ANGELO WON'T BE AT GMA'S SONA;  WELCOME MASS FOR ANGELO'S RETURN

LUCENA CITY,  July 22, 2004 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today said freed Filipino overseas contract worker Angelo dela Cruz would not be attending her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday to give him enough time to recover from his recent ordeal and spend quality time with his family.

In a talk with reporters at the sideline of the 4th Annual National Convention of the Philippine Schools District Supervisors Association (PSDSA) at the Queen Margarette Hotel here, the President said she is also leaving it to Dela Cruz to decide when to visit the Our Lady of Rosales Church in Rosales, Pangasinan, where she prayed for his safe release.

The President also said that the Commission on Appointments (CA) would be constituted a week after her SONA.

The President said all incumbent appointees would remain as caretakers for the time-being.

The President also bared that Oscar Sevilla would be appointed as chairman of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) vice Alfonso Cusi who recently replaced Edgar Manda as general manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

A mass at Our Lady of Rosales, Pangasinan, GMA's way of welcoming Angelo

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will accompany freed hostage Angelo dela Cruz to pray at Our Lady of Rosales in Pangasinan when the 46-year-old truck driver held hostage for over two weeks in Iraq comes home, Malacañang said today.

Before his release, the President prayed for dela Cruz at Our Lady of Rosales.

"They will hear mass at Our Lady of Rosales in Pangasinan. That is the personal welcome of our President for Angelo," Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said this morning in a radio interview.

"We would like to thank many unnamed persons, entities and friends of our government who helped in the release of dela Cruz," said Bunye, citing in particular the help of the government of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bunye reiterated the government’s concern for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"Our number one consideration is the safety of our countrymen, not only those in the Middle East but all OFWs," Bunye said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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