[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 18 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Aug 18 12:47:18 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 18 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



3 Charter change steps open to Arroyo (Inquirer)

IF THE Supreme Court votes down the administration-backed people's initiative and the House-initiated constituent assembly, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo still has an ace up her sleeve to tinker with the Constitution -- a constitutional convention.

In a constitutional convention, the delegates are elected by the people to draft amendments.

The President, who continues to be dogged by the "Hello Garci" tape scandal, could even propose the election of Con-Con delegates in the 2007 balloting to draft the constitutional amendments before her term ends in 2010, One Voice convener Christian Monsod said.

One Voice is a nonpartisan, multisectoral movement that is speaking out in forums against the "legally flawed" people's initiative and "suspicious" constituent assembly.

"Con-Con is a better option only if the other two fail. It's the only option if the other two fail," Monsod told Inquirer editors and staffers Wednesday night, referring to the administration's dual-track move to amend the Charter, which a Senate leader said was very much alive.

"If the other two are turned down by the Supreme Court, she may propose electing the delegates in 2007 as part of the elections."

Palace impatient over slow pace of initiative (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

MALACAÑANG is getting impatient over the slow pace of the people's initiative to amend the Constitution, an official said yesterday. 

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Palace wanted to know when the Sigaw ng Bayan coalition would file its petition with the Commission on Elections to hold a national plebiscite on the proposal to switch to a parliamentary system of government. 

He said the Palace had no idea whether Comelec election supervisors had already verified the signatures for the Charter Change petition in all congressional districts. 

He said the initiative could be overtaken by preparations for the 2007 congressional and local elections if it was delayed. 

But he was reluctant to talk to Sigaw ng Bayan leaders because this could rekindle suspicions that Malacañang was orchestrating the people's initiative. 

House leaders reach out to 'antis' (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

HOUSE leaders yesterday invited members of the minority bloc to work together to move the country forward, a day after scuttling an impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the committee on justice. 

"We extend the hand of cooperation, reconciliation and critical collaboration to the opposition," House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles said. "Let's make a legislative agenda that we can agree [on] and pursue this until the session ends." 

After Wednesday night's 56-24 vote in the justice panel to scrub the impeachment, House Speaker Jose de Venecia said the minority should expect no miracles once the committee report was submitted to Congresss for action. 

"The voting will be the same next week," he said. 

"It will not change in any way. Let us unite and buckle down to work in the remaining session days of the 13th Congress." 

Junking may spark civil disobedience -- Cardinal Vidal (Inquirer)

CEBU ARCHBISHOP Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez yesterday warned the scrapping of the latest impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could spark a civil disobedience campaign and other extra-constitutional measures to oust her.

"If the issue isn't resolved in a calm manner, a parliament of the street is possible and we can't stop that," Iñiguez told reporters.

He said some quarters, irked by the House committee on justice decision on Wednesday, might resort to "extra-legal" means. "We do not want that but we can't stop other elements."

At a breakfast meeting with several priests, Cardinal Vidal talked about his worries on the political implications of the killing of the complaint, said Msgr. Achilles Dakay.

"Cardinal Vidal said he was worried . he said he worries about civil disobedience," said Dakay, the archdiocese's media liaison officer. Vidal did not elaborate, Dakay said.

Citizens groups have raised the possibility of mounting a campaign for nonpayment of taxes, boycott of classes and work stoppages and slowdowns if Congress unduly blocks the second impeachment attempt against Ms Arroyo.

'Computerized voting also prone to election cheating' (The Manila Times)

The P1.2-billion worth of automated counting machines supplied by Mega Pacific Corp. to the Commission on Elections will not prevent electoral fraud, a private petitioner who called for the voiding of the controversial contract said on Thursday.

In fact, Manuel Alcuaz Jr. said the machines are more susceptible to cheating than the manual counting of votes.

Despite the voided contract, COMELEC is planning to use computerized voting in the 2007 polls.

"It is easier to commit fraud with the counting machines like the OMR [optical mark reading machines] supplied by Mega Pacific," Alcuaz said at a press briefing. 

Alcuaz explained that the counting machines are similar to the conventional paper-based election system, except that the voters mark the candidate of their choice instead of writing the name. The ballots are tallied by machine and not manually. 

He disclosed that the ballots also have to be transported to the counter center, raising the risk of ballot substitution. 

In manual counting, the results are already known in the precinct before the ballots are transported to the municipal center.

Alcuaz added that it is easier to create fake ballots that are harder to detect. Instead of writing the candidates' names, the voter shades a circle next to their names, he said. 

Oil spill peril spreads (Inquirer)

WITH NO OFFERS OF help from other countries, residents of Guimaras Island affected by the country's worst oil spill are using indigenous materials like bamboo poles with floaters, cogon, coconut husks and rice straw to keep the oil from spreading.

Environment Regional Director Julian Amador said residents and some volunteers had started removing the oil from their backyards without sophisticated equipment.

But the massive oil spill could get much worse without urgent help to lift a stricken tanker, still loaded with fuel, from the ocean floor. The spill is only a fraction of the oil on the doomed Solar I which has seeped out of the ship's hold, officials said.

The ship is on the sea bed some 3,000 feet (900 meters) deep. Philippine salvage teams only have the capability to dive to around 120 feet.

Indonesia and Japan have yet to respond to a Philippine request for specialist teams. Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz suggested that the Philippines also seek help from the United States.

DepEd to pay P3.3 B debt to GSIS (www.philstar.com)
A total of P3.3 billion will be allocated to pay the Department of Education's (DepEd) debts to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). 

Speaking to Metro Manila public school teachers at the DepEd offices in Pasig City yesterday, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the amount will cover the government's share in GSIS retirement and insurance premiums, dating back to 1997 and 1998. 

"It is important that employees are happy in order to be productive, especially in education," he said. 

The amount includes interests, which are being deducted from the benefits of retiring government employees, he added. 

Lapus said the GSIS must refund the deductions it has been making on the benefits of retiring government employees since 1997.


Golez: Handset, SIM registration risky (abs-cbnNEWS.com )

A former national security adviser on Friday said the mandatory registration of cell phone handsets and subscriber identification module (SIM) cards could impede a citizen's right to privacy. 

"This issue is sensitive because there is the issue of security. Although it will be used to maintain peace and order, still there is the issue of private communications, the civil rights of the people [being violated]. It should be balanced," Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez told Magandang Umaga Pilipinas. 

Golez, who served as President Arroyo's former national security adviser, said mandatory registration of SIM cards could be used by the administration to spy on critics. 

"Wiretapping would be easier. If they know [my phone number] they could easily tap my phone because [the government] has the wiretapping equipment," he added. 

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