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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 2, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokkyo@blogger.com)

March 2, 2011 Major News Stories
March 2, 2011 Major News Stories

Energy chief: Philippines will beef up oil inventory

from ABS-CBNnews.com by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - There is no fuel crisis in the country yet, assured the energy secretary on Tuesday, but the Philippines is aiming to increase its current inventory of crude and other oil products as part of a strategy to manage the impact of the continuing political unrests in the Middle East and north Africa.

Recto: Oil firms unfairly raising petroleum prices

(Updated 8:38 p.m.) Senator Ralph Recto on Tuesday said that oil companies are unfairly and unnecessarily raising prices of petroleum product amid the political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, the world’s primary source of crude oil.

Recto, who chairs the Senate ways and means committee, explained that an oil company should have already ordered its fuel stock for March and should be "immune" from the global price "upheavals" for at least a month.

"We beg oil companies to hold off their greed even if it would be a lame attempt to show to the public that they are really sensitive to the people's already dire situation," he said.

Oil companies are probably engaging in "speculative oil trading" by imposing a P2 per liter increase in gasoline and an additional P1 per liter for diesel because of the tumultuous situation in North Africa and the Middle East .

Recto, however, said that oil firms should adhere to their 30-day inventory and implement price hikes only when their 30-day supply has been depleted.

He rejected a statement supposedly issued by an official of the Department of Energy saying that oil companies should immediately reflect global movement in their pricing to avoid local price shocks.

"The only shock that should be avoided is the fact that some energy officials, despite the change in government, still appear to be speaking in behalf of the oil behemoths," he said.

Oil companies increased on Tuesday their pump prices by as much as P2 per liter for gasoline and P1 for diesel.

Government must act now

Noting the rise in prices of basic commodities in light of the strife in North Africa and the Middle East. Senator Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday also called on government to ensure the availability of food supply and to protect the people from profiteers.

Pangilinan said he is amenable to giving President Aquino emergency powers if the Middle East situation gets worse. “We need to have a President empowered to protect our interest in times of international crisis. We also trust that President Aquino will not allow for such emergency powers to be abused," the senator said.

Aquino on Monday thumbed down the thought of asking for and wielding emergency powers.

Cooking gas up by P16.50 per 11-kg cylinder

MANILA, Philippines—Liquefied petroleum gas retailers and oil giant Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. raised prices of cooking gas by P1.50 per kilogram, effective Tuesday.

Grant of P10,000 await returning OFWs from Libya

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration would provide “a grant assistance of P10,000” for each returning Filipino worker from Libya besides an “assistance package” from the National Reintegration Center for OFWs.

109 Filipinos stranded in Libya eat only 1 meal a day, says priest

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

MANILA, Philippines—At least 109 Filipino workers who have been eating only one meal a day to stretch their food supply have been stranded in a company camp in Gandamis City, estimated to be 650 kilometers away from Tripoli, the capital of Libya, a priest based in Libya said.

172 OFW evacuees from Libya to arrive Tuesday

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) announced that a total of 172 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) evacuated from Libya are scheduled to arrive in 7 batches on Tuesday.

DFA chief back in Manila after bringing 400 Filipinos out of Libya

MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario arrived in Manila on Tuesday afternoon after a four-day visit to North Africa that helped bring to safety some 400 Filipinos from strife-torn Libya this week.

DOLE: 3,544 Pinoys out of Libya

MANILA, Philippines – More than 3,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been evacuated from Libya.

“As of today, reports collated by the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) Middle East Crisis Monitoring Center, place the number of Filipinos already out of Libya at 3,544,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

Baldoz said an arrangement for their onward transportation to the Philippines is already in various stages of preparations.

The labor secretary also announced that the evacuation of Filipinos in Benghazi will start Tuesday with the 1,700-passenger capacity chartered ferry Ionian Queen.

The ship is expected to dock at 8 a.m. Libyan time or 2 p.m. Manila time at the Port of Gulani in Benghazi.

“Our POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) in Tripoli has already sent us a list consisting of 1,546 Filipinos expected to board the Ionian Queen. And in Tripoli, the Philippine Embassy and the POLO have transported another 534 workers to Djerba in the Tunisian border but we have yet to receive the names of the OFWs transported,” Baldoz said.

She also said that the POLO in Tripoli has emailed a list of names of OFWs sheltered at the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Tripoli.

“Arrangements are being made towards negotiating chartered planes that will pick these workers in Tripoli, in Crete and in Djerba. Hopefully the negotiations can be concluded within the day,” she said.

Meanwhile, company-initiated evacuation and repatriation is ongoing. “Although, there are some companies that have no capacity to do so, in which case the government will handle the repatriation of the workers,” she said.

“We continue to liaise with them and follow-up through their recruitment agencies that names the location, the contact information of their workers until they are repatriated safely here in the Philippines,” she said.

OFWs in Libya pin hopes on rescue missions of other govts'

VALETTA, Malta – Filipinos still trapped in Libya are banking on the rescue operations of other governments to take them out of the strife-torn country.

“Ang inaasahan lang po namin iyung foreign nationals kaya doon kami kumakapit,” said overseas Filipino worker (OFW), Jerry Sahagun.

Although they are not a priority, some Filipinos managed to squeeze in ships and cargo planes sent to fetch workers from other countries.

“Sa lahat, ako lang ang unang nakaalis. Hindi ko akalain na makalabas ako,” said Desie Cajumal, an x-ray technician in Libya.

It was learned that the British Royal Navy ship was able to bring out 6 Pinoy workers out of Libya.

The Filipinos also expressed their gratitude to the British Royal Air Force for taking them on the flight.

“Yung mga Pilipino, tulungan nila,” Marion Confesor appealed to the Philippine government.

Aside from the rescue operations of other governments, private companies that had operations in Libya also helped in evacuating Filipino workers.

On Monday, the Philippine government announced that it has chartered a ship to pick up evacuating Filipinos in Libya.

Pinoys from Libya share survival tales

VALETTA, Malta - Filipino evacuees started to arrive in Malta last week. On Friday, a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Cumberland docked at Valletta, the Maltese capital, after a 35-hour long journey from Benghazi.

The ship was carrying 200 evacuees from various countries, including Filipinos, as part of multinational workforce that escaped Libya as the country descended into chaos.

Twenty-four Filipinos were onboard, where 14 of them were assisted by their respective companies, while 10 fled without their passports which had to be sorted by the Philippine Consulate in Malta when they landed.

Renato Camiling worked in Libya for almost three decades. He has never feared for his life and safety before until the chaos erupted across Libya. He appealed to the government to rescue those left behind.

Elmer Quiling escaped with his whole family—his wife Nelly, their three children and two nieces. Libya was their second home, having lived there for 19 years.

When they fled, they left everything they have worked so hard for. Quiling, who worked for Tetra Pak International, was still shaken while narrating the ordeal they went through in Libya. He also called on the government to act swiftly to save more lives.

Ronnie Endrano, an administrative officer for a company called ANE said Pinoys in the same company grouped together to protect each other.

Another OFW, Alex Lim, who was working for an Irish international construction company, appealed to the government to send a ship to be able to rescue more Filipinos.

4 Pinoy helpers work for Gaddafi's nephew: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi’s immediate family does not employ Filipino house helpers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

Four Filipinos who were earlier reported to be working for Gaddafi’s household are employed by his nephew, DFA spokesman Ed Malaya clarified.

Malaya added that relatives of the 4 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) were seen at the DFA on Saturday for the agency’s “Libreng Tawag” program to Libya.

“They were informed by the OFWs that they are safe and in the house of their employer in Tripoli,” he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

He added that the 4, who were not identified, were not allowed by their employer to go out due to the volatile situation in the area.

Malaya said the DFA has instructed the Philippine embassy to make arrangements for their repatriation.

The DFA, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday that families of OFWs may send their requests for assistance and information on the conditions of their relatives in Libya through its Crisis Management Center e-mail addressdfaoumwa.cmc@gmail.com.

“The e-mail account was set-up to receive and act upon their requests,” the department said.

The DFA earlier activated 24-hour landline numbers 834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646 for families of OFWs who want to get information about their relatives in Libya.

It said families of OFWs can go to the south wing lobby of the DFA main building in Pasay City to avail of the "Libreng Tawag" program.

Budget cut blamed for slow government action to rescue Filipinos in Libya

MANILA, Philippines--A big cut made on the budget intended for “assistance to nationals” has been blamed by a senator for the government's slow response to rescue thousands of Filipinos trapped in strife-torn Libya.

Senator Manny Villar, who has been helping distressed overseas Filipino workers, revealed on Tuesday that this year's budget for “assistance to nationals” had been slashed by half-- from the proposed P156 million to P78 million.

“Ang totoo nyan, dito sa budget natin ngayong taon, ay kinaltasan pa at hinati yan. Ang hinihinging budget ng pamahalaan ay P156 million, ang ginawa lang ay P78 million kaya napakarami nating OFWs na gustong umuwi ang hindi makauwi (The Truth is, our budget this year, has been cut by half. Th government was asking for P156 million, but what was approved was only P78 million. That's why we have many OFWs who can not return to the country even if they want to),” Villar told reporters.

“Kaya ngayon sa Libya, yung ibang bansa napakabilis ang paglikas sa kanilang mga kababayan dun, tayo medyo may kabagalan sapagkat walang pera (That's why now in Libya, other countries were able to immediately evacuate their nationals while we are a little bit slow because we don't have money,” he pointed out.

So more than a personal visit by any government official, what the Filipinos need now in Libya, Villar said, is an additional budget to hasten their evacuation.

“Ang sabi ko nga, hindi naman kailangan ng ating kababayan ang ating pagdalaw. Ang Kailangan nila nila ay yung bus at masasakyan pauwi. At kelangan nila rito ay additional funds..(As I've said, our countrymen there don't need a visit. What they need is a bus or any transportation so they could return home),” the senator added.

Unlike Villar, however, three senators – Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Lito Lapid were all praises for the government's efforts to evacuate the Filipinos in Libya.

Enrile specifically commended acting Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario for personally leading the repatriation of Filipinos in Libya.

“Mabuti yun, hands on at saka mapag –aralan nila problema dun (That's good, he's hands-on so the problem could be analyzed better) ,” the Senate leader said in a separate interview.

Lapid, in a statement, said del Rosario earned his “respect” and “admiration” for personally leading the repatriation in Libya “disregarding his own personal safety.”

OFWs from Libya start trickling in

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

LIVELIHOOD, financial aid and other kinds of assistance await repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, as the government tightens rules in accrediting employers sending Filipinos to the Middle East.

Numerous text messages and calls from worried wives and children have been made to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (Owwa) 7 hotline since last Feb. 18, prompting the agency to open even on weekends until the unrest in Libya subsides.

Province offers air fare for kin of quake victims

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

THE Capitol offered to shoulder the round-trip air fare of relatives of Cebuanos who were buried in the rubble of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building in Christchurch, New Zealand following an earthquake last Feb. 22.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia tasked Provincial Social Worker Marivic Garces to identify a representative each from the families of Rhea Mae Sumalpong, Emmabelle Anoba, John Christopher Chua, Ezra May Medalle and Cecil Redoble.

Cebu mayor's son faces another trial

by laureenjean

CEBU CITY -- Joavan Fernandez will face trial for allegedly firing a gun at a store attendant in a Talisay City subdivision and taking two liters of softdrinks in December last year.

Talisay City Assistant Prosecutor Jenelyn Forrosuelo recommended the filing in court of a robbery case against Joavan, the son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Berger, Esdrelon to forgive, forget: Couple won't sue CPPO over arrest

from philstar.com - Cebu News by By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon

The officials of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) responsible for the arrest of a Norwegian and his Filipina girlfriend in relation to the death of a six-year-old girl can heave a sigh of relief as the erstwhile suspects would not pursue charges against them.

American faces child porn, trafficking raps

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

CRIMINAL complaints were filed yesterday at the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutors against a 34-year-old American tourist who was arrested last Sunday for videotaping seven topless women, including three minors, in Barangay Malbago, Daanbantayan, Cebu.

‘Not enough firefighters and old trucks for 90 million Filipinos’

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

MANILA, Philippines—The 17,000 firefighters and 1,700 firetrucks in the country are not enough to secure 90 million Filipinos, a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) official said Tuesday.

Council says CCMC explosion an accident

from philstar.com - Cebu News by By Garry B. Lao/JPM

While the panel of investigators created by Mayor Michael Rama has yet to conduct investigation on the bulb explosion at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), the legislative department had already wrapped up its investigation.

Couple says they had no idea they were signing waiver to file case vs. CCMC

by cebuweb

THE parents of the baby who suffered the worst in a lamp accident at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) did not know they were signing a waiver to file a case against the city hospital.

Michelle Villarico, 19, the mother of Kean Carl Villarico, said she signed a document that said the hospital will take care of all the expenses. Nothing there said they will not file a case against the hospital.

MCWD to tap sources from Kotkot, Lusaran

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

A FEASIBILITY study on building medium-sized dams to augment the current water supply in Metro Cebu will start in the second quarter this year.

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) is considering tapping surface water sources, specifically the Kotkot and Lusaran rivers.

MCWD general manager Engr. Armando Paredes said a $2-million grant from the Asian Development Bank has been confirmed and the process of hiring consultants from a shortlist is underway.

He said the grant is for the cities of Davao and Cebu, with $1 million each.

CHED: Degree programs of some local colleges have no permits

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) revealed on Tuesday that most of the degree programs being offered by 93 local colleges and universities (LCU) do not have permits to operate.

At a Senate hearing, CHED Enforcement and Investigation Division chief Lily Freida Milla said their latest report showed that of the 450 degree programs being offered by 93 LCUs, only 42 have permits to operate.

Milla, however, failed to provide a complete list of the said LCUs and the degree programs that they offer.

Senator Edgardo Angara, who chairs the Senate education committee, explained that the Local Government Code allows local governments to establish their own educational institutions.

But Angara said there is no law to regulate LCUs so more and more cities and munipalities continue to create their own colleges or universities even if the quality of their programs are not that good.

"Parang nalulugi naman ng ating mag estudyante sapagkat ang nakukuha nilang diploma is not worth the paper (Our students suffer because the diploma that they receive is not worth the paper)," he said in an interview after the hearing.

Milla said they have already issued a circular that will not allow graduates to take the board exams unless his or her degree program is accredited or recognized by CHED.

She likewise said that CHED issued several guidelines in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government, which requires that the CHED be consulted before LCUs are established.

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who chairs the Senate local government committee, said he recognizes that there are some LCUs who are in the business purely for commercial benefit.

Marcos noted, however, that there are still those LCUs who are just in need of facilities and teachers.

"Let us not do something do discourage those sincere efforts to widen the coverage on tertiary education," he said during the hearing.

Angara said they plan to submit a proposal on regulating LCUs within two weeks.

Settlers from Mabolo, not province: Labella

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

INFORMAL settlers of Mahiga Creek, particularly those in Barangay Mabolo, are not all transients from the province, as some are extended families of the original residents of the barangay.

Councilor Edgardo Labella said this in front of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama during the blessing of the temporary shelter for those who will be displaced in the clearing of Mahiga Creek.

“I ask the mayor to give them relocation sites,” said Labella, referring to Rama's earlier pronouncement that there will be no relocation site or financial aid to the informal settlers.

Tree causes damage, injury

A FALLEN mango tree hurt at least six men and damaged two houses, a store and a multicab in Sitio Bangkal, Barangay Sapangdaku, Cebu City at 3 p.m. last Monday.

Since the tree was blocking the road, there was a three-hour traffic jam, said resident Leliosa Navesis.

Filipino scientist gets int’l award for new source of coherent light

from Sun.Star Cebu News Feeds by cebuweb

FOR developing a new source of coherent light that is more efficient than lasers, a Filipino scientist recently received an international award in physics.

Dr. Ryan Balili, a former scholar of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), went to Italy last Jan. 31 and stayed there until Feb. 11 to receive the Gallieno Denardo Award.

The award is given by the International Commission for Optics and the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics to young researchers from developing countries active in optics research.

Ombudsman ruling not yet final: SC

by By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday stood by its earlier position that the February 15, 2011 ruling of the court en banc is not yet final and executory amid the resumption of impeachment proceedings on 2 impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in the Lower House on Tuesday.

Merci says rights violated 'in name of politics'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez lambasted the House of Representatives Committee on Justice for pushing through with the impeachment proceedings, saying she can no longer expect any fair treatment from majority of its members.

Time to resign, Villa-Ignacio urges Ombudsman

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

Former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio on Tuesday urged her former boss, Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez, to resign or face impeachment proceedings in Congress.

Drilon: Ligot's brod-in-law to face Senate probe Thursday

Edgardo Yambao, the brother-in-law of former military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, will appear during the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee's inquiry on alleged corruption in the military on Thursday, Sen. Franklin Drilon said.

Speaker receives Singson resignation letter

Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson handed Tuesday the resignation letter of his son, Representative Ronald Singson, to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., in keeping with the latter's promise to vacate his seat at the House of Representatives after his conviction for drug trafficking in Hong Kong.

Alleged travel agent of drug mule on China death row nabbed

MANILA, Philippines—Authorities have arrested an official of a travel agency who allegedly facilitated the flight of a convicted Filipino drug courier on death row in China, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Jose Batnag, 49, operations manager of Winluck Travel and Tours, was accosted by operatives of the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City around 6:30 p.m. Monday, according to assistant city prosecutor Jonathan Lledo.

Lledo, IACAT chairman, said Batnag was arrested after airport and immigration personnel off-loaded four Filipino women who were purportedly about to fly to Canton and Macau in China to work as domestic helpers using tourist visas.

“He was facilitating the exit of four women who were off-loaded due to incomplete travel documents,” Lledo said in a news briefing.

He said IACAT and the National Bureau of Investigation agents had been closely watching the operations of Winluck after receiving intelligence reports that the same travel agency assisted Sally Ordinario-Villanueva in entering China three years ago.

Villanueva was scheduled to die by lethal injection in China two weeks ago, but a timely intercession of the Philippine government prompted Chinese officials to defer her execution indefinitely.

“We are now checking reports on Batnag’s previous records to check if he was really responsible in sending (Villanueva) to China,” Lledo said.

Batnag was charged with violation of Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, and Republic Act 8042, or the Migrant Workers Act.

Aquino hails PSG on its 25th anniversary

MANILA, Philippines—Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Presidential Security Group, President Aquino on Tuesday said he and his family owe their lives to the presidential guards who had protected them as early as 25 years ago when the group was formed by his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Peso firms up as Saudi vows to produce more oil

MANILA, Philippine—The peso strengthened on Tuesday together with other Asian currencies as concerns over potential disruptions in oil supply eased.

Crisis in Mideast, N.Africa to dampen remittance growth

by By Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - An economist has forecast remittance growth to be flat this year due partly to the growing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa that has displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Gov't privatizing RPN 9, IBC 13

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The government will privatize sequestered television networks RPN 9 and IBC 13, and retain only NBN Channel 4, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said Tuesday.

GSIS Family Bank files notice of strike

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Jun Vallecera, Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - Workers at the GSIS Family Bank have put management on notice of an imminent strike on Tuesday over issues arising from the lack of a binding labor agreement with management.

PHL seaweed processor plans move to Indonesia, other local sites - official

The biggest seaweed processor and exporter in the Philippines will spend as much as P1.5 billion to bankroll a partial relocation of its operations to Indonesia as well as to Zamboanga and Carmen, Cebu.

Shemberg Marketing Corp. will partially relocate its Mandaue plant, as Indonesia will ban the export of their raw material, cottonii seaweed, starting 2012.

Noting the gradual decline in its Philippine production, company president Benson Dakay said the move to Indonesia is part of the company’s efforts “to be where the source is."

Dakay said the company will relocate its kappa gel — a byproduct of seaweed processing — press plant to Makassar, Indonesia, a place rich in cottonii seaweed. Shemberg will also relocate its plant for semi-processed carrageenan to Maasin, Zamboanga, and its alcohol iota — another byproduct of seaweed processing — plant to Carmen, Cebu.

To finance its relocation plans, Dakay said Shemberg Marketing will sell its 25-hectare property in Mandaue, Cebu. The 10,000 MT plant in Mandaue can process 7,000 MT of semi-processed carrageenan, 2,000 MT kappa gel press, and 1,000 MT fully refined alcohol iota.

“We are talking to a number of buyers, mostly foreigners We hope to sell at P30,000 per square meter, which is the going rate for the Cebu reclamation area," Dakay said.

Plant workers may apply for retirement or join the move to the new sites within the next two years, according to the Shemberg Marketing official.

The Philippines remains the world’s top carrageenan exporter. A chunk or 30 percent of its semi-processed seaweed exports goes to China. Its second largest market is France (25 percent), followed by the United States (15 percent), Spain (10 percent), South Korea (6 percent), Denmark (4 percent), and Brazil (2 percent).

Seaweed is one of the Philippines’ Top 10 exports.

Carrageenan or semi-processed seaweed works as a gelling, thickening, or binding agent for processed food like ham, hotdogs, and jellies. It may also be used for animal-free soft gel capsules, biodegradable digestible films, and microbicides or compounds that are used to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

West edges closer to military action on Libya

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

TRIPOLI—The West edged closer on Tuesday to military action against Moammar Gadhafi as the United States said air strikes would be needed to secure a no-fly zone over Libya, and regime forces tried to retake a key city.

Gaddafi deploys forces; world raises Libya pressure

TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi deployed forces to a western border area on Tuesday in defiance of Western military and economic pressure, raising fears that one of the bloodiest Arab revolts may become more violent still.

UN urges mass evacuation of thousands fleeing Libya

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

GENEVA—The UN refugee agency and an international migrant group issued an urgent appeal Tuesday for the mass evacuation of tens of thousands of people fleeing into Tunisia from strife-torn Libya.

Huge demo in Yemen capital as Saleh blames US, Israel

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

SANAA—Huge crowds poured onto the streets of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday in what the opposition hailed as the biggest protest yet against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's three-decade rule.

Iran police, protesters clash in Tehran—reports

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

TEHRAN—Iranian security forces in Tehran fired tear gas on Tuesday at anti-government protesters demanding the release of two opposition leaders they said have been jailed, opposition websites reported.

Floyd’s trainer revisits Pacman’s PED issue

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Despite Manny Pacquiao’s pending defamation suit against him, Roger Mayweather, trainer and uncle of undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., again went out claiming that the Filipino superstar is on performance enhancing drugs (PED).

Rift between Donaire and dad far from over

from ABS-CBNnews.com by By Nadia Trinidad, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

SAN LEANDRO, California -- The back-story of Nonito Donaire Jr.’s boxing success is one that doesn’t have a similar happy ending. At least not yet.

Kiamco wins overall title of US Bar Table Event in Reno

MANILA, Philippinkes -- Filipino Warren Kiamco regained the US Bar Table Event’s all-around crown on Monday at the Sands Regency Hotel in Reno, Nevada.

Davis Cup coach sees tough battle with Japan team

MANILA, Philippines -- Cebuana Lhuiller-Philippine Davis Cup team coach Chris Cuarto considers the Japanese team as highly favored in their looming match in the Group 1 Asia/Oceania tie in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu, this weekend.

Pacman hit with bad grammar jabs on Twitter

from ABS-CBNnews.com by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Within just a week of using the social networking site Twitter, boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao threatened to delete his account because of comments criticizing his grammar.

Manhunt launched vs actress, Dominguez girlfriend

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Police have started a manhunt for sexy starlet Katrina Paula and another girlfriend of the Dominguez brothers who have been tagged as masterminds in the carjack-slay of car dealer Venson Evangelista.  

Sarah, Gerald star in 'Catch Me, I'm in Love'

from ABS-CBNnews.com

Bagong kakikiligan ang love team nina Sarah Geronimo at Gerald Anderson sa pelikulang “Catch Me I’m in Love.” May kissing scene na nga ba sila sa unang tambalan? Naglabas naman ng reaksyon si Cristine Reyes sa pag-amin ni Sarah na naging boyfriend niya rin si Rayver Cruz.

Paquito laughs off rumors about his death

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Alive and kicking. This was how Nena Diaz, wife of Paquito Diaz, described her husband after reports claimed that the veteran actor died in a hospital in Albay on Saturday.

1974 Miss Universe dead at 56

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Muñoz passed away on Tuesday at her home in Malaga, Spain after being ill for a quite a long time, an online Spanish newspaper said.

Nelly Furtado to donate Gadhafi money

OTTAWA - Grammy-winning Canadian singer Nelly Furtado said Monday she would give away $1 million dollars she received from Moammar Gadhafi for a performance four years ago in Italy.

Christina Aguilera arrested for intoxication

from INQUIRER.net Breaking News

LOS ANGELES—Grammy-winning US pop singer Christina Aguilera was arrested in west Hollywood overnight for being intoxicated, police said Tuesday.

Homosexuals have nothing to be ashamed of, Catholic bishops say

from GMA News.tv

Catholic bishops on Tuesday urged homosexuals to "come out in the open" because gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should not be ashamed of what they are.

La Niña past its peak but wet summer still seen —Pagasa

MANILA, Philippines -- The La Niña weather phenomenon has peaked, but the Philippines will continue to receive above average rainfall in the dry months of March and April, according to the country’s weather bureau.

Nathaniel Servando, acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said Visayas and Mindanao would get more precipitation in the next two months.

At present, eastern Visayas and Mindanao have been getting rains due to low pressure areas. On Tuesday, Servando said another LPA was formed in Palawan, drenching the province.

Servando said La Niña, which has led to more moisture in the atmosphere in western Pacific, peaked last January to February. The weather would likely normalize in March and April, but there would still be more moisture in the air, Servando said.

Nation by nation: Roots of unrest

(CNN) -- Demonstrations have spread across parts of the Middle East and Africa. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest:

Tuesday developments:

LIBYA

The European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the turmoil in Libya on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sounded "delusional" during Gadhafi's interview with ABC and BBC. In the interview, Gadhafi denied the existence of protests against him, refuted claims of violence by his regime and asserted he was loved throughout the country.

The Libyan Embassy in Washington will take down the Libyan flag Tuesday and replace it with one that flew in Libya before Gadhafi took power in 1969, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A witness in Misrata said she thinks Gadhafi's time is power is almost over. "I'm confident that the regime will fall soon -- if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the next week or two or three," she said. "But his time has come to an end. ... Too much blood has been shed."

Roots of Unrest:

Protests in Libya began in January when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government, which has ruled since a 1969 coup, responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment and demands for freedom have also fueled the protests.

OMAN

Protesters hit the streets in Oman for a fourth day of demonstrations Tuesday, according to the Oman News Agency.

On Monday, anti-government protesters in the key port city of Sohar refused to end demonstrations despite orders from the sultan of Oman to hire 50,000 people and pay a stipend to people who are out of work, sources in the Gulf state told CNN.

The sultan had ordered the hiring in the aftermath of weekend protests that left at least one person dead and 11 others injured, state-run media reported. Sultan Qaboos bin Said also issued royal orders saying job-seekers who register with the Ministry of Manpower will be paid 150 rials (about U.S. $390) per month until they find jobs, according to the Oman News Agency.

Roots of unrest:

The protests involving about 1,000 protesters calling for more jobs started Saturday and were ongoing Monday, according to Zamzam al Rashdi, editor-in-chief of the state-run Oman News Agency.

EGYPT

Egypt's stock exchange is expected to open Sunday, state-run media reported. Earlier this week, the stock exchange was expected to open Tuesday. The markets have been closed since January 27.

Earlier this week, authorities said Egypt's attorney general will seize all of the properties of former President Hosni Mubarak and his family and bar them from traveling outside the country.

Roots of unrest:

Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced President Hosni Mubarak from office. Demonstrators were also angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and economic issues such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment. Since Mubarak's departure, several thousand people have protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square to urge Egypt's new rulers to implement promised reforms. They pressed Egypt's Supreme Council to end an emergency law and release political prisoners, among other things. They also pressed for civilian representation in the government.

YEMEN

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered outside Sanaa University in the Yemeni capital Tuesday in a planned protest by youth groups, opposition leaders and even members of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's powerful tribal group who want an end to Saleh's continued rule.

In a counter-demonstration, thousands of government loyalists descended in the city's Tahrir Square.

The demonstrations come after violent crackdowns in Aden. Medical officials said Saturday that four people died and 26 were wounded -- some critically -- following clashes that erupted Friday night between anti-government protesters and security forces in southern Yemen. Amnesty International said at least 11 people died in Friday's protests, bringing the overall death toll since protests began to at least 27.

The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warned Yemeni authorities Tuesday against violent repression of peaceful protests and called on the government to protect the rights of demonstrators and journalists under international law, according to a statement from Pillay's office.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for the ouster of Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978. The country has been wracked by a Shiite Muslim uprising, a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives and a looming shortage of water. High unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom. Saleh has promised not to run for president in the next round of elections.

IRAN

Supporters of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi have called for demonstrations Tuesday to protest the two men's reported imprisonment. The opposition website, Kaleme, citing "trusted sources," reported Monday that the men and their wives had been arrested and taken to Tehran's Heshmatieh prison. But the semiofficial Fars News Agency, citing a source within Iran's judiciary, denied the report. The source, who was not identified, said both men were inside their homes "and the only restrictions placed on them are contacts with suspicious elements."

Roots of unrest:

Opposition to the ruling clerics has simmered since the 2009 election, when hundreds of thousands of people filled Tehran streets to denounce President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as fraudulent. Iranian authorities began rounding up many government opponents in February amid calls for protests like those that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE UNITED NATIONS

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday night to punish Moammar Gadhafi's government in Libya for violence against unarmed civilians In an emergency session, the 15-member council agreed to slap new sanctions on Gadhafi's government and referred the strongman to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an effective solution to end the violence against anti-government protesters and a Libyan envoy tearfully asked the Security Council to step in.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES

BAHRAIN

Hundreds of protesters encircled the parliament building in the capital, Manama, on Monday and prevented the Shura Council from meeting for several hours. Separately, hundreds of students from the Bahrain Training Institute marched in Isa, denouncing state-run Bahrain TV.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

IRAQ

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave government ministers 100 days to deliver results and eliminate corruption or be fired, the government announced after an emergency cabinet meeting Sunday. The announcement follows weeks of demonstrations across the country by protesters angry about unemployment, poor basic services, corruption and a lack of freedom. At least 13 people died in protests Friday. The prime minister said Sunday there would be investigations into the deaths to determine who started the violence.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrations in Iraq have usually not targeted the national government. Instead, the protesters are angry over corruption, the quality of basic services, a crumbling infrastructure and high unemployment, particularly on a local level. They want an end to frequent power outages and food shortages.

TUNISIA

Tunisia's interim president tapped Al-Baji Qa'ed Al-Sebsi as the country's new prime minister Sunday, after the previous prime minister resigned amid protests, state-run media reported.

Former Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's resignation Sunday came a day after three people were killed during protests in the capital, Tunis.

Roots of unrest:

The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income. Protesters complained about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression.

An interim government came to power after an uprising prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country on January 14. Those demonstrations sparked protests around North Africa and the Middle East.

MAURITANIA

Protesters returned to Blocat Square in the capital, Nouakchott, on Saturday, hours after police chased demonstrators from the square. One person was arrested during that melee. But young people returned by evening, promising to continue the protests over the next several days. The call to action started on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, sources tell CNN.

Roots of unrest:

In January, a man set himself on fire in front of the presidential palace, according to news reports -- a self-immolation in the same spirit as others in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere. There have been two bloodless coups since 2005 in the country, which borders Algeria and Mali, with ex-Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz serving as president since 2009.

JORDAN

A large demonstration in downtown Amman on Friday ended peacefully a week after clashes erupted between pro-government and anti-government demonstrators near the Al Husseini Mosque. Protesters in Jordan have called for reforms and for abolishing the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

Roots of unrest:

Jordan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and rising commodity prices, and youth unemployment is high, as it is in Egypt. Officials close to the palace have told CNN that King Abdullah II is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform. He swore in a new government following anti-government protests. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with opposition and media figures among its ranks.

ALGERIA

Algeria lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency last week, according to the National Algerian Press Agency. The action lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly imposed to combat an Islamist insurgency. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced last month that he would lift the emergency declaration, first imposed in 1992 and indefinitely renewed in 1993.

Roots of unrest:

Protests began in January over escalating food prices, high unemployment and housing issues. They started in Algiers but spread to other cities as more people joined and demonstrators toppled regimes in Tunisia and, later, Egypt. Analysts called Bouteflika's announcement about lifting the state of emergency law an attempt to head off a similar revolt.

DJIBOUTI

Thousands of people have marched in protest through Djibouti. On February 18, riot police charged the crowd after the call to evening prayers, shooting canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, according to Aly Verjee, director of the international election observation mission to Djibouti, who witnessed the event. Djibouti is home to Camp Lemonnier, the only U.S. military base on the African continent.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for President Ismail Omar Guelleh -- whose family has ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977 -- to step down ahead of elections scheduled in April. Guelleh has held the post since 1999 and is seeking a third term. Economic stagnation is also a source of anger among the people.

KUWAIT

Protesters in Kuwait have clashed with authorities on at least two occasions. Hundreds of protesters are demanding greater rights for longtime residents who are not citizens of the country. They also demanded the release of people arrested in demonstrations. On February 19, protesters attacked the security forces, who managed to disperse people and make arrests. The forces used tear gas on the demonstration involving between 200 and 400 protesters.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters are seeking greater rights for longtime residents who are not Kuwaiti citizens, an issue the country has been grappling with for decades. According to the CIA World Factbook, Kuwait has 2.7 million people, with 1.3 million registered as "non-nationals."

SUDAN

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has decided not to run for another term in 2015, a senior member of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party said. Al-Bashir has ruled since a military coup in 1989. He won another five-year term in a 2010 vote that opposition parties boycotted over complaints of fraud. He also faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region of Darfur.

Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on recent occasions in Sudan. Human Rights Watch has said that "authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests on January 30 and 31 in Khartoum and other northern cities." Witnesses said several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrators seek an end to National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases, according to Human Rights Watch. It accuses the government of being heavy-handed in its response to demonstrations, and using pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters.

SYRIA

As protests heated up around the region, the Syrian government pulled back from a plan to withdraw some subsidies that keep the cost of living down in the country. President Bashar al-Assad also gave a rare interview to Western media, telling The Wall Street Journal in January that he planned reforms that would allow local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations.

Roots of unrest:

Opponents of the al-Assad government allege massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963.

MOROCCO

Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across Morocco to call for political reform. Labor unions, youth organizations and human rights groups demonstrated in at least six cities on Sunday. Police stayed away from the demonstrations, most of which were peaceful, Human Rights Watch reported.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters in Morocco are calling for political reform. Government officials say such protests are not unusual and that the protesters' demands are on the agenda of most political parties.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity last month in Ramallah, West Bank, calling on Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian political factions to heal their rifts amid arguments over elections scheduled for September in the Palestinian territories. "Division generates corruption" was one of the banner slogans from demonstrators, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social-networking sites as well as at schools and university campuses.

Roots of unrest:

The Palestinian territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the Fatah leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal that Palestinian officials were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations toward a resolution of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended. In some cases the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority rulers of the West Bank actively tried to stifle protests. The split between Hamas and Fatah hampers internal change in the territories, although calls for political change are growing louder. Large-scale protests have failed to materialize as many Palestinians believe Israel remains their biggest problem.

Aquino swears in 20 new officials

Twenty new government officials took their oaths of office Tuesday before President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino administered the oath of office of former Central Bank Governor Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., whom he appointed as Philippine Ambassador to the United States; and former Philippine Ambassador to Canada Jose Brillantes as Foreign Affairs undersecretary for special and ocean concerns.

The President signed Cuisia’s appointment papers in December 2010 to replace outgoing Ambassador Willy Gaa. Brillantes, on the other hand, was Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 2002 and had served in various capacities in Philippine diplomatic missions in Ottawa, Germany, and Washington D.C.

Aquino also swore in retired Armed Forces vice chief Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa and Ambassador Evelyn Austria-Garcia as Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam and Philippine Ambassador to the Czech Republic, respectively.

Former Ambassador to New Zealand Bienvenido Tejano was sworn in as the new Philippine Ambassador to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Other officials who also took their oaths of office were Florencia Dorotan and Patrocino Jude Esguerra III as undersecretaries of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Nabil Tan as undersecretary at the Office of the President, Gina Cantano-De la Cruz and Lila Shahani as assistant secretaries also at the Office of the President.

Also sworn in were lawyer Bienvenido Benitez as a member of the board of directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority representing the national government; Antonio Gallardo as presidential legislative assistant for the Senate; Karen Singson as the Department of Finance’s chief privatization officer at the Privatization and Management Office, and Nathaniel Servando as acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

The President also swore in the new officials of the Department of National Defense- Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation-Industrial Authority namely, Triunfo Agustin as chairman of the board of directors; Leo Tereso Magno as administrator and member of the board of directors; and Romeo Alamillo, Vicente Buenaventura, Cesar Pobre and Jose Castellano Lapus as bembers of the board of directors.


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