[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 10 September 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Sep 10 17:34:45 PHT 2007

Newsbriefs 10 September 2007 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan



Erap '100 percent' confident of acquittal (www.philstar.com) 

Former President Joseph Estrada and his lawyers expressed confidence that he will be acquitted, three days before the Sandiganbayan hands down its verdict on his plunder and perjury case.

Estrada's spokesman, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, said the deposed president and his lawyers are "one hundred percent" sure of getting an acquittal in the P4-billion plunder case.

"President Estrada and his counsels are ready for the promulgation on Wednesday," Rodriguez said.

Philippines awaits corruption verdict on Estrada (Agence France-Presse)

MANILA, Philippines -- A bitter chapter in Philippine politics comes to an end later this week when the verdict in the six-year corruption trial of deposed president Joseph Estrada is handed down.

Either way, the verdict, which is to be announced Wednesday, will have ramifications for his successor President Gloria Arroyo, analysts say.

If he is found guilty, Arroyo faces the specter of open rebellion from Estrada's legions of poor supporters.

An acquittal would meanwhile leave Arroyo vulnerable to renewed opposition claims that Estrada was deposed in a coup by the middle class, business elites, church and the military.

The 70-year-old former movie star, known as "Erap" to his legion of fans, was deposed in a popular revolt in 2001 amid allegations he amassed 80 million dollars through tax kickbacks and bribes from illegal gambling operators.

Elected in 1998 with the biggest margin in Philippine election history he has repeatedly denied the allegations and played up to the masses as the underdog who was illegally removed from office.

Arroyo was sworn in to finish the remainder of Estrada's six-year term, and subsequently survived two military coups. She was re-elected in 2004 amid hotly contested polls marred by allegations of cheating and widespread fraud.

But while her popularity remains in the doldrums, Arroyo has survived challenges to her presidency.

Analysts say this is because Filipinos are simply tired of political bickering or do not want to upset the status quo.

But if Estrada is cleared by the charges "that would now mean that Arroyo has been an illegal president after all," said political analyst Antonio Abaya of the Foundation for Transparency and Public Accountability.

Freeing Estrada could also derail Arroyo's economic program and leave her vulnerable to legal attacks.

"So an acquittal for Estrada would be very difficult for Arroyo. A conviction on the other hand retains the legality of Arroyo's presidency while leaving room for her to maneuver and let Estrada save face through a presidential pardon," Abaya told Agence France-Presse.

KBP: Let people witness Erap trial promulgation (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas said Monday that the people should be allowed to witness first hand the reading of the Sandiganbayan's verdict on former president Joseph Estrada's six-year plunder case.


"We know that the public has the right to know. The media always want transparency in very important events like this," KPB chairman Jun Nicdao told ANC.


Nicdao said that included in the KPB's petition to be filed before the Sandiganbayan is a petition to let media be allowed to cover, not only the reading of the verdict, but also to know the reason behind the decision. He said this will allow the public to know first hand how the Sandiganbayan arrived with the decision.


The Sandiganbayan earlier barred TV and other broadcast media from covering the Estrada trial live for fear of a "trial by publicity." Nicdao, however, said live coverage of the promulgation of the plunder case would no longer affect the outcome of the trial.

(UPDATE) NBN, CyberEd deals can still be cancelled--Teves (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- The two controversial multibillion-peso information technology loans from China can still be cancelled, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves told the Senate Monday.

At the first budget hearing at the Senate, Teves said the $330-million national broadband network with ZTE Corp. and the $460-million Cyber Education project could still be cancelled because neither has a "perfected or consummated" loan agreement.

Responding to questions from Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile, who heads the committee on finance, Teves said: "In my understanding, there is still no final loan agreement. It's still at the supplier's contract level, which is needed to move into the loan agreement."

"We may still decide not to pursue depending on how the loan agreement [discussions will proceed]. Anything can still happen," he said.

Cyber education project 'above board', says Lapus (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


Education Secretary Jesli Lapus defended Monday the P26.4 billion Cyber Education Project of the Department of Education amid questions about its costs and relevance. 


Lapus noted that fears over the costs of CEP started because the Chinese government is partly financing the project amid controversies surrounding the $330-million national broadband network deal of the Philippine government and the Chinese government-owned ZTE Corp. 


The NBN project involves the setting up of a broadband network that will interconnect all government agencies, including those in far-flung areas. Critics believe ZTE's proposal is overpriced and unnecessary because the country already has broadband networks set up by major local telecommunications carriers.


The CEP will use satellites to deliver educational services to 37,794 or 90 percent of public elementary and secondary schools throughout the country by linking all schools to a nationwide network.


This network will provide 12 video channels, wireless wide area networking, local area networking and wireless Internet connection.


The CEP will be financed through a multimillion-dollar loan from China. This loan amounts to 86 percent of the project, or P22.77 billion. The remaining P3.71 billion, or 14 percent, will be financed by the Philippine government.


Lapus said the CEP deal is above board and legal. He said that, for one, a bilateral agreement has been signed between the Philippines and China that states among others that the latter will help the country in improving its information and communications technology in education.   


"China is a new donor that now provides official development assistance much like US, Australia and Japan," Lapus told radio DZMM. 

Senate holding first JPEPA hearing Friday (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- The first hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is scheduled this Friday, September 14, and every Thursday morning thereafter, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Monday.

In her letter to Senator Rodolfo Biazon, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense and security, one of three bodies carrying out the reopened "Hello Garci" investigation, Santiago asked that hearings on the wiretapping controversy be scheduled Friday mornings "so that the two ongoing hearings will not conflict."

In the same letter, Santiago also relayed the proposal of unnamed senators to end the probe into the purported wiretapped phone conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, after whom the scandal is named, that allegedly prove she cheated her way to victory in the 2004 elections.

"It appears that some of my colleagues have proposed to end the Garci probe. If so, I have no objection," she said.
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