MALACANANG, December10, 2003  (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) Malacañang today cited the importance of the two-day working visit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Tokyo starting tomorrow to attend the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit.

In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the visit would give the President an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Japan, Bunye said, is the Philippines’ biggest source of official development assistance (ODA) and the second largest trading partner, after the United States.

During her visit, the President will also witness the signing of major loan agreements that could provide electricity to far-flung areas in the country and help implement the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

He said that during the visit discussions for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the Philippines and Japan could also be stepped up although the agreement may not be signed yet.

"Definitely, that will be one of the topics to be taken up by the President during her bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi," Bunye said.

According to Bunye, the agreement would contain what the President has cited as complimentarity between the needs and resources of both countries.

He cited as example, the aging population of Japan who would need the services of care-givers and health workers that the Philippines could provide.

In return, Japan can continue to provide new technology to the Philippines, not to mention the ODA and Japanese investments in the country, Bunye said.

Bunye said that the President would also be meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi where they are expected to talk about the reopening of the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that Kuala Lumpur has initiated.

Statement of the President Re Economic Prospects

I am aware of the partisan developments going around us but my mind is more focused on the yearend prospects of the economy and how this will carry us on to the next year.

Investments are doing well and our growth rate is steady, beefed up by the surge of overseas remittances.

Statement of the President Re Tribute to OFWs

It is during the holiday season that we truly appreciate the meaningful contribution of our OFWs to our economy as well as the joy they bring their families.

This is one reason why I am traveling out to Japan, Hong Kong and Bahrain over the next few days—to see our OFWs and express our gratitude for their being there for our country and for our people.

We are also preparing a grand welcome for those who are coming home, and we would like them and their families to know that we deeply appreciate their contributions and their sacrifices for our country.

Statement of the President Re Commander Robot

There are a lot of speculations about what Commander Robot knows but the important thing is that we have accounted for a notorious terrorist and we know that his cohorts are on the run.

This is important to our international alliance against terrorism because many of Commander Robot’s victims have been foreigners who must be given justice.

I am sure that he will be a good source of information on the remaining cells of the Abu Sayyaf and their alliances with foreign groups.

We need to push our domestic effort against terror in concert with our allies in the region because the threat will never relent until we can account for all their leaders, followers and networks.

Statement of the President Re Counter Terrorism

The PNP and AFP are ready to counter any threats of terrorism arising from the capture of Commander Robot—whether these arise in Mindanao or in Metro Manila.

We know their lairs and these are being closely watched.

Our checkpoints and chokepoints have been alerted for possible terrorist movements and these will be interdicted alongside kidnap or robbery gangs.

I am calling on all our community leaders, especially in Metro Manila, to be on the lookout for terrorists and criminals and get more active in this relentless drive for law and order.

The Good News: 'People Power' is what makes the Philippines unique

It is not only politically that the Philippines has come to use "people power" to good advantage.

Professionally, the Filipino workforce is one of the most compelling advantages the country has over any of its Asian neighbors.


-- With a higher education priority, the literacy rate in the country is 94.6 per cent, among the highest in the world.

-- English is taught in all schools, making the Philippines the world’s largest English-speaking country outside of the United States.

-- Every year, there are some 350,000 graduates enriching the professional pool.

People power is but one of the come-ons the government, through the Board of Investments (BOI), is using to attract investments to the country.

It has, among others, also listed among the country’s advantages its strategic location, first class lifestyle, abundant resources, low cost of doing business, liberalized and business-friendly economy, unlimited business opportunities, and a developing infrastructure for global growth.

The BOI cited the country’s state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities, adequate and uninterrupted power supply, ready-to-occupy offices and production facilities, computer security and building monitoring systems as well as complete office services in specialized information technology (IT) zones as the reasons why the country is all the investors need and more.

With the government’s focus on building up an IT-enabled economy, the Philippines, the BOI said, is on its way to becoming the e-services hub of Asia.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved