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Mar 30th
Home Sections Philippine Presidency Official Philippine Government Press Release on President Arroyo’s Current Visit to Washington, DC
Official Philippine Government Press Release on President Arroyo’s Current Visit to Washington, DC PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Philippine Presidency
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:26



P resident Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's visit to Washington, D.C., which centered on meeting with members of the new US Congress, began on a high note as she received calls from members of the US legislature and discussed key issues with them regarding economic policies, maintaining strong bilateral ties, the new paradigm on the peace negotiations in Mindanao, and the long-standing push for the Veterans' Bill that will benefit the Filipino war veterans who fought under the American flag during the World War II.


President Arroyo arrived in Washington, D.C., on February 5 to accept the invitation from the Congressional Committee on the National Prayer Breakfast of the US Congress to join the members of both houses in their annual gathering "in the spirit of friendship through prayer and thanksgiving."

The event seeks to bring together leaders in one occasion to open opportunities to build relationships despite the differences in faith and religious affiliations.

The statement of US President Barack Obama during the breakfast stressed that "there is one law that binds all great religions together … which is the Golden Rule – the call to love one another […] and to treat others with dignity and respect despite the differences".

This is parallel to the active advocacy of President Arroyo for an interfaith dialogue among our brethrens of different religious beliefs to work together for peace and mutual cooperation against poverty.

President Arroyo stressed the Philippine's peace advocacy, as one of the leading proponents for global initiatives on interfaith dialogues and cooperation for peace, during her meeting with Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The President reiterated her administration's commitment to peace and the stand of the Philippine Government to conduct negotiations with the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under a new paradigm of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration, centering on authentic dialogues with the community. President Arroyo recognizes the advantage of using both hard and soft power, with emphasis on the "soft" method of achieving peace through the negotiating table and community building than through field warfare.

In the discussion, the President also informed the US Senator that the Philippines remains to be an "island of relative calm" despite the shake up in the global financial situation. The Philippine economy remains stable because of the financial reforms conducted by the government even before the financial meltdown. The massive reforms on taxation, banking relations and financial controls softened the impact of the global recession that most first world countries are experiencing now.

In another meeting with Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chair of the US Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs, and with Senator Daniel Inouye, current chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, the President recognized the support of the legislators for the bill that will grant Filipino World War II veterans equal recognition as their counterparts. The number of Filipino WWII veterans has dwindled from 250,000 to roughly 18,000, most already in their 80s, and still waiting for the benefits.

Five years ago, President George W. Bush signed into law health benefits for the Filipino veterans residing in the United States. Last year, the US Congress approved a $198 million appropriation for the payments for pension for the remaining war veterans, the farthest the bill ever came into being enacted into law. The current congress must give authorization for this appropriation to completely establish the bill into law.

Today, during the visit of President Arroyo, Senator Inouye sponsored the bill in the Senate, and the hopes are high that the Filipino war veterans will finally get the recognition they deserve.

The Philippine remains to be one of the strongest allies of the United States, having fought several wars together, and maintaining cooperation in keeping the economic and foreign relations formidable.

President Arroyo is set to conclude her working visit on February 6 (EST) with other meetings with key US government figures. # # #


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Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2009 02:33

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