VIEW FROM THE PALACE, September 19, 2005
by Ignacio Bunye (For the week ending September 18, 2005)

For three days last week, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo showed to the world that she could hold her own among world leaders. The President chaired the recently-concluded United Nations Security Council Summit, achieving the distinction of becoming the first Asian and first woman head of state to do so. The summit was held only for the third time in the UNís 60 year history.

In a group of world leaders which included, among others, Kofi Annan, George Bush, Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, and Hu Jin Tao, the President successfully steered the summit meeting through the discussions and adoption of two very important Security Council resolutions. One resolution proposed to impose sanctions on inciting to terrorism while the other dealt with conflict prevention, especially in Africa.

We were there at the UN Security Council floor when in happened. Secretary Alberto Romulo, RP representative to the UN Larry Baja, Speaker Joe de Venecia, Gina de Venecia, Congressmen Antonio Cuenco, Congressman Raul del Mar, Mrs. Beth Day Romulo, first gentleman Mike Arroyo, PCGG Chair Camilo Sabio. We all justifiably felt very proud that at the helm of this very important body was our very own president. Others watched from the gallery but the rest of the world watched the proceedings live on CNN.

Diplomats from all the world swarmed over the President right after she banged the gavel to announce the summitís adjournment. During the lunch at the UN cafetorium, Secretary Romulo, Speaker De Venecia, Ambassador Baja, Congressman Cuenco and I basked in reflected glory as other delegates approached our table to congratulate us for the Presidentís superb handling of the summit.

On her first day at the UN, the President presided over the meeting on interfaith dialogue . She also attended the UN-Asean meet. On the third day, she presented her policy recommendations during the UN plenary session.

The discussions in the different sessions covered a broad range of issues which were of interest to the world leaders. The fight against terrorism, use of interfaith dialogue as a tool for combating terrorism, addressing the galloping price of oil in the world market, debt relief not just for the highly indebted poor countries but also for middle income countries.

The President explained the need for rallying behind the United States in the global fight against terrorism. She described how our Bishop-Ulama model has helped in resolving religious tensions in Mindanao. She proposed a collective UN approach in easing the energy problems. She proposed various models which could provide relief to debtor nations .

The President met in formal bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Brunei Ďs Sultan Bolkiah. With President Hu, she discussed the progress of the North Rail Project. She thanked Prime Minister Badawi for their very important role in brokering the peace process with the MILF and for heading an international monitoring team She also thanked Sultan Bolkiah for Bruneiís contribution to the peace process as well as in the training of Islamic teachers.

In between the UN sessions, the President devoted time to meeting her international board of advisors, consisting of chief executive officers of their respective companies, who as in the past have provided the President with valuable counsel on economic and investment matters. She also met with various investor, both current and prospective, in the Philippines whom she briefed on the current political, economic and investment climate in the country. In these meetings, she was joined by Finance Secretary Gary Teves, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, and Planning Secretary Ding Santos.

As always, she took time to meet with overseas Filipinos, first during the dedication of the San Lorenzo Ruiz shrine in the heart of New Yorkís Chinatown and later during the photo exhibit prepared by Malacanan press photographers, led by Jerry Carual, at the Philippine Center.

In extolling the overseas Filipinos, the President said that San Lorenzo Ruiz was the first overseas Filipino worker whose faith in the Almighty and in our country never waivered..

Indeed, those were three glorious and very memorable days in New York.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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