GMA SUMS UP FRUITFUL U.S. STATE VISITWashington, May 21, 2003 -- President Arroyo said late Monday night (Tuesday Manila time) that she did not go on a state visit to the US to beg for military and economic aid or to ask US President George W. Bush to pay her for supporting the US-led coalition against Iraq. Arroyo stressed this three to four times during a press conference at the Philippine Embassy in Washington after her meeting with Bush. "I came here to define a strategic relationship that will characterize our relationship with the US in the years to come. It will be one of mutual respect and pursuing mutual interest. It is not one of mendicancy. It is not mercenary," she said. "Kung may darating na tulong, maraming salamat, pero hindi iyon ang dahilan kung bakit nagbibisita ako rito. 'Yung mga tulong na binibigay sa atin maraming nabigay na kahit hindi pa ako dumating dito," she said. She cited the $30 million "peace dividend" to be given by the US to the conflict areas in Mindanao as its contribution to the peace process. She said the amount was supposed to be announced during her original scheduled visit last March but this has been included in the budget in her absence. "Ang ating relasyon ay relasyon na nagbibigay ng dignidad sa ating bansa. Kaya naririnig ko parating sinasabi ni President Bush (na) 'yung anyo ng tulong nila (ay) 'yung anyo na gusto natin. Iyan ang nagpapatunay sa dignidad ng ating relasyon," she added. Presidential chief of staff Rigoberto Tiglao said Arroyo is expected to bring home $2.521 billion in "confirmed deliverables" and another P599 million in "possible deliverables" or a total of $3.121 billion. The "confirmed deliverables" cover projects which have been committed and are covered by agreements to be signed during the state visit. The "possible deliverables" are those under negotiation by Philippine officials. Tiglao said the "assured" package worth $2.521 billion is composed of economic development and trade package, $1.418 billion; government/multilateral institutions, $743 million; US-based and US-run private sector or NGOs, $223 million; defense and security cooperation, $119.31 million; and estimated remittance flows from job contracts, $18 million. He said the $599 million "possible deliverables" are defense and security cooperation, $326 million; economic development and trade package, $115 million; estimated remittance flows from job contracts, P108 million; and US-based and US-run private sector and NGOs, $50 million. It was not immediately known if the total includes the $30 million "peace dividend" and the $1 billion windfall from the inclusion of Philippine products in the US generalized system of preferences (GSP). Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the rough estimate of $1 billion is in the form of tax perks that the country would get if products like carageenan, pineapple juice, dried mangoes and tuna are included in the GSP. The GSP scheme, which was reauthorized by the US Congress from Sept. 30, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2006, involves the US' granting of preferential treatment to some 4,000 products from 139 beneficiary countries in the form of duty-free access. Roxas said the $1 billion pledge was part of Arroyo's and Bush's agreement in November 2001 when Arroyo went on a working visit to the US. Arroyo said the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) is making available $250 million credit line to insure investments like the privatization of the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) and a meat processing facility in Mindanao. Bush, in a joint press conference with Arroyo at the White House, referred to Arroyo as "a friend of America and a friend of freedom." He thanked her for "all you have done to make our world safer." "I appreciate her strength (and) her courage," he said, referring to Arroyo's support for the US war against terrorism. He accepted Arroyo's invitation to visit the Philippines in October before the APEC meeting in Bangkok. He said he would also be sending senior US officers to Manila starting with US Energy Secretary Spence Abraham. Bush also said the US will extend new benefits to Filipino World War II veterans. Arroyo said the US would also grant lower remittance rates to OFWs by as much as $300 million a year.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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