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Archive for October 7th, 2008

Hultmans ‘shocked’ at Teehankee release

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 22:04:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The family of the late Maureen Hultman is “very angry” and “shocked” over President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s grant of executive clemency to the man convicted of her murder.

“We are very sad, very disappointed, and very angry,” Andres Hultman said in an interview on QTV-11 television Tuesday evening.

The elder Hultman criticized the secrecy he said surrounded the clemency grant to Claudio Teehankee Jr.

“He was sentenced to life imprisonment…Now he’s free. Why was it kept quiet and secret? Why didn’t the rules and regulations apply,” Hultman said.

Hultman’s statement belied Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita’s claim earlier Tuesday that the family did not oppose the clemency grant.

“It was completely unexpected. The possibility was never mentioned to us, that he will be pardoned,” Hultman said.

He also expressed dismay over reports that Teehankee’s brother, Philippine representative to the World Trade Organization Manuel Teehankee, a former justice undersecretary, asked Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales to push for his brother’s pardon.

“What does this say about the country?” he said.

Hultman laughed off reports that Teehankee had apologized for the murder of his daughter, saying, “The last time we talked to him, he denied that he committed the crime.”

“We miss everything about her [Maureen]. She was the most lively of our children,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-10-07T14:44:32+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 07 Oct 2008 14:44:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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‘No decision yet on talks with MILF’

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But calls for resumption discussed

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:04:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The National Security Council (NSC) cluster of the Cabinet on Tuesday discussed proposals from cause-oriented groups to resume peace talks and declare a ceasefire in the south, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

However, the NSC has not decided on the proposals yet, Ermita told reporters in Malacañang.

“We reviewed the conditions under which there is [a] probability of resuming talks, because there are efforts from sectors in Mindanao asking for the resumption of talks and having a ceasefire because of the ongoing police-military operations,” Ermita said.

Ermita reiterated that for negotiations to resume, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has to surrender commanders Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdurahman Macapaar, and Aleem Pangalian, who have been charged for leading attacks on civilian communities in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Saranggani provinces in Agusust.

He also noted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has shifted her peace policy, from talking to armed groups to dialogues with affected communities.

“This is something that needs to be discussed fully before any recommendation is given to the President,” he said.

The Central Mindanao attacks, as well as a Supreme Court decision that stopped the signing of a memorandum of agreement that would pave the way for an expanded autonomous Muslin region in the south, stalled formal peace talks between the government and the MILF.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-10-07T13:37:24+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 07 Oct 2008 13:37:24 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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Violators of China milk ban warned

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‘Full force of law’ to be applied

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:01:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants the “full force of the law” against violators of the government’s ban on the sale of milk products from China, suspected of containing the toxic substance melamine, officials said.

At a meeting of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) cluster of the Cabinet on Tuesday, Arroyo said issuing a “cease and desist” or stop order against businessmen who would violate the ban was “not enough,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

“The President wants to make sure that the full force of the law is enforced and that, we could possibly close down the stores who continue to violate the ban order,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters in a news briefing after the meeting.

“The President wanted to be very sure that [a] cease and desist order is not enough. The President wants complete legal action to be taken so people will be ensured,” Ermita said.

Duque said he would release on Wednesday the results of a second round of tests on Chinese milk products. The first round found two milk brands tainted with melamine and cleared 28 others.

The health chief said tests, specifically those being done in private laboratories, were expanded to include canned goods and cosmetics.

There have been no cases of melamine poisoning in the country, but in China, thousands of babies were reported to be suffering from kidney problems as a result of melamine contamination.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-10-07T13:36:19+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 07 Oct 2008 13:36:19 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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British envoy summoned to Palace

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:05:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Malacañang summoned the ambassador of the United Kingdom on Tuesday to protest the racial slur against Filipina maids in a comedy show that was aired on television by the British Broadcasting Co.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo received UK Ambassador Peter Beckingham at the Palace, said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr.

“Secretary Romulo has set out for a while because he has summoned the British ambassador to bring this matter officially to the attention of the embassy,” Conejos told reporters at the Palace.

Romulo and Conejos were in Malacañang to launch the Global Forum Migration and Development that Manila will host in late October.

In an episode of the comedy show “Harry and Paul,” a Filipina maid in a sexy outfit was made to gyrate in front of a friend of her employer, before running off with a mailman.

“The department has acted very quickly on this issue. Our embassy in London has lodged a written protest with the regulatory agencies in the UK specifically the commission on communications,” Conejos said.

“They have written to the mayor of London as well as the commission on the protection of women, the secretary for the protection of women, and to BBC itself protesting the slur on our domestic workers in the UK,” he said.

Conejos said Filipino workers were planning a “silent protest” at the BBC offices and an email campaign against the slur.

In October 2007, Malacañang demanded an apology from American television network ABC after a character on the show “Desperate Housewives” berated Filipino doctors in one of the episodes. The show’s producers apologized.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-10-07T13:35:02+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 07 Oct 2008 13:35:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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Palace defends Teehankee pardon

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‘No complaint from Hultmans’–Ermita

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:49:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Malacañang has defended President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s grant of executive clemency to a controversial murder convict, saying this underwent a “very rigorous review.”

Claudio Teehankee Jr.,who was convicted for the 1991 murders of 16-year-old Maureen Hultman and 21-year-old Roland John Chapman was released from the National Bilibid Prisons on Friday evening.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that as early as 1999, the Hultman family had agreed to a P6-million settlement with the Teehankees. Under the terms of the settlement, the Hultmans would get the Teehankees’ house in San Juan if the convict failed to pay the full amount.

“This was committed [against] the Hultmans, and the Hultmans did not object when asked about the possibility of giving Mr. Teehankee pardon,” Ermita told reporters in Malacañang.

“The Hultmans thought there was remorse on the part of Mr Teehankee. He has served his time, and therefore, they did not object when they were asked during the processing of his paper…That’s a major factor [in the President’s decision],” he added.

Ermita said the grant of executive clemency was Arroyo’s prerogative.

“There really is nothing special about it except for the fact that he is a prominent personality,” he said.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, for his part, said he was informed that the Hultmans had been advised of the impending release of Teehankee and posed no objection.

“I also assume that he has already paid the civil indemnity to the family of the victim,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez admitted that Teehankee’s brother, Manuel, a former justice undersecretary, dropped by his office one time and asked if Claudio could be released on parole.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza pointed out that Teehankee was only one of 292 prisoners that were granted executive clemency in an order dated September 28.

Asked about perceptions the clemency order on Teehankee was kept secret, Dureza said: “There is no such thing as secrecy. When we grant clemency it’s publicly announced, although some malicious minds will probably give it that spin.”

Earlier, he told radio station dzMM that the case of Teehankee was “subject to very rigorous review, it was even reviewed twice.”

For good conduct, Dureza said five days was deducted from Teehankee’s sentence for every month he spent in jail in his first two years of imprisonment.

“Ultimately [after] 14 years of being imprisoned, he was therefore entitled to a commutation of sentence,” Dureza said.

Dureza said all convicts who have displayed good behavior in prison were entitled to executive clemency.

Asked if the President was set to pardon another high-profile murder convict, Rolito Go, Dureza said: “Haka-haka lang po iyon [That’s speculation].”

Go was found guilty of murder three years after he shot and killed Eldon Maguan in 1991 following a traffic altercation. He is serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-10-07T13:33:38+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 07 Oct 2008 13:33:38 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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