[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 29 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Nov 29 11:26:09 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 29 November 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



House rushes plan for constituent assembly (Inquirer)

"PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's allies in the House of Representatives are considering convening as early as next week a constituent assembly (Con-ass) that would deliberate on and approve proposals to amend the Constitution preparatory to a shift to a one-chamber parliamentary system of government.

According to a source privy to the Palace-House campaign to push for Con-ass before Congress takes its holiday break on Dec. 23, the plan is to hold a plebiscite before the Feb. 12 deadline for the filing of senatorial candidacies for next year's elections.

The source told the Inquirer that it would be "ideal" for the plebiscite to be held before the deadline "because politically, it's not good to presume anything."

This is in keeping with the constitutional provision that the plebiscite should be held "not earlier than 60 days or later than 90 days after the approval of an amendment or revision of the Constitution," the source said."

Comelec gives up on automated elections (www.philstar.com)
"Automated election is now back in the dustbin. 

With the law on poll computerization yet to be passed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has thrown in the towel on the planned automated voting in the May 2007 midterm elections. 

According to Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, there is no more time for the poll body to prepare for "end-to-end" automated elections next year, even in selected areas. 

"The Comelec and the advisory council have reached the consensus that automation of voting and counting and canvassing is no longer doable in time for the 2007 elections," Abalos said. 

Abalos claimed 13 information technology (IT) firms have offered to provide the counting machines, including those that could carry out the entire election process. 

But Abalos pointed out that of the five phases of election process - voting, canvassing, transmission and recount - only electronic transmission is possible. 

"If we only have to automate the transmission of results in certain pilot areas, we can do that because machines that can do such functions are readily available," he said. 

With electronic transmission, Comelec could be able to eliminate mass fraud and cheating because it is in this stage where irregularities are commonly committed, Abalos said."


7 defense execs quit (www.philstar.com)
"Four undersecretaries and three assistant secretaries of the Department of National Defense (DND) submitted yesterday their irrevocable resignations to President Arroyo following the resignation of Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. 

Mrs. Arroyo accepted the resignations and will appoint officers-in-charge for the vacant positions. 

Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said there was nothing unusual about the resignations, adding that these did not indicate that the defense department is in trouble. 

Those who resigned were Undersecretaries Rafael Antonio Santos for policy, Cecilio Lorenzo for finance, Jose Tito Santos for defense acquisitions and Rodel Cruz for legal and priority concerns. 

The three assistant secretaries are Cruz's chief of staff Catherine Gonzalez, Ricardo San Andres and Aida Araceli Roxas-River. 

Cruz told The STAR last night that the resignations did not signify protest over his departure from his post later this week. 

"I recruited them to join the team so maybe they think they are co-terminus with me," he said. "Also, you need to give the new SND (secretary of national defense) a free hand in choosing the undersecretaries." 

Palace officials pointed out that it is standard practice in government for appointed officials to submit courtesy resignations every time a new head of office is designated. 

In this case, it is Mrs. Arroyo, who will act as defense chief for two months, who decides on the fate of the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries brought in by Cruz. 

"It's not unusual, they are co-terminus with the principal (Secretary Cruz)," Ermita said."


110 experts say no to use of dispersants during oil spills (Inquirer)

"ILOILO CITY -- The Philippines' National Oil Spill Contingency Plan requires "major innovations" to address adequately future massive oil spills, scientists and environmental experts said.

Some 110 experts who gathered here for the Scientific Conference on Guimaras yesterday agreed that one major change necessary was to disallow the use of chemical dispersants as an immediate response to an oil spill.

Jose Lorenzo Tan, president of the local branch of the Swiss-based World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines), said one of the suggestions in the conference was to remove the authority of the Philippine Coast Guard commander on site to use dispersants to contain an oil spill.

"In this conference, clearly in every single area -- corals, mangrove, sea grass -- the consistent and unanimous statement is that dispersants are not to be used in any nursing, spawning, life-sustaining habitat. That was very clear," Tan said in a press conference at the Grand Hotel yesterday.

The Scientific Conference -- where 43 papers were presented, 110 experts broke into scientific workshops and over 180 stakeholders attended -- sought to integrate all the assessment reports, including those made by Silliman University, University of the Philippines Visayas, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on the impact of the Aug. 11 oil spill that damaged much of Guimaras' marine ecosystem.

"The areas of concern now are still the mangroves, seashells, sediment, fish larvae, livelihood, health, governance and preparedness," UP Visayas Chancellor Glenn D. Aguilar said."

3 agencies ordered to oversee rationing (www.manilastandardtoday.com) 

"THE government ordered three agencies to ration water to Metro Manila's parched areas yesterday even as it earmarked P7.6 billion for irrigation next year to ease the dry spell brought on by El Niño. 

The money would bring water to 17,150 hectares of farmland and soften the impact of the drought, which is expected to hit hard in 2007, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said. 

"We can have a headstart in readying our irrigation systems for the coming dry spell with this funding," he said. 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered water rationed to about 600,000 Metro Manila residents whose taps remained dry for hours. 

The Local Water Utilities Administration, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. would spearhead the rationing, presidential chief-of-staff Michael Defensor said. "

Toxic waste dumped in Bulacan; 60 hospitalized (Inquirer) 

"MARILAO, Bulacan -- Farmer Carlos Clemente, 67, was awakened at 2 a.m. Tuesday by the rumbling of a truck leaving his farm. Minutes later, he and other residents of Barangay Prenza II and nearby villages were assailed by the stench of a chemical the truck had dumped in the area.

Some of them vomited, others almost fainted.

Before the morning was over, 60 people had been hospitalized, stricken with dizziness, nausea and chest pains, hundreds of others had fled their homes -- and the driver of the 10-wheeler tanker and his two helpers were held in police custody.

The village had fallen victim to what environmental experts suspected was a case of dumping of toxic chemical substances into an irrigation canal.

At least 20 of those hospitalized were children.

"It smelled awful," Merlyn Aguilar, a local resident taken to a medical clinic, told a television station. "My nape ached, my chest hurt, then I suddenly collapsed."

Benjamin Jacinto, head of a local rescue team, said: "The smell was so unbearable, we couldn't sleep. Our neighbors rushed out and had to flee the area."

The noxious stench forced about 1,200 people to flee the village of 3,000, officials said."

DENR readies raps vs Marilao polluters (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Wednesday it is readying criminal charges against the owners of a truck that dumped hazardous waste in Marilao, Bulacan that landed 60 people in the hospital. 


Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes said the department will sue operator Evelyn Tomas, driver Lope Reyes y Dohinog and truck helpers Alvin Torres and Jose Arnaldo for dumping the chemicals on Tuesday. 


"Appropriate charges will be filed against the illegal transporter and discharger of the toxic and hazardous waste pursuant to Republic Act 6969 and Republic Act 9275," Reyes told Magandang Umaga Pilipinas. "

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