2009 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - President Arroyo will proceed to Hua Hin, Thailand for the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this Thursday, regardless of what happens to typhoon “Ramil.”

Deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said the President is confident her officials involved in addressing the effects of natural calamities will be able to represent her well if ever the typhoon enters the country later this week.

Olivar said the people in charge of the President’s appointments are regularly advised by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) about weather conditions, especially at this time when typhoons are hitting the country one after another.

Mrs. Arroyo is expected to return to Manila on Sunday.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President would push for greater regional cooperation on climate change and disaster risk and response during her the ASEAN summit.

The Philippine government has been active in efforts to address climate change, but this has become even more pronounced after the damage wrought by the two most recent storms that hit the country.

Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” brought about heavy flooding in most of Luzon, including Metro Manila, and resulted in massive damage to property, agriculture and infrastructure.

GMA still mum on 2010 plan By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated October 21, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo remained mum yesterday on fresh reports that she would run for a congressional seat in Pampanga next year even as Palace officials maintained there was nothing wrong with her frequent visits to her hometown.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo was reacting to reports quoting an unnamed lawmaker from central Luzon saying that Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo would give way to his mother in the 2010 elections.

Ironically, it was the President who triggered speculations about her seeking a seat in Congress in her speech last year when she joked that she could run as representative of her district in Pampanga.

Fajardo said there was nothing wrong should Mrs. Arroyo decide to run as there is no legal impediment that would prevent her from doing so.

“But I think this is not the right time to talk about politics,” Fajardo told a news briefing. “The President remains focused on delivering social services to our people.”

“I’m sure the right time will come and she should know when she would talk about her plans but as of now, we have not talked about it,” she said.

When asked whether she had the impression that Mrs. Arroyo plans to run for Congress, Fajardo said: “Based on my observation, she wants to end her term not only with a legacy for the country but also (for) her home province.”

Fajardo said this was the reason why Mrs. Arroyo keeps on checking on the basic services in Pampanga “because she came from there.”

The President admitted that her frequent visits to her hometown in Lubao and other parts of Pampanga have further fanned speculations about her political plans.

Mrs. Arroyo has reportedly visited different parts of Pampanga at least 35 times this year, sometimes twice a week.

“In the first place, I don’t think she needs to campaign if she is planning to run. You can feel the warmth of the people there even if she goes there often,” Fajardo said.

“So I don’t think she is doing this because she is campaigning.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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