PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO'S  NEW  YEAR's  MESSAGE
 

[PHOTO AT LEFT - RIZAL DAY RITES VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur--President Gloria Macapagal--Arroyo salutes as she leads the flag raising ceremony during the commemoration of the 113th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, the countryís national hero Wednesday (Dec. 30) at the Plaza Salcedo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Also in photo is Ilocos Sur Governor. Deogracias Victor Savellano. (MARCELINO PASCUA-OPS/NIB-Photo]

MANILA, JANUARY 1, 2010 (MALACA—ANG) We thank the Lord for all the things He brought into our lives the past 365 days. The challenges He allowed us to encounter have proven once again the resilience of our people and the efficacy of our reforms.

The global recession failed to break our unprecedented record of economic growth in every quarter during our watch. Our economy continued to grow. The size and strength of our domestic economy was supported by OFW-fuelled consumer spending and a massive government commitment to human and physical infrastructure Ė one that stretched, but did not swamp, public resources.

Our people responded with grit to the super-typhoons forced upon us by the harsh realities of climate change caused by human beings all over the world. Our people opened hearts and hands with generosity to the victims. They committed to national reconstruction, and brought our demands on climate change to the whole world.

We emerge from the year 2009 with more solid faith, more courage, more concern for our brethren, and greater determination to work harder to achieve even more.

In 2010, we shall have the first nationally-automated exercise of our right to suffrage, one of the ten points in the agenda of our administration. This year, too, will hopefully see the continuing recovery of the rest of the world. These are gifts from an unfolding future that we greet with hopefulness.

In this spirit let us cast away the things that set us against each other. Let us thank the Lord for good health, glad tidings and good cheers. Let us thank Him for all the times He has been there for us through family, friends and even strangers who stood by us in good times and in bad. Let us ask for His graces and blessings as we start another year. And as we continue and go on with the many journeys of our nationís life, let us offer to Him our nation.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde's New Year's message

We in the government join our people in welcoming the New year with a sense of accomplishment and hope.

The year just past saw us facing various challenges that tested our ability to endure as a nation. There were obstacles along the way, some driven by factors external to us, others inflicted by misguided elements, and still others unleashed by natureís wrath. But we stood fast in pursuit of our goals, drawing strength from a firm belief that we were on the right path.

Our efforts paid off in the form of a robust economy, an effective and transparent governance, and a secure future for our people.

At this point we can only hope that the gains are sustained, not frittered away, by those who cannot abide the good that we do.

The coming year will call upon each of us to again exercise mature judgment in choosing whether we will continue on the right path. Or hark back to the divisions that have clouded an otherwise impeccable Filipino character.

For 2010, let us embrace the exciting possibilities of our continued growth under an increasingly stable economy, shunning the gloomy drumbeat of doomsayers.

In this New Year, if we are to fall short of our aspirations, let it not be for a flagging spirit or lack of imagination.

Happy New Year. May God bless us all.

TOP Statement of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday ordered the dismantling of private armies to pave the way for peaceful elections next year with the creation of the independent commission to address the alleged existence of private armies in the country under A.O. 275.

Initially named as commissioners are Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, representing the CBCP, Mahmod Mala L. Adilao of the Bishops Ulama Conference, KBP president Herman Basbano, representing the media, ret Gen. Jaime Echivarria, pres of the AGFO, ret DGG Virtus Gil, of the PNP, and Dante Jimenez, of VACC.

The commission is given broad investigative powers including the tapping of the PNP, AFP, NBI, and other govít. agencies including govít. controlled corporations. Its mandated to finish its work prior to the may 2010 elections.

PGMA names members of commission probing private armies

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday ordered the dismantling of private armies to pave the way for peaceful elections next year with the creation of the independent commission to address the alleged existence of private armies in the country under Administrative Order 275.

Initially named as commissioners are Butuan bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos, representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; Mahmoud Mala L. Adilao of the Bishops Ulama Conference; Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) president Herman Basbano, representing the media, Ret. Gen Jaime Echivarria, president of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO); Ret DDG Virtus Gil of the Philippine National Police, and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the commission is given broad investigative powers, including the tapping of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and other government agencies such as government-owned and controlled corporations. Itís mandated to finish its work prior to the May 2010 elections.

The Commission will prioritize and focus investigation on the existence of private armies. It will be the governmentís sole voice on the issue of such armies which surfaced in the aftermath of the infamous Maguindanao massacre last Nov. 23.

The independent body will report to the President outlining its action and policy recommendations, including appropriate prosecution and legislative proposals aimed at eliminating the existence of private armies prior to the May 2010 elections.

The Commission has the power to summon witnesses, administrative oaths, take testimony or evidence relevant to the investigation. It also has the power to clear or disapprove all pertinent media statements by any member of the Administration.

Among others, it has the power to engage the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel which may be necessary to carry out its functions. It also has the power to deputize AFP, NBI, PNP, the Department of Justice, and any other law enforcement agency to assist in the performance of its functions.

The Office of the President is providing the funds for the operation of the Commission which will be supported by a Secretariat composed of technical and administrative personnel.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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