[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 5 September Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Sep 5 12:22:01 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 5 September Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Hearings on Constituent Assembly starts today in House 

'Nobody can stop us now but the Supreme Court' (Inquirer)

THE House of Representatives will begin today public hearings in support of its leadership's attempt to convene the body into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the Constitution and change the form of government to a parliamentary system.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula, chair of the House committee on constitutional amendments, told the Inquirer more than 198 signatures of congressmen supporting Charter change had been obtained.

"But we're not concerned with signatures anymore. We can have as many as 200 but these are just commitments. We need 195 warm bodies in the plenary," Jaraula said.

House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles said 204 congressmen supported Constituent Assembly. "Nobody can stop us now but the Supreme Court," he said.

Jaraula's committee will hold a public hearing this morning for the sole purpose of adopting the Charter change resolution.

"We're looking at one month for the House to complete its job from the committee to the plenary," said Jaraula, Speaker Jose de Venecia's point-man in the administration's initiative to change the form of government.

Jaraula appeared undaunted about the fate of the people's initiative petition also aimed at revising the Constitution filed by Sigaw ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines in the Commission on Elections.

The poll body on Thursday ruled unanimously against the petition, citing the permanent injunction issued by the Supreme Court in 1997 against the political exercise for lack of an enabling law.

"The people's initiative and constituent assembly can go on simultaneously," Jaraula said.

Court vows swift action on ChaCha (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THE Supreme Court said it would act swiftly on a petition filed yesterday by Charter Change advocates, who are asking the tribunal to compel the Commission on Elections to accept their petition for a people's initiative and to schedule a plebiscite within 90 days. 

A court spokesman said Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban has scheduled a session with all 15 justices today to begin discussions on the controversial case. 

In a 64-page petition filed with the Court, lawyer Raul Lambino of Sigaw ng Bayan and Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, head of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, argued that the Comelec was guilty of grave abuse of discretion when it refused to entertain their petition and asked the justices to order the poll body to do its ministerial duty and comply with the constitutional provision on a people's initiative. 

Lambino and Aumentado also rejected the Comelec's view that the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1997 Santiago vs Comelec case barred it from acting on their petition, saying that decision did not apply to the case at hand. 

The petitioners also expressed belief that the 15 justices would reverse the 1997 ruling to set jurisprudence finally on such initiatives. 

Palace seeks P9.8 B for 2007 polls (www.philstar.com)
Malacañang is asking Congress for a P9.8-billion election budget next year, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday. 

He disclosed that under the proposed P1.136-trillion national budget for 2007, the Executive department is seeking P5.5 billion for the national and local elections and P2.3 billion for the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataang (SK) elections also slated next year. 

On top of proposed appropriations are allocations for the usual operating expenses of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and other poll-related expenditures, including resolution of cases and poll modernization. 

Andaya said overseas voting will cost P238 million while a general registration of voters for the SK elections will mean additional expenditures of P139 million. 

Projected expenses for the two elections pushed the Comelec's budget to almost triple - from P3.3 billion this year to P9.8 billion next year. 

The Comelec will be the 9th in the top ten government agencies receiving the biggest budgetary allocations next year. 

When asked how the ongoing drive of local governments to amend the Constitution and shift to a parliamentary form of government will affect next year's budget, Andaya said his department "was oblivious to political developments in earmarking funds for the national elections." 

"We do not base budget on speculations and 'what ifs.' We can only propose funds on activities already covered by an enabling law," he said.


High court okays Garcia forfeiture case (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the forfeiture case against retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who allegedly acquired ill-gotten wealth while serving as comptroller of the Armed Forces. 

In a 14-page en banc resolution penned by Associate Justice Dante Tinga, the tribunal affirmed the Jan. 20, 2005 resolution of the antigraft court denying the motion to dismiss the case filed by Garcia, and declaring the latter and his co-respondents in default for their failure to file an answer to the forfeiture case within the required period. 

The high court sustained the Sandiganbayan's findings that the motion to dismiss "suffers from a fatal procedural defect" as it does not comply with 10-day period notice of hearing provided for under Section 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. 

It rejected the assertion of Garcia that he should have not been declared in default by the antigraft court since the motion to dismiss was timely filed, thus, it suspended the running of the period to file an answer. 

The tribunal said Garcia failed to refute the fact that the motion to dismiss was scheduled for hearing on Dec. 3, 2004 or three days beyond the 10-day period in Section 5, Rule 15. 

"Thus, the motion is a mere scrap of paper which does not toll the running of the prescriptive period to file an answer and is not entitled to judicial cognizance," the SC stressed. 

Lawyer wants public hearings on Bolante case (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


Lawyer Harry Roque is petitioning a US court to open to the public the court hearings on ex-agriculture official Jocelyn Bolante's immigration case, ANC reported Monday.


"The people have the right to information. We cited American cases, saying that only under compelling reasons should it lead to closed-door proceedings," Roque told ANC. 

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