[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 23 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Aug 23 12:16:21 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 23 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



P10b set aside for 2007 polls (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

The government has already earmarked P9.8 billion for next year's mid-term elections but Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. assured the public of available funds if the proposed shift to parliamentary government pushes through. 

In an interview after yesterday's Cabinet meeting at the Palace, Andaya said the Department of Budget and Management is prepared to source the P2 billion funding required for a plebiscite if the people's initiative succeeds in its referendum. 

"We will tap the savings from the contingency funds in case the plebiscite pushes through in January next year," the Budget chief said. 

He clarified, though, that the 2007 budget of the Commission on Elections was calculated based on the assumption that next year's electoral exercise would be the mid-term polls. 

Of the P9.8 billion budget, P5.5 billion will be used for the national and local elections while the remaining P2.3 billion will be allocated for the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.


Bishop says no to commission; still no word from Melo (Inquirer)

BACOLOD CITY -- Bishop Camilo Gregorio yesterday declined to join the commission formed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into alleged extrajudicial executions of leftist activists, saying he did not wish to compromise the independence of the local Roman Catholic Church.

Three days after the news broke of the creation of the investigative commission, there was still no public statement from former Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo, 74, who had been appointed to head the panel. Despite efforts, Inquirer reporters have been unable to contact Melo for his reaction to his appointment.

"In deference to the autonomy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), I asked to be replaced," Gregorio told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

The 66-year-old prelate said he did not wish to place the CBCP, of which he was a member, in a compromising position. The CBCP issues pastoral letters on sociopolitical issues.


The prelate also cited urgent pastoral obligations, including retreats he would be conducting in the United States, and the strain of having to travel to Manila from the far-flung Batanes diocese he serves.

Sigaw ng Bayan to file Cha-cha petition on Friday (abs-cbnNEWS.com)

Representatives of different groups pushing amendments to the Constitution are set to file on Friday a petition before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on the proposed shift to a parliamentary form of government. 

Raul Lambino, spokesman of the multisectoral Sigaw ng Bayan coalition, told abs-cbnNEWS.com in a phone interview that the filing of the petition will be on Friday.

The petition seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution and change the form of government from a bicameral presidential system to a unicameral parliamentary system through people's initiative.

The principal signatories of the petition include Lambino, Alberto Agra, Dindo Donato, Jeffrey Zarte and Job Castillo who are all lawyers representing pro-Charter change groups. 

Lambino said the groups are targeting a parliamentary election by May 2007.

UN permits wide use of force in Lebanon (Reuters/abs-cbnNEWS.com)

UNITED NATIONS - New rules of engagement for UN troops in Lebanon permit soldiers to shoot in self-defense, use force to protect civilians and resist armed attempts to interfere with their duties, a UN document says. 

The 21 pages of rules, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, adhere to the mandate laid down by the UN Security Council in an August 11 resolution and drafted by France and the United States. That did not call on the UN force, known as UNIFIL, to carry out large-scale disarmament of Hizbollah guerrillas in a southern Lebanon buffer zone.

The rules, given to potential troop contributors last week for approval, have been generally accepted, said Vijay Nambiar, a special adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"We have not received any major requests for any change," Nambiar told a news conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, "We assume that we will be able to finalize them imminently."

In an attempt to enforce a fragile cease-fire after Hizbollah's monthlong war with Israel, the United Nations wants 3,500 new peacekeepers in Lebanon by September 2 and up to 15,000 there by November, including the 2,000 on the ground now in UNIFIL.

The current UNIFIL, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, established in 1978, also had the right to self-defense but was mainly an observer mission.

Specifically, the new rules of engagement, marked "UN Restricted," permit the right of self-defense and "preemptive self-defense" against an anticipated attack. But in many cases, a senior officer has to approve force if UN troops are not under attack.

The soldiers can also use force against anyone preventing UNIFIL from carrying out its duties and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under imminent threat, the rules say.

More Pinoys being jailed by Arabian authorities (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

MORE and more Filipinos are being jailed in Saudi Arabia for alcohol-related offenses and Filipinas for "immorality," the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh said yesterday. 

The increasing number of Filipino workers jailed for such offenses have so alarmed the Embassy that it has dusted off an old campaign to advise them to respect the laws and traditions of their host country, an official said. 

Saudi Arabia is the top destination of Filipino workers in the Middle East and is home to more than a million of them. 

But chargé d' affaires Nestor Padalhin said at least 337 Filipinos in the central and eastern regions alone were in prison for various offenses. 

Of that number, 197 were women and 165 of them had been charged with immorality, he said. 

Sixty-nine of the men were in jail for alcohol consumption and related offenses, while 30 more were serving sentence for illegal drug possession. 

Recently, Saudi authorities deported 46 Filipinas after they had served time in prison. They pardoned eight others after they had served light sentences, but then also sent them home, Padalhin said. 

Mayon resumes explosions (www.philstar.com)
LEGAZPI CITY - After a brief lull, Mt. Mayon in Albay has resumed exhibiting high abnormal conditions, blowing its top six times over a 24-hour period since Monday night. 

Volcanic earthquakes indicating magma ascending to the crater were detected 24 times. Tremors from the on-rushing lava registered a record-high 431 times. 

Mayon rested for about two days. But with the resurgence of its high-level unrest, volcanologists said it is too early to tell whether the country's most active volcano is set for a bigger explosion or simmering down. 

"It is in fact dangerous to declare this early that Mayon is already simmering down because its eruption history tells us the opposite," Alex Baloloy of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) told The STAR.
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