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

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 17, 2011 Major News Stories

January 17, 2011 Major News Stories
January 17, 2011 Major News Stories


Tangub performers set record for most wins

by cebuweb

TRIBU Sinanduloy of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental now holds the record for the contingent with the most wins in the annual Sinulog parade.

They successfully defended yesterday their title as the best contingent in the Sinulog-based category. They also won the best in musicality award.

Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate earned their second win in the Sinulog free interpretation category.

Out-of-town contingents won four of the 10 top prizes in the two categories.

Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros said the grand parade was a “showcase of excellence.”

“Even if the weather was erratic, they performed very well,” he said.

The Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe won their ninth trophy in the Sinulog-based category since they joined the Sinulog grand parade in 1994.

Nestor Jarden, chairman of the board of judges for the category, said the performance of the Tangub contingent was perfect.

“I admire their precision dancing. Their performance is simple, but a classy and polished production. The choreography is not complicated and relied on varied formations,” he said.

The Tangub dancers, clad in golden yellow Filipiniana and white and gold Barong Tagalog, showcased the different images of the Sto. Niño.

Aside from winning the Sinulog-based competition, Tangub also won the top purse in the street dancing category.

Lord Vergara, chairman of the board of judges for the street dancing category, said their decision was unanimous for Tangub.

“Tangub has mastered the art of space and the most important thing is they did not treat the Sto. Niño as a prop. Ever since, Tangub has venerated the Sto. Niño and meron silang galaw na distinct sa Sinanduloy (they have some distinct moves),” he said.

In the free interpretation category, the Placer contingent wowed the judges with their violet costumes, huge props and cut-outs of the Sto. Niño, and their fast-paced movements.

“It was a fantastic showcase of skills and creativity. They have perfected the interpretation of Sinulog and their total production is at the highest level of performance,” said Josefina Guillen, chairman of the board of judges for the category.

Guillen said Placer showed its passion for dancing and the passion to live for the Sto. Niño, and that she has high hopes for an even better production next year.

Aside from winning the free interpretation category, Placer also won the best in

musicality prize.

Other winners of the free interpretation category are Tribu Buyoganon from Abuyog, Leyte (second), Tribu Mabolokon of Mabolo Elementary School (third), Tribu Kandaya of Daanbantayan (fourth place) and Talamban Elementary School (fifth place).

Other winners in the Sinulog-based category are Abellana National School (second), Carcar (third), Bayawan City (fourth) and Cebu City Central School (fifth).

The grand parade ended with a Chinese-themed performance and a 20-minute fireworks display.

Rep. Rachel del Mar (Cebu City, north district), who portrayed a Chinese imperial princess, danced with the dancers from the different universities in the city that included the University of Visayas (UV), University of Cebu (UC) and the University of San Jose-Recoletos dance troupes.

The grand finale showcased different Chinese songs and dances.

Rainy Sinulog attracts 3.5M

by dr_tangarorang

CEBU CITY -- A late start stretched the parade until 9 p.m. and heavy rains soaked dancers and left puddles, but these failed to keep some 3.5 million revelers from joining Sunday’s Sinulog festivities.

President Benigno Aquino III, on his first Sinulog, commended organizers and participants for the “distinctly Cebuano” festival.

“My Cebuano friends told me to say this: hinaut unta nga makakita kita’g hinigugma diha sa Sugbo (I hope to find someone to love in Cebu),” Aquino said, making the audience at the Cebu City Sports Complex laugh.

But the President said he is already in love with Cebu because Cebuanos can throw a good party like the Sinulog. He also asked for prayers to help those displaced by persistent rains.

“Let us pray to the Sto. Niño to protect our country from disasters,” said President Aquino, noting the three decades of success of the Sinulog, which is based on a religious belief made into a cultural practice.

Despite the rain, a top police official said the Sinulog festival and the pontifical mass that preceded it at the Basilica del Sto. Niño were “peaceful and successful.”

“Walang gulo na nangyari (There was no trouble),” said Chief Supt. Ager Ontog, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas.

About 3.5 million people flocked to the Cebu City Sports Center and along the parade route that included Gen. Maxilom Ave. and Osmeña Blvd., said Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Ramon Melvin Buenafe.

He said they beefed up their security by deploying over 3,000 police personnel, who were backed by the military, students and civilian volunteers.


Asked for his overall assessment of Sunday’s event, Buenafe said the activity was “very peaceful.”

“We provided a task force for every sector. We have also deployed uniformed men along with others in plain clothes, as well as some people for crowd control, traffic and route security and an ample reserve force para makadugang sa mga nagkinhanglan (to be deployed as needed),” he said.

Ontog, who saw the Sinulog for the first time, said their security preparations were “executed with precision” and they did not have a hard time securing President Aquino.

As of 7:45 p.m., Cebu City Traffic Group recorded at least 26 vehicular accidents.

But there were no deaths reported, said traffic investigator Police Officer 2 Marlon Abella in a phone interview.

Policemen from the CCPO, on the other hand, confiscated two high-powered firearms from an uptown hotel in Cebu City.

Buenafe told reporters the M16 and M14 rifles allegedly belong to a policeman visiting from another province. He said they still have to confirm the identity of the owner, who may be charged with violating the special gun ban, which will last until Friday.

Buenafe said there were no other major incidents that occurred during the Sinulog, which Ontog considers “the most organized and biggest” festival in the country.

The parade started around 10:30 a.m., about 90 minutes later than its previous starts.

Rain delay

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he went around the city at 5 a.m. and saw that because of the rain, not even 10 percent of the contingents have gathered on the carousel route.

In previous years, at least 10 percent of the contingents have already assembled by 6 a.m.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma also celebrated mass around 8:30 a.m. at the sports complex, shortly after his first pontifical mass at the Basilica.

During his visit, President Aquino saw three performances and went out for a chat with some local officials and former vice presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

The three performances witnessed by the President were the Cebu City Government, Cebu Provincial Government and the Tribu Mandauehanon.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia was the lead dancer of Sibonga’s Bonga Festival that represented the Province of Cebu. Garcia went up to meet the President after her performance.

The governor later said this was the first Sinulog that she felt real unity between the Cebu City Government and the Provincial Government.


With the President, Rama said he talked about the chairmanship of the Regional Development Council, for which he was nominated along with Governor Garcia.

Rama opened it up because of the recent death of another nominee, the late Negros Oriental Governor Agustin Perdices.

Rama said Aquino will talk to Roxas, his Liberal Party ally, about it.

Other politicians that dropped by the grandstand to see the Sinulog were Senators Miguel Zubiri, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.; and Revilla’s wife Lani Mercado, a congresswoman.

As expected, traffic was heavier than usual in parts of the city, lawyer Rafael Yap said in a phone interview.

Yap, head of the Cebu City Transportation Office, said both lanes of V. Rama Ave. were packed, as well as Gorordo Ave.

The tunnel toward the South Road Properties was also jammed with vehicles in the afternoon, as motorists looked for alternative routes.

Sinulog theme shows kinship between Chinese, Filipinos

by cebuweb

THIS year’s Sinulog was a show of Chinese-Filipino kinship, enjoyed by thousands, including sister-cities of Cebu City, the Chinese community and newly installed Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma.

“It’s about time,” said former Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Robert Go of the Chinese theme, which Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros said took two years to conceptualize.

Ballesteros said they wanted the Chinese theme two years ago but they were not sure if it would not insult the Chinese community.

Palma: City needs Province,vice versa

by By Ryan Christopher J. Sorote

Unity and reconciliation between the officials of Cebu City and Cebu Province were the special intentions of Archbishop Jose Palma when he celebrated yesterday his first Sinulog mass after his installation last Thursday.

Archbishop Palma thanks thousands for steadfastness

by cebuweb

NEWLY installed Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma thanked the faithful yesterday for their devotion to the Child Jesus and their decision to stay for the Basilica mass, despite the rain.

“Thank you for enduring the long lines and the crowd, even though most of you are already soaked,” he said.

2 priests fall prey to thieves during Sinulog festivities

by dr_tangarorang

CEBU CITY -- Amid the revelry, pickpockets did their thing, some children were separated from their parents, a foreigner was injured and a fire ate up a house in Mambaling.

Pickpockets victimized two priests concelebrating mass with Archbishop Jose Palma in the Basilica del Sto. Niño Sunday morning.

But one of the suspects, Romulo Lauro, who came from Ormoc City, was caught by one priest.

The priest, who refused to divulge his name in a radio dyAB report, said while he was on his way to the Basilica, he felt the hands of Lauro, 39, touching him.

When he checked his pockets, he noticed his iPhone was gone. He then saw the suspect carrying his cell phone and chased him.

But by the time he caught Lauro, the man had allegedly passed the priest’s phone to a companion.

The other priest, in the same radio report, lost his cell phone and iPod to a thief while he was celebrating the mass.

He said when he came back to his seat, his expensive gadgets were already gone.

At past 11 a.m., an alleged pickpocket from Ormoc City was caught by his would-be victim.

Ernesto Daita, 39, is now detained at the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7.

Daita was caught by Sonny Abajo, who came from Toledo City. Abajo said after he felt Daita’s hand, he immediately grabbed it.

A student volunteer helped him arrest the suspect.

Police recovered P250, two cell phones and documents from Daita, who came to Cebu City last Thursday.

As of 8:45 p.m., the Fuente Police Station recorded five pickpocket victims, three of them foreigners from the United States, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Police Officer 3 Jomar Vescara, in a phone interview, said they also received reports of five missing children.

French national Morgan Farridon, 20, fell from one of the steps in the grandstand in the Cebu City Sports Center at 12:30 p.m.

Neil Sanchez, chairman of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) office in Central Visayas, said Farridon is already out of danger, although he has some difficulty walking.

Meanwhile, a fire razed a two-storey house made of wood and concrete in Sitio Back Rubber World in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Virgilio Niñal said they received the alarm at 1:50 p.m., but had the flames under control five minutes later.

Niñal estimated the damage to property at P150,000. The fire investigator, according to Niñal, has yet to determine what started the fire.

NAIA flights cancelled due to bad weather


MANILA, Philippines – The Ninoy Aquino International Airport cancelled 18 domestic flights on Sunday due to the country's bad weather conditions.

Southern Leyte village relocated after landslide wants own budget restored

Mayor Rico Rentuza of this town has appealed to the Department of Interior and Local Governments to reinstate the internal revenue allotment share of Barangay Guinsaugon, a village of this town that was buried by a mudslide in 2006.

11 fishermen missing in Bicol due to bad weather

At least 11 fishermen were missing after fierce winds and waves overturned their boats off the eastern Philippines as bad weather, which has claimed 51 lives in recent weeks, continued to wreak havoc in parts of the country, officials said Sunday.

Filipino nurses warned vs dubious job offers


MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Nurses Association of United Kingdom and Ireland (PNA-UK) warned "kababayans" to be wary of job offers that go through a dubious process.

Congress eyes probe on ‘training fees’ for nurses


MANILA, Philippines – Congress is also set to investigate training fees imposed by hospitals on registered nurses.

Answer pensioners quickly, GSIS told

by cebuweb

THE anti-graft office has admonished two officials of the state-operated pension firm for failing to answer on time the questions of a pensioner.

But while they were reprimanded for their inaction, the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, however, dropped the administrative complaint against Ma. Fatima Alvarez, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) 7 director, and Grace Rada, GSIS division chief, for lack of evidence.

They had been accused of violating Section 5(a) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Brillantes takes oath as new poll chairman

Veteran election lawyer Sixto Brillantes took his oath of office as the new chairman of the Commission on Elections before Supreme Court Associate Justice Eduardo Nachura on Sunday afternoon at the Supreme Court.

Malacanang still mum on Brillantes appointment


MANILA, Philippines - Poll lawyer Sixto Brillantes may have announced his appointment as new Commission on Elections chairman, but Malacanang has yet to issue an official statement.

Election lawyer congratulates new poll chief

MANILA, Philippines—Poll lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Sunday congratulated newly appointed Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. saying he was “best suited for the position at this time.”

New Comelec chief to 'perfect' automated elections vs fraud

(Updated 5:07 p.m.) As a way of eradicating election fraud, newly sworn in Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes aims to perfect automated elections saying he can wipe out corruption because he as an election lawyer is familiar with various poll problems plaguing the country and his experience gives him a leg up when it comes to such issues.

Comelec orders recount, prolongs suspense

by cebuweb

EIGHT months after the polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division annulled the proclamation of the mayor, vice mayor and eight councilors of Compostela town.

It ordered the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) to reconvene and canvass again all the “authentic” election returns in the May 10, 2010 elections and proclaim the rightful winners.

Town clerk loses job for grave misconduct

by cebuweb

A CLERK of the Consolacion Town Hall lost her job for demanding P20,000 from a lot buyer in exchange for the release of the property’s documents.

Maria Arlene Alenton, administrative aide at the Consolacion Municipal Assessor’s Office, was dismissed from the service by the anti-graft office after she was found administratively liable for grave misconduct.

Alenton led Henry Montebon, of Barangay Lutopan, Toledo City, to believe the property he was eyeing to buy is not legally owned by the lot owner.

Comprehensive house numbering system pushed

by By Garry B. Lao/JMO

Association of Barangay Council (ABC) President Michael Ralota is pushing for a comprehensive housing numbering system in Cebu City, saying the same will speed up referencing of barangay records and facilitate better documents management.

4th Division ruling may result in annulment of Garcia deal


MANILA, Philippines - A ruling by another division of the Sandiganbayan late Thursday could be Malacanang’s trump card in having the plea bargain between former military comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman quashed, its spokesman said.

In the resolution, the court’s 4th division said it has custody and control of practically all of the assets of Garcia that he offered to the government as part of his plea bargaining agreement.

Two forfeiture cases are also before it – Civil Case nos. 0193 and 0196 – which seeks recovery of over P300 million alleged ill-gotten wealth amassed by Garcia.

The court said it has not been notified of the contents of the plea deal, wherein Garcia will return P135 million to the government and enter a guilty plea to the lesser offense of direct bribery.

The plea deal is now pending before the 2nd division of the Sandiganbayan.

Sandiganbayan spokesman and executive clerk of court Renato Bocar said the failure of the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the defense to inform the 4th division “could hinder full compliance to the terms of the plea bargaining agreement.”

He noted: “How can he (Garcia) transfer those assets to the Ombudsman if he does not have full control over them and if most of those properties and bank deposits were under the custody of the Fourth Division?”


Bocar said that if the division finds deception on either of the 2 parties, it may even issue contempt charges.

Complicating the matter is an earlier Supreme Court ruling that Garcia’s wife Clarita, and children Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark are indispensable parties to the resolution of the ownership dispute.

In the same resolution, the 4th division said: “[Can] the properties or assets appearing in or are registered in the names of these respondents be transferred, conveyed, surrendered or ceded in favor of another party without their consent or approval?”

The same division gave the Ombudsman 10 days from receipt of the ruling to submit a full disclosure of the properties covered by the plea deal.

“Hindi naman nanggugulo ang Second Division, hindi lang kasi nasunod ang tamang proseso. Because of this question, possible pang ma-revoke ang bail at ibalik sa kulungan si Gen. Garcia if the Second Division finds that the plea bargaining agreement was null and void,” Bocar said.

Marcos human rights victims to get USD1,000 each


Victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime will get USD1,000 each as reparation, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales said Sunday that the money, which amounts to around P45,000, will help around 7,526 victims and their families recover.

Lawmaker urges Pnoy to certify compensation bill as urgent


MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has urged President Benigno Aquino III to certify the compensation bill as urgent following a US court’s decision to approve the distribution of $7.5 million worth of compensation for thousands of human rights victims during the Marcos dictatorship.

Enrile: US court ruling for martial law victims can’t be enforced in PH

The Honolulu court ruling compensating thousands of Filipino human rights victims during the Marcos regime could not be enforced here, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Sunday.

Aquino EO vs illegal logging expected Monday

President Benigno Aquino III is expected to issue this week an executive order on total log ban in the country, following the floods and landslides that hit several regions due to days of inclement weather.

Communists doubt Aquino's total log ban proposal


MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels dismissed Sunday President Benigno Aquino III’s plan to enforce a total log ban in the country.

Communist rebels blame gov’t for environmental disasters

Government is accountable for the destruction of the environment that has led to recent massive flooding in Mindanao, the Mindanao chapter of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines said.

Mayor in Agusan del Sur probed for illegal logging

A town mayor in Agusan del Sur is being investigated for his alleged role in the shipment of millions worth of illegally cut logs, which were seized by an anti-illegal logging task force along the Agusan River.

Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jessie Robredo said San Luis Mayor Rolando Corvera has been placed under investigation after he was named as among the politicians behind the shipment of the seized hot logs.

Hubert Webb, 2 others OK lie-detector test

by By Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Hubert Webb and 2 others accused in the Vizconde massacre case said they are willing to undergo a lie-detector test even though Webb's own lawyer doubts if there's any use for it.

15 distressed OFWs repatriated from Lebanon

Fifteen troubled female overseas Filipino workers were repatriated on Sunday from Lebanon, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

OFWs stranded in Jeddah cry for repatriation

Some 40 desperate OFWs - most of whom are women who had with them about 15 infants and children - are camped out again under Khandara Bridge in Jeddah hoping for a quick way home to the Philippines, despite the Saudi Arabia government announcing a six-month window for overstaying foreign workers.

10,607 Filipino seamen got Japan protection from pirates—report

MANILA, Philippines—Of the more than 32,600 sailors who benefited from Japan's Self-Defense Force's "anti-piracy operations" in the Gulf of Aden during the past 18 months, at least 10,607 were Filipinos, according to the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City.

PH to comply with global seafaring law

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is currently reviewing new certification requirements for international seafarers, including security training against pirates, which form part of the amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention and the STCW Code.

DOE braces for critical power situation this year


The Department of Energy (DOE) is readying plans to meet the country’s energy requirements amid the critical situation this year, most especially during the summer months. Data from the DOE shows that Luzon will need 300 megawatts (MW) during the said months to meet the 23.4 percent needed reserve margin.

Belle reiterates interest in Pagcor

by By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Belle Corp. has reiterated its intent to bid for the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) should the government decide to privatize it.

More than 610 killed in Brazil flooding, mudslides

by Agence France-Presse

RIO DE JANEIRO - Devastating floods and mudslides in a mountainous region of Brazil near Rio de Janeiro has killed more than 610 people, Civil Defense officials said Saturday.

1,400 homes hit by new Australia floods

More than 1,400 homes were hit by fresh flooding in southern Australia, emergency officials told AFP Sunday, correcting local media's earlier reports of around 14,000 homes.

Tunisia's new leader takes power amid chaos

by Agence France-Presse

TUNIS - Tunisia's new acting president pledged an open political system on Saturday following the abrupt end of former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule as the Arab state veered towards chaos.

Wounded US lawmaker breathing without ventilator


WASHINGTON - The US lawmaker shot in the head in Arizona was removed from a ventilator Saturday and is breathing on her own through a tube inserted into her windpipe, the University Medical Center in Tucson, announced.

Indonesia backs E.Timor's Asean membership bid

Indonesia on Sunday voiced support for East Timor's bid to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ASEAN calls for Myanmar sanctions lift

MEDANA—The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday urged Western nations to lift sanctions against Myanmar after its ruling junta released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pope joyous about beatifying John Paul II

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that everyone who knew or admired John Paul II shares his joy that he will beatify his predecessor on May 1 - a ceremony in St. Peter's Square that could bring 2 million people into Rome.

Beermen oust Gin Kings, face Texters in PBA finals

San Miguel outlasted stubborn sister team Barangay Ginebra, 89-86, in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum, and arranged a long-awaited dream title match with Talk `N Text.

Bosh hurt, James out as Heat skid hits 3 (AP)

LeBron James sat on the end of the bench, watching intently and working on his gum while he rested his sore ankle. Chris Bosh limped off, tried to return and then went for X-rays after hurting his ankle in the third quarter. Down to one star instead of three, the Miami Heat turned to Dwyane Wade and he responded Saturday night.

Ogie joins People Power Commission


Singer-actor Ogie Alcasid and prominent names in the cultural and journalism sectors have been appointed to the EDSA People Power Commission. Joining Alcasid, who is Herminio Alcasid, Jr. in real life, are: Christopher Carreon, Emily Abrera, Conrado de Quiros, and Milagros Kilayko.

Magsaysay: Sorry, but my son needed me during flight


MANILA, Philippines - Alliance of Volunteer Educator Party-List Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay said he is ready to face the criminal and administrative complaints that a Philippine Airlines employee will file on Monday against him.

KC asks for prayers as she fulfills mission in Uganda


MANILA, Philippines – Actress KC Concepcion, the United Nations-World Food Programme’s (UN-WFP) national ambassador, on Sunday asked for prayers as her group readies to travel to remote areas in Uganda.

Donaire's wife 'not scared' of Montiel

by Barry Viloria,

MANILA, Philippines – The wife of rising Filipino boxing superstar Nonito Donaire, said she is confident that her husband will dominate the bantamweight championship bout set next month against world champ Fernando Montiel.



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