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Archive for July 2008

2 low pressure areas to bring more rains–PAGASA

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:12:00 07/31/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Two low pressure areas will bring more rains to Southern Luzon and to the eastern portions of the Visayas and Mindanao, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Thursday.

A low pressure area was spotted 260 kilometers east of the Visayas, while a shallow low pressure area was seen 190 kilometers east of Luzon, over the provinces of Quezon and Camarines Norte, said PAGASA forecaster Nonoy About.

A low pressure area develops in three stages — shallow low pressure area, low pressure area, and active low pressure area — before it is classified as a storm, he said.

None of the two low pressure areas are unlikely to develop into a storm within the next 24 hours, but they would aggravate the rains caused by the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), he said in a phone interview.

“With these two low pressure areas, one of which is embedded on the ITCZ, it will aggravate the rains over the affected areas, especially in Southern Luzon, which includes Metro Manila, Eastern Visayas, and Eastern Mindanao,” About said.

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Thu+00:002008-07-31T17:08:53+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Thu, 31 Jul 2008 17:08:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm07

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28 officers to be tried as military court junks petition

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:53:00 07/31/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) A petition by 28 officers linked to a coup in February 2006 to dismiss the charges against them has been denied by a military court, paving the way for their trial.

“For lack of merit, the demurrer is denied,” the court said in a decision read during a hearing Thursday.

The court then proceeded to arraign the accused, led by Major General Renato Miranda, former commandant of the Marines, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, former chief of the Army Scout Rangers, and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, who all pleaded not guilty.

During an earlier arraignment, the group did not plead guilty or not guilty, and instead, entered a special plea to drop the mutiny charge.

The court said on Thursday that the “facts of the charge constitute the punishable act of mutiny.”

Siding with the arguments of military prosecutors, the court said the group committed “acts of insubordination” that could be charged with “attempting to begin or create mutiny.”

The court cited the alleged plan of the group to withdraw support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, join anti-government protests on February 24, 2006, and convince the then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Generoso Senga, to join them.

The tribunal, headed by Major General Jogy Leo Fojas, also rejected the argument of defense lawyers that the mutiny charge should be dropped, since pre-trial investigators recommended for it to be dropped.

Retired AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., with whom the accused locked horns over his alleged involvement in election fraud in 2004, restored the mutiny charge while he headed the military.

The court said the results of the pre-trial inquiry was “recommendatory” and therefore, “does not bind” it into dropping the charge as well.

Mutiny is punishable with life imprisonment.

The 28 officers have been detained in different military and police camps for two years.

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Thu+00:002008-07-31T17:07:57+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Thu, 31 Jul 2008 17:07:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm07

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Truce monitors to be sent to clash-prone North Cotabato town

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:55:00 07/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A joint ceasefire monitoring body composed of government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will set up a post in a North Cotabato town in an effort to end fighting between the military and Moro rebels that had broken out there eve as peace negotiations progressed, an official said.

The monitoring post will be set up in Pagangan village in Aleosan town, where government and MILF forces have skirmished on and off over the last two weeks.

“We are planning to put up a Joint Monitoring Assistance Team (JMAT) there, with the help of LGUs [local government units]… This will stop the fighting there,” said Brigadier General Reynaldo Sealana, who chairs the government side of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

He said the CCCH was talking with the MILF commanders and Army militia leaders in the area to “patch [up] their problems,” since the clashes have been traced to personal disputes or “redo.”

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the CCCH has been “very effective” in stopping the fighting in Aleosan.

“I’m very confident that the CCCH set up will work because they are the ones actually on the ground, because they are there to resolve disputes rather than to monitor,” he said.

“We are very happy to report and we firmly believe that our commanders have been doing an excellent job in the area,” Teodoro said in a separate interview with reporters.

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Wed+00:002008-07-30T08:05:23+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Wed, 30 Jul 2008 08:05:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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Majority of Filipinos believe economy ‘worse now’–poll

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:16:00 07/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Even as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continuously harps about a robust economy, 86 percent of Filipinos believe that the economy is “worse now” than in 2005, while 75 percent say their personal quality of life worsened over a one-year period, amid skyrocketing oil prices and record inflation, an independent survey showed.

Pulse Asia Inc. asked 1,200 respondents nationwide to describe the state of the economy now, compared to how it was in 2005, and 86 percent said it was “worse now,” 10 percent said it was the “same” while four percent said it was “better now.”

In its March survey, 66 percent said the economy was “worse now” compared to three years ago, 23 percent said it was the “same,” while 11 percent said it was “better now.”

“Despite claims of economic growth by the national administration, 86% of Filipinos say the national economy has worsened in the last three years — a view articulated by big to overwhelming majorities (76% to 93%) across all geographic areas and socio-economic classes,” Pulse
Asia said.

The study, conducted from July 1 to 14, showed that 75 percent of Filipinos think their personal quality of life grew “worse” compared to last year, while 84 percent said the national quality of life has worsened.

The figures showed an increase from the 59 percent who saw their personal quality of life, and the 71 percent who saw the national quality of life grow “worse” over a one-year-period during the last survey in March, Pulse Asia said.

Moreover, Filipinos were growing “pessimistic” with 64 percent, saying that they expect their personal quality of life to be “worse” next year, and 79 percent saying that they see the national quality of life worsening next year, it said.

The figures also showed an increase in pessimism from the March Pulse Asia survey, wherein 37 percent said they expected their personal quality of life to grow worse, and 52 percent said they expected the national quality of life to worsen.

The survey firm polled 1,200 respondents nationwide for the study, which has a margin of error of +/3 percent at the 95-percent confidence level.

Asked to describe their personal quality of life, compared to the same period last year, 75 percent said they were “worse now,” 17 percent said they were “same as then,” while only seven percent said they were “better now,” Pulse Asia said.

Asked how they viewed the national quality of life compared to last year, 84 percent said the nation was “worse now,” 12 percent said it was “same as then,” while three percent said it was “better now,” it said.

Pulse Asia said there was “hardly any movement” in the percentage of respondents who considered their personal and national quality of life as “better now” than last year.

Figures showed that the percentage of respondents who considered the quality of life as “same as then,” decreased, as the number of those who saw the quality of life grow “worse” increased.

From 31 percent in March, 17 percent said their personal quality of life was “same as then” over a one-year period in July, and from 23 percent in March, 12 percent said the national quality of life was “same as then” in July.

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Wed+00:002008-07-30T08:04:38+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Wed, 30 Jul 2008 08:04:38 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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Arroyo names new Navy chief — DND

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‘Core competencies’ of troops, fleet sought

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:04:00 07/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The new Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy will work to develop the “core competencies” of his troops and his fleet.

Rear Admiral Ferdinand Golez disclosed this Tuesday, shortly after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him to the post.

Golez will replace Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag, who will retire on Saturday, the Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement that announced Golez’s appointment.

At the same time, the President also approved the ad interim appointment of seven one-star generals to the two-star rank of major general, it said.

“I will be looking at core competencies of the Navy as whole, our ships and the Marines,” the incoming navy chief said in a phone interview.

He vowed to pursue the Fleet-Marine concept of operations, which enhances the interoperability of Navy men, who run the ships, and the Marines, who see combat on the ground.

“Second is to empower the human resource in term training, technological advancement and preparation to perform their duties. Third is to lead by example,” he said, as he enumerated his plans.

Asked how he would work around the Navy’s lack of equipment, Golez said: “Long-range ‘yan [That’s long-range]. We have a capability upgrade program in place and that should be pursued. It’s in the pipeline.”

“And our existing ships should be well-maintained,” he added.

Golez, the incumbent chief of the Naval Education and Training Command based in Zambales province, beat of two other officers, Rear Admirals Emilio Marayag and Geronimo Defensor, for the post. All three were recommended by the Board of Generals, the DND.

The incoming Navy chief is an alumnus of the Philippine Military Academy’s 1976 Class. His classmates include General Alexander Yano, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado, the commanding general of the Philippine Army.

He is a brother of Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez from the opposition. Turnover rites will be scheduled later in the week, said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman.

Golez said he was surprised when Yano informed him of his appointment in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday morning.

Golez will serve as Navy chief for 21 months, until May 16 2010, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56, the DND said.

The new major generals are: Carlos Holganza, Army Training and Doctrine Command; Ricardo David, chief of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City; Jerry Jalandoni, deputy chief of staff for logistics or J4; Roland Detabali, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division based in Tanay town, Rizal province; Nestor Ochoa, chief of the 3rd Infantry Division based in Jamindan town, Capiz province; Johnny Corcha, chief of the Army Support Command; and Romeo Lustestica, deputy chief of staff for operations or J3.

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Tue+00:002008-07-29T05:07:24+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Tue, 29 Jul 2008 05:07:24 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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‘Igme’ damage to agriculture at P1.89M–NDCC

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:57:00 07/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Damage to agriculture in Northern Luzon due to floods spawned by typhoon “Igme” (international codename: Fung-Wong) has been estimated at P1.89 million, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said Tuesday.

The storm also left four people killed, mostly due to drowning, two injured, and five others missing, the NDCC said.

Of the total P1,894,029 in damages, P1,779,129 is on crops, P108,900 on livestock, and P6,000 in fisheries, it said.

Of the total damage to agriculture, P1,494,875 is in Abra province in the Cordilleras, while P284,254.75, all in rice fields, is in Ilocos Norte province, it said.

Of the P108,900 in damage to livestock, P92,900 is in Ilocos Norte while P16,000 in Abra, it said.

All of the P6,000 in damage to fisheries was reported in Ilocos Norte, it said.

The NDCC said 444 people were being housed evacuation centers — 277 in Abra and 167 in Ilocos Norte.

A total of 15,956 people have been affected by floods in the Ilocos and Cordillera Regions, it said.

Power was restored in Conner and Cabugao towns in Apayao province, it said.

While it did not make landfall in the country, “Igme” heightened the southwest monsoon, bringing rains to Luzon and the Visayas, particularly the western portions.

The storm, which packs maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour made landfall in eastern China before dawn Tuesday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

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Tue+00:002008-07-29T05:06:02+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Tue, 29 Jul 2008 05:06:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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3 missing, 6000 affected in ‘Igme’ flooding

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Typhoon pounds Taiwan

By Joel Guinto, Agence France-Presse
First Posted 08:12:00 07/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon “Igme” (international codename: Fung Wong) brought heavy rains to northern Luzon, triggering floods that left three people missing and affected some 6,000 others, and causing landslides and power outages.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) identified the missing as Jimmy Biala, 26, from Abucay village, Piddig town, Ilocos Norte province; a certain Loreto, 50, from Bragata village, Pasuquin town, also in Ilocos Norte; and Edwin Montemayor, 27, from Halog East village, Tubao town, La Union province.

An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report said the typhoon had slammed into Taiwan’s east coast Monday, bringing fierce winds and heavy rains that forced the closure of schools and offices across the island and severely disrupted travel.

In its 10 a.m. report, the NDCC said three- to four-foot-deep floods were reported in Laoag City, and the towns of Pasuquin, Pidig, Bacara, and Solsona in Ilocos Norte.

The most number of affected people, 4,895, were in Pasuquin, followed by Piddig with 615, Solsona with 500, and Laoag City with four, the NDCC said.

The flooding in Bacara was due to the release of water from the Vintar dam, it said.

The Quirino-San Emilio, Quirino-Cervantes, and Ilocos Sur roads were impassable to all types of vehicles due to the swelling of the Abra River, the NDCC said.

The Besang Pass in Ilocos Sur province was also impassable to all types of vehicles due to a damaged detour bridge and the swelling of the San Juan River, it said.

In Abra province, 470 people were affected by floods in Lagangilang and Licuan Baay towns, with 125 of them seeking shelter in relatives’ houses, the NDCC said.

Power outages were reported in Conner and Cabugao towns in Apayao province. In Abra province, power was restored late Sunday afternoon, it said.

Minor landslides were reported in the villages of Dontonan, Green Valley, and Quezon Hill in Baguio City. Two houses were damaged in Quezon Hill, it said.

Kennon Road, which leads to Baguio City, has been closed to traffic since 5:30 p.m. Sunday due to a landslide in Camp 4, Tuba town, Benguet province, it said.

Classes in the elementary to secondary levels were suspended in the Ilocos provinces, Abra, La Union, Benguet, Mt. Province, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Metro Manila on Monday, the NDCC said.

The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) meanwhile was asked to authorize college and university officials to decide on whether or not to suspend classes.

Igme is forecast to continue enhancing the southwest monsoon, bringing rains to Luzon and the Visayas, the Philippine Atmopsheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

At 10 a.m., the eye of the storm, which packs maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 170 kilometers per hour, was located over Taiwan or 365 kilometers north northwest of Basco, the capital of Batanes province, PAGASA said in its 11 a.m. bulletin.

Public storm signals have been downgraded. Signal number 2 (60 to 100 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in the Batanes, Calayan, and Babuyan Islands.

Signal number 1 was raised in the rest of Cagayan, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, Abra, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, and Bataan, it said.

The state weather bureau warned residents in coastal areas against big waves, while those in low-lying areas and mountain slopes were warned against landslides and flashfloods.

In Taiwan, AFP reported that the stock market was closed for the day along with all schools and offices and all railway traffic was halted as winds of up to 126 kilometers (90 miles) per hour blew across, uprooting trees.

All domestic flights and 56 international flights were scrapped for safety considerations, the Civil Aeronautics Administration told AFP.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from an eastern village threatened by flash floods before the typhoon made landfall in the eastern county of Hualien at 6:50 a.m. (2250 GMT), television images showed.

The agricultural authorities put 425 rivers on their alert list, demanding nearby residents take extra precaution against possible floods and mudslides.

Thousands of fishing boats have sought shelter in ports.

The National Fire Agency, which coordinates the country’s rescue missions, said no casualties were reported as yet.

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Mon+00:002008-07-28T08:48:43+00:00+00:0007b+00:00Mon, 28 Jul 2008 08:48:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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