[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 10 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Oct 10 10:54:14 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 10 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Another 50 centavos added to fuel prices over weekend (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Still reeling from high crude prices in the global market, major oil companies in the Philippines imposed a new round of oil price hikes over the weekend, the second for October. 

Petron Corp., a 40-percent government stake, increased by P0.50 a liter the prices of its Blaze, XCS Plus, Extra Unleaded, regular gasoline, DieselMax and Kerosene. 

The increase took effect shortly after midnight, Sunday. 

Petron however said that they are maintaining discounts for Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) to cushion the effect of rising oil products to commuters. 

Total increased its prices at the same time. 

Close UP Law Center, PCGG official urges (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

The UP Law Center should be abolished to stop it from using government funds in efforts to bring down the government, Commissioner Ricardo Abcede of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said Sunday.

Abcede said that the law center's study on the NorthRail contract is the latest of its acts to bring down the government, and it should be its last. 

"If the law center is not abolished, then at the very least, all lawyers who prepared the legal study on NorthRail should resign. Lawyer Harry Roque should also make a public apology to the Senate and the Filipino people for knowingly committing an error in its study," Abcede said.

New religious group wants Arroyo out (news.inq7.net)

SAYING the bishops had failed their flock, around 20 Catholic organizations of priests, nuns and laity have formed an inter-religious alliance to revitalize the clamor for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's ouster.

Sinag, co-convened by Fathers Ben Moraleda and Eduardo Apungan, Sister Cres Lucero, singer-activist Gary Granada and other Catholic leaders, will join the call for Ms Arroyo's ouster by working the parishes through prayer vigils, text barrages and poster campaigns.

"(Today) there is a concerted, systematic and violent scheme to vanquish the truth and dupe the people," said Moraleda, a Redemptorist missionary, addressing the first gathering of Sinag affiliates at St. Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City yesterday.

"In order to escape the outrage and judgment of the people, this morally and spiritually bankrupt government has resorted to brutal and violent tactics reminiscent of the dark days of martial law," the group said in a statement, referring to the "calibrated preemptive response" policy of the administration and Ms Arroyo's Executive Order No. 464 barring government and uniformed officials from talking to Congress.

Sinag members yesterday signed a huge streamer bearing their entire statement. Moraleda said more signatures would be collected before the banner is handed over to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

"We are not giving up on our bishops," he said.

The group hopes to move the country's 119 bishops to shed their ambivalence and tackle the current political crisis in more concrete terms.

"As a Christian, a priest and a religious, it pains me that the Church, myself included, has abandoned the people," Moraleda said.

US Embassy denies hand in RP crisis (news.inq7.net) 

THE US EMBASSY in Manila has denied having a hand in the political turmoil in the Philippines and slammed as "distorted" news accounts of leaked secret files sent by American diplomats to Washington on opposition attempts to unseat President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In the first official response to recent events in Manila, Chargé d'Affaires Darryl Johnson said relations between the Philippines and the United States remained very strong.

Johnson was asked on Friday in Cebu about allegations that Leandro Aragoncillo, a Philippine-born ex-Marine, stole documents damaging to Ms Arroyo while working for Vice President Dick Cheney in the first uncovered case of spying in the White House.

"Well, of course we would be concerned about any story of this kind that has to do with the national security of the United States," Johnson said in the Cebu interview posted yesterday on the US Embassy website.

Senate, House ready espionage probes (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will investigate the alleged involvement of Filipino officials in the sensational US espionage case. 

The Senate committee on foreign relations announced that it would start a formal probe of reports that Filipino-American FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo stole secret dossiers on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the White House. 

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, head of that panel, has filed a resolution asking the committee on foreign relations and national defense and security chaired by Senator Rodolfo Biazon to inquire into the involvement of unnamed top-level officials with Aragoncillo and former police Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, the deputy of Senator Panfilo Lacson in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force and the reported beneficiary of the FBI analyst's spying. 

Santiago's resolution states that the involvement of at least three Philippine nationals, two of whom are reportedly incumbent national officials, "raises grave concern about the impact of such allegations on RP-US diplomatic relations." 

The senator vowed to subpoena the three officials implicated in the espionage cases against Aragoncillo and Aquino once US authorities identify them. 

PNP cracks down on destabilizers (news.inq7.net) 

THE Philippine National Police, in another step aimed at enforcing the government's calibrated preemptive response (CPR) policy, is zeroing in on PNP personnel that are being targeted for recruitment by opponents of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The PNP measure was contained in a six-point guideline to deal with rumors of destabilization, protest rallies, congressional inquiries and crime. It was dated Oct. 3 and was obtained by the Inquirer yesterday.

High on the police memorandum was a directive to report to PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao immediately any police officer who was being "contacted by elements of the Armed Forces or by the members of opposition or by fellow members of any destabilization plans."

The document was issued by Chief Superintendent Emmanuel Carta, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations, and addressed to regional commanders and heads of national support units such as the Intelligence Group and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Palace: Anti-terror bill cognizant of human rights (www.philstar.com)

Malacañang said yesterday the proposed anti-terrorism bill is cognizant of human rights compared to similar laws in other countries and has enough safeguards to protect the innocent from abusive authorities. 

Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor of the Palace's Anti-Terrorism Task Force also said the proposed measure does not infringe on a person's right to free expression, assembly or association and it would not be used against the political opposition. 

"The new anti-terrorism bill is human rights-compliant. It guarantees full respect for human rights. Apprehended individual is given right to counsel even while under detention," Blancaflor said in a paper defending the bill. 

"The Bill of Rights under the Constitution will not be suspended by the enactment of the anti-terrorism bill," he clarified. 

Blancaflor is the Palace's point man in Congress for hammering out the proposed anti-terrorism bill. 

He said a detained suspected terrorist would be entitled to all other rights provided by Republic Act No. 7438 or the "Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation." 

Opposition can't hold back Cha-cha-Palace (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Malacañan is confident deliberations on the proposed amendments to the Constitution would start on or before the end of the year despite stiff resistance from the opposition in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the 48-man consultative commission has been given 90 days to research and hold public consultations on the provisions of the 1987 Constitution that would be subjected to amendments by Congress.

Bunye is hopeful the commission has done its assignment and can at least identify by this time the constitutional provisions to be taken up.

LGUs to use P30 B for dev't programs (www.philstar.com)

Governors, mayors and local government officials are set today to shell out P30 billion for development programs dubbed as "Kilos Asenso." 

Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) president and Bohol Gov. Eric Aumentado will spearhead its launching at the Manila Hotel that will form part of the 14th anniversary celebration of the Local Government Code of 1991. 

"LGUs (local government units) will be shelling out Kilos Asenso funds amounting to more than P30 billion to be taken from the 20 percent development fund set aside from the internal revenue allotment," Aumentado said. 

He pointed out that a P5-billion counterpart fund from the national government is now being sought in Congress from next year's budget. 

Officials of ULAP and the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) are even working with their respective congressmen on the counterpart funding scheme "so that it could be tripled," Aumentado said. 

Under the Kilos Asenso program, he said financially beleaguered barangays that could not put in their share of funds could instead provide local materials and local labor as their equity investment. 

'Gov't spent P1.2 B for consultants' (www.philstar.com)

The chairman of the House appropriations committee urged bureaucrats yesterday to hire fewer consultants this year as an austerity measure. 

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. revealed that last year, the government spent a total of P1.2 billion for consultants, many of whom are just "15-30 political accommodations" or people whose services are not really necessary as these can be done by in-house personnel. 

"Since we are supposed to be on austerity mode, we should bring this amount down by hiring fewer consultants and thereby reduce the budget deficit," he said. 

Topping the list of agencies with the most number of consultants last year was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which forked over P254 million for consultancy contracts. 

It is followed by the Department of Agriculture, which spent P185 million for consultants, and the Department of Education, which paid P135 million. 

Muslims urged to pray for peace on holy month (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

The Muslim community will dedicate the observance of the holy month of Ramadan to the success of the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

Muslim clerics and leaders have called on followers of the faith to "fast and pray for peace in Mindanao." 

The call was first made by the Grand Mufti or the Head of the Darul Ifta (House of Pronouncements), Sheikh Omar Pasigan, who encouraged "all the Bangsamoro people to pray hard for the success of the peace process." 

"The month of the good tidings, the blessed month of Ramadan, will just be in a few days and this is the best time to pray to the Almighty Allah to grant the success of the peace talks between the government and the MILF," Sheikh Pasigan said in a statement posted on the Internet. 

Pakistan death toll may reach 30,000 (www.manilastandardtoday.com) 

BALAKOT, Pakistan - Bodies lay in the streets and villagers pulled debris from collapsed schools and mud-brick homes with their bare hands on Sunday, desperate to find survivors from a huge earthquake that struck Pakistan and India, killing more than 18,300 people. 

At least 18,300 people have been confirmed dead in the huge quake, centered in northern Pakistan and measuring at least 7.6 on the Richter scale, though as many as 30,000 are estimated to have been killed in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir alone. 

The quake that struck Saturday in the mountainous Kashmir region flattened dozens of villages, killing farmers, homemakers, soldiers and schoolgirls, and triggered landslides that blocked rescuers from reaching many devastated areas. 

The severest destruction was in Pakistan, where Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said more than 18,020 people died - 17,155 of them in Pakistani Kashmir where the quake was centered. Some 41,000 people were injured, he said. 

RP condoles with victims' kin (www.abs-cbnnews.com)


The Philippine government condoled with the families of more than 18,000 people who perished in a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Pakistan, India and Afghanistan on Saturday.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said President Arroyo and the rest of the Filipino community "shares the grief and pain being experienced by victims and families on account of the strong quake" that hit South Asia.

"We would like to extend our sympathies to nations and peoples affected by this sudden tragedy," Bunye said.

Malacañan, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is checking if there were Filipino casualties in the tragedy. Sam Mediavilla

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