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Posted on August 25, 2011

Defense budget okayed

THE FINANCE committee of the Senate approved for plenary reading the proposed budget for next year of the Department of National Defense (DND). In the finance committee hearing yesterday, Senator Franklin M. Drilon, chairman of the committee, approved the 2012 proposed budget of the Defense agency amounting to P106.914 billion, 2% higher than the current budget at P104.670 billion. Personnel services shall receive the lion’s share at P82.083 billion including the veteran’s military pension amounting to P34.347 billion or 32% of the total budget, and personnel’s salary amounting to P47.734 billion, 45% of the DND proposed fund. The maintenance and other operating expenses got 17% of the total budget amounting to P19.026 billion, 10% higher than the current budget of P17.083 billion. The budget includes traveling expenses, ammunition, electricity and supplies.

Blackout in Cotabato

KORONADAL -- An unidentified person sabotaged a facility of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) resulting in a five-hour power interruption early this week in parts of South Cotabato, a company executive said on Wednesday. Cynthia P. Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson, said company personnel restored power transmission services in parts of South Cotabato on Aug. 22 after corrective measures were completed on a line that experienced a sustained fault at around 7 a.m. "Initial investigation showed that it was intentionally cut by an unidentified person that caused its mid-span to sag and cause the outage," she said in a statement.

Cityhood for three towns

A SENATOR yesterday pushed for the cityhood of three towns in Cavite and Laguna. At a local government committee hearing yesterday, Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., committee chairman, said that the cityhood of Bacoor and Imus in Cavite and Cabuyao in Laguna would be "included in a [separate committee] report" that he would draft as the "towns were well-above the threshold income." Mr. Marcos said that the three towns adhered to the requirement mandated by the Local Government Code under Section 450 which states that "a town may be converted if it has a locally generated average annual income... of at least P100 million based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites: a contiguous territory of at least 100 square kilometers... or a population of not less than 150,000 inhabitants.

New choppers in Nov.

THE PHILIPPINE Air Force yesterday announced that four brand new Polish-made combat-utility helicopters will be delivered by November as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernization program. The four helicopters, Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said, are part of the first batch of eight helicopters worth P2.8 billion purchased by the state. The amount covers both acquisition and training. The helicopters purchased from Augusta PZL-Swidnik can be used for combat and for utility purposes like disaster response.

Kato now out of MILF

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The government peace panel led by lawyer Mario Victor F. Leonen said the government considers rogue commander leader Ameril Umbra Kato as outside of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following a statement from the rebel organization on Wednesday declaring the rogue commander as "bougat." The term bougat is used to refer to one who defies or does not obey an order. In a statement posted on its Web site ( on Wednesday, the MILF said "Ameril Umbra Kato, his companions and followers are no longer members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front unless they cease and desist without delay their anti-MILF campaigns and other related activities."

18 rescued in Tawi-Tawi

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Authorities rescued on Tuesday 18 victims of human trafficking, mostly men, in the island-province of Tawi-Tawi. The victims from Zamboanga Peninsula were promised by their recruiter jobs as plantation workers in Malaysia with a monthly salary of P17,000. During the rescue operation, two suspected human traffickers identified as Ajis Omar and Dim Bunding were arrested. Since the start of the year, the provincial police office has launched more than 10 rescue operations that resulted in the rescue of close to 200 victims of human trafficking.