not exempt from labor laws—labor chief

Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has rejected proposals that would exempt large-scale investors from complying with labor laws and standards, including minimum wages for workers.

1,555 OFWs repatriated in 2010 - govt data

Some 13,000 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in various countries were provided legal assistance and refuge by the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) last year, government records show.

Pa, 2 sons dead in septic tank suffocation

A father and his two sons died at dawn Sunday due to suffocation while manually extracting waste from a septic tank of a lodging house in Carcar City, 40 kilometers south of here.

The victims - Mario Nacua, 45, and his sons Marvin, 21, and Melvin 20, all from Sitio Tinaan (a settlement), Barangay (village) Valencia, Carcar City - were separately declared dead on arrival at the Carcar District Hospital from between 2:24 a.m. to almost 6 a.m. on Sunday, said SPO1 Melito Agadier Jr., desk officer of the Carcar City Police Office.

Their cousin Romnick Alibango, who was also working with the Nacuas, was spared as he did not enter the septic tank for the cleanup activity, according to Mario’s sister-in-law Chille Tangaro.

Agadier said the Nacuas were cleaning the septic tank of Traveler’s Inn, located in sitio Tangasan, Valladolid, Carcar, in the early hours of Sunday when they fainted, said Tangaro.

Personnel from the city’s fire department rushed to rescue the Nacuas after the police got the report about the incident at 2 a.m. but the three were already unresponsive when they were fished out from the septic tank, according to Agadier.

Based on the record of the Carcar District Hospital, Mario was declared dead on arrival (DOA) at 2:24 a.m., then Melvin and Marvin were also declared DOA at 5:40 a.m. and 5:46 a.m. respectively.

Agadier said they were still investigating why the three got suffocated and if they had adequate protection from the toxic fumes coming from the septic tank.

Agadier said the Nacuas were hired by a Henie Fernandez, the owner of the inn, to clean up their septic tank.

Agadier said some witnesses claimed that the father, Mario, was the first one to enter the septic tank. When the two sons noticed that something had happened to their father, they also went inside the septic tank.

“They could have been suffocated by the methane gas (coming from the septic tank),” Agadier said.

Tangaro, the sister of Mario’s wife Berna, said her brother-in-law and two nephews had been doing septic tank clean-up services for three to four years now.

She said her brother-in-law was usually the one who would go to establishments and houses in the city offering his service to clean up septic tanks.

Tangaro said the Nacuas and their cousin Alibango started the cleanup operation at the inn at about 9 p.m. on Saturday.

Village chiefs gripe over Cedula issuance policy

by By Garry B. Lao/FPL

The barangay captains are up against the new policy implemented by the City Treasurer’s Office stripping them off the authority to collect community taxes from the business establishments in their respective barangay.

Association of Barangay Councils vice president Manuel Guanzon said some of his colleagues are complaining that City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva is not allowing the barangay to issue Community Tax Certificates to business establishments.

Guanzon, Captain of Barangay Capitol Site, shared the sentiments of the other barangay captains because his barangay was also affected by the new policy.

Guanzon pointed out that the issuance of CTC or cedula helps increase the income of the barangays.

Section 164 of the Local Government Code allows the barangay treasurers to issue community tax certificates. Cedula is a form of tax paid to the local government unit for being a member of the community. It is collectible by the city or municipality treasurer who can deputize the barangay treasurers in the collection thereof in their respective territorial jurisdiction.

But what happened, according to the barangay captains, Oliva deprived them from collecting taxes to business establishments.

Guanzon said Oliva deprived the barangays of their income. According to him, his barangay was even ordered by Oliva to explain for issuing cedula to the employees of Rajah Park Hotel, which belongs to the area of Capitol Site.

The cedula is required before a barangay clearance could be issued to a business owner.

Oliva, however, said the law is very clear “only cities or municipalities are allowed to issue CTC as provided in Section 164 (b).”

Oliva agreed that the city treasurer may deputize barangay treasurers to collect community tax, provided that barangay treasurers are bonded as mandated under the existing law.

“The deputation is discretionary on the part of the city treasurer and the bond relative to his or her (barangay treasurer) deputation to collect is separate and distinct from whatever bond he or she has already posted as barangay treasurer,” Oliva said.

But the barangay captains refuse to believe Oliva. They want to meet Mayor Michael Rama today and seek the opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government to find out whether the action of Oliva is legal.

Malicious prosecution

by By Gregg M. Rubio/JMO

Prosecutors have directed self-styled whistleblower Crisologo Saavedra to submit a counter-affidavit on the malicious prosecution case filed against him by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

The subpoena dated January 5, 2011 was signed by Prosecutors Rhodna Alcala-Bacatan, Anna Lou Fernandez Cavada and Maria Theresa Calibugan-Casiño.

Saavedra said he received the subpoena last Saturday and he has 10 days to controvert the evidence presented by the governor.

The case Garcia filed against Saavedra is her answer to the plunder case Saavedra filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly accumulating ill-gotten wealth amounting to P50 million.

Garcia said she filed the case to protect her family, particularly her children and grandchildren, but Saavedra had insisted he was not exactly accusing the governor of plunder, but was just requesting the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate her.

Garcia, in her affidavit, said Saavedra’s intention in filing a case was to damage her name, goodwill and reputation as governor.

Saavedra filed the case against Garcia last December 8.

Brgys. hiding defective plans: Tomas

by cebuweb

REP. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) believes the barangay infrastructure projects in his district have plans.

But the village officials are hiding them because these are flawed and can be used as evidence in a graft case, he said, following reports that some P38 million in projects in the south district were implemented even without a plan.

“I believe there is a plan and they are hiding it because the project was substandard and the plan will be evidence of graft,” he said.

Mayor, 9 others probed over lack of project bidding

by cebuweb

PROJECTS done allegedly without competitive biddings or the council’s authority in 2005 led to administrative complaints against Moalboal Mayor Inocentes Cabaron, Vice Mayor Nelson Abenido, six town councilors and two municipal hall officials.

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas docketed for fact-finding the complaints Wilfredo Lagarte filed against Cabaron, Abenido and other town officials.

Graft investigator Euphemia Bacalso said the ombudsman needs additional facts and evidence to “extensively address” the issues involving the bidding procedures and acquisition of heavy equipment.

Auditors find out Tabogon town spent beyond personnel expenses ceiling

by cebuweb

TABOGON town spent P1.078 million in extra cash gifts to officials and employees, even though the amount exceeded the 45 percent ceiling on personal services set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), state auditors said.

The town, noted the 2009 Commission on Audit (COA) report, also violated a DBM budget circular when it used the retained earnings from its 2008 budget for the incentives, amounting to P396,000, it granted to officials and employees.

Colorful props, craftmanship win top prize for Abella NS

by cebuweb

THEY were the crowd favorite. The colorful production and the craftsmanship of the props of the Abellana National High School drew a resounding applause from the estimated 30,000 crowd who watched the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Dakbayan yesterday.

The performance of the Abellana dancers was the best performance among the eight participants in the high school category and they were adjudged winners in the competition.

Abellana was joined by the Talamban Elementary School, who won for the first time as the best contingent for the elementary level. The Talamban contingent defeated 10 other participants.

In an interview, Talamban’s choreographer Emerito Custodio said their efforts and

sacrifices paid off.

“I am really very happy because we sacrificed so much. We were hesitant to join because we had problems with budget, but we put our trust in Senyor Sto. Niño,” he said.

Custodio said just so they can raise the fund needed for their production, which is pegged at P500,000, they went caroling in their barangay last Christmas.

“We went caroling just so we could join. We have sacrificed a lot that’s why I am very emotional right now,” he said.

Walter Pepito, choreographer of the Abellana dancers, said he felt happy and proud after their group won for the second time the top posts of the competition for the

high school category.

He said his 100 dancers sacrificed their Christmas vacation just to perfect their dance routine.

The Abellana dancers, who were clad in blue and white Latin costumes, together with their big production and colorful props, not only wowed the crowd but also the judges.

The Talamban, contingent on the other hand, got the nod of the judges after

incorporating a modern beat in the traditional Sinulog beat.

Jener Caringal, who is the chairman of the board of judges, did not hide his amazement over the performance of both Talamban and Abellana contingents.

“Their production is really very good and they presented a well-versed number. You can see that everybody was working together and they danced as one. The quality of the presentation that the judges are looking for has been met,” he said.

Caringal, who has been judging the Sinulog sa Kabataan for the past 10 years, said the standard of the presentations of the contingents every year is getting higher.

“Sinulog really has the highest standard of all the festivals in the country,” he said.

Aside from winning the top purse of P150,000, both Talamban and Abellana get another P20,000 for winning the best in costume and another P20,000 for the best in musicality award.

After their victory, Abellana and Talamban will join the Sinulog grand parade on Jan. 16.

Other winners during yesterday’s competition for the high school level are the Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorial National High School (2nd place), Apas National High School (3rd place), Tisa Night High School (4th place) and Pardo Night High School (5th place).

For the elementary level, other winners include Mabolo Elementary School (2nd place), Tejero Elementary School (3rd place), Pardo Elementary School (4th place) and City Central Elementary School (5th place).

‘Unconventional’ Landonian performers absent from parade, but hope for revival

by cebuweb

THE drums have been silenced for the Landonian Tribe.

“It’s hard to join the Sinulog without sponsors,” said the tribe’s founder, Reynold “Oloy” Mijares.

The Landonian Tribe danced for the last time three years ago, he said.

It was in 1981 when Mijares formed the legendary group.

One week before the Sinulog, Mijares went to the City Hall after being asked to process a business permit.

Fluvial parade off-limits to unregistered vessels

by cebuweb

CEBU Coast Guard (CG) authorities will strictly enforce the ban on unregistered motor bancas in this year’s Sinulog fluvial parade for the safety and security of the participants.

“We are encouraging the participants to register their vessels or else they will be excluded from joining the fluvial parade,” said Commander Rolando Lizor Punzalan, Cebu CG station chief.

The Cebu CG has started accepting the registration of vessels and, initially, 12 had already registered as of last week.

The deadline of registration will be on Thursday at 10 a.m.

To prevent further traffic woes Rama: No discos in parking areas

by By Rene U. Borromeo

Learning from what happened in the past years, Mayor Michael Rama has turned down requests of several businessmen seeking permission to allow them to hold disco events at the spaces intended for the parking area of vehicles of their customers.

Bizmen urged: Help maintain cleanliness

by By Rene U. Borromeo/FPL

Cebu City Councilor Edgardo Labella has urged the business community to help maintain the cleanliness of the city in this time of the Sinulog Festivities.

Cerge’s widow to honor hubby by joining fest

by cebuweb

THE widow of the late press secretary Cerge Remonde hopes to continue her husband’s tradition of attending the annual foot procession for the Santo Niño on Jan. 16.

For Marit Stimus- Remonde, this year would be her first time to join the annual procession in honor of the Child Jesus.

She told Sun.Star Cebu she was not very devoted to the religious activities unlike her late husband who was always present for the last 27 years until before he died last year.

“I admit I never attended or even joined any of the religious activities, but for this year, I feel that I must,” said Marit.

City Hall pursues deal before cardinal retires

by cebuweb

BEFORE Cebu Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal retires, the Cebu City Council wants to exchange a property in Pasil with the Osmeña Mausoleum owned by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cebu (RCAC).

The Cebu City Government will give up a 729-square meter property in Pasil, which is leased to the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. but subleased to the Sisters of Charity.

In exchange, the City will get Osmeña Mausoleum, which City Hall believes is of historical value.

The mausoleum is the resting place of the late senator Sergio Osmeña Jr., father of Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) and the late first lady Estefania “Doña Pepang” Veloso Osmeña, wife of the late president and Cebu’s “grand old man” Sergio Osmeña Sr.

Former Cebu City councilor Rogelio “Jingjing” Osmeña Jr. was also laid to rest at the mausoleum.

“The Osmeña Mausoleum is of historical importance to the City of Cebu,” the draft memorandum of agreement (MOA) read.

On the part of the RCAC, “The Sisters of Charity is worried that someday, when the contract (with RAFI) ends, they will be ejected from the place, thus, hampering one of the objectives of the Roman Catholic Church, which is to serve the poor.”

The Osmeña Mausoleum covers 9,282 square meters, appraised by the City Appraisal Committee at P11,450 per square meters.

The Pasil property was only appraised at P3,200 per square meters.

Both parties already agreed that since the mausoleum is of greater value, the City will pay RCAC P5 million. It will not be paid in cash but it will be deducted in the tax payments of the RCAC’s real properties for five years, starting in 2010.

While Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young does not have a formal objection to the MOA, he wondered why Pasil was only appraised at P3,200 per square meter when it is a prime commercial area.

Councilor Jose Daluz III, the sponsor of the resolution, said that appraisal was based on the Bureau of Internal Revenue taxes and fair market value.

Poblete tries to ease CH officials’ worries on talks

by cebuweb

CEBU City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete said he is only a messenger and not a negotiator.

So, there is no reason for the informal settlers of 11 barangays affected by Provincial Ordinance 93-1 and the councilors who belong to the technical working group (TWG) to worry because it is still a long process, he said.

Poblete told Sun.Star Cebu that as of now, he will still be answerable to the mayor because that was the order he received when tasked to meet with Capitol consultant on information and revenue generation Rory Jon Sepulveda last Friday.

Female brgy chief "serves term" in jail

by By Gregg M. Rubio/WAB

A female barangay captain in Tuburan town is serving her second term of office while in jail.

Sumon barangay captain Norma Borlas was reelected during the October 25, 2010 barangay election without having launched a campaign. Immediately after she filed her certificate of candidacy at the office of the Commission on Elections in Tuburan, police arrested Borlas by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City.

Borlas was charged for robbery in band and multiple murder after she was implicated in the death of four army personnel in her barangay. Five army personnel used the barangay hall as their detachment when members of the New People’s Army attacked them few years ago.

Borlas was accused of conniving with the NPA rebels.

The Department of Interior and Local Government however recognizes Borlas as the duly elected barangay captain.

DILG-7 director Pedro Noval told The FREEMAN that Borlas is not yet convicted and she will undergo due process.

But Noval said she cannot perform her official duties and functions as the cases are not bailable.

She cannot also receive her benefits and honorarium from the barangay.

Borlas was able to take her oath before Cebu third district Rep. Pabo John Garcia in a ceremony held at Lantawan Resort in Tuburan along with 13 other barangay captains. The court allowed Borlas to get out of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center for one day just to take her oath.

With Aquino’s ‘no-reelection’ pledge, Cha-cha should be revived, says lawmaker

With the pronouncement of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino not to run for any elective position after the end of his term in 2016, possible constitutional amendments should now be discussed, said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

Aquino’s vow not to seek re-election good news, say senators

President Aquino's vow not to run for any public office after June 2016 is good news for Filipinos hoping for an honest-to-goodness governance and for other presidential aspirants as well, according to senators.

US court forfeits $100K seized from Garcia sons, PHL loses claim

A United States court on Friday (US time) forfeited the $100,000 (about P4.4 million) seized seven years ago from the two sons of former military comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is facing plunder and money laundering and other charges in the Philippines.

SC: Human Security Act stays


MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the Human Security Act of 2007.

Davao City vice mayor seeks ouster of regional police chief over rebel’s arrest

An incensed Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has accused the local police of derailing the prospects of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)—the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines—and the Aquino government

He also warned that he would no longer get himself involved in any negotiations for the release of any police and military officer to be taken as prisoner of war by the New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas.

Duterte was reacting to the arrest of NPA member Edwin Brigano in Toril district here on New Year’s Day, while the truce between the communist movement and the government was still in effect.

Duterte said that when Brigano was arrested, Chief Superintendent Pedro Tango, regional police chief, was “apparently not using that gray thing in between his ears.”

“This is what hubris can do. There are generals who are smart and there are those who do not use that thing in between their ears. Apparently, Tango was not using the gray matter between his ears,” the vice mayor said during his Sunday television program.

“I will have to resort to asking for his ouster or withdraw support that is being given by the city. You can still ask City Hall to give you support but remember that anything like that has to pass through the city council. Next budget around, there will be no more for the PNP,” he said, adding that the city has been providing the regional command with fuel and other provisions for their operations.

“If you can operate independently from the civilian sector, then go ahead. But don’t expect anything from us. And because that is how you conduct yourself, if you don’t respect, then I show you no respect, too,” he said.

Before Christmas, Duterte and his daughter, Mayor Inday Sara, publicly invited NPA rebels to go down from the countryside and enjoy spending time with their families. Both assured their security even as the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a truce.

But Supt. Querubin Manalang, spokesman of the police in the region, said the police remained duty-bound to arrest those with pending arrest warrants during the truce. This was also the statement of the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But Duterte said Manalang’s statements revealed “Tango’s state of mind and attitude.”

The arrest of Brigano, he said, was ultimately disrespectful of President Aquino, who has been struggling to build confidence with the communist movement.

“I am short of accusing him (Tango) of derailing the talks. They were at the beginning in bad faith already. The spirit of the offer was for us to connect with them, and to build goodwill,” he said.

“If this issue would create a bigger issue in the peace talks, then I would demand (Tango’s ouster)…you should go if you are incompetent and you don’t know what you are doing for this country,” he said, adding later that he was certain that the NDFP would raise the issue at the negotiating table.

If the police were really resolute in arresting Brigona, they could have just waited until the truce ended, said Duterte.

“And there was a truce. And he was in the city because he was sick and was to get medication— just like that sick soldier who was also captured by the NPA but was released… But you wanted to make a statement, apparently Tango and company, even during the truce,” Duterte said.

He also doubted the robbery and homicide cases filed in an Agusan del Sur court against the rebel.

Manalang, however, defended the arrest of Brigano even as he stressed that the arrest was not conducted by the police regional command but by the Criminal Investigation and Detection and Group and the Special Action Battalion of the Police—both of which, Manalang said, the police regional command did not have control of.

“The police did not violate anything with the arrest. The order to suspend all police operations against the communists during Christmas states that regular law-enforcement operations will not be stopped by the truce,” he said.

He also stressed that the arrest was not based on the order of his superior, Tango.

“He doesn’t have anything to do with it. He also did not know anything about the arrest. We only learned about it after the arrest was done. There was no prior coordination with us. We only had after the operations,” Manalang said.

Asked to comment on the statement of Duterte, Manalang said: “We no longer wish to magnify or make an issue out of this…baka magka-iritahan pa lalo (the tensions might worsen).”

The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to get the side of Tango but he was not responding to its calls.

NPA rebels kill village leader in Davao


MANILA, Philippines – Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels killed a village chairman, held his wife hostage, and left 3 soldiers injured in an attack in Malita town in Davao del Sur on Saturday, the military said.

Around 30 communist rebels first abducted Susan Danwata, 52, wife of village chieftain Ramon Danwata, around 9 a.m. in Datu Danwata village, said Lieutenant Colonel Medel Aguilar, spokesman of the Army's 10th Infantry Division.

The rebels, belonging to the NPA's Guerilla Front 71, then took their hostage to the couple's house and called on the village official to come out.

"Barangay Captain Danwata, a staunch supporter of the government's peace and development program came out, but was peppered with bullets by his wife's hostage takers and died instantly," Aguilar said.

The guerrillas released the woman later.

Aguilar said responding troops from the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion were ambushed later by the rebels at the nearby village of Bolila.

Three soldiers, who were injured in the attack, are now recuperating at the Camp Panacan Station Hospital in Davao City.

Davao del Sur police chief Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa, meanwhile, claimed that around 180 rebels attacked the house of the village chief.

He did not mention of the supposed abduction of the victim’s wife.

Citing an initial investigation, dela Rosa said that the rebels, upon approaching the house of the village chairman, opened fired at a police volunteer "who was able to run for his life,” leaving the barangay captain alone in his house.

The barangay official "tried to repulse the attack by returning fire but he was outnumbered and eventually killed” by the rebels led by certain Commanders Waren, Yoyong, Brigol, Jay-R, Vivian and Bryan, according to police.

Dela Rosa said the soldiers were ambushed at Bolila village around 12:30 p.m. also on Saturday, while responding to the incident.

He named the injured soldiers as a Sargeant Lazona, a Private First Class (Pfc.) Antiveros, and a Pfc. Tamba.

Dela Rosa said murder charge is being readied against the rebels while forces from the 39th Infantry Battalion are conducting pursuit operations.

He said 2 police teams are on standby for possible support to the soldiers.

2 suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists killed in Basilan


BASILAN, Philippines - Two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group died while another was wounded following a clash with government troops near Tipo-tipo town in Basilan on Sunday, the military said.

PH unlikely to meet its education targets—US report

Washington believes the Philippines is "unlikely" to meet its second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) or achieving universal primary education by 2015, according to a report of the US embassy in Manila furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

DFA exec belies rumors of Romulo's exit

Rumors abound at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in Pasay City that Secretary Alberto Romulo will finally make his exit, but a department official has branded the report as "pure intrigue."

Filipino Veterans Fairness bill filed at US Congress

A United States lawmaker filed on Thursday (US time) a bill that seeks to make all Filipino veterans of World War II eligible for the same benefits that other US veterans receive.

Vehicle sales improved by 27% in 2010

Sales of motor vehicles increased 27.2 percent in 2010 to 168,490 units, demolishing the previously set record of 162,000 units in sales in 1996 and giving the industry reason to be bullish in 2011.

CA orders Piatco to answer BIR petition


MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has acknowledged a petition filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) seeking to compel the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco), builder of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, to pay the government some P1 billion in taxes for its importation of construction materials in building the facility.

70 dead in Iran Air plane crash—state media

TEHRAN—(UPDATE) At least 70 people were killed in the crash of an Iran Air plane near a northwestern Iranian city on Sunday, a senior official with the Iranian Red Crescent told state news agency IRNA.

50 out of 105 survive Iran Air crash—report

TEHRAN—Fifty from the 105 passengers and crew on board an Iran Air plane which crashed in bad weather on Sunday survived the accident, Iran's emergency services chief and media said.

Sri Lanka floods kill two, 600,000 homeless

Two children were buried alive in mudslides on Sunday in Sri Lanka where more than 600,000 people have been driven out of their homes by floods, officials said.

US congresswoman still sedated after gunman's attack

TUCSON, Ariz. - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remained heavily sedated and in critical condition Sunday as investigators sought to understand what motivated a gunman to carry out an assassination attempt on the Democratic lawmaker in a rampage that killed six people.

30,000 Thai 'Red Shirts' rally in Bangkok – police

About 30,000 Thai "Red Shirts" gathered in Bangkok on Sunday, in their biggest show of strength since a deadly military crackdown on their mass anti-government protest last year, police said.

S. Korea to relaunch tourism near border with North

South Korea said Sunday it would reopen tourist areas near the border with North Korea as tension sparked by the North's deadly shelling of a frontier island in November shows signs of easing.

S. Korea battles renewed spread of bird flu, foot-and-mouth

South Korea confirmed three new cases of bird flu on Sunday as the outbreak that began last month further hits farmers who are also battling the nation's worst-ever outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Unemployed Saudi teachers stage rare Riyadh protest

by Reuters

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A group of 250 unemployed Saudi university graduates staged a rare protest in the capital Riyadh, and the group's spokesman vowed on Sunday to keep up the demonstrations till the Gulf Arab state creates jobs for them.

Irish man killed in dog attack in Malaysia

A 50-year-old Irish man has died after being mauled by two dogs at a farm on Malaysia's Penang island, police said Sunday.

Tabal nabs 2nd spot in Cebu marathon

by cebuweb

THE elite Filipino runners in the 42K category of the Cebu City Marathon showed no signs of intimidation from the presence of four Kenyans who run the race.

Monaliza Ambasa and Anthony Nerza were the best Filipino finishers of this year’s marathon.

Ambasa finished in 3:14 to conquer the women’s division in spite of cramps that slowed her down in the last five kilometers.

The serial marathoner from Davao defeated Cebu’s own Mary Joy Tabal (3:15) and Kenyan Susan Jemutai (3:16). Only a minute separated the three runners.

Jemutai, who was the second placer of the Milo Marathon, led during the first 28 kilometers of the race before Ambasa and Tabal took their chance and overtook her in the last 10 kilometers.

The two runners went head to head in the last seven kilometers until Tabal experienced cramps in the last two kilometers, giving Ambasa the opportunity to take the lead.

Tabal, first registered in the 21k decided to upgrade to 42k after ranking third in the Milo Marathon last month. The CCM was just her second marathon.

She admitted that compared to the Milo Marathon, the CCM route had a number of uphill stages.

After experiencing an unexpected muscle spasm in SRP that almost made her give up the race, Tabal was inspired by the cheerers who encouraged her to continue.

Accoridng to Tabal, the overwhelming response from supporters showed that there’s no better place than racing in one’s turf.

Ambasa, 27 years old, and making her first appearance in the Cebu City Marathon, trained twice a week after finishing fourth in Milo Marathon last year.

The rest of the top 10 runners, in order, were Madelyn Carter, Mari Kauri, Lorhiz Echavez, Merlita Dunkin, Emily Rosas, Ma. Milagros Tanudtan, Olivia Rosita Dimaan.

Meanwhile, Kenyans dominated the men’s division, taking the top two spots. However, the best Filipino, Anthony Nerza, believes he can do better.

Nerza (2:39), a 21-year-old runner from Davao, who placed fourth, only had a 10-second lead over Frontrunner’s Chris Sabal.

Kenyans Benjamin Kipkazi, Philip Ronoh and Abraham Missos took the top spots.

Kipkazi, the first to cross the finish line in 2:35, was running in the country for the first time.

Meanwhile, Nerza admitted he was not able to train properly after being worn out from the last Milo Marathon, when he ranked fifth in 2:31.

Aside from the lack of training, he also suffered from cramps in the last four kilometers of the race.

“Kaya ra man tong mga Kenyans kay ang akong time sa Milo kay mas paspas sa time sa nakadaog ron, wala lang gyud koy training,” he said.

Others who made the top 10 in the men’s division were Kenyan Eliud Kiprugut Rering, Leo Colonia, Joselito Dugos, Dandy Maturan and Noel Tillor.

Delos Santos, Bernido win 21K

by cebuweb

THERE was a bit of confusion about her time but when the dust settled, Cebu’s Marathon Queen, Mary Grace Delos Santos, prevailed in the 21K run of the Cebu City Marathon yesterday at the IT Park.

After some clarification, it was found out that Delos Santos finished in 1:31.20. It was still enough for her to hold on to the top spot of the women’s division, which saw Christy Sevilleno Tutor coming in second place at 1:35.18.

Jojilyn Pepito was at third place, while Joeyry Lee and Milette Chiongbian took the fifth and fourth places, respectively.

Ian Bernido, topped the men’s division, edging out Kenyan Willy Kipkemoi Rotilia and Adonis Singson. Bernido clocked in 1:13.57, while the Kenyan posted 1:14.11. Singson had 1:14.17. Mendel Lopez and Jobert Carolino completed the top five.

Nursing an injured leg, Delos Santos still showed her dominance but admitted that she struggled in the last three kilometers.

“Naglisud ko in the last 3K because of the injury,” Delos Santos said.

Bernido, who banners Southwestern University, said he got away from the pack at the tunnel and managed to build a huge lead which he kept until the finish.

The 5K winners were Crizel Diongson and Joel Delposo.

Pacquiao: 'No easy fight for me'


MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao addressed an unnamed critic who has been purportedly asking the public to shun his next fights.

Filipino Cuambot loses WBC title bid to undefeated Thai

Remy Cuambot blew his bid to win the WBC International minimumweight silver title, losing by technical decision to Thailand’s undefeated Wanheng Menayothin at the Central Stadium in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, recently.

B-Meg Derby Ace beats Talk N Text

Almost but not quite. As the defending champion B-Meg Derby Ace held on to again pull even in their best-of-seven semi-finals series against Talk N Text following a game 4 squeaker, 98-93 at the Araneta Coliseum.

PBA: Ginebra spills SMB in Game 3 to stay alive

Its back against the wall, Barangay Ginebra summoned an inner strength it has always been known for - never-say-die. Mark Caguioa and Rudy Hatfield responded to the challenge as they sparked the Gin Kings' 95-78 win over San Miguel Beer in Game Three of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semis series at the Big Dome Sunday.

PFF approves hiring of German coach for Azkals

The appointment of German coach Hans Michael Weiss as coach of the national team has the full backing of the Philippine Football Federation.

Gomez places 3rd in Vietnam Chess tourney


MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Grandmaster (GM) John Paul Gomez settled for 3rd place at the conclusion of the 1st HD Bank Chess Championships, Sunday, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

P400M not enough to fund NSA programs

by By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The P400 million which the Philippine Sports Commission plans to spend for the plans and programs of the different national sports associations (NSAs) this year certainly won’t do.

Spanish TV pulls plug on bullfighting

MADRID—Spain's public broadcaster said Sunday it would no longer show live bullfighting because it is too violent for children, marking a fresh blow for the centuries-old sport.

2010 MMFF's total earnings hit record high


MANILA, Philippines – The gross sales from the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival surged to a record high of P530 million, beating the film fest’s 2009 ticket sales of P437 million, an MMFF official said Sunday.

Sharon's kids affected by reunion movie with Gabby?


MANILA, Philippines – Megastar Sharon Cuneta has belied rumors that her children with her  second husband, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, were affected by her impending reunion project with former husband Gabby Concepcion.

Bangladesh school suspends students for trimming beards

The headmaster of an Islamic school in Bangladesh said Sunday that he had banned 15 teenage students from attending lessons after they trimmed their beards.

Mohammad Mudesser Hussain said the pupils were told to grow beards two inches (five centimeters) long before returning to study at the Tahfizul Quranul Karim Fazil Madrassa near the capital Dhaka.

"We called their guardians and told them their boys have trimmed their beards, which is against the uniform rules of the madrassa. They have been told to stay out of the madrassa until they sport beards again," he told AFP.

Many Islamic teachers disapprove of shaving, and Hussain said it was against the founding principles of his madrassa.

One of the expelled students told AFP that dozens of students who were boarding in the school's dormitories had been thrown off the campus.

"The principal and several teachers summoned us and instantly ordered us out," the 17-year-old told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Nearly three million, mostly poor, pupils attend thousands of state-sponsored madrassas in Bangladesh, accounting for 10 percent of the country's student population.

A further two million students attend unrecognized religious schools.

Record-low Taiwan births alarm leader

Taiwan's birth rate hit a record low in 2010, the government said Sunday, as President Ma Ying-jeou ordered "national security-level" counter-measures to address the issue.

The crude birth rate, based on the number of childbirths per 1,000 people each year, came in at 0.721 percent in 2010, compared with 0.829 percent the previous year, according to data posted on the interior ministry website.

The number of newly born babies also struck a record low of 166,886 last year, down from 191,310 of 2009, it said.

Interior ministry officials said some parents were anxious to avoid having children in 2010, which in Chinese tradition was the Year of the Tiger, deemed one of the fiercest astrological signs.

Meanwhile, the number of people aged 65 and over accounted for 10.74 percent of the island's more than 23 million population, above the 7.0 percent level at which a society is defined as "ageing" by the World Health Organisation, the ministry said.

The new numbers alarmed Ma when he was given a preview of them by Interior Minister Chiang Yi-hua earlier this week, local media reported.

"President Ma said the government must not sit idle and demanded that 'national security-level' measures be taken," the minister said.

Taiwan's authorities have offered incentives to try to boost birth rates, amid growing concerns that a severe manpower shortage will trigger serious social and economic problems.

The Council for Economic Planning and Development, Taiwan's top economic planning body, is proposing an annual budget of Tw$38 billion ($1.3 billion) for birth incentives and childcare support from 2012, local media said.

Under the plan, parents will be entitled to a minimum monthly subsidy of Tw$3,000 for each newborn up until two years old and an annual schooling stipend of Tw$30,000 for children aged two to six.

The government hopes to encourage the public to have more children during the Year of the Dragon in 2012, which is considered the most auspicious year in the Chinese zodiac and a favourite birth sign for children, the media said.


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