ERMITA:  GMA'S  MOVE  TO ADMIT  RP  IN  FISCAL CRISIS  IS  HEROIC

MANILA,  August 30, 2004
(STAR)
By Evelyn Macairan - On the observance of National Heroes’ Day, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita cited yesterday President Arroyo as a hero for admitting that the country is on the brink of a fiscal and energy crisis.

Ermita, who led the commemoration rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Makati City, lauded the President for not hiding the country’s financial status from the people when she announced last week that the government needed to cut back on expenditures. The national debt reportedly stands at P3.4 trillion.

The President was criticized by various sectors fearing a backlash to foreign investments. Malacañang devised cost-saving measures such as the controversial cut to the Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units.

For Ermita, the President’s move was a heroic act: "She made the announcement not to start a wave of shock and panic but to emphasize on the positive, that our nation and our people (will) survive a period of difficulty."

In the event, Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz introduced Ermita as an "all-around troubleshooter of the Arroyo administration."

In making the disclosure to the people on where the country stands financially, the President "wanted us to remember what we have known for a long time but tend to disregard, that we are a nation of heroes and we have always made it through," Ermita said. "We are used to making sacrifices."

Ermita also expressed gratitude to people working in the public and private sectors who have been supportive of the President’s fundamental reform agenda contained in her "10-point legacy" that includes, among other targets in the next six years, the creation of more jobs and school buildings, generation of more power in barangays all over the country, a just end to the peace process and closure to divisiveness in the government.

He said heroism, however, is not exclusive to the chief executive nor does it lie under the tombstones of heroes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Ermita strongly stressed that even ordinary Filipinos could perform extraordinary acts.

"We commemorate and celebrate our National Heroes’ Day to emphasize that while we may be in need of acts of heroism, we have never been short of heroes," he said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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