[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo greets Russian President Vladimir Putin during the ASEAN plus Russia Summit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in the Malaysian capital last Tuesday.]

KUALA LUMPUR (VIA PLDT), December 15, 2005 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed excitement about the opportunity for the Philippines to work for the entry of Russia to the 12th ASEAN Summit next year.

The Philippines will host and chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in 2006 in place of Myanmar which was compelled to yield the groupís rotating chairmanship to save the regional group from further embarrassment.

Both the United States and the European Union have threatened to boycott the ASEAN meetings and suspend all aid to the group if Myanmar is allowed to chair unless its ruling military junta redeems its pledge to introduce democratic reforms.

"As country coordinator for the ASEAN-Russia dialogue, I conveyed to Russian President Vladimir Putin that it will be our job to get them into the East Asia Summit," the President said.

When asked about her reaction to the reported new coup rumors brewing in Manila, the President curtly replied, "No comment."

GMA urges East Asian Summit for effort to develop alternative sources of energy 12/14 4:51:17 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called Wednesday on the 16-member East Asia Summit (EAS) to undertake collective efforts to develop alternative and indigenous energy sources on a massive scale amid the continuing volatility of oil prices.

"The upward pressure of oil prices in recent months has taken some kind of toll on all our economies and the oil market indicates that oil prices will continue to be high and volatile," she said.

She said a common effort of the EAS partners to develop on a largescale alternative and indigenous energy sources would be a very helpful alternative to fossil fuels whose prices have been steadily rising over the past several months.

"I propose that the EAS agree on collective development on a largescale of alternative and indigenous energy sources that are available in East Asia. Now that it (EAS) has been founded formally, we urge our East Asian Grouping to start looking into the possibility of tapping these energy sources from resources native to the region," she added.

The ten original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia comprise EAS.

Meeting as a regional group for the first time following the 11th ASEAN Summit, which ends today, the heads of state of the EAS countries laid down the foundation for an economic and political bloc encompassing half the world's population.

Pres. Arroyo, who vigorously campaigned for closer cooperation among ASEAN countries to guarantee stable energy supply in the region, reiterated her proposal for cooperative endeavors among East Asian nations in the exploration of alternative fuel sources.

Among these alternative sources of energy, bio-ethanol and bio-diesel are seen as the best alternative fuels because vast areas in the region are available for sugar and coconut plantations.

"We could invest collectively in ethanol plants in Southeast Asia's sugar-producing regions while diesel oil from coconuts is another promising alternative energy source because both Indonesia and the Philippines plant coconut in large quantities," she said.

The Philippine leader also said other alternative sources of fuel such as wind farms and rural solar energy projects only need additional investments to take off.

She also called for the implementation of collective efforts to intensify oil and gas explorations in the China Sea, adding that these cooperative ventures could be "extended" to areas in the China Sea claimed jointly by several countries as part of their territories.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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