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

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 11, 2011 Major News Stories (

March 11, 2011 Major News Stories
March 11, 2011 Major News Stories

Palace: 3 depts studying proposals to cushion oil price spikes

The Aquino administration is studying all proposals aimed at softening the impact of oil price spikes with the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

The departments of Energy (DOE), Finance (DOF), and Budget and Management (DBM) are taking into consideration all the proposals including Senator Ralph Recto’s to either reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products or subsidize diesel prices, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug will meet with Recto next week to discuss the latter’s proposal, Lacierda said.

Amending or repealing the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law is also in the pile of recommendations that is under consideration.

“We do not want to burden our citizens so we are considering everything that can alleviate the burden on the people," Lacierda said. “We are certain that the relevant agencies are discussing what will be the best course of action to take," he added.

Malacañang will wait for the recommendations of the three departments, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said in the same briefing. He also voiced his sentiment against the idea of a diesel subsidy.

“We will certainly consider whatever will be the recommendations of the three departments. However, if we are going to use the windfall to subsidize diesel, that subsidy has to be meaningful," the Cabinet secretary said.

The tax windfall could be used instead to accelerate social spending programs, Carandang said.

He cited Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras as saying that the government will lose billions of dollars if it will subsidize the retail price of fuel even for a year.

“It will cost us billions of dollars, billions of dollars that we do not have, billions of dollars that are going to the operations of the government and the other programs that we have," Carandang said.

“So, if we were to go back to a subsidized fuel price, then that would basically bankrupt the government. And I don’t think anyone wants that to happen at this point," he added.

DFA: Half of Pinoys in Libya now out of harm

from GMA

A little more than half of the 26,000 Filipinos in conflict-stricken Libya have exited the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday, as it winds up its repatriation efforts there expected to last until the end of next week.

EXCLUSIVE: Pinoy suffers heart attack, left in Libya

Umaabot na sa 1,200 OFW mula Libya ang nakabalik na ng Pilipinas matapos ang 5 araw na paghihintay ng susundong eroplano sa Crete Island sa Greece. Naiwan rin ang isang Pinoy na inatake sa puso doon

PAL brings home two planeloads of OFWs

from Breaking News

Two repatriation flights dispatched by Philippine Airlines (PAL) to Crete, Greece, arrived within hours of each other Thursday morning carrying a total of 731 Filipinos, including 15 infants.

OWWA: No P10K aid for OFWs repatriated from Libya before Feb. 24

from GMA

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has clarified that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated from Libya before February 24 are not entitled to receive a P10,000 grant from the government.

DFA to Pinoys in Saudi: Stay alert, avoid crowds

from GMA

Although the political tension in Saudi Arabia will not likely reach a level similar to that in Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday advised some 1.5 million Filipinos there to stay alert and avoid crowds and unnecessary movements.

DFA raises level 2 alert in Yemen

from GMA

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday has raised to alert level 2 the situation in Yemen and advised some 2,000 Filipinos to "restrict their movements and voluntary depart" due to the "exponential increase" in mass protests there.

Palace welcomes Taiwan's easing of restrictions on OFWs

from GMA

Malacañang on Thursday welcomed the decision of the Taiwanese government to relax the restrictions it imposed on overseas Filipino workers following a deportation row last month.

Aquino sends Roxas for another meeting with Taiwanese officials

from Breaking News

President Benigno Aquino III has asked his emissary, former senator Manuel Roxas II, to go to Taiwan for another round of talks with officials who had invited him for a visit on March 13 to 14, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said Thursday.

DTI: Don't panic, supply of basic goods stable

The Department of Trade and Industry on Thursday asked the public not to resort to panic buying as the country has a stable supply of basic goods.

FDA to tighten rules on milk, flour-based products

Balak ngayon ng Food and Drug Administration na maghigpit sa mga gumagawa ng mga milk at flour-based confectionery gaya ng pastillas, yema, polvoron at barquillos. Ito’y para umano masiguro ang kalidad ng mga produkto na kadalasan gawang-bahay lang.

Empty drum explodes; construction worker killed

by cebuweb

AN empty drum that was being pried open with the use of a welding machine exploded and sent its lid flying toward Rene Bangcale.

The lid ripped off the abdomen of the 22-year-old construction worker, who died instantly.

The freak accident happened at a construction site on corners Junquera Extension and

Ramos Street, Cebu City, at 2:45 p.m. yesterday.

Bangcale and another construction worker, Joel Salingay, were at the 21st floor of the building, the Ramos Tower Residences.

They were helping each other remove the lid of the empty drum, which they wanted to fill with water.

‘No tampering done’

by cebuweb

WE DID not tamper with the license plate. Sr. Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, spokesman of Task Force Ellah Joy, yesterday issued the denial and said the accusation against the police was “unfair.”

The police investigating the kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Ellah Joy Pique last Feb. 8 have been accused of changing a letter in the license plate of the Pajero, the sports utility vehicle that the perpetrators allegedly used in the commission of the crime.

Joavan pleads not guilty of malicious mischief, attends hearing on grave threat

by cebuweb

IT WAS another busy day in court for Joavan Fernandez yesterday.

Clad in checkered polo and denim pants, the son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez showed up to face, not one, but two cases before the sala of Municipal Trial Court in Cities Judge Mario Manayon.

Manifesto calls for lone district

by cebuweb

MAJORITY of barangay captains in Mandaue City, through a manifesto, are calling on Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, 6th district) to file a bill that will convert the city into a lone district.

While he is elated with support, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said if Quisumbing won’t file the bill, he will urge Cebu congressmen to file one that will reorganize the districts of the entire Cebu Province.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will meet with the six congressmen of Cebu to discuss the possibility of adding more districts in the province.

Mayor wants 4 lanes back in MC Briones

by cebuweb

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama instructed the Cebu City Market Authority yesterday to restore the four lanes in M.C. Briones Street near the Carbon Public Market.

The mayor wants to remove all traffic obstruction along the road so it can be easily passable to motorists and pedestrians.

A portion of M.C. Briones St. used to be the relocation site for the affected vendors when Carbon Public Market Unit 2 building was razed by fire over a decade ago.

Rama said the clearing operations in M.C. Briones St. will also enhance the mobility of Carbon Police Station.

Construction firm rushes to beat deadline for Plaza rehab project

by cebuweb

THE renovation of Plaza Independencia is being rushed by the contractor to beat the deadline set by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who wants the park opened to the public by May 1.

Dr. Librado Macaraya of the Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission said Geety Realty and Development Corp. is rushing the rehabilitation work of the plaza to meet the deadline set by Rama.

But he admitted that the contractor is having a hard time finishing the plaza’s makeover by Labor Day due to erratic weather conditions.

Sandiganbayan to tackle forfeiture case here in Cebu

by cebuweb

THE lawyers of former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot have two weeks to comment on a motion seizing his assets.

Justice Gregory Ong issued the order yesterday here in Cebu, where the Sandiganbayan 4th Division, which he chairs, will hold the hearings.

“Petitioner has a valid cause of action against… Ligot for acquiring properties and assets during his incumbency as a public official that is manifestly out of proportion to his lawful income,” the motion read.

Aquino: Treat Garcia case like Al Capone's

from by

SINGAPORE - President Benigno Aquino III wants all angles pursued in bringing to justice former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who is accused of stealing P303 million from the military's coffers.

PNoy to Oban: Reform AFP's financial system

from by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has directed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. General Eduardo Oban, Jr. to coordinate closely with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of National Defense (DND) in strengthening financial management systems in the military.

Solons eye new weapon vs Ombudsman

from by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen pursuing the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez have found a new weapon they can use against her in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the plea bargain agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Palace execs: Merci's resignation to spare country of impeachment trauma

from GMA

Malacañang officials on Thursday said Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez's resignation would spare the country the trauma of going through a painful impeachment process.

Ombudsman says she won't resign from post

from GMA

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Thursday insisted that she will not quit her post despite the Senate blue ribbon committee's recommendation for her impeachment over the controversial plea bargain deal her office entered into with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Senators still impartial despite impeachment call vs Merci - Gringo

from GMA

The senators remain impartial despite the Senate blue ribbon committee's recommendation that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez be impeached, Senator Gregorio Honasan said Thursday.

Kin of 3 Ampatuan victims seek P50M in damages

from GMA

The families of three journalists slain in the grisly Maguindanao massacre in November 2009 on Thursday told a Quezon City court that they were seeking a total of P50 million in civil liabilities for the death of their loved ones.

Military assaults Abu Sayyaf lair near Zambo City

from GMA

The military on Thursday pounded a lair of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group off Zamboanga City following information that two of the bandit group's prominent leaders were there, a military spokesman said.

5 killed in bomb blast near Jolo school

from Breaking News

(UPDATE 2) At least five people were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off outside an elementary school in Jolo, Sulu around 5:20 p.m. Thursday.

Peso slightly down over news of slow exports

from Breaking News

The peso closed 10 centavos lower on Thursday following the release of a report that the country's exports grew by a substantially slower pace in January.

$1: 43.480

$1: 43.480

Euro 1: 60.3703

BIR optimistic of meeting 2011 revenue goal of P940B

from GMA

The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Thursday said reforms in the agency will translate into higher collections and enable it to meet this year's revenue target of P940 billion.

FLI to start work later this year

by cebuweb

THE Cebu City Government yesterday received P255.5 million from Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) for the 10.6-hectare waterfront lots it purchased at the South Road Properties (SRP).

The amount was the third of six installments, and FLI got its third title for the lots on Pond F.

Five titles have been placed on escrow with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and will be turned over to FLI each time it pays the City.

FLI makes the installment payment every March for six years, as stated in the joint-venture agreement signed by City Hall and FLI officials.

Court junks suspension of proceedings in Lucio Tan wealth case

from by

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has dismissed the government’s request to suspend proceedings in a 24-year-old forfeiture case against the assets of businessman Lucio Tan on a claim by government lawyers that Fortune Tobacco Corp. needs to be replaced as defendant after a supposed merger with Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc.

19 dead, 174 injured in China quake

from Breaking News

(UPDATE 2) At least 19 people were killed and 174 others injured in an earthquake that struck a remote area of southwest China near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, a local official said.

Singapore calls for peaceful Spratlys resolution, joint use of resources

from Breaking News

For the second time this week, President Aquino raised the territorial dispute over the Spratly islands with a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and elicited a statement supporting the peaceful resolution of the issue.

Rebels fight Gadhafi with heavy weapons, diplomacy

from Breaking News

Libya's opposition battled for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi's embattled regime on Thursday, winning official recognition from France and hitting government forces with heavy weapons on the road to the capital.

Gadhafi son warns east Libya rebels: 'We're coming'

TRIPOLI—Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam on Thursday issued a warning of "we're coming" and that his forces were advancing towards their bastion of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Gaddafi would agree to transition talks

from GMA

LISBON - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would agree to talks on the transition of power, Portuguese daily Publico on Thursday quoted a diplomatic source as saying after Foreign Minister Luis Amado met Gaddafi's envoy in Lisbon.

Gadhafi hoarding 'billions' in cash—report

WASHINGTON—Moammar Gadhafi has "tens of billions" of dollars in cash hidden in Tripoli, which allows him to battle an uprising despite an international freeze on Libyan assets, a report said Thursday.

Yemen president vows new constitution within year

from GMA

SANAA - Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hoping to defuse increasingly violent protests against his 32-year rule, said on Thursday he would draw up a new constitution to create a parliamentary system of government.

Roach wants Pacman to spend time with family - for now

Fully aware the next eight weeks will be a tough one for boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach has one piece of advice for the world's pound-for-pound king.

Donaire unbeatable at 118 lbs

from by

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing analyst Al Bernstein believes Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will remain unbeatable as a bantamweight and could even remain competitive all the way up to the featherweight division.

PNoy snubs steak, eats seafood in observance of Ash Wednesday

from GMA

President Benigno Simeon Aquino on Wednesday refused to eat steak, one of his favorite foods, and instead ordered a seafood dish in observance of the start of Catholics' Lenten season.

Lift conks out, PNoy uses stairs


Singapore officials apologized to President Noynoy Aquino after an elevator at the Changi Water Reclamation plant conked out, forcing Aquino and some of his Cabinet officials to use the stairs.

Actor with HIV allowed to enter Philippines

from Breaking News

The Philippine immigration chief said Thursday he has rescinded an order barring a movie and theater actor who is HIV positive from entering the country, calling it a mistake and violation of the government's international commitments.

Kim Chiu proud to finish high school


MANILA, Philippines – Drama princess Kim Chiu did not hide her emotions when she delivered a speech in front of her high school batchmates during their graduation day on Thursday.

Celebs pay respects to Paquito Diaz

Inilibing na noong Huwebes ang beteranong aktor na si Paquito Diaz. Hiling naman ng aktor at dating senador na si Ramon Sevilla Sr., mapahaba pa ang kanyang buhay para muli siyang makapaglingkod.

Guinness: Pinoy could be shortest man ever

Guinness World Records on Thursday bared the name of a 1-foot, 10-inch Filipino from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, as a new contender for the title of the smallest living man.

Four local billionaires in annual Forbes list

FOUR FILIPINOS made it to the latest Forbes billionaire list, which has ballooned to a record 1,210 personalities in the wake of the global economic recovery.

Andrew L. Tan of diversified Alliance Global Group, Inc. and Enrique K. Razon, Jr. who heads International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) made their debuts after stock prices of their companies surged in 2010.

They joined mainstays Henry Sy and Lucio Tan whose fortunes were both estimated to have risen by over a third to $5.8 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively, as of February 2011.

Mexican telco mogul Carlos Slim Helu, whose net worth was valued at $74 billion, continued to top the Forbes list, coming ahead of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

Rounding out the top 10 list were: fashion house owner Bernard Arnault, Larry Ellision of Oracle, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Amancio Ortega of the apparel brand Zara, Brazilian mining and oil tycoon Eike Batista, Mukesh Ambani who runs petrochemical businesses and Christy Walton of Walmart.

The Philippines’ richest man, mall magnate Mr. Sy, moved up the rankings to become the 173rd wealthiest in the world.

Lucio Tan -- the taipan behind the country’s largest cigarette maker, second largest beer brewer, and Philippine Airline, among other interests -- similarly rose 70 spots to 512th.

Andrew Tan was in 540th with a net worth of $2.2 billion after Alliance Global -- the holding company for his real estate, food and beverage and gaming businesses -- enjoyed a tripling in value on the stock exchange in 2010.

He had first figured on Forbes Asia magazine’s Philippine Rich List in 2007 when his net worth reportedly grew to $1.1 billion from $480 million.

"Andrew Tan holds a lot of equity in many companies. And the stock market continues to perform beyond or within expectations," Astro C. del Castillo, managing director of brokerage firm First Grade Holdings, Inc., said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Razon, worth $1.1 billion, was 1,057th.

The value of Mr. Razon’s ICTSI more than doubled in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2010, the same year he pocketed profits from the sale of a stake in National Grid Corp. of the Philippines to Mr. Sy.

"Mr. Razon continued to invest heavily not just domestically but also outside the country and 2010 was the start of the recovery," Mr. del Castillio explained.

More Filipino tycoons, he added, are sure to make the billionaires list as many here have sizeable assets, he added without elaborating.

Jaime Zobel de Ayala, who figured as the fourth richest Filipino worth $1.4 billion according to Forbes Asia’s separate ranking last year, was not in the global list.

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