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Archive for September, 2006

Bush Lashes Out at Iraq War Critics – Voice of America

Posted by Editor on 30th September 2006

Bush Lashes Out at Iraq War Critics
By Scott Stearns
White House
29 September 2006

President Bush makes remarks on ‘global war on terror’ to Reserve Officers Association Friday, Sept. 29, 2006.

President Bush and opposition Democrats continue to argue about the war in Iraq, as political tensions rise with congressional elections now just over a month away. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush is keeping up his attack on critics of the war in Iraq, with a speech Friday to the Reserve Officers Association. He defended his decision to topple Saddam Hussein, and again made reference to the leak of a U.S. intelligence report that says fighting in Iraq is creating a new generation of terrorist leaders.

The analysis by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies says the war is breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world, while cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.

Mr. Bush says portions of that report were leaked to the press for political purposes, and are being used by opposition Democrats to justify their calls to bring U.S. troops home.

“Some have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that, by fighting the terrorists, by fighting in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home. This argument buys into the enemy’s propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we are provoking them,” he said.

The intelligence estimate also says that, if terrorists are perceived to have failed in Iraq, fewer people will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Mr. Bush says that shows the greatest danger is not that America’s presence in Iraq is drawing new recruits to the terrorist cause. He says the greatest danger is that an American withdrawal from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and help them find new recruits to carry out more attacks.

Democrats say the war in Iraq is distracting resources from the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and from improvements in border security, including more thorough inspections of cargo entering the United States.

Following the president’s speech to military officers, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said it is time for Mr. Bush to acknowledge that his approach to Iraq is failing, and devote more attention to protecting against attacks at home.

“To listen to the president this morning showed once again that he is in denial,” she said. “He is out of touch with reality when it comes to what needs to be done to fight and complete the war on terror.”

The national intelligence estimate outlines some vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement, including what it says is popular opposition in the Muslim world to an ultra-conservative interpretation of Sharia law.

But the analysis concludes that factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities, and are likely to do so for some time.

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Manila sends troops for typhoon clean-up, toll rises

Posted by Editor on 30th September 2006

Manila sends troops for typhoon clean-up, toll rises

MANILA, Sept 30 (Reuters) – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sent 2,000 soldiers on Saturday to help emergency workers clean up wide areas south of the Philippine capital after typhoon Xangsane left 61 people dead, 81 injured and 69 still missing.

About 40,000 people remained in temporary shelters two days after Xangsane, which means “elephant” in the Lao language, shut down Manila’s financial markets, public offices and schools and left a trail of death and destruction in the Philippines.

“We have to effect normalisation in Metro Manila and other areas devastated,” Arroyo told disaster officials at a meeting on Saturday to assess the damage to infrastructure, agriculture and private property.

Arroyo ordered troops to help clear roads of fallen trees, billboards and power lines and posts as the Philippines braced for another approaching storm spotted thousands of miles away in the Marianas islands in the Pacific.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said about 15,000 houses had been either destroyed or damaged and nearly 300 million pesos ($5.9 million) worth of crops and fisheries lost.

Around 20 percent of the sprawling capital of 12 million and nearby towns in four provinces remained without electricity, water and communication services, hampering relief efforts in remote villages still under floodwaters.

Xangsane, gained further strength over the South China Sea and now packing sustained winds of up to 150 kph (93 mph) and gusts of 185 kph, was expected to hit the coast of mostly rural, densely populated Vietnam at about 1800 GMT on Saturday.

Of 61 people killed in the Philippines, 19 were buried in landslides on Thursday in Laguna province. Six crew were also missing after winds and waves sank three boats in Manila.

Officials said it could take up to a week to clear and repair the capital at a cost of 210 million pesos ($4.2 million). Economic losses from the power outage alone could reach about 4.2 billion pesos ($84 million), the national grid operator said.

Tropical storms regularly hit the Philippines, with Xangsane the 13th typhoon to reach the archipelago this year. Forecasters said a new depression had been spotted more than 2,000 km east of Manila and might yet develop into a storm.

Forecasters said the new storm might enter the country’s area of responsibility late on Sunday and make landfall by Tuesday or early Wednesday.

In the worst Philippine storm disaster in recent years, more than 5,000 people died in central Leyte island in 1991 in floods triggered by a typhoon.

In 2004, about 1,800 were killed or went missing in a series of storms. The toll included 480 killed when mudslides hit three towns in Quezon, an eastern province.

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Embassy of the United States in Manila

Posted by Editor on 28th September 2006

Embassy of the United States in Manila
September 14, 2006

Laura and I are honored to welcome Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the United States. We are also pleased to send greetings to those gathered to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Filipino migration to America and the 60th anniversary of our countries’ friendship with the unveiling of a new memorial.

The sons and daughters of the Philippines have come to America over the past 100 years with a sense of determination and optimism. Their industry, talent, and imagination have shaped our character and helped make America a stronger and better Nation. This important milestone is an opportunity to recognize the countless contributions of Filipino Americans, honor the grand traditions of the Philippines, and build on the deep bonds of friendship and goodwill between our two great democracies.

During World War II, Allied troops fought with courage and honor to liberate millions from tyranny and oppression, and the Philippines played a vital role in the Allied victory in the Pacific. This memorial will stand as a lasting tribute to the brave Filipinos and Americans who stepped forward when the world needed them and fought side-by-side as part of the greatest force for freedom in history.

I am proud that the United States and the Philippines continue to stand together as partners in the advancement of peace and liberty, and I appreciate all those who helped make this ceremony possible. Your work honors the proud history of Filipino Americans and all those who have served and sacrificed for the cause of liberty.

Laura and I send our best wishes on this special occasion. God bless you.

President George W. Bush

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Senators hit gag order on PCGG issue

Posted by Michille on 26th September 2006

Senators hit gag order on PCGG issue – The Manila Bulletin Online!

Despite the Supreme Court (SC) order barring the Senate from saying anything on the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) issue, senators yesterday assailed the prohibition, insisting that Congress is not inferior to the High Tribunal.

Senators at the plenary session took turns explaining before members of the Upper Chamber that it is exempt from any gag order, even if it came from the SC.

“If we speak of the case (PCGG), will we be summoned to the SC?” Sen. Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said.

Sen. Joker Arroyo, who represented the Senate at the SC last week at the oral arguments on the petition for habeas corpus filed by PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio, said the order to be silent on the case was more of an agreement between him, the Senate Committee on Government Corporations, and the PCGG.

Sen. Arroyo made the clarification following the statement made by SC spokesman Atty. Ismael Khan barring anyone from commenting on the PCGG case on pain of being cited in contempt by the SC.

“There is no way the SC can order Congress gagged, especially on issues of national importance and the PCGG issue is of national importance,” Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said.

Article 6, Section 11 of the Constitution provides that no member of Congress or any of its committees will be held liable for privilege speeches.

Drilon said this provision clearly debunks the announcement made by Khan that the Senate is being gagged by the SC.

“It would appear to my limited knowledge of the Constitution that we cannot be held liable by the SC (even if they break silence on the PCGG issue),” Drilon said.

Sen. Arroyo said that the provision clearly exonerates Congress from any imputable offense to the SC should the body discuss the PCGG issue while delivering a privilege speech.

However, Sen. Arroyo said he assured the SC that he will honor the agreement and be mum on the issue, which is expected to be resolved within 45 days.

“No amount of SC ruling can gag the Senate or any member of Congress, it is only an agreement,” he said.

But while senators agreed that the supposed gag order only affects them nominally, they convened a caucus yesterday to discuss the matter away from public view.

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Uncollected Metro trash winds up in rivers, creeks

Posted by Michille on 26th September 2006

Uncollected Metro trash winds up in rivers, creeks –!

By Juliet Labog-Javellana
Last updated 09:30am (Mla time) 09/26/2006

Published on Page A17 of the September 26, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

SOME 1,000 tons of garbage generated by residents in Metro Manila end up being thrown into rivers, creeks or are left to rot on the streets because they are not collected by waste collectors.

This piece of bad news surfaced yesterday in the Senate hearing of the 2006 budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Sen. Franklin Drilon said garbage collection efficiency in the metropolis was only 85 percent. This meant, he added, that 1,000 tons out of the 6,169,000 tons of garbage produced daily by Metro residents went uncollected.

His statement was confirmed by Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes.

When asked where the uncollected garbage went, Reyes said: “The households throw them into creeks, rivers and on the streets.”

Drilon expressed concern over the situation and asked Reyes to come up with a comprehensive program to address the garbage problem in Metro Manila.

Not our problem

The DENR chief, however, said that waste collection was the responsibility of local governments.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate environment committee, said the garbage problem was compounded by corruption in the use of funds for garbage disposal.

“A lot of money is made under the table. The funds are not being used for waste disposal,” Cayetano added.

Sen. Jamby Madrigal said she has asked the DENR to submit a list of all garbage collection contracts in the last two years but the department has yet to comply with her request.

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Valenzuela City hit by dengue epidemic

Posted by Michille on 26th September 2006

Valenzuela City hit by dengue epidemic –!

Health execs report 78% hike in cases

By DJ Yap
Last updated 03:45am (Mla time) 09/26/2006

Published on Page A17 of the September 26, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

DENGUE cases in Valenzuela City have already reached epidemic proportions this year despite an intensive sanitation campaign to combat the mosquito-borne disease, city officials said yesterday.

From Jan. 1 to Sept. 23, the number of dengue cases in the city has gone up by 78 percent compared to last year, according to a report of the city’s epidemiology and surveillance unit.

Valenzuela epidemiologist Manuel Mapue said in a report that as of Sept. 23 this year, they have recorded 722 dengue cases, with nine deaths.

In contrast, only 311 cases were reported during the same period in 2005, and 405 cases for the entire year, city information officer Marither Menia added.

“We already went past the dengue epidemic threshold level,” Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian said.

Based on computations done by the city health department, dengue incidence in Valenzuela City has already surpassed the epidemic threshold, a figure based on increases in dengue cases over a period of five years, Menia said.

Dengue hot spots

Just last week, 27 new cases were monitored, Mapue said in his report. More than half of the cases came from District 2, particularly Barangays Gen. T. de Leon, Karuhatan and Marulas.

The same report revealed that the ages of those who came down with the disease ranged from 4 months to 59 years old.

The most affected age group, however, was the five to 14-year-olds, which accounted for half of the cases. More than half, or 53 percent, were males.

City officials, meanwhile, expressed alarm over the apparent futility of their efforts to prevent a dengue epidemic. “We have done everything to keep dengue-causing mosquitoes at bay,” Gatchalian said.

“We cleaned houses, conducted fogging operations, and even formed teams to dispose of old tires and containers that could be breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” he added.

The mayor said the residents could be blamed themselves for their insufficient “follow-through”—failing to keep their surroundings clean and destroying possible mosquito breeding grounds.

Gatchalian urged city residents to “religiously employ simple measures” to ward off mosquitoes, like making their children wear long pants to school.

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