MANILA, MARCH 20, 2008 (STAR) By May 5, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will have no commissioner to investigate cases of human rights abuses unless President Arroyo names replacements for all five retiring commissioners.

Commission Chair Purificacion Quisumbing and four commissioners are set to end their seven-year terms on May 5.

Quisumbing was named commissioner in November 2001, along with Commissioners Eligio Mallari, Dominador Calamba, and the late Malik Gubat Marandang.

Quisumbing was promoted to chairwoman in August 2002. Marandang was named ambassador to Tripoli, Libya on Jan. 29, 2004, and died on Nov. 19 of the same year.

Commissioners Wilhelm Soriano and Quentin Cueto served the unexpired term of four years and five years of their predecessors.

Soriano assumed his post in January 2003, while Cueto was named in October 2004.

Soriano, who is in charge of the National Capital Region and Ilocos Region, said nominations for their replacements must be made now so Mrs. Arroyo could select the new set of commissioners and chairman before May 5.

“It is important for the President to make the appointments and announce it before May 5 in order to ensure the continuity of the programs at the CHR,” he told The STAR.

Under a Supreme Court ruling, the seven-year tenure of CHR commissioners is based on the first appointments on May 5, 1987, he added. – Katherine Adraneda

Unemployment being addressed, Palace reassures public By Marvin Sy Thursday, March 20, 2008

The government is doing everything it can to address the problem of increasing unemployment, Malacañang said yesterday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the administration has been taking steps to address both unemployment and underemployment such as providing bigger budgets for several government agencies in order to finance the salaries of new hires.

He said President Arroyo has committed to create one million new jobs a year until the end of her term in 2010.

More opportunities for employment are expected to be created with the commitment of the President to increase government spending on infrastructure until 2010, he said.

While admitting they would not question the accuracy of the survey conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO), Ermita pointed to reports that some of the respondents in the survey were minors.

Ermita claimed he was informed that there were 15-year-old respondents in the survey, which should not have been the case since they should be counted as students.

The latest Labor Force Survey of the NSO revealed that the unemployment rate as of January 2008 was up to 7.4 percent from 6.3 percent in October.

Ermita said the government is pushing for developing more infrastructure projects in the effort to create more jobs, particularly in the construction sector.

He said private companies are being encouraged to provide the raw materials and supplies needed for the projects.

Ermita noted the government continues to employ out-of-school youths to clean and spruce up the roads of Metro Manila under its Pulis Oyster program.

He added the government has provided significant support for the business process outsourcing industry or what is more commonly known as call centers.

Over the past years, the industry has grown to a level that has made the Philippines just second to India.

“All these are part of the effort to provide good jobs, employment for our people,” Ermita said.

Ermita also appealed to critics to help the government address such concerns as employment.

“There is need for political stability, peace and order. Let us all pray for the improvement of our lives,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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