[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 21 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Oct 21 11:07:28 PHT 2005

Newsbriefs 21 October Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Rally to be stopped at Mendiola, police vow (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"MILITANT farmers and fishermen threatening to march to Mendiola near Malacañang today will be stopped by antiriot police before they reach the contested bridge, the Palace said yesterday, appealing to the marchers to avoid certain confrontation. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye urged the protesters to refrain from marching to the University Belt, which has been declared a no-rally zone. 

Bunye expressed fears that violence may flare up anew if the marchers try to breach the police cordon. 

Police in Metro Manila were on full alert yesterday as the Lakbayan antigovernment caravan entered Makati City and caused traffic snarls in the financial district. 

Senior House leaders, meanwhile, urged the authorities to apply the full force of the law to stop the leftist peasant groups led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and opposition groups from marching toward Mendiola. 

On the fourth day of their march, the protesters stopped at the Ninoy Aquino monument at Paseo de Roxas and Ayala avenues to hold a three-hour program where they attacked the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

On Wednesday, about 1,000 protesters were blocked by police at the boundary of Las Piñas and Muntinlupa while on their way to the Redemptorist church in Baclaran, Parañaque City. 

After tying up traffic for hours, they were allowed to make their way to Baclaran after they produced a copy of a rally permit issued by Las Piñas Mayor Imelda Aguilar. 

Yesterday, the group proceeded to the Japanese embassy along Roxas Boulevard, where they held a 30-minute rally to condemn Tokyo's continued support for Manila's policy of converting farmlands into economic zones in Calabarzon. 

>From there, they marched toward Makati, then to the People Power monument on Edsa. Their next stop is the Quezon City Memorial Circle in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform, where they are supposed to hold a vigil. 

Rally organizers said the march would culminate at Mendiola in Manila today, the 33rd anniversary of the imposition of Martial Law by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos." 

Violent protest feared, plot to infiltrate marchers uncovered (www.abs-cbnnews.con)

"A reported plot by "some elements" to sow violence at Friday's rally in Manila has prompted security officials to strengthen defenses around Malacañan.

Thousands of marchers from the opposition, farmers' groups and militant organizations will converge on Mendiola supposedly to mark the passage of the Agrarian Reform Law. But the ralliers are expected to protest the government's toughened stand toward rowdy protesters and to denounce the implementation of the expanded value-added tax.

Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes said on Thursday that the military and police have uncovered a plot to disrupt the demonstration.

"We have reason to believe that some elements in our society, for their own objectives, plan to exploit the situation and start violence," Reyes told a press briefing in Camp Crame.

All police and military units in Luzon have been placed on full alert and those in the Visayas and Mindanao on heightened alert, he said. 

The reports were based on the seizure on September 27 of a cache of improvised explosive devices and subversive materials from a suspected communist movement training camp in Barangay Dimanayat, San Luis, Aurora, Reyes said."

Solon tied to bomb plot (www.manilastandardtoday.com) 

"THE military yesterday insinuated that Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo had bankrolled a New People's Army plot to bomb targets in Metro Manila, but the party-list lawmaker called these charges "hogwash." 

In a press briefing yesterday, officials of the Armed Forces-Northern Luzon Command said documents seized in military operations in Alinsanay, San Luis, Aurora said a certain "Ka Satur" had given the communist rebels P5 million to buy explosives. 

The military officials also presented a cache of explosives seized from an alleged communist camp in Central Luzon. 

At the press conference, Maj. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, commander of Nolcom, made it clear they suspected Ocampo was the "Ka Satur" mentioned in the documents, citing his close links with the communists and his access to funds. 

The suspicion that Ocampo and other left-leaning party-list representatives were financially supporting the NPA was also bolstered by the names of the groups mentioned in the seized documents, Tolentino said. 

Military officials cited one statement in a document that said: "Umasa kayo sa hanay ng BM, AP, AB at iba pang kasapi na sektor dito sa ating lalawigan na isasagawa namin ang suporta pang masa. (You can count on BM, AP, AB and other members of this sector in this province to support the masses.) " 

The military said it believes BM stands for Bayan Muna; AP for Anakpawis and AB for Anakbayan." 

Ramos to Arroyo: Cut term (news.inq7.net) 

"PRESSING his call for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to cut short her six-year term, former President Fidel V. Ramos yesterday said Ms Arroyo must subsume her personal goals to that of the "national interest."

"The higher the position, the greater the sacrifice," Ramos said in a speech before businessmen, adding that part of this sacrifice was "giving up a part of your elected term of office."

His remarks were roundly applauded by the businessmen, many of whom are members of the Makati Business Club, which has called on Ms Arroyo to step down following allegations that she stole last year's presidential election.

"If I have been supportive of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her position as President thus far, that support is only secondary and incidental in the absence of a better alternative from the Makati Business Club, the Management Association of the Philippines and Finex (Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines) in the protection of that national interest," Ramos said.

The three business groups hosted the lunch at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati where the former President gave his speech."

PSG bares plot to storm Palace (www.philstar.com)
"The Presidential Security Group (PSG) has been flooded with reports that anti-government forces are preparing to storm Malacañang in the coming days and President Arroyo's security guards are preparing for it. 

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye also asked the public to give the police the "benefit of the doubt" after opposition leaders scored them for their violent dispersal of rallyists. 

"They (the police) are not there to pick a fight but to protect the community and society," Bunye said. "We seem to forget that they take the brunt of the insults and abuse on the frontlines and get hosed down, too, along with the rallyists." 

He also said policemen "should be recognized for their courage, forbearance and loyalty to the law." 

PSG chief Brig. Gen. Delfin Bangit said there are no confirmed specific threats against the President but the PSG is not taking any chances." 

No bishops' meeting in the offing - Rosales (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"AFTER declaring his support for the dispersal of the antigovernment rally last Friday, the influential top Catholic churchman of Metro Manila yesterday denied that there was going to be a meeting of bishops to reassess the Church's stand on recent political events. 

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales yesterday warned the faithful not to believe reports that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines will hold a meeting to discuss new political developments. 

"I don't know of any meeting of bishops. Don't just believe any report because there will no CBCP session for that purpose," he said." 

INC, El Shaddai to RP leaders: Stop bickering (www.philstar.com)
"Joining the Roman Catholic Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai appealed to administration and opposition leaders yesterday to "end the political bickering that has been going on for months" for the sake of the nation. 

"For a time, we have refrained from issuing statements concerning the current political situation in keeping with our policy of respecting the separation of church and state," Iglesia ni Cristo executive minister Eraño Manalo and El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde said in a rare joint statement, apparently issued to underscore the urgency of the situation. 

Breaking their silence on the issue, Manalo and Velarde said increasing calls from members of their respective flocks prompted them to appeal for an end to the crisis that experts warn could threaten the country's economic recovery. 

"However, the increasing calls of our members and non-members as well, a majority of whom belong to the lower bracket of the socio-economic strata, compelled us to break our silence and convey an appeal to all the leaders of both the administration and the opposition to bring to an end the political bickering that has been going on for months and has been hurting our nation so much, particularly its economy," the joint statement said. 

Manalo and Velarde said it was "high time" for the administration and opposition leaders "to set aside their political interests" and "immediately attend to their duty of alleviating the sufferings of the Filipino people, for which they were put into office." 

Pichay eyes speakership (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"Administration Rep. Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Norte is being touted as the replacement for Speaker Jose de Venecia.

The Speaker's resentful allies from the Sunshine Coalition are determined to field Pichay as his successor.

Pichay, head of the House contingent for the Commission on Appointments, is "open" to the idea of challenging de Venecia.

Opposition Rep. Jacinto Paras of Negros Oriental said Pichay had talked to him about the matter. 

Paras claimed that the majority of administration congressmen are keen on changing the Speaker, saying they are "disappointed" with the way de Venecia is running the affairs of the House."

House won't lift EVAT on fuel, power (www.philstar.com)

"The House of Representatives is not likely to lift the application of the 10-percent expanded value-added tax (EVAT), set to increase to 12 percent next year, on electricity and petroleum products like diesel and gasoline. 

And if the House rejects or sits on proposals to scrap the levy on these "socially-sensitive" products, similar measures in the Senate won't move because any tax bill must originate from the larger chamber. 

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. told reporters yesterday that lawmakers, businessmen and the nation in general should first "give the EVAT law a chance to work before a review can (be) undertaken." 

"Let's give it first a try, a chance to work to solve our fiscal problem, and then take a second look at it," he said. 

"We should get out of this Argentina-like situation," he said." 

Catholic schools vow to seek truth about Arroyo (news.inq7.net) 

"AMID growing public apathy, Roman Catholic schools under the wing of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales and a prestigious Jesuit group have vowed to press on with their "search for truth" behind the scandals in the Arroyo administration.

"The worst thing that could happen now is to have the apathy spread because of [public] confusion," said Monsignor Gerardo Santos, director of the Manila Archdiocesan Parochial Schools Association.

He lamented that while it was obvious that the truth behind the political scandals that had engulfed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration remained hidden, "people are simply indifferent to what is happening."

"They got fed up simply," said Santos, who also heads the Metro Manila chapter of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the largest association of Catholic schools in the country that includes Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, San Beda College and the University of Santo Tomas.

Monsignor Santos said a gathering of officials and students from Catholic schools is set on Nov. 12 at St. Paul's College in Pasig City.

It will be the continuation of a similar assembly held in July at St. Scholastica's College in Manila at the height of the clamor for Ms Arroyo's ouster.

The CEAP refused to join the bandwagon then and instead endorsed the impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo, which the House of Representatives quashed.

"The situation has changed a lot since the impeachment," Santos told reporters, adding that the group might issue another statement on the crisis.

Santos said the two organizations had decided to take it upon themselves to continue probing into the unresolved political crisis in response to last month's appeal by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the need for truth to come out in the face of a major crisis facing the Arroyo administration.

On their part, the Jesuit leadership in the country said Ms Arroyo had yet to sufficiently address the questions surrounding her legitimacy.

The Jesuits' Commission on the Social Apostolate, in a set of guidelines released on Oct. 11, said the search for the truth behind the allegations of electoral fraud and corruption against the President must continue.

"The struggle to bring out the truth must go on ... The President has not sufficiently rendered an account to the people [about the] serious charges [that] have been raised against her," the commission said.

"Efforts to hide the facts only confirm the suspicions of many," it added.

The commission stressed: "To dismiss the search for truth in the name of stability is to condone the culture of impunity, by which those in power have long been able to commit crimes unpunished."

The paper, titled "Some Guidelines in a Time of Confusion and Crisis for Jesuits and Jesuit Institutions of the Philippine Province," was endorsed to all Jesuits and Jesuit institutions in the country by the provincial of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, Fr. Daniel Patrick Huang."

Aquino enters not guilty plea on spy charge (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

"Former Philippine police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino on Thursday (Friday in Manila) entered a not guilty plea as he was arraigned in a Newark, New Jersey, court for espionage charges.

A report by ABS-CBN News North America News Bureau said Aquino's lawyer, Mark Berman, made the statement as the defendants watched.

Federal prosecutors led by Assistant US Attorney Karl Buch sought a trial delay of at least nine months. Buch said prosecutors needed more time to prepare for trial because of the complexity of the case and sensitive nature of the evidence.

Berman argued to set a quick trial date. 

US District Judge William Walls refused the requests of both lawyers. He, however, scheduled both sides to return on January 17, 2006 at 10 a.m. to set a trial calendar. 

During the hearing, Buch rold Walls that the investigation is ongoing and prosecutors are likely to seek more charges against the former Philippine police official. Buch said that federal agents have retrieved more than 2,000 electronic mails (e-mails) from Aquino.

The prosecutor said many of those e-mails retrieved from Aquino's files contained classified documents. He did not elaborate.

Aquino was accompanied by his wife Fatima to court. Two other relatives were with them. The family's immigration lawyer, Felix Vinluan, was also present.

Consul Lourdes Legaspi from the Philippine Consulate General in New York also attended the hearing.

The 39-year old Aquino, a permanent US resident living in Queens, New York, was indicted on October 6 and charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. The espionage charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine."

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