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

Monday, February 7, 2011

February 8, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokyo@blogger.com)

February 8, 2011 Major News Stories
February 8, 2011 Major News Stories

Shell, Eastern Petroleum to hike fuel prices

MANILA, Philippines - Two oil firms will increase prices of their petroleum products on Tuesday, February 8.

Pilipinas Shell said it would hike gasoline and diesel prices by P1 and P0.75 per liter, respectively. The adjustments will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

"[This is] to reflect the movement in international product prices," the company said.

Meanwhile, independent oil player Eastern Petroleum said prices of its diesel and gasoline products will go up by P0.75 per liter, and kerosene by P1 at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

"While product cost of fuel increased by P0.90, the strengthening of the peso tampered the increase by P0.15 for diesel and gasoline," the oil firm noted.

‘God saved Joavan’

SHOWING no signs of physical fatigue in his latest encounter with lawmen, a well-groomed Joavan Fernandez appeared at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Talisay City and signed the cash bail bond form yesterday morning.

“He was courteous. He even looked spic-and-span in his jacket,” said MTCC court clerk Susan Bono, who assisted Joavan when he signed the form before MTCC Judge Mario Manayon for his temporary liberty in relation to a malicious mischief case filed last year.

Just the day before, Joavan, son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez, allegedly rammed his car against a vehicle boarded by a team of policemen who were out to serve an arrest warrant against him Monday early morning, prompting the police officers to fire shots.

Mayor Fernandez, however, accused the police of intending to kill his adopted son.

“Ilang gitusak-tusak sa bala ang sakyanan. Niangkon man ang police nga ‘akong gipusil si Joavan’. (They peppered the car with bullets. The policeman admitted ‘I shot Joavan). There was intent to kill. Patyon jud nila si Joavan. Swerti lang siya nga wa siya ma-igo. (They want to kill Joavan. He’s lucky he didn’t get hit.) Salvation comes from God. God saved Joavan,” Fernandez said in a radio dyAB interview.

Fernandez said he has no plans of filing a case against policemen in the cities of Talisay and Cebu, adding that it’s not his character to go after policemen.

“I just cry justice for Joavan now,” he said.

“Ambush”

Chief Insp. George Ylanan, who led the police team, brushed aside Mayor Fernandez’s allegation that they ambushed Joavan.

“If we did that, the news would be different,” he said by phone. “We followed the rules (of engagement).”

Buenafe, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) director, for his part, said there was “no reason to inflict harm” on Joavan. Ylanan said he retaliated after he sensed they were in “danger.”

Joavan, however, vowed to file a criminal case against Ylanan’s team, describing the move to arrest him as an “ambush.”

He said he will consult his lawyer on what appropriate charges to file against the police.

Joavan also denied he owned the illegal items found in his car.

Hinting that the items were planted, Joavan said it would be foolish on his part to put himself in a legal predicament by leaving the illegal drugs inside the car.

Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe said Joavan is not in control of his senses.

“His mind is not normal,” he told reporters yesterday. “It is his talent to escape.”

CCPO Director Buenafe said Joavan is “not an ordinary criminal.”

Buenafe’s statement came after after Joavan allegedly rammed his car Monday early morning against the gray Mitsubishi sedan (SHU 126) that belongs to the CCPO’s Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB), headed by Ylanan.

Encounter

Ylanan’s team, with personnel from the Talisay City Police Station led by its chief, Supt. Henry Biñas, was to serve the arrest warrant on Joavan for malicious mischief.

Ylanan said in an earlier report an asset informed him that Joavan and his friends, Benedict Gabasa and Terence Bayani, were in a house in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.

Joavan, driving his gray Honda Civic (YEH 323), and Gabasa and Bayani, who were in a

government-issued Toyota Revo (SGH-541), arrived later in Sindulan, Mabolo.

The IDMB team then tailed Joavan, but he swerved, apparently sensing he was being followed.

Ylanan stepped down from the IDMB vehicle and approached the Honda Civic, as soon as it stopped.

After Joavan rolled down his car window, Ylanan identified himself as a police officer and showed the arrest warrant.

Instead of yielding, Joavan stepped on the gas and almost hit Ylanan, who immediately boarded the IDMB vehicle.

Charges

Joavan then hit the IDMB’s vehicle head-on, at least thrice. Ylanan then fired his gun.

The police said they found 20 sachets of what appeared to be shabu, a pink pouch and two cell phones inside Joavan’s car.

In the Revo, they recovered a sachet of shabu, drug paraphernalia and a toy gun.

Ylanan said they will charge Joavan today with violations of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, malicious mischief, direct assault, and attempted homicide.

Gabasa and Bayani will also be charged with possessing shabu and drug paraphernalia, as well as violations of City Ordinance 1743, which prohibits the sale of toy guns in commercial establishments and sidewalks.

Last Thursday, Judge Manayon issued an arrest warrant against Joavan for a malicious mischief case after he allegedly rammed a police vehicle last year.

Manayon signed yesterday at 10:40 a.m. the release order for Joavan, who hurriedly left with his elderly male companion, a staff member from the mayor’s office.

Not hiding

However, Bono, the clerk of court, took exception to a report quoting Mayor Fernandez as saying she was hiding when Joavan went to her house in Barangay Dumlog past 6 p.m. last Friday.

“It’s not true that I was hiding, in fact I met Joavan and his bondsman right after I arrived home,” she said.

Bono she didn’t get to meet Joavan right away because she was at a mall in Barangay Tabunok when she received a text from a family member at 6:15 p.m. that two men were waiting for her at home.

Since it was beyond office hours and she was not feeling well, Bono said Joavan agreed to see her in the MTCC office on Monday morning for him to sign the bail bond form.

“I’m only here to prove that I was not hiding,” Bono said.

Bono clarified the arrest warrant against Joavan remained in effect then for his failure to personally appear and sign the bail bond form at MTCC last Friday.

This even if the MTCC officially received the P10,000 bail posted by Fernandez shortly before 5 p.m.

“The requirement is that the accused must personally appear and sign the form before a judge can issue the release order,” Bono said.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has advised Fernandez to discipline Joavan, but Fernandez said these are just comments from people outside his family, assuring he is doing his job as a father to Joavan.

“I know how to discipline Joavan, kada buntag mag-ampo mi ni Joavan, naa siya. Naa pod iyang mga kauban. Naninguha ko sa paghatag og amahanon nga pagtagad ni Joavan. (We pray every morning with Joavan, along with his companions. I try my best to give him attention as a father),” the mayor said.

Councilor calls for ‘serious talk’ on city vehicles

A TALISAY City legislator yesterday called on his colleagues to set a dialogue with Mayor Socrates Fernandez on the apparent abuse and misuse of the City’s government-issued vehicle by the latter’s adopted son, Joavan.

Councilor Romeo Villarante cited the need to discuss the matter again, saying the City Council has the moral and legal obligation on the proper use of City Hall-owned vehicles.

If nothing happens with his proposed dialogue with Fernandez, Villarante said he might recommend that a formal complaint be lodged before the ombudsman or the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for a formal investigation.

“The city-owned vehicles are entrusted by the people to the mayor. If we cannot stop this, mabutang ta sa kataw-anan (we will be made a laughingstock) because we have the moral and legal obligation as leaders,” Villarante, a lawyer, said.

In yesterday’s regular Monday meeting with department heads, Fernandez revealed he entrusted the Toyota Revo (SGH 541) to Joavan for him to fix the minor scratches on the City Hall-issued vehicle, said City Hall spokesman Arturo Bas.

Joavan has some equip-ment for auto repair at the mayor’s “house of prayer” in Barangay Candulawan.

But Bas quoted the mayor as saying he had no idea that the vehicle was used by Joavan’s friend, Benedict Gabasa, who has no driver’s license, last Saturday dawn.

It was the second time that Gabasa, a former city employee under the mayor’s employment quota, drove the same Toyota Revo as if it were his own car, with no driver’s license or trip ticket from City Hall.

Gabasa earlier claimed he was working for Joavan in his feeding program for underfed children in Talisay.

Another City-owned Toyota Revo (SFR-595) was also seen delivering puso and lechon when Joavan held his 27th birthday at a condo unit in Cebu City last March.

But during the celebration, Joavan allegedly threatened with harm the condo guard who advised them to leave for lack of permission to use the unit.

Bas said the City Government has its existing policies on the proper use of vehicles, which include the issuance of trip tickets bearing the driver’s name, time, place of destination and purpose.

But on the part of the mayor, he is given some leeway on the use of his issued vehicle, Bas said.

“He is the most responsible person and being a mayor, he works 24 hours, so he has the discretion on the use of his service vehicle,” Bas said.

The Toyota Revo used to be Fernandez’s service vehicle, but he seldom used it after the city bought a surplus Kia Sportage for him.

For his part, Villarante wondered why Fernandez had entrusted the Toyota Revo to Joavan for minor repairs when the city has its own motorpool.

The motorpool, which repairs all city-owned vehicles and heavy equipment, is just a

stone’s throw away from City Hall building.

The improper use of the mayor’s vehicle has revived the call for the Ombudsman Visayas and the DILG to seriously look into the misuse of vehicles at Talisay City Hall.

The ombudsman has created Oplan Red Plate, a drive against the misuse of government vehicles.

Ruling ends a family’s agony

FOR the first time in the nearly three years since her daughter was killed, Margie Ruba finally heaved a sigh of relief.

Margie, her husband Vicente and the rest of the family cried after Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. brought down the verdict on Aivan Barabat, Mark Anthony Gabriel and Karl Marx Carticiano during yesterday’s hearing.

Rama confronted about demolition

TENSION continues to rise between Cebu City Hall’s executive and legislative departments over the issue of informal settlers who will be affected by the clearing of creeks and rivers.

City Councilor Nida Cabrera confronted Mayor Michael Rama about it yesterday.

“He was talking about our actions. Maybe he was offended. So I told him we have no problems with demolishing structures that block the flow of water but what we want is for the City to give those living inside the three-meter easement area some consideration,” Cabrera said in Cebuano.

Rama, in a news conference, reiterated his stand that the City will not provide relocation for those affected by the demolition.

No comparison

“Let’s not compare this issue to 93-1. Those under 93-1 have been living on the lots for a long time and have earned the right to claim these, while the subjects of the demolition are those who are blocking our creeks and our rivers. There’s no law that allows you to have a title for a house inside the three-meter easement, or for a house that has encroached on a river, canal or an estero (a tidal channel used as a drainage canal in populated areas),” the mayor said in Cebuano.

He said Councilors Cabrera, Alvin Dizon, Edgardo Labella and Joey Daluz III have the right to their opinions. “But I have the right to manage the City, too. I don’t want to argue with their right and my right to manage. I know my constraint, I know my obligation. I know my privileges.”

Just recently, the council passed a resolution asking the executive department to comply with the requirements of the Urban Development and Housing Act in the clearing or removal of informal settlers, which include giving a 30-day notice.

The council also asked the executive department to provide adequate relocation sites for families who will be evicted.

But the mayor retorted that providing relocation sites would only encourage people to

come to the city and it would also be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

He also refused to provide the council with his list of 300 concerns, which include, among others, illegal settlers and public safety.

“That is my concern. That is my issue which I have to address. Naa ko’y right mohatag ug right na di mohatag. Gaan ta mo kung sulbaron ninyo (I will give you the list if you can assure me you can solve the problems),” he said.

The council recently passed a resolution requesting Rama to provide the council details of his concerns so the legislative department can address these.

Tejero flooding

Meanwhile, floods in Barangay Tejero have been blamed on the narrowing of the creek in Sitio Silangan allegedly after Gothong Southern Shipping built a concrete bridge over it.

The creek is allegedly no longer wide enough to accommodate water after a heavy rainfull.

Barangay secretary Ma. Sarian Roque, however, admitted the problem may have been exacerbated by the practice of some residents who throw their garbage just about anywhere.

Repeated calls to the City Planning and Development Office, which reportedly approved the construction of the concrete bridge, were not answered.

Also, Roque said the barangay warned the company against building a culvert for the concrete bridge.

“Among gipatangtang ang culvert (We asked them to take the culvert out),” she said.

Not only would it be hard to clean, but garbage would easily get stuck there, she said.

Roque said she doesn’t know if the company did what they asked.

In Mandaue City, Su-bangdaku Barangay Captain Ernie Manatad and his officials gave cash assistance from their own pockets to the family of Viven-cia Lapa.

Lapa, one of the informal settlers along Mahiga Creek, died of a heart attack last Friday, apparently worried that her house was up for demolition.

Manatad did not state the exact amount, except that it was more than P1,000.

He said his office also issued her family a certificate of being indigent so they can claim assistance from the City Social Welfare Office.

Samples test positive for bacteria

DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) 7 officials confirmed the typhoid cases in Balamban town after water samples taken from the source in Barangay Arpili tested positive for fecal coliform.

Dr. Expedito Medalla, Health Emergency Management Staff coordinator, said that of the six patients whose blood samples were subjected to a laboratory test, five tested positive of Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that cause typhoid fever.

“We are doing pulong-pulong (meetings) now and we are talking to the mayor to guide them,” he said in a phone interview.

It may take awhile: DPWH 7

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 will spend P56.462 million to fix portions of the Transcentral Highway that were damaged by a landslide last Feb. 5.

More than half the amount (P30 million) will go to repairing the damage on the Cebu City side. This will be implemented by the Cebu City District Engineering Office.

The balance (P26.464 million) will take care of the damage on the Balam-ban side, which will be implemented by the Cebu 3rd District Engineering Office.

City gets bill for 13th loan payment

CEBU City Hall received yesterday the bill for its 13th payment for the loan it made to undertake the South Reclamation Project, now known as the South Road Properties (SRP), amounting to some 510,815,595.83 yen or some P274 million.

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) gave Mayor Michael Rama a summary of the amortization for the Metro Cebu Development Project III-Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Loan No. PH-P157 due on Feb. 19, 2011.

The amount due is roughly P274,920,953, using Friday’s exchange rate of P.538200 for one yen.

Day-as chief orders health center padlocked

THE health center of Barangay Day-as, Cebu City was padlocked yesterday.

Barangay Captain Rey Ellery Cañada allegedly ordered the health center on the second floor of the barangay hall locked, reportedly because he wanted to replace the health workers assigned there.

Gavino Uy, president of the association of Cebu City’s barangay health workers (BHWs), confirmed that the health center was closed and that the barangay’s midwife, Belinda Tigley, and the two BHWs were temporarily staying in Barangay Parian’s health center.

Reyes faces Senate subpoena

by By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will issue a subpoena to former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes after he snubbed several invitations to attend the ongoing inquiry.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said Reyes can be charged with contempt if he ignores the subpoena. "So far, we have sent invitations only. We will subpoena him formally. If he defies [it], then the contempt issue will come in."

Meanwhile, contempt charges against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia were held in abeyance.

Guingona said there are legal issues needed to be studied further before deciding on the motion to cite Garcia for contempt.

Senator Gringo Honasan, who was present during the senators’ caucus that was held to decide on the fate of the Armed Forces generals on the issue, said more details regarding the plea bargaining agreement between Garcia and the Ombudsman are needed to be threshed out for lawmakers to determine their next move.

Retired military comptroller Jacinto Ligot, on the other hand, was temporarily spared from contempt charges since no formal motion to have him cited was raised and filed, Guingona said.

He added that they will invite Ligot’s wife for the next hearing on Thursday next week.

Former Rep. Prospero Pichay, who was tagged by retired Lieutenant Colonel George Rabusa as the lawmaker who allegedly received P500,000 every time he visited the office of the Armed Forces chief of staff, will also be invited to attend the Senate hearing.

Ochoa tells generals to cooperate in corruption probe

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on Monday reiterated the government's call for members of the military, particularly former chief of staff and now special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu, to cooperate with ongoing investigations into the allegations of corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

ISAFP auditor wanted to burn documents on ‘fund conversions’--Rabusa

MANILA, Philippines -- A Commission on Audit (COA) auditor assigned to check on the financial transactions of the Armed Forces’ intelligence unit had tried to burn documents to cover up the “conversion” of military funds for eventual distribution to top officials, former military budget officer George Rabusa said on Monday.

Testifying before the Senate blue ribbon committee, Rabusa said state auditor Divina Cabrera once asked for his help in destroying papers that purportedly showed how funds for “PS” (personnel service) or salary of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) was spent for other purposes.

Rabusa described Divina, who served as resident auditor of ISAFP for 13 years, as a close friend, being his "kumare."

He said she would often call him whenever she had concerns over the way they were keeping audit documents on ISAFP money.

“Just to refresh the memory of my kumare, in one occasion she called me to her office and told me that ‘Pare, ang dami ng mga papeles sa likod ko. Sunugin na natin ito sa opisina ko (There are just too many documents here in my office. We might as well burn them inside my office),’” Rabusa narrated.

He said he told her that they could just select which documents to burn so as not to set the whole ISAFP building on fire.

Rabusa said Cabrera feared that their fund conversion activities would ‘overheat.’

Asked by Senator Teofisto Guingona III to explain what “overheat” meant, he said: “Because we converted a huge sum of money allocated for salaries, she said it might ‘overheat.’ There was a danger that it might be discovered.”

Rabusa also belied Cabrera’s claim that she did not have a hand in scrutinizing clearing documents of ISAFP funds, saying only those pertaining to “class 19” documents, covering intelligence and confidential funds, were being brought to Divina’s superior.

Cabrera, however, vehemently denied Rabusa’s accusation.

“I deny that, your honor. Our office used to be the mortuary so it’s difficult to burn it since it was made of cement. I could not have asked him to do that.”

Cabrera evaded media interviews after the hearing.

But when asked if she still considered Rabusa a friend, she replied: “Yes. May God bless him.”

Miriam twits generals' wives, mistresses

by By Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Monday lashed out at the wives and alleged mistresses of Armed Forces generals who are accused of involvement in corruption in the military.

'Wife of ex-military comptroller has 2 houses in US'

by By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The wife of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot bought 2 houses in the United States worth over US$687,000 (approximately P30 million) while Ligot was still in active service, a Senate investigation revealed Monday.

Heidi Mendoza to continue fight despite threats

Heidi Mendoza, the former state auditor who blew the whistle on the alleged corruption in the military, is unfazed with the death threats and will continue to testify in any investigation on the plea bargaining deal between the Office of the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

“I will go through with this until the end. As [the] people say, there’s no turning back," Mendoza told reporters in Filipino after Monday’s Senate inquiry on the plea bargaining agreement.

Mendoza’s camp over the weekend said she

has been receiving death threats after she testified in a congressional hearing last week.

Mendoza, however, was unmoved. “I don’t deserve these threats. I believe that everything that happens is God’s will," she said.

She said she will continue testifying only if it is about Garcia and his controversial plea bargaining agreement, which allowed him to plead guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and money laundering and eventually post bail.

Garcia is facing a P303-million plunder suit, a non-bailable offense, at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.

Mendoza, as a former auditor of the Commission on Audit, had followed the money trail of Garcia’s transactions. She left her post at the Asian Development Bank in preparation for her testimony against the former military officer.

President Benigno Aquino III had earlier said he was inclined to give a government post to Mendoza.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano had suggested that Mendoza be appointed as the "anti-corruption czar" of the country.

Mendoza, for her part, said she hasn’t received any formal job offer yet from the President or any government office. She said she is open to the possibility of working for the government again but that she would still have to consult her family about it.

Competitive bidding in DPWH saves P577-M

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The elimination of negotiated contracts in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) resulted in savings of about P577 million for the government during the second half of 2010.

Lacson manhunt continues: NBI

by By Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula said on Monday that the bureau is following Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima’s order to continue its efforts to find Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Mancao: I’m not afraid to die

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Retired police officer Cezar Mancao is "not afraid to die" and stands by his testimony linking Senator Panfilo Lacson to the killing of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

Ex-soldier tags former Palawan, Marinduque governors in broadcaster’s killing

(UPDATE) A discharged Marine soldier who had surrendered in connection with the January 24 murder of Palawan broadcaster and environmental advocate Gerry Ortega has implicated several prominent local personalities in Ortega’s killing, including former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes.

Aquino to push for postponement of ARMM polls

To stop the alleged "buy and sell" of votes in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), President Benigno Aquino III will push for the postponement of the elections there and synchronizing it with the national and local elections in 2013.

Comelec chair to House: Decide fate of ARMM polls in 3 months

Congress must decide within the next three months if the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections should push through in August, Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Monday.

Philippines says Muslim peace talks on

by Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines  said Monday talks aimed at ending a decades-old Muslim insurgency would go ahead as planned this week despite worries over a break-away rebel faction.

2,000 people to join candle-lighting ceremony for peace Feb. 8

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said some 2,000 peace advocates will gather for a candle-lighting ceremony for the government's upcoming peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) on February 8.

Thousands of OFWs in Taiwan in danger of losing jobs

by By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The Center for Anti-Graft and Corruption Prevention Inc. is speaking up against what it claims was a wrongful deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to China instead of Taiwan.

The 14 Taiwanese, along with 10 Chinese from the mainland, were arrested in Manila last December for allegedly swindling US$20 million in an international scam targeting mainland Chinese.

According to the Central News Agency, Taiwan is now considering recalling its representative in Manila to protest the deportation of fraud suspects to Beijing instead of Taipei. Foreign Minister Timothy Yang was quoted saying, "All possible options are under consideration."

"If the Philippine government doesn't act on the 'deportation mess,' the consequences may be great, and this might affect the future of thousands of Filipinos working in Taiwan," said Lane Afable, secretary-general of The Center for Anti-Graft and Corruption Prevention Inc.

Afable claims there are 96,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working in Taiwan, and half of them are in danger of losing their jobs.

Based on Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) 2009 records, Taiwan was third largest Asian destination for OFWs.

PRC: 912 new architects

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Monday that 912 out of 1,800 passed the Architect Licensure Examination (ALE).

$1: 43.630

$1: 43.630 (P43.77)

Euro 1: 59.5234

Mubarak still in power as govt, opposition talk

CAIRO - President Hosni Mubarak held onto power on Monday, defying a popular uprising against his autocratic rule, after the government opened talks with opposition groups to resolve Egypt's deepest crisis in 30 years.

Mubarak fights Egyptian protest with pay rise

CAIRO—Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak tried to buy himself some time in the face of defiant street protests Monday, vowing to boost public sector pay packets by 15 percent.

UN urges restraint in deadly Thai-Cambodia clashes

by by Suy Se, Agence France-Presse

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodian and Thai troops clashed briefly Monday for a fourth straight day, Phnom Penh said, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for "maximum restraint" in a border dispute that has claimed six lives.

Sri Lankan floods return, death toll rises to 17

COLOMBO—Sri Lanka's latest monsoon rains have claimed at least 17 lives and left around 1.2 million people flooded out of their homes, officials said Monday.

High security alert for Azkals-Mongolia clash

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

BACOLOD, Philippines – Policemen and gov't troops in Negros Occidental will go on full alert starting Tuesday ahead of the football showdown between the Philippine Azkals and Mongolia on February 9.

CBCP to DOH: No condoms on Valentine's Day, please

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

…blames DOH for increase in number of HIV/AIDS cases MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) today warned the Department of Health (DOH) against doing its usual practice, distributing condoms during Valentine’s Day.

Manny, Jinkee plan 'sweet Valentine'

Engrande ang ika-10 kaarawan ng panganay na anak ni Manny Pacquiao na si Jimuel. Plano naman ni Pacman na makasama ang asawa sa Valentines Day bago sumabak sa ensayo para sa laban kay “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

Kris on PNoy's Porsche: Let's put the issue to rest

MANILA, Philippines - Television host-actress Kris Aquino has defended her older brother, President Benigno Aquino III, who was recently criticized for buying a used 2007 Porsche.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Kris asked the public to put the issue to rest.

"No. 1, he is single and this is his joy. Pangalawa, it's not like he never had a car before all of this happened. Pangatlo, hindi naman siya nagdo-droga, hindi siya nagsusugal, hindi siya naglalasing gabi-gabi. Hindi naman kaliwa't kanan ang babaeng nali-link sa kanya," she said.

"So kung talagang sasakyan lang ang release niya or ang pinagtutuunan niya ng pansin na nagbibigay ng konting kaligayahan at stress relief [ako ang pinagdadasal ko mapagbigyan siya]," she added.

The "Queen of all Media" stressed that PNoy's personal money was used in purchasing the P4.5-million white Porsche. She said he did not steal the money from government's coffer.

"I can swear to the fact na hindi niya ninakaw ang perang pinambili doon and hindi naman niya siguro sisirain ang pangalan namin dahil lang sa isang Porsche," she said.

The presidential sister also appealed for understanding from the public.

"I totally understand him because I know na doon siya na-uuplift. It was not brand new, it was done through the right channels, all the proper taxes were paid," said Kris.

Kris’ b-day gift to PNoy

The President will turn 51 on Tuesday and the 39-year old actress wishes nothing but the best for her brother.

Kris said, as her birthday gift, she will “totally shut up about [his] love life.”

“I feel he's stable, I feel that he's in a good place right now pero siguro let's give them their privacy," she said.

Though she refused to name the lucky girl, Kris confirmed that PNoy is now exclusively dating somebody.

"I think he's exclusively dating someone and I'd like to leave it at that kasi papagalitan na naman niya ako... I also feel that she's getting a lot more comfortable in our company now so I'd like to keep it that way."

"Kasi baka ma-feel niya na, 'My God, okay nga si Noy pero kung ang sister-in-law ko naman kasing daldal ni Kris, huwag.' So, parang ibigay na natin 'yon," she said.

VP Binay dines on $9 lomi in Washington DC

Taking a cue perhaps from his boss, Vice President Jejomar Binay dined last week on a modest $9 (about P395) bowl of lomi (noodle soup) in Washington DC where he was on a five-day official visit.

Joining Binay for dinner Thursday last week at a café in Washington's Union Station were his 18-member official party and some Philippine embassy officials.

The total bill for some 30 guests amounted to $270 (about P11,800), reminiscent of the austere meals that President Benigno Aquino III had when he visited New York in September last year.

Binay was in the US capital upon invitation by the World Bank to speak on disaster and risk management and urban development during the annual meeting of the Sustainable Development Network (SDN).

As chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Binay also met with US housing and urban development officials, where they discussed housing and urban policy issues and challenges.

He met with officials of Habitat for Humanity, whose mission is to address poverty housing and homelessness throughout the world.

Binay likewise met with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, the head of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

During this meeting, he expressed the Philippine government’s commitment to combat trafficking and briefed him of the Aquino administration’s efforts to address this issue.

On Friday, Binay attended the National Prayer Breakfast where President Barack Obama was one of the two featured guest speakers, and spoke before the SDN annual meeting.

While the Philippine embassy said “there was no effort to have VP Binay meet President Obama because the main purpose of VP Binay’s trip was to serve as the keynote speaker during the World Bank Sustainable Development Network annual meeting," Binay was able to meet with his counterpart, US Vice President Joe Biden.

It was unclear, however, what the two vice presidents discussed.

On Feb. 2, Binay attended a Pulong Bayan (town hall meeting) with members of the Filipino community, where he enumerated his programs for overseas Filipino workers. Binay is currently the presidential adviser on OFW concerns.

He also had meetings with several institutions, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Center for New American Security, Johns Hopkins University, Woodrow Wilson International Center, Heritage Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute.

Lavish dinners of former President

Departing from the lavish dinners and fancy restaurants favored by former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Binay gamely accepted the invitation of the officials and staff of the Philippine embassy to a dinner of pancit lomi at a Union Station café.

At the café, which serves a “fusion of Asian food" with a number of Filipino dishes, the pancit lomi cost $9 each. The café has a Filipino cook.

The austere dinner is a far cry from the expensive tastes of former President Arroyo, whose dinners in 2009 in New York’s Le Cirque and D.C.’s Bobby Van’s Steakhouse cost $20,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Last year, Aquino ate out by a hotdog stand during his visit to the United Nations in New York, where he paid only $45 (about P1,900) out of his own pocket for his party.

In the San Francisco suburb of Milpitas City, Aquino also lunched on chicken at Max’s Restaurant for $15 to $20 (about P650 to P870) a pop during his visit.

DOH: 90% of Filipinos positive for at least 1 heart risk factor

Health Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona said about 90 percent of Filipinos are positive for at least one heart risk factor.

In a statement, Ona said the majority of Filipinos are positive for at least one of the following risk factors:

physical inactivity

smoking

obesity

hypertension

hypercholesterolemia

diabetes

Ona said other determiners like age and heredity are considered non-modifiable risk factors or those that cannot be avoided.

However, he said that the more common risk factors — tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity — are modifiable risk factors that one can prevent.

Ona said diseases of the heart and vascular system now rank as the top killer diseases of Filipinos.

Data from the Philippine Health Statistics show that more than 67,000 deaths per year, or 84 deaths per 100,000 population, are attributed to heart diseases.

Vascular system diseases, on the other hand, account for more than 50,000 deaths per year.

Globally, the Philippines is one of the 23 countries among developing countries contributing to around 80 percent of the total deaths due to chronic diseases.

Healthy living

Ona stressed the importance of healthy living and proper diet in lessening one's likelihood of getting heart diseases.

He encouraged parents to teach their children to be active and to engage in sports that will help them be physically fit.

"While they're still young, our children should be encouraged to be more active and practice a healthy lifestyle in order for them to develop the habit," he said, adding that children will only actively engage in sports if they see their parents doing the same.

Economic implications of heart diseases

Data from the Philippine Heart Association shows that some common operations done on the heart can cost a patient roughly P500,000.

An angiogram procedure, an X-ray test used to examine the blood flow in an artery or a vein, costs around P35,000 to P60,000.

An angioplasty, a surgery done to widen a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, costs around P350,000 to P400,000.

Including medications, hospital fees, doctor's fees, rehabilitation and lost income, the cost of treating a heart disease can go up to as much as P1M.

The cost may vary depending on the hospital where the surgery or procedures were conducted.

The health chief said prevention is the most cost-effective intervention to reduce the increasing trend of morbidities and mortalities from diseases of the heart and vascular system.

The health implications are bad but the financial burdens may give you "another heart attack," he said.

Lifestyle change

Ona advised Filipinos to follow the following healthy lifestyle practices to avoid heart and cardiovascular diseases:

eat a health diet of fruits and vegetables;

avoid meat at least once a week;

reduce intake of salty and fatty foods;

engage in a regular exercise regimen that increases the heart rate by 30%;

avoid smoking and alcoholic beverage, and

manage stress through relaxation.

"It's best to take care of your heart early in life. Don't wait for a heart attack," he said.


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