Speech of President Arroyo during the arrival ceremonies after a 7-day Official/Working Visit to Northern America, Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Philippines
During the arrival ceremonies after a 7-day Official/Working Visit to Northern America, Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

[Delivered at the NAIA Terminal 2, Pasay City, February 5, 2002]

Thank you very much.

Mr. Vice President; Mr. Senate President; Mr. Speaker; Secretary Romulo and the other cabinet members; U.S. Charge d’ Affaires Bob Fitts; Canadian Charge d’ Affaires Dougall Aucoin; members of the Senate and House Representatives; General Villanueva and the other Generals and Admirals; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen:

The weather on the other side has been quite cold and damp, but the reception for me and my delegation was consistently warm and hospitable. I Met Prime Minister Blair in London and Prime Minister Chretien in Ottawa. I met some of the world’s top political and business leaders who went to New York for the World Economic Forum. I dropped by Chicago on the last leg of my trip to address a group of potential investors. I met our kababayans in all these places. They have all the best and encouraging words and sentiments for our country and our government.

Confidence in the Philippines is growing. This is because of the excellence of the great Filipino worker. The leaders and peoples of the world have seen our sense of sacrifice, our discipline and our universal ethics. They know and appreciate our unswerving stand against terrorism and poverty, our commitment to good governance.

There is a growing respect for what we have done and what we can do. The Filipino worker is shaping the destiny of the Philippines, but he is also Involved in shaping the global future.

It has been one year since I became President and four months since the September 11 tragedy. The pace with which we have been able to restore political and economic stability, and the pace of global consolidation have been extraordinary and exciting. Just as our economy began to show evidence of our resiliency, just as the Taliban fell, British peacekeeping forces moved into Afghanistan ahead of the installation of an interim government. And soon we will be meeting with the appropriate officials regarding our participation in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. I spoke to Prime Minister Blair about Scotland yard assisting the efforts of our Philippine National Police in maintaining peace and order by helping them build up the capacity to fight kidnapping and other organized crimes. Prime Minister Blair has approved the proposal and one of our police generals is being invited to go to London soon to work out the detailed curriculum.

Our talks with Prime Minister Blair also dwelt on the need for social equity and inter-faith dialogue, long-term harmony and peace.

Canada’s outlook is running along the same track as Britain. Prime Minister Chretien appreciates the need for more assistance to uplift Muslim communities in Mindanao. I brought the ARMM Governor, Dr. Parouk Hussein, with me on this trip so he could talk directly to the Canadians and the Americans, which he did. I am sure he will go back and tell his constituents that the West is really concerned about them.

But it is not only Afghanistan, not only the Philippines, that is moving into a new phase of consolidation.

President Bush in his State of the Union Address spoke of a new culture of responsibility — for upholding the non-negotiable values of human dignity everywhere — the rule of law, limits to the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance.

At the World Economic Forum, I was asked to keynote no less than six meetings. The first was the Opening Plenary Session itself, where, before a standing room audience of the entire forum participants, I keynoted the panel discussion on hope, followed by Queen Rania of Jordan, the new Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, the hero of the battle against apartheid Archbishop Tutu, the singer and debt relief advocate Bono, and a Nobel Prize laureate in the person of professor Elie Wiesel. The second event where I was asked to take a leading role was a press conference arranged by the W.E.F. for selected personalities. The third was as Keynote Speaker at the luncheon of the W.E.F. fellows, media fellows, a selection of publishers and editors-in-chief of the top media organizations in the world. The fourth was an exclusive luncheon with the World Business Council whose membership consists of the top 100 CEOs of the world, with three guests of honor: the Prime Minister of Finland, to share on how Finland has became the most competitive country in the world; the King of Jordan, to give a Middle East perspective to the aftermath of September 11; and the President of the Philippines, to talk about how the business community of the developed world can help the developing countries fight terrorism and poverty. The fifth meeting was a panel discussion for the global leaders of tomorrow on leadership in fragile times, which I again keynoted, followed by a panel discussion by the CEOs of Erns and Young, Shell gas and power, Goldman Sachs, the International NGO Civicus, and a Young Arab tycoon. And the sixth was the standard country presentation for The Philippines.

In all these meetings, I brought the message that the coalition in the war against terrorism must now be decisively transformed into a coalition in the larger war against poverty.

And during these meeting in the fringes King Abdullah of Jordan and I had a chance to discuss the war against terrorism and he offered to provide the Philippines with intelligence fusion against the international terrorists who maintain cells all over our region. And he asked me to send the head of my intelligence to Jordan so that they can work out the intelligence fusion arrangements.

The World Economic Forum delivered the message that big business is earnestly striving to accommodate its critics. Equity for the developing world is the byword of the times. The wealthier nations are preparing to foot more of the bill in fighting poverty, for as long as the recipient countries show transparency, democracy, and good government practices.

We are ready for this. We have not only been a leader in the fight against terrorism and poverty, we have also bolstered our competitiveness on several fronts. I briefed the shakers and movers of the world on opportunities for business in our country. I told my audiences that we are cleaning up our democratic processes and procedures, hardening the chain of responsibility in governance, and enabling professionalism from the Cabinet down to the local governments.

Things are also looking up on the business side. It should be noted that Britain is the biggest current investor in the Philippines, by virtue of its five billion dollars exposure in the Malampaya project. Canada also has a big investment in the one billion-dollar LRT extension to Cavite. and this time, this past week time, we pinned down 1.2 billion dollars-worth of investments as follows:

Mace limited of Britain will put up in Clark an 850 million-dollar aircraft maintenance facility that will employ 28,000 workers.

Garsol Management of the United States will set up, also in Clark, an international flying school with a total investment of 300 million dollars that will employ 1,000 workers.

Royal ventures of Canada will invest 12 million dollars to construct 3,400 low-cost housing units especially for policemen, government employees, teachers, and overseas workers.

Finitech, a Canadian firm, will set up porcelain enamel coating service for steel and aluminum products. It will initially invest five million dollars And export value 12 million dollars a year.

An American firm, a large one, whose name will be announced upon the formal approval of their board, will invest five million dollars in yet another call center in the country.

Panox petroleum of the united States, Beluga tanks of Canada, and Stoneworks of the Philippines will manufacture and distribute petroleum equipment Tanks.

I launched the roadshow for the power sector privatization program, which should yield five billion dollars in investments. In London and New York, I met big players in the global power industry like national grid of the United Kingdom; Edison, Intergen, and mid-American of the United States, and Hydro Quebec of Canada — all prospective investors in the privatization of Napocor, its transmission company, and its generation companies.

There is growing consensus that the global economy is slowly reawakening from its lethargy. America itself is gaining more activity and employment in the face of a projected stimulus package slated by the Bush administration.

But business is cautiously optimistic, in awareness that much more has to be done for homeland security in the U.S., and global security for all nations.

I traveled with a congressional delegation, a delegation of local government executives, and a business delegation. I believe they can attest that people have confidence in the Philippines, and the world would be more upbeat about us if we stop tearing our nation apart by petty political squabbles.

If America is heaving a sigh of relief because the last quarter of 2001 showed a growth rate of 0.2 percent, we should be prouder of our last quarter growth of 3.9 percent for a full-year GNP growth of 3.7 percent. we should also be elated that in the month of January the value of our stocks in the stock market went up four times so the Bloomberg adjudged the Philippine Stock Market in January as the best buy in the whole world. The first time ever for our country. We should also be gratified that Moody’s has just upgraded our rating from negative to stable.

So more than ever, it is important to capitalize and project the strengths of our nation in both realms of security and economic competitiveness. We must put our act together to show the world that we are a strong and determined ally in the fight against terrorism and poverty, and an active, principled player in the global regime.

I call on our people and our nation, and all our institutions, to close ranks for the big push forward.

Now is the time to consolidate.

Thank you.

Source: www.op.gov.ph

Macapagal-Arroyo, G. (2002). PGMA’s Speech during the Arrival Ceremonies after a 7-day Official/Working Visit to Northern America, Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20100412230805/http://www.op.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7620&Itemid=38