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

Monday, February 28, 2011

March 1, 2011 Major News Stories (

March 1, 2011 Major News Stories
March 1, 2011 Major News Stories

Oil firms to hike prices by around P2/liter

MANILA, Philippines - There is no stopping local fuel retailers from hiking prices as the political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa continues to threaten oil supply, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Monday.

Small oil players Eastern Petroleum and Phoenix Petroleum already announced their price adjustments that will be effective 6 a.m. Tuesday, March 1.

Eastern Petroleum will increase prices across the board by P2 per liter.

Phoenix, on the other hand, will hike gasoline and diesel prices by P1.25 and P1 per liter, respectively.

Other firms are expected to follow suit.

"Malaki ang impact on pricing and we are doing our best to mitigate... We appealed for oil companies to implement increase on a staggered basis," said Department of Energy Director Zenaida Monsada.

Dubai crude has gone up by $8 per dollar.

ABS-CBN News sources said this would translate to P2.65 per liter increase in the price of gasoline and P2.22 for diesel.

If the hefty increases are implemented, transport group Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators or ACTO will seek another fare hike for jeepneys.

"Ggayon ay P8 (minimum), gagawin naming P9.50," said ACTO President Efren de Luna.

Another group, PISTON, is challenging the Aquino administration to impose an oil price freeze.

Lawmakers earlier proposed to grant President Aquino emergency powers to help address a possible oil crisis stemming from anti-government movements convulsing in oil-producing Libya and most of the Middle East.

"Whether we grant the President emergency powers or not, if he acts in order to protect our citizens abroad and to serve the interests of this country, the Senate will support him," Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.

But the President is not too keen on the idea.

"I was made to understand that there [are] substantial funds with OWWA [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration] that can be utilized for this purpose. I think the Secretary of Energy has been briefing constantly on our attempts to mitigate the price increase," he said.

Chartered ship to evacuate Libya OFWs

MANILA, Philippines - A ship chartered by the Philippine government is set to arrive in the port city of Benghazi on Tuesday, to repatriate Filipinos, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

The vessel can carry up to 1,725 passengers, according to a DFA press statement.

Charge d'Affaires Constancio Vingno at the Philippine embassy in Athens finalized the arrangements for the chartered ship to fetch and take OFWs from Benghazi to the island of Crete, based on instructions of Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.

The vessel, the Ionian Queen, is Cyprus-flagged and is owned by the Greek company High Pride Shipping Co. Ltd.

The DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) said some 1, 327 Filipinos have left Libya as of Monday morning.

An additional 550 Filipinos, in a convoy of 55 vans and buses headed by Del Rosario, were also safely evacuated to Tunisia on Sunday.

A total of 321 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have also arrived in Manila.

Apart from the embassies near Libya, the DFA has mobilized its other embassies and consulates to assist Filipinos who are leaving Libya.

In Manila, the DFA-OUMWA is attending to the needs of the families of Libya OFWs, briefing them about the government's measures being undertaken, the DFA said.

Families of Filipinos based in Libya can also call the DFA-OUMWA's 24-hour landline numbers at 834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646 to get information about their relatives.

In cooperation with SMART Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., a 24-hour "Libreng Tawag" program has been activated at the DFA, where the families of Filipinos can directly call their relatives in Libya.

Employers of abandoned OFWs in Libya to be held liable

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) warned employers of Filipino workers in Libya who abandoned them there that they will be held liable.

They also appealed to employers to fast-track the repatriation of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in light of the worsening political situation.

Rico Fos, special assistant of the DFA's Office Of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, said it is included in the contract signed by the OFWs that in the event of emergency situations, it is the employers' obligation to repatriate their employees.

"May reckoning po yan, hindi namin ito titigilan. Malinaw sa kontrata na dapat nilang ilikas ang mga empleyado nila sa mga ganitong sitwasyon," Fos said.

The DFA also said it has chartered a vessel that can carry up to 1,725 passengers expected to arrive in the port city of Benghazi tomorrow. The vessel, named Ionian Queen, is Cyprus-flagged and owned by Greek firm, High Pride Shipping Company Limited.

"Pwede nitong makuha lahat o karamihan ng mga OFW na naghihintay sa 2 evacuation sites sa Benghazi," DFA Spokesperson Ed Malaya said.

However, the agency did not give a figure as to how many Filipinos are in the 2 evacuation sites.

Out of the 30,000 workers in Libya, so far, the DFA said 1,327 have safely exited Libya and an additional 550 Filipinos have been evacuated to Tunisia.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario has gone to Libya to personally oversee the evacuation of Filipinos.

Philippines starts mass evacuations from Libya

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has finally begun mass evacuations of its nationals from Libya, it said Monday, after critics accused it of responding slowly to the violence there.

Bus convoys organized by Manila's embassy in Tripoli took 550 workers into neighboring Tunisia overnight Sunday, foreign department spokesman Ed Malaya told Agence France-Presse.

A Greek ferry chartered by the Philippine government is also scheduled to dock at Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, on Tuesday to start evacuating Filipinos to Malta, according to Malaya.

He said the ferry would continue shuttling back and forth until all Filipinos in Benghazi had been evacuated.

The foreign ministry said 1,877 of the 26,000 Filipinos in Libya had so far escaped, although most of those who initially fled did so with the aid of their employers and not the government.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates nearly 100,000 foreign workers have fled Libya over the past week as leader Moamer Kadhafi has sought to crush an uprising.

However few of those have been Filipinos, after the government was unable to quickly charter planes or organize buses.

In contrast, China announced Monday that 29,000 of its workers had already been brought out of Libya.

A Philippine labour rights group, Migrante International, said there were actually 30,000 Filipinos in Libya when the crisis began, insisting that the government was using old data.

Migrante president Garry Martinez told AFP Monday the government still needed to do more to help those trapped at oil and gas work sites in Libya's deserts.

‘Smile diplomacy’ helps Filipinos get out of Libya

MANILA—(UPDATE) Using what a high official called ‘’smile diplomacy,’’ some 440 Filipinos made it out of troubled Libya to Tunisia on Monday, through a desert route dotted by pro- and anti-government checkpoints, some manned by armed teenagers.

About a hundred more Filipinos await a similar land transport out of Tripoli, while in the coastal city of Benghazi the Philippine government has chartered a ship to get some 5,000 Filipinos to the island of Crete in Greece, according to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario.

The ship leaves the Libyan coast Tuesday carrying some 2,700 Filipinos and will make another trip for the evacuees from Benghazi, a city now controlled by anti-government forces, Del Rosario told the Inquirer.

On the phone from Djerba, Tunisia, Del Rosario said he and the Filipino evacuees motored out of Tripoli in about 40 vehicles driven by Arabian locals and hired by the Philippine Embassy.

En route to Djerba in a six-hour drive through the desert, he said, they encountered up to 20 checkpoints, a pro-government demonstration ‘’that crowded out our vehicles,” and the sound of distant gunfire that at one point forced them to make a U-turn and seek an alternative route.

"An hour or two from Tripoli, we were met by pro-government forces, a demonstration, a rah-rah kind of thing. We had to do some negotiations, what you call ‘smile diplomacy,’" Del Rosario said.

The 400 Filipinos brought to Djerba were temporarily housed in private homes rented by the Philippine government. Earlier, some 100 Filipinos made to the Tunisian city out of Libya on their own, Del Rosario said.

From Djerba, a chartered flight on Monday morning (afternoon in Manila) was to take an initial batch of 187 evacuees to Dubai. From there they can take connecting commercial flights to Manila, the secretary said.

Del Rosario said Philippine officials have set up a central command post in Djerba, with the overall operations headed by Undersecretary Esteban Conejos.

On top of the Benghazi evacuations is Ambassador Eric Endaya, while Philippine Ambassador to Libya Al Vicente oversees departures from Tripoli.

Other outposts have been set up by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Libya’s eastern border with Egypt, and on the western side with Tunisia, he said.

P130 million set for Pinoy evacuation from Libya

MANILA, Philippines—The government has set aside at least P130 million for the repatriation of more than 13,000 Filipino migrant workers displaced by the Libyan conflict.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman J. Eduardo Malaya told the Inquirer on Monday that "additional funds are available."

The funds will be used by repatriation teams from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Malaya did not provide details about the repatriation program budget.

In a related development, Acting Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Monday cited unidentified foreign employers in Libya for their "commitment to repatriate their Filipino contract workers."

Now in Tunisia, Del Rosario also announced they had chartered a "very large ship" that would ferry some 5,000 Filipino workers from Benghazi in Libya to the Greek island of Crete.

In a radio interview, Del Rosario said that from Crete, the evacuees would take connecting flights to the Middle East onward to Manila.

The vessel would make two trips to Crete to accommodate all the Filipino evacuees.

On Sunday, Del Rosario and Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. "managed to cross Libya under difficult circumstances" like running into as many as 20 checkpoints manned by the Libyan military.

The DFA team entered Libyan territory at 9 a.m. (4 p.m. Manila time).

Later in the day, close to 400 Filipino workers joined Del Rosario and Conejos on their trip back to Tunis, the Tunisian capital.

"Today, about 180 of them will board flights to Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates) and then connecting flights to Manila," Del Rosario disclosed.

He reiterated that their objective was to "undertake the repatriation of Filipino workers as quickly as possible."

In the Libyan capital, DFA teams are "providing assistance to Filipinos exiting to Egypt and Tunisia," according to Malaya.

"Those in relocation centers put up by our teams are being moved to exit points where they will be transported out of Libya," he said.

Malaya added that "in tandem with the DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, many Filipino workers are being repatriated by their foreign employers."

Meanwhile, more than 50 Filipino repatriates were scheduled to return to the country on Monday.

As of early afternoon Monday, only one of six workers booked on Gulf Air's 10:02 a.m. flight from Bahrain had arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The other repatriates were on the manifests of the following airlines: Etihad Airways 4 p.m. flight from Abu Dhabi, 26 passengers; Saudi Airlines' 4:45 p.m. flight from Riyadh, four; and Emirates' 11:30 p.m. flight from Dubai, 21.

The other day, the DFA said of the 1,327 Filipinos who had crossed the Libyan borders with Egypt and Tunisia, 249 had arrived in Manila.

On the other hand, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said 2,051 Filipinos had been evacuated from Libya.

PNoy not keen on emergency powers vs oil price crisis


MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III is not backing a proposal for him to wield emergency powers in case the situation in oil-producing Middle East and North Africa worsens.

Binay unhappy about cancellation of Saudi trip, says spokesman

MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is President Aquino’s adviser on overseas Filipino workers, has expressed disappointment over the last-minute cancellation of his trip to Saudi Arabia.

NZ buildings’ quake safety defended

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Two buildings where scores of people were killed in last week's earthquake in the New Zealand city of Christchurch had been cleared as safe after a quake last year, an official said on Monday, as funerals began for the victims.

Separately, Prime Minister John Key said the overall cost of the Feb. 22 and the Sept. 4 quakes combined would be about US $15 billion, with the second, more destructive, earthquake costing about three-quarters of the total.

Concern had been raised about the condition of the 25-year-old Canterbury Television Building, which housed a language school and was where nearly half the confirmed dead were killed.  The death toll from last Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude quake is 148, but authorities expect it to rise to near 200.

A 7.1 quake rocked Christchurch on Sept. 4, and questions had been raised about whether buildings such as the CTV and Pyne Gould building had been destabilised, but an official said on Monday both had been inspected and cleared as safe.

"What mother nature did to us last Tuesday was to deliver an earthquake that exceeded design standards. And it exceeded them by 50 percent," Christchurch City Council Building Manager Steve McCarthy told a media briefing.

"The unique thing about this earthquake is that it lifted the ground and the buildings and then dumped it at two times the force of gravity," McCarthy said.

The bodies of dozens of students from Japan, China, the Philippines and Taiwan are still in the ruins of the six-storey CTV building, whose floors pancaked on top of each other.

The first funeral of a victim, a five-month-old infant boy, took place on Monday. Only eight bodies have been released because of the need to accurately identify the dead.

Police and rescue officials were in tears at the funeral of Baxtor Gowland in Christchurch, as the boy's family thanked the community for rallying around in support.

"We have come with very heavy hearts today to remember with love and say goodbye to baby Baxtor ... a treasured baby son," the boy's great-aunt said, the New Zealand Herald reported.


The condition of the CTV building had been raised the day after the quake by a student from India, who spoke to Reuters while awaiting news of a friend trapped inside.

"How was this allowed to happen? When they inspected the building after the last earthquake, why didn't they realise?" asked the student named Jeewan.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the unique nature of the earthquake and the force it exerted was something authorities across the world would need to look at.

"This is an international issue and the learning that will come out of this will potentially change earthquake (building) codes internationally," Parker said.

Forecasts of gale force winds for Christchurch on Tuesday were downgraded, although the wind could still whip up storms of contaminated dust, and topple loose masonry.

Rescuers said hope of finding survivors was running out.

"Realistically, it would be a miracle," said fire rescue chief Jim Stuart Black.

Aftershocks of up to magnitude 4.3 were rattling the area and forced more people from their homes in hillside and seaside suburbs as fears grew that a large number of houses and car-sized boulders would tumble onto houses below.

No survivors have been found since mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Key unveiled a temporary assistance package for employers and employees, which he estimated would apply to about 42,000 people and cost up to NZ$120 million.

Life was slowly returning to normal in some parts of the city, with buses back on the streets and some coffee shops, corner stores, offices and restaurants reopening.

Norwegian, fiancée freed

by laureenjean

CEBU CITY (3rd Update) -- Sixteen days after their arrest, Norwegian tourist Sven Erik Berger and his Cebuana fiancee Karen Esdrelon were released Monday from detention.

The Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor found no basis to bring them to court for the kidnapping and murder last February 8 of Ellah Joy Pique, a six-year-old resident of Minglanilla, Cebu.

American nabbed for taking videos of topless girls in Cebu

CEBU CITY, Philippines - An American national was caught in the act on Sunday afternoon taking videos of 7 girls, all topless while wrestling in Daanbantayan town in Cebu province.

Officials of Barangay Malbago in Daanbantayan said they first saw the foreigner with the girls whom they thought were all minors while they were putting up a tent in a vacant lot in the mountain barangay.

Barangay Tanods responded and went to check the report. They caught the foreigner taking video of the 7 girls inside the tent. They later reported the incident to the police.

Chief Inspector Rusty Santos of Daanbantayan Police Station investigated the incident.

Santos identified the American national as Joseph Christian Bogo through his passport. The police official said that Bogo arrived in Cebu this February. He has been in the Philippines several times since 2009.

Santos also found out that 3 of the 7 girls were minors aged 14, 16, and 17 years old. The 3 girls said that they are from Pasil in Cebu City.

The 4 other girls told police that they were of legal age and they came from Bogo City. Police said they have yet to verify the information.

Police were able to recover from Bogo a mini-DV cartridge and the video camera he used to record the topless girls.

Bogo said that he knew the girls and they were all friends saying that what they did was just for fun. He said that he calls the video as “catfight, topless girls wrestling”.

But the minors said that a certain “Sheryl” from Pasil recruited them. They said they were paid P2,000 to do the catfight. Another P1,500 would reportedly be given to the girl who wins the fight. Police are still looking for “Sheryl.”

Bogo said that the video is only for his consumption. Bogo admitted that he works as a blogger but said he does not intend to post the video in his blog. He said that he travels from place to place and blogs about them.

Santos said he also saw in the video a woman whom Bogo identifies as his girlfriend. Bogo said that they are planning to get married this May.

The victims were all taken to the Regional Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development  in Region 7.

Bogo is currently detained at the Daanbantayan Detention Cell. Police said they plan to file trafficking in persons charge against Bogo at Bogo City Regional Trial Court.

Santos said that they have already informed the US embassy regarding the incident so Bogo can  be provided with a lawyer.

Bogo also said that he has already informed his family in the US regarding the incident.

Carcar politician’s kin face rape charge

TWO members of a political clan in Carcar City, Cebu have been accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl last Feb. 4.

Jane (not her real name) filed last Feb. 21 two counts of rape against the son of an incumbent city councilor and a former Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation president in Carcar City at the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor.

Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of the two respondents pending their comment on the charges. This paper also tried but failed get the reaction of the incumbent city councilor. He did not answer his mobile phone despite repeated calls.

Jane claimed the two raped her when she got drunk after their “jamming session” in the house of one of the suspects’ grandfather. (The two respondents are reportedly cousins)

In her complaint-affidavit, Jane said she was on her way home last Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. when she received a text message from the son of the councilor, who is a friend of her uncle, inviting her to a jamming session.


When she got out of school, Jane said he called her and introduced her to his two friends.

Jane said she accepted the invitation on the condition that her friend and the respondents’ cousin would join them.

After several bottles of beer, Jane said she got drunk.

“I felt so dizzy, my head was spinning and I was too weak to even move,” she said in her complaint.

The councilor’s son brought her inside a room in the house, followed by the former youth leader.


After a brief conversation, the former youth league chairman left Jane with the councilor’s son. At that point, the councilor’s son allegedly raped her.

Jane said she tried to resist but the councilor’s son overpowered her.

When the councilor’s son was finished with her, he left the room and then the former SK president came in and raped her.

She cried hysterically after that.

Another person was about to rape her when she heard someone ask what they did to her.


She heard one of the suspects’ grandfather say: “Undanga ninyo na kay ma-bulabog ta ninyo da (Stop that, we could get into trouble).”

She said the respondents’ cousin and his father helped her go home. The following day, she stayed in bed.

“My mind was numb and I didn’t even want to think of what happened. I was ashamed of myself realizing I had been raped and that I didn’t want anybody to know about it,” she said.

Confused, Jane said went to church and sought confession. She narrated to the priest what happened to her. The priest advised her to talk to her school principal, who is a nun.

The principal assured Jane she will be the one to tell the truth to her mother.

“Although my mother was understandably furious over the incident, she decided to think things over…especially that we could be up against influential people,” she said.

Last Feb. 16, Jane, accompanied by her mother, went to the Carcar police Station and reported the incident.

It’s Oppus, for now

CAMP Crame appointed Senior Supt. Louie Oppus officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) last Friday.

Oppus, who will retain his post as Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 deputy director for operations, told reporters that he only received the order yesterday.

As his first act as OIC, Oppus visited the CPPO headquarters and held a conference with Supt. Eduardo Saavedra, CPPO deputy director for administration; Supt. Teofilo Siclot, CPPO deputy director for operations; and other unit heads.

Fiscal won’t sue errant driver

by cebuweb

AFTER spending the weekend in a Mandaue City police stockade, a driver who damaged the assistant city prosecutor’s sports utility vehicle (SUV) was released without charges yesterday.

Subangdaku police released 36-year-old Darwin Dabon at 2:30 p.m. after he reportedly asked for forgiveness, in writing, from Mandaue City Assistant Prosecutor Bienvenido Mabanto Jr.

The driver’s company, Generation Purified Ice, also reportedly promised to pay a “compromise” amount to fix the damage on Mabanto’s Kia Sorento.

Mabanto no longer expressed interest in pressing charges.

Loot sued over illegal water connection

by cebuweb

A WATER cooperative in the northern town of Daanbantayan, Cebu filed charges against Mayor Ma. Luisa Loot and five others at the Office of Cebu Provincial Prosecutor for allegedly conspiring to illegally reconnect the water service of a consumer last Feb. 3.

The Tapilon Rural Waterworks Sanitation Association Inc. (Tarwasa), represented by its chairman Claro Benatiro, sued Loot, PO3 Ken Engayo, Federico Cañete, Orlando and Babylito Pareja and Thelma Villarin for allegedly violating Presidential Decree 401, as amended by Batasang Pambansa 876.

Nullify GSIS policy: teachers to Supreme Court

by cebuweb

THE Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) yesterday said they want the Supreme Court to nullify a policy implemented by former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president and general manager Winston Garcia that allegedly resulted in hundreds of retired teachers failing to receive benefits.

In a press conference, TDC national chairman Benjo Basas said Garcia imposed a policy that GSIS will only pay the retirement benefits of teachers if they paid their premiums promptly while still in public service.

Rama bends rules on cash aid for elderly

by By Jessica Ann R. Pareja/FPL

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has given the go signal to enroll in the city’s cash aid program the senior citizens who did not qualify earlier because of their failure to vote during the 2007 elections.

Rama ordered the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs to start listing those elderly especially those above 80 years old who were not able to go out and vote during the past elections because of old age and weak health conditions.

“Why should we deprive those who need help? It should not be a deterrent just because wala sila kabotar,” Rama said.

The Mayor believes that senior citizens, 80 years and above or those below 80 but are sick, need more help than those who are currently accepting the assistance.

Most of these senior citizens are in the mountain barangays where polling precincts are not very much accessible.

Rama said that he wants the office of Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa, chairman of the committee on social services, to finalize the guidelines that will allow the senior citizens above 80 years old to avail of the financial assistance program.

These senior citizens don’t have to prove that they are voters of Cebu City but their respective barangays only need to certify that they are indeed residents of the place.

He said that Abellanosa should come up with guidelines that are not prone to abuse. Changing the guidelines entail amendments on the city ordinance that established the financial assistance program.

When the City Government established the program in 2009, those who qualified are senior citizens who are registered voters during the 2007 elections.

Cebu City’s official newsletter won’t contain ‘negative news’

by cebuweb

CEBU City Hall launched its newsletter Barugg, which stands for Bayanihan Advocates Rallying for Unity and Good Governance.

Mayor wants to give CCMC free-hand operation

by cebuweb

DESPITE the recent accident that happened in the facility, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants to grant the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) full autonomy in its operation.

The mayor wants City Ordinance 1508, which created the CCMC, amended.

“They should be given more autonomy…I just want them to continue to feel that they are all part and valuable towards giving medical services,” he said.

Rama, however, said that even if the hospital will be independent, the City will still be extending funds to support the operation of the facility.

Fire prevention month starts now

by cebuweb

THE Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 will observe the Fire Prevention Month starting today to raise awareness on how the public can prevent fire incidents.

With the theme “Kahan-daan sa Sunog Tungo sa Kaunlaran,” this year’s Fire Prevention Month will kick off with a mass and a fun walk.

All fire volunteers and members of other agencies like the Philippine National Police will join the fun walk, said Alexis Go, chief of fire safety and enforcement section of BFP 7.

BFP’s records showed that 736 fire incidents struck the region last year, 119 of which occurred in Cebu City.

Rabusa prepares plunder raps vs 2 ex-AFP chiefs

MANILA, Philippines - Former military budget officer Col. George Rabusa said he will file plunder cases against former Armed Forces chiefs of staff Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu as well as former AFP comptrollers Jacinto Ligot and Carlos Garcia this week.

Rabusa said he will file the complaint affidavit before the Department of Justice on Wednesday.

He said the plunder case that he will file against Garcia is different from the one already filed at the Sandiganbayan.

He will also file a complaint against the executive assistants of the former AFP chiefs. He said the complaint against the executive assistants such as Col. Hilario Atendido will be dependent on the gravity of their offense.

Rabusa said former AFP chief Angelo Reyes was supposed to be included in the complaint but it is no longer necessary due to his death.

The former military budget officer earlier accused Reyes, Villanueva and Cimatu of pocketing over P290 million in pabaon (sendoff money) when they retired from the service. He said the pabaon was separate from the P5 million-P10 million discretionary fund for the sitting AFP chief.

Rabusa said the slush fund was sourced from the budgets of major AFP services and United Nations peacekeeping funds.

David's retirement pay enough to buy modest car, home

MANILA, Philippines - He won't be receiving "pabaon" but Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Ricardo David will be receiving enough money to buy a modest car and a house when he retires from military service on March 8, 2011.

In an interview, David said he earned his retirement pay after serving the military for more than 35 years.

He said that he hopes the investigation of Congress of alleged misuse of military funds would soon be settled and appropriate charges would be filed against those who committed abuses.

He also said he is open to accept a government job after his retirement, one that is commensurate to him being a former AFP chief of staff.

At least 3 former AFP chiefs during the Arroyo administration have come under fire for allegedly pocketing over P290 million in "pabaon" or sendoff money upon their retirement. The three ex-AFP chiefs - Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu - have denied the allegations.

Reyes took his own life last February 8 after being linked to the military corruption scandal.

Solon optimistic Gutierrez will be impeached

by By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is optimistic that more than 94 congressmen will vote in favor of the impeachment complaint filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

'Still no case filed vs Jocjoc for fertilizer scam'

MANILA, Philippines - The Ombudsman has not yet filed any case against former Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo and Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante over the alleged P728 million fertilizer fund scam.

Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) secretary-general Danilo Ramos showed House media a certification to that effect issued by the Sandiganbayan February 25, 2011. The certification was signed by Atty. Renato Bocar, executive clerk of court IV.

ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the certification runs counter to statements made by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez during a July 2010 press conference where she said there are findings of graft and malversation of funds against the 2 and will be filing cases against them.

“July 10, 2010 pinresent nila sa publiko ang findings. They found Bolante and Lorenzo liable for graft and malversation matapos ang ilang taon. Sa halip na plunder, dahil P728 million ang involved, nirekomenda nila ay graft and malversation lamang. Seven months later, may certification ang Sandiganbayan na wala pa ring fina-file. So nadidiin dito pagkainutil ng Ombudsman sa pagtanggol sa taongbayan laban sa corruption," Tinio said.

The certification comes as the House of Representatives justice committee prepares to vote on the sufficiency of grounds on the 2 impeachment complaints filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

House Justice Committee chairman Niel Tupas said the panel will vote on the sufficiency on the grounds for impeachment on Tuesday. “Tomorrow, voting on sufficiency on the grounds for impeachment then clarificatory hearings. March 2 on the 1st (complaint), March 3 on the 2nd. March 7 on the Ombudsman then March 8 voting on probable cause," he said.

Tupas hinted the plenary voting on the impeachment may come before the March 24 adjournment.

Under the Rules of Impeachment, any successful impeachment proceeding must first garner the support of 1/3 of the members of the House at the filing of the case or during the plenary voting. No creeping impeachment, similar to the impeachment of former president Joseph Estrada, is allowed. A third of the current 283-man Lower House is equivalent to 94 lawmakers.

Tupas remained unsure if they have the time and numbers to impeach before the March 24. “Possibly, but plenary voting not yet sure if we can finish before March 24 adjournment. We can try but you know in the plenary some members can just filibuster to delay," he said.

Kabataan party-List Rep. Raymond Palatino hopes the House can vote in plenary on the impeachment before the March 24 adjournment.

“Dapat habulin ng Congress ang time. Hanggang March 25 na lang ang congress, sana di madelay voting," he said.

Palatino said this is the House majority’s first test of leadership, considering many of its members used to be allied with the formerly ruling Lakas-Kampi CMD party perceived to be sympathetic to the Ombudsman.

”Sa plenary yun yung 1st real test for majority," he said.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said: “Malakas ang grounds for her impeachment. Malakas paniniwala na may probable cause ang inihaing impeachment laban kay Ombudsman Gutierrez.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño added: "It's damning enough. Dito pa lang kita na ang betrayal of public trust.”

Gabriela party-list Rep. Emerciana de Jesus said women’s groups will picket the Ombudsman tomorrow to support the impeachment.

12 rights victims under Marcos receive $1,000 each

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-five years after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution ousted President Ferdinand Marcos, 12 victims and relatives of human rights abuses during his presidency finally received compensation.

Each victim received a check of $1,000 or P43,000 as compensation for human rights abuses.

The checks were distributed by lawyers of the victims headed by American lawyer Atty. Robert Swift.  

Aside from the 12, a total of 7,526 other victims will receive the same amount at the Commission on Human Rights starting Tuesday.  

According to Atty. Rod Domingo, one of the human rights lawyers, the amount to be distributed came from the $10 million recovered from a crony and dummy of the late dictator. He said that the payments will partly fulfill a $2 billion judgement for compensation against the Marcos estate in 1995.  

A US federal jury awarded the money after finding Marcos liable of torture, summary executions and disappearance of political opponents during his 20-year rule.  

Many of those who received the compensation became emotional after receiving checks.  

Among those awarded the checks were author Antonio Lacaba, Beatriz de Vera, Cecilia Lagman, Fr. Edward Gerlock, Fe Mangahas, Hilda Narciso, director Joel Lamangan, Lutgardo Barbo, Meinardo Paredes, Nilo Olegario Sr., Priscilla Mijares and Ruben Resus.

All of the victims or kin suffered torture, abduction, rape and force disappearance.  

The victims said that more than the money, the significance of the event is that this proves that plunderers and dictators are held accountable for their actions.  

They also lament the proposal of some sectors to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which they say is an insult to thousands of victims.

Bongbong: We're no longer involved in rights cases

by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said his family no longer has anything to do with the cases of human rights victims during his father's regime who are seeking settlement.  

Imelda: More HR violations in Cory's time than in Marcos's

Sinagot ni dating First Lady at ngayo'y Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos ang pahayag ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Ayon sa kanya, mas malala pa ang human rights violation sa panahon ni yumaong Pangulong Cory Aquino kaysa rehimeng Marcos.

Imelda confident of hero's burial for Marcos


Former First Lady and incument Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos on Monday said it will only be a matter of time before her husband, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, is given a hero's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Imelda seeks court OK for Cambodia trip

MANILA, Philippines - Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos on Monday asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to allow her to go on an official 5-day trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia next month.

Defense lawyer Robert Sison said the 81-year-old widow of former President Ferdinand Marcos is part of the country’s three-member delegation to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Seminar on “Accelerating the Achievement of MDG-5, through the Role of Women Parliamentarians” to be held on March 9 to 12, 2011 at the Inter-continental Hotel in Phnom Penh.

Miriam bored with LEDAC, sees no need for it

by by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago sees no need to convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to discuss the administration's priority bills, saying some politicians are only using it to impress the President.

Ledac seeks NFA overhaul

by By Recto Mercene, Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - The Legislative-Executive Development and Advisory Council (Ledac) on Tuesday pitched a bill reorganizing the debt-ridden National Food Authority, the fate of which had been the subject of much debate owing to conflicting signals from Malacañang Palace.

Singson to tender resignation this week

MANILA, Philippines—Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson has formally notified Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. about the resignation of his son, Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson, who is serving an 18-month prison term in Hong Kong for drug trafficking.

Palace, Congress favor deferment of ARMM polls

Malacañang and Congress are in favor of postponing the scheduled elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in August, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Monday.

Somali pirates free ship, 20 Pinoys


MANILA, Philippines – Somali pirates have released a cargo vessel with 20 Filipino seafarers on board, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

Pirates seize ship with 19 Pinoy seafarers on board

After releasing 20 Filipino seafarers on Saturday, pirates struck anew on Monday seizing a bulk cargo carrier with 19 Filipino seafarers on board, according to the European Union's Naval Force in Somalia.

$1: 43.565

$1: 43.565 (P43.71)

Euro 1: 60.2846

Philippines plans to buy 800,000T rice in 2011

LOS BANOS, LAGUNA - The Philippines plans to import around 800,000 tons rice this year even if a government council allowed purchases of up to 1.3 million tons, the agriculture secretary said on Monday.

Proceso Alcala told Reuters he prefers the private sector to bring in the bulk, or 600,000 tons, of this year's planned rice purchases starting May to June.

He said the government wants to cut its rice imports in 2012 by half, or about 400,000 tons, against this year before it achieves its goal of rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

Exile an option for Gaddafi, White House says

by Reuters

WASHINGTON, USA - Going into exile would be one way for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to meet international demands that he leave power, the White House said on Monday.

Workers from poor states stuck in Libya as others flee

BENGHAZI, Libya - Omar Chand, 50, a driver from India, joined hundreds of his fellow expatriate workers to watch a British warship dock in Libya's Benghazi on Sunday. Like others from poor Asian nations with him, he did not board.

Wealthier Western and Asian states have sent ships to evacuate expatriate workers from this port since a bloody uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's rule erupted. Thousands of others, mostly from Africa and South Asia, are still stranded.

"There's no money, there's nothing," said Chand as a light rain fell on the dock in this eastern city. "Maybe tomorrow a ship is coming. Maybe. It's not for sure."

An estimated 1.5 million foreigners work in Libya, drawn largely by oil and construction jobs from countries as varied as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt, Malta, Australia, Brazil and Ghana.

Like many of the others who huddled with their blankets and suitcases, Chand did not have a passport with him. His company held on to it, and their offices had been torched during the uprising, he said.

Benghazi residents have set up kitchens and a hospital at the dock and have sent doctors to tend to stranded workers. Volunteers wearing badges bearing the monarchy-era flag adopted by the rebellion handed out tuna sandwiches to the crowds.

"When your neighbor is in difficulty, you should assist him, regardless of his race, his language, his religion," said Ali Buhedma, president of the Islamic Committee of the International Crescent at the Organization of the Islamic Countries, who came to help coordinate the assistance.

"That's why these people -- they are engineers, they are businessmen, they are doctors -- are here."

Haitham Jadir, 36, a Libyan engineer helping the workers, estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 workers were stranded at the port and at a second site set up in the city's university campus, most of them from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana, Eritrea and other African and Asian countries.

Few had any idea if and when the workers would be able to leave.

"These people, there is no one asking about them," Jadir said. "All the directors for the Chinese and the Turkish companies ran and left the Bangladeshis, the Vietnamese, the Somalis, the African people."


Rebels managed to oust forces loyal to Gaddafi from much of eastern Libya following a violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations nearly two weeks ago. In the ensuing chaos, many companies operating in Libya pulled out their workers.

The British warship HMS Cumberland made its second stop in Benghazi on Sunday to evacuate Britons and some others. Soldiers patrolled a warehouse near the boat as fleeing workers queued to have their documents checked.

Many of the roughly 250 workers boarding the ship were fleeing from the oil fields south of Benghazi and had traveled hundreds of kilometres (miles) by bus to reach the port.

"I'd actually only been in the country about 13 days, on my first rotation, my first time working overseas," said Jon Wright, 45, a Canadian mechanic queuing to board. "I got into Libya, got onto the rig, and everything kind of turned upside down."

Wright said the road from the oil fields had been safe and that Libyans had assisted fleeing expatriates along their way.

Other workers described scenes of looting after the rule of law largely collapsed.

"We had no security. No security whatsoever," said Terry Hinz, 47, an Australian mechanic working for a drilling firm, adding looters stole a vehicle from his oilfield. "One pickup came in, one guy had an AK47, the other guy had a handgun."

"It makes you think you take a little bit for granted," he said.

Egypt bans Mubarak travel, freezes assets

by Agence France-Presse

CAIRO, Egypt - Egypt on Monday slapped a travel ban on ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family, and also imposed a freeze on his assets, judicial officials said.

Six killed in Oman protests on Sunday: government hospital

by Reuters

SOHAR, Oman - Six people were killed in Oman on Sunday, a government hospital said, after police opened fire with rubber bullets at protesters demanding political reform.

China campaigners plan new rallies after clampdown

by by Robert Saiget, Agence France-Presse

BEIJING, China - Organisers of an online anti-government campaign called Monday for new rallies in China on March 6 despite a smothering security response at the weekend that saw foreign journalists roughed up.

Mired in scandal, Berlusconi faces tax fraud trial

by By Silvia Aloisi, Reuters

ROME, Italy - A trial of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on tax fraud charges resumes Monday, the first of a series of showdowns between the scandal-hit leader and Italy's judiciary that will take center stage over coming months.

Senate commends Donaire for boxing victory

The Senate on Monday adopted two resolutions commending Filipino boxing champion Nonito "The Flash" Donaire Jr. for winning the bantamweight belts from Mexican foe Fernando Montiel.

3 Iloilo cops in hot water over lewd Facebook photos

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Three police officers in Iloilo City are under investigation over lewd photos posted on social networking site Facebook.

Two of the 3 police officers faced the media on Monday to air their side on the scandal.

Police Officer 1 (PO1) Christian Gallofin cried while he was being interviewed.

He said he was not aware of what happened.

The lewd photos include shots of one police officer showing his penis.

PO1 Rolando Rivera, meanwhile, admitted that he uploaded the pictures on Facebook.

Gallofin, Rivera, and PO1 Jay-R Evangelio face either suspension or dismissal from the service, according to Camp Delgado officials.

Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol Jr., Region 6 police director, said the results of the investigation will be released within the week.

Exclusive breastfeeding campaign launched by DOH


MANILA, Philippines - Acknowledging the role of exclusive breastfeeding in saving children's lives, the Department of Health (DOH)  launched last Wednesday an exclusive breastfeeding campaign dubbed "Breastfeeding TSEK: (Tama, Sapat, Eksklusibo)."

DOH urges licensing for massage therapists

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health on Monday said it will require all massage therapists to get a license before practicing their profession.

DOH spokesman Eric Tayag said the initiative aims to professionalize the industry and give ample protection to massage therapists and their clients.

Massage therapists will have 3 years to secure their license. First, masseurs and masseuses should get accreditation from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) if they are qualified for the work or if they need further training.

After getting TESDA accreditation, they will need to taken exam at the DOH, which will be administered twice a year.

Massage therapists should be at least high school graduates ages 18-60 years old.

Tayag said the DOH will coordinate with local government units to urge local businessmen to hire qualified massage therapists.

The Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Healthcare backed the DOH initiative, saying that untrained masseurs and masseuses could do more harm than good to clients.

Last US veteran of World War One dies at 110

by Reuters

WASHINGTON DC - Frank Buckles, believed to be the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War One, has died at age 110, according to media reports Monday.

'Mabuting Pilipino' formed vs. corruption

MANILA, Philippines - Various personalities and reform-oriented organizations joined forces on Monday in the fight against corruption by launching a broad anti-corruption movement, Mabuting Pilipino.

The move is seen as a strong show of support for whistleblowers Heidi Mendoza and former military budget officer Col. George Rabusa, who have exposed anomalies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Members of the Mabuting Pilipino movement said the group aims to harmonize their reform initiatives to have a cohesive fight against corruption.

They also want to “reaffirm, and nurture good Filipino citizenship values, like truth-telling, 'bayanihan, concern for fellowmen and women, and love of country.”

Mabuting Pilipino is led by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, folk singer Noel Cabangon, and (Ret.) Brigadier General Danilo Lim.

“Corruption has been so rampant in the Philippines. In the past administration, corruption happened with impunity,” the group said.

According to the group, the Office of the Ombudsman was "rendered helpless, tolerant of corrupt practices, and worse, protector of corrupt officials."

“Without sufficient pressure and vigilance from active citizens, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s legacy of corruption and plunder will continue unabated under this new political climate,” the group said.

The group also denounced the deterioration of values in society. “Due to rampant and systemic corruption, many compromised that bribery, pay-offs and patronage politics are a way of life in this country,” they said.

They cited common situations when motorists would bribe traffic enforcers when they are caught, and people would rely on fixers to facilitate government processes.

"We see a shift in our culture and values—from one that values the welfare of the common tao and the community to something that put premium to private interests over and above public good,” the group said.

Shame campaign, et cetera

Mabuting Pilipino disclosed that they will hold different activities and campaigns to combat corruption.

Among these are a series of "truth actions," campus and community cultural tours, and a shame campaign against corrupt government officials.

They will also start an "Alis Diyan" campaign targeted at Arroyo's midnight appointees.

Mabuting Pilipino will also hold a national day of action for truth and justice, and a "Bantay Merci Impeachment" campaign to vigilantly watch the impeachment proceedings that may be held for the Ombudsman.

The group will also push for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill and House Bill No. 2826 ("Silip SALN") which will allow the public access to the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth of public officials.

Rabusa attended the launch, thanked the group for their support, and committed to help in the fight against graft and corruption.

Various individuals and organizations have joined Mabuting Pilipino, among them:

* Pepe Pestaño, father of slain navy ensign Phillip Andrew Pestaño;

* InciteGov;

* Ateneo School of Government;

* University of the Philippines College of Social Science and Philiosophy Student Council;

* Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN);

* Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF);

* People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR);

* Young Public Servants (YPS);

* LWUA Employees Association for Progress (LEAP);

* Yellow Army in Action;

* Para sa Bansa;

* Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM);

Kabalikat ng Marinero;

Akbayan Youth;

Movement for the Advancement of Student Power; and,

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP).

Banana plant with 4 'hearts' found in Iloilo

MANILA, Philippines - A banana plant was found to have 4 'hearts' or inflorescence in a barangay in Oton, Iloilo.

Three of the 'hearts' grew from one 'heart' in the banana plant.

Nelson Caminian, who owns the plot of land where the banana plant grew, was startled with the discovery, since a banana plant usually has only one 'heart.'

The unusual banana plant is only one of the almost 30 banana plants in Caminian's farm, a one-hectare plot in Barangay Santa Rita in Oton, Iloilo.

Even the caretaker of the land, Roming Abintajado, 77, was surprised to discover the plant. According to him, throughout his whole life, it is only now that he has seen such an unusual plant.

The Caminian family now plans to plant nothing but banana plants in their land instead of palay, or rice.

Even if the family believes there is a message to this phenomenon or some sort of fortune coming their way as a result of the plant's discovery, they are still open to a scientific explanation for the multiple banana 'hearts.'

In 2008, a banana plant with 5 'hearts' drew visitors to Hinigaran, Negros Occidental eager to see the rare phenomenon.

Higher education, lower blood pressure: study

WASHINGTON - The more advanced degrees a person has, the lower their blood pressure, a study published online Sunday found.

An analysis of some 4,000 patient records from the 30-year Framingham Offspring Study found that, controlling only for age, women with 17 years or more of education -- a master's degree or doctorate -- had systolic blood pressure readings 3.26 millimeters of mercury lower than female high school drop-outs.

Men who went to graduate school had systolic blood pressure readings that were 2.26 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) lower than their counterparts who did not finish high school, the study, published online in the open access journal BMC Public Health, says.

The same inverse relationship between education and blood pressure was also seen, although to a lesser degree, in men and women who got associate's or bachelor's degrees at university but did not continue on to graduate school.

They showed greater blood pressure benefits than high school drop-outs but lesser benefits than holders of master's degrees or doctorates, the study found.

Even after controlling for influences such as smoking, drinking, obesity and blood pressure medication, the benefits persisted, although at a lower level.

The study could help explain the widely documented association in developed countries between education and lower risk of heart disease, said lead author Eric Loucks, an assistant professor of public health at Brown University in Rhode Island.

Blood pressure is "one of the biological underpinnings of heart disease," said Loucks, urging policy-makers who want to improve public health to think about improving access to education.

The study focused on systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure because "systolic hypertension is substantially more common than diastolic hypertension, and systolic blood pressure contributes more to the global disease burden attributable to hypertension than diastolic blood pressure."

Factbox: Ships held by Somali pirates

Here are details on ships held by Somali pirates:

* SOCOTRA 1: Seized on Dec. 25, 2009 in the Gulf of Aden. Yemeni-owned ship had six Yemeni crew.

* ICEBERG 1: Seized on March 29, 2010. Roll-on roll-off vessel captured 10 miles from Aden. Crew of 24.

* JIH-CHUN TSAI 68: Taiwanese fishing vessel seized on March 30. Crew of 14: Taiwanese captain, two Chinese and 11 Indonesians.

* RAK AFRIKANA: Seized on April 11. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged 7,561-dwt cargo ship was taken 280 miles west of the Seychelles.

* Three Thai fishing vessels -- PRANTALAY 11, 12 and 14 -- hijacked on April 17-18. Total of 77 crew.

* TAI YUAN 227: Taiwanese fishing boat seized on May 6: 24 crew -- nine Chinese, three Vietnamese, three Filipinos, seven Kenyans and two from Mozambique.

* AL-DHAFIR: Seized on May 7. Fishing boat seized off Yemen. Seven Yemeni crew.

* SUEZ: Seized on Aug. 2. Panama-flagged cargo ship hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. Carrying cement. Crew of 23 all from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.

* OLIB G: Seized on Sept. 8. Maltese-flagged merchant vessel with 18 crew -- 15 Georgians, three Turks.

* ASPHALT VENTURE: Seized on Sept. 29: The 3,884-dwt bitumen carrier was heading to Durban from Mombasa. Crew of 15 Indians.

* YORK: Seized on Oct. 23. Singapore-flagged, Greek managed, 5,076-dwt LPG tanker seized 50 miles from Mombasa. Ship empty after discharging cargo in Mombasa. Crew of 17 -- German master, two Ukrainians, 14 Filipinos.

* CHOIZIL: Seized on Oct. 26. South-African-owned yacht was hijacked after leaving Dar es Salaam. European Union anti-piracy task force rescued one South African but two other crew members were taken ashore and held as hostages.

* AL-NASSR: Seized Oct. 28. Motorised dhow captured off Yemeni island of Socotra.

* POLAR: Seized on Oct 30: Liberian-owned Panama-flagged 72,825-tonne tanker seized 580 miles east of Socotra. Crew of 24 -- one Romanian, three Greeks, four Montenegrins, 16 Filipinos.

* HANNIBAL II: Seized on Nov. 11. Panama-flagged chemical tanker was taken 860 miles east of Horn of Africa. The 24,105-tonne vessel was sailing to Suez from Malaysia carrying vegetable oil. Crew of 31 -- 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan.

* YUAN XIANG: Seized on Nov. 12. Chinese-owned cargo ship captured off Oman. Crew of 29 Chinese.

* ALBEDO: Seized on Nov. 26. Malaysian-owned cargo vessel was taken 900 miles off Somalia as it headed for Mombasa from UAE. Crew of 23 from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran.

* JAHAN MONI: Seized on Dec. 5. Merchant ship was 1,300 miles east of Somalia en route from Indonesia to Greece carrying nickel ore. Crew of 26.

* PANAMA: Seized on Dec. 10: Liberian-flagged container ship en route from Tanzania to Beira. Crew of 23 from Myanmar.

* RENUAR: Seized on Dec. 11: Liberian-owned bulk cargo vessel, 70,156 dwt, captured en route to Fujairah from Port Louis. Crew of 24 Filipinos.

* ORNA: Seized on Dec. 20: The Panama-flagged bulk cargo vessel, 27,915 dwt, owned by the United Arab Emirates, was seized 400 miles northeast of the Seychelles.

* THOR NEXUS: Seized on Dec. 25: Thai-registered 20,377-dwt bulk carrier was hijacked 350 miles off Oman. Crew of 27 Thais.

* SHIUH FU NO 1: Seized Dec. 25, 2010: Somali pirates appeared to have seized the Taiwanese-owned fishing vessel near the northeast tip of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The vessel had a crew of 26 Taiwanese, Chinese and Vietnamese nationals.

* EMS RIVER: Seized on Dec. 27: The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged ship 5,200-dwt cargo vessel had about eight crew and was captured in the Gulf of Aden en route to the Suez Canal.

* VEGA 5: Seized before Dec. 31: Somali pirates hijacked the 140 dwt Mozambican-flagged fishing vessel about 200 miles southwest of the Comoros. There were two Spaniards, three Indonesians and 19 Mozambicans on board.

* BLIDA: Seized on Jan. 1, 2011: The 20,586-tonne Algerian-flagged bulk carrier was seized about 150 miles southeast of Salalah, Oman. The ship, with 27 crew from Algeria, Ukraine and the Philippines, was heading to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from Salalah with a cargo of clinker.

* EAGLE: Seized on Jan. 17: The 52,163-tonne Greek-owned merchant vessel was en route to India from Jordan when it was seized. It had a crew of 24 Filipinos.

* HOANG SON SUN: Seized on Jan. 19: The 22,835-tonne bulk carrier, which is Mongolian flagged and Vietnamese-owned and had a crew of 24 Vietnamese nationals, was seized about 520 nautical miles southeast of the port of Muscat.

* BELUGA NOMINATION: Seized on Jan. 22. The 9,775-dwt cargo ship was boarded about 800 miles off the Seychelles. Owned by the Bremen-based Beluga Shipping, it is Antigua and Barbuda flagged. Crew comprised a Polish captain and seven Filipino, two Russian and two Ukrainian seamen.

* SAVINA CAYLYN: Seized on Feb. 8: The 104,255-dwt tanker, Italian-flagged and owned, was on passage to Malaysia from Sudan when it was attacked 670 miles east of Socotra Island. It had five Italians and 17 Indians on board.

* IRENE SL: Seized on Feb. 9: The U.S.-bound oil tanker was carrying about 2 million barrels of Kuwaiti crude oil, worth $200 million at market prices, when it was seized off the coast of Oman. The Greek-owned and flagged 319,000-dwt tanker carried seven Greeks, 17 Filipinos and one Georgian on board.

* SININ: Seized on Feb. 12: The Maltese owned and registered bulk carrier was seized with a crew of 23 -- 13 Iranian and 10 Indian nationals -- in the North Arabian Sea. The 53,000 dwt vessel was on route to Singapore from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

* DOVER: Seized on Feb. 28: It was taken about 260 nautical miles north east of Salalah in Oman. The Panamanian flagged, Greek owned vessel was on its way to Saleef (Yemen) from Port Quasim (Pakistan) when it was attacked. The crew consists of three Romanians, one Russian and 19 Filipinos.

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