The President’s Day: December 4, 2002

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04 DECEMBER 2002

  • RP supports Japan advocacy of dialogues on vital issues, GMA says
  • Emperor lauds GMA on war against poverty
  • A night of elegance, culture
  • Nation marks Human Rights Week
  • Exports up 2.6 percent in October
  • First Gentleman’s office swamped with calls for help from OFWs
  • Fight against terrorism is responsibility of all nations, says GMA
  • Make Philippines your regional hub in East Asia, GMA tells Japanese businessmen
  • GMA showcases RP economy’s strengths before Japanese businessmen
  • GMA says yen is mightier than sword
  • Philippines to participate in peace process between Indonesia, rebels in Aceh

RP supports Japan advocacy of dialogues on vital issues, GMA says

TOKYO (Via PLDT) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Tuesday night said the Philippines supports Japan’s unflinching advocacy of dialogue on important initiatives, such as on issues of immediate concern in Northeast Asia.

In her remarks during the state dinner at the Imperial Palace here, the President noted that East Asia is the Philippines’ and Japan’s common home.

“In this house, dialogue provides the best avenue for resolving differences. It can be the only means to bring closure to a difficult past,” she said.

“We saw this in 1999, when, in the course of the ASEAN Plus Three meetings, Manila hosted the first summit in half-a century between the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea,” the President said.

The Chief Executive noted that the Philippines and Japan are vital allies in building and maintaining peace and stability in the whole region and that this alliance can be further strengthened and expanded to reinforce the inexorable march towards regional integration.

“Japan’s crucial contributions to greater East Asian integration is exemplified in its active support for the ASEAN Plus Three and the ASEAN Regional Forum processes, its comprehensive economic partnership initiatives with ASEAN and other East Asian countries, and its role in building the foundations for lasting peace, stability and progress in countries like Cambodia and East Timor,” she said.

Emperor lauds GMA on war against poverty

TOKYO (Via PLDT) — Emperor Akihito of Japan Tuesday night expressed deep admiration for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for emerging to become the Philippines’ leader.

“I would like to express my deep respect to you for the way you have earnestly taken to tackling many issues related to the lives of the people, including measures to reduce poverty,” he said.

In his address at the state dinner in honor of the President and First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, the Emperor noted that during his visit to the Philippines 40 years ago during the time of President Diosdado Macapagal, the President was just in her teens and he and Empress Michiko (who were then the Crown Prince and Princess) were in their twenties.

“Now, 40 years later, I am deeply moved as we welcome Your Excellency to Japan on this state visit,” he said.

He said that exactly 40 years ago, he and the Empress visited the Philippines representing Emperor Showa. According to him, the visit was in return for the state visit made to Japan by former President Carlos P. Garcia.

“Although it was a time when feelings towards Japan were still severe, I vividly remember that your father, President Diosdado Macapagal, and your mother, Mrs. Macapagal, welcomed us with smiles at the airport as they stood close by the plane,” he said.

He noted that he also remembers with feeling that in addition to the banquet her parents hosted on the day of their arrival, the President and Mrs. Macapagal invited them for breakfast on the morning of their departure, where Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo was also present.

The Emperor further noted that he has many other good memories of that trip, including the visit they made to General and Mrs. Emilio Aguinaldo at their residence, where the Declaration of Independence of the Philippine Republic was proclaimed and the visit they made to Baguio City, which is located in a mountainous area lush with pine trees.

“But above all, what I cannot forget is the warm-heartedness shown to us by the people of your country. At the time, you were in your teens and we were in our twenties. Now, 40 years later, I am deeply moved as we welcome Your Excellency to Japan on this State Visit,” he said.

The Emperor further noted that it has been nearly two years since the President has assumed the presidency and that he can well imagine that she has spent very busy days since then.

The Emperor noted that Filipinos have been receptive to various cultures in the past and have striven to uphold democracy and freedom of speech.

He made special mention of the 38th meeting of the World Association of Newspapers held in Tokyo in 1985 where journalist Joaquin P. Roces received the “Golden Pen of Freedom Award,” for his noteworthy contributions to freedom of the press, “which left a lasting impression on the Empress and me who were in attendance at the meeting.”

“I am very pleased that the relations between our two nations which share the same values, have grown even closer together through active exchanges that have continued across a broad spectrum of areas spanning economic activities, cultures and exchange of people,” he said.

He added that the President has paid particular attention to strengthening friendly relations between the two nations and have visited Japan on many occasions.

“It is my heartfelt wish that this visit will be very fruitful and will contribute to further advancing mutual understanding and friendly relations between the two countries,” he added.

A night of elegance, culture

TOKYO (via PLDT) — It was a night of quiet elegance and Japanese culture at the state dinner hosted by His Majesty Emperor Akihito in honor of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo.

The state dinner, strictly a black tie and formal gown affair, took place Tuesday night at the spacious Banquet Hall of the Imperial Palace, the official residence of His Majesty and Empress Michiko.

The President, accompanied by First Gentleman Atty. Arroyo, arrived at the Palace and were met by the Imperial Couple at the entrance hall at 8 in the evening.

The President was wearing a white grown with white shawl while the Empress was wearing a black and white gown. The Emperor and Atty. Arroyo were in black tie.

In receiving the President and Atty. Arroyo, the Emperor was heard to have asked if she had a busy day.

The President remarked that she indeed had a very busy day, noting that she spoke before the Diet.

On the other hand, the Empress asked Atty. Arroyo how was his day to which the First Gentleman replied that he had a very nice day.

The Empress then endearingly bussed the President.

The four proceeded to the Banquet Hall as the band played “Leron, Leron, Sinta.” They were followed by select Philippine government officials such as Foreign Secretary Blas Ople, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon, Jr., Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho, Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dante Canlas, Bangko Sentral Gov. Rafael Buenaventura, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Representatives Josephine Sato, Jacinto Paras and Antonino Roman.

They were joined by Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, who was wearing a white formal gown, and Princess Sayako, who was in a royal blue gown.

They were also joined by Prince and Princess Akishino for the first time.

Meanwhile, the Banquet Hall was slowly being filled by Japanese government officials and VIPs.

The First Couple was also accompanied by their daughter, Evangeline Lourdes “Luli” Arroyo, who was in a Filipiniana dress.

Red and white roses formed part of the elaborate dinner setting. Ushers in coattails were also on hand to assist the dignitaries.

After the President, Atty. Arroyo and Their Majesties were guided to their designated seats, the Emperor rose and delivered his welcome address in Japanese.

He subsequently proposed a toast. Afterwards, an orchestra at the side of the hall played an exquisite rendition of the Philippine National Anthem.

“I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Excellency Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Atty. Arroyo. I am indeed happy to be able to spend this evening here together with you both,” the Emperor said in Japanese.

The President, meanwhile, said it is a great honor and privilege to be in Japan upon His Majesty’s kind invitation.

She said the friendly relations between the Philippines and Japan are blessed with a long history.

She noted that these friendly ties could be traced as far back as the exile of Lord Ukon Takayama, a great Christian samurai, and his family to Manila in 1614.

Three centuries after that, the Philippines began benefiting immensely from the important contributions of Japanese immigrants to the Philippines. Road construction in the Philippine summer capital of Baguio received a great boost from the first large wave of Japanese migration to the Philippines in 1903.

She noted that subsequent waves of sizable community of Japanese descent followed in Davao in the island of Mindanao, eventually becoming the catalyst for agricultural development in southern Philippines, which supplies as much as 90 percent of the bananas and the great bulk of pineapples enjoyed in Japan today.

The President noted that Their Majesties’ visit to the Philippines in 1962 closed a difficult chapter in our common history and signaled the start of a new one – of true partnership, of close alliance and of genuine friendship.

The state dinner menu consisted of Consome a la Royal, “Amadai” au vin Blanc, Filet de Boeuf a la Mode en Gelee, Gigot d’Agneau Roti, Salade de Saison, Glace Mont Fuji while the wines served were Puligny Montrachet 1993, Chateau Margaux 1982 and Moet et Chandon, Dom Perignon 1992.

Nation marks Human Rights Week

Malacañang today issued Memorandum Circular No. 31 enjoining all government offices to undertake appropriate activities in the observance of “National Human Rights Week.”

The “National Human Rights Week” celebration is being observed on December 3 to 10 every year in accordance with Proclamation No. 177, dated October 30, 1987.

By authority of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo signed M.C. No. 31.

“Pursuant to Proclamation No. 177 dated October 30, 1987 which declared the period December 3 to 10, 1987, and the same period of every year thereafter as “National Human Rights Week,” all heads of departments, bureaus and agencies of the national government, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations, government financial institutions as well as state colleges and universities, are hereby enjoined to undertake appropriate activities during the week-long celebration,” Romulo said.

He said that these activities should be aimed towards the promotion and enhancement of public awareness and understanding of human rights, in accordance with this year’s theme “Karapatang Pantao: Likas sa Atin, Tungkulin Natin.”

Exports up 2.6 percent in October

Merchandise export receipts rose 2.6 percent in October to $3.016 billion from $2.941 billion a year earlier, bringing the 10-month figure 8.1 percent up on the comparable period in 2001, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said today.

The NSO said exports in the first 10 months of the year climbed to $29.049 billion from $26.875 billion a year earlier.

The NSO said receipts from Electronic Components, accounting for 54.9 percent of the aggregate export revenue for the month, went up by 8.5 percent to $1.656 billion from $1.526 billion last year.

Articles of Apparel and Clothing Accessories remained as the country’s second top earner with a combined share of 6.6 percent and an aggregate receipt of $198.17 million or 0.6 percent higher than $197 million a year earlier.

Petroleum Products, ranked third with a total revenue of $46.66 million, reflecting a 377.2 percent increase from $9.78 million last year.

The NSO also said Manufactured Goods, accounting for 88.8 percent of the total receipts, gained by 2.3 percent as sales reached $2.679 billion, from $2.618 billion during the same period in 2001.

Income from Agro-Based Products combined for $139.95 million or 4.6 percent of the total export revenue. Compared to last year, aggregate revenue for this commodity group grew by 10.5 percent from $126.64 million.

Accounting for 22.5 percent of the country’s aggregate receipts for the month, exports to the United States, valued at $678.81 million, declined by 15.1 percent from last year’s reported figure of $799.59 million.

Japan followed with a 14.3 percent share. Valued at $430.44 million, exports to Japan grew by 2.2 percent from $420.99 million.

First Gentleman’s office swamped with calls for help from OFWs

A day after his appointment as special envoy to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the Office of the First Gentleman (OFG), Atty. Jose Miguel T. Arroyo, in Malacañang was swamped with calls asking for assistance.

Carmen Banzagales, a staff of the OFG, said she has received an avalanche of calls asking for Mr. Arroyo’s help, particularly for their relatives abroad encountering problems.

One caller said that her sister working in Saudi Arabia has not received her salary and would like the First Gentleman to intervene. All the callers have similar problems about relatives working in the Middle East.

However, Banzagales told the callers that Arroyo is still in Japan with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Prior to his appointment, Arroyo has been assisting OFWs who are having problems without fanfare.

One of those previously assisted by the First Gentleman was 20-year-old Mary Jane Ramos who needed P700,000 blood money after he was convicted of stabbing to death her employer who attempted to rape her in Dubai on Jan. 21, 1999.

The First Gentleman initiated the fund drive for the blood money. He personally donated from his own pocket P100,000 for Ms. Ramos’ freedom.

Ramos was jailed for two years even after she paid DHs 150,000 or US$41,000 blood money.

Atty. Arroyo also assisted leukemia patient Eva Israel Crisostomo by facilitating her return trip to Manila after she was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Church in Dubai last June 1 this year.

The First Gentleman also facilitated Delia Marquilencia’s chartered domestic flight from Manila to Iloilo after her arrival from Cyprus where she suffered a brain damage as well as fractured ribs when she figured in a vehicular accident in Miniotis, Cyprus on January 20, 2000.

Arroyo also assisted Marcel Santos for her prolonged confinement and medical assistance at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Santos was confined in Hanyu General Hospital in Saitma, Japan for lupus erythematosus.

Several other OFWs were also extended help by Arroyo.

In his free legal assistance project, Atty. Arroyo has provided legal help for OFWs, particularly victims of illegal recruitment.

The other humanitarian projects of the First Gentleman are medical mission, cataract operation, Dialysis Center, Paluwal Pangkabuhayan ni President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or livelihood assistance.

Atty. Arroyo’s medical mission project has already benefited 21,439 patients from the various parts of the country.

For the past 10 months of 2002, a total of 1,449 kidney patients underwent free hemodialysis treatment in 2,320 sessions and 135 patients were provided with ambulatory peritoneal dialysis at the Dialysis Center in Malacañang Clinic.

More than 200 cataract patients underwent free operations at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Hospital in Malacañang Park also under Arroyo’s cataract mission. Aside from free surgery, patients were also provided free intra-ocular lenses, medicines and pre- and post-operative medical follow-up.

According to Atty. Arroyo, he has been doing these humanitarian activities for love of country and the Filipino people.

Fight against terrorism is responsibility of all nations, says GMA

TOKYO (via PLDT) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today said the fight against terrorism is the responsibility of all nations and not just any one country or region alone.

The President made this statement when asked to comment during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on the remarks of Australian Prime Minister John Howard that his country has the right to defend itself from any attack, even if that meant taking pre-emptive military action overseas.

The President said such preemptive attack is hypothetical. “I don’t think that is the time now to give a reaction one way or another to a hypothetical declaration,” she said.

The Chief Executive, however, noted that what is important is that everyone should realize that terrorism is not the responsibility of one country or one region alone.

“It is a global threat and it is a global responsibility, and all countries in the world who value peace and freedom must help one another,” she said.

The President added that “we must share intelligence, break the terrorist cells where we find them and break the terrorist network, and we must stop the flow of funds.”

She noted that the Philippines has taken an aggressive position in the fight against terrorism.

“Rather than sit and wait for terrorism to hit us. what we should do is seek out the terrorist cells in the country where we might find them. It is important that we fight terrorism, that we be proactive before it destroys our way of life. . we must share intelligence with one another.”

“That, in a war against terrorism as compared to conventional warfare, is what makes it different, the importance of intelligence,” she added.

Make Philippines your regional hub in East Asia, GMA tells Japanese businessmen

TOKYO—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today called on the Japanese business leaders to make the Philippines the hub of their operations in East Asia since the country is located in the center of the Asia Pacific region.

In her policy speech at a luncheon meeting at the Keidanren, the Japanese economic organization, the President said that the Philippines could be reached by major cities of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in just three to four hours.

The President said the Philippines could become a regional hub not only by virtue of its proximity to most countries in the region but also because it can provide various services, particularly in information and communications technology (ICT) and the electronics sector.

As an English literate country, the President said, the Philippines could absorb high technology easily. “That is why world-class firms such as Intel, Texas Instruments and Amkor have a strong presence in the country,” she added.

According to the President, as regional hub, the Philippines is also best positioned to take advantage of the rapidly expanding market of China, adding that with its ascension to the World Trade Organization (WTO), China could be a lucrative market for the logistic services, manufacturing and commodity firms in the Philippines.

The President said that as the Philippines positions itself as a regional hub, her administration is also taking care of ensuring the proper macro-economic environment for foreign business firms to thrive in the country.

She said that her administration is putting together a “good new team” to increase tax collections, citing as member of this team Bureau of Internal Revenue Guillermo Parayno, who, she said, could meet the revenue target set for the rest of the medium-term plan period.

The President said her administration is committed to institute not only short-term but also long-term structural reforms, adding that the Special Asset Management Company bill, which has now passed both houses of Congress, would free more bank resources for export and other projects that would help speed up economic recovery in the Philippines.

Japan, the President said, will always be an important partner of the Philippines in its economic development and that the Japanese business community has a large role to play in realizing her administration’s vision of providing economic and human security to the Filipino people.

“So, I ask you, leaders of the Japanese business community, let us move forward together. Let us make AsEAN prosperous. Let us make the Philippines prosperous because that is what will make Japan prosperous, and, therefore, the rest of the region prosperous,” the President said.

GMA showcases RP economy’s strengths before Japanese businessmen

TOKYO (Via PLDT) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today showcased the strengths of the Philippine economy as she invited Japanese businessmen to invest in the Philippines.

Speaking at the luncheon hosted by heads of Japanese economic organizations in Tokyo Kaikan, the President cited the steps taken by her administration in pushing for economic growth and the positive results registered since she assumed office.

“As we position ourselves to be a regional hub, we also take care of ensuring the proper macroeconomic environment for business firms to thrive,” the President said.

She stressed the growth of the Philippines’ gross domestic product in the first three quarters of the year, which averaged 4.1 percent, and the continued implementation of monetary, fiscal and supply-side policies that resulted in the lowest inflation and interest rates registered in more than a decade.

She also assured that “in seeking sustainable growth, my administration continues to focus unswervingly on building a strong Philippine nation, similar to the strong Japanese nation.”

The President likewise noted that her administration continued to “focus on the essential services that concern firms that would invest in the Philippines.”

These involve the power sector, the workforce, stability of government and issues on peace and order, she said.

“The Philippines is positioning itself within East Asia-the region of highest growth in this century – as a regional hub,” the President said, citing the country’s ideal location, being at the center of the Asia-Pacific, making it accessible to all major Asian cities.

“But we intend to become a regional hub not only by virtue of proximity, but also by providing services,” she said.

She highlighted the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination, given its international reputation for its edge in education, English proficiency, adaptability and expertise in e-commerce.

GMA says yen is mightier than sword

TOKYO (Via PLDT) — The yen is mightier than the sword.

So said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as she highlighted the role Japan has to play in helping economies of Asia fight poverty and, ultimately, terrorism.

“Japan’s aid is important as vital weapon for insuring regional stability and security,” the President said in a meeting with the members of the Japan National Press Club.

“Make no mistake: the yen is mightier than the sword,” the President said, pointing out that the yen loan packages extended by Japan to the Philippines and other developing economies in Asia help them fight poverty that breeds terrorism.

“Economic security is the greatest defense against political instability, poverty and terrorism,” said the President.

“Japanese leadership to sustain aid to the Philippine government in my efforts to reduce poverty and sustain economic recovery is every bit as important as military cooperation in insuring regional security,” she said.

She recognized that “the economic role Japan has to play in the region cannot be overstated,” as she noted that Tokyo is “an important development partner and donor for the Philippines and ASEAN.”

“We commend Japan’s efforts to further deepen its ties in the region through economic partnership agreements,” she said.

“It is only through economic partnership that as a region, we will chart the security of Asia and the prosperity of our people. With Japan leading the way,” the President said, “the region will flourish.”

Philippines to participate in peace process between Indonesia, rebels in Aceh

TOKYO (Via PLDT) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today announced the decision of the Philippines to participate in the peace process between Indonesia and the rebel group Free Aceh Movement or FAM.

The President made the announcement in a press conference with members of the Japan National Press Club.

“It’s an honor for the Philippines to participate in the peace process in Aceh. Indonesia asked us to participate,” the President said.

Playing a role in the peace process in Indonesia, Mrs. Arroyo said, is Manila’s “way of reciprocating Indonesia, for Indonesia’s support for the Philippines in our own peace process in the Southern Philippines.”

Indonesia played a role in the forging of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The President also noted that providing assistance in the forging of peace agreements has become a tradition among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“It is one of the accomplishments in ASEAN, that we, as neighbors in ASEAN, help one another,” she said.

She stressed that ASEAN “has been developing not only as a region for free trade, but also a region for settling disputes among neighbors and for neighbors helping one another in settling disputes within their own nation.”

Source: Office of the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary. (2002). [The President’s Day: December 4, 2002]. Retrieved from