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Newsbriefs 15 December Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Oakwood plotter escapes from AFP

AMID persistent coup rumors and a retired general’s declaration of a revolutionary government, a leader of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny that sought the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo escaped from his military escorts yesterday.

Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, one of the six top leaders of the group that occupied the Oakwood Premier Suites in July 2003, gave his guards the slip while he was being taken to the Makati Regional Trial Court to attend a hearing on coup charges against the mutineers.

He escaped at 9:45 a.m. by telling his escorts he wanted to buy fruits from a sidewalk vendor.

Faeldon’s escorts belong to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), which is already under fire for its alleged role in wiretapping public officials last year.

In a secret meeting after his escape yesterday, Faeldon told reporters the political crisis over allegations that Mrs. Arroyo cheated to win the May 2004 elections showed the situation had not changed since his failed mutiny in 2003.

“Events have proven me right. She (Mrs. Arroyo) is corrupt and ruthless and will do everything to stay in power,” he said in a CD he distributed to reporters, apparently indicating his escape was planned well in advance.

ISAFP chief Brig. Gen. Marlu Quevedo has ordered a massive manhunt to find Faeldon.

Abat 'govt' fails to ruffle Palace (

Former defense secretary Fortunato Abat has called for the overthrow of President Arroyo, declaring himself leader of an interim government, but officials on Wednesday were unperturbed.

"This declaration is quite unfortunate and very pathetic," the President’s spokesman and press secretary, Ignacio Bunye, said in Kuala Lumpur, where Mrs. Arroyo was attending a regional summit. "I don’t think there is any serious apprehension on the part of the President."

Palace sees sinister forces (

THE BRICKBATS are flying fast and furious, but Malacañang officials are not laughing at former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat's declaration of himself as president of a "transition government."

At a briefing in Malacañang, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said: "I take this seriously because I am convinced personally that this is not the work of Mr. Abat alone. There are some shadowy figures or sinister forces behind it. That is why we are monitoring them, to find out what they are up to."

Abat's vow: We will not leave until Arroyo's gone (

RETIRED General Fortunato Abat yesterday vowed to continue as "president" of his "revolutionary transition government" until President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo steps down.

Before the December sun could fully warm the morning, the fiery Abat was holding his first press conference after announcing the formation of the "revolutionary transition government" during a press conference at midnight on Tuesday at the Waling-Waling Room of the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

But Salvador Enriquez, an associate of Abat's, said the new structure was aimed at providing a "bridge" from the Arroyo administration to a new leadership. "The objective of this government is to correct the wrongs that were done to our people, including Erap," Enriquez said in reference to former President Joseph Estrada, who was deposed in January 2001 and has remained confined while being tried for plunder.

Con-Com approves final review for govt form shift (

The 55-member Consultative Commission has approved the proposal to shift to a federal government in its final review.

In a gradual shift to federalism, the commission has changed its previous proposal of two-thirds to three-fifths, or 60 percent, of all local governments to become autonomous territories before a federal republic of the Philippines could be established, without any time-frame.

Commissioner Raul Lambino said, "The initiative to become autonomous territories will come from the grassroots, or the local governments themselves."

Con-com scraps 2007 elections (

Voting 22 to 19, commissioners of the presidential consultative commission (con-com) approved in plenary session yesterday a proposal to scrap the holding of the 2007 elections.

Two commissioners — Victor Ortega, incumbent governor of La Union, and Angelo Abarico, editor and publisher of the Mindanao Business Reporter — abstained from voting.

The proposal to scrap the 2007 elections is part of a list of amendments being proposed by the con-com’s sub-committee on transitory provisions.

The goal was to facilitate the transition from the present presidential form of government to the proposed parliamentary-federal government.

Under Section 7 of the proposed transitory provisions, the elections scheduled in 2007 will be canceled and the terms of office of all elected officials will be extended to June 30, 2010, coinciding with the terms of the incumbent President and Vice President and the 12 senators elected in 2004.

RP takes hardline in WTO talks (

HONG KONG -- The Philippines is taking a hard-line stance on negotiations on trade and services at the World Trade Organization meeting here, bucking a proposal from developed countries to regulate labor migration which would effectively constrain the country’s $8-billion overseas workers sector.

According to Ellen Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrants Advocacy, the group of developed countries at the WTO wants to control the movement of “service providers,” that is, the workers that are allowed to enter their countries.

She said the Philippines has refused to tackle the terms of this so-called Mode 4 proposal even in past WTO meetings because of the proposal’s adverse impact on its position as a labor-exporting country.

“The Philippines has been deploying [workers] for decades. Our labor-sending policy is older than this WTO Mode 4, and suddenly they (developed countries) want to dictate the flow of labor according to the services they need. That’s not right,” Sana said in an interview during a protest march near the Wan Chai Convention Center.

Senate: Cancel Bolante passport (

The Senate formally recommended to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday cancellation of the passport of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante, a day after he was cited for contempt and ordered arrested by lawmakers.

"The Committee on Agriculture has already requested the DFA to recall the passport of former Usec Bolante because of the citation for contempt and the cases he is facing at the office of the Ombudsman," Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

In a letter sent to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Senate committee on agriculture chairman Sen. Ramon Magsaysay cited Bolante’s failure to appear at the Senate four times after being summoned to the inquiry.

Luisita CARP coverage readied (

The 5,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita will immediately be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law once the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) upholds its executive committee’s recommendation to scrap the Luisita firm’s stock distribution option for its tenant farmers.

Agrarian Reform Acting Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said on Wednesday that he will issue a notice of coverage to the Hacienda Luisita Inc. the moment PARC revokes the stock option.

"PARC will just sustain it when its executive committee elevates the case to PARC [en banc], since there was a unanimous vote for the revocation and the en banc members are the same agencies and entities that voted for it. The only difference is that the heads will be the ones to convene," Pangandaman said in a telephone interview.

‘Two-faced’ Imee loses powerful House post (

DISTRUSTED by the opposition, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos was stripped of her seat in the influential 24-member Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday as part of an ongoing reorganization of the minority bloc.

Reliable sources said a number of opposition lawmakers see Marcos, the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as a “trojan horse” for the administration, despite her antigovernment posturing.

This is one reason Marcos is not asked to join “sensitive” opposition meetings, the sources added.

Marcos will be replaced either by House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rolex Suplico of Iloilo or Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.

The minority bloc has a single representative in the 12-member House contingent chaired by Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr.

The 11 others come from the majority bloc.

House Minority Leader Francis Escudero said Marcos can no longer represent the minority bloc in the House panel when the CA resumes its sessions on Jan. 16, 2006.

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