[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 20 September Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Sep 20 17:01:49 PHT 2006
Newsbriefs 20 September Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
Military coup in RP 'will never happen'--Armed Forces chief (INQ7.net)
"THE MILITARY takeover of government in Thailand will "never happen" in the Philippines, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Wednesday.
Esperon said the chain of command remained "intact" and the military
"loyal to the constituted authorities to include the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive."
"We don't see it happening here. That will never happen," Esperon said in a statement read by his spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.
"We are taking orders from our commander-in-chief, who is the President," Esperon said.
The Philippine Army also expressed confidence that its troops would not mount a coup d'etat.
"The Army leaves politics to the politicians. It will not yield to pressure from anti-government groups and the political opposition to unconstitutionally change the country's leadership," Army spokesman Major Ernesto Torres said.
On Tuesday night, Thai soldiers overran the seat of government in the capital of Bangkok, ousting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York at that time.
Like Thaksin, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been accused of corruption, coupled by allegations that she had used the military to cheat during the 2004 election."
Arroyo in 'firm control' of gov't, military - Palace, Ermita: She won't end up like Thailand's Thaksin (INQ7.net)
"(UPDATE) MALACAÑANG is confident that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not go the way of Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying the President is in control of the government and the Armed Forces.
"Everything is normal in the Philippines. ... The President is in firm control of the government and the Armed services are backing up the Constitution and the duly-constituted authority," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in his weekly press conference Wednesday.
"There's nothing to be duly alarmed about," Ermita added.
But Ermita said that in the wake of the recent developments in Thailand, he has talked to several officials of the Armed Forces because "we want them to be aware of what's happening."
Arroyo is also closely monitoring the situation and has tasked the Department of Foreign Affairs to look after the welfare of the Filipinos in Thailand, ensure their safety, and monitor developments.
But Ermita said the government was not yet taking a stand on the issue although like the United Nations, the United States, European Union, and several other countries, the Arroyo administration was also hoping for a peaceful settlement.
"We can't takes sides because we don't know the antecedents," Ermita said.
Ermita added that situation in Thailand and the Philippines was different, saying stability in the Philippines has been attained despite efforts by the opposition to besmirch the President.
"Therefore, the instability that the opposition would like to project has been neutralized," Ermita said.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a friend and role model of Arroyo, was ousted overnight Tuesday while attending the UN sessions as the army took power in Bangkok."
'People power still best safeguard vs military take-over,' says militants (www.philstar.com)
"Organizers of Thursday's rally to commemorate martial law warned 'paranoid elements within the Arroyo government' from using the Thailand coup as another pretext for escalating repression of Arroyo critics.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan instead called on the people Wednesday to uphold civilian supremacy in the course of the struggle against President Gloria Arroyo.
"What happened in Thailand was the result of a restive population and military and a prime minister who refused to heed calls for his resignation. We cannot fault the Arroyo administration if it feels that it is in the same predicament as Thaksin Shinawatra. Mrs. Arroyo after all has refused calls for her to step down, even if her refusal meant further instability for the country," said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
"If Arroyo feels ever-threatened by and paranoid over coups and destabilization, she has no one to blame but herself and her refusal to step down. However, she must not use the threats of coups to clamp down on the rights and liberties of her critics. That is the Marcosian solution which the people will not accept," Reyes said.
Reyes said that the only way to prevent a military take-over like what happened in Thailand is for the people to remain vigilant and assert "people power" under all circumstances, even if this takes a longer time.
"Those opposed to any form of martial rule or military take-over must persevere in the mass protest movement against Arroyo. That is the only way civilian supremacy can be ensured in the course of this struggle," Reyes said.
Various cause-oriented groups are set to hold a mass protest action tomorrow at the Liwasang Bonifacio to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
The protest is dubbed S.T.O.P. Gloria or "September Twenty-One Protest against Gloria." Members of Bayan will be marching from the University of Sto. Tomas and Quirino, Taft. Participant of the Lakbayan from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog are expected to merge with the main Bayan contingent.
"Extrajudicial killings, widespread repression and moves to amend the charter are all reminiscent of the Marcos dictatorship. It is thus necessary to reaffirm our commitment to never again allow another regime to foist martial law on the people," Reyes said."
'We've surpassed 10 cases in 10 weeks' -- PNP task force (INQ7.net)
"THE special police unit tasked with investigating the killings of activists and journalists claimed Wednesday that it had surpassed the deadline set by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to solve 10 cases in 10 weeks.
"We have solved more than 10 cases in less than 10 weeks. We solved most of the cases on the eighth week, to be exact," Deputy Director General Avelino Razon, chief of Task Force Usig.
As of this posting, Razon and other police officials are discussing the cases in a conference at Camp Crame.
Arroyo gave the task force and Department of Justice the deadline on August 1, after she began coming under increasing criticism for the unabated killings.
Based on the accomplishment report of Task Force Usig INQ7.net was shown, 36 of the 110 murders of activists the unit has counted since Arroyo assumed power in 2001 are already the subject of court cases.
Of these 36 killings, 16 were allegedly committed by communist rebels. Only six killings were attributed to the military and, of these, only four are now the subject of court cases.
In media killings, the task force said 21 cases have been filed out of 26 murders it investigated.
Task Force Usig said it found " no government policy -- official or unofficial, formal or informal, written or covert -- to suppress political dissent and fundamental Constitutional freedoms, much less torture or murder critical journalists, party list (and) militant (group) members or the political opposition."
The government, it said, is "not responsible for any abuses that might have taken place."
However, the task force' findings are likely to come under fire from militant groups that early on dubbed it an instrument to cover-up government responsibility for the bloodshed.
Most groups point to the gross disparity in statistics, with human rights organizations estimating at least 750 lives lost to extrajudicial killings they blame on security forces."
Palparan washes hands off missing students (abs-cbnNEWS.com)
"Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan on Wednesday denied any knowledge about the disappearance of two University of the Philippines students and an activist in Bulacan last June, DZMM reported.
Palparan appeared before the Court of Appeals after relatives of students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño filed a petition for habeas corpus before the court.
Nicknamed "The Butcher" by leftist groups, the former 7th Infantry Division commander also denied ordering the kidnapping and murder of left-wing activists in Central Luzon.
A DZMM report said Palparan was escorted by six trucks of soldiers to the appellate court. Malacañan had said that it would protect Palparan after his retirement due to a death threat from the New People's Army.
The communist insurgency earlier said Palparan is a "dead man walking" for allegedly masterminding the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon during his stints in those places. Leftist groups said the police and the military are behind 71 extrajudicial killings this year.
Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier said that an informal investigation by the military cleared Palparan of charges that he was behind the killing of leftist activists."
Neri: RP needs higher growth track to reduce poverty (AFP)
"The Philippines needs to invest more on infrastructure to raise economic growth to a higher level and make headway in reducing widespread poverty, Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri said Wednesday.
After tax reforms put the government's fiscal situation in order, "the next step now is to bring in more investments," he said.
The government needs funds to build highways, farm-to-market roads, water supply networks, irrigation facilities, classrooms, and health centers, he said.
"It is vital to ensure the resources for such infrastructure as they directly lift families out of poverty," he added.
Building highways "leads to private real estate investment, which in turn feeds construction, the cement industry, iron and steel, utilities. Jobs created in one sector are multiplied into others."
The World Bank estimates about 41.9 percent of the Philippine population of about 85 million lives on $2 a day or less.
The government puts the poverty level at a much lower 24.7 percent of the population as of 2003, compared to 44 percent in 1985, using a different yardstick.
Neri said poverty incidence would have fallen much faster if growth rates were at five percent or greater and did not go on a boom-bust cycle.
He said globalization is having a more profound effect on Philippine economic growth, with overseas-based Filipinos sending home a record $10.7 billion in salary remittances last year.
Exports are growing at 16.2 percent so far this year, while revenues from call centers are estimated to rise by 60 percent and tourist arrivals are at an all-time high, he said.
"All these inflows from abroad have pushed growth into a higher trajectory," he added.
After decades of boom-bust cycles, Manila is showing signs of resilience with a 5.0 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2005 and 5.6 percent expansion in the first half of 2006 despite high oil prices, higher inflation, a 12 percent consumption tax and political conflict, he said. "
Justice chief nixes settlement in rape case vs US Marines (Associated Press)
"JUSTICE SECRETARY Raul Gonzalez has ruled out an out-of-court settlement in a rape case involving four US Marines as squabbles between the accuser and prosecutors threatened to undermine the emotional trial.
The 22-year-old Filipino woman has testified that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, of St. Louis, raped her in a van on November 1 at the Subic Bay freeport, a former US Naval base, while three other Marines cheered him on. If convicted, all four face a maximum of 40 years in jail.
The woman had said she was too drunk too resist the assault, but last week, Smith described in detail that the sex was consensual. The woman's mother then accused prosecutors of incompetence and alleged the lead prosecutor had tried to talk her into pressing her daughter to agree a deal with US authorities.
The prosecutor, Emilie de los Santos, denied the accusation, and called the woman and her mother "liars" and "ingrates" during a news conference, while the woman -- identified by her pseudonym "Nicole" -- called for their replacement.
The woman's private lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, also part of the prosecution panel, expressed outrage at her colleagues, accusing them of destroying their client's credibility.
"We are being distracted from the case, instead of working to prosecute the case," she said. "If they are destroying `Nicole,' they are destroying the people of the Philippines."
Gonzalez ruled out an out-of-court settlement.
"We're already so far into the trial stage," he said. "That should quash any hopes of a compromise."
Gonzalez rejected on Monday the woman's petition to change the prosecutors. But on Tuesday, he said that considering the public uproar, he would watch the trial closely and may still decide if there is a need to replace them.
The alleged rape has stirred emotions in the former American colony and, according to some, has tainted the US counterterrorism training, which has been credited with helping Filipino troops crush Muslim militants in the country's restive south.
The Marines had just taken part in a counterterrorism exercise in the northern Philippines and were on leave at the time of the alleged incident."
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