by Momar Visaya/AJPress
NEW YORK – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s whirlwind business trip to the U.S. brought her to the Big Apple Thursday and Friday (June 26 & 27) as she met business moguls, investors, and the local Filipino community in the East Coast.
The President arrived here Wednesday night after a successful three-day working visit to Washington D.C., where she was able to meet President George W. Bush.
On Thursday night, she had the opportunity to update and thank her countrymen about the ongoing relief operations being done in Manila after typhoon Frank pummeled the archipelago, along with her report on how successful this trip has turned out to be.
“The US was one of the first nations to offer assistance because we are such strong, dependable allies of each other,” the Chief Executive said in her 18-minute speech, as she thanked America for their immediate assistance in this time of need.
The President said the US government immediately sent to the Philippines the USNS Stockham, two helicopters, a P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft, and a U.S. navy divers to assist in the rescue and recovery operations at the height of the super typhoon that hit the country.
“That is what a good ally does,” the President said.
Arroyo also decribed Philippine-US relationship as “strong, growing and mature” and noted that there are now four million Americans of Filipino descent in America and 250,000 US citizens who live and work in the Philippines.
At a time of global tensions and economic uncertainty, the President emphasized that the two countries “remain steadfast allies and friends.”
The President also reported on the relief operations being done in the Philippines and asked the audience for a moment of silence to pray for the victims and families hit by typhoon Frank.
“Hindi na natutulog ang National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Umaga man o gabi dito sa America ay tinatawagan ko sila. No wonder they call me a hands-on President, and rightly so, ” Arroyo said.
During her speech, the President reported that as of 6 pm of June 26, 2008, Manila time, the total number of affected population is 600,000 families in 4,000 barangays, 380 municipalities and cities in 45 provinces of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Mimaropa (Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol, Visayas, Northern, Southern and Central Mindanao, the National Capital Region, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Caraga Region.
The President assured the audience that the government is doing everything to aid in the clean-up, provide disaster relief and bring comfort to the families of the victims.
“We are also holding the ferry company accountable to ensure that “we find out how this ferry tragedy could have occurred/ so that we can take steps to make sure it never happens again,” the President said.
Hundreds of Filipino Americans from the Northeast United States – Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York and New Jersey – trooped to the Hilton Hotel Thursday, June 26, to attend the community meeting with the President.
“During our trip, we are advancing key issues that impact on the Philippines, particularly during this time of global economic uncertainty,” the President said.
The President had several business meetings earlier in the day with Manhattan-based corporations “to expand their investments in and trade with the Philippines and to add new jobs.”
This leg of her New York trip is a business mission, and she thanked the businessmen who were part of her official delegation, which include Teresita Sy-Coson, President of Shoemart, Inc and Chairman of Banco de Oro Universal Bank and Enrique K. Razon, Jr., Chairman of International Container Services, Inc.
President Arroyo’s official delegation also include First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, sons Cong. Mikey Arroyo and Cong. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Press Secretary and now member of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Ignacio Bunye, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Finance Secretary Gary Teves, BSP Gov. Armando M. Tetangco, Jr. Other members of the House of Representatives who were her in this US visit include Cong. Joseph Santiago (Catanduanes), Cong. Anton Lagdameo (Dist. 2 – Davao del Norte), Cong. Conrado Estrella, Jr. (Dist. 6-Pangasinan), Cong. Antonio Cuenco (Dist. 2-Cebu), Cong. Raul del Mar (Dist. 1-Cebu) and Cong. Eduardo Gullas (Dist. 1-Cebu) for their continued trust in her administration. The President hopes to push her campaign to advance economic and investment opportunities in the Philippines that would create more new jobs and sustain economic growth.
On Thursday, she started the third leg of her 10-day, three state working visit to the United States, at 10 a.m. by visiting the New York City Stock Exchange (NYSE).
A Philippine flag was draped alongside three American flags, including a giant one that adorned the NYSE building on Wall Street.
Upon her arrival at the NYSE, the President was met by Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer of the NYSE Euronext. After their meeting, Niederauer presented to the President a token with inscribed Bull and Bear statue.
Immediately after her visit to the NYSE, the President proceeded to the Bellevue Hospital on First Avenue, where she was welcomed by the officers and staff of the hospital including Filipino nurses.
The President also had a brief tour and interacted with the Filipino staff working in the hospital. Following the hospital visit, President Macapagal-Arroyo received several callers at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.