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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 11, 2011 Major News Stories (

February 11, 2011 Major News Stories
February 11, 2011 Major News Stories

Cooking gas price cut by P1 per 11-kg cylinder on Friday

MANILA, Philippines— Liquefied petroleum gas retailers have slashed prices of cooking gas by P1 per kilogram effective Friday (February 11) to reflect the decrease in the international contract price.

CELAC to file wage hike petition on Monday

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Labor Coalition is set to file a petition for wage increase on Valentine’s Day before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

CELAC head Jose Tomongha said their group agreed to file the petition on February 14 but refused to divulge at the moment the amount they will be asking until Monday wherein a formal announcement will be made during a press conference.

Tomongha however said that their petition for wage increase will be anchored on the rising cost of public transportation and prices of basic commodities. In an earlier interview Tomongha hinted that their group will be asking between P100 to P150 across the board wage increase for the daily minimum wage in Central Visayas.

Businessman Robert Go, director of the Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu, said that an across the board wage increase is never a good idea because it destroys the economy because it will result to depletion of jobs.

According to Go, the country is losing big companies to China, Malaysia and Indonesia because of our expensive wages.

Central Visayas currently have the following minimum wages; P285 for (Class A), P265 for (Class B), P255 for (Class C) and P240 for (Class D).Class A comprises the cities of Carcar, Cebu, Danao, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay, and the Municipalities of Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando.

Class B is composed of Toledo City and the rest of the towns of Cebu except the Municipalities in the Islands of Bantayan and Camotes.

Class C comprises the cities and municipalities in the Provinces of Bohol and Negros Oriental.

While Class D is composed of the municipalities in the Province of Siquijor and municipalities in the Islands of Bantayan and Camotes.

Central Visayas has between 85,000 to 100,000 workers.

Ellah wasn’t raped

AN autopsy on Ellah Joy Pique revealed that the six-year-old girl was not raped but she had bruises around her mouth and near her right jaw.

“Pressure contusions” were found on her body, which medico-legal officer Nestor Sator said indicated that she could have been tightly held by her captors.

The bruises around her mouth indicated that she could been slapped and her mouth clamped.

Ellah Joy might have bitten the hand of her captor, which she was wont to do with her brothers when provoked.

She had a big and long fracture at the back of her head, which Sator said could have been caused by being hit by a hard object such as a piece of wood, a pipe or a rock.

She may have died at 11 p.m., some eight hours after she was last seen being picked up at school by a couple 4 p.m. of Feb. 8.

She was a grade one pupil at the Calajo-an Elementary School in Minglanilla. Her naked body, wrapped in blankets, was found at the foot of a cliff in Sayaw, Barili town, more than 40 kilometers from her home.

Before Ellah Joy’s kidnap-slaying, a Caucasian man was reportedly seen giving away chocolates and lollipops to young kids in Calajoan.

But Minglanilla homicide investigators can’t say if he is the same foreigner who picked up Ellah Joy.

If the legislative council approves the proposal, the local government of Minglanilla will put up a bounty of P100,000 on the couple who was resposible for the kidnap and slaying of Ellah Joy.

The kidnap-slaying prompted calls for tight security measures in schools such as hiring of security guards and installing a perimeter fence.

Officials of a local parents’ group also asked the police to intensify their intelligence network to curb lawless elements from preying on children.

The police are coordinating with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to verify the licensed plate of the sports utility vehicle and with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to identify the foreigner.

The Minglanilla police released the cartographic sketches of the Filipina and her Caucasian companion who picked up Ellah Joy in school.

The Filipina woman, who persuaded Ellah Joy to board the black Mitsubishi Pajero on the pretext of bringing her home, was described as more than 20 years old, five-foot tall, of regular build, with chinky eyes, having a “morena” complexion and long straight hair.

Her foreigner companion was over 40 years old, 5’8" to 5’10" tall, of regular build, fair-skinned, with blonde hair, straight pointed nose and thin lips.

Priest, victim’s family settle case amicably

THE Danao City Police Station failed to file a frustrated homicide case against the priest who accidentally shot a criminology student.

Danao City Police Chief Supt. Eddie Recamara said they were about to file the case against Colegio de San Antonio de Padua chaplain Fr. Jonathan Durano Lao in Danao City’s Prosecutor’s Office around 3 p.m. yesterday.

But it didn’t push through because 19-year-old Mark Robert Cecilio Ymbong’s mother, Bernardita Ymbong, wanted to settle the case amicably.

Bernardita, with her three children, signed an agreement with Fr. Lao in the presence of the latter’s legal counsel.

The document stated that the victim, a student at the Colegio de San Antonio de Padua, would not press charges if the priest shoulders his hospital bills and educational expenses.

Arrest warrant out for Ecleo

CEBU CITY -- The Sandiganbayan has done what the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu has long been asked to do: order Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) “supreme master” Ruben Ecleo Jr.’s return to jail.

It issued a warrant of arrest against him Thursday, citing that the Supreme Court’s denial over an appeal filed against the same Oct. 13, 2006 Sandiganbayan 1st Division ruling, which convicted him of three graft cases.

9 Cebuanos survive 11-day ordeal

AN unregistered motorbanca carrying an empty coffin overturned after it slammed into the huge concrete base of the South Road Properties’ (SRP) bridge off Barangay Pasil, Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

All its 37 passengers were rescued.

This, as nine fishermen from Cebu survived an 11-day ordeal at sea while a companion died when their fishing boat sank off Dipolog City last January 29, a police official said yesterday.

The helmsman of mb Four R’s, a motorized boat owned by Randy Bulibuli, had reportedly miscalculated the distance of the concrete base while passing under the SRP Bridge at 1:30 p.m.

“He overshoots while maneuvering to the right,” said Cebu Coast Guard (CG) Chief Rolando Lizor Punzalan.

The motorbanca’s right outrigger slammed into the bridge’s base post, causing it to overturn and sending all its panicked passengers, personal belongings and an empty coffin into the sea.

Most of the 32 passengers and five boat crew were relatives on their way to attend the wake of a dead relative in Cabul-an Island, Buenavista, Bohol.

Buliboli said he was with his relatives to deliver the coffin to Cabul-an in Buenavista, Bohol for his deceased grandmother.

He said they left the port at 11:30 a.m. The boat, which was moving slow and driven by a certain Peter, hit the post.

Sensing they were in trouble, Buliboli said they jumped into the waters and swam toward the shore.

Buliboli said the boat did not sink because the outrigger on the boat’s left side clung on to the the post’s base.

The coffin, bottles containing formalin, floor mat and light stands fell into the sea, an employee of the Oriental Funeral Homes said.

Embalmer Abercio Arnigo said the Coast Guard personnel recovered the coffin and the stands.

Arnigo and his co-worker Basilio Orot were to prepare the body of Buliboli’s grandmother for embalming.

He contradicted Buliboli’s claim, saying the boat was moving fast.

Arnigo said while he struggled to get ashore, he took off his shoes and socks to lessen his weight.

He said the ill-fated motorbanca has a maximum capacity of 150 passengers.


Five minutes later, a CG-led rescue team on board three motorboats arrived at the scene and rescued the passengers.

The passengers were brought back to the Pasil Fish Port.

The CG found out that mb Four R’s was an unregistered motorbanca.

Punzalan said they will issue a maritime violation receipt against the motorbanca owner and submit a report to the Maritime Industry Authority for proper disposition.

In the second incident, Zamboanga City Police Office Director Edwin de Ocampo said the passengers were rescued at dawn last Wednesday by local fishermen in the high seas off Labuan, 36 kilometers west of Zamboanga City.

De Ocampo said the fishermen were rushed to a community hospital in Labuan.

Rescued were Elmer Albis, 30; Ronnie Aranchado, 37; Danilo Dublin, 44; Albert Estabillo, 26; Johnny Misa, 37; Ronnie Monsales, 25; July Pilapil, 20; Diosdado Sorabio, 49; and, Jimmy Sonier, 37, all residents of Daanbantayan, Cebu.

Their companion identified as Glen Dayday died while they were at sea.

The fishermen were aboard the Iloilo City-based M/V Jellah, which left last Jan. 23 in Tawi-Tawi after a fishing venture en route to Cebu.

The fishing boat was loaded with at least 10 tons of fish at the time, De Ocampo said.

He said big waves and strong winds battered M/V Jellah while the fishermen were near Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, last Jan. 28.

The fishing boat ripped into two parts and sank around 10 a.m. last Jan. 29.

2 killed after garbage truck rammed into motor shop

A CEBU City garbage truck rammed into a motorcycle shop yesterday afternoon, killing two men and injuring six others in Oprra, Barangay Kalunasan.

Traffic investigator SPO1 Dionisio Galo said Elvie Mabatin, 25, and Joseph de los Santos, 21, died shortly after the incident.

Studies on sustainable energy strategy, traffic management may start next month

THE World Bank (WB) has approved the funding of two projects for Cebu City worth P30.1 million that will support and complement the development of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

These are the establishment of a sustainable energy development program and the mobile vehicle probes demonstration for urban transport planning and management that cost P4.3 million and P25.8 million, respectively.

Mandaue officials blame each other on budget issue

FOR the second time, the Department of Budget Management (DBM) called Mandaue City’s attention for submitting a deficient budget.

The DBM also pointed out the same deficiencies in the City’s budget in 2008.

No city official is willing to take the blame for the “deficient” document supporting the P1.160 billion “people’s money” last year.

Public information officer Roger Paller said Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes met with City officials yesterday to discuss the matter.

DBM 7 Director Carmela Fernan’s letter stated that Mandaue’s 2010 budget did not comply with the requirements prescribed by Budget Operations Manual for Local Government Units, 2008 edition.

Budget Officer Lamberto Marababol earlier said there was nothing wrong in the budget they prepared. For her part, Council Secretary Fry Mabanag said she was not the one who prepared the documents.

Mabanag said she merely collected the documents from various department heads and transmitted these to DBM.

She said only three documents come from their office- the appropriations ordinance; a resolution approving the annual investment program (AIP) and the transmittal letter.

City consultant Francisco Amit said there might be some oversight, as Mabanag was new in the job. Originally, it is budget officer Lamberto Marababol who transmits the budget and attached documents to DBM.


DBM said there “repeated deficiencies” committed by the City in the 2008 and 2010 annual budgets.

Fernan said Mandaue City’s 2010 budget did not contain program appropriations and obligations for personnel.

The salaries reflected in the appropriation did not tally with the total salaries reflected in the personnel schedule in some offices.

These are the housing and urban development office, treasurer’s office, budget office, department of general services, city health department, city cooperative office and the Mandaue City Hospital.

In 2008, DBM also pointed this out in their review. It said the City failed to submit signed program appropriations and obligations by object and personnel schedule.


In the 2010 budget, DBM noted wrong labeling of the “total appropriations” found in the Statement of Fund Operations of the special accounts of City Hospital and Mandaue City Sports Complex.

In the 2008 budget, DBM asked the City about its statement of fund operations.

“The documents are bound by mere paper fastener. It should have been at least authenticated by signatures of the Presiding Officer of the Sanggunian and SP Secretary,” Fernan said in the 2010 budget documents.

A new deficiency DBM found in the 2010 budget is that the expenditure program did not contain the consolidated programmed appropriations and obligations by object.

DBM also noted the figures in the statement of fund operation did not tally with the

annual investment program breakdown.

“In view of this please be informed that we cannot conduct a review of the City’s FY 2010 Annual Budget,” Fernan said.

The P264.93 million supplemental budget was also returned to the City.

Some CCMC dept. heads ‘inefficient’

TO improve the delivery of health services in the city, the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) is seeking a $10-million grant from the Japan International Cooperating Agency (Jica).

CCMC Chief Dr. Eduardo Sedoripa said they are proposing to use the fund, which will be at least P430 million, to purchase modern health care equipment and construct a new hospital building.

“One of the perennial problems at CCMC is in terms of facility that’s why we want to enter into a partnership with JICA. If the grant will be approved, it will address a lot of problems in the hospital particularly in terms of infrastructure,” he said.

Sedoripa admitted yesterday that almost all departments of the city hospital are “inefficient” in some aspects of their job.

Aside from the lack of hospital equipment and medicines, Sedoripa found out that some of the hospital’s personnel are holding positions they are not qualified for.

Platilla positions

He said he is still evaluating the capabilities of the personnel, particularly those occupying plantilla positions, before he makes changes.

Sedoripa assured that there will be a reshuffling of personnel next week.

Chopped sea turtle found among confiscated fish

A PACK of chopped pawikan (sea turtle) was found hidden in one of the 34 crates of assorted fish that Capitol and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 confiscated last Wednesday.

Lawyer Greg Algoso, the assistant team leader of the NBI-led operation, said the rear and front flippers were hidden at the bottom of the crate.

Algoso said they were unloading the fish in an orphanage when they found the sea turtle, which they preserved in the freezer. It will be presented to the court as evidence.

Even critics are now welcome at Reyes’ wake, says family

from Breaking News

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE 2) The bereaved family of former Armed Forces chief Angelo Reyes softened their stance and announced Thursday that everybody, even critics, are now welcome to pay their last respects to Reyes.

Trillanes sees Arroyo administration's role on alleged AFP corruption

from Breaking News

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday indicated that the ongoing Senate investigation into alleged corruption in the military may reach up to the administration of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Escudero says civilian should run graft-tainted AFP budget office

from Breaking News

A senator on Thursday raised the possibility that a syndicate in the budget office of the military, and not the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Secretary of the Department of National Defense, was the real culprit in the alleged corruption in the institution.

Senate won't apologize for grilling Reyes, says Enrile

from GMA

The Senate will not apologize for its having subjected former defense chief Angelo Reyes to questioning during one of its hearings on alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Thursday.

Garcia owned P1.2-M house in Baguio


MANILA, Philippines - The government has confiscated a suspected ill-gotten property of retired military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia in Baguio City.

Homeless soldiers get own apartments

by By Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Amid the scandal over alleged corruption in the Armed Forces, the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) unveiled on Thursday a newly constructed 10-door apartment for homeless soldiers in Camp Navarro, Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Corruption mess has Australia worried over aid to AFP

from GMA

The corruption scandal casting a shadow on at least three retired Philippine military chiefs also has Australian Ambassador Rod Smith admitting that his government is "very concerned" and asking that the Philippine government ensure that the allegations are investigated and acted on.

Aquino, Filipino people misled over Garcia plunder case—Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman asked the Sandiganbayan to cite in contempt former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-ignacio for misleading President Benigno Aquino III and the public into believing that they were remiss in their duty to pursue the plunder case against former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Reyes not the brains of Garcia plunder—Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines—The late former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes was not the “powerful person” behind accused plunderer Carlos Garcia but probably somebody much higher than he, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said on Thursday.

The senator declined to name this powerful person, but when pressed by reporters if the purported corruption in the military would reach the level of previous president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said: “It’s not far-fetched. We’ll go wherever this will lead us.”

Arroyo’s spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, did not reply to text messages or phone calls for comment.

Trillanes earlier quoted Garcia as saying that he was fronting for a powerful person.

He said Garcia made the remark when they were both still in detention at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, he for involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the former military comptroller for plunder. Garcia has since been allowed to plead guilty to bailable offenses and immediately got bail under a controversial plea bargain.

When Reyes later publicly challenged Trillanes to identify the person, the senator named him.

But on Thursday, Trillanes curtly said “no” when asked if Reyes was the same powerful person mentioned to him by Garcia during their conversations at Camp Crame years ago.

Asked if the powerful person was a man, Trillanes said: “He wasn’t the same person.” But he refused to name the person even when pressed, saying: “I won’t go there yet.”

Trillanes, however, clarified that he tagged Reyes as one of the principals of Garcia and successor Jacinto Ligot after ex-military budget officer George Rabusa exposed at a Senate inquiry the slush fund that allegedly benefited AFP chiefs, including Reyes.

He said a review of the footage of the hearing would show Rabusa saying that money was being handed “through General Ligot, then eventually General Garcia, to the late General Reyes.”

“That time, I was being dared by the late general [to name the powerful person], I did mention that he was one of the principals behind General Garcia and General Ligot,” Trillanes said, adding:

“Even if General Reyes [told] me that he did not gain from the transactions of General Garcia, he admitted that these passed through him. As a secretary of national defense, he was in a position to stop that.

“So I said, ‘Well, if you won’t spill the beans, then you will have to fall with these people.”

Trillanes also said that when Reyes was claiming he had nothing to do with Garcia, Rabusa had not yet come out to testify.

It was in a TV interview on January 12 that Trillanes said Garcia was “a front for somebody powerful” and was willing to talk about it in 2009 but became afraid to do so.

The senator said he had disclosed the identity of the person to some people in Malacañang.

On Jan. 14, Reyes wrote Trillanes a letter asking him to identify the powerful person “in the interest of truth, justice and fairness.”

Reyes’ letter read in part: “[K]nowing you to be a forthright and just person, I am confident that when you do name this powerful person, you would be able to substantiate the allegation.

“Mr. Senator, you owe it to the ordinary citizens of this Republic that you do this. Please let us not keep the people and the issue hanging.”

On Jan. 27, when the Senate blue ribbon committee opened its inquiry into Garcia’s plea bargain with the office of the Ombudsman, Rabusa said Reyes, then due for retirement, had received P50 million as “sendoff” money and a P5-million monthly take—charges that Reyes indirectly denied.

On Feb. 1, when Reyes’ letter was published in newspapers, Trillanes said: “I am naming him [as the powerful person].” He cited Rabusa’s testimony as evidence.

Trillanes said then that Reyes’ involvement in military corruption was not limited to Rabusa’s account. He said he was still gathering evidence in connection with the Lamitan siege of 2001, wherein government troops allegedly allowed Abu Sayyaf kidnappers to breach the military cordon and escape.

Reyes took his own life while visiting his parents’ grave at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City on Feb. 8.

A day earlier, Reyes phoned his friend, retired commodore Rex Robles, to report that Arroyo had phoned him to ask who delivered Reyes’ letter to Trillanes and why Robles knew about it, according to Robles himself.

But what did Reyes’ emissary tell Trillanes when he delivered the letter?

Trillanes said he could not remember the emissary’s exact words. (He also did not say when the letter was delivered, and did not name the emissary.)

“But generally he was saying that as far as General Garcia is concerned, there were transactions passing through him (Reyes) from upstairs but he (Garcia) was not getting anything from it. Rabusa and General Ligot are a different matter. Here, Rabusa revealed that General Reyes is involved,” the senator said.

Trillanes said he told the emissary that he was not referring to Reyes as the powerful person behind Garcia.

But all this changed after Rabusa came out, he said.

Trillanes also said that with so much money involved, it was “impossible that this just happened at the level of General Reyes.”

“Only Malacañang makes such releases of that magnitude,” he said, but did not rule out the existence of a “syndicate” operating in the military comptroller’s office.

Trillanes acknowledged that Garcia held the answer to questions on the identity of the powerful person behind Reyes who orchestrated corruption in the military.

“General Garcia has the entire picture as far as that particular episode of corruption during that time [is concerned]. There were several corruption incidences during that administration, and at some point, one’s conscience will be pricked and they will spill the beans,” he said.

Asked if this would lead to Malacañang, he said: “We cannot preempt anything. We’ll have to produce the necessary evidence before we get there.”

In a statement, Reyes’ lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan said Trillanes’ belated accusation that his client was the powerful person behind Garcia was “grossly irresponsible, defamatory and constituted a clear abuse of parliamentary power.”

Alentajan questioned the timing of Trillanes’ accusation which, he said, was made “out of spite.”

He said it was “an absolute falsehood because General Garcia never served as AFP comptroller when Secretary Reyes was AFP chief of staff.”

BIR to probe generals in AFP fund mess

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has started a quiet investigation of the personalities that have been tagged in the ongoing congressional investigation into military corruption.

Palace still hoping Mendoza will accept job offer

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is still hoping military corruption whistleblower Heidi Mendoza will accept the offer from the President to work again in government.

DZIQ: No more fund conversion in PNP—Robredo

MANILA, Philippines—Something positive is happening in the Philippine National Police and it involves the disbursement of money.

In an interview on “Target Ni Tulfo” on DZIQ 990 AM Radyo Inquirer, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo said that since July last year, there have been changes in the fund disbursement inside the Philippine National Police.

One is making every transaction transparent to the public.

“For example, we reduced what we call the centrally managed items. That means, the money is directly distributed to the police stations and police officers, not from Camp Crame. To my calculation, we’ve already released a total of P241 million,” said Robredo.

The breakdown of budgets per police station can now be accessed through the websites of the DILG and the PNP.

“We increased the money [of the PNP] but we disclose to the public how much,” he added.

He explained the direct release system thus: “If it’s the need for gasoline, the money will be used for gasoline. If it’s for intel, it’s for intel. In that way, we reduce the conversion of funds.”

He said he has also invited the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Transparency and Accountability Network as members of the Bids and Awards committee of the DILG.

Robredo said he’s not guaranteeing that graft and corruption in the military and the police will be totally wiped out.

“Now, at least there are safeguards,” said Robredo.

Nuns, priests to form human chain vs AFP corruption

Several Catholic nuns and priests aim to send a strong message against corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday by forming a human chain along a major Manila thoroughfare together with one of the whistle-blowers.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) said retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa will join the human chain as a symbolic action of unity for truth and justice.

“We also aim renewed unity in our quest for truth, accountability and justice," AMRSP co-chairwoman Sr. Mary John Mananzan said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news site shortly before midnight Thursday.

Expected to take part in the human chain along Taft Avenue are artists, students, and members of various civil society groups.

Mananzan particularly urged students and teachers to join their activity as a symbol of their quest for truth. “It is also our wish that our students, faculty members, professionals and church people be aware of the problems besetting our society," she said.

Mananzan added they are also hoping the public will be inspired by the “courageous deed" of former state auditor Heidi Mendoza “to do a service to the country."

Rabusa had testified before congressional inquiries on alleged "pabaon" (send-off gift) and "pasalubong" (welcome gift), and other irregular practices among the AFP top brass.

He had testified that the late former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes received P50 million in "pabaon" when he retired as AFP chief of staff.

The CBCP said Friday's human chain is the culmination of a forum dubbed as “May pabaon ka ba diyan?" (“Do you have a send-off gift for me?") to be held at the Augusto Rosario Gonzalez Theater of the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Expected to attend the forum are Rabusa, former University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications Dean Luis Teodoro and Philippine Air Force Capt. Joenel Pogoy.

Pogoy was released from detention in October 2010 after a two-year detention for posting videos of his views on corruption on the popular video-sharing website YouTube.

The three speakers will give their insights on the alleged corrupt practices in the AFP as revealed in recent Congressional hearings.

MILF vows to resolve internal rift

by By Manny Mogato, Reuters

MANILA, Philippines - The largest Muslim separatist group in the Philippines said on Thursday it would resolve issues with a breakaway faction that could derail peace talks with the government to end four decades of conflict in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic nation.

Manhunt for renegade MILF commanders continues


MANILA, Philippines – Government forces are continuing their manhunt for 2 renegade commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the military said on Thursday.

DOJ forms panel to probe Ortega slay

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally designated a panel of prosecutors who will conduct the preliminary investigation of the case involving the death of anti-mining advocate and radio commentator Gerry Ortega last January 24.

Ex-Palawan gov: It's a Hagedorn demolition job

from GMA

Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes on Thursday accused Edward Hagedorn, the mayor of the province's capital city Puerto Princesa, of being behind the plot to pin him down for the killing of broadcaster Gerardo Ortega.

Somali pirates seize tanker with 17 Pinoys


MANILA, Philippines - Seventeen Filipino seafarers were among the 25 crew of a crude oil tanker seized by Somali pirates in waters off the coast of Oman.

Immigration chief faces contempt rap over deported Taiwanese


MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Bureau of Immigration  (BI) acting Commissioner Ronaldo Ledesma to explain why he should not be sanctioned for allegedly hastily deporting 6 Taiwanese nationals to mainland China despite its issuance of a writ of habeas corpus directing the agency to produce them before the appellate court last February 2.

Peso drops anew on news of accelerating inflation in Asia

from Breaking News

MANILA, Philippines—The peso, together with other Asian currencies, continued its decline on Thursday amid concerns accelerating inflation could somewhat dampen growth prospects of emerging Asian currencies.

$1: 43.680

$1: 43.680 (P43.56)

Euro 1: 59.6596

Mubarak: "Transition of power from today until September"‎


CAIRO - President Hosni Mubarak said on Thursday Egypt was heading "day after day" to a peaceful transfer of power and he was committed to protect the constitution until that happens.

Egypt PM says Mubarak may step down - BBC

by Reuters

LONDON, England (1st UPDATE) - Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told Britain's BBC that President Hosni Mubarak may step down and the situation in the country will be clarified soon, the British broadcaster said on Thursday.

US says will support genuine transition in Egypt

by By Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

WASHINGTON,  - President Barack Obama said on Thursday Washington will support an "orderly and genuine"  transition to democracy in Egypt, a key ally in the Middle  East, after reports that President Hosni Mubarak may step down imminently after weeks of protests.

Saudi king alive and well - foreign minister

by Reuters

RABAT, Morocco - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz is alive and in "excellent shape", its foreign minister said on Thursday after rumors about the king's health triggered a spike in the price of oil.

Azkals to do better in Mongolia


MANILA, Philippines – With more preparation time before their next game, the Philippine Azkals are expected to do better against Mongolia in their second Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifying tie in Ulan Bator next month.

Mosley on Pacquiao’s speed: Nothing new


MANILA, Philippines — Former world boxing champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley said he’s not afraid of Manny Pacquiao’s fighting style, claiming it's not something new.

Pacman to play in NBA All-Star with Justin Bieber

Bago ang inaabangang bakbakan nina Manny Pacquiao at “Sugar” Shane Mosley, posibleng maglaro muna si Pacman para sa NBA All-Celebrity game. Sa game makakalaro sana niya ang US singing sensation na si Justin Bieber.

Owner Jordan practices with Bobcats (AP)

Short on players for practice, the Charlotte Bobcats found an extra body in the front office: Michael Jordan. The Hall of Famer and Bobcats owner suited up for Thursday's workout, participating in a full-court scrimmage and showing a few of the old moves that helped make him a six-time NBA champion.

Sloan stepping down as Jazz coach (AP)

Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan is stepping down after 23 years and 1,127 wins as head coach of the Utah Jazz. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Sloan's resignation Thursday, and the team has called a 3 p.m. press conference for what it deemed a "significant announcement."

Ready or not, here come the Celtics

by Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers have been in Boston for three days, a quirk in the schedule since their victory Monday in Memphis.

Now they finally get to play a game tonight at TD Garden.

For reasons either informational or torturous, they were forced by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to watch game video of their 109-96 loss to Boston at Staples Center two weeks ago.

"It was entertaining," Kobe Bryant said Thursday, cognizant of the Lakers' lazy fourth quarter in which Boston scored 32 points.

After the team's shoot-around Thursday, Bryant had fun with an us-vs.-them mindset.

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has been criticized recently for over-aggressive play, including a game in Phoenix in which he hit Suns forward-center Channing Frye in the groin.

"He’s a Celtic," Bryant said wryly. "That’s what Celtics do. He’s always been intense. But he’s a great guy. He plays his heart out.”

Then Bryant stepped way back into the feisty Lakers-Celtics history.

"It’s Danny Ainge. Kurt [Rambis] getting clothes-lined. We’re the good guys," he said. "I’ll probably be jawing with all of them tonight. It's fun."

Courtship in time of Twitter: Phil asks Angel for V-Day date


MANILA, Philippines – In a bold move, Filipino-British football player Phil Younghusband on Thursday publicly asked Angel Locsin for a romantic date on February 14.




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