Thursday, August 30, 2012

Texts: ABS-CBN, July 2001

July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:38 PM, Plunder suit may be taken to SC,
July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Arroyo: RP not only about Abu,
July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:25 PM, Berroya to Ping: Be 'man enough',

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:15 PM, DoJ: One camera for Estrada trial.
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 08:27 PM, GMA: P10-B for AFP modernization,
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, FBI asked to verify PNP's US account,
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 08:27 PM, Adan: Can't trust MILF,
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, Group tells gov't to focus agenda,
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, ASG calls off release of 2 hostages,
July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, ASG calls off release of 2 hostages,

[Dead Link] Bill seeks amputation for kidnappers
[Dead Link] Alert out for foreign terrorists

July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:39 PM, Opposition split on snap polls,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:54 PM, GOCC officials concede to pay cuts,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:07 PM, Two ASG hostages arrive in Manila,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:40 PM, AFP spends P8-M a day chasing Abu,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:37 PM Maguindanao governor ambushed,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:39 PM, Saudi gov't gives $1.04-M worth of supplies to ARMM,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:25 PM, DECS, DSWD to send street children to school,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:11 PM, Two Pinays jailed in Dubai freed,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:07 PM, Two ASG hostages arrive in Manila,
July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:51 PM, AFP mulls ROTC replacement,

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 AM, Lacson mulls raps vs 'Ador',
July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 06:50 PM, SC clips Ombudsman's probe powers,
July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Plunder raps filed vs BIR officials,
July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, More plunder raps readied vs Erap,
July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Ombudsman wants Estradas in Crame,
July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, National roundup, Malacañang thumbs down snap polls,

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:42 PM, Police bust Abu Sayyaf ring,
July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, GMA approval rating climbs to 57%,
July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Lawmaker wants Ninoy case reopened,
July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Profile: Rep. Florencio 'Butch' Abad,
July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Erap lawyers: Badoy must inhibit self,

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM, GMA won't do Cha-cha,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM, Erap wants live coverage of trial,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, Butch Abad: Making a statement,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, The race for speaker: Butch vs Joe,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, GMA sides with Church vs divorce,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, PCGG padlocks Imelda's mansion,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, Survey: Pinoys see gloomy future,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 9:33 PM, Dante Ang buys Manila Times,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 8:29 PM, Arroyo denies buying 'Times',
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 7:28 PM, Psychic: Coup to happen in August,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:44 PM, US Embassy denies keeping fugitive,
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM Survey: Pinoys see gloomy future
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM GMA won't do Cha-cha
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM Arroyo vows to fix economy
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:35 PM RP firms begin cutbacks, layoffs
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:44 PM Feria's aftermath: an angry Gloria
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM Feria leaves 77 dead, P133-M damage
July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:43 PM Juday to file libel suit vs troika

July 7, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:40 PM, YOU assures Arroyo of support,
July 7, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:40 PM, Arroyo's southern forays paying off,
July 7, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:26 AM Jaime Cardinal Sin's statement on tithing,

July 8, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:03 AM, New general tasked to hunt ASG,

July 9, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:08 PM, Ex-Beatle treated for brain tumor,
July 9, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:08 PM, BI fears Dante Tan is dead,
July 9, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:08 PM, Economy up 3% in 2nd quarter,
July 9, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:08 PM, Taiwan: No travel advisory vs RP,

July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:13 PM, UN confirms Bin Laden behind ASG,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:51 PM, Cuevas to argue Erap's plunder raps before SC,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:22 PM, Erap, Jinggoy back at VMMC,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:20 PM, CHR backs SC decision on 'no live coverage',
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:54 PM, Peso tumbles to 52.95:$1,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:57 PM, Cuevas: Erap did not commit plunder,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:548 PM, DoJ to summon former Paoctf officers,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:52 PM, Estrada leaves courtroom,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:45 PM, Sandiganbayan to resolve defense's motion,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:22 PM, Militant group presses media coverage,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:26 PM, AFP chief issues gag order vs Corpuz,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:19 PM, QC bank, Caloocan businessman robbed,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:19 PM, Prosecution poised to counter possible TRO,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:03 PM, Stocks down 7.73 points,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 AM, Gabriela: Fast-track Erap trial,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:42 AM, Cops firm as arraignment nears,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:17 AM, SC downgrades killer's death sentence,
July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:37 AM, The revelations of Ador,

July 11, 2001 11:07 PM 2,500 residents flee Basilan village,
July 11, 2001, ABS-CBN, 01:26 AM, Gorio hovers off Cagayan, Batanes,

July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 06:09 PM, PNP opposes Erap detention in Camp Crame,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:58 PM, Withdrawal of one case vs Erap okayed,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:28 PM, Court dismisses graft raps vs Malonzo,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:35 PM, Peso closes at 53.08 after falling to 53.40,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:03 PM, Indonesia tension rises as Wahid orders arrests,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:46 PM, DoJ to question Cuevas' appearance as Erap lawyer,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:19 PM, Sheriff complains of Peña's verbal abuse,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:01 PM, 25 MILF members surrender,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:08 PM, MNLF warns vs gov't antagonism,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 1:55 PM, Jinggoy on Loi rap: Desierto desperate,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:07 PM, P100,000 reward for Surat's arrest,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:06 PM, Peso at 53.225 vs dollar in mid-day,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:00 PM, Stocks up 9.32 points,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 AM, PNP: No credit squabble with AFP,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:08 AM, Tri-agency MOA inked on crimes,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:03 AM Metro police chief faces misconduct rap,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:03 AM Angara: Palace paranoid on senate race,
July 12, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:01 AM, Sandiganbayan gives defense copy of perjury case,

July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:20 PM, 100 arrested in crackdown on ASG,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:44 PM, Graft raps filed vs Malabon mayor,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:20 PM, Consul dismisses racism in Sydney massacre,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:44 PM, NAIA on triple red alert,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:10 PM, Peso weakens further to 53.17:$1,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:12 PM, Ador hurdles psycho test,
July 13, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:34 PM, Doctor: Jinggoy needs longer stay in hospital,

July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:59 PM, 'No rights violations in Basilan',
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:40 PM, GMA to visit Japan in September,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:54 PM, Megawati's party backs early Wahid impeachment,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:44 PM, US scholar convicted for spying in China,

July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, 100 arrested in crackdown on ASG,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, Erap asks court for 'house visit',
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, Peso weakens further at 53.17,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, RP, Japan agree on currency swap,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, AFP doctors: Ador not crazy,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, MILF supports GMA's declaration,
July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN, US links RP to human trafficking,

July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:37 PM, Jailed ASG leader gives the slip,
July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:42 PM, Six more Abu Sayyaf bandits arrested,
July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:19 PM, 'Abu' hacks Marine to death,
July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:19 PM, PNP gears up for July 23 SoNA,
July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:05 PM, Heavy rains kill 26 in central South Korea,
July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:36 PM, DoJ mulls holding of Abu trial in Manila,

[Dead Link] Alert out for foreign terrorists,
[Dead Link] Malampaya exclusion zone declared,
[Dead Link] PLDT delays bond offering,

July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 5:16 PM, Rogge wins top Olympic post,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:42 PM, Court orders release of ASG financier,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:39 PM, Peso falls to fresh six-month low of 53.71,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:33 PM, DoJ files kidnap raps vs ASG suspects,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 4:27 PM, DoJ pushes anew for live coverage,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:51 PM, Palace denies attempt to influence court,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 3:17 PM, CHR to monitor rights abuses in Mindanao,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 2:16 PM, MILF-govt to meet again July 24,
July 16, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:33 PM, Zambo on alert for Abu attacks,

July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:02 PM, Top bank officials denied peso-dollar manipulation,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:16 PM, Toppling crane crushes 22 at Chinese shipyard,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:24 PM, China activist arrested a day after Olympic vote,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 06:46 PM, Sydney killer known to Gonzaleses?
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:51 PM, Hit squad leaders nabbed in QC,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:30 PM, Court asked to censure Estrada,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:05 PM, Judge ordered to justify MJ's P1-M bail,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:44 PM, Peso weakens further, nears 54:$1 level,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:39 PM, Gov't to probe Sydney massacre,
July 17, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:29 PM, New witnesses in Dacer slay surface,

July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:47 PM, AFP: Abu support base destroyed,
July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:12 PM, Cops gird for 'final offensive' in Metro,
July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 06:19 PM, PNP wants Janjalani's arraignment at Camp Crame,
July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:46 PM, MILF behind Sino engineer's abduction,
July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 05:37 PM, Lawyers attempt to delay arraignment of ASG supporter,

July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 04:05 PM, Arroyo: Erap will not try to destabilize government,
July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:26 PM, 84 Abu suspects arrested,
July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:06 PM, Twelve ASG members surrendered,
July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 02:54 PM, Indonesian assembly begins Wahid impeachment hearing,
July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 02:28 PM, Angara to give up senate presidency bid,

July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:25 PM, Berroya to Ping: Be 'man enough',

Police intelligence chief Sr. Supt. Reynaldo Berroya heated up his word war with Senator-elect Panfilo Lacson, telling his nemesis in an ABS-CBN interview to be "man enough" and face the accusations hurled against him.

Berroya denied that he was behind a certain "Ka Ador," who claimed to be an agent of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, who linked ex-Paoctf chief Lacson to an alleged plot to destabilize the administration of President Arroyo.

Lacson desribed these allegations as "products of sick minds". He also accused of Berroya of being an alcoholic and, so, was not fit for his job.

"Perhaps, he should be man enough and just face the issues more squarely," Berroya said, alluding that Lacson is a "polluted source."

The man claiming to be Ka Ador had claimed that the recent kidnapping of Mary Grace Cheng-Rosagas was part of a destabilization plot against the Arroyo administration.

He also alleged that Lacson ordered the assassination of high government officials, among them Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson.

Also reportedly being targeted for abduction were children of businessmen Raul Concepcion and Uratex Foam Corp. owner Robert Cheng, father of Rosagas.

Berroya, aside from denying that he was behind Ka Ador's revelations, pointed out that the possibility that Ador could just be a decoy from the stables of political enemies of the Arroyo administration.

July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Arroyo: RP not only about Abu,

The government is bent on turning around the country's damaged image in international shores brought about by the prolonged hostage crisis in Mindanao, and is firm in its resolve to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf problem, President Arroyo said Sunday.

In an interview with Hong Kong-based TVB television network, Arroyo stressed that the Philippines is not all about the kidnapping and beheading activities of the bandit group.

She added that her administration is set to embark on a global communication campaign to correct the misimpression.

"We have to work on a communications campaign to let the world know that the Philippines is not at all about the Abu Sayyaf, which only operates in a couple of islands," Arroyo said in the interview.

The President said the campaign would aim to let the international community, particularly foreign investors, know the good things about the Philippines.

She added that Philippines has already benefitted from assistance extended by allies to solve the problem associated with the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

US equipment

Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said that the United States has provided the country with high-tech surveillance equipment to track down the bandits.

In a radio interview, Tiglao said that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation considers kidnapping as an international crime. Thus, it offered help to end the hostage crisis.

"This is in the form of technical help. They lent us some surveillance equipment," Tiglao said without elaborating or specifying the type of equipment.

"It looks like the assistance is having some effect now," Tiglao said. "This high-tech equipment seems to be helping."


Arroyo said that her administration's public relations campaign should tell the world about the direction towards good governance, saying that "this is the country where transparency and a level-playing field is the character of the government.

"A country that has the political will to pass the Power Industry Restructuring Law, a country that has political will to keep its budget deficit tamed. That is the kind of message we want to start spreading," Arroyo said.

The Chief Executive also said that the campaign will focus on the significant advantages of the Philippines, with its English-speaking people easily trainable in skilled work, to entice multinational companies to extend their operations to the country.

Last Thursday, Germany-based Transparency International ranked the country as among the 12th most corrupt in 91 countries that it surveyed.

But it noted in the same report that the country was on its way to introducing reforms in governance with the change in government last January.

Bad name

Arroyo said that, aside from saving the face of her administration, the campaign also aims to help refurbish the image of Islam, citing that the ASG atrocities have fuelled the notion that Islam tolerated violence and brutality.

She disclosed that Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Abdul Razak lamented that the bandit group "has indeed given Islam a bad name."

ASG is still holding 23 hostages in Basilan. It claimed to have beheaded Guillermo Sobero, one of its American hostages, but Sobero's remains have not been found yet.

The bandits also asked for a $1-million ransom for the two other American hostages, Martin and Gracia Burnham, who were among 20 hostages taken from Dos Palmas resort in Palawan last May 27.

Arroyo maintained that the government is determined to crush the ASG by "biting the bullet" and not giving in to the ransom demands of the bandits.

July 1, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:38 PM, Plunder suit may be taken to SC, learned Sunday that Rene Saguisag, one of deposed president Joseph Estrada's lawyers, has disclosed the defense team's plans to file a petition with the Supreme Court to seek certain clarifications on the perjury and plunder cases.

The move was anticipated Friday last week by Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, who indicated to journalists that the plunder suit may be elevated by Estrada's lawyers to the high court in a bid to bring about further delays in the arraignment and trial.

In an interview, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto said Estrada's arraignment will push through unless their lawyers succeed in securing a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court pending resolution of a question of law they intended to file.

"The only possible impediment is if the lawyers go to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court issues a TRO. But if the high tribunal doesn't act on their petition, even if they filed one, then the arraignment will proceed, as re-scheduled," Desierto.

Estrada is set to be arraigned on July 10 for the non-bailable capital offense. Motions one after another filed by his lawyers had delayed the arraignment date from May 31 to June 27 and, finally, to July 10.

His co-accused in the plunder complaint include his son, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada.

The ex-president was earlier arraigned for perjury last Wednesday before the anti-graft court.


In addition, Desierto said that, unless the Supreme Court declares the plunder law unconstitutional, prosecution of the case against Estrada and his co-accused will proceed.

Estrada's lawyers wanted the case dismissed, claiming that the law on which the charges and information was based, was unconstitutional for being vague on the definition of the term plunder.

Without a ruling from the Supreme Court that the plunder law is unconstitutional, Desierto said, it would be a "futile exercise" for Estrada's lawyers to raise the argument of unconstitutionality.

He pointed out that it was a question that can be raised at any time before the high tribunal, and it cannot be the cause of any further deferment in the arraignment of the Estradas.

"They cannot raise that issue in a motion to quash and hold up the arraignment of the accused," Desierto said.

The Sandiganbayan's Third Division, headed by Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy Jr., has began hearing the oral arguments of Estrada's lawyers on their motion to quash the plunder case and the prosecution's strong opposition to it.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:15 PM, DoJ: One camera for Estrada trial.

The Department of Justice (DoJ), not giving up on its bid to allow live media coverage of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada's trial, proposed Monday a one-camera setup to facilitate media access to the courtroom.

Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said they are open to compromise with an earlier Supreme Court ruling if only to pave the way for journalists to cover the event.

Perez is set to file a motion for reconsideration this week on the high court's ruling disallowing the broadcast media from covering Estrada's trial for plunder, perjury and illegal use of an alias.

"If the worry is there will be too many cameras and tape recorders, then a system could be devised where only one camera, one tape recorder for everybody's use in the media could be adopted," Perez said.

"My preference is that, as much as possible, it should not be a government station but a private station," he added.

He also said that the high court's 8-6 ruling on the media coverage was a "close one" and indicated that there was conflict among the justices themselves.

"We want to reiterate the right of the public to information, the right of the people to know what is going on. And we believe it is a constitutional right," he stressed.

In the motion for reconsideration, Perez said they will point out the need for full discussion on the matter and proposed oral arguments on the matter should be allowed.

Ombudsman Aniano Desierto will join the DoJ and the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas in pressing the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

Battle of press releases

In a separate news conference also on Monday, Desierto claimed the defense has been "winning" the battle in terms of press releases.

"If there will be no live coverage, it will be a trial by publicity, with the publicists of the former president obviously winning," Desierto said. He provided Perez copies of newspaper clippings to prove his claim.

On Friday, The Supreme Court turned down requests for live television coverage saying that the fundamental rights of the accused should be preferred over the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and the public's right to information.

The six justices who voted for a live media coverage criticized the eight who voted against it for their "backward" ruling.

In his dissent, Justice Artemio Panganiban proposed a single fixed camera, placed at the back of the courtroom and under the court's control, to capture the trial proceedings live. He said the audio-video output of the camera may be flashed on television monitors inside and outside the courtroom.

This, he said, will enable television and radio crew members to beam the output to their respective stations for broadcast "without the ubiquitous and intimidating wiring, lights or media cameras inside the courthouse."

Perez said they want to adopt the Panganiban approach.

Stricter media rules

In a related development, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena said Monday tighter measures will be implemented to restrict unauthorized media coverage during Estrada's trial for plunder, ABS-CBN radio dzMM reported.

Garchitorena said anyone caught bringing in recording equipment inside the courtroom would be cited for contempt.

He stressed that stricter guidelines for journalists will be in force following the Supreme Court's ruling disallowing live media coverage during the trial.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 08:27 PM, GMA: P10-B for AFP modernization,

At rites observing the 54th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force on Monday, President Arroyo committed the release of a P10-billion fund for the modernization of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Arroyo administration initially committed to the release of only up to P5.4-billion funds for the modernization program owing to the financial difficulties it is facing, including a ballooning P225-billion budget deficit that must be reduced to P145 billion by year-end.

"I instructed the Secretary of Finance to help the Department of National Defense to find the balance of P4.6 billion to make it a total of P10 billion for the year 2001 as available for modernization. I am aware that the Philippine Air Force needs more aircraft," Arroyo said.

The Department of National Defense earlier estimated the annual "minimum" requirement for the 15-year AFP modernization program at P50 billion to P70 billion for the first five years.

For the whole 15-year program (1995-2010), the total financial requirements of the program are projected to reach P308 billion.

Arroyo, however, revealed that the military has received only P5 billion since 1994 when the law was passed.

In addition, the program had been riddled with controversies and an investigation by the Estrada administration revealed that P5.4 billion, representing AFP's share from the sale of Fort Bonifacio, was diverted by the Ramos administration to the general fund instead of a specific fund for the program.

Engine trouble

Arroyo reiterated her commitment to the program minutes after a military vehicle she was riding during the inspection of troops at Villamor Air Base experienced engine trouble twice.

Arroyo, who rode the vehicle with PAF chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Defensor, kept her composure even as she nearly lost her balance when the driver managed to restart the engine.

In a bid to raise funds for the modernization program, Arroyo instructed Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes to ready the sale of the presidential plane, a Fokker F-4 over two decades old. Earlier, she had committed to the sale of the presidential yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo.

The modernization program is geared toward strengthening the AFP's capability to combat terrorism, highlighted by the ongoing hostage crisis instigated by the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao.

In a bid to put more teeth into the government's anti-terrorism drive, the President assured the PAF that she will also work for the acquisition of an air surveillance equipment.

She also announced the arrival of a new C-130 "Hercules" transport plane courtesy of the US government.

She added that United States will also deliver five UH-1H "Huey" helicopters as military grants within the year.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, FBI asked to verify PNP's US account,

Department of Justice Secretary Hernando Perez disclosed Monday that DoJ has asked the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to verify the existence of $500-million-worth of deposits by Philippine National Police (PNP) officials in various US banks.

Perez claimed the Arroyo administration received reports that part of the fund was supposed to be used to destabilize the government.

Perez said he has written the FBI to trace possible laundered funds and, possibly, file appropriate criminal charges against the depositors, who allegedly included Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

"I really would not want to talk about it in the outset, but since it was Sen. Lacson who spoke about it, then I would confirm his statement," Perez said.

"That is true, there is an allegation from the intelligence group of the PNP that Sen. Lacson has stashed some $500-million abroad and so we have written a request to the American government to verify whether this is true or not," he added.

Lacson is former chief of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (Paoctf) and PNP.

Perez explained that the government only wanted to verify the report amid speculations that the fund is being used to finance a plot against the Arroyo administration.

"Because whenever there is a plan to disturb the government, which will be executed through the use of funds, we want to verify if this is possible. So far we have not received any response from the US government," he said.

Reprisal efforts

Last week, Lacson revealed that DoJ has been looking into his alleged bank deposits in the United States, which he himself denied.

Lacson also denied any destabilization plot against the new leadership.

"I am already a senator. I participated in the elections and I am very much part of this government," Lacson said. "Why should I participate in the destabilization? I think that's very unpatriotic."

Lacson specifically accused his arch-nemesis at PNP, Intelligence chief Senior Supt. Reynaldo Berroya of carrying out a reprisal effort against him.

He also claimed that Berroya is the one who is maintaining huge deposits in the US.
In response, Perez said that he is also willing to ask US authorities to investigate Berroya.

Lie detector test

Meanwhile, Perez said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has conducted a lie detector test on former Paoctf civilian agent, "Ka Ador," in order to establish if he is telling the truth.

Results of the polygraph test will be released Wednesday.

On Thursday last week, Ka Ador linked Lacson to an alleged anti-government plot.

Ka Ador said the recent kidnapping of Mary Grace Cheng- Rosagas was part of a destabilization plot against the Arroyo administration.

He also disclosed that Lacson allegedly ordered the assassination of Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson. Also reportedly being targeted are children of businessmen Raul Concepcion and Uratex Foam Corp. owner Robert Cheng, father of Rosagas.

Lacson branded the allegations as "products of sick minds."

New witness

In a related development, Perez said the new witness in the Kuratong Baleleng rubout case could be used to corroborate allegations already made against Lacson, then chief of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC).

Perez said that the new witness, Senior Police Officer 2 Noel Seño, may be taken in for corroborative purposes.

Seño's statement will be in support of the testimonies of Ismael Yu and Abelardo Ramos, which were, in turn, considered strong enough to push forward the case against Lacson and 34 others.

Perez stressed that a preliminary investigation is needed to allow the suspects to submit counter-affidavits on the allegations hurled against them.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 08:27 PM, Adan: Can't trust MILF,
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said on Monday that the government finds it difficult to trust the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) regarding its leaders' offer to help solve the hostage problem in Basilan.

In an interview with radio dzMM Kabayan anchors, Angelo Palmones and Cito Beltran, Adan said that elements of the MILF were themselves known to be responsible for the three-month abduction of Dipolog lawyer Maridol Liong and her five-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

"How can we trust the word of a group that itself engages in kidnapping for ransom?" asked Adan.

He cautioned the government to be careful in dealing with the MILF adding that there is information indicating that Lalaine Chua and Luis Bautista, hostages of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), were intercepted by renegade MILF forces after the bandits had released the two in Sampinit.

"We are inclined to think that elements of the MILF could be in cahoots with the ASG because they probably want to dip their hands into a potential money-making situation," Adan added.

MILF spokesman Ustadz Eid Kabalu denied possible involvement of MILF members, saying that any of its members found to be involved with the ASG can expect harsh punishment from the MILF leadership.

"MILF condemns these abductions and atrocities by the ASG," Kabalu said. "It is not our policy to engage in such acts. So we are definitely not involved with the ASG in any way."

Possible involvement of MILF members with ASG abductions in Basilan could hurt its chances of sealing a peace agreement with the Philippine government.

Only last week, officials led by Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. signed a peace deal in Tripoli, Libya, aimed at ending the armed conflict in Mindanao.

In signing the agreement, the two parties acknowledged the leadership of President Arroyo in pursuing an all-out peace policy in Mindanao.

The June 22, 2001 agreement urges both panels not only to implement but to "strengthen" the GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities dated July 18, l997.

The July 18, l997 cease-fire accord was virtually suspended when the military and MILF forces clashed in several areas in Central Mindanao last year, which led to the capture of major MILF fortifications, including Camp Abubakar, its erstwhile main headquarters.

Arroyo suspended military operations against the MILF in February.

The 16,000 strong MILF, in turn, ordered its forces in early April to halt all attacks on government troops to pave the way for peace talks.

The military has repeatedly accused the MILF of violating its promise to the government by participating in terroristic activities of ASG. The MILF has denied the accusation, saying it is fighting a legitimate cause.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, Group tells gov't to focus agenda,

The administration of President Arroyo needs to focus on at least two crucial issues whose resolution is a "condition for the political and technical feasibility" of addressing other problems being faced by the country.

In a presentation at the Manila Galleria Suites in Ortigas, Pasig City, civil society groups identified two concerns, which they said, will surely occupy the government over the next six to eight years: poverty reduction and good governance.

The group is composed of Action for Economic Reforms, Angelo King Institute for Economics and Business Studies, Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs, Institute for Policy Dialogue and the schools of journalism of the University of Asia and the Pacific and the University of the Philippines.

The group presented a proposed reform agenda for the Philippines "in a post-Estrada regime." They called their proposal the "Yellow Paper II." They said poverty must be addressed as a "mainstream concern" and not as a side issue or a "special concern."

Since she assumed the presidency on January 20, Arroyo has been trying to reach out to the poor, whose support jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada had enjoyed immensely.

The administration, however, has been sidetracked by short-term concerns like the Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis in Mindanao, kidnapping incidents in Metro Manila, threats to national security including plots to destabilize the government and natural calamities like the eruption of Mount Mayon.

The group said that to strengthen its pro-poor programs, the government should revive agriculture as a major sector, provide housing and transportation especially for the urban poor and institute safety nets to cushion the poor from changes in prices of commodities, among others.

Deliver results

On good governance, they stressed that the administration "should focus on delivering results rather than merely prescribing behavior."

They proposed a system of transparency and accountability, rational use of the so-called pork barrel, referring to the projects that lawmakers identify through the national budget, pursuit of graft and corruption cases regardless of political affiliation and raising compliance of tax laws in the private sector.

They also said that a "successful conclusion" of the negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should boost confidence in the Arroyo administration.

During talks in Tripoli, Libya, last month, the government and MILF were able to forge a cease-fire, while talks with NDF were suspended after government negotiators protested the assassination of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo. The New People's Army claimed responsibility on the Aguinaldo killing.

Emerging scenario

The civil society groups said that with a weak economic growth and limited reforms, the emerging scenario is an agenda of compromise and shrinking options.

They added that such scenario poses a further retreat of investor confidence owing to low growth prospects and the sense of a lack of will and overall direction.

Politically, they said, this will also mean an erosion of the administration's original political base, particularly among civil society, which was instrumental in supporting Arroyo's ascent to power.

They added that the potential for change, which was made possible with EDSA Dos, is "close to being squandered."

The groups warned that the "loss of tempo" and will for economic and political reform may wield itself heavily on the five-month-old Arroyo administration.

They said that the reforms that became the battlecry of EDSA Dos, referring to the military-backed civilian uprising that ousted then-president Joseph Estrada from Malacañang and catapulted then-vice president Arroyo to the presidency, are being replaced by a "creeping sense of inertia and growing cynicism" that no major changes are to be expected.

July 2, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:33 PM, ASG calls off release of 2 hostages,

The bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Monday said it aborted the planned release of two Filipinos out of 23 hostages it is holding on Basilan island in southern Philippines, an intermediary said.

The intermediary, who requested anonymity, said the presence of troops near the area where ASG had planned to release 15-year-old Lalaine Chua and 32-year-old Luis Bautista compelled the bandits to suspend the release.

ASG spokesman Abu Sabaya also called a Radio Mindanao Network station, saying that the group had intended to release Chua and Bautista as early as last week, but the presence of "so many soldiers and another armed group" near where the hostages were kept derailed the plan, the radio station said.

The intermediary told Reuters the bandits still planned to release the pair, but gave no specific date.

"We will release them in the name of Karno Sairin and Yusop Hamdan," the intermediary quoted Sabaya as saying, referring to two Malaysians whom ASG wanted to mediate in talks to end the 37-day hostage crisis.

Yusop, a businessman, and Sairin, a former senator, helped in the negotiations for the release of several Malaysians whom ASG kidnapped last year from a Malaysian tourist resorts and brought to Basilan.

Bautista and Chua were among 17 Filipinos and three Americans abducted from a tourist resort off Palawan island on May 27 and later taken to Basilan, a known lair of the bandits.

ASG later said it had beheaded one of the Americans, Guillermo Sobero from California, but the United States embassy in Manila said it could not independently confirm the bandit claim.

The bandits have freed most of the hostages they snatched from the Palawan resort, reportedly after payment of large ransoms, but took more Filipino hostages from Basilan.

They have killed at least four Filipino hostages, beheading three of them.

Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling, Southern Command chief, said a major concern of the military was to prevent the bandits from escaping to nearby islands with their hostages.

"We are guarding all the exits," he told reporters in Isabela, Basilan.

Camiling denied an earlier military report that soldiers had cordoned off the mountainous jungle area in Basilan, about three times the size of Singapore, where they are believed to be holding out.

"We can't say that they are cordoned because they are still moving in the area," he said.

July 3, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:39 PM, Opposition split on snap polls,

A week before the arraignment for plunder of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada, one of his allies proposed Tuesday to the administration of President Arroyo to call for a snap election to determine who has the real mandate of the people.

Lawyer Jesus Crispin Remulla said Arroyo, who was boosted to the presidency at the climax of a military-backed civilian uprising last January, does not have the mandate of the Filipino people.

Remulla though did not mention who will be the opposition's standard bearer in the election, if ever it is called.

His proposal was immediately junked by Sen. Edgardo Angara, who, according to some quarters, is posed to clinch the post of Senate minority leader. Angara was Estrada's agriculture secretary and executive secretary.

"I am against calling for a snap election at this time," Angara said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, California, where he is on vacation. "This is not the time to give unsettling they may complicate the situation even more."

He added: "But the present administration should try to solve all the crises facing the nation like what it has committed in EDSA Dos. [The President] is facing a lot of problems and that she has to solve."

Remulla insisted that the Arroyo administration was "invented" by the Supreme Court, thus, the need to call for a snap election to get a referendum on its acceptability.

"It is better that they seek a mandate of the people than continue to govern in this manner, wherein they don't even know what they are doing," Remulla said. "Three years is too long a time to wait for most of us knowing that [a lie] is going on and continuing in a daily basis."

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino described the proposal as coming from a "small component" within the opposition.

Remulla admitted though that the Arroyo administration was likely to ignore his proposal.

Interestingly, before he was forced out of Malacañang last January, Estrada offered to call for snap polls as the clamor for his resignation mounted.

Remulla, meantime, disclosed that Estrada's supporters will launch on Saturday a group dubbed "Justice for Constitutionality," which he claimed was established during the so-called EDSA Tres pertaining to the six-day demonstration of Estrada supporters at EDSA Shrine. The demonstration culminated with the violent attempt to storm Malacañang on May 1.

Remulla also insisted that Malacañang is only imagining a destabilization plot allegedly being carried out by the opposition.

"The destabilization plot is just their Imagination and the truth us, there is political instability because the present administration does not have the clear mandate and support of the people," he said.

He added that Arroyo would not be facing these problems had she not "grabbed" power from Estrada.

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 AM, Lacson mulls raps vs 'Ador',

Senator-elect Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday that he is planning to file charges against the witness known as "Ka Ador," allegedly a civilian agent of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (Paoctf), who accused him of being involved in various criminal activities.

On Tuesday, Ka Ador came forward and identified himself as Angelo Manaway.

Lacson also accused Col. Victor Corpuz, head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) of coddling and making use of Manaway to heap accusations against him.

"I just talked to my lawyer Tuesday, and I'm mulling over the idea of filing charges against Manaway," Lacson said in an interview with radio dzMM.

"But surely there is no need to hunt him or his handler, because they are just there in the government," Lacson added.

"Ka Ador is under the protective custody of Corpuz. That is why ISAFP cannot solve a case because it is too preoccupied with carrying out operations against a single person, me," Lacson stressed.

Manaway stood firm and insisted that Lacson masterminded various illegal activities committed by his men in the Paoctf.

"I was instructed by General Lacson directly four times to deliver drugs on four different occasions in 1999," Manaway claimed.

He said Lacson had overall control of Paoctf activities, legal or otherwise, including the surveillance of kidnap prospects, aside from disposing of seized contraband ranging from illegal drugs to imported canned goods.

Lacson, however, claimed that he has no personal knowledge of the individual named Angelo Manaway: "I haven't seen him in all my life."

Lacson also said that he found out, through an informant, that Manaway used to live in Ilaya Building in Divisoria but had to flee the place because he had allegedly swindled too many people there, and moved to Quezon City.

"He was apparently tagged by somebody who became his handler, and fed a script, then presented to media," Lacson said.

"The point in all this is that, it boils down not to Ador or Angelo, but his handlers," he added.

Meanwhile, Lacson declared anew that he will resign as a senator if proven that he stashed a total of $500 million in various US banks.

"If they can prove that I have $500-million, or even a fraction of that, in several US banks, then I will resign as a senator right here, right now," Lacson said.

On Tuesday, Lacson pointedly asked Justice Secretary Hernando Perez to resign if he cannot prove his alleged dollar deposits in the US.

He claimed that the Arroyo administration is apparently carrying out an "orchestrated effort" to destroy him politically, adding that, contrary to the fears of some, he has no plans to challenge President Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 06:50 PM, SC clips Ombudsman's probe powers,

The Supreme Court has clipped the powers of the Office of the Ombudsman to look into bank records of suspects in graft cases, it was learned Wednesday.

The high tribunal accomplished as much when it required the strict implementation of the Bank Deposits Secrecy Law and prevented graft investigators from going on "fishing expeditions" to obtain evidence.

In an 18-page unanimous ruling on the allegedly irregular deal between the Public Estates Authority (PEA) and Amari Bay Development Corp. (Amari), the high court en banc said graft probers could only look into bank records of respondents only under the five instances allowed by Republic Act 1405.

Otherwise, it said, a bank cannot be required to submit records of accounts of its depositors to aid the Ombudsman in its graft inquiry.

"Zones of privacy are recognized and protected in our laws," said the court through Associate Justice Bernardo Pardo.

"The Civil Code provides that every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons, and punishes as actionable torts several acts for meddling and prying into the privacy of another," it added.

Mother of all scams

The case stemmed from a graft complaint filed on the allegedly anomalous renegotiation of PEA-Amari land deal in the mid-1990s, tagged by then-senator Ernesto Maceda as the "mother of all scams."

PEA allegedly sold reclaimed land along Roxas Boulevard at an undervalued price.

One George Trivinio, a respondent in the case, supposedly purchased checks worth P272.1 million from Traders Royal Bank, which were subsequently deposited in an account at the Julia Vargas, Pasig, branch of Union Bank.

The Ombudsman wanted to know the recipient of the deposited checks, thus, ordered bank manager Lourdes Marquez to surrender the records of the depositor.

Marquez sued the Ombudsman at a trial court when she was threatened with a contempt citation.

She also wanted the court to prevent the Ombudsman from compelling her to submit records of the depositor, suspected to be Amado Lagdameo, a former PEA official who supposedly cooked up the allegedly irregular transaction.

The trial court upheld the Ombudsman.

In its ruling, however, the Supreme Court declared that "Section 2 of the law on secrecy of bank deposits declares bank deposits to be absolutely confidential" except in cases specified by law.

The ruling effectively removed from the Ombudsman its power to look into bank accounts, a prerogative granted it under its charter.

"In the case at bar, there is yet no pending litigation before any court of competent authority," the tribunal pointed out. "What is existing is an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman."

It concluded: "In short, what the Office of the Ombudsman would wish to do is to fish for additional evidence to formally charge Lagdameo with the Sandiganbayan. Clearly, there was no pending case in court, which should warrant the opening of the bank account for inspection."


In a press briefing on Wednesday, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto said he would appeal the Supreme Court's ruling.

"This will adversely affect our sworn duty to prosecute graft suits. If we cannot get evidence from the banks, where can we get them?" Desierto asked.

Desierto is apparently concerned that the high court's ruling may affect its graft and plunder cases against jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada and his cronies.

"We will not be able to examine bank records and bank accounts anymore. It is a setback to the fact-finding investigation being conducted now against the [ex-]president [Estrada] and his so-called cronies," Desierto said.

Deputy Ombudsman Margarito Gervacio said the bulk of evidence against Estrada involved bank accounts.

"With the Supreme Court decision saying the Ombudsman does not have the power to look into bank records, it will be very difficult for us [to prosecute the cases against the ex-president]," he said.

Estrada is set to be arraigned for plunder before the Sandiganbayan's Third Division on Tuesday next week.

Last week, Estrada was arraigned on a perjury complaint; he refused to enter a plea.

He is also facing a case on the illegal use of an alias in connection with the P3.2-billion Jose Velarde account with Equitable PCI Bank.

The high court though has provided several exceptions when bank records could be pried open, including in an impeachment case or unexplained wealth.

It added that examination of bank records could also be allowed if the depositor consents in writing, there is a court order in bribery or dereliction of duty cases against public officials or the deposit is the subject of litigation.

These exceptions, the high court said, are exclusive and no other circumstances would justify any turnover of bank records to the Ombudsman.

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Plunder raps filed vs BIR officials,

After failing to stop the revamp of ranking Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) directors at the Supreme Court, a group of agency employees found a new venue to get back at BIR Commissioner Rene Bañez.

The Philippine Association of Revenue District Officers (PARDO) filed Wednesday a P1-billion plunder complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against Bañez for allegedly exempting at least three firms from payment of documentary stamp taxes between November 1998 and January 2000.

PARDO asked Ombudsman Aniano Desierto to conduct a preliminary investigation against Bañez and BIR legislative and ruling division chief Jesus Sandoval for "conspiring" with former BIR commissioner Beethoven Rualo in "unlawfully granting exemption" to Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), Bonifacio Land Corp. (BLC) and Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. (FBDC).

Desierto, in a press briefing Wednesday morning, said he would assign the case to a panel of prosecutors for immediate investigation.

In giving the unwarranted tax exemption, the complainants said Bañez and Sandoval effectively defrauded the government of funds that should have been part of its coffers. Rualo, who died last year, was no longer named among the respondents.

"They conspired and confederated and mutually helped each other by then and there drafting and issuing a spurious BIR Ruling No. DA-013-2000, dated January 5, 2000...unlawfully granting tax exemption...thereby causing undue injury to the government," said the employees, through lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan.

They stressed Bañez should be charged at the Sandiganbayan for "enriching third parties at the expense of the Filipino people."

The advantage given to the firms involved in the development of the Fort Bonifacio Global City was allegedly done with "evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence."

"It was also undertaken by taking undue advantage of their official positions, relationships, connection or influence in defrauding the government," the complainants said.

'Old dirt'

In an interview, Alentajan refused to admit the employees wanted to seek a new forum after BIR successfully obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court last Monday, which removed all obstacles to the revamp.

He claimed the "old dirt" against Bañez was only unearthed recently even if the alleged misdeed was committed nearly two years ago.

"It's only now that the employees have a reason to come out with these documents. Most of them are afraid of Bañez. This is not an act of desperation. We are just exercising all our options," Alentajan said.

When asked on the injunction the high tribunal issued, Alentajan claimed the issuance was anomalous.

"The TRO was given under the authority of only one justice. The case was never raffled. It was never deliberated upon. The case was filed Monday morning and in the afternoon, the special order was already issued," he said.

He, however, admitted that court rules allow even one Supreme Court magistrate to issue a TRO on urgent matters.

In a two-page order issued July 2, Associate Justice Jose Melo directed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Rose Marie Alonzo-Legasto to hold the implementation of her June 25 TRO, which stopped the BIR reshuffle.

Alentajan also threatened to file an impeachment case against the magistrates for ruling in favor of BIR.

On May 24, Bañez issued a Travel Assignment Order 4-2001 reassigning several BIR officials "in the exigencies of the service."

Affected BIR employees, most of whom were based in Manila but transferred to Mindanao, appealed to President Arroyo to nullify the reshuffle order, insisting such caused demoralization and resentment among the rank-and-file.

They also asked Arroyo to soon name a "more professional, bureaucratic, transparent, fair, just and untainted successor."

On June 1, pending the full implementation of the revamp, affected BIR directors, led by Rosita Aquino, sued BIR.

Legasto stopped the revamp, a decision that the high bench overturned.

The International Monetary Fund earlier recommended to Arroyo administration the revamp to improve tax collection and hopefully, arrest the government's chronic fiscal deficit.

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, More plunder raps readied vs Erap,

The Office of the Ombudsman is rushing the resolution of at least two more plunder cases against Joseph Estrada and 25 of his so-called cronies in time for the July 10 arraignment of the deposed president, officials announced Wednesday.

In a press conference, Deputy Margarito Gervacio said the anti-graft agency wants the cases, particularly the P1.9-billion plunder complaint involving the allegedly illegal purchase of Belle Corp. shares using state pension funds, filed at the Sandiganbayan on or before Estrada's arraignment for plunder on Tuesday next week.
"A finding of probable cause will result in the filing of plunder raps against them. If we cannot finish everything before the arraignment, then they will have a separate arraignment after the filing of information [or charge sheets]," he added.
Gervacio heads a five-man panel investigating all cases filed against Estrada and his associates.

The draft resolution has been submitted to Ombudsman Aniano Desierto for final approval.

Gervacio did not want to reveal the preliminary findings of the panel, but hinted that the involved officials of the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) could be indicted along with Estrada.

In a separate interview, Chief Legal Counsel Andrew Ammuyutan said the new plunder cases could be filed at the Sandiganbayan by Thursday.

"If the Ombudsman does not object to any part of the resolution, he could immediately approve the same and order the filing [of the complaints]," Ammuyutan said.

Anomalous purchase

One of the two plunder suits being rushed involves the allegedly irregular purchase by SSS and GSIS of P1.8-billion worth of Belle Corp. stocks in 1999.

Ammuyutan did not reveal the other plunder case that the panel has resolved.

Estrada allegedly earned P189.7 million in kickbacks from the SSS-GSIS transaction

Aside from plunder, complainant-lawyers also want Independent Rep. Mark. Jimenez of Manila, Belle Corp. vice chairman William Ocier and director Jaime Dichavez charged with violating ethical standards set for public officials.

Aside from Jimenez and Ocier, also indicted were former GSIS president Federico Pascual and SSS president Carlos Arellano. The two were earlier granted immunity by Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Hernando Perez for spilling the beans on the deposed president.

Eight members of the SSS board were likewise included as respondents for allegedly acceding to the purchase of P329.8 million worth of Belle shares, while eight GSIS directors and four members of the GSIS investment committee were cited for approving the questionable acquisition of P351.8-million Belle stocks two years ago.

Among the GSIS directors named in the complaint were former Presidential Management Staff secretary Leonora de Jesus, DoJ chief state counsel Elmer Bautista and former environment chief Fulgencio Factoran.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines chief and former SSS commissioner Miguel Varela was also haled to the Ombudsman's office.

"The purchase of the said Belle Corp. shares by the GSIS and SSS would have been approved by, acquiesced to, ratified by, in connivance with, tolerated by and / or in conspiracy with and among respondents Estrada, Jimenez, Arellano, Ocier and the board of trustees of GSIS and commissioners of SSS and members of the investment committee," said the complainants, led by lawyer Leonard de Vera.

The plunder case involving the illegal purchases of the gaining firm's stocks reached the Ombudsman on the strength of the sworn statement of Arellano, Pascual, Jimenez and Ocier.

Estrada already denied he earned from the huge stock purchases and called his former friend "liars" for turning the tables on him.

The former SSS and GSIS chiefs, in separate sworn statements, insisted they were coerced by Estrada to invest in Belle, the private operator of jai alai games even if its stocks are "speculatively flavored."

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, Ombudsman wants Estradas in Crame,

Ombudsman Aniano Desierto on Wednesday renewed his call for the Sandiganbayan to order the transfer of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada and his son, Jose "Jinggoy", to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

"When it is found that it is no longer necessary for [Estrada] to be confined, in order to preserve himself, then he should be sent back already to Camp Crame," Desierto said in a press conference.

Desierto's pleading is contained in a petition his office filed Monday with the anti-graft court.

He pointed out that the petition is consistent with the court's original order to detain the former leader and his son at the PNP headquarters.

Desierto said that Estrada may have already recovered from his health problems because he managed to attend the arraignment of his perjury charge on June 27.

He added that Jinggoy, meanwhile, was able to carry out his duties as mayor of San Juan, when he was granted temporary freedom last week to facilitate the turnover of the mayoralty to half-brother Jose Victor Ejercito.

Desierto then urged the anti-graft court to seek a second opinion on the real medical condition of the Estradas.

The deposed president has been diagnosed to have bronchitis, emphysema and osteoarthritis while Jinggoy is being treated for a heart problem. Both are currently confined at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC).

Prior to their confinement at VMMC, the Estradas were detained at Camp Crame. They were later transferred to a special stockade at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna, for security reasons following a failed attempt to overthrow the administration of President Arroyo on May 1.

Earlier, Desierto said Camp Crame was a "more practical" venue compared with the stockade in Laguna, adding that the PNP headquarters is just a short distance from the Sandiganbayan, thus, it would be easier to bring the Estradas to the court for his trial.

"We will propose to the court that they should really be transferred to Camp Crame because it is really a detention center, and aside from that, it is a police station. It will now be in conformity with the provision of the Rules of the Court on the detention of an accused in a capital offense," he said.

He added that they will not allow a "prolonged" stay for the Estradas at the hospital because it is illegal.

No objection

Estrada lawyer Raymond Parsifal Fortun said that the defense has no objection to the move, but made the observation that it may prove to be more difficult for the police.

"The PNP itself said that it doesn't have the personnel as well as the facilities to hold President Estrada and his son for any long duration," Fortun said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel Wednesday.

Fortun also said that "it is all up to the doctors" of VMMC to determine how long the Estradas could stay at the government hospital.

Meanwhile, lawyers of Estrada asked the court to quickly resolve the pending motions they have filed before the Sandiganbayan's Third Division.

Estrada's lawyers specifically wanted the court to resolve their motion to quash the information on plunder which, they argued, was not an indictable offense because it was based on a law that is unconstitutional for vagueness of its definition under Republic Act No. 7080.

Another unresolved issue is the petition of Estrada's lawyers to allow the former leader to work out daily around the VMMC compound.

Personal affinity

Former senator Rene Saguisag also urged Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy Jr., Third Division chairman, to decide on the defense motion to inhibit himself from the proceedings on Estrada's cases for allegedly having shown bias in the decision he penned denying house arrest for the Estradas.

Saguisag said Badoy's emotional recollection in open court of his personal affinity with the former president when he was a senator and the justice was Senate secretary could also be misconstrued by some sectors against his credibility.

Badoy, meantime, said he has been carefully weighing the arguments raised by both the prosecution and the defense on the issues at hand. The court, he said, is nearing resolution of the motions so that Estrada's arraignment for plunder on July 10 will push through.

Estrada's arraignment for plunder was first scheduled for May 31, but it was reset to June 27, and finally to July 10 because of too many motions filed by his lawyers that the court had to decide on prior to the reading of the charge.

Still, Fortun hinted that the scheduled arraignment may still be postponed.

"It will all depend on the Sandiganbayan if they resolve this motions before July 10. So I would say about a 50/50 chance that the arraignment will push through," Fortun said.

He dismissed accusations that the defense is trying to delay the case saying: "Why are we being taken to task for being creative? We are doing things, which should be best for our client. We are asking motions, which are not normally filed, but nonetheless that doesn't mean that we can't file them."

July 4, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:01 PM, National roundup, Malacañang thumbs down snap polls,

Malacañang thumbed down Wednesday the opposition's proposal to call for snap elections to determine who has the true mandate of the Filipino people.

In a news briefing, Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said that the proposal, made by Puwersa ng Masa spokesman Jesus Crispin Remulla "has no basis."

Tiglao said Remulla, being a lawyer, should know that a snap election is not provided under the 1987 Constitution.

Remulla made the proposal Tuesday, claiming that the administration of President Arroyo is illegal and was just the creation of the Supreme Court.

Arroyo took over the presidency from jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada on Jan. 20 through a military-backed civilian uprising dubbed as EDSA Dos.

Human rights claimants to ask for Imelda's arrest in US

Former first lady Imelda Marcos faces arrest in the United States once she sets foot on American soil for treatment of her eye ailment, Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales warned Wednesday.

The Supreme Court last week allowed Marcos to leave the country for New York, Paris and Saudi Arabia to have her glaucoma checked by experts.

Rosales said victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime, through legal counsel Robert Swift, will file a court petition in the US for the former first lady's immediate arrest.

"We can only hope and look forward to the time when finally the former first lady will be arrested and be pressured to comply with the huge accumulated debt amounting to $3 billion she and her husband owe the 9,539 victims [of human rights atrocities during martial law]," Rosales said in a press statement.

Rosales said that once her party-list group is proclaimed winner in the May 14 elections, she would immediately re-file a bill amending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in order to give the human rights victims a share in the proceeds of recovered ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses.

She said some of the victims met with Arroyo in Malacañang on Tuesday and came out hopeful that the new administration will support their claim for just compensation, which the US court granted, totalling now at $3 billion.

Adan: Altamirano not with military

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said Wednesday that Capt. Gregorio Altamirano, representing himself as the spokesperson of the Young Officers Union (YOU), could be a private individual critical to the administration of President Arroyo and is just using the name and influence of the "shadowy organization" to advance his political interests.

Adan said that a check conducted by the AFP leadership of its members indicated that there was no officer bearing Altamirano's name.

"There is no such [name]. There is no Capt. Altamirano on our ranks. It could be a statement of somebody who is outside the AFP so we have no way to check," Adan said.

Altamirano on Monday castigated the President for giving left-leaning groups preferential treatment and forgetting the more significant contributions made by the military during EDSA Dos. He also told the President that her time is almost up.

He also accused the Arroyo administration of failing to deliver its commitment to the Filipinos, specifically, of uplifting the plight of the poor.

YOU, which Altamirano claimed represents the disgruntled members of the AFP and the Philippine National Police, warned of an impending coup d' etat that would unseat Arroyo in the coming weeks.

"Since it's a nom de guerre, it could have been made by somebody who wants to generate some issue about the present administration. so he could be civilian or a politician because he just assumed a nom de guerre," Adan said.

Adan said that another factor that strengthened the military's theory that Altamirano, as well as his supposed group, does not really belong in the AFP was in his statements.

A true-bloodied soldier, Adan said, would never question, much more castigate his commander-in-chief and the way the President is handling the country.

"As far as we are concerned, the AFP is solidly behind our President, our commander-in-chief. We agree with her basis of leadership, her assumption into power is legal. It has been legalized by the Supreme Court. There's no problem as far as the AFP is concerned. With regard to our loyalty, we are solidly behind the leadership of the President," Adan said.

Arroyo to endorse laundry soap?

Rumors that the President is about to endorse a laundry soap floated Wednesday after executives of Unilever Philippines, producer of Surf detergent soap, paid her a courtesy call at Malacañang.

Company executives reportedly showed Arroyo their proposed product, which they are targeting to introduce to the market on a limited basis within the next few weeks.

Palace sources who saw the "Gloria Labandera (laundrywoman)" laundry soap said the product's packaging is similar with Surf's.

Sources said that the "O" in Gloria, which appears in orange letters on the product's wrapper, carries the President's smiling face.

It was not known whether the President gave her go-signal for the company to use her in promoting the special limited edition laundry soap.

President Arroyo, initially earned the moniker Gloria Labandera after loyalists of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada called her such during a six-day demonstration at the EDSA Shrine last April.

Arroyo, in one of her speeches right after the May 1 Malacañang siege, acknowledged that her grandmother was a laundrywoman.

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:42 PM, Police bust Abu Sayyaf ring,

The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced on Thursday the apprehension of alleged officers of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based in Manila and said to be involved in gunrunning and drug trafficking in the capital region.

Director General Leandro Mendoza, PNP chief, said the ASG officers were part of an "intricate pipeline used by the ASG in the procurement of firearms" through drug deals.

Senior Supt. Reynaldo Berroya, PNP Intelligence Group chief, identified the three suspected ASG officers as Mumar Lueza Asanin aka Atty. Wilson Asanin, 40, leader of the "cell group"; his wife, Juring Manjarum Asanin and Nuhman Dompol Asanin, liaison officer of the group.

According to the PNP, the three were nabbed by joint elements of the PNP Intelligence Group, PNP Special Action Force and the Philippine Army at Barangay 705, Leveriza, Pasay City.

The Asanin couple were nabbed by authorities upon the orders of Basilan Regional Trial Court Judge Felisberto Gonzales of Branch 2, while Nuhman was nabbed based on a warrant of arrest for the crime of murder, issued by Basilan RTC Judge Danilo Bucoy of Branch 1.

A certain Mayor Maturan of Tipo-Tipo municipality in Basilan "positively identified" the three as the ones responsible for the killing of his supporters and the kidnapping of Christian residents on the island-province.

Following the arrest, it was also revealed that Mumar Lueza Asanin, who identified himself as a lawyer and general manager of Husmida Travel and Transport Corp., has been aiding ASG procure travel documents.

"The travel agency [Husmida] is being used as a legal front to falsify documents of ASG members in procuring identification documents used in their transaction while operating in Metro Manila," the PNP said. "The same agency is believed responsible in facilitating travel documents of the ASG members travelling abroad and foreign supporters coming to the Philippines."

Passports and weapons

Only on Tuesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan that ASG spokesman Abu Sabaya has been trying to obtain passports for members of his family in an attempt "to put them to safety."

In a statement, Adan said Sabaya could be using the alias "Halong."

"A certain Hassan, presumably a relative of Abu Sabaya, has a contact person in the name of Usman, who will facilitate several passports from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for Sabaya's relatives," Adan's statement said.

The move was apparently carried out by Sabaya to protect his family from possible reprisals.

Sabaya is also reported to be acquiring more weapons for his group.

Adan said Sabaya's plans are being monitored by the military and police. "There is no reason why the AFP and the PNP cannot stop Sabaya's projected plans. We are on our toes and will not allow Sabaya to carry out his plans," Adan said.

Drugs and firearms

The PNP claimed that the arrest of the suspects also uncovered a big drug dealing activity "orchestrated" by a syndicate composed of ASG members.

"The drug syndicate is headed by a big time drug lord, Salim Idris who maintains nine houses in Intramuros, Alabang, Pasay, Quezon City and other unidentified places in Metro Manila," it said.

The PNP added: "A certain Hadji Dong acts as the operations officer of the syndicate and is responsible in the supply and distribution of drugs to Cebu, Zamboanga and Basilan. Hadji Dong is identified as a close aide of Abu Sabaya and Hector Janjalani. The same group is also responsible in the shipment of high powered firearms and ammunition used by the ASG in Basilan."

Allegedly found in the possession of the arrested suspects were an assault rifle, a submachine gun, ammunition of various calibers and assorted travel documents.

Two vehicles -- a Toyota Tamaraw FX with plate number PWL 575 and a Kia Besta van (UHW 983) -- allegedly used in carrying firearms and drugs were also confiscated.

Berroya also announced a manhunt for other ASG leaders.

Afghan-trained terrorists

In a related development, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon asked the DFA Thursday to investigate the alleged training that some 50 ASG members received in Afghanistan, ABS-CBN News learned.

Biazon, who heads the Senate defense committee, said he got the information from ambassador Reynaldo Arcilla during their meeting in New York on June 6.

He said that Arcilla was earlier commissioned by the United Nations to investigate terrorism training activities in Afghanistan.

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, GMA approval rating climbs to 57%,

Despite the recent economic and political blows to her administration, President Arroyo still managed to secure an approval rating of 57 percent as of the second half of last month, according to the latest survey conducted by Pulse Asia, Inc.

The June 15-26 survey had 1,200 respondents and was conducted nationwide.

It showed that Arroyo enjoyed a majority approval for her performance as President from all geographic areas, including Mindanao and in all socioeconomic classes. This was in stark contrast to previous opinions polls which showed her to be unpopular among the poor.

The survey showed that except for the Visayas where her approval level "marginally dropped," the President significantly improved her approval rating, with the biggest gain registered in Mindanao.

Pulse Asia said that during the survey period, the President's net approval rating (NAR) in Mindanao increased to 36% from 3% and to 48% from 18% in the national capital region.

The NAR, in percentage points, is arrived at by deducting the percentage of those who approved from those who disapproved.

The survey was conducted within the same week that the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group claimed it beheaded Guillermo Sobero, one of its American hostages. Arroyo has declared an all-out war against the bandits, who are still holding 21 more hostages in Basilan, and insisted on a no-ransom policy.

Across class

The survey also showed that the President registered gains across all classes in society between May and June this year, with her hitting majority approval levels from the ABC to Class E.

The biggest gain of the President, according to the survey, was registered among the lower levels where her NAR improved from 17% in May to 40% in June this year.

Pulse Asia said that despite the gains of Arroyo in her approval rating during the past one and half months, she still has not fully regained her peak public support level as president in March, 2001 which was 63%.

Like her approval rating, the survey group said the President's trust rating also showed a pattern of recovery from high marks she attained in March, 2001 which was 52%.

Her current trust rating of 46% is still marginally below her March 2001 trust level but this is a substantial improvement from her trust level of 39% in April 2001.

The survey showed that her current net trust rating of 30% represents an improvement from her April level, which was 16%, but is still lower than the net trust rating of 38% that she was able to attain in March 2001.

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Lawmaker wants Ninoy case reopened,

Nearly 18 years after the assassination of former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., a congressman wants the case reopened to determine who was responsible for the high-profile crime, it was learned Thursday.

Lakas Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga filed a resolution at the House of Representatives seeking the reinvestigation of the Aquino slay case. He also wants Congress to gather all documents pertaining to Ninoy's assassination on August 21, 1983.

Rodriguez noted that Ninoy's murder remains a mystery to this day.

Ninoy's only son, Tarlac Rep. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, said that while he supports the reinvestigation of the case, he stressed that his family's interest is not "vengeance" but to put history in its proper perspective.

"We are not for vengeance but what [history] can say about us, that we can charge and get conviction for people who have committed crimes," Noynoy told "The danger in cases like this is that, 30 or 40 years from now, they may have a different version on how my father died."

"If there has to be any meaning to [the reinvestigation], it has to be for its effect on the present and the future, so there will be no ambiguity with regard to the case of my father," he added.

Ninoy's death

Ninoy was shot on the head as he descended from the plane that flew him in on the last leg of his homecoming from the United States in 1983. Moments after the shooting, Rolando Galman, tagged later by the Marcos military as the hit man, was gunned down on the same tarmac where Ninoy's body fell.

Ninoy's murder was a major link in the chain of events that led to the toppling of former president Ferdinand Marcos. The Aquino-Galman double murder case became the Sandiganbayan's most celebrated case.

The anti-graft court tried the case and acquitted the 26 accused, mostly military officers and men, in 1985.

The case was based on the preliminary investigation conducted by a fact-finding board created by Marcos. More popularly known as the Agrava Commission, it was led by retired Court of Appeals Justice Corazon Agrava. After a year of investigation, it released its findings, implicating 26 people, including Fabian Ver, former Armed Forces chief of staff.

The board's findings contradicted the military's version that accused Galman of shooting Ninoy on the tarmac. On Dec. 2, 1985, the Sandiganbayan chose to believe the military version and acquitted all of the accused.

After the first people power uprising that catapulted Aquino's widow to power, one of the Sandiganbayan justices disclosed to then-president Corazon Aquino that Marcos attempted to pressure them.

With that information, Aquino revamped the 15-member court and the Aquino-Galman case, with a bigger number of suspects, was re-tried. On Sept. 28, 1990, the Sandiganbayan found six of the 35 accused guilty of double murder and sentenced them to double life imprisonment.

Until today, the convicted killers maintain that it was Galman who pulled the trigger on Aquino. Their hard stance continues to shroud the mastermind of the assassination.

Truth commission

Noynoy proposed that a truth commission, similar to the Truth and Reconciliation commission set up by South African President Nelson Mandela to expose crimes committed by the government and its opponents during apartheid.

"This is not so much as the case of my father but those who were victims of the martial law regime. How can we have real healing if there are aggrieved people who don't know whatever happened to their relatives who disappeared in the martial law years," he said.

"How can we talk of justice in this country when there are still those who are enjoying their ill-gotten wealth?" he asked.

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Profile: Rep. Florencio 'Butch' Abad,

Florencio "Butch" Abad was born on July 13, 1954 in Manila.

He traces his roots to the town of Basco in Batanes province.

Butch was elected congressman of Batanes in 1995. He is on his third-term and is among the aspirants for the speakership of the House of Representatives.

He was vice-chairman of the House committee on appropriations in the 11th Congress and headed the body from January until June.

He co-authored Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.


Butch is married to Henedina Vitug Razon, director of the Ateneo School of Government. They have four children: Julia Andrea, 22; Pio Emmanuel, 18; Luis Andres, 14; and Cecilia Paz, 11.

He finished his elementary and high school education at Lourdes School and the Ateneo de Manila in 1967 and 1972, respectively.

In 1980, he finished his college education at the Ateneo, with a degree in Business Administration. Butch proceeded to take his law degree in the same school, passing the Bar in 1986.

From 1993 to 1994, he took his Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.

As a lawyer, Butch became a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Lawyers Association and the Abad Cristobal and Casis Law Office.

He is president of the Liberal Party, trustee of the Institute for Politics and Governance and member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.

Butch is also: founder, Batanes Development Foundation, Inc; president, Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran at Repormang Pansakahan; and founding trustee, National Peace Conference. He is also a member of the Gaston Ortigas Peace Institute, Coalition for Peace, Coconut Industry Reform Movement and Philippine Agrarian Reform Foundation for National Development.

An advocate of human rights, Abad was detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig at separate times in 1977 and 1980 for leading a march protest in April 1978.

In 1980, he and his wife, Dina, were placed on "campus arrest" at the Ateneo under the care of then-university president Fr. Jose Cruz, SJ for their advocacy of human rights and trade unionism.

In 1990, he was appointed secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.

July 5, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:56 PM, Erap lawyers: Badoy must inhibit self,

Less than week before scheduled arraignment of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada on plunder complaint, his lawyers insisted Thursday on having Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy Jr., chairman of the Sandiganbayan's Third Division, disqualified from court proceedings.

The division handles the plunder case against the ex-president, his son Jose "Jinggoy," lawyer Edward Serapio, Charlie "Atong" Ang, auditor Yolanda Ricafort and Ang's alleged employees Delia Rajas, Alma Alfaro and Eleuterio Tan.

The arraignment of Estrada et al. has been set for Tuesday next week.

In an interview, lawyers Cleofe Verzola and Felix Carao Jr. said there were "just and valid reasons" for Badoy to inhibit himself from the plunder case.

The cited, in particular,the justice's allegedly deliberate effort to delay the submission of his resolution denying the two defense motions for the younger Estrada to temporarily return to San Juan and administer the oath of his mother as senator and half-brother as incoming mayor last June 29.

Verzola said Badoy forwarded his resolution to Associate Justices Teresita de Castro and Ricardo Ilarde too late.

The two justices were prompted to indicate above their signatures that the motion was rendered moot and academic because the resolution reached their desks past 2 p.m., the hour indicated in the motion for the oath taking of former first lady Luisa "Loi" Ejercito as senator and Jose Victor Ejercito, the ex-president's son by ex-actress Guia Gomez, as mayor of San Juan.


Verzola also said Badoy's "inclinations against the Estradas appear clearly manifest" in his statements and acts that show his prejudice against the former president.

"Clearly, in so far as the Estradas are concerned, he does not have the cold neutrality of an impartial judge to enable him to judge fairly the Estradas' case," Verzola said.

In order to preserve public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary, Estradas' lawyers said Badoy should "immediately and voluntarily disqualify himself from sitting in the [plunder] case."

In an earlier interview, Badoy said he was carefully studying his options and that he would hopefully decide on it within the week.

Badoy also said he does not see any more hindrance to the July 10 arraignment of the former president for plunder and illegal use of an alias.

Meantime, Serapio's lawyers asserted Thursday that their client should be dropped from the plunder case, claiming that the allegation against him does not constitute the crime of plunder.

Serapio was implicated for his participation in the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, which allegedly received a P200-million donation from the jueteng (numbers racket) collections of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson for Estrada.

Lawyers Sabino Acut and Martin Israel Pison said the case against Serapio does not allege a combination or series of criminal acts constituting plunder.

They argued that the donation from the jueteng payoffs was neither Serapio's ill-gotten wealth nor public funds. Therefore, they added, no injury or damage caused to the government.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM, GMA won't do Cha-cha,

President Arroyo on Friday put a lid to recurring proposals to change the 1987 Constitution, declaring that the move would only divide the nation and disrupt efforts to revive the economy.

Arroyo said that although Congress has the right to push for charter change, "there are a lot of pressing problems that need to be addressed by the government."

"Any effort to change the charter would be untimely, expensive and divisive. It will distract us from our priorities and major goals."

The President also told members of the People Power Coalition (PPC), the multi-sectoral group that propelled her to the presidency, not to support the proposal.

"While I cannot stop the efforts of individual politicians to amend and rewrite the Constitution, it is not the administration's position," she said. "As for the PPC, that is not also the coalition's position," Arroyo added.

Arroyo explained that the initiative will only set off a political and economic tug-of-war that could result to more political volatility.

The President added that what Congress needs to accomplish are measures that would "strengthen our economy, solidify society and fortify our democratic institutions."

"I believe that we should focus more on our urgent priorities, addressing more problems, and continue to accomplish our major goals. We can help more if we forget about charter change and face the problems of our country," Arroyo said.

"But as I said, I cannot stop the leaders who are seeking to rewrite the Constitution," she said.

As soon as the economy has strengthened and the nation stabilized, Arroyo said, then legislators can start anew to consider changing the Constitution.

No endorsement

PPC member and Lakas Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. of Pangasinan, an aspirant for the speakership of the House of Representatives, disclosed Thursday night that he will support moves to amend the charter.

"If I were elected speaker...if there are a few amendments, what I will suggest is that Congress, both houses in joint session acting separately, should propose the constitutional amendment. But if there will be many amendments, then there should be a constitutional convention," De Venecia said on ABS-CBN News Channel's By Demand program.

Malacañang last month said it was open to proposals to amend the Constitution, but stressed it is keeping a hands off policy on the issue.

Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo said Arroyo was not interested on changes that will be proposed by lawmakers, even if they will be to her benefit. He said it was also unlikely that Arroyo will intervene by certifying any charter change bill as "urgent" or endorsing its passage to administration lawmakers.

Romulo and Arroyo strongly opposed moves to amend the charter in the 10th Congress when they were still senators.

Cha-cha supporters

A number of senators and congressmen of the incoming 12th Congress expressed interest changing the charter.

Among changes being eyed is the lifting of the single term limit of the president and vice president. The 1987 Constitution prohibits the president and vice president from seeking reelection after a six-year term.

Some congressmen want to change the form of government into a parliamentary system.

Reelected Sen. Franklin Drilon plans to propose that the president and vice president be allowed to seek reelection, but only for another four years.

Other senators are reportedly considering using the report of retired Supreme Court chief justice Andres Narvasa to guide them in amending the charter.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said they are willing to accept any charter change proposals.

The Philippine Constitution Association is also supporting the bid to amend certain provisions of the charter.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said he is in favor of amending some provisions of the charter. He said "protectionist" policies should be removed to enable foreign capital, investments and technology in critical infrastructure like telecommunications and transportation to enter.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:18 PM, Erap wants live coverage of trial,

Five days before his scheduled arraignment for plunder, jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada said Friday he favors allowing live radio and television coverage for his trial at the Sandiganbayan.

Estrada, in a surprise call to ABS-CBN radio dzMM, said he has no opposition to a live coverage even as he expressed reservations, noting that "[members of the] media are very biased."

"They are not neutral," he said, citing the coverage of his abortive impeachment trial where television broadcast networks featured "commentaries" during breaks in the proceedings.

"Whenever there was a break, they immediately would have commentaries against me, even if I had not presented my defense yet," Estrada said.

"Any man accused in court must be given a day in court. I was not given an opportunity to explain my side. All [that] was heard was their side," Estrada complained.

Estrada said he will consult his lawyers on the possibility of asking for a reconsideration before the Supreme Court. The high court earlier decided to ban live media coverage during the trial. The Sandiganbayan's Third Division, which is handling the plunder case, supported the high court's ruling.

The ousted president hinted, however, that while he is inclined to favor a live coverage, there has to be limitations.

Estrada will make another appearance at the Sandiganbayan on Tuesday for his arraignment for plunder.

Miserable life

Estrada also accused Ombudsman Aniano Desierto of making his life miserable.

Desierto earlier insisted that Estrada's bank accounts be opened.

The Supreme Court decided this week on a controversial land deal between the Public Estates Authority and the Amari Bay Development Corp.. The high court barred the Ombudsman from looking into bank records of suspects in graft cases.

Desierto feared that the high court's ruling may imperil the corruption cases against Estrada.

"I just want to make it clear that I am not hiding any bank account," Estrada said. "Almost all of my bank accounts have been opened by Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and I am not hiding anything. There was a ruling because they are on a fishing expedition," he said.

He added that the Ombudsman has failed to look into his accounts with Westmont and Allied Banks, which have refused to turn over documents to the government's chief anti-graft prosecutor.

"If they will ask me, I am volunteering to ask the bank to make my records public so the public will know that I am not hiding anything," Estrada said. "If the Ombudsman will be allowed to open all bank records, it will naturally scare the public."

"I don't know why Ombudsman Desierto would like to make my life miserable as if I am already convicted. It's as if I have done him wrong. The law provides that anyone is still innocent until proven guilty."

Desierto, however, said he is just doing his job.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, Butch Abad: Making a statement,

When rumors started to float as early as March that he was interested in running for speaker of the House of Representative, not a few of his friends thought that Batanes Rep. Florencio "Butch" Abad was joking.

Abad, who is president of the Liberal Party, had never expressed his interest to run for the fourth highest post in the bureaucracy. Until then, he appeared to be contented with being the chairman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, a post he held when President Arroyo took over Malacañang in January.

It was the Abad-led Batanes group of islands, with 8,239 voters, that gave the People Power Coalition its desired 13-0 straight win for its senatorial candidates in the May 14 mid-term elections.

It is another story though whether the 210 congressmen and an estimated 20 party-list representatives will go for Abad as speaker later this month.

In his interview with National Talk, Abad candidly admitted that he does not have the war chest of Lakas Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. of Pangasinan, his main opponent in the speakership race.

He nevertheless said that the elections for the House's top post on July 23, when the 12th Congress formally opens, will create "a statement," depending on who the congressmen will vote for.

The solon, who turns 46 years old on July 13, is on his third term as congressman. Among the bills he recently co-authored was Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

The interview follows:

Question: Where do you find yourself now in the speakership race?

Answer: Well, we're down to the homestretch and the race is down to between me and [Jose de Venecia].

Of course there are efforts to try to save the coalition because what will happen here…my candidacy, which is supported by the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Reporma, some Lakas members and party-list organizations, may lead to the breakup of the [People Power Coalition] which the President wants to avoid.

So there are subtle diplomacy going on and we are opening ourselves to discussions. Of course, we do not want people to get the impression that we do not care about the coalition, we do care. In fact if we truly want to pass measures in the House and we really need broad support that's why the coalition is important to help carry that out.

Q: Does that also mean that there will be possible compromises in the future?

A: Well that's one possibility, we are not closing ourselves to that.

But as we said, if we are going to entertain any compromises on this, number one, it should be an arrangement that will give the party and the groups that we represent a significant role in the management in the leadership of the House.

Because that's why my candidacy was presented because we want to be able to lead this House and to manage it in a way that will be perceived as doing politics in a different way. That's really the objective. It's not really the question of being the speaker and being the fourth most powerful person, but really what we want to bring in is the kind of leadership style that is consistent with the advocacy for good governance and new politics, that's one.

The other consideration for us, you know we have members to take care of and so any arrangement should also allow us to take care of our members. We have constituency needs, they have needs for taking leadership position so that their pet priority measures can also be translated into legislation. So that's the second principle that we are looking at in any arrangement.

Q: From your side of the court, who is leading?

A: It's hard to say although the PR thrust of former speaker de Venecia is to project him as the leading candidate, but it's hard to say as it stands now although of course the rumor is, Lakas and [Nacionalist People's Coalition] are almost formalizing a coalition already and that is a huge chunk of votes there. Lakas has 86, but they will not be able to get all the 86, and NPC has 50 but there's nothing formal yet. If in fact this arrangement is already go, then there should have been a formal announcement made.

I think what everybody is waiting for is the one vote that counts.

Q: The President has said that she will not interfere because this is the affair of the House and there is independence between the executive and legislative branches.
A: I think that when she sees that the break-up of the coalition becomes inevitable, then that just might force her to reconsider her position. We are just two weeks away so the leadership has to be settled a week before.

Q: What is the magic number for you to clinch the speakership?

A: The magic number is 50 percent plus one of all members. We know how many representatives there are elected from the districts, about 209, but we don't know yet how many will be coming from the party-list because there are still pending cases in the Comelec although the Supreme Court has already clarified the principles that will guide the Comelec in determining whether a particular party-list group is a legitimate party-list organization as defined by the Supreme Court. Then that is really up to the Comelec to decide on the pending motion.

Q: Are there party-list groups that will support your candidacy?

A: Yes, like Akbayan will support me.

I've talked to the Bayan Muna group, I've made my own presentation to them, but they still have to decide.

You know I have been reluctant to talk to them because they have not been proclaimed yet, they cannot even come here to negotiate for office so how much more to discuss with [the way they will vote]. So I guess it's best and more prudent to meet with them as soon as they're proclaimed by the Comelec, then they are in better position to talk to us.

Q: If JDV is viewed as a traditional politician, you are viewed as left-leaning? What is your reaction on this?

A: You know the dangerous thing about labels is that they are vulnerable to all sorts of interpretation. When you say leftist, when you say you are radical, when you say you are communist, it can mean many things, mostly bad but I don't think that's how we should be labeled.

Definitely, I've never been and I'm not and I will never be a communist because my own philosophy does not jive with the some of the basic philosophies of communism but it doesn't mean that I hate them.

I think that they should be given an opportunity to participate in the parliament arena because that is the only way you can keep people from running to the mountains and carrying out their desire for change via the armed struggle.

Who is Butch Abad? I've always been a reformer. I believe in active, non-violence change. I believe that if this country is unable to resolve the highly skewed distribution of power and wealth, there is no way for this country to be peaceful.

And you see that during the May 1 siege, I don't think that people went there solely because they worship Estrada. I think the greater part of them found an opportunity to bend their frustration their desperation. Because you know all these year they have not really been attended to.

So unless we address this problem of poverty and deprivation, then we will continue to be the only country in Southeast Asia that is still battling an active insurgency problem.

Q: How do you intend to address these concerns through your legislative agenda?

A: Immediately, we should really address this peace and order problem and this perception of political instability and we can do that not by proposing that certain arms and legs of perpetrators of kidnap for ransom activities be cut off. Those things don't work. I think if we want to address these problems then we should really improve the enforcement of laws and make sure that justice is meted out swiftly. The justice system also must be overhauled so that right away, criminals are prosecuted and convicted.

I think the main problem in this country is nobody gets punished. If there are people who are punished, they're the ones who are unable to defend themselves. i think that's one problem.

Number two, we should address our fiscal problem because we have to contend with P145-billion deficit. Next year [the target is] P120 billion and if we cannot manage that, then it will be difficult for us to arrest the decline of the peso as well as to begin the process of recovery.

And number three, we should lay the basis for a sincere, massive effort at eradicating and alleviating poverty in this country and you begin that by putting investments in the agricultural sector and a strong will in completing the agrarian reform program because if you look at the statistics in poverty, the poverty in this country has a rural face. Most of the people who are poor are in the countryside, in fact many of them has decided to move over to the city and became slum dwellers so these are the things that we should pay attention to because if we don't, then the situation will not change. It becomes cyclical. We go for a little recover and then we go back. it's been like that since 1945.

Q: How could we be able to sustain such growth once we achieve it?

A: It will have to be gradual, but for example, by improving peace and order then certain industries can begin to recover and one of them is tourism.

Tourism is the biggest industry in the world right now. Thailand is able to attract 14 million tourists a year; Spain, 45 million tourists a year. The Philippines has less than two million. If there is one advantage that this country has, its the people and all the 7,107 islands where you see multiculturalism being very prominent.

Number two, if we also improve the perception of the country as a place where you can do business, because right now, why do you think the peso is depreciating fast? These people are moving out, there is capital flight. They're trying to buy up dollars so they can leave the country.

Q: What are the priority measures that you are going to push for?

A: Providing law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police with enough men and equipment to do their job.

Number two, the President has also announced the improvement of the capacity of the military to perform its function.

Number three, ensuring the fiscal problem is managed well by, number one, limiting government expenditures. I think the President is on the right track by imposing savings in areas that you can impose savings at the same time, raising revenues. We have to continue monitoring the Bureau of Internal Revenue and I think the reforms that are taking place there are important and the fact they are being resisted by the people there is an indication that we have to raise revenues.

We also have to lay the basis for implementing a very focused poverty eradication program toward the countryside and this is where the agricultural and fisheries modernization programs are key, especially in the areas that have been already identified as prime targets like Mindanao and certain parts of the Visayas because Luzon has always been the concentration of this.

Q: What are you going to do about education?

A: I think there's a lot that can be done in the education sector. I think we should go back to the basics and if there are investments to be made, the investments have to be made in basic and secondary education.

And what sort of investments? We need 35,000 teachers. Last year, we were able to provide 5,000 so we should provide them with teachers, schoolbuildings. These are all fundamentals. If we could just work on the teachers and the classrooms and the books, that should not be too much. We really have to re-think our investments in state universities and colleges. We put a lot of money in SUCs these are subsidized. The concentration should be basic and secondary education and we should take advantage with the advances in the information and communication technology because that is one area where we can improve teacher's training and where our students can keep pace with global developments in education using the new technology that is already available.

Q: Will you be sporting amendments to the Constitution?

A: The question really here is timing because when are we going to do it? We definitely cannot do it toward the latter part of our term because then the whole process will become infected with partisanship. We will no longer be able to debate on the issues and policies, it will end up with us debating on who will be the next president. So if we have to do it, it has to be early on in our term.

The real problem is not so much doing it but how to do it. What is the mode of amending the Constitution. Are we like going to do it with a [constitutional convention]? That's very expensive.

Are we going to do it by constituent assembly? Will they trust us?

Are we going to do it like how Americans do it, by using initiatives and referendum, which has been done before, which is less expensive? It's less disrupting. That's the first one. The second one really is, what are we going to change?

I am a proponent of a modified parliamentary system, but that is really a revision, a change in the political and institutional framework of a country. I don't believe in the presidential form of government. It's rigid. It's only suited for the US.

It was introduced to the country to facilitate colonial administration and it's centralized and it does not promote multi-parties. There should be as many parties as their ideologies. You cannot box three ideological philosophies in one party, it's impossible. That's why in Europe, there are so many political persuasions; each political persuasions and orientation has a political vehicle.

This two-party system, it doesn't promote that, and if you do that, what happens is, there is a contest among elites. if you go back to the party system, you have to do away with the party list system, but in a parliament system in Germany, they have a parliament system half of which are elected by way of party-list so i would prefer a modified system because under this arrangement, the president will still be elected by the people, although you have a prime minister and there would be a power-sharing. And preferably, I would like a unicameral system.

Q: You were always perceived as one of the congressmen who worked away from centerstage, so what made you want to go for the speakership?

A: This is my belief, democracy is essentially about giving people choices.

If there is only one candidate and there is no competition, then it's a sad commentary on this institution.

When I looked at the landscape and nobody wanted to carry the banner for the advocacy and since i feel more confident now since this is my fourth term, I know almost everyone here. I know how this institution works or does not work. I know how the executive works, I know how the bureaucracy works. I think that's important. Ideology is one philosophy, but the other one is that the political management of these processes in the institution as well as the institution itself - the people in it - it's a skill that you only get through time.

Before, I was not very prominent because it was a learning process in the first two terms. Now I think I have greater confidence to run this institution and run it in a way we can at least meet the minimum expectation of people about these concerns for transparency, a new kind of doing our politics, being able to deliver.

Q: What's your edge against your opponent for the speakership?

A: My candidacy is a statement. It's high time for us to seriously take to heart the advocacy that we were pushing in the last election and when People Power 2 came into being, which is the idea of good and effective governance and a new kind of political culture.

I think there is really a growing sentiment that not only favors that but demands that and the President is very sensitive to that because the sectors that brought her to power, the Church, the civil society, the business community, the poor sectors, they are all demanding this and I think I have an advantage because for some time now, I have been identified with this process.

Not that Joe de Venecia had not been, that's for him to explain.

But I feel that through my almost 20 years in public service, that has really been my advocacy and I think the time is right for this advocacy to be translated into policy and the speakership is important because the Office of the Speaker is a symbol.

The guy that you put there is not just somebody, but the institution is making a statement on what it wants to do over the next three years and whether that symbol is credible, whether that symbol believes in this advocacy. It really depends on how he is perceived by the people.

Q: Joe de Venecia has a formidable war chest, how will you be able to counter that
A: I cannot counter that because I have to concede that I don't have any war chest, just a chest (laughs).

We have to appeal to our colleagues' higher sense of calling for the desire to change, the desire to be agents of change, the importance of looking at this particular moment in history; what this country needs because right now, we are in a crisis and if we cannot impress upon our people that we are serious about reforms, then people might believe again in this institution. I think one of the concerns that we should really concentrate is how do we restore confidence in our political institutions and how do we make them credible.

Q: What can we expect from a House under Speaker Abad?

A: This is going to be an exciting 12th Congress. For one, it's going to be even, in terms of profile, a much younger congress.

The 11th Congress saw the entry of a number of first time and younger legislators. This year, we have the same situation. More than half are first-termers and first-timers, but very few of them are really veterans. That's an indication that the face of Congress is really changing and changing dramatically.

In about two cycles, you'll see a completely different face. This Congress will be taking place with people expecting a lot from it, mainly because of EDSA 2 and also the expectation that the 11th Congress was able to do the politically impossible, which was to impeach a sitting president. It has never been done before. They saw that in the 11th Congress, the politicians, they can in fact go beyond their own partisan and personal interest and take all the political risks and address what our country needs.

At the moment, there are a lot of expectations there that reform is possible in this institution. The 12th Congress is now faced with the challenge to continue that reform.

Congress is gradually becoming an inclusive institution rather than being an exclusive institution.

I say this because we will be doing a 360 degree turn here. In 1946, we threw out Taruc, Lava and all the perceived leftists when we were about to vote on the parity rights and the US bases in the country. That really accelerated the decision to go for armed struggle from the people in the left.

This year, we saw the entry of the left organizations like Bayan Muna and Akbayan. They were able to get into the arena so if we can make their stint in Congress a meaningful experience, which means, we are able to push for reforms, and then we might just attract all the others to also try the parliamentary arena and therefore discourage people or make it unnecessary for people to take up arms as a way of pursuing change. So there is also that challenge.

Q: Will the possible return of former speaker de Venecia have a negative impact on what President Arroyo wants to achieve as new politics?

A: That's for the congressmen to decide. If they say he sits, then that's the statement they are making. If they say it's me then they are also making a statement.

So it's not for me to say, it's for the congressmen to say and even for President Arroyo to say. When they vote on the 23rd, then we will know what they want to do, if they want real change or...

Q: With you and former speaker de Venecia pitted in the election both from PPC, there seems to be no clear opposition in the House.

A: There will be and we can be. Ronnie Zamora's group can be. Butz Aquino's group will be, I'm sure they will be.

Originally, this was really the case of choosing our candidates from within the PPC but then it's now more confused than before because former speaker de Venecia has allied himself with the NPC, which would have been the natural opposition group. We have allied ourselves with LDP. Some of them are in the opposition. Some of them are in the conscience bloc.

We have been criticize understandably or there had been reservations raised. Can we really be an effective fiscalizer? well, Joker Arroyo was fiscalizing in the House while supporting the national government. It's been done before.

Q: What is the future for the Liberal Party after the speakership election?

A: The liberal party is now the third biggest party in this chamber. It used to be the fifth biggest. We have 23, but we also have people who are sympathetic to us and are willing to work with us so the Liberal Party, whether within the majority or outside, will become a significant player not only in House politics but in the national political arena. With such faces as Noynoy Aquino, Neric Acosta, these are the future of Philippine politics and we will make sure that they will be.

Q: We are just two weeks away from the elections, what are your chances to get the coveted post?

A: I would have to admit that former speaker de Venecia is the favorite.

And as we approach the day, he is really the guy perceived to be ahead of the pack, but I am undaunted because I am prepared for the worst and I am here because I want to make a statement. whether i win it or not. For me, it's a secondary matter. I think, as I did during my very short term as agrarian reform secretary, we had been able to put agrarian reform back in the headlines and in the national debate.

What we are doing here is putting the issue of political culture and good governance. We should not forget those things so having that is already a victory for me and bagging the speakership will be a bonus.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, The race for speaker: Butch vs Joe,

On July 23, as the House of Representatives ushers in the 12th Congress, 210 congressmen and an estimated 20 party-list representatives are expected to elect a speaker who will lead them for the next three years.

Considered as front-runner in the speakership race is Lakas Rep. Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan, who held the same post in the 9th and 10th congresses. De Venecia is seen to be a "popular" choice given his well-entrenched connections in the political arena.

His comeback to the House is also seen as a return to the post he once occupied.

Liberal Party Rep. Florencio "Butch" Abad of Batanes is on his third term. He was chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations after President Arroyo assumed office on January 20. Abad is president of the Liberal Party, which played a major role during the military-backed civilian uprising that catapulted Arroyo to the presidency.

He claims to represent "new politics" and is considered the "dark horse" in the speakership race.

Abad and de Venecia guested Thursday night on ABS-CBN News Channel's By Demand. Here are excerpts of their discussions.

ISSUES Liberal Party Rep. Florencio Abad of Batanes Lakas Rep. Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan

What is your legislative plan? We have to follow through on the power restructuring law; we have to work on the implementing guidelines. Number two, the reforms for the banking sector, particularly on money laundering, which is very timely these days. There is the proposed anti-racketeering law; and the automation of the elections. I drew up a plan called the 747 Economic Action Plan, it's an anti-poverty program. I called it 747 because seven percent growth for seven years, on the seventh year, the poor people will cross over from poverty to middle class.

What should congressmen be doing? Should you be putting up waiting sheds? The way they measure our performance as legislators is not really the eloquence with which we debate a measure but the very basic is what you really bring home in terms of projects that address their very basic problems. And what are these? Like livelihood, education, employment and infrastructure. I have seven action plans. First is a program for economic take-off toward attainable growth. One if we build 400,000 houses here, we would be able to give housing to people who leave in sub-human conditions in the slum areas of Metro Manila, Metro Davao and Metro Cebu. Then you revive the wood, steel, appliance and paint industries, etc.

Are you in favor of amending the charter? If it's going to be a divisive process, I don't think we need one at this stage. But the thing is, you cannot do it later it will be infected by partisanship before the 2004 elections. So I agree that it should not really be done too early but it really depends on what is the mood of the country and the political situation, because if it is already highly charged, it will become a controversial issue. If I were elected speaker, I would say that we should concentrate on bills to dramatically improve the economy. I would like to propose that constitutional amendment to begin in the first quarter next year. But in the next six months, we should concentrate...because people are angry at politicians. They expect action from us in the anti-poverty area.

If there are a few amendments, what I will suggest is that Congress, both houses in joint session acting separately should propose the constitutional amendment. But if there will be many amendments, then there should be a constitutional convention.

What can you say about the notion that for a congressman to be a speaker, he should be a multimillionaire? Then I'm out of the running. That should not be the rule of the House...choosing a prime minister must also have some funds, but you know this is provided by the party. That is why what I am proposing is that the state should subsidize the political parties in order to drastically reduce political corruption in the Philippines.

Should squatters be allowed to vote?The long-term solution there is you really have to make the rural opportunities for livelihood, employment and basic services. You'll be surprised with [Batanes], we enjoy higher standards of living over many of the provinces. We make sure that basic services are there, you can see it's very high. Anybody who wants to go to school can go to school, even up to [doctorate degree] if they want to.Yes, they should be allowed to vote because they are Filipinos, otherwise, they will be a caste system in the Philippines. What we should do is upgrade their lot, that is why we have this 747 economic program; that is why Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is putting forward an honest to goodness anti-poverty action plan.

What is your stand on death penalty?Amputation [for kidnappers]...well, we had a similar one proposing castration for rapists but if the point of the proposal is deterrence, I don't even think death penalty is a deterrent.

Should an anti-dynasty law be institutionalized? We have been filing this bill on banning dynasties since 1987 and we have not managed to get [it passed]. I will not fight it, I will vote for it. I opposed them publicly. I want to teach them lessons that we should set example against dynasties, that's why [some candidates] lost.

How about absentee voting?Absentee voting, in principle, is a good idea. The only question there is, how do you secure the process from [poll anomalies]. But it's high time you have to take a look at it. What is important is, you protect the process when it's out. I authored absentee voting in the past congress but it did not pass the Senate.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, GMA sides with Church vs divorce,

Aligning herself with the Catholic Church's position, President Arroyo said Friday she is opposing the passage of a proposed bill seeking the legalization of divorce in the country.

Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin also declared Friday "the divorce bill will not prosper."

Divorce, Arroyo said, is a threat to marriage and to families. "The Filipino family is in danger because of the plan of a few to institutionalize divorce in the country. This should be opposed," the President said during her weekly press conference at Malacañang.

Arroyo said lawmakers should instead think of introducing legislative measures that would strengthen the institution of marriage and the family.

The President pointed out the proposed bill will not only weaken the Filipino family but also "enervate the home."

"The family is the central unit of the society, the basic source of our national bond and fraternity," she added. Citing the Constitution, Arroyo said: "The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect the family as a basic, autonomous social institution."

She maintained that in the eyes of God, the family and its members are considered sacred.


In a statement, Cardinal Sin said that "there are enough sensible and morally upright men and women in the Senate and [the House] who will fight this immoral bill."

"The strength of the nation is in the family. Destroy the family by a bill like divorce and all the other values will come crumbling down. It only takes common sense to see this," Sin said.

"Divorce will bring about more spiritually impoverished children because their spiritually impoverished parents do not like to keep their marital commitments. Divorce is immoral. It is un-Filipino. It is absurd. I trust that we have enough sensible and intelligent legislators to fight this insane proposal," the Cardinal said.

Instead of divorce, the President suggested the practice of marriage counseling for the youths who are thinking of entering into married life and to those who are planning to separate.

According to the President, counseling would redound to the benefit of the youth and would help strengthen the society as well. "This is for the future of our nation," the President said.

The issue on divorce gained attention after Sen. Rodolfo Biazon proposed last week to file a bill as soon as the 12th Congress opens.

Biazon said that his bill seeks to allow divorce in the predominantly Catholic country.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, PCGG padlocks Imelda's mansion,

Former first lady Imelda Marcos may be enjoying her current junket in the United States, France and Saudi Arabia, but she may be grieving when she returns to the country and find out that one of her mansions had been padlocked by the government.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on Friday said it has taken control of Imelda's mansion in Olot, Leyte.

PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza said Marcos can no longer have easy access to her Leyte mansion without the clearance of the government.

Earlier, PCGG changed the locks of the mansion and declared that the Marcoses are not allowed to enter even the premises of the property. PCGG said the mansion remains a sequestered government property.

The widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was holding the keys to the mansion until PCGG changed the locks.

Nevertheless, PCGG still allowed limited use by the Marcoses of the property, which was recently used as venue for the former first lady's birthday bash last July 2.

Marcos maintained that the property and the mansion had been owned by her family since 1857.

To which Carranza replied: "The commission would like to remind her that in 1857, there was no swimming pool, pelota court, golf course... they were all built during the Marcos dictatorship."

Marcos is currently in the US for medical treatment.

Last week, the Supreme Court granted her request to go abroad for 45 days to seek medical treatment in the United States, France and Saudi Arabia.

During the period she will be abroad, Marcos said she waives her right to appear in public trials of pending cases against her.

A number of graft cases, particularly relating to behest loans granted to Marcos cronies, are pending at the Supreme Court.

It was not the first time the high bench allowed Marcos to leave the country. Last year, she also left for the US for an eye treatment.

July 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:18 PM, Survey: Pinoys see gloomy future,

With the peso's recent depreciation and the rising cost of living, a gloomy mood has set in on many Filipinos who anticipate that their lives are not likely to improve within the next year, a recent survey by Pulse Asia conducted last month shows.

In its survey dubbed Ulat ng Bayan, the pollster reported that 44 percent of those asked said that their quality of lives will not change by next year, 37% said their lives will be better while 18% anticipated that they will be worse off.

Greater optimism was noticeable among those in urban areas with 47% saying that they expect their lives to improve within the next 12 months; and those who are materially better off with 45% indicating that they see more improvement in their lives.

Thirty-one percent of those who considered themselves as "very poor" said they were not likely to improve in their standing, 47% expected their status to be unchanged while 20% were more optimistic and saw an improvement.

Optimism was most marked in Luzon (38% net optimism) compared with Visayas (negative 4%) and Mindanao (negative 1%).

The survey was conducted among 1,200 adult respondents from June 15-26. The country was divided into four: the national capital region, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with 300 respondents for each area.

It showed Filipinos' low optimism (negative 7%) was very apparent in October last year when corruption charges against then-president Joseph Estrada were starting to reach the public. By December, it was at a negative 3% when Estrada's impeachment trial was ongoing at the Senate.

The level of optimism climbed to 21% in March, two months after Gloria Arroyo took over the presidency from Estrada, who was ousted by a military-backed civilian uprising on Jan. 20.

In June, the level of optimism slightly contracted to 19% as the Arroyo administration faced the ongoing hostage crisis involving the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group as well as a suspension of peace talks with the National Democratic Front over the assassination of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo.

Harder times

When asked to compare their quality of life with last year's, 34% of the respondents considered themselves as "losers," 20% said they were better off while 46% said there was no improvement.

Fourty percent of those who said their quality of life has deteriorated came from the very poor.

Among the regions, 48% from Mindanao said their lives has worsened, 40% from the Visayas and 26% from Luzon.

Asked to assess the "state of the nation" for the last 12 months, most of the respondents revealed a tendency to give a "more severe reading" of the country's condition as compared with their own personal situation, Pulse Asia said.

Fourty-three percent of the respondents said the country's situation was worse, 43% said it was the same while 15% said it was better.

When asked how they see the state of the nation in the next year, 44% said there was likely to be any dramatic change while 28% said it will be worse than the present and another 28% said it will be better.

The respondents listed avoiding illness and staying healthy (52%) as their foremost personal concern, followed by finishing school or supporting their children through school (49%). Listed as the third most urgent personal concern was to be able to find employment and a job that would pay well, 47%. Fourth most urgent concern was to have at least "enough to eat everyday," 34%.

On the most urgent national concern, most of the respondents or 48% agreed that national economic recovery was the most important. Fourty percent said that "great poverty" of many Filipinos was an urgent concern, 38% said it was peace in the country and 36% said it was the high prices of basic necessities.

Substantially high

Top public officials gained substantially high approval ratings, the Pulse Asia survey also showed.

Respondents gave Arroyo a 41% net approval rating (NAR) although this was lower compared with the peak of mark at 63% in March, shortly after she assumed the presidency.

Vice President Teofisto Guingona gained a 26% NAR; former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel, 46%; former speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., 19% and Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide, 49%.

The pollster placed Arroyo's net trust rating at 30% while that of Estrada was at a negative 3% for the same period.

It added that Estrada's net trust rating had shown a consistent down-trend from 72% in December 1999, on the first year of his incumbency. Estrada was president for only 31 months.

July 7, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:40 PM, YOU assures Arroyo of support,

Amid reports of destabilization plots against her administration, President Arroyo on Saturday got the "unwavering support" of the Young Officers Union (YOU), a group of young military and police officers who were earlier rumored to be among those plotting to topple the government.

In a letter to the Arroyo, YOU chairman Rafael Cardeño said "all its members and officers" have agreed to back Arroyo amid reports that some of its members have threatened her five-month old administration.

"We will not be involved in any destabilization effort against this and future administrations," Cardeño assured.

"I wish to formally convey to you our actual desire to sincerely help in your administration's aspirations for good government and your call for national unity," Cardeño said in his letter to the President.

Reports of destabilization plots allegedly hatched by groups out to topple the government have been haunting Arroyo since she took power last January.

Cardeño assured the President, however, that he and the rest of YOU's members in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) would never engage or involve themselves in any attempt against her administration.

Malacañang earlier said YOU and other factions within the military and police ranks have been used in the past to drum up tension, dragging in the movements to various destabilization plots in order to heighten pressure on the government.

YOU has remained silent until reports implicated them in the latest alleged coup plot.

"We are tired of keeping silent amidst the arrogant ways by which the movement is used for personal and selfish political ends by those who are not actually in touch with the core forces of the YOU," Cardeño said.

July 7, 2001, ABS-CBN, 09:40 PM, Arroyo's southern forays paying off,

Frequent visits made by President Arroyo to Mindanao and to urban poor communities in Metro Manila seemed to have paid off after her approval and trust rating rose this week, the survey group Pulse Asia, Inc. reported.

A survey conducted by Pulse Asia and released by Malacañang Saturday showed that from May 7 to June 26, 2001, the biggest gain of the President's net approval rating (NAR) was registered in Mindanao and in the National Capital Region (NCR), both known "enclaves" of jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada's supporters.

The survey conducted from June 15 to 26, 2001 among 1,200 respondents nationwide showed that Arroyo's NAR in Mindanao increased from +3 in May to +36 in June 2001 and in the NCR from +18 in May to +48 in June 2001.

NAR is computed by deducting the percentage of those who said they disapproved from those who said they approved of Arroyo.

Malacañang said that "the impressive increase" in the President's NAR in Metro Manila "indicates that her pro-poor projects and her reaching out to the residents of depressed communities are being appreciated by them."

The demonstrators who rallied behind Estrada and eventually attacked the presidential palace on May 1 came from Metro Manila's urban poor communities.

After the May 1 incident, Arroyo initiated a series of visits to slum areas in Metro Manila as part of her "healing process." She also tried to reach out to Estrada loyalists to assure them that her administration is committed to improve their lot.

Despite her gains in Mindanao, the President said last Friday she intends to step up the "healing process" there so that the island can catch up with the rest of the nation in development and stability.

The President said that the problem of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group is only temporary and "physical," but the long-term goal of the government is to push the long-delayed development of Mindanao.

As Arroyo continues to fortify her base, the opposition is also in the process of regrouping following the fall of Estrada.

On Saturday, a group led by Puwersa ng Masa spokesman Crispin Remulla launched an "opposition organization" reportedly composed of members of various urban poor groups.

Remulla claimed that the People's Movement Against Poverty defines itself as "a principled organization" despite its participation in the bloody siege of Malacañang.

Remulla said although they plan to hold mass demonstrations and rallies, the group will not attempt to destabilize the Arroyo administration.

Remulla proposed that Arroyo call for snap polls to coincide with the May 2002 barangay elections. If held simultaneously with the barangay elections, the snap elections would cost the Arroyo administration almost nothing, Remulla said.

Remulla also defended himself saying it was natural for Estrada to disown calls for snap polls, saying the ousted president could not commit to anything while held as a "political prisoner."

July 8, 2001, ABS-CBN, 12:03 AM, New general tasked to hunt ASG,

A top Army official in Basilan was replaced Saturday amid growing complaints over the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) failure to rescue hostages in the hands of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez would be reassigned to Samar, military spokesman Maj. Alberto Gepilano said.

His successor Brig. Gen. Glicerio Sua would take over as head of the First Infantry Division, in charge of military forces in the western provinces of Mindanao.

Sua's area of jurisdiction covers the southernmost island groups of Basilan and Sulu, the lairs of ASG bandits who are holding 19 Filipinos and two Americans hostages.

Last week, Sua replaced Dominguez as head of "Task Force Comet," a special group hunting down the ASG in Basilan.

Gepilano said Sua's assumption of the role would be a morale booster for the troops.

Sua previously headed a military operation that overran an ASG camp last year during a similar hostage crisis involving schoolchildren and teachers from the towns of Sumisip and Tuburan in Basilan.

The military's reputation has taken a beating since the ASG seized 17 Filipinos and three Americans from Palawan on May 27.

The bandits repeatedly eluded military pursuit and have killed four Filipino hostages and claimed to have beheaded one of the Americans, Californian Guillermo Sobero.

Although the Abu Sayyaf have released some of their hostages, reportedly in exchange for large ransom payments, they also seized more captives and now hold 21 hostages including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham.

About 5,000 troops are combing the forested, hilly terrain of Basilan for the kidnappers but have had little success.

Although President Arroyo has defended the military's efforts, she has not let her loyalty cloud her ambitions to crush the group. A colonel whose forces missed a crucial opportunity to surround the group on June 2 was subsequently replaced.

In the main Sulu island of Jolo, another haunt of the Abu Sayyaf, marines captured three suspected Abu Sayyaf members and seized five rifles and a cache of ammunition on Friday, the military said.

The three were arrested on a tip off from local residents.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Star reported Saturday that Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden was funding an ASG plot to kill Arroyo. The paper quoted an "intelligence report" as saying bin Laden, hiding in Afghanistan, had given funds to the ASG to carry out bomb attacks against Arroyo and the US embassy in Manila.

The report did not give further details.

Presidential spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bin Laden, known to be a financier of Islamic groups worldwide, has previously been tagged as a supporter of the ASG.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon earlier said the ASG had 50 recruits training with the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan. Other officials, however, have said the ASG command little influence outside Mindanao.


July 10, 2001, ABS-CBN, 6:13 PM, UN confirms Bin Laden behind ASG,

The United Nations Security Council confirmed Tuesday that Abu Sayyaf Group bandits were receiving support from international terrorist Osama bin Laden, ABS-CBN's TV Patrol reported.

The confirmation was issued following reports that 50 Muslim extremists were training in Afghanistan.

The 50 trainees were reportedly members of either the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


July 13, 2001, 11:20 PM, 100 arrested in crackdown on ASG,

At least 100 suspected sympathizers of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have been arrested in Basilan and Sulu provinces after President Arroyo announced Friday a major crackdown against the bandits.

The President earlier declared a "state of lawlessness" in Basilan, where the bandits are holding 21 American and Filipino hostages. Arroyo's declaration, which allowed the military to join police in arresting suspected bandits and supporters, covered the islands of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga.

"At midnight last night, I ordered an intensified crackdown versus the Abu Sayyaf," Arroyo said, adding that the military would "identify and arrest these terrorists, confiscate equipment and tools of terrorists and segregate the active supporters of these terrorist group."

Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza said at least 100 ASG suspects had been arrested since the order was issued.

"We will round up people with evidence as conspirators. They will be investigated and charged if the evidence is strong or if arrested, after investigation, they will be detained subject to the dictates of the law," Dureza was quoted as saying.

The President said her latest move "is going to be a major top level, massive effort" to finally destroy the bandits and push for economic development in the area.

"We expect that these measures will help hasten the destruction of terrorist groups operating in Basilan, Sulu and the adjoining areas and we expect more arrests to be effected during the next few days," she said.

While the military and police are carrying out massive government operations, Arroyo clarified that the crackdown was not accompanied by suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

State of lawlessness

Earlier, Basilan Governor Wahab Akbar said the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in his province, adding that the order was received late Thursday night.

Arroyo later announced that Justice Secretary Hernando Perez has been dispatched to Zamboanga City to oversee the quick prosecution of suspected ASG members.

Arroyo said ten other government prosecutors were also sent to the south to help Perez. "Already there are ten prosecutors in the area together with Chief Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno, National Bureau of Investigation Director Reynaldo Wycoco and two deputy NBI directors," she said.

The prosecutors will be joined by Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Diomedio Villanueva and PNP Director General Leandro Mendoza.

Residents in Basilan observed that all signs pointed to a possible major military push against the bandits.

ABS-CBN News correspondent Melo del Prado said security measures have become so tight that journalists in the capital city of Isabela suddenly discovered that access to many areas have been restricted.

Many civilians were reportedly picked up for questioning, del Prado added, including students, barangay officials, and even businessmen and an executive of the Basilan Electric Cooperative.

Residents could be seen lining up outside a military detachment compound in Isabela, awaiting word about relatives picked up for questioning. Some of those rounded up were detained at the Philippine Marines camp in Barangay Tabuk.


July 14, 2001, ABS-CBN,11:59 PM, 'No rights violations in Basilan',

President Arroyo on Saturday said rules were in place to protect the rights of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and their supporters who were arrested in Basilan and Sulu provinces after the government declared a massive crackdown against lawless elements in Mindanao.

ASG bandits are holding American and Filipino hostages on the island of Basilan. Arroyo gave the military and police wide powers of arrest on Friday in an intensified offensive against the bandits.

"The Department of Justice has issued guidelines on how to carry out the arrests... The regulations are there so that it won't be said that human rights were violated," Arroyo said in an interview over a local radio station.

The rules included the need to file appropriate cases against the suspects within a given number of days. The suspects should be released immediately if this could not be done.

Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said the authorities had arrested 38 people from the islands of Sulu and Basilan in Mindanao. Charges ranging from kidnapping and harboring and aiding of criminals were being readied against them.

Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza earlier said at least 100 people were already arrested in the massive military and police crackdown.

Arroyo said on Friday the authorities had the necessary warrants for the arrests.

Officials who asked for anonymity confirmed newspaper reports that military officials conducting the arrests were accompanied by civilians wearing ski masks to cover their faces.

These civilians would point the suspected ASG members and sympathizers out to the military.

The ASG has held about 20 Filipinos and three American hostages, including missionary couple Gracia and Martin Burnham, for weeks on Basilan.

The bandit group previously said it had beheaded one of the Americans, Californian tourist Guillermo Sobero, but officials have not confirmed the claim.

Armed Forces Southern Command Chief General Gregorio Camiling said on Friday the military has had sightings of the hostages but the rebels were using them as human shields.

No crack-down inside mosques

Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao clarified on Saturday that "no mosque was entered by the military" during the crackdown operation. He added that Malacañang has "very strict orders" not to enter any mosque.

"Even in the pursuit of armed men entering a mosque, the military has to get the religious leaders' help before entering the mosque," Tiglao said.

Chief government prosecutor Jovencito Zunio also said a team of government prosecutors are working overtime to evaluate pieces of evidence presented before them for filing of kidnap for ransom, murder, violation of drug law and illegal use of firearms cases against suspected ASG supporters.

The law prescribes 36 hours within which to file charges against detained persons except for Saturdays and Sundays.

Positive feedback

According to Tiglao, Arroyo's order for an unabated crackdown against ASG reaped "positive feedback" from residents and businessmen in Mindanao and even in Metro Manila.

"The feedback we have been getting is that they are very happy with this intensified campaign. In fact, there were even proposals to [Basilan] Gov. Wahab Akbar that martial law be imposed," Tiglao said.

Tiglao said that for the operations in Basilan to succeed, the military and the police must get the civilian support in the area.

"Going after the Abu Sayyaf would really have to have a civilian base support. What makes it hard for the military is the ASG has the same civilian support," Tiglao said.

Tiglao also revealed that the business sector said such an operation should have been done a long time ago to allow commerce to proceed.

"What businessmen from Manila want and even in Basilan is to finish the Abu Sayyaf problem and move on with our lives and the businesses too," Tiglao said.

Tiglao reiterated that the intensified operations would go on until all the Abu Sayyaf members and supporters are arrested.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also backed Arroyo's move, even as it warns the military to move with caution.

CHR chairman Aurora Navarette Recina said the military must file necessary charges in court within the prescribed period to avoid being charged with human rights violations.

"If the plan is to declare a state of lawlessness in order to round up some people in warrantless arrests, they better make sure all the parameters for warrantless arrest are present," Recina said.

"Warrantless arrest is not a violation [of human rights]. It is acceptable under specific circumstances," she added, citing hot pursuit operations as among the exemptions.


July 15, 2001, ABS-CBN, 11:37 PM, Jailed ASG leader gives the slip,

Detained Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Al Shed Albani inadvertently gave the slip by revealing to authorities where he could be reached - through a cell phone right inside the Manila City Jail.

Albani, tagged as one of the high ranking advisers of the bandit group, was arrested last December with ASG commander Hector Abubakar Janjalani.

In a letter to a Manila judge, Albani disclosed his cellular phone numbers.

Albani is presently facing charges of illegal possession of explosives before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 31. He is currently detained at the Manila city jail while Janjalani, who was charged with drug possession, is in a stockade at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.

In his one-page letter written on a yellow sheet of paper, Albani indicated at the bottom his address, "c/o Mosque Manila City Jail." He also gave two cellular phone numbers.

Albani sent the letter to Judge Leonardo Reyes through the post office last June 27. He was requesting for Janjalani's transfer to the Manila prison with him.

He cited the judge's own commitment order as requested by the Manila police that Janjalani, younger brother of slain ASG leader Abdurajak Janjalani, should also be detained in Manila for the court hearings.

Reyes has ordered the PNP to comment on Albani's request and scheduled a hearing last Friday. The issue is due to be decided within the week.

Police officials, however, has opposed Janjalani's transfer, describing the arrested ASG commander as a 'high risk threat to national security." Instead, they asked the court to modify its commitment order by justifying Janjalani's detention at Camp Crame.

July 16, 2001, 12:33 PM, Zambo on alert for Abu attacks,

Government troops tightened security around the largely Christian city of Zamboanga to prevent possible attacks by the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) holding Filipino and US hostages in Basilan, the Reuters news agency reported Monday.

This developed following the capture Sunday of a ranking ASG leader and seven others in separate encounters with government troops over the weekend.

Local officials said about 80 ASG supporters were believed to have fled to coastal districts of Zamboanga since the military launched a crackdown on the bandits in Basilan on Friday.

At least 71 alleged ASG members and supporters have been arrested in the sweep, ordered by President Arroyo, on bandit hideouts on Basilan in a bid to end the seven-week hostage crisis.

Southern Command spokesman Col. Danilo Servando identified the latest detainee as ASG leader Anwar Abdul Hamid, who was arrested by government troops in Isabela, Basilan, on Sunday.

The government earlier offered a P1 million bounty for Hamid who has been in the government's order of battle.

Servando also identified the six other suspected bandits as Sirad Antonio, a village head, Ibno Hashir Agaser, Jalil Sangsawi, Isnirodin Lagasan, Abdulsalam Iklaman and Nimrod Abubakar.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials said the six were arrested by government troops who were patrolling in Barangay Fuente Maluso in Maluso town.

ABS-CBN Zamboanga reported that as of Monday morning, the Department of Justice has yet to file new charges against the recently arrested ASG suspects.

It also reported that the legal strategy adopted by the government involves linking the suspects to last year's Basilan hostage taking.

Government prosecutors are reportedly amending the information sheet filed last year against ASG leaders and dozens of John Does.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has also reportedly beefed up security around Zamboanga's commercial center and several Christian churches, while troops set up checkpoints around the city during the night.

The measures followed intelligence reports that the ASG or its supporters might launch commando attacks in the city of 600,000 people.

"That's part of our security preparations to prevent sabotage," Zamboanga PNP director Mario Yanga said.

"They are using pointers to identify the suspects," one local official told Reuters, referring to civilian informants used by soldiers in their searches. "They are wearing [military-style balaclavas] with only their eyes visible so that they can pinpoint the suspects."

In a separate incident in Maluso, an alleged Abu Sayyaf member aboard a mini-bus jumped on a soldier who had stopped the vehicle and hacked him to death. Other soldiers gunned down the attacker.

Three civilians were wounded in the incident.

The ASG have been holding about 20 Filipino and three American hostages for weeks on Basilan, a mountainous island about three times the size of Singapore.

The ASG claimed last month it had beheaded one of the Americans, but there has been no independent confirmation of the execution.

The ASG, which professes to fight for an independent Islamic state but which pursues kidnap for ransom as its main activity, seized the three Americans and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort off Palawan island on May 27 and brought them to Basilan.

Most of the Filipinos have been freed, reportedly on payment of ransom, but the bandits then took more hostages on Basilan.

The military said the ASG had split its hostages into at least two groups and were using them as "human shields" to escape from pursuing soldiers.

July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:12 PM, Cops gird for 'final offensive' in Metro,

The Philippine National Police is gearing up for a final offensive against kidnap-for- ransom and other criminal syndicates operating in Metro Manila.

This was revealed Wednesday by Chief Supt. Thomas Lantion, director of the PNP Community Relations Office, who also clarified reports that police in Metro Manila do not intend to replicate the military's anti-bandit drive in Basilan.

"This was the full consensus of the meeting [Tuesday] where it was agreed that we all concentrate our efforts on apprehending identified criminals and those who have standing warrants for their arrest," Lantion said.

"The situation in Basilan and Zamboanga are different from the situation in Metro Manila," he added.

Lantion said the PNP has already put some measures in place for the "final push" against criminal elements in line with the directive of President Arroyo to neutralize criminal groups in the capital region within 90 days.

He said that while the PNP is planning a massive manhunt for leaders and members of kidnap for ransom gangs in the capital region, it does not intend to adopt the style of operations in Basilan launched against the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group.

A police superbody similar to the controversial Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) of the defunct Philippine Constabulary during the martial law era was revived last week with the mission of bringing down the rising crime rate in Metro Manila.

Crack police operatives have already been deployed in Binondo, Manila, a district notorious for the kidnapping of Chinese-Filipino businessmen.

Additional officers will also be deployed in key areas and vital installations in Metro Manila to further enhance lawmen's visibility and rapid police response.

Senior Supt. Alfredo de Vera also of the PNP-Community Relations Office said the revival of the police superbody is in consonance with President Arroyo's directive to cut down the crime rate in 90 days.

Unlike the Metrocom, which gained notoriety in the early 1970s as an instrument for political repression and human rights abuses, de Vera explained the new police superbody will only make its presence felt through police visibility and sustained street patrols to discourage criminal activities.

De Vera said over 300 patrol cars and motorcycles will be prowling Metro Manila streets.

He said some policemen will be assigned to foot patrols but will be authorized to carry high powered weapons and sophisticated communications equipment.

De Vera said abuses can be prevented since a member of the police Inspector General's Office will make the rounds to check the deployed policemen and progress reports on their activities everyday.

De Vera said the formation of the police superbody is the initiative taken by the PNP following a National Peace and Order Council (NPOC) meeting last week.

PNP chief Director General Leandro Mendoza said preventive measures have been taken in line with the presidential directive in solving the country's kidnapping problem within three months.

Mendoza said that the combined forces of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation will help address the law and order problems besetting the country.

"Our intelligence operatives came up with target list. They have to draw up now a list of those who have warrants of arrest as well as notorious criminals involved in various kidnapping incidents," Mendoza said.

Unlike in Basilan, Presidential Spokesman Rogoberto Tiglao explained that no warrantless arrests will be conducted in Metro Manila since the police have already built dossiers on the kidnap syndicates that have been under surveillance for the past two months.

He said the police are expected to make major arrests in the next two weeks.

PNP is also deploying some 2,000 new recruits from the provinces to replace the traffic policemen identified as mulcters.

The new policemen would wear a different uniform to distinguish them from the station cops who would also required to report to a central command.

PNP, however, is urging Malacañang for an additional outlay of P633 million for operational expenses.

Mendoza explained the outlay will used for buying additional equipment for the new policemen.

Aside from the amount, PNP is also asking an additional P111 million as intelligence fund to sustain the drive against kidnap-for-ransom syndicates.

July 18, 2001, ABS-CBN, 07:47 PM, AFP: Abu support base destroyed,

ZAMBOANGA (Reuters) - The Armed Forces of the Philippines said Wednesday it had decimated the support base of the Abu Sayyaf bandits following the arrest of dozens of the group's members and supporters.

"The crackdown has had an adverse effect on the bandits who have been on the run because of the continuous military operation," Armed Forces Southern Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Servando told reporters.

"Other than the pressure [from the military offensive], the Abu Sayyaf is now hard put to sustain their logistics with the decimation of their support structure," he added.

President Arroyo gave last week the military and police wider powers of arrest in areas known to be Abu Sayyaf strongholds in the southern Philippines.

July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:06 PM, Twelve ASG members surrendered

Twelve members of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered to Talipao Mayor Tambrin Tulawi in Sulu, the ABS-CBN News learned Saturday.

Twelve m-16 and two garand rifles were also turned over to the authorities.

Armed Forces Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gregorio Camiling said that ten more are expected to surrender within the week but stressed that the surrenderees are not covered by an amnesty.

"The Abu Sayyaf is not covered by the amnesty program of the government. If those who surrendered have pending cases, they have to face them. Those who do not have cases will not be charged," Camiling explained.

July 21, 2001, ABS-CBN, 03:26 PM, 84 Abu suspects arrested,

As of Saturday, 84 suspected Abu Sayyaf members and supporters were already in the hands of the authorities following a crackdown on the bandit group, the ABS-CBN News learned.

Of the 84 suspects rounded up, 41 were arrested in Basilan, 37 in Sulu and six in Zamboanga.

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