(CBS News) MANILA - Continuous heavy downpour for the last 24 hours has inundated at least half of Manila, bringing the Philippine capital it to a virtual standstill and leaving at least nine people dead.
For Manila's waterlogged residents stuck awaiting rescue on rooftops, wading through waist-deep waters, and watching cars float by, the monsoon rains are bringing a sense of d?j? vu.
The floods are raising fears of a disaster on the scale of Typhoon Ketsana, which killed hundreds of people in 2009.Continue »
It could have been just one of the drills regularly held by Philippine and American forces during annual joint military exercises called Balikatan, which literally means "shoulder to shoulder." But this year's exercises took place just as the Philippines and China are locked in a tense standoff over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, a group of rock formations 124 nautical miles west of Zambales province in the Philippines, believed to be rich in oil and gas resources as well as marine life.
Both countries are claiming ownership of the area, the Philippines on account of its proximity in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and China on historical grounds as evidenced by ancient maps.
It was a four-day drama that gripped the country, finally ending Friday with former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo getting arrested on election fraud charges while confined at a hospital.
Arroyo had attempted to leave the country Tuesday night, after the Supreme Court overruled a government-sanctioned travel ban. The former leader and her husband were being investigated for allegations of corruption and poll fraud.
In what government spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described as a "high drama" event, Arroyo arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila in an ambulance and was seen wearing a neck brace as she was wheeled out and taken inside the terminal.Continue »
"The safe haven of kidnapping operations and terrorist activities in Zamboanga Sibugay has fallen."
These were the words of Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), as he claimed victory over "lawless elements" in war-torn Southern Philippines.
After a three-day air and ground assault on the vast marshland thought to be the hideout of a group of about 100 fighters led by Waning Abdulsalam - a renegade commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country's largest Muslim separatist group - the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) now says they have taken possession of enemy territory.Continue »
With eight world titles in under his belt - including impressive wins against the likes of Oscar de la Hoya and "Sugar" Shane Mosley - Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao, the Filipino boxing champion, has little left to prove in the ring, in the boxing ring that is.
Last year, Pacquiao entered the political ring when he ran for Congress. But while he won the election by a landslide, doubts over his ability to juggle both careers, and more importantly, his ability to hold public office and legislate, have persisted. In the political arena, the "Fighting Pride of the Philippines" has much to prove.
It has been a quiet fight for most of his first term, as he has spent most of his time training for his matches, rather than attending sessions in Congress. But while he was in the United States training for his fight against Mosley, a bigger fight was brewing back home. On the left corner, the Catholic Church and the so-called "pro-life" advocates, and on the right corner, the "pro-choice" advocates.Continue »
For decades, "Smokey Mountain," a towering heap of trash billowing smoke in Manila, was the symbol of poverty in the Philippines. Images of women and children picking through the garbage for any salvageable scraps will remain burned into the minds of the nation for a generation.
In 1990, the Philippine government closed the infamous landfill, which once held 2 million tons of trash. Low-cost government housing sprung up on the site in the following years, and residents were given some community-based employment. It should have been a new beginning -- fresh hope for the nation's poorest.
Just across the road, however, in an area called Pier 18, a new landfill has taken Smokey Mountain's place.
The area is home to a large and growing community of slum dwellers, and Cheryl Dalisay, 30, and her son, 10-year old Chervin Enoc, are among them. Like most who live here, Chervin and his mother earn a living by picking salvageable scraps of garbage off the mound of castaway junk.
"We couldn't get any other job. Here, there are no requirements, you just come here and work, no one asks anything from you," says Dalisay.
Chervin has been tagging along with his parents for as long as he can remember. But now that he's "old enough," he goes to the dumpsite with friends of about the same age. Sometimes he goes by himself.Continue »
Search and rescue workers were able to pull nine passengers from the wreckage alive, including a 10-year old boy. Eight of the victims were hospitalized, according to police
The steep slope made it difficult for rescuers to retrieve the bodies stuck inside the mangled bus.
John Patrick Flores, the bus's conductor, survived the accident by jumping out of the door before the bus tumbled down the ravine. He told the Associated Press that the brakes failed as the driver was going around a downhill bend. He said the driver tried to hit a lamp post to prevent the bus from falling but missed it. The driver survived with a broken leg.
In a separate interview with French news agency AFP, he said the bus driver, "tried to ram the bus into a mango tree to prevent it from falling, but failed."
Flores said that the bus was not speeding as it had just dropped off and picked up passengers not far from the site of the accident.
However, after an initial investigation, local police said they suspected the driver was traveling at high speed when he lost control, though they did not rule out a mechanical failure.
Chief Inspector Teresa Guinto-Pucay of the Benguet police community relations office told local television network GMA News they were likely to press charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and serious physical injuries, not only against the driver but also the bus conductor.
This story was filed by CBS News' Barnaby Lo in Manila.
It's official. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, the only son of martyred opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, is the Philippines' next president.
Almost a month after the country's first automated national election, Congress has finished canvassing votes and is set to proclaim the new president and vice-president tomorrow. Aquino beat his closest rival, ousted President Joseph Estrada, by more than 5 million votes. On the other hand, Jejomar Binay, a close friend of the Aquino family and mayor of Manila's financial district, led by only 700,000 votes in one of the most hotly contested vice-presidential races.
But while the vice-presidential race remained a toss-up between Binay and Aquino's running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, until today, Aquino has held a lead convincing enough to be considered president-elect since a few days after the May 10 election. Though careful not to claim victory, Aquino has started assembling his cabinet and is working with the current administration for a smooth transition.
Aquino comes from one of Asia's most prominent political families, but until the death of his mother in August last year, he says he never planned to run for presidency. With the clamor for him to lead the country growing day after day, he spent a few days at a convent to ask for "God's guidance."
"At the end of the day (I thought) I would not be able to live with myself... if, knowing that I could have done something, I chose not to and the situation became worse," he said in an interview with the AFP news agency.
Critics and political opponents constantly hit him for his lackluster performance as a three-term congressman and senator, but Aquino banked on his family name, a clean public image, and a strong anti-corruption message. Everywhere he went, people came out by the thousands. Yellow ribbons, which were a symbol of the mass protests after the assassination of Aquino's father, were everywhere -- on cars, trees, street posts, and houses.
During the campaign and after the election he became one of the harshest critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose nine years in office have been hounded by allegations of graft and corruption. He has pledged to create a commission that will look into these allegations. He will also have to deal with communist and Muslim insurgents, significant social unrest, and an unstable political environment.
"The problems I will be inheriting are still growing to this very day and, perhaps, to the last day," Aquino told reporters on Monday, acknowledging the public's high expectations.
Under President Arroyo, the Philippines experienced modest economic growth, and in fact was relatively unaffected by the global economic downturn. But her failure to curb corruption, and her involvement in several corruption scandals herself, left her with the worst approval ratings of any Philippine president.
Aquino is generally trusted to be able to make good on his promise to eradicate corruption. Civil society, business organizations, and religious groups are behind him. Former Arroyo cabinet members, who resigned after the alleged poll fraud committed by Arroyo, have also come out to support him. But some worry that the same old faces; family and friends, will dominate his administration.
Amidst electoral protests over Binay's win in the vice-presidential race, Congress will proclaim Aquino and Binay as the country's top leaders tomorrow, and on June 30, a new administration will be ushered in.
Aquino, 50, will be the first bachelor to sit as the country's president. Rumors of a presidential palace wedding abound, but Aquino and his girlfriend, Shalani Soledad, a councilor from a Manila suburb, have both denied the reports.
At a recent campaign rally in Sarangani province in Southern Philippines, thousands of people gathered to see a superstar. But the superstar was not coming to endorse a politician, he was the aspiring politician. Manny Pacquiao, widely considered today as the world's best pound-for-pound boxer, is vying for a seat in the lower House.
"I have a mission. I want to help the people who need help," Pacquiao tells CBS News. "My program is to give them business, education, healthcare and medical assistance."
After more than four hours of waiting, Pacquiao's convoy -- lights blinking and sirens blowing - finally arrived. As he stepped out of his bullet-proof Hummer and made his way to the stage, members of the media and ecstatic fans swarmed around him.
It's a scene not uncommon during elections in the Philippines, and Pacquiao is not the only high profile candidate running in Monday's elections. As Filipinos headed to polls today, they had close to 80,000 candidates for more than 17,000 local and national posts to choose from, and out of that number, more than 100 are considered celebrities. Leading the surveys in the senatorial race are three former movie stars. Former President Joseph Estrada, also a movie star, who was ousted in 2001, convicted of graft and then pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is running for president again. And the president herself is running for Congress.
But even in a country where elections often seem to be more of a popularity contest, Pacquiao is in for an uphill battle against a member of a political clan that has long served his province. He lost his first Congressional bid in 2007 against a well-established politician.
"I wasn't prepared the last time. But this time I am prepared and I'm confident to win this election," said the boxer.
If there's one candidate in this election considered to be a shoe-in, it's the country's former first lady, Imelda Marcos (pictured above), known for her 3,000 pairs of shoes and lavish lifestyle. At 80, she is making a comeback in politics, running for Congress in the province of Ilocos Norte, her family's stronghold.
"Some are so happy to see me because they haven't heard from me for so many decades, they're just happy to see me," Marcos said.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS News, Marcos talked about her plans to create a "paradise" - a self-sustaining community where "everything is there." Continue »
Anita Carpon, previously in charge of the president's cuticles, has been named a member of the board of trustees of the Home Development Mutual Fund, a government body that loans millions of dollars for housing.
Arroyo's gardener, Armando Macapagal, was earlier named as deputy of the Luneta Park Administration, the country's national park.
A columnist for a popular national daily newspaper exposed the appointments -- on the same day the Supreme Court ruled the president can appoint the next chief justice before the end of her term - claiming that some presidential aides are very unhappy about the promotions.
Carpon will allegedly receive about $2,900 per month for her duties, twice the salary of the president herself. According to the column, she missed her own oath-taking, and the first board meeting, as she was busy traveling with the president to the United States and Spain last week.
Above: Spain's King Juan Carlos, unseen, awards the Don Quijote de la Mancha International Prize to Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the Zarzuela Palace, on the outskirts of Madrid, April 15, 2010.
The appointments have drawn sharp criticism from the opposition. Butch Abad, the campaign manager of leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III, accused Arroyo of acting without considering the public welfare.
"She further deepened the culture of political patronage in this country by putting people who are loyal to her in positions which are delicate without any regard to the qualifications of these people," Abad told Agence France Press.
But Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar defended the president.
"What prompted the President to give or to consider giving them this kind of appointment is her interest in having ordinary people represented in government offices and agencies whose activities impinge on the lives of ordinary people," Olivar told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
The appointments come amid public opposition to some highly controversial appointments Arroyo has made in the judiciary branch and the military just three months before her term ends.
"These appointments are meant to put people in positions of influence in the hope that if she is out of power, she will still be able to exercise some degree of influence," Abad said.
Arroyo has led the Philippines government for nearly a decade, and has the worst approval ratings ever for a Philippine president. She is now running for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Anthony Ignacio is grieving the loss of his brother, Rolly, who died saving people's lives.
"Even if it meant risking his own life, he willingly helped save others, I'm proud of him," said Ignacio. "But it's sad especially because he left four children."
I was five years old then, and knew little about the historic event that the whole world watched with wonder. The world admired the Filipino people, and in particular, a woman in yellow, a self-described plain housewife named Corazon "Cory" Aquino.
She led the revolution, the culmination of a battle for freedom that was her husband's advocacy. It was a battle she won, and a victory that gave us back our nation's democracy.
A baby girl with two heads was born at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital (FMH), a government hospital in Manila, the Philippines on Tuesday night.
"Baby Girl Arciaga," now under observation at the Philippine Heart Center, was born with two hearts contained in one sac. The heads have separate brains and spines, but share most other vital organs, including lungs and kidneys.
"Those experiences strengthened me," Jennifer said. And after being back in the Philippines for a while, she hoped to be able to work abroad again.
They came in two shipments, one arriving on March 1 and the other only four days after. The tusks traveled all the way from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where elephants are endangered. Some 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year worldwide.
In a press briefing Tuesday, Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales and Environment Secretary Lito Atienza condemned illegal wildlife trade and vowed to prosecute those involved, including the consignee, 210 Enterprises, and the registered broker, Marilyn Pacheco, both based in Manila.
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