Controversial Arroyo EO 464: To Lift Or Not To Lift?

February 29, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Posted in 1 | 3 Comments

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – Malacanang on Friday said the legal team recently formed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to study the recommendation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to lift Executive Order 464, has reached a consensus. Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the legal team would meet with representatives of the CBCP probably next week to discuss the Palace position on the proposed abolition of EO 464, according to the official Philippine News Agency.“On our end, yes (we’ve reached a consensus) but we have to meet with representatives of the CBCP,” he said without disclosing what the legal team agreed on. “We already have a stand on this subject to discussion with the bishops,” he said. “We will brief you as soon as the meeting takes place.” The influential CBCP issued a pastoral statement on Tuesday evening, after an emergency meeting called amid growing protests, many of these joined by clergy and religious, brought about by the botched national broadband network (NBN) deal controversy. In the pastoral statement issued last Tuesday, the CBCP sought the abolition of EO 464 and for the President to allow her subordinates to reveal the anomalies in government, particularly on the allegedly tainted NBN contract forged with China’s ZTE Corp., “without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved.” In recommending for the abolition of EO 464, the CBCP noted “so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies.” It also asked the Senate and the Ombudsman to use their distinct power to fight corruption; called on media to be objective in their reporting; and encouraged the creation of a “culture of truth and integrity — the new version of people power.” “We are convinced that the search for truth in the midst of charges and allegations must be determined and relentless, and that the way to truth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the present time when questions about the moral ascendancy of the present government are being put in question,” the CBCP statement said. Malacanang earlier said there should be safeguards to government officials appearing before the Senate should EO 464 as recommended by the CBCP in their pastoral statement. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the legal team is studying the possibility of scrapping EO 464. He however, stressed the team wants to ensure that there should be “safeguards” for executive officials appearing before Senate inquiries should the Order be scrapped. Ermita said the team will submit its recommendation to the President next week.

RP Leader Unfazed By Protests

February 29, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 20080 – President Gloria Arroyo remains in control of her embattled government as 15,000 demonstrators  trooped to the streets and demanded for her resignation. They accused Arroyo of corruption over the failed national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp. of China that opposition politicians claimed is flawed and overpriced. But for Arroyo, Friday is just another busy day. Government media said Arroyo put a full day’s work and in her first official schedule of the day, the President inducted the new members of the executive directorate of the 235-strong Lady Municipal Mayors Association of the Philippines (LMMAP) at the Heroes’ Hall in Malacañang. The mayors pledged their full support for the President.  Arroyo also inducted the new set of officers and directors of the People Management Association of the Philippines, and the Metro Manila Federation of Environment Multipurpose Cooperatives. She later motored to the Quirino Grandstand in the Luneta park in Manila for the soft opening of the Manila Ocean Park, the Philippines first state-of-the-art “oceanarium”. Arroyo also traveled to Meycauayan City in Bulacan province where she inaugurated the Nestle Business Service (NBS) Asia–Oceania-Africa (AOA), a new corporate entity of the global Nestle Group, 

She then proceeded to the inaugural drive-through the Meycauayan Bridge in  also in Meycauayan. From there, Arroyo went to Sta. Maria town in Bulacan for the groundbreaking ceremony of a two-storey four-classroom Sta. Maria Central School building.

Photo: Anti-Arroyo Protests In Mindanao

February 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment






More than a thousand Filipinos gather at the Rizal Park in Davao City in Mindanao on Friday, February 29, 2008 for an interfaith rally as part of a nationwide protest calling for the ouster of embattled Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo over corruption charges involving the flawed and overpriced national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. Similar protests are also held in Zamboanga, General Santos, Davao, Cotabato and other key cities in Mindanao. In Manila, tens of thousands of anti-Arroyo protesters also gather to demand Arroyo’s resignation.  

Latest surveys show Arroyo remains unpopular among Filipinos and many say she is one of the most hated presidents in the country’s political history. (Keith Bacongco / AKP Images)

 

Muslim Groups Assail Gov’t “Terrorists” Hysteria As Anti-GMA Rallies Begin

February 29, 2008 at 5:40 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

President Gloria Arroyo prays.

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – A Muslim human rights organization on Friday assailed Philippine authorities for using so-called “terrorists” hysteria every time there are anti-Arroyo street protests.

The Suara Bangsamoro, an umbrella organization of human rights and civil society groups, said the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been making pronouncements about impending attacks by the local Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya, an Indonesian terror group tied to a string of bombings in Jakarta and Manila.

Philippine police chief Avelino Razon on Friday said they arrested a suspected foreign terrorist believed plotting terror attacks in Manila. Razon made the announcement the same day as huge anti-Arroyo protesters gathered in the capital to demand for the President’s resignation over corruption allegations.

“We have arrested a foreigner suspected of plotting terror attacks, including an assassination on the president,” Razon said.

The Philippine military this week also said that the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiya and the communist New People’s Army rebels are plotting to bomb civilian targets in Manila. The military also made the same warning last week days before anti-Arroyo protesters held a huge rally in Manila.

“We cannot anymore stomach the use of the police and military the ‘terrorist’ hysteria in a bid to make Arroyo look like a target of terrorist killing in the midst of a mammoth interfaith rally calling for her resignation,” Amirah Lidasan, national president of the Suara Bangsamoro, said.

Opposition and civil society groups demanded Arroyo’s resignation after the president and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo were both linked to alleged scandals involving the flawed and overpriced national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation.

The president admitted the deal was flawed and cancelled the contract five months later after the scandal broke out. She and husband denied any wrongdoings.

Hundreds of students in Zamboanga and General Santos cities also marched on Friday, many demanding for Arroyo’s resignation. Some 200 students from Mindanao State University in General Santos held a rally and demanded Arroyo to step down.

More than 500 students from different colleges in Zamboanga also gathered at the Ateneo University in Zamboanga where they attended an interfaith forum. They denounced corruption in government. Many lighted candles and demanded Arroyo’s resignation.

The Inter-religious Solidarity Movement for Peace in Mindanao has joined calls for truth and clean, corruption-free society.

“Our country has constantly scored high on the scales of corruption in Asia and the world. As a people, we have seemingly become habituated to the culture of sleaze and dishonesty in the way that many of our leaders carry out their supposed duties to the people.”

“In these days we have again become flooded with these exact same stories of corrupt transactions happening in high places. Information on the blatant manipulation and obstruction of the truth on the NBN-ZTE Project has implicated very important government officials, including the President of this Republic and her family,” it said in a statement. (Mindanao Examiner)

Foreign Terror Suspect Falls In Manila

February 29, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – Philippine police on Friday said it has arrested a foreigner suspected of plotting terror attacks in the Manila.

Police chief Avelino Razon made the announcement the same day as huge anti-Arroyo protesters gathered in the capital to demand for the resignation of the Filipino leader over corruption allegations.

“We have arrested a foreigner suspected of plotting terror attacks,” Razon said.

He did not say how or when the foreigner was arrested, but claimed the man has links with international and local terror groups.

The Philippine military on Thursday said Jemaah Islamiya and the local Abu Sayyaf group are plotting to bomb civilian targets in Manila. The military also made the same warning last week days before anti-Arroyo protesters held a huge rally in Manila.

Opposition and civil society groups demanded Arroyo’s resignation after the president and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo were both linked to alleged scandals involving the flawed and overpriced national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation.

The president admitted the deal was flawed and cancelled the contract five months later after the scandal broke out. She and husband denied any wrongdoings.

In southern Philippines, the Inter-religious Solidarity Movement for Peace has joined calls for truth and clean, corruption-free society.

“Our country has constantly scored high on the scales of corruption in Asia and the world. As a people, we have seemingly become habituated to the culture of sleaze and dishonesty in the way that many of our leaders carry out their supposed duties to the people.”

“In these days we have again become flooded with these exact same stories of corrupt transactions happening in high places. Information on the blatant manipulation and obstruction of the truth on the NBN-ZTE Project has implicated very important government officials, including the President of this Republic and her family,” it said in a statement.

It added: “This is now leading us to a crisis point that is prompting us to even question the integrity of the highest official of the land. It is utterly immoral to impose this obligation upon our people without consideration for their poverty and struggle to live in dignity and peace.”

“We add our collective voice to the many who call for an end to corruption, falsehood and dishonesty. We are not a society of cheats. With a sense of urgency, we exhort everyone to consider the consequences of the culture of corruption that plagues our society from top to bottom. These practices must end in united, honest and serious work for truth and adherence to the rule of law.”

“Confident in our legal system, let us get to the bottom of these anomalies and prosecute those who are found liable – regardless of their high or powerful positions, including the President of the country– and replace corrupt leaders with those who are more transformational and moral. Let us rebuild our country on the building blocks of participative working democracy, reflective of the will of our people. A clean, peaceful and corruption-free society, where people are empowered as they live in security and dignity, is our best legacy to our children.”

But the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns has criticized Arroyo and said it would join calls for her to step down.

“The anomalies and scandals on the secret deals of the Arroyo government emit unbearable stench, no matter how the government tries to cover it up. The whole nation can smell the horrible stench and even the children can smell it too,” Alphonse Rivera, the group’s spokesman, said.

“We have witnessed how the government deprived our children of basic services while fattening their own pockets. Now is the time to speak out and defend our children’s future. We want to put across the message that, whichever way, Mrs. Arroyo has to go away now.  She has never considered the children’s interests in her 7 years in power and we have lost trust that she will do so in the next two years.  We can no longer bear the disgusting stench of her government,” Rivera said.

A Call For Truth and Clean, Corruption-Free Society

February 29, 2008 at 11:50 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


A STATEMENT OF THE INTER-RELIGIOUS SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT FOR PEACE (Zamboanga City,) A CALL FOR TRUTH AND A CLEAN, CORRUPTION-FREE SOCIETY.

Our country has constantly scored high on the scales of corruption in Asia and the world. As a people, we have seemingly become habituated to the culture of sleaze and dishonesty in the way that many of our leaders carry out their supposed duties to the people.

In these days we have again become flooded with these exact same stories of corrupt transactions happening in high places. Information on the blatant manipulation and obstruction of the truth on the NBN-ZTE Project has implicated very important government officials, including the President of this Republic and her family.

Because the project shall be prosecuted on a loan, the Filipino people shall assume the task of servicing the national debt, including the super-heavy kickbacks that would have gone on to line the pockets of those who have brokered the deal.

This is now leading us to a crisis point that is prompting us to even question the integrity of the highest official of the land. It is utterly immoral to impose this obligation upon our people without consideration for their poverty and struggle to live in dignity and peace.

As one witness after another unravels the disgusting elements of immorality, treason and flagrant racketeering, there is a call to bring the truth to light. There is a call for morale support to these witnesses to pluck up their courage amid threats of litigation, physical harm, and even death.

We add our collective voice to the many who call for an end to corruption, falsehood and dishonesty. We are not a society of cheats. With a sense of urgency, we exhort everyone to consider the consequences of the culture of corruption that plagues our society from top to bottom. These practices must end in UNITED, HONEST, AND SERIOUS WORK FOR TRUTH AND ADHERENCE TO THE RULE OF LAW.

Confident in our legal system, let us get to the bottom of these anomalies and prosecute those who are found liable – regardless of their high or powerful positions, including the President of the country– and replace corrupt leaders with those who are more transformational and moral. Let us rebuild our country on the building blocks of participative working democracy, reflective of the will of our people. A clean, peaceful and corruption-free society, where people are empowered as they live in security and dignity, is our best legacy to our children.

NGO Slams Philippines Judge Advocate General’s Office

February 29, 2008 at 10:04 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

 





Shot in the forehead and an eye missing, one of eight victims killed by soldiers in Sulu province. Below, Muslims protest the killings in Sulu. (Photo by Area Coordinating Center, Sulu Provincial Government)

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – The Children’s Rehabilitation Center criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) for exonerating the soldiers involved in the massacre of civilians, including 2 children and a pregnant woman, in Sulu province early this month. 

“The AFP has done it again.  It has used its usual excuse of “legitimate encounter” to escape accountability over the loss of civilian lives during military operations,” Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac, Executive Director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, said in a statement.

Macaspac also said that operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group have become a convenient excuse whenever human rights violations are committed against civilians in Mindanao, particularly in Muslim areas.  “They disregard the damage to lives, limbs and property.  They even disregard the findings of investigations by human rights groups and even the Commission on Human Rights.”

She said the exoneration of the soldiers was a move to prevent further antagonizing the soldiers in the midst of rumours of military unrest.  “The last thing that the Arroyo government needs right now, especially with a fragmented military, is to further rock the boat.  This further shows that at whatever cost, they will trudge any path just to appease the military men and keep themselves in power.  And this they do at the expense of the human rights of the people.”

Macaspac lauded the CHR for endorsing the filing of criminal charges against the soldiers in civilian court.  She however cautioned the relatives of the victims not to pin much hope on winning the case because of the current state of the Philippine justice system. 

“Seeking justice is part of the healing process of victims and their relatives.  While we encourage the victims and the relatives to go through the process, we don’t encourage them to consider the court as the “end all and be all” of getting justice.  They should also seek other means to attain justice,” she said. 

“In the end, the success of their coping would depend on their own strength, enhanced by their social support network, and how they use this strength to change the crisis situation they are in.”

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center is a non-government organization providing direct psycho-social help to children victims of human rights violations.

Muslims, Christians In South RP Join Interfaith Prayer Rally For Truth

February 29, 2008 at 8:57 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

 

 

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – The Suara Bangsamoro, Jesus Is Lord Movement (JIL) and other Moro and civil society groups will stage an interfaith prayer and candle lighting rally on Friday evening.

The groups will convene at City Plaza at 4:00 PM, as part of the people’s unyielding quest for truth, justice, accountability and meaningful reforms in governance amid the deteriorating political crisis prodded by the $329-million ZTE-NBN scam.

Danny Vergara, resident pastor of JIL-Cotabato City, depicted the interfaith prayer assembly as a dignified gathering of groups, sectors and individuals who are resolute to grasp the genuine truth of the overpriced ZTE-NBN deal and make all those involved, including Ms. Gloria Arroyo, accountable for their abuses and callousness.

Suara Bangsamoro’s national secretary-general, Bai Ali Indayla remarked that the movement calling for Arroyo’s resignation or ouster keeps mounting and intensifying as the political crisis drags on stressing that ‘Arroyo has a lot to answer including the organized extra-judicial killings, Hello Garci scandal, electoral fraud and numerous cases of multi-billion peso graft and corruption involving her family and cronies.’

“The pathetic statement of CBCP could not give GMA some relief. Cries of people from all walks of life are intense. She has escaped judgment in the past, but people now will decisively say, ‘Enough of Corruption, Enough of GMA!’ Indayla said in a statement.

The groups pointed out that they will stage series of activities including street education, sinehang bayan (film viewing) and concert for truth to edify the people on the present political quagmire until the downfall of Arroyo’s regime.

Malakanyang Motukod Ug Usa Ka Legal Team Aron Pagtuon Sa Pagwagtang Sa EO 464

February 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 28, 2008) Motukod ang Malakanyang ug usa ka legal team nga maoy magtuon sa posibleng pagwagtang sa mando ehekutibo 464 isip tubag sa tawag sa Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).


Matod pa ni Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, gimandoan siya ni Presidente Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo paghulma gilayon sa usa ka legal nga grupo sa wala pa mibiya ang presidente padulong sa Davao City kahapon sa buntag.


Kini ang gisugyot sa Presidente kaniya sa diha-diha magpatawag ug meeting uban sa maong team sa may alas kuwatro sa hapon kagahapon aron sa pagtuon awhag sa CBCP kabahin sa EO 464.


Ang legal team pagalangkuban sa kalihim sa Departmento sa Hustisya, Solicitor General, ug Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, ug ang legal officers sa government corporate counsels. (PIA Pagadian City)

Photo: Balikatan 2008 In Southern Philippines – Veterinary Care

February 28, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

SHOULDERING THE LOAD TOGETHER. Fireman 1st Class Jalicando Mamolo, of the Philippine Navy, administers oral vitamins to a cow while Capt. Kevin Hinson, a U.S. Army veterinarian assigned to the Japan District Veterinary Command, assists during a free veterinary clinic held February 26, 2008 in Nabalawag village in Midsayap town in North Cotabato province in Mindanao as part of the humanitarian assistance programs of Balikatan 2008. True to the meaning of the word Balikatan, Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military veterinary providers are shouldering the load together to help the greatest possible number of people in need. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Taylor released by the US Embassy to the Mindanao Examiner)
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