Justice Secretary Hernando Perez
Both houses of Congress have passed an absentee voting bill, which means that Filipinos abroad, or at least some of them, are assured of voting, at least in the elections of 2004.
Twelve provisions in the House and Senate versions, however, are in conflict. How these conflicts are resolved or reconciled if possible will decide a number of issues critical to future Philippine elections.
The Arroyo administration has not tired of saying that it wants negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) to continue. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, of which it is supposed to have command, on the other hand, has repeatedly vowed to crush the NDF
The press freedom watchdog group Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF – Reporters Without Borders) released on October 26 its worldwide index of countries ranked according to respect for press freedom. The index did not put the Philippines at the top of its list, as many Filipinos would have expected, but near the bottom, with countries where press freedom is least under serious challenge.
The Paris-based group ranked the Philippines 89th among 139 countries, together with Africa’s Morocco and Swaziland. In Asia, the Philippines was outranked by Hong Kong (18th), Japan (26th), Taiwan (35th), Sri Lanka (51st), Indonesia (57th), Thailand (65th), Cambodia (71st) and India (80th).