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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 18, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokkyo@blogger.com)

February 18, 2011 Major News Stories
February 18, 2011 Major News Stories

LPG price slashed by P0.50/kg

MANILA, Philippines - The price of liquefied petroleum gas will go down by P0.50 per kilogram effective February 18, Friday.

With the adjustment, the LPG Marketers Association announced that market price of LPG will now be P660 from P667. - Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

ECOP: P125 legislated wage hike costly

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is opposing the P125 pay hike being pursued by party-list representatives in Congress, saying it is too costly.

'No Ellah files' found in Norwegian national's laptop

CEBU CITY -- The laptop has no pictures that would link Sven Erik Berger and Karen Esdrelon in the killing of Ellah Joy Pique, the couple's lawyer said.

Esdrelon, a 24-year-old Cebuana nurse, opened her laptop in the presence of Berger, her Norwegian boyfriend who is a computer technician, and SPO1 Kenneth Abella of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch (PIDMB) Thursday afternoon.

"There's nothing in the laptop that can be used as evidence, which shows that my clients have nothing to hide," Salvador Solima said.

Solima said only family photos were seen.

He said they scanned photos and retrieved deleted files from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Superintendent Eduardo Saa-vedra, deputy director for administration of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), said members of the media were not allowed to see the proceeding because there were "private pics."

Solima, who will file for habeas corpus at the Palace of Justice Friday, believes his clients' names will be cleared.

Esdrelon said they won't press charges against the police.

"Nauwawan mi, nauwawan sad sila. Patas ra mi (We've been shamed and they as well. We're even now)," Esdrelon said.

Berger, 49, said if their case is dismissed, he and Esdrelon will no longer go to Hong Kong.

"We will relax here," he said. "I hope I will get her (Karen) to Norway."

Elmer Herrera, who drew the cartographic sketches of Pique's killers, said there is only an 80-percent similarity of the sketch to the appearance of the suspects, TV Patrol Central Visayas reported.

The foreigner has thicker hair in the drawing, Herrera said.

At past 10 a.m., Norwegian attache Froy Lovasdal, who was accompanied by Consul Benvenido Dapat, visited Berger at CPPO, saying they were following the case closely and were concerned about Berger.

"We want this case solved in a fair and good way," Lovasdal said. "It's been in the news all over the place. People are very surprised and concerned about his welfare."

Berger complained that he couldn't sleep well after he suffered chest pains and headaches. Esdrelon said she has a cough.

After the laptop scanning, Solima said Berger and Esdrelon were confined at the Chong Hua Hospital.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador, chief of the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Bureau (RIDMB), on Thursday met with representatives from the CPPO, Crime Laboratory, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Central Visayas, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7's Legal Department and Minglanilla Police Station to determine what evidence the police lack and to "get a clear view" of the Pique case.

Pique, six, was abducted last February 8 after class at the Calajo-an Elementary School in Minglanilla and found dead the next day in Barili.

Cebu Archdiocesan media liaison officer Msgr. Achilles Dakay asked the police to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into Pique's death.

Some Minglanilla town officials had raised doubts on whether Berger and Esdrelon were indeed responsible for the little girl's death.

Berger and Esdrelon were arrested last Sunday at the Mactan Cebu International Airport as they were about to fly out to Hong Kong. Immigration authorities held them because Esdrelon allegedly resembled the guy in the cartographic sketch.

In a related development, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Central Visayas will release Friday the results of the verification of plate number 679 that might help in the investigation.

LTO's official IT provider, Stradcom, will provide the data of the vehicle, including its place of registration.

LTO Central Visayas only provided the numbers 679 to Stradcom without the first three letters usually seen in a plate of a registered vehicle.

LTO Central Visayas administration officer Aden Belza had said that they have identified the owners of the first plate number assigned to a black Mitsubishi Pajero.

Belza had said they had foreign-sounding names and were living a town away from where Pique was abducted.

Ombud junks request to destroy ‘sex’ photo

THE Office of the Ombudsman Visayas has turned down a request of Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro to “destroy” the evidence attached to an anonymous letter sent to the anti-graft office in 2005.

The evidence, a photograph that reportedly shows two naked people having sex, was circulated in the prosecution service offices and the media five years ago.

The woman in the picture allegedly looked like Castro, although the prosecutor quickly denied it was she in the photo.

On Valentine’s Day, Castro went to the Ombudsman Visayas and filed charges of negligence of duty and conduct unbecoming of a public official against Assistant City Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas.

Also, Castro lodged separate complaints for violation of Articles 177 and 236 of the Revised Penal Code, undue intervention, conduct unbecoming of public official, violation of Republic Act 6713 and grave misconduct against Rayford Yap of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 7.

After filing the charges, Castro, accompanied by her mother Helen, went to the office of Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Santiago, on the ground floor.

In an interview in her office Wednesday morning, Santiago confirmed to reporters that Castro personally asked her for the photo because the prosecutor wanted it destroyed.

Santiago said she turned down the prosecutor’s request because the records of the case would be sent to the National Archives in Manila.

Santiago said it is office policy that records of cases beyond 10 years should be sent to the National Archives for safekeeping.

Santiago advised Castro she could write a letter-request to the National Archives if she wants to retrieve the evidence, once it gets there.

In a separate phone interview on Wednesday, Castro confirmed she went to Santiago’s office after she filed the complaints.

Castro also confirmed she asked Santiago whether she could get the evidence from the records, thinking the ombudsman “might as well dispose of it.”

Castro said she asked for the evidence because, based on her own understanding of the anti-graft office’s policy, the ombudsman would dispose off case records when these are beyond two to three years.

“I asked the ombudsman archive to follow their procedure on disposal,” said Castro in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, adding that Santiago merely informed her on when to request for it.

Castro said she was not the woman in the picture. The photo, particularly the woman’s face, appeared “doctored,” she said.

The prosecutor said the ombudsman had “closed and terminated” the anonymous letter sent to its office by an unknown sender from Mindanao.

Asked why she requested the ombudsman to destroy the evidence when the woman in the picture was not her, Castro replied, “Because it’s illegal per se, which the ombudsman’s office ought to destroy following its own rules.”

Also, Castro said she has no plans of writing the National Archive.

Cities' league: SC reversal of ruling a 'mockery of justice'

MANILA, Philippines - The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) said Thursday the Supreme Court's decision to overturn its earlier ruling rejecting the creation of 16 new cities mocks the justice system.

LCP president Oscar Rodriguez said the SC overturning the ruling and setting aside its "final and executory" decision is a "mockery of justice."

The LCP is opposing the conversion of 16 cities after it was discovered that these local government units do not meet the P100 million income requirement set by the Local Government Code.

City mayors are now deciding between filing a motion for reconsideration or an impeachment complaint against the SC justices who voted to overturn the decision.

Third reversal

The SC has reversed itself for the third time on the issue of whether or not the Cityhood Laws, which allow 16 municipalities to be converted into cities, is constitutional or not.

The high Court, during last Tuesday’s regular en banc session, reversed the decision declaring the laws unconstitutional with a vote of 7-6-2, and reinstated its earlier decision affirming the constitutionality of the said laws.

Declared as valid and constitutional -- again -- are Republic Act numbers:

1. 9389 (Baybay City in Leyte)

2. 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu)

3. 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar)

4. 9392 (Tandag City in Surigao del Sur)

5. 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan)

6. 9394 (Borongan City in Samar)

7. 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon)

8. 9404 (Tabuk City in Kalinga)

9. 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur)

10. 9407 (Batac City in Ilocos Norte)

11. 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental)

12. 9409 (Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental),

13. 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte)

14. 9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental)

15. 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu)

16. 9491 (Naga City in Cebu)

The Court granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 municipalities whose laws had earlier been declared unconstitutional.

The SC held that the Cityhood Laws, all enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009 or the Local Government Code, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement from P20 million to P100 million in Section 450 of the LGC.

Among the justices who voted to declare the Cityhood Laws constitutional were Chief Justice Renato Corona, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, and Jose Mendoza.

Justice Mendoza previously voted against the Cityhood Laws.

Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Martin Villarama, Jr., Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta maintained the position that the Cityhood Laws are unconstitutional.

Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Antonio Eduardo Nachura took no part anew on the resolution of the issue.

Mayor tells SC to make ruling on cities final, stop confusion

THE latest Supreme Court (SC) decision upholding the constitutionality of the cityhood of 16 new cities got mixed reactions from Cebu government officials.

Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas (Cebu, first district) says it is a “triumph of justice.”

Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) expressed his disapproval.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, on the other hand, is happy with the SC’s latest decision, but said in jest the SC’s decisions on the issue made her dizzy.

"Nalipong na ko ba (This got me dizzy)," Garcia said in jest.

Cebu City Michael Rama called on the high tribunal to make its decision final.

Mockery

“They have to stop now and make everything final because otherwise it will be a never-ending confusion, a never-ending instability. It becomes a mockery of justice if we keep on flip-flopping,” he said.

The SC reversed its decision several times on the constitutionality of the cityhood of 16 new cities.

In November 2008, it said the 16 have to revert to being towns. It upheld such decision in May 2009 but in December of the same year, it reversed the ruling. In August 2010, it said the 16 are towns again.

“We’re happy that we have the upperhand now on this legal battle,” said City of Naga Mayor Val Chiong.

Chiong said he is glad that after all the hard work that they have gone through, “the SC has finally seen the light.”

The Department of Budget and Management has substantially slashed Naga’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) share following the SC’s earlier decision reverting its status to municipality.

Not over

So instead of getting close to P20 million per month as IRA, Naga has been getting a little over P8 million for a year now.

But the legal fight is not over yet as the League of the Cities of the Philippines (LCP), the petitioner, still has the opportunity to file its second motion for reconsideration.

Gullas, however, is optimistic that the SC will turn down the second motion of the LCP.

Asked for his basis, the Cebuano legislator said the cityhood issue has dragged on and subjected to a study by the SC justices.

“Also no new evidence has been presented,” he added.

Motion

The cityhood issue will become final and executory once the High Court turns down the LCP’s motion for reconsideration.

Gullas authored the cityhood bills of the former Naga and Carcar towns which became cities in 2007.

Including Bogo, Cebu, they comprised the so-called “League of 16,” an informal group of 16 former towns converted into new cities.

The LCP protested the creation of new cities because they reportedly failed to comply with the amended provision of the Local Government Code raising the local income requirement from P20 million to P100 million.

Optimistic

Despite the earlier adverse ruling of the SC, Gullas said he remained optimistic then that justice would prevail in favor of Naga and Carcar.

But Osmeña said the SC ruling is not fair.

“To me, it does not look fair. Other cities have to sacrifice because the IRA will be shared by the new cities,” he told a news conference yesterday.

Osmeña said cities like Cebu City should have a higher share of the IRA due to the high demand of services.

“A City is a service center, unlike towns, and so the burden of a City is more. That’s why it deserves to get more support from the National Government,” he said.

Osmeña said, though, he can no longer do anything about the SC decision and will just have to accept it.

The governor, for her part, said the ruling prevents the Province from getting a share of real property taxes from the new cities. But even if that was the case, she said Capitol will continue to assist component cities.

Carcar Mayor Nicepuro said he hopes the SC decision will become final.

He said there were already departments that were created when Carcar was declared a city, under the administration of Mayor Patrick Barcenas. One of these was the Office of the Carcar City Prosecutor.

As a city, Carcar will get an IRA of around P250 million or an increase of 200 percent from its present IRA of only P105 million.

Illegal settlers ‘decline’ cash aid from Church

THE Catholic Church has expressed willingness to provide financial assistance to families that would be affected by the clearing operations at the Carreta Cemetery.

“We are willing to offer them an opportunity for alternative livelihood. The Church can provide a capital for another form of living other than selling candles,” said Archdiocesan spokesman Msgr. Achilles Dakay.

He said if the people prefer to sell candles they can do so at daytime but they would have to leave the cemetery by nightfall.

But the affected families refused to accept the financial aid and insisted they want to stay.

Police office, barangay hall across creek to be relocated

INTENT on removing illegal structures along waterways, the Mandaue City Council passed a resolution asking Mayor Jonas Cortes to relocate the Mandaue City Police Station 5, which is housed in a building that was built across a creek in Ba-rangay Opao.

The City will not exempt public buildings in the demolitions, as doing otherwise will promote “double standard,” Mayor Jonas Cortes said in a press conference yesterday.

Aside from the police station, the Mantuyong Barangay Hall, also built above a creek, will be transferred to a new site.

Cortes said the police station, which serves the residents of four barangays, is not “strategically located” and, as such, cannot readily respond to alarms outside Barangay Opao.

Although Barangay Opao has a higher crime rate, the police station should be located in an area accessible to residents of Barangays Looc, Umapad and Cambaro, Cortes said.

Service

“Dili ko mayor sa Barangay Opao lang, Mayor man ko sa tibuok Mandaue. Kinahanglan ang serbisyo para sa tanan (I’m the mayor of the entire Mandaue City, not just Barangay

Opao. We should provide services to all),” he added.

“The recent flash flood and the overflowing of creeks that adversely affected Mandaue City last Jan. 25 proved that Police Station 5 is not, in any manner, safe,” read the City Council resolution that was passed last Feb. 9.

The City Council proposed that the police station be transferred to an abandoned building, formerly a weighbridge, beside the old headquarters of the 348th PC Coy on A.C. Cortes Ave., Barangay Cambaro.

Cortes said City Hall will coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways about the matter.

Juanito Urot, a councilor of Barangay Mantu-yong, said their barangay hall will remain in its present location until a new one is constructed in Sitio Ihawan.

“We will transfer to the new site as soon as possible,” said Urot, adding that they are setting an example for residents who live along creeks.

In a phone interview, Police Supt. Ariston Pantaluna Jr. of Police Station 5 said they are willing to transfer to a new site, describing their present location as inaccessible.

Regular power returns to Camotes

POWER supply in Ca-motes is back to normal.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Gar-cia said she received the latest update on the island’s electricity situation from National Power Corp. (Napocor) president Froilan Tampinco.

Tampinco was in Cebu last week to sign the memorandum of agreement with the Capitol and the Camotes Electric Cooperative (Celco) after the Province agreed to lend P9.1 million to the cooperative so it could pay the advance payment Napocor requested.

Ordeal over

As of 1 p.m. yesterday, the island was assured of a 24-hour power supply for the next three months.

Tongol’s bro in jail sans bail

THE REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) yesterday ordered the brother of the late Joel “Tongol” Nodalo detained without bail while facing trial for murder.

Isidro “Botex” Nodalo, accused of having shot to death one Glenn Abenoja last August, is denying the charge. He said his only crime is being Tongol’s brother.

“Dali ra ko kapasa-nginlan (It’s convenient to accuse me),” he said.

Operatives of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) homicide section arrested Botex in Getafe, Bohol, where he works as a seaweed farmer.

Warrant

The arrest was on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by RTC Judge Estela Alma Singco, the same judge who ordered his commitment late yesterday afternoon.

Botex is detained at the Cebu City Jail, in the same facility where his brother Joel stayed after being arrested in October 2002 in Escalante, Negros Occidental.

Joel was arrested in relation to a drug possession case, although he was often featured in the news for his alleged involvement in robbery.

Even in jail, he managed to land in the news when he orchestrated a jailbreak in March 2003. He surrendered 24 hours later.

Shot

He was granted bail for the drug charge in July 2004 but days later, while holed up in Barangay Asinan in Buenavista, Bohol, he was shot dead by a wig-wearing assailant while watching a cockfight.

The case, among many others that were described as “vigilante-style”, remains unsolved.

Thousands of people from Barangays Ermita, Pasil and Tejero in Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Banakon Island in Bohol attended the burial of Tongol, whom they described as someone who was willing to help anyone in need.

They criticized the media for demonizing the otherwise amiable man.

Botex shared a similar resentment when interviewed briefly while waiting for Judge Singco’s commitment order.

The non-bailable case against him stems from a one-page resolution the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor on Sept. 27, 2010.

Botex allegedly conspired with one Michael and Marcelino Sansan to kill Abenoja. The killing was supposedly witnessed by the victim’s son and another person.

He denied the charge in the interview and said he has long lived a quiet life in Bohol.

He failed, however, to put up a defense during the preliminary investigation on the murder complaint.

Aloguinsan councilor posts bail on dual registration rap

A MUNICIPAL councilor of Alo-guinsan, Cebu is out on P12,000-bail following her arrest last Tuesday.

Marilou Mancia Ripdos is charged with registering as a voter in Cebu City on March 23, 2009, even though she was registered in the town.

“The allegation of complainant (Aloguinsan Mayor Augustus Caesar Moreno) deserves full respect and merit in the evaluation of probable cause,” read the resolution approved by Cebu City Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon last Jan. 3.

The resolution was the basis for the filing of a criminal case against Ripdos for violating the Omnibus Election Code at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) last Feb. 10.

The case got raffled to the MTCC Branch 2, with Judge Anatalio Necesario issuing a warrant of arrest last Feb. 15.

She posted bail the next day.

Based on the complaint, the respondent used a different name in her two registrations. She was Marilou Mancia Ripdos in Aloguinsan, but Ma. Lourdes Mancia Ripdos in Cebu City.

Afis findings

She also used different birth dates. In her Cebu City registration, she supposedly indicated March 31, 1967 as her date of birth. In her previous registration in Aloguinsan, her birthday was March 31, 1964.

The Commission on Election’s (Comelec) Automated Fingerprint Identification System (Afis) noted the two names bore the same fingerprint.

“The Afis result is an indisputable evidence of the two registrations. Mechanically, the computer would not reveal the identity of the registrant if not (for) the

similarity of the specimen fingerprint,” read the resolution prepared by Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Ruso Zaragoza.

Moreno said Ripdos’s use of different first names in her two registrations was an attempt to “mislead and deceive” the poll body.

The respondent did not answer the allegations during the preliminary investigation that the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor conducted.

“The failure of respondent to file controverting evidence buttressed the conclusion that she really had two existing registrations with the Comelec,” the resolution read.

Garcia: Saavedra bribed me with spa treatment GCs

by By Gregg M. Rubio/WAB

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Governor Gwendolyn has told prosecutors that a “bald man” named Crisologo Saavedra bribed her with complimentary spa treatment certificates to favor his bid for project at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority.

But Saavedra denied giving complimentary spa certificates to the governor and told prosecutors that he looks like “Romano the actor” with a lot of hair that time when he first met Garcia at the Capitol.

Saavedra filed libel case against Garcia, who reportedly called him like a mad dog indiscriminately barking and attacking when he filed plunder case against the governor.

Garcia in his counter-affidavit asked the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office to dismiss the libel case which she described as a form of counter-measure of the criminal complaint for malicious prosecution that she filed pending in the same office.

In his reply to the counter-affidavit of Garcia, Saavedra said he reserves his answer until he sees one sheet of complimentary certificates of Essence Spa, which he claimed he owns and operates.

Garcia said she personally met Saavedra in person at her office at the Capitol when she was still serving as consultant on systems, promotions and development for her father, then Governor Pablo Garcia sometime in 2003.

She said she was with former Provincial Board Member Aina Magpale-Asirit when Saavedra, a bald man, entered her office and introduced himself.

Saavedra allegedly introduced himself as representative of Echelon Industries which won the bidding of P44-million rejuvenation project of MCIAA. But Pablo, a member of the airport board, reportedly cancelled the bidding.

But Saavedra denied talking to Pablo as the governor was busy entertaining visitors that time and he did not come back anymore knowing that Gwendolyn is not in the position to help him.

Saavedra claimed he wanted to explain to Pablo that his decision to cancel the bidding has no valid reason and in violation of Procurement Law but Gwendolyn said he was told by Saavedra that his purpose of meeting her was to convince her father to support his bid at MCIAA.

She alleged that Saavedra insisted that she is in great position to influence her father and placed several complimentary certificates on her table and left before she and Asirit could react.

Saavedra said that Garcia has axes to grind against him for the cases he filed against her in the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center and the purchase of Balili property.

In 2007, Garcia filed libel case against Saavedra for accusing her of corruption over the radio.

Saavedra also later filed the same charge against the lady governor for allegedly calling him a “bald creature.”

Judge calls for no trapos at IBP Cebu City election

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter will elect its new officers next Saturday.

Two candidates are vying for the chapter pre-sidency to replace Mi-chael Yu.

Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes met with candidates yesterday and urged them to

avoid methods of traditional politicians (trapos) like wining and dining would-be voters.

As administrator of the Palace of Justice, where the city chapter’s biennial election will be held, Paredes is also imposing a liquor ban.

“Let this election be a model. Let’s follow the rules. We would be better appreciated this way,” he said.

Addressing reporters who observed the meeting, he expressed his hopes the election will be “free, orderly and honest.”

Allegations

In previous elections, he said, both sides raised allegations of vote-buying.

“Candidates had expensive gatherings before the election. Some offered to pay the IBP dues of lawyers who vote for them. Others urged lawyers to transfer from the province chapter to the city chapter just to win,” he said.

“It’s not good,” Paredes said.

He also hopes the next set of IBP Cebu City chapter officers will “support the court” in its projects, particularly the creation of a records room.

“Anyway, it will benefit them as well,” he said.

Paredes admitted, though, that judges cannot dictate how the IBP does things, adding that it is an independent body.

But he cited the need to “share our observations,” adding the IBP is not merely an organization of lawyers but a body that has a say in whether an applicant’s bid for membership to the bench gets approved and in the selection of justices of the Supreme Court.

Paredes said court assets like a public address system and janitors, who will clean up after the voting, will be made available to the election committee headed by Chevin Vasquez.

Buot-Taup officials resolve differences

by By Garry B. Lao/FPL

CEBU, Philippines - Buot-Taup barangay officials have finally agreed to amicably settle their conflict on the appointment of their barangay treasurer.

Barangay Captain Rosalita Callino gave in to the demand of the five opposition councilmen to replace Marites Morales as treasurer. In return Councilmen Richard Bacayan, Rogelio Cabrillos, Ricardo Cabrera, Constituto Bacayam and Donardo Labitad gave Callino a free hand to appoint the new treasurer other than Morales and her husband.

The agreement was reached before the members of the Cebu City Council committee of three composed of Councilors Edgardo Labella, Sisinio Andales and Nida Cabrera.

Probe into AFP fund mess resumes Friday

MANILA, Philippines—“It will be business as usual,” said blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III as the Senate resumes its inquiry into military corruption on Friday, more than a week after former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes took his own life.

Guingona said all resource persons would be given “equal speaking opportunities,” but conceded that he could not dictate the demeanor of his colleagues.

The manner of questioning "will depend on the different senators," he said. "I cannot say how intense or mild they will be.”

The committee has invited the wife of retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, a former military comptroller, to shed light on allegations that the couple own eight pieces of real estate in the United States.

But Guingona said Erlinda Yambao Ligot was not likely to attend. “It seems that she will not attend, but we invited her,” he told reporters Thursday.

In a previous hearing, which took place the day before Reyes’ death, Ligot denied having any knowledge of the houses that he and his wife were supposed to own.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said he had information that Erlinda was fronting separately for her husband and Reyes when she allegedly purchased two of the houses.

Guingona said the committee was in the process of “wrapping up” the inquiry, although Friday’s hearing would not be the last given the number of guests expected to show up.

Guingona and other senators said it would not be possible to include in the probe fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s allegations that high-ranking Philippine National Police officials also had a “pabaon” (send-off gift) system like the Armed Forces.

A resolution would have to be filed to formally launch an investigation, said Guingona. Besides, opening an inquiry into Lacson’s allegation would be a problem as the senator was still in hiding and the only basis would be his press statement, he said.

“Maybe you can call PNP, but if they just deny it, then that’s it,” Guingona said.

In a statement, Lacson revealed the supposed existence of a P40-million fund spent at the discretion of the incumbent PNP chief. He said a PNP official also enjoyed a gas allowance, supposedly enough to fuel 50 cars running “24 hours a day.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Lacson’s allegations should be presumed “correct” considering that he used to head the PNP.

“But we need a whistleblower, an actual eyewitness just like Cololonel (George) Rabusa,” she said.

“That’s the problem with corruption. You need an eyewitness. If you don’t have that, it’s all just talk because you cannot prove anything,” she said.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said Lacson’s allegations were not enough to warrant a Senate investigation now.

“Congress, with all its host of issues that has to be confronted, cannot just react to the allegations of any single person, including a senator,” he said.

“Names have to be mentioned, followed up quickly by supporting evidence so that we will not burden the personalities that will be mentioned and the institutions that will be affected,” he said.

Honasan: Senate may probe PNP slush fund

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Sen. Gregorio Honasan on Thursday indicated that the Senate may launch an investigation on the alleged slush fund of the Philippine National Police (PNP) similar to that in the military, which Sen. Panfilo Lacson recently revealed.

UN: No check issued for PHL troop expenses in East Timor

The Philippine mission to the United Nations (UN) on Thursday said the UN did not issue a $5-million check to a military officer in 2001 to reimburse deployment expenses of Filipino peacekeepers in East Timor.

De Lima laments lost time in Gutierrez's impeachment

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Thursday that the Supreme Court decision that junked Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's petition to halt the impeachment proceedings against her at the lower house is "welcome news."

Ombudsman asked to submit response vs impeach raps in House

Following a ruling by the SC that paved the way for the House of Representatives to proceed with its impeachment hearings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the panel tasked to conduct the sessions has asked her to submit her response to the complaints that have been filed against her before the lower chamber.

Robredo has docus linking LTO staff to carjackers

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo revealed Thursday that he has the documents to prove that some government officials and police officers are involved in car theft.  

Public urged to vaccinate vs meningo

Hinihikayat ang publiko ng Confederation of Meningitis Organization at Pediatric Infection Disease Society of the Philippines na magpa-bakuna kontra meningococcemia.

Miriam bent on pursuing Cha-cha this year

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - After hearing the views of various experts on constitutional law, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday said she is bent on pursuing Charter change this year.

Martial law victims reject hero's burial for Marcos

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - "How can former President Ferdinand Marcos be a hero?" This is the question posed by an organization of former political prisoners to a proposal to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

SC rebukes Vizconde, fines Jimenez for cuss word

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a resolution strongly admonishing Lauro Vizconde for publicly stating that the court was bought and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who inhibited from the case, pressured and influenced the other justices in the ruling.

China opens door for Binay appeal

Payag na ang China na makaharap si Vice President Jejomar Binay para pag-usapan ang kahahantungan ng 3 OFW na nasa death row dahil sa illegal drugs. Kinumpirma ito ng Department of Foreign Affairs. Tingin ng DFA, senyales ito na bukas ang pamahalaan ng China sa panawagan ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Nabuhayan naman ng loob ang pamilya ng isa sa mga bibitaying OFW.

Beijing okays Binay trip; Veep leaves early Friday

(UPDATE) Hours after a somber Vice President Jejomar Binay said that only a miracle could save three Filipinos facing execution for drug trafficking in China, Beijing turned around and announced it was allowing him to make a plea for clemency in the Chinese capital.

Mom admits Pinoy in China death row used drugs

Humarap na rin sa ABS-CBN News ang pamilya ni Ramon Credo, isa pang Pilipinong nahatulan ng bitay sa China. Hanggang ngayon, umaasa pa rin sila na maisasalba si Credo sa parusang kamatayan.

Kin defend alleged recruiter of drug mules

Lumantad ang kaanak ng isa pang OFW na nabiktima rin umano ni Tita Cacayan. Ayon sa kanya, nakulong din ang kanyang kaanak sa China dahil sa droga. Sinalag naman ng pamilya ni Cacayan ang mga akusasyon.

Family wants to be with Sally before execution

Halos mawalan na ng pag-asa ang pamilya Ordinario nang mabalitaang hindi na matutuloy si Vice President Jejomar Binay sa China. Tanging hiling na lang nila, mabigyan sila ng sapat na oras para makausap at makapiling si Sally bago siya bitayin.

Filipino travelers told: Beware of 'padala'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA - Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz warned prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and those already deployed abroad not to accept offers or requests from individuals or groups to carry luggage for them during their travel as it may contain illegal drugs.

Pinoys knew they were smuggling drugs: Ang-See

by By Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Anti-crime crusader Teresita Ang-See said the 3 Filipinos on death row in China knew that they were smuggling illegal drugs.

Indonesia jails Pinay over drugs

by Agence France-Presse

SIDOARJO, Indonesia - An Indonesian court sentenced a Filipino woman to 18 years in prison on Thursday for smuggling 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of methamphetamine into the country.

Sotto: Restore death penalty vs illegal drug traders

Bahagi ang Tsina ng grupo ng mga bansang pinagmumulan ng iligal na droga. Ayon ito sa isang mambabatas na dating pinuno ng Dangerous Drugs Board. Pero dahil mahigpit ang batas ng Tsina laban sa droga, Pilipinas ang ginagawang pabrika. Dahil dito, gusto ni Senador Tito Sotto na ibalik ang death penalty para sa mga sangkot sa drug trade.

Rep. Singson mulls resigning

Pinag-iisipan na ni Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson na magbitiw bilang kongresista, pero sa tamang panahon. May panawagan din siya sa kanyang mga kasamahan sa Kongreso.

House defers Ecleo's delisting

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives is holding back on the delisting of Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo as a member of the House of Representatives till they are sure his conviction is final and executory.

Pay parking forms bulk of revenues

THE Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) earned P53.5 million last year.

The bulk of the income came from pay-parking fees (P33.2 million). Only 20 percent came from traffic violations.

Citom also earned P7.1 million from administrative penalties.

Atty. Raphael Yap, Citom executive director, yesterday presented Citom’s accomplishment report.

He said revenues generated by Citom have been rising since 2004, but said this does not mean the violations committed by the public have also risen.

Palace to lessen impact of rising food prices

Malacañang on Thursday gave assurances that it is doing everything to mitigate the impact of food prices which are rising to "dangerous levels."

With P110B in retained earnings, PhilHealth won't go bust - Recto

Sen. Ralph Recto on Thursday criticized the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for feeding the public the "disinformation" that it would go bankrupt should its retained earnings be used to address the country's healthcare infrastructure.

WB tells PHL: Spend more on basic education, less on tertiary schools

Well-to-do students tend to enjoy a chunk of government subsidies for college education that government must spend less on tertiary education and more on primary and secondary schools, a World Bank review has recommended for the Philippines to pursue.

$1: 43.420

$1: 43.420 (P43.58)

Euro 1: 59.1535

3 killed, 10 wounded in Bahrain protest

Naging marahas ang ikatlong araw ng kilos-protesta sa Bahrain kanina kung saan 3 ang namatay at 10 ang sugatan. Agad namang nagpatawag ng miting si Ambassador Maria Corazon Yap-Bahjin sa mga Filipino community leader para talakayin ang sitwasyon.

Six die in Libya 'Day of Anger'

NICOSIA—Six people were killed in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday, as Moamer Kadhafi's regime sought to overshadow an opposition "Day of Anger" with its own rally in the capital Tripoli.

Deposed Tunisia leader 'in coma' in Saudi hospital

TUNIS—Deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is "in a coma" in a Saudi hospital following a stroke, a family friend told AFP on Thursday.

Thailand to hold elections before June: deputy PM

by by Boonradom Chitradon, Agence France-Presse

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand will hold a general election by the middle of this year, the deputy prime minister said Thursday, setting the stage for a fierce poll battle in the politically divided nation.

12 dead after Vietnam tour boat sinks —official

HANOI – (UPDATE 2) - Twelve people, most of them foreign tourists, died Thursday when their tour boat sank in Vietnam's famed Halong Bay, an official said.

Police raid company of Russia's richest woman

MOSCOW—Crack police forces raided the office of Russia's richest woman on Thursday in a probe linked to the $435 million she received from a bank founded by the deposed mayor of Moscow – who is also her husband.

Yelena Baturina called the sweep a political provocation that had nothing to do with the money her Inteko construction company received in a complicated scheme from the Bank of Moscow.

Donaire: I'll knock Montiel out in 6 rounds

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire said he will use his height, speed and power to beat Mexican champion Fernando Montiel on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Experts divided on Donaire-Montiel match

Hati ang mga boxing experts kung sino ang mananalo sa laban nina Nonito Donaire at Fernando Montiel. Lumilitaw naman na liyamado ang Pinoy boxer sa mga tayaan at pustahan sa Amerika. Nagpa-Patrol, Dyan Castillejo. TV Patrol, Pebrero 17, 2011, HuwebesTangkad, bilis at lakas daw ang gagamitin ni Nonito Donaire para ma-knockout ang Meksikanong  si Fernando Montiel. Ayon pa kay Donaire, baka hindi tumagal ang laban. Sabi pa niya, baka daw bago mag-sixth round niya tatapusin ito. Sabi ni Donaire, hindi dapat mag-alala ang mga kababayan sa kanyang pagbabawas ng timbang. Hindi daw siya nanghihina at kalkulado ang pagkain at exercise. Si Montiel naman, ipinakita pa ang hugis ng muscle sa katawan na produkto ng matinding training para kay Nonito. Huling laban na niya ito sa 118 pounds kaya't kailangan niya ang tagumpay bago umakyat ng weight division. Sanay na raw siya sa matangkad na kalaban gaya ni Donaire. Tiniyak pa niyang kaya niyang tapusin nang maaga ang laban. "Basta sigurado ako ma-knockout ko siya bago mag-10 rounds," ani ng boksingero. Hati rin ang mga analyst at boxing experts sa match-up nina Donaire at Montiel na mapapanood ng live sa buong Amerika, Mexico at Pilipinas. "I've picked Donaire to win the fight. I just think Donaire is a little bit faster and more of an accurate puncher," ani Kevin Lole ng Yahoo! Sports. Kahit si Montiel ang kampeon, liyamado pa rin si Donaire sa tayaan. Ang pusta ng US$250 kay Donaire ay mananalo ng US$100. Kung manalo naman si Montiel, US$210 dollars ang bigay sa US$100 na pusta. Parehong malakas, matapang, at gutom sa  tagumpay sina Donaire at Montiel. Bigay-todo sila sa laban sa Linggo para patunayan kung sino ang pinakamagaling  na boxer ng mundo sa 118 pounds o bantamweight division.

Bernardino: No hard feelings on PBA's D-League

More than anger, Nolan Bernardino laments the fate suffered by the Philippine Basketball League (PBL).

De Lima denies affair with Mancao

MANILA - A day after disclosing to the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) program "Headstart" that she is "single by judicial decree of annulment" from her former husband, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima finds herself in a controversy involving an alleged illicit relationship with controversial former cop, Cezar Mancao.

De Lima, reacting to a news report that a certain Teresa Irene Abas has accused Mancao to be in a "secret relationship with someone in position, a government official" who is responsible for his admission into government's Witness Protection Program, said the issue could be "just the  start of a possible demolition job."

"Walang pangalan but any thinking person would immediately point to me as that alleged other woman. Inasmuch as ayaw ko na sanang patulan yan, ayaw ko na sanang patulan yan,  pero siguro para lang...baka kasi simula lang ito eh," De Lima said.

The justice chief refused to give details as to whom she suspects to be behind the controversy, but issued a stern warning: "Ang masasabi ko sa kanila, huwag nila akong susubukan."

"Huwag nila akong susubukan kasi ginagawa ko lang ang trabaho ko. This is just a thankless job na ang dami mong sacrifices, and with all of these challenges and then babatuhin ka ng ganoon ka-foul? It's rubbish," De Lima added.

"It's difficult to imagine that unless she's a nutcase, yang sino man yan, yang Ms. Abas, ay ginagawa niya ito on her own na walang nasa likod niya. Hindi ko maisip yan eh unless nga she is a nutcase na nagco-concoct lang ng ganyan," De Lima said.

ABS-CBN wins big in the 7th USTv awards

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast giant ABS-CBN has again proved its wealth of value-oriented shows by bringing home a total of 15 recognitions in the USTv Awards held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Thursday night.

Fugitive Japanese porn actress is in Manila

MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) confirmed the arrival of a fugitive Japanese actress-stripper, Minako Komukai, in Manila, Philippines last January 21.

Immigration records show that Komukai, 25, arrived on a Delta Airlines (DL173) flight from Tokyo.

She listed Glorietta 4, Ayala Centre, Makati as her address in the country.

Under Philippine law, Komukai can stay 21 days in the country as a tourist.

According to sources, Komukai filed for an extension on her visa last February 18.

Bureau of Immigration Officer-in-Charge Rolando Mendoza said that Komukai can legally stay in the Philippines until March 21 because the Japanese Embassy hasn't ordered any deportation.

Mendoza said that Komukai is a legal alien and as long as she doesn't do anything illegal in the country, she is welcome to stay.

In a document that ABS-CBN News acquired, the Embassy of Japan wrote a letter to the Bureau of Immigration requesting for a copy of Komukai's arrival card, but they clarified in the letter that they did not make any official request for Komukai's deportation.

The letter was signed by Japanese Embassy Consul Kenichi Horii.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police issued a warrant for Komukai's arrest last week.

This indictment came after Japanese police arrested a gang of Iranian and Japanese drug dealers last year and Komukai's name surfaced in the list of customers.

This isn't Komukai's first run-in with the law.

In 2009, Komukai was arrested for amphetamine possession. She was given an 18-month prison term but it was suspended for three years.

According to Japanese news reports, Komukai last worked as a stripper and appeared in an S&M bondage film in her home country.

Pusoy during wake? Priest vows no rites for dead

MANILA, Philippines - This time, a priest is putting his foot down on gambling, threatening to deny burial rights for the dead if mourners are caught gambling during the wake.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News reported that Fr. Valentine Dimoc of the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Lagawe, Ifugao has issued a pastoral policy denying the holding of a funeral mass to a person whose family or relatives allowed gambling during his or her wake.

“The policy is pastoral in nature, in response to a social and moral issue in a particular place; the Local Government Unit’s ordinance against gambling is what should be implemented for the common good but sometimes the power is not used by political leaders and law enforcers,” Dimoc said.

Families of the bereaved usually allow visitors to gamble and play cards. Part of the winnings then goes to the family for help in the dead’s burial.

Dimoc said the policy has support from the Pastoral Council of Lagawe Mission Station (PCLMS).

The policy was widely discussed among the Ifugao clergy before it was implemented, he said.

Last December, Dimoc said he already mentioned the rule many times in his sermons especially during the Dawn Masses and during the New Year’s Mass.

Earlier, a local parish drafted a statement refusing communion to church-goers who support the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill in Congress.

"We would like to advise parishioners who promote or support the RH Bill NOT (repeat NOT) to receive Holy Communion until they go to Sacramental Confession and renounce the RH Bill," read the draft statement by the Parish Pastoral Council of Santuario de San Jose in Mandaluyong City, which is now circulating in social networking sites.

The Catholic Church is a big adversary of gambling and the RH Bill.

Catholic parish bans communion for RH supporters

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - A local Catholic parish drafted a statement that they will refuse communion to parishioners who support a controversial reproductive health bill in Congress until they renounce the bill.

A draft statement by the Parish Pastoral Council of Santuario de San Jose in Mandaluyong City urged all parishioners to reject the RH bill "on the grounds it is not only unconstitutional and ineffective but immoral and evil."

"In this connection, we would like to advise parishioners who promote or support the RH Bill NOT (repeat NOT) to receive Holy Communion until they go to Sacramental Confession and renounce the RH Bill," read the statement, which is now circulating in social networking sites.

The statement said that while the admonition may be received with some controversy, "we wish to clarify this is not a condemnation of sinners, but a condemnation of sins and a call to the sacrament of reconciliation."

The secretary of the parish, which has some 50,000 parishioners, said the pastoral council drafted the statement but had yet to release it to the congregation.

"Yes there is a statement but there was no announcement during the weekend. I don't know how it was leaked," parish secretary Ella Dula told abs-cbnNEWS.com.

In the statement, the council said the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of all Sacraments where Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Our Lord and Savior is present in his true body and blood, his true humanity and divinity.

"The Church forbids receiving Holy Communion if we are not in a state of grace, meaning we have not committed a mortal sin. Because the RH Bill is inherently immoral and evil, recommending, supporting, defending, promoting and practicing its provisions and tenets constitute a mortal sin against many of the 10 commandments," it said.

The council urged parishioners to attend talks, read and study the RH Bill, the 1987 Constitution, the Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, the Bible and other books that would shed more light about the issue of reproductive health.

It added that the parish stands united with local bishops and Pope Benedict XVI in the fight against the RH bill.

The House of Representatives committee on population and family relations earlier endorsed for plenary approval the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, which advances the use of condoms and other modern contraceptive devices.

Palace won't interfere in Church matter

Asked for comment, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacañang cannot interfere with what it deems as a Church issue.

"The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has a position on the issue of reproductive health. Kung ano ang gagawin nilang hakbang with respect to its flock, so to speak, is beyond the ambit of government. We really cannot comment on anything. It's between the church and its members," she told reporters.

Valte said President Benigno Aquino III has already announced his support for responsible parenthood legislation that does not favor any form of family planning method.

She said it is not accurate to say that the President is for the RH bill because there are 6 different versions in Congress, some of which have issues that are contentious.

"President Noy is always for responsible parenthood. This means he does not favor one over the other," she said.

PNoy takes swipe at media sensationalism

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday took a swipe at media outlets who promote sensationalism over truth.

During the oath taking of AdBoard officers and directors in Malacañang, Aquino told advertisers that those who support media outlets that promote sensationalism "undoubtedly contribute to the problems we are facing and that's where we have to look beyond the confines of our needs to promote our products."

“We are working overtime to shed daylight on the country, and you can help by encouraging media to police its own ranks, and to provide clarity to issues. Needless to say, the marketing communications sector can help promote a trustworthy, transparent relationship between the government, and the Filipino people,” he said.

"Unfortunately, in our country, sometimes sensationalism is a lot better than spreading the truth. Sometimes, the truth seems to have been a forgotten concept by some of our media practitioners,” he added.

"Those of us who would support them in their endeavors undoubtedly contribute to the problems that we face; and that's where we have to look beyond the confines of our needs to promote our products and be the responsible Filipino that we all can be. The future is ours to make today. Let us make the right decisions to have the right future," Aquino said.

 


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