[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 9 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Nov 9 09:54:42 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 9 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



House eyes simpler version of constituent assembly (Inquirer) 

"TRYING to hit two birds with one stone, the House majority has come up with a simpler version of a resolution for Congress to constitute itself into a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.

In a caucus on Tuesday night, they set aside temporarily a pending constituent assembly resolution that contains specific amendments, coming out instead with a new one-page resolution simply calling on Congress to convene as a constituent assembly as soon as possible.

The House is apparently trying to woo the senators to board the Charter change train by setting aside contentious proposals and focusing first on a single objective -- the constituent assembly.

The new resolution is silent on the abolition of the Senate and the planned shift to a parliamentary system with a unicameral parliament, the hallmark of Cagayan de Oro Representative Constantino Jaraula's version.

The House leaders are confident that prospects of a constituent assembly being convened before Christmas and the May 2007 elections have "brightened" because of supposedly productive discussions on Charter reform during the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting last Tuesday.

But even Malacañang yesterday acknowledged its congressional allies would have a tough time beating the deadline before Congress takes its Christmas break on Dec. 21.

"They have to work hard to beat the deadline . They have to work between now and Dec. 21," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita."

Abandon Cha-cha, Palace urged (www.philstar.com)
"Senate President Manuel Villar said the government should now abandon its plan to change the 1987 Constitution by yearend because there is no more time for it in view of the coming election season.  

"I think it's going to be hard because it's almost mid-November and everybody is preparing for the campaign," Villar said when asked about the chances of Charter change by end-year. 

Besides, Villar said, the Senate would be very busy tackling several pending priority bills. 

High on the Senate's agenda in the remaining session of the year are the P1.127 trillion 2007 General Appropriations Act, Biofuels Act, Anti-Terrorism Bill, and Automation of Elections among other bills. 

"Ang administration ay wala pang partido pagka't busy pa sila sa Cha-cha, at mukhang boogie naman yung kabila (The administration has no party yet because it's busy with Cha-cha, and it seems boogie preoccupies the other side)," Villar said, referring to the opposition members who are themselves busy preparing for the May elections. "

2007 polls to cost P5.5 B (www.philstar.com)

"Next year's midterm elections would cost a whopping P5.5 billion, on top of the P238 million for overseas and absentee voting, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday. 

Andaya said the figures came from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which is pushing for the allocation to be included in the proposed P1.127 trillion national budget for 2007. 

He said the estimate was based on the proposed budget for the holding of barangay elections that would also involve all precincts and voters, amounting to P2.2 billion. 

"So the maximum range is P5.8 billion," Andaya said. "That is the price tag for a national election. Even if we haggle and cut costs, we'll still spend billions." 

Andaya said the figure does not include the P200 million approved by Congress as part of the P46.4 billion supplemental budget passed last month for the Comelec to defray expenses in preparation for the May 2007 midterm polls. 

He said that in the May 2004 presidential elections, there were 216,382 precincts and 43.5 million voters. 

The figure is expected increase with the registration of new voters, he pointed out. 

"There are 115 cities, 1,500 towns, and 42,000 barangays so we have to deploy three deputized election officials per precinct. There is the tons of paper to be used so the expenses are really huge and because we are an archipelago there is added cost for freight to transport these election paraphernalia," Andaya said."

Senate blasts PCGG for record spending (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"SENATORS yesterday attacked the commissioners of the Presidential Commission on Good Government for spending much more than any of their predecessors, and for trying to sneak into their budget a provision that would give them 10 centavos for every peso of ill-gotten wealth recovered. 

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday ordered the commission to submit a detailed report on its expenditures, including the salaries and allowances of the commissioners, the nominees assigned to sequestered firms, and personnel assignments and expenses. 

The agency's commissioners had earlier defied Senate hearings, claiming immunity from investigation, but the Supreme Court threw out their arguments last month and ordered them to submit to legislative inquiries. 

In a statement yesterday, the commission denied accusations by Senator Franklin Drilon during budget hearings that the current set of commissioners were "the most expensive in the history of PCGG." 

It said it had recovered P35.8 billion, the biggest cash recovery in the agency's history, and that the amount accounted for 58 percent of the commission's recovery in the last 20 years. 

But Drilon said P35 billion of the amount was recovered money from the Marcos family, and that it was the product of long years of litigation. 

The present commissioners recovered only P673 million, and to recover that amount they spent P141 million, he said. "

Taiwan shuts doors on Filipino workers (www.philstar.com)
"Filipino domestic helpers and other skilled workers will be barred from working in Taiwan starting next year. 

Last week, Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) announced plans to exclude the Philippines from the 80,000 quota for migrant workers, according to Jackson Gan, president of the Filipino Manpower Agencies Accredited to Taiwan. 

"The CLA already posted in its website that Filipinos are not qualified to apply for the 80,000 visas to be given to migrant workers, and thus they can no longer work there," he said. 

Gan said he suspects that Taiwan is enforcing the ban in retaliation for close Philippines ties with China. 

"(The) Taiwanese seem to be saying since you are friendly with China, you better get jobs from them. But the truth is Taiwan is providing more jobs for Filipinos than China," he said. 

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion and POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz flew to Taiwan yesterday to try to resolve the planned ban on Filipino workers."


Govt-wide retrenchment starts Jan (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


"A government-wide retrenchment program aimed at rationalizing and streamlining the bureaucracy is scheduled to take effect by January next year, an official of the Department of Budget and Management said Wednesday.


DBM Director Nora Oliveros said that all national government agencies have until November 30 to submit their rationalization programs, which are expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2007.


The streamlining of the bureaucracy was ordered by President Arroyo through Executive Order 366 signed in October 2004. The EO directed strategic review of the operation and organizations of the executive branch and provisions for options and incentives for government employees who could be laid off. 


It was unclear, however, exactly how many state workers among the 1.2 million workforce will be affected.


But the government has assured an allocation of P10 billion as separation package for workers for its early retirement program or for voluntary separation."

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