Justice Corona’s voting record favors Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines –The voting record of Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona, who has finally broken his silence and accepted the nomination for Chief Justice, shows that he has consistently sided with the administration in politically-significant cases.

When Newsbreak tracked the voting pattern of Supreme Court justices, including the two leading contenders for chief justice—Corona and Justice Antonio Carpio—from 2001 to early 2008, Corona lodged a high 78 percent in favor of Arroyo, with Carpio at 42 percent. (Read: Voting pattern of Supreme Court justices)

Corona is the sole senior magistrate to consider, what many legal experts say, is a midnight appointment to the SC.

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PRC: 37,527 new nurses

MANILA, Philippines – The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Sunday that 37,527 out of 94,462 passed the Nurse Licensure Examination given by the Board of Nursing.

The examination was given in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, La Union, Legazpi, Lucena, Pagadian, Pampanga, Sulu, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga last November 2009.

The results of examination with respect to sixteen (16) examinees were withheld pending final determination of their liabilities under the rules and regulations governing licensure examination.


HIV cases soar among Filipino yuppies, call center workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine General Hospital on Wednesday said the number of Filipinos infected with HIV rose dramatically in the past 10 months and now includes young urban professionals such as call center agents.

Doctors at the PGH Infectious Disease Treatment Complex said the number of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) cases in the hospital rose to 100 in the past 10 months.

Records from the Department of Health showed that the number of HIV cases rose to 709 last year, compared to 528 in 2008.


Villar tried to stave off censure: Enrile

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – A day after recommending the censure of Sen. Manny Villar over alleged unethical conduct, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile revealed Tuesday that Villar and his Senate allies met with their group several times to convince them to change their position on the C-5 “double insertion” controversy.

In an interview over radio dzMM, Enrile, who is allegedly facing a coup plot hatched by Villar’s allies, said Villar invited him to lunch to discuss the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry on the C-5 road extension project.

During their discussion, Enrile assured Villar of a fair hearing in the Senate inquiry if the latter just presented his evidence. He said Villar kept trying to persuade him to drop the inquiry and even hinted that he would be willing to repay Enrile for the favor.


Cory statue unveiled in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of Filipinos gathered outside the historic Manila Hotel on Roxas Boulevard Monday to witness the unveiling of a bronze statue of the late Philippine President and democracy icon Corazon Aquino.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Aquino’s son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, led the unveiling of the 15-foot monument on Padre Burgos Drive corner Roxas Boulevard at 8 a.m.  The unveiling commemorates the 77th birthday of the former president.

During the ceremony, Aquino said he hopes the monument will serve as a reminder to all Filipinos about how his mother united all Filipinos after her death last Aug. 1, 2009.

Mayor Lim, meanwhile, said the monument should also remind students of how President Aquino ruled the nation uprightly for 6 years after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. “Our prayer today is that we emulate her example,” he said.


Arroyo’s congressional bid clears hurdle

MANILA, Philippines – After clearing the way for ex-president Joseph Estrada’s presidential bid, the Commission on Elections on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking to disqualify President Arroyo from running for a congressional seat in her home province of Pampanga.

In its decision, the Comelec 2nd Division said the petition filed by lawyer Ely Pamatong lacked merit and was just a “waste of precious time.” A separate petition for Mrs. Arroyo’s disqualification filed by the Akbayan party-list remains pending at the Comelec’s 1st Division.

The Comelec 2nd Division’s decision was promulgated on Wednesday, the same day that the commission junked separate petitions seeking to disqualify Estrada from running for president in the May polls.

Enraged by the decisions, Pamatong accused the Comelec commissioners of corruption and threatened to walk out of the proceedings. “Your honor, I am walking out because I don’t have respect and trust in this commission. Mga magnanakaw kayo! (You are all thieves!)” he said.


Male rape: New director opens a Pandora’s box

Baptism of fire.

That, in a nutshell, is how debuting filmmaker Mark Shandii Bacolod described the making of his movie “Fidel,” which opens at IndieSine Robinsons Galleria today.

More accurately, he likened it to “opening Pandora’s box.”

For starters, the film’s story involves male rape, considered taboo especially in the Philippines where machismo still reigns.


Noynoy, Villar slug it out on the Internet, too

MANILA, Philippines – The heated exchanges between frontrunners Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Manny” Villar over the debate and presidential surveys is spilling over on to the Internet especially on popular social networking site Facebook which counts 9 to 12 million Filipino users, more than 7 million of whom are of voting age.

As of midnight Wednesday, Aquino’s official Facebook page lists more than 304,000 supporters; Villar’s has 267,000. He’s fast catching up on his rival just like in the recent result of a Social Weather Station survey.

This has led to accusations from Aquino’s camp that Villar’s fans are mostly from fake accounts.

On Villar’s page, however, a reply was posted saying the charges are desperate.

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Hackers strike again; TESDA page defaced

MANILA, Philippines – Hackers struck again, this time, defacing the home page of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) website, www.tesda.gov.ph.

Hackers put up two pages on the TESDA home page.

The first one had a header that read: “Nakikiramay kami sa pagpanaw ng Iskolar ng Bayan, freedom fighter na si Kimay”.

The first page also contained an illustration of a man giving the middle finger, then the text at the end of the page read: “Ano ba gagamitin sa eleksyon?”

The second page posted greetings from Ventureslink and directed visitors to Smartmatic, the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) partner for the automated polls.

This is not the first time government websites have been hacked.


(UPDATE) Philippine dollar bonds rise after strong response

HONG KONG – Philippine 2020 bonds rose on Thursday after the country’s $1.5 billion, two tranche reopening of existing bonds received orders of $10 billion, allowing the borrower to lower the final yield at which the debt was issued.

Manila sold $650 million in bonds due in 2020 at 106.25 cents on the dollar to yield 5.674%. They were trading at 107 in early dealings on Thursday.

It also sold $850 million in bonds due in 2034 at 96.5 cents on the dollar to yield 6.664%. They were trading steady at 96.50.