, December 1, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today formally opened the 8th Asian Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) Conference and Exhibition at the Forum, Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Roxas Blvd in Pasay City.

Assisted by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) president Eduardo Mañalac, the President cut the ceremonial ribbon formally opening the exhibit component of the ASCOPE event.

Participating in the event are eight of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Not participating are Cambodia and Laos.

On hand to witness the exhibit’s formal opening were ASEAN delegations led by Mohd Reduan Bin Haji Mohd Yusof of Brunei, Widya Pamama of Indonesia, YB Tan Sri Dato Sri Mohd Hassan Marican of Malaysia, Choo Chiau Beng of Singapore, Tevin Vongvanich of Thailand and Nguyen Dang Lieu of Vietnam.

The ASCOPE Conference this year has for its theme "Energizing ASEAN to Meet the Challenges of the New Millennium."

Escorted by Lotilla and Mañalac, President Arroyo also toured participating booths of Petronas, Singapore Petroleum Company, Directorate General of Oil and Gas Indonesia, PNOC, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, Schlumberger, BW Technologies Ltd., Petron, Pilipinas Shell, Petroleum Brunei, Saudiaramco, PetroVietnam China National Petroleum Corporation, China Oilfield Services Ltd., and others.

ASCOPE was born out of a proposal in June 1975 by PERTAMINA that was sent to the heads of national oil companies and state institutions in charge of petroleum matters in the ASEAN region to forge closer cooperation among ASEAN countries on petroleum concerns.

Mañalac recalled the proposal was for the joint cooperation to assist the ASEAN countries in "strengthening their capabilities in all aspects and phases of the petroleum industry through mutual assistance."

A preliminary meeting was held in Manila in September 1975 to discuss the proposal. This was followed by another meeting a month later in Jakarta where the members decided and agreed to establish the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE).

Bunye laments negativism of political opposition

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye lamented today the negativism of the political opposition, saying it cuts deep into "our national pride at a time when Team Philippines is competing for excellence in every field."

While Filipinos all over the world are rooting for the motherland, "political detractors, like the proverbial crabs, keep pulling our country down," he pointed out.

"This is the time to move forward and not fall back," he added.

The Malacañang official paid tribute to the Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) who have kept the economy buoyant despite the temporary lag in economic growth as a result of the endless political bickering and campaign of President Arroyo’s political detractors to destabilize her administration.

Bunye said the "contrast between the heroism of our workers and the negativism of the opposition is something that hurts our national pride at a time when Team Philippines is competing for excellence" in the ongoing 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games hosted by the Philippines.

The peso continues to gain ground on the back of OFW remittances, closing yesterday at P54-$1, an eight-month high, although the year-on-year growth of the economy was weaker than projected at 4.1 percent.

The lower-than-projected economic growth is not expected to impact on the peso, according to monetary authorities.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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