[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 22 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Nov 22 11:48:13 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 22 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Palace still not giving up on Charter change (Inquirer)

"IF MALACAÑANG was relatively low-key in its support for the people's initiative to amend the Constitution, it will not be as diffident now that its allies in the House of Representatives are embarking on the "final push."

Palace officials said they were not giving up on Charter change despite Tuesday's setback at the Supreme Court.

"We respect the Supreme Court decision on the people's initiative," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said. "It will not stop us, however, from our advocacy that we need fundamental reform in order to remove the remaining stumbling block to our competitiveness."

Bunye also said Malacañang believed that Charter change was "the most important reform we have to make."

Gabriel Claudio, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's adviser on political affairs, said the high court's decision "formally activates the constituent assembly (Con-ass) mode of changing the Constitution."

Claudio said the decision was what administration allies were waiting for so that "they can now go all-out for Con-ass."

He said the Palace intended to send out the message to its allies in Congress "to dispel any doubt or speculation about its stand on Charter change."

"The President is in full support of efforts in Congress for Con-ass," Claudio stressed, adding:"

Sigaw claims sweet victory (www.philstar.com)
"Despite the defeat of its Charter change petition at the Supreme Court, advocacy group Sigaw ng Bayan claimed "sweet victory" yesterday, saying the SC also upheld the sufficiency of Republic Act 6735 for amending the Constitution. 

Sigaw spokesman Raul Lambino said the SC ruling on their petition turning down their motion for reconsideration with finality had achieved their primary goal of reversing the 1997 SC ruling on the same issues. 

Lambino explained the 1997 ruling involving Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and the Commission on Elections tackled the adequacy of RA 6735, or the Initiative and Referendum Act. 

He said yesterday's ruling by the High Court settled the issue of adequacy of RA 6735 to cover the system of people's initiative to amend the Constitution. 

The High Court had dismissed the signature gathering campaign launched by People's Initiative through Reform Modernization and Action (Pirma), declaring it illegal in the absence of an enabling law from Congress. 

The High Court had stated RA 6735 is inadequate to govern the people's initiative petition. 

"That was the essence of our petition that the High Court revisit the Santiago ruling, we claim sweet victory," Lambino said"


Allies, foes say no to unity ticket (Inquirer) 

"A PROPOSAL to form an administration-backed "unity ticket," which could include captured former senator Gregorio Honasan for the 2007 midterm elections, has caused grumblings among President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's political allies and denunciations from the opposition.

Former Senator Heherson T. Alvarez said the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party reacted sharply to the proposal of Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor for the administration to take in up to six opposition bets in its 12-member senatorial slate, specifically jailed coup plotter Honasan whom he called a "criminal suspect."

"Why, after spending so much money and effort to capture Honasan, would the government want to get him on its senatorial slate," said Alvarez in a press statement yesterday.

Defensor, a member of the Liberal Party (Atienza wing), said that aside from Honasan, the government was exploring the possibility of recruiting former senators Tessie Aquino-Oreta, John Osmeña and re-electionist senators Ralph Recto, Francis Pangilinan and Edgardo Angara (or his son Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara) to bolster the administration's bid to grab control of the Senate.


The move to take in Honasan "reeks of political opportunism, is bad modelling for political parties and reflects very poor respect for our system of justice," said Alvarez in a press statement.

.Melo panel to release findings next week (www.philstar.com)
"The fact-finding body tasked by President Arroyo to look into the killings of political activists and journalists is confident it would be able to consolidate its findings next month. 

However, retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, the five-member panel's chairman, said they are faced with lack of witnesses from cause-oriented groups, who were vocal in accusing the government, particularly the military, of perpetrating the killings. "

In an interview at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines yesterday, Melo said this would greatly affect their investigation because if families and colleagues of victims would not come forward to testify, the panel would be forced to "work with whatever they have gathered from their previous hearings." 

Melo said members of human rights groups like Karapatan, as well as militant organizations Bayan and Bayan Muna have been invited to testify, but up to now, they have not received a positive response. 

"Una pa lang, they have said na bakit daw heneral agad ang inimbita namin to testify, when in fact, even in the prosecution of cases before the courts, you don't wait for witnesses to be available," he said. "

Palace: Poll overlooks benefits for the poor (The Manila Times)


"Malacañan on Tuesday disputed the results of the Pulse Asia survey showing President Arroyo's falling trust rating by citing the benefits for the poor during the six years of her administration.


In a statement Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said that Pulse Asia's own self-rated poverty rating under President Arroyo from 2001 to 2006 "is the lowest among presidents in the past two decades."


Saludo acknowledged that "hunger has been rising since oil-fueled price hikes from 2004 cut the poor's spending on food."


But that has been offset by "economic gains in Metro Manila, which usually benefit first from GDP [gross domestic product] growth, have nearly cut in half hunger incidence in the capital region over the past nine months," Saludo said.


He cited data from the National Statistical Coordination Board which showed that poverty incidence went down to 24.5 families in 2003, from 27.2 percent in 2000. "That is equivalent to nearly 2 million Filipinos lifted out of poverty," Saludo said."


Canada rights mission calls for $22-million cut in aid to RP (The Manila Times)


"The Canadian human-rights mission will recommend today (Wednesday) to the Canadian ambassador to the Philippines that annual aid to the country be cut by at least $22 million following the alleged harassment by the military to frustrate its probe.


Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial, a Filipino-Canadian lawyer who heads the Philippines-Canada Task Force for Human Rights, said they will present before Ambassador Peter Sutherland the mission's findings on human-rights violations committed in Quezon province, Abra, Nueva Ecija and Baguio. 


She said the mission would also ask the embassy to redirect the multimillion-dollar aid for community programs to grassroots organizations instead.


Alcuitas-Imperial also questioned the openness of the Arroyo administration to international probes, saying that during the mission's visit to San Nicolas in Quezon, the military tried to stop its members from entering the area. 


"The military tried to prevent us from speaking to residents of areas where there were reported human-rights violations. They seem to be following orders to bar human-rights observers, which contradicts President Arroyo's supposed openness for international probes," Alcuitas said in a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday. "


Villar, Noli lead 'most trusted' officials (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. is the most trusted and well-liked official among the country's top national public servants, according to a recent survey of Pulse Asia Inc. 

Villar's approval rating rose to 60 percent this month from 56 percent in the July survey of Pulse Asia. 

The lawmaker, whose term saw the fastest turn of the legislative mill with 14 bills passed in less than four months, was followed by Vice President Noli de Castro with a 54 percent approval rating. 

"Vice President de Castro and Senate President Villar enjoyed majority approval ratings. Additionally, Filipinos are also least critical of the Senate president's performance with a disapproval rate of only 12 percent," Pulse Asia Inc. executive director Ana Maria Tabunda said. "

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