[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 4 December 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Dec 4 12:43:25 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 4 December 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



State of national calamity declared (Inquirer) 

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of national calamity yesterday as the death toll from "Reming" (international codename: Durian) was expected to exceed 1,000, most of them in villages in Albay crushed by boulders and mud loosened from the slopes of Mt. Mayon by the heavy rains spawned by the supertyphoon.

As many as 31 villages of 14,871 residents were hit by the mud flows, according to the Red Cross.

Power, communication and water still remained out of service in most of the Bicol region, further hampering rescue and relief efforts, but tales of tragedy and loss abounded.

The President's declaration would allow the government to speed up the release of funds needed to bolster search and rescue efforts and help several provinces recover from Reming.

Ms Arroyo has authorized the Department of Budget and Management to release P1 billion for relief and rehabilitation efforts.

"All resources of the government will continue to be mobilized without letup as we pin hope against hope on the search of survivors," she said in a statement.

RP is Asia's welcome mat for typhoons (www.philstar.com)
PADANG, Albay - Major storms have battered the Philippines time and again this year. 

"Reming" was the fourth super typhoon in four months to hit the country, swamping Mayon volcano with so much wind and rain that ash and boulders cascaded down its slopes in walls of black mud that swamped entire villages Thursday. 

More than 300 people were killed, and some 300 more listed as missing. Sadly, the scale of the calamity is far too common. 

Doomed by geography and hobbled by poverty, the Philippines has long tried to minimize the damage caused by the 20 or so typhoons that hit the sprawling archipelago every year. Despite a combination of preparation and mitigation measures, high death tolls and destruction persist. 

The Philippines' location in the northwestern Pacific puts it right in the pathway of the world's No. 1 typhoon generator, according to meteorologists. 

"We are often the first to experience typhoons before they go to China, Taiwan and Japan," said Thelma Cinco, senior weather specialist.


Charter change train starts chugging in House (Inquirer)

THERE'S NO stopping the Charter change (Cha-cha) express.

Before dusk today, members of the House of Representatives will convene with a single overriding agenda in mind -- the abolition of the presidential form of government to pave the way for the adoption of a parliamentary system with a unicameral legislature.

The administration's allies will begin the process by amending the House rules, deleting the second sentence in Section 105 of Rule 15 that indicates separate votes on Charter amendments in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Congress leaders told the Inquirer yesterday.

The sentence reads: "The adoption of resolutions proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution shall follow the procedure for the enactment of bills."

The next move will be the convening of Congress into a constituent assembly (Con-ass), possibly on Wednesday, according to House officials.

Sorsogon Representative Francis Escudero vowed to mount a "last stand" against Charter change by seeking to postpone the floor debate and focus attention on urgent measures to help victims of Supertyphoon "Reming" (international codename: Durian) in Bicol.

"We will fight to the end," said Escudero, leader of the minority bloc that twice bungled moves in Congress the past year to impeach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over election fraud charges.

Speaker Jose de Venecia has said that only three-fourths of all the members of Congress, or 195, is needed for Congress to constitute itself into a Con-ass.

After amending the rules, House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles, or one of his deputies, will manifest on the floor that 195 signatures had been gathered and pursuant to the Constitution, he will move to convene both chambers of Congress into an assembly to revise the Charter.

At this juncture, De Venecia will propose sending invitations to congressmen and senators to attend the joint session since the House believes that the two chambers this time is exercising a "constituent power," not the usual lawmaking function.

4 American Marines face judgment today (Inquirer)

AFTER A YEAR marked by emotion-packed hearings, a historic rape case comes to a close today, with the verdict -- "guilty" or "not guilty" -- likely to raise political reverberations beyond the courtroom of a media-shy judge.

On the line is the fate of five people in their 20s -- four US Marines and their Filipino accuser known to the nation only by her pseudonym Nicole -- whose lives were unexpectedly intertwined by a one-night fling inside a crowded nightclub at Subic Bay Freeport.

When Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon slams down his gavel at approximately 1 p.m. to open today's session at the old Makati City Hall, he will be in the midst of history.

The case marks the first time American servicemen will have been tried in a Philippine court under the Visiting Forces Agreement governing the status of US soldiers in this country.

The trial has also been viewed as a test of the long-standing ties between the two countries.

Police have laid down heavy security measures to curb any violence during expected protest actions around the courthouse.

Venue set for Asean conference (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THE Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City will be ready by Dec. 6, when the ministerial meetings of the 12th Asean Summit opens, the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. 

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ed Malaya said Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., secretary general of the summit's National Organizing Committee, told him the news. 

"Yes, it will be ready by then," Malaya quoted Paynor as saying. 

Paynor's assurance came four days after Asean spokesman and Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano Lecaros announced that construction of the P500-million center, started in April, was 95-percent complete. 

The venue is to host most of the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It was officially turned over to Malacañang on Friday. 

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