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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 9, 2011 Major News Stories (

March 9, 2011 Major News Stories
March 9, 2011 Major News Stories

Oil extends declines; Asian stocks remain under pressure

from GMA

SINGAPORE - Oil prices fell more than $1 a barrel on Tuesday, pulling away from two-and-a-half year highs, but Asian stocks remained under pressure as investors worried higher energy prices could stunt the global economic recovery.

Gov't studying oil tax cuts

from by

MANILA, Philippines - The government is studying proposals, among them, the scrapping the value-added tax (VAT) on oil, to cushion the impact of rising fuel prices on consumers, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said.

Seaoil resurrects prepaid gas card; price locked at P52 a liter

Seaoil Philippines Inc., the independent retailer of petroleum products, is bringing back its prepaid fuel card that locks gasoline at P52 a liter for two months as a hedge against price spikes.

“Since the price has been fixed, cardholders will have an easier time budgeting their fuel expenses as they will be insulated from further spikes in gasoline costs during the promo period," Seaoil president and CEO Glenn Yu said in a statement Tuesday.

The Price Lock Prepaid Fuel Card is denominated in 20-liter issues at P1,040 per card from March 9 to May 15.

In case fuel prices are rolled back within the card’s validity period, clients can still buy P1,040 worth of gasoline at current pump prices. If the current pump drops to P50 per liter, the cardholder can buy up to 20.8 liters of gasoline.

The Seaoil prepaid gas card may be used only in Metro Manila and Rizal province. The company first launched its prepaid card at the height of global economic crisis in 2008 when world crude prices spiked to more than $140 per barrel.

Indonesia assures PHL access to crude supply

from GMA

Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday assured President Benigno Aquino III that Jakarta will share its crude supply should the situation in the Middle East and North Africa disrupt the flow of oil to importing countries like the Philippines.

LTFRB says operators can use 2008 approval to charge 35 centavos more

BUS passengers in the province will have to shell out a few more pesos starting next week, when bus operators start implementing the fare matrix approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in 2008 yet.

Citing the rising cost of fuel and maintenance of buses, operators of buses and mini buses said yesterday that they can no longer keep the bus fares at the present rate.

The fare for the first five kilometers will still be at P8.50 but instead of the present rate of P1 per succeeding kilometer, passengers will have to pay P1.35 starting this Tuesday.

LTFRB 7 Regional Director Ahmed Cuizon said the operators who already secured the fare matrix in 2008 can start collecting the new fare rates immediately, without any need to file another petition for a fare hike.

“The rates were already approved by LTFRB in 2008, that’s why they can implement it anytime. But I’m requesting them to give the passengers a few days’ notice so they won’t be taken by surprise. So even if they have the certification, I hope they won’t impose it now, let’s give consideration to the passengers,” Cuizon said.

High time

In a meeting with Cuizon and representatives of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 yesterday, some 40 members of the Cebu Province Bus Operators Association (CPBOA) and Cebu South Mini Bus Operators’ Association (CSMBOA) agreed that it’s high time to impose the increased fare rates.

Julie Flores, president of CSMBOA, said the current fare rates were implemented when diesel was sold for only P38 per liter in 2008. Diesel now costs P49.38 per liter.

“We hope makasabot sad ang riding public because if we don’t implement this now, ang mga sakyanan walay tarong maintenance and mu-break down. Wala man mi nibunal ug pataas sa plitehan, igo-igo ra gyud ang among gipangayo na mukita ra sad ang mga drivers (We hope passengers will understand. We are not asking for a big increase, just enough for the drivers to make a living),” he told reporters after the meeting.

Flores lamented that with the current rates and the rising fuel prices, drivers can only earn at least P100 or P500 at the most a day.

LTFRB approved the increased fare rates in September 2008 but with the intervention of Gov. Gwen Garcia, bus operators suspended its implementation in consideration of the riding public.


In yesterday’s meeting, Cuizon advised the operators to inform the governor of their plans before they implement it.

Bus operators are worried, though, that their operations will suffer if they increase fare rates while their competitors keep their fares as is.

Although Ceres Bus Lines is a member of their association, it is not a party to their agreement yesterday.

CSMBOA has 34 members with some 150 mini buses while CPBOA has some 20 members with around 300 buses plying their routes in the province.

For his part, LTO 7 Enforcement Division Chief Macario Getaruelas assured the bus operators that they will apprehend bus operators and confiscate the license of bus drivers who undercharge bus passengers.

A complaint, however, will first have to be filed before their office.

“Sa part of law enforcement, if there is a complaint on undercharging and it’s supported with documents, including the bus tickets, we can apprehend them anytime but there has to be a complaint,” Getaruelas told the operators.

Aquino to meet with food officials to avert crisis

from Inquirer Breaking News

President Benigno Aquino III has set a meeting next week with government officials concerned with ensuring the country’s food security.

No food crisis, Palace says

from Business by By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will meet with top officials of the National Food Authority (NFA), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) next week upon his arrival from Indonesia and Singapore to discuss the country's food situation in light of rising cost of fuel.

Philippines could buy 200,000T rice in March

from Business by Reuters

MANILA, Philippines - The country's state grain agency said on Tuesday it was looking to import 200,000 tons of rice as soon as this month amid concerns unseasonally wet weather could lower the domestic harvest.

No word yet on overtime pay for Libya OFWs

MANILA, Philippines - Two of the biggest employment agencies deploying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Libya said Tuesday that they are uncertain if the overtime pay of the OFWs will be given because records will be hard to trace after their offices were ransacked by rebel forces.

"Sa computation, baka di pa maisali overtime kasi magulo ang mga records, but then gagawan naming ng paraan yan para maibigay sa kanila," said Wilfredo Undang, company representative of Lavalin & Asiakonstruct company.

Mayang Monteclaros, assistant manager of YWA human resources, meanwhile, said they haven't discussed about unpaid salaries and overtime pay since they are busy with the repatriation process.

However, she assured OFWs that they will be a priority once re-hiring for job openings in other countries will be available.

"Wala pa nadi-discuss. Initially, binigay sa amin ng mga clients na the candidates will be transferred to another site," she revealed.

As of 8 p.m on Tuesday, a total of 5,923 OFWs have landed at the NAIA Terminal 1.

This is a far cry from the total 26,000 Filipinos who were either working or living in Libya.

Thousands more are expected to arrive in the next few days. Some will be on board a government-chartered flight from Greece via Philippine Airlines that is scheduled to arrive midnight on Wednesday.

The problem that OFWs face now is their grim financial situation after losing their jobs in Libya.

"Apat anak ko, mga elementary pa. Masakit, pangarap ko matapos anak ko. Sinira lang nila pero hindi hadlang ito para mangibang bansa pero hindi na sa Libya,” said Richie Espinosa.

Butch Dungo, another OFW from Libya, said "bumagsak aming mga pangarap sa buhay, tatlong buwan pa na-hold na salary doon.”

Providing assistance to OFWs from Libya

from by By Caroline Howard, ANC

MANILA, Philippines - An estimated 4,568 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been repatriated from Libya since February 26, amid growing tensions in the Middle East nation.

Repatriated OFWs from Libya grateful to fellow Pinoys' help

from by

MANILA, Philippines - A total of 943 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have arrived in the country from strife-torn Libya in the last 24 hours.

US embassy organizes local jobs fair for Filipinos —DoLE

from Inquirer Breaking News

The Department of Labor and Employment on Tuesday said that United States-based companies in the Philippines would gather next week for a three-day job fair, offer 6,600 local opportunities to job seekers, especially displaced overseas Filipino workers from Libya and other countries.

Store attendant withdraws case v. mayor’s son

CEBU CITY -- A victim raises a complaint but later withdraws it. A father defends his son. The case is eventually dismissed.

This has become a familiar cycle whenever a complaint is made against Joavan Fernandez, a son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez.

This time around, Raymond Paran, a 19-year-old clubhouse attendant of the Vista Grande Subdivision, decided to let go of the robbery case he filed against Joavan.

Mayor Fernandez, in a radio dyAB interview, confirmed Paran signed an affidavit of desistance but could not say when. He also said the young man signed the affidavit voluntarily and wanted to settle the case.

Judge Gilbert Moises received Tuesday a one-page affidavit of desistance signed by Paran and an “extremely urgent ex-parte motion to dismiss” the case.

In it, the clubhouse attendant said he and Joavan “amicably settled the problem” and that what happened between them last December 15, 2010 was a “product of a misunderstanding.”

“My decision (to withdraw the case) has risen simply because I have no interest in it,” the affidavit said.

Judge Moises, who presides over the Regional Trial Court Branch 18, said he will order the Office of the Talisay City Prosecutor to comment on Paran’s motion. It will be heard on March 16.

City Prosecutor Marshall Rubia said Paran’s absence will affect the case against the mayor’s son, but assured he will have the note authenticated.

The robbery case may push through without a complainant, but will depend on what evidence the prosecution can present.

Paran had accused the mayor’s son of firing a shot at him because he failed to immediately take the latter’s order of softdrinks at the clubhouse last December.

He was not hurt, though, as the gun was allegedly fired away from his direction.

The robbery complaint stemmed from Joavan’s allegedly taking the two one-liter bottles of drinks with him.

Senior Insp. Errol Francis de Veyra, acting Talisay City police chief, Tuesday confirmed that Paran left his job last Friday night.

He left behind an unsigned handwritten note stating he was no longer interested in pursuing the case because of threats, which he did elaborate on.

SPO1 Elmer Saladas, Talisay City Police Station desk officer, said the letter mentioned Joavan’s name.

It said: “Hinaut unta nga makasabot mo...tulo ka adlaw nga wa ko makatug kay patyon ni Joavan kung mopadayon sa akong kaso, sige na man gud ari Joavan (Please understand. I have not slept for three days because Joavan might kill me if I proceed with the case. He has been coming here often).”

It was addressed to a certain “Ma’am Shan” and “Ma’am Girlie.”

Romnick Padinas, a co-worker, told the police that Paran boarded a red vehicle when he left the clubhouse last Friday night, March 4, past 11 p.m.

Paran’s affidavit was dated March 3.

Accompanied by officials from the Vista Grande Homeowners’ Association (VGHA), Padinas went to the police to report the incident the next day.

The same letter mentioned that Paran signed a piece of paper in exchange for P4,000 for his safety and for his father, who needed money.

“Tungod sa akong kahadlok, nipirma na lang ko (I was afraid, so I signed it),” it read.

In the note, Paran also asked for forgiveness from the VGHA, saying he took P1,100 from the clubhouse store.

Talisay City Assistant Prosecutor Jenelyn Forrosuelo earlier recommended the filing of a robbery case against Joavan. She recommended P100,000 as bail.

The prosecutor, however, found no basis to charge Joavan with possession of dangerous drugs or paraphernalia.

In his affidavit of desistance, Paran requested the city prosecutor to withdraw the robbery complaint “with finality.”

It said he was not “requested, offered any consideration, or threatened, forced, coerced and intimidated” to withdraw the case.

Olango priest ‘settles matter’ with altar boy

THE Archdiocese of Cebu should investigate the physical abuse complaint raised by an altar boy against a priest, said a church official.

An investigation should be conducted by the archdiocesan officials who are direct superiors of the priest involved, said Msgr. Esteban Binghay, a Canon lawyer.

“We have to check, give the priest (Fr. Leopoldo Palacio Jr.) advice,” he said.

He was referring to the complaint of a 15-year-old acolyte (altar boy) of St. Augustine Parish in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Olango Island, Lapu-Lapu City that Palacio hit him when he arrived late for mass last Sunday.

In an interview, Fr. Palacio told Sun.Star Cebu the case was settled yesterday.

Palacio initially declined to issue a statement, but later said there was a meeting held at the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Lapu-Lapu City where the issue was discussed.

“Settled na. Ok ra siya, ok ra pud ko. Closed na ang kaso (We’re both fine now. Case closed),” he said in a phone interview.

Binghay said a priest facing an investigation cannot just be transferred to another parish. There is a process that has to be followed, he said.

“We do not punish, tell the priest to leave. Unless the people ask that he be transferred. Who will the priest serve?” he said.

“In order to be very sure, there should be an official verification of the incident. The child should also be investigated,” he said.

Binghay said Palacio was assigned in Barangay Tuyan, Naga City three years ago, where he also encountered problems with a family there.

“There was a misunderstanding with the family. They got mad because he said a mass for the dead hurriedly,” said Binghay.

“He was not able to explain his side properly at that time. But everything was settled after that. He (Palacio) was tired after coming down from the mountain where he also said mass,” Binghay said.

Barangay Sta. Rosa Captain Barulio Inoc told Sun.Star Cebu the acolyte is his neighbor, and that he is not familiar with the incident.

But he expressed doubts if the acolyte would return to work at the parish after the incident.

Inoc said the boy attended a school activity that day, which was the reason he was late for mass.

DNA TEST FOR BLOODSTAINS; Where’s owner of Pajero with tampered license plate?

Is this the vehicle used in the abduction of 6-year-old Ellah Joy Pique?

Samples of a suspected bloodstain in the back compartment of a blue Mitsubishi Pajero seized last Friday by police from a private residence in barangay Inayagan, Naga City, in south Cebu, were sent to Manila for a DNA test, a police official said yesterday.

The results will hopefully give a clue whether Ellah Joy's last ride before she was killed was in that luxury vehicle.

The Pajero was parked in a house whose owner is a “female companion” of a male foreigner who is abroad, based on a police deposition to the court.

is withholding the name of the woman, who was not around when police agents served a search warrant.

The foreigner was not identified by the police but their two witnesses described seeing a foreign male about 6 feet tall get out of the Pajero in a cliff atop Sayaw Beach in Barili town towards midnight last Feb. 8, which is the day Ellah Joy was abducted.

The two witnesses, in a joint affidavit said they saw the foreigner “pull out something from the rear portion of the vehicle—a white rolled object, seemingy the size of an ordinary sack—and placed it on top of the cemented dike beside the road. A few seconds after, the white object was dumped off the cliff.”

Their account coincides with the Feb. 9 discovery of Ellah Joy's naked body below the cliff, wrapped in a white sheet and stuffed in a sack with rocks to weigh down the bulk.

Inside the Pajero, which was impounded in Camp Sotero Cabahug, staff peered into the tinted windows and saw in the back compartment what looked like dark smudges near a stereo soundbox amid cluttered tools and plastic bags.

Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr., spokesman of the Task Force Ellah Joy, said bloodstains found in the vehicle will be later matched with blood specimens to be taken from the victim’s parents. He would not specify where the bloodstains were found.

He told reporters the confiscated Pajero was one of the evidence found in the residence in barangay Inayagan, Naga City, aside from computer devices such as a USB, video camera and other computer parts.

In applying for the search warrant last March 4 from Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes of Regional Trial Court, police said they were looking for a Pajero with plate number LHJ 382, a digital camera and computer storage devices, a foam mattress, bedsheets, blankets, computer sets and printers, receipts, water bills, electric bills, fax machinese, telephone wires, photos and other materials and pysicial evidence related to the crime.

A close look at the license plate of the seized Pajero showed scratch marks made in the letters making the prefix appear “LHJ” where the original letter “M” was altered. (See closeup photo.)

“This evidence could help our investigation,” said Comendador, but he wouldn’t say more.

The search was based on the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) executive Judge Meindrado Paredes.

Comendador refused to name the subjects of the search warrant or whether the suspects had already left Cebu.

Police sources said the male foreigner was a British national.

Inside the Pajero, a sticker of the flag of Great Britain appears inside the passenger door.

Police were forced to get back on the trail of Ellah Joy’s killers after prosecutors on Feb. 28 dismissed criminal charges against Norwegian computer engineer Sven-Erik Berger and his fiancée Kareen Esdrelon, a Cebuana nurse, whom police kept in custody for over two weeks as their main suspects.

The kidnapping with homicide charges were thrown out for “insufficiency of evidence,” which police submitted based mainly on the positive identification of three children, Ellah Joy’s classmates, and the couple’s similarity to cartographic sketches of the abductors, described as a Caucasian male and and a slim Filipina with long hair.

This time, Comendador said the police have several “adult witnesses” to support their investigation.

Meanwhile 1st District Rep. Eduardo Gullas urged the people to take due care in their sleuthing and track down the real culprits.

Photos shown to new witnesses

THE police have “more or less established some motive and means” behind the death of Ellah Joy Pique, said Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador.

“We have substantial reason to believe our investigation is on the right track,” he said yesterday, exactly a month since the abduction outside a public school in Minglanilla town.

Comendador, spokesperson of a task force on the case, told reporters the police found pictures of a Caucasian man and a Filipina inside the house in Naga where a sports utility vehicle (SUV) was earlier picked up.

Investigators went to Minglanilla last Monday afternoon to show the photos to witnesses. The police placed the pictures beside other images, which Comendador said is the proper procedure in identifying suspects.

He declined to give details, while the police are waiting for the affidavits to be subscribed by the witnesses.

“We are establishing the presence of the two personalities that we are after…and they were in Minglanilla just seconds before the abduction,” he said.

The task force will tap the Bureau of Immigration and Philippine Center for Transnational Crime for the foreigner’s background.

Comendador said they have a witness whose testimony is circumstantial, but this person was at the scene shortly before the kidnapping.

“We have witnesses during the abduction, just minutes before and after the abduction (of Ellah Joy Pique),” he said.

Two witnesses, according to a GMA 7 report, issued a joint affidavit last Friday. They saw the dark blue Pajero in Barangay Sayaw, Barili the night before Ellah Joy was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in the area last Feb. 9.

The witnesses, who came from their friend’s birthday party in Barangay Mantayapan, were going home when they saw the vehicle stop near a beach resort. Then they saw a Caucasian man disembark and begin to take something from the back of the vehicle. But he stopped when he noticed them.

When they were about 50 to 70 meters away, they saw the foreigner carry a sack with something inside it and place it on top of a road barrier. Then he pushed it down.

One of the witnesses, a woman, said she remembered the Pajero’s license plate: LHJ-382.

The police recovered a Pajero in Naga City last Friday night, with license plate LMJ-382. The letter “M” had been tampered to make it appear like an “H.”

Comendador said they will not use the three children who identified Sven Erik Berger and Karen Esdrelon as the ones who allegedly abducted Ellah Joy in Minglanilla.

“For the time being, we are using other witnesses in order not to contaminate the statements and not to give the defense later a chance to make loopholes in our case,” he said.

The task force also got DNA samples before Ellah Joy was buried.

The task force will meet again today to discuss their investigation.

“We are expanding our investigation, we are expanding our imagination in solving and in building up the case,” said Comendador.

Interviewed separately, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she is satisfied with how the task force is doing its job and said she regularly receives updates.

She declined to discuss these updates with reporters.

“I only interfere when the police are not doing their work, and when they already know some information and yet they withhold it,” said Garcia.

Former Cebu Provincial Police Office director Erson Digal resigned his position recently, after the governor said she has lost trust in him because he withheld information from here on the Pique case.

These days, the governor said she is confident the police are doing their work more carefully and providing just enough information for the public to understand they are doing their job.

Councilor worries about safety of Dumpit at detention facility

WORRIED about SPO1 Adonis Dumpit’s safety in the Cebu City Jail, a city councilor said the policeman should not be detained there.

Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. said he already apprised the jail warden of the possible danger Dumpit would be facing inside the detention facility, and asked him not to take the situation for granted.

Pe, chairman of the City Council committee on public order and safety, said the situation of Dumpit and the threat to his life should not be taken for granted because criminals whom he sent to jail might get back at him while he’s detained there.

“It’s a security problem having him there. If we can only find another place outside the city jail, then that will be better because we all know that he has sent a lot of criminals to jail, that’s why he’s not safe there. But there’s nothing we can do, it’s a court order, we’ll just have to follow the legal process,” Pe told Sun.Star Cebu.


Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, warned the jail warden against committing irregularities.

“Do what you believe you are allowed by law to do. If you go beyond, and it will be proven to be special treatment, you should only be reminded of the wardens who were kicked out,” said Rama.

But the mayor said Dumpit could not be regarded as an ordinary prisoner.

There is a rule for those prisoners and jail officials know what to do, said Rama. He added that the scenario would be worse if a detainee would become a victim of a crime inside the City Jail.

The family of a minor who was allegedly shot by Dumpit rejoiced at the court order putting Dumpit in jail.

“For the first time in six years, I don’t have to constantly look over my shoulder and see if somebody is following me,” said Janeth Badana in Cebuano.


Dumpit is facing a murder charge for the death of Badana’s son Ronron Go. The court allowed him to be detained at the detention cell of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

However, Regional Trial Court Judge Ester Veloso ordered Dumpit imprisoned at the city jail after Badana took photos of Dumpit outside the CIDG 7 detention cell.

Badana said prosecution witnesses are also relieved by Dumpit’s transfer. She added that those who testified against Dumpit in the case have been removed from the witness protection program.

After learning about the court order on Dumpit’s transfer, Pe said he advised the City Jail warden to be alert.

“He (warden) told me he’s aware of the security risks and that he’s implementing security measures to keep him (Dumpit) safe. SPO1 Dumpit was placed in an isolation cell and was assigned his own guard,” the councilor said.


But deputy city jail warden Dennis Aliño they are planning to transfer Dumpit to another Bureau of Jail and Management Penology 7 facility, considering the policeman is a “high-risk” prisoner.

Dumpit was placed in the Reception and Diagnostic Center, which was repainted last week, said SJOI Edgardo del Rosario. It has a bathroom with running water.

The facility, del Rosario said, is where they conduct briefings about the jail’s policies to the new prisoners. It was also used as the prisoners’ livelihood center before.

Dumpit was not put right away into his cell when he arrived Monday afternoon. He stayed at the City Jail’s office until evening, del Rosario said.

The policeman has a pending motion for bail.


Judge Veloso had denied an earlier motion so defense lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva lodged another last December.

Salva, in the motion, stated that Dumpit was merely performing his job when the shooting took place.

Cebu City Police Office deputy chief Pablo Labra II, who took the witness stand last month, supported the argument.

He said it was he who gave the order to pursue the suspects of two robbery incidents on Dec. 14, 2004, the day Go was shot.

On his first night at the City Jail, Dumpit received a cup of rice and fried fish as his ration and slept on a flat sheet of wood.

Asked what he would do, he said: “Hagok gihapon. Kaginhawa pa ko diri (I slept well. I can still breathe here).”

Yesterday morning, the be-medalled police officer turned murder suspect ate a breakfast consisting of egg, beef loaf, dried fish and a cup of rice.

“Kanindot diri kay naay extra rice (It’s nice here; I get extra rice),” he said.

He has a black bag containing blankets and his clothes. He also brought along with him soap, alcohol, coffee in sachets, and two bottles of mineral water.

Dumpit said he will wait for when the court will render its decision on his case.

To fight boredom, Dumpit is requesting for books and other reading materials. He said he wants to read Tagalog love stories.

Charge Danao chief cop: CPPO

FOR allegedly making up proof against suspected drug pushers, the police chief of Danao City was recommended to be charged with an administrative case.

The legal department of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) suggested to the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 that Danao City Police Station Chief Eddie Recamara be charged with conduct unbecoming of a police officer and less grave neglect of duty.

Insp. Julius Ompad, legal department chief, said Senior Supt. Louie Oppus, CPPO’s officer-in-charge, signed his recommendation letter against Recamara and PO1 Frederick Gomez, PO3 Pedro Borinaga, and SPO1 Allan Muñoz.

Ompad said he saw probable cause in the complaint filed by Danao City Prosecutor Jose Dionesio Kyamko against Recamara and company.

Kyamko filed a complaint against Recamara at the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch (PIDMB) of the CPPO last Feb. 25. He alleged that Recamara made up evidence against detainee Rowena Lavador, a suspected drug pusher.

He said one of his staff, Paulino Barriga, was also forced to sign an inventory receipt, which will be used in the filing of a drug pushing case against Lavador.

Kyamko further alleged that Recamara’s group presented as proof pictures used in cases previously filed in court.

Recamara denied Kyamko’s allegations.

Kyamko and Recamara reportedly argued last Feb. 23 inside the prosecutor’s office after the latter accused Kyamko of acting like a “defense counsel” of Lavador, 42.

Lavador, in an earlier report, was arrested last Feb. 18 at 10:30 p.m. in Barangay Poblacion, Danao City on the strength of a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 28 Judge Marilyn Yap.

The argument occurred after Recamara allegedly got mad when a prosecutor’s clerk did not sign a new inventory receipt, which included the drug selling case against Lavador.

Recamara said he sent PO1 Frederick Gomez and PO3 Pedro Borinaga last Feb. 23 to the Danao City Prosecutor’s Office to file drug selling and possession cases against Lavador.

Kyamko, according to Recamara, refused to accept the drug selling case, which is non-bailable, because it lacked Barriga’s signature. But Kyamko accepted the bailable drug possession case.

The sale and possession of dangerous drugs violate Sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Under this law, the sale of dangerous drugs is punishable by life imprisonment, as well as a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

Barriga’s signature is not essential to the case, Recamara said.

“No inventory receipt was needed for the inquest (proceeding),” Recamara said in a phone interview.

He said a prosecutor’s manual issued by the Department of Justice on 2008 stated that in filing a drug case, only the laboratory examination result, photocopy of the buy-bust money and affidavit of the poseur buyer are needed.

Recamara said he will file his counter-affidavit once he receives the letter.

Ingles’ waiver of LGU stipend ‘struck’ P-Noy

by cebuweb

JUDGE Gabriel Ingles said President Benigno Aquino III found “peculiar” his application for associate justice of the Court of Appeals (CA).

Ingles said a source informed him that Aquino was impressed with his decision to waive his monthly stipend from local government units (LGU) to maintain judicial independence.

The source, whom Ingles refused to name, told him this was the main reason the President confirmed his appointment to the CA post.

“Secondly, I don’t have political endorsements,” Ingles told Sun. Star Cebu in an interview yesterday.

City to rid signs of politicians’ pics

by cebuweb

THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has reminded the Cebu City Government to ban the names, initials and photos of government officials from billboards and signs of government programs, projects and properties.

DILG sent a memorandum circular to Mayor Michael Rama to act on the directive of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III that prohibits the practice.

The mayor said that since he assumed office last year, he has never engaged in such a practice in all City-funded projects and programs.

Cortes’ ally Boholst resigns as City Hall administrator

MAYOR Jonas Cortes yesterday accepted the resignation of his closest ally, Briccio Boholst, as Mandaue City administrator.

Boholst submitted his resignation letter last Feb. 23 yet. He did not say why he resigned. Both he and Cortes are mum on the incident.

The mayor designated lawyer Ernesto Maringuran, assistant city administrator, to act as officer-in-charge (OIC).

The mayor announced Boholst’s resignation in last Monday’s flag ceremony, but the resignation letter furnished to reporters was dated Feb. 23.

The mayor did not give any reason for accepting the resignation of his closest adviser.

Boholst, who had been the city administrator since the mayor’s first day in office in 2007, refused to issue any statement, saying he is yet to talk to the mayor.


Boholst acknowledged receiving Cortes’ letter accepting his resignation yesterday.

Cortes declined to comment on the matter.

“It has been a pleasure working for a change in the way things had been run in the city in the past years. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the city. It

had been such an enjoyable three years and seven months,” Boholst said in the letter.

“Please let me know if I can be of assistance during the transition,” Boholst’s letter to the mayor stated in closing.

There were reports that Boholst resignation was not his first, as the lawyer was one of those who filed his resignation in the early part of Cortes’ first term, for unknown reasons.

The mayor did not accept Boholst’s resignation then.


Last December, there were reports that Boholst would file his resignation.

The former chapter president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Boholst was a known Cortes ally.

When Cortes ran against the son of the incumbent mayor, Jonkie Ouano, Boholst filed a petition questioning Ouano’s citizenship. Cortes eventually won.

Boholst was also remembered when he nearly traded blows with another lawyer, Gonzalo Malig-on, the chief of staff of Cortes’s political rival Nerissa Soon-Ruiz.

The heated confrontation escalated when the legislator brought DPWH personnel and ordered them to repair the newly cemented R. Colina St. in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia.

Cortes won against Ruiz in May 2010.

House justice committee indicts Ombudsman Gutierrez


Voting 39 to 9 with 1 abstention for the first complaint and 39 to 6 with 1 abstention for the second complaint, the House Justice Committee ruled that there is probable cause for the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. With the vote, the committee, chaired by Congressman Niel Tupas Jr., now sends the impeachment complaint against the Ombudsman to the plenary for approval. The voting took place even as some lawmakers appealed to their colleagues not to rush the proceedings and adhere to due process.

House forms initial list of solons to form prosecution panel in impeach trial

MANILA, Philippines – Confident of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez’s impeachment, the House of Representatives has formed an initial list of lawmakers who would act as prosecutors in the looming trial in the Senate.

Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the chairman of the justice committee that conducted the impeachment hearings, named the following lawmakers as among the members of the prosecution team: Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas, Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, and partylist Representatives Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao of Akbayan and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna.

Tupas said he would also be part of the team and was willing to head it if nominated.

The list will be submitted to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for formal nomination at the plenary Tuesday afternoon.

Tupas said the House would have an 11-member prosecution team that would defend the impeachment complaint in the Senate.

Tupas said the seven lawmakers would also craft the committee report containing the Articles of Impeachment to be submitted in the plenary March 14.

He said he hoped that plenary debates on the committee report would begin on March 15.

Earlier in the day, the justice committee found probable cause to remove Gutierrez from her post for betrayal of public trust based on six allegations contained in two separate impeachment complaints.

The allegations were for Gutierrez’s alleged low conviction rate of the cases pending before her office, her inaction on the alleged murder case of Navy Ensign Philip Pestano, and her failure to prosecute officials involved in the botched national broadband network agreement with Chinese firm ZTE Corporation.

The second complaint was filed over Gutierrez’s “failure and omission to act promptly . . . on the anomalous disbursement of funds and other anomalous transactions” in the case of the P729-million fertilizer fund scam, the Commission on Elections contract with MegaPacific Corp., and the case of the generals who stashed away thousands of euros in Russia.

House body votes to bring impeach case vs Ombudsman to plenary

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was dealt heavy blows on Tuesday—the expected overwhelming vote of the House of Representatives’ justice committee to forward the impeachment case against her for plenary voting, and the Supreme Court’s dismissal of her appeal to stop the impeachment proceedings.

“It is a triumph of the people at this stage, an initial victory for the people in exercising their sovereign power to remove an accountable officer through impeachment,” Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chair of the justice committee, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview after the hearing.

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman and other Gutierrez defenders said the impeachment process was not merely a political exercise but should also be grounded on evidence, like a court trial, but still lost the vote.

The voting was preceded by a four-hour debate on whether impeachment was a mere numbers game and whether Gutierrez had been given due process by the justice committee, with the pros outnumbering the antis by more than 6 to 1.

Gutierrez and her lawyer were not present. But they submitted two letters to the committee on Tuesday and on March 4 to deny the charges, accompanied by what Lagman described as “two-foot-high documents.”

The committee voted 39-9, with Lagman abstaining, in finding probable cause to impeach Gutierrez based on the complaint filed by a group led by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

In that complaint, Gutierrez was cited for her “unconscionably low” conviction rate in cases including the graft charges filed against Arroyo and her husband on their involvement in the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal and the suspicious death of Ensign Philip Pestaño. (Ilocos Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, the committee vice chair, said his “yes” vote did not cover the Pestaño case because he felt the Ombudsman had acted on it.)

The committee voted 39-6, again with Lagman abstaining, on the impeachment complaint filed by a group led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Renato Reyes, which assailed the Ombudsman for her purported inaction on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, the “euro generals” scandal, and the Mega Pacific eSolutions contract with the Commission on Elections which the Supreme Court had voided.

Tupas said he expected the committee to submit its report and articles of impeachment on March 14, with the plenary debate expected to start by March 15 or 16.

He told reporters in a press conference after the hearing that he expected the impeachment case to be approved by March 22 or 23.

In an interview, Tupas said he was pleased with the result of the voting as it affirmed the people’s belief in public accountability.

He said the high court’s decision dismissing Gutierrez’s motion for reconsideration at the time when the committee was about to vote on the finding of probable cause was timely.

“In effect, the Supreme Court is sending the message that it is supporting the process and is recognizing the people’s power of impeachment through Congress,” he said.

In a press conference, Supreme Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said the justices’ vote rejecting Gutierrez’s appeal was the same—7-5-2—as when they dismissed her petition on Feb. 15.

“That means that the House can proceed with its impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Gutierrez. Jurisprudence tells us that second motions for reconsideration are prohibited pleadings,” Marquez said.

Those who voted against Gutierrez’s petition and also denied her appeal were Senior Associate Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales and Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Martin Villarama, Jose Mendoza, Roberto Abad and Maria Lourdes Sereno (President Aquino’s lone appointee to the high court).

Those who dissented were Chief Justice Renato Corona and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.

Associate Justices Jose Perez and Mariano del Castillo partially concurred with the majority. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. inhibited because his son, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, is a member of the House justice committee.

Gutierrez had argued that the justice committee violated the constitutional provision that only one impeachment proceeding may be filed against a public official in a year.

Marquez said the high court denied her appeal based on the ground cited when her petition was rejected—that the two impeachment complaints were referred to the House justice committee at the same time, thus constituting one proceeding.

In defending Gutierrez, Lagman said the Ombudsman was being singled out to serve as an example of the government’s anti-corruption efforts.

He also said Gutierrez was denied due process with the justice committee rushing to impeach her after members of the ruling Liberal Party received a pep talk from President Aquino.

“The critical imperativeness of due process must not be sacrificed to imprudent haste or partisan importuning. Impeachment of a respondent at all costs is not the raison d’être for redeeming a campaign promise,” Lagman said.

He also said the majority members could not have digested the documents filed by Gutierrez after getting them only late Monday afternoon.

Lagman argued that contrary to the claim made by the majority, the impeachment case was “akin to prosecutorial and adjudicatory proceedings” because the rules of criminal procedure were adopted.

“I raise these points in order to impress on the leadership and membership of the committee on justice not to jettison the immutable tenet of due process,” he said.

But Fariñas said the committee had extended all accommodations available to Gutierrez even if she had repeatedly mocked the impeachment hearings as a “moro-moro” (farce).

Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza said Gutierrez invoked due process only when it was convenient for her.

Isabela Rep. Georgidi Aggabao, who was deputized by South Cotabato Rep. Daisy Fuentes, said that even if the charges were “gratuitously granted as true,” they could not be considered impeachable offenses.

“The decision of the committee was arbitrary and I predict the case will face very rough sailing at the Senate,” Aggabao added.

While the 83 members of the Liberal Party have agreed to vote as one in the plenary voting, the Nationalist People’s Coalition has allowed its 40 members to vote according to their conscience, according to Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian.

The justice committee pared down the first complaint, saying most of the cases could not be used as basis for impeachment, such as Hontiveros’ arrest at a women’s rally, and retained the three charges in the second complaint.

Tupas said the two complaints would now be consolidated under the articles of impeachment on the ground of betrayal of public trust, and would carry only six—three each from the two complaints—of the original 10 allegations.

“We will arrange the order accordingly as will be discussed in the plenary,” Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said. “We decided that we will look more at the strength of each ground and we feel that these are the strongest grounds that we can present in the Senate to prove that Ombudsman Gutierrez has to be impeached.”

Tupas said the committee’s work was over.

“As far as the committee on justice is concerned, we’ve already concluded our constitutional duty. We have voted and found the existence of probable cause on the complaints against Merceditas Gutierrez for betrayal of public trust,” he said.

At the press conference, Tupas named seven lawyer-members of the committee who would help him draft the committee report and the articles of impeachment—Daza, Tañada, Fariñas, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, and Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao.

He said he would recommend to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte that the seven also be named to the 11-member panel that would prosecute the impeachment complaint in the Senate should the House plenary affirm the committee report.

At the hearing, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, one of four senior committee members who have charges pending at the office of the Ombudsman, lamented what he claimed was an irresponsible attack on their reputation by Gutierrez’s allies.

Quimbo said he was “disheartened” by the release of their names on Monday by Salvador Panelo, lawyer and spokesperson of Gutierrez, instead of presenting evidence on behalf of his client.

“I am led to think that the revelations by the Ombudsman’s counsel on pending cases before the Ombudsman is but a veiled threat designed to cow members not to vote in favor of impeachment,” said Quimbo, a deputy majority leader and vice chair of the committee.

“I find it suspicious that he mentions that more than 50 percent of members of Congress have cases being investigated by the Ombudsman, but he only reveals to the media the names of the top four officers of the justice committee. I find this highly suspicious, especially considering that it was done on the eve of today’s voting,” he said.

Quimbo later delivered a privilege speech on the matter at the plenary session in the afternoon.

The other three committee members with pending charges before the Ombudsman are Tupas, Fariñas and Umali.

Ombudsman resigned to face impeach raps

from Inquirer Breaking News

With the Supreme Court dismissing her appeal, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said Tuesday that she had no recourse other than to face the impeachment case filed against her.

Ombudsman camp confident of fair Senate trial

from Inquirer Breaking News

Unlike the House of Representatives, the camp of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez sees the Senate as a venue that can give the embattled official her day in court.

Senators: We are ready for impeachment trial

from GMA

(Updated 7:03 p.m.) The Senate is all set to take on the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez once it is elevated by the House of Representatives to the chamber, senators said on Tuesday.

Estrada to Gutierrez: Fight on if you’re innocent

“If you believe you’re innocent, fight on.” Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday got this piece of unsolicited advice from former President Joseph Estrada, who himself had gone through an abbreviated impeachment trial that led to his ouster a decade ago.

Palace: Next Ombudsman will not be beholden to Aquino

from GMA

Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that the next Ombudsman - if ever Congress succeeds in ousting current Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez - will not be beholden to President Benigno Aquino III, the appointing authority.

Palace won't side with FSGO on 'glass mansion'

by By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañan is supporting Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. over an issue involving the ownership of a 2-storey glass and concrete house in a gated subdivision in Quezon City.

Task force clears LTO chief Torres on car registration mess

from GMA

An inter-agency task force probing the supposed collusion between government officials and car-theft syndicates has cleared Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres of possible involvement in the allegations.

Senate wants to summon bank officials

from by By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - Senators on Tuesday said they want to invite representatives of several banks where former military officials accused of corruption deposited and withdrew huge sums of money.

Jinggoy wants CAAP probed for corruption

from GMA

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) should be probed amid allegations of corruption within the agency, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said Tuesday.

Mayors to protest SC flip-flop on cityhood case

from by By Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

City mayors all over the country are bracing for a big fight in the Supreme Court when they file Wednesday their motion for reconsideration against the High Court's decision allowing the conversion of sixteen municipalities into new cities.

Cityhood ruling weakens cities' social services

from - Breaking News by By Jun Pasaylo

With more than half of the country’s population dwelling in cities, the League of Cities of the Philippines said the delivery of social services will be severely affected in the cityhood bid of 16 towns.

SC spokesman hit over remarks on Aquino's SC appointees

from GMA

Malacañang on Tuesday took offense on the statement uttered by Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez that President Benigno Aquino III's appointees at the high tribunal will be loyal to him.

SC admonishes UP law dean, professors on plagiarism case

from Inquirer Breaking News

The Supreme Court on Tuesday admonished University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law Dean Marvic Leonen for leading its faculty to join the call for Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo to resign over the issue of plagiarism.

Phl considers NDF as political organization, not a terrorist group

from - Breaking News

The government considers the leftist National Democratic Front (NDF) as a political organization and not as a terrorist group, a senior official said today.

'Rido' displaces hundreds in Maguindanao

from by

MANILA, Philippines - Hundreds of civilians were displaced due to skirmishes between Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and members of the kidnap-for-ransom group Pentagon in the outskirts of Maguindanao, an Army spokesman said Tuesday.

Flor Contemplacion's sons get life for peddling drugs

A Laguna court has found the three sons of executed overseas Filipino worker Flor Contemplacion guilty of drug peddling and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

In a 14-page decision issued last week, Judge Agripino Morga of the San Pablo City Regional Trial Court Branch 32 convicted Sandrex Contemplacion, 37; and twins Jon-Jon and Joel, 30, for violation of Section 5 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002.

House OKs additional burial aid for war vets

The House of Representatives has approved a measure giving an additional P10,000 for each Filipino war veteran’s burial assistance.

The lower chamber on Monday passed House Bill 229, which increases the amount given to the family of a deceased war veteran from P10,000 to P20,000.

Women make noise to 'wake up' PNoy on International Women's Day

from GMA

Women from all walks of life made their voices heard in celebration of International Women's Day on its 100th year on Tuesday.

Sexual harassment panels mulled versus online abuse

from GMA

Colleges and universities have been urged to consider installing committees on decorum and investigation to provide immediate relief to students who are possible victims of sexual harassment online.

Senate OKs on 2nd reading bill decriminalizing vagrancy

The Senate has approved on second reading a bill that would strike out vagrancy from the country’s code of crimes.

Senate Bill No. 2367 seeks to repeal provisions of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code which seeks to punish vagrants and prostitutes with arresto menor (imprisonment from one to 30 days) or a fine not exceeding P200.

In case of recidivism, vagrants are punished by arresto mayor in its medium period (imprisonment from two months to four months) to prision correccional in its minimum period (imprisonment from six years to two years and four months) or a fine ranging from P200 to P2,000, or both, depending on the court.

But Senator Francis Escudero, who authored the bill, said there was a need to repeal the law because it has become a "common excuse" for law enforcers to detail, arrest, or bring to the police station any person they don't have no sufficient reasons to arrest.

"We see it all the time in the news, when authorities round up people and no definite charges can be made,vagrancy comes in handy. Cases of this nature have already piled up in our justice system," he said in his sponsorship speech on Monday.

In stressing the importance of his bill, Escudero in Janaury cited the case involving a 30-year-old vendor who claimed she was raped by PO3 Antonio Bautista Jr. inside the headquarters of the Manila Police District following her arrest for supposedly being a vagrant.

Bautista has since surrendered and is undergoing investigation for the incident.


Under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code, vagrants are defined as:

any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling;

any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or trampling or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support;

any idle or dissolute person who ledges in houses of ill fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes; and

any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose.

If SB 2367 is passed into law, all pending vagrancy cases shall be dismissed and all persons serving sentence for violating the vagrancy law shall immediately be released.

Escudero had filed a similar bill during the 14th Congress. The measure was approved by the Senate on third and final reading but was not passed into law.

DOJ chief seeks replacement of Immigration's intelligence head

To boost the government's efforts against trafficking, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she is seeking the replacement of the Bureau of Immigration's intelligence division head.

At a news briefing, De Lima said she is not satisfied with the performance of BI intelligence head Faizal Hussin.

Peso slightly down against US dollar due to oil-price concerns

from Inquirer Breaking News

The peso led declines of Asian currencies on Tuesday as lingering concerns over rising oil prices dampened sentiment for emerging markets in the region.

$1: 43.465

$1: 43.465 (P43.30)

Euro 1: 60.5704

PAL operations to continue despite workers’ notice of strike

from Inquirer Breaking News

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is assuring its passengers that the unresolved labor issues plaguing the flag carrier would not have any effect on its operations.

Casinos proposed to be covered under anti-laundering law

from Inquirer Breaking News

Claiming that casinos are used as “conduits” in money-laundering operations, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) now wants them to be covered under the law.

Libya rebels reject talks on Gaddafi exit

BENGHAZI, Libya, March 8 (Reuters) - Rebels fighting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi have rejected an offer from the Libyan leader to negotiate his exit even as they battled to hang on to early gains in the insurrection.

A million Libyans need aid as UK, France seek no-fly zone

from by By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

RAS LANUF, Libya - Britain and France said they were seeking U.N. authorization for a no-fly zone over Libya, as Muammar Gaddafi's warplanes counter-attacked against rebels and aid officials said a million people were in need.

China cool to Libya no-fly zone proposal

from GMA

BEIJING, March 8 (Reuters) - Any United Nations-authorized action against Libya must ensure it helps the country return to stability as soon as possible, China said on Tuesday in response to British and French proposals for a no-fly zone.

UN rights chief voices fears for Arab women's rights

from by Reuters

GENEVA, Switzerland - United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay appealed on Monday to new governments in Egypt and Tunisia to ensure that full women's rights were enshrined in new constitutions in both countries.

Spratlys tensions to be raised at Asean-East Asia meeting—Indonesia

from Inquirer Breaking News

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has expressed his country’s hope that the Spratlys dispute in the South China sea does not become "an area of open conflict."

Phl, Indonesia boost cooperation to paralyze terror network

from - Breaking News

The Philippine and Indonesian governments on Tuesday pledged to step up cooperation to paralyze terrorist networks in the region, the leaders of the two countries said here.

Roach arrives in Manila, prepares for Pacquiao training

from by

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing coach Freddie Roach returned to the Philippines on Tuesday to whip Manny Pacquiao back into tip-top shape in time for the Filipino champion’s May 7 fight against Shane Mosley.  

Azkals say training in Japan going well

from Inquirer Breaking News

The cold weather doesn’t seem to pose a problem for the Philippine football team, at least on the first day of their training in Japan.

Honing their skills in the city of Gotemba on the southeastern flank of Mt. Fiji, the Azkals, most of whom were experiencing extremely cold weather for the first time, were hardly bothered by the zero-degree temperature as they went through passing and shooting drills at an artificial pitch.

The Azkals are toughening up for the return leg of their AFC Challenge Cup qualifying duel with Mongolia in subzero conditions in Ulan Bator on March 15.

The team holds a 2-nil edge against the Mongolians, which it earned in the first leg at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. The Mongolians need to win by at least 3-nil to eliminate the Filipinos.

“Trained at zero degrees earlier,” said Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo on his account on social network site Twitter (@alybor11). “All the boys didn’t seem to mind the cold too much.”

“(We’re) Alive in Japan. (It’s) cold but amazing,” said defender Anton del Rosario (@anton_delro).

“Cozy place, great soccer complex and great food,” added Del Rosario in describing the world-class facility in Japan, the top team in Asia.

“The team is okay, there’s coughing because of the cold but we are okay,” Chieffy Caligdong, the scorer of the opening goal in the first leg, also said on Twitter.

The Azkals will play a tuneup match against a university team on Wednesday. Another test match is scheduled on Friday, before they fly to Ulan Bator on March 13.

Shortly after arriving in Japan, Azkals team manager Dan Palami moved to quell concerns that “distractions” off the pitch had hampered their preparations for the Mongolia clash.

Palami did not specify these “distractions,” although star striker Phil Younghusband was in the news recently because of rumors on his links with celebrities.

“While most sectors have welcomed the Philippines’ football renaissance, some concerns about the potential distraction of fame and celebrity for players have resulted in unfortunate controversies,” Palami said in a statement. “I would like to categorically assure everyone that the coaches and I are taking all steps necessary to ensure that the Azkals always give their best.”

Palami said the Azkals have endured so much to become competitive in the international arena.

“As we prepare for our match in Mongolia, we hope to bring closure to polarizing disagreements and bring focus to what every sport is really all about: bridging differences and bringing people together,” Palami added.

Two members of the team – Jason Sabio and Simon Greatwich – are expected to join the team on Thursday, while Ray Jonsson and Jason de Jong will be with the team in Ulan Bator a day before the match.

The Azkals will miss star goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who will be replaced by Eduard Sacapano, defender Rob Gier and Chris Greatwich.

If the Azkals overcome the Mongolians, they will advance to the group qualifying in Rangoon against host Myanmar, Bangladesh and Palestine from March 21 to 25.

PSC, POC team up for PNoy National Games

from GMA

The nationwide games' revival is in full swing as the PSC and the POC announced the staging of the PNoy National Games on May 23 to 29 in Negros Occidental.

Palace got Indonesian official wrong?

MANILA, Philippines – Is it another case of mistaken identity?

The Malacañang Photo Bureau released a photo of President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday being met at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport by Indonesian officials.

The captions on photos sent to ABS-CBN News and other news organizations said Aquino was welcomed by Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. R. M. Marty Natalegawa and other officials.

Another photo caption said the President exchanged pleasantries with Natalegawa after he arrived at the airport.

Natalegawa, however, was not in any of the Palace photos sent out to media organizations, although he was reportedly at the ceremony.

A check on the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed Natalegawa with his Philippine counterpart, Albert Del Rosario.

The issue surfaced after the Philippine Star committed an error on Monday in publishing a supposed photo of new Armed Forces Chief of Staff  Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. on its front page.

The photo, which was captioned as "Oban," had former Philippine Ambassador to the US Willy Gaa instead.

The Philippine Star on Tuesday published a correct photo of Oban and apologized for the error.

PNoy gets first honorary degree


JAKARTA - President Benigno Aquino III was conferred an honorary doctorate of law by the faculty of the Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH) in Indonesia.

PNP launches ‘Sky Police’

MANILA, Philippines—Lawmen will not only be securing the land and waters of the country but the air as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP) launched the "Sky Police" Tuesday.

The PNP presented to the public the three helicopters which will be utilized by the air unit from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and PNP Special Action Force (SAF).

Wanted: More women in the newsroom

from by By Karen Galarpe,

MANILA, Philippines - The newsroom is still largely a man's world, according to international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders. On International Women's Day, the group thus called for, among other things, more women in the newsroom 'for proper coverage of the hidden half of humanity.'

214 arrested for urinating in Rio's Carnival streets

from by Agence France-Presse

RIO DE JANEIRO - More than 200 people have been arrested during Rio's Carnival that is under way for relieving themselves in the street, underlining authorities' determination to clean up the city that will be host to the 2016 Olympic Games.

List of repatriated Filipinos aboard the MV Ionian Queen

MANILA, Philippines - Here is a list of Filipinos who have been repatriated from Tripoli, Libya on Saturday aboard the chartered ferry M/V Ionian Queen.

The list was released Tuesday by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

List of repatriated Filipinos aboard the MV Ionian Queen

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