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Archive for October 29th, 2008

PCCI’s Dee ‘scolds’ CBCP head

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 19:44:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) claimed to have reprimanded Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo over the phone over reports he called for a change in government due to allegations of massive corruption.

Recalling his conversation with Lagdameo, PCCI chairman emeritus Donald Dee said he told the archbishop: “One statement you made that we cannot accept and will never accept is that we need a new government.”

“Your statement is creating havoc, it divides the people. We did not create this recession. We were just dragged into this,” Dee said he told the CBCP president.

“Beyond that, let me say this very clearly archbishop, that business, we businessmen, need a calm environment to work in. With your statement, you can see that some groups with different agenda are moving,” he told reporters at the Palace, in an interview arranged by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.

Dee said Lagdameo told him he was referring to preparations for the 2010 general elections.

The business leader said he asked Lagdameo to issue a rejoinder to which the prelate reportedly: “I will try to do it.”

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T14:31:25+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 14:31:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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‘Ratify UN pact on migrant rights’

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By Joel Guinto, Veronica Uy
First Posted 18:01:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged world leaders on Wednesday to shield migrant workers from the effects of the global economic crisis and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Speaking at the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Arroyo acknowledged that countries are “less equipped to protect their people abroad in times of trouble” and worried that the global financial crisis could result in “side effects” such as exploitation, abuse, and ill treatment of migrant workers.

“We must work together to protect our migrant workers in times of financial and economic stress as the world is experiencing now,” Arroyo said, drawing applause from the audience at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

“We urge all countries which have not yet done so to ratify the international convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families,” she said.

Arroyo also urged nations to “never lose sight” of the “unseen impact” of the world credit crunch on the poor.

She said her government was working to create “appealing employment opportunities” back home, especially in business process outsourcing (BPO), and to “spread the wealth,” so that Filipinos would not be forced to seek greener pastures abroad.

“We long for the day when going abroad for a job is a career option not the only choice for a Filipino worker. Our economic plans are designed to allow the Philippines to break out of this cycle, that is why we remain so stubbornly focused on the economy,” she said.

Arroyo’s appeal was echoed later in the day by Labor Secretary Marianito Roque in his speech opening the general debate of the government meeting.

Roque said ratifying the treaty is the most effective way of recognizing “migrants’ vital contributions to development locally as well as globally.”

As of September 29 this year, only 39 countries have ratified the treaty and 15 have signed it.

Many of those that have ratified and signed the convention are developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from where migrant workers come. None of the developed countries in Europe and the Americas have done so.

During the civil society days of the Manila Forum, non-government organizations and other migration and development stakeholders repeatedly made the same call.

At the same time, Roque asked the international community to redouble efforts — at the national, regional, and international levels — to combat trafficking in all its forms, particularly of women and children.

“The GFMD is an opportunity for labor-sending and -receiving nations to reaffirm the commitment to protect the rights of workers particularly those under irregular circumstances,” he said.

Roque also said bilateral and regional mechanisms are needed to address vulnerabilities of migrant workers, particularly in ensuring that they receive fair compensation and work in decent working conditions.

The 39 countries that have ratified the UN treaty are: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Jamaica;

Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Syria, Peru, Tajikistan,
Timor Leste, Turkey, Uganda, and Uruguay.

Those that have signed it are: Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Liberia, Montenegro, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T14:30:29+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 14:30:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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Arroyo welcomes UN chief in Palace

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:47:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon arrived in Malacañang early Wednesday evening for expanded bilateral talks with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was in an off-white terno, received Ban at the Palace grounds, where he was given full military honors.

Cabinet and military and police officials, and Philippine delegates to UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Haiti were also on hand to welcome Ban.

Arroyo is set to host a state dinner in the UN chief’s honor later Wednesday evening.

Ban is in the country for the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), which Manila is hosting for the first time.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T10:46:44+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 10:46:44 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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‘We’re standing on firm ground’–Palace

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:11:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration is “standing on firm ground” and not threatened by the impending revival of the Senate investigation into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam and a fresh call by Roman Catholic bishops for change in government, one of her top aides said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the allegations hurled at Arroyo are not new and have been brought before the courts.

Asked if the government was concerned with developments on the political front, Ermita said: “No. We know that we are standing on firm ground.”

He also expressed confidence that Arroyo enjoys the loyalty of her Cabinet and chances of anyone in her official family turning against her were “definitely none.”

“Hindi napapag-usapan, not even sa panaginip [That’s not being talked about, not even in dreams] The long and short of it is everybody is happy, happy to serve,” Ermita said.

On Tuesday evening, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, who is accused of funneling P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004, returned to the country after being deported from the United States and said he was ready to face investigations on the matter.

Hours before Bolante’s homecoming, a group of bishops, led by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), called on the public to help “rebuild” the country as it scored the corruption controversies
besetting the administration.

Ermita said the two events happening on the same day could be mere coincidence.

Playing down the statement of the bishops, Ermita said it did not necessarily reflect the sentiment of the entire CBCP.

“The statement of one, two, or three bishops does not necessarily mean the sentiment of the entire leadership,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T10:45:35+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 10:45:35 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Task force vs illegal recruitment formed

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:39:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the creation of a task force against illegal recruitment to be headed by Vice President Noli de Castro, a senior Malacañang official has announced.

The President’s directive is contained in Executive Order 759, which establishes the Presidential Anti-Illegal Recruitment Task Force, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

“We need to give teeth to our drive against illegal recruitment,” Ermita said.

The task force will “coordinate programs and initiatives of all government agencies concerned in addressing the problem of illegal recruitment,” according to the order.

Its duties, the EO said, include: developing strategies to stop the “modus operandi” of illegal recruiters such as “escort” services; developing strategies against fake passport syndicates, and ensuring the prosecution of illegal recruiters.

The task force has the power to conduct surveillance and entrapment
operations against illegal recruiters and direct the immediate investigation into and speedy prosecution of illegal recruitment cases, the EO read.

The commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration will be the vice chairman of the task force, and its members will include the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Labor; head of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG); the director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), and the general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T10:39:15+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 10:39:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Ex-national police chiefs to NSC, OP

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:32:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Avelino Razon Jr. deputy director general of the National Security Council (NSC), Malacañang has announced.

At the same time, another former PNP Chief Arturo Lomibao, who heads the National Counter Terrorism Action Group, was named undersecretary to the Office of the President, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Razon retired as PNP chief last September 27. He was replaced by
Director General Jesus Verzosa.

Razon replaces the late general Victor Mayo, who, according to Ermita, succumbed to a heart ailment last month.

Ermita also announced the appointments of Camilo Maiguel Montesa as
assistant secretary in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs (OPAPP), and Genaro Jose Emeterio Moreno Jr. as assistant secretary in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T10:36:33+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 10:36:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Palace welcomes Bolante’s return to RP

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 00:28:00 10/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang says it welcomed the return of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante as a “positive development” in shedding light on a fertilizer fund scam and appealed to senators to exercise “responsibility, sobriety, and fairness” in investigating the matter.

Bolante, who allegedly funneled P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004, arrived at Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board Northwest Flight 71 at 10:32 p.m. Tuesday. He was visibly thinner, sported white hair, and was brought to a waiting ambulance in a wheelchair.

“Joc-Joc Bolante’s return to the country should be commonly viewed as a positive development,” Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said in a text message, adding: “His expression of willingness to answer all questions and accusations against him on the fertilizer controversy is welcome and reassuring.”

Claudio said the Palace was hoping that Bolante’s testimony would “serve the ends of truth and justice.”

“Malacañang will not interfere with or get in the way of opportunities for Mr. Bolante to be heard in the Senate and other legitimate fora,” Claudio said.

“We hope that such inquiries and for a will be undertaken with responsibility, sobriety, and fairness so that the truth can be more effectively served,” he said.

The former undersecretary was deported to the Philippines from the United States after his petition for political asylum there was denied.

The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms took custody of Bolante at the airport, but instead of being transferred to the Senate, Bolante was brought to the St. Luke’s Medical Center for a medical check-up.

Senate President Manuel Villar had earlier issued a warrant for Bolante’s arrest. Bolante had snubbed a Senate inquiry on the fertilizer fund controversy in 2006.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-10-29T02:00:54+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 29 Oct 2008 02:00:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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