Manila, March 15, 2003 -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today called on the people to stay calm and stay united amid domestic and global crisis situations, as she expressed confidence that the nation would pull through the challenges of the times.

In her weekly regular radio message, the President said it was normal for people to think about current issues -- the impending war in Iraq, uncertainties in oil prices, fears spawned by terrorism and apprehensions on the economy, among others.

"Pero nalampasan natin ang mas matinding krisis noon at malalampasan di natin ito. Maging mahinahon tayo. Huwag tayong padadala sa takot o panic (But we have weathered a worse crisis before and we can do so too this time. Let us stay calm and not be hostages of fear and panic," she said.

"Lilipas din ang krisis na ito at magbabalik ang lahat sa normal matapos maayos ang mga kaguluhang pandaigdigan at ang sitwasyon sa Mindanao ay maging matatag (The global crisis will also end and so will the instability in Mindanao. When this happened, everything will return to normalcy)," she added.

The President took time to condemn dollar speculators and hoarders, calling them economic saboteurs.

She said she fully supported the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' campaign to go after those who take advantage of the crisis to cause the peso to slide against the American dollar.

"Hindi natin papayagan ang mga walang-konsensiyang institusyon o tao na mangibabaw sa interes ng publiko (We will not allow the interests of unscrupulous institutions or persons to go above public interest)," she said.

She added that she would meet today with local leaders in Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Souther Tagalog, to appoint the latter as crisis managers who would oversee social and economic concerns that might crop up in their respective communities in these times of crisis.

Local leaders, she stressed, should be the country's "information champions" and "anti-street crime czars" to stabilize the economy and strengthen the society.

The President cited the persistence of local officials in the cities of Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga, saying that they have stood up always prepared to help their constituents in times of crisis.

The President likewise reminded the nation to adhere to peace.

"Ang mga mamamayan ngayon ay malakas na nagpapahiwatig ng kapayapaan at ito ay ating sinasang-ayunan (The government is one with the Filipino people in the call for peace)," she said.

She noted that the active defense position of government in Mindanao corresponded to the call for peace.

She said the elements of the country's peace operations included active defense, alertness of the police force, high level of community alertness, and effective diplomacy.

"Ang kapayapaan ay isang polisiya para sa ating panloob at panlabas na seguridad (Peace is a policy for our internal and external security)," she added.

The President also said that there were peaceful solutions to the Iraq situation.

Iraqi leaders should ably perform their obligations to mankind so that lasting peace in the world could be achieved, she said.

As this developed, she reiterated her assurance that Filipino expatriates in the Middle East would be safe from harm, if and when war breaks out in the Gulf.

"Handa ang inyong gobyerno na harapin ang epekto ng krisis na ito sa ating pambansang seguridad at sa ating ekonomiya (The government is ready to meet head-on the negative effects of the Gulf crisis on our national security and economy)," she stressed.

Peace and security, stable minds and trust. These the president said were imperative for the people to have in times of crisis. These, she added, would help the country and the people overcome their fears and the crisis. (Malacanang News Release)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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