[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 22 January 2007 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Jan 22 12:24:27 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 22 January 2007 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Palace not in a hurry to complete Comelec (www.manilastandardtoday.com)

"MALACAÑANG is not yet sure if it can fill up the seventh and last vacant slot in the Commission on Elections in time for the elections in May, an official said yesterday. 

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he had not received information from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo about any impending appointment to replace Commissioner Mehol Sadain, who created the vacancy when he retired last year. 

He said the palace was considering the propriety of appointing a new Comelec commissioner since the election period had already begun. 

Nominations to the commission must be submitted to the Commission on Appointments for review and confirmation. 

But the bicameral confirmation body may not have time to act on any new appointments because Congress only has a few session days left before it adjourns for its election recess. 

The opposition is calling for the appointment of its own nominee to Comelec, allegedly to restore credibility to the election body. 

Akbayan party-list Rep. Rissa Hontiveros has warned about the appointment of someone who would reprise the role of Virgilio Garcillano, the retired commissioner whom the opposition accused of cheating for the administration during the 2004 elections. "

Election fever casts pall on last sessions of 13th Congress (Inquirer)

"Congress will resume its last working session starting Monday only to usher in the election season.

Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the weekend that the administration-backed drive to change the Constitution through "whatever mode" was practically dead, and that the month-long sessions would be primarily devoted to pending priority measures, particularly those stranded in the Senate.

With barely a month before the candidates for senator start campaigning, House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles of Davao City and Representatives Antonio Cuenco of Cebu City and Exequiel Javier of Antique admitted that there was not much to do in the area of legislation.

"Do not expect anything from the House in the last sessions. It's just the budget approval [ratification once approved in the bicameral conference committee] plus local bills' approval," said Nograles in a phone interview.

Nograles said all "important certified bills" were already in the Senate.

"We are awaiting bicameral conference committee meetings and approve vital measures like the anti-terror bill, Marcos wealth compensation bill, tax amnesty bill, housing loan condonation bill," he said.

Cuenco and Javier even blamed the opposition which, they said, were already engrossed with the upcoming elections.

"Let's set aside first politics and prioritize our legislative duties. We need to pass the 2007 General Appropriations Act to prevent another reenactment of the 2005 budget for this entire year," he said.

He said the Speaker had assured the ratification of the budget by Feb. 10, "so let's do our share to fulfill this commitment to the people."

Cuenco said both chambers still had the time to pass remaining vital measures.

"We can pass these measures as long as we remain focused on legislation rather on the elections. Let's demonstrate statesmanship by acting on these measures which will all redound to the benefit of the nation and the people," he said."

New Comelec rules to speed up resolution of poll protests (www.philstar.com)

"Apparently anticipating a deluge of electoral protests in the May 14 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has laid down new rules to expedite the deliberation of cases. 

Under Resolution No.7808, two Comelec divisions will hear and decide on protests and petitions, with three commissioners in each division. 

The most senior of the three will be named presiding commissioner. The divisions will not have jurisdiction over Comelec's citizens-arm accreditation. 

Four commissioner constitute a quorum in an en banc session, and two when sitting in a division. 

In case of a permanent vacancy in a particular division, the most senior commissioner in the other division will fill in the vacancy. 

A junior member of the other division, on the other hand, will substitute for an absent commissioner. 

The Comelec will also use color-coding to facilitate the identification of cases. The assignment of cases will be done through raffle. 

The commissioners will prepare to decide on a case within 15 days from the last hearing. A resolution is subjected to a final review before it is signed."


Gov't to focus on six projects worth P60B (Inquirer)

"SIX PRIORITY infrastructure projects of the government worth over P60 billion, including Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), are scheduled to start operations this year, according to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

Yap, chair of Malacañang's task force on infrastructure monitoring, identified the five other projects as follows:

. Expansion of the passenger terminal at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.

. Extension of the Star 2 expressway from Lipa to Batangas City.

. Construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

. Modernization of the Subic Container Port with the construction of two terminals.

. Rehabilitation of EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue).

Yap said the projects were in line with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address last July, which committed a massive investment program to sustain economic growth and spread progress nationwide through the "super region" development strategy."

AFP gearing up for final battle to wipe out Abus (www.philstar.com)

" There will be a "surge" in government troops and operations in Mindanao as the military steps up its offensive to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, which has been weakened by the deaths of its leaders, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said yesterday. 

"The tempo of our offensive now would be faster and more ferocious. We'll give them no quarter. We have to hit all the remaining leaders while they're in crisis," Esperon vowed. 

He said the intelligence community went on high alert on warnings that the Abu Sayyaf might strike back. 

The warnings came a day after Esperon announced that DNA tests carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that a body recovered in December in a shallow grave in Patikul, Sulu was that of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani. 

At Malacañang, President Arroyo said Janjalani's death "marks the mortal turning point for the Abu Sayyaf." 

The confirmation of Janjalani's death came four days after Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Solaiman, one of Janjalani's possible successors, was killed in a clash with government troops in Talipao, Sulu. 

Also on Saturday, eight soldiers were wounded after being attacked by heavily armed men in Barangay Salday in Parang, Sulu. 

The military said the wounded soldiers were part of a large military contingent chasing the Abu Sayyaf when they were attacked. 

Aside from stepping up assaults against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, a Marine contingent would be deployed in nearby Basilan to help hunt Abu Sayyaf remnants there and undertake humanitarian projects, Esperon said."


No findings yet on CHR Iloilo raid probe (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


"The Commission on Human Rights said Monday that it has not finished its investigation on the violent assault of the Iloilo provincial capitol last Wednesday.


"There is still no decision. We have requested our regional field office to gather more date and information," CHR Commissioner Wilhelm Soriano told ABS-CBN's Magandang Umaga Pilipinas.


Soriano said the commission expects to receive new data and information on the incident anytime Monday. He said the committee will meet en banc to decide on CHR's next action.


He said the commission could recommend sending a fact-finding committee to Iloilo to start the investigation or make a final decision depending on the data and information that will be given by the regional office in Western Visayas.


In the interview, Soriano said whatever results or recommendations the CHR may come up with, everything would have to be passed to the Department of Justice."

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