, 2009 (STAR) By Ding Cervantes – President Arroyo justified her trip to Libya – the latest in a string of sometimes controversial foreign travels – saying it was part of her administration’s effort to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

“I just arrived from Libya which is a key ally that strengthens our paradigm for peace in Mindanao. Libya has always stood by us,” the President said in her speech yesterday before mayors from Mindanao belonging to the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP).

“Libya has significantly helped in bringing peace and hope in Mindanao,” Mrs. Arroyo said, adding that Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi “is a leader in the entire Africa where there are many Muslim countries.”

She said he would also be “of great help in our forming deeper relations with countries including Brunei and Japan which together with Libya comprise our international monitoring team on the ceasefire.”

The President also reported that she met with officials of the Qaddafi Foundation which plans to invest in Mindanao to help in the government’s poverty alleviation efforts. She noted that six of the country’s poorest provinces are in Mindanao, identifying them as Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindanao, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Island, and Lanao del Sur.

“During our first terrorist crisis in 2002 in Dos Palmas, I talked to President Qaddafi and he asked what help we wanted.” She was referring to the kidnapping by Abu Sayyaf bandits of mostly foreign tourists at the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

The President said she told Qaddafi that she wanted to fight the terrorists but within her government’s no ransom policy.

“He said he would help and he has been helping since then,” Mrs. Arroyo noted.

The President flew to Libya last Aug. 31 on Qaddafi’s invitation to attend the 40th anniversary of the Libyan revolution.

She also attended the African Union Summit. The 53-member African Union is the premier institution and principal organization for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic integration of the African continent. Libya chairs the organization.


In her speech, the President also boasted that the country is “ready for economic rebound” and took potshots at her predecessors.

“I am quite bullish about our prospects for solid recovery,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The President said the economic stability has enabled her administration to complete projects in Mindanao, including the Pagadian-Zamboanga road.

She noted that the road “is supposed to be the longest road because it took the previous administration so long to build so little, but we were able to complete it.”

She also said mayors now get their share in the Internal Revenue Allotment on time unlike in “past administrations.”

“During the past administration, you could not even get your IRA,” she said, apparently referring to the administration of ousted President Joseph Estrada who reportedly plans to run for president again in next year’s polls.

“We even paid IRAs owed you by past administrations. The higher the VAT (value added tax), the higher the IRA. So this year, you participated in the biggest VAT increase in history, about P40 billion for the local government,” she said.

“Also we should remember the situation now compared with 2001. Now, surrounding countries are experiencing difficulties, but we are progressing,” she said.

”What we said before about the need to strengthen the economy through tax reforms was proven right in this recession that showed our economy has remained stable and strong,” she said. “Growth in second quarter this year is better than growth in first quarter, inflation is one of the lowest, almost zero, in our history,” the President also said.

Palace cautions Noynoy By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated September 04, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - People prodding Sen. Benigno Aquino III to run for president could have hidden agendas or vested interests that are contrary to his principles, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said Aquino should be careful “as he could be taken advantage of. I think that’s the most important thing. He’s wise enough.”

Golez said it was good for Aquino that support for him has been increasing.

“People see that quitters never win, and winners never quit, and if they would trust Noynoy, then it’s good for him,” he said.

Meanwhile, the pro-administration Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats is taking a look at its selection process following Aquino’s endorsement by Sen. Manuel Roxas II as the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, president, said the selection of their presidential candidate remains “very deliberate” despite the latest political developments.

“I will go back to the basic question as to whether it (Roxas’ withdrawal) would create a good effect on the candidate of the LP,” he said.

“Definitely. When you’re talking about presidential candidacy, such situations become a (political) threat to others… we cannot dismiss it.

“That’s a very positive development for a party so the administration has to think very well how to address that situation. We are just being realistic.”

Ermita said they are aware of the important factors that brought about a possible Aquino candidacy for president.

“We are aware and we are concerned and therefore, the more reason we have to firm up the kind of political activities, strategies as we might call it, in order to address that situation,” he said.

Ermita said Lakas-Kampi has its own timetable in selecting its presidential candidate before the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy on Nov. 30.

“In due time, the President will be making her decision,” he said.

“She will announce that to the executive committee, after which there would be other activities leading to the announcement of such choice by the President and the other things we need to do such as consultations with the local party leaders through regional or it could develop into a national consultation.”

Atienza: Roxas must hold LP convention

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza called yesterday on Senator Roxas to convene a convention to choose the LP’s standard-bearer and ticket next year.

“(Senator) Noynoy (Aquino) is Noynoy by himself though of course he is a big boost to the Liberal Party,” he said.

“But Roxas should call for an open convention, allow a fair election within the party, and open up the process for the selection of party candidates for next year’s election.”

The former Manila mayor said an “elite clique” appears to be steering the LP’s selection process.

“(The) machination of a small group (is) forcing itself on the whole of the LP,” he said.

Atienza said his wing would support anyone who would win the party election as well as nominees who would be selected in a fair and democratic process.

A divided LP would have no chance of winning next year’s elections, he added.

Roxas, Aquino must unite opposition—JDV

DAGUPAN CITY — Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. urged yesterday Senators Roxas and Aquino to unite the opposition.

“This is something difficult to do but they did it, and so if that is an indication perhaps the next initiative would be to sit down with former President Estrada because President Estrada has a continuing good personal relationship with Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino,” he said.

“What’s good is he doesn’t want to be president, but destiny thrusts this path to his shoulder while others are gunning for it so much but this one (Aquino) without his seeking it, without his wanting it, without his desiring it… only events will show if Aquino would make a good president, De Venecia said. — Paolo Romero, Katherine Adraneda, Eva Visperas

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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