May 25, 2006 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced Tuesday that she will visit Spain late next month to push an overseas employment program that hopefully would land 100,000 Filipinos in tourist-related jobs in that country in two years.

She said there are new markets for overseas workers, and these include Spain whose booming tourism industry has drastically improved its economy.

"Spain’s labor market---that is what we are trying to negotiate, for when I go to Spain at the end of June. Spain’s labor market will hopefully open 100,000 jobs for our workers in the next two years," the President said in her address at the 27th National Conference of Employers at the Manila Hotel today.

She said she hopes to convince Spanish businessmen to invest in the Philippine tourist industry. Tourism is highly labor and skills intensive, she added.

The Chief Executive also said the government will redouble its efforts to develop the country’s tourist destinations, particularly in the Visayas, to generate more jobs for the people.

The administration has tapped the tourism sector, one of the country’s top dollar-earners, to generate the bulk of the six to 10 million jobs the President wants to create by 2010.

GMA names FPJ national artist 05/24 6:22:56 PM

MANILA (AFP) - President Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday proclaimed her deceased 2004 presidential election opponent, movie star Fernando Poe Jr., as a national artist.

The actor, who died of heart failure seven months after the election whose result he had challenged in the Supreme Court, was recognized for his achievements in the field of film, Arroyo said in a presidential proclamation.

Gov't will let journalists arm themselves against assassins 05/23 6:20:17 PM

MANILA (AFP) - The government will let journalists carry guns to protect themselves following several recent killings, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said Tuesday.

But Gonzalez also said many of the crimes might not be related to their jobs and hinted that some journalists were exploiting their power.

"Do they want to get bodyguards? Do they want to carry firearms? We will allow them to carry firearms to protect themselves," he said, a day after a radio broadcaster was shot dead in Palawan.

"We discussed that in the [presidential] palace earlier and if they want to carry firearms, we will allow it so long as they are legitimate [journalists]."

Pimentel blasts Arroyo for her 'enchanted kingdom' vision 05/24 1:22:12 PM

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. said Wednesday President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, true to her own rhetoric, was just weaving a fairy tale.

This was in reaction to Pres. Arroyo's vision of the Philippines in the future, a supposed journey to the “Enchanted Kingdom” of First World success.

“GMA reveals her Enchanted Kingdom world view, her Gotterdammerung, where she will be queen and everyone else a serf ministering to her whim! Or a clown to make her laugh,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that the President, instead of making false promises to the people, should heed their clamor for her resignation.

He said the people also want the President to be held accountable for her abuse of powers and misdeed in office, including the despicable killings of militants and journalists who have been critical of her government.

He said the President’s resignation will pave the way to the election of a new leader without the stigma of electoral fraud and corruption and who will enjoy the respect and trust of the people.

GMA hits back at Amnesty for "unfair" report 05/24 3:14:13 PM

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines on Wednesday hit back at rights watchdog Amnesty International, saying its report on the Southeast Asian nation was unfair.

The report said there was little regard for rights safeguards in the Philippines, that witnesses were not protected and criminal suspects killed.

"The conjectures of Amnesty International are unfair and misplaced," President Gloria Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye said, reacting to the London-based group's annual report released Tuesday.

"There is no such thing as a climate of impunity in the Philippines," Bunye said, denying charges in the report that leftist activists and journalists were being openly targeted.

"Criminal justice will eventually catch up with killers of whatever bent or stripe," he said.

It would be better if government critics cooperated in devising "protective measures for potential targets," he added.

Three journalists have been murdered in the Philippines this year after seven were killed in 2005, prompting the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) to warn in its 2006 annual report, that "after Iraq, the Philippines is the most dangerous country for journalists."

Leftist groups meanwhile charge that at least 93 of their members have been killed in attacks since Arroyo came to power in 2001.

Amnesty charged that it is difficult to get a fair trial in the Philippines, with criminal suspects in danger of police torture and extended detention.

It said that there was also "apparent tolerance" of suspected criminals being summarily executed, to include "petty thieves and street children" linked to the police.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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