[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 4 March 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Sun Mar 2 12:03:37 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 4 March 2008 Afternoon

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


SC justice to Neri: Prove executive privilege (INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines -- Former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri has not established that "military concerns" were raised in a conversation with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on an alleged bribe offer to endorse the national broadband network (NBN) project, a Supreme Court justice said Tuesday.

"You have not established any military connection in the negotiations in the NBN deal. How can we conclude that this will prejudice military secrets?" Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked Neri's lawyer Antonio Bautista at the start Tuesday of the oral arguments on his client's petition for a temporary restraining order against the arrest order issued by the Senate against the former Cabinet official for failing to heed summons to testify on the controversial NBN agreement.

Bautista replied that what was cited in Neri's invocation of executive privilege against testifying was the issue of "military concerns" that he and the President had discussed during their conversation on the NBN contract.

"So it is not a secret but a concern," Carpio countered, telling Bautista they would have to be "more specific" if they wanted his client's non-appearance at the Senate to be covered by executive privilege.

Ex-gov't men to Arroyo: Lift ZTE gag order, suspend execs (www.gmanews.tv)
MANILA, Philippines - Former government executives on Tuesday called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to "follow through with actions" her anti-corruption statements, and recommended five concrete steps the President may take to show the government's commitment to the truth.

In a statement, 61 former senior government officials - which included the group dubbed "Hyatt 10' - called on President Arroyo to: 

. Order former Socio-Economic Sec. Romulo Neri to resume his testimony before the Senate investigation without any restrictions or limitations;

. Order the release and delivery to the Senate of all public records pertaining to the NBN-ZTE deal, starting with the minutes of the NEDA Board meetings on the project;

. Suspend DOTC Sec. Leandro Mendoza and Asst. Sec. Lorenzo Formoso, the department being the lead for this project;

. Suspend DENR Sec. Jose "Lito" Atienza, PNP chief Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon Jr, Deputy Exec. Sec Manuel Gaite, Deputy NAIA chief Angel Atutubo, Senior Supt. Paul Mascarinas and all those involved in the alleged attempt to prevent ZTE witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr from testifying; and

. Order a halt on any further attempts by the DOJ, DENR, NBI and BIR to harass Lozada and those who are testifying in congressional investigations on corruption charges.

"The President said recently:'Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian. Ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian.' We affirm the first sentence. We ask that the second sentence be demonstrated in action," the group said.

Arroyo: I will step down in 2010 (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


Amid mounting calls for her to resign, President Arroyo on Tuesday reiterated that she will step down only when her term ends in 2010. 


"I will be true to the Constitution and to myself who has been mandated to leave the post when my term ends in 2010," she said in a statement before signing into law the Civil Aviation Authority Act of the Philippines of 2008. 


She said she would  "adhere to the law because this was what every elected official has promised to do even if my critics refuse to understand and give political color to it."


She said she agrees with her critics that the law and the country should be above politics and personal popularity. 


"That is why we uphold the principle of due process in investigating and adjudicating criminal allegations against any citizen, whatever the political cost. No one's rights must be sacrificed just to spare government from the ire of protesters and the fire of politicians," she said.

BSP still bullish on RP economy (www.philstar.com) 

DAVAO CITY - Despite the prevailing political turmoil and mounting calls for President Arroyo to resign, the country's economic outlook for 2008 remains promising, according to a central bank official.

"We have improved in a very fundamental way in terms of structural reforms. We will continue the momentum," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told The STAR.

Guinigundo shrugged off the political turmoil as the government continues to strengthen the economy further.

"We need a strong economy. It is only with a strong economy that we can help the poor," he said. 

Sumilao farmers back in Manila, to camp out at Malacañang (www.philstar.com) 

After more than two months of waiting, farmers who marched 1,700 kilometers from Bukidnon to Manila last October are back to press Malacañang to fulfill its promise to give them the controversial 144-hectare property in Sumilao town.

The property is owned and developed by San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI), a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

One hundred forty-four Sumilao farmers arrived over the weekend and are set to hold a vigil near Malacañang. They expressed frustration over the inaction of the Arroyo administration on its promise to distribute the 144 hectares the farmers are claiming as their own.

"To this day, the issuance of the revocation order remains the first and only step that the Arroyo government has taken to resolve the Sumilao land row," said lawyer Arlene Bag-ao, legal counsel of the farmers.

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