[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 26 Sep 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Sep 26 10:36:40 PHT 2006

Newsbriefs 26 Sep 2006 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



SC lays down talking points for Charter change arguments (INQ7.net)

"THE Supreme Court on Monday released the eight issues it wants Tuesday's oral arguments on the validity of a people's initiative to amend the Constitution to focus on.

The high tribunal also limited both sides' presentation to 25 minutes, exclusive of the interpellation by the justices.

The oral argument starts at 1 p.m.

The court has been asked by Charter change proponents Sigaw ng Bayan (Cry of the People) and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) to reverse a Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision rejecting their petition for a people's initiative.

The decision was based on the Supreme Court's 1997 ruling in Santiago v. Comelec, which said the Comelec "should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments to the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted."

Several petitions, including those of the Senate and former president Joseph Estrada, have also been filed opposing the Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP bid.

Sigaw ng Bayan lawyer Demosthenes Donato and Solicitor General Antonio Eduardo Nachura, will be the lead counsel for Charter change while One Voice' Melencio Sta. Maria and Aquilino Pimentel III, designated counsel for the Senate, will be the lead counsel for the opposition.

The issues for argument contained in the Supreme Court's three-page advisory, are:

1. Whether petitioners Sigaw ng Bayan, through lawyer Raul Lambino, and ULAP, through Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado, are the proper parties to file the petition in behalf of the more than six-million voters they say signed the proposal to amend the Constitution;

2. Whether the petition for a people's initiative filed before the Comelec complied with Section 2, Article 17 of the Constitution;

3. Whether the Supreme Court's decision in Santiago v. Comelec in 1997 bars the present petition;

4. Whether the court should re-examine the ruling in Santiago v. Comelec that there exists no enabling law allowing a people's initiative to amend the Constitution;

5. Whether, assuming that Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act is sufficient, the petition for initiative filed with the Comelec complied with the law's provisions;

6. Whether proposed changes constitute an amendment or revision of the Constitution;

7. Whether the exercise of a people's initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is a political question to be determined by the people, and;

8. Whether the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petitions for initiative filed before it.

Since several groups have filed petitions opposing the Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP bid, the Supreme Court directed their lead counsel to "determine who among the collaborating counsels shall orally argue, provided that the total time for each side shall not exceed 25 minutes."

House sets aside Consa for initiative (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"THE House of Representatives is temporarily setting aside efforts to create a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution in favor of the people's initiative, a movement whose fate is being decided in the Supreme Court, Speaker Jose de Venecia said yesterday. 

De Venecia, addressing the fourth general assembly of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, said the House leadership was deferring to the "first-ever people's initiative in Asia to amend the Constitution by direct action of the people." 

At a news conference during the event, Sigaw ng Bayan spokesman Raul Lambino said former Supreme Court Justice Bernardo Pardo, now 74, would be the lead counsel for Charter Change advocates in today's oral arguments before the high court. 

A battery of lawyers including Solicitor General Eduardo Nachura, and former justice minister Estelito Mendoza will also appear to argue in favor of the people's initiative. 

"We are well prepared. We hope the high court will decide based on the merits we will lay down before the justices," Lambino told reporters. "

Criminal raps pushed vs Piatco, Fraport officials (www.philstar.com)
"The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had recommended the filing of criminal charges for violations of the anti-dummy law against top officials of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) and its German partner Fraport AG as the legal tug-of-war over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) continued. 

The NBI recommendation, dated July 28, reached the office of Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño only on Aug. 16. In the July 28 letter, the NBI said officials of Piatco and the other groups involved in the controversial NAIA-3 project violated the anti-dummy law. 

It was not clear why it took so long for the NBI's recommendation to reach the DOJ or why the issue was not raised in the recent legal wranglings over NAIA-3. 

The STAR tried to get the side of Zuño but he was not available as of press time. 

Also facing possible criminal liability are officials of Philippine Airport and Ground Services (PAGS), Philippine Airport and Ground Services Terminal Inc. (PTI), Philippine Airport and Ground Services Terminal Holdings Inc. (PTH) and the People's Air Cargo and Warehousing Co. Inc. 

NBI deputy director for special investigation Victor Bessat recommended criminal charges against Cheng Yong, president of Piatco; Peter Henkel, Fraport senior vice president; Jason Cheng, Jefferson Cheng, Rita Bonifer, S. Samin Aydin, Lilia Cheng, Hachiman Yokoi, Gil Camacho, Katherine Agnes Arnaldo, Jorge Seyffart, Marife T. Opulencia, Mary Antonette Manalo, Ricardo Castro Jr., Hans Arthur Vogel, Dietrick F. R. Stiller and Noemi Dacanay. 

Bessat said the firms, which had interlocking sets of directors and officials, had violated the anti-dummy law when they acquired more than 40 percent of the airport project. 

"In view of the grave danger and the adverse cascading and rippling effects of these violations to the national interest, the immediate investigation and prosecution of the instant case is not only warranted but also imperative," Bessat said."


7M Filipino-Muslims prepare for start of Ramadan on Sunday (Inquirer)

"COTABATO CITY -- The Da'rul Ifta (House of Opinion) has declared here the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Sunday.

Mayor Muslimin Sema concurred in the decision for the city government, shortly after the 76-year old Mufti (head of the Da'rul Ifta) Omar Pasigan called on the country's seven million Muslims over a radio broadcast early Saturday to begin fasting on Sunday as prescribed by the Koran and the Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.

The broadcast came shortly after the sighting of the New Moon at around 2 a.m.

During Ramadan, able Muslims practice absolute abstinence from food and drink and sex from dawn to dusk in a month-long period, which varies from 29 to 30 days. Children below 13, the elderly, and pregnant women or those in their menstrual period are exempted from fasting.

At nighttime before dawn, Muslims take light meals of bread, vegetables, and fruits to help preserve the water content of the body.

The Koran says: "O ye! Who believe! Fasting is prescribed unto you as it was prescribed unto those before you that ye may learn self-reliance."

"It's the best cleansing practice one should experience once in a year for respite," said Dr. Kadil Sinlinding Jr."

AFP: No Ramadan ceasefire in Sulu (www.philstar.com)
"Despite calls from Muslim leaders, the military will not declare a ceasefire in Sulu in deference to the observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. 

Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado said it was up to the political leadership to decide whether or not to declare a ceasefire. 

For his part, Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said it was unlikely that terrorists would also lay down their arms during Ramadan. 

"The terrorists are not saying they will refrain from terrorist acts while we observe Ramadan," Esperon said."
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