[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 3 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Nov 3 11:30:03 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 3 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Peso, stocks surge on VAT imposition (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THE peso and stocks surged yesterday on optimism that the new Value Added Tax Law that went into effect on Nov. 1 would shore up the government's financial condition. 

Remittances by overseas workers and the long-awaited implementation of the VAT law pushed the peso to a near five-month high against the US dollar while the main stock index closed at its highest point since August. 

The peso ended the day at P54.72 to the dollar. 

"It's bad news for consumers, but the EVAT (expanded value added tax) implementation should be viewed positively as it will ensure long-term fiscal stability for the government," a dealer at a local commercial bank said. 

US-based investment banks led by Merill Lynch and Morgan Stanley & Co., meanwhile, upgraded the credit standing of Philippine debt papers in reaction to the news about VAT. 

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Merill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have both upgraded their evaluation of Philippine debt papers to the best rating or "overweight," which is a recommendation to investors to buy. 

Debt service to get priority in EVAT (www.philstar.com)
Revenue generated from the expanded value-added tax in the first six months of the implementation of the EVAT law will go to debt servicing, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said yesterday. 

After six months, 70 percent will be allotted to debt payments while 30 percent will be used for infrastructure and social services. 

"Every year, our debts will decrease so we will be able to spend more on infrastructure to create jobs and improve our social services," Teves said in a roundtable discussion on EVAT with Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban over government television NBN-4. 

Teves emphasized that reduction of the country's debt would be good for the Philippines' credit rating and image before the international community.  

'People's court' waits for Defensor to appear (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Environment Secretary Michael Defensor is welcome to defend President Arroyo before the "people's court," the opposition Citizen's Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) said Wednesday.

The people's court wants to try the President on charges of vote-rigging and other allegations after lawmakers threw out the impeachment complaint against her in September. 

[Defensor] has told DZMM radio he was taking part in the proceedings not because "I consider the people's court a legitimate body to discuss issues about the President but because it's a media ploy or publicity. I'd like to be part of it to give the government's position, particularly the President's, during the last elections." 

Defensor added that he is prepared to present evidence to prove that all the accusations against the President are baseless.

"I know the oppositionists are playing to the public. I'm willing to face them, debate with them on the issues, [but I also want to know what their stand is]," Defensor said.

He also wants to ask former vice president Teofisto Guingona why he accepted the ambassadorship to China if he doubted Mrs. Arroyo's mandate. Guingona heads the people's court.

The CCTA last week served a notice on Malacañan, inviting Mrs. Arroyo to attend the people's court hearings at the University of the Philippines Theater in Diliman, Quezon City, on November 8 to air her side on the allegations of poll fraud and corruption.

Emilio Magdangal, an executive assistant in the Office of the Press Secretary, tore up the notice after receiving it.

Defensor defended Magdangal's actions saying the document had no legal value.

Capulong said Pedro Ferrer, Mrs. Arroyo's counsel during the impeachment proceedings, will also be asked to the hearings. 

"We also hope Mrs. Arroyo will come, though we doubt she will appear, but we also expect her allies to join the proceedings in the interest of the people," Capulong said. 

The CCTA will hold its first hearings on November 8 and 9 at the University of the Philippines Theater in Diliman. The next two trials will take place at the University of Makati. 

The hearings will proceed even if Mrs. Arroyo and her allies decide to ignore the court's invitation.

"After the proceedings, we will turn over to Mrs. Arroyo the pieces of evidence and give her 30 days to answer," Capulong said. "If she ignores our demand, we will make a report containing our findings, recommendations and a call to action [against the President]."

Palace: It's time Congress enacted wage increase (news.inq7.net) 

DEPARTING from its position that wage increases should be set by regional wage boards, Malacañang yesterday said it was about time Congress legislated an increase in minimum wages to cushion the impact of the expanded value-added tax on workers.

Surprisingly, businessmen, who are usually against any wage increase, have also warmed up to a legislated wage increase as long as it is reasonable.

Palace wants plebiscite on Charter amendments early next year (www.philstar.com)
Malacañang wants amendments to the 1987 Constitution ready for ratification in a plebiscite by early next year to pave the way for a change in the country's form of government. 

President Arroyo is serious about changing the country's US-style presidential form of government to a federal, parliamentary system even if it means cutting her term short, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a press briefing yesterday. 

Mrs. Arroyo had agreed in a meeting with Speaker Jose de Venecia and former President Fidel Ramos last Monday that parliamentary elections should be held in 2007. 

"Yes, there was a meeting. He's (De Venecia) confirming that there's no objection," Ermita said. "The President is not averse to having that election for members of parliament in 2007." 

Ermita said the swift moves for Charter change should end speculation that Mrs. Arroyo was not sincere in her call to change the country's present form of government, which she had repeatedly described as a "degenerated political system" that is hampering the country's economic recovery efforts. 

The consultative commission on constitutional amendments, formed by Mrs. Arroyo last September to assist Congress in drafting amendments, would finish work by the end of the year while the House of Representatives is set to begin discussions on proposed amendments this month. 

Amendments should be ready for ratification early next year, Ermita explained. 


Gloria's foes hit secret meeting (www.abs-cbnnews.com)


The President's critics on Wednesday assailed the deal she struck with Speaker Jose de Venecia and former President Fidel Ramos to hold a parliamentary election in 2007 while she remains in office until 2010.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the agreement only proves that Mrs. Arroyo is "out of touch with reality and insensitive to the overwhelming public clamor for her resignation or ouster."

"President Arroyo is clutching at straws. She's hoping to escape public opprobrium for palpable misdeeds," Pimentel said.

He said the President's insistence on prolonged power until 2010, despite her losing credibility and the moral right to govern, exposes her continuing deception of the people in view of her previously retracted statements on important issues of the day.

"Such a harebrained scheme won't pass legislative scrutiny," Pimentel said.

"President Arroyo's self-serving plan further shows that she is exploiting Charter change to prolong her stay in office while giving the false impression that she is pursuing constitutional reforms," Pimentel said.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon said Malacañan should not spur moves to rewrite the Constitution if its goal is to solve the country's political troubles. Biazon said the problem is not the legislation of laws but the violation of these laws, for which the executive is largely to blame.

The Senate majority leader, Francis Pangilinan, said Mrs. Arroyo, de Venecia and Ramos should learn to wait for Congress to decide on the issue of Charter reform and not do things "their way."

"What they discuss binds them but not others. If they want Charter change to succeed, they need to overhaul their approach. If they insist on using strong-arm tactics, nobody will follow their lead," Pangilinan said.

He suggested that "a broader consensus including more interest groups, those that are more representative, is necessary. The approach of Mrs. Arroyo, de Venecia and Ramos, which is perceived by many as self-serving, won't go very far." 

Bunye: Babao report not off the record (news.inq7.net) 

CONTRARY to his earlier statement, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye corrected himself last night that the disclosure of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo about the alleged involvement of an ABS-CBN broadcaster in the bailout of a terror suspect was "off the record."

Ms Arroyo told Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo last week that Julius Babao had posted bail in April for Tyrone "Dawud" Santos, reportedly the second in command of the radical Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).

"I had the earlier impression that conversation [with the President] was off the record. But after checking, I found out that Mon Tulfo did not violate any confidentiality. My apologies to Mon and PDI," Bunye said.

Ms Arroyo also told Tulfo the report of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) on the matter was "very disturbing."

Opposition senators criticized Malacañang and the ISAFP for putting the heat on Babao.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who is married to a member of the Lopez family that owns ABS-CBN, said Ms Arroyo's linking of Babao to Dawud Santos amounted to "squid tactics to divert public attention from the real issues" hounding the administration.

"It is also meant to put pressure on members of the media," Osmeña said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Ms Arroyo was being petty when she zeroed in on the broadcaster.

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