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Archive for February 12th, 2008

Arroyo wants requirements for white collar OFWs eased

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:34:00 02/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the relaxation of requirements for Filipinos applying for white collar jobs with “very reputable” companies overseas where they are not prone to exploitation.

Arroyo issued the directive during a meeting of the Cabinet’s National Security Cluster in Malacañang on Tuesday, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said.

“One of the agreements was to relax the requirements for white collar workers and professionals who will work in known and very reputable companies,” Bunye said.

“The requirements that are normally undertaken to protect our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] from exploitation should not apply to these white collar workers,” he said.

“The distinction is very obvious. The President said that these professionals, they can easily take are of themselves. I don’t think they will allow themselves to be exploited,” he added.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-02-12T14:18:31+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Tue, 12 Feb 2008 14:18:31 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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MBC to Lozada: ‘You are not alone’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:22:00 02/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Makati Business Club (MBC) saluted Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., the whistleblower on the alleged overpricing of the scrapped $329-million national broadband network (NBN) contract.

At the same time, the group called on two Cabinet secretaries, who allegedly tried to stop Lozada from testifying at a Senate inquiry into the controversial deal, to quit.

With Lozada facing attacks on his credibility, the MBC said they were sending him this message: “Hindi ka nag-iisa [You are not alone].”

“We salute Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Lozada Jr. for overcoming his personal fear of the consequences of revealing what he knows about the scandal-ridden national broadband network (NBN) project,” the group said in a statement.

The MBC also called on Environment Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza and Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman Romulo Neri to “save themselves from further shame by resigning from their positions in government.”

“Mr. Lozada chose to walk away from the dark side — the lies and cover-up regarding the NBN project being peddled by persons connected to this administration,” the MBC said.

“If he had been a lesser person, he could have continued to acquiesce and cower in the dark. But having come into the light, he has become a credible witness to the truth,” the group said.

But Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the MBC’s call for Neri and Atienza to resign was “uncalled for.”

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-02-12T14:16:58+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Tue, 12 Feb 2008 14:16:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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‘I’m not desperate to be president’–De Castro

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VP appeals for calm amid corruption scandal

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:46:00 02/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Noli de Castro called on the public not to become too emotional as allegations of corruption surrounding the national broadband network (NBN) deal have revived calls for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down.

De Castro also declined to comment on such calls, saying he is in no rush to become president.

At the same time, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita played down a planned protest by the opposition and activist groups later this week, saying this was “normal as far as politics is concerned.”

“This [protest] always happens, How many times has this happened? They will take advantage of any situation [so that] they can take action against the administration so it’s really nothing new,” Ermita said.

“Like our countrymen, I am also after the truth. If we let emotions prevail, we might make a mistake and we might regret it,” De Castro told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang.

At the same time, De Castro said he was not desperate to take over from Arroyo, should she be ousted or chose to step down.

De Castro, a former broadcast journalist, said it was hard for him to comment on calls for Arroyo to resign since he might benefit from these.

“Let’s just wait for the President. It’s [decision to resign] with her, if she has a reason to do that,” he said.

“As long as it’s Constitutional, there’s no need to talk about it. I’m not desperate to get the position [presidency], as long as it’s constitutional,” he said. “Hindi ako magpapakamatay para diyan [I will not kill myself for that].”

On Friday, the political opposition and left-wing militants will take to the streets to press for Arroyo’s resignation, in the wake of the testimony of ex-government consultant Rodolfo Lozada that the government’s $329-million contract with China’s ZTE Corp. was overpriced because of kickbacks, and that he had been held against his will in an attempt to prevent him from appearing before a Senate inquiry into the scandal.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-02-12T08:17:46+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Tue, 12 Feb 2008 08:17:46 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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Agencies, private firm ink MOA to promote RP agro products

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:23:00 02/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Three government line agencies have forged a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the private sector to promote the country’s agricultural products in the domestic and international markets.

The MoA between the Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs, and the private Export Development Council (EDC) was signed before the start of a meeting of the Cabinet’s National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) cluster in Malacañang on Tuesday.

The signatories were Secretaries Peter Favila (Trade), Arthur Yap (Agriculture), and Alberto Romulo (Foreign Affairs), and EDC vice chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis.

“In light of the challenges and opportunities in the domestic and international markets, this agreement aims to synergize and maximize the assistance and services of the parties hereto, with the end view of developing, capacitating, and promoting the Philippine agri-fishery sector within the bounds of their respective legal mandates the competencies,” the agreement read.

According to a statement released by Malacañang, the MoA was conceptualized “in response to the continuing challenges faced by the agri-fishery sector both domestically and internationally.”

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Tue+00:002008-02-12T08:15:37+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Tue, 12 Feb 2008 08:15:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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Arroyo orders 2 Cabinet groups for reforms vs corruption

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Links with Church, academe, business sought

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:39:00 02/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered two Cabinet task forces to link up with the Church, business, and academe to draft reforms to stamp out corruption in government, amid the political turmoil caused by the allegedly onerous national broadband network (NBN) project.

The President issued the directive to Trade Secretary Peter Favila and
Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya during the meeting of the Cabinet’s National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) cluster in Malacañang Tuesday.

“Isusulong natin ang reporma upang mapabilis ang mga proseso sa
gobyerno at mabawasan ang katiwalian at kabagalang inirereklamo ng
karaniwang mamamayan at mga investor [We will push for reforms to speed up government transactions and to reduce corruption and red tape
that the public and investors are complaining of],” she said in her opening statement.

“I instruct the Anti-Red Tape Task Force headed by Secretary Peter Favila and the Procurement Transparency Group of Secretary Nonoy Andaya to link up with the business sector, academe, and the Church to draft reforms in government systems,” she said in Filipino.

Stamping out corruption, the President said, is one of three measures the government is taking to cushion the effects of a looming recession in the United States.

“First, we will speed up infrastructure projects and pro-poor programs in the coming months, to sustain the growth of the economy and strengthen business and agriculture,” she said.

“Second, we will increase investments on human resources through education and training, especially for jobs that are in demand here and abroad, like construction and call centers,” she said.

To move the economy forward, the President said the government should maintain an “orderly and peaceful society” which she said was “very important” to tourists and investors.

A former technical consultant of the NEDA, Rodolfo Lozada Jr., told a Senate investigation into the scrapped $329-million NBN contract with China’s ZTE Corp. was overpriced. He alleged that former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo were involved.

Lozada also told the Senate blue ribbon committee, the lead investigating body, that security officials took him against his will to prevent him from testifying. Government officials who testified at the same hearing denied this, saying they were protecting Lozada from threats to his safety, upon his request.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-02-12T08:14:40+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Tue, 12 Feb 2008 08:14:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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