[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 25 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Aug 25 13:40:46 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 25 August Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



173-32 vote kills impeachment (www.philstar.com)
Like a rerun of last year's proceedings, President Arroyo's allies overwhelmingly crushed the latest impeachment bid against her yesterday after a marathon sleepless overnight session in the House of Representatives. 

But yesterday's opposition defeat was more telling as their numbers dwindled when several congressmen either swung to the other side or simply did not show up. 

Voting 173-32, with one abstention, the House upheld a ruling last week by its justice committee to dismiss the impeachment complaint on a technicality, preventing a potentially explosive trial in the Senate. 

After the drawn-out proceedings, Malacañang again extended its hand of reconciliation to the opposition while its allies in the House urged their colleagues to finally buckle down to work. 

But Mrs. Arroyo's foes vowed to fight on to oust her, effectively prolonging the yearlong political crisis that has debilitated the country. 

However, yesterday's results were so disastrous that opposition leaders in the House could not say if they would make a third attempt next year to impeach Mrs. Arroyo. 

Divided opposition loses impeachment vote (www.philstar.com)
Twelve lawmakers who voted in 2005 to impeach President Arroyo deserted their minority colleagues this year. 

The opposition bloc in the House of Representatives, led by Minority Leader Francis Escudero, failed for the second year in a row to push for the ouster of Mrs. Arroyo by way of impeachment because the ranks of the House minority are divided. 

"It's a given, the minority is very divided," House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles of Davao City said. "It's all media hype. It's been all theatrics with all those boxes (of evidence)." 

The most prominent former pro-impeachment lawmaker who was conspicuously absent at the plenary voting was Marinduque Rep. Edmund Reyes. 

House Deputy Majority Leader Edcel Lagman of Albay said the dismissal of the impeachment complaint is the "reflection of the popular disdain for gimmickry and scorn for purveyors of cheap propaganda." 

"It's a foreclosure of a disastrous political extravaganza in the Senate," he added, implying that sending the impeachment case to the Senate for trial would, in all likelihood, result in political disaster, since the chamber is dominated by Mrs. Arroyo's arch critics. 

Without naming names - but obviously referring to his former comrades in the minority who were absent when they were needed the most - Escudero said he hopes that these lawmakers could "see themselves in the mirror with much pride, honor." 

Among the absent lawmakers were Reyes, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, Robert Jaworski of Pasig City, Clavel Martinez of Cebu, Erico Fabian of Zamboanga City, Joseph Abaya of Cavite, Rodolfo Bacani of Manila, Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa City, Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, Arnulfo Fuentebella of Camarines Sur, Alfonso Umali Jr. of Nueva Ecija and Cynthia Villar of Las Piñas.


Petition to amend Charter filed today (www.manilastandardtoday.com )

AFTER gathering nine million signatures over the last six months, the Sigaw ng Bayan alliance is set to file a petition today for a people's initiative with the Commission on Elections, setting the stage for a showdown over its bid to move the country to a parliamentary system of government. 

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and Charter Change advocates Raul Lambino of Sigaw ng Bayan, Enrico Aumentado of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, and Lito Lorenzana of the Advocacy Commission will lead a caravan from the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila to the Comelec head office in Intramuros at 3 p.m. 

"We will bring to Comelec the 213 certificates certified by local Comelec district officers nationwide," Atienza told a press conference yesterday. 

"We will personally deliver the certificates, placed in a container van, to the doorsteps of the poll body's headquarters to show to the people that we have already accomplished the first and seconds steps in amending the Constitution." 

Aumentado, Lambino and Lorenzana will be the main petitioners. 

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos has said the poll body cannot act on the petition because of a Supreme Court ruling saying a people's initiative needs an enabling law. 

At a press conference yesterday, the petitioners showed journalists certified true copies of the Comelec's verified signatures in two boxes. 

A program is to start at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum at 1 p.m. before a caravan moves through Roxas Boulevard on its way to Comelec at 3 p.m. 

"This is a significant event because amending the Constitution is composed of three steps," Atienza said. 

One Voice ready to do battle over people's initiative (Inquirer)

LAWYERS for the anti-Charter change citizens group One Voice are girding for a legal battle with Sigaw ng Bayan (People's Cry) over the people's initiative petition the latter is poised to file with the Commission on Elections.

At a press conference in Manila yesterday, One Voice said the Comelec would have no choice but to dismiss the petition, following the Supreme Court's 1997 ruling prohibiting the poll body from hearing any such petitions due to the inadequacy of the current law on initiatives.

"The Comelec has no legal standing regarding the issue; it has no choice but to reject the petition unless it chooses to disobey the Supreme Court," said One Voice convenor Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

Lawyer Roberto Cadiz of the legal experts group Libertas said another point One Voice would raise is that a people's initiative could only be used to amend and not revise the Constitution.

He said One Voice lawyers would also scrutinize the signature collection process employed by Sigaw ng Bayan to see if government funds were used.

Palace sees December plebiscite on Cha-cha (The Manila Times)

Malacañan said on Thursday that a plebiscite on constitutional reform could be held by November or early December.

That could mean the national elections next year could by replaced by the first parliamentary election, Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said.

Claudio made the prediction in response to the warning of opposition members that they would get back at the legislators who voted down the impeachment complaint against the President in next year's election.

"If elections are held in 2007, we expect they will not be for members of the Senate and the House. They will instead be for Members of Parliament," Claudio said.

He said it was up to the Commission on Elections to respond to the petition of Sigaw ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) recognizing people's initiative as the way to rewrite the Constitution.

He also said the "immediate objective" of Charter change was to shift from a bicameral presidential system to a unicameral parliamentary one.

"We hope to resolve problems institutionally through this shift," he said. 

12 militants' slay solved - task force (www.philstar.com)
The police task force created to solve the spate of killings of activists and journalists claimed yesterday to have solved 12 cases, with the filing of charges against the suspects. 

Task Force Usig chief Deputy Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said they have substantially met the 10-week deadline imposed on the Philippine National Police by President Arroyo to solve at least 10 of the high-profile killings. 

Razon, however, admitted the developments could not be considered beyond expectations. 

"Kailangan pa naming magtrabaho (We have to work harder)," he said. 

"As we assess the progress of our investigation, we found out that a total of 12 cases have been referred to the courts," Razon said. "Seven suspects in three different cases have been arrested."
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