[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 12 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Oct 12 10:11:15 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 12 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Gonzales links Venable to Aragoncillo case (news.inq7.net)

"THE LOBBY firm contracted by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to seek American funding for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's plans to amend the Constitution was also tasked with establishing "the extent of the destabilization (moves by the opposition) in the United States against the Arroyo administration," Gonzales' lawyer said yesterday.

Antonio Bautista offered up this information to the Supreme Court as he argued for the release of his client from Senate custody.

The senators had cited Gonzales for contempt and ordered him detained after he evaded questions during a Sept. 21 committee hearing on the Venable contract. Because his blood pressure had shot up, Gonzales has since then been confined at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.

Gonzales appeared at the Supreme Court yesterday.

Bautista said certain elements in the opposition were lobbying the US Congress to "goad" Washington into withdrawing support from the Arroyo administration.

He said the opposition wanted to take advantage of the rift between the Philippines and the United States as a result of Ms Arroyo's decision to recall the Philippine military contingent from Iraq to save Filipino worker Angelo de la Cruz from execution by Iraqi insurgents."

Gonzales: GMA gagged me on Venable (www.philstar.com)

"National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has a standing order from President Arroyo not to disclose the identities of those who donated funding for the government's contract with American lobby firm Venable LLP because it might disturb Manila's ties with Washington, his lawyer told the Supreme Court yesterday. 

The High Tribunal heard arguments yesterday on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Gonzales' sister seeking his release from Senate custody. 

His lawyer, Antonio Bautista, told the court that it might put the private donors in danger if their identities were to be disclosed at this time." 

SC to decide on Gonzales' freedom in five days (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"After almost eight hours of oral arguments Tuesday, the Supreme Court failed to decide on the legality of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales's detention at the Senate.

The high tribunal told Gonzales and the Senate blue-ribbon committee, headed by Senator Joker Arroyo, to submit their written memorandum in five days before the magistrates finally decide whether the secretary should be released from Senate's detention.

During the hearing, Gonzales's lawyer, Antonio Bautista, told the high tribunal that his client and President Arroyo discussed the hiring of a lobby firm before entering into the $900, 000 Venable LLP contract.

There were reports that before President Arroyo canceled the contract, Gonzales already made an initial payment worth of millions of pesos to Venable LLP firm.

Gonzales maintained that he does not know where the money came from".

Senators urge SC to rule on EO 464 (www.manilastandardtoday.com) 

"SIXTEEN senators yesterday asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional Executive Order 464, which bars officials from the executive department from appearing in congressional hearings without written permission from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

In a 45-page petition, the senators also asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop EO 464 from being carried out until a final decision has been reached. 

"EO 464 is a multipronged weapon aimed at the heart of our democratic and republican state as conceived under the 1987 Constitution," the senators said in their petition. "It violates the principle of separation of powers and its corollary checks and balance by, first, frustrating the functions of Congress under Sections 21 and 22, Article VI thereof and, second, by infringing on the basic principle of transparency and on access to information." 

Petitioners include Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senate Pro Tempore Juan Flavier, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.. 

Senators Rodolfo Biazon, Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Luisa Ejercito Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Alfredo Lim, Jamby Madrigal, Sergio Osmeña III, Ralph Recto and Mar Roxas were also among the petitioners." 

US on identity of RP pols in spy case: Wait for trial (www.philstar.com)

"The US Embassy is not ready to identify the Philippine politicians who received possibly classified information from two Filipinos accused of spying in the United States. 

"Any identification will have to come in the course of the trial" in the US, Lee McClenny, the embassy's counselor for public affairs, told The STAR. 

The Philippine government and certain pro-administration lawmakers have urged the Americans to identify the opposition politicians who received information from Leandro Aragoncillo, a retired Marine who worked as an intelligence analyst at the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippine police official who fled the country after being implicated in the 2000 abduction and murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito." 

Ramos nixes state of national emergency (news.inq7.net) 

"ALL THE talk about martial law and coup attempts against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration amounts to bullsh-t, according to former President Fidel Ramos.

"This is direct to the point," Ramos declared in a press conference Monday night. "Continuing media reports, coffee shop speculations, political intrigues and texted rumors to the effect that martial law will soon be enforced by the government or that, on the other side, [there will be] a coup attempt by anti-Arroyo forces, are all BS -- and I don't mean bachelor of science. They are just that -- cow manure."

Debate on Charter change fails to take off in Congress (news.inq7.net) 

"WITH NOT enough warm bodies on the floor, the "great debate" on Charter change failed to start in the House of Representatives last night.

The chamber adjourned at 6:41 p.m. although Cagayan De Oro City Representative Constantino Jaraula, chair of the committee on constitutional amendments and Speaker Jose de Venecia's pointman in the proposed shift to a parliamentary-federal type of government, was prepared to deliver the long-delayed sponsorship speech on Committee Report No. 1065.

The report contained House concurrent resolution No. 413 calling on the Senate and the House of Representatives to merge and become a Constituent Assembly and introduce amendments to the Constitution.

Among the salient points of the proposed amendments to the Constitution approved by the committee last Sept. 28 was to reduce the president to a "symbolic head of state."

Under a parliamentary government, all executive powers will be exercised by the Prime Minister who will also be the commander in chief.

Had Jaraula sponsored the report on the floor, the Cha-cha (Charter change) express espoused by De Venecia could have gone full steam ahead.

The chamber deferred floor debates on Cha-cha for one more day to thresh out differences with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's party, the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) which, on Thursday, had withdrawn support from Charter change."

Lawmaker wants diesel overpricing probed (www.philstar.com)

"An opposition congressman urged the House of Representatives and the concerned agencies yesterday to look into the finding of a private research group showing that oil companies are overpricing diesel by nearly P3 per liter. 

Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III said the finding of IBON Foundation that diesel, which is selling for P31.95 per liter, is overpriced by P2.87. 

He said the discovery is disturbing since, if true, it would mean that motor vehicle owners and passengers were being overcharged." 

Mystery ship near Zambo (www.abs-cbnnews.com) 

"ZAMBOANGA CITY - A US military ship, escorted by a small gunboat, was spotted Tuesday off the southern Philippines, where security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. 

Filipino security officials said they were unaware of the presence of the US ship. Nothing on its bow identified what class the vessel was, except a US flag hoisted on the deck. 

Local fishermen watched in awe as the ship appeared on the horizon off Basilan Island and sailed past Zamboanga City around 8 a.m. 

It was not known if the ship was involved in antiterrorism operations in Mindanao. But the US is helping the Philippine military fight terrorism in the region, where two Jema'ah Islamiyah bomb makers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings, are believed to be hiding." 
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