[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 26 April 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Apr 26 20:36:42 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 26 April 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Armed Forces plan to hold voters' education forums hit (Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines -- IN A MOVE that expands the military's role in the May 14 elections, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has announced it will conduct an education and awareness campaign in the capital to ensure an honest and peaceful balloting.

But Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Broderick Pabillo and election lawyer Leila de Lima expressed reservations in interviews with the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) at the initiative of the AFP National Capital Command (NCRCom) starting next week.

"Is that allowed by our laws? What I know is the military should be hands off (in these activities). They are not an NGO (non-government organization)," said Pabillo, who has opposed the deployment of soldiers in Metro Manila's slum areas since November ostensibly for civic action operations.

De Lima said NCRCom officials "may be motivated by good intentions or laudable objectives but in doing that, they might overstep the boundaries."

Fr. Joe Dizon of the antielection fraud group Kontra Daya also slammed the AFP drive, saying the military does not have "the moral ascendancy to lecture people on election fraud considering the role several generals played in the cheating in 2004."


On Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said that his NCRCom had "redirected our resources toward advocacy so that we can play an active part (in the elections)." The NCRCom commander said that his troops would also "facilitate monitoring" of electoral fraud.

Dolorfino said he initiated a Covenant for HOPE (Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections) to be able to contribute to the elections since he did not expect NCRCom troops to be deployed because there was no "serious armed threat" to the capital.

"That is not a reason for us to stay idle. It will be a big waste," Dolorfino said at a news conference at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila following the signing of the HOPE covenant.

Aside from NCRCom, other signatories to the covenant were the Commission on Elections, the National Capital Region Police Office, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Commission on Human Rights, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Department of Education, DeltaCom, Filipino Alliance Movement Support Group, National Press Club, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and Bantay Bayan.

Comelec told not to allow AFP voters' education program (INQUIRER.net)


MANILA, Philippines -- Allowing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct an education and awareness campaign in the National Capital Region violates the Constitution, and can be grounds to impeach officials of the Commission on Elections, a militant group has said.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) reminded the Comelec of its agreement with the Department of National Defense that prohibited military personnel from engaging in partisan political activities.

Pamalakaya said Comelec commissioners who would approve the military's proposal could face impeachment raps, Pamalakaya national chairman and Anakpawis nominee Fernando Hicap said in a statement Thursday.

Hicap said the Constitution insulated the military from engaging in partisan politics by prohibiting the establishment from engaging directly or indirectly in the election process.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. had said that he did not find anything wrong with the AFP organized voters' awareness and education forums as long as they were non-partisan.

"Chairman Abalos is missing the point. There is a case pending before the Comelec complaining about the military's partisan political activities in Metro Manila and the rest of the country against militant party lists critical of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the AFP," Hicap said.

Complaints of harassment and election-related human rights violations had been filed against government troops before the Commission on Human Rights, the Anakpawis nominee said.

"The Comelec is not doing its assignment for honest, orderly and peaceful elections. It is busy providing the venue for the military to violate the 1987 Constitution and all pertinent election laws," Hicap said.

COMELEC: Bribe offer from DOJ chief a criminal act (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


A Commission on Elections official on Thursday said Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez violated the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) after promising to pay P10,000 to each barangay captain in Iloilo City who will be able to deliver a 12-0 sweep for the administration's Team Unity. 


"In Section 261, Paragraph A of the Omnibus Election Code, there are three acts which are considered crimes: the act of giving, the act of offering and the act of promising. Kaya ang mere act of promising money eh crime na iyon eh (That's why the mere of act of promising is already a crime)," Director Ferdinand Rafanan of the COMELEC told ABS-CBN's "Magandang Umaga Pilipinas."


Quoting the OEC, Rafanan said the act of promising has four elements. He said it includes promising money to any person or community and inducing anyone or the public in general to vote for any candidate in exchange for cash.


Rafanan said the provision was used by the Supreme Court in ruling against a public official who promised to pay voters if they voted for him. 


He said that if Gonzalez delivers on his promise, he would commit another violation of the Omnibus Election Code. "Kapag itinuloy niya ang magbigay (If he actually gives the money) that is another crime," he said.


Less than 10 'areas of concern' -- Comelec (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has identified less than 10 "areas of concern" in the country, an official said Thursday.

While stressing that his disclosure is not yet official, election commissioner Resurreccion Borra said the poll body has included Nueva Ecija, Masbate, Palawan's capital city Puerto Princesa, Sulu, and Kalinga to its list of areas of concern.

Abra province has been declared under Comelec control.

"We have the report of the Philippine National Police and the head of our monitoring group under Executive Director Jose Pio Joson. We have the list but we're awaiting the final decision of the [Comelec] en banc," Borra added.

The Comelec can direct the police and even the military to ensure peaceful elections in areas of concern, previously known as hotspots.

On the other hand, the poll body has the option of placing areas of immediate concern under its control.

Borra said Metro Manila is generally peaceful and "under control," and thus no areas in the national capital region will be included in the areas of concern.

May 14 Declared national holiday (www.philstar.com)
Malacañang has declared Election Day, May 14, a special non-working holiday in order to encourage the people to go out and vote. 

Presidential Proclamation No. 1279, signed by President Arroyo last Monday, declared May 14 a special public holiday nationwide "to give the people the fullest opportunity to exercise their right to suffrage." 

The country has around 4.5 million registered voters. In past elections, the voter turnout has averaged 75 percent. 

Twelve Senate seats, 265 seats in the House of Representatives, and more than 17,500 local government positions will be contested in the elections. - Marvin Sy


Campaign death toll hits 22 (www.philstar.com)
At least 22 people have been killed in 82 cases of violence linked to frenzied campaigning for the May 14 local and congressional polls, and the death toll could rise as election day nears, police said yesterday. 

Since Jan. 14, police have dismantled 52 of about 90 known armed groups maintained by politicians, arrested more than 2,000 people for violating the election gun ban, and seized more than 1,700 weapons that could be used in attacks, in an effort to curb poll violence, police director for operations Wilfredo Garcia said yesterday. 

Although the recorded deaths and election-related violent incidents are fewer compared to the cases in the 2004 and 2001 polls, the figures are likely to rise because of political tension in many areas, Garcia warned. 

"Our intelligence prediction is that the violence will go up with less than three weeks before the elections due to intense partisan political activities and rivalry," he told reporters. 

Local elections have traditionally been marred by violence largely due to the huge number of unlicensed firearms, the existence of many armed groups and accusations of cheating - an already deadly brew made worse by weak law enforcement and raging communist and Muslim insurgencies in rural regions. 

To ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections, key government agencies and other sectors involved in the May polls signed a covenant, signaling the start of their three-week collective campaign to restore the credibility of the country's electoral process. 

Police recorded 41 deaths and 249 cases of election-related violence in the 2004 presidential elections, while 269 were noted in the 2001 polls, officials said.


Jobs abound; skilled hands lacking (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THERE is no shortage of jobs in the country, but a mismatch in workers' skills and the requirements of certain jobs keep about 2.8 million people unemployed, Labor Secretary Arturo Brion disclosed yesterday. 

"Some four million job vacancies can be filled in the country between 2006 and 2010. We also found out that for the same period, there will be more than five million overseas jobs available," Brion said at the 2007 National Human Resource Conference in Manila. 

He said the labor department registered a total 36.4 million laborers in January this year, but 2.8 million (or 7.8 percent) of them are unemployed. Of the employed, 50.6 percent work in the services sector while agriculture accounts for 34.7 percent and industry with 14.8 percent. 

"We are not content on merely generating jobs, Brion said. "For these jobs to serve their purpose of providing incomes, goods, and services, these jobs must be filled up by people." 

But Brion said it was determined at the National Manpower Summit last year that the jobs that were generated need workers with different skills. 

"What keeps the jobseekers from landing jobs is that the supply of manpower does not meet the demands of these industries. Some critical skills are either missing or need to be improved," he added. 

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