MANILA,  September 25, 2004
By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo is determined to cut by half the prevailing poverty incidence in the country by the end of her six-year term through the vigorous pursuit of the "wealth creation" measures laid down under her Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP), Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said yesterday.

Bunye disclosed that printed copies of the MTDP will be out in time for Mrs. Arroyo’s first 100 days in office on Oct. 9.

"The President made clear that the goal for the next six years would be to reduce poverty by half," Bunye said. An estimated 34 percent of the 80 million Filipinos live below the poverty line.

"She (President) intends to reduce this to 17 percent and this will be from a combination of various measures," he said.

Bunye, the concurrent press secretary, disclosed that the "fighting theme" of the administration’s MTDP is to "beat-the-odds," which is actually the acronym of the first letters of Mrs. Arroyo’s 10-point legacy.

Beat-the-odds stands for balanced budget, education for all, automated elections, transport all over the country, opportunities for employment, decentralized development, decongesting Metro Manila, and Subic/Clark as logistics hubs.

The President herself presented this program to the members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Jose de Venecia last Thursday during the Legislative Agenda Planning conference held at the Land Bank Plaza in Malate, Manila.

During the conference, Mrs. Arroyo vowed to incorporate into her MTDP the 12-point program presented by De Venecia, which is centered on reviving the mining industry, implementing major reclamation and reforestation projects and creating special zones within Subic and Clark to attract long-term investments.

"In the midst of difficulties that our nation is encountering, I thank Speaker Jose de Venecia for the 12-point program that he just gave me and it is very much part of my ten-point (legacy)," Mrs. Arroyo said.

"For example, reviving the mining industry. That is part of my number one point to create ten million jobs. Mobilize investors in Mt. Diwalwal gold mines, the same thing," the President noted.

"Exploring and developing more oil and gas wells is also part of the creation of ten million jobs," she quipped.

Mrs. Arroyo told the congressmen that National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Romulo Neri is now putting together, under her close direction, the final touches to her MTDP draft.

"And we will find a place for these paragraphs in our Medium Term Development Plan in the appropriate chapter," the President reassured the legislators.

In an official statement he issued at the Palace yesterday, Bunye said that the wealth-creation proposal of De Venecia deserved the President’s attention.

"The President’s endorsement manifests that the government’s strategies to address the crisis are not merely concentrated on austerity measures and additional taxes, but also on long-term income generating projects," Bunye pointed out.

"The challenges may be steep down the road but with the strong cooperation and partnership between the executive and legislative branches, coupled with positive public response to the call for national sacrifice, we are confident that we can overcome and prevail over all challenges," Bunye said.

"We have made gains on various fronts and the President is clear about what needs to be done. We are moving towards implementation of various programs that will implement the general plan for our country," he added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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