June 18, 2008 (MALACAÑANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves Saturday evening for a 10-day visit to the United States to further strengthen the historic Philippines-US relations.

The President, accompanied by First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo, will take a commercial flight to San Francisco, California, the first stop of her US visit.

Also with the presidential party are some Cabinet officials, lawmakers and top Filipino business leaders.

The Chief Executive’s US engagements include meetings with Filipino communities, Filipino World War II veterans and American business groups.

She will also hold a series of meetings on a wide range of issues including the environment, security, human rights, and other global concerns.

From San Francisco, the President will proceed to Fresno, California, a four-hour drive from San Francisco, to hear mass and interact with the Filipino community before proceeding to Washington D.C.

Meeting members of Filipino communities in the countries that she visits is a standard feature of the President’s trips abroad in an effort to keep them posted on developments back home and to encourage them to invest in the country, as well as thank them for their remittances that had helped improve the economy.

The President’s second stop is Washington D.C. where she will meet with President George W. Bush at the Oval Office.

The White House meeting, the highlight of her US trip, will focus on outstanding global issues of common concern to the two countries, notably terrorism, food security, non-proliferation of nuclear arms and human rights.

The President is expected to thank Bush for his support to Filipino World War II veterans through the US Veterans Office in Manila and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and express her hope for a favorable resolution of the remaining issues relating to Filipino veterans.

The President will also personally thank the US Senate for its historic 96-1 vote in favor of the Veterans Benefits Bill calling for additional benefits to Filipino WWII veterans.

At the Pentagon, the President will discuss with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates the Philippines’ defense reform program.

The President will also take the opportunity to meet with the Philippines-US Friendship Caucus, a group composed of members of the US House of Representatives who have openly supported moves to strengthen relations between the Philippines and the United States.

The President will also meet with officials of the Washington-based the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Last March, the MCC granted the Philippines Compact Eligible status, opening the door for the Philippines to avail itself of up to $700 million in grants to help boost the country’s economic growth.

The Philippines has gained compact eligible status after passing objective indicators in the areas of governing justly, investing in its citizens, and encouraging economic freedom.

Also in Washington, the President will meet with stakeholders of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) a multi-nation effort to push the CTI project spanning across Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

The Triangle holds the richest concentration of iridescent corals, fish, crustaceans, mollusks and marine plants in the world.

The ASEAN-US Business Council (USBC) and the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) will co-host a dinner in honor of the President in Washington.

In New York, the last leg of her US trip, the President will be meeting with a number of business leaders and investment groups, including Libby’s Fruits, Target Sourcing, ROTEC Technology and APAC Customer Services.

She will also host a reception for the permanent representatives to the United Nations in connection with the candidature of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). TOP


President sees easing of Panay Island power supply shortage with commssioning of modular power plant

ROXAS CITY -- The power situation here will improve soon with the commissioning of a 15-megawatt (mw) modular power plant in Panit-an, Capiz tomorrow (Friday) by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The full operation of the power plant is seen as a big boon to the development of the tourism and other industries in Panay Island, which boasts of the world-famous Boracay tourist paradise.

The 15-mw modular power plant is located at the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO) sub-station in Barangay Timpas, Panit-an, some 15 kilometers south of this city.

The President will be briefed on the power situation in Capiz as well as in the other Panay provinces by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes.

As one of the latest government projects to boost power supply in the island, the15-mw modular power plant will augment the local power supply being distributed by the Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO) beef up the power supply in neighboring Aklan province, the site of the world-famous Boracay Island.

At present, Capiz power supply was placed at about 39 megawatts, but the whole Panay Island has been experiencing rotating brownouts since the last quarter of 2007 due to the preventive maintenance being undertaken by the National Power Corporation (Napocor) on its generating units in Dingle, Iloilo and Negros Island.

During the Local Peace and Security Assembly for Western Visayas in Bacolod City last month, the President underscored the need for the construction of more power plants to avert a looming power shortage in Western Visayas, including Panay Island.

Aside from being the center of education, trade and commerce in Western Visayas, Panay Island is also one of the country's major tourism hubs.

The island’s power supply shortfall of 61.7 megawatts would be eased with the setting up of modular power generator sets and the establishment of new power plants.

To avert a serious power supply shortage, the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid would need a total of 261 mw by 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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