GOVERNMENT:  RP  READY  FOR  ASEAN  SUMMIT  /  FG  OUT  OF  HOSPITAL

MANILA,
DECEMBER 5, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Everything is in place for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit in Cebu City next week.

All physical and security preparations, including the main venue, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), have been completed.

Assistant Secretary General for Media and Communications Milton Alingod said ASEAN’s national organizing committee will hold its first press conference at the CICC tomorrow. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo will also brief the media on Dec. 8.

President Arroyo and other ASEAN leaders will use the venue for the first time on Dec. 10 for its meeting with the Eminent Persons Group, working on the ASEAN pro-democracy charter.

After the 6 -7 p.m. meeting, Mrs. Arroyo will host a dinner for the other ASEAN leaders at the CICC, he added.

Alingod and Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Victoriano Lecaros, spokesman for the ASEAN summit, said the media and communication facilities had been put in place.

Alingod said the function rooms were undergoing "finishing touches," but the facilities for broadcast media had been completed.

The booths have been set up and some local television stations have started using the facilities, he added.

The computers and telephone lines for other members of the media were also being put up, Alingod said.

Lecaros said despite the limited time given to the Philippines to prepare for the event, it was good that authorities managed to pull through with the preparations.

All countries have at least two years to prepare for the top-level meeting, while the Philippines only had a year to do it after Myanmar declined to serve as ASEAN chairman and host of the summit due to political reasons, he added.

Lecaros said the heads of state and government and their delegations would be safe and secure as Marines, police, the Coast Guard and members of the Presidential Security Group had been deployed to ensure peace and order during the summit.

"The whole world is watching Cebu now," he said. "There are long- term benefits particularly in the tourism sector that Cebu and the country will gain from the event."

Central Visayas police commander Chief Superintendent Silverio Alarcio Jr., Cebu Task Force commander, said they would have to find ways for better traffic management since a "monstrous traffic jam" was experienced during the dry run in three cities last week.

The city mayors of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu would meet with other officials to discuss the matter, he added.

Alarcio has expressed confidence the problem would be solved easily.

"I see no major problems, except for the traffic," he said.

President Arroyo has declared a holiday in the cities where the events would be held to avoid traffic problems.

Several major thoroughfares will be closed when ASEAN leaders move from one venue to another during the four-day summit. Foreign activists warned The Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned foreign activists yesterday that aliens who join protest rallies during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cebu City next week could face arrest and deportation.

Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez Jr. said Philippine immigration laws ban foreigners from joining local protest actions that are acts "tantamount to interfering in the country’s political affairs."

Fernandez said participation of aliens in protest rallies is a violation of the conditions of their stay here as tourists.

"Aliens who will be caught rallying during the ASEAN summit will automatically be subjected to deportation. They would also be blacklisted and banned from re-entering the country for being undesirable aliens," Fernandez explained.

Immigration intelligence chief Faizal Hussin said that agents of the bureau have been deployed in strategic areas in Cebu City and Manila to monitor activities of foreigners who "might disrupt the meetings."

Hussin said the country’s Immigration Act specifically considers as undesirable any alien who is a member of an organization that advocates the overthrow of the duly constituted authority.

Several leftist groups have announced plans to conduct street protests in Cebu City during the summit that will be held from Dec. 11 to 14.

The government, however, said demonstrations would only be allowed in designated rally zones.

Police and security forces were ordered to strictly implement a "no permit, no rally" policy during the summit.

Authorities said rally permits will not be issued in areas near the venues of the ASEAN summit, which will be attended by over 3,000 delegates, including heads of state, and 2,000 local and foreign journalists. -With Edu Punay

Mike A grateful to GMA as he leaves hospital today By Aurea Calica The Philippine Star 12/05/2006

First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo is leaving St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) today grateful to his wife, President Arroyo, for convincing him to undergo the executive checkup that revealed his heart condition.

Mr. Arroyo underwent angioplasty, a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart.

His chief of staff, Juris Soliman, said the First Gentleman was telling his visitors that he is very thankful to his wife for insisting that he subject himself to an executive checkup along with her over a week ago.

"He was not supposed to be part of that executive checkup. So now, he is saying that if men love their wives and family and listen to the wife — especially when the wife says have an executive checkup — (then everything will be okay. We should) believe in her because women, by nature, have intuition," Soliman told reporters in Malacañang, where a Mass was held for the calamity victims in Bicol.

The priest also offered the Mass as thanksgiving for Mr. Arroyo’s successful angioplasty.

Soliman said the First Gentleman did not feel any signs or symptoms of blockage in the blood vessels of his heart.

"He did not have any chest pains, even if there was blockage in one artery, and he is very thankful to God that he listened (to Mrs. Arroyo)," Soliman said.

Soliman said Mr. Arroyo was doing well after the procedure and that the First Couple’s only daughter, Lourdes Evangeline or "Luli," was keeping tight watch on him.

"He’s just complaining that the catheter hurts," Soliman said.

Traditional angioplasty involves the use of a balloon catheter — a small, hollow, flexible tube tipped with a balloon. Physicians will make a small cut on the patient’s body, usually near the groin, and insert the catheter into an artery.

The doctors who conducted the angioplasty on the First Gentleman were Wilfred Dy and Nick Cruz, while Romeo Saavedra headed the team.

Soliman added the First Gentleman had been eating fish and other food allowed by his physicians.

She said Luli would accompany the First Gentleman when he checks out of the hospital today because Mrs. Arroyo will be in Albay to attend to the victims of mudslides spawned by typhoon "Reming."

The First Couple’s sons, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Dato, will be at the ethics committee of the House of Representatives for the cases they filed against Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who accused the First Family of keeping dollar accounts in Germany, Soliman said.

The First Gentleman’s brother, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, will be with them at the House, Soliman added.

Mr. Arroyo was confined at the SMLC Friday after doctors found that he needed the angioplasty.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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