, February 24, 2006, (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Continually hounded by coup and destabilization rumors, President Arroyo said yesterday she has adopted a new guiding mantra: "Be not afraid."

The President noted that courage and optimism were two virtues she had long ago developed when first entering government service. It was what Jesus Christ told his disciples, said Mrs. Arroyo, a devout Catholic.

During the "Go Negosyo Summit" of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE), Mrs. Arroyo urged businessmen to develop the same courage and optimism in order to make the economy grow and help Filipinos out of poverty.

"Believing you can do it is half of being able to do it — that is optimism. And I’ve never forgotten that exhortation through the many trying times I’ve had as a public servant," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo urged businessmen not to let "politicking or destabilization put down or destroy what we have here before us — the Filipino spirit of enterprise."

The President said her insights on optimism were given by her former boss at the Department of Trade and Industry, then secretary Jose Concepcion, who would often say, in the face of many challenges, "Yes, the Filipino can."

Concepcion’s son, Jose III, is now her adviser on entrepreneurship.

Mrs. Arroyo said the summit was being held while the country is experiencing an economic rebound and just in time for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first EDSA "people power" revolt.

"Indeed, we need a new form of people power to drive entrepreneurship and that new form of people power is the innovative use of resources to build businesses and provide jobs — that is the definition, actually, of entrepreneurship," she said.

There is "great patriotism," the President said, in setting up businesses "that give jobs and feed stomachs and the spirit of our countrymen and their families. Filipino entrepreneurs are patriots… who believe in our country and people who invest in our nation’s future."

Mrs. Arroyo pointed out that apart from Filipinos’ innate creativity and talent for innovation, one trait that keeps entrepreneurs going is optimism.

"Growing the economy through entrepreneurship and steadily denting poverty will help us overcome divisive politics and indeed build a God-centered society," she said.

The President issued the statement amid rumors of an impending coup after the military said on Wednesday that it had uncovered attempts to recruit at least 200 soldiers and officers to topple the Arroyo administration.

Mrs. Arroyo, who survived an impeachment attempt last year on allegations of corruption and vote-rigging in the May 2004 elections, continues to battle destabilization efforts by her political foes, who Palace and security officials said now include the joint forces of communist rebels and rightist elements.

Security at the Malacañang complex was further tightened yesterday with additional checkpoints set up inside the Palace grounds where visitors and vehicles were subjected to tighter inspection procedures.

The President said a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas poll last week showed that executives were now more bullish on the outlook for their companies than during any other period when the survey began.

Mrs. Arroyo said entrepreneurship is one of her administration’s priority programs. She asked the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to set aside P50 million to finance the needs of promising business ventures.

She said this would serve as an incubation fund with softer rates and long-term provisions for the financing needs of deserving and promising start-up business plan winners declared by the PCE.

The President also accorded business tycoon and SM Group founder Henry Sy Jr. the Presidential Recognition for Entrepreneurship Award for his support of fledgling enterprises.

Sy was cited for being the "big brother" of all Filipino entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Arroyo also launched the Search for the Presidential Scholars on Entrepreneurship. High school graduates and college students not older than 18 may apply for the "Generation E" scholarship. The 10 selected scholars will enter the Entrepreneurs’ School of Asia. — With reports from Paolo Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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