DECEMBER 3, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Arroyo is juggling work and her duties as a wife to First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who will undergo an angioplasty today.

Angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels to and from the heart.

Sources confirmed the First Gentleman was suffering from a heart ailment and that he had undergone a coronary angiogram during his confinement at the St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Quezon City.

Mr. Arroyo checked into the hospital Friday to prepare for the medical procedure.

Sources said the procedure would most likely be conducted by Dr. Enrique Posas. Angioplasty is not considered surgery and, based on a medical encyclopedia available in the Internet, it is done to prevent open heart surgery.

Usually, the average hospital stay for people who undergo angioplasty is less than two days. In many cases, an overnight hospital stay is not required at all.

In general, persons who have angioplasty are able to walk around within six hours after the procedure. Complete recovery takes a week or less, according to medical information available on the Internet.

According to the medical encyclopedia, arteries can become narrowed or blocked by deposits called plaque, which is made up of fat and cholesterol that builds up on the inside of the artery walls.

If the blockage is not too severe, an angioplasty procedure can be used to open the artery. Traditional angioplasty involves the use of a balloon catheter — a small, hollow, flexible tube tipped with a balloon.

Mrs. Arroyo followed the First Gentleman around lunchtime on Friday to be with him, but left SLMC 6:40 p.m. to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Makati City at 8:30 p.m.

Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said he and the President were talking via cellphone while Mrs. Arroyo was en route to the hospital Friday, contrary to reports that he was there at the hospital.

"(Mrs. Arroyo) told me to tell the media that she’s going there to visit the First Gentleman to quell speculations that it was she who was getting treatment. The President knew that the media people were following her," Claudio said in an interview.

Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said he was informed that Mrs. Arroyo would return to the hospital on Friday night.

Defensor said Mrs. Arroyo will keep other private appointments while attending to her husband.

The President did not have any public engagements but Defensor said she was on top of the operations needed to assist the victims of typhoon "Reming," which hit several parts of the country on Thursday and Friday.

He said this should end speculations that Mrs. Arroyo was also ill.

Defensor and Claudio also said Malacañang could not come up with official statements on the First Gentleman’s condition because his privacy must be respected.

The President’s spouse is not considered a public official even if he keeps an office and is provided with staff.

GMA to go on state visit to New Zealand, Australia in May By Aurea Calica The Philippine Star 12/03/2006

President Arroyo has announced two state visits in May to New Zealand and Australia to reciprocate the sojourn of its leaders and promote better ties with them.

In a speech during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCHAM) Philippines Inc. in Makati City Friday night, Mrs. Arroyo said she wants to strengthen the existing diplomatic and economic ties of the Philippines with these two South Pacific countries.

The President said her visit to New Zealand was her response to the invitation of Prime Minister Helen Clark for her to co-host the interfaith dialogue to be held there.

It was a return invitation, Mrs. Arroyo said, because Clark agreed to co-host the same dialogue held in Cebu last March.

Visiting New Zealand, she said, would be an opportunity for her to push through with her visit to Australia, in return for the state visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard to the Philippines in 2003.

In her speech, Mrs. Arroyo thanked the two countries for their continuing support for the Philippines’ development efforts, including her administration’s ongoing economic reforms.

"Thank you for joining us in our crusade for a new Philippines. Our opportunities are your opportunities, our well-being will be your own — we share a good future," the President said.

ANZCHAM’s silver anniversary also marked the observance of 60 years of diplomatic relations of the Philippines with Australia, and 40 years with New Zealand.

Mrs. Arroyo said she was grateful to the ANZCHAM leaders for their continued support to her administration, especially for demonstrating their confidence in the Philippines despite efforts from her detractors to disrupt her governance.

The President’s planned state visits coincide with the election period here which has become controversial amid a continued push by Charter change advocates to amend the Constitution before next year’s elections.

The President lauded Australia and New Zealand for helping the Philippine government expand its trade and other aspects of the economy in order to provide more jobs and raise the living conditions of poor Filipinos.

Next to the United States, Australia is the second leading security partner of the country and biggest donor in terms of Australian aid in defense cooperation, Mrs. Arroyo noted.

"And I thank Australia and New Zealand for providing assistance to peace and development in Mindanao, especially in the conflict-affected areas, through confidence and capacity building," she said.

To further improve the business climate in the Philippines, the President assured the top executives of ANZCHAM that the government would continue to improve its infrastructure facilities like roads, seaports, airports and information and communication technology (ICT) centers "until the major islands are closely interlinked by land, air, sea and cyberspace."

Mrs. Arroyo also conveyed special thanks to Australian Ambassador Tony Hely for offering to send more assistance to impoverished Filipinos and to the victims of super typhoon "Reming" in the Bicol region.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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