NOVEMBER 14, 2006 (STAR) President Arroyo is scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting with US President George W. Bush and other heads of state at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam this week.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said arrangements are being made for separate bilateral meetings between Mrs. Arroyo and President Bush at the Hotel Sofitel in Hanoi on Nov. 18, as well as meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Officials said the President is scheduled to leave for Hanoi on Friday. She will meet members of the Filipino community shortly after arrival.

Prior to the bilateral meetings, there will be a summit among leaders of APEC member countries and ASEAN heads of state to be led by Mrs. Arroyo. This will be followed by the APEC Leaders’ retreat and a meeting with the APEC Business Advisory Council later.

Mrs. Arroyo is also expected to deliver the closing remarks of the APEC chief executive officers’ meeting, which will be followed by a gala dinner.

On Sunday, APEC heads of state will go on a retreat for the second time and issue their statements later in the afternoon.

From Hanoi, Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation will proceed to Singapore where they will stay for two days.

Officials could not say whether she would be meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong but she is scheduled to have one-on-one interviews with international media organizations and meet with business leaders. — Paolo Romero

GMA urged to name civilian DND chief By Jess Diaz The Philippine Star 11/14/2006

A bipartisan group of congressmen urged President Arroyo yesterday to appoint a civilian as successor of outgoing Secretary Avelino Cruz of the Department of National Defense (DND).

Minority Leader Francis Escudero said the appointment of a civilian would be consistent with the constitutional principle that civilian authority should always be supreme over the military.

"Besides, it would also ensure that the reforms started by Secretary Cruz, which only an appointee detached from the military could pursue, would be continued for the sake of our soldiery," he said.

For his part, Deputy Minority Leader Abraham Mitra asked Mrs. Arroyo to ignore retired military and police generals and old politicos who, he said, are salivating for Cruz’s job.

He said a young civilian like the outgoing defense chief would be an ideal replacement.

He added that there would be resentment among many soldiers if a retired police general were chosen to replace Cruz.

Former President Fidel Ramos said the next defense should be "equally capable" as Cruz, who had a "good program going" with the defense modernization.

"I would like to emphasize the word capable," Ramos said upon arrival last night at the airport. He also frowned on the President’s holding the defense portfolio in a concurrent capacity, saying it was "overstretching an already overstretched president."

At least four congressmen are reportedly interested in the DND post. They are Gilberto Teodoro Jr. of Tarlac, Prospero Pichay Jr. of Surigao del Sur, Jose Solis of Sorsogon and Amado Espino of Pangasinan.

Cruz tendered his irrevocable resignation after criticizing the failed Sigaw ng Bayan people’s initiative as a "harebrained" and "constitutionally infirm" idea.

As for the plan of administration congressmen to convene as a constituent assembly and approve proposed Charter changes even without the participation of the Senate, Cruz said it would fail like the people’s initiative.

He said a constituent assembly would require the participation of the Senate and the House. — With Rainier Allan Ronda

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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