, JANUARY 14, 2007 (STAR) US Presidential Advisor on International Economic Affairs Daniel Price arrived in Manila yesterday for a three-day visit, during which he will call on President Arroyo.

Price, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, is also scheduled to meet with Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, and other top economic officials and business leaders to discuss trade issues, especially the importance of concluding the Doha Round negotiations under the World Trade Organization. It was not immediately clear when the meetings will be held or where.

Price is responsible for coordinating the Bush administration’s policy on international economic issues, including trade and investment, foreign assistance, humanitarian relief, and the international aspects of energy security and climate change.

Price attended Haverford College, Cambridge University, and Harvard Law School.

He served in the American Society of International Law, the Investment Treaty Advisory Board of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the Advisory Committee of Georgetown University’s Institute for International Economic Law and the Advisory Board of Columbia University’s Program on International Investment.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy is inviting organizations and government agencies involved in anti-human trafficking initiatives to submit project proposals for improving law-enforcement and victim protection, for funding consideration by the US government.

The US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) will evaluate the proposals.

Deadline for submission is on Feb. 4. Organizations may visit the US Embassy website at http://manila.usembassy.gov for details. – Pia Lee-Brago=

Palace appeals for public support for Cha-cha for sake of peace in south By Marvin Sy Sunday, January 13, 2008

Malacañang appealed for support for proposals to amend the Constitution in the bid to accommodate the creation of a federal state in Mindanao and bring about lasting peace in the region.

Presidential Management Staff director general Cerge Remonde clarified Malacañang has no intention of pushing for Charter change to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

He said the renewed proposal to amend the Constitution is an effort to move the stalled peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to establish the Moro homeland in federal system of government.

The Charter change initiative was proposed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in the bid to break the deadlock between the government and the MILF in the peace talks over the establishment of a Moro homeland in Mindanao.

Dureza said the MILF is demanding a federal state should be established as a condition for their return to the negotiating table.

The peace talks between the two sides have been stalled for over a year already as they could not agree over the issue of ancestral domain.

A breakthrough was supposedly reached late last year and preparations were made for the conduct of exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

However, this fell through because of the opposition of the MILF to the terms used by the government in its draft agreement on the issue of territory.

Remonde said Dureza is still optimistic that peace is attainable and there are unofficial talks taking place between the government emissaries and the MILF.

“He’s (Dureza) very optimistic that peace is attainable. He said that the peace process between the government and the MILF is going well and that peace is within reach,” Remonde said.

Remonde, however, emphasized the establishment of a federal state is vital in the peace process and the proposal to amend the Constitution for this purpose should only be seen in this context.

“That’s why Secretary Dureza clarified that this proposal for federalism that would be realized through Charter change should not be given any other interpretation, particularly by the opposition,” he said.

Remonde said allayed the suspicions of the opposition that the renewed Charter change efforts would prolong the term of President Arroyo.

The political opposition and critics have consistently played the scenario of no elections occurring in 2010 for Mrs. Arroyo’s term extension through charter change.

Administration lawmakers and allies, on the other hand, aired their support for Charter amendments in pointing out the benefits of a parliamentary and federal system of government as against the present unicameral political system.

Malacañang has found an ally in the person of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. who had been advocating for a federal system of government.

Pimentel said he will file a joint congressional resolution calling for the adoption of a federal system of government but retaining the present presidential structure.

Pimentel said his proposal would set the motion all efforts to adopt a federal system of government that would include a Bangsa Moro federal state as envisioned by the MILF.

Pimentel has been advocating for a federal system to break the concentration of power of a central government and promote local autonomy.– With Aurea Calica, John Unson

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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