, March 3, 2005
(STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hosted a dinner Tuesday night for the Global Philanthropists Circle (GPC) to show her support for the group's worldwide efforts in addressing poverty.

GPC is composed of 50 philanthropic families from 15 countries. Their main commitment is to investigate, learn about and invest in trailblazing efforts to reduce poverty.

Under the auspices of the Synergos Institute, an independent non-profit organization that develops effective, sustainable and locally based solutions to poverty, GPC members regularly convene and visit each other's country to discuss national initiatives in social and economic development on strategic philanthropy.

The group that visited the Philippines had earlier attended a seven-day seminar at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City that tackled topics on the urban poor situation, early childhood development, micro-finance, the armed conflict in Mindanao, education and environmental conservation.

The seminar also included tours to selected communities in and around Manila where the participants were given a chance to observe, interact and share with community organizers, parents and children.

Their meeting with President Arroyo was meant for them to gain more information on her comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation so they will know how best to support her initiatives.

President Arroyo's comprehensive approach in the battle against poverty includes promoting a healthy market environment, jobs generation, sound governance, strengthened democratic institutions, educational reforms, social safety nets and agricultural modernization, among others.

Arroyo not inclined to lift moratorium on death penalty 03/03 11:46:12 AM

President Gloria Arroyo is not inclined to reverse her moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty, said a top Palace official.

This despite the call raised by some members of the Filipino-Chinese community for its lifting and proceed with the execution of condemned criminals on death row.

In a press briefing, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President, at this time, does not see the need to lift the moratorium, although she recognizes that such a change in policy may be implemented, should the crime situation worsen.

"Should the peace and order situation in the country worsen, it may become necessary to set an example by executing perpetrators of heinous crimes, to curb criminality," Ermita said.

As a devout Catholic from a country dominated by Christians, Ermita said Pres. Arroyo values human life, and would have to see extraordinary situations to warrant a shift in her policy.

The Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order warned today of a possible significant surge in kidnap-for-ransom activities, unless the death penalty is implemented.

Ermita, however, said Pres. Arroyo still does not see the need "for her to exercise the authority of giving the go-signal for execution" at this time.

Citizens Action Against Crime (CAA) chairman Teresita Ang-See said even the Philippine National Police (PNP) has moved for the early resolution of the cases of convicts in kidnap-for-ransom cases.

Ermita recalled that since 2001, the Chief Executive exercised the authority granted her by the Constitution, which includes the power to grant executive clemency or pardon, issue reprieves and commute the sentences of convicted criminals.

Last week, she had granted executive clemency to 31 prisoners and gave reprieve to 14 others in death row.

"Meanwhile, what she is exercising is her authority under the Constitution to give pardon, and to give commutation and give reprieve for those who are now in the National Penitentiary," Ermita said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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