[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 8 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Nov 8 11:30:07 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 8 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Palace makes big push for constituent assembly mode (Inquirer) 

"MALACAÑANG yesterday hopped on the constituent assembly (Con-ass) bullet train as it made a big push for this mode to change the Constitution in a meeting of mostly like-minded lawmakers and Cabinet officials at the Palace.

Emerging from a two-hour meeting of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said that the five senators and 20 lawmakers in attendance had a "manifest unanimity" to push for Charter change before the May 2007 polls.

The main issue in Con-ass is whether Congress should vote as one (which the House of Representatives expects to dominate and therefore ensure an overwhelming victory for Charter change) or separately (where the Senate is expected to thumb down Charter change) to get the vote needed to effect constitutional reforms.

Claudio said that the voting issue would be brought ultimately before the Supreme Court but he would not comment on whether President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was willing to risk another high court defeat following the stinging rebuke of the people's initiative.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, an Arroyo economic adviser, said that during the meeting the lawmakers presented the pros and cons of a constituent assembly.

Risks worth taking

"In their calculation, the risks when considered against the benefits are worth taking at this stage of our national life cycle. It is intellectually feasibly, economically permissible and empirically doable with any fallout correctable," said Salceda.

Based on his game plan, Claudio said Con-ass could still be pursued even in the middle of next year's campaign period depending on the interim parliament which could opt to postpone the May elections to pursue Charter change.

This means that Con-ass proponents have up to the day before the election to pursue their bid, according to Claudio."

Lively debate brings no Charter Change accord (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"SENATORS and congressmen failed to reach a compromise on Charter Change yesterday despite the intervention of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

The House leaders led by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. stuck to their position that amendments to the Constitution could be proposed by a constituent assembly if three-fourths of all members of Congress-with the House and Senate voting together-approved. 

This was unacceptable to the senators led by Senate President Manuel Villar, who insisted that the two Chambers of Congress vote separately on all constitutional amendments. The other senators at the meeting were Miriam Defensor Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile, Juan Flavier and Francisco Pangilinan. 

The lawmakers and members of the Cabinet debated the move to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly during a two-and-a half-hour meeting of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council presided over by the President in Malacañang. "

Ruling party to reveal Senate slate by Dec 20 (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's political party will come up with its own list of senatorial candidates if its three conditions for Charter Change are not met on or before Dec. 20, a party official said yesterday. 

Gabriel Claudio, secretary-general of the Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats, said the party could only pin its hopes on Charter Change for so long. It would have to contend with the mid-term polls next year if the shift to a parliamentary system failed to happen. 

"We have to decide on Dec. 20, and we have to make sure that we have a strong campaign because to do otherwise would be suicidal for the party," said Claudio, Mrs. Arroyo's adviser on political affairs. 

Lakas-CMD party wants to see both houses of Congress convened into a constituent assembly on or before Dec. 20. It also wants a petition for a plebiscite for Charter Change filed before the Commission on Elections, and to be sure that the Supreme Court does not turn down the petition. 

"If these three conditions are not met, then we have no choice but to prepare our slate for the 2007 elections," Claudio said. "

Cabinet divided on next defense chief (Inquirer) 

"AS IN THE CASE of the luckless Cha-cha (Charter change), the Arroyo Cabinet is again divided -- this time on the issue of who will replace outgoing Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. and whether his successor should be a civilian or someone with a military background.

One Malacañang executive said yesterday President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was leaning toward appointing someone who had come from the armed services.

The executive mentioned the names of former Philippine National Police Director General Hermogenes Ebdane, currently the public works secretary, and former Armed Forces chiefs of staff Narciso Abaya and Generoso Senga.

A member of Ms Arroyo's inner circle described Ebdane, who served as Ms Arroyo's national security adviser for a time in 2004, as the "front-runner" for the top defense post.

"She is inclined to appoint Ebdane," the source said.

But two other Palace officials said Ms Arroyo was satisfied with Cruz's performance and was biased toward giving the defense portfolio to another civilian."

Marcos rights victims win $35-M fight in US court (Inquirer)

"RIGHTS abuse victims have scored a major victory against the government over the disputed $35-million worth of assets that the US-based Merrill Lynch merchant bank is holding for the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected the Philippine government's motion that the court reconsider its earlier decision throwing out the latter's petition that it re-hear the case in which Hawaii Judge Manuel Real awarded the $35 million to the victims.

Rod Domingo Jr., a lawyer for the rights abuse victims, described the unanimous decision of the 35-member US appellate court as a "stinging defeat" for the government, noting that it was the second motion of the Philippine government that the court has denied.

With the court victory, the money, which would come to around $2,000 for each victim, could be distributed in 30 days, according to Robert Swift, the lead counsel for about 9,539 abuse victims.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked with recovering the ill-gotten assets of Marcos, his family and his associates, said, however, it had the option to take the case up to the US Supreme Court for review."

Senate passes into law outright ban on billboards along highways (www.philstar.com)
"The Senate passed last night, with a vote of 13-0, an act regulating the use of billboards in the country, almost a month after typhoon "Milenyo" wrought havoc in Metro Manila and Luzon, resulting in the death of almost 200 people, including a driver whose vehicle was pinned down by a collapsed billboard along EDSA in Makati City. 

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who sponsored the bill, said the act imposes an outright ban on billboards on highways that obstruct or obscure the view of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, billboards in residential areas, billboards on any public property such as streets and highways, telephone or utility poles, and billboards on the roof of any building. "No billboard shall be located within one thousand feet of any interchange, within one thousand feet of any right-of-way of any underpass, overpass, bridge or tunnel, or within one thousand feet of any street intersection," section three of the act said. 

Billboards shall not be erected within a thousand feet circumference of the nearest property line of historical sites, schools, churches, hospitals, retirement or nursing homes, cemeteries, government buildings, public parks, playgrounds, recreation areas, or convention centers. 

The Santiago bill was certified urgent by President Arroyo."
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