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Our issue for January 14, 2006

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

January 14, 2006 Issue

Main Features

1. Cover: The Worst Is Yet to Come

“The worst is over,? Palace officials say about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s surviving in office in 2005. As Mrs. Arroyo gropes for a new groove, claiming credit for the continuing strength of the peso and insisting that is a sign of investor confidence in her government, the officials predict political stability and economic recovery this year and appeal for a truce with the opposition. But politicians, businessmen and clergy see this year as a continuation of 2005 for the Arroyo administration, with the President’s political troubles getting worse as she continues to resist resolving the question of her rule’s legitimacy. Malacañang’s rushing the amendment of the Constitution, with a plebiscite on the amendments early this year, and the proposed cancellation of next year’s midterm elections are raising even more suspicion that Mrs. Arroyo intends to stay in power whether the people like it or not. And if that is really the case, Malacañang should quit saying the worst is over because in fact the worst is yet to come.
By Ricky S. Torre

2. Tops on the List

Congress needs to work double time to pass President Arroyo’s proposed P1.03 trillion budget. No problem about that. Education will get the additional spending it is asking for to build new schools. Recalcitrant agencies like military intelligence will get their budgets slashed-let them scrape the bottom this year. And irrelevant agencies like the MMDA will get no budget at all. Done. What will consume passions in Congress as it gets deep into 2006 is the Arroyo tapes investigation, which could affect the amendment of the Constitution. There is also the terror bill, but this one is not as hot as determining the truth about the 2004 presidential election. The administration’s enforcers in the House can be expected to sell out again and block the conclusion of the investigation, because findings against Mrs. Arroyo or a report tailored to clear her could set off a volcano. When the nation erupts, all heads in the administration fall.
By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia

3. This Is an Emergency

Malacañang is rushing the amendment of the Constitution, pushing for a plebscite on the proposed amendments early this year. How early is early? Within the first quarter? Before the end of June? Why? Because the Palace wants to beat the filing of another impeachment complaint against President Arroyo in July. The replacement of the bicameral Congress with a unicameral parliament headed by a prime minister, who could also be Mrs. Arroyo, will end all efforts to impeach the President. The head of a parliamentary government can be removed from office only by a vote of no confidence. The minority in both the Senate and the House, who would all continue to serve in the transition parliament as proposed, just don’t have the number to prevail in a confidence vote. But could the administration-dominated House force a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution, get the job done, and a plebiscite ratify the revisions before July? The forces fighting Mrs. Arroyo seem to be just waiting for the rains to stop to mount a people power revolt against her. Summer would be a time of uncertainty for Mrs. Arroyo.
By Guiller de Guzman and Wendell Vigilia

4. Untrustworthy Watchdog

For the senators, the Commission on Elections is a tainted organization. The involvement of one of its members and many of its provincial officials in the rigging of the 2004 presidential election has damaged the Comelec and the only way to restore public trust in it is for the whole commission to resign and be replaced by new officials of proven integrity and probity. Not only the senators want the entire Comelec to resign; a citizens’ movement for clean election has launched an Internet campaign to ensure honest elections next year and pressures the commission by Web postings to quit. The commission is fighting back insisting that its members do not resign but have to be impeached. But the senators say the Supreme Court ruling against the Comelec on the irregular purchase of unusable vote counting machines in 2003 is reason enough to forgo impeachment. The commissioners can in fact be prosecuted in court for that irregularity.
By Guiller de Guzman and Nati Nuguid

5. Against the Law and the City

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando refuses to accept a Supreme Court ruling denying his agency traffic police powers and continues to send out enforcers to arrest erring motorists. Mayors in the metropolis have warned Fernando that his defiance could lead to a confrontation, but this seems to be what Fernando, expecting support from Malacañang, is spoiling for. He insists that the law that created the MMDA gives the agency police powers. But Congress, angered by Fernando’s Gestapo tactics in dealing with sidewalk vendors, squatters, pedestrians and motorists, is moving closer to repealing that law. Majority of the members of the House refuse to give the MMDA a new budget and PDP-Laban Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. of Makati has introduced legislation that would abolish the MMDA. Locsin says the only way Fernando can save the MMDA is to convince Congress that Metropolitan Manila needs the agency.
By Guiller de Guzman and Nati Nuguid

6. It Can Happen Here

Two thousand-five ended with the world commemorating the first anniversary of the December 26, 2004 tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in 12 countries on the Indian Ocean Rim. That tsunami was generated by a magnitude 9.3 earthquake caused by a rapture in the subduction zone beneath the Indian Ocean, at spot off the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. One heave of the crustal plates that have been butting heads for hundreds of years and a gigantic force sent death and devastation far and wide. Can it happen in the Philippines? Yes. Right in Metropolitan Manila, which sits on two major faults on the earth. There will be no tsunami, but the devastation and the death toll could be worse than staggering. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has for years been calling attention to the dangers of the two faults, but the government done little to nothing to save lives when the big one comes.
By Ramiro C. Alvarez

Two editorials

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1 Comment

  1. Juan delacruz says:

    IS THIS RIGHT FOR A BOTTLERS COMPANY TO ADVERTISE EMILIO AGUINALDO AS A MODEL WHILE DRINKING A COKE BOTTLE IN SAKTO COKE..
    IT IS A DISGRACE TO OUR NATIONAL HERO AND A PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES..
    THEY ARE HUMILIATING OUR FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC..
    GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS MUST DO SOMETHING
    ABOUT IT..
    MAY BE THEY CAN FILE A SUIT TO A P 200 MILLION PESO AS A FINE FOR THEIR RELUCTANT MOVES..
    THEY HAVE INCREASED THEIR PROFIT BUT DECREASING THE RESPECT OF OUR FIRST PRESIDENT.
    AND MAYBE THE 200 MILLIONS PESO SHOULD BE GIVE TO OUR HOPELESS FELLOW PEOPLE, TO HELP THEM IN OUR CRISIS. I HOPE SOMEONE SHALL MAKE A MOVE FROM IT FOR THE BENEFIT OUR PEOPLE..AND TO ADD TO BIR DEFICIT BUDGET

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    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7206762998&category=13608#ebayphotohosting

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