U.S. ECO AID:  PALACE HOPEFUL U.S. CONGRESS WOULD COME THROUGH FOR RP

MANILA
, March 8, 2005
(STAR) The Palace is counting on the group of congressmen in the United States who have been sympathetic to Manila to block the plan of the Bush administration to cut its economic and military assistance to the Philippines.

In today’s press briefing in Malacanang, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said the US-Philippine Congressional Caucus has so far been successful in pushing in the US Congress the enactment of laws favoring Philippine interests.

However, Bunye said the news that the US would cut by 30 percent the $124 million economic and military aid to the Philippines should also serve as a wake up call for the entire nation to push for the enactment of measures supporting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s fiscal consolidation program.

"As much as possible, we would like the assistance to be restored. But it’s also time really for us to consider the possibility of losing all or part of the assistance and look for our own means to provide for our necessities," he said.

Bunye emphasized that the government remained hopeful that its friends in the US Congress would come through for the Philippines.

The same group of 72 legislators forming the US-Philippine Congressional Caucus was responsible for the enactment of laws providing additional benefits to Filipino war veterans who fought side by side with American soldiers in World War II.

"We have very good friends and sympathizers in the US Capital. There’s a group of US representatives who are very sympathetic to our cause and they have, in fact, been successful in pushing for the interest of the Philippines and we will continue to rely on them, as well as on the report of our officials in Washington," he said.

Asked whether the Palace would be issuing instructions to the Philippine embassy in Washington, Bunye said "our embassy officials have been very active, not only in this particular regard, but also in other things that will assist the Philippines. I don’t think they need to be reminded what needs to be done to push the interest of the Philippine government, they already know."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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