SLB Newsbriefs...daily news from different sources, truncated and compiled. updated daily.
Newsbriefs 31 January Afternoon
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

House panel junks 'no-el' proposal

The House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments on Tuesday junked a proposal to scrap the 2007 mid-term elections, DZMM reported.

Voting 14-3, congressmen disapproved the proposal by the Consultative Commission (Con-Com), which would have extended term limits for lawmakers and local government officials.

The three lawmakers who voted in favor of term extension were Reps. Douglas Cagas, Victoria Reyes and Carmen Cari.

There will be elections in 2007, promises Palace

Malacañang Tuesday has firmly come down on the side of having national elections in 2007.

However, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye clarified that, "There will be elections in 2007 but we can be sure that President Arroyo will serve her full term unless the people say otherwise in a Constitutionally-sanctioned process."

The Palace had pushed yesterday for parliamentary elections in 2007, effectively dropping the no-election proposal of the consultative commission (con-com) that was opposed by former President Fidel Ramos, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, government officials and various sectors.

3 solons got funds from DA program before 2004 polls—exec (

THREE lawmakers from Cebu province allegedly received funds from the Department of Agriculture's Hybrid Rice Commercialization (HRC) Program several days before the 2004 election, an agriculture official told the Senate on Tuesday.

Eduardo Lecciones, DA regional director for Central Visayas, testified that Representatives Antonio Cuenco (Second District of Cebu City), Simeon Kintanar (Second District of Cebu province), and Antonio Yapha (Third District of Cebu province) were given 5.4 million pesos on May 3, 2004.

Lecciones said nine million pesos were allotted for Cebu, but only 60 percent of the money was transferred that day.

He said Jocelyn Bolante had authorized the release of the funds through foundations, including one called Kasosyo (Associate) Foundation.

Senate committee offers P20,000-reward for Bolante arrest (

AN INITIAL 20,000-peso reward has been put up by a Senate committee for information that will lead to the arrest of a former agriculture official who has repeatedly refused to attend Senate inquiries on a scam involving the use of fertilizer funds, a senator said.

Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. head of the committee on agriculture and food, enjoined the public on Tuesday to contribute to the reward money to be given to anyone who could bring about the arrest of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante who had not attended the hearings since he was first invited on Oct. 6, 2005.

Magsaysay said reports by his committee and the committee on public accountability of public officials and investigations (blue ribbon) on their joint investigation into the 780 million-peso fertilizer fund mess had identified Bolante as the “master architect of the grand agro theft.”

Four dead, 2 hurt in new MILF-AFP clashes (

Fresh fighting broke out between the military and the main Islamic separatist group in Mindanao, rebel and military officials said on Tuesday, as the two sides prepared for peace talks set to be held next week.

Col. Gerry Jalandoni, the brigade commander in Maguindanao area on Mindanao, said four rebels were killed and two militiamen wounded when members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked government positions in Datu Unsay town on Monday.

"We only defended our positions," Jalandoni said, adding that an undetermined number of rebels were wounded when the army sent reinforcements to push back the attackers.

But the MILF gave a different account of the clash, saying the fighting was triggered by an army attack on rebel positions and that one rebel was killed and eight wounded.

The country's largest Muslim rebel group also said it was worried that fighting might escalate into full-blown hostilities and affect the upcoming peace talks, to be held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

"The incident would certainly affect the peace process," the MILF's chief negotiator, Mohaqher Iqbal, told Reuters by telephone.

"We protest the military attack. This is a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement."

Government and MILF peace negotiators are due to resume talks on February 6 to 7 in Kuala Lumpur as part of efforts to set up an ancestral homeland for four million Muslims in the southern part of the mostly Roman Catholic nation.

Since March 2001, Malaysia has been hosting talks between the two sides to end a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people and delayed development of the impoverished but resource-rich southern island of Mindanao.

AFP: Shoot-to-kill order for mutineers last option (

The military on Tuesday said it will only shoot the four escaped Oakwood mutineers if they attempt to resist arrest.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Tristan Kison said soldiers and policemen must use all means to arrest the plotters and only use the shoot-to-kill order as a last resort.

"Our soldiers and policemen know that they should only use sufficient amount of force in arresting the four," Kison told DZMM.

He added: "Now what is sufficient amount of force? This will depend on the circumstances of the arrest. If the accused fights back or even tries to fight back, [authorities] can shoot to kill."

A newspaper report earlier quoted Maj. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, chief of the Northern Luzon Command, saying he has issued a shoot-to-kill order for
Capt. Nathaniel Rabonza and 1Lts. Laurence San Juan, Sony Sarmiento and Patricio Bumidang. The four bolted from the detention facility in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig on January 17.

Court resets hearing after mutineers' no show (

The Makati Regional Trial Court on Tuesday postponed its hearing on the rebellion case of the Oakwod mutineers after the accused failed to appear before the court.

Judge Oscar Pimentel set the next hearing for February 14 after prosecutors moved for the postponement, citing a plan to rescue the mutineers.

Pimentel also approved a petition by the defense panel for an ocular inspection of the officers' detention cells.

Roel Pulido, lawyer of Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, earlier claimed that his client was tortured after being recaptured by the military last Friday. He added that the military decided not to present his client to media scrutiny since doing so would prove his claim.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Tristan Kison denied Pulido's claim, adding that Faeldon was being kept in a decent cell.
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