NOVEMBER 7, 2006 (STAR)  Davao City Rep. Vincent Garcia expressed Monday hope that the successor of outgoing Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz would be somebody like him was able to professionalize the military.

“To Secretary Cruz’s credit, he did try to professionalize the military. It is important that his successor continues to do the same thing,” said Garcia, a vice chairman of the national defense committee of the House.

Garcia said the country cannot afford to have a military that is politicized which could encourage adventurism and power grab from within the organization and negate the economic gains being enjoyed by the country now.

“The last thing that we want now is for another power grab attempt involving some members of the armed forces. Not now when Moody’s Investors Service just upgraded our credit outlook to stable from negative and the peso continues to appreciate,” said Garcia.

The positive economic developments should let government focus on sustaining the economic reforms it initiated two years ago said Garcia.

“We should all work together to maintain a stable political environment to provide support for a sustained economic growth. The DND chief plays a big role in contributing to this by insulating members of the AFP from politics,” said Garcia.

Palace admits intrigues forced defense chief to resign 11/06 3:54:25 PM

Malacañang admitted Monday that intrigues in the Cabinet may have forced Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz to resign from his post.

Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said he confirmed this news after he talked to the defense chief before the latter submitted his resignation letter to the President

Cruz allegedly resigned over the weeked allegedly due to his tiff with a number of Cabinet officials over the government-favored people's initiative.

Cruz had earlier said three Cabinet members wanted him out of the official family due to his opposition to the government-favored people's initiative for Charter change but did not identify the three.

GMA to roll back NLEX toll rates in December The Philippine Star 11/07/2006

As a Christmas treat for motorists, President Arroyo announced yesterday a 10-percent reduction in toll fees at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) "from Dec. 20 until the end of the Christmas season."

Mrs. Arroyo made the announcement in her keynote speech at the launching of the National Year for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul on United Nations Avenue in Manila this morning.

She said the 10-percent cut is a "preview" of the permanent toll fee reduction to take effect in January 2007 as she had announced earlier.

She said the toll cut is just one of the effects of the improving fiscal condition under which government savings stand at a record P22 billion.

The reduction is also intended to encourage more Filipinos to spend the Christmas break with their families or loved ones in northern Luzon provinces.

The toll fee reduction, according to Mrs. Arroyo, will also highlight the benefits common Filipinos stand to gain from the government’s vigorous campaign to effect changes in its revenue-generating policies.

She pointed out that the government’s enhanced tax collection measures, such as the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law and the National Attrition Law, have improved investor confidence in the Philippines and made international credit rating agencies assess the country’s fiscal situation favorably. — Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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