MANILA, August 17, 2005
(STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has tightened controls on energy consumption of government offices to soften the blow of the continuing oil price hike in the world market on state finances and the country’s economy.

In Administrative Order (AO) 126 she signed over the weekend, the President directed all government offices to implement a mandatory 10 percent reduction of their average monthly fuel consumption for the first semester of 2005.

AO 126 stated that the continuous increase in the prices of oil in the world market has drastically affected the prices of fuel and other domestic products in the country, and it was "imperative that measures be immediately adopted to minimize, if not forestall, any adverse effect of the world prices of oil on the country’s economy."

Under the AO, all government agencies and offices were also prohibited from using vehicles, aircraft and watercraft for "purposes other than official business." Exempted from this prohibition were vehicles used by intelligence and investigative agencies of the government.

AO 126 likewise banned the use of government vehicles on Sundays, legal holidays, or outside of regular office hours or the route of the officials and employes authorized to use them.

It said that the use of government vehicles by any person other than authorized officials or employes shall be "prima facie evidence of violation of this section (5) in the administrative proceeding against the officials or employes responsible for such violation."

Government offices with adequate ventilation were told to refrain from using air-conditioning facilities, especially during the cooler months from August to February.

To ensure strict compliance with the presidential directive, all government offices were directed to submit a monthly report of their energy consumption to the Department of Energy (DoE), which will forward a summary report to the President "within five days after the last reporting day."

The Energy Conservation Officer (ECO) was also ordered to oversee the implementation of AO 126 as well as the development and implementation of other energy conservation measures.

Under AO 126, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DoE "shall, in consultation with appropriate trade and industry associations, develop voluntary energy conservation programs for their respective members which shall target levels of reduction in electricity and petroleum products consumption similar to those imposed on government agencies and offices and pinpoint responsibility for monitoring and reporting of performance."

The President also directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to coordinate with concerned law enforcement agencies, in the strict enforcement of the smoke-belching law for all vehicles.

The office of the Communications director and the DoE were ordered to launch a nationwide information campaign on energy conservation on the "oil situation, its implications and the course of actions they entail specifying the type of energy conservation measures that can be adapted at the family, community and industry levels."

GMA meets with incoming CBCP president By Mike Frialde The Philippine Star 08/17/2005

In an apparent attempt to secure the support of the Catholic Church over the current political crisis she is facing, President Arroyo paid a discreet visit to incoming Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo yesterday.

With only a handful of troops from the Presidential Security Group in tow, Mrs. Arroyo arrived at the CBCP compound in Intramuros, Manila at about 4 p.m. and immediately proceeded to the CBCP Secretariat’s Office where Lagdameo was expecting her in the boardroom.

Lagdameo and Mrs. Arroyo spent about an hour meeting at the Secretariat’s Office.

After the closed-door meeting, the President quickly boarded a white Ford Expedition and was followed out of the CBCP compound by her security escorts in an unmarked white Nissan Patrol and another unmarked Toyota van.

Lagdameo later told reporters that Mrs. Arroyo merely extended her congratulations to him on the celebration of his 25th year as bishop last Aug. 12.

He said the President was supposed to visit him in Tayabas, Quezon, but it did not push through.

"It was a private meeting, that is why she was here," he said.

According to Lagdameo, it was the President who had arranged for the meeting at the CBCP office.

He downplayed reports that Mrs. Arroyo made the visit to seek CBCP support on the political crisis besieging her four-year-old presidency.

Lagdameo stressed politics or the current political developments were not discussed during the meeting.

He also told reporters that Mrs. Arroyo did not seek his personal support.

"Walang pinag-usapan tungkol ’dun (We did not talk about politics). Binati lang niya ako (She just came to greet me). I was touched by her visit," the Iloilo senior prelate said.

Former President Corazon Aquino and Senate President Franklin Drilon also visited Lagdameo at his office in Iloilo last Aug. 11.

Drilon had claimed he came with Mrs. Aquino to greet Lagdameo on his 25th year as bishop.

Lagdameo had called on the faithful to allow constitutional process to resolve the political crisis.

Drilon and Mrs. Aquino joined critics and the political opposition in calling on the President to step down following allegations that she cheated in last year’s elections.

Lagdameo led bishops in a meeting at the CBCP last month where they decided to let legal processes resolve the issue.

He also said that the CBCP was standing by its earlier position that the political crisis could be resolved either through the creation of a truth commission to investigate Mrs. Arroyo on the allegations or through impeachment proceedings in Congress.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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