[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 13 January Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Jan 13 11:39:21 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 13 January Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan




Arroyo's fitness to lead to top agenda of Church execs' meet (news.inq7.net) 

IS PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo still fit to lead this country?

The question is expected to be raised during a planned dialogue between the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) on Jan. 23.

The issue figured prominently on the list of talking points prepared by Bro. Manuel de Leon, vice chair of the AMRSP and head of the Marist Brothers of the Philippines.

"We, too, are in search of leaders who have integrity and vision," he told the Inquirer yesterday. "He must be God-fearing, a servant-leader, and committed to the common good."

De Leon said it was important to assess the Arroyo leadership based on these criteria in the wake of the unresolved questions over the legitimacy of her election victory in 2004.

JDV: Parliament to retain president during transition (www.philstar.com) 

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. is proposing a French-style parliamentary system that would allow President Arroyo to stay on until the end of her term in mid-2010 as "chief executive with substantial powers but assisted by a prime minister who would be the chief operating officer of the government." 

De Venecia's proposal could be an attempt to bridge the differing views of Mrs. Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos on the issue. Ramos has urged Mrs. Arroyo to step down next year to pave the way for proposed changes in the country's form of government. 

Mrs. Arroyo rejected Ramos' call though, saying she would complete her six-year term unless amendments are made to the Constitution requiring her to step down. 

De Venecia, who is spearheading the initiative to change the country's form of government, will present his suggestion at this Saturday's top-level meeting of the ruling party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, which will include Mrs. Arroyo and Ramos. 

De Venecia, who will preside over the Lakas meeting, co-chairs the party with Mrs. Arroyo. Ramos, who founded the party in 1992 when he ran for president, is the chairman emeritus. 

'People need to be educated on Cha-cha' (www.philstar.com) 

A former member of the presidential consultative commission (con-com) on Charter changes dismissed the results of an opinion poll showing substantial public support for former President Fidel Ramos' proposal calling for President Arroyo to step down next year and stand in parliamentary elections. 

Former con-com secretary general Lito Monico Lorenzana said most of the people interviewed for the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey were uninformed of the issues but he raised the need to explain to the public their proposed amendments to the Philippine Constitution. 

"Many of the proposed amendments have not been publicly debated. The more the people are engaged in dialogue, the more they will understand," he said. 

According to Lorenzana, respondents in the SWS survey gave "unbalanced responses" and were simply made to answer "yes and no" questions. 

"There should be dialogue first before surveys (are conducted) so that we will really understand what is in their minds," he said. 

GMA-FVR meeting ends in compromise (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THEY smiled for the camera but after a secret three-hour dinner Wednesday night, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos couldn't even agree if they had found a solution to a political impasse that threatens to split the ruling Lakas-CMD party. 

At a press conference yesterday, presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio said Mrs. Arroyo and Ramos had agreed on a compromise that would end the divisiveness over a call for the Chief Executive to step down in 2007. 

The compromise was reached over a dinner of steak, cognac and chocolates Wednesday night at the old Macapagal residence in Forbes Park, Makati City, he said. 

Ramos spokesman Ed Malay, however, denied that a compromise had been reached, saying the two leaders had only agreed to keep working to find a solution. 

Malay added that the two leaders would meet again before a crucial meeting of the Lakas-CMD directorate on Saturday. 

GMA allies in House: Bring on new impeach case (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Proadministration lawmakers in the House of Representatives said Thursday that they will give due course to the new impeachment complaint that will be filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano and the opposition. They stressed that the House leadership is waiting not only to dismiss or kill the new complaint but to act on it based on what is "legally, morally and technically acceptable in accordance with the rules of impeachment."

Rep. Salacnib Baterina of Ilocos Sur, vice chairman of the Committee on Justice, and Exequiel Javier of Antique, vice chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, opposed the minority's bid to amend the impeachment rules which the minority itself pushed for adoption by the Thirteenth Congress last year.

Baterina and Javier said in a joint statement it is the House's constitutional duty to act on any impeachment case filed.

CHR rules that Pasig incident was a 'rubout' (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

LOW morale sweeps the ranks of the anticarnapping agency of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the release of an alleged inconclusive finding by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that a rubout, not a shootout, transpired in Pasig City two months ago that left three carjackers from prominent families dead. 

Chief Insp. Joseph Orsos, PNP Traffic Management Group spokesman, assailed reports that CHR fact-finding team based their resolution on PNP Crime Lab's report that the suspects did not engage the lawmen in a shootout since there were no bullet holes that emanated from the car of the slain suspects. 

He said CHR should first inform the affected parties, the PNP TMG agents involved, before the former would announce their findings before the media. 

Comelec chief urges Congress to pass election modernization law (www.philstar.com) 

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos called on Congress yesterday to pass a law allowing automated elections in 2007. 

"We should already be preparing for the 2007 elections at this time if we are to use automated machines so we are asking Congress to define whether we are for modernization or not," he said in an interview. 

Abalos said the Omnibus Elections Code only provides for manual delivery of election results, preventing the Comelec from using electronic transmission technology. 

"Let us amend the law to give the Comelec the chance to choose the latest technology that is appropriate for use at this time like the use of transmission technology machines that would allow us to declare the winners fast," he said. 

Abalos added that, if Congress would allow it, the Comelec could use the automated counting machines (ACMs) which were purchased by the election commission but prohibited from use by the Supreme Court during the 2004 presidential race. 

"Without prejudice to the decision of the court, the Mega Pacific (Corp.) has expressed willingness to allow the poll body to use the automated machines which I think would be good for us," he said. 

Drastic changes in terrorism bill eyed (www.abs-cbnnews.com)

Striking protest rallies off the list of terrorist acts will be among the amendments to the antiterrorism bill a pro-administration congressman will propose.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has recommended several amendments to the bill, which was "conditionally" approved on second reading in the House, to put in place safeguards to the "fundamental right to life and vital civil liberties" of every Filipino citizen.

Lagman said the bill must contain a provision for a new section ensuring that demonstrations, rallies, marches and similar activities addressing grievances to the government shall not fall under the prescribed acts of terrorism.

"This is to dispel the apprehension of certain militant groups and leaders of civil society that the Antiterrorism Act will be used to infringe on civil liberties, particularly the freedom of expression and of assembly," Lagman said.

Arrest warrants out today for GIs in Subic rape case (www.philstar.com)
Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 73 Judge Renato Dilag said yesterday arrest warrants will be issued today for the government to secure custody of four US Marines accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipina at the Subic freeport zone last November. 

Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Manila allowed Philippine officials to meet with the four US Marines yesterday, but gave no indication whether it would grant a Philippine government request, coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to take custody of them. 

Prosecutors allege that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith raped the victim inside a van in Subic as fellow Marines cheered him on. Smith claims the sex was consensual. 

Also charged were Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis, Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier and Timoteo Soriano, the Filipino driver of their rented van. The Marines are part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan. 

'Superboy' Defensor gets concurrent posts (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

DUBBED the "Superboy" of the Arroyo Cabinet, outgoing Environment Secretary Michael Defensor will head the Department of Social Welfare and Development on top of being presidential chief of staff in the ongoing revamp of the executive department. 

A Malacañang source told Standard Today that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave Defensor two  positions to placate him for his removal from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

As presidential chief of staff, Defensor will be moving within the very center of power but it is a Cabinet position without portfolio. This, the source added, is akin to being a nobleman without a kingdom. 

Defensor has admitted that he did not want to leave DENR, but the President needs a dynamic and trusted personality with political stature at the Office of the President, especially because she expects new attempts to grab power. 

The Palace source also said newly appointed presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza would retain his posts as presidential adviser for Mindanao and chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council. 

The source said the Cabinet reshuffle will include the following: 

1. Philippine Information Agency Director General Rene Velasco will be named chief of the Presidential Management Staff replacing Rigoberto Tiglao, who will become ambassador to Greece next month. 

2. Cabinet Officer for Presidential Engagements Conrado Limcaoco will be appointed PIA director general with Cabinet rank. 

3. Presidential Appointments Secretary for Provincial Trips Marilou Frostrom will take over Limcaoco's previous position. 

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