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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 31, 2011 Major News Stories (

January 31, 2011 Major News Stories
January 31, 2011 Major News Stories



Shell, Petron slash fuel prices


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Oil refiner Petron Corp. will implement a rollback in its fuel prices to reflect the movements in the international market.

Both will slash prices of gasoline by P0.75 per liter and diesel and kerosene by P0.25 per liter.

Shell will implement its rollback at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, and Petron at 6:00 a.m.

Other firms are expected to follow.

Firms have been increasing the prices of their products for the last couple of weeks, prompting even Malacanang to announce that it is open to reviewing the Oil Deregulation Law.

Brewing storm breaks up, but rain still likely

by cebuweb

THE threat of a storm disappeared yesterday, but a weather bureau official said the Visayas can expect cloudy skies and light to moderate rains this week.

“There is no storm expected this week. Nabung-kag tungod sa kusog na hangin, sa easterly-northeasterly winds (The easterly-northeasterly winds broke it up),” said Mactan weather bureau chief Oscar Tabada.

He advised local officials and communities to continue preparing for landslides or floods, and advised fishers and sea travelers to exercise caution and prepare for large waves.

It was earlier reported a tropical depression is expected to hit the Philippine area of responsibility early this week.

Metro Cebu experienced 10 times its normal rainfall, which weather specialists classified as “extreme” rainfall, last week. That was brought about by a cloudburst or a concentration of clouds over the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu.

Although Metro Cebu has experience nothing but very light rains in the last two days, the state weather bureau said scattered rain showers and thunderstorms will continue in the next few days, with a wind convergence still prevailing over the Visayas and Mindanao.

As of yesterday, no tropical cyclone affected the country, but a low-pressure area was seen outside the Philippine area of responsibility, said Luciano Villamor, weather observer at the Mactan, Cebu station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

He said they have yet to determine if the low-pressure area will move in the country’s direction.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7, through its geohazard mapping, has identified areas in the province that are prone to landslides.

These areas include portions of mountain barangays of Cebu City, Balamban, Toledo City, Pinamungajan, Dumanjug, Ronda, Asturias, Catmon and Talisay City.

Landslides are also likely to occur in areas that are natural drainages or waterways and steep slopes.

“We should be very vigilant and alert at all times as we don’t know when heavy rains will occur, especially those communities that live near or at the foot of the mountains, as many geohazards are rain-induced,” MGB 7 Director Loreto Alburo earlier said.

Quick action to protect Cebu cities from floods sought

by dr_tangarorang

CEBU CITY - It's high time local governments removed houses from the banks of rivers and creeks, but it will take more than that to protect Metro Cebu from floods, environmentalists said.

"Knowing how susceptible and how insufficiently prepared we are, the authorities and the citizens need to work double time to map out adaptation and mitigation measures," Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Aside from regular declogging operations, everyone needs to ensure that rivers, creeks and storm drains are free of garbage, he said.

Landscape architect Socorro Atega, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water (CUSW) director, said there should be projects on storm water management and water conservation and not merely dredging waterways.

"We need reforestation for the restoration of the water storage capacity of the watersheds," she added.

In a separate interview, Representative Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Cebu Province, 6th district) said he will sit down with Mandaue City officials to discuss solutions to the city's flooding problem, saying many residents of the city "have experienced the worst of what floodwaters can do."

"The water has already subsided but the problem is we have to expand the drainage system," he told reporters last Friday.

Mandaue City officials decided to declare the city under a state of calamity, saying it will mean emergency measures will immediately be taken to arrest the problem.

"We have to look for lasting solutions. We have to look at expanding the drainage facilities, increasing the culvert sizes to make sure that if similar or even stronger rainfall happens in the future, we are ready to meet the challenges," he added.

The Mandaue City Government will again convene its City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) today.

It will focus on assessing what the city needs and on identifying high-risk areas vulnerable to flooding and tidal surges, said lawyer Briccio Boholst, the Mandaue City administrator.

In Cebu City, clearing operations continue in Mahiga Creek, particularly in Barangay Mabolo.

Other measures

Alvin Santillana, executive director of the Cebu City Disaster Coordinating Council (CCDCC), said there will be daily clearing operations until Mahiga Creek, which crosses several barangays in Cebu City, will be without obstacles, particularly within three meters from its banks.

"We are intent on our decision to clear, restore and revitalize the rivers," said Santillana.

Apart from immediate solutions, ecology advocates called on local government units to promote reforestation and water conservation and to strictly implement the solid waste management law.

After last week's floods, work on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures should be done "double time."

Atega said cities need parks and open spaces for conservation areas, even in the built-up urban environment.

Drainage patterns are part of land assessment and planning processes and comprehensive land use plans are needed to delineate areas for easement zones along riverbanks, she said.

Atega pointed out that most wetlands have been converted into subdivisions.

"We need some areas to impound the excess rainfall to prevent flooding. Steep slopes need soil and water conservation measures such as sloping agricultural land technology [SALT] and the use of bio-engineering measures for stabilization and protection," she said.


The CUSW, in its advocacy for Integrated Water Resources Management, has raised the need to organize and strengthen river management teams and watershed councils in Talisay and Cebu City for the Mananga River and Mandaue and Cebu City for Butuanon River.

Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition called for the earnest enforcement of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and related ordinances and the arrest of all violators.

"We can keep our waterways garbage-free, ensure the flow of water and reduce the threat of flash floods," he said.

Clearing operations in Cebu City will be eventually done in four other rivers located in Buhisan, Bulacao, Guadalupe and Lahug, Santillana said.

Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, chairman of the committee on infrastructure, said he will check the status of the work on straightening the Mahiga Creek's path.

Cabarrubias said there are curves in the waterway, especially in Sitio Marna (behind the old Pepsi warehouse), in Mabolo.

"There is resistance if it is not straight so it would create a back flow that would cause the water to overflow," said Cabarrubias.


More than a thousand people will have to be evacuated, as their homes have to be removed from the riverbanks. Santillana believes most of them live in the towns, so he hopes they would go back there.

"We cannot gamble because of the weather. We cannot forecast the next couple of days," said Santillana.

The informal settlers are housed at the Mabolo gym, but Santillana and Cabarrubias are thinking of using the trailers used in the Sinulog's Devotee City as temporary shelter in case of a heavy downpour again in the next few days.

The clearing started at the lowest part, which is in Mabolo, until they cleared off all obstacles at the higher level of the creek.

The City is also dredging the creek, which Santillana described as "highly silted."

"The barangays were not very vigilant in guarding the waterways. There has to be cooperation from the government and the people," he said.

In Barangay Kalunasan, whose road in Upper Kalunasan was blocked during a landslide, barangay tanods are conducting regular roving operations to monitor any land movement, said chief tanod Marino Demabildo, a retired police officer.

While they cleared the road last Friday, Demabildo said there are still some rocks and mountain soil falling to the ground.


It is not a major concern, but it needs monitoring as there are about 30 houses in the landslide area, he said.

Last Tuesday, half of a house was damaged by a landslide.

Aside from damage to properties, floods bear health implications as well, Congressman Quisumbing pointed out.

"As we've seen in Manila and in similar communities, whenever something like this happens, the after-effects can be even worse than the flooding itself. There could be outbreak of diseases such as dengue and leptospirosis. We have to be absolutely guarded against that," he said.

Some schools in the city have been severely affected by the floods, forcing administrators to suspend classes and driving Department of Education officials to plan how to relocate students to safer buildings.

Last Friday, Quisumbing visited the school in Guizo with district engineer Santiago Suico to assess the condition of the structure.

Administrator Boholst, for his part, revealed the plan to convene the disaster council before the weather bureau, in an update, said the threat of a tropical depression hitting the Visayas this week has eased.


The CDC intends to create an evacuation plan for those living in high-risk areas within Mandaue City. These include riverbanks, coastal areas and high-debris areas.

Some identified high-risk areas in Mandaue City are Barangays Mantuyong, Guizo, Labogon, Subangdaku, Tipolo and Paknaan.

Boholst added officials are also conducting an inventory on food and emergency supplies that can be used as rations for those affected by rough weather.

They are also preparing for the logistics needed for rescue, such as communication and transportation equipment.

A state of calamity has been declared in Mandaue City, as well as Cebu City, the after widespread flooding last Tuesday.

Boholst said Mandaue City's calamity fund is about P36 million this year.

Mayor’s plan to use Filinvest’s P255M can’t be done

by cebuweb

CEBU City Hall cannot use the P255-million payment of Filinvest Land Inc (FLI) for drainage projects, as proposed by Mayor Michael Rama.

It turns out the payment has already been appropriated for other items.

FLI’s third payment for lots at the South Road Properties (SRP) forms part of the P4.5-billion target collection of the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO), which will support the P4.4-billion budget of the City this year.

City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva said they will find other sources of funds to improve the city’s drainage system. She said officials are exploring the possibility of applying for a credit line with the depository banks of the City Government.

“We really have to source out funds because drainage is the number one problem of the city,” she said in a phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Oliva pointed out, though, that there is still P100 million that was appropriated for drainage under this year’s budget, which City Hall can use.

Widespread floods that struck Cebu and Mandaue cities last Tuesday have added urgency to the proposed improvements in the drainage system.


City Administrator Atty. Jose Marie Poblete agreed with the need to find other sources

of funds, but said the local finance committee still has to study the opening of a credit line.

Poblete also said there are existing credit line agreements that the City has not yet tapped.

A credit line agreement is a legal contract where a bank arranges to loan a customer a certain amount that will be paid back within a specified amount of time.

In a separate interview, Poblete said the mayor’s pronouncement to use the FLI’s payment for drainage projects speaks of the mayor’s desire to address the flooding problems of the city.

Poblete and Oliva said they will meet with Mayor Rama this week, once he arrives from an overseas trip.

Rama is expected to be back at City Hall tomorrow.

When asked about his administration’s priorities before he left for Japan last week for a vacation, Rama mentioned at least four concerns: drainage, garbage, traffic and light. He said the drainage problem “cannot wait.”


His predecessor, Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south), has challenged the mayor to present 300 priorities to the public, after Rama mentioned having a list of 300 problems he inherited from the past administration.

“He said he has the list of 300 problems, so, what are his priorities? Tell him to write also his 300 priorities,” Osmeña said.

The former mayor has said he sees no improvement in the city since Rama assumed as mayor last July.

Last October, Rama delivered an accomplishment report after his first 100 days in office. That included improving infrastructure like drainage, road repairs, street lighting, decongesting traffic, maintaining peace and order, ensuring garbage disposal, health services and a beautification program, among others.

Housing allowance for Rama approved

by cebuweb

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama can now claim a housing allowance after the Cebu City Council approved the resolution authorizing him to collect 25 percent of his monthly basic salary as housing allowance.

The council, though, deferred for the second week the approval of the representation allowance and transportation allowance (Rata) of Assistant City Administrator Dominic Diño.

Rama collects a salary of P45,941 per month. But according to the obligation request, his housing allowance is P8,734.75.

Priests to stay put, archbishop confirms

by cebuweb

IN his first act since his installation earlier this month, the new Cebu archbishop retained most of his predecessor’s clergy and laity appointments, in a clear assurance of continuity.

According to the Archdiocese’s official publication “Bag-ong Lungsuranon,” Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma officially confirmed there will be no reshuffling of clergymen and re-appointment of new lay officials, for the meantime.

The archbishop revealed the decision in his first order, Circular No. 01/11, issued on Jan. 14, the day after his formal installation.

The archbishop revealed the decision in his first order, Circular No. 01/11, issued on Jan. 14, the day after his formal installation.

“In a meeting of the Board of Consultors and the Presbyteral Council, which I have convoked today, I have made my first act as archbishop, that is, to confirm, for the meantime, the appointment of all Curia officials and other ecclesiastical offices handling the various administrative offices in accordance with the sacred canons,” said the archbishop, in his circular.

The church officials who retained their appointments are the vicar general, episcopal vicars, vicars forane; and officials, pastors and rectors of archdiocesan divisions, districts, vicariates, minor basilica, parishes, quasi-parishes, shrines and


Archbishop Palma also retained the present judicial vicar and all officials of the judiciary.

He sustained the appointment of the present Oeconomus I and II and all officials of the Office of Economic Affairs, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and all officials and personnel of the Chancery.

The new archbishop has also retained the elected and appointed members of the advisory bodies, as well as the seminary rectors, formators and professors of different seminaries across the archdiocese.

He kept in place those in charge of the Archdiocesan Planning Board and all commission chairmen and officials of the Pastoral Section of the Archdiocese and other Curia officials and commission heads.

In deference to Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Palma said he hopes to continue his tradition and the reforms the cardinal has done on behalf of the Cebu Archdiocese.

Exhibit set for Cardinal Vidal’s 80th birthday

by cebuweb

THE Archdiocese of Cebu will pay tribute to Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal on his 80th birthday this weekend.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who made the announcement at his canonical installation early this month, will lead the celebration.

Organizing the celebration was on Palma’s agenda during his first meeting with the Board of Consultors the following day.

A committee led by Auxiliary Bishop Julito Cortes did the preparations. The cardinal’s birthday, his first since his retirement, is on Feb. 5.

The activities, which were published in the archdiocesan newsletter “Ang Bag-ong Lungsoranon,” will start with vespers or evening prayers at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral with diocesan and religious priests and nuns.

This will be followed by the opening of “Handog Pasasala-mat,” which will include the unveiling and blessing of the Knight Leo and Dame Norma Liu Hall at the Cebu Cathedral Museum.

At the same venue, the Archdiocesan Commission on Cultural Heritage of the Church organized a tribute to Vidal through the formal opening of the Museum Founder’s Memorabilia: Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal Gallery.

Cardinal Vidal left behind many of his personal belongings and donated these to the commission upon his retirement, which heritage commission member Jojo Bersales called a first for a high-ranking church official.

Among the items are the cardinal’s cassocks that have delicate Calado embroidery and the vestments he used to the conclave or the papal election.

At dawn the following day, in keeping with tradition, the prelate will be serenaded through a mañanita at the rectory of the Cathedral and a mass will follow this.

Vidal, who hails from Mogpog, Marinduque Province, was assigned as coadjutor archbishop of Cebu on Aug. 26, 1981 and simultaneously served as Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral parish priest and vicar general of the archdiocese.

He was installed as archbishop of Cebu, succeeding Julio Cardinal Rosales, on Sept. 18, 1982.

Cardinal Vidal’s letter of resignation, which he submitted to Pope Benedict XVI last 2006, was approved in October last year when the identity of his successor was revealed.

Documentary on images of faith wins grand prize

by cebuweb

A 10-MINUTE film on the different images of the Cebuanos’ faith in the Señor Sto. Niño reaped the grand prize in the Sinulog 2011 short film and video documentary festival.

Charmaine Maristela-Cagang’s “Images of Faith” was adjudged the best picture in the video documentary category.

Her entry was also awarded best in editing and cinematography. Cagang was named best director in last Saturday night’s ceremonies.

In “Images of Faith,” Cagang featured, among others, the contingent of Barangay Basak Pardo, Cebu City, headed by Barangay Captain Dave Tumulak.

Senate to summon more AFP generals to payola probe

“He is not that old or senile to forget,” Senator Francis Escudero said in reaction to the comment of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes that he did not remember receiving P50 million in send-off money when he retired.

AFP vows to cooperate in graft probe


MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has vowed full cooperation in the ongoing Senate investigation on the alleged corruption in the military.

‘Garcia needs a bit more nudging to do a Rabusa’


MANILA, Philippines - Former military comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia should already tell the public what he knows of the alleged corruption in the military now that the cat is already out of the bag.

175 erring cops axed under PNoy gov't


MANILA, Philippines – A total of 175 erring police officers have been fired under the Aquino administration for various cases, according to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Slain broadcaster laid to rest

Inilibing na ang napatay na radio commentator at Bantay Kalikasan project director na si Dr. Gerry Ortega.  Dinala na rin sa Palawan ang ikalawang suspek sa pagpatay kay Ortega.

Palawan journalist laid to rest


MANILA, Philippines - Environment advocate and media practitioner Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Aborlan, Palawan on Sunday, as his family continues to appeal for justice.

Suspected NPA leader killed in Negros Occidental clash

(UPDATE) Armed clashes erupted anew between government troopers and New People’s Army rebels in the hinterlands of Calatrava and Toboso towns in northern Negros Saturday, leaving an alleged leader of a rebel-squad unit dead, the military said on Sunday.

MILF tells pessimists in ranks: Be patient with peace process

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has asked its leaders and members to be patient with the peace process, adding that it has never been easy to forge agreements in any negotiation.

Aquino appoints ally's wife to govt corporation

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed the wife of one of his defeated senatorial candidates in last year's elections to a directorial post in a government corporation.

Catherine Mary R. Biazon, wife of former Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon, has been named member of the board of directors of the John Hay Management Corp., according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Sunday.


Valte said Aquino also appointed Jose Leviste Jr., chief executive officer of Mirant and chairman of the Philippine Business Leaders’ Forum, as a member of the governing council of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and National Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) representing the private sector.


Other latest appointments were:


Ma. Cristina D. Padolina, the wife of former Science Secretary William Padolina, as a member of DOST’s National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines;


Villamor R. Villa as acting director in the Department of National Defense;


Benjamin V. Santiago III as acting director at the Land Transportation Office;


Leonardo D. Angeles and Feliciano B. Calora, Sr., members of the governing council representing the private sector for PCARRD;


Jose Maria A. Ochave, Enrico B. Gruet, and Mediadora S. Claudio-Saniel, members of the governing council representing the private sector for the Presidential Council for Health Research and Development;


Rhodora V. Azanza, Marcelo C. Blando, Ma. Lourdes S. Florendo, Kenneth Y. Hartigan-Go, Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr., Victor Marcos S. Venida, and Antonio P. Jamon, Jr. as members of the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines;


Minda J. Formacion, Luis Maria B. Garcia, Ramon M. Macaraig, Augusto C. Natividad, and Phillip L. Ong as members of the governing council of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Resources Research and Development; and


Louis Napoleon C. Casambre, Alma Bella P. Madrazo, Marita V.T. Reyes, Antonio B. Villaflor, and Aniceto S. Villahermosa as member of the governing

council of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

Consulate confirms OFW killed in Jeddah floods


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah has confirmed reports to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was among the casualties in the floods that hit Jeddah following a heavy downpour earlier this week.  

Ronilo Malit, a 53-year-old Pampanga native who worked as a cargo loader in Jeddah, died when he was accidentally electrocuted while passing near a submerged transformer during the floods.

Somali pirates free 3 Pinoy seafarers


MANILA, Philippines – Somali pirates on Friday freed 3 Filipino seafarers working on a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Somali pirates arrested in South Korea

by Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea - Five Somali pirates were arrested on Sunday to be questioned over the hijacking of a South Korean chemical ship in the Arabian Sea and attempting a murder of the carrier's captain, local media reported.

$1: 44.095

$1: 44.09 (44.170)

Euro 1: 60.6276

Al Jazeera shut down in Egypt, signal cut

by Reuters

CAIRO - Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera was ordered by Egypt's information ministry on Sunday to shut down its operations in the country, and later in the day its signal to some parts of the Middle East was cut.

Mubarak clings on amid lawlessness in Egypt

by Reuters

CAIRO, Egypt - Looted stores, burnt out cars, and the stench of blazing tyres filled the streets of Cairo as day broke on Sunday, with President Hosni Mubarak clinging to office and security forces struggling to contain looters.

Mubarak meets military as revolt rages into sixth day

CAIRO—President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday met with army brass seen as holding the key to his future as warplanes in an apparent show of force flew over vast crowds of anti-government protesters in central Cairo.

Top dissident Mohamed ElBaradei, meanwhile, gathered support from leading opposition groups including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood to start talks with Mubarak on ways to defuse Egypt's biggest uprising in three decades.

And as the popular revolt against Mubarak's autocratic rule raged into a sixth day, a wave of jail breaks and increasing lawlessness sent expatriates and tourists rushing to Cairo airport in a scramble for flights out.

A number of foreign governments said they would evacuate their nationals, while the United States authorized the departure of embassy families.

State television said the embattled Mubarak Sunday visited Egypt's central military command where he met with his newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, the military intelligence chief; as well as with outgoing defense minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and chief of staff Sami Anan.

Mubarak, a former air force chief, appeared to be seeking the army support as he faces down the revolt which those driving it say will continue until he steps down.

The United States, a key ally of Egypt, called Sunday on Mubarak to do more to defuse the crisis but stopped short of saying he should quit.

As he was meeting the army chiefs, two Egyptian fighter jets flew repeat low-altitude sorties over Cairo, deafening the protest-hit city, as thousands of protesters crowded into the central Tahrir square demanded he step down.

"Mubarak, go to Saudi Arabia," the crowd shouted, encouraging the leader in power for 30 years to follow deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

A banner in English read: "USA, why do you support the tyrant and not the people."

A group of women shouted: "1, 2, where's the people's money?"

After darkness had fallen and a largely ignored 4:00 p.m. curfew had kicked in, ElBaradei made his way into Tahrir square, cheered by the vast crowd.

"The people want to topple the president," they said as the Nobel laureate arrived. "We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for the nation," the angry crowd shouted.

The National Coalition for Change, which groups several opposition movements including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, on Sunday charged ElBaradei with negotiating with Mubarak's embattled regime.

With fears of insecurity rising and a death toll of at least 125, thousands of convicts broke out of prisons across Egypt overnight after they overwhelmed guards or after prison personnel fled their posts.

An AFP correspondent saw 14 bodies in a mosque near Cairo's Abu Zaabal prison, which a resident said were of two police and the rest convicts.

Shots rang out in the neighbourhood and a resident said that all the prisoners had escaped and many had been killed.

"There are many, many more bodies," said a resident who asked not to be named.

Troops set up checkpoints on roads to riot-hit prisons, stopping and searching cars for escaped convicts.

Among those who escaped were senior members of Egypt's main opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as members of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, some of whom made it back to the Gaza Strip via smuggling tunnels.

With rampant pillaging in more than five days of deadly protests, many Egyptians believe that the police have deliberately released prisoners in order to spread chaos and emphasize the need for the security forces.

"The government wants the people to think that Mubarak is the only option faced with the chaos," said young demonstrator Sameh Kamal.

Groups of club-carrying vigilantes have deployed on Cairo's streets to protect from looters amid growing insecurity as the Arab world's most populous nation faced an uncertain future.

Youths handed over to the army those they suspected of looting, with the police who had been fighting running battles with stone-throwing protesters in the first days of the demonstrations hardly visible.

Many petrol stations are now running out of fuel, motorists said, and many bank cash machines have either been looted or are no longer working. Egyptian banks and the stock exchange have been ordered closed on Sunday.

Embattled Mubarak on Saturday named Suleiman as his first-ever vice president and also a new premier, Ahmed Shafiq, but protesters dismissed the moves as too little, too late.

Both men are stalwarts of Egypt's all-powerful military establishment.

Suleiman, 75, has spearheaded years of Egyptian efforts to clinch an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and tried so far in vain to mediate an inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Shafiq, 69, is respected by the Egyptian elite, even among the opposition, and has often been mooted as a potential successor to Mubarak.

However protesters in Cairo on Sunday made it clear they believed the new appointees were mere Mubarak loyalists.

"Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, Ahmed Shafiq must go," they yelled. "The regime has been in power for 30 years, that is enough."

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Sunday for an "orderly transition" in Egypt but stopped short of demanding he step down.

Asked if Mubarak had taken sufficient steps to defuse Egypt's worst crisis in decades by appointing a vice president and naming a new premier, Clinton told ABC: "Of course not."

"That is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we've been urging."

The Obama administration, she added, has not discussed cutting off aid to Egypt, a key Arab ally. US military aid to Egypt amounts to $1.3 billion a year, and the total American aid bill to the country averages close to $2 billion annually.

In other developments on Sunday:

-- Egypt's outgoing information minister Anas al-Fikki ordered the closure of Al Jazeera's operations in Egypt after the pan-Arab satellite channel gave blanket coverage to the anti-government riots.

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem that Israel is carefully watching developments in Egypt and its efforts are focused on maintaining the "stability and security" of the region.

-- The Rafah crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt was closed, a Palestinian official told AFP, adding that Egyptian officials had left the border following the spiralling political unrest.

-- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for "restraint, non-violence and respect for fundamental rights" in Egypt, addressing the African Union summit that opened in Addis Ababa.

-- Stock markets in several Gulf countries, where many leading firms have interests in Egypt, slumped Sunday, while the bourse in Cairo did not even open.

UN chief calls for restraint in deadly Egypt protests

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for restraint over the deadly political protests in Egypt that have claimed more than 100 lives.

Gangs free militants, foreigners try to flee Egypt

CAIRO - Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

Travel advisory out; DFA allocates funds for Pinoys in Egypt


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is setting aside a P25-million standby fund for Filipinos in Egypt, in case there is a need for them to be transferred to safer places.

PHL issues travel advisory on Egypt due to violent protests

The Philippine government on Sunday issued a travel advisory on Egypt, urging Filipinos to avoid going to the foreign country due to continuing violent political protests there.

Beermen make it 2-2 in PBA best of seven

After a literally bloody ending in the last game, it was expected that game four would go down the wire, and so it did.

Olsen Racela sealed the deal for San Miguel, which knotted the best-of-seven championship series at 2-2, after a pulsating 91-87 triumph over Talk 'N Text Sunday in the 2010 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

SMB's Washington cops second straight BPC award

Jay Washington won a second straight Best Player of the Conference award Sunday night, becoming only the fourth Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) cager to bag the award twice in a row.

14-year-old bags PH's Sudoku Grandmaster title


MANILA, Philippines – A 14-year-old student emerged as the Philippines’ newest Sudoku Grandmaster, after topping the 5th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge national finals held last Saturday at SM City North EDSA in Quezon City.   Timothy James Tan, a 2nd year high school student from Trinity Christian School in Bacolod City, outlasted 28 other contestants including professionals in the Grandmaster Division.

Bradley beats Alexander, eyes Pacquiao, Mayweather

PONTIAC, Mich. - Is Timothy Bradley a worthy opponent for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao? Bradley defended his WBO 140-pound title and took Devon Alexander's WBC belt, winning a unanimous technical decision after the fight was stopped in the 10th round Saturday night at the Silverdome.

Djokovic destroys Murray in Melbourne final

by By Alastair Himmer, Reuters

MELBOURNE, Australia - Third seed Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 to win his second Australian Open on Sunday, prolonging Britain's 75-year wait for a male grand slam singles champion.

Piolo admits relationship with KC


MANILA, Philippines - The hunk actor revealed that he and KC Concepcion have been in a romantic relationship since last year.

Bangladesh beggars to be 'paid' during World Cup

The mayor of Chittagong city in southern Bangladesh said Sunday that he would pay hundreds of beggars a daily wage to keep them off the streets during the cricket World Cup.

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