(STAR) After nearly two weeks, US President-elect Barack Obama finally returned the call of President Arroyo before dawn yesterday and reassured her that the strong relations between the Philippines and the US would continue, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said yesterday.

Dureza said Obama called Mrs. Arroyo at 3:17 a.m. after also having telephone conversations with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

The Democratic president-elect “expressed his appreciation for their congratulations on his election,” according to a statement from Obama’s transition office.

Dureza said he could not get more details from the President, who was about to board a helicopter to attend a wake in Laguna when he asked her about the call.

“She said there was a call and I asked what was the subject of conversation. The call took place early dawn. It’s more of reassurance of good relations and cooperation between the Philippines and the US,” Dureza said.

Asked whether the Palace saw something in the fact that Obama lumped the Philippines, Georgia and Turkey together in his third batch of return calls to world leaders, Dureza said: “Whether there is significance in being called at the same time as Georgia and Turkey, only President-elect Obama can give significance (to that).”

Obama’s earlier failure to answer at least two phone calls from Mrs. Arroyo became an issue, with critics describing it as a snub. – Paolo Romero

Obama telephones PGMA to reassure her of continuing RP-US good relations

(mALACANANG) US president-elect Barack Obama has reassured President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of continuing good relations between the Philippines and the United States.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said today that Obama made the assurance in an “early dawn” phone call to the President.

The press secretary said the President herself confirmed Obama’s call to her.

Earlier reports said Obama talked to the President and the leaders of Georgia and Turkey to thank them for their congratulatory messages following his historic election on Nov. 4.

Obama "expressed his appreciation for their congratulations on his election," reports stated.

Obama's call to the President came after he initially failed to return her congratulatory message after the election.

The President had earlier expressed confidence that the incoming Obama presidency holds much promise of enhanced relations between the Philippines and the United States.

In a letter to the President on June 24, 2008 during her working visit to the US, Obama outlined issues and concerns for collaboration between the Philippines and the United States hinging on a ‘partnership that makes progress on 21st-century challenges.” TOP

Malacanang declares Dec. 1, 26, and 29 non-working holidays

In line with her “holiday economics,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declares today Dec. 1, 26, and 29 as non-working holidays Dec 1, a Monday, is nearest to Nov. 30, Bonifacio Day which falls on a Sunday this year. Aside from these dates, the Palace released the list of upcoming holidays for the remainder of 2008, pursuant to Proclamation 1463, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed last Feb. 18, 2008.

Regular Holidays: Dec. 25 (Thursday) – Christmas Day; and Dec. 30 (Tuesday) – Rizal Day.

Special Non-Working Holidays: Dec. 31 (Wednesday) – last day of the year.

The declaration also allows families to have long weekends.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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