MALACANANG, OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, August 28, 2003 - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today ordered the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to institute appropriate measures that would stop speculations on the peso and arrest its slide in the currency exchange market.

"Through the national government representative in the Monetary Board, I have asked the Central bank to crack the whip on speculators and to use feasible monetary tools to stabilize the currency exchange market," the President said in her keynote speech at the opening of the 1st Conference of Royal Sultanates on Unified and Effective Governance held this morning at the Centennial Ballroom of the Manila Hotel.

The President said the government has the means to cushion effects of the slide in the peso in the overall state of the economy.

She said that the "unfortunate brew" of destabilization, black propaganda, and character assassination as political tools has affected the performance of the peso.

"But we are consolidating rapidly and we hope that the distraction of poisonous political controversies will die down soon," the President said.

The President said that too much politicking should be set aside and that the country’s institutions should close ranks behind a serious drive for productivity, reforms and stability.

"We have to shake off the distraction of day-to-day controversies and devote ourselves to the essential tasks of development and reforms," she said.

Attending the two-day gathering were the Royal Sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu, the 16 Royal Houses of Lanao and members of the royal sultanates of neighboring Malaysia.

The conference is aimed at tapping the sultanates to become active partners of the government in forging a lasting peace, stability and sustainable development in Mindanao.

Among the attendees were Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza, Presidential Assistant Margarita Cojuangco, Justice Secretary Simeon Datumanong, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina Jr., Press Secretary Milton Alingod, US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, Manila Mayor Joselito Atienza, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Parouk Hussin, Sulu Sultan Jamal Kiram III, and Tamparan, Lanao del Sur Sultan Topaan Disomimba, chairman of the 16 Royal Houses of Lanao.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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