12 bodies found inside wreck

At least 12 bodies were found in the wreckage of the MV Catalyn B that was sitting upright on the sea floor at the mouth of Manila Bay, according to a civilian volunteer that conducted a deep-sea dive on the site Monday.

The wooden-hulled ferry sank after it smashed into a steel-hulled fishing vessel on Christmas Eve three nautical miles from Limbones Island off Maragondon, Cavite.

The bodies of the rest of the 24 people missing may be trapped inside still-unopened cabins of Catalyn B, said the Coast Guard spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo.

The discovery of the bodies came as two Coast Guard officers at the Calapan City port, who allowed the MV Baleno 9 to sail, were relieved to give way to the investigation of the ship’s sinking.

The roll-on, roll-of vessel capsized off Isla Verde on the night of Dec. 26, killing at least six of its 124 passengers and crew.

Diver Matthew Caldwell, a captain of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, said Catalyn B was 67 meters (221 feet) below the surface, a depth out of reach of scuba divers.

The vessel was in a “perfectly upright” position, with its bow “severely damaged.” Initial investigation showed that Catalyn B and Anatalia failed to follow nautical right-of-way rules. The Coast Guard chief, Admiral Alfredo Tamayo said the bodies that Caldwell saw would not yet be added to the list of fatalities. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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Atienza quits DENR to push Manila comeback

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza Jr. announced his resignation from the Cabinet. This is to focus on his bid to reclaim the top post in Manila.

Atienza also challenged other government officials running for elective posts, including senators, to quit out of “delicadeza”. He further adds that he was relinquishing his post despite a recent Supreme Court ruling, saying government officials seeking elective posts did not need to resign.

Atienza, who served as environment secretary for two years and five months, said he told President Macapagal-Arroyo about his plan to resign some two weeks ago.

Atienza, incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim and former Philippine National Police chief Gen. Avelino Razon are running for mayor of Manila in next year’s election. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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Filipinos see hope in 2010–SWS

According to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, most Filipinos welcome the New Year with hope rather than fear.

Eighty-nine percent of those interviewed by the SWS from Decembr 5 to December 10 expressed hope for 2010, while 11 percent said they harbored fear for the coming year.

Hope for the New Year among Filipinos reached its highest at 95 percent in December 2002 and posted its lowest at 81 percent in December 2004, according to the SWS.

Hope for the New Year remained high in all areas in the country: 90 percent in Luzon outside Manila, 88 percent in the Visayas, and 87 percent in both Metro Manila and Mindanao. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

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PGMA orders probe on vessels’ collision

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo orders a thorough investigation on vessels’ collision involving a passenger ferry and a fishing vessel on Christmas Eve.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the President ordered the suspension of operations of the San Nicolas Shipping, which operates the wooden-hulled ferry M/V Catalyn B, and the steel-hulled fishing vessel F/V Anatalia, pending the investigation being undertaken by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

As of Saturday afternoon, there were three confirmed dead, 24 missing, and 46 survivors. (PIA)

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PGMA’s last Cabinet meeting for 2009 tackles security, economy, drug issues

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s last 2009 Cabinet meeting is scheduled on December 29 at Baguio City, tackling issues on economic and security measures, and illegal drugs.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Cabinet group will tackle the latest developments in the global recession and its impact on the country, to be followed by the presentation of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves on the administration’s 2010 fiscal program.

This will be followed by the meeting of the Cabinet cluster on national security. The agenda of the cluster is particularly long, as it will tackle various security issues including the latest developments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in connection with the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, and the status of peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (PIA)

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