[PHOTO AT LEFT: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand following the APEC Leaders’ Declaration at the conclusion of the 11th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting this afternoon (October 21) at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok, Thailand. Also in photo are United States President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Mexican President Vincente Fox. (Malacanang Photo) ]

MALACANANG, October 23, 2003  (OPS)  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived Tuesday night from Bangkok, Thailand, where she attended the 11th Leaders’ Meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

President Macapagal-Arroyo flew in aboard a chartered Philippine Airlines jetliner that landed at 8:05 P.M. at the Villamor Airbase of the Philippine Air Force, in Pasay City.

Within hours of her arrival, the President was scheduled to leave for Calamba City, Laguna, to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony of the Southern Luzon Expressway at 11:00 A.M.

The Chief Executive was escorted during foyer honors at Villamor Airbase by Armed Forces vice chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia.

Among those who welcomed home the President were Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, Public Works and Highways Secretary Florante Soriquez, and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Members of the presidential party who arrived with the President included Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, Trade and Industry Secretary Mar Roxas, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye, Presidential Management Staff chief Secretary Silvestre Afable, Official Development Assistance Absorption Secretary Marita Jimenez, and eight Metro Manila mayors – Joselito Atienza of Manila; Feliciano Belmonte, Quezon City; Reynaldo Malonzo, Caloocan; Benhur Abalos, Mandaluyong; Emmanuel Carlos, Valenzuela; Maria Lourdes Fernando, Marikina; Sigfrido Tinga, Taguig; and Rosendo Capco, Pateros.

Statement of the President: Re Anti-Terrorism

We have to firmly follow up on the call of the APEC summit to rid the Asia-Pacific region of terrorism. The Philippines will continue to play a key role in this effort and we must be on the alert 24 hours a day. We must continue to hone our capabilities to fight terror in all fronts in concert with our allies so that we can secure the ramparts of trade and commerce and unleash the full economic potential of the region. This is important to our drive to spur investments and trade, create jobs and build prosperity.

Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye: Re Feliciano Commission Report

The release of the Feliciano Commission Report had nothing to do with the Bush visit. The commission was ready to submit the report and it was simply accommodated in the President’s schedule. There is no point in trying to paint political color into this event and this is a disservice to its eminent members. What is important is that the report has been accomplished, and its recommendations are being studied and considered as a basis for further actions and reforms. The President has expressed her abiding appreciation to the commission for its constructive work and service to the nation.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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