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

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 22, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokkyo@blogger.com)

February 22, 2011 Major News Stories
February 22, 2011 Major News Stories

Feb. 25 a regular working day, says Labor sec

The 25th anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution on February 25 is a regular working holiday, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Monday.

Digal ‘about to go’

SAYING she has lost her confidence in Provincial Police Director Erson Digal because he withheld information from her in the case of Ellah Joy Pique, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will ask that he be replaced.

It is the first time Garcia has sought the relief of a provincial police chief since she became governor in 2004.

Garcia first met with Police Regional Office 7 Director Ager Ontog Jr. yesterday. She said that Ontog asked her who are her preferences for Digal’s replacement, but she did not have anybody in mind yet.

Cebu, she said, deserves someone “who is more professional, more circumspect and certainly more honest.”

“And so, without passing judgment on the case, I wish to state that I have lost all trust and confidence in Col. Erson Digal. He is not trustworthy as far as I am concerned. He withheld vital information from me,” Garcia told reporters during her regular press conference.

Digal told reporters there’s nothing he can do if the governor wants to relieve him.

“Dili na ako. Maayo man ug nanghilabot ko ug kwarta. Wala man. Wa’y problema sa ako kung ma-relieve ko (This position is not mine. But at least I did not mess with the funds. I have no problems with being relieved),” he said.

He said it was Regional Director Ontog who first told him about the governor’s move, shortly after their meeting.

He was designated as officer-in-charge of the CPPO in early January 2010. In August last year, when asked who among the candidates she would prefer as CPPO chief, the governor chose Digal.

Also yesterday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 said it will probe the death of Ellah Joy Pique if the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor resolves to keep the case open and dismiss the complaints the police filed.

Sven Erik Berger and Karen Esdrelon, the two people the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) named as respondents, will “remain among the persons of interest” in the kidnapping with homicide investigation.

Alibi

“We never said they were not guilty. We just said that their claim as to where they were at specific times checked out,” said Regional Director Eduardo Villarta.

“Alibi remains a weak defense. The test to that is, ‘Does their presence somewhere else in that period of time make their commission of the crime impossible?’ We have

not yet determined that,” Villarta, a lawyer, added.

In her press conference, Garcia said she immediately asked Digal to check on the alibi of the couple after they were arrested late last Feb. 12 at the Mactan airport. Digal informed her that the police were preparing a letter because the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel was “very strict.”

On Feb. 14 and 15, she made follow-up inquiries but was still told the hotel was very strict about providing information that will help the police verify the couple’s alibi.

“It was at that point. How could this person be so lackadaisical about checking out an alibi that can easily be verified? It could work both ways. If it did not match, then all the more the suspects were really in for it. But you have to check because there was an alibi. But he told me, ‘Wa pa, Ma’am kay strikto kaayo ang Waterfront,” she said.

The governor said that when she thought Digal was not doing his job properly, she told him she would call the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). She also verified with the hotel manager, Marco Protacio, but was informed they have been cooperating with the police since Monday, Feb. 14.

In a letter, Protacio informed the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on Criminality that the police went to their hotel and viewed their logs on when the couple checked in. Also, he said the linen used in wrapping the child’s body was not identical to what the hotel uses.

Stepped back

An hour after she called the NBI, Garcia said she already obtained verification, so she called up lawyer Kit Enriquez. She said the Province was supposed to also file a case against the couple, but she decided to step back because Digal still did not check their alibi.

Interviewed separately, Enriquez said the police did not follow his advice to file a complaint for a violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

“Based on the circumstances, that would be a stronger case than a complex crime of kidnapping with homicide,” he said.

The governor, in a meeting with Digal yesterday, informed him of her disappointment.

“So, that’s up to him now unsa iya buhaton (to decide what to do). He is aware that I have lost my trust in him. I could request for his relief, but I think the ball is in the court of Col. Digal. I think mas nahibaw siya unsa angay niya buhaton. Naa na na sa sunod nga lakang ni Col. Digal (He knows what he ought to do next. The next move is up to him),” she said.

Capitol spokesperson Atty. Rory Jon Sepulveda said he hopes the request to the PNP Headquarters will not be treated as a mere complaint, but will be granted. As governor, Garcia can request for his relief, but it will be the PNP Headquarters who will decide.

Garcia said she had chosen to recommend Digal out of the many aspiring provincial police directors and “in that sense, I felt responsible for having picked him” to be the CPPO director.

Task force

The NBI’s verification showed, among others, that Berger and Esdrelon were checking in at the Waterfront Hotel less than an hour after Pique was allegedly abducted in

Calajoan, Minglanilla, Cebu. The town lies at least 15 kilometers away from Cebu City.

Villarta said they were already doing “fact-finding” when the provincial police lodged its complaint.

“We stopped, out of respect for their investigation and so as not to prejudice the preliminary investigation of the prosecutors,” he said.

He clarified that the verification the NBI 7 made on the claims of the respondents was not done on their initiative, as requested by the governor, who heads a provincial inter-agency task force against crime.

Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla submitted a copy of the NBI’s report to the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor yesterday afternoon.

“It is observed that Berger and Esdrelon had no visitors during their stay at the hotel (Days Hotel in Lapu-Lapu from Feb. 7 to 8). They wore the same clothes at the time they checked in and checked out,” the report said.

Location

At 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, the couple went to a Norwegian School in Barangay Camputhaw, Cebu City. They paid for Esdrelon’s reservation and enrollment.

James Daniel Sigvathsen, a Norwegian national who owns the school, confirmed the couple left their establishment at 4 p.m.

From the school, the couple dropped by the nearby Family Choice Restaurant, where they stayed for about 40 minutes.

They arrived in Waterfront at 4:45 p.m. that same day.

The NBI presented screenshots from the hotel’s surveillance footage, which showed the couple in the hotel until they checked out at 10:48 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

The report said it is “significant to note that the series of events showing the physical presence of subjects at the Waterfront premises had been covered by CCTC security camera.”

Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) information technology provider already concluded its search for the vehicle allegedly used in Ellah’s abduction.

LTO 7 officials, however, were not given a copy of Stradcom’s report since the request for verification and identification came from officials of the LTO central office. It may be forwarded to the LTO 7 today, Regional Director Raul Aguilos said.

Norwegian, fiancée want criminal raps dismissed

CEBU CITY – Norwegian national Sven Erik Berger and fiancée Karen Esdrelon on Monday asked the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor to dismiss outright the special complex crime of kidnapping with homicide charges the police filed against them.

The couple said it was “impossible” for them to kidnap Ellah Joy Pique in the afternoon of Feb. 8 in Calajo-an, Minglanilla, because their “movement was only confined” at the Norwegian School and the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City when the alleged crime was committed.

Accompanied by their lawyers, Salvador Solima and Glen Villariza, the couple went to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office Monday afternoon to swear to their affidavit.

Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, first district) on Monday urged schools, resorts and communities to be watchful against criminals who victimize children.

Council

“No effort should be spared in safeguarding our children,” said Gullas, whose jurisdiction includes Minglanilla.

He said barangay tanods, school officials, as well as hotel and resort personnel should accost persons who accompany a child or children who are not their relatives.

Calajo-an barangay captain Samuel Sedano said his village has an active council for the protection of children, but he admitted that lack of funds hampers the body’s efforts to create programs that promote children’s welfare.

Solima, in an interview after the submission of his clients’ counter-affidavit, said the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office should dismiss outright the charges lodged against Berger and Esdrelon.

NBI

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, as head of an inter-agency task force against crime, submitted to the prosecutor’s office yesterday the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) findings on Berger and Esdrelon’s whereabouts.

The NBI got photos, captured by security cameras, showing the couple at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino past 4 p.m. on Feb. 8.

“The pronouncement of the governor confirms that there is no case. That confirms the innocence of the respondents. The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor should immediately act to dismiss the case and order the release of the respondents. They (couple) should be released now,” Solima told reporters.

In their counter-affidavit, Berger and Esdrelon outlined their itinerary from Feb. 7—the day of the Norwegian’s arrival at the Mactan Cebu International Airport—until the afternoon of Feb. 9, when they reportedly went to Esdrelon’s house in Tuburan, Cebu.

Certifications

They attached in their affidavit certifications from the Norwegian School and the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City.

“There is no way that we could be in Calajo-an, Minglanilla, Cebu at 4 p.m., the time six-year-old Ellah Joy Pique was kidnapped and later murdered,” the couple’s affidavit read.

The couple also expressed their gratitude to Governor Garcia for directing the NBI to investigate the case.

They also said they have forgiven CPPO Director Erson Digal.

Convinced

But Renante Pique, the victim’s father, said in a separate interview that he is still convinced the couple is the culprit.

Renante went to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office Monday morning to get a copy of his family’s complaint. He said they hired lawyer Darryl Amante as a private prosecutor.

While the case remains unresolved, officials of the barangay and the Calajo-an Elementary School will sign a memorandum of agreement in connection with the deployment of tanods in the school.

As stated in the agreement, the school will give P1,000 as monthly honorarium for the tanods, on top of the P700 they receive each month from the barangay. Six tanods will take turns guarding the school, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Laws

The barangay has 14 tanods at present, but they’re planning to hire more to reach the ratio of 20 tanods per barangay, as prescribed in the law.

Gullas said the killing of Ellah Joy underscores the need for stronger defensive actions against possible attacks on children.

"We actually have very powerful laws protecting our children against prostitution, sexual exploitation and abuse," he said.

He cited Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, which states that any person could be held criminally liable for attempted child prostitution, if caught alone with an underage girl or boy who is not related to him or her, in a room or in a motor vehicle.

Penalty

Gullas said there is also an attempt to commit child prostitution, "when any person is receiving services from a child in a sauna parlor or bath, massage clinic, health club and other similar establishments."

He said the penalty for "attempt to commit child prostitution" is lower by two degrees than that prescribed penalty for the consummated felony, which is 14 years, eight months and one day to life in prison.

Meanwhile, Presidential Decree 603 or the The Child and Youth Welfare Code of 1974, mandates the creation of a council for the protection of children in every barangay.

But Sedano said the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) in Calajoan is “weak,” mainly because of lack of funds.

He said BCPC members sometimes have to use their money to pursue cases of abuse against children.

Sedano, who attended the burial of Ellah Joy last Sunday, assured the Pique family of the barangay’s support.

Although the barangay may not be able to offer financial aid, the officials are willing to extend assistance to the family using their money.

He refused to comment about the case of Esdrelon and Berger, but said they will cooperate with the police by sharing with them whatever information they will get related to the death of Ellah Joy.

Another accusation raised against Joavan

by cebuweb

JOAVAN Fernandez may face yet another complaint, this time for allegedly mauling his car painter-friend over the weekend in Talisay City.

This allegedly happened when Casimiro Briones turned down Joavan’s proposal to join him in a motorcycle race at the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR).

No whitewash in probe of Biñas

by By Ria Mae Y. Booc and Niña G. Sumacot/BRP

Police Regional Office-7 director Ager Ontog said there will be no whitewash in the investigation of the administrative case against Talisay City police chief Supt. Henry Biñas.

Sandiganbayan junks Ecleo's bid to dismiss arrest warrant

The Sandiganbayan First Division on Monday dismissed Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.’s eleventh-hour attempt to keep himself from being arrested, following his conviction on three counts of graft in 2006.

In a one-page order, the anti-graft court denied Ecleo’s motion to recall his warrant of arrest, citing the adverse rulings of the Supreme Court against the lawmaker’s contentions.

“(T) he Court resolves to deny the motion, the accused himself having acknowledged in his motion that… the Honorable Supreme Court had issued entries of judgment on the different petitions he had filed before that Court," the Sandiganbayan said.

“Hence, the Decision herein had become final and executory, and the warrant of arrest against the accused was properly issued as a matter of course," it added.

Ecleo, who is the “supreme master" of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), filed the motion on Feb. 14 through lawyers Lucas C. Carpio Jr. and Jose Ventura Aspiras.

Ecleo said in his motion the arrest warrant failed to take note of a third petition now pending before the SC, in which he filed to challenge the guilty verdict against him.

Only two petitions mentioned

The resolution of the Sandiganbayan ordering his arrest only mentioned two petitions, Ecleo maintained in his motion.

The Sandiganbayan's First Division on Jan. 28 issued a new arrest warrant on Ecleo after the SC affirmed in November 2010 the anti-graft court’s decision to convict Ecleo and two other local officials of graft.

Ecleo was convicted on his alleged involvement in anomalous construction deals when he was still mayor of San Jose town, Surigao del Norte from 1991 to 1994.

Government auditors discovered that the public market and the supposed new municipal building were mere “concrete-and-steel skeletons", while a supposed guesthouse was found to be occupied by a private organization.

Ecleo gained national attention in June 2002 when 22 of his followers and a policeman were killed in a firefight at the PBMA compound on Dinagat Island off Surigao del Norte.

Unharmed, he surrendered shortly after the incident to the police and military forces trying to arrest him as a suspect in the brutal murder of his wife, Alona Bacolod Ecleo, and her parents.

Bongbong wants housing program for govt employees

A bill has been filed at the Senate seeking to create a national housing program specifically for government employees.

GSIS relaxes policy on survivorship pension

Survivors of deceased pensioners will receive as much as P15,000 per month as the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has issued new guidelines on survivorship pension.

The new guidelines state that survivors of deceased pensioners must receive half the salary of a department undersecretary or slightly over P30,000, said the state-owned pension fund for government employees.

GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara said the agency based the amount of survivorship pension on the salary of a department undersecretary because it is "the highest career position in government."

Surviving spouses were disqualified from getting their monthly benefits if they earn more than the minimum wage rate of national government employees or if they get pension from other institutions.

The previous policy, implemented under the term of former GSIS head Winston Garcia, said the surviving spouse must be dependent upon the member or the second beneficiary should not be employed or engaged in any gainful activity.

More than 300,000 survivors of deceased pensioners stand to benefit from the new policy.

For pensions suspended under the previous policy, the agency will restore the accrued amounts equivalent to the period of suspension, Vergara said.

For denied applications to avail of the survivorship pension, surviving spouses are requested to submit their applications for processing and retroactive computation, he added.

The GSIS has over 1.7 million members and pensioners.

DepEd reminds schools not to collect fees for grad rites, parties

As the graduation season draws near, the Department of Education (DepEd) reminded public and private elementary and secondary schools to refrain from collecting graduation fees from the students.

Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro reminded school heads and teachers to keep graduation rites simple and avoid lavish graduation ceremonies, which may be an additional financial burden to parents.

Graduation should serve as a reward to parents for sending their children to school and should not be a reason for them to worry financially, Luistro said in a statement.

He added that additional school fees for celebrations like graduation may discourage enrollment, especially among the very poor.

The Education department earlier released DepEd Order No. 4, which highlights its policy on the conduct and collection of fees for graduation rites.

No "extravagant special attire" or extraordinary venue should be required. "Graduation rites should not be exercises in splurging and display of pomp and pageantry but should be Spartan affairs that exhort civic duties, sense of community and personal responsibilities," the DepEd Order said.

DepEd also appealed to schools to refrain from holding graduation parties or balls that will require students to pay additional expenses, unless agreed upon by the school's parent-teacher association.

The collection of fees must also be on a voluntary basis, and teachers and principals should not be involved in collecting the contributions, the DepEd said.

Under DepEd Order No. 4, graduation rites for this school year shall be scheduled any day between April 1 to 7, 2011.

CHED urged: Review nursing program PAFP says quality of nursing graduates in the country is deteriorating

by By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/FPL

An official of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians is urging the government through the Commission on Higher Education to look into the nursing curriculum of the different schools nationwide claiming that the quality of nursing graduates is dwindling.

150 gov’t workers, execs in Negros linked to drugs

by By Carine Asutilla, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas

BAYAWAN CITY, Philippines – Around 150 government employees and officials in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, are reportedly being monitored by authorities over illegal drugs

4 dead, 2 wounded in Pagadian jailbreak

A jailbreak Monday afternoon in Pagadian City left at least four people dead and two others wounded, said Pagadian police chief inspector Michael Palermo.

7 inmates escape in jailbreak in Pagadian City

MANILA, Philippines—Seven inmates escaped from the provincial jail in San Jose, Pagadian City, on Monday, police said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. said that at around 1 p.m., seven inmates of the provincial jail shot dead a jail guard and one inmate, and fled. Another jail guard was wounded trying to stop them, Cruz said.

They were assisted in their escape by still unidentified men, the spokesman told reporters. He said that police operatives were in hot pursuit of the escapees.

Cruz identified the escapees as Camarudin Subu, Roger Cañete, Badrudin Dimalunda, Sadam Dumandus, Tukan Guianale, Alex Abas Pacho and Ronaldo llanes.

Palace dismayed over bishops' pullout from RH talks

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has expressed dismay over the decision of Catholic bishops to suspend talks with the government over the reproductive health (RH) bill.

LTO chief claims innocence on car theft case

by By Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres on Monday insisted her innocence on allegations that she helped car thieves register a stolen vehicle.

DOJ eyes swift resolution of LTO chief's carjack case

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered the immediate resolution of the criminal complaint against Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres and others in connection with allegedly facilitating the registration of stolen vehicles.

Ash from Mt. Bulusan falls on neighboring Masbate province

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Volcanic ash belched by Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon early Monday had drifted and reached Masbate City and the island town of Ticao in Masbate, report of the Philippine Information Agency Masbate provincial office said.

NDRRMC: Mt. Bulusan explosion affects 108,699

The explosion of restive Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon province in Bicol on Monday affected at least 108,699 people in areas around the volcano, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.

Drilon puzzled by lack of plunder case vs Ligot

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Franklin Drilon said Monday that he cannot explain why former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Jacinto Ligot has not been charged with plunder despite allegation that he amassed hundreds of millions of pesos worth of ill-gotten wealth while in the military.

Senate oversight committee to probe intel funds

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate will reactivate its oversight committee to investigate anomalies in intelligence funds of government agencies.

Sen. Francis Escudero said the committee is being organized and is expected to begin hearings by the beginning of March.

The rules of the committee are also being revised to make sure that witnesses will not dodge questions with the excuse that they can't compromise national security. But Escudero said the oversight committee will not be as open as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to make sure that it will not affect national security and intelligence operations.

"Hindi na puede yung mga dating gawi at yung mga dating rason nila at hindi tatanggapin ng inyong komite ang mga ganyang rason  na national security, biglang hindi na pedeng sumagot. Mag-e-executive session kami mapasagot lamang sila at mapapaliwanag lamang sila," he said.

Former Commission on Audit chairman Guillermo Carague earlier confirmed that intelligence funds of government agencies are not audited in detail fully since auditors merely require a certificate from the head of the agency that the funds were used for espionage.

“If you want us to edit these funds, don’t call it intelligence funds, call it something else," he told senators during last week's Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

Ombudsman seeks perjury conviction of ex-AFP chief Abadia

The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan First Division to declare former Armed Forces chief Lisandro Abadia guilty of perjury for allegedly misrepresenting a P2-million increase in his assets, liabilities and net worth almost two decades ago.

PH gov't, NDF claim truce violations before talks end

by By Manny Mogato, Reuters

MANILA  - Philippine security forces and Maoist guerrillas accused each other of violating a ceasefire ahead of the end of a round of peace talks in Norway on Monday, but they are expected to agree to meet again.

CHR says findings on botanist’s death inconclusive

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday said it would be inconclusive to say that the military did not kill botanist Leonardo Co and his two companions since only nine soldiers' firearms had been inspected and compared with the bullets that killed the men.

DoJ to file murder raps based on discovery of skeletal remains

(UPDATE) The Department of Justice is keen on filing murder charges against members of the influential Ampatuan clan following the recovery of skeletal remains of supposed victims of their previous atrocities, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Monday.

Filipinos favor TV coverage of Maguindanao massacre trial —SWS survey

MANILA, Philippines—Public interest in the Maguindanao massacre case remained high with 9 in 10 Filipinos saying they favor television coverage of the ongoing trial, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey.

More raps filed vs hostage-taker’s brod

MANILA, Philippines—Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Gregorio Mendoza, the brother of slain hostage-taker, former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, has been charged with being an accomplice in last year’s August 23 hostage-taking at the Quirino Grandstand which left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

X-ray machines in PH airports can't detect drugs

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police Aviation Group admitted today that the security machines in airports do not have the capability to detect drugs.

PO3 Linda Estacio, duty officer of the security group, said the x-ray machines can only easily identify guns, bullets and other metals.

Drugs, especially those in powder form, can only be seen in the monitor as black, blurry stuff, she added.

Bureau of Customs assistant chief of the aircraft operations division Mario Deseo said airport personnel can only rely on drug-sniffing dogs in arresting drug couriers, and to such extent, cooperation with international intelligence networks.

Deseo said even customs personnel lack up-to-date training on how to detect illegal objects, such as drugs.

Despite these, it has been learned that non-uniformed personnel of the Office of the Transport Security will now undergo training to be able to help in the fight against drugs.

Several quarters have blamed airport personnel for allowing drug couriers to smuggle drugs out of the country.

Some of these so-called drug mules are now facing charges in different parts of the world. The controversy came to its peak after the announcement of the execution of the 3 Filipinos in China.

The execution was postponed, however, after Vice President Jejomar Binay went to discuss matters with court officials there.

Senator proposes prisoner-exchange treaties with OFW-hosting countries

MANILA, Philipppines—Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero is urging the government to initiate prisoner-exchange treaties with countries hosting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Roxas meets with Taiwan's foreign minister

by Agence France-Presse

TAIPEI - An unofficial envoy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III was in Taipei Monday, officials said, in an attempt to cool a row over the deportation of 14 Taiwanese to China, officials said.

Palace won't send Cimatu back to MidEast hotspots

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

Malacanang on Monday said it will no longer send  Middle East Preparedness Committee chairman Roy Cimatu to strife-torn  countries in the Middle East since Philippine embassies are already  attending to the needs of Filipinos there.

Gov’t to tackle possible OFW deployment ban to Middle East in labor conference

MANILA, Philippines—As civil war threatens to break out in Libya, a labor official on Monday said that the government was studying whether to defer the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Middle Eastern countries wracked by civil unrest.

$1: 43.400

$1: 43.400 (P43.34)

Euro 1: 59.4048

CH makes 13th payment on SRP loan

by cebuweb

THE Cebu City Government paid P276.5 million for the 13th amortization for the loan it took out to build the South Reclamation Project, now known as the South Road Properties (SRP).

Almost half of the amount, or P114,887,887.60, went to interest alone.

City eyes moving abattoir to property in Mambaling

by By Jessica Ann R. Pareja/JMO

The Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries is looking into the possibility of transferring the city abattoir to a bigger area in Barangay Mambaling.

City officials fly to Romania for sister-city deal

by cebuweb

MANDAUE City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Vice Mayor Glenn Bercede and six city councilors left for Romania last Sunday on a weeklong mission to forge a sister-city relationship with Bacau City, 300 kilometers north of the country’s capital city of Bucharest.

Part of the relationship between the two cities is the promotion of economic, social, technological, cultural and political interests between them.

In Cortes’ absence, Councilor Demetrio Jun Cortes is now the acting mayor, from last Sunday until the group returns on Feb. 28.

Several Libyan cities held by protesters—rights group

PARIS—Several Libyan cities, including Benghazi and Sirte, have fallen to demonstrators opposing Moamer Kadhafi's rule after army units defected, the International Federation for Human Rights said Monday.

Gaddafi under threat as revolt hits Tripoli

by Reuters

TRIPOLI, Libya - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's four-decade-old rule appeared in increasing jeopardy on Monday as anti-government protests reached the capital for the first time, leaving dozens dead at the hands of the security forces.

China calls for unrest to be defused; "Jasmine" revolt

by By Chris Buckley, Reuters

BEIJING, China - China's domestic security chief said the government must find new ways to defuse unrest, underscoring Beijing's anxiety about control even after police squashed weekend calls for gatherings inspired by Middle East uprisings.

Egypt cabinet reshuffle brings in opposition

by By Yasmine Saleh and Shaimaa Fayed, Reuters

CAIRO, Egypt - An Egyptian cabinet reshuffle includes several opponents of the former president, media reported on Monday, a move unthinkable when Hosni Mubarak was still in power although his ministers still hold key portfolios.

Sudan's Bashir not standing for re-election-party

by Reuters

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will not stand at the next election as part of a package of reforms aimed at democratising the country, a senior official of the ruling party said on Monday.

Thousands protest in Yemen demanding president quit

SANAA—Thousands of Yemenis, including students and MPs, joined a protest near the university campus in the capital Sanaa on Monday calling on veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit, an AFP reporter said.Security forces surrounded the area.

Three more swine flu deaths in Hong Kong: officials

by Agence France-Presse

HONG KONG - Three more people in Hong Kong have died from swine flu, bringing the death toll to at least 17 in the past month, the territory's health authority said Monday.

No way to go but up, says Donaire's promoter

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum wants a short reign at bantamweight for Nonito Donaire Jr. Seeing how the soft-spoken but hard-punching Filipino made short work of durable Mexican Fernando Montiel in a little less than six minutes in their 12-round title fight Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the veteran promoter expects Donaire to blow past the rest of the contenders in the 118-pound division.

Pacquiao to Donaire: Keep your feet on the ground

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao sent his congratulations to compatriot Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr., who rose to champion status after dethroning Mexican foe Fernando Montiel Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila).

"To Donaire, sa pagkapanalo, congrats ha! Salamat at nanalo ka na naman ulit. Nakapagbigay ka naman ng karangalan sa ating bansa," Pacquiao said of Donaire.

The 28-year-old Donaire is seen to be next in line with Pacquiao after a shocking 2nd round stoppage in their bantamweight bout.

The "Filipino Flash" now has an improved record of 26-1 with 18 knockout wins (KO) and hold the bantamweight titles from the World Boxing Organization and the World Boxing Council.

Pacquiao said Donaire can surely follow his footsteps as long as he keeps persevering while keeping his feet on the ground

"Keep up the good work and don't forget to pray... Huwag makalimot," he said.

Pacquiao, who flew from Los Angeles, California, disclosed that he had planned to surprise Donaire by watching the fight at the ringside.

However, due to bad weather, the flight got delayed causing him to miss Donaire's moment.

Pacquiao said he and wife Jinkee were just about to enter the Mandalay Resorts Hotel when the news broke out about Donaire's victory.

Donaire foe to get plastic surgery

MANILA, Philippines - Former Mexican bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel will have to undergo plastic surgery after his fight last Sunday against Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire.

Montiel, who kissed the canvas in the second round of their bout, reportedly had a hairline fracture and deep dent in the cheekbone where Donaire’s powerful left hook connected.

Donaire confirmed the report in his Facebook account.

“I want to give up 2 things to God: my win last night and also Montiel’s speedy recovery for his zygomatic bone fracture and reconstructive surgery. In both moments, only He can help us,” he said.

In an interview with TV Patrol Monday night, Donaire said the counter left hook that landed on Montiel was the “biggest and hardest punch” that he has ever made in his career so far.

“Ang ginawa ko lang ay i-set up iyung punch….proper balance, proper speed,” said Donaire, who is now seen by analysts as boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao’s heir apparent.

He said his left hand hurts. “Actually, sumasakit ito eh. Na-feel ko it’s swelling.”

Donaire, now World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization bantamweight champion, said he did not expect his opponent to get up from the blow.

“Akala ko, hindi na tatayo si Montiel, but being a champion that he is, it was a normal reaction niya na to stand up and be proud of who he is.”

Donaire said the victory has yet to fully sink in. “Parang panaginip pa rin. Hindi ko alam kung anong masasabi ko.”

He said he does not know yet who his next opponent is. “It’s more of the negotiation process muna. That’s up to Top Rank and my manager.”

He, however, said he wants to unify all the belts in the bamtamweight division first. “Sana bigyan nila ako ng pagkakataon na maging undisputed champion.”

'Django', 3 others strike in World 8-Ball opener

Reigning World 9-Ball champion Francisco "Django" Bustamante, double world titlist Efren "Bata" Reyes and former world No.1 player Dennis Orcullo led the Filipinos' charge in the prestigious World 8-Ball Championship, hurdling past their respective assignments in the opening round Sunday (Monday in Manila) in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Alcano, Corteza join compatriots in World 8-Ball winner's side

Another group of Filipino players entered the win column after hurdling their first matches in the World 8-Ball Championship Monday night (Tuesday morning in Manila) at the Fujairah Exhibition Center in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

All-Star game gets best rating since '03 (AP)

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The NBA All-Star game has earned its highest television rating since Michael Jordan's last appearance in 2003. The Western Conference's 148-143 win Sunday night on TNT featuring a duel between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James drew a 5.2 rating. That's up 37 percent from last year, part of a season of strong ratings for a league bursting with intriguing story lines.

EDSA room in DND now People Power mini-museum

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA - A conference room inside Camp Aguinaldo where top defense and military officials announced their withdrawal of support from former President Marcos on Feb. 22, 1986 has been turned into a mini-museum for the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution.

Ballsy: Len Lopez is PNoy's steady date

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippine - The president's older sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz has finally revealed the identity of PNoy's exclusive date.

Palace: Aquino not yet an anti-smoking poster boy

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Monday that President Beningno Simeon Aquino III has already cut down on smoking but is not yet ready to become the poster boy of the anti-smoking campaign of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

UST prof. admits giving students points for anti-RH stand

(Updated 3:01 a.m.) Incensed by reports that the RH bill was close to being passed in the House of Representatives, University of Santo Tomas theology professor Aguedo Florence Jalin Jr. decided to give his students bonus points for posting anti-RH comments on Facebook.

 


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