SLB Newsbriefs...daily news from different sources, truncated and compiled. updated daily.
Newsbriefs 12 January Morning
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Arroyo bows to Ramos’ bid for polls in 2007 (

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last night agreed to former President Fidel Ramos' demand to proceed with elections in 2007 in a bid to avert confrontation at the weekend caucus of the ruling party, a highly placed source told the Inquirer.

The source said that the two agreed that Ramos' proposal that Ms Arroyo relinquish power by June 2007 be thrown to the caucus of the Lakas-CMD national directorate on Saturday.

However, Ms Arroyo backed down on Ramos' call for her to reject the recommendation last month by her Consultative Commission to scrap elections in 2007 to pave the way for the institution of a parliamentary system in 2010.

"The (2007) election will go on as scheduled," the source said.

On Monday, the 77-year-old Ramos outlined an exit scenario for Ms Arroyo to resolve lingering doubts about her legitimacy sparked by disclosures in the "Hello Garci" wiretaps that indicated she stole the May 2004 election. The plan called on Ms Arroyo to cut short her term in June 2007 and run for a parliament seat.

House drafting new Charter without ‘no-el’ provision (

The chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments is drafting a new Constitution that does not include provisions on no-el (no elections) in 2007 and term extension for lawmakers and local officials.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula said yesterday he would present his draft this weekend to Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and probably to the Lakas meeting on Saturday at Malacañang.

He said he incorporated into his amended version of the Constitution most of the recommendations of the presidential consultative commission (con-com) on Cha-cha (Charter change), the most important of which is the shift to the parliamentary system.

However, he said he excluded the most controversial con-com suggestions, which were on the cancellation of elections in 2007 and the extension of elective terms.

If con-com would have its way, the election of senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, and other local officials in May 2007 would be scrapped, and the stay in office of these officials would be extended by three years to June 30, 2010, when President Arroyo’s six-year term expires.

The proposals have divided the nation and its leaders. Former President Fidel Ramos has described them as a "monumental blunder."

House should be blamed for budget’s delay (

The year 2006 marks the sixth consecutive year that Congress has failed to pass the national budget on time.

The people could understand the delay in 2001 because of the political upheaval that beset the country during its early months.

The succeeding delays, however, were completely unjustifiable and unacceptable. The people deserved better than the cavalier attitude of the lawmakers on the budget.

If the senators and the congressmen continue to exhibit this attitude, this would be the best argument for not allowing them to become automatic members of the parliament, should the shift to a parliamentary government succeeds.

The failure of Congress—especially of the House of Representatives—to act speedily on the most important annual bill requires a second look at the constitutional provision for the automatic reenactment of the previous budget if a new one is not in place.

New plan to impeach easier to kill, Palace feels (

MALACAÑANG said yesterday it would be easier to quash another impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after she survived a grueling vote in the House of Representatives last year.

“We are confident that members of Congress, especially those in the majority, still believe in their verdict last year,” said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, on news that the opposition would initiate new proceedings against the President.

NFA to lose P8.3b feeding the poor (

Another P8.3 billion will go down the drain this year as far as the National Food Authority is concerned after losing the same amount in 2005.

NFA administrator Gregorio Tan, however, remains unfazed, saying it is in their mandate to lose all that cash as they import well-milled rice and sell it at relatively cheaper prices to poor families in the country.

“We lost P8.3 billion last year and we expect to lose the same this year. The causes of these loses are not controlled by the NFA,” Tan said during yesterday’s press conference at Malacañang.

‘Wage earners still must pay income tax’ (

Is the withholding tax exemption proposal for minimum-wage earners a misnomer?

There is no actual exemption, administration Sen. Ralph Recto clarified yesterday. What was approved was that in lieu of monthly payroll deductions by employers, tax payments could be deferred to April 15 of every year, the deadline set by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for filing income tax returns.

"It is not tax exemption. What it merely says is that your salary will no longer be subjected to withholding tax every month but you will still pay the tax later," explained Recto, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee.

According to Recto, wage earners still need to pay income tax on or before April 15 every year.

The statutory minimum wage varies per region with Metro Manila having the highest minimum wage at P325 per day. With 22 working days a month, and at 13 months a year, the gross pay of a minimum wage earner is P92,950.

A family of two minimum wage earners and four dependents can claim a maximum of P96,000 in deductions plus a tax credit of P2,400 for health insurance payments. They still need to pay P13,220 in income tax on combined earnings of P185,000 every year.

Instead of the withholding tax exemption, Recto is proposing that minimum-wage workers be given permanent relief from the payment of income tax.

"And we can do it by revising the tax code and raising exemptions so that a minimum wage earner today would be spared from paying tax," he said.

Japanese firms seek payment from PIATCo (

Two Japanese corporations asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to stop the government from paying P3 billion to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. for building Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 3 until PIATCo settles up with them first.

In two separate pleadings Takenaka and Asahikosan Corporations, the principal builder and supplier for the terminal, said their substantive rights stand be prejudiced if the P3 billion is released to PIATCo.

The consortium, they said, has given no indication that it will compensate them.

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