[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 8 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Nov 8 09:48:55 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 8 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

US won't yield GIs to RP government (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

The United States Embassy on Monday refused to heed the clamor for it to turn over to Philippine authorities the six US Marines accused of raping a Filipina on November 1 at the former US naval base in Subic, Zambales.

The six remain in US custody.

Still, Paul Jones, US Chargé d'Affaires to Manila, assured the Arroyo administration that US investigators are willing to help if the Philippine National Police would formally ask for the suspects' presence.

"We assure everyone that the suspects will be available, but we haven't received a formal request yet from the Philippine government," Jones said.

"I also want to extend our deep condolences to the victim and her family in this very serious case. We were in touch today with a number of political leaders to convey the seriousness in which the US takes this issue and how closely we want to cooperate with the Philippine authorities to make sure that justice is done," Jones told reporters after meeting with Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"They are innocent until proven guilty, but we will help ensure that justice will prevail," Jones stressed. 

US soldiers in rape case 'served' today (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THE Department of Justice will serve summonses today on six US servicemen who are facing criminal complaints for the alleged rape of a 22-year-old Filipina, demanding that they appear for the preliminary investigation of the case to answer the charges, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said yesterday. 

Named respondents in the complaint for rape filed by the 22-year-old Filipina were Keith Silkwood, Albert Lara, Corey Barius, Chad Carpenter, and Daniel Smith. 

Meanwhile, the Americans intend to hire Filipino lawyers to handle their defense, the US embassy in Manila said. 

Embassy chargé d'affaires Paul Jones assured the government that the suspects are ready to face government investigators to give their side of the story. The embassy, he said, is fully cooperating with Philippine authorities on the matter. 

Senate leaders: No need to review VFA yet (www.philstar.com)
Legal remedies contained under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) should be exhausted first in resolving the rape case involving five US soldiers before amendments to the accord are contemplated, Senate leaders said yesterday. 

Malacañang also rejected calls yesterday for a review of the VFA, which was ratified by the Senate in 1999. 

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the rape case serves as a litmus test for the VFA, which critics say allows US military personnel who run afoul of the law to escape justice. 

The accord allows US military forces to conduct war exercises in the Philippines. It also governs the treatment of US personnel breaking the law. 

"Let us allow the VFA to work. There are provisions there which would apply to this particular incident and it is now the challenge to the Executive (branch of government) to see to it that the interest of the victim and interest of justice is upheld," Drilon said. 

"If at the end of the day the VFA provisions on criminal jurisdiction do not work, then I will be among those who will strongly advocate even for the abrogation of the VFA." 

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. agreed with Drilon. 

Peso emerges as darling of Asia currency market (www.manilastandardtoday.com) 

SINGAPORE - The Philippine peso looks increasingly like the darling of Asian currency markets thanks to strong inflows of cash from overseas workers, higher interest rates and the implementation of a key expanded sales tax. 

It is on course to end the year as Asia's best-performing currency, although this looked uncertain just a few months ago. 

Between May and early July, the peso shed about 4.5 percent against the dollar and came within a whisker of hitting a record low as a political crisis unnerved investors. 

But with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo surviving an attempt by opponents to oust her over allegations of election cheating and graft, sentiment has improved. 

"I don't see anything short of another political blowout that would make the peso depreciate back to the levels it was standing at during the political crisis," said Deutsche Bank currency strategist Mirza Baig. 

The peso has firmed about 3 percent in the past month and hit a five-month peak at around 54.55 per dollar last week. It traded around 55 per dollar on Monday. 

Expectations of strong remittances heading into the yearend have bolstered the peso against a robust dollar even as other Asian currencies have weakened. 

The government expects remittances from Filipinos working overseas to hit a record of about $10 billion this year, up from $8.5 billion in 2004, which was equivalent to at least 10 percent of gross domestic product. 

Mikey back at House after 4-month leave (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

President Arroyo's son, Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo of Pampanga, on Monday returned to the House of Representatives after more than four months' leave of absence.

Mikey said he returned to take part in the 2006 budget deliberations on behalf of his constituents.

He took an official leave on June 14 after opposition legislators launched a series of investigations implicating him in jueteng. Mikey, who vowed to clear his name of the charges, had voluntarily taken a leave to ensure that the investigation would go on unimpeded. 

He did not take part in the House deliberations on the impeachment complaints filed by the opposition against President Arroyo, extending his absence.

He sued for libel the opposition's witness Sandra Cam, who had told a Senate probe that he received jueteng payola that she delivered to his office at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.

JdV power grip stays, but Pichay still hopeful (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Speaker Jose de Venecia grip on power remains as opposition lawmakers supporting a plot to unseat him lost out. 

Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats Rep. Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur, head of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments and touted as a de Venecia successor, told reporters that he has not given up the "call" to challenge the Speaker.

Since there is overwhelming support from his colleagues for the speakership, Pichay said he has to consult with them to find out the real score.

Until the House leadership under de Venecia has implemented reforms, the threat to unseat him will not cease, according to Pichay.

"[I'm] just an instrument of reforms," Pichay pointed out. "The House leadership under de Venecia has to really address the call for reforms; if not I'll be there swinging," Pichay said.

GMA slams sensational news reports (www.philstar.com) 

President Arroyo lashed out yesterday at sensationalist media reporting, which she said was drowning out the good news and has been exploited by her political opponents to create instability in the country. 

In her speech at the business meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and foreign chambers of commerce at the Hotel InterContinental in Makati City, the President said there were a lot of positive developments that have not been extensively covered by the media. 

She also called on the business sector and the people to see through negative reporting and not to be affected by bad news, particularly on politics and the newly imposed expanded value-added tax (EVAT) law. 

"Heaven knows the crisis of the moment or the headline of the day can be unsettling and discouraging," Mrs. Arroyo said. "Every molehill is treated like a mountain, every accusation is treated as truth, every piece of goodness is stepped on by the bad." 

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