SLB Newsbriefs...daily news from different sources, truncated and compiled. updated daily.
Newsbriefs 24 November Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Oil companies cut gasoline, diesel prices (

Petroleum companies Pilipinas Shell Incorporated, Petron Corporation, Seaoil and Unioil cut prices of gasoline and diesel products by P0.50 per liter to reflect softer crude prices abroad, DZMM reported Thursday.

Seaoil said new pricing for gasoline and petroleum took effect at 6 a.m. Thursday. Shell slashed prices of its products at 7 a.m. while Petron implemented new pricing at 8 a.m.
Unioil said it will recalibrate pumps at 10 a.m. to reflect new prices.

Caltex Philippines, meanwhile, has yet to announce a price cut for its products.

Shell spokesman Roberto Kanapi told DZMM that this is the company's fifth price cut for November. He said diesel prices have decreased P2.80 per liter so far.

Charter panel gives GMA 3 options (

The Consultative Commission’s Committee on Transitory Provisions is looking at three major proposals involving the transition from a presidential government to a parliamentary system that gives President Arroyo three options on how to end her term.

Commissioner Romela Bengzon, the committee chairman and deputy secretary-general of the 54-member commission, presented the proposed transitory provisions.

One proposes that all incumbent elected officials, including Mrs. Arroyo, cut their terms short to give way for new elections to be held either in 2006 or in 2007, after a plebiscite on Charter reform to be held in March or April next year.

Another proposes scrapping the elections, which will in effect allow all incumbent officials to keep their posts until 2010. Under this setup Mrs. Arroyo serves out her term.

The third proposal calls for all senators to become automatic members of the new parliament until 2010. The President will remain in her position while a Prime Minister will be elected from among the members of parliament. Representatives of Congress will have to be elected in 2007 under the new Charter, which will have to be approved in a plebiscite next year.

Bengzon said the proposals would be thoroughly discussed and debated at the committee level before they are presented for public consultation.

‘Exit plan’ a form of intrigue –Claudio (

Reports of an "exit strategy" for President Arroyo could be another form of intrigue to undermine her administration, Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said on Wednesday.

Claudio was reacting to The Manila Times story on Wednesday that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales had submitted such a plan to President Arroyo which outlines steps to take in case a political crisis forces her to step down.

The Times was told by a palace insider that the plan was conceived by Gonzales and a Jesuit priest, Fr. Romeo "Archie" Intengan, the official said.

Claudio said in a telephone interview that he could not imagine why Gonzales would come up with such a strategy when the President has been very optimistic that the economy is looking up.

He said whoever informed The Times about the strategy could be sowing intrigue.
Intengan in a text message to The Times denied that he had submitted or designed an exit plan for the President.

"I have not at any time given PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) a security-of-exit plan," Intengan said.

Claudio said he has not heard from Gonzales, but he insisted it is unlikely that Gonzales will come up with the reported plan.

"I’m presuming also that in due time, Secretary Gonzales himself will be able to clarify this. But I see no reason, no justification, no relevance to Secretary Gonzales making such a plan," he said.

Intengan reportedly submitted the plan to Mrs. Arroyo when they met at the Jesuit House in Quezon City. The plan included conditions that must be met by her successor: That Mrs. Arroyo shall not be imprisoned, that the first family would continue to enjoy their movement and that the government shall not sequester her properties and assets.

‘Garcillano out next week'

SOMEWHERE in Mindanao, former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano is preparing for a public appearance "to clear my name," possibly next week, he reportedly said in a telephone call to Representative Prospero Pichay.

"He's here," the Surigao del Sur congressman told the Inquirer. "Proof of that is he already called me up."

Explaining the 68-year-old Garcillano's reluctance to come out this week, Pichay said he was "creating ripples ... testing the ground."

Garcillano confirmed that he was now in the country, said Pichay. He did not say where Garcillano was for security reasons when he talked to him early yesterday.

Garci return is good news, Palace says (

THE Palace yesterday welcomed the return of the elusive former elections commissioner whose tape-recorded conversations with various politicians sparked a failed impeachment bid against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo earlier this year.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the President was glad to learn of the safe return of Virgilio Garcillano, who vanished months ago and faces a number of congressional inquiries regarding his role in the alleged widespread fraud in the 2004 elections.

“We look forward to seeing him face the proper investigating authorities at the soonest possible time,” Bunye said. “He holds the key to finally putting to rest the issue of electoral fraud hurled against the President.”

Military open to truce with Reds (

THE MILITARY is open to a suspension of military operations (SOMO) during the Christmas holidays, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Generoso Senga said yesterday.

But he said ongoing operations against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels will continue in the meantime.

“I think it’s possible,” Senga replied when asked if the military would recommend a Christmas ceasefire this year.

“It’s acceptable to suspend military offensive operations but it’s too early (to decide). It’s only November. But normally it’s done in deference to the Christmas season,” he added.

He said a SOMO also gives soldiers in the battlefield some respite during Christmas.

“But you must make it clear it’s a suspension of offensive military operations. We remain in the defense stance because NPA terrorists take advantage of the situation. They not only attack our positions but also intensify their terrorist activities like extortion,” he said.

Lawyers for Marines dispute witnesses’ evidence (

Lawyers for the six US Marines accused of raping a Filipina challenged witnesses’ evidence on Wednesday in a case seen as a litmus test for a treaty that protects American troops visiting the Philippines.

At a preliminary investigation before prosecutors in Olongapo City, the Filipino lawyers for the six tried to raise questions about whether one of the witnesses had been coerced into linking the Marines to the alleged rape.

Although the six did not appear they had filed sworn statements giving their side of the alleged rape, US Embassy spokesman Matt Lussenhop said.

He later assured the public that the accused remain in US custody in the Philippines, and that the embassy would "cooperate closely with [local investigators] to ensure this case is handled fairly and that justice is done."

A 22-year-old woman has claimed the Americans gang-raped her in the Subic Freeport on November 1.

During the proceedings defense lawyers urged prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni to accept as evidence tapes and transcripts of radio interviews with Timoteo Soriano, a van driver who initially said he witnessed the rape.

The lawyers cited radio interviews in which Soriano said that Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority security chief Paquito Torres coerced him into linking the Americans—even though he had never seen the alleged rape.

Torres, who was at the proceedings, denied using coercion and invoked his right to counsel.

NBI chief in 'deep coma' after suffering severe stroke

BUBBLY and visibly in his element as he presided over a meeting at his office in the National Bureau of Investigation yesterday, Director Reynaldo Wycoco was just winding up a meeting.

"He was in a jolly mood," said Ricardo Diaz, chief of the bureau's Interpol Division, quoting those who attended the meeting.

"When he stood up to present token gifts to his visitors, he suddenly collapsed," Diaz said.

Wycoco, 59, suffered a severe stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain and slipped into a "deep coma," his doctors said last night.

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