[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 13 August 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Aug 13 17:37:36 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 13 August 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Nat'l ID bill filed (Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines -- The Arroyo administration's bid to implement a national identification card system has again come up, following the filing of a bill in the House of Representatives which seeks to require persons 18 years and older to have national ID cards.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon filed House Bill No. 54 or the National Identification Card System Act of 2007, mandating Filipinos of legal age to provide information about themselves to the Department of Justice (DoJ) and secure national ID cards.

Biazon said the national ID proposal could be considered a "companion bill" to the Human Security Act or the antiterrorism law.

"Why is it hard to catch criminals? Because basically we don't have anything to track them down with," he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

Postponing youth polls equals over-aged execs--Pimentel (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- The proposal to postpone the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) polls by one year will result in over-aged and overstaying officials in the youth councils, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel said Monday.

Pimentel, in a statement, said that while the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) provides that candidates for SK chairmen and councilmen should be between 15 to 17-years-old at the time of the election, many incumbent SK officials in some 43,000 barangays are already in their 20s. 

Pimentel explained that the over-aged SK leaders have overstayed because their term of office had been automatically extended when elections for their positions were postponed twice before.

"It would be a big mistake to further postpone the barangay and SK elections not only because this will allow unqualified SK officials, age-wise, to stay in office but this will also deprive the people of their right to vote and change leaders at the grassroots level," he said.


Senators slam Speaker's 'all-encompassing amnesty' proposal (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) At least four senators on Monday slammed a proposed bill announced by House Speaker Jose De Venecia for an "all-encompassing amnesty for all enemies of the state," with one senator saying it suffers from "legal infirmities."

However, opposition Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Panfilo Lacson agreed with the proposal "in principle."

Pimentel in a text message said: "I hope the Abu Sayyaf and the bandits who killed innocent civilians and beheaded our soldiers are not included in the amnesty."

"We badly need to start over from a fresh slate. To do this, we have to cleanse our political system so we can move on," Lacson said, adding that he would closely study the details of the bill to ensure that it would really achieve its goal of public service and genuine reconciliation.

Administration Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago explained that in law, amnesty does not include plunder, the charge against former President Joseph Estrada.

"The term 'all-encompassing amnesty' is an oxymoron, meaning a self-contradictory term, because in law, amnesty is limited to political offenses such as treason, sedition, rebellion, or coup d' etat. It does not include plunder, which is the charge against President Estrada," she said.

Neophyte Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, said the proposal is only meant to "soften the impact" of an Estrada conviction. "Why did they suddenly think about this after six long years? The move smacks of motive that can only be construed as that of something that has to do with the handing down of a decision on Erap's case," he said.

The House bill which is supposed to include all insurgents has Malacañang's blessings.

The Sandiganbayan is scheduled to promulgate its decision on Estrada's case in September.

"This move [is meant] to placate and soften the impact of a guilty verdict. It is just a diversionary tactic to condition the minds of the people when the verdict goes guilty. This move under the cloak of reconciliation is actually paving the way for a conviction," Escudero said.

Senator Joker Arroyo said the proposed amnesty cannot be rushed "at this time when the government is prosecuting a war against the terrorists in the south." He said it should be measured against the results of the 1995 amnesty for leftist to rightist rebels. 

"We should be slow to talk about it in the midst of the operations against those who beheaded our own soldiers. We should tread softly, lest we show insensitivity to those who are down there fighting. If not for human rights, at least for human feelings," he said.


Military launches new offensive against Muslim militants (Agence France Presse)


ZAMBOANGA - The Philippine military on Monday launched a new offensive against Muslim militants on the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan.


President Arroyo told business leaders the offensive was aimed only at militants and that her government would seek to avoid a wider war in the restive south and would make efforts to minimize civilian casualties. 


The military said the action was supported by helicopter gunships and sea forces, and was aimed only at the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. 


Mrs. Arroyo said she had also ordered troops to respect the "ceasefire guidelines" with the larger Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 


Up to 12,000 troops are now deployed on Jolo and Basilan where 40 soldiers have been killed in recent clashes and nearly 20,000 civilians have fled their homes. 


A ceasefire between the MILF and government forces has been in place for three years while both sides negotiate a peace settlement. Talks are expected to resume in Malaysia although no date has been announced.


Arroyo: RP taking steps to trim budget deficit (AFP) 


President Arroyo said Monday she would take steps to trim the country's budget deficit amid warnings that poor tax collections in the first half is putting fiscal reforms at risk. 


Last month the government said weak tax collection pushed the first half budget deficit to P41 billion ($899.71 million), exceeding the 31.3 billion-peso target for the six months to June. 


Mrs. Arroyo, speaking to a business group, said the drift has been arrested. 


"Let us put the shortfall in context. We were not on target for the first half of this year but we have met our target for July," she said without giving figures. 


Mrs. Arroyo said she would form a "revenue enhancement task force" as well as an "anti-smuggling task force" to ensure the government reached its fiscal targets for the year. 


The fall in tax collection has caused international credit rating agency Fitch Ratings to warn that the full-year budget deficit for 2007 would reach P125 billion or 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, double the government's target ceiling of P63 billion.


'Egay' intensifies into a tropical storm (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


The tropical depression that entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility has intensified into a tropical storm and was named "Egay" (international codename Sepat), ANC reported Monday.


As of 10 a.m. Egay was spotted 1,150 kilometers east of northern Luzon, according to the latest weather bulletin from PAGASA. 


Egay was packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 80 kph.  It is forecast to move west at 11 kph. No public storm warning signals have been raised. 


PAGASA said the disturbance is still too far to directly affect any part of the country.


The new storm is expected to be 900 km east of Northern Luzon on Tuesday morning, 690 km east of Northern Luzon by Wednesday morning and 440 km east of Northern Luzon on Thursday morning. With a report from ANC

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