[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 25 July Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Jul 25 16:38:16 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 25 July Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



SONA: Promises, praises, Arroyo pays back allies (Inquirer)

"SHE VOWED NOT TO TALK about politics but her State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday amounted to what could be a payback for her political supporters --from generals and lawmakers to Church officials and especially local executives -- as she outlined a program creating economic "super regions" to spur development.

In her "feel-good" address, a confident President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she would relinquish the presidency "after three years, eleven months and six days with much, if not all, that I have outlined completed."

She said the real challenge was not to blame but to fix what was wrong in the country and the economy.

Two years after embarking on a fiscal reform program, the government now has the money to address social inequity and economic disparity, stamp out terrorism, fight corruption, and undertake constitutional and electoral reforms, the President said.

"Finally, we have the funds not only to pay interest but to spend for education, better roads and bridges, provide good health services, and create more jobs in the country," she said.

Ms Arroyo said she was ready to embark on a gargantuan capital investment program for the government after putting in place fiscal reforms two years ago and focusing on providing better social services since last year."

A 'PR speech,' critics say of SONA (INQ7.net)

"CRITICS of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a field day on Monday panning her sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) as everything from a "PR (public relations) speech" to barely disguised marching orders to continue a murderous rampage against leftist groups and other dissenters.

But loyalists of the President, who remains hounded by doubts about her legitimacy, advised Arroyo's opponents to back off, saying their efforts to oust her are in vain. They also packed the plenary hall of the Batasan Pambansa and interrupted the speech more than a hundred times with applause.

"To dream costs nothing and there is nothing wrong with that. I hope her dreams come true because it is a bigger sin to let people hope on nothing," House Minority Floor Leader Francis Escudero, who did not listen to the SONA at the Batasan Pambansa, said in a text message.

"By the way, did she (Arroyo) say how much total it will cost us to complete all the projects she mentioned?" he asked, referring to the President's reference to an ambitious spending package to kickstart economic development."

Arroyo to ask private sector to help pay for spending plan (abs-cbnNEWS.com) 

"President Arroyo is set to ask the private sector to do some of the heavy lifting to get her massive public investment plan off the ground, a senior aide said Tuesday. 

Mrs. Arroyo outlined her plans to jumpstart the economy in her annual State of the Nation address on Monday to the legislature. 

Critics doubt the government can pay the estimated half a trillion pesos ($9.58 billion) tagged for building airports, ports, railways, ferry links and irrigation systems to connect the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago and thus lower the cost of doing business. 

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya insisted the plans could be paid for. 

He said increased tax collection likely led to a 12 billion-peso budget surplus in the first half, compared to the 15 billion-peso deficit target. 

"We have enough cash," Andaya said on local radio. "Not all of the funds would have to come from the national budget. Government-owned and -controlled corporations will also pitch in, and there will be BOT (build-operate-transfer) projects for the private sector." 

Govt eyes P1.4-trillion budget for 2007 (abs-cbnNEWS.com) 

"The government is eyeing a national budget of P1.4 trillion for 2007, up from the proposed P1.053-trillion budget for this year, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Tuesday. 

Teves said the country's economic managers are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the budget as well possible sources of the government's public spending program as detailed in President Arroyo's State of the Nation address (SONA) on Monday. 

He said the department will submit the budget proposal before the end of August. 

The finance chief also said the government would most likely increase its foreign borrowings to cover increased spending in public infrastructure. 

"There is a likelihood like, for example, we didn't expect the World Bank would be as responsive over what we have accomplished over the past year and a half," he said over DZMM's Tambalang Failon at Sanchez. 

"Now that our fiscal operations are improving and they know that we are spending on projects, they are the ones offering [loans] that have longer payment terms and lower (interest) rates," he added." 

PNP clears Palparan on killings (INQ7.net)

"THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday cleared controversial Army Major General Jovito Palparan of any involvement, direct or indirect, in the spate of political killings that have claimed the lives of hundreds of activists and other civilians over the last five years.

PNP Director General Oscar Calderon said investigations conducted by Task Force Usig, the unit created to look into the unabated murders of activists and journalists, failed to dig up any evidence to link Palparan, who human rights groups claim is responsible for many of the deaths.

The human rights alliance Karapatan has noted that the killings of activists and other dissenters skyrocket in areas to which the controversial officer is assigned.

Among these places are Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Palparan's current assignment, Central Luzon.

But Calderon said Palparan "was never implicated in any of our investigations so we have never asked for his statement (regarding the allegations)."

However, Calderon said Palparan was not entirely off the hook, explaining that once witnesses come forward to pinpoint Palparan, they would conduct further investigations.

"If you think the officer is guilty then file the case in court," the PNP chief said. "But at present, we do not have any holdings, no witness to say that that officer is the suspect or the one responsible for the killings. They are all just insinuations."

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