[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 19 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Tue Feb 19 17:54:32 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 19 February 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Palace eyes 'reform council' for 'good governance'  (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang is eyeing the creation of a "national reform council" to promote "good governance," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Tuesday.

Ermita said the new body, which was proposed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Romulo Neri, is not meant to rival the "moral revolution council" organized by estranged Palace ally, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.

"If such [a] council is organized, you can imagine [that] it is an effort of trying to improve everything, good governance, so that everyone will know that this government, this president, is doing everything to move forward," Ermita said.

Arroyo halts CyberEd, other ODA projects amid ZTE furor (www.philstar.com)
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has put on hold 11 infrastructure projects financed through official development assistance, including the controversial Cyber Education project, amid persisting allegations that members of her administration padded the price of the proposed national broadband network project with China's ZTE Corp.

During a meeting of the Procurement Transparency Group in Malacañang on Tuesday, President Arroyo ordered her economic team to look for local funding for these projects instead.

"We are putting on hold all ODA loans which are not yet finalized... We can do this without borrowing," President Arroyo said.

Palace Arroyo expects 'fair, thorough' Ombudsman probe of NBN (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expecting the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman into allegations of corruption in the national broadband network (NBN) deal will be "thorough and fair."

"Umaasa tayo na magiging masigasig at patas ang pagsisiyasat ng Ombudsman, walang pagkiling, walang pulitika, walang pagdadrama [We hope that the Ombudsman investigation will be thorough and fair, void of partisan interests, politics, and drama]," she said at the start of a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang in which the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) cluster discussed transparency in government transactions.

The Ombudsman on Monday began its own investigation into allegations the $329-million NBN contract between the government and China's ZTE Corp. was overpriced and involved kickbacks.

Palace exec Gaite admits giving Lozada P.5M (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- Deputy executive secretary Manuel Gaite on Tuesday admitted giving P500,000 to Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., the key witness in the Senate inquiry into the scandal-tainted national broadband network (NBN) deal, but insisted that no public funds were involved.

Neither, said Gaite, was the money intended to keep Lozada from testifying on the alleged corruption surrounding the controversial deal, which had been awarded to China's ZTE Corp. but was subsequently scrapped after the Senate began its probe.

"It's unfortunate that all my efforts at helping Jun Lozada have been twisted by him or made to appear as part of a scheme to prevent him from testifying in the Senate hearing on the NBN-ZTE project," Gaite said in a statement released by the Palace.

US ambassador meets MILF chief (Agence France-Presse)


CAMP DARAPANAN - US ambassador Kristie Kenney on Tuesday met with the head of the main Muslim rebel group in an attempt to re-start stalled peace talks, the two sides said.


Accompanied by US security personnel and aid officials, the envoy visited the main rebel base of Camp Darapanan and met with Muhammad Murad, chief of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


She said it was a "private visit" and would not comment further.


Murad told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an exclusive interview after the meeting that Kenney had questioned him about the status of the peace talks, which he said would resume next month.

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