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Newsbriefs 10 January Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

After Cabinet, govt undergoes shakeup

A number of Cabinet departments have started rationalizing their programs to cut down on staff for economy and effectiveness. Employees are being encouraged to retire under handsome retirement packages.

These offices initially include the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Agriculture and the National Economic and Development Authority.
President Arroyo is eyeing a government-wide rationalization program to prune down on staff and to restructure government agencies. The Department of Budget and Management has prepared a program for this purpose.

The program is spelled out in Executive Order 366, done on October 4, 2004, signed by the President, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, issued on May 11, 2005, by then-Budget Secretary Emilia T. Boncodin.

A bureaucracy-wide revamp will close down offices with overlapping functions or agencies that have outlived their purposes.

At the same time, rationalization proposes to integrate offices with shared objectives. The tourism and trade departments, for example, may be integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Aussie firm slapped P10.7M in fines for mine spills (

THE GOVERNMENT has slapped an Australian firm operating what had been touted as the country’s flagship mining project fines of at least P10.7 million for two mine spills in the island-municipality of Rapu-Rapu in Albay province last year.

The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has ruled that Rapu-Rapu Processing Inc. (RRPI), owned by Australian Lafayette Mining Inc., violated the Clean Water Act when it discharged waste water with a high cyanide content into creeks on Oct. 11 and 31.

The toxic waste found its way to the open sea, allegedly resulting in fishkills.

The PAB fined RRPI a total of P10.4 million because effluents from the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project site exceeded the acceptable cyanide level.

It was the biggest fine imposed on any violator since the Clean Water Act took effect in 2003. The P10.4-million fine was on top of the P300,000 paid by Lafayette for violating the provisions of its environmental compliance certificate.

Defensor cancels 8,000 log permits (

Environment Secretary Michael Defensor canceled at least 8,000 pending forestry agreements and contracts nationwide yesterday as part of efforts to reorganize the country’s logging industry before he turns over the department to his replacement.

In separate orders, Defensor directed the cancellation of existing and pending applications for so-called industrial forest management agreements (IFMAs), industrial tree plantation lease agreements (ITPLAs), socialized industrial forest management agreements (SIFMAs) and community-based forest management agreements (CBFMAs) in eight regions.

Defensor’s order effectively canceled 3,767 existing forestry contracts. The move also affected the over 5,000 tenurial applications pending with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The total number of logging agreements that were ordered canceled covers some 2.2 million hectares of forest lands in the Ilocos, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Visayas, and CARAGA regions. The remaining regions, meanwhile, have no forestry contracts.

Employees: Politicians are unwelcome in DepEd (

Saying politicians are unwelcome at the department, employees and officials of the Department of Education on Monday rejected moves to have either Sen. Edgardo Angara or former congressman Antonio Nachura as the new education secretary.

Instead, they pushed Undersecretary Fe Hidalgo, the department’s officer in charge, for appointment as permanent DepEd chief.

Sol Matugas, president of the DepEd Association of Directors, urged Malacañan to appoint Hidalgo.

"Our support for Dr. Hidalgo continues to grow and we are all praying for her permanent appointment. The League of Education Associations is behind Dr. Hidalgo," Matugas said.

"We need someone like her who can inspire our 500,000 teachers and our leaders in the field to bring genuine reforms in the school and the classroom," he added.
Hidalgo rose from the ranks. She started as a classroom teacher and became an assistant secretary and undersecretary for programs and projects. She has served under nine secretaries.

The DepEd National Employees Union is questioning why Malacañan is delaying the appointment of a new secretary, considering the department is one of the biggest government agencies.

FVR declares for the President but… (

Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Monday ended speculations about his political moves when he declared at a press conference that he was still supporting President Arroyo and that he would not join any group that wants to oust her.

Ramos made the statement because of speculations that he was forming an alliance against the President with Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Sen. Vicente Sotto III. He met with Drilon and Sotto in his office on January 2.

Ramos recalled that at the meeting he was asked if he was willing to enter into a covenant with former President Corazon Aquino and former President Joseph Estrada.

He said he presumed that the covenant was to unseat President Arroyo.

Estrada and Mrs. Arroyo have been calling for the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo, although the two do not agree on what would happen should she resign.

"I said I could not enter into a covenant with Erap [Estrada] until his case before the Sandiganbayan is closed, because it would appear as if I were influencing that case," he said.

He said Drilon and Sotto appeared "tickled" when he gave them a photograph of their meeting. He agreed to the showing of that photograph provided they said the truth behind that meeting.

"I do not say that they did not tell the truth, but they gave a spin that I was joining the other presidents, which is not true," Ramos said.

FVR stands by Arroyo

FORMER President Fidel Ramos yesterday expressed his support for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, saying he had turned down offers from her opponents since last July to switch sides.

In a press conference yesterday, Ramos said the latest attempt was last week when Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Senator Vicente Sotto III tried to entice him to abandon the President.

“The basic question was whether I was willing to join a covenant with ex-Presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada,” Ramos said. “I said no way. I will not join the opposition.”

Ramos gives Arroyo until mid-2007 to quit (

FORMER PRESIDENT Fidel V. Ramos yesterday gave President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo until June 30, 2007, to resign and decide whether she would run for parliament under an amended Constitution.

Speaking at a press conference in his office at the Export-Import Bank in Makati City, Ramos said he was willing to give the President another chance to respond to his second deadline for the sake of national unity.

Ramos had earlier given the President until Jan. 1 to make public her position on the no-election in 2007 proposal of the Consultative Commission (ConCom).

He said he was willing to accept a one-year delay in his original timeframe for the proposed shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system because he had not considered the impeachment factor then.

Ramos admitted that his support for the President was “still waning” and reiterated his call for Ms Arroyo to make the “ultimate sacrifice” of cutting short her term, which is to expire in 2010, in order to put in place the elements necessary for a parliamentary form of government.

‘People’s initiative won’t prosper’ (

The plan of local government executives to launch a people’s initiative to push for amendments to the 1987 Constitution and change the country’s form of government will not prosper, two senators said yesterday.

On the other hand, several local officials’ leagues pledged to join the signature campaign to drum up support for a people’s initiative as the mode of amending the Charter.

The Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), which has some 1.7 million members, aims to obtain the signatures of at least 12 percent of all registered voters nationwide as required by law to initiate moves for the people’s initiative.

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