[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 27 July Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Jul 27 17:23:52 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 27 July Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



GMA's allies to kill impeachment next month; Aug. 8 hearing set ( The Philippine Star)

"President Arroyo's allies in the House of Representatives will most likely kill the new opposition initiative to impeach her next month, Majority Leader Prospero Nograles predicted yesterday. 

He made the prediction hours after the seventh impeachment complaint against the President was filed by parents of two missing University of the Philippines (UP) student activists. Militant party-list representatives led by Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna endorsed the petition. 

Nograles told a news conference that the House leadership wants to dispose of all the complaints by the end of next month. The committee on justice has scheduled the first hearing on the impeachment cases on Aug. 8. 

"We want to finish this by the end of August. Hopefully, we can vote on it in plenary by that time. We want to get it over with so we can proceed to other matters," he said."


'Next 3 months crucial for Cha-cha' ( The Philippine Star)
"The next three months will be a "crucial" period for the administration in its efforts to amend the Constitution in preparation for the May 2007 midterm elections, a senior lawmaker said yesterday. 

"I think we are running out of time. I think we will have a very hard time pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha). The next 90 days will be very crucial, because any delay in Cha-cha, by any mode, is not good for the country," House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles said. 

Nograles pointed out that most local officials who are leading the Charter change bid through a people's initiative will soon be busy preparing for the local elections in May next year and will drop the Cha-cha effort. 

"By the end of October, (we will) already (be seeing) election fever," he said. 

"That will be the (start of) campaigning. The political parties will be very busy by then," the Davao City lawmaker said."


Palace eyeing Mega Pacific counting machines for 2007 polls (Inquirer)

"MALACAÑANG yesterday said that tapping the idled counting machines of the Mega Pacific consortium was the most "practical" way to fulfill President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's objective of computerizing next year's elections.

"In case there is a resolution by the appropriate court, and in this case the Office of the Ombudsman, then that could be very well used. The units are already there," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

"I'm saying 'in case' because we still don't know what will happen in the Ombudsman's Office," he said.

The Mega Pacific consortium won the Commission on Elections bidding for automating the 2004 polls but the Supreme Court voided the deal. But by then the consortium had already delivered 1,991 counting machines and received the bulk of the P1.25 billion contract price.

Ermita explained that the ongoing Ombudsman probe into the Mega Pacific contract was not only meant to determine the criminal liability of the Comelec officials and private individuals involved in the deal, as ordered by the high court, but also to decide whether the idled counting machines in the Comelec's warehouse could be legally used by the government.

"So much will depend on that hearing of the Ombudsman. What's being determined in the hearing is whether the machines available now that has been sequestered by the Supreme Court order are still usable or not," he said."

ChaCha gains support (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE latest Pulse Asia survey shows that 40 percent of Filipinos favor amending the Constitution, the head of the government commission promoting Charter reforms said yesterday. 

Lito Lorenzana, chairman of the Charter Change Advocacy Commission, said the Pulse Asia survey covering June 24 to July 8 confirmed that the percentage of Filipinos who favored changing the Constitution now was steadily growing-contrary to the findings of rival public opinion pollster Social Weather Stations. 

Respondents were asked how they would vote if the plebiscite on changing the Constitution were held today. 

Showing an almost even split, 38 percent of the respondents said they were not in favor of constitutional change, while 21 percent were still undecided. 

"Amid the continuing debate on Charter Change, the latest Pulse Asia survey shows virtual parity in the number of Filipinos who favor constitutional change now and those who do not favor it," said Pulse Asia executive director Ana Maria Tabunda. 

The finding contrasted sharply with the SWS survey, which said 67 percent would vote against constitutional reforms. "

Bolante's asylum bid puts him beyond reach of RP law (Inquirer)

"THE TRUTH would "remain buried" for the next five years.

That was the reaction of former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez to the application for political asylum in the United States by former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante.

Chavez, who first exposed the P728-fertilizer fund scam, said that even if Bolante's asylum request was eventually denied, the application process in the US could last for five years and Bolante could not be brought back while it is ongoing.

He said the Inquirer report yesterday confirmed his worst fears that Bolante would use his asylum application to remain in the US and avoid returning to the country to face the Senate inquiry into the fertilizer fund scam.

Bolante had claimed in the Inquirer report that he was the target of the communist armed wing New People's Army (NPA).

Yesterday, Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Bolante's allegation was a ploy to make him eligible for political asylum in the US so he could avoid repatriation and evade trial on charges of large-scale corruption, malversation and plunder of government funds.

"Bolante obviously availed himself of the US system to give him time and to escape Philippine law by applying for asylum. He knows for a fact that he is not qualified to do so but he also knows that the US process will take quite some time before his application is officially denied," Chavez said.

"So in the meantime, truth has to be buried temporarily in the files of unsorted rubbish. This gives a temporary comfort zone for his benefactors in Malacañang," he said."

UN group to pay for 450 OFWs' return next week (Inquirer)

"THE SINGLE BIGGEST batch of Filipinos fleeing war-battered Lebanon is arriving in Manila next week, on a flight courtesy of a United Nations-affiliated agency that has responded to the government's appeal for assistance.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will help send home up to 450 overseas Filipino workers on a chartered Boeing 747 leaving Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 1, the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The IOM will also shoulder the OFWs' initial trips by bus from Beirut to Damascus, as well as provide them temporary shelter while awaiting departure in the Syrian capital. The agency has arranged two road trips on July 29 and 30, the DFA reported.

It was not clear if there would be a second IOM-sponsored airlift, but DFA spokesperson Gilberto Asuque said the repatriation of OFWs from the troubled Middle East country would continue either on government-chartered or commercial flights.

Two more planes carrying evacuees were due to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday: a Cathay Pacific flight carrying 37 Filipinos which arrived at around noon, and a Philippine Airlines flight with 80 evacuees set for an 8 p.m. landing.

The latest arrivals constituted the third and fourth batches of Filipinos who had volunteered to leave Lebanon amid escalating bombardment on both sides and Israel's threat to expand the ground war deeper into southern Lebanon, the stronghold of the Hezbollah."

Mayon disgorging more gas (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"LEGAZPI CITY-Gas emitted by Mt. Mayon came to a record high yesterday since it started its "mild" eruptions on July 14, indicating it could blow up within days, officials said yesterday. 

Seismologist said the sulfur dioxide being disgorged by the volcano was averaging at 9,275 tons, meaning it was pushing out new lava and getting ready for a major eruption. 

"We are still looking for other parameters like ground deformation, lava fountains, harmonic tremors, and explosion-type earthquakes," volcanologist Ed Laguerta said. 

"These are the critical indicators that should take place before we shift the alert status to a higher level." 

Mayon's ejected lava and other volcanic materials had filled up the Bonga gully and were cascading down the Mi-isi channel toward Daraga town and the Mabinit and Buyuan channels in this city, officials said. "

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