MANILA, June 15, 2005
(STAR) Her administration beset by scandals and an alleged destabilization plot, President Arroyo has designated Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo to represent her at the Summit Meeting of the Group of 77 and China in Doha, Qatar.

Romulo, who left for Qatar yesterday afternoon, said in a statement that he would represent Mrs. Arroyo as a special presidential envoy and join world leaders in Doha to fortify the development agenda and chart the future course of the Group of 77 and China during the summit slated from June 14 to 17.

"I leave today to carry on with the economic, development and reform agenda of President Arroyo at the Summit Meeting of the Group of 77 and China in Doha," Romulo said.

Foreign Undersecretary Gilberto Asuque denied the Palace sent Romulo because of persistent talks of a coup to oust Mrs. Arroyo.

Asuque said the President’s decision to be represented by Romulo in the G77 Summit "was made a month ago."

The summit will feature a gathering of heads of state or government from 132 member countries of the Group of 77.

As Romulo embarks on this trip, he noted that the Philippines "has completed the first part of its reform agenda, backed by a foreign policy that engaged the countries of our global economy in building an international economic order that would be supportive of our own national development agenda."

"In carrying out this task, we worked closely with our partners in the developing world," he said.

Romulo said he will also have a number of bilateral meetings and will meet with the Filipino community in Doha.

He stressed that the Summit of the Group of 77 and China provides another important opportunity for the Philippines to focus collective action on critical issues facing the developing world.

"In particular, I hope to bring focus to the issues of trade, migration and development, debt relief, the rising cost of oil and the central role that the United Nations plays in development," he said.

Meanwhile, Romulo will proceed to New York after attending the summit to chair the Philippine-initiated Interfaith Conference at the UN.

The Philippine Mission to the UN said yesterday "all systems are go" for the holding at the UN next week of the tripartite Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace initiated by the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr., permanent representative to the UN, said the June 22 conference entitled Enhancing Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation towards Peace in the 21st Century will be chaired by Romulo.

The conference, which was launched at the UN Headquarters in New York last May 12 by Romulo, will bring together governments, civil society and the UN in a dialogue that will explore how the worldís religious could contribute to the quest for world peace.

Baja said the conference is another significant step toward advancing this Philippines interfaith initiative first advocated by Mrs. Arroyo and Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.

He said the conference will be participated in by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Foreign Minister Noer Hasssan Wirajuda of Indonesia, President Jean Ping of the UN General Assembly, President Munir Akram of the UN Economic and Social Council, Director General Koichiro Matsuura of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and President Hiro Sakurai of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN.

Arrangements are being made for former US President Jimmy Carter to address the conference via live telecast from Atlanta, Georgia.

"Members of the Philippine Mission, led by Minister Leslie Gatan, have devoted much time and effort to this endeavor, which has been identified in UN and civil society sectors as one of the major Philippine initiatives in multilateral diplomacy," Baja said. — Pia Lee-Brago

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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