MANILA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2007 (STAR) Malacañang activated yesterday its “war room” to monitor the security, political and economic situations that may arise as a consequence of the handing down of the Estrada verdict.

The situation room is located at the Premiere Guest House fronting the Palace and contains various communications equipment as well as several television and radio sets for monitoring the news.

A crisis team headed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita runs the “war room”. Other members of the team include Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Presidential Management Staff chief Secretary Cerge Remonde and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye.

The Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces, and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) are represented in the situation room. A security official said the room is being managed by retired police general Virtus Gil round-the-clock.

PSG chief Brig. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, in a telephone interview, said he expects the protest rallies around Malacañang to be peaceful but stressed the Palace guards are ready to thwart any acts of violence against the seat of government. – Paolo Romero

GMA  TRIPS  'REQUIRED  OF  A  MODERN  LEADER' Wednesday, September 12, 2007

(STAR) congressman-ally of President Arroyo justified yesterday her planned whirlwind trips to eight countries in the next four months, saying these “are work required of a modern leader.”

“In this age of borderless economies, some jetsetting is required for a CEO (chief executive officer) of a country,” Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra, who chairs the House agriculture committee, said.

“Those who want her to stay at home probably would like her to emulate Kim Jong-il of North Korea. But the President is not a leader of a hermit kingdom,” he said.

Mrs. Arroyo is set to travel to the United States, China and India before the end of the month, to Singapore and Dubai in November, Indonesia, Spain and England in December, and again to the US in January next year.

Mitra said presidential trips abroad are not “leisurely journeys.”

“It’s more of a torture than a trip. You are herded from one meeting to another, and many are packed in a day, sometimes in cities in different time zones. It’s a tough schedule,” said the Palawan lawmaker, who joined one such trip in the past.

He said Mrs. Arroyo has to go abroad “to charm leaders, court investors, connect with overseas Filipinos.”

“And when she returns home, the aid, the investments she brings with her, plus the unquantifiable goodwill earned, make up for the cost and the absence,” he stressed.

He pointed out that if the President is going to India before the end of this month, it would be to touch base with makers of cheap medicines that the country can import for its poor. – Jess Diaz

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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