JULY 7, 2006 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo condemned yesterday North Korea’s testing of nuclear ballistic missiles and called on Pyongyang "to refrain from further compromising the peace and security of the region and of the world."

The President said the Philippines’ outrage was "in solidarity with the international community."

"The world has had enough of weapons of mass destruction; and it is high time to walk away from armed confrontation and lend more focus in addressing the welfare of every human being and the growing economic disparity among nations," Mrs. Arroyo said.

"As a peace-loving nation and a member of the UN Security Council, we shall continue to be at the forefront of supporting moves to ensure world security and peaceful co-existence among all nations," she said.

She issued the statement during her inspection of newly acquired patrol vehicles at the Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Philippines, along with other nations, are worried over the nuclear missile testing of North Korea.

He said anything that will threaten world peace should be a concern for the UN.

"If there is a country like North Korea which has a missile or a nuclear weapon that is not controlled by an international body, then that could be a threat, especially to neighboring countries," Ermita said.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs, particularly Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Lauro Baja has been instructed to be "one of the voices to bring out" the country’s concern and to take action "in unison with other peace-loving countries in the UN."

He expressed hope that "powerful countries" and the UN will be in a position to defuse the tension.

Palace says non-passage of 2006 budget could fan insurgency By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 07/07/2006

Malacañang warned yesterday of a worsening communist insurgency and the wrong signals sent to the local and international business community if Congress fails to pass this year’s proposed P1.053-trillion national budget.

Speaking at the Newsmakers Forum at the Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel in Manila, presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor said Malacañang is bracing for another year operating on the 2005 budget as the chances of the Senate and the House of Representatives approving the 2006 General Appropriations Bill are becoming remote.

"We need to put money to poor communities because for us what’s important is once we have liberated the barangays (from communist rebels), is to give them livelihood and to give them a chance to uplift their situation and without that, we will have a continuing rebellion and we will have a continuing problem of insurgency," he said.

"(The) second negative consequence (of non-passage) will be the negative perception of the business sector that it’s always (under) a reenacted budget that the government is operating."

The proposed allocations for new government programs cannot be funded in a reenacted budget, he added.

Defensor denied allegations that Malacañang was behind the deadlock in Congress over the 2006 General Appropriations Bill.

"The non-approval of the budget is not a problem of the Executive, but of the legislative branch," he said.

Defensor said an approved budget "clearly gives a strategic direction for the government for the next year," complies with the Medium Term Development Plan, and is a "manifestation of good governance."

The P65-billion cut made by senators was "too much" and would choke the flow of money to various programs aimed at jumpstarting the economy using proceeds from new taxes and other revenues, he added.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. welcomed some senators’ efforts to resolve the impasse but flatly rejected the proposal of Sen. Ralph Recto to realign the P65 billion cut.

"Our position remains clear: The budget is a tightly-knit fabric whose strength depends on the link of every single thread to each other," he said.

"You remove one thread and the whole thing would unravel."

Andaya said that as a legislative matter, any compromise on the budget is the business of Congress, though Malacañang is heartened by Recto’s call to his colleagues to soften their stand to restore the P65 billion cut.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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