SLB Newsbriefs...daily news from different sources, truncated and compiled. updated daily.
Newsbriefs 30 November Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Army halts downsizing for insurgency fight (
“The Philippine Army has postponed a plan to downsize its divisions in the face of continuing counterinsurgency operations, Army chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said on Wednesday.
Esperon said the intensified counterinsurgency campaign will target secessionist groups and insurgents especially the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA).
"The plan to deactive two divisions was held in abeyance. Instead we're coming up with probably another two battalions so that [our number] could be equal to the tasks of combatting threats to the nation, especially the CPP," Esperon told ANC.
He said the CPP and NPA are both on the US government's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Earlier reports said the CPP Central Committee has ordered all rebel fronts to intensify attacks against the government to hasten the removal of President Arroyo.”

Ong, willing to face house probe on “Hello Garci” (
”Former National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Samuel Ong is reportedly willing to appear before the House of Representatives to testify on the "Hello, Garci" tapes.
ANC reported Wednesday that Ong's lawyer, however, Liwayway Vinzons-Chato said lawmakers should first assure her that her client will not be arrested.
Chato also revealed Ong's tapes do not include conversations with opposition candidates in last year's elections.
Garcillano, in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN, claimed he spoke with both administration and opposition candidates.
The former poll official also said he will reveal the names of people he talked to during the 2004 election period.
Meanwhile, Senate defense committee chairman Rodolfo Biazon said he has invited Garcillano, Ong and military intelligence agent Sgt. Vidal Doble to a committee hearing which will resume on December 8. The senator said the Senate is willing to offer protection and immunity to Garcillano, Ong and Doble.”

Garcillano to face House but won't comment on tapes—lawyer (
“FORMER Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano will attend the inquiry at the House of Representatives but will not comment about the tapes allegedly linking him and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to poll fraud, his lawyer told on Wednesday.
"We'll not comment on the tapes because we will only be dignifying an illegal tapped conversation," Eddie Tamondong said in a telephone interview.
Tamondong cited the petition his client filed before the Supreme Court to stop the House from playing wiretapped audio recordings of alleged conversation between Arroyo and Garcillano over the purported manipulation of the results in the May 2004 election.”

Remittances boost Philippines service sector (
”MANILA, (AFP) - The billions of dollars sent back to the Philippines by its huge overseas work force is a major driver for growth in the services sector, a senior official said Wednesday.
Overseas Filipino workers sent home a record 7.9 billion dollars in the eight months to August, according to the economic planning ministry.
Such remittances "are at all-time high and projected to hit 10.3 billion dollars for the whole year. The amount does not include money sent outside the banking system," Economic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said.”

Gutierrez: New Ombudsman (
“President Arroyo has chosen presidential legal counsel Merceditas Gutierrez as the next Ombudsman, Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Wednesday.
Gutierrez bested two other candidates for the post of chief anti-graft buster namely Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Victor Fernandez.”

President lauds House for Charter change initiative (
“PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded the House of Representatives for passing a resolution empowering a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.
"The first step towards sweeping political changes has been taken," the President said in a statement Wednesday.
"We appreciate and welcome the action of the House of Representatives on the mode of effecting Charter amendments, and we hope that this is the beginning of a broader consensus for the better future of the Philippines," she said.
Arroyo has been pushing for Charter change to reform what she claimed a "degenerated political system."”

Girl dies of meningococcemia in Davao (
“A four-year-old girl died of meningococcemia in Davao City Monday evening. April Grace Morilla died at the Brokenshire Hospital in Madapo Hills around 8 p.m.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, the girl's father Bernard confirmed his daughter died of meningococcemia based on her physician's diagnosis.”

Shares close lower on gloomy GDP data (XFN-Asia)
“Share prices closed lower after a listless session, with investor sentiment still weak following the economy's weaker-than-expected performance in the third quarter and the possibility that the government will miss its full-year growth target, dealers said.
The composite index ended down 7.62 points or 0.36 percent at 2,099.74 after trading between 2,095.67 and 2,107.36. Volume turnover totaled 981.14 million shares worth 1.07 billion pesos.
The broader all-shares index retreated 4.07 points to 1,271.35.
Gainers outnumbered losers 46 to 41, while 51 stocks finished unchanged.
The government announced on Tuesday that the economy expanded by a slower than forecast 4.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter due to high oil prices, weaker farm output and political instability.
That prompted the government to declare it now expects full-year GDP growth to come in below its target of 5.3 percent.
Dealers said investors bailed out of consumer-related stocks after third-quarter GDP data showed that growth in personal consumption has been slowing as commodity prices rise.
Interest shifted to more defensive counters like oil, utilities and mining, thus limiting the broader market's weakness.”
Peso-Dollar Exchange Rate
Official Rate from the Philippine Dealing System
PDS Wtd. Avg. Previous Close
P54.008 = $1.00 53.945
Open 53.950
High 54.150
Low 53.890
Close 0
Volume (US$) 355.85M

As of November 30, 2005 2:36 PM
Disclaimer: These are based on Philippine Dealing System rates.
Actual bank rates may vary.
Newsbriefs 30 November Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Team RP stays on top on Day 3 of SEAG (
ARNEL Ferrera threw the hammer to a new mark and Team Philippines continued to throw its weight around to stay in front of the medal race on Day 3 of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games.
Ferrera’s record-shattering heave served as the spark that sustained the Filipinos’ winning streak, as they added 12 more golds for the day as of 8 p.m. last night to bring the country’s total haul to 35.
The 24-year-old Ferrera threw the hammer to a distance of 60.47m, or 1.67m better than the 56.80m set by Wong Te Kue in the 1993 Singapore Games.

Peso now below P53 (
Buoyed by hefty remittances from overseas Filipino workers, the peso breached the P53 level Tuesday against the US dollar, its strongest showing since March.
The peso closed at 53.94 to the dollar, up from 54.15:$1 on Friday.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas attributed the peso’s forward movement to money being sent home by OFWs to their families for Christmas.
"The continued improvement of the peso is due to sustained inflows, particularly OFW remittances as expected this time of the year. There is not much corporate demand," said Amando Tetangco Jr., the BSP governor.

Palace tells Garci: Just tell the truth about polls (
LIKE the opposition, Malacañang has only one piece of advice for former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano: Just tell the truth.
“We believe that he has resurfaced to clear or defend himself. In the process, he will tell the truth and we are hoping that he can be as thorough and comprehensive and as truthful and as honest about his testimony,” said presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio said yesterday.

Palace eyes cutting $1.5B of RP debt (
MALACAÑANG IS NOW SERIOUSLY considering cutting as much as $1.5 billion of the country's outstanding debt next year to take advantage of the peso's sizzling run and heavy inflows of remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Finance Secretary Margarito Teves told the Inquirer that his department together with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Bureau of the Treasury were looking into paying part of the country's P5.5-trillion debt using savings generated by the unexpected strength of the peso and the surge in dollar reserves due to remittances.

Ocampo clarifies stand on Estrada (
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Satur C. Ocampo on Tuesday took issue with The Times’ story on Monday that his group and its five allies will accept former President Joseph Estrada if it is the people’s will.
"I categorically deny ever supporting an Estrada restoration as an alternative to the questionable Arroyo presidency," Ocampo said in a press statement. "Bayan Muna and its allied parties [Anakpawis, Gabriela, Anak ng Bayan, Migrante and Suara Bangsamoro] are united in the proposal for a Transition Council to take over in the event that Mrs. Arroyo is removed from Malacañan."

House majority OKs resolution for ConAss (
The House of Representatives approved Tuesday night a resolution calling for the two chambers of Congress to convene to amend the 1987 Constitution, ABS-CBN's Insider reported.
Lawmakers approved House Resolution 26 through voice voting after almost three hours of debate at the plenary.
House Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles said they will now wait for the Senate's concurrence to the resolution.

House committees resume Garci hearings next week (
The five committees in the House of Representatives investigating into the "Hello, Garci" tapes will resume hearing Wednesday next week, confident that former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano will finally testify.
Emerging from a three-hour executive session, the committees, now headed by Rep. Emmylou Talino-Santos of the Committee on Public Information, announced they would again summon Garcillano to appear at the hearing.
The committees also decided to keep the warrant for Garcillano’s arrest unless he promises to appear voluntarily before the committees.

GMA flies to Visayas to cheer athletes on (
Inspired by the impressive haul of gold medals by Filipino athletes in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games, President Arroyo flew to Cebu and Bacolod City on Tuesday to cheer for her countrymen competing in events there.
The President arrived in Mandaue City, Cebu, just in time to see karate bet Nelson Bacalso fighting for the gold in the men’s individual kumite for 65kg and below against Vietnamese Nguyen Bao Toan.
She joined the crowd, clapping her hands and applauding for Bacalso at the packed Mandaue City Coliseum.
Inspired by the President’s presence, Bacalso rallied to tie the bout, 5-5, and went on to score a chop to the head just a few seconds before the fight ended to nip the Vietnamese, 6-5, and snare the Filipino karatekas’ third gold medal in the competition.
Mrs. Arroyo herself awarded the gold to Bacalso, a senior police inspector.
"What I really had in mind when I was behind on points was that my commander in chief was looking and seemed to be ordering me to fight to the end. I told myself I should obey the order and never lose before the very eyes of the President. I felt like I am a true soldier," said the 35-year-old Bacalso, a native of Atok, Benguet.

Chavez: Plunder raps moving too slow (
Former solicitor general Frank Chavez will ask the Office of the Ombudsman to speed up deliberation on the plunder charges he filed against President Arroyo and several other personalities implicated in the fertilizer scam.
At a roundtable with editors and reporters of The Times on Tuesday, Chavez said he would send a fourth letter to the Ombudsman urging immediate action on the charges.
"I cannot understand why there is no movement in the agriculture fund, which was exhaustively discussed in the Senate and the media," Chavez said.
He said that although President Arroyo enjoys immunity from suit, the Ombudsman should not stop its investigation, because there are other respondents, including former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, former agriculture secretary Luis Lorenzo and former budget secretary Emilia Boncodin.
Chavez believes Bolante is still in the country and is in hiding.
The Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture is investigating allegations that P728 million in farm input funds was diverted to President Arroyo’s election campaign last year.

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