[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 1 August 2007 Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
slb at admu.edu.ph
Wed Aug 1 15:54:31 PHT 2007
Newsbriefs 1 August 2007 Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
'Big-time graft on the rise' Watchdog blames gov't air of secrecy (Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines -- The shroud of secrecy surrounding high-level government contracts has led to the rise of "grander" and more lucrative corrupt practices in the Arroyo administration, anticorruption crusaders said Tuesday.
But red tape and petty corruption, such as bribery, have decreased because of the anti-red tape executive order issued by Malacañang last year, Vincent Lazatin, executive director of Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN), said.
The executive order reduced transaction fees and trimmed bureaucratic dealings in several frontline agencies.
"Bribery is going down. But the grand or bigger types of corruption are on the rise," said Segundo Romero, a senior fellow at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), which presented Tuesday corruption prevention studies under its Corruption Prevention Action Project.
The observation tends to support foreign businessmen's perception of corruption in the country's public sector.
Asked early this year by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) to assess the corruption problem in the public sector, the businessmen gave an average score of nine. In the PERC grading system, zero is the best possible score and 10 the worst.
A survey conducted by Social Weather Stations from March 4 to May 11 also found that the scale of corruption in the government remained high.
Lazatin said it was becoming more difficult for watchdog groups to get information and gain access to documents in the Arroyo administration.
"It's much, much harder. I think there is a decrease in transparency and good governance," Lazatin said in an interview at the DAP presentation.
Anti-graft body rejects corruption report (INQUIRER.net)
MANILA, Philippines -- The Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) has balked at reports that "grand and bigger corruption is on the rise" amid observations by watchdog groups that it was getting difficult to get information and gain access to documents in the Arroyo administration.
But while making this claim, PAGC commissioner James Jacob admitted that their investigation on former agriculture secretary Jocelyn "Jocjoc" Bolante over the P728-million fertilizer fund scam has come to a standstill because of lack of documents, particularly the Commission on Audit Report on the fertilizer fund.
The Senate recommended early last year to the Ombudsman the filing of a plunder case against Bolante, the alleged main architect of the scam; former agriculture secretary Luis Lorenzo; and other officials of the Department of Agriculture.
"Overall, big time graft is not on the rise," Jacob said in radio interview, reacting to a presentation of corruption prevention studies under the Development Academy of the Philippines' Corruption Prevention Action Project.
Administration senators form 'middle force'(www.philstar.com)
Senators identified with the administration have formed a "middle force," splitting the Senate into three groups and making it more difficult to settle the issue on committee chairmanships.
Several senators also admitted the Senate could not constitute immediately because of the "conflicting desires" on committee chairmanships. Yesterday, the senators held their session without a specific agenda since most of the talks among them were focused on the committee chairmanships.
Asked whether they were wasting taxpayers' money, opposition Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jamby Madrigal said they should not be the ones to blame because being the minority, they were only waiting for the majority to hand them the "leftover" committees.
"Maybe you should tell that to Senate President (Manuel Villar)," Madrigal said.
GMA orders release of P3.6 B for drought-mitigating measures (www.philstar.com)
President Arroyo ordered yesterday the release of P3.664 billion from different government agencies to fund drought-mitigating measures for agriculture in Luzon, which has been experiencing a dry spell since the supposed start of the rainy season last June.
Mrs. Arroyo herself experienced a blackout during the launching yesterday of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Language Institute in Taguig City.
Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said Mrs. Arroyo issued the order during the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) special meeting at Malacañang.
He said it would be too early to tell whether the dry spell would affect the government's growth projections for the year as it is uncertain whether the drought would be prolonged.
The government has set a Gross Domestic Product target of 6.1 to 6.7 percent this year. The agriculture sector accounts for about a fifth of GDP.
He said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has yet to make an official announcement that the country is experiencing a drought.
Manhunt on for beheading suspects (www.abs-cbnNEWS.com)
Police have launched a manhunt for 130 Moro rebels suspected of beheading 10 Marines in Basilan earlier this month, a police official said Wednesday.
Senior Superintendent Salik Macapantar, Basilan Police Provincial Office (PPO) director, said police are monitoring possible hideouts of the suspects after authorities failed to serve the arrest warrants on Tuesday.
"We are conducting intelligence [operations]. We will look for them in all corners of Basilan," Macapantar said.
Bulusan volcano rumbles after eruption (Agence France Presse)
A volcano in the eastern Philippines remained "in an abnormal state" on Wednesday a day after it erupted, volcanologists said.
Forty-six minor earthquakes have been detected in the Bulusan volcano since its eruption, and steam and ash continued to pour from its summit, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
The institute warned that another eruption could take place at any time, and that local residents should be alert for volcanic mudflows if heavy rains fall on Bulusan's slopes.
The 1,559-meter tall volcano, located on the southeastern tip of the main island of Luzon, erupted on Tuesday morning with a burst of ash that shot six kilometers above the crater.
There were no reports of casualties or damage but the ash showered nearby towns, raising fears that people's breathing could be affected.
Bulusan is one of the country's 22 active volcanoes. It is known to have erupted 16 times previously, the last one being in early 2006.
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