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Archive for November 2008

Palace cheers 4.6% GDP growth

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:15:00 11/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said the 4.6-percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter is something to “rejoice” about but the government still needs to shield the economy from the global financial crisis.

“We should rejoice, but not too much, [over] this very positive data. We will continue with our vigilance,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan from Los Angeles, California.

“These are welcome developments and I’m sure we can sustain this, but we should also not let our guard down because we are anticipating problems coming from other countries,” Dureza added.

At a news conference at the Palace, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said the contingency measures put in place by the government’s economic team would serve as the country’s “safety valves” against the global crisis.

Golez said the economy’s performance in the third quarter came at the high end of the government’s 3.8 to 4.6-percent forecast and beat analysts’ expectations. The growth also outpaced some of the Philippine’s neighbors in Southeast Asia.

The country’s third-quarter growth was slower than Indonesia’s 6.1 percent, but beat Thailand’s 4.1-percent expansion and showed the resilience of most economies in Southeast Asia, except Singapore, despite the worst financial crisis in decades.

Personal consumption grew a seasonally adjusted 2.0 percent in the third quarter from the previous three months, the highest in at least 13 years, partly fuelled by dollars sent home by Filipino workers abroad to their families.

The government said growth in the fourth quarter was likely to be between 4.0-4.6 percent year-on-year, which means that growth could hit its lowest level since a 4.1-percent expansion in the third quarter of 2005. With a report from Reuters

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-11-27T08:28:27+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Thu, 27 Nov 2008 08:28:27 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace advice to pro-impeach solons

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:48:00 11/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has called on pro-impeachment lawmakers to “acknowledge the democratic and practical realities of the impeachment process” instead of appealing the case before the Supreme Court, dismissing their move as a propaganda ploy to “agitate” the public.

“It would be more appropriate and graceful for the complainants to acknowledge the democratic and practical realities of the impeachment process rather than insisting on involving the judiciary in what can only be seen as an effort to extend the propaganda value of the moribund impeachment complaint and further agitate the public,” Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said Thursday.

Voting 42-8, the pro-administration majority in the House of Representatives’ committee on justice junked the latest impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday.

Claudio doubted that the planned appeal of Arroyo’s opponents of the committee vote would prosper in the high court.

“The current impeachment complaint has gone the same route as the previous cases and never did the judiciary intervene with a process that exclusively belongs to a co-equal branch of government,” Claudio said in a statement.

Claudio said the pro-impeachment lawmakers were given “ample time” to argue their case, but the charges were found to be “bereft of substance and merit” by the “overwhelming majority.”

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-11-27T08:27:13+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Thu, 27 Nov 2008 08:27:13 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace condoles with Mumbai victims

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:13:00 11/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang condoled with the victims of the terrorist attack in India that killed at least 82 people, as it allayed fears that the same incident could happen in the country.

“The entire Filipino nation and Filipino around the world mourn with the families of those who died and were hurt because of the Mumbai attacks,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said in a statement.

“We condemn these terrorist attacks against mankind and we will be united with the entire Indian nation and the rest of the world in its quest to end terrorism the soonest possible time,” he said.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said security forces have not let their guard down, even as the terrorist threat in the country was “low.”

“Just because it happened in India, it does not mean that it could happen in the Philippines. We have been monitoring the situation, and so far, the threat of terrorism in the Philippines is low,” he said.

On Wednesday evening, gunmen stormed hotels, hospitals, a train station, and a popular restaurant in India’s financial capital, Mumbai. A previously unknown group of Islamic militants took responsibility for the attacks.

The last major terrorist attack in the country was in Feb. 14, 2005, when the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf bombed the cities of Makati, Davao, and General Santos, killing eight people and wounding dozens of others.

On Feb. 27, 2004, the Abu Sayyaf firebombed the Superferry 14 off Manila Bay, killing some 200 people.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-11-27T08:22:33+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Thu, 27 Nov 2008 08:22:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace ignorant of Mandanas resolution

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:26:00 11/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it had no prior knowledge of a resolution filed in Congress that seeks to postpone the 2010 elections and extend President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term until 2011.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he conferred with Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio and the Palace legislative liaison, Joaquin Lagunera, and they both said that Batangas Representative Hermilando Mandanas, the resolution’s author, did not consult them.

House Resolution 550 was uncovered during a hearing Tuesday on a resolution to convene lawmakers into a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“We were not consulted about the resolution by Congressman Mandanas,” Ermita said. “Hindi namin talaga alam [We really did not know about it].”

Ermita said lawmakers were “acting on their own as elected officials.”

Asked if the Palace would ask Mandanas to withdraw his resolution, Ermita said: “Hindi ko naman gagawin yan [I won’t do that]. [I could be accused of] being too presumptuous to say that’s the instruction of the President.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said the Palace would “block” moves to extend the terms of incumbent officials, including the President, but would leave the matter of Charter change to Congress.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-26T08:50:36+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 26 Nov 2008 08:50:36 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace: De Venecia lobbied for son

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:24:00 11/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang turned the tables on Pangasinan Representative Jose de Venecia Jr., saying he “brazenly asked” for Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza’s approval of his son’s bid for the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

Mendoza also said De Venecia could be charged with graft for allowing his son to bid for government projects, a violation of Section 5 of the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“JDV [De Venecia] himself intervened and exerted his influence for the approval of his son’s Amsterdam Holdings’ BOT [build-operate-transfer] proposal,” Mendoza said in a statement released by the Palace.

“In a letter addressed and delivered to DoTC [Department of Transportation and Communication] Secretary Mendoza, JDV, through a certain Sonny Garcia, brazenly asked for DoTC’s unconditional endorsement of Amsterdam Holdings’ BOT proposal to NEDA [National Economic Development Authority],” the statement said.

“JDV twists and turns, misleads and misdirects,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said De Venecia’s statement before an impeachment hearing that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo lobbied for Chinese firm ZTE Corp.’s bid for the broadband project was “farthest from the truth.”

He said that as early as October 2006, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) endorsed the government-to-government proposal of ZTE Corp.

De Venecia had claimed that over lunch and a golf game with ZTE officials in Shenzen, China in early November, Mr. Arroyo prodded the President to approve the ZTE bid.

Mendoza added that Amsterdam Holdings was a “shell company” that had “no money, no telecommunications franchise, no technical knowledge, or competence.”

The young De Venecia initiated the impeachment complaint against Arroyo, which on Wednesday was dismissed by the House Justice Committee due to insufficiency in substance.

He had accused the First Gentleman of warning him to “back off,” and ex-elections commissioner Benjamin Abalos of trying to bribe him, so that he would drop his bid for the NBN project.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-26T08:48:04+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 26 Nov 2008 08:48:04 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace: Airport takeover in RP unlikely

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:45:00 11/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The chances of anti-government protesters taking over a major airport in the Philippines, similar to what happened in Thailand, is “very remote,” Malacañang said Wednesday.

“That is a very remote scenario. Thailand’s condition is different from us,” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

Asked why he thought such a scenario unlikely, Golez said: “Because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity, whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”

Thousands of protesters stormed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport Tuesday, disrupting operations and stranding around 3,000 travelers, as part of efforts to get Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s government to resign.

The Thai premier is set to return home after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Lima, Peru with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Somchai’s government is accused of being a front for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Like Thaksin and Somchai, Arroyo has weathered numerous waves of street protests since 2005.

Aside from massive corruption, Arroyo is also accused of cheating her way to a fresh six-year term in the 2004 elections, and for pushing constitutional amendments, supposedly to extend her stay in power beyond the end of her term in 2010.

Arroyo is set to return to the country later this week after attending the APEC summit and going to Colombia for an official visit.

On Wednesday, the President’s allies in the House of Representatives justice committee voted to dismiss the latest impeachment complaint against her due to insufficiency in substance.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-26T08:45:51+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 26 Nov 2008 08:45:51 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace: Respect ruling on impeachment

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:47:00 11/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has called on the public to respect the decision of the lawmakers at the House of Representatives to dismiss the latest impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for insufficiency in substance.

After two days of debates, 42 of the President’s allies in the committee on justice that deliberated on the case voted Wednesday to trash the complaint as against eight who voted for it.

“Respetuhin na lang natin boto ng Kongreso. Wala naman tayo magagawa diyan eh. Either way, its best to leave it at that dahil alam naman natin may sariling procedure yang Kongreso [Let’s respect the vote of Congress. We can’t do anything about it. Either way, it’s best to leave it at that because we all know that Congress has its own procedure],” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said shortly after the vote was made.

Ermita added that the impeachment debates have not distracted government from its work.

“Kahit naman merong hearing, tuloy-tuloy ang trabaho dahil alam naming tuwi-tuwina ito’y nangyayari. We never interrupted our jobs [We continue with work in spite of the hearings. We know this happens once in a while],” he said.

News of the dismissal of the latest attempt to impeach Arroyo came as Ermita made his way to a “boodle fight” lunch with Palace reporters.

Ermita, Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde, Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez feasted on roasted chicken, deep fried fish fillets, pancit or noodles, and eggplant salad.

A “boodle fight” is a military practice wherein a commander and his troops eat food from banana leaves laid out on a long table. Ermita was a former military general.

Ermita had reportedly planned the “boodle fight” ahead of the impeachment debates, after he lost in a bet.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-26T08:43:20+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 26 Nov 2008 08:43:20 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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