[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 27 March 2008 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan slb at admu.edu.ph
Thu Mar 27 12:01:05 PHT 2008

Newsbriefs 27 March 2008 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


'Arroyo happily tells 'real story for 2008' (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

"MANILA, Philippines-A day after the Supreme Court upheld her power to invoke executive privilege, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared that she was "bullish on our economy, optimistic about our future and committed to being a force for good for our nation."

In a speech delivered at the opening session of the Philippine Development Forum in Clark, Pampanga, which was broadcast live by the state-run NBN-4, the President reiterated that she would step down at the end of her term in 2010.

This is the "real story for 2008," she said, adding that the "tough choices" she had made-boosting revenues through tax reforms and modernizing the banking and financial sectors-had paid off.

"It has been a very good year for the Philippine economy, not in over 20 years, but in over 30 years. As we all know, our economy grew by 7.3 percent," she said."

Carpio: Neri talked of bribery (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

"MANILA, Philippines-Justice Antonio Carpio has insisted that former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri had discussed a bribery scandal with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and could not properly invoke executive privilege to cover up the alleged crime.

Carpio was one of six justices who disagreed with the majority in the 15-member Supreme Court that upheld on Tuesday Neri's claim he could not be questioned on his conversations with Ms Arroyo in the Senate inquiry into the scrapped $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project with China's ZTE Corp.

Nine justices said Neri may rightly remain silent on three follow-up questions by Senate probers after he told Ms Arroyo that former Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos had allegedly offered him a P200-million bribe to endorse the NBN project to hook up government offices nationwide via the Internet. The questions were:

1. Whether the President followed up on the NBN deal.

2. Whether Neri was dictated to prioritize the project.

3. Whether Ms Arroyo gave the go-ahead to Neri to approve the deal in spite of the alleged bribery.

"The invocation of executive privilege on the three questions dwelling on a bribery scandal is clearly unjustified and void. Public office is a public trust and not a 

shield to cover up wrongdoing. Petitioner must answer the three questions asked by the Senate committees," Carpio said."

SC ruling on Neri shows a Palace-controlled court: sources (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)

"The High Court's ruling on the executive privilege case of Commission on Higher Education chair Romulo Neri shows a Supreme Court that is controlled by Malacanang, according to several abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak sources.  

Supreme Court and legal sources predicted that the 9-6 ruling issued Tuesday, favoring secrecy over public disclosure in the Neri petition, will be the prevailing pattern of vote by the justices for other major political issues that will be raised before the Tribunal, at least for the entire year. 

"It is a pattern of concealment," said Senate private counsel Carlos Medina."

Senate suspends NBN-ZTE hearings (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

"MANILA, Philippines-The Senate has indefinitely put on hold its 13th hearing on the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal which would have alleged "Greedy Group plus plus" bagman Ruben Reyes as the main witness.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, chair of the blue ribbon committee, said the joint inquiry had decided to suspend any hearing until the Senate has come to grips with the ramifications of the Supreme Court decision Tuesday on the NBN deal with China's ZTE Corp.

The court upheld the refusal of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri to answer questions on grounds of executive privilege about the reaction of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after he told her of an alleged attempt to bribe him to endorse the NBN contract.


"Even while they say they have not diminished our power, they have handcuffed our power to investigate. While we can hold hearings, the SC indefinitely has ruled that our rules are ineffective at present," Cayetano said."

UP employees stage picket, urge Neri to tell the 'truth' (www.gmanews.tv)
"MANILA, Philippines - Employees of the University of the Philippines (UP) staged a picket early Thursday morning in a bid to exert pressure on Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Romulo Neri to tell the truth regarding the controversial $329.48-million ZTE broadband network deal.

The picket was timed with a scheduled meeting of the UP Board of Regents which Neri attended."


1 in 2 Filipinos disapprove of Arroyo's performance (abs-cbnNEWS.com)


"About one in two Filipinos disapproved of the performance of President Arroyo in February-March 2008, according to a Pulse Asia survey released Monday.


The March 2008 Ulat ng Bayan National Survey Survey on Presidential Performance and Trust Ratings, Senatorial Ratings, and the National Broadband Network-ZTE (NBN-ZTE) Issue said that President Arroyo had a disapproval rating of 51 percent, or close to one in every two Filipinos, while 57 percent of Filipinos distrusted the President.


Pulse Asia said that both figures were significantly higher than those in their October 2007 survey, which were 39 percent disapproval and 46 percent distrust."


113 workers retrenched daily as businesses closed - DOLE (www.philstar.com) 

"An average of 113 Filipino workers are retrenched daily from their employment due to closures of commercial establishments, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.

Data from the DOLE-Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) showed that a total of 20,478 workers or a daily average of 113 workers were displaced due to closures of commercial firms in 2007.

BLES recorded a total of 1,363 commercial establishments nationwide closing down in the first half of 2007 allegedly due to economic difficulty."

RP to buy 1.5M tons of rice from Vietnam (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

"MANILA, Philippines-To address its rice shortfall, the Philippines on Wednesday signed an agreement with Vietnam in Clark, Pampanga, allowing the former to import up to 1.5 million metric tons of Vietnamese white rice.

But the Philippines may not get the full volume because of tight supply in Vietnam.

Xu Xuan Truong, Vietnam's ambassador to the Philippines, said Hanoi would "try its best to supply" the volume despite a projected decline in Vietnamese crop production and rice exports.

"This year we have difficulties, as crop production is not that good due to calamities. Our rice exports [in 2008] may be lower than last year-lower than 4 million MT," Truong said."

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