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Newsbriefs 05 January Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

PAF colonel turns himself in a day after blasting superiors (

COLONEL Efren Daquil yesterday turned himself in a day after exposing alleged corruption in the Philippine Air Force amid a charge that he was being used "wittingly or unwittingly" by forces seeking the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Daquil, a former deputy wing commander of the elite PAF 710th Special Operations Wing based in Clark, Pampanga, arrived shortly before 11 a.m. at Villamor Air Base, the PAF headquarters. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Homobono Adaza.

Daquil was met by his immediate superior, Col. Oscar Calingasan, commander of the Headquarters Support Group, and Col. Arthur Abadilla, the Air Force provost marshall.

Daquil told reporters he did not regret publicly revealing that Air Force officers were "illegally" receiving up to P45,000 in monthly allowances and asking the PAF commanding general, Lieutenant General Jose Reyes, to explain how the P30 million in savings from Daquil's stint as PAF personnel office chief in 2004 was spent.

Air Force: Missing P30M spent on sports gear (

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesman said on Wednesday that the P30-million fund Lt. Col. Efren Daquil said was missing was spent on athletic gear like shirts, short pants, shoes and bags.

In a press conference Lt. Col. Restituto Padilla presented a document from the Department of Budget and Management indicating that the P30 million was used to buy the athletic gear.

In a press conference Tuesday, Daquil asked Lt. Gen. Jose Reyes, the PAF commander, to explain where the P30 million in savings went when Daquil was chief of the PAF Personnel Office in 2004.

He also said Air Force generals and wing commanders received monthly allowances of P45,000 each on top of their salaries.

The DBM document showed that the P30 million was used to buy 10,000 pairs of shoes, 20,000 short pants, 20,000 bags and almost 40,000 shirts for Air Force personnel in 2004.
Padilla said the DBM Procurement Service held a bidding for the gear.

Daquil said military officers had asked him last year to join a coup against President Arroyo but that he refused.

Malacañan on Wednesday ordered the Air Force to look into Daquil’s allegations.

Aquino-Ramos-Estrada alliance sought (

HAVING failed to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through street protests and by impeachment, opposition forces are moving to get three former Presidents -- Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada -- to form an alliance that would compel the incumbent to step down.

"We, in the United Opposition (UNO), believe that a meeting of the three former Presidents will be a big help to the opposition," Estrada's former Agrarian Secretary Horacio Morales told the Inquirer yesterday.

Morales said the proposal to have Ramos, Aquino and Estrada together was made during a meeting of the UNO -- an umbrella of various opposition groups -- in the middle of December.

DAR: No stopping Luisita coverage (

Acting Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman on Wednesday assured the public that the department will push for land-acquisition coverage of the 4,915-hectare Hacienda Luisita despite the motion for reconsideration filed by the estate's officials.

In a telephone interview Pangandaman said the Department of Agrarian Reform on Tuesday issued a notice of coverage to the Hacienda Luisita Inc. as a start of the land-acquisition and distribution process under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

"The land coverage will continue although there’s a motion for reconsideration," he stressed. "Only a restraining order issued by the Supreme Court can stop us from placing the land under CARP. We won’t recognize any lower court intervention."

Osmeña: Secret meeting is Ramos 'psywar' (

"A psywar move."

This is how opposition senators on Wednesday viewed the "secret" meeting among Senate President Franklin Drilon, former senator Vicente Sotto III and former President Fidel Ramos on Monday at the Urban Bank Building in Makati City.

"More psywar moves from FVR should make life for President Arroyo more exciting," Sen. Serge Osmeña said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, however, expressed indifference over the meeting.

"Nagpapakulo lang si FVR [FVR is just cooking up something]. I don’t know and I don’t care to know what they talked about," Pimentel said in a text message.

Police free four suspects in Gingoyon slay (

The Philippine National Police will free four of nine men detained as suspects in the murder of Judge Henrick Gingoyon.

Cavite Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Benjardi Mantele said Rafael Arciaga, Gregorio Ignacio, and two other men identified only as "Danny" and "Hadji" will be released for lack of evidence.

Those who will remain in police custody are Rodolfo Cuer, the alleged gunman; lookouts Mark Datas and Efren Samonte; Rodolfo Baclor, the safe house caretaker; and Felimon Rabino, the source of the handgun used in the killing. They will be charged with murder before the Department of Justice.

At a teleconference through PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil, Mantele said that the police are still sifting documents and finalizing the details to avoid the 36-hour limitation on the custody of suspected felons.

RP ranks low in economic freedom (

The Philippines ranked low anew in economic freedom, falling eight notches from last year to 98th among 161 countries, according to an international survey.

The annual report of American think tank The Heritage Foundation, which was published yesterday, categorized the Philippine economy as "mostly unfree."

In contrast, neighboring countries Hong Kong and Singapore — Asia’s rival tigers — have again been rated the world’s freest economies.

"Under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, inflation has risen and the economy is both low on capital and high on bureaucratic mismanagement," the Washington-based organization said.

It noted how the President instituted efforts to reform taxes, clean up corrupt-prone agencies and court overseas investors despite accusations of fraud in her election.

"But her efforts fell far short of expectations," The Heritage Foundation pointed out.

"Foreign direct investment in 2004 leveled off at $1 billion, well below the $3 billion to $4 billion of other ASEAN countries," it said.

High tax rates, poor infrastructure, extensive government ownership of business, low foreign investment, and entrenched government corruption remained the "chief obstacles" to the country’s stable growth, it said.

Mrs. Arroyo has taken preliminary steps to ease the corporate tax burden, hoping to attract foreign companies, but tax incidence is heavier for corporations than for individuals, The Heritage Foundation observed.

"The population has increased, exacerbating the problems of an inadequate infrastructure," it added.

US Marines’ motions stall arrest warrants (

OLONGAPO CITY -- The arrest of four American soldiers charged with raping a 22-year-old Filipino woman would not happen soon, at least not within the next two weeks, according to the judge who will try the case.

Judge Renato Dilag told the Inquirer in a telephone interview yesterday he would first have to resolve six motions filed separately by the lawyers of Staff Sergeant Chad Brian Carpentier and Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis, and their Filipino driver, Timoteo Soriano Jr.

"These pleadings should first be resolved before we can issue a warrant of arrest," Dilag said.

Dilag, who presides over the Regional Trial Court Branch 73 here, said the motions, either seeking judicial determination of probable cause or a stay on the arrest of the five accused, are due for a first hearing on Friday.

He said the hearings would take "a few days" and would require him to adjust the 10-day timetable he is allowed by law to conduct an arraignment, he said. Arraignment is the formal judicial process where charges are read to the accused in open court after which they are asked to enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty."

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