AUGUST 30, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) Malacañang said today it will contest the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Arbitration Court ruling that the government "give up possession" of the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement that what is at stake in the dispute over the mothballed airport facility is the "interest of the Filipino people and the sovereign prerogatives of the Philippine government under the law."

"The Office of the Solicitor General will definitely line up its legal moves to back up the government’s control over the terminal," he added.

From the outset, the government, through the OSG, insisted that the arbitration court has no jurisdiction over the case.

In a 14-page decision dated Aug. 23, the Singapore-based ICC arbitration tribunal ordered the Philippine government to give up possession of Terminal 3 and not to obstruct the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCO), the builder of the facility, in occupying and taking up possession of the terminal until a valid writ of possession is issued by a Philippine court.

The decision was signed by Michael Pryles, chairman of the arbitration tribunal.

PIATCO, the consortium that built NAIA 3, filed the arbitration case with ICC, seeking interim measures to maintain the status quo, following the government’s expropriation of NAIA 3 in 2004.

A Pasay City court had ordered the government to pay PIATCO P3 billion for the expropriation.

On Aug. 24, the government acted to pay PIATCO the P3 billion but the payment was suspended after the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order against the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the issuing bank following a petition filed by Rep. Salacnib Baterina.

Palace sets aside P1.1 B for new cops, equipment The Philippine Star 08/30/2006

Malacañang has earmarked P1.1 billion in next year’s proposed P1.136-trillion national budget for the recruitment of 3,000 new policemen and the purchase of 5,000 handguns and 500 patrol vehicles for the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said a P39.5-billion budget is proposed for the PNP next year, which is P3.9 billion higher than its allocation this year.

Once hired, the 3,000 police rookies will raise PNP’s uniformed personnel strength to 122,893, he added.

Andaya said the cost to hire, train, outfit and pay the new recruits is P584.8 million, while P335 million and P176.2 million will be needed to purchase the 500 vehicles and the 5,000 service pistols.

The new cars and pistols for the police would ensure that officers won’t be outgunned and outrun by criminals, he added.

Andaya said next year’s batch of new police officers 1 — the entry-level rank of recruits — follows this year’s hiring of the same number of officers.

The PNP also bought the same number of cars and guns out of the P1 billion President Arroyo ordered released early this year, he added.

Andaya said the allocation of funds for more policemen and patrol cars would become a yearly feature of the PNP budget, "until we can meet the ideal police-to-population ratio."

"This is a priority project of the President," he said. "Our fiscal turnaround has allowed us to undertake a catch up plan in meeting police needs."

Malacañang sent next year’s proposed national budget to Congress last week, and the Palace is aiming to have it passed before the year ends.

During PNP anniversary rites in February this year, Mrs. Arroyo vowed to hire 3,000 policemen a year for five years, or 15,000 until the year 2010. — Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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