MARCH 3, 2007 (STAR) President Arroyo has received the anti-terrorism bill but decided to defer its signing.

Interviewed after a televised roundtable discussion at Malacañang, the President announced that she wants to have a formal signing ceremony for the bill, which is now called the Human Security Act of 2007.

"I’ve gotten the enrolled copy and normally I would just sign it when it gets to my desk, but it’s a very important event so we will do it in a proper ceremony," the President said.

Last week, the President said that there would no longer be a ceremonial signing of the bill and that she would sign the measure into law as soon as she received it from Congress.

However, even at the time, the President had said that there was no rush in signing the measure since the law itself provides that it will be implemented only after the May elections.

This provision was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. in order to address the fears of members of the political opposition that the law could be used against them during the election period.

Mrs. Arroyo said she has yet to decide when the signing ceremony would be.

"We have to set a date for the signing. In any case, it’s only going to be applicable after elections," the President said.

The anti-terrorism bill was one of the measures certified as urgent by the President while it was being deliberated on in Congress.

It is one of the measures highly anticipated by the international community as a tool to fight global terrorism.

The passage of the bill in Congress took quite some time, partly due to the rigorous debates and numerous amendments introduced by the Senate minority to the proposed bill.

The opposition explained that the debates and amendments were necessary considering that the law would have far-reaching effects so all the safeguards have to be in place. - Marvin Sy

By Paolo Romero - Foreign and local businessmen are not holding back investments in the country despite the coming midterm elections, which they expect to be clean and orderly.

In a pooled interview, President Arroyo said investors are confident in the country’s economic fundamentals and are no longer on a wait-and-see attitude.

She said the prevailing bullish business outlook "is founded not only on the strength and endurance of our economic fundamentals, but also on the anticipation of clean and peaceful elections in May." Elections in the country are usually marred by violence and fraud.

A sign of investors’ positive outlook, according to Mrs. Arroyo, is the opening of a new plant by Ford Philippines Inc. in April.

Robert Sears, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce, said foreign businesses would no longer wait for the results of the elections before making their next investment moves.

"We’re not waiting for the elections. People are proceeding as if there were no elections, because they’re here, they’re done with and then we move on. So business can’t wait," Sears said in an interview that followed a televised roundtable discussion on the economy led by Mrs. Arroyo.

He said what foreign businessmen are waiting for is "for a good Congress to continue the reform movement" after the elections.

The other guests in the televised discussion were Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo, Ford Philippines president Henry Co, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, and Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya.

Task force to address Moro conflicts activated The Philippine Star 03/03/2007

MIDSAYAP, Cotabato — Malacañang activated yesterday an inter-agency task force to address the feud between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and villagers for control of arable land in Cotabato province.

About 300 meters away from the venue of the peace dialogue were makeshift shelters built by some 300 villagers who were forced to evacuate from the border of Barangays Nes and Mudsing after gunmen opened fire on their houses with automatic weapons last Wednesday.

The gunmen wounded Kadiguia Malaguia, a Muslim mother and her nine-year-old daughter, Nuhrin.

Superintendent Chino Mamburam, Midsayap police commander, said the victims were inside their house when the gunmen appeared from different directions and opened fire.

The MILF has denied any involvement of its forces in the attack. – John Unson

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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