9, 2009 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS  SECRETARY, MALACANANG) Under overcast skies and chilly autumn weather, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here Thursday evening (early Friday in Manila) from historic Istanbul.

Fresh from Turkey, where she solicited support for the Philippines’ bid to be granted observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the President prepares to spend the next two days selling the Philippines as an attractive investment destination.

The President got off the chartered Philippine Airlines flight at 7:10 p.m. (2:10 a.m Friday Manila time). Wearing a dark business suit and a smile, she was welcomed by Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo and other Embassy officials at the Heathrow International Airport. With her are Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves.

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo is toured by Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Turkish secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Conference, at the OIC Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture in Istanbul, Turkey.]

The President is here in London to attend the Emerging Markets Summit hosted by London-based news magazine “The Economist.” Five other heads of emerging economies have confirmed participation: Thailand, India, Turkey, Tunisia, and Rwanda.

The Chief Executive will deliver the keynote address in the high-level conference Friday afternoon. She is expected to highlight the country as an attractive investment destination.

An interview with the highly respected “Financial Times” will start her day Friday, followed by business calls from officials of Metals Exploration PLC, mobile communications firm T-Mobile, multinational mining company Rio Tinto, and bioenergy develope Bronzeoak group.

The President will also witness the signing of two landmark agreements between the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and British First Secretary of State Lord Mandelson will sign the RP-UK Mutual Legal Assitance Treaty and the RP-UK Extradition Treaty.

On Saturday, the President will have brunch with the Filipino community at the ballroom of the Intercontinental Park Lane where she is billeted. Some 200,000 Filipino migrant workers are in the United Kingdom, 70 percent of whom are based in the Greater London area.


PGMA hopes her successor will build on her legacy

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hopes that her successor will build on her substantial legacy “as a platform to continue to lead the country into the ranks of the First World within a generation.”

In a statement read this morning by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo, the President said she was happy “the electoral campaign is headed for the high ground of performance and platform.”

“Perhaps the kinship between Senator (Benigno) Aquino III and Secretary Teodoro will restrain personality politics, set an example that the other candidates will follow, and thereby keep the campaign, for once, out of the gutter,” the President said.

The President also expressed pride “as titular head of the party in the open and collegial manner by which a consensus was achieved (in choosing) the standard bearers next year.”

Fajardo said President is pleased the consensus reached last Wednesday by the executive committee of the Lakas-Kampi CMD went to two members of her Cabinet.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. will be the coalition’s presidential candidate in next year’s national elections while Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno will be his running mate.

The President said both men “have proven their mettle time and again”. TOP


Palace to critics: Let us wait for Comelec decision

Malacañang urged critics who question the legality of the merger of the Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) to await the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the matter.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita made the appeal in a radio interview this morning.

Ermita said the claims of Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia, Jr., a former ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be sustained or rejected once the Comelec issues its resolution sometime next week.

“Siyempre iyon ang hinahangad ng aming partido dahil naniniwala kami sa legalidad ng aming posisyon (Of course that is the aim of our party because we believe in the legality of our position),” Ermita said.

Yesterday, De Venecia insisted the Lakas-Kampi-CMD executive meeting last Wednesday that picked Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. as the administration standard-bearer is “illegal” because the decision has not been ratified by a national assembly.

On the case of Vice President Noli De Castro, Ermita said, the President considers him a loyal Cabinet member and understands why he is not joining in the administration team. TOP


Palace cites three positive economic indicators

Malacañang today expressed confidence the country will meet this year’s growth target for gross domestic product (GDP) because of improvements in three vital economic indicators—inflation, remittances, and employment.

GDP is is the sum of all goods and services produced in the country, exclusive of overseas remittances. GDP growth for the first semester stood at one percent, taking into account the 0.6 percent growth in the first quarter and the 1.5 percent growth in the second quarter. This means the economy is on target to reach the projected growth range of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent for the full year.

Earlier, the Bangko Sentral has indicated it is preparing for a wider zero to two to three percent GDP growth range this year, given stronger purchasing power as a result of low inflation and the continued surge of remittances from overseas Filipino workers.

In a briefing today, National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General Romeo Tongpalan said August inflation was down at 0.1 percent versus its peak in the comparative period last year of 12.5 percent.

This bolsters the administration’s confidence that target inflation this year of between 2.5 to 3.5 percent is achievable, Tongpalan said.

“Even with the January to June inflation, this would add up to 3.7 percent (for the first eight months of the year), indicating better purchasing power for the people. If you connect this with anticipated expansion in personal consumption expenditures, consumers would have more buying power,” he said.

Remittance growth continues to defy the flat growth forecast of economic planners at the start of the year. As of July, Bangko Sentral data recorded almost $10 billion in remittances, a 9.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the labor force survey of July showed 900,000 jobs were generated even as the unemployment numbers increased slightly by 200,000 to 7.6 million. Given there are one million more potential workers in the market, however, unemployment has actually gone down from last year’s 21 percent to this year’s July level of 19 percent.

“The issue now is how long the recovery should last. The export sector is now rehiring those laid off during the crisis,” said Tongpalan.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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