MARCH 20, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - The world is now looking at the Philippines as an economic wonder, President Arroyo said yesterday as she highlighted the economic and political gains achieved by her administration.

In a statement, she said that these gains have boosted the confidence of the international community in the local economy.

"The combined potency of a robust economic blueprint and the productivity of Filipinos here and abroad has caught the eye of investors and political observers who are now seeing a permanent trajectory of economic and political stability," Mrs. Arroyo said.

She also cited the strengthening of the peso, which she claimed has led to the reduction in the prices of water, transport fuel, liquefied petroleum gas and food.

Since middle of last year, the peso has been steadily gaining strength vis-à-vis the US dollar, closing at P48.73 to $1 last Friday.

The administration has been criticized in the past for publicizing economic gains that the masses do not really feel and has likewise been censured for the human rights situation in the country, particularly the unexplained killings of militant activists and members of the media.

The President, however, was unperturbed by the criticisms and maintained that the world now sees the country in a different light.

"The focus of the world is not only on the Philippine economic wonder but the way we are making democracy work while keeping the threat of terror at bay," Mrs. Arroyo said.

In a related development, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) disclosed yesterday that Turkey has offered military and counter-terrorism training to the Philippines.

Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul announced the offer during the RP-Turkey Joint Economic Commission held in Turkey.

Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Bahnarim Guinomla presented to Gonul’s delegation the current economic developments in the Philippines and updates on the Philippine Embassy’s efforts to convene the second meeting of the Commission.

According to Guinomla, the Philippines and Turkey could also cooperate in combating terrorism.

Gonul, for his part, informed Guinomla about draft agreements on defense industry and military cooperation, which the government of Turkey had submitted for consideration.

He also invited Guinomla to visit Turkey’s military and air force facilities where modern military equipment such as fighter jets is produced.

Gonul and Guinomla also discussed opportunities in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, and agreed that more effort is needed to increase bilateral trade. – with Pia Lee-Brago

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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