Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gordon's promise: P40,000 salary for teachers

6th in a series on ANC's presidential youth forum at De La Salle University, Jan. 29, 2010

Sen. Gordon holding a Kindle e-book reader.

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential candidate Richard Gordon claims he's got big perks for students and teachers if he wins in the 2010 election.

In ANC's Youth 2010 presidential forum held at De La Salle University in Taft on Friday, Gordon promised free Kindle e-book readers for public school students and P40,000 in monthly salaries for teachers should he be elected president.

Current teacher's salaries, Gordon explained, are around P12,000 to P15,000 a month, compared to P122,000 a month for teachers in Singapore.

"Gusto ko, P40,000 ang suweldo ng teacher kaagad in the next 6 years. (I want to raise teacher's salaries to P40,000 in the next 6 years)," Gordon said.

Raising teacher's salaries, he said, will attract skilled graduates to teach in schools.

Skilled teachers can raise students' academic performance even at the kindergarten or elementary grade levels, Gordon added.

E-books for all

  • Gordon plans to give free Kindle e-book readers for students and raise teachers' salaries.
  • Money will be diverted from texts, corruption and mining.
  • He insists the Philippines needs strong leadership, not dictatorship.
  • Gordon wants government anomaly cases to be resolved within a year and half.
  • As a measure to "eradicate" corruption, he wants the Ombudsman to be elected by the people, instead of being appointed.

He also mapped out a plan to fund a $1.7 billion (or P85 billion) project to give 17 million students a Kindle electronic book reader.

"You can get an electronic book where you can put in the entire curriculum of the school from grade school to college," the senator said.

Kindle, released by online book retailer, is a device that allows people to read digital versions of books. Gordon said it is priced at $100 wholesale.

To fund the Kindle project, Gordon said plans to cut down on corruption, which amounts to about 300 billion pesos.

If this does not work, he plans to improve mining, an industry reportedly worth $1-trillion, to give additional funding for the free e-book reader project.

If both do not work, Gordon said the quickest way to raise funds is through a "text for education" campaign, where P0.50 from every 2 billion text messages will be used to fund teacher's salaries and the Kindle project.

To Gibo's rescue?

Gordon got cheers from supporters of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidiate Gilberto Teodoro Jr. at the forum when he defended the former defense chief against what he thought were "editorialized" questions from the forum's moderator, Ted Failon.

Failon had called attention to the fact that Teodoro was the lone candidate who did not definitively answer a question on whether president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be held accountable for anomalies during her term.

Teodoro said he will not criticize Arroyo, who appointed him as defense chief in 2007, but he will not stop anyone from criticizing her.

Failon then asked candidates and the audience whether they agreed with Teodoro's answer.

"I don't think we should editorialize here. I think that's what Gibo said, the president is in his party, then let him answer that. I'm just trying to be careful. I don't want to be argumentative here, it's hard for us to pander to popular opinion," Gordon said.

"Let's not ask kung tama ba ang sagot niya. (Let's not ask if his answer is right)," he said.

Big fish to fry

Earlier, however, Gordon, who is Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman, took potshots at the president and the former defense chief for failing to explain why military arms and bullets ended up in the hands of Mindanao warlords.

If he wins as president, Gordon said he will ask courts to investigate and resolve corruption cases against government officials like Arroyo within 1 year and 6 months.

Delegating the task, he said, means he can go after "bigger fish" and focus on the country's problems.

He also recommended that the Constitution be amended to make the position of Ombudsman, whose office investigates and prosecutes errant government officials, as an elective rather than an appointive post.

He said the Ombudsman must not be a classmate or close friend of the First Family, a reference to current Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was a law school batchmate First Gentleman Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.

She also served as presidential legal counsel.

'Strong leadership'

Gordon and his Bagumbayan Party (composed of him and vice-presidential candidate Bayani Fernando) were also asked about the brand of leadership they offer.

Critics and political analysts have previously noted that Gordon and Bayani's strict and uncompromising leadership style is "dictatorial."

"I don't think Filipinos are ready for dictatorship, they are ready for Dick Gordon," the senator quipped. "However, I can tell you this. What we need is firm and fair leadership."

He said the country needs strong leaders who are clearly against corruption, focused on the country's problems, and are not willing to bend the rules for the Filipino elite or foreigners.

Some viewers who watched the forum told ABS-CBN News they were impressed by Gordon's articulate speeches and detailed plans for the presidency.

However, both Gordon and Fernando have yet to clinch support from the poor, who comprise the bulk of voters.

Ex-officials warn of looming failure of May polls

MANILA, Philippines - All indications of a looming failure of the May 10 elections are becoming more visible with the delays and glitches involving the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, former government officials opposed to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Saturday.

"Deliveries, testing, calibration, validation and training for automated elections are delayed. Ballot printing is also delayed... The risks of failures of the 2010 elections are increasing everyday," the group, Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO), said in a statement.

The group said that Mrs. Arroyo should be blamed if the May 10 national and local polls fail.

"All preparations for the [automated elections] occurred under the GMA administration and the Melo Comelec, as the Abalos Comelec, are mostly or totally composed of GMA appointees," the FSGO said.

The FSGO said a failure of elections, even in an automated system, can only be "deliberate" and "engineered by the GMA administration."

The group issued the statement after 2 field tests transmitting counted votes from PCOS machines to several national level servers suffered hitches.

The PCOS machines failed to immediately transmit votes to the central server of the Comelec due to weak mobile network signals. However, the glitches were solved after SIM cards were changed.

Aside from these hitches, several other concerns about the full automation of the May 10 elections have been raised, including the lab and field testing of all the counting machines, late training of teachers, and the fielding of 50,000 IT experts by the Smarmatic-TIM.

The PCOS machines supplier and the Comelec have yet to disclose before a joint congressional oversight committee how and when the IT experts will be mobilized to help address problems in poll automation.

At ABS-CBN News Channel's (ANC) poll automation forum on Friday night, Smartmatic-TIM international sales director Cesar Flores admitted that some PCOS machines might not work during election day.

Flores, however, clarified that measures to avoid machine failures are now being undertaken.

He said all 82,200 PCOS machines will be tested in polling centers 3 days before the actual elections.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal assured during the forum that the poll body is prepared to go manual in case the automation system fails.

Larrazabal said the counting of votes manually and automatically on election day can be done.

Friday, January 22, 2010

SC can block Arroyo's appointment of new Chief Justice: Bernas

MANILA, Philippines - Even without a formal petition filed before it, the Supreme Court (SC) on its own could put an end to the raging controversy surrounding President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s possible naming of a chief justice during the period covered by the election appointment ban, according to constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas.

In a forum organized by the watchdog group Supreme Court Appointments Watch (SCAW), Bernas, dean emeritus of the Ateneo de Manila Law School, said the SC, motu propio or on its own accord, could rule on the constitutionality of Arroyo’s selection of a replacement for Chief Justice (CJ) Reynato Puno.

If Arroyo forces the issue and appoints the next chief justice, he said the SC could strike it down without waiting for a party to lodge a petition.

Puno will retire on May 17, and Mrs. Arroyo would then have 44 days left in office.

Under the 1987 Constitution, an outgoing president is barred from making appointments two months before an election and until the end of his or her term. In the case of Mrs. Arroyo, she cannot issue midnight appointments from March 10 to June 30.

Precedent cases

Citing the case involving the disputed appointments of judges Mateo Valenzuela and Placido Vallarta to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in May 1998, Bernas stressed that the SC en banc went ahead on its own and invalidated the judges’ appointments since these were well within the period covered by the election appointment ban.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, a former Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) member, said that in this particular case, no other party was involved, and the SC treated it as an administrative matter right after then Chief Justice Andres Narvasa received the letters from Malacañang appointing Valenzuela and Vallarta to the RTC.

However, Drilon said he doubts the current SC would, on its own initiative, take this step. He noted that 14 out of the 15 sitting justices were appointed to the High Court by Mrs. Arroyo.

Puno was appointed to the bench by former President Fidel Ramos, but he was named Chief Justice by President Arroyo in December 2006.

Surprised with Puno's stand

Puno’s stand on the matter would have been instructive on how SC will handle the issue, but Bernas admitted he "cannot understand" why the chief justice made a recent statement supporting the argument that the chief justice post should not be left vacant during the election period.

Puno said having a chief justice is crucial once election cases start to roll in. The chief justice chairs the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which resolves disputes involving the presidential race.

JBC member Rep. Matias Defensor, a known Arroyo ally, gave the same reason when he proposed that the JBC hold an early nomination for Puno’s replacement. He did not attend the forum although he confirmed that he would.

Bernas shook his head at this opinion, noting that an acting chief justice could head the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. “All I can say is I cannot understand why Puno is saying that,” he said.

Constitutional crisis feared

In the event the JBC does not submit a list and President Arroyo appoints a chief justice during the period of the appointment ban, Bernas said this would trigger a constitutional crisis as this would be a blatant violation of the Constitution.

He said the worst-case scenario is widespread protest in response to Arroyo's midnight appointment. Asked if he would join the protest, Bernas said: "Why not?"

Drilon said the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which comprises all those who passed the bar, should lead the protest.

IBP chief of staff and general counsel Rodolfo Urbiztondo said the IBP does not have an official stand yet on the issue.

'Accessory to the crime'

Bernas said that a justice who accepts an appointment under these circumstances would be an "accessory to the crime" since the appointment would constitute a "culpable violation of the Constitution," and this means the new chief justice may be impeached.

Drilon urged the JBC not to submit a list of nominees during the period of the election appointment ban since Mrs. Arroyo will surely take advantage of it and appoint a new chief justice.

In case this happens, Drilon said he will seek an injunction from the Supreme Court. He supported Bernas' view that the SC, motu propio or on its own, may stop the JBC from submitting its list of nominees to the president.

Possible compromise

Bernas said it is possible to implement the two contradictory provisions in the Constitution on the election appointment ban and the need to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court within 90 days from time Puno retires on May 17.

The solution, Bernas said, is to prevent President Arroyo from naming the next chief justice and to just let the next president make the appointment. He noted that the next chief executive would still have 45 days left or until August 15 to choose the next chief justice from the time he or she assumes office on June 30, 2010.

This way, Bernas said the two provisions in the Constitution would be followed.

Bernas and Drilon said no less than the credibility of the Supreme Court is at stake, especially if the next president does not recognize Arroyo's appointment of the new chief justice.

Stop the JBC

Meanwhile, amid a heated debate over the issue, the JBC last Wednesday opened the application for the next chief justice with more than 100 days to go before Puno leaves the top post in the judiciary.

SCAW executive director Vincent Lazatin decried that this move is highly "abnormal" since the JBC usually starts accepting applications 40 days before a vacancy is created.

Bernas said, however, that opening the selection process does not violate the Constitution.

The legal problem only arises when the JBC transmits its shortlist to the Office of the President. Bernas noted that Arroyo would still have ample time to appoint the Chief Justice if the list is submitted right after Puno's retirement.

But Bernas said the JBC may be prevented from submitting its list if the SC issues a temporary restraining order.

Ivler's ma blames 'violent' past for Jason's acts

Ivler 'hates the Philippine gov't'

MANILA, Philippines - Much has been said about Jason Aguilar Ivler's allegedly violent outlook towards authority since his arrest last Monday over the murder of a Palace official's son.

His mother, Marlene Aguilar Pollard, admitted as much on Thursday when asked how Ivler views the Philippine government. "He hates the Philippine government. He has absolutely no respect for the Philippine government," she told reporters.

On Friday, Aguilar revealed that their present ordeal is the direct result of their family's violent past.

Born in Massachussets on Jan. 7, 1982, Ivler is the firstborn of Aguilar and her first husband, Robert Ivler, whom Marlene met in the Philippines.

Aguilar said Jason and his younger brother, Colby, lost their father when they were still very young.

"My husband was found dead in a chair, inside a hotel in Bangkok. He was killed by a professional killer," she said.

Since Jason was only 2 1/2 when his father died, Aguilar did not tell him about his father's death until Jason was older.

She also confessed that she had various affairs before marrying Stephen Pollard, an economist who works as consultant for the Asian Development Bank and Ivler's current stepfather.

She said among her former lovers were a Colombian arms dealer and a wanted criminal who is now serving time in the United Kingdom.

Aguilar said Jason always treated her with gentleness and is a far cry from his brother, Colby, whom he described as hard-headed. She claimed that Jason was a dean's lister at the Hawaii Pacific University where he studied AB Psychology.

"They are extremes. Jason and Colby are both geniuses. When I see Jason, I see heaven. Colby, I call him Saddam, Damien, Hannibal, because everytime I see him, my blood pressure goes up. Lapastangan yan. He drives me totally nuts. I love him. But Jason is the exact opposite. He never raised his voice to me," she said.

A history of violence

It was during his break from school in 2004 when Ivler was involved in the first traffic accident involving a Malacañang official. Ivler was driving his stepfather's Toyota Land Cruiser, which bore diplomatic plates, when he rammed into the car owned by Presidential Undersecretary for Resettlement Nestor Ponce Jr.

Ponce was killed in the accident while his wife and driver survived.

A Philippine National Police (PNP) press statement issued August 2004 said Ivler was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for Ponce's death.

Reports said Ivler, who was then out on bail, was nabbed in Zamboanga City with two police escorts while trying to catch a ferry bound for Malaysia. The attempt to leave the country despite a pending criminal case prompted the Bureau of Immigration to issue an order preventing him from leaving the country.

Ironically, Ivler was still able to join the US Army on Feb. 15, 2007 despite a pending warrant for his arrest in the Philippines.

Readers of said Ivler served as an Infantryman (11 series) with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, with the rank of specialist (E-4). A year later, he was discharged under honorable conditions on Oct. 16, 2008.

In Aguilar's book "Warriors of Heaven", she described how Ivler was arrested by US authorities and pressured to admit things about his family.

A year after leaving the US Army, Ivler again ran afoul of the law when he allegedly shot and killed Renato Victor Ebarle Jr., son of Presidential Chief of Staff Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr., on November 18 during a traffic altercation.

He went into hiding for 2 months until his arrest by National Bureau of Investigation operatives in a bloody shootout last January 18.

Despite the ordeal, Aguilar said she has only one wish for her son. "That all of these will end peacefully and we will live peacefully," she said.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Marlene Aguilar faces raps for hiding son Jason Ivler

MANILA, Philippines - Marlene Aguilar-Pollard is to be charged with obstruction of justice after prosecutors indicted her for allegedly hiding her son, murder suspect Jason Ivler, inside her home.

Ivler, 26, was arrested inside his parents' home at Blue Ridge village in Quezon City on Monday morning by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) special action units.

He was wanted for the murder of Renato Victor Ebarle Jr., son of Palace official Renato Ebarle Sr.

In previous statements, Aguilar repeatedly denied that she knew her son's whereabouts. She claimed that Ivler had escaped to the United States.

Police had filed a complaint against Aguilar before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office for violating Presidential Decree No. 1829, which penalizes people who harbor wanted criminals, conceal evidence, or give false information to prevent law enforcement agents from apprehending suspects.

Alessandro Jurado, a fiscal at the city prosecutor's office, said there was sufficient evidence to file a charge against Aguilar.

Aguilar's case will be brought before the Regional Trial Court on Tuesday. The case can then be raffled by Thursday.

However, Aguilar said she will be posting bail, set at P12,000. "I will post bail. I won't comment because my son is in critical state," said Aguilar, who submitted to a formal inquest at the fiscal's office.

Aguilar, the sister of folk singer Freddie Aguilar, is a self-published book author.

She is married to economist Stephen Pollard, a British national and consultant at the Asian Development Bank.

Jason Ivler is Aguilar's son from a previous marriage to an American.

Repeated denials

Jason Ivler, the primary suspect in the murder of a Palace official's son, is wounded and captured in a police raid inside his mother's home.

The NBI's intelligence reports revealed that Ivler had been hiding at his mother's house in Blue Ridge for more than 2 months.

Police had searched Aguilar's home twice before, but failed to locate the suspect.

The NBI reportedly had strong suspicions that Aguilar was hiding Ivler after they found the suspect's car parked at the house of his uncle in Marikina.

At around 6 a.m. on Monday, the NBI raided Aguilar's home and found Ivler hiding inside a concealed room under the stairs. Ivler shot at police and wounded 2 agents before he was subdued.

Aguilar was arrested, along with 2 male household help, after her son's capture.

Atty. Angelito Magno, head of NBI's Special Action Unit, said Aguilar deliberately misled police when she said her son was out of the country.

"She kept on saying that she received an e-mail that he is in Hawaii already," Magno told reporters in a briefing.

"Second, [Marlene] said things like, 'I am very cooperative. I let you into my home because I have nothing to hide.' Even as her son was shooting at us and we were shooting back, she said, 'I didn't know [Jason] was inside the house'," Magno added.

Police had a standing order for Ivler's arrest after he shot dead 27-year-old Ebarle Jr. in November 2009 following a traffic altercation along Santolan Road in Quezon City.

Ivler, a former U.S. Special Forces agent in Iraq, was involved in a road rage case 4 years ago.

He was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for killing Undersecretary Nestor Ponce Jr. in 2004 after Ponce accidentally hit his car.

No search warrant

In November 2009, Marlene Aguilar asked her son to surrender to authorities. Police believe Aguilar has been hiding Jason Ivler inside her home since last year and lied to authorities about it.

Aguilar, clad in a nightgown, denied that her son was at home at first and tearfully protested against the NBI's presence at their home.

She also questioned why police had no search warrant when they raided the house. (Watch exclusive ABS-CBN footage of Ivler's arrest here.)

"Wala naman kayong search warrant. Andiyan na siya--andiyan na kayo sa kuwarto ko, may mga hawak kayong baril. Pasensiya ka na ha, ngayon lang ako nagf-freak out," Aguilar was quoted as saying in a videotape of the raid.

(You don't have a search warrant. You're there in my room carrying guns. I'm sorry, I'm freaking out just now.)

Aguilar later led police into Ivler's bedroom to show that it was empty. However, NBI agents noticed the airconditioning unit was on and that the adjacent bathroom had a wet floor and damp towel--indicating the recent presence of an occupant.

They found the suspect hiding inside a tiny storage room that was walled-up on all sides. Ivler, who was carrying a baby armalite and caliber .45 pistol, opened fire on police and started a 10-minute shootout.

Ivler was wounded in the clash, along with 2 police agents, and was brought to the Quezon Memorial Medical Center (QMMC) for treatment.

According to the QMMC's latest medical bulletin, Ivler is "stable but guarded."

NBI agents are standing guard over the patient, who is reportedly handcuffed to his hospital bed. Ivler is currently recuperating from a 3-hour surgery.

'State of shock'

Police handcuff Marlene Aguilar following her son's arrest. She is to be charged for obstruction of justice.

Marlene Aguilar-Pollard appeared distraught when she was escorted to NBI headquarters in handcuffs.

"At the moment, I am in a state of shock. I heard that my son is fighting for life and death. And so I really don't have anything further to say," she said.

Though glib with media, she was videotaped crying several times as she spoke with her lawyer, Atty. Alexis Medina.

Medina declined to comment while investigations are ongoing.

On November 21 last year, Aguilar was also videotaped in a tearful state when she addressed a crowd at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In her speech, she asked her son to surrender to authorities.

She also apologized to Ebarle Jr.'s family for her son's actions.

"Jason, I say if you are guilty, I beg you with all my heart to surrender yourself and face this," Aguilar had said.

NBI agents, however, insist Aguilar knowingly hid her son from police all these months and fed them false information about his whereabouts.

Though she could have acted based on her natural instinct as a mother to protect her child, Magno said she hampered another family's quest for justice.

Police are currently investigating whether Ivler's stepfather Stephen Pollard, who lives in the same house as Aguilar, is criminally liable.

Pollard is exempt from criminal prosecution due to diplomatic immunity.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Asia's IT parts makers struggle with demand boom: Analysis

TAIPEI - Wrong-footed by rocketing consumer demand, Asian technology suppliers are scrambling to expand capacity before inventories run dry of everything from semiconductors to flat-panel screens.

Asian components makers, betting on a much longer economic downturn, last year ran down their stockpiles to "very unhealthy levels", according to Nancy Liu, an analyst at Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute.

But demand worldwide for gadgetry ranging from computers to smartphones and liquid-crystal displays is zooming ahead, even if the West's retail sales as a whole are still sluggish. And China is a boom market all by itself.

Jin Sung-Hye, an analyst with South Korea's Shinhan Investment Corp., said Asian component makers were now rushing to ramp up production after failing to forecast the consumer recovery.

"However, higher component prices will not lead to a drastic increase in PC prices, as makers are under pressure to produce upgraded models," she said.

Makers of computers and consumer electronics could instead see their profit margins squeezed, given cut-throat industry competition with consumers used to ever-falling prices on the high street.

And consumers themselves might have to get used to delays in procuring the latest must-have gadgets, a problem that has afflicted Apple's iPhone as Taiwanese chip suppliers struggle to keep up.

Component shortages will linger, with analysts saying it typically takes 15 months from the time a manufacturer decides to boost capacity until production actually picks up.

"Shortages are expected to continue throughout this year and possibly into early next year if the global economy maintains the current pace of recovery," Jin said.

US giant Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, last week reported its net profit soared nearly 9-fold to $2.3 billion in the last quarter of 2009.

Its booming sales came as industry tracker IDC reported that US computer shipments topped 20 million in the fourth quarter, a record figure, while global PC shipments jumped 15.2% year-on-year.

IDC identified two key factors -- abundant deals on low-priced netbook computers, and pent-up demand as consumers upgraded their PCs after the financial crisis.

Industry shortages mean the semiconductors needed for an average computer are likely to be 2.8% more expensive this year than last, marking the first rise since 2004, according to analyst firm Gartner.

The average selling price for one gigabyte of DRAM, or computer memory, will still decline by eight percent this year. But that compares with much steeper falls of 27 percent in 2009 and 53% in 2008, Gartner said.

"If we look at how bad it was in the first quarter of last year, no one could have predicted that the economy would recover this fast," Taiwan-based Gartner analyst Ben Lee said.

"There was financial turbulence, and companies went bankrupt," he said.

"This has changed with government stimulus plans plus a loose monetary situation. Money is flooding into the market. Everyone can borrow."

The Chinese government implemented a stimulus spree worth $586 billion, and consumers in the world's third-largest economy have played a major role in stoking demand, according to observers.

"The fast recovery in the Chinese market appears to be the main reason" for the global technology boom, said Shinhan Investment's Jin.

Taiwan's Innolux Display Corp. is one technology company being forced into a drastic reappraisal of its plans as it battles to keep up with the demand.

The firm recently announced a merger with rival Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. as it vies to take on the big Japanese and South Korean suppliers of flat-panel displays.

The deal was originally expected to be completed in May, but has now been hastily brought forward to March.

"Innolux hopes to integrate the two companies' capacity and ensure a steady supply of panels as soon as possible," said Nancy Liu.

100 Filipinos in district of quake-hit Haiti found safe - DFA

MANILA, Philippines - 100 Filipino civilians in a district of earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti have been accounted for and found to be in safe physical condition, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said Sunday.

A DFA statement issued Sunday cited a report by Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy, 10th Philippine Contingent commander in Haiti which said that an initial census was conducted to determine the current locations and conditions of Filipinos in the Delmas districts.

The statement said “some 100 Filipinos were identified, accounted for and found to be in safe physical condition” including 2 religious nuns with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM Sisters) of Haiti.

The DFA said Delmas is a district in Ouest Department of Port-au-Prince where a sizeable number of Filipinos reside. The list (see below) was reportedly drawn from 3 areas in the district - Delmas 31, Delmas 41 and Delmas 56.

A relief team composed of United Nations peacekeepers was sent to the area and were guided to and accompanied by Alan Martinez, treasurer of the Filipino community in Haiti, said the DFA in its statement.

The foreign affairs department said that members of the community in the area have been given some rice, sugar, oatmeal and coffee on Saturday.

The team was also able to reach Friday afternoon the group of Ms. Fely Tan (or Chan) and Henry Reobuya who reportedly earlier requested assistance due to peace and order concerns in their area.

The DFA said Philippine Honorary Consul in Haiti Fitzgerald Brandt is also helping coordinate efforts in responding to the need of Filipino community members.

A DFA official had earlier said that aside from 172 peacekeepers, there are 447 more Filipinos working in Haiti.


Meanwhile, the DFA said rescue efforts for 2 Filipinos, Grace Fabian and Geraldine Lalican, trapped under the collapsed Caribbean Supermarket are still ongoing.

A 40-person US rescue team is reportedly at the collapsed four-storey market and is helping in search and rescue efforts. The team was requested by the Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent through the US military attaché office in Haiti, said the DFA.

The DFA said that the rescue team leader informed the Philippine contingent that “they heard tappings and other indications of life among the rubbles.”

Extensive efforts are still ongoing, said the DFA, to rescue other officials, personnel and affiliated individuals who are still unaccounted including Filipino United Nations peacekeepers Army Sergeant Eustacio Bermudez, Air Force Sergeant Janice Arocena and Navy Petty Officer 3 Pearlie Panagui and Filipino UN civilian staff member Jerome Yap.

DFA list of Filipino community members in the Delmar district who were found to be in good health and safe condition are:

1. Mariflor Tuibeo
2. Nelson Lardizabal
3. Jocelyn Ortiz
4. Paul William Usana
5. Ramil Macalino
6. Melanie M Villamin
7. Frank Repizo
8. Maria Lucia Repizo
9. Kelly May Repizo
10. Kyle Kennette Repizo
11. Brenda Tambo
12. Dennis Tapat
13. Jonathan Villa
14. Lelaine M Villa
15. Jonna Leigh Villa
16. John Lloyo Villa
17. Moreto Casuyon
18. Adelina Manalansang
19. Berwyn Manalansang
20. Danica Manalansang
21. Wendyl Manalansang
22. Elina A Felipe
23. Johnny J Cabe
24. Gil Meru
25. Patrick Gecangao
26. Joel Bristol
27. Dominador Tiru
28. Nelson Blanco
29. Zosimo Melo
30. Andy Frias
31. Albino Villalba
32. Joselito Maniulit
33. Dante Rebanal
34. Arnel Cariaga
35. Ruben Martinez
36. Vener Maning
37. Roberto Cunanan
38. Arnel Barrera
39. Christian De Roxas
40. Rickson Dapasin
41. Freddie De Roxas
42. Sonny Maning
43. Sandy Maning
44. Ronil Maning
45. Renato Pera
46. Rene Jordan
47. Rey Jordan
48. Joseph Alama
49. Zarina Flor
50. Moises (Surname Not Given In DFA report]
51. Angelita Aguinaldo
52. Ryza Bagadiong
53. Joan Sespene
54. Corazon Obnial
55. Renato Bagadiong
56. Renelyn De Vera
57. Ferdinand De Vera
58. Rizalino Ramirez
59. Allzana Ramirez
60. Lourdes Cabalhin
61. Manolito Cabalhin
62. Dennis Cabalhin
63. Aurora Aguinaldo Mehlbaum
64. Elenita Granada
65. Ma Sanrio Granada
66. Juliane Del Rosario
67. Joaquin Tena
68. Oscar Mendoza
69. Mary Grace Joy Genaro
70. Richard Pasahol
71. Israel Pasahol
72. Lilibeth Mendoza
73. Pricilla Aguinaldo
74. Leah Tabigay
75. Rosalyn Fabian
76. Sherwin Magno
77. Fe Labalando
78. Remy Villero
79. Aries Mendoza
80. Agripino Cornejo
81. Joven Cruz
82. Boy Duran
83. Philip Benitez
84. Maricel Benitez
85. Jetro Benitez
86. Jana Benitez
87. Lily Sonico
88. Aurora Fernandez
89. Frankie Bagadiong
90. Dolor Bagadiong
91. Val Bagadiong
92. Ariel Bagadiong
93. Shiela Dubios
94. Henry Reobuya
95. Lucy Trinidad
96. Fely Tan
97. Jun Bacurin
98. Donna Bacurin
99. Sister Hermie
100. Sister Inden

Monday, January 04, 2010

Wall Street rallies on recovery bets as 2010 starts

NEW YORK – Stocks climbed broadly on Monday after a report showed the manufacturing sector expanded for a fifth straight month, lifting confidence in the global economy as investors eye fourth quarter earnings.

The rally, which marked the first trading day of 2010, drove both the Dow and the S&P 500 to their highest closes in 15 months, while the Nasdaq ended at a 16-month high.

The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to its highest level since April 2006 in December. The report followed similarly strong readings from the commodity-hungry manufacturing sectors in China and India overnight.

That and a weaker US dollar helped push natural resource stocks higher as commodity prices rose.

"The ISM number was very, very good, and we think it points to continuing strengthening and overall, bodes relatively well in the near-term for the market," said Karl Mills, president of Jurika, Mills and Keifer, an investment advisory firm in Oakland, California.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 155.91 points, or 1.50%, to end at 10,583.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 17.89 points, or 1.60%, to 1,132.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 39.27 points, or 1.73%, to 2,308.42.

Star turn for oil and materials

Energy and materials were the top sectors in the S&P 500 as those stocks got a lift from the prospect of stronger manufacturing, which would increase demand for fuel, electricity, metals and some other commodities.

Oil companies' shares got a further boost after Deutsche Bank upgraded the US refining sector and raised the ratings on several refiners, including Valero Energy Corp and Sunoco Inc.

Valero jumped 6.8% to $17.89, and Sunoco advanced 6% to $27.67. The PHLX Oil Service index climbed 3.9%.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 55.9 in December, above forecasts for a reading of 54.3. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Both of China's PMI manufacturing surveys rose in December, with the official reading hitting its highest level in 20 months. That was echoed in India, where the manufacturing index hit a 7-month peak last month.

Analysts said the reports gave welcome support as investors head into fourth-quarter earnings season later in January. US stocks rose last month after the US unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in November.

US crude oil futures rose 2.2%, or $2.15, to settle at $81.51 per barrel after hitting a 2-month high earlier in the session. The US dollar fell 0.5% against a basket of currencies. Copper hit a 16-month high.

Currency traders were cautious about the greenback before Friday's non-farm payrolls report, which investors are looking to for confirmation of further stabilization in the labor market.

High hopes for chipmakers

Robert W. Baird upgraded chipmaker Intel Corp to "outperform" on expectations for a rebound in corporate spending on personal computers. That helped drive the Philadelphia semiconductor index up 1.7%.

Intel, a Dow component and a bellwether on Nasdaq, climbed 2.4% to $20.88.

Volume, although modest, appeared to be the best since December 22nd, with most market participants back at work on Monday after a long holiday break.

About 1.01 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, below last year's daily average of 2.18 billion.

On the Nasdaq, about 1.95 billion shares traded.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of 4 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, nearly 11 stocks rose for every three that fell.

Ampatuan Jr.'s trial in Camp Crame starts

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)- Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. arrived Tuesday morning at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame on a bulletproof van as authorities brace for the first hearing on the multiple murder charges filed against him for the massacre of nearly 60 people in Maguindanao last November 23.

Live footage of ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG) showed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) convoy leaving its main headquarters in Manila around 6:15 a.m.

The convoy, which included the bulletproof van of Ampatuan Jr., who was also wearing a bulletproof vest, arrived at Camp Crame in Quezon City around 6:30 a.m., 2 hours earlier than the scheduled hearing at 8:30 a.m.

A radio dzMM report said Buluan town Vice-Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate and wife and brother of 3 of the massacre victims, arrived at Camp Crame around 8 a.m.

The report added that trial started after Ampatuan Jr. was escorted into the PNP's Police Non-Commissioned Officers' Clubhouse around 8:32 a.m.

Ampatuan Jr. is facing multiple murder charges for the massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao last November 23.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera told UKG that the first hearing would tackle the petition for bail filed by the lawyers of Ampatuan Jr. She said the petition forces the government's prosecution team to immediately produce evidence on the multiple murder charges.

"The judge would hear the petition for bail first before conducting the arraignment. The prosecutors would have to present evidence so that the judge will not grant the petition for bail," the justice secretary said.

Devanadera said they will also present statements from various witnesses who have implicated Ampatuan Jr. to the massacre. She said some witnesses placed Ampatuan Jr. at the crime scene in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan town, where the 57 bodies of the massacre victims were exhumed from 2 mass graves.

She was confident that Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 would junk Ampatuan Jr.'s petition for bail after 2 hearings.

Meanwhile, security in and around the police camp was very tight despite police's assurance that there was no threat on Ampatuan Jr.'s life.

Chief Superintendent Gordon Descanzo, PNP Headquarters Support Group chief, said streets around the camp will be restricted while checkpoints will be set up at roads leading to the trial venue.

The Supreme Court has also banned the live coverage of the murder trial to avoid "mistrial" due to "trial by publicity."

SC spokesman Midas Marquez said only authorized media personnel will be allowed in the trial venue, and they will only have a photo opportunity with the prime suspect prior to the trial.

Once the trial starts, no cameras will be allowed and no one will be allowed to leave the venue except during recess.