January 2, 2006 (STAR) President Arroyo has approved the promotions of more than 200 senior and junior officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo approved the promotions in the AFP as recommended by Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz last month.

He said one PNP officer was promoted to the rank of director while more than 100 were promoted to the rank of senior superintendent.

Ermita, however, could not give the names of those promoted.

For the AFP, he said 89 from the Army were promoted to captains,

while 29 to first lieutenants. One officer was promoted to commander and 39 to captain in the Navy. The rank of captain in the Navy is equivalent to the rank of colonel in the Army, Air Force and the Marines.

Ermita added that Mrs. Arroyo also approved the deployment of more troops to Liberia and Haiti under the auspices of the United Nations.

One hundred and sixty-five troops were deployed to Liberia and 115 to Haiti, he said. The deployments would the fifth and third batch of deployment for Liberia and Haiti respectively.

Ermita also said retired general Efren Abu, who stepped down as AFP chief in August last year, has been formally appointed as special envoy to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia East Asia Growth Area. — Paolo Romero

Lippo Group to invest P3 billion in Export Industry Bank rehab

BAGUIO CITY – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Saturday the decision of the Lippo Group of Hong Kong to invest P3 billion for the rehabilitation of the Export Industry Bank (EIB) "bodes well for the further strengthening of the financial sector."

Speaking before a group of media practitioners at The Mansion here, the President said news of the new investment commitment was relayed to her by Philippine Deposit and Insurance Corporation (PDIC) President-CEO Ricardo Tan through one of her economic advisers.

Explaining the significance of the new investment, the President said "the conclusion of the agreement to rehabilitate the EIB between the Philippine regulators, that is the PDIC on the one hand –and an investor group -- which is the Lippo Bank, bodes well for the further strengthening of the financial sector."

"The agreement will see the infusion of fresh capital of at least P3 billion by the Lippo Group of Hong Kong and a consortium of new local investors," she said.

This new investment, coupled with the strengthening of the peso and the continued decline of crude oil prices in the world market, signals the renewed interest and confidence of foreign investors in the country as an investment destination, she added.

She expressed confidence that the decision of the Lippo Group will be complemented with other positive developments in the economic sector in the days ahead.

"This is yet another signal of a vibrant economy, thus propelling the nation to a bright New Year and shows the gleam of our capacity for renewal, leaving the past behind and working for a great leap forward," the President said.

The Lippo Group is a giant business conglomerate based in Jakarta, Indonesia, with interests in banking, finance and other enterprises. The listed assets of its flagship, Lippo Ltd., in 1995 was $3.6 billion. The firm owns only one bank in the United States but has extensive interests in Indonesia, Hong Kong and China.

The conglomerate was founded by Mochtar Riady, an ethnic Chinese born in Indonesia.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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