[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 11 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Mon Feb 11 18:10:58 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 11 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


UPDATE 9) Lozada not kidnapped--gov't officials  (INQUIRER.net) 

MANILA, Philippines -- The key witness in the Senate investigation into the national broadband network controversy was not kidnapped, government authorities said Monday.

At the same time, Rodolfo Lozada Jr. admitted he did not want to testify before the Senate on the allegedly tainted NBN contract with China's ZTE Corp., which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo eventually scrapped, according to more witnesses.

At the resumption of the Senate inquiry, Lozada, reacting to the statements of government and police officials summoned to Monday's hearing, said he was sure it was not the police who fetched him at the airport and took him around Laguna and Cavite.

Retired general Angel Atutubo, chief airport security official and one of the officials who appeared at the hearing, admitted that Lozada did not pass through the immigration counter upon his arrival last Tuesday from Hong Kong.

CBCP asked to support anti-Arroyo protests (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) should support street protests against the Arroyo administration, a militant lawmaker said Monday.

Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo believed that protest actions against what he described as "corrupt and morally bankrupt" administration" would succeed if this would be supported by the religious sectors.

Ocampo's call stemmed from allegations by Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the key witness in the Senate investigation into the national broadband network controversy, that the cancelled $329 million NBN contract with China's ZTE Corp. was overpriced.

"The people's enlightenment from the truth behind the multi-million dollar NBN-ZTE scandal, coupled with sustained street protests backed by the Church could lead to the boiling pint of isolation of this corrupt and morally bankrupt administration," Ocampo said in a statement on Monday.

Palace backs CBCP call for communal prayer (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang said it supports the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for "communal prayer" and "soul-searching" amid the unfolding scandal triggered by the Senate inquiry into scrapped $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with China's ZTE Corp.

In a statement, Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said the Palace "respect[s] the moral guidance of our bishops."

However, he did not address the CBCP's heaping of praise on NBN whistleblowers Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. and Jose de Venecia III.

"We support Archbishop Lagdameo's call for communal prayer, soul-searching, and other community activities in accordance with the CBCP's call last month for all sectors to collectively work for moral renewal to fight [the] age-old scourge of corruption," Saludo said in the statement released by Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez.

Ombudsman forms panel to probe complaints on NBN deal (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has created a panel to investigate all the complaints related to the allegedly tainted national broadband network (NBBN) contract.

Gutierrez said Monday the panel will hold a public hearing next week to ensure transparency in the investigation into the seven complaints filed in connection with the $329-million contract, which was scrapped over allegations of corruption.

The panel is headed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro. It members include Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales, Deputy Special Prosecutor Robert Kallos, Assistant Ombudsman Rodolfo Elman, and Director Cesar Asuncion of the Assistance Investigation Bureau.

"The public has the right to know what is happening [with] these cases. We want to observe transparency and remove doubts on the way we conduct our investigation," Gutierrez said.

RP says US offers aid to guard borders (Reuters)


The United States has offered to provide the Philippines with up to $20 million worth of radar and surveillance equipment to guard its porous borders against Muslim militants and smugglers, Manila's defense secretary said.


Gilberto Teodoro said at the weekend the country's Armed Forces would also need newer and faster boats to complement the surveillance system as the Philippines sets up a coastal watch network to tighten control at its maritime borders with Malaysia and Indonesia.


"We've been in talks with the United States for the setting up of a coast watch system in the south," Teodoro told Reuters in an interview aboard an Air Force plane on the way back to Manila from Jolo island, a stronghold of Qaeda-linked Muslim rebels.


"They're willing to provide us the needed hardware. We were told the U.S. funding for our coast watch program could be sourced from Washington's counter-terrorism program under section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006."


Economy has turned corner, says Arroyo (Agence France-Presse)


President Gloria Arroyo told business leaders Monday that the country had made a permanent economic turnaround but conceded the ailing US economy was a concern.


"We are confident the turnaround is permanent," she told an international conference, citing economic growth of 7.3 percent in 2007, which was the highest rate in more than three decades.


She also cited growth over the past seven years, local currency strength, stock market resilience and the lower budget deficit, saying "the Philippines is on a path of permanent economic growth and stability."


But Mrs. Arroyo conceded that the risk of a recession in the United States, the country's main trading partner, was a concern.


"The more connected we become ... the more we need to minimize the ups and downs of other nation's economic bubbles," she said.

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