[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 11 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Nov 11 12:05:55 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 11 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Arroyo chides media (www.inq7.net)

"UPDATE) IN WHAT one journalist group called a "declaration of war against the media," President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unleashed her fury anew against the Philippine press for its "bad boy" image and for allowing itself to be used as "pawns in political games" of destabilization. 

Arroyo said media's coverage of the "kangaroo courts, lynch mobs, and witch hunts" was "too much" and painted a grim image of the country, as good news has often been relegated to the sidelines.

Addressing the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines, KBP) in northern Baguio City, she appealed to media "not to be used, wittingly or unwittingly as pawns in political games for destabilization schemes."

"The first one to stop being used in politics or in destabilization must be the media itself," she said.

"A press that loses credibility as the watchdog of government and society becomes a drag to democracy rather than a force of freedom," she continued.

This was the second time this week Arroyo criticized media's reporting of the still turbulent Philippines. During a speech before businessmen on Monday, she censured journalists for failing to report the country's economy, which she said is close to taking off because of the strengthening peso and stock market."

Lopez: Media 'unjustly vilified' (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eugenio Lopez III on Thursday said members of the broadcast news media are being "unjustly vilified" by "those whose interest lies in the continued suppression of the truth." 

"Well I would be the first to admit that while we ought to exert more effort toward greater professionalization of our practitioners it is also not fair to accuse some of our more critical broadcasters of any sinister motives," Lopez said during the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas' 31st top level management conference in Baguio City. 

Lopez zeroed in on the military's allegation that ABS-CBN broadcaster Julius Babao was involved in the bailout of suspected terrorist Tyrone del Rosario Santos alias Dawud Santos of the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM). He said the allegation is not true.

"I'm particularly saddened by the case of Julius Babao. As far as we can determine in our internal investigation, there's no truth to the accusation that he bailed out 

a suspected terrorist. There is no truth to the accusation that he guaranteed the bail bond," he said.

Lopez's statement came after President Arroyo spoke at the conference and defended her actions in releasing a military intelligence report on Babao."

Hopes dim for legislated pay hike (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE government yesterday dampened workers' hopes of a legislated wage increase this year, saying it would push for nonwage benefits instead as a way of cushioning the impact of the Expanded Value Added Tax Law. 

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said her department is meeting with other agencies to hammer out guidelines on new workers' benefits. 

"We just had a wage increase last July. By law, we have to wait for at least 12 months before another increase can be effected," she said. 

Sto. Tomas said the nonwage benefits could include income tax exemptions and access to cheaper basic goods such as rice, medicine and vegetables. 

The guidelines should be ready by today or early next week, she added. 

The labor department sought other ways to cushion the impact of EVAT after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed down from her earlier pronouncement urging Congress to pass a legislated wage hike. 

The business community has vehemently opposed a new wage increase. 

Sto. Tomas, for her part, said the regional wage boards granted a wage hike in July to cushion the impact of rising prices, noting that the increases were based on an assumed inflation rate of 8.3 percent, which is higher than the actual rate of 7.1 percent today." 

Charter body to cut High Court power (The Manila Times)

"The judiciary committee of the Consultative Commission has approved the proposal that strips the Supreme Court of the power to nullify government contracts. 

Rita Linda Jimeno, the committee chairman, said Thursday that the committee voted unanimously to propose the deletion of paragraph 2 of Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, which she said "gives too much power to the Supreme Court." 

"The Supreme Court at present has too much power. By removing this paragraph, we can avoid cases where contracts entered into by a government agency can be nullified by the Court as easily as it does so now," Jimeno said. 

Subject to be stricken off is the paragraph stating that "judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government." 

The commission cited the case of the Manila Hotel Corp., which is locked in a court battle involving the awarding of the contract to build and operate Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the company. 

Asia's Emerging Dragon Corp. had sought a court restriction to stop the Department of Transportation and Communications from negotiating or entering into concession contracts with a third party such as the Manila Hotel Corp. 

The committee on the judiciary said this kind of decision and intervention by the Supreme Court affects the smooth implementation of government projects." 

Legarda's poll protest delayed again (www.inq7.net)


"THE SUPREME Court has postponed anew the recount of votes for the 2004 vice presidential election in order to act on a pending motion of former senator Loren Legarda to exclude the votes from the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Surigao del Sur from her election protest against Vice President Noli de Castro. 

The recount of votes for Lanao del Sur was supposed to have started Thursday, but the high court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), said it had yet to act on her earlier motion.

The PET originally set the recount of votes for Lanao del Sur on Oct. 18 but postponed this to Nov. 10.

Last week, Legarda filed a motion asking the PET to allow her to withdraw the two Mindanao provinces from her protest and instead use the cash deposits covering the two provinces toward the recount of the votes in Cebu province. De Castro won over Legarda by 900,000 votes in Cebu.

In this way, Legarda said, she hoped to facilitate the recount of the votes in Cebu, where alleged massive cheating took place, and overturn De Castro's nationwide lead of 880,000."

VFA to be reviewed if marines skip town (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee yesterday said she would call for an immediate review of the Visiting Forces Agreement if the six US servicemen accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipina are transferred to Okinawa, Japan. 

"This is a glaring deficiency in VFA because there is no provision on who shall have custody over American personnel when they are tried for a crime within the Philippine territory," said Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. 

The senator issued her statement following reports - subsequently denied - that the US embassy had requested the transfer. 

Under VFA, Santiago said, the US military authorities can only take custody of the accused if they issue a request to local authorities. 

She acknowledged, however, that the agreement is unclear on where US soldiers charged with a crime will be held pending a preliminary investigation. 

Santiago said, however, that there is no reason to transfer the marines to Okinawa because VFA provides that the trial will be completed within a year." 

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