Monday, August 15, 2005

Loaded Day

House to deliberate on impeach complaints, Charter change

Maila Ager

THE IMPEACHMENT complaints against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Charter change will be discussed separately at the House of Representatives this Tuesday.

Cagayan Representative Constantino Jaraula's committee on constitutional amendments is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. to review and approve a report on concurrent Resolution 14 calling on the Senate and the House to constitute themselves as a constituent assembly and institute changes in the Charter.

At 12:00 noon, the committee on justice will resume impeachment proceedings at the session hall.

The committee, which Maguindanao Representative Simeon Datumanong heads, will decide whether the original complaint filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano, the revised complaint of the opposition bloc, or the one filed by lawyer Jose Rizalino Lopez, should be heard and deliberated on by the body.

Professor Jose Abueva, former president of the University of the Philippines, said that the people would be unburdened by the painful impeachment proceedings should there be a change in the form of government.

Abueva said that under the parliamentary system, a prime minister could be removed by a simple vote of "no confidence."

"It's very simple, somebody will just have to move for a vote of no confidence and if it will be carried by the ruling party then the prime minister will be removed," he explained in a phone interview.

The movant need not present evidence against the prime minister to justify the "no confidence" vote, Abueva said.

Imelda's $10M

PCGG to sell Imelda Marcos' diamonds

Alcuin Papa
Inquirer News Service

THEY had been variously described as exquisite, even fabulous. After nearly two decades, the government is letting them go.

By year's end, the Presidential Commission on Good Government hopes to finally auction off pieces of jewelry owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos, one of its officials said.

PCGG spokesman Nick Suarez said the agency expected to recover around 10 million dollars from the sale.

The jewelry, held in escrow in a vault at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines), has been independently appraised and found to be genuine.

The PCGG is finalizing the conditions and details of the auction, including the venue and date of the auction, Suarez said.

"It is all being discussed at high levels. We hope to have the jewels disposed of before the year ends," he said.

There were no details on what sort of jewelry would be auctioned off but a 2002 report by the Inquirer said the collection consisted of 89 pieces when they were inventoried and valuated by famed auction house Sotheby's in 1990.

At that time, the saleroom estimated value of the jewelry pieces was placed by Sotheby's between a low of 4,194,920 dollars and a high of 5,736,600 dollars.

The report had described the jewelry pieces as "works of art" by themselves because of their exquisite designs, breathtaking size, and the superb quality of the gems.

It said the collection included a yellow gold 30.71-carat diamond-studded bracelet with a central marquise cut diamond crafted by Bulgari. When appraised by Sotheby's in 1990, it was reportedly valued conservatively from 800,000 dollars to 1.2 million dollars.

According to the report, the collection included jewelry pieces seized in 1986 from Greek national Demetrious Roumeliotes, supposedly a close friend of Marcos. Roumeliotes denied they were owned by Marcos and claimed that the pieces were made of paste.

Suarez said at least two international auction houses, which he did not identify, were interested in selling off the jewelry.

A source in the PCGG said that the agency was determined to trace the backgrounds of the bidders to prevent the jewelry from falling back into the hands of Marcos.

Now in her early 70s, Marcos faces several graft cases before local courts. The cases are linked to her stint as housing minister and governor of Metro Manila.

The 18-year-old PCGG has recovered Marcos-linked assets in the Philippines amounting to 50 billion pesos and 683 million dollars from Swiss bank accounts.

Glo's Generals


Inquirer News Service

FOLLOWING are the people who had served either as Armed Forces chief of staff or Philippine National Police chief in the Arroyo administration:

AFP Appointed as Term Angelo Reyes July 1999-Mar 2001 Secretary, Department of National Defense (March 2001-August 2003) Ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism (October 2003-July 2004) Head, National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (October 2003-July 2004) Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government (July 2004 - present)

Diomedio Villanueva March 2001 - May 2002 Director and general manager, Public Estates Authority (October 2002-December 2003) Postmaster general and CEO, Philippine Postal Corp. (January 2003 - present)

Roy Cimatu May 2002-September 2002 Special envoy to the Middle East (September 2002 - present)

Benjamin Defensor September-November 2002 Chair, Counter Terrorism Task Force of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation/ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism (November 2004 - present)

Dionisio Santiago November 2002-April 2003 Director, Bureau of Corrections (May 2003-November 2004) Executive Director, Dangerous Drugs Board (November 2004 - present)

Narciso Abaya April 2003-October 2004 President & CEO, Bases Conversion Development Authority (October 2004 - present)

Efren Abu October 2004-August 2005 PNP Leandro Mendoza January 2001-June 2002 Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications (June 2002 - present)

Hermogenes Ebdane June 2002-August 2004 National Security Adviser (August 2004-February 2005 Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways (February 2005 - present)

Edgardo Aglipay August 2004-March 2005

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

Philippine National Police (PNP)

Garci List

Osmeña bares Garcillano bribe list

Juliet Labog-Javellana
Inquirer News Service

CONTROVERSIAL Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano himself wrote down the amounts of money that were paid to election officials to rig the results of the 2004 election, according to opposition Senator Sergio Osmeña III.

Osmeña said this was contained in Garcillano's handwritten notes which Michaelangelo Zuce, former assistant of presidential political liaison officer Jose Maria Rufino, submitted to the Senate committees conducting the jueteng inquiry.

Zuce has testified he was present in the La Vista residence of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional directors and provincial supervisors were given money by Lilia Pineda, wife of suspected gambling lord Rodolfo "Bong" Pineda.

Osmeña said that during the latter part of last week's jueteng hearing, Zuce "authenticated" a document handwritten by Garcillano showing how the money was distributed among the Comelec officials. He said the one-page document was almost hidden among the documents Zuce submitted.

Zuce confirmed that Garcillano scribbled the names of Comelec officials from the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur and Tawi-Tawi who received amounts ranging from P10,000 to P40,000, Osmeña said.

He said that according to Zuce, Garcillano made the list during a consultation meeting at the Grand Boulevard Hotel on Jan. 10, 2004, before Garcillano and Zuce brought the officials to dinner with Ms Arroyo in her private residence.

Osmeña said the list revealed that as much as P550,000 in cash changed hands in just one meeting.

Copies of Garcillano's list were given to Senate reporters.

Osmeña admitted that Garcillano's handwriting had yet to be authenticated.

But he said this showed that testimonial evidence about the payoffs of election officials from jueteng money was growing.

"The details of the election fraud are steadily unfolding, perhaps to the dismay of the spin doctors making vague or evasive denials," Osmeña said.

SMS Abuse?

Malaysia to register pre-paid cellphones to curb SMS abuse

Agence France-Presse

KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysia will register millions of pre-paid mobile phone subscribers to prevent the untraceable handsets being used to send threatening or slanderous SMS text messages, reports said Monday.

Communications Minister Lim Keng Yaik said the cabinet had agreed to make it compulsory for telecommunications companies to register the existing 14 million pre-paid subscribers, as well as all new users.

Lim said the registration would begin next month in southern Malacca state and northern Penang, and be completed nationwide by the end of the year.

"Fourteen million is a huge number of users and some of them are foreigners. So it is a difficult exercise," he said according to the New Straits Times.

"But we have to start doing this as pre-paid phone card users pose a security threat because nowadays terrorists are using cellphones to detonate bombs," he said.

Members of parliament last year called for mandatory registration of prepaid mobile phone users following complaints that some users were abusing the service by sending poison text messages.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last week called on Malaysians to stop rumor-mongering through SMS (short-messaging service) and lambasted people for abusing the technology.

His critical remarks came after rumors were spread by SMS about the health of his wife, Endon Mahmood, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

In another case that has fueled debate on the issue, police in Penang earlier this month arrested two Indonesians on suspicion of sending bomb hoaxes to the local airport through SMS.

GSIS Checks

Public warned against fake GSIS checks

Jani Arnaiz
Inquirer News Service

MAASIN CITY-The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has warned the public against fake GSIS checks after owners of a furniture shop here became the latest victims of a modus operandi involving fake checks.

Francisco Ang and his wife Tita, owners of Tita's gift shop, said two men went to their shop in the morning of Aug. 6 and asked if they could purchase some items using their GSIS checks.

They identified themselves as Ramon Rosales and Paulo Magat and claimed they were from Malitbog town, about 45 km south of here.

They said they were the payees of two checks worth P44,410, which came from their salary loan from the GSIS.

One check was dated July 26, 2005, valued at P25,800, while the other was issued on July 22, 2005, worth P18,610.

The couple agreed. The two then endorsed the two checks and wrote down their addresses and mobile phone numbers at the back of these checks.

They then bought items worth P23,000. The Ang couple gave the two P21,410 in cash as change for their P44,410.

The two men, however, did not take the items with them when they rode their motorcycle. Instead, they told the Angs that they would come back as soon as they could find a vehicle to transport their purchases.

The two, however, did not return to the furniture shop. The Angs repeatedly called the cellular phone numbers listed at the back of the checks, but there was no reply.

The couple became suspicious and called a nearby GSIS office to inquire about the checks.

Fortunately, the cashier was at the GSIS office, said Socrates Maderazo, GSIS-Maasin legal counsel.

He said the checks looked real because they appeared to have the proper markings and name of the signatories.

But when the cashier held the checks, she said they were fake because the paper was thin compared to the genuine checks.