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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 26, 2011 Major News Stories

January 26, 2011 Major News Stories
January 26, 2011 Major News Stories

2 missing in Cebu floods

by cherry_haya

CEBU CITY (Updated 5:20 p.m.) -- Two young children were missing after they were carried away by floods in two areas in two Cebu cities.

Heavy rains Tuesday morning that lasted for two hours inundated some areas in Mandaue and Cebu cities, stalling hundreds of motorists.

Four fire trucks that were on their way to a fire scene in Mabolo village in the metropolis were also stalled in the flood.

Police said the two missing children, one was from Mandaue City while another is from downtown Cebu City, remained unidentified as of this posting. Both kids were playing under the rain when swept by the flood.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) recorded 36 millimeter of rainfall in Cebu City Tuesday morning, which is considered extreme due to La Niña phenomenon.

CEBU. A mother and child wait for the flood to subside at Barangay Tipolo Mandaue. (Alex Badayos)

Pagasa said that without La Niña, rainfall is only at 3.67 millimeter per day.

Oscar Tabada of Pagasa likened that situation to Ormoc in where there was cloudburst, as rain was concentrated only in Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and some parts of Cebu City.

Meanwhile, Bowen Gothong, a member of Cebu City zoning board, blamed former Cebu City Planning Officer Nigel Paul Villarete for approving construction of bridge over a canal leading to the Southern Gothong container yard on T. Padilla St., saying it blocked rainwater, causing flood, bumper-to-bumper traffic at the North Reclamation Area.

The area, which is within the vicinity of SM City Cebu was heavily hit by the flood.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, on the other hand, called on mayors to prioritize the cleaning of drainage canals in the province to prevent flooding.

Floods hit Metro Cebu

by dr_tangarorang

CEBU CITY -- Hundreds were evacuated from their homes and thousands more were stranded in heavy traffic and flooding in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu on Tuesday morning.

At least three creeks overflowed when an unusually large volume of rainfall fell in these cities, as well as Lapu-Lapu, for nearly 90 minutes.

A woman from Mandaue City and an eight-year-old boy in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City remained missing Tuesday night.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said there is a need for the City Governments of Cebu and Mandaue to work together to prevent another round of flooding.

“It was a jungle out there,” said Rama, who spent about two hours on top of a fire truck, supervising traffic in the North Reclamation Area. He said he saw some stranded motorists crying.

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Central Visayas blamed the flood on the runoff water from three creeks.

The Mahiga Creek that crosses both cities, as well as creeks in Barangay Tipolo in Mandaue and Barangay Panagdait in Cebu City, overflowed.

Ten times the average daily amount of rainfall fell in less than 90 minutes Tuesday morning, dumped by what weather forecasters called a cloudburst.

As of 8:30 Tuesday night, the OCD and the local disaster coordinating councils in Mandaue and Cebu City were still looking for the unidentified woman who was reported missing. She was believed to have been swept away by strong currents in Mahiga creek.

With their rubber boats, personnel from the 505 Search and Rescue Squadron of the Philippine Air Force, the Talisay Emergency Rescue Unit and Bureau of Fire Protection were deployed to Barangay Tipolo in Mandaue, where 341 families were evacuated, OCD-Central Visayas operations officer Neil Sanchez said.

“We have people who are now trying to scour the coastal areas in Mandaue, hopefully to rescue the unidentified woman who was reported missing. So far, we have no reported casualty but there are families and students who were evacuated and vehicles were also stranded as a result of the flooding,” Sanchez said in a phone interview Tuesday night.

Missing

As of 11 p.m., eight-year-old Vrile Dale Amay remained missing.

Kamputhaw Barangay Captain Lorenzo Basamot said that witnesses saw Vrile playing by the river around 9 a.m., but no one actually saw him fall in.

Vrile’s mother Vanessa Amay was with her husband, who was driving a public utility jeepney. Vanessa reported the incident to Basamot around 2:45 p.m.

Basamot sent two barangay tanods to accompany Vanessa to the Coast Guard and Barangays Ermita and Tejero, so they could help search for her son.

The flood water rose up to five feet in Sitios Kalambuan, Purok 8 and Mabugnaw because the culverts were clogged with garbage.

“Since it is obvious that weather patterns are changing, I would really like to see action from the local government unit and concerned departments, once and for all,” said Cebu Business Club president Dondi Joseph. He described the flood and traffic as old problems that have been “disgracefully left unsolved.”

Local governments need to address the pressing problems like flaws in the drainage system and review the master plan of roads near coastal areas, said another business leader.

“(The traffic and flood) terribly stopped all movement. People cannot go to work, some missed appointments and meetings as they were stuck on the road for up to two hours,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Eric Mendoza in a text message.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Samuel Chioson said what happened hampered business activities and should remind the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) of their responsibility.

Move now

“They have to move now and address the problem. The Ondoy incident in Manila (in September 2009) was a big eye-opener not only in Luzon but in Cebu as well. Let us not wait for another Ondoy to come,” Chioson said.

Mayor Rama stayed near SM City at the North Reclamation Area, manning traffic between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. He failed to meet with the British ambassador to the Philippines, who was also stuck in traffic.

“Traffic was a mess today (Tuesday),” said Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Chairman Sylvan Jakosalem.

Even in areas where there was no flooding, traffic piled up because drivers searched for alternative routes to avoid the floodwater and long lines of vehicles.

Jakosalem urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to do something about the problem so it won’t happen again. He wants the agency to work with the local government units of Metro Cebu.

“I will not take ‘no budget’ for an answer from DPWH. We’re talking about lives being lost if it gets worse, not counting the losses in business, education, etc.,” Jakosalem said in a text message.

The local disaster council of Cebu City will also check the mountain barangays today (Wednesday) to assess the damage.

Citom chief Rafael Yap admitted Citom could not do their jobs efficiently Tuesday because of the floods. Certain intersections were not passable and motorists in the North Reclamation Area ended up parking their vehicles and waiting for the water to subside.

Free ride

All Citom enforcers were called to manage traffic.

The Bureau of Fire Protection, the Department of Engineering and Public Works, the 51st Marines and the Cebu City Government’s Kaoshiong buses ferried passengers from SM City to Mandaue City.

At least 650 stranded people were transferred this way, said Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council executive director Alvin Santillana.

Santillana, who was stationed at the command center at the Mabolo Fire Station, said the flooding around SM was reported at 10 a.m. and subsided around 3:30 p.m.

Traffic was so heavy during and a few hours after the flood that fire trucks responding to two fire alarms were stranded.

At 9:02 a.m., a circuit-breaker exploded in the house of Caridad Españo in Sitio Holy Name, Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.

No major damage was done on the house, which is still under construction, SFO1 Nilo Daculan said.

Forty-three minutes later, Daculan said they received another alarm in the same barangay. This time, a water heater reportedly owned by Sonia Laguna exploded. But it did not start a blaze in her home in Sitio Panagdait, Daculan said.

Overflowed

The Mabolo flood was caused by the overflowing Mahiga Creek, the same reason given for the flood in the Banilad-Talamban area.

Other streets that were flooded were Colon, Sanciangko, M.J. Cuenco and Echavez.

T. Padilla Barangay Captain Michael Ralota said water was waist-deep at the back of the market in his barangay.

Ralota, as chairman of the Association of Barangay Councils and ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council, said he wants to solve the dredging problem in the city’s rivers to prevent another episode similar to what happened Tuesday.

While the City has the equipment, Ralota lamented there are no paths for dredging because some private property owners block the backhoe, which they fear would destroy their property.

“We have to survey the boundaries of the rivers, observe the three-meter easement and identify roads that will be used as paths for dredging,” said Ralota.

In Mandaue, classes in the schools in Tipolo and Guizo were cancelled since most of the rooms on the ground floor were flooded.

The civil defense office is still collating information from the local disaster councils so they can find out how many individuals were affected by the flood.

In Mandaue City, floodwaters entered more than a thousand households in Barangay Subangdaku and trapped around 200 students, teachers and residents in Barangay Guizo.

Revived

Almost all of Mandaue City’s low-lying barangays were flooded, said Mayor Jonas Cortes, with Barangays Subangdaku, Guizo and Basak being the hardest hit.

Mandaue City Police Chief Noel Gillamac, in his report to the PNP Regional Office (PRO) Central Visayas, said they had to ask the Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine Air Force to lend them rubber boats for rescuing residents and commuters.

Subangdaku Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad said a two-year-old girl nearly drowned, but was revived.

Barangay gyms were designated as temporary relocation sites for more than 1,000 households in four sitios, all located on the banks of Mahiga Creek.

In the Gothong area, some residents stayed on their roof at the height of flood.

Before the rain, Dennis and Joan de la Victoria of Sitio Malibu, Barangay Subangdaku, left their two-year-old daughter sleeping in a hammock, under the watch of their four-year-old son. They went to the North Bus Terminal to sell their wares.

Manatad narrated that when it rained hard and floodwater rose, a neighbor identified only as Inday Ninfa rescued and revived the two-year-old, who had passed out.

Reality check

Mayor Cortes is scheduled to convene the City Disaster Coordinating Council today (Wednesday) to get the barangay captains’ assessment of the damage the floods caused.

The flooding again called attention to illegal structures built along waterways.

Barangay captains see the need to demolish them, including the Mantuyong Barangay Hall and Opao Police Station, both built along a creek, the mayor said.

Even as Mandaue reeled from the floods, City Hall and its private partner-organizations launched a P3.34-million river development program supported by Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Part of their launch was a miniature mountain range surrounding a watershed in the upland barangays. One of the program’s goals is “develop, plan and train local residents’ groups in schools on the construction, maintenance and monitoring of rainwater harvesting tanks for public school buildings.

Rainfall hits 10 times Cebu’s daily average

by cebuweb

A RARE weather phenomenon caused the “extreme” rainfall that left widespread flooding in at least two cities yesterday morning, said weather specialists.

In less than two hours, they measured 35.7 millimeters (mm) of rainfall, said Alfredo Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) Mactan senior weather specialist.

In contrast, the normal January rainfall ranges between 100 mm and 110 mm for one month, or a daily average of only 3.2 to 3.5 mm of rainfall.

Quiblat attributed the “extreme rainfall amount” to the La Niña phenomenon or the cooling of the surface water of oceans, which disrupts global weather conditions.

Environmentalists called on local officials to make an urgent shift to climate change adaptation measures.

Oscar Tabada, Pag-asa Mactan station chief, called yesterday’s phenomenon a “cloudburst.”

“There was a concentration of clouds over Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Cebu City,” he said, adding that the rainwater collected in the clouds poured in less than two hours in a small area.

“In my 32 years, karon pako nakakuha ingon ana kadaghan na ulan (this is the most amount of rainfall I’ve seen),” he added.

Tabada said the floods could not have been caused by the level of seawater because at the time of the rains, which began around 8:50 a.m., it was low tide.

He said a cloud burst could pose more risk than a typhoon.

During the disastrous floods in September 2009 in Northern Luzon, when 455 millimeters of rain poured in Quezon City alone in 24 hours, a typhoon moved very slowly so there was a concentration of the volume of rain.

Tabada said the landslides and flooding in Ormoc in November 1991 were triggered by a cloudburst.

“If the rains lasted longer, let’s say for two to three hours, the effects would have been worse,” said Tabada.

Among the factors to be considered are the state of the drainage system and clogged rivers.

“We should think about what we did to the environment,” Tabada said.

Environmental lawyers said the heavy rains and flooding are “realities of the times.”

“Instead of building another coal (-fired power plant), they should channel resources to address climate change adaptation measures,” said Atty, Benjamin Cabrido.

“This will be a normal occurrence in the future and we would expect dislocation of communities. The local government units should have infrastructure plans,” he said.

Cabrido also suggested reviewing the drainage system, clearing riverbanks and controlling quarry activities.

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, meanwhile, said, “with this unprecedented flooding, we hope more citizens will help fashion sustainable solutions to climate change.”

She said local governments should prioritize implementing a “green economy, renewable energy and serious implementation of environment laws ‘at wartime speed,’ to quote Leslie Brown, the climate economics guru.”

Camotes Island plagued by ‘massive’ brownouts for weeks now

by cebuweb

THE entire Camotes Island has been experiencing massive brownouts for almost two weeks now.

Tudela Mayor Erwin Yu said brownout happens every day from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. He received complaints from the business sector, especially from the resort owners and those who are selling refrigerated goods.

Interviewed after the launching of the Search for the Best eGwen Highway at the Cebu International Convention Center yesterday, Yu said the island is a tourist destination and a brownout will hurt its economy.

He said the National Power Corp. (NPC) failed to pay the Small Power Utilities Group for their diesel.

He said this could also be a result of the budget slash from the National Government.

He said he intends to buy a power generator so employees at the municipal hall can still work and backlog can be avoided.

He said NPC is supposed to provide fuel for Camotes Electric Cooperative (Celco), but there was an agreement that was not fulfilled by NPC, so fuel was not distributed anymore.

Diesel

He said the diesel supplier is Filpride, a Subic-based company.

Camotes Island is composed of the three towns of Tudela, Poro and San Francisco.

Poro Mayor Luciano Rama, Jr. said the NPC’s power plant, which is located in his town, has a capacity of 2.6 mega- watts, sufficient for the three towns.

He said it is almost every day that he receives complaint about the brownouts. He said the brownouts are getting worse so that they now want to buy out the NPC plant.

Gas stations

He said the three mayors of Camotes agreed to this proposal, saying they don’t have any other choice, aside from asking local gasoline stations in the island to provide a credit limit for the NPC.

He said the island can own the power plant if they can form a team of investors. He said he was told the power plant will cost P45 - P50 million.

With the brownouts, Rama said he asked the municipal employees to observe flexible time and work only if there’s electricity.

Yu and Rama said they can’t rely much on solar energy because it still has to be technically-proven in Cebu.

It also has a limited capacity to cover the entire island.

PUJs sue City over ban

by cebuweb

A GROUP of jeepney drivers and operators from Mandaue City yesterday asked the court to declare as invalid the four ordinances enacted by Cebu City, which prohibit 21-B jeepneys from plying major thoroughfares in Cebu City.

The Kahugpungan sa Mandaue Jeepney Operators ug Draybers Association Inc. (Kamjoda) lodged a civil case before the Regional Trial Court against Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama, the Cebu City Council, the Cebu Integrated Traffic Management (Citom) and Citom chief Sylvan Jakosalem.

‘Big bomb’ kills 4, injures 14 bus passengers on Edsa

(UPDATE 8) At least four people were killed and 14 others injured when an “big bomb” went off inside a passenger bus travelling along Edsa in Makati City on Tuesday, Metro Manila police chief Director Nicanor Bartolome said.

No suspect yet on Makati bus blast

Apat ang patay at 14 pa ang sugatan sa pagsabog ng isang pampasaherong bus kaninang hapon sa northbound lane ng EDSA malapit sa Buendia, Makati. Wala pang maituro ang mga awtoridad na dahilan, tao o grupo na posibleng nasa likod ng pagsabog.

Gov’t to shoulder bus blast victims’ medical fees

by By Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The government will shoulder the medical expenses of all victims of a bus bombing in Makati City, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said on Tuesday night.

Aquino wants terror angle in bus blast probed

President Benigno Aquino III held a press briefing in Malacañang in the bus explosion along EDSA.

Aquino asks public not to jump to conclusions on bus bombing

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said on Tuesday night that the police have been busy determining which threat group was behind the bus bombing along Edsa in Makati City on Tuesday afternoon, and appealed to the public not to jump to conclusions, yet.

Aquino inspects ill-fated bus at police headquarters

President Benigno Aquino III went to the Southern Police District headquarters in Taguig City Tuesday night to personally inspect the passenger bus damaged in a deadly explosion in Makati City.

Binay: Bus bombing ‘should not go unpunished’

Vice President Jejomar Binay condemned the Makati City bus bombing along EDSA on Tuesday, calling it a "deplorable and violent act."

DILG chief condemns Edsa explosion

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo condemned on Tuesday the explosion that occurred inside a bus along the Buendia area in Edsa and directed the Philippine National Police to determine the "signature" of the explosion and arrest those behind the attack.

PNP now on full alert in Metro Manila—spokesman

(UPDATE) The entire 136,000-strong Philippine National Police force was placed on full alert status effective 5 p.m. Tuesday following the explosion inside a bus along Edsa in Makati City earlier this afternoon, a spokesman for the PNP said.

Makati bus blast ‘not a destabilization try’ —Enrile

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile was quick to dismiss any speculations that Tuesday's bus bombing in Makati City was part of an attempt to destabilize the government.

SC orders transfer of Qaeda-linked terrorists to Zambo jail

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of 2 suspected leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf from 2 jails in Basilan and Isabela City to Zamboanga City jail to prevent their escape.

MILF starts peace consultations in Maguindanao

In preparation for the resumption of the long-delayed Mindanao peace talks, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday began a series of peace consultations in Maguindanao.

Brillantes: Comelec prepared for ARMM polls

Newly appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday said the poll body is "prepared" to hold elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) whether on its original schedule in August 2011 or on a later date.

Stick to the real issue: dealer to DVMF chief

by cebuweb

THE Meat Importers and Traders Association yesterday said Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) Chief Alice Utlang should not make an issue of Leo Cabangangan’s name.

The real issue, said group president Jude del Rio, is whether meat sold in the Carbon market and all wet markets under her jurisdiction is safe for human consumption.

Cabangangan had identified himself as Mario Montes. It was later learned he is not a registered or licensed meat trader in either Cebu City or Mandaue City.

Del Rio said Utlang should not question Ca-bangangan for requesting a laboratory to examine meat samples because anyone can do so if he wants to ensure the meat he buys from the market is safe.

However, del Rio admitted only the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) is authorized to conduct laboratory examination on meat in connection with the laws, rules and regulations.

He said Cabangangan’s motive for doing what he did was to get to the truth, not to prosecute anyone. It was good Cabangangan shared the result with the public, he said.

Cabangangan released a laboratory test result showing fecal bacteria in some local meat samples.

He denied he maliciously passed the result on to the media.

Own consumption

He said he was surprised when reporters approached him last Sunday.

He clarified that had he intended to divulge the result of the laboratory test, he would have called all media outlets in the city.

Cabangangan, though, was the one who showed the laboratory test result to reporters, which indicated that local (warm) meat contained Escherichia coli (E. coli) beyond acceptable levels.

E. coli is typically found in the intestinal tract and it can cause symptoms like stomach cramps and pain, diarrhea and vomiting, among others.

He admitted he commissioned a private food technologist to test local meat samples taken from a stall at the Carbon Public Market and a stall at a wet market in Mandaue City, but the result was only for his own consumption.

“I have eight children and 16 grandchildren. We all eat a lot of imported meat. And then they say imported meat is not safe. So I had local meat tested in the lab,” he said in Cebuano.

Cabangangan said he also used the test result to justify his business.

“Many have been asking me about the safety of imported meat because they know I donate imported meat to the church. It’s embarrassing if I can’t show them any proof. And if I really intended to smear the reputation of local meat dealers, I would have provided the result to all media outlets,” he said in Cebuano.

As to why he used a pseudonym when he faced reporters last Sunday, Cabangangan said no one asked for his name after del Rio introduced him.

Cabangangan said only his wife and son (Jolly and Jay) are registered meat traders at the DVMF.

Clarification

Cebu City Market Administrator Racquel Bohol-Arce said Jolly and Jay own stalls at the fish section of the Carbon market, where they sell processed meat.

“The stalls were empty so we let them (Jolly and Jay) use these. They were not the original occupants. We allowed them to sell their processed meat there because they also have good standing,” she said in Cebuano.

Arce said she awaits Utlang’s recommendation before making their next move.

Utlang clarified they will take action against the meat dealer, but she refused to divulge what this will be.

Group spokesperson Jaime Jose Escaño said Cabangangan is willing to execute an affidavit in connection with the laboratory examination.

Although the latter did not name the firm which conducted the examination, he said its slaughterhouse has a “Triple A” rating from the NMIS.

A “Triple A” rating means the slaughterhouse is allowed to export meat. “Double A” means it can only sell meat within the province, while “Single A” means it can only sell within the community.

In Cebu, only food processors/exporters with good manufacturing practices have “Triple A” slaughterhouses.

Among local government units, only the Talisay City abattoir has a “Double A” rating.

The rest of the slaughterhouses in the province, including that of Mandaue City and Cebu City, are allegedly not accredited by the NMIS because these did not pass safety requirements.

More sampling

Escaño urged NMIS to initiate meat sampling in the presence of meat importers, Utlang and Roland Tambago, president of the Central Visayas Pork Producers’ Cooperative.

He said they also consult their lawyers on what charges they will file against Utlang for making it appear imported meat is unsafe for human consumption, based on her communications with Tambago that she posted on her Facebook account. Tambago also

allegedly congratulated Utlang for her crusade against imported meat.

Escaño praised Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama for taking the test result positively.

He said Utlang should follow the mayor’s example, instead of showing her bias in favor of local meat producers to the public.

Which easily gets spoiled, contaminated meat importers, traders accept wager challenge

by By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/FPL

Meat Importers and Traders Association has accepted the bet challenge of the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative to determine through laboratory analysis which of the local meat and the imported frozen meat easily gets spoiled and contaminated.

MITA spokesperson Jimmy Escaño accepts the challenge from CVPPC president Roland Tambago.

Escaño said in a press conference yesterday that the cooperative should get a sample of meat slaughtered at the Cebu City Abattoir and compare it with the frozen imported meat by displaying both in open at any wet market and conduct bacterial analysis.

"Lets say, both meat be tested at 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon for bacterial contamination. He is challenging us and we accept his challenge," Escaño said.

Escaño and Jude del Rio, general manager of Judphilan, a meat importer, also hit Cebu City veterinarian Alice Utlang for her alleged biases against frozen meat.

"Makita na nimo sa facebook anang Alice Utlang. She is supposed to be neutral in implementing the law. Pero klaro kaayo nga laban gyud siya sa mga local pork producers," del Rio said.

"As the city veterinarian, she is supposed to be neutral. If she want to confiscate the meat because it is contaminated with bacteria, nganong frozen meat ra man?," del Rio added.

Escaño said Utlang contradicts Mayor Michael Rama’s stand on the issue. Rama said he will request for a random sampling of meat sold in the city's wet public market following a laboratory finding that these are contaminated with bacteria.

"The mayor is open to the idea of conducting more tests. But Utlang is attacking the meat dealer instead," Escaño said.

He said that whether or not the meat dealer was fictitious it does not matter because the result remains that local meats are more susceptible to bacterial contamination compared to the frozen meats.

Escaño suggested that the National Meat Inspection Service should conduct a laboratory test in the presence of representatives from the various sectors including the media for transparency and that the testing should be made at the local laboratory.

Rise in milk prices seen in 2 weeks—trade chief

The prices of condensed and evaporated milk in the country will increase by 5 to 10 percent in the next two weeks or a month, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo announced on Tuesday.

Drug for pain relief listed as 'dangerous'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – A synthetic opioid used for pain relief has been added to the list of dangerous drugs based on regulations issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DBB).

According to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Undersecretary Jose Gutierrez, the DDB issued last December 16, 2010 Regulation Number 1, series of 2010 that classified Nalbuphine Hydrochloride as a dangerous drug effective January 28, 2011.

PDEA said Nalbuphine Hydrochloride’s analgesic potency and characteristics are similar to that of Morphine, Demerol, Pethidine or Codeine.

PDEA reminded all importers, manufacturers, wholesalers/distributors/traders and retailers of the drug to register and apply for license with the Compliance Service (CS), the regulatory arm of the agency.

Only practitioners with valid S-2 License can prescribe the said pharmaceutical product through DOH-prescribed "yellow prescription" for a maximum of only 40 milligrams per prescription. Importation, likewise, requires an import permit duly approved by the agency.

The PDEA chief said that based on the foregoing DDB Regulations, PDEA, as the lead anti-drug agency in partnership with the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs and other instrumentalities in the field of drug law enforcement, will include this substance in their close monitoring and will apprehend offenders of the law.

CA panel okays trade chief’s confirmation

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo has been confirmed by a panel of the Commission on Appointments.

On Wednesday, the commission will deliberate on the appointments of Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Palace asks SC to appoint ‘friends of the court’ on EO 1

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañan asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to appoint amici curiae or “friends of the court” and to allow the conduct of oral arguments in support of a motion for reconsideration filed by the Palace to the high court's junking of Executive Order (EO) No. 1, the first issuance of President Benigno Aquino III creating the Philippine Truth Commission.

Kindergarten bill passed in House on 3rd reading

Children will soon be required to take one year in kindergarten education as pre-requisite to enter Grade I under a bill that was passed on third and final reading at the House of Representatives.

House bill seeks funeral benefits for poor Filipinos

Dying poor is usually doubly tragic for the families who shoulder the funeral costs.

Two lawmakers are seeking to ease the burden of poor families by providing funeral service discounts.

Filing House Bill No. 4002 or the Funeral Service Discount Act of 2011, Representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna partylist aims to grant 50 percent discount by funeral homes anywhere in the country to indigent families who earn P12,000 a month at most.

Indigent families may avail of this discount as long as the funeral service or package chosen does not exceed P30,000.

“In the Philippines, dying has become as costly as living itself. This is because most Filipinos already live lives of utter poverty and still die poor and indebted till the end. Funeral services generally are expensive, a stark and difficult reality confronting the large majority of impoverished Filipinos,” Colmenares and Casiño said in their bill.

Funeral homes granting discounts to indigent families may reimburse the cost of the discount from any regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or convert the same as tax credits. The tax credits may be used for a period not exceeding five years from the day the discount was given, according to the bill.

 

The budget of the DSWD for this will be sourced from the social welfare fund of the Office of the President.

Funeral benefits that indigent families may avail with discount cover the preparation of funeral documents, embalming, interment and burial services, including the provision of a casket.

BI 7 exec nabbed, jailed

by cebuweb

AN OFFICIAL of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Central Visayas spent one night at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 on Monday after he was arrested in his office at the Mactan Cebu International Airport, in connection with the libel suit an assistant prosecutor filed against him in 2009.

Fernando “Butch” San Ramon Jr., president of the Cebu Immigration Officers Association Inc., was only able to gain his temporary freedom after posting P10,000 as bail at the Cebu City Regional Trial Court.

Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro, who filed the libel case against San Ramon, said the accused was not detained at the CIDG 7 stockade after his arrest.

San Ramon stayed in the agency’s administration office.

Castro, however, said she was willing to forgive San Ramon, if he apologizes to her.

'Gunmen offered P150,000 to kill Ortega'

by Agence France-Presse

Philippine police said Tuesday a gunman who killed a crusading journalist had confessed to carrying out the murder for a share of 150,000 pesos ($3,370).

Police said the assassin told them after his arrest that he and an accomplice, who remains at large, had been contracted to kill radio broadcaster Gerardo Ortega on Monday to stop his criticism of unnamed powerful people.

"The two men who paid them said their boss wanted to silence Ortega," local police chief Superintendent Roland Amurao told AFP, adding that they might have been working on behalf of mining interests.

"They were first given 10,000 pesos each and some operational funds, and the rest was to have been paid after the deed was accomplished."

He said the total amount to be shared between the two men was 150,000 pesos, which is a fortune for many in the Philippines where a third of the population lives on less than 45 pesos ($1) a day.

Ortega was shot in the head while shopping in a clothing store in Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan island, on Monday morning shortly after he finished his daily broadcast.

The gunman, Marlon de Camata, was detained while trying to escape the scene, police said.

The identities of the men who approached de Camata as well as their supposed "boss" were still being verified and could not be publicly released due to the sensitivity of the investigation, Amurao said.

However, he said the ownership of the gun used in the shooting was traced to a lawyer who had been known to represent mining interests in the past.

"We are looking at that as a possible motive. Ortega's hard-hitting commentaries were targeted against mining companies he had accused of destroying Palawan's environment," Amurao said.

He described the slain journalist as a staunch environmentalist, who regularly went to church and was well-liked on the island.

Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. They say a culture of impunity pervades the country, where powerful figures often act above the law and firearms proliferate.

Ortega was the the 142nd journalist killed since the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the restoration of democracy in 1986, according to the Philippines' journalists' union.

Most infamously, 30 journalists were among 57 people murdered in the southern Philippines in 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful Muslim clan who wanted to eliminate a rival's political challenge.

Mining behind broadcaster’s murder?

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

PALAWAN, Philippines – Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn believes that radio commentator Dr. Gerry Ortega was killed because of his environmental activism.

Legarda seeks passage of bill on media killing

Senator Loren Legarda condemned as a “reckless act of violence” Monday's killing of a broadcaster in Palawan, the 142nd Filipino journalist killed since 1986.

This, as Legarda, a former broadcast journalist, called on for the immediate passage of a bill that imposes stiffer penalty for media slay.

At least 3 officials have links to carjackers: DILG

by By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - At least 3-4 government officials and police officers have already been identified by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as being involved in carjacking, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo said Tuesday.

‘Garcia case weakened under Ombudsman’s watch’

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The plunder case against former military comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia weakened under the watch of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio said.

He said honest and competent prosecutors were taken off certain cases.

Villa-Ignacio said the reason for Gutierrez’s move was unclear, considering the prosecutors were handling that particular case well. He was one of those who handled the case during his time at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Villaignacio appeared before the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning to provide his knowledge on the case against Garcia.

During the hearing, he said: “I was asked by the Ombudsman (Gutierrez) to disengage from the case. The perception was that I was doing very well. If you are perceived to be honest and competent, they’ll take you out of the case."

Guttierez has been under fire for the plea bargain agreement her office had entered into with Garcia.

Meanwhile, in a rare opportunity, Garcia faced the media after the hearing.

The usually elusive Garcia lashed out at the media for allegedly being unfair to him, specifically for not properly assessing information on his alleged properties.

He also took the media to task for being surprised at the developments in his case. He said the media did not follow the case closely.

He also clarified that the plea deal was introduced to him for the first time in 2008. He said he was not interested then since his legal defense was strong enough.

He only changed his mind when his family was jailed.

Palace vows support for COA auditor in Garcia case

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

Communications and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang on Tuesday said the Aquino administration is ready to support former Commission on Audit (COA) employee Heidi Mendoza in her truth-telling mission on the plunder case of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.

AFP ready to answer murder raps filed by slain botanist’s kin—official

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is willing to face the family of slain botanist Leonard Co in courts following the filing of murder charges against 38 members of the Philippine Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion.

Cops nab father who allegedly raped 3 daughters

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Operatives of the National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in North Cotabato have arrested in an entrapment operations here a 32-year old farmer who allegedly has been abusing his three daughters since 2007.

Net satisfaction with Supreme Court higher: SWS

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Net satisfaction ratings for the Supreme Court and other top government institutions rose in the latter part of 2010, a Social Weather Stations survey revealed Tuesday.

The survey, which was first published in BusinessWorld, showed that net satisfaction for the Supreme Court rose from +33 in September to +36 in November.

Conducted last November 27-30, 2010, the survey was done weeks after the high tribunal granted a petition for a writ of kalikasan stopping First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) from operating an 117-kilometer oil pipeline from Batangas to the Pandacan oil depot.

It was also conducted before the SC declared as unconstitutional President Benigno Aquino's Executive Order 1 creating a Truth Commission that will investigate corruption cases during the 9-year term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The survey showed that net satisfaction ratings of the Senate rose from +48 in September to +51 in November; while the House of Representatives's satisfaction rating rose from +30 to +33 during the same period.

On the other hand, public satisfaction with the Cabinet dipped slightly from +22 in September to +20 in November.

A total of 1,200 respondents were interviewed in the survey. Error margins used were ±3% and ±6% for national and area percentages.

 

Satisfaction for Binay, top execs stable

The same survey showed that net satisfaction with Vice-President Jejomar Binay and other top officials remained stable in November.

Net satisfaction with Binay was stable at +57 in November from +58 in September.

Net satisfaction for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile dipped slightly from +39 in September to +34 in November.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Chief Justice Renato Corona also registered slight dips in their net satisfaction ratings.

Net satisfaction with Belmonte dipped from +9 to +7 while net satisfaction for Corona dipped from -5 to -7.

New findings of plagiarism by SC Justice

Supreme Court Justice Mariano del Castillo plagiarized at least 20 more times in the decision on the comfort women case (Isabelita Vinuya v. Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo), apart from those already brought to the attention of the Court, according to Peter Payoyo, a former professor of the University of the Philippines College of Law.

88 illegal foreign studes face BI blacklist

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - A total of 86 Koreans and 2 Japanese minors will be deported and blacklisted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) after they were caught studying in various language tutorial centers in the country without the required permits.

Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma said he has ordered an investigation into the possible involvement of some immigration officers who allowed the influx of foreign students into the country without study permits.

The BI chief said that aside from the latest batch of 88 arrested students, 16 Korean adults will also be deported for operating the language schools in question without authority from the BI. He said the adult Koreans apparently facilitated the entry of the minors to the country and enrolled them in fly-by-night English language schools.

Lawyer Faizal Hussin, BI intelligence chief, said the Korean adults were detained at the immigration jail in Bicutan, Taguig City while undergoing deportation proceedings. The bureau is coordinating with the South Korean embassy in Manila to arrange their departure.

The Koreans and the two Japanese were apprehended by BI intelligence agents in separate raids in Cavite, Laguna, Baguio, and Davao.

Ledesma said the minors were not detained but their passports were confiscated to ensure that they leave the country as soon as they have their plane tickets and travel clearances.

"We are also investigating whether or not they were accompanied by their parents when they entered the country," Ledesma said, explaining that under the Immigration Act, unaccompanied foreign minors must secure a waiver of exclusion ground from the BI and pay the required fees to legitimize their stay here.

"While we fully support efforts to promote the Philippines as an educational hub in the Asia-Pacific, we are equally mandated to ensure that these foreign students comply with our immigration laws," he said.

Iraq calls for lifting of Philippine travel ban

Iraq's ambassador has called on the Philippines to lift its travel ban to Iraq, saying Filipino workers can gain by taking part in his country's reconstruction.

Militants slam exclusion of OFWs from Taiwan wage hike

The exclusion of domestic helpers in Taiwan from the country’s minimum wage increase is “discriminatory and unjust,” a militant migrant workers’ group said Tuesday.

2 Pinoys hurt in construction mishap in Riyadh

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Two Filipino workers were hurt in a construction accident at the Princess Noura University in Riyadh last January 24.

The Philippine embassy in Riyadh said it sent a 3-man team to the worksite and was informed by Fernando Obeso, safety officer of Saudi Oger company, that one of the Filipino workers was hit by a falling debris and suffered a fractured leg.

Obeso added that another Filipino suffered a back injury because of the construction accident, the embassy said.

Reports said about 20 workers were at the site during the accident. Three have been confirmed dead -- a Bangladeshi, a Lebanese and a Nepali.

Nine others were injured and taken to the Kingdom Hospital, Obaid Hospital, and National Hospital.

The accident happened Monday morning when a steel scaffolding on one side of the 7-storey University Library collapsed. The scaffolding was set up for marble-tile-setting work on the wall.

The Philippine embassy said that the Saudi Civil Defense office has begun investigation to establish the cause of the accident.

It said it is coordinating with the Saudi Oger company on the medical care extended to the two injured Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Migrante-Middle East Chapter, expressed concern over other Pinoy workers in the university construction.

"What worries us is that there are a number of OFWs working on that project, based on our estimate, there are about 300 to 500 OFWs," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East Chapter Regional Coordinator.

Elderly Pinay attacked inside London hospital

by By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

LONDON - An elderly Filipina survived a brutal attack while confined at the Newham General Hospital, Plaistow.

Mrs. Consuelo Camacho, 75, from Stratford, sustained head injuries and a fractured jaw after receiving repeated beatings on her face and head.

She was sleeping and was knocked off her bed by the forceful blows. The attacker was a 22-year-old male, a fellow patient who is believed to have mental issues.

$1: 44.470

$1: 44.470 (P44.58)

Euro 1: 60.5957

Oil extends fall as Saudi oil minister hints at raising supply

BANGKOK - Oil prices hung below $88 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, extending losses after the Saudi oil minister hinted the world's biggest oil producer may raise supplies to put the brakes on higher oil prices.

Korean group eyes P8B airport facility

by cebuweb

THE Korean International Cooperation Agency (Koica) presented to the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and airport stakeholders yesterday the interim report on the feasibility study for the construction of a new international passenger terminal building that will cost P8 billion.

MCIAA Assistant General Manager Romeo Bersonda said the project will become a legacy of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and will be implemented within his term.

Somali pirates could face prosecution in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR—Seven Somali pirates captured by Malaysian forces in a raid to free a hijacked oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden could face prosecution in the Southeast Asian nation, authorities said Tuesday.

China tightens airport security after Moscow blast

BEIJING - Chinese state media said security at Beijing's main airport has been tightened after the deadly bomb attack in Moscow that killed 35 people.

Obama, Republicans spar on jobs before key speech

by by Olivier Knox, Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON DC - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday faces a US public hungry for jobs, and Republicans eager to oust him, when he delivers his yearly "State of the Union" speech in a tense new era of power-sharing.

Pacquiao plans to visit Obama, US Senate

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao plans to meet US President Barack Obama when he visits Washington as part of his 5-city press tour for the Shane Mosley fight.

Mayweather: I'll fight Pacquiao if he's off power pellets

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. finally answered fans who have been repeatedly asking for a match against Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao. "Don't worry we're gonna beat Poochie-iao's ass. Stop asking the same question. 'When are you gonna fight Poochie-iao?'  I'm gonna fight the Pacman," he  said.

Mexican foe claims ‘Boom Boom’ has 'glass jaw'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Mexico’s Alejandro Barrera is confident of beating featherweight boxer Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista in their rematch on January 29, claiming that the hard-hitting Filipino has a "glass jaw."

Gilas 5 ends Dubai elims with loss to Syria

Al Wahda Syria used its height advantage and outside shooting to the hilt in pulling off a 91-89 win over Smart Gilas Pilipinas in Monday night's game in the 22nd Dubai International Basketball Tournament at the Al Ahli Club, in Dubai.

Popovich to coach West in All-Star game (AP)

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will coach the West team in the All-Star game after leading San Antonio to the NBA's best record. Popovich has guided the Spurs to a 38-7 start, the best in franchise history. The Spurs have been rejuvenated behind Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili staying healthy for the first time in three seasons.

Aquinos attend mass for Cory's birthday

by By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - In celebration of the late President Corazon Aquino’s birthday on Tuesday, her children attended mass at the St. Joseph's Convent of Perpetual Adoration in New Manila.

Multi-arts festival to pay tribute to Jose Rizal

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - A 1,000-voice choir is set to sing the national hero's poem, "Mi Ultimo Adios," which was set to music by well-known composer Ryan Cayabyab, in a multi-arts festival to be held next month.

Jackson doctor to be arraigned for killing star

LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson's personal doctor is to be arraigned Tuesday on involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly killing the pop icon with an overdose of powerful sedatives.

Argentine woman survives fall from 23rd floor

by Reuters

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine woman survived after jumping from the 23rd floor of a downtown Buenos Aires hotel on Monday, landing on a taxi moments after the driver dashed to safety, the state news agency reported.

The 33-year-old woman was in the intensive care ward of a Buenos Aires hospital after the suicide attempt, the Telam agency said.

Taxi driver Miguel Cajal said he got out of his parked taxi and ran for safety when he saw a policeman looking up at the woman, who was on an upper floor of the Panamericano hotel.

"If I hadn't got out, I'd be dead," Cajal, 39, told local television, which showed pictures of his mangled vehicle, its windscreen and roof crushed by the impact of the woman's fall.

Muntinlupa leads Metro Manila cities in fight vs Styrofoam

For banning business establishments from using plastic and non-biodegradable materials, Muntinlupa City has become a model for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's campaign against environmental degradation.

In what MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino described as a “bold move for the sake of environment," Muntinlupa City started implementing Tuesday last week Ordinance No. 10-109, which prohibits the use of plastic bags on dry goods and regulates its utilization on wet goods, and totally prohibits the use of Styrofoam.

To remind the public of the ban, several posters had been placed in highly visible places within the city. In convenience stores, drugstores and public markets, brown paper or cloth bags are used instead of plastic bags.

 

At Super Mightee Mart, items are wrapped in recycled paper bags. If necessary, wet items like tube ice are packaged using oxo-biodegradable plastic.

 

At the newly-opened Muntinlupa Save More Supermarket, not a plastic bag is in sight. Groceries are instead placed in brown paper bags or in green cloth bags.

 

Mixed reactions

 

Apart from business owners, consumers are also pleased with the ordinance. A large tarpaulin bears signatures and encouraging messages from people supporting the effort.

 

Maganda po ito!!! Para po sa kinabukasan naming mga bata at mga susunod pang mga bata (This is good, especially because the next generation will benefit from this)," wrote one Karlo.

 

A scribbler, however, pointed out the ordinance is not as environment-friendly as everyone thinks it is since the paper bags used as replacements for plastics are made from trees.

 

And then there are those who refuse to cooperate.

 

A large tarpaulin has been placed in one Muntinlupa grocery to allow residents to write their sentiments regarding the new ordinance.

 

 

Marami pa rin ang hindi sumusunod (Many still do not cooperate)," says Aling Lisa, a public market vendor. She says although they had been informed of the ordinance since December last year, some vendors still package their goods using plastic.

 

Sayang din kasi yung mga plastic na nabili na(They don’t want the plastics that they have bought to be wasted)," she says.

 

Many violators, she says, had been caught and fined.

 

Violators are fined and given a warning, and business establishments found violating the ordinance may have their licenses to operate suspended for up to one year.

 

Model city

 

Muntinlupa is the first city in Metro Manila to ban the use of plastic bags for wet and dry goods and Styrofoam as food containers. While the city government admits that successfully implementing the ordinance is no easy feat, they expect the intervention will deter the rampant use and disposal of non-biodegradable materials into the environment.

 

The Muntinlupa City Council noted that disposed plastic bags and other non-biodegradable containers are the major causes of flash floods in the city during heavy rains as it clogged canals, three creeks, 11 rivers and other waterways that all drain into the nearby Laguna Lake.

 

Tolentino, meanwhile, lauded city for the ordinance and encouraged other local government units in Metro Manila to do the same.

 

“The MMDA strongly encourages local government units to adopt similar strong measures such as these to combat the dangerous effects of environmental degradation which leads to massive flooding and climate change," Tolentino said in an article posted Friday on the MMDA website.

 

Tolentino said he would push for the adoption of this measure as a model ordinance to be adopted by the 15 other cities and one town comprising Metropolitan Manila.

 

Hazardous waste

 

Styrofoams are made of polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic with insulation properties and is used in all types of products such as beverage cups and food containers.

 

A 1986 US Environmental Protection Agency report on solid waste named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste. The process of making polystyrene is reported to pollute the air and create large amounts of solid and liquid waste. On the other hand, toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain, especially when heated in a microwave. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems. Polystyrene foam is often dumped into the environment as litter which breaks up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems.

 

Cities and counties such as Taiwan, Portland (USA) and Orange County, CA have outlawed polystyrene foam.


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