[PHOTO AT LEFT - Papal Nuncio Antonio Franco (right), dean of the diplomatic corps, offers a toast to President Arroyo at the vin d’honneur hosted by the President at Malacañang yesterday. Sharing the toast are former President Fidel Ramos (left) and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. Photo by WILLY PEREZ]

MANILA, January 10, 2006 (STAR) Malacañang Monday called on the opposition to give the upcoming Council of State scheduled on January 24 a chance.

In a radio interview, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabby Claudio are set to finalize the list of those who will be invited to the meeting.

He added that the final list will be presented to President Arroyo for her approval.

Ermita appealed to critics to give the Council of State meeting a chance, urging them to set aside partisan politics for the good of the nation.

"We’re trying to draft a meaningful agenda for this meeting," he said in the vernacular.

The Council of State was created by Executive Order No. 305 on Sept. 9, 1987 to provide the President with reliable information and competent advice on pressing issues and problems of national interest.

Palace confident Council of State to lead to healing of political divisions 01/09 5:37:19 PM

Malacañang expressed confidence Monday that the meeting of the Council of State on Jan 24. will eventually pave the way for the healing of political divisions, unify and put the country on track for a brighter future.

In a statement released this afternoon, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye pointed out that Filipinos are tired of excessive politicking and are looking forward to an end to the long drawnout squabbling.

"Our people are tired of excessive politicking and it is our firm belief that the noble intention of the meeting would eventually heal the scars of the past and carry us to a brighter tomorrow," Bunye said.

"The people are looking up to the leaders of this nation to set aside partisanship and stand united to address vital concerns of the day – social, economic and political," he said.

Bunye added that the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already set the tone and pace of the country’s economic takeoff.

"The challenge posed to all of us is to join hands to make the fruits of economic growth reach the table of every Filipino family," he said.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Malacañang is finalizing a meaningful agenda of the Council of State meeting, as well as the list of the personalities, including political, religious and business leaders, who are expected to attend the meeting.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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