, August 5, 2005
(STAR) President Arroyo lays out the red carpet at Malacañang this afternoon for visiting South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-Chan.

Lee and his party are expected to arrive at 2 p.m. aboard a Philippine Airlines flight.

Lee is on transit to Seoul after attending the state funeral of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, but Mrs. Arroyo has declared his visit to be "official."

After the traditional welcome rites and courtesy call, Mrs. Arroyo will host an official dinner at Malacañang in honor of Lee and his eight-member delegation of South Korean officials.

Meanwhile, Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said yesterday South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun will make a state visit to the country in December.

De Venecia said Lee’s arrival comes at a time when "fresh" South Korean investments in the Philippines have reached $1.4 billion.

"This is the first major and most powerful expression of large foreign investments in the Philippines since we have these political problems," he said. — Marichu Villanueva

Palace: Economic figures better than popularity figures By Aurea Calica The Philippine Star 08/05/2005

Like a boxer who gets tougher after taking each blow, President Arroyo remains unfazed by her plunging popularity ratings in the wake of cheating and jueteng allegations hounding her and her family, Malacañang said yesterday.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye also said that trust and approval ratings are not the President’s prime concern, adding that the Chief Executive is focused on the "economic figures."

He said Mrs. Arroyo intends to just continue doing her job and expressed confidence that the President’s "efforts to grow the economy and improve the plight of the average Filipino" would carry the day for her.

"The gravest attacks against the person and the Office of the President have only strengthened her resolve to stay the course of reform and constitutional justice," Bunye said. "All of the allegations are clearly designed to weaken the presidency but she will not let her detractors succeed."

The President is hounded by allegations that she rigged last year’s elections and that she, along with her husband, eldest son and brother-in-law, benefited from jueteng payoffs.

She has repeatedly denied all the allegations against her, including allegations she bribed officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to rig the elections in her favor.

Despite her denials, Mrs. Arroyo suffered the lowest approval yet received by a Philippine president, hitting just 19 percent last month, down from 25 percent in June, according to independent pollster Pulse Asia, Inc.

Despite this drop in the President’s ratings, Bunye said "no amount of adverse polls will deflect (Mrs. Arroyo) from her reform agenda."

"The President may not be popular, but her strength and determination to achieve her vision for the country is what makes her a world class leader," he said.

He also said the President continued to receive the support of the local government officials and their constituents — especially in the provinces.

"We believe that the President is not very concerned with the popularity ratings and we hope that the allies of the President will stay the course with her," he said. "They are partners in achieving the various programs of the administration, and we believe that they will stay with her."

"The President enjoys a wide reservoir of support" among local government executives, he said, adding that some of these officials "are really not very concerned with what (is) happening here in Metro Manila."

"They say that in the provinces, in the regions, they just would like to get on with what they’re doing, there’s progress in the countryside and they prefer to keep it that way," Bunye said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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