[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 14 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Nov 14 10:32:39 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 14 November Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Sulu 'war' rages: 20 die in 3 days (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"At least seven soldiers have been killed and 21 others wounded while 16 Abu Sayyaf Group bandits were also slain as heavy fighting in Sulu entered its third day, the public information office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported yesterday. 

Col. Tristan Kison, AFP information chief, said that as of 8 a.m. Saturday, soldiers from the 35th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were engaged in an encounter with more than 100 Abu Sayyaf rebels in Indanan town after the guerrillas ambushed a Marine patrol. 

This initially resulted in casualties on the government side. 

He said the clashes started last Friday morning with an initial three soldiers killed and 11 wounded. 

Clashes continued in the hinterland village of Buanza and the remote village of Candilamon after Marines caught up with an undetermined number of gunmen on Saturday." 

New CBCP president shuns politics (www.philstar.com)

"Drawing the line between politics and the Church, newly elected Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Angel Lagdameo urged the faithful to take a more circumspect approach on the pressing political issues facing the country. 

Lagdameo said the Filipino people should reflect upon themselves the consequences before making any critical judgment over the issues. 

While some bishops made their separate critical opinions over political issues, Lagdameo apparently refused to be drawn into revealing his position on the implementation of the expanded value added tax (EVAT) law and the ongoing "people's court" hearing by the Citizens' Congress for Transparency and Accountability (CCTA) on the accusations of electoral cheating against President Arroyo. 

Instead, the Jaro, Iloilo archbishop appealed for a more sober and open-minded approach on these issues. 

Unlike his prelate colleagues in the CBCP, Lagdameo expressed a positive outlook to what could be considered negative issues. 

He welcomed reports the EVAT has given the country's economy a boost, but called on the government to show more "transparency and accountability in spending." 

"If it really brings more money to the government, then we have to pursue it," he said. "But we have to make sure that it will help the nation, especially the poor who will shoulder the effects of the EVAT." 
Lagdameo, for his part, admitted he had to confront the problems facing the Catholic Church in the country. 

"Making programs (pastoral letters) this early would be too sudden," Lagdameo said. "We have to wait for the plenary meeting of our members in January. For the meantime, we will be preparing for our term." 

Lagdameo took over the CBCP leadership last Tuesday from Capalla. While his term will officially begin on Dec. 1, the transition period will take about a month. 

Under Capalla's leadership, the CBCP took a more moderate stand at the height of the calls for Mrs. Arroyo to resign." 

Bishop says VAT gains 'may just be artificial' (news.inq7.net) 

"While President Macapagal-Arroyo is upbeat over the early gains of her controversial tax measure, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo sees them only as "artificial."

The incoming president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines yesterday urged the public to engage in "critical reflection" and closely monitor the expanded value-added tax (VAT) to determine if its results were helping the economy.

"They may just be artificial," he said in an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas.

Ms Arroyo has been drum-beating the way the VAT reforms have supposedly boosted the economy, noting the steady appreciation of the peso against the dollar since the VAT took effect on Nov. 1.

Yesterday, Ms Arroyo renewed calls to all sides of the political spectrum to unite in what she said could be "the last chance at shared peace and prosperity," to drop "the bickering and distractions and heave as one to life the Philippines."

Case vs 6 Marines 'still strong' (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"The case against six US Marines implicated in the alleged rape of a 22-year-old Filipina at the Subic Bay Free Port Zone remains strong despite the reported withdrawal by a witness of his testimony, Malacañan said Sunday. 

"[What is important here is that] we insist on our [Philippine] jurisdiction over the case," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said during his weekly radio program on RMN Manila. 

Timoteo Soriano Jr. withdrew his affidavit pointing to the six Marines as the alleged rapists. Soriano was the driver of the van where the rape allegedly took place on November 1. 

Soriano said he was forced by police investigators to sign the affidavit. 

On Sunday the Philippine National Police made clear it has no jurisdiction over criminal incidents happening in the Subic Freeport, so the investigator who allegedly forced Soriano to sign his statement could not possibly be a police officer. Chief Supt. Leopoldo Bataoil, PNP spokesman, said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has a law-enforcement unit that works independently of the PNP. 

He said the Olongapo City police had no involvement in obtaining the driver's statement. 

Bataoil said Pyke Torres, the man whom Soriano tagged as the one who compelled him to sign his sworn statement, is a member of the SBMA Law-Enforcement Unit. He said that unless Soriano files a complaint against Torres before the Olongapo police, the PNP cannot investigate the case. 

Soriano has said Torres punched him twice and threatened to involve him in the case if he did not sign an affidavit implicating the six US Marines. 

He said he never witnessed the crime and recanted the statements he initially provided the investigators in the case."


Senate gears up for budget deliberations (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"Despite the misgivings of some of its members, the Senate will convene Monday as a committee of the whole to speed up hearings on the proposed P1.053-trillion national budget for 2006. 

One of the skeptics is Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was concerned that constituting the Senate into a committee of the whole might delay the approval of other priority bills, particularly the antiterrorism bill. 

"My great worry is that the Senate needs the time for the plenary sessions to debate on important bills of equally high priority, such as the antiterrorism bill. But I will, of course, abide by what the majority of my colleagues have decided. As we all know, the Senate is a collegial body," Santiago said. 

She preferred the old practice of holding subcommittee hearings in the morning and plenary sessions in the afternoon instead of devoting plenary sessions in the afternoon to budget hearings. 

The committee will hold hearings Mondays through Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The regular sessions will start right after the hearings. 

Senate President Franklin Drilon, who will preside over the committee hearings, said the system was adopted to speed up deliberations on the budget bill. 

It is the first time the Senate was converted into a committee of the whole to tackle the proposed budget." 

GMA appoints BIR officer-in-charge as permanent chief (www.philstar.com) 

"President Arroyo has appointed Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officer-in-charge Jose Mario Buñag as its permanent commissioner after serving over three months in acting capacity, a top Malacañang official said. 

The official said the President was pleased with Buñag's performance as OIC of the BIR, which registered at least two collection surpluses since he assumed the post last July 11 as replacement for Guillermo Parayno. 

"He's (Buñag) no longer just OIC, but the BIR commissioner," the official said. 

The disclosure came after Finance Secretary Margarito Teves reportedly made a recommendation to the President last week to appoint Buñag as BIR commissioner. 

Teves earlier said he was monitoring the collection performance of the BIR under Buñag before deciding on whether to recommend his appointment as commissioner. 

However, there is no word yet on the fate of Bureau of Customs officer-in-charge Alexander Arevalo, who was appointed on the same day as Buñag after Mrs. Arroyo's 10 economic managers resigned en masse last July 8 and demanded that she step down over alleged corrupt activities and electoral fraud. 

At least three names have been reported in the media as eyeing Arevalo's post in case he is not appointed as Customs commissioner."

Arroyo bids once more for unity (www.abs-cbnnews.com) 

"President Arroyo has renewed her call to her supporters and detractors to end political bickering and help the country regain its economic strength. 

The President made the call a day after the head of the Citizens' Congress for Truth and Accountability threatened to bring to the United Nations and Amnesty International its findings on the allegations of electoral fraud, graft and corruption and human-rights violations she committed. 

In a statement issued on Sunday, the President said: "Now is the right time to unite and close ranks as the gains in the economy push up confidence abroad and across every nook and corner of the nation." 

She said the country's economic vision has been blurred by political turmoil and uncertainty has recurred. 

The CCTA, headed by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, said that once the "people's court" has finished its proceedings it will release its findings and let the people decide if Mrs. Arroyo is guilty or innocent of the charges. 

Guingona said he will enjoin international agencies, particularly the UN and Amnesty International, to consider the President as a liability to her people. 

But Mrs. Arroyo said the country needed to break free from the political squabble that is preventing the economy from moving forward. 

As the President renewed her call for unity, the lawyer Oliver Lozano recommended that a "people's appellate court" be formed to monitor and countercheck the proceedings of the people's court, which will conduct its third and fourth hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Makati City."

Hungary offers to build flu cure plant (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"WITH not a single capsule of Tamiflu to protect Filipinos from a looming bird flu pandemic in the region, the government of Hungary has expressed its intention to build a plant in the Philippines for the production of the antiviral vaccine. 

Philippine Ambassador to Budapest Alejandro del Rosario said the foreign government has expressed keen interest in producing with the Philippines a bird flu vaccine developed by the Hungarian Health Department. 

"This is a possible partnership that will bolster the Philippines' campaign against a probable flu pandemic," Del Rosario said." 

95% of RP reefs ruined, says group (news.inq7.net)

"ANILAO, BATANGAS-Philippine coral reefs, renowned for being home to amazing marine resources, are in terrible condition, according to the world's biggest reef conservation organization.

Blast fishing and an unregulated marine aquarium trade have destroyed much of the country's coral reefs over the years, said Reef Check, an international organization assessing the health of reefs in 82 countries.

"Despite its high biodiversity, the Philippines' reefs are very badly damaged. It's one of the worst damaged in the world, on the average. Most of the reefs are very badly overfished," California-based Reef Check founder George Hodgson said at a press conference here on Saturday.

He said the growing population of the Philippines had put pressure on marine resources as coastal communities continued to resort to cyanide fishing to meet the demand for fish.

"The human demand for fish is just way beyond the supply," Hodgson said."

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