[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 9 January 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Jan 9 17:53:21 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 9 January 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Ex-DOJ chief Perez faces extortion raps (Inquirer)

THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman is set to press graft and extortion charges against former justice secretary Hernando Perez in connection with the $2-million bribery complaint lodged against him by former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was a justice undersecretary under Perez, recommended the filing of charges against her former boss after a panel of prosecutors found probable cause to indict Perez.

Joining Perez as respondents in the complaint for graft, extortion and falsification of public documents are his wife Rosario, brother-in-law Ramon Arceo and business associate Ernest Escaler.

Arceo is a former director of United Coconut Planters' Bank and executive vice president of PCIBank, while Escaler is a former consultant of Hong Kong's Coutts Bank for the Philippines.

Gutierrez said the case would be filed with the Sandiganbayan within five days.

In a 66-page resolution, graft prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence to establish that Perez and company had committed "illegal acts," based on bank documents presented by Jimenez before the body.

The documents included the $2-million deposit that Jimenez had wired to Escaler's account in Coutts Bank in Hong Kong in February 2001, which was transferred later to Arceo and Rosario Perez's Swiss accounts.

The Perezes later declared in their joint counteraffidavit that the funds were proceeds of the sale of their Batangas property Malvarosa Ventures to Escaler, contrary to a previous assertion that the fund "constituted the inheritance of Rosario and Arceo."

(The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Perez at his house in Mt. View Subdivision in Batangas City.)

Palace puts relaunched initiative on back burner (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

THE plan to launch a second people's initiative to amend the Constitution has fizzled out after failing to gain support from Malacañang. 

A second signature campaign was first broached by some provincial governors, but the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines yesterday disowned the plan, agreeing with the Palace and the Sigaw ng Bayan coalition that there was no longer enough time to pursue it before the May elections. 

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that while the Palace supported the first people's initiative, it was now for putting Charter Change on the back burner as the administration focused on the local and national elections. 

Sigaw ng Bayan, which launched the first people's initiative, rejected the new suggestion to create a unicameral, presidential rather than a parliamentary system of government, saying this went against its goal of political reform. 

Sigaw ng Bayan spokesman Raul Lambino said a unicameral Congress under a presidential system would be even more vulnerable to being controlled by Malacañang. 

Gov. Erico Aumentado, president of the local authorities union, denied his group was behind the second initiative. 

"When some people announced that they were going to launch it, they did not consult us," Aumentado told radio station dzMM. 

Palace to seek P60-B supplemental budget if new national outlay not passed (www.philstar.com)

 Malacañang will ask Congress to allocate a P60-billion supplemental appropriation if the legislature fails to pass this year's proposed P1.126-trillion national budget before it goes on recess next month. 

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said the P60-billion supplemental appropriation will be used to pay for urgent expenditures like the rehabilitation of typhoon-devastated provinces and social services. 

"The executive branch is already running some figures as some sort of an academic exercise but not even in my dreams am I wanting a supplemental budget," he said. 

"First of all, let me make this crystal clear. We are not agitating for a supplemental budget. We would prefer a brand new budget, the P1.126 trillion that is pending in bicameral conference committee. 

"But should Congress fail to agree on a budget, then they shouldn't leave us hanging. The coping mechanism we need is a supplemental budget." 

Andaya said the supplemental budget will include the following: 

. P10 billion for the massive rehabilitation of typhoon-devastated areas in Bicol and Central Philippines; 

. P8.4 billion to fill up the funding shortfall for the May elections; 

. P27 billion to pay for salaries of new teachers, firemen and jail guards; and 

. Pension payments for veterans. 

"This does not include vital social services like education and health, because these are non-postponable services," he said.


Vocal VFA exec says he's resigning (Inquirer)

THE PALACE appointee who did not toe the official line and publicly assailed the controversial transfer of a convicted American Marine back to US custody has said he is quitting his post.

"I stood my ground. I'm leaving government," read a text message sent to the the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) just before noon Saturday by Undersecretary Zosimo Paredes, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACom).

Reached later on the phone, Paredes said that in his meeting Friday with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, he told his superior that "my further stay in the office is untenable considering that I took a stand diametrically opposed to the administration's."

"I'll just wind down the affairs in the office and by the end of the month I should be ready to go," said Paredes, who had earlier conceded he was risking his post when he criticized the manner by which Malacañang removed Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, convicted of raping a Filipino woman, from the Makati City Jail and transferred him to the US Embassy past 11 p.m. of Dec. 29 without a court order.

Paredes, now on his third year in the VFACom, said he expects to submit his resignation letter this week.

ASEAN to push greater protection of migrant workers (Reuters) 


Southeast Asian leaders will push for better pay and working conditions for millions of migrant workers from the region when they meet this week for an annual meeting in Cebu. 


Manila, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), wants to emphasize social development at the group's summit and plans to unveil a roadmap for creating a "community of caring societies".


Indonesia, the Philippines and poorer members of ASEAN such as Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam are among the region's biggest labor exporters, sending people abroad to work as maids, builders, factory workers and manual laborers.


ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore host migrant workers, who often face exploitation by employers and employment agencies. Rape and physical abuse is also a common problem.


The proposed declaration calls for equal wages and employment conditions for migrant workers, as well as decent housing and protection from illegal recruitment, trafficking and prostitution.


According to documents seen by Reuters, one of the agreements being worked on included meting out tougher penalties for human traffickers.


The Philippines is one of the world's biggest exporters of labour with over eight million Filipinos, around 10 percent of the country's estimated 87 million population, working overseas.


"This is one issue that's very close to our hearts," said one Filipino diplomat.

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