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

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 5, 2011 Major News Stories

January 5, 2011 Major News Stories
January 5, 2011 Major News Stories

Retailer group maintains cooking gas prices; major oil firms raise rates

PRICES OF cooking gas sold by retailer group Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers’ Association (LPGMA) will not move this month but consumers may expect a hefty cut in February.

LTFRB: New taxi rates out by Jan 5

by By Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines  - Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Nelson Laluces said on Tuesday they will be publishing the new taxi fare rates on Wednesday.

This means the new rates will take effect 15 days later or by January 19.

However, the LTFRB gave several conditions before taxi operators can charge their passengers the new rates.

According to the LTFRB, all taxis should be equipped with meters issuing receipts before they are allowed to charge the new rates.

Aside from this, the meters have to undergo recalibration and resealing.

There are currently more than 22,000 taxi units in Metro Manila alone, and operators expect recalibration and resealing to be completed in 6 months due to the limited manpower of LTFRB.

The LTFRB plans to issue a sticker to taxis with recalibrated and resealed meters in order to help passengers identify which units are already charging new rates.

A group of commuters, however, is planning to file a fresh petition to stop the taxi fare hike.

But taxi operators said they can no longer allow this because the increase has been long overdue.

Some passengers are complaining that some taxis are already charging the new rates.

The LTFRB warned, this is considered overcharging for now, and passengers should report abusive drivers so they can be sanctioned.

Gov’t urged to review work of drug-testing centers

Congressional leaders have called on the government to get rid of fly-by-night drug testing centers, which have mushroomed within the vicinity of the district offices of Land Transportation Office (LTO) nationwide.

DepEd aims for 2.5-M kids in kindergarten


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) is aiming to have 2.5 million children enrolled in kindergarten in the coming school year.

13 people dead due to floods, landslides in Phl

Thirteen people died from the heavy rains triggered by the tail-end of the cold front that hit central and southern Philippines in the past week, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported today.

Aquino orders assistance for flood victims in Visayas, Mindanao

President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday ordered authorities to address the needs of flood victims in Visayas and Mindanao as well as looked into why there were still casualties in St. Bernard town in Southern Leyte when people they were supposed to have been relocated years ago.

St. Bernard, Leyte under state of calamity due to rains

Sa Southern Leyte, isinailalim sa state of calamity ang bayan ng St. Bernard. Dahil ito sa tuluy-tuloy na pag-ulan na nagdulot ng pagguho ng lupang ikinamatay ng tatlong tao doon.

Aquino moves to reduce disaster risk in flood prone areas

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMCC) to review its measures to reduce the risk of casualties during calamities.

Coast Guard: Fewer maritime accidents in 2010

As there were fewer storms last year, the number of maritime accidents was "much reduced" in 2010, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

DOH: New Year injuries rise to 929


MANILA, Philippines - A total of 929 people have been reported injured and one was killed due to firecrackers and stray bullets, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Order to hose pyrotechnics illegal: Young

by cebuweb

TWO Cebu City officials said the destruction of P3 million worth of pyrotechnics that were seized during the holidays was illegal.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said the police erred when it destroyed the pyrotechnics owned by Brian Lim of Pyroworks Pyrotechnic Perfection, seized in a mall last December.

Destruction should be based on a court order, he said.

The police, though, only acted on the orders of Mayor Michael Rama.

But Young said, “You do not follow an illegal order.”

Fire hits dive shop, restaurant

by cebuweb

A FIRE destroyed an Asian restaurant and damaged a dive shop in Barangay Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City, mere days ahead of tourism’s busiest season in Cebu.

Investigators have yet to find out what caused the fire that gutted the Jakophil Restaurant and damaged the Ocean Pearl Hotel’s dive shop, as well as the house of Edilberto Sumalinog.

Land ‘owner’ collects toll, stopped

by cebuweb

THE MCIAA has stopped a lawyer and his client from installing a toll booth at the road leading to the airport to collect toll from motorists.

They want to collect fees, saying they own the land where the road, the airport’s unfinished administration building and the Waterfront Hotel-Mactan are located.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said they will not hesitate to use force against the heirs of Isabel Godinez, led by Sonia Ricafort, and her lawyer, Ervin Estandarte, if they push through with their plan.

Judge Ingles nominated for associate justice of CA

by cebuweb

JUDGE Gabriel Ingles has been nominated for associate justice of the Court of Appeals (CA).

Supreme Court clerk of court Enriqueta Esguerra-Vidal informed Ingles, presiding judge of Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 58, his name is among those included in the “short-list of nominees” the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) submitted to President Benigno Aquino III for confirmation.

Although a Palace of Justice official predicted the RTC Branch 58 judge would surely be appointed, Ingles, however, was unassuming.

He said his chance of getting the position would be “50-50.”

Tomas warns of "water terrorism"

by By Jessica Ann R. Pareja

Cebu City South District Representative Tomas Osmeña warned that granting power to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to appoint members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District Board puts Cebu City at the mercy of the governor whom he believes is capable of turning to “water terrorism” to assert power over the city government.

PRO-7 backs Digal in Ramirez controversy

by By Ria Mae Y. Booc/JMO

The Police Regional Office 7 is throwing its support behind Provincial Police Director Erson Digal in the controversy involving Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez.

Sinulog gun ban starts tomorrow

by By Ria Mae Y. Booc/BRP

The PNP will be on full alert starting tomorrow January 6 while a special gun ban for Cebu City will be implemented due to the Sinulog festivities.

LGU workers get higher pay

by cebuweb

THE City Governments of Cebu, Mandaue and Talisay and Capitol have allocated funds for the salary adjustments of their regular employees.

However, while some of these local government employees may get the mandated increase as soon as this week, others would have to wait until next month.

Cebu City Hall employees can expect the second tranche of the mandated salary increase on Jan. 15, the first payday of the year, said Cebu City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete.

Provincial Budget Officer Emmie Gingoyon said the processing and releasing of the salary increase will be after the issuance of notice of salary adjustment. Capitol employees may get their increase within this week or next week.

The Mandaue City Government has already incorporated the salary increase in its 2011 budget, which will undergo second and final reading in today’s regular session of the City Council, before it can be forwarded to the mayor’s office on Friday.

Next month

The increase still needs a separate appropriation ordinance, but this can be passed by the City Council shortly after approving the annual budget.

Talisay City, on the other hand, may implement the increase next month yet.

Talisay City Budget Officer Edgar Mabunay said the local government will have to undertake a review that will consider the new withholding tax rate, among others, before it can implement the increase, the second round mandated by the National Government.

Mabunay said the amount of the salary adjustment will also have to depend on Talisay’s capacity to pay and compliance with the ceiling on how much they can spend on personnel services.

Department of Budget Management (DBM) Local Budget Circular 95 requires first class cities, like Mandaue and Cebu, to grant a 100-percent salary increase to their employees, “if funds are sufficient and sustainable as determined by” the legislative council.


The circular, dated June 29, 2010, provided that the increase will be implemented in four phases, with the second tranche to be released not earlier than Jan. 1 this year.

Salary increases at Cebu City Hall are also included in the 2011 budget that was approved late last year, said Poblete. Although, the City Council is yet to pass an

ordinance appropriating the increase.

Poblete said the increase is between 25 and 33 percent.

But while some employees may appear to enjoy a higher increase based on percentage, in the end, it is the actual pay that matters as personnel have different salary grades, he added.

The Cebu City Government has appropriated P844,160,990 of its P4.4 billion 2011 budget for personal services.

Usual process

The average salary adjustment of Capitol workers, on the other hand, is 14 percent.

The Province allotted P54 million for the pay adjustment this year.

Although it has yet to pass an appropriation ordinance, the Mandaue City Council had passed a resolution supporting the DBM circular. But City Admnistrator Briccio Boholst said the increase needs to go through the usual process of budget planning, finding sources and approval by the legislative council.

Mandaue City Budget Officer Lamberto Marababol said this year’s adjustment would be

about 25 percent since the 100-percent increase mandated by DBM will be spread in four years.

The City implemented an adjustment of 25 percent last year.

The Mandaue City Hall allotted about P9 million for this year’s salary adjustment, Marababol said.

Although Talisay’s increase may come later than others, Mabunay said the adjustment will be retroactive.

He said the salary increase should be commensurate to the income and financial capability of Talisay City, a third-class component, and must not exceed the allowable budget for personnel services.

Talisay expects its personnel services allocation to reach P8 million, which is included in the 2011 budget of P464 million.

Robredo: Faster disciplinary process for erring cops

by By Jojo Malig,

MANILA, Philippines – Erring police officers will undergo faster disciplinary procedures, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said on Tuesday.

Solve all admin cases vs cops, Robredo orders

(UPDATE) Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Tuesday ordered the National Police Commission to solve all administrative cases against policemen within 30 days to prevent backlog of cases that could affect the performance and morale of police officers.

730 cops face summary dismissal


MANILA, Philippines – A total of 730 police officers nationwide are facing summary dismissal from the service for various violations, the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said Tuesday.

PNP chief orders moral, discipline seminars


MANILA, Philippines - With a string of "bad cop stories" welcoming the New Year, Philippine National Police chief Raul Bacalzo ordered all 135,000 policemen to undergo "discipline" training starting this month.

Lapid absent for a month; Enrile says may be ill


MANILA, Philippines – Senator Lito Lapid, who is reportedly in the United States, has not reported for work for a month now, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Tuesday.

House leader assures Singson of due process

by By Joel Caballero, ANC

MANILA, Philippines - House Majority leader Neptali Gonzales II said they are ready to act on their colleague, Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson, who faces drug charges in Hong Kong.

Bishop: Lacson should surface, Singson should resign

A senior Catholic bishop on Tuesday urged fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson to surface and face the law while he advised drug-trafficking suspect Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson to do the "most honorable thing," which is to resign if Congress found wrongdoing on his part.

No basis to discipline Lacson, says Enrile

There is no basis to initiate disciplinary action against Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson since he did not commit any unethical conduct when he evaded the arrest for the Dacer-Corbito double murder case in 2000, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said on Tuesday.

Masbate vice-mayor shot dead in Novaliches


QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Unidentified gunmen shot dead the vice-mayor of Aroroy town in Masbate province on Tuesday afternoon in Novaliches, Quezon City, an initial report said.

Two assailants riding a motorcycle killed Vice-Mayor Arturo Maristela outside his home in San Francisco Road, Merry Homes, Barangay Sauyo in Novaliches around 3 p.m., police said.

He sustained 5 gunshot wounds, according to police.

His body has been brought to Camp Karingal in Quezon City.

Trillanes to apply for amnesty Wednesday


MANILA, Philippines - Amid reports that there are no takers to his offer of amnesty to mutineers, President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is set to apply for amnesty tomorrow.

Conditional pardon for 'Abadilla 5' eyed

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is studying the possible grant of presidential conditional pardon to the Abadilla 5, a group of men convicted of killing Colonel Rolando Abadilla.

Garcia assets turnover 'hazy' - DOJ

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is not amenable to the reported turnover to the government of some of the alleged ill-gotten assets of former Armed Forces comptroller Carlos Garcia under the terms of a plea bargain agreement that has yet to be ruled by the Sandiganbayan.

Marcelo condemns Garcia plea bargain

Kinu-kwestyon ng Department of Justice ang pagsasauli ng bahagi ng yaman ni AFP retired General Carlos Garcia, gayong hindi pa aprubado ng sandiganbayan ang plea bargain agreement na ikinasa ng Ombudsman. Iginiit naman ng isang dating Ombudsman na dapat  i-basura ng sandiganbayan ang plea bargain agreement.

DoJ plans tax evasion case against Garcia couple


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DoJ) found probable cause that would warrant the filing of tax evasion charges against former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller retired Major General Carlos Garcia and his wife Clarita for allegedly under declaration of income covering 2002 and 2003 amounting to P26.35 million.

Deputy Prosecutor General Miguel Gudio Jr. has recommended the filing of criminal charges against the Garcia spouses for violation of provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code after they reportedly evaded payment of taxes and under declared their income amounting to P12.25 million for year 2002 and P14.109 million for year 2003.

In a 15-page review resolution signed by Gudio, the DoJ approved the indictment of Garcia and his wife. The criminal case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BI) in March 2005.

The resolution was signed on December 23 but was released by the DoJ only last night.

“We hold that the documents presented by complainant BIR are admissible and have sufficiently established that probable exists to indict respondent-spouses for the crime of tax evasion,” the resolution stated.

Based on the income tax return (ITR) which the Garcias filed for the year 2002 and Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for 2003, his primary sources of income was derived from his salaries, wages and allowances and director’s fee from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and Loan Association Inc. with a total amount of {965,708.47 for 2002 and P1.133 million for 2003. (Jeama Sabate)

PAO contacts Alfaro over new probe on Vizconde murders

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) said on Tuesday it has been in touch through “intermediaries” with Jessica Alfaro, the star witness in the Vizconde murders who was discredited by the Supreme Court in its recent ruling acquitting six convicts.

CPP gives few clues on 'Ka Roger'

by By Jojo Malig,

MANILA, Philippines – Except for a short New Year message, the communist movement in the country has yet to show credible proof that guerrilla leader Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal is still alive.

Military wants survey on war vs NPA, MILF


MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Ricardo David on Tuesday said he wants a study done on how the public assesses the military's performance against various threat groups including the New People's Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

NPA rebels vow attacks ahead of talks

by Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines - Communist rebels in the Philippines  vowed on Tuesday to launch attacks against the military and companies that rejected extortion demands, ahead of a planned resumption of peace talks this month.

5 Abu Sayyaf members tagged in Jolo chapel blast

Five members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group were tagged as responsible for the Christmas Day bombing of a chapel in Jolo, Sulu, where 11 people were injured.

Chief Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, regional police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, called the bombing an "act of terrorism" and a manhunt has been launched for suspects Alhabsy Misaya, Dodong Tarik, a certain Arola, Sali Said, a certain Gafur, and other John Does.

The five were members of the ASG operating in Patikul, Sulu,

Charges of multiple frustrated murder were filed against the suspects before the Jolo regional trial court on Tuesday, Latag said.

Abducted school registrar freed in Sulu - police

A school registrar kidnapped in Sulu province in southern Philippines over the weekend was released by his abductors Tuesday, a police official said.

Aquino pledges Navy upgrade to guard resources

by By Manny Mogato, Reuters

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino promised new and faster boats for the under-equipped Navy to guard the country's maritime resources, including oil exploration areas in disputed territories in the South China Sea.

$1: 43.690

$1: 43.690 (P43.77)

Euro 1: 58.4508

Palace extends suspension of GOCC, GFI perks


MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has issued Executive Order No. 19 “extending the suspension of all allowances, bonuses, incentives and other perks to members of the board of directors or trustees of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) except reasonable per diems” until January 31, 2011.

Pagcor employees cry union busting; seek TRO from court

Two employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) in Tagaytay asked the Manila regional trial court on Tuesday to stop the government-owned and controlled-corporation from transferring them to other provincial offices in what they considered to be the management’s attempt at "union-busting."

Aquino to issue order on open-skies policy

President Benigno Aquino III is set to release an executive order dealing with the open-skies policy, Radyo Inquirer reported Tuesday.

Snakes, crocodiles threaten flood-hit Australia town

(UPDATE) Australian residents fled their homes and sandbagged properties Tuesday as a major town was threatened by a worsening flood disaster which unleashed a plague of snakes and crocodiles.

Bus bomb wounds 15 soldiers' children in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan - Police say a remote-controlled bomb tore through a bus carrying children of paramilitary soldiers in southwest Pakistan.

Five years on, Ariel Sharon remains in coma

With little fanfare, Israel on Tuesday marked five years since former prime minister and tough army general Ariel Sharon fell into a coma, ending a controversial political and military career.

Mosley on Pacquiao bout: 'It's going to be a war'


MANILA, Philippines — Former world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley wants to prove his critics wrong when he goes toe-to-toe against 8-division champion Manny Pacquiao this coming May.

EXCLUSIVE: Mosley: Pacquiao a difficult foe

Fight of the year— ganito inilarawan ni “Sugar” Shane Mosley ang laban kay Manny Pacquiao sa Mayo. Diretsahan ang sagot ni Mosley na may tutumba sa laban. Hindi lang siya siguro kung sino sa kanila ni Pacman.

Sports associations given 1 month to present plans for athletes

The Philippine Sports Commission has given all national sports associations a month to submit their respective programs for the year and the budget they require for them.

James' 38, Wade's 31 get Heat by Bobcats (AP)

On a day when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade split the Eastern Conference player of the month award, the duo delivered yet another road victory and reached a new achievement. Yes, the Miami Heat superstars can put up big numbers together. James scored 38 points for his 10th game of 30 or more and Wade added 31 for his ninth.

Celtics win, overcome Love's 24 rebounds (AP)

Paul Pierce was content to set up his teammates while passing up his own shots. At halftime, Celtics coach Doc Rivers took him aside to remind him of his role on the team. "I forgot we had Rondo out there," Pierce said. The Celtics captain scored 15 of his 23 points in the third quarter.

McEnroe says Federer-Nadal dominance hard to break

by Agence France-Presse

HONG KONG - American tennis legend John McEnroe said Tuesday that there were no likely challengers who could break Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's stranglehold on the game's top tournaments.

PAGASA sees stormy 1st quarter of 2011


MANILA, Philippines - Weather bureau PAGASA on Tuesday said it will be a very rainy first quarter of 2011 in the Philippines due to the combined effects of the La Niña phenomenon and global warming.

Birds fall from sky again, this time in Louisiana

WASHINGTON—The second unexplained mass bird death within a week has been discovered in the southern United States, this time in the state of Louisiana, officials said Tuesday.

The latest incident affected some 500 birds which were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, said Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Watkins said an investigation was underway into the cause of the deaths, which occurred just a few days after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighboring Arkansas.

"We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results," she said.

Nancy Ledbetter at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission said officials in that state were awaiting test results to find the cause of death of as many as 5,000 blackbirds in the small town of Beebe as well as deaths of 80,000 to 100,000 fish found floating in the Arkansas River about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

"We still don't believe the [fish and bird deaths] are related," she said.

As to the incident in Louisiana, she said "We don't expect that to be related either."

Officials said earlier that some type of disturbance — possibly fireworks on New Year's Eve — might have provoked the birds to take flight in the dark. Because blackbirds have poor night vision they may have died after bumping into houses, trees and other birds in their fright.

Arkansas officials said preliminary testing showed no signs of disease in the dead birds and that they died of "acute physical trauma."


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