March 20, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) (For the week ending March 19, 2006) We leave the manhunt for the plotters in the good hands of the police while we focus on pushing economic reform forward. At the end of the day, it is the economy that will play a determining role in our future.

That is why President Arroyo wants the fight for a strong economy to be waged in all fronts. We have made solid progress in creating new jobs. During 2005, foreign investment increased by more than 64 per cent, up to US Dollars 1.1 billion and this new investment has created significant numbers of new jobs. This administration is targeting priority sectors, including mining and business process outsourcing, for job creation and we are confident that these industries will continue to grow strongly.

Business confidence is being won through a sound policy framework for fiscal stability that includes strong collection, a permanent plug on revenue leaks, and austerity measures.

While the burden for collecting taxes is on the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue to deliver on this goal it is also our duty as responsible citizens to support this program of the government. Intensified collections would bring in more funds to maintain a full-bodied economy that can support basic social services, reliable infrastructure and pump-priming programs to grow jobs and enterprise.

With a sound framework based on the fiscal reforms which the President has initiated, we can steam ahead in our economic roadmap and overcome what past administrations have failed to accomplish.


Reader Richard Saludar has some very interesting observations regarding the latest Pulse Asia survey. We quote him in full:

"Comparing Pulse Asia March survey with October 2005 will show that deterioration in sentiment toward President Arroyo has stalled. Some notable data:

a. Those who want President Arroyo out were statistically unchanged (65 % now v. 64 % in October)

b. Those who find her unacceptable as leader dropped to 32% from 40% in October and 47% in July.

c. Distrust of President Arroyo fell to 50% from 55% in October

d. Percent who favor let her stay in office is constant: 34% v. 35%.

e. Percent who see her continued stay in office as most inimical scenario dropped to 19 % compared to 21% in October."


The sight of children and minors spending time behind bars when they should be out playing, reading books, and spending time with their families saddens the heart. Certainly, the government has noted this problem and is moving towards permanent solutions to help children-in-conflict-with-the-law (CICLs)

For one, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is now actively involved in looking after the welfare of these children. DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral said her department has recently been named as lead agency in coordinating all efforts to address this problem. As part of its mandate, the DSWD is working closely with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in putting up and managing the operation of a detention center for CICL at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The separation of minors from adult criminals has been going on under the auspices of the DSWD since late last year. As of this month, a total of 192 CICLs are now with the DSWD for rehabilitation and counseling.

It is important that we view this problem not only as a matter for the national government to address but as a societal problem that demands the cooperation and support of every Filipino. The Strong Family Program that was recently launched by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seeks to address this problem by empowering the head of the family through employment and livelihood opportunities. With a strong family, we can expect lesser children out in the streets, living in conflict with the law. We can also expect greater productivity as we open the doors to entrepreneurship and employment to more of our citizens.

In the following weeks, the operational details of the Strong Family Program of President Arroyo will be unveiled by the Department of Labor and Employment in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other agencies. Meanwhile, this corner invites well-meaning Filipinos to recommend creative initiatives that would make for a Strong Filipino Family and thus, a strong and stable nation.


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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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