JUNE 3, 2009 (STAR) By Jaime Laude - The Philippine government stands to benefit from “a significant addition of money” the US government is putting into its 2010 defense spending worldwide.

“One of the fundamental tenets of the American foreign policy under (US President Barack Obama’s) administration as well as the Department of Defense itself is the growing importance of partners around the world and building partner capacity. I put a significant addition of money in our fiscal year 2010 for this purpose,” US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.

Gates assured local defense officials the Philippines would be part of the global defense build-up of the US government.

The amount, Gates said, would involve hundreds of millions of dollars that the US defense department would use to build up partner capacity of allies like the Philippines.

Gates, however, stressed the US government would be building partner capacity at a comfortable pace for allied countries.

“We will be moving at a pace that is comfortable with them and in a way that is comfortable for them to build relationships with us,” Gates said. “We have to look at this and I think in the long term, the stronger the foundation we can build under this partner relationship the longer their life will last and the more effective that will be.”

Gates also assured the Philippines of Washington’s continued support in the fight against terrorism.

“Together, we will not relent until this threat has been eliminated,” Gates said before meeting with a group of Filipino troops last Monday.

Gates said he planned to tell them “that we are partners, and we’ll continue to strongly support their efforts to defeat terrorists and extremists.”

Gates spoke with his counterpart, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, of Washington’s commitment to reaffirm security ties with the Philippines.

He promised to help the Philippines eradicate the remnants of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.

The US defense chief raised the issue of kidnapping during the meeting with Teodoro and offered more American assistance to help curb the abductions and other continuing terror threats.

Teodoro, for his part, said that being partners, both the Philippines and the US could always explore areas where it can translate into assistance for both nations.

He said the Philippines has to continuously manage and develop its own resources and not simply rely on foreign assistance.

Gates agreed there are a number of areas in which both nations have the potential to be more effective partners.

Not only in terms of bilateral issues, Gates said, but also regional issues.

“I think what you can expect from the Obama administration (is) looking at the Philippines as an old friend of the US,” Gates said.

“There are a lot things we can do together and I think we will be looking for those kinds of opportunities to continue to broaden and deepen the relationship,” he said.

Not even Gates

Gates and his party were not spared from quarantine procedures against the Influenza A(H1N1) virus when they arrived in the country last Monday, officials said.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said a doctor of the US defense department traveled with Gates and made the necessary medical procedures in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) in Manila.

“The quarantine procedures were properly coordinated with the DOH,” Kenney said, adding the global concern over the spread of the flu virus does not exempt anyone. – With James Mananghaya, Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Pia Lee-Brago, AP

Jobs fairs to highlight 2009 Freedom Day celebrations

FROM  THE  Office of the Press Secretary, Malacanang: june 2, 2009

Instead of the usual civic-military parades, jobs fairs will highlight Independence Day observance nationwide.

Jobs fairs will be held simultaneously throughout the country as part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s thrust to generate jobs and employment for Filipinos to help cushion the impact of the global economic meltdown.

In the regular press briefing with Palace reporters today, Tuesday (June 2, 2009), Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) expects to generate at least 15,000 jobs for jobless Filipinos by holding jobs fairs nationwide from June 12 to 15, 2009.

“We will be having the traditional flag raising rites at the Luneta, Bulacan and Cavite as well as other historical and cultural activities,” but the nationwide jobs fairs will serve to stress the importance of initiatives to help mitigate the effects of the global economic crunch, Bello added.

Bello likewise reiterated the government’s assurance that the crisis seems to have bottomed out and the economy is now headed for a rebound.

“Our economic managers --- Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto and Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila — are telling us that the economic meltdown is now on a rebound mode,” Bello said.

His assurance was in response to a question seeking confirmation of an observation by Moody’s Investors Service said the Philippines “needs a miracle to prevent a contraction or recession.”

“We would like to believe the views of our economic managers based on the improving export and import performance in March this year, compared to last year, and other factors like improved remittances,” Bello said.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesman for economic affairs Undersecretary Gary Olivar and Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said the Philippine economy will not go into a recession and is even expected to post a modest growth of 0.4 percent.

They pointed out that a positive 0.4 percent growth is still better than the negative growths being experienced by most of the country’s neighbors in Asia.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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