[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 10 March 2008 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Fri Mar 7 08:53:16 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 10 March 2008 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


RP may scrap Spratly joint study with China (www.philstar.com) 

"The Philippine government might scrap altogether its pre-exploration activities for oil and gas in disputed areas in the South China Sea amid allegations that the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) agreement is unconstitutional and infringes on the country's sovereignty, Malacañang said yesterday.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said the Department of Energy (DOE) made it known in a meeting at the Palace last week that it was not inclined to continue Phase 2 of the JMSU undertaken by the Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) with China National Offshore Oil Co. (CNOOC) and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp. (PetroVietnam).

Phase 2 of the JMSU was supposed to have begun in October 2007, but it was reportedly put on hold due to legal issues and scandals involving Chinese-funded projects. The JMSU is scheduled to lapse on June 30, but with its second phase unimplemented and unlikely to be continued, the pact would be effectively scrapped.

"We will make a final decision on the matter either tomorrow or Tuesday or this week," Apostol told The STAR in a telephone interview. "The DOE said it is not bent on continuing this."

Spratlys deal weakened RP claim - UP Law Center (www.philstar.com) 

"Instead of entering into contracts for a joint seismic study in the Spratlys with China that are "grossly disadvantageous" to the Philippines, the government should have first strengthened the country's claims to the disputed territory, according to lawyer Harry Roque of the Institute of International Legal Studies of the University of the Philippines Law Center.

Roque said President Arroyo was being prodded to work on the Philippines' claims on the extended continental shelf based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that would include the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal and waters off Cagayan, among others.

The deadline for the submission of claims to the UN is in May 2009. Thus the Philippines will have to race against time and probably muster enough resources to beat this. Roque said it would take at least $2 billion to undertake the study of the country's baselines and to prepare for scientific basis for the country's claims before the UN.

He expressed doubts if the country could catch up with the deadline because it would take time to prepare for the case." 

Mañalac knows more than Spratlys deal (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)


"Eduardo Mañalac, the veteran geologist who brokered the Philippines' joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam, can shed light not only on the legally questionable agreement but also on the alleged intervention of First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo in government exploration projects.


Mañalac, who signed the bilateral and then tripartite pacts as president and CEO of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), reportedly has information on the meddling of President Arroyo's husband and brother in the projects of the government's exploration corporation. 


Sources in the government and the oil exploration industry told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that Mañalac was "fired" by President Arroyo not for the bungle in the Spratlys deal, but for "hurting" oil companies that had lines to First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and presidential brother Diosdado "Buboy" Macapagal Jr.


Mañalac refused to be interviewed. In a text message to abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, he said he's not in government anymore and would like his privacy respected."

'Disband Ombudsman ZTE panel' (www.philstar.com) 

"A lawyer asked the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday to replace a panel tasked to investigate allegations that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is involved in anomalies surrounding the national broadband contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

In an urgent omnibus motion, lawyer Ernesto Francisco Jr. said the preliminary investigation on the case of Arroyo and former elections chairman Benjamin Abalos and several others is being carried out in violation of the Office of the Ombudsman's own rules of procedure.

"It has all the makings of a moro-moro, so to speak," he said."

De Venecia resigns as Lakas president (INQUIRER.net)

"MANILA, Philippines -- Ousted Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr has voluntarily stepped down as president of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats just minutes before the scheduled meeting of the party this Monday morning, his lawyer disclosed.

"He [De Venecia] said to me, 'you can say it publicly, that I'm resigning as president of Lakas-CMD,'" Raul Lambino told reporters at the Manila Hotel before the Lakas national directorate meeting.

Lambino said he spoke with De Venecia a few minutes before he arrived at the hotel at around 9 a.m.

Asked if the ousted Speaker had submitted his resignation to the party, the lawyer said, "That will follow."

Rice prices hurt Asian nations (www.philstar.com)

"The soaring price of rice has triggered a supply and demand crunch that is hurting some of Asia's neediest nations, including the Philippines, forcing them to spend more on imports, industry experts and officials said.

But Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap allayed fears of a looming food crisis, assuring Filipino consumers that they can expect enough supply of rice this year as good weather in the first semester plus the intensive intervention programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will help the government hit its 2008 production target of a record 17.33 million metric tons (MT) of the staple grain.

For the likes of Thailand and Vietnam, the world's two biggest exporters of the grain, the rising demand is a money-spinner with rice now selling at more than 500 dollars a ton in Bangkok and nearly as much in Hanoi.

But from Bangladesh to the Philippines and from India to Indonesia, the squeeze is bad news as they seek to balance cost with the imperatives of feeding hungry populations and averting social chaos.

"Every Asian government is well aware of the close relationship between political stability and the stability of the rice price," Jonathan Pincus, the United Nations Development Programme's chief economist in Vietnam, said."

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