[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo walks back to her seat after a speech at the cultural center of San Jose in Surigao del Norte, where she awarded certificates of land ownership and turned over foreign-assisted projects of the Department of Agrarian Reform to local residents. Courtesy of the Philippine Star]

PROSPERIDAD, AGUSAN DEL SUR, June 18, 2005 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today vowed to redouble her efforts to further improve the economy and serve the people in response to the open pledge of support to her administration by residents of this province.

"Madame President, we welcome you and assure you that we stand four-square in support of your administration," Agusan del Sur Governor Adolf Edward Plaza assured the President who addressed a commemorative program for the 38th founding anniversary of Agusan del Sur as a province.

In behalf of his constituents, Governor Plaza assured Mrs. Arroyo of their strong support for the President’s reform initiatives and call for unity and change.

Plaza also thanked the President for the delivery of basic services and government programs and projects that are fully harnessing the potentials of Agusan del Sur.

Addressing the local population here, the President assured them those who are trying to undermine her administration will not succeed, and that she will not be distracted from her governance agenda to better serve the people and the public welfare.

"Ang akala nila, mawawalan na ako ng loob…(They thought I would lose heart, but I know that people who support me like Governor Plaza and the people of Agusan del Sur will continue to implement my governance agenda for the good of the people," the President said.

Mrs Arroyo said the people of the province are living witnesses to the fact that she won "fair and square" here in the last elections. The people lustily cheered her.

President Arroyo arrived here at 11:00 a.m. from Cagayan de Oro City. She was welcomed by local officials led by Governor Plaza, Vice Governor Virginia Cortez, Representative Leovigildo Banaag, Prosperidad Mayor Nestor Corvena, and former Governor Valentina Plaza.

With the President were Environment Secretary Michael Defensor, Land Reform Secretary Rene Villa, Government Media Group Secretary Cerge Remonde, and Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO) Chairman Jesus Dureza.

The President said the political destabilizers are now hell bent in trying to bring her government down, particularly at this time when the fruits of her economic reforms, including the "unpopular" tax reforms, are nearing to be felt by ordinary people.

"It’s now or never for them," the President said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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