Selected top Philippine news stories of 2009

Davao death squad victim
July 12: Davao death squad: fact or fiction? Commission on Human Rights (CHR) head Leila de Lima declared a “breakthrough” in the investigation into the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) after more skeletal remains believed to be those of victims of summary executions here were dug up. De Lima said a self-confessed former member of the DDS pinpointed the exact sites. She said the informant also tagged some members of the Heinous Crime Investigation Section (HCIS) of the city police in abductions and killings in 2002 to 2003. Despite the “breakthrough,” De Lima said they still have no solid evidence to link Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the DDS. The CHR has spent several months attempting to prove the existence of the DDS, in the face of denials and stonewalling by Mayor Dutuerte and other local government officials.

Imelda MarcosJune 15: How Imelda got her jewels back. The Philippine Justice Department ordered the return of gems worth more than $310 million to Imelda Marcos, including a Burmese ruby said to be as big as a prune. (source)

Manny Villar, Miguel Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
January 15: World Bank bars Philippine firms for graft. The international lending agency blacklisted seven Filipino and Chinese firms that colluded in the bidding for a Philippine roads project funded by the bank. Following a major investigation spanning several years by the Integrity Vice Presidency, the bank found evidence of a "major cartel involving domestic and international firms bidding on contracts" in the Philippines. First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (photo, center), vigorously denied allegations that he was involved in bid rigging and pocketing bribe money from the contracts (P70 million = US$1.47 million.)    - source

Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law map
March 11: Arroyo signs Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law.President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9522 to ostensibly ensure international recognition of the country’s maritime boundaries. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said RA 9522 reaffirms the Philippines’ claims to its territorial waters, including its extended continental shelf, economic zones, and the contested Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) off Palawan province and the Scarborough shoal. Ermita said the Philippine government is asserting its sovereignty over the country’s territorial area and economic zones because that's the right thing to do. RA 9522 was enacted in time to meet the deadline of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) for countries and archipelagic states to submit their respective claims to their extended continental shelf, set on May 13 this  (source)

Filipino WWII    
Feb 19: Vets benefits. In the US, an economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama contains $198 million dollars in benefits for an estimated 18,000 surviving Filipino WWII veterans. The appropriation amounts to a payment of $9,000 to each veteran. As of December 2009, 10,000 vets have been paid out of 38,000 applications, which were about 20,000 more applications than had been anticipated. (source)

Jovito Palparan
April 24: Palparan is a Congressman. Jovito Palparan, who represents the anti-communist party-list group Bantay, was admitted to the House of Represntatives as a first-term Congressman. In the 2007 congressional elections, Bantay garnered 169,869 votes and ranked 32nd among party-list groups, which was insufficient to allow it to send any representative to Congress under the formula used at the time. However the Supreme Court ruled that the number of seats in the House of Representatives be increased by 55, adopting a new formula for allotting seats to party-list representatives. The ruling allowed Bantay to send Palparan as its representative to the House. 
Palparan, a retired army general, was a prominent figure in the campaign against communist insurgents. Leftist organizations have dubbed him "Berdugo" (Butcher) for his alleged role in extrajudicial abductions and killings of government critics during his military service.  (source)

Ping Lacson
September 14 and 22: Ping hammers Estrada.
Senator Ping Lacson delivered two privilege speeches in the Senate:
Speech 1: Ping claimed Joseph Estrada had bullied taipan Alfonso Yuchengco into selling his 7.75-percent stake in the Philippine Long Distance Co. to the group of Manuel V. Pangilinan. He also accused Estrada of being involved in strong-man tactics, smuggling and "jueteng" during his three-year presidency.
Speech 2: Ping claimed that the former president had a “motive” for ordering the killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000. He also discussed the disappearance of casino employee Edgar Bentain in 1998, a former PAGCOR employee who had released videotape of Estrada gambling (see next story.)   -source

Joseph Estrada gambling
September 25: DOJ reopens Edgar Bentain case. Edgar Bentain was a former PAGCOR employee who ran the security cameras at a PAGCOR casino. One night, he caught then-Vice President Joseph Estrada on cam playing poker with some friends. He released the videotape to the public (big, big, big mistake.) Bentain disappeared in 1998, and the case was quietly dropped while Estrada was President. (source)