[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 1 September Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Sep 1 11:56:58 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 1 September Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Tanker found, no fresh leaks seen (Reuters/abs-cbnNEWS.com)


"ILOILO CITY - Japanese experts believe the submerged oil tanker has developed no fresh leaks after it was found off Guimaras Island, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday.


Solar 1 sank in rough seas on Aug. 11 and leaked 200,000 liters of industrial fuel, affecting 40,000 people and 200 km of coastline.


It will take experts two days to make a recommendation on whether to siphon off the oil, raise the ship or entomb it.


Greenpeace says the remaining fuel in the tanker is an ecological timebomb.


Petron, which is 40 percent owned each by the government and Saudi Aramco, has promised to do everything "humanly possible" to help affected villagers and clean smeared beaches and mangroves in Guimaras and Iloilo provinces.


It has hired about 1,000 locals, paying them as much as P300 each day ($5.90), to clean the beaches and mangroves of the oil slick."


Melo commission 'toothless,' say critics (Inquirer)

"HUMAN rights advocates say the Melo Commission tasked to investigate the spate of extra-judicial killings was a "toothless tiger" because it has no power to rein in the military or to ensure that witnesses are protected.

Some 73 rights groups which gathered at the University of the Philippines College of Law to decide on what action to take against the killing of activists and journalists agreed that the Malacañang-created commission lacked the credibility and the independence needed to address the problem.

"It is a toothless tiger without the power to subpoena, without the power to protect," said former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr.

The Citizens Council for Human Rights said the commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, would not achieve anything unless it is given the authority to summon the military and police whom militants accuse of involvement in the killings. 

 "Unless these powers are given and sincerity is shown, then it's hard to change the impression that this commission is just for show. It will only be a superficial thing," Guingona said."


Economy grows a solid 5.5% in second quarter (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE economy grew a solid 5.5 percent in the second quarter on a pickup in agriculture and a strong service sector, but slowed from 5.7 percent in the three months to March, official figures showed yesterday. 

The second-quarter figures brought gross domestic product growth in the first six months to 5.6 percent, in line with government estimates, and compared with 4.8 percent a year earlier. 

GDP grew 5.4 percent in the second quarter last year. 

"The domestic economy sustained its strong upturn in the second quarter led by agriculture and the resilient services sector," Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri told reporters. 

"On the demand side, growth was stimulated by household consumption and strong exports," he said, adding that manufacturing exceeded expectations. 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she was confident the country would achieve its growth target of 5.5 to 6.1 percent this year."

Guns now trained on opposition (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said yesterday she is now training her guns on members of the political opposition who have allied with the communists to remove her from power. 

The government would do everything to expose the guilty and hold them accountable for their attempts to overthrow her administration, she told graduating students at the National Defense College of the Philippines. 

"We have to wage battle against all these destabilizing elements and problems in many fronts," Mrs. Arroyo said in her speech read by presidential chief-of-staff Michael Defensor. 

"A concern that is no less threatening is the political opposition which, in its despondency, seeks to enter into unholy alliances even with the leftist elements if only to achieve its political objective of destabilizing and replacing the present leadership," she said. 

The opposition's supposed alliance with communist groups first surfaced at the height of the failed Feb. 24 coup attempt, which forced Mrs. Arroyo to place the country under a week-long state of emergency."

'Suicide bomber' flew on RP plane, Airport guards flunked anti-terror test 2 times (Inquirer)

"A MAN WEARING a jacket and carrying a bag was able to sneak a bomb onto a flight from Manila to Davao City last month at the height of the nationwide security alert after Britain uncovered a plot to blow up transatlantic planes.

The man pulled off the same stunt on the return flight to Manila.

Had he detonated the bomb, he would have turned the commercial plane into a fireball and killed himself, the crew and hundreds of other passengers.

The man turned out to be a civilian antiterrorism expert tapped by a government official to test security measures at Philippine airports after British police foiled a plan to blow up US-bound planes in midair using liquid explosives.

Security was tightened at London's Heathrow airport on Aug. 10, setting off alarms at airports across the globe, including in the Philippines.

But the security and antiterrorism expert, who asked not to be named because of his work, said he managed to bring the bomb and its components onto the plane on Aug. 14 despite the additional security measures at the Manila domestic airport, like the banning of hand-carried fluids and gels."

PIATCo backs down on takeover (The Manila Times)

"The Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCo) on Thursday dropped its plan to take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 to give the government more time to address payment issues "in the spirit of good will."

The Manila International Airport Authority deployed hundreds of airport police and security officers at the NAIA 3 entrance and exit to prevent a PIATCo takeover. 

Moises Tolentino, PIATCo's corporate secretary, told The Manila Times the company decided not to force the issue in deference to the letter from Alfonso Cusi, MIAA general manager, "to give the government a little more time to iron out certain issues." 

"I appreciate PIATCo's cooperation. We hope to finally resolve the issues as soon as possible and eventually put Terminal 3 to use," Cusi said.

PIATCo announced that it would take over the terminal after the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration in Singapore issued an order on August 23 for the Philippine government to let the consortium run NAIA 3.

The arbitration court said the government lost the right to the terminal when it failed to pay PIATCo P3 billion as initial compensation for building it."

Proponents vow to go to SC(www.philstar.com)

"Malacañang does not see the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) junking the people's initiative petition as a setback because they can still make an appeal, officials said yesterday. 

With the battle now shifting to the Supreme Court, the Arroyo administration is hopeful that the tribunal would see merit in the petition to continue that particular mode of amending the Constitution. 

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the Comelec ruling was not entirely a setback because "what is important will be the final decision of the Supreme Court (SC)." 
"The decision will really depend on the courts and the people. What happened now is just the initial stage and we all know that whatever the decision of the Comelec, whether it's for or against, this will eventually reach the Supreme Court," Bunye told a press briefing. "Let us just respect the decision of the Comelec. We leave it to sound judgment of the Supreme Court." 

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said that with the Comelec ruling now out, "the stage is set for the high court to settle the constitutional feasibility of people initiative once and for all." 

"We fully rely on the judiciousness and wisdom of the high court," he said." 

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