MANILA, JUNE 28, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - The Philippines and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea have agreed to expand bilateral cooperation and promote private sector investments in both countries.

However, the agreement for a joint venture oil exploration which Malacañang said was possible did not materialize.

President Arroyo arrived last night from her one-day state visit to the African nation.

In her arrival statement, the President said that the way forward in Equatorial Guinea is to combine Filipino talent with development opportunities in the country such as in infrastructure in the sectors of education, health, transportation, agriculture, forestry, telecommunications and information technology.

A joint communiqué was signed between the two governments wherein the President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, invited Philippine investors to his country.

Both leaders agreed to diversify the political, economic, social and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich country and according to Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, produces more oil than Brunei.

Mrs. Arroyo also paid tribute to the 2,500 Filipinos working in the country as professionals in the oil, banking and construction industries.

“You are the best advertisement for the Philippines in this rich country,” the President said in her address before the Filipino community in the nation’s capital of Malabo.

Equatorial Guinea’s President acknowledged the Filipinos’ contributions to his country, and Mrs. Arroyo expressed her gratitude for the hospitality granted to the Filipinos.

President Arroyo was awarded with the National Order of the Independence, the highest award accorded by the government to a visiting head of state.

Before going to Equatorial Guinea, the President was in Singapore to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia and for a state visit.

“In Singapore, we addressed the World Economic Forum on East Asia and made a strong push for our vision of an East Asian Community taking off from our regional grouping, the ASEAN. We are able to signal our ascendance as ASEAN’s best value investment and tourism haven,” the President said.

“Our message of hope and our story about a new Philippines continue to spread and attract international interest and support. Our challenge is to work hard as a nation to fulfill our people’s best hopes. We have a job to do and we shall do it with passion and commitment to the national interest,” the President added.

GMA reappoints 12 bypassed Cabinet officials By Paolo Romero Thursday, June 28, 2007

President Arroyo has reappointed 12 Cabinet officials earlier bypassed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), a move Malacañang officials hope would ultimately put an end to rumors of a major Cabinet revamp.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo reappointed the officials earlier this month upon his formal recommendation.

“The practice when Congress is not in session and they (Cabinet members) have been bypassed (confirmation by the CA) is for the President to reappoint them, so the President has issued an interim appointment of these 12 Cabinet members who have been bypassed by the 13th Congress,” Ermita said.

Among those reappointed were Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

Gonzalez and Reyes are among the Cabinet officials bypassed several times by the CA.

Ermita and Presidential Management Staff chief Secretary Cerge Remonde said the move will put to rest rumors of an impending revamp in the Cabinet after Mrs. Arroyo earlier this month asked for the courtesy resignations of all top officials of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs).

Talk of a revamp was so persistent that Malacañang had to issue several clarifications that the shakeup was only for GOCCs and GFIs.

Ermita said the GOCC and GFI officials are given until the end of June to submit their resignations.

He said as of yesterday some 115 presidential appointees from 43 GOCCs have tendered their resignations.

Officials earlier said members of the economic team are also assured of retaining their posts owing to their performance and to reassure markets of continuity in the government’s policies.

“I think things may have been exaggerated a bit somewhere and also in the minds of some people,” Remonde said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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