Tag Archives: GMA

Sleepless in New York: GMA takes Manhattan in a marathon of meetings

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.

Business

“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.

Busy day

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.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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GMA takes Fresno by ‘storm’

FRESNO – Meeting with almost 900 Filipino Americans from Fresno and nearby counties like Stockton, Bakersfield, Modesto and Merced, you can say Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took Fresno by ‘storm’ – literally. The meeting was the President’s first official activity in her 10-day working visit to the United States.

Held at the Fresno Convention Center last Sunday, June 23, the meeting started with a Mass followed by a short speech and a video conference with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and cabinet officials who were in Malacanang early Monday (Manila time).

Reaching out to the community

In her short speech, President Arroyo called on the FilAm community to extend her assistance to victims of typhoon ‘Frank’ (international codename: Fengshen) in the Philippines.

Ngayon may bagyong dumaan sa Pilipinas na aasahan na naman ang lahat ng gustong tumulong,” the President said in her opening statement from Fresno.

“To our FilAm brothers and sisters, for your generosity towards the less fortunate in the Philippines, and for your commitment to enhance development in our motherland, salamat!” she said.

The President also lauded her kababayans in the US for their doing so much without losing their bonds of affection for their motherland and their inherent pride in their Filipino heritage. Every year, FilAms send all forms of assistance to schools, hometowns, provinces and local organizations.

“From medical and dental missions, to educational and internet support, to humanitarian and charitable causes, Filipino Americans are ever ready to help the land of your forefathers,” she said.

She then again appealed for any assistance to the typhoon victims that could be coursed through the various embassies and consulates via disaster-relief donation accounts.

A milestone and a trip down memory lane

The President’s visit to Fresno isn’t her first. In 1999, the then Vice President Arroyo was invited by the Chamber of Commerce as a guest speaker. Titus Versoza, who was with her that time, shared an interesting story about it. “After the event, we all drove to San Francisco, sabi ng Preside nte that time, kami naman ang taya sa dinner.” Of course, there was no way that Versoza would let Arroyo pay for dinner, but he had only $80.00 in his pocket, plus another $20 or $30 of his own money in his pocket so he wasn’t sure that it could cover everything they ordered. Since they also chose a Chinese restaurant which did not accept any credit cards, Versoza prayed that what he had will be enough. Luckily, the bill amounted to just $90.00. “There was even extra cash for tip,” Versoza said.

Arroyo extended her gratitude towards the hospitality given to her by Versoza’s group that time, “We will never forget the generous hospitality in Fresno,” she said that time to Versoza. But what makes this story more interesting is what Versoza said to Arroyo. “Madame Vice President, pagbalik nyo ng Fresno, presidente na kayo,” he said and to this the then Vice President Arroyo humbly replied, “Mahirap mangyari ‘yan.” Nine years later, Versoza’s statement then proved to be true.

Always a working President

In spite of being the US, the President remained in close contact with her office to remain informed of what is happening in the Philippines. Prior to the video conference in Fresno, she had already had a teleconference shortly after arriving in San Francisco last Saturday night. Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said, “The President is very concerned about what is happening,” he said and added, “She has been getting updates and gave specific instructions on what to do about the situation. She is actually personally handling this herself.”

Before meeting with the Filipino community, the President also visited the Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in the agricultural city of Fresno.

Bumisita ako ngayon para ipaalam sa inyo na ipinagmamalaki namin ang ating mga medical practitioners dito sa Amerika,” she said.

There are about 2,000 Filipino nurses and medical practitioners gainfully employed at CRMC. In the past seven years, some 5,976 Filipino nurses were deployed to the US to fill up the 130,000 vacancies for nurses and physical therapists, according to Acting Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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GMA Empowered to Declare Rice Emergency – DOJ

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – President Arroyo may declare rice and corn emergency if the perceived shortage in the country’s rice supply would continue.

In an interview, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters that under Republic Act 3452, which provides measures to stabilize the price of palay, rice and corn, among others, the President is empowered to initiate drastic measures to ensure consumers of continued rice supply.

He said under Section 12 of R.A. 3452, the President is authorized to declare a rice and corn emergency any time she deems it necessary in the public interest.

Under the “rice and corn emergency”, the government can control all stocks, whether private or public, and distribute it as it sees fit.

The provision further states that during the emergency period, the President can direct, subject to constitutional limitation, the National Food Authority “to conduct raids, seizures, and confiscation of rice and corn hoarded in any private warehouse,” provided that the agency will pay for the confiscated rice and corn at the prevailing consumer’s price.

But Gonzalez said that there is no need for that measure yet as supplies of rice are still stable.

Although the present situation does not warrant yet the declaration of a rice and corn emergency, Gonzalez assured that the government will not wait for the situation in India, Jamaica and Haiti to happen in the country before it would declare an emergency.

On Wednesday, Gonzalez met with officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), to find ways to efficiently implement laws against rice-hoarding.

He said he would be issuing a memorandum to the NBI informing them of various laws that would allow them to legally seize rice being hoarded by rice traders.

With this law, Gonzalez said that the NBI teams joining in the government’s campaign against rice hoarding, will be given more teeth and muscle to go after erring rice traders and dealers.

Gonzalez defines hoarding as having “50 percent more than your currently needed supply.”

The DOJ secretary earlier disclosed that the President has given law enforcement agencies the go-signal to take over warehouses of rice traders who insist on holding a rice holiday.

Gonzalez cited provisions in the 1987 Constitution that will protect the general welfare from emergencies, including “artificial” shortages.

“We can cite Section 17, 18 and 19 of the general welfare provision of the Constitution. If there is a situation like an artificial shortage, the government can take over,” he said.

Under Section 17, “in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

On the other hand, Section 18 provides that the State may, in the interest of national welfare or defense, “establish and operate vital industries and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities and other private enterprises to be operated by the government.”

Section 19 says that the State “regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Another Witness in ZTE-NBN Deal Seeks Protection

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – Controversial witness Ador Mawanay on Monday showed up at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek protection for him and his family against physical threats allegedly made by Senator Panfilo Lacons if he would refuse to testify for the lawmaker in the ongoing Senate investigation into the anomalous national broadband network project with China’s ZTE Corp.

Mawanay met with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez at the latter’s office where they discussed the supposed threats on his life.

The DOJ chief, however, is not taking Mawanay’s story hook-line-and sinker, thus, he directed him to submit a statement first so that the justice department could evaluate the authenticity of the threat.

Mawanay said Lacson first became controversial when he appeared in public to accuse Lacson of masterminding the 1999 disappearance of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) camera operator Edgar Bentain for allegedly releasing the videotape of then presidential candidate Joseph Estrada and his gambling buddy Atong Ang.

Mawanay also claimed that Senator Loren Legarda purchased P8.9-million worth of smuggled cellular phones from him, and that he delivered a shoebox filled with cash to Senator Noli de Castro in 2001.

But, Mawanay later refuted his allegations saying that he was just pressured by then Armed Forces’ Intelligence chief Gen. Victor Corpus, then National Bureau of Investigation Director Reynaldo Wycoco, to issue the accusations.

This time, Mawanay is claiming that the camp of Lacson contacted him and ordered him to testify in the ongoing ZTE hearings at the Senate or else he and his family would be harmed.

He also claimed that he came to know about the ZTE deal as he has connections who purportedly showed him the overseas bank accounts of some of the individuals alleged involved in the scam.

“I told him to file a report at the police regarding the threats made against him life, after which I advised him to submit a written statement at the DOJ, so that we can evaluate it,” the DOJ secretary added.

Gonzalez said that this is to ensure that the DOJ is not being misled by the controversial witness who has the habit making inaccurate and unproven allegations in the past.

“I am inclined to take his statements with a grain of salt,” Gonzalez added while admitting that Mawanay was referred to the DOJ by House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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