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Archive for April 14th, 2008

Arroyo ratings back to ‘Hello Garci’ level — SWS

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:29:00 04/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s net satisfaction rating has dropped further at -26 percent in the first quarter of 2008, as her government reels from the national broadband controversy and girds for a global food crisis, according to an independent survey.

The President’s net satisfaction rating was back to 2005 levels, when the Arroyo administration fought off the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said.

The SWS said the decline in the President’s ratings was observed outside Metro Manila.

The SWS polled 1,200 nationwide from March 28 to 31. The study had a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

According to the survey, 27 percent said they were satisfied with the President, while 54 percent said they were dissatisfied, bringing her net satisfaction rating to -26 percent.

“It is below her scores in the past two years, and is more akin to her ratings in 2005, which ranged between -12 and -33 [percent],” the SWS said in a statement.

The President’s net satisfaction rating increased over three quarters from -11 percent in the third quarter of 2007 and -16 percent in the succeeding quarter.

On the other hand, her satisfaction rating was on a steady decline while her dissatisfaction rating increased over three quarters.

In the third quarter of 2007, 34 percent said they were satisfied with the President, while 32 percent said they were satisfied with her in the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter of 2007, 45 percent said they were dissatisfied with the President, and this rose three percentage points to 48 percent in the succeeding quarter.

In the Visayas, the President’s traditional bailiwick, her net satisfaction rating dipped to double digits, -15 percent, down from -9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.

For the rest of Luzon excluding Metro Manila, her net satisfaction rating dropped to -25 percent in the first quarter from -12 percent, while in Mindanao, it dropped to -33 percent from -20 percent.

The President was also losing ground in the rural areas where her net satisfaction rating dropped to -26 percent from -8 percent, while there was little change in urban areas, where her net satisfaction rating dropped to 27 percent from 23 percent.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-14T13:32:33+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 14 Apr 2008 13:32:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Suspected mutineer denied furlough to visit dying sister

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:26:00 04/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The elder sister of a detained Army Major Jason Aquino died on Monday, but he never got to visit her at her deathbed, despite repeated appeals to the military leadership.

Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he did not grant Aquino’s requests for a leave from detention because the suspected mutineer was a security risk and a flight risk.

Aquino’s wife, Marife, confirmed that her husband’s sister, Erna Aquino-Manso, died in Cebu province at 4 a.m. Monday, after a long bout with cervical cancer.

Aquino is one of 28 officers facing court martial for mutiny over the alleged February 2006 coup plot. He is detained at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound in Camp Aguinaldo. He is the former operations officer of one of the highest-ranked accused, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, the ex-regiment commander of the Army Scout Rangers.

Told about the death of Aquino’s sister, Esperon told reporters: “I’m sorry to hear that, but it comes in the course of time, when you are confined, you cannot have all the privileges.”

“That’s one of the lessons here. If you want all the privileges of a free citizen, then don’t go to jail, don’t commit things that will put you into jail,” the military chief added.

While he turned down Aquino’s requests, Esperon confirmed that he granted leave passes to some of the detained officer’s co-accused.

“I had to consider other things,” Esperon said, explaining his denial of Aquino’s request.

Asked if he considered the detained officer as a flight and security risk, Esperon said: “That’s one thing that I had to consider.”

Aquino’s wife rejected Esperon’s statement. She said her husband did not escape from his guards when he went on paternity leave.

“Why are they saying that my husband is a security risk? What will he do? He just wants to visit his sister. That is long overdue,” Mrs Aquino said.

“Kailangan bang magmakaawa? [Does he have to beg?]. Where is his [Esperon’s] human side? It’s not right. What he’s doing is inhumane,” she said.

Mrs Aquino said her husband first asked Esperon for an emergency leave on November 14 last year, but it was denied.

The court martial trying her husband and his 27 co-accused granted his leave request last April 3, but it was never enforced since Esperon did not approve it.

Mrs Aquino said her husband would seek permission to visit his late sister’s wake.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-14T08:47:49+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 14 Apr 2008 08:47:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Food riots in Philippines unlikely–Palace, defense execs

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Security situation ‘very stable,’ — defense chief

By Joel Guinto, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:07:00 04/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The security situation is “very stable” and riots over food are unlikely, Malacañang and defense officials said Monday.

“Any issue that pertains to food and other basic commodities not given adequately to the people would lead to unrest globally. Knowing about this, the President [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] has funded so many programs that can directly address the situation particularly in the problem of rising prices of rice,” Palace Deputy Spokesman Anthony Golez said in a telephone interview Monday.

In a separate statement, deputy spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said that the IMF warning was “a cause for serious concern” although Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro maintained that the security situation was “very stable” and that he saw no threats to national security “whether caused by rice.”

The officials issued these statements after International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss Kahn warned that soaring food prices would lead to war and cause trade imbalance.

Backed by a “strong macroeconomic fundamentals,” Golez said that the Philippines was “far better” than the nations experiencing food crisis such as Haiti, Egypt, and Bangladesh.

“I do not see any food riots in the Philippines. There have never been food riots [in the country],” Golez said.

The defense chief said the food problem was “endemic to the world” and was not confined to the Philippines.

Nonetheless, Fajardo said that caution should be maintained so as not to alarm the people. “Everyone should make an effort to be vigilant and conservative,” she said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said 37 countries currently faced a food crisis.

But Golez said that programs were in place to address the short-term and long-term problems brought about by the rice situation and cited the President’s order to release P43 billion to various agencies to boost agriculture production.

Golez reiterated that supply of government-subsidized rice was adequate for the need of poor families. For the middle-income and high-income families, he said rice varieties sold at P20 to P30 pesos and above were also available.

With a report from Andreo Calonzo, contributor

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-14T07:05:10+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 14 Apr 2008 07:05:10 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Conditional pardon recommended for 9 convicted officers

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:54:00 04/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) The defense and military establishment have recommended a conditional pardon for nine Army junior officers that were convicted of coup d’etat over the failed mutiny in 2003, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could revoke the pardon if the nine would violate any criminal law, Teodoro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo Monday.

The officers are also barred from re-entering the military service or taking on jobs in the defense department or in the military, as civilian employees, he said.

“We recommended a conditional pardon for these officers, that the pardon will be effective as long as they do not violate any law. Especially, they do not commit any crime involving moral turpitude while the pardon is in effect,” Teodoro said.

“There is a second condition also that they will not be allowed to rejoin the military service,” Teodoro said.

Should any of the two conditions be violated, Teodoro said the President could revoke the pardon and the accused would serve the remainder of their sentence.

Two of the nine officers, Army Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo were sentenced to life imprisonment, while seven others were sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

Asked why the nine could no longer return to active military duty, Teodoro said: “They have broken from the chain of command and that is part of the punishment or penalty that they must suffer for breaking away from the military traditions.”

But the officers, “talented” as they are, could take on jobs in the security sector, Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon said.

The military chief cited the case of the 53 former rebel soldiers who found jobs with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group after they were discharged from the service.

“There are a lot of things that they can do except going back to the military, we will see how versatile they are but I must tell you they are talented,” Esperon said.

Esperon singled out Gambala, who worked under him, battling Islamic extremists in the southern island of Basilan, and a valedictorian at the Philippine Military Academy in 1995.

Teodoro said the press conference hosted by the nine officers in Fort Bonifacio last Friday, where they begged Arroyo to pardon them, was one of the factors that made him decide to forward their request to the President.

“These officers have shown true remorse. They have expressed this publicly. They have faced up to what they have done and were willing to face the consequence of the same. Secondly it goes hand in hand with the political reconciliation effort of the government,” he said.

Teodoro said it was unlikely that the possible grant of pardon to the rebel officers would embolden the troops to turn against government.

“I see the point of the question that it may encourage a similar kind of behavior. I think we have proven that last year, the best way to deter it will be through decisive and swift response and pre-emption,” he said.

Esperon said he was referring to the siege at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City on Nov. 29, 2007 by the rebel soldiers, led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, which ended in a daring military assault.

He said the case of the nine officers was different from that of Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, two officers who were granted amnesty for their participation in the bloody 1989 coup attempt, but were involved in another alleged coup try in February 2006.

“That’s the difference, because they were granted amnesty, which blocks out the offense in law, as if the offense never existed. This time, it’s a conditional pardon where they have to fulfill certain conditions and requirements,” the defense chief said.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-14T07:02:28+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 14 Apr 2008 07:02:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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‘Ambo’ hovers over Visayas; signal no. 1 up

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 08:06:00 04/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) Tropical depression “Ambo” has maintained its strength as it hovered over the Visayas on Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration said.

At 10 a.m., “Ambo,” which packs maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour, was hovering over Dumaguete City, the state weather bureau said in its 11 a.m. bulletin.

Public storm signal number 1 was raised in southern Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, southern Negros Occidental, southern Iloilo, southern Antique, Guimaras, and Cuyo Island, PAGASA said.

Moving west at 11 kilometers per hour, the storm has been forecast to be at 260 kilometers northwest of Dumaguete City by Tuesday morning, in the vicinity of Puerto Princesa City by Wednesday morning, and 280 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa by Thursday morning.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-14T06:59:48+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 14 Apr 2008 06:59:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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