[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 23 August 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Aug 23 19:06:25 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 23 August 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Arroyo visits troops in Basilan (INQUIRER.net)

ISABELA CITY, Basilan -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived Thursday in Basilan province where she gave a pep talk to soldiers who have been fighting the Abu Sayyaf since last month.

"Okay, high morale kayo ha [keep the high morale]," the President was quoted as saying in a pooled report. Arroyo was said to have talked to each soldier.

The fierce clashes have left 57 troopers and 81 al Qaeda-linked bandits dead.

Before her Basilan trip, Arroyo joined soldiers in a "boodle fight" at noon at the First Marine Brigade headquarters after presiding over a joint military and police command conference at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City.

"One of the fastest ways of bonding with the men was through a boodle fight. This is a big boost to the morale of the troops," Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

HSA loopholes allow funneling of terrorist funds - BSP (www.philstar.com) 

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) assistant governor and general counsel Juan de Zuniga said the controversial Human Security Act of 2007 has loopholes that will allow foreign funding of terrorist activities when the funds are kept in foreign currency deposits that could not be examined by authorities.

He said the HSA did not include foreign currency deposits in the accounts that could be examined by authorities. The HSA covers bank deposits, trust accounts, placements, assets and records but foreign currency deposits were not included.

De Zuniga said the loopholes could be used by terrorist groups to maintain funds in foreign currency accounts which are still protected by the secrecy provisions of the General Banking Law.

He said that authorities could enforce the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and examine foreign currency deposits only if there is evidence that the accounts are involved in money laundering.

"Then we can use the provisions of the AMLA to address this. But that's only if the funds are suspected to be dirty. Terrorist funding is also done with clean hands," he added.

More residents flee fighting in southern Philippines (Agence France-Presse)

MANILA, Philippines -- Nearly 24,000 people have fled their homes in the southern Philippines to escape fighting between the armed forces and Islamic militants, relief officials said Thursday.

With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo due to fly to the troubled southern region later in the day to meet with commanders, the civil defense office said that 40 hamlets had been evacuated on mainly Muslim Jolo and Basilan islands.

It said 14 schools had also been shut since July 10, when militants killed 14 marines -- and beheaded 10 of them -- in an ambush.

Thousands of troops have been deployed to the islands, sparking further clashes that have led to some of the heaviest military casualties in recent years, with dozens of soldiers and militants killed.

"The situation in Basilan remains critical due to ongoing [military] operations against Abu Sayyaf Group targets," the government relief agency said.

Arroyo urges Congress to focus on budget, cheaper medicines bill (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


President Arroyo is urging lawmakers to begin deliberations on important measures still pending in Congress amid calls to revive the "Hello Garci" controversy, Malacañang said Thursday. 


Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the President urges Congress to start working on the budget bill and the measure to reduce the prices of medicine. 


Mrs. Arroyo also seeks the Senate's cooperation in the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Bunye added. 


"Let us work together to help the people the best way we can. Gridlock must not stand in the way of our collective right to a brighter future," he said, adding: 


"The agenda of economic growth and peace must prevail over attempts to pull us back from winning these goals."


President Arroyo and the Senate are headed for another confrontation as opposition senators prepare to reopen the investigation of the "Hello Garci" vote-rigging controversy.


Santiago cautions Malacañang on invoking EO 464 (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday cautioned Malacañang about invoking the controversial Executive Order 464 to respond to the new Senate probe on the "Hello, Garci" recordings, DZMM reported.


According to the report, Santiago said Malacañang may look guilty if it decides to invoke EO 464.


She added that the Supreme Court had already ruled on the controversial Palace order.


Meanwhile, two opposition senators, Francis Escudero and Benigno Aquino III, said that a "constitutional crisis" may result if Malacañang invokes EO 464.


Aquino said the high tribunal had ruled as unconstitutional the provision which expands the "position of privilege" to other officials other than those identified as alter egos of the President. 


'GMA ouster no longer possible' (www.philstar.com)

After causing a political maelstrom that almost swept away President Arroyo, the Senate investigation of the "Hello Garci" scandal - which is set to be reopened - can no longer  threaten her remaining three years in office, a retired intelligence   officer who claimed to have heard her plotting election fraud with a poll official said.

Retired Army T/Sgt. Vidal Doble said he doesn't expect the revival of the scandal to cause the downfall of Mrs. Arroyo, saying her administration has managed to consolidate its forces and that the public has become apathetic to political controversies.

"She has a firm hold on power. She controls all government offices and the people have become passive," Doble told a select group of reporters.

Doble defended his decision to come out only after two years, saying he had feared for his family's safety. He said he is now determined to make the public know how elections are rigged, especially because former poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano's alleged co-conspirators like Lintang Bedol and Rey Sumalipao in Mindanao were active in the last May elections.

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