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Archive for April 3rd, 2007

INQUIRER.net Video: Busted lamp bulbs in Cebu

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CEBU, Philippines–An early evening drive reveals that the top bulbs of some of the decorative lamp posts, which were installed for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last January, are not working.

The Ombudsman has suspended two town mayors and nine top public works
officials over the alleged overpriced P365-million street lighting project.

Video taken on March 29, 2006 by INQUIRER.net reporter Joel Guinto.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-04-03T12:56:58+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 03 Apr 2007 12:56:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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INQUIRER.net Video: White sand beach in Spratlys

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PAGASA ISLAND, Kalayaan, Philippines–Powdery white sand that
can rival upscale beach resorts and warm, crystal clear water surround
this 34-hectare island in the disputed Spratlys chain.

Video taken on March 29 by INQUIRER.net reporter Joel Guinto.

Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-04-03T12:56:20+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 03 Apr 2007 12:56:20 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Victims get only P110M of $330M Guimaras compensation

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:56pm (Mla time) 04/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Only P110 million of the $330 million (P15.8 billion) in compensation has been released to victims of the Guimaras oil spill even as officials said the siphoning of the remaining oil off the sunken tanker provided “closure” to the disaster.

The P110 million from the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) covered only 11,000 fishermen in Guimaras province, which was hardest bit by the slick. Of these, 250 have not yet claimed their checks, said Carlos Tan, health safety and environment manager of Petron Corp.

“The total amount [for compensation] is $330 million, but of course, that does not necessarily mean that they [IOPC] are going to pay us $330 million,” he said.

Tan said oil spill victims must present a “viable and fair” claim before they could draw from the IOPC fund.

Petron chartered the M/T Solar I which sank in rough seas off Guimaras on August 11, 2006 while on its way to Zamboanga City. Loaded with an estimated two million liters of bunker fuel, the sinking triggered a massive oil spill in the central Philippines.

Only 9,000 liters of bunker fuel remained in the Solar I’s tanks when operations to siphon the remaining oil were undertaken recently.

After the Holy Week, Tan said 11,200 fishermen in Iloilo province would be compensated, with amounts ranging from P630 to P28,000.

“It depends upon the type of their livelihood. If they’re picking shellfish from the shoreline, of course they will have a low compensation. If you own a big ship with a crew of five or 10, of course you will get more,” Tan said.

Aside from damaging fishing grounds, the oil slick also affected resorts in the area.

“With the completion of the oil recovery operations from M/T solar I, this provides a sort of a closure…[It] will no longer pose a threat to further oil spills because it has been determined that there is no more oil underneath the ocean,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Glen Rabonza said.

Rabonza said the P867-million supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Guimaras and surrounding areas has been released.

Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said there were no immediate plans of recovering the Soar I’s wreckage from the seabed unless this is required for further investigation into the disaster.

“That will entail additional money. If you look at the economics of it, it will be more expensive to float it than let it lie on the [sea] floor,” Ebdane said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-04-03T08:27:58+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 03 Apr 2007 08:27:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Ebdane, ‘purge’ victims’ kin lament Ocampo release

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Leftist solon ‘not yet off hook,’ says PNP

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:29pm (Mla time) 04/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and relatives of the victims of an alleged communist purge lamented a Supreme Court decision that allowed Bayan Muna party list Representative Satur Ocampo to post bail and leave detention.

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao said Ocampo’s release from detention did not mean he was off the hook.

“It doesn’t mean the trial won’t take place. The trial has to continue. The trial will continue,” he said. “His bail doesn’t mean the case filed against him is already dismissed.”

Ebdane pointed out that Ocampo had been charged with a crime he described as “tantamount to genocide.” He also worried that Ocampo, who walked out of detention Tuesday afternoon, might leave the country.

“We could wake up one day and he’s gone,” the defense chief said.

The Supreme Court set a P100,000 bail bond for Ocampo on Tuesday after finding defects in the multiple murder charge filed against the lawmaker for his alleged role in the execution of suspected government spies during a supposed communist purge in the mid-1980s.

The skeletons of 67 alleged victims of the purge were recovered from a mass grave in the mountains of Inopacan town, Leyte province last August. Fifteen of the remains have been identified.

“It’s not an ordinary murder. It’s actually tantamount to genocide and is not actually bailable…There were some defects in the filing [but] these will be corrected anyway,” Ebdane told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We are living in a democracy. While we are not happy with it, we have to abide by the . law. When the Supreme Court grants [Ocampo] bail, then so be it,” he added.

Pagdilao also said the arrest and detention of Ocampo was part of a “job we have to do.”

“We always refer to an order and we were just doing our job. We are bound by our duty to arrest him,” added Pagdilao.

“There was an arrest warrant and we had to implement the order…what we did was for due process,” said Pagdilao, referring to an arrest warrant released by a Hilongos, Leyte court against Ocampo.

Asked if the police would apologize to Ocampo, Pagdilao said there was no need to. “The PNP should not apologize. That [Ocampo’s arrest]was [part of the] judicial process and there is nothing to apologize for,” he said.

Relatives of victims allegedly buried in the Inopacan mass graves also slammed the high tribunal’s decision to allow Ocampo to bail.

“Why was he allowed to post bail? He should face the charges. We want justice,” said Edna Tenaja in an interview with reporters.

The remains of Tenaja’s father and two brothers, one of whom was a former New People’s Army (NPA) guerilla, were among those dug up from the Inopacan grave site dubbed “The Garden.”

“I’m both angry and sad. I have so many questions in my head,” said Domingo Eras Jr., who lost four relatives to the alleged NPA purge.

A witness against Ocampo, ex-NPA member Leonardo Tanaid said: “It’s sad to think that the person we want jailed is roaming free, but we can’t do anything about it.”

Last Friday, the military discovered another mass grave in Hilongos town, adjacent to Inopacan. At least 13 skeletons have been unearthed from the site, which officials said, contain as much as 28 purge victims.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-04-03T08:23:53+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 03 Apr 2007 08:23:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Fire hits Army museum in Fort Bonifacio

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 09:34am (Mla time) 04/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Fire hit an auditorium inside a two-story museum building at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio early Tuesday, an Army spokesman said in a phone interview.

However, damage was minimal and no casualties had been reported, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres.

The fire at the audio-visual room on the second floor broke out at around 7 a.m. and was put out at around 7:50 a.m., before it could spread to the museum displays, said Torres.

Two Army fire trucks immediately responded and were augmented later by trucks from the Taguig City fire station, Torres said.

“Most likely, faulty electrical wiring caused the fire,” Torres said.

“From the outside of the building, you wouldn’t notice [the damage],” he said.

Torres said the fire partially damaged the auditorium’s projector and sound system.

He said the audio visual room occupied only one-fifth of the area of the museum building, which houses dioramas, documents, and old Army uniforms.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-04-03T08:19:30+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 03 Apr 2007 08:19:30 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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