, November 21, 2005
(STAR) (AP) President Arroyo began the weekend hobnobbing with leaders from all over the Pacific Rim. She ended the weekend with Mickey Mouse.

Mrs. Arroyo stopped at Hong Kong Disneyland yesterday for a private visit with her family after attending the annual two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Busan, South Korea.

Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage tried out the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride and the Jungle River Cruise. They also saw shows like Mickey’s PhilharMagic, featuring 3-D versions of Disney cartoon characters, and "Festival of the Lion King," a Broadway-style musical.

She chatted with Filipino visitors at the park, which opened two months ago.

Mrs. Arroyo arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday evening, just hours after the APEC forum ended, and she was to return home on Monday morning, her office said.

The President will arrive today around noontime after her one-day vacation in Hong Kong. She was supposed to go back to Manila on Saturday night but proceeded to join her husband First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo to fulfill his promise to their eldest granddaughter, Mikaela Gloria that they would visit Disneyland.

The President attended the 13th APEC leaders’ summit of the 21-nation held in Busan on Nov. 18 to 19 and then proceeded to Hong Kong on Saturday night. She left Manila on Thursday.

Before winding up her Busan trip, Mrs. Arroyo participated in Friday’s meeting with the United States and the leaders of ASEAN 7.

Mrs. Arroyo proposed before them steps to tighten cooperation in counter-terrorism in the region.

She also called on the US to support and spearhead the initiative.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the President’s trip to South Korea underscored her determination to speed up the revitalization of the economy, build confidence, create jobs and fight poverty.

Following the two-day hustings, Mrs. Arroyo decided to take a day off to spend quality time with her family, joining them in Disneyland in Hong Kong.

Last week, Mrs. Arroyo was reunited with her corruption-tainted husband, who has been living in voluntary exile for the past three months. He has been accused of influence-peddling and receiving illegal gambling kickbacks.

Mr. Arroyo faces no charges and has denied taking gambling payoffs. The accusations are the subject of an ongoing congressional inquiry.

Hong Kong Disneyland is the Walt Disney Co.’s 11th theme park. It features two resort hotels on a bay surrounded by mountains on Lantau, the territory’s largest island. - With Aurea Calica

View from the Palace (For the week ending November 20, 2005) Office of the Press Secretary

A central pillar of the Arroyo presidency is a strong and aggressive role for the Philippines in foreign policy. That’s the reason why President Gloria considers attendance in international meetings of leaders like the recently-concluded APEC summit in Busan, South Korea very important.

Not only do summits provide President Gloria a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with other world leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern. They also allow us to invest in the economic, social and physical security of the Philippines.

Our participation in the APEC summit showcased our strong resolve to forge peace and stability not just in our domestic realm but in the Asia Pacific region as well. The world has given the Philippines a high mark in our country’s capability to beat terror and the praises we reaped during the summit is something that every Filipino should be proud of.

At the sidelines of the APEC summit, President Gloria met with US President George W Bush, summit host President Roh Moo-hyun of Korea, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

The world leaders were unanimous in praising the Philippine’s chairmanship of the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

President Bush expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar and President Gloria agreed to support efforts in the United Nations, particularly in the United Nations Security Council, where the Philippines is currently a non-permanent member, to help spur democratic reforms in Myanmar.

A top mutual concern, since 9/11, is security. President Bush noted with satisfaction the strength of intelligence exchange between the Philippine and the United States, the capture of Abu Sayyaf camps and the recent conviction of the Valentine’s Day bombers.

President Gloria shared with the President Bush the preventive measures and initiatives being undertaken by the Philippines as it continues to maintain an alert against the Avian flu.

The US President had nothing but praise for the warm welcome extended to him during his state visit to the Philippines. Bush has been quoted as saying, referring to another cordial reception, "This is as good as I got in the Philippines."

President Gloria also had fruitful exchanges with President Roh Moo-hyun. It will be recalled that President Gloria was the very first state visitor of President Roh when he became president in 2003. Roh will be visiting the Philippines come December during which time he is expected to sign key investment and economic agreements.

Korea will be financing the Caloocan-Muntinlupa portion of the PNR South Rail. Korean business is investing in or electric power plants and contributing to the electrification of our countryside. In addition, Korea is the Philippine’s most important source of tourists today.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Badawi committed to continue support for peace process as third-party facilitator and head of International Monitoring Team. Brunei’s Sultan Bolkiah likewise pledged support as a member of International Monitoring Team. In addition, Brunei will support efforts to build Madrasas in Mindanao.

Indonesia’s President Yudhono also expressed political support for peace process with the MILF. Indonesia, he said, would continue to be key RP partner in interfaith dialogue initiatives. Meanwhile, he expressed appreciation for the Philippine’s participation in Aceh peace monitoring team.

With Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Gloria discussed cooperation on anti-piracy and robbery at sea. The Singapore PM also promised to work closely to protect rights, welfare and safety of OFWs in Singapore.

President Gloria congratulated Japan’s new foreign minister; who in turn, committed to continue working for closer RP-Japan relations.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who was seated right next to President Gloria during the formal meetings, requested RP’s support for accession to the World Trade Organization, to which President Gloria agreed.

With the guest from Panama (not an APEC member but invited by host Korea), the President discussed the protection of the rights and welfare of approximately 98,000 Filipino seafarers on Panamanian-flagged vessels.

Indeed, the Busan trip proved once again the strong resolve of President Gloria to drive the economy further up, build confidence, create jobs and fight poverty. Our participation in the Busan summit also showed that we are a strong player in securing fair and liberal trade for the benefit not only of Filipinos, but for a better world for all.


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