Arroyo okays new RP baselines

The new baselines law takes the place of a 1961 statute and complies with a United Nations treaty, giving Philippine territory international recognition, officials said.

Republic Act 9522 stipulates that disputed territories such as the Spratly Islands or the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Scarborough Shoal are not part of the main archipelago, but are still owned by the Philippines as a “regime of islands” — much like Hawaii is owned by the United States although not part of the mainland.

“We are sending the message to the whole world that we are affirming our national sovereignty and protecting our national interest. This is the right thing to do,” Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita told Palace reporters.

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SEC official ordered to go on leave

SECURITIES and Exchange Commissioner Jesus Martinez was ordered by President Arroyo to go on leave over allegations that he received bribes from the Legacy Group.

Arroyo’s gesture is seen as empty, however, because Martinez is retiring tomorrow after serving a full seven-year term in the seven-man body.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Arroyo also ordered Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Presidential Anti-Graft Commission chair Constancia de Guzman to conduct a separate investigation.

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‘Mike’s slip showing in defending Mercy’

FOR going out of his way to come to the defense of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, presidential spouse Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo consciously or unconsciously himself confirmed the accusations in the impeachment complaint against her, Sen. Manuel Roxas II said yesterday.

“What are the reasons why the First Gentleman himself has chosen to come to the succor of the Ombudsman in such a brazen and unrestrained manner? Personal ba ito o opisyal niyang tungkulin? Utos ba ito ng kanyang maybahay? Did he make it as a private citizen? Or did he make it in behalf of his office, for indeed, there is an Office of the First Gentleman in the Office of the President in Malacañang. Or was this statement made in behalf of President Arroyo?” Roxas said in a privileged speech.

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ASEAN vows coordinated effort vs economic crisis

In a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day 14th ASEAN Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, the leaders vowed to shun protectionism and to support efforts that would bolster global trade, while allotting sufficient resources to save jobs and assist vulnerable sectors.

The statement did not spell out any specific actions but the leaders said they endorsed expansionary policies, including fiscal stimulus plans, monetary easing, access to credit and trade financing, and measures to stimulate domestic demand.

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Losing war vs corruption

THE numbers are in and the grafters and the corrupt clearly are winning.

In the last 10 years starting 1999, the Office of the Ombudsman filed 4,056 indictments against public officials, down 66 percent from 11,933 cases filed between 1989 and 1998.

This at a time of widespread perception that corruption has become worse than it was during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.

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Growth boost seen via spending, policy

Officials told a briefing in Makati that the local economy would not be spared from the global downturn, but claimed the Philippines would be able to cope due to robust domestic consumption, to be triggered by lower commodity prices and higher state expenditures.

“The recession in our trading partners has hit our exports sector hard … the good news is inflation rate is also dropping steeply …. Easing inflation in turn boosts private consumption,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph G. Recto said.

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Philippine president names herself as anti-drugs chief

Manila,(AFP) – President Gloria Arroyo named herself as the Philippines’ anti-drugs overlord Tuesday, saying she needed to step in to save her country’s judicial system from being corrupted by narcotics traffickers.

Arroyo has ordered five state prosecutors to go on leave as the government probes claims they were offered bribes to dismiss complaints against alleged traffickers arrested last year in sting operations around Manila.

“Governments that delay action against illegal drugs, or regard it as a routine police matter, do so at their own peril,” Arroyo told members of her cabinet.

“A country awash with illegal drugs is a country compromised, its law and order institutions tainted and corrupted.” [Read More...]