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Philippines Hopes to Set Tree Record

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took part Friday in a massive tree-planting campaign aimed at improving air quality in the Philippines while breaking a world record.

The "Green Philippine Highways" project initially aimed to simultaneously plant 500,000 trees on 2,137 miles of roads across the sprawling archipelago, but Environment Undersecretary Francisco Bravo said the figure may have been higher.

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Philippines: one dies, hundreds fall ill after oil spill

A consistent oil spill has killed one man and caused hundreds of other people to fall ill in the Philippines. The health department has sent several medical teams to Guimaras Island that was stricken by the disaster, to treat 329 people who have complained of health problems. Among the symptoms: skin irritations, respiratory problems, stomach aches and nausea.

The environmental disaster was sparked by the sinking of an oil tanker off Guimaras on August 11. About 10% of its two-million-litre cargo of fuel leaked, affecting 200km of coastline.

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Aboitiz in talks to bid for Mirant Philippines

Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV.PS: Quote, Profile, Research) is talking with four or five foreign companies about forming a partnership to bid for the Philippine power assets of Mirant Corp. (MIR.N: Quote, Profile, Research), its chief operating officer said.

Erramon Aboitiz told reporters late on Thursday night that the Philippine holding group had not decided which foreign firm to partner with for the power plants, valued by some analysts at up to $3 billion.

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Canberra offers to train Philippines troops

AUSTRALIA has offered to send military trainers to the Philippines to coach troops fighting Muslim militants as the two countries move closer to signing a military pact, Canberra's ambassador said.

Since 2002, Canberra and Manila have been holding informal talks to sign a status of forces agreement that would allow Australian troops to train with Filipino troops in the southern Philippines, a base for foreign and local Muslim rebels.

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Tribune media company cut 250 jobs in Philippines

Publisher and broadcaster Tribune Co. (TRB.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Friday said it will cut 250 call-center jobs at its daily newspapers and outsource those functions to a U.S. company with operations in the Philippines.

The cuts involve 120 full-time jobs and 130 part-time jobs, and affect papers such as the Chicago Tribune, Newsday on New York's Long Island and The Baltimore Sun.

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World Bank Gives Satisfied Ratings To Philippines

The World Bank on Sunday expressed optimism with the Philippine government's performance with foreign-funded official development assistance projects in 2005 and the first six months of 2006.

Joachim von Ambsberg, WB country director said the Arroyo government has performed satisfactorily in the last 18 months in implementing ODA projects and raised the confidence level from the international lending bank.

He said, "The close coordination and the change in approach of aligning the budget to implement projects on time have significantly made the difference."

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Reyes briefs Eastern Visayans on Green Philippines Highway project

Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the guest of honor in yesterday’s briefing and presentation of the Green Philippine Highways Project and Green Army at the Tacloban City Convention Center.

A formal program scheduled at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, participated in by the various stakeholders, the academe, various government agencies, local government officials and non-government organizations.

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One Muslim militant killed, three others captured in Philippines

Cotabato City, Philippines - Philippine troops killed one Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebel and captured three others during a raid on their hideout in a southern province, an army spokesman said Sunday.

Soldiers swooped down on the militants' hideout on Saturday in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, after receiving tips from local residents.

Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando, spokesman for the army's 6th infantry division based in nearby Cotabato City, said one rebel was killed when the militants fought back, triggering a firefight.

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Dengue epidemic kills 9 in Philippines

At least nine people were killed by a dengue epidemic in the province of Pangasinan 150 kilometers north of Manila in the past six weeks, the Philippine News Agency reported on Sunday.

The news agency quoted health officials as saying a total of 384 suspected dengue cases have been recorded in the period of time.

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Groups Want To File Charges Against Petron, Aramco For Philippines Oil Spill

A group of fisherfolks and the international environmental group Greenpeace want the Petron Corporation its parent company Saudi-Aramco to be held accountable for the worst oil spill in the history of the Philippines and were threatening to file a huge class suit against the company.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas said" Petron and Saudi-Aramco should be held accountable for economic and environmental crimes."

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Ong: DENR's Greening of Nautical Highways

I was not able to attend the formal launching of the DENR project Green Philippine Highways held in Jaro covered court with the presence of Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes and local politicians last August 16.

I was able to catch-up with the activities over the radio and listening to the speeches of politicians salivating over their commitment for environmental protection is indeed disturbing. It can even be considered as a meeting d'avance or a political rally.

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British experts in Philippines to help with oil spill clean-up

British experts have arrived in the central Philippines to help assess the damage from the country’s worst-ever oil spill, as officials said aid was slow in arriving at the scene.

A spokeswoman for the company that chartered the tanker Solar I, which sank eight days ago in rough seas off the island of Guimaras with 500,000 gallons of oil on board, said two pollution experts had arrived in the zone on Thursday. “As of now there are two representatives of the International Tanker Oil Pollution Federation there,” Petron Corp. spokeswoman Virginia Ruivivar said in Manila.

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Philippines recruits thousands of more policemen to fight NPA insurgency

The Philippine police said on Friday that it was set to add on 4,500 recruits to join the government's intensifying fight against rebels of the New People's Army (NPA).

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has started the rigid screening process for the new recruits to fill up personnel shortages, PNP chief Director General Oscar Calderon told a press conference here.

The 4,500 will be joining the 3,000 recruits last year in the field units, which are being strengthened in view of the government's fight against the violent NPA insurgency, Calderon said.

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Export slowdown hits Ginebra

Philippines distiller Ginebra San Miguel has seen first-half profits plunge due to cost pressures and a slowdown in exports, local reports said today (17 August).

The company has posted net income of PHP331.8m (US$6.5m) for the first six months of the year, down from PHP552.8m a year earlier, a BusinessWorld report said.

First-half revenues also fell, down to PHP6.1bn from PHP6.2bn a year earlier, the report said.

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NCID Chief says Syabu brought into Sabah from the Philippines

Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) Director, Datuk Mohd Najib Abdul Aziz, said Syabu is being brought into the country via China (to the peninsula) and the Philippines (into Sabah).

"It is widely known that drug dealers also distribute their items through air and land cargo, including using courier services," he said, adding some dealers in Kuala Lumpur come to Sabah to carry out their activities.

He was speaking at the 29th Bilateral Joint Meeting and 46 Working Group between the NCID and Office of Narcotic Control Board Thailand at Kem Shan Sui, Wednesday.

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The Toll of Poverty and Forced Migration on the Philippines

It is always satisfying to hear that someone I have written about, who was stranded somewhere, is now safely back in the Philippines. This happened this week when I received an email from the brother of Leila Torres, the florist who had been stuck in Beirut, Lebanon, because her employer refused to let her go home. He told me that his sister is now safely back in Tarlac City and thanked me for writing about her.

I was happy to hear that she was back home with her family and loved ones, but was sorry that she was forced to go home empty-handed as her employer still owed her two months salary. “The problem is that my sister and her co-worker Precy were not paid their salaries for two months,” wrote Florante Torres.

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Philippines arrests man with detonators on ferry

The Philippine military said on Thursday it arrested a man suspected of trying to smuggle 6,000 detonators from the southwestern island of Jolo, where troops are pursuing a group of Muslim rebels linked to al Qaeda.

"It is highly possible that the explosives would be used by the terrorists in their bombing attacks," Brigadier-General Alexander Aleo, the commander on Jolo, told reporters.

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Philippines to form commission to investigate killings of leftists

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is forming a new commission to investigate the numerous killings of leftist and labor activists, said an official on Thursday.

"This commission will have the credibility and the clout to move ongoing probes forward, examine policy matters, recommend reforms and consolidate the effort to mete out justice in cooperation with all concerned sectors in the domestic and international community," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

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ACT Alert: Mayon volcano, Philippines

For more than two weeks, Mayon Volcano has continued to emit lava. The lava emission has already gone beyond the boundary of the 6-kilometer radius of the permanent danger zone. In its August 14, press release, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology-Bicol (PHIVOLCS) said that Mayon's seismic activity is now entering its most dangerous phase after weeks of ejecting lava and ash. The burst of pyroclastic flow marked the first time Mayon shot out fast-moving hot gas and rock fragments. Pyroclastic flows, locally known as "oson," are hazardous and often fatal. They travel with high velocity and could destroy everything on their path. Blistering gas and volcanic debris could travel at speeds of at least 60 kilometers per hour.

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Stench of fuel hangs over Philippines sea

Taklong Island - The waters of the Taklong marine reserve in the central Philippines glisten in the sunlight but stink of fuel as thick sludge washes ashore.

As disaster workers and residents of nearby villages tried again on Thursday to contain last week's oil spill from a sunken tanker off the island of Guimaras, worries were growing about the impact on fish, plants, people and tourism in the area.

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Philippines appeals for help with oil spill

An oil slick in the central Philippines that has devastated nearly 200 miles of coastline is likely to spread much further unless international help is deployed quickly to salvage the ship that caused the disaster, officials warned yesterday.

A spokesman for the Philippine coastguard, Lieutenant Commander Joseph Coyme, said raising the Solar I from the Panay Gulf, off Guimaras island, was "the foremost priority" but that local authorities could not do it alone.

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Philippines killings sign of undemocratic society: Bishop

As news spreads of the shooting of the leader of a fishermen's group, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Vice-President Bishop Antonio Ledesma has described the spate of killings of activist and human rights workers as a sign of an undemocratic society.

In the latest killing, Orlando Rivera, a local leader of Pamalakaya, a the nationwide federation of fisherfolk organisations, was shot by four heavily armed men who barged into his house in Bulacan province, Philstar.com reports.

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Philippines lawmakers quash second Arroyo impeachment complaint

Philippine legislators on Wednesday quashed a second impeachment complaint [press release] against Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder]. The House Committee on Justice [official website] on voted 56-24 to dismiss the impeachment complaint against Arroyo for lack of evidence, though opposition leaders say they have seven boxes of documents to support allegations that Arroyo was guilty of "culpable violations of the constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust." The complaint was filed [JURIST report] in June on behalf of 300 opposition politicians.

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Pyroclastic flows 'likely' in Philippines

Scientists warned that the Philippines' Mayon volcano is likely to experience further explosions and fast-moving flows of deadly fluid gases, ash and rock.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the volcano, which many have theorized might be nearing eruption, could expel pyroclastic flows, which are made up of fast-moving hot gas, ash and rocks, China Daily reported Wednesday.

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Infant Formula Makers Score Court Victory In The Philippines

Manila, Philippines (AHN) - Manufacturers of infant formula scored a major court victory Wednesday when the Philippine Supreme Court ordered the government to stop its absolute ban on the promotion and advertisement of breast milk substitutes.

The high tribunal issued a two-page resolution issuing a temporary restraining order against the ban.

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Philippines objects against accusations on political killings

The Philippines on Wednesday objected against the Amnesty International (AI) report which attributed continuing political killings in the country to the government's inaction.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said that authorities are exerting all efforts to solve the extrajudicial killings that have brought the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration increasing criticism.

The AI report released on Tuesday said that more than 700 people, mostly activists, have lost their lives to "death squads,"allegedly sanctioned by the government, since 2001, when President Arroyo came to power.

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Environment exec launches 'Green Philippines'

WITH A call to plant trees, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes launched in Negros Oriental the "Green Philippine Highway," coming ahead of the nationwide simultaneous activity along the country's three major highways covering a total length of 3,439 kilometers on August 25.

Reyes breezed in to Dumaguete City Tuesday morning to spearhead the ceremonial tree planting at the Provincial Capitol area or the Kilometer Zero and a program at the Macias Sports and Cultural Center.

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Oil 'time bomb' in Philippines

The Solar I, carrying 2 million liters (528,360 gallons) of fuel oil, sank Friday in deep waters south of the island province of Guimaras.

Provincial Gov. Joaquin Nava said Wednesday the oil spill has affected or damaged 15 square kilometers (10 square miles) of coral reefs, over 200 kilometers (125 miles) of coastline, 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of marine reserves, at least two resort islands and 50 hectares (124 acres) of seaweed plantations.

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Philippines 'rich in language diversity'

The Philippines has 170 languages, considered one of the world's richest source of ethnolinguistic diversity, a surprising heritage despite the growth of English as a dominant second language, a senior official told Gulf News yesterday.

"We celebrate the presence of 170 languages in our country's 7,100 islands when we launched August as the month of Filipino languages," said Ricardo Nolasco, a doctorate in linguistics, and the current chairman of the National Language Commission (NLC).

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Philippines bans liquids on ferries, trains and buses

The Philippine government banned on Monday passengers from brining liquids inside ferries, trains and buses, after liquids were banned from airplanes last Thursday, local television network ABS-CBN News reported.

Philippine officials said apart from the Light Rail Transit ( LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in Metro Manila, the Philippine National Railways is also not allowing passengers to bring liquid- based items into the coaches.

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Newscrew killed in Philippines accident

The bodies of three members of an ABC-5 news team killed in the Philippines have been flown by military helicopter to Manila.

Anchor/reporter Hazel Richeta and her crew died when their van collided with a passenger bus late Sunday afternoon, the Manila Times reports.

The trio was on its way back from covering the Mayon Volcano when the accident occurred

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ADB: Regional cooperation best for Philippines

This was the statement of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Director General for Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in Asia and the Pacific Rajat Nag as ADB recently enhanced its role in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Seeing the economic benefits of cooperation, ADB is pushing BIMP-EAGA to altogether work as one region and see boundaries coming down.

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Philippines floods kill 5

Pounding rains set off landslides and flooded six villages in the southern Philippines over the weekend, killing at least five people and forcing 600 others to move to emergency shelters.

Landslides and floodwaters damaged or blocked portions of a major road leading into the villages in Kapatagan town in Lanao del Norte province, making it difficult for rescue workers to access the affected villages.

Water was so deep in some neighborhoods that residents were forced to climb on top of their shanties, where they waited for hours before disaster response teams plucked them to safety, officials said.

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Philippines rushes to contain oil spill

The Philippines rushed ships and equipment on Monday to the seas surrounding the central island of Guimaras to stop the country's potentially largest oil spill from spreading to other coastal areas.

The Philippine Coast Guard said it had sent two ships to search for two missing crew and help in the clean up of bunker oil that leaked from a tanker which sank near Guimaras on Friday.

"Based on an aerial survey yesterday, the spill now covers 15 square nautical miles," Lieutenant Joseph Coyme, Coast Guard spokesman, told Reuters.

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Philippines to join The Big 5 Dubai

The Philippines will participate for the first time in the Big 5 Dubai that will run from October 28 to November 1, 2006 at the Dubai International Exhibition Center, UAE.

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Philippines: Growing number of political killings risks retaliatory spiral

Numbers of political killings in the Philippines are increasing for a second year, with at least 51 killings in the first six months of 2006 compared to 66 collated by Amnesty International in the whole of 2005. The leadership of the armed insurgency has threatened to form retaliatory assassination squads.

The killings follow a pattern of unidentified men shooting leftist party members before escaping on motorcycle and have taken place in the context of an intensified counter-insurgency operation. The Philippine government has failed to protect individuals, according to an Amnesty International report released today.

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Philippines invites Myanmar to attend ASEAN summit in Cebu

Philippines has invited Myanmar leader Than Shwe to join the 12th ASEAN summit to be held in Cebu, central Philippines, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

As part of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Myanmar, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto G. Romulo was invited to Nay Pyi taw, the new administrative capital of the Union of Myanmar, last Friday, said the DFA in a news release on its website.

During the meeting with Chairman of Myanmar State Peace and Development Council Than Shwe, Secretary Romulo extended an invitation by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to Shwe to join the ASEAN and East Asian Leaders Summit in Cebu in December, said news release.

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Philippines appeals to U.N. to help quicken evacuation of Filipinos from Lebanon

The Philippines Monday appealed to the United Nations to help speed up the evacuation of Filipino workers in Lebanon, despite a U.N.-sponsored ceasefire which was allegedly implemented by Israel and Hezbollah on the same day.

"We remain firm in our resolve to take our remaining workers out of harm's way," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement. "We take the word of the leaders of the two warring forces that as an assurance that the guns will soon be silenced as international peacekeepers move in Lebanon."

Bunye called on the Filipino workers still in Lebanon to take the truce as an opportunity to leave as the security situation is expected to remain volatile for sometime.

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Ceasefire won’t stop evacuation of OFWs

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday welcomed the UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon, but Philippine officials feared the situation remained volatile and urged Filipinos to take advantage of the truce to leave the war-battered country.

Another 450 overseas Filipino workers left Beirut for Damascus yesterday for a flight back to the Philippines, leaving the relocation center there empty. This indicates OFW reluctance to leave Lebanon and return home to a life of poverty and lack of opportunities, officials said.

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Philippines Call Centers Experiencing Staff Shortages

Some 19,000 workers are now employed in call centers and related industries in Cebu province in the Philippines, a senior labor official in Cebu City said.

However, the Contact Center Association of the Philippines has reported a prolonged staff shortage in most call centers in the country with an aggregate need of some 500,000 agents in the next few years.

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Offesnsives Against the Abu Sayyaf and JI in the Philippines: Reports of MILF Ties to JI Persist

AFP announced that it had captured an Abu Sayyaf bomb factory in bud Kapun in Indanan town, Jolo. In retaliation the ASG assassinated two policemen. A Philippine military spokesman claimed that they had recovered a “huge cache of high-grade explosives” used by the ASG as well as members of JI.

Police implicated JI in a two bomb attacks in Cotabato and Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Mindanao on 10 August 2006, which killed one and left four others wounded.

Two police were killed in a shootout with suspected terrorists in Pikit, North Cotabato. They were searching for Zulkifli bin Hir (aka Marwan), one of the toip JI leaders in Mindanao and one other JI member, “Omar.”

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Western Philippines Faces Oil Slick

Bacolod City, Philippines (AHN) - An oil tanker of Petron Corp., carrying some 538,344 gallons of bunker fuel sank off the coasts of Nueva Valencia in western Philippines which could trigger an oil slick.

The Office of the Civil Defense in Western Visayas said the huge volume of bunker fuel could destroy marine life off the coasts of Guimaras, Iloilo City and Negros Occidental and said a massive clean up operations must be readied immediately.

Philippine Coast Guard Captain Luis Tuason said two crew members of the ill-fated tanker M/T Solar I, were still missing.

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Expo brings bit of Philippines to area

The comforts of home can be hard to come by in a foreign place.

But Filipino immigrant Bernadette Magadia was struck by a familiar warmth as she walked into the U.S.-Philippines Expo at Fairplex on Saturday morning.

A five-year Covina resident, Madagia, 49, left the Philippines in her 20s to work in Saudi Arabia and later moved to the United States. She said its not very often she gets to visit the motherland.

"Seeing all these people here really made me feel at home," she said.

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Oil tanker sinks off Philippines, two crewmen missing

Two crewmen are missing after an oil tanker carrying two mln liters of bunker oil sank in rough seas off the Philippines, the coast guard said.

The 998-ton locally-registered tanker sank off the central island of Guimaras late yesterday afternoon.

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Philippines evacuation aided by cease-fire

A cease-fire declared by the Philippines' National Democratic Front this weekend has aided efforts to evacuate residents near the Mayon Volcano.

The unilateral cease-fire is in effect within a 9.3 mile radius around the volcano in Albay, which scientists have said will erupt soon. The cease-fire is set to remain in effect until the nation's alert level falls below its current level 4 status, said the Philippines Daily Inquirer.

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Philippines' Arroyo Says Budget Deficit Plan Ahead of Schedule

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said the government is ``ahead of schedule'' in efforts to eliminate its budget deficit by 2008, giving room to expand long-delayed investment in infrastructure.

``We are able at last to start seeing some of the benefits from our very difficult fiscal reforms,'' Arroyo, 59, said in an Aug. 11 interview in the resort city of Cebu. ``It gives us a lot of room to invest in the deferred infrastructure that would make it good for investors to come.''

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Support keeps Philippines girls strong

Rufino Alcantara, 83, stretched his hand over the dugout fence and, one by one, wide-eyed young girls grabbed hold. As they did, the girls craned their necks to listen to a new fan from halfway around the world.

"Good job, Philippines," Alcantara said. "Good job."

Buoyed by a boisterous flag-waving crowd Thursday, Philippines players showed that the Little League softball 11- and 12-year-old World Series at Alpenrose is more than a collection of good teams. At its best, the event is a rallying point for global culture.

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What’s wrong with Philippine sports? BASKETBALL

Sports contributes significantly to a people’s development. It promotes zeal for physical fitness and good health, including respect for a healthy, clean-air environment. It develops character by driving home lessons in fairness, perseverance, discipline, teamwork and many other virtues.

It also raises the intelligence quotient. To take a sport seriously requires concentration, study, research and keen powers of observation. It even contributes to economic development. Sports events, the manufacture, sale and use of sporting goods, create employment and add to the national product.

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Philippines ‘likely to face’ terror attacks

President Gloria Arroyo’s national security adviser yesterday warned that Israel’s military offensive against the Hezbollah in Lebanon would heighten the risks of terrorist attacks in the Philippines and the rest of southeast Asia.

“We have been able to address this threat in the Philippines, but with the new developments in the Middle East I think it’s going to trigger some kind of revival among the militants in our part of the globe,” National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said.

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Philippines bans liquids on flights

The Philippines has banned hand-carried liquids and gels on all domestic and international flights.

This is a part of the expansion of security measures following a foiled plot to blow up US-bound airliners from Britain with liquid explosives, a police official said today.

The ban earlier covered only flights to the United States.

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2 missing after fuel tanker sinks in central Philippines

Two tanker crewmen went missing after their vessel, which was carrying 2 million liters (528,360 gallons) of industrial fuel, sank in rough seas in the central Philippines, the coast guard said Saturday.

A passing boat, which was not immediately identified, rescued the 18 other crew members of the Solar I which sank Friday afternoon south of Guimaras Island, about 500 kilometers (312 miles) southeast of Manila.

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Philippines steps up security at international airports

The Philippines has stepped up security at all international airports in the wake of a foiled plot to bomb US-bound airplanes in Britain, officials said Friday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the military, the police and other law enforcement agencies were also directed to ‘intensify intelligence activities on possible terrorists.’

‘The government is taking extra precautions and we would like to appeal to the public to cooperate with the authorities and to bear with the inconvenience as we continue to work hard to ensure the safety of all our citizens,’ he said in a statement.

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Relief arrives as scientists await big eruption of Philippines' Mayon volcano

Relief goods sent by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived Friday at the Philippine town at the foot of the restive Mayon volcano, as scientists awaited a big eruption.

Nearly 40,000 people have been evacuated from 28 villages near Mayon and sheltered in schools in Albay province, southeast of Manila, the provincial disaster agency said Friday.

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Philippines may have disrupted Manila bomb plot

A Philippine army offensive against Muslim rebels on the remote south-western island of Jolo may have foiled a plan to launch bombings in the capital Manila, officials said on Friday.

Hundreds of troops, backed by United States intelligence, have been combing the hilly jungles near Indanan town to flush out members of the Abu Sayyaf group believed to be hiding with two key suspects in the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

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Philippines to Sell Power Assets, San Miguel, Arroyo Says

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said she will accelerate the sale of energy-related assets and the government's 24 percent stake in San Miguel Corp. to further reduce the nation's budget deficit.

Arroyo will replace power sector officials and reorganize the transmission grid and generation plants before selling energy assets, she said in an interview. The government may sell its indirect 6.9 percent stake in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the nation's largest phone operator.

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Philippines, U.S. navies to hold joint exercise

The Philippine and U.S. navies will hold a weeklong joint exercise to improve bilateral cooperation in fighting terrorists and transnational crimes at sea, the military said Thursday.

The exercise, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, will start Monday in northern Zambales and La Union provinces and involve five Philippine navy ships, aircraft and a naval special operations team.

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Agents in New Zealand Nervous About Philippines

New Zealand's Telecom will be outsourcing some of its dial-up internet and pre-paid mobile helpdesk calls to the Philippines in order to shift New Zealand-based agents to more critical broadband helpdesk positions. The New Zealand Herald reports.

Still, the decision worries local unions. "Our members have already accepted a lower than usual pay settlement at Sitel this year -- their reward is loss of work and a long-term threat to their employment," said Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little. Sitel is one of the domestic outsourcers Telecom contracts with.

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2 homemade bombs, grenade explode in southern Philippines

Two homemade bombs and a grenade exploded in separate attacks on Thursday in the southern Philippines, killing a policeman and wounding five others, including a police ordnance expert, police said.

An unidentified man riding on a motorcycle lobbed a grenade at the guardhouse of a government compound in southern Cotabato city, killing a policeman and seriously wounding three others, police said.

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Volcano Eruption Rocks Philippines

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the central Philippines earlier this week because of volcanic explosions from Mount Mayon, and scientists now fear an explosive eruption could be triggered by the full moon.

According to experts, the moon’s gravitational pull could spark activity, and a full moon coincided with at least three of the Mayon’s 47 erupti

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Progress in the Philippines; The Mideast troubles

The South China Morning Post editorial excerpted in your paper (Other Views, July 26), although ostensibly about the Philippines, seemed to be about another country, or maybe the Philippines of 10 years ago.

Gross domestic product expanded at a healthy 5.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, which continues the longest period of growth in the last quarter- century. In 2005, the World Bank ranked the country's GDP as the world's 24th biggest. Exports grew at a robust 16 percent in the first five months of the year.

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NSF to set device standards in Philippines

NSF International has entered an agreement with the Philippine national government to use NSF standards for drinking water treatment units as the basis for all devices tested, certified and evaluated in the Philippines, according to an NSF press release.

According to the announcement, the agreement will allow NSF technical experts to work directly with the Philippine Bureau of Health Devices and Technology, Department of Health (DOH-BHDT), the release said.

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Philippines to display wedding wear at Weddex ’06

25th Korean Wedding Expo (Weddex ’06) at Conventional and Exhibition Center in Seoul will start on August 12 to 16, 2006.

In this show, Philippines will showcase wedding and honeymoon wear made from quality fabrics.

This wedding collection is featuring traditional Korean wedding ensemble in garnished fabrics of Philippines in embroidery and hand beading techniques.

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Philippines Reducing Its Dependence On Foreign Assistance

The Philippines' improving fiscal position has allowed it gradually wean itself off official development assistance, or ODA, to finance public works and other social services projects, Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri said Thursday.

Neri said in a statement that cumulative ODA totaled $10.2 billion in 2005, lower by 5% from 2004 and down sharply from its peak of $13.3 billion in 2000.

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Dictatorship is back in Philippines

I FIRMLY believe that history repeats itself and I also believe now that dictatorship is back in the Philippines.

Innocent people are being arrested left and right without even the prescribed warrants, and are being kept incognito, tortured and forced to tell lies. This reminds the citizenry of the MISG (Military Intelligence and Security Group) during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. The abduction and "salvaging" [summary execution] of innocent civilians (mostly in rural areas) remind us of the military-sponsored "Monkeys" armed group at the time.

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Oxfam weighs in on debate over Australian mine in Philippines

Cyanide-laden spill damage from the Australian-owned gold mine Lafayette in the Philippines, the subject of vigorous protests from the local Catholic community, is an example of "shonky" and "irresponsible" miners jeopardising the livelihoods of local communities, an Oxfam advocate said today.

Shanta Martin, mining ombudsman for Oxfam Australia, was responding in today's Age to mining forum chairman Brian Hurley who earlier criticised the Australian government for not doing enough to rid the industry of wasteful "green tape" that hampered exploration and threatened Australia's way of life.

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"Ethnic Tourism" Offered In Southern Philippines

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in southern Philippines is set to launch a five-year "ethnic tourism" program to enhance the region's economy and help address the problem of poverty that is seen as the main cause of Muslim rebellion in the country.

ARMM Tourism Secretary Makakuna Pangandaman unveiled the program Wednesday and said it will include the development of an "Islamic tourism peace zones" into cultural and inter-faith centers.

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Philippines to help Myanmar on path of democracy -- Romulo

The Philippines' foreign secretary said Wednesday he will offer Myanmar help in restoring democracy during a visit to the country, but was uncertain if he could meet detained political leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"It is important to visit Myanmar to get a better sense of how the country's national reconciliation and democratization process is progressing on the ground," Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said in a statement ahead of his four-day visit starting Thursday.

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Philips Philippines sees 20% growth

Semiconductor exports of Dutch-owned Philips Philippines is expected to grow by 20 percent this year from its billion exports last year as the local manufacturing operation continues to improve its production capacity.

But for the total Philips Group of Companies in the country, the group expects to grow by 12 percent over last year’s.

Steven Brader, vice president and general manager of Philips Semiconductor in the Philippines, told reporters at the launched of the company’s two-day 50th anniversary celebration on August 29-30.

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More residents flee restive volcano in eastern Philippines

The number of residents who fled their homes near a restive volcano in the eastern Philippines rose to nearly 40,000 amid fears that Wednesday's full moon would finally spark a hazardous eruption, officials said.

About 10,000 more people moved to evacuation centres early Wednesday despite a lull in the activity of Mayon Volcano in Albay province, 330 kilometres south-east of Manila, bringing to 39,278 the total number of evacuees so far.

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U.S. congressional delegation to visit Philippines

A U.S. congressional delegation will arrive in Manila on Friday to discuss economic, political and security issues with Philippine officials, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Wednesday.

U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, will lead the delegation of five representatives from the U.S. Congress to visit the Philippines from August 11 to 13, the statement said.

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Philippines uses national flower as logo for ASEAN summit

The Philippines' national flower, sampaguita, will take center stage during the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cebu, central Philippines, this December as it dominates the design for the event's logo.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo launched Tuesday the logo for the summit, her and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo's personal choice from among the other designs presented to them by Radio Television Malacanang staff in charge of the design.

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Philippines synagogues on alert

Security at the Israeli Embassy in Makati City and synagogues were beef-ed up as two dozen Filipino-Muslim protesters burned an Israeli flag during a rally yesterday.

"We are calling for a ceasefire and the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon," said Tom del Monte, a leader of the protest rally. The protest ended peacefully.

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Volcano Belches More Ash in Philippines

A volcano in the Philippines showed more signs of erupting Tuesday, belching ash three times overnight as officials evacuated tens of thousands of villagers.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert for the 8,118-foot Mayon volcano to Level 4 on Monday the second highest level after six explosions sent ash columns up to a half mile high. The explosions prompted the mandatory evacuation of about 35,000 villagers in Albay province, about 210 miles southeast of Manila on Luzon island.

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Massive Philippines-US Wargames Slated In October

A massive joint military training exercise between the Philippines and the United States has been scheduled in October, a marines spokesman said Tuesday.

Major Ariel Caculitan said some 9,000 Filipino troops and at least 2,000 American soldiers would be participating in the Philippine Bilateral Exercise (Phiblex). Caculitan said the Phiblex was aimed at strengthening the inter-operability and enhancing the capability of both Filipino and US troops in joint manoeuvres.

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DFA Sends Boy's Body To Philippines

The Philippine government through its Department of Foreign Affairs will shoulder the repatriation expenses of Filipino toddler Mark Daniel D. Muting.

He passed away at the Pediatrics Intensive Care-Unit of the RIPAS Hospital last August 3 due to severe head injuries after a car accident, the Philippine Embassy said yesterday.

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Philippines touted as top outsourcing destination

The Philippines' industrial parks have a compelling value proposition to Taiwan's top-tier own-brand manufacturers, Manila's point man in Taipei said in an interview with the Taiwan News.

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Travel Café Philippines a big hit in Tokyo

The newly-opened Travel Café Philippines in Iidabashi, Tokyo is getting to be a big hit, attracting hordes of customers right on its first day.

The chefs had to rush preparations for another batch of pork adobo and kesong puti sa pandesal to cope with the surge of orders from customers, who kept coming in from morning till night.

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Getting Killed Goes With the Journalist's Job

For a country that boasts of having the freest media in South-east Asia, the Philippines bears a stain that is not easy to whitewash. It has an expanding graveyard for journalists killed in the line of duty.

Senior Filipina journalists in Manila, that IPS interviewed, are dismissive of the order given by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the police to solve the extra-judicial killings of 10 journalists and left-wing activists. Arroyo's announcement on Aug. 1 gave the authorities 10 weeks to arrest the murderers.

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Philippines: Thousands Flee, Volcano Eruption Imminent

The Mayon volcano in the Philippines appeares ready to erupt today as six explosions reportedly sent ash columns as high as a half-mile. The event prompted officials to evacuate tens of thousands of people from an extended danger zone, according to published reports.

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Philippines: agri sector pushes for "Pinoy" banana chips brand

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban urged participants of the 2nd National Banana Conference Wednesday to consider the creation of a single "Pinoy" brand of banana chips so the Philippines could corner a sizable part of the global market. The "Pinoy" brand was recommended by the USAID-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) which extends technical assistance to farmers eyeing export markets.

The Philippines’ banana chips industry had an average production capacity of around 600 metric tons per day in 2005. Mindanao produced 90% of the country's banana chips production, from cardava or plantain banana variety. The country's annual banana chips exports averages, according to figures from industry sources, close to $80 million shipped to major importers -- Mainland China, Hongkong, Taiwan, and the United States. China is a fast-growing market.

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Volcano alert in Philippines

The Mayon volcano appeared ready to blow its top yesterday as six explosions sent ash columns up to 800 meters high and led officials to evacuate tens of thousands of people from an extended danger zone.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert to level four, saying an explosive eruption appeared imminent. Level five represents an ongoing eruption. Read More
 

Philippines Volcano Increases Activity

Thousands of people have been fleeing their homes in the central Philippines due to increased activity by one of the country's most active volcanoes.

Vulcanologists have previously said an explosive eruption by the Mayon volcano could threaten the lives of about 60,000 people. Read More
 

Saudi charities in Indonesia, Philippines tied to terrorist funding

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has designated the Philippine and Indonesian branch offices of the Saudi Arabia-based International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) as entities that have assisted the fund-raising efforts of al-Qaida and related terrorist groups, according to the US Embassy here on Monday.

In its E-mail statement, the Embassy said that the department`s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) also designated Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, executive director of the Eastern Province Branch of IIRO in Saudi Arabia, as a terrorist financier. Read More
 

Philippines braces for volcanic blast

The Mayon volcano appeared ready to blow its top Monday as six explosions sent ash columns up to 800 meters high and led officials to evacuate tens of thousands of people from an extended danger zone.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert to level four, saying a major eruption appeared imminent. Level five represents an ongoing eruption. Read More.
 

Bishop's nephew in latest Philippines political shooting

esuit bishop Francisco Claver has lashed out at the Philippines military following last week's brutal shooting of his doctor nephew, Constancio Claver, and the nephew's wife, Alice, in Kalinga province north of Manila.

According to UCA News, unidentified men riding in two vans reportedly shot at the vehicle of Dr Claver, 49, on 31 July as he and his wife Alice, 42, were driving away from St Toni's College in the Bulanao community, 315 km north of Manila. Read More
 

Philippines To Give Higher Pay To Doctors, Nurses

In an effort to arrest the continuing exodus of Filipino medical workers going abroad to seek "greener pastures," the Philippine government announced on Sunday it will spend an average $871 million per year in the next four years to boost the salary scale of government doctors, nurses and teachers.

In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management said the government is allocating an increase of $20 million for personal services in 2007, $62.1 million in 2008, $106.4 million in 2009, and $145 million in 2010. Read More
 

Jackie Chan Promises To Help Poor In The Philippines

International kung fu action star Jackie Chan pledged on Monday to allocate a portion of his earnings to the Philippine National Red Cross and other civic-oriented groups in the country.

The actor arrived in Manila on Friday for a one-day visit to drum up investors interest for his planned "Jackie Chan's Java Cafe," to be launched in the Philippines. He plans to put up his first coffee franchise in the Philippines. Read More
 

Philippines to send evacuation vessels to Lebanon

The Philippine Coast Guard will send two ferry ships Wednesday to Beirut, where the vessels will be used as sea shuttles for the mass evacuation of Filipino workers from Lebanon to Cyprus or any safe ports in nearby countries, officials said on Sunday.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finally approved the Coast Gaurd's proposal to sail to the Mediterranean Sea to help ferry thousands of Filipino workers from war-torn Lebanon to any safe and friendly ports in nearby countries, said Joseph Coyme, commander of the Coast Guard. Read More
 

Philippines fears imminent eruption at volcano

The Philippines raised the alert on its most active volcano to the second-highest level on Monday and ordered the evacuation of around 20,000 people after three ash explosions signalled a possible eruption within days. More here.
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