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Archive for October 23rd, 2008

Palace hands off on Dela Paz

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:22:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is keeping its hands off the controversy surrounding ex-Philippine National Police comptroller Eliseo dela Paz who was ordered arrested by the Senate after he snubbed its investigation into the huge amount of money that was discovered in his possession in Russia.

“The matter is well within the confines of the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] and we refer the matter to the secretary of the DILG and to the PNP [Philippine National Police],” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

Dela Paz snubbed the hearing of the foreign relations committee headed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday, contrary to a pronouncement that he would cooperate in the inquiry.

This prompted the feisty lawmaker to order the Senate sergeant-at-arms to arrest Dela Paz.

On October 11, Dela Paz was stopped at the Moscow Airport for carrying an undeclared 105,000 euros, equivalent to P6.9 million.

Dela Paz was in Russia with seven other police generals, some of who were with their wives, for an Interpol conference. His retirement from police service took effect midway into the forum.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-23T04:42:57+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 23 Oct 2008 04:42:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Palace: Bolante ‘on his own’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:47:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante is “on his own” and should answer the charges leveled against him over a multimillion-peso agriculture fund controversy when he returns to the country, Malacañang said.

Bolante’s lawyer, Ira Azulay, had said that the former government official would return to the country before the end of the month from the United States where he had sought refuge and petitioned for political asylum, which was rejected by the court there.

“He is on his own,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said of Bolante, who allegedly funneled P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004.

“The fellow is coming home as a private citizen. He has to face up to the problems that he may have,” Ermita told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where he saw off the President and her delegation to China early Thursday morning.

When asked if the Palace was worried that Bolante’s return could revive the fertilizer fund controversy, Ermita did not give a direct answer.

“We all know why he is being chased by these inquiries… But as I said, as far as we in the Palace are concerned, he has to address this as a private citizen. We have nothing to do with him,” Ermita said.

In a separate interview with reporters at the airport, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza also distanced the Palace from Bolante, whom he maintained as a private citizen.

Asked if the Palace would ask Bolante to cooperate in planned legislative inquiries on the fertilizer fund controversy, to clear his and the President’s names, Dureza said: “We don’t give anybody any advice especially a private person. He should take care of himself.”

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-23T04:07:59+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 23 Oct 2008 04:07:59 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Arroyo to Cabinet: Run pro-poor programs

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:33:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered all
Cabinet agencies to draft employment and livelihood programs for the poor and the middle class to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Before she left for China on Thursday, Ermita said the President instructed him to meet with the Presidential Management Staff and assign a region to each Cabinet member to oversee the implementation of the projects.

Arroyo wants the programs prepared and tabled for discussion for the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday next week, a day after she returns to the country, Ermita said.

“The President has left instructions to the Cabinet to implement pro-poor programs in all regions. The generation of employment and livelihood opportunities for targeted income groups is the country’s best preparation in thwarting the problems brought about by the global credit crunch,” Ermita said in a news conference after the President’s chartered flight left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“The programs that the President instructed to be drawn up will target not only the very poor, but will include the middle class, as well as those whose livelihood will have to be supported because of the financial and economic crisis that we have,” he said.

Ermita said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would be at the forefront of the initiatives.

He said these agencies would tap their contingency funds or savings for the projects, but could avail of additional funds from the national government if necessary.

It was the latest measure announced by the Arroyo government to aver the impact of a meltdown in the United States, which has sent shock waves around the world.

Arroyo has backed plans to increase the deposit insurance coverage to P1 million from P250,000, and the setting up of a P100 billion fund from the private sector and government financial institutions to allow government to realign infrastructure funds to social services when necessary.

The President has also announced a contingency plan for Overseas Filipino Workers, as well as an increase in the volume of palay (rice grain) that the National Food Authority would be buying from farmers.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-23T03:50:56+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 23 Oct 2008 03:50:56 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Palace: More rollbacks from oil firms

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:56:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines – The big oil companies owe the public more “hefty” rollbacks, Malacañang said, after the firms implemented another P1 per liter price reduction on Thursday.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said reducing local pump prices has not been commensurate to the drop in world crude prices.

“Mukang kailangan pa ng hefty, some sizable rollback rather than patingi-tingi lang [There should be a hefty, more sizeable rollback, rather than in small quantities],” Dureza told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, before he left for China with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her delegation.

“We appreciate this [P1 rollback] but perhaps they can roll back some more because it is not proportionate,” Dureza said.

For Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, the P1 rollback meant that oil firms have started listening to their conscience.

He added that the reduction was better than no rollback at all.

“Mabuti nakonsensiya sila [It’s good that they listened to their conscience] because of your stories. They realized the needs of the majority,” Ermita said.

The three big oil companies, Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell, and Caltex have implemented several P1-per liter rollbacks, while the smaller firms, Unioil and Flying V have slashed prices by P3 per liter.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-23T03:49:52+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 23 Oct 2008 03:49:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Arroyo leaves for China

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 07:20:00 10/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her party left for China early Thursday morning to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

The President’s chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR 001 took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Centennial Terminal at 7 a.m.

Arroyo was given full military honors at the airport before her departure. She will land in Wuhan for meetings with investors on Thursday, and will travel to Beijing later in the day, for the ASEM summit opening on Friday.

As the country’s “super sales lady,” Arroyo will make a pitch for investments in the country, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza told reporters.

Dureza, who is traveling with the President, said her delegation was “lean,” although he could not ascertain how many they were.

He said lawmakers and businessmen who were part of the delegation paid for the trip.

World leaders attending the summit are expected to discuss, among others, the global financial crisis, he said.

Arroyo will return to the country on Monday.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-10-23T03:49:06+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 23 Oct 2008 03:49:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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