MALACANANG, January 20, 2006, (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today announced she has submitted to Congress as an urgent administration measure a P13-billion salary hike package for the country’s more than one million government workers.

The President made the announcement this afternoon when she addressed the 60th founding anniversary of the Liberal Party at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila.

A crowd of more than 10,000 people including governors, mayors, and representatives from the Liberal Party led by LP national chairman and Manila Mayor Joselito Atienza welcomed the President when she arrived at 4:50 p.m at Plaza Miranda.

"While Congress is still in the process of deliberating on our 2006 budget, I have decided to submit (the package) as an urgent administration measure and social budgetary bill to immediately increase the compensation of government workers," the President said.

In her message, President Arroyo commended state employees whom she likened to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who continue to show their sense of patriotism and dedication despite the hardships brought about by high oil prices and persistent political noise.

The President said the country’s more than one million state workers deserve the increase which the government can now afford to extend to them on account of the recent economic reforms instituted, including the valued-added tax reform.

"Government workers deserve the increase, the care and affection of the government they serve. Government workers deserve to reap the gains of our economic reforms, which include tax reforms again brought about by our hardworking congressmen from the Liberal Party and from the other parties in our ruling coalition," she intoned.

The President said the economic reforms now in place and already being implemented would bring about many other benefits that would improve the lives of Filipino families.

President Arroyo called on the congressmen to help facilitate the immediate passage of the compensation measure before Valentine’s Day on February 14 to demonstrate their love and concern for state employees and their families.

She also called on everybody to help her administration’s other reform measures to make the Philippines become a First World country in 20 years.

The President likewise thanked Liberal Party for supporting her other vital program plans including the scheme for enhanced local government autonomy, balanced budget and free enterprise.

To sustain the country’s gains leading towards a free and stronger economy, the President urged the people to support the initiative to change the present outdated political system that allows the use of "guns, goons, and gold" to achieve personal political ends.

"Poison politics that employ destabilization and arms to disturb the peace and scare away investors must be eliminated," she stressed in Pilipino.

"Kailangan magbago ang sistema ng pulitika bago tayo mahuling masyado" (Our system of degenerated politics must be changed before it is too late), she added.

Upholding the Constitution and the rule of law, she said, would help make the country stable and attract more investors that would provide more jobs for Filipinos.

The President capped her message by quoting former President Manuel Roxas, who founded the Liberal Party six decades ago on January 19, 1946 from what was referred to as the "Liberal Wing" of the old Nacionalista Party.

"Let us stop fighting today’s battle with yesterday’s weapon. Let us remove mud from politics and help bring about prosperity in Manila and in the villages in the countryside," she urged, quoting Roxas.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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