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Sep 29th
Home Community RP Government Updates PGMA, Bush Reaffirm Strong RP-US Ties, Cooperation on Food Security, Defense
PGMA, Bush Reaffirm Strong RP-US Ties, Cooperation on Food Security, Defense PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 12:24

WASHINGTON – June 24 (via PLDT) – President Bush and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reaffirmed Tuesday the close cooperation between the Philippines and the United States on food security, defense and economic development.

President Bush also conveyed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday his “deep condolences” to the relatives of the victims of the MV Princess of the Stars sea tragedy off Sibuyan Islands.


He said the United States was sending the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, along with other US Navy assets, to the site of the sea mishap to help the Philippine Navy and other agencies in the massive retrieval and rescue operations.


Emerging from the Oval Office after their 35-minute meeting, the two Presidents addressed the waiting media representatives but fielded no questions.


He said he congratulated President Arroyo on her strong position against terrorism, which the Philippine government is pursuing in tandem with a “vision of peace.”


The US President lauded President Arroyo’s “carrot and stick” policy in dealing with the problem of terrorism in the Philippines, obviously referring to the government’s “soft and hard approach” or the use of

development assistance to attract the lawless back to the folds of the law or the use of military power when the soft approach fails to deliver the desired results.


“I express our deep condolences to those who suffered as a result of the typhoon, and other families that are hurting, some wondering whether their loved ones will reappear. The American people care about the suffering taking place. We send our prayers,” Bush said.


In her response in Pilipino, President Arroyo said “we stand should-to-shoulder with the United States in our efforts to establish a progressive Philippines, the torch of democracy in Asia.”


She pointed out that relations between the Philippines and the United States have ”always been strong and healthy.”


She added: “We are in Washington today to discuss with President Bush, the officials of his administration, and the leaders of Congress on matters of mutual importance and concern, like food security, defense cooperation, and economic development. Let us work together to bring the Philippines to the ranks of the developed First World countries within the next 20 years.


“Let us work together to bring the Philippines to the ranks of First World country within 20 years,” she said.


Bush also assured President Arroyo that the US stands ready to help the Philippines with its rice supply problems. “We talked about food and assured the President that we will continue to help as we did in the past. We have a lot of food aid. This is a time for Americans to step up, and we will, Madam President.”


He said they also took up “our mutual desire to advance, how important it is to move forward bilaterally and multilaterally in trade agendas.”


The President’s motorcade entered the White House grounds through the gate leading to the West Wing. She was accompanied by a few Cabinet members, including Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Budget Secretary Nonoy Andaya.


Press Secretary Jesus Dureza opted to join members of the Malacanang Press Corps in the coverage of President Arroyo’s meeting with Bush in the White House.


* * * * *


PGMA calls on U.S. to help ensure continuous flow of food particularly rice to needy


WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24 (via PLDT) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today called on the United States, “as the breadbasket of the world,” to help ensure the flow of vital humanitarian supplies to the countries reeling from the blow of soaring oil and food prices.


In her address before the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce this afternoon at Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, the President said the surging prices of oil and food are a global challenge that can be overcome only through the cooperation of all nations.


She urged the US to invest in research that could lead to the solution of the skyrocketing oil and food prices, and to provide urgently needed humanitarian supplies to the truly needy.


In the Philippines, her administration been working “tirelessly to address the challenges arising from the slowdown in the global economy, combined with the spike in high oil and food prices,” the President said.


“The government is working hard to make sure that our country’s food supplies remain stable and we put food on the table.”


“To date, we have been able to keep the situation from becoming a crisis through swift interventions to ensure our supply of rice, effective distribution and enforcement of laws against hoarding,” the President added.


The Philippines, a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has been working with other members of the regional bloc to surmount the oil and food crisis, “but we need a strong, global leadership and coordination if we are to avert this from becoming a perpetual problem,” she said.


While the high price of oil is beyond the control of any government, her administration has lifted the tariff on imported oil as part of an overall effort to moderate drastic increases in the prices of the commodity, the President added.


To avoid any rice supply disruption, the Arroyo has adopted three fundamental responses: one, is to ensure adequate supply by reaching out to its ASEAN neighbors who happens to be big rice-exporting countries.


Under the heading of adequate supply, the government is investing heavily on rice production efficiencies, such as agricultural training and extension, and the shift to hybrid rice seeds.


Number 2, the government ensures the distribution of rice to people who really need the staple food “most effectively and cost-effectively” by enlisting the assistance of faith-based organizations and the schools in the distribution of the subsidized rice.


Thirdly, the President has ordered maximum vigilance in the vigilance of the government’s rice stock to avoid hoarding and the diversion of the cereal to the commercial market.


“We must be vigilant that unscrupulous traders do not price gouge and exploit the situation,’ the President said.


* * * * *

PGMA witnesses sealing of agreement between RPDA and USDA on food security

WASHINGTON DC (Tues. June 24) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo witnessed today the sealing of an agreement between Philippine Department of Agriculture and the United States Agriculture Department that stand to boost the Philippines' goal for food security in the next five years.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and US Agriculture Secretary Schaeffer signed the Framework agreement of Cooperation on Agriculture and Related Fields, in behalf of their respective countries, before the President's meeting with the USDA Secretary.

The areas of cooperation under the Framework Agreement cover sanitary and phytosanitary measures which would pave the way for fresh fruit sales from the Philippines to the US soon.

Other areas of cooperation include biotechnology, especially in the area of developing disease and adverse climate tolerant seeds for rice and support for livestock improvement programs.

The agreement also covers strengthened cooperation in support for irrigation infrastructure works and capacity building of agricultural extension personnel. The latter would involve the training and technical
exchanges between the US cooperative and extension systems and local government units, with the collaboration of US and Philippines colleges and universities.

''All these cooperation areas are in support of the country's food security program,'' Yap said.


* * * * *


As investment destination, RP is good long-term bet, PGMA tells U.S. investors


WASHINGTON, DC – June 24 (via PLDT) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday urged American business leaders to take advantage of the extraordinary value for investments in the Philippines by investing in the country.


In her address during the cocktails of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce at the Willard Hotel along Pennsylvania Avenue, the President said that as an investment destination, the Philippines is a “good, long-term bet.”


“We don’t sell hype, no quick bucks, no false gains. Just strong fundamentals, good economic stewardship and excellent returns on your investment. We are the smart, prudent place to place your money,” she added.


Last year, the Philippine economic registered its highest growth, the peso is strong, approved investments doubled in the first quarter, last year seven million jobs were created in seven years, while the government is close to balancing the budget.


These are factors, the President said, that will help the Philippines weather economic storm.


“We are hopeful that we remain poised for growth in 2008 as well. Of course, the global clouds are clearly visible on the horizon and will impact on most nations. But we are confident that our reforms provide a significant firewall against dramatic economic swings at home,” she said.


Early this year, the credit rating agency Moody’s upgraded its outlook on the Philippines to positive while Fitch and S&P have maintained their stable outlook.


“We remain bullish on our economy, optimistic about our future and deeply committed to being a force for good,” the President said.


She stressed that her administration will push its reform agenda, “fight for the economy, education and the environment … fix the corruption that has, unfortunately, long plagued our nation. We have been working to control the situation.”


This year, Congress is expected a comprehensive Anti-Corruption Act.


The President pointed out that her key priorities in visiting the United States is to showcase Philippine economic and investment opportunities with business leaders and investors like the members of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.


She added that she will be meeting with other business groups in the US to encourage them to take advantage of the solid and significant opportunities the Philippines offers as the best value in Asia.


* * * * * 


PGMA Visits Pentagon


WASHINGTON D.C. (June 24, Tues) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited today the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, and met for 30 minutes with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


Philippines Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who was with the President at the Pentagon meeting, said the President and Sec. Gates discussed among others counter-terrorism programs and the Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDRP) in a move to achieve not just domestic security but also regional environmental security.


The Philippines, since “9/11,” has been at the forefront of fighting terrorism in the ASEAN region.


Teodoro said RP-US bilateral military cooperation even beyond 2010 was discussed.


Also discussed was the United States’ expanding its military assistance and training to help the Philippines fulfill its defense reform program and become the role model in counter-insurgency in the ASEAN.


From her meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House at mid morning, the President proceeded to the Pentagon to meet Gates.


The President was welcomed by Gates at the foyer where the Pentagon honor guards were positioned.


* * * * *


PGMA directs NDCC to conduct 'needs assessment' to apprise international community on RP's assistance requirements


As pledges of aid from the international community start pouring in to conduct search and rescue/retrieval (SAR) operations for the victims of typhoon "Frank," President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today directed the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to conduct a "systematic" needs assessment to identify specific requirements from these good Samaritans.


The President issued her directive during a joint Cabinet and NDCC meeting she presided over via remote video conference in Malacañang this morning.


The President said that aside from the US government’s pledge to donate US$100,000 and for the US Navy ship Stockton to help in ongoing SAR operations, the international community has also pledged aid.


The President added that the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, has pledged to send the National Guard stationed in Hawaii to help in SAR operations.


She said Spain "has come forward" and presented itself to help the country in its SAR efforts.


The President pointed out, however, that the country needs to inform international donors of our specific requirements to facilitate the immediate deployment of the respective country's pledge of aid.


"So, you have to do the Needs Assessment systematically and apprise the different countries, knowing their respective capabilities," the President said from her seat at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel in Washington, DC.


President Arroyo is on a 10-day working visit to the United States to meet with US President George W. Bush to discuss outstanding global issues of common concern to the two countries, notably terrorism, food security, non-proliferation of nuclear arms and human rights.


The M/V Princess of the Stars capsized Sunday after big waves spawned by typhoon "Frank" battered the marine vessel.


The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), in its latest update on the M/V Princess of the Stars tragedy, said the latest death toll from the capsized ferry has reached 70 while 48 survivors have been rescued.


On the other hand, the number of persons confirmed killed during the onslaught of typhoon "Frank" (whose international codename is Fengshen) has reached 291.


With the 70 ferry fatalities so far, the total number of confirmed deaths due to typhoon "Frank" is now 361.


 * * * * *


Life term for Bayan Muna leader's killer  

The police task force investigating unexplained killings has reported to the Department of the Interior and Local Government another conviction in the cases of political killings with the guilty verdict handed down by the court against the suspect in the 2006 murder of a Bayan Muna leader in Pangasinan.

Director Jefferson Soriano, Task Force Usig commander, said that Joel Flores, the main suspect in the killing of Bayan Muna leader Jose Doton, has been meted out reclusion perpetua, which entails imprisonment of at least 30 years, by Judge Ulysses Butuyan of the Regional Trial Court in Tayug, Pangasinan.

Citing the report, Assistant Secretary Danilo Valero said the judge had also imposed an indeterminate penalty of 10 years and one day to 14 years, eight months and one day against Flores for the crime of frustrated murder in connection with the wounding of Doton's brother Diosdado, who was with the murder victim when he was attacked on May 16, 2006.

Flores was also ordered to pay as indemnification for liquidated damages to the family of Jose Doton in the amount of P500,000, and to Diosdado Doton of P200,000. 

This developed as a member of the Malacañang-formed task force on political violence said the group was willing to reopen investigation into the 2004 killing of photojournalist Gene Boyd Lumawag in Jolo, Sulu, if provided additional evidence by the victim's family or his company.

Marlo Baltazar, representative of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Task Force 211, said, "We are willing to reopen the investigation [of Gene Boyd's case]."

"Just give us the pertinent documents and other materials on the incident," Baltazar told Gene Boyd's father, Rene, and local reporters in Davao City.

Rene approached the task force after the news conference to inquire into the prospect of having his son's case reopened.

Gene Boyd, 27, was killed on November 12, 2004, by still-unidentified gunmen while he was walking back to his hotel in downtown Jolo. He just took a snapshot of the sunset in Jolo when he was killed.

Lumawag worked with the Davao City-based news agency was Mindanews. The military and the police has blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the killing and claimed the Sailani brothers, who were allegedly killed later, were the culprits.

But Rene said that last year, he was surprised to learn that the military again resurfaced the Sailaini brothers as reportedly behind another encounter with the government troops and who reportedly were killed also later.

This strengthened the suspicion of the Lumawag family that its sources, who told them that the killers were members of the government military, may have been right.

In 2005 Rene sought the help of the late NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco and in 2006 of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. Nothing happened though. "This time, I hope this is the real McCoy," he said.

Rene was referring to the claim of the Task Force Against Political Violence, or popularly called Task Force 211, that it helped in the prosecution and conviction in October 2006 of the three killers of Sultan Kudarat columnist Marlene Esperat. The victim was shot dead in front of her family in March 2005.

Task Force Usig earlier reported four convictions in the cases involving the unexplained killings in the country, said Valero, who is assistant secretary for public order and local government.

Police Officer 1 Guillermo Wapile was dismissed from the police service and is currently serving sentence for the 2002 killing of journalist Edgar Damalerio.

Jerry Cabayag, Randy Grecia and Estanislao Bismanos were convicted for the killing of journalist Marlene Esperat. The alelged masterminds in this case—Osmeña Montaner and Estrella Sabay—remain at large and have standing warrants of arrest issued by the court against them.


Task Force Usig had earlier projected an increase in indictments and convictions as a result of stepped-up police efforts to investigate and prosecute suspects in these cases.


* * * * *


Policy Statements from the Speech of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Conferment of the Golden Heart Award June 24, 2008

Washington D.C.



Foreign Relations


"The Order of the Golden Heart represents our nation’s humble way of recognizing those who help build life to the noble aspirations of the Filipino people.


Relations between the United States and the Philippines will always be close as well as special."


"Filipinos are, hands down, the most supportive nation of the US in the world."


Veteran's Affairs


"We’re here tonight to honor our distinct awardees with the Golden Heart Award for their exemplary contributions to the Filipino people, especially to Filipino veterans. The Golden Heart award is given to those with a golden heart. One of these gives hope for our nations and our people."


Complete Text of Speech at


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 13:09

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