[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 7 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Oct 7 10:11:28 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 7 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Communist rebels deny abandoning peace talks (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Communist rebels denied on Thursday that they had abandoned peace talks and criticized the government's decision to suspend security passes which give the insurgents' negotiators immunity from arrest.

The Marxist umbrella group representing the rebels in the talks-the National Democratic Front-said the government's suspension of an interim agreement on security guarantees was not valid, saying the accord could only be terminated, not suspended.

The government said on Wednesday that it was suspending the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees because the rebels were "effectively withdrawing from the peace negotiations" though chief negotiator Nieves Confessor said the government was keeping the door open to talks.

The NDF said on Thursday that it was ready to resume negotiations any time, but the government must comply with its obligations under previous agreements.

"Instead of complying with its obligations, the [government] has demanded the capitulation of the [NDF] as the precondition for resuming the formal meetings," the group's statement said.

The rebels, who are on the US and European lists of terrorist organizations, suspended the Norwegian-brokered talks in 2004, saying that the government had done little to remove the terrorist tag.

The 97 security passes issued under the joint agreement allowed communist officials and their staff, including those who are not members of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, to engage in the talks.

No plans for emergency rule (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"Who is spreading this rumor?" 

A dumbfounded Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita raised this question yesterday when asked to comment on the fresh opposition allegation that emergency rule or martial law will be declared in the next two weeks. 

Ermita categorically denied any knowledge that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is ready to declare the existence of national emergency that would justify the use of military powers to suppress threats to national security. 

"There is none. I should know," the executive secretary told Palace newsmen. 

Citing his supposed sources from Malacañang, former senator Ernesto Maceda claimed that the declaration for national emergency has already been signed by the President and is now in the hands of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz. He said this will pave the way for "warrantless arrests" of opposition leaders. 

Maceda said that Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition, has received a similar disturbing report from his Palace informants. 

A similar warning was issued two weeks ago by former solicitor general Frank Chavez, who disclosed that the declaration was drafted by lawyers in the Department of Justice. 

But Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye accused the opposition of concocting the martial law tale to provoke public anger for the government. 

Muslim leaders back terror bill (www.philstar.com)

Muslim leaders led by newly elected Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan expressed support yesterday for the proposed anti-terrorism bill pending in Congress. 

Ampatuan said the people in Mindanao are generally supportive of the government's anti-terrorism campaign but called on Congress to incorporate provisions to safeguard against abuse of authority. 

"We support the programs of the President against terrorism," Ampatuan declared. 

"Actually, if you ask lawless elements, they really don't want that (law) but we must think of what is good for our people," he said. 

Ampatuan, along with Basilan Gov. Wahab Akbar, called on lawmakers to conduct more consultations with Muslim communities and other concerned sectors to get their feedback in crafting the anti-terror law.

Senate orders search for ex-DA official (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

The Senate has ordered a search for a former agriculture official linked to a P2.8 billion fertilizer fund allegedly diverted to boost President Arroyo's campaign kitty last year, ABS-CBN learned Thursday. 

Jocelyn Bolante, agriculture undersecretary for administration and finance, failed to appear in a Senate inquiry into the Ginintuang Masagang Ani fund. 

Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, said Bolante could not be summoned to the inquiry as she could not be located in her previous addresses. 

"Maybe we should put there 'wanted' so that if people see these individuals they can be reported to us," Magsaysay said. 

Bolante, who left the Department of Agriculture shortly after the 2004 elections and was named a Government Services Insurance System (GSIS) trustee, is facing graft charges for alleged massive malversation of funds for agriculture "ghost projects." 

Other officials named in the graft case were President Arroyo, former budget secretary Emilia Boncodin, ex-agriculture secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr., Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Director Nora Oliveros of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Protesters may bait cops, warns Ermita (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Thursday that demonstrators might deliberately provoke policemen into using force to control street protests in order to discredit the government's policy on preemptive calibrated response.

Ermita made the statement on the eve of a big opposition-led rally in Manila's Plaza Miranda.

The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, the chief organizer of the demonstration, promised 10,000 participants, enough to fill the plaza in Quiapo.

But two prominent women opposed to President Arroyo-former President Corazon Aquino and the actress Susan Roces-are not expected to attend.

Ermita said he wouldn't put it past the protesters to taunt the police officers into attacking them so they could accuse the police of violating human rights.

"They could resort to provocation," Ermita said of the protesters.

Nothing political, says accuser of evangelist Villanueva (news.inq7.net)


THE ACCUSER of evangelist Eddie Villanueva emerged for the first time Thursday, denying allegations that the arrest order arising from his estafa suit against the outspoken preacher was politically motivated.

"There's nothing political here. The law is the law. If he wants to bring it up to the public it's his right, I would not ask him to stop. But many of the statements and allegations against me are completely wrong," said businessman Benito Araneta, a second cousin of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

"Malacañang is not using me, I will not allow that," said Araneta at a press conference at the Manila Golf and Country Club.

Araneta said his legal battle with Villanueva, a defeated presidential candidate and leading opposition figure, was strictly a business matter.

He said his affinity to the First Family has no bearing or influence on his decisions and legal moves.

Araneta filed a estafa case in late 2004 against Villanueva for allegedly reneging on a contract that the businessman's Entertainment Network (EnterNet) had with the Zoe Broadcasting Network to operate Channel 11 on free TV.

Kampi: Try ConCom before pushing Consa (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

The political party of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday said it would oppose any move in the House to push for a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution until the Consultative Commission (ConCom) created by the Palace submits its recommendations in December. 

Antipolo City Rep. Ronaldo Puno, president of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), said any discussions on Charter Change should be put on hold until the ConCom has finished its work. 

"We will vote against any move to discuss ChaCha on the House floor until the ConCom has made its final recommendation on this issue," he said during a press conference yesterday. 

Puno issued the statement amid reports that the committee on constitutional amendments would submit its report recommending a Consa for approval by the full House next week. 

House Lakas party leaders led by Speaker Jose de Venecia are spearheading the moves to amend the Constitution through a Consa because it is much less expensive than a Constitutional Convention, which needs to elect delegates to draft a new Constitution. 

Migrants suffer abuse to bring home $240B (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

UNITED NATIONS - Nearly 200 million international migrants fuel their home countries' economy by $240 billion a year and spend more than $2 trillion in their host nation, but suffer exploitation and abuse, a UN-backed report said. 

The Global Commission on International Migration, a 19-member independent panel, says most governments have a haphazard, uncoordinated approach to immigrants and rarely think further than putting more controls on borders.

The panel's 88-page report, released on Wednesday, said rich countries failed to recognize how much they benefited from low-cost or highly valued labor while developing nations did little to encourage their citizens to return home.

Although many governments have signed UN human-rights treaties, implementation is rare "with the result that many migrants continue to experience exploitation, discrimination and abuse," the report said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2002 called for a review of international migration problems in hopes of putting the issue on the world agenda. The 191-member UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss it next year.

"In the 21st century, one of our most important challenges is to find ways to manage migration for the benefit of all-of sending countries, receiving countries, transit countries and migrants themselves," Annan said at the launch of the report.

"I agree with the commission that we have not risen to this challenge yet. But I am persuaded we must do so," Annan said.

Barong-clad lawyers join march; cops less aggressive (news.inq7.net)


AS THOUGH to test the "no permit, no rally" policy, members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) yesterday joined militant groups in a march calling for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Around 20 members of the law organization led by its president, Jose Anselmo Cadiz, chanted "Never again to martial law" along with an estimated 500 marchers belonging to the militant alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

They took to Manila's University Belt to also denounce Ms Arroyo's Executive Order No. 464 and the controversial "CPR," or calibrated preemptive response, a stringent crowd-control policy adopted since she survived an impeachment attempt last month.

The presence of barong-clad IBP officials apparently made a difference.

Manila antiriot police were visibly less aggressive toward the marchers on the third consecutive day marked by protest rallies in the city.

Makati court orders Samuel Ong's arrest (www.philstar.com)

A Makati judge yesterday ordered the arrest of former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy director for intelligence Samuel Ong on charges of inciting to sedition. 

Ong had gone into hiding after making public last June 10 a recording supposedly containing a conversation between President Arroyo and a former election official about committing massive fraud in Mindanao in last year's presidential elections. 

Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco, who is prosecuting the case against Ong, showed reporters the four-page order for the arrest of the former NBI official. 

Judge Dina Pestano Teves of Makati Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 64 has imposed a P24,000 bail for Ong's temporary liberty.
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