Asian Development Bank triples capital base amid global crisis

Asian Development Bank triples capital base amid global crisis Manila  - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Thursday it was tripling its capital base to 165 billion dollars to allow it to respond to the global economic crisis.

The Manila-based ADB said its Board of Governors approved the increase from the current capital base of 55 billion dollars days before an annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia starting on Saturday.

Group calls on Philippine leader to condemn death squad killings

Group calls on Philippine leader to condemn death squad killingsManila - Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to immediately condemn the existence of a death squad that it said has killed more than 800 people in the past decade in a southern city.

The New York-based watchdog lamented that since it released a report on April 6 on the activities of the death squad in Davao City, 990 kilometres south of Manila, that Arroyo had not spoken about the murders.

Philippine share prices up 2.05 per cent

Philippine share prices up 2.05 per centManila - Share prices on the Philippine Stock Exchange rose 2.05 per cent on Thursday, buoyed by gains in Wall Street and other overseas markets.

The exchange's 30-share composite index gained 42.45 points to close at 2,103.50, up from Wednesday's finish of 2,061.05.

A total of 1.03 billion shares worth 2.45 billion pesos (51 million dollars) were traded.

Advancers led decliners 67 to 28, while 48 issues were unchanged.

APEC calls for immediate steps vs swine flu, but no travel ban

Swine FluManila - Asia-Pacific transport ministers on Wednesday called for immediate steps to contain the spread of a deadly swine flu virus outbreak, but they did not call for a travel ban in the countries affected by the disease. At the end of the 6th Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the ministers expressed concern over the spread of the swine flu virus, which now affects seven countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Philippine troops track down militants holding Red Cross hostage

PhilippinesZamboanga City, Philippines - Philippine troops have tracked down Muslim militants holding captive an ailing Italian Red Cross employee on a southern island, officials said Wednesday. Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, was sighted with a group of Abu Sayyaf rebels in the jungles of Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

"Our troops know where they are," Puno said, but he declined to give details on when the sighting occurred and the exact location.

Governor Abdusakur Tan added that Vagni, who was reportedly in need of immediate medical attention due to a hernia injury, was still alive.

Communist rebels abduct soldier in southern Philippines, army says

PhilippinesManila - Communist rebels abducted a Philippine army soldier who visited a clinic for a medical check-up in a southern province, an army spokesman said Wednesday. Troops have been dispatched to rescue Private Ronnie Trinidad from the guerrillas in Compostela Valley province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, Lieutenant Franco Ver Lopez said.

Trinidad went to a clinic in New Bataan town Tuesday after experiencing stomachaches and was accompanied by another soldier, who bought supplies for their battalion, Lopez said.