[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 17 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Oct 17 11:22:55 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 17 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Fight between Arroyo and Church looms, says bishop (news.inq7.net) 

"A BISHOP drenched with a water cannon last Friday said the police dispersal of a religious procession was likely to unify prelates in what he described yesterday as a looming battle between the Holy Spirit and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

But Malacañang remained adamant it had nothing to apologize for in Friday's dispersal near Mendiola when a fire truck sprayed jets of water on protesters, including former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Senator Jamby Madrigal, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Satur Ocampo, bishops and priests. No serious injuries were reported.

Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches, one of the three prelates who joined what organizers billed as a prayer rally, said the government's calibrated preemptive response (CPR) policy was just "jelling the bishops together."

"A little more of that and this thing will explode," said Tobias. "This is a battle of the Holy Spirit and if you fight it, you can never win even if you are Malacañang," Tobias said.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan City said "the great majority of our bishops are reflecting on the situation and on what will be the goal and action that will be demanded from us."

Iñiguez said in an interview yesterday with the Church-run Radio Veritas the bishops might be forced to take action for the common good.

Tobias said the protest had drawn sympathies from Archbishops Angel Lagdameo of Jaro and Jesus Tuquib of Cagayan de Oro and Bishop Vicente Navarra of Bacolod. Similarly concerned were Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Ipil and Bishops Chito Tagle of Imus and Leo Drona of San Pablo.

Lagdameo, incoming president of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), on Saturday said the police dispersal was "uncalled for and objectionable."

There was still no word from Archbishop Fernando Capalla, outgoing CBCP president, and Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales.

"The pattern of action of the administration reveals that it is either too insecure in holding on to power or too secure of its tenure for might. And the victim of these two extremes are one and the same -- the people," said Cruz, a leading critic of Ms Arroyo.

More than the water bombardment, the bishops were angered by the apparent disrespect shown by police to the procession that uttered no political statements or carried posters or streamers but simply rosaries and two images of Mary.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said it appeared to him that the protesters had deliberately wanted to provoke the authorities. In a phone patch interview with reporters, Ermita questioned why the religious procession broke away from San Sebastian Church and headed toward Mendiola.

Ermita questioned why Guingona had to be there as well, noting that the latter, who is in his 70s, should have been resting at home instead.

Ermita also asked why Guingona was in the company of Ocampo of the leftist Bayan Muna.

The protesters had been allowed to mass at Plaza Miranda, where they had been granted a permit to demonstrate. They had been allowed to proceed to San Sebastian Church. But when a small group of several hundred attempted to march on Mendiola, purportedly to hold yet another Mass at San Beda chapel, police broke up the procession at nightfall.

In his weekly column, Bunye said that the police would continue to "act in accordance with standard operating procedures to protect the public interest."

Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio said that the incident could have been easily avoided, reminding protesters that "there were many other areas and fora they can use without violating the rights of other citizens or provoking authorities."

"We hope and pray that radical elements do not take advantage of that incident as justification to further challenge, test, provoke or taunt our law enforcers in the proper handling of rallies and other forms of protest," Claudio said.

Director Vidal Querol, Metro Manila Police chief, deplored the criticism against the police as unfair.

"Why should I apologize for what happened," Querol said. "They'd like to paint the police as bestial, but they -- in their heart of hearts -- knew they did not abide by the law nor did they ever have any intention of doing so," he said.

"So let's be fair to the police. Do you think the police like this to happen?"

Guingona and fellow victims of the water dispersal will bring their case before the UNHCHR, said the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME), a militant group led by Catholic bishops.

"The prayer rally was a legitimate exercise of one's freedom of religion, expression and peaceful assembly," the KME said in a statement.

"If they think we had it coming, they don't know where they are going," Guingona said. "You're going to self-destruction!"

Said Ocampo: "The people will not make the Palace rest over its illegal proclamation of Mendiola as a no-rally zone ... they will run out of policemen and firemen." 

Palace: No apology for Friday dispersal (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"MALACAÑANG said yesterday it saw no need to apologize for allowing the police to use water cannon in breaking up the antiadministration prayer-rally led by former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr. and three elderly Catholic bishops to prevent them from proceeding to Mendiola Bridge in Manila Friday night. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye said the antiriot policemen did the right thing by using all available means to stop the march, since the rallyists had no permit to go to the bridge, which has been declared a no-rally zone. 

"They were asking for it. They had no rally permit and Mendiola is a no-no to rallies. The President need not apologize for anything," Bunye said." 

Opposition leaders, not GMA, are tyrants - Palace (www.philstar.com)
"Opposition leaders and not President Arroyo are the ones acting like tyrants in trying to impose their will on the people to overthrow the government, Malacañang officials said yesterday. 

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said local authorities will not soften their stance regarding protest rallies staged without permits, adding the dispersal of protesters had nothing to do with politics but only the enforcement of laws to protect public interest. 

"There is only one rule for all Filipinos: you break the law, you are made to account for it. This rule applies to the rich and the poor, the powerless and the powerful. It has nothing to do with politics. It is high time we put sense and order in our society, and the police has the thankless job of doing it," Bunye said. 

"Meantime, the police will continue to act in accordance with standard operating procedures to protect the public interest," he said. 

Bunye said if the rallyists would be allowed to stage their protest actions on Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) Bridge, another bloody incident similar to the January 1987 Mendiola massacre might happen. 

"If the rallyists get in there, there is a great temptation for provocateurs or even plain emotional protesters to call for assault on sentries and the outcome could have been worse," he said. 

In separate interviews, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Secretary of the Cabinet Ricardo Saludo said anti-government groups do not enjoy the support of the people and are just using the media to make it appear that they are being oppressed even while they are violating laws. 

"What's their (opposition members) basis for saying that? They violate laws, they defy authorities and cause public disturbance and when we enforce the laws, we are branded as tyrants," Ermita said in a telephone interview." 

Allies urge GMA: Review CPR (www.philstar.com)
"Two pro-administration congressmen from Mindanao urged President Arroyo yesterday to review the government's controversial "calibrated preemptive response" or CPR policy in the wake of clashes between the police and street protesters. 

At the same time, Reps. Gerry Salapuddin of Basilan and Isidoro Real of Zamboanga del Sur suggested that the Palace, in coordination with local officials in Metro Manila and other urban centers, designate rally sites and no-rally zones." 


Incessant probes scaring away investors (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE Senate's propensity of conducting investigations is creating a perception of political instability and scaring off investors to the country, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said yesterday. 

Santiago made the observation after Malacañang assailed the Senate for its lackluster lawmaking performance due its preoccupation with what she called "serial impeachment" proceedings against the Chief Executive. 

Santiago appealed to her colleagues in the Senate to prioritize the passage of vital laws rather than getting fixated on inquiries into supposed anomalies in the administration, although most of them had already been resolved with the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against the President." 

Hunt for JI camps tops agenda of RP-Australia talks (news.inq7.net) 

"THE HUNT for training camps of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists in Mindanao is expected to dominate this week's talks in Manila between Philippine officials and visiting Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill.

"We are obviously concerned about reports that JI has established training camps in the southern Philippines and whether that is correct or not, we nevertheless believe we could be useful to them," Hill was quoted as saying in Australia before he left for Manila.

"In many ways our greater concern is that if safe havens are found to establish training camps for new recruits, then it becomes an even greater worry," Hill said in an interview with the Melbourne Herald Sun.

Hill arrived yesterday afternoon for a four-day visit and talks with his counterpart, Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. He is also expected to meet with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Earlier this month, Australian newspapers reported that Australian forces had joined in the hunt for JI militants in Mindanao."

'Health to decide fate of Gonzales' (www.philstar.com)
"Embattled National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales' continued stay in his post will depend on his medical condition, Malacañang said yesterday. 

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said President Arroyo has yet to decide on the fate of Gonzales, who remains confined at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City under the custody of the Senate. 

Ermita stressed the decision of the President depends entirely on Gonzales' medical condition. 

"Just in case Secretary Gonzales has to undergo surgery as advised by his doctors, the President of course would have to ask him to take a medical leave," Ermita said. 

"But this would also depend on Bert Gonzales' decision and the opinions of his doctors," Ermita said in a telephone interview. 

Ermita said Malacañang is also awaiting the results of the petition filed by Gonzales before the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to cite him for contempt." 

Gas price to hit P40 with EVAT? (www.philstar.com)
"The price of gasoline could easily breach the P40-per-liter level this year if the Supreme Court finally allows the implementation of the expanded value-added tax (EVAT) law, an oil industry official said. 

"The increase in gasoline prices will be 10 percent. That would definitely (push prices to).P40 per liter," said Glenn Yu, newly elected president of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association (IPPCA). 

Yu, president of Seaoil, said once the High Tribunal gives the green light for the EVAT law, the industry will have no choice but to implement it. 

"(The oil) industry will just serve as a collecting agent of the government," Yu said. 

As of Oct. 5, the price of unleaded gasoline averaged to P33.70 to P35.50 per liter while diesel prices ranged from P30.79 to P32.85 per liter." 

DOLE's intervention in strike vs Hacienda Luisita legal - CA (www.abs-cbnews.com)

"The Court of Appeals has ruled as legal the intervention of the Department of Labor and Employment and the deployment of policemen and soldiers during a strike in November 2004 by workers of the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac owned by the family of former President Corazon Aquino. 

In a 15-page decision, the appellate court's 1st Division dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by the United Luisita Workers' Union seeking to reverse the order of Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas for the labor department to assume jurisdiction over the labor dispute between the management and the workers.

According to the ruling, written by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, it is within the powers of the labor secretary to determine which industries are indispensable to national interest and requires arbitration by the labor department.

The appellate court pointed out that when Republic Act 6715, the New Labor Code, took effect and with the repeal of General Order 5, there was no more listing of industries indispensable to national interest.

It also stressed that the sugar industry, in which Hacienda Luisita was mainly engaged, is a vital industry that should be saved. The court saw no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction committed by Sto. Tomas."

330 Filipinos home after being deported from Sabah (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"ZAMBOANGA CITY - Some 330 Filipinos detained in Sabah, Malaysia, were deported back to the Philippines as Kuala Lumpur continued its crackdown on illegal immigrants, officials said.

At least 82 Filipinos, including about two-dozen children, arrived in Zamboanga City over the weekend onboard Danica Joy-2 after serving time in jails on immigration offenses, Erwin Aguila, a local social worker, said.

One deportee Jarmah Mohd said she and her five children were arrested in Sabah after failing to show their travel documents.

"We have been living in Sabah for many years now, and even my children are not spared. They sent us all back home and I am worried about the future of my children," she said.

Unlike in the past Filipino deportees bring home tales of harsh punishments and physical abuse in Malaysian prisons, now those who returned said they were treated well and given ample ration of food while in jails.

"Oh, life in jails are good now, unlike in the past where the guards beat the prisoners. Now, the prisoners are treated well and the food is good-rice and fish and meat-we don't know why?" Sani, a deportee, said.

About 250 Filipinos jailed in Sabah for similar offenses arrived earlier and were sent to their provinces-some as far as Palawan-after undergoing a series of counseling and briefing on the latest government job programs and skills training, said Agapita Bendoy, the head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) center in Zamboanga City."

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