FROM THE  PALACE:  GMA  SHARED  CENTER  STAGE  W/  BILL GATES  AT  BOAO  FORUM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo delivers her keynote address at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China.]

MANILA, APRIL 23 2007 (Office of the Press Secretary) Reported by Ignacio Bunye - View from the Palace (For the week ending April 22, 2007)

President Arroyo returned Saturday afternoon following a whirlwind trip to Boao, Hainan where she attended the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and engaged some of the world’s leading lights in a meaningful conversation about the world and Asia’s role in it.

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) was co-founded nine years ago by former President Fidel V. Ramos (together with then Prime Ministers Bob Hawke of Australia and Morihiro Hosokawa of Japan) and has since become an important platform for international and Asian political leaders, businessmen and academic scholars, to communicate and seek cooperation for the common good and development of Asian countries. President Ramos has been elected recently as Chair of the Forum for the next three years.

The positive spirit of BOAO reflects the positive spirit of the current Asian economic renaissance. Appropriately, the theme of the first plenary session was "Asia Driving Global Growth."

As President of the Philippines and as Chair of ASEAN, the President is delighted with the growth of China and India to add to the power of Japan in the region. The Philippines benefits from this growth and it can only help lift up our nation as it lifts up the others, too.

In her keynote address, President Arroyo paid tribute to China, (represented in the opening ceremonies by Wu Bangguo, Chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China,) as well as India, another emerging political and economic power.

China is a strong partner of ASEAN and a reliable friend of the Philippines. China’s remarkable rise reflects the promise and challenge of the world in which we live. The Philippines sees their dramatic economic growth lifting millions out of poverty and springing the nation squarely onto the world stage as new global power. We believe China also understands the need to balance growth with concerns for the environment, quality of life and other vital issues that underpin sustainable development.

As India and China become true political and economic giants, their obligations to their neighbors also increase. Ascendance onto the world stage carries implications not just for economic development, but also for management of our environment on a sustainable basis, and for maintaining broader peace and stability in the region and the world.

In the forum, President Arroyo shared center stage with Bill Gates, whose visionary leadership of Microsoft reminds us of the power of innovation to change the world for the better. The President believes, like Bill Gates, that technology is a powerful tool to liberate the potential of individuals and nations to grow and prosper. The President praised Gates whose standard for generosity and philanthropy has accompanied his great success. By their applause, the huge audience of around 1,200 agreed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation epitomizes the virtuous cycle of reaping and sowing for generations to come.

Another keynote speaker was Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibanker and bank contemporary of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila. PM Aziz has spent some time in the Philippines as a banker and one of his children, he said, was born at the Makati Medical Center. In a one-on-one meeting at the sidelines of the Boao Forum, he expressed admiration for the remarkable growth that the Philippines has experienced under President Arroyo and hoped that the trade relations between Pakistan and the Philippines would grow. He expressed full support for the wish of the Philippine government to be granted observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Incidentally, the next OIC ministerial meeting will be hosted by Pakistan. At the same time, he indicated the keen interest of Pakistan in becoming a full-dialogue partner of ASEAN.

Seated in the audience as the President spoke was 2006 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank. The success of the Grameen Bank has inspired similar efforts in the Philippines and millions of new entrepreneurs, mostly women, have benefited from this model, the President said.

*****

The Virginia Tech massacre last week was truly troubling. It is at the same time heartbreaking and disturbing that a young man with so much anger and pain did not receive the help he needed and that many innocent people and their families suffered as a result. The ensuing media coverage raised three main issues: 1) Should NBC, the giant network to which the gunman set his sickening videos and statements have released them, adding to the suffering of the grieving families? 2) Was the media too intrusive in interviewing the survivors and their families? 3) Was the media wrong to focus too much on the gunman rather than his victims?

Our local media should perhaps consider the same questions in the light of recent coverage of events such as the school bus hostage taking in Manila, or even the plastering of the photos of criminals killed in shootout on the front pages of our broadsheets. While I fully understand the need to get as much information and deliver it to the public, care must be given to protect privacy, safeguard the dignity of the deceased and ensure that the release of information does not jeopardize investigations or even endanger lives. Further, comprehensive reporting should never give way to sensationalism or sacrifice good taste.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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