[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 13 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Oct 13 10:06:11 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 13 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Tax raps vs ex-DA chief junked (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"The Bureau of Internal Revenue Wednesday suffered a setback when the Department of Justice junked the bureau's tax-evasion charges against former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap.

In an 11-page resolution, State Prosecutor Sebastian Caponong said the justice department found no probable cause to pursue the case against Yap and his father Domingo. Yap is the vice-president of DHY Realty Corp. while his father is company's president. 

The justice department said that the evidence presented by the bureau is insufficient to indict the Yaps. The DOJ found no proof that they violated the National Internal Revenue Code.

The case filed by the BIR is premature since it is not known how much taxes the Yaps had supposedly evaded, said the DOJ."

AFP: Military rule not an option (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE military leadership yesterday brushed off rumors of martial law, saying there is no reason to impose it. 

"The conditions do not exist. There should be anarchy in the streets but this does not exist," said Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado in response to persistent rumors that military rule or a coup is in the offing." 

Senate starts own hearings on 2006 budget (www.philstar.com)

"Senators have taken the initiative to start hearings on the proposed P1.053-trillion 2006 national budget while awaiting the House of Representatives to transmit its version of the measure to the Senate. 

Sen. Ralph Recto said the Senate committee on finance headed by Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. has decided to hold parallel hearings on the budget while waiting for the House referral. 

Recto underscored the importance of passing the national budget for next year considering Congress has less than 80 days left in the fiscal year to approve the budget bill." 

Senate reports out own version of terror law (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"A SENATE committee yesterday reported out the chamber's version of a tough new antiterrorism bill, proposing that convicted terrorists be given the maximum punishment of life in prison or the death penalty. 

In his sponsorship speech, Senator Manuel Villar, chairman of the committee on public order and illegal drugs, asked his colleagues to approve his panel's report recommending the adoption of Senate Bill 2137, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005. 

The Senate adjourned yesterday and will resume regular sessions on Oct. 24, when it is expected to deliberate further on the proposed measure. 

Aside from Villar, 18 other senators signed the committee report. 

"The timing for an antiterrorism law may be bad, but the need for it is real. Terrorism is a clear and present danger globally, not just in our country and region. Terrorists are becoming more and more aggressive," Villar said. 

The bill defines terrorism as an act committed by a person or group of persons with the intention to create or sow panic, fear or chaos on the general public or a portion of it causing the death or serious physical or mental injury or threatening to cause it on the general public." 

RP officials differ on ship's mission (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines gave different explanations about the mission of the US military ship seen off Zamboanga City Tuesday.

But they agreed there was nothing unusual or illegal about the presence of the US ship in Philippine waters. DFA spokesman Gilberto Asuque on Wednesday identified the ship as the USS Joint Venture, a commercial vessel chartered by the US military to carry cargo.

Asuque said the US had sent a note verbale to the foreign affairs department on October 3 requesting that the ship be allowed entry to Philippine territory and dock in Subic so it could load "humanitarian cargo" such as schoolbuilding materials that would be used for Project Bayanihan in "various areas in Mindanao" starting at the end of the month.

Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Buenaventura Pascual gave a different description of the ship. 

He said it is the HSV 2 (High-Speed Vessel) Swift, an 11,000-ton double-hulled craft on the way to take part in a new Balikatan exercise in Mindanao.

Asuque said the Joint Venture was still in international waters since the foreign affairs department has not responded to the note verbale.

He said the department still has to inform the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces about the entry of the ship."

Philippines grants MILF own gov't, charter (news.inq7.net) 

"THE GOVERNMENT has agreed in principle to allow a Bangsamoro government to draft its own charter, impose its own tax system, form and maintain legal and financial institutions necessary for the development of an expanded, progressive Muslim Mindanao region.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels reached this consensus during the ninth exploratory talks held on Sept. 15-16 in Kuala Lumpur, according to documents obtained by the Inquirer from the government panel.

Titled "Consensus points on the stand on governance of the ancestral domain aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001," one document revealed the creation of a Bangsamoro government with both political and economic powers over Muslim Mindanao.

The concessions wangled during the talks were regarded as the most substantial since the Moro separatist movement emerged in the southern Philippines in the early 1970s. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had described the results of the discussions as a "strong breakthrough" in resolving the decades-old conflict."

Palace unaware Kwok weighing resignation (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"Malacañan is clueless about the alleged plan of President Arroyo's anticorruption czar to step down following the resignation of Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.

In an interview over ABS-CBN on Tuesday, Tony Kwok said it was Marcelo who invited him to join the Arroyo administration to help her curb the festering problem of corruption in government.

The President's spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, in a telephone interview said he was unaware that Kwok was thinking of resigning.

"I can't react. I might be reacting to something without basis," Bunye said.

Kwok expressed dismay at the lukewarm response of the government workers to his anticorruption campaign. 

He instead predicted that the government's anticorruption campaign is in crisis."

Palace sets 3 terms for emergency rule (news.inq7.net) 

"PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is keeping the declaration of emergency rule as an option to handle a crisis situation that may be triggered by a terrorist attack, a breakdown in peace and order, and a steep surge in oil prices.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita yesterday made this admission, but sought to cushion public fears by saying that this option, if exercised, would be on a temporary basis.

"This option is always open, and [Justice] Secretary Raul Gonzalez was open enough to say as a responsible Cabinet member [that] he has been making preparations on things that he thinks might happen," Ermita told reporters at his weekly briefing in Malacañang.

"The situation might be OK today but a day or two later, [it] could be different. I suppose the framers of the Constitution have certain provisions on how to address different situations," he said.

Ermita cited three factors that could force the President's hand to push the emergency rule button -- terrorism, oil prices and peace and order -- all of which the government had declared in the past few weeks as emerging threats to economic and political stability."

Let Gonzales go, Malacañang told (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"SENATOR Joker Arroyo yesterday called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to fire National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales because he has become a liability rather than an asset to the administration. 

"The President should let him go," said the senator who heads the blue ribbon committee that found Gonzales in contempt and ordered him detained for refusing to answer questions about the government's contract with the US lobbying company Venable LPP. 

The call to sack Gonzales came as about 5,000 supporters of the beleaguered Cabinet member pushed for the abolition of the Senate. 

Rallying outside the Senate, members of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas and Aksyon Sambayan attacked the senators for their "abusive" behavior toward Gonzales and said they would work to abolish the upper chamber of Congress through amendments to the Constitution. 

In remarks yesterday, Senator Arroyo hit Gonzales for singing a different tune Tuesday before the Supreme Court, which heard his petition for habeas corpus. 

In his Senate testimony, Gonzales said the Venable contract was his responsibility alone and that the President had nothing to do with it. 

Before the Supreme Court, however, Gonzales gave the impression the President knew about the contract and the identities of private donors who paid for it, the senator said. 

"The President would do well to distance herself from Secretary Gonzales. He is a liability. He causes problems; he doesn't solve them," he said. "Instead of protecting the President, he is involving her in the messy Venable affair." 

Lakas, Kampi agree on drive for Charter change (www.philstar.com)
"The ruling Lakas and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) have agreed to join forces in pushing for Cha-cha (Charter change). 

The agreement was reached on Tuesday night during a meeting called by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and attended by leaders of the two parties. 

De Venecia, who is Lakas president, and House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles represented the ruling party, while Representatives Ronaldo Puno of Antipolo City, Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur and Amelita Villarosa of Mindoro Occidental represented Kampi. Puno is Kampi president. 

The two parties are the largest political groups in the House of Representatives. They both consider President Arroyo as their titular head. 

De Venecia said with the two largest political groups in his chamber supporting the Cha-cha initiative, "there will be no more turning back on constitutional reforms that could save the country." 

Con-com members say output to reflect people's will (www.philstar.com)

"Members of the Consultative Commission (con-com) vowed yesterday to draft the Constitution that would reflect the true sentiments of the people. 

The con-com was created through Executive Order No. 453 to assist Congress in drafting amendments to the Constitution through consultations with the people. 

Con-com secretary general Lito Monico Lorenzana said in a press conference in Malacañang that they would like the Filipino people to be the co-authors of whatever the con-com is going to produce. 

"Because they are the co-authors of what we produce, it would be very hard for Congress to change it just like that because they know that we had consulted the Filipino people and the Filipino people (are) the co-authors of this document," he said." 

ConCom chief rules out GMA interference (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"OFFICIALS of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) said yesterday they do not expect President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to interfere if they decide to shorten her term as part of the move to a parliamentary system of government. 

Dr. Jose Abueva, ConCom chairman, said the commissioners do not believe the President would risk being accused of undermining their independence and impartiality by trying to influence their thinking regarding her term of office. 

He said the President, in fact, has taken pains to stay out of the commission's work, and did not even attend the oathtaking, leaving the task of inducting them into office to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. 

Abueva said he has not met with the President since she invited him to help in amending the Constitution in January." 

Charter panel to tackle only specific provisions (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"President Arroyo has not empowered the Consultative Commission to review all the provisions of the Constitution, the commission's head Jose Abueva said Wednesday.

In a press briefing Abueva said the commission's mandate under Executive Order 453 limits it to do research, consultations and reviews on how the country's political party system should be reformed.

"We don't have a mandate to change the whole Constitution," he said.

Abueva admitted, however, that although the commission will try to feel the public pulse through nationwide consultations on whether the Congress should adopt the proposed parliamentary-federal government or retain the presidential system, the President could still overturn its recommendations.

Romela Bengzon, deputy secretary-general of the commission, pointed out that its 50 members will simply accede to the President's wishes."

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