Tuesday, April 3, 2007

15 Airports To Be Developed (hopefully)

(Asia Pulse News - Yahoo) - Central Philippines is the recipient of billions of pesos in funding support for the development and rehabilitation of 15 airports, 13 ports and two major road networks in line with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's vision to make this part of the country a tourism hub.

The improvement and establishment of 15 airports in Central Philippines would incur for the government some P86.235 billion (US$1.8 billion) in expenses. On the other hand, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has been spending its corporate funds in the development and rehabilitation of existing ports and construction of new ones to the tune of P977.98 million. ...full story here

Ship Explosion In Australia Injures 4 Filipinos

(ABC News Online) - An investigation will be held into the cause of an explosion which injured four Filipino sailors on a ship off the Newcastle coast yesterday. Three of the men suffered serious burns to their arms and faces in what is believed to have been a boiler explosion on the ship Shirane.

A 51-year-old was flown to Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital Burn Unit, while the others are being treated in Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital. The Port of Newcastle's Harbour Master says the cause of the incident is being investigated.

Note: Names of the injured Filipinos have not been identified. I don't know why.

...But Filipino Veterans Remain Unrecognized

(Salt Lake City, Daily Herald) - Dee Hatch is finally getting the recognition he deserved as a young corporal in the U.S. Army. Hatch received a Bronze Star for meritorious service Saturday -- an award he should have received 62 years ago.

A lifetime has passed since Hatch, 87, lay in the embattled Philippines mountains hunting for artillery targets as the Japanese bombarded his position with machine gun and mortar fire.

Hatch was finally recognized for his actions during the February 1945 battle, thanks in part to the work of his grandson. The World War II veteran was given the papers for a Bronze Star as a young soldier, but had never received the medal.

His grandson took it upon himself to get the medal to Hatch and U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett helped arrange for Hatch's recognition through the National Personnel Records Center.

Family members gathered in Hatch's hometown, Loa, Utah, Saturday to see the star pinned to his jacket. ...full story here

Behind The Scene: Filipinos In Nigeria

(allafrica.com) - "Niger-Delta is not precisely a jungle even though there are several jungles in its marshy landscape but like in the jungle, where continued existence is the opening canon, "fear of kidnappers" has now become the number one statute for foreign oil workers. It does not matter which country you hail from but Americans and Britons are burning cakes in the bizarre diversion that is called hostage-taking. The common denomination is that you are a white man and not a black man, and that is why Filipinos have been included in the insalubrious operation." ...full details here

"Most Victims Are Filipinos"

(Saipan Tribune) - The Department of Labor is currently monitoring 28 companies that are possibly engaged in a sponsorship scheme.

Labor Secretary Gil M. San Nicolas disclosed to Saipan Tribune yesterday that of these 28 companies, four to five are currently being investigated for allegedly conducting sponsorships.

San Nicolas said based on the information they gathered so far, the companies that are into this scheme have been collecting $400 to $1,000 each from alien workers.

Sponsorship scheme refers to an application for employment for the purpose of maintaining immigration status and not for the purpose of employment.

He said most of the victims are Filipinos. ...full story here

$2 Million For AIDS

Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque and United Nations Population Fund representative Sunseta Mukherjie have signed a letter of understanding on a $2 million program that aims to address HIV/AIDS among overseas Filipino workers, Balita.org reports.

The program, which will be led by the Filipino Department of Health and Department of Labor and Employment, aims to provide overseas workers and the general community with access to HIV prevention and treatment services through national and local interventions in selected Filipino provinces. The program's two components are to increase access to community-based HIV/AIDS interventions among overseas workers and bolster capacities and partnerships on HIV/AIDS and migration, according to Balita.org... full story here

PBA Hall of Fame

(The Philippine Daily Inquirer) - Four of professional basketball’s finest players and two esteemed coaches are among the 10 luminaries who will be enshrined in the PBA Hall of Fame on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Two-time Most Valuable Player Abet Guidaben and league pioneers Manny Paner and Danny Florencio are the three local players to be honored, while Norman Black will be the first import to be inducted into the league’s elite list.

They will be joined in the honor roll by champion coaches Dante Silverio and Ron Jacobs as well as former Philippine Basketball Association president Domingo Itchon, San Miguel Beer team owner Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, sportswriter Tony Siddayao and television sportscaster Pinggoy Pengson... full story here

P5 Billion For Mindanao

The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is putting in initial window facility of P5 billion for Mindanao. DBP board of director Rey Magno Teves said there is money for financial assistance to projects that would be located in Mindanao. "With this window facility available there is investment possibilities, however, many do not know about it. Series of roadshows will be undertaken to generate more awareness," he said... full details here

Dairy Partnership With The U.S.

(Yahoo News) - The Philippine government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the United States have teamed up to boost the country's dairy sector.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap together with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and representatives from the Land O Lakes (LOL) Foundation Inc. had visited dairy projects in Pili, Camarines Sur implemented thru the Food for Progress Program sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Former AFPSLAI Teller Convicted

(Mindanao Times) - THE REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) convicted a former teller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and Loan Association (AFPSLAI) in Davao City to 17 years in jail for conniving with others in pocketing P1 million from an account of a depositor.

TC Branch 17 Judge Renato Fuentes declared Josie Cipriano guilty of qualified theft through falsification of commercial documents.

In his 19-page decision, Fuentes ruled that the prosecution panel was able to convince the court with its pieces of evidence that showed the guilt of Cipriano. The case was filed by Milpito Damayo, the AFPSLAI branch manager in Zamboanga City.

Tourism Arrivals Up

(Yahoo Finance News) - International visitor arrivals to the Philippines went up by 1.4 per cent to 272,525 in January 2007, the Department of Tourism (DoT) said.

The growth, however, is slower than the expected 10 per cent growth for the year, its monthly report indicated.

In 2006, the volume of foreign visitor arrivals grew 8 per cent to 2.84 million.

The occupancy rate in hotels in Metro Manila rose by 75.74 per cent in January this year from 75.41 per cent during the same period last year.

Philippines: High-yield Market

(The Philippine Daily Inquirer) - Bond investors looking to Asia should favor the higher-yielding markets of Indonesia and the Philippines, which will perform well in a benign global interest rate environment, an ABN AMRO bond fund manager said.

The prospects for 50 basis points (bps) of rate cuts in the United States later this year mean bond investors should be willing to take on credit risk at the expense of lower-yielding sovereign issues, said Adeline Ng, head of Singapore fixed income at ABN AMRO Asset Management.

First Oil Project

Philippines Royal Oil & Alternative Energy Co., Inc., formerly Philippines Gold Mining Corporation (Old OTC Symbol: PGMC), announces that the laboratory results on the crude oil sample taken from the Calatrava Oil Find, Phil Oil's first oil project, have been released. The laboratory test was conducted by the Energy Research & Testing Laboratory Services of the Philippine Department of Energy... full details here

Pacquiao-Solis Showdown

(fightnews.com) - Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao is being installed as heavy favorite for his next bout you can almost sense the Filipino icon will blow Mexican boxer Jorge Solis to smithereens.

But don’t tell that to Freddie Roach.

The well-liked American trainer, credited for transforming Pacquiao to what he is right now, has been steadfast in his caveat that there is no such thing as easy fight.

And why not? ...full commentary here

World Champion

(The Philippine Daily Inquirer) - Former world No.1 Francisco “Django” Bustamante came from behind to nip five-time world champion Johnny Archer, 7-6, Sunday and nail his first major title for the year at the UPA US Pro Tour Championships at the Normandie Casino in Los Angeles, California.

The 43-year-old Bustamante, known in international pool circle for his explosive breaks, trailed 3-6 before winning the last four racks to pocket the top prize of $10,000 (about P490,000).

Archer, who also lost to Bustamante in their first meeting in the winner’s bracket, 11-4, settled for the $5,000 runner-up prize. Bustamante emerged as the only unbeaten player in the tough field.

China Welcomes Philippines

(Sun Star Cebu) - CHINA will open its doors to exports on Philippine services starting in July. The development is part of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-China agreement on trade in services that was signed by the heads of the two governments on the sidelines of the Asean-Asian economic summit held in Cebu last January.

Abused And Harassed In New York

(ABS-CBN) - A Filipina working as a caretaker of an elderly couple in New York City committed suicide due to alleged physical abuse of her employers, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau has reported.

The Philippine Consulate in New York identified the Filipina as Felisa Sales-Garcia, a native of Calaca, Batangas.

Garcia was found dead on the floor on her room by her landlord last March 14. The victim reportedly hung herself and her body had fallen to the floor before the discovery.

Housemate Tessie Ibangan said she and Garcia were watching ABS-CBN gameshow "Wowowee" on The Filipino Channel before the night of the alleged suicide.

"Until almost 11 o'clock when she went to her room, we went to our room, I even heard her talking to her daughter from the Philippines," Ibangan told ABS-CBN News.

The report said Garcia left four suicide notes. In one of the notes, Ibangan said Garcia revealed that she was abused and harassed by her employer.

AirAsia Eyes Philippine Operations

(The Philippine Daily Inquirer) - Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia has said it was considering new operations in the Philippines as the airline posted a record half-year profit. The airline, which dominates the crowded Southeast Asian low-cost carrier market, currently has joint venture operations in Indonesia and Thailand.

Stampede In POEA (Just To Get Jobs)

(The Philippine Star) - In their desperation to leave the country for greener pastures, prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) triggered a stampede Monday morning at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in a mad scramble to register for jobs in South Korea.

"There was a commotion because some of the applicants tried to break the long line of job applicants, fortunately no one was injured in the incident," POEA chief Rosalinda Baldoz said.

Baldoz said she is wondering why some of the applicants wanted to break the line, since the POEA will still entertain applicants until Wednesday and from April 10 to 20.

Note: This is how desperate we are today. Shame to the Philippine Government.

Thailand Bans Filipino Boxers

(The Bangkok Post) - The Chairman of the Games and Amusements Board of the Philippines, Eric Buhain, told the Post yesterday that he is suspending all Filipino fighters from coming to Thailand to fight. That decision came after Lito Sisnorio died following a fight with former world flyweight champion Chatchai Sasakul.

But when he was told that a Thai fighter, Deeden Kengkaroon, had been to the Philippines for a fight recently and had died on Saturday after suffering convulsions, he was surprised.

Panya who promotes most fights between Thai and Filipino fighters said yesterday: "Filipino fighters come to Thailand to earn money and help their poor relatives.

''It is very unfortunate that Lito Sisnorio met with this tragic and untimely death but we took all precautions that were possible." ...full story here

Filipino Sentenced To Jail For Avoiding Tax In California

(Balita News Service) - A second Filipino was sentenced Monday to 57 months in federal prison for her role in a health care fraud scheme that cost Medicare over $3 million.

Haydee Parungao was also was sentenced for the structuring of cash transactions, conducted to avoid IRS reporting requirements, totaling $613,710, according to a statement released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation.

In the sentencing decision, US District Judge Dale S. Fischer ordered Parungao to pay restitution to Medicare in the amount of $3,099,835.89 and directed to spend three years on supervised release after completing her prison sentence.

Parungao becomes the second Filipino to fall in an inter-agency investigation—by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), through its Health Care Fraud Unit in Los Angeles —probing widespread fraud in the booming home health industry.

On Oct. 16, Lourdes Perez was sentenced to 46 months in prison for her role in defrauding Medicare out of $40 million and for filing false tax returns that concealed her ill-gotten gains.

$2.6 Million From Japan

(All Headline News) - Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has disclosed that the Japanese government approved the Japan Grant Assistance for Underprivileged Farmers program, granting some $2.6 million aid to the poorest Filipino farmers.

The aid comes in the form of farm inputs which would be distributed to farmers growing palay on 2-hectare farms and smaller.

Yap said, "The loan grant will benefit small farmers in 11 provinces." The grant was intended for small palay farmers to buy some 20,000 metric tons of ammonium sulphate fertilizer.

Last week, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and Japanese Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki signed the Exchange of Notes on the 300-million yen grant, roughly equivalent to $2.59 million.

Yap said the beneficiaries would be marginalized farmers in the provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Imitating U.S. Strategy

(The China Post) - Philippine troops will follow a U.S. strategy in battling al-Qaida-linked militants on southern Jolo island by carrying out civic projects to erode local support for the insurgents, the military chief has said.

The shift in battle strategy, which would start in about a week, would not mean a let up in military action against Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists and Indonesian terror suspects in Jolo, or a reduction in the more than 7,000 troops pursuing them, military chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon said.

"We are about to shift to another kind of operations which will feature a lot of engineering, civic action and medical action programs," Esperon told ABS-CBN News Channel... full story here

Bus Tragedy In Agusan

(Monsters and Critics) - Four people were killed and 12 others injured on Monday when a passenger mini-bus fell into a ravine in the southern Philippines, police said.

The victims were on their way to Butuan City in Agusan del Norte province, 825 kilometres south of Manila, when the accident occurred fore dawn on Monday.

Police said the driver lost control of the vehicle when the brakes malfunctioned as it climbed a hill near a bridge in Maguinda village on the outskirts of Butuan City.

The mini-bus, locally called jeepney, then fell into a 12-metre deep ravine, according to Chief Superintendent Antonio Nanas, a regional police director.

Nanas said the fatalities included a four-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. A five-year-old boy was also among the wounded, some of whom were in critical condition.

Most of the passengers of the mini-bus were supporters of a local politician in Butuan City, where they were supposed to attend a political gathering on Monday.

Oil Exploration in Palawan

(Oil Voice) - Nido Petroleum Limited provides the following update regarding the status of its Philippine exploration projects in the offshore North West Palawan Basin following the successful seismic acquisition programmes conducted in Service Contract 54 (SC 54) and Service Contract 58 (SC 58) in late 2006... full updates here

In Iran: Ready For Evacuation

(All Headline News) - The Philippine government has unveiled its contingency plan for the small Filipino community in Iran in the wake of mounting crisis in the region because of the continued detention of Tehran of 15 British sailors.

Department of Foreign Affairs undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said there were an estimated 20 Filipinos in Iran, mostly married to Iranians, but the crisis could spiral into a Middle East crisis.

Conejos said the Iran contingency plan involve the possible evacuation of the over 1.8 million overseas Filipino working in the Middle East.

He said the crisis in Iran "had repercussions in the entire region."

"My task is to make sure that these [individual country] plans are updated to withstand a new crisis that may arise. [The new plan] has to be coordinated because when we're talking of a regional threat, the contingency plans have to be regionally coordinated with each other," Conejos said... full story here

In Hong Kong: Don't Give Placement Fee

Several newly arrived Filipino domestic helpers say they were asked to pay placement fees of up to P95,000 to work in Hong Kong, despite the new no-placement fee policy of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). (GMA 7)