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Jun 01st
Home Community RP Government Updates News Round-up of President Arroyo's Visit to the USA And Other News
News Round-up of President Arroyo's Visit to the USA And Other News PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Monday, 23 June 2008 11:45

Filipinos in Fresno Join President Arroyo in Special Mass

Dateline SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Filipino Americans in San Francisco finally got a chance to meet President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Sunday morning, 22 June 2008 (California time) when the Chief Executive joined them in a special mass. The President arrived in San Francisco at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, 21 June, the first leg of her 10-day, three-state visit to the United States.


Her working visit to the most powerful nation in the world, a staunch Philippines ally, is aimed at further strengthening the longstanding historic relations between the two countries.

The President  stayed overnight in San Francisco before proceeding to Fresno, home to some 6,000 Filipino-Americans, according to the 2000 US census.

She delivered a statement to her kababayans and thanked them for their remittances, for helping grow the Philippine economy and keeping themselves abreast with the latest news back home.

After the mass, the President flew to Washington, the second leg of her US visit, for a meeting with President George W. Bush.

The President, as she always does whenever she travels abroad, interacted with Filipino workers and professionals from Fresno and nearby areas.

Based on a US census, Filipinos belong to the upper economic tier among ethnic groups in California.

A significant portion of the Filipino community is gainfully employed in both white-collar and blue-collar jobs. Filipinos in California are engaged in such professions as doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants, teachers, information technology experts of among others.

Some are engaged in the service industry, while the number of them own businesses such as nursing homes, restaurants and entertainment.

Fresno is a four-hour drive away from San Francisco by bus.


* * * * *


PGMA Asks Filipino Community in the U.S. to Help Victims of Typhoon Frank

CITY OF FRESNO, California -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on the Filipino community in the United States to extend assistance to the victims of typhoon Frank that hit the Philippines last Saturday.

The President sounded the call in her brief message during a program with some Filipino-Americans at the Fresno Convention Center here when she joined them in hearing Sunday mass.

''You have done so much without losing your bonds of affection for your motherland or your inherent pride in your Filipino heritage. Every year, Filipino-Americans extend all forms of assistance for your
old schools, hometowns, provinces and local organizations,'' the President said.

''From medical and dental missions, to educational and internet support, to humanitarian and charitable causes, Filipino-Americans are ever ready to help the land of your forefathers,'' the President added.

She said that with the onslaught of typhoon Frank, the Filipinos back home are hoping that the Filipinos here will again extend their help to the less fortunate.

''To our Fil-Am brothers and sisters, for your generosity towards the less fortunate in the Philippines, and for your commitment to enhance development in our motherland, salamat!'' she said.

Some 600 Filipino-Americans witnessed the President's conduct of a video conference with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) where President Arroyo showed that despite her being out of the
Philippines to foster diplomatic relations with its most important ally, she remains focused and on top of the situation back home. Any assistance to the typhoon victims could be coursed through the
embassies and consulates as the President has given out instructions for them to open disaster-relief donation accounts.

In addition, the NDCC was directed to set up an accounts website and text number.


* * * * *


Statement of Press Secretary Jesus Dureza

WASHINGTON D.C. — "US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kelley, who is in Washington, DC, just informed me that a US Navy ship is now steaming towards the general area where the Sulpicio Lines vessel had capsized to assist in the search--and-rescue operations.

Coordination with the AFP is ongoing.  The US vessel is expected to be on site within the next 15 hours.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who just landed with her party in Washington, DC, has been closely monitoring the developments.

After presiding over an early-dawn NDCC meeting via video-conference facilities from Fresno, California, she intends to call for another round of updating soon after she settles down here in the US capital.


* * * * *


PGMA orders massive rescue, rehabilitation and relief operations after typhoon 'Frank' battered RP

Employing all the available means of communication at her disposal, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo convened the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) through teleconferencing last Sunday afternoon, 22 June, to issue last minute directives and to be kept abreast on the status of typhoon "Frank's" devastation on the country, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said.

Upon her arrival at San Francisco, California, the first leg of her 10-day working visit to the United States, Dureza said the President spoke to NDCC members who were waiting for her at the agency's headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The President is so concerned about the situation there. Immediately upon arriving here in San Francisco, she convened the NDCC to be able to be personally informed of the situation there," Dureza said.

Dureza added that the President was particularly concerned about the rescue and relief operations being conducted on the Sulpicio Lines marine vessel Princess of the Stars that reportedly capsized off the waters of Sibuyan Island near the province of Romblon during the height of 'Frank's' fury last night.

According to reports, the M/V Princess of the Stars, which carried around 700 passengers and crew, developed engine trouble on its way to Cebu from Manila, then stalled and drifted near Sibuyan Island where it was battered by giant waves brought about by 'Frank.'

Rescue and relief efforts that were supposed to be undertaken by the Coast Guard were hampered because of the bad weather.

Dureza said the President instructed the NDCC and other concerned government agencies to mount an operation and logistics center in Cebu so that immediate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations can be immediately organized from an area that is not directly affected by the typhoon's wrath.

He cited the inability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) C-130 cargo aircraft loaded with relief supplies and personnel to immediately leave the vicinity of the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to reach affected provinces due to strong rains and wind brought by "Frank."

He added that the President instructed the Department of Agriculture "to undertake continuous and upscaling of distribution of assistance to farmers" whose farmlands have been damaged by typhoon 'Frank's" onslaught.

He said that based on an initial update made by the DA some 250,000 hectares of farmlands in the Visayas and Central Luzon were badly damaged and unplantable because of 'Frank.'

Dureza also said the President directed Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to work with power companies in immediately "re-energizing" areas without electricity.

Dureza said the President is talking a very hands-on approach to the situation and will reconvene the NDCC again tomorrow morning at 3:00 a.m. at Malacanang's Kalayaan Hall "before she leaves for her next USWashington, DC." engagement in

He added that the President was assured by officer-in-charge Vice President Noli de Castro that everything was taken cared off and did not see any reason to "cut short" her trip to the United States.

"There's no talk about cutting the trip short," Dureza said adding, "the President is confident the machinery of government will respond (to the situation) adequately and that she is on top of the situation even if she is physically here (in the US)."


* * * * *


PGMA calls on Filipinos abroad to extend assistance to typhoon victims

(By Lilybeth G. Ison)

MANILA, June 23 (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has called on all Filipinos abroad to extend assistance to victims of typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen).

In her opening statement from Fresno, California before presiding over a video conference with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Malacanang early Monday, the President said "ngayon  may pangangailangan na naman, inaasahan ang tulong ng gustong tumulong."

As such, she directed Philippine embassies in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Asia, among others, to open a disaster relief donation accounts where Filipinos abroad could send in their
assistance to typhoon victims. She also instructed the NDCC to open a donation account for those who would want to give assistance, including a website and a mobile no. where Filipinos could be updated on the typhoon situation.

President Arroyo assured that government assistance will be given to victims of the ill-fated vessel.

The M/V Princess of the Stars capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon on Saturday carrying more than 700 passengers and crew after being battered by huge waves.

Reports said the vessel encountered engine trouble, lost power, and was "dead in the water."

Pending results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), President Arroyo has ordered that no vessel should be allowed to sail "if it would pass typhoon path."

During the NDCC meeting, Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza reported to the President that he has ordered the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to ground all vessels of Sulpicio Lines and check the sea worthiness of all ships following the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars which was owned by the Sulpicio Lines.

He also said they are organizing the Board of Marine Inquiry to investigate the incident where at least 700 persons are still missing as of Sunday night.

On the other hand, Vice President Noli de Castro told the President that he has ordered the formation of a task force to investigate the ferry's sinking.

Even in the US for a 10-day state visit, the President is closely monitoring the situation in the Philippines being battered by super typhoon Frank.

Before leaving on Saturday evening, she ordered the whole Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) into a relief-and-rescue standby mode.

"The Air Force, including the Presidential Airlift Wing, are under orders to fly mercy missions, when the need arises," she said.

President Arroyo also ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) into a repair-and-rehabilitation footing so work on damaged infrastructure can begin once the weather clears up.

She instructed the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to "forward-deploy" resources to areas on typhoon path. (PNA) LDV/LGI


* * * * *


PGMA Washington trip seen to firm up RP bid for MCC compact status 



WASHINGTON – June 21 (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s working visit here next week is expected to firm up the Philippines’ bid for Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact status, and open the way for the country to receive large-scale grants of up to $700 million for anti- poverty programs through sustainable economic growth.


The President, who is due to arrive in the US capital (Sunday night, Manila time) will meet with officials at the MCC headquarters here, Monday for discussions on the Philippine application for eligibility for MCC Compact grants.


A US government corporation established in 2004, the MCC works with some of the poorest countries of the world based on the principle that for assistance to be truly effective, it must reinforce good governance, economic freedom and investments in people.


The main thrust of the MCC is promoting sustainable economic growth to reduce poverty through investments in such areas agriculture, education, industrial infrastructure, transportation, water, capacity building and private sector development.


At the conclusion of its meeting last March, the MCC Board of Directors announced that the Philippines had been selected as eligible to apply for an MCC Compact.


It noted that the Philippines' consistent performance on eligibility criteria and its effective implementation of the MCC-funded Threshold Program focused on helping curb corruption through improved tax collection and customs administration, and the strengthening of the Ombudsman's office.


"Congratulations to the Government of the Philippines for its demonstrated commitment to tackling difficult challenges and improving the lives of its people," said MCC CEO Ambassador John Danilovich in making the announcement.


"While eligibility is an essential first step towards a poverty reduction grant from the MCC, selection does not guarantee funding. The Philippines, like all countries eligible for a compact, must maintain its performance on the MCC selection criteria and must now begin a broad-based consultative process with its people to develop a proposal that addresses the country's barriers to poverty reduction and economic growth.


"As partners, we agree that ending corruption and finding long-term ways to reduce poverty are urgent priorities that deserve our full attention," Danilovich explained.


Countries selected as eligible for a large-scale grant, or compact, have the opportunity to submit a proposal for a five-year program to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth.


Once selected as eligible, a country begins a consultation process that includes citizens, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the private sector and Government to identify the barriers to poverty reduction and economic growth.


MCC teams then work in partnership to engage with countries on their compact proposals to ensure that projects meet economic growth and poverty reduction targets.


”The resulting compact also sets forth how the country plans to manage and implement its MCA program, including how it will ensure financial accountability, transparency, fair and open procurement, and measurable results,” Danilovich said.


The Philippines’ eligibility to the MCC Compact grant would depend on how good are the proposals of the government on fighting poverty. 


The country has already received a $21-million (P1.1 billion) grant from the MMC through the Millennium Challenge Account in recognition of the bold steps taken by government to eradicate corruption and attract international investments through the Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program (MCATP).


The MCATP, which ran for two years, funds programs designed to reduce corruption by strengthening the Office of the Ombudsman, the government agency primarily responsible in prosecuting corrupt government officials, and intensify the enforcement of anti-graft programs of the Department of Finance (DOF), namely, the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), Run After Tax Evaders (RATE), and the Run After The Smugglers(RATS).


Under the MCATP, $6.5 million or P338 million, was allotted to the Office of the Ombudsman for the training of its employees, the establishment of an information management system and enhancement of its investigative and surveillance capabilities.


The RATE program received $9.4 million (P489 million), RATS, $3.1 million (P161 million), while RIPS was allocated $1.4 million (P73 million).


Under the grant agreement, $250,000 (P13 million), was utilized for monitoring and evaluation of the MCATP to ensure that it conformed with MCC standards.


* * * * *


PGMA to push for sustainable management of Coral Triangle 



WASHINGTON – June 22 (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will make a strong push this week for the sustainable management of the Coral Triangle -- the epicenter of abundant marine life and diversity in the world.


A meeting has been scheduled at the Willard Hotel here to bring together the private and business sectors in a multi-nation effort to enhance and preserve the Coral Triangle that spans across Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.  This extraordinary area holds the richest concentration of iridescent corals, fish, crustaceans, mollusks and marine plants in the world.


The President is expected to call for stronger cooperation among the stakeholders to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of the Coral Triangle.


She has pointed out the ”policy of the state to protect, conserve the sustainable use of biological diversity to ensure and secure the well-being of present and future generations of Filipinos.."


The Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million kilometers of ocean and matches the richness of the Amazon rainforest.


Home to 75 percent of all coral species known to science, among them are yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, bigeye tuna, bumphead parrotfish, needlefish, Napoleon wrasse, and barracuda; six of the seven species of marine turtles including green, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and flatback;


Migrating populations of whale sharks measuring up to about 20 meters, and massive manta rays, which are attracted to the region abundant plankton; more than 3,000 species of reef fish and commercially valuable pelagic;


Marine mammals such as 22 species of dolphin (including spinner, spotted, bottlenose, and the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin), the endangered dugong or seacow, rare Bryde’s whale, short-finned pilot whale, sperm and dwarf sperm whale, humpback and Cuvier’s beaked whale.


In the Philippines, coral reefs provide an annual income estimated at $1.6 billion per year.


The Philippines Initiative calls for concerted action among countries within the Coral Triangle to conserve marine biodiversity, stop habitat destruction and effectively manage their marine resources.


In 2007, the Coral Triangle Initiative, a new multilateral partnership to help safeguard the marine and coastal resources of the Coral Triangle for future generations—was launched. 


* * * * *


PGMA will definitely meet Senator McCain; and hopefully also Senator Obama

SAN FRANCISCO, California --President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to meet in Washington next week with Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain while a possible meeting with Democrat Presidential Candidate Senator Barrack Obama is yet to be finalized.

Ambassador and Presidential Assistant for State and Foreign visits Marciano Paynor said the President's meeting with the November-US presidential elections bets is ''just a getting-to-know type of thing.''

''This is one way of at least introducing the President to the future President of the United States,'' the ambassador said.

Paynor stressed that meeting the future leaders, especially in a parliamentary form of government, by the President, is ''quite normal in the overall scheme of bilateral relations.''

''That is always a given. We meet the government party or the party in power, we also meet the opposition. That is always a given here,'' adding that since the President is visiting at a time when there are already presidential candidates, thus, it is something that would work
for both--a ''win-win situation.''


The President and the US presidentiables would be issuing statements that are ''more or less on bilateral relations, to continue the relations that we have and to continue to agree on common issues such
as energy, food security, issues that affect both countries.''


The President is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco Saturday evening here for a 10-day working visit.


* * * * *


Departure Statement of the President



Before we leave home tonight for the United States, we called a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council this noon wherein we issued the following instructions:


1.    Put the whole Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government into a relief-and-rescue standby mode.


2.    We ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways into a repair-and-rehabilitation footing so work on damaged infrastructure can begin once the weather clears up.


 3.    The Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development shall forward-deploy resources to areas on typhoon path.  By law, Calamity Funds have been advanced to DND, DPWH and DSWD, which means that the tools to provide care and comfort have been prepositioned in our first responders.


 4.    The Air Force, including the Presidential Airlift Wing, are under orders to fly mercy missions, when the need arises.


5.    Sec. Arthur Yap has been ordered to ensure stable rice supply in affected areas.  If Frank will bring flood, Art will respond by flooding these areas with rice.  If they will exploit the situation, hoarders will soon find themselves in hot water, a certainty Sec. Raul Gonzales will guarantee.


6.    I have also instructed the Pink Brigade of the Metro Manila Development Authority to rush to areas that might be damaged by the storm.  Army engineers, with their heavy equipment, will roll out and join the bayanis of Bayani Fernando in their mercy caravan.


7.    We dropped by Villamor Air Based and inspected the aircraft and the airmen on standby.  We designated VAB as operations center, a springboard for help.


8.    With our without the typhoon, but the latter would make it urgent, the distribution of power subsidies will commence in areas the typhoon will hit, in a manner that will not overburden government officials attending to relief work.


•    The United States is the Philippines' strongest friend and ally.  Filipinos love America, its people and culture.  We may be separated by an ocean, but we are bound by a shared history and common values of economic prosperity and a strong democracy.  The relations between the US and the Philippines are stable, strong and mature.


•    Our friendship goes well beyond simple diplomatic relations between nations.  Over 4 million American citizens are of Filipino heritage.  Over 250,000 Americans live and work in the Philippines.  We are more than allies; we are family.


•    During our West Coast visit, we will meet with our Filam and OFW community to discuss their needs and concerns.  Not a day goes by that our administration is not fighting for the interests of our OFWs somewhere in the world. 


•    In Washington, we will be meeting with President Bush and members of his administration as well as political leaders of both parties in the US Congress.  We share many issues that are of global concern, beginning with the price of food and fuel and food security.  As such, discussions will focus on food security, defense cooperation, environmental protection and economic assistance.


 •    On food security, the agreement between our two governments will lay the groundwork for securing the following:  a) hastening phytosanitary protocols that will open the way for fresh banana and mango exports from the Philippines to the US starting with an initial shipment of $5 million , then $15 million, and growing in the years to come; b) biotechnology cooperation especially in the development of disease tolerant rice seeds varieties through a $1.5 million grant; c) accelerated dairy development program which plans to infuse 10,000 dairy animals in the next five years worth $25 million; d) increased rice supply purchase agreements through the Public Law 480 of at least $20 million and General Services Manager 102 Program of at least $70 million, e) a proposed surplus equipment program of $50 million, extension service capacity building program of $25 million and accelerated liverstock genetic resource improvement

program of $25 million. 


 •    On defense cooperation, we will discuss military platform spares; radars; patrol crafts, ships, inshore vessels and gunboats; military education and training, rigid hull inflatable boars, radios, surveillance aircrafts, spare parts, radars, patrol crafts, ships and boats, training, radios, surveillance aircraft, among others worth about $458 million.


 •    On environmental protection, we are targeting at least $20 million from the Coral Triangle Initiative.


•    On economic assistance, having been approved as a Compact country, the Philippines will produce a Compact proposal which may be eligible for a grant close to $700 million.


 •    I will thank those members of the US Senate who voted 96-1 to support our Philippine veterans who served valiantly in WWII.  This strong vote is an indication of the long overdue desire to bring equity and justice to Filipino veterans who fought under the American flag.  The Philippine veteran provision is part of a much larger bill.  It is currently caught up in domestic US politics.  While its immediate fate remains unknown, we will meet with congressional leaders to fight for passage to ensure equity for Philippine veterans of WWII. The Filipino veterans provision creates about $250 million in new benefits over 10 years.


 •    Finally, in New York we will meet with numerous investors and business leaders to promote more investment and job creation in the Philippines. 


•    We will meet with Target Sourcing which buys $70 million annually from the Philippines.  Their new cosmetic care line in virgin coconut oil estimated at $25 million for 2008 will benefit 1,500 small and medium enterprises in Manila and Quezon.


 •    We expect a long term, 35-year supply contract with Libby's to earn over $500 million for more than 5,000 farming families in Bicol


•    We will meet with IQOR Call Center with annual billings earnings of $50 million in the Philippines, APAC Customer Services with $100 million.  We will encourage them to expand their investment.  Orbis Global Solutions will invest an initial 1,800 seats with billings of $20,000 per agent.


 •    We will meet with Bertaphil which will invest a minimum of $1 million in Clark and minimum guaranteed lease revenues of $919 thousand and additional 3-10% gross rental revenues from sublessees over a 50-year period.


 •    We will meet with ROTEC which will install $10 million of envirodiesel design device on initial 10,000 jeepneys to reduce greenhouse gases in Metro Manila. 


•    We will meet with Abundant Biofuels who will invest $200 million in Northern Mindanao.


 •    In our infrastructure meeting with investors and business leaders, we will promote 10 ready-to-go projects, six of which are valued at $1.377 billion.


•    We will also be meeting with officials from the United Nations about issues related to food security and to champion the candidacy of Senator Santiago to the Court of Justice.  No trip to New York is complete without meeting with our strong and lively OFW community there.


 •    The Philippine-US relationship is essential for a strong, growing and stable Philippines.  We are looking forward to our talks in order to advance the interests of the Philippines and further deepen our historic ties.


 •    We will return via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal III for our arrival cum inspection of our newest gateway.


* * * * *



PGMA orders opening of NAIA 3 to domestic flights on her arrival from U.S. on June 30



The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 should have been opened yesterday, according to Mike Defensor, head of the newly-created task force that exercises administrative supervision and control over Terminal 3.


Defensor, however said, “overcoming all legal barriers, the President ordered its use upon her arrival on the 30th of June from the U.S.


“We will initially utilize it for the domestic flights in preparation for its full utilization for international flights this year,” said Defensor, adding that “we will not fail our people in ensuring that this white elephant, the gateway of our country to the people of the world, will be open for service. This will be our showcase to boost tourism, the economy and the confidence of the business sector and our OFWs.


After 10 years of controversy-marred construction, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has created Presidential Task Force on NAIA Terminal 3 to undertake the necessary preparations for the much-awaited opening of NAIA 3.


The creation of the task force is contained in Executive Order 732, which the President issued on June 9.


Under EO 732, instead of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the task force will exercise administrative supervision and control over Terminal 3.


Under EO 778, dated March 4, 1982, as amended by EO 341 issued on Aug. 2, 2004, the MIAA is mandated to administer and operate the MIA.


EO 732, which amends both EOs 778 and 341, directed the task force to exercise control and supervision over the opening of Terminal 3 and provide policy directions and executive guidance on all matters relating to the opening of Terminal 3.


The EO further stated that the MIAA shall provide administrative support and technical assistance to the task force, whose head will be appointed by the President.


The EO also directed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release funds it deems appropriate for the task force’s operations. The allocation will be drawn from the Office of the President.


Japanese firm Takenaka Corp. was the lead contractor hired by Piatco to build the terminal in 1998.


Piatco was the consortium that submitted a winning counter-bid to build the NAIA-3 against the unsolicited proposal of AEDC, the corporation then formed by five Filipino-Chinese business tycoons.


In Dec. 2004, the Supreme Court nullified the build-operate-transfer contract between Piatco and the government due to onerous amendments to the original contract.


On the strength of the SC ruling, the government subsequently took over the terminal and started expropriation proceedings that in turn led to Piatco and its German investor, Fraport AG, to file cases before local and international courts.


In Dec. 2005, the High Court issued a ruling ordering the government to pay Piatco just compensation if it wanted to take over Terminal 3.


MIAA was about to hold a soft opening of NAIA-3 on March 31, 2006, when a portion of the ceiling collapsed four days before the opening date. # # #

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Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2008 12:07

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