The President’s Day: May 13, 2003

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13 MAY 2003

  • Statement of the President on MILF
  • Statement of the President on SARS
  • Statement of the President on lifestyle checks
  • Gov’t nearing decision on whether to tag MILF as terrorist, says GMA
  • GMA designates Alingod as Acting Press Secretary
  • Malaysia backs RP condemnation of MILF attacks
  • GMA accepts credentials of 3 new envoy
  • GMA likens today’s Filipino health workers to Mabini
  • GMA orders speedy work on South Luzon Expressway infra
  • PAGC looking into charges against BIR officials
  • RP bats for OIC observer status, may send representative to OIC Khartoum meeting
  • GMA to leave May 17 for state visit to U.S. — Palace
  • GMA orders DFA, DOLE to extend all possible assistance to Filipino victims in Riyadh bombings

Statement of the President on MILF

The Government is nearing a decision point on whether to declare the MILF a terrorist organization, and to take the necessary operational and diplomatic measures to strengthen this prospective policy. We are holding this decision in abeyance upon the recommendation of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security, until after the forthcoming OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers to be held towards the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the security of our civilian communities is our utmost concern. Punitive actions will continue and peace talks remain suspended. We will treat those who attack civilians as plain terrorists.

Statement of the President on SARS

So far we are winning the fight against SARS. Every Filipino must continue to take responsibility for the health and welfare of the entire national community. Everybody has a stake in making the Philippines SARS free.

Statement of the President on lifestyle checks

Investigations and lifestyle checks are ongoing on those who are suspected of corruption. We will not tolerate any corrupt officials in the government. We will go after all thieves and punish them accordingly. The people are squarely behind us.

Gov’t nearing decision on whether to tag MILF as terrorist, says GMA

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today said the government is nearing a decision on whether to declare the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) a terrorist organization and to take the necessary operational and diplomatic measures to strengthen such prospective policy.

In her speech marking the death centenary of Apolinario Mabini at the Mabini Shrine in Malacañang Park, the President said the government is also in consultation with its friends who want peace in the country, especially in Mindanao.

The President explained that the government is holding this decision in abeyance upon the recommendation of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COCIS), until after the forthcoming conference of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to be held later this month.

In citing the Philippines’ friends in the search for peace in the South, the President singled out Malaysia for continuing to patiently help the country achieve “principled peace” in Mindanao.

“Even as we fight terrorism together, we want to thank our foreign friends, especially Malaysia, whose ambassador is here, and I gave him our thanks today for continuing to patiently help the Philippines achieve principled peace here in Mindanao,” the President said.

She reiterated her statement made in Mindanao yesterday that “time is running out” for the MILF to prove its sincerity in the peace process.

“Punitive actions will continue and the peace talks remain suspended,” she added.

The President stressed that the security of the civilian communities is of utmost concern.

The Chief Executive said the government will treat those who attack civilians as plain terrorists.

“It (MILF) must cut its double talk and make a clear statement on whether it’s allied with the Abu Sayyaf and foreign terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah or Al-Qaeda, or unequivocally reject them,” she said.

She said the MILF can no longer hide behind the veil of legitimacy under the growing suspicion that it is uninvolved in the entire web of terrorism domestically and regionally.

GMA designates Alingod as Acting Press Secretary

Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, by authority of the President, has designated Press Undersecretary Milton Alingod, a veteran journalist, as Acting Press Secretary for the period from April 20, 2003 to May 30, 2003.

Alingod, who was appointed Press Undersecretary on January 30, 2003, also concurrently serves as executive director of the Philippine Broadcasting Service-Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM), a position he held since December 2002.

Before his Malacañang stint, Alingod was vice president for news of the GMA Network, Inc. (Channel 7), from May 1993 to August 2002.

Alingod started his career as a news writer of the defunct DZMT, the radio station of the old Manila Times.

From the DZMT, Alingod moved on to become the news editor, news director and station manager of DZHP, the radio station of the then Philippines Herald.

Later as a sportscaster of the Voice of the Philippines, Alingod covered such prestigious international sports events as the Southeast Asian Games, the World Basketball Championship, Asian Basketball Championship and the Jones Cup Basketball Championship.

After the declaration of martial law, Alingod became a special assistant and general manager for radio of the Office of Media Affairs (OMA), the forerunner of the Office of the Press Secretary.

He was later appointed as director of the Bureau of Broadcast, the broadcast arm of the OPS.

Since the appointment of Press Secretary Hernani Braganza early this year, Alingod has been designated OPS officer-in-charge whenever the former went on official leave.

Malaysia backs RP condemnation of MILF attacks

Malaysia today supported the Philippines in condemning the recent successive attacks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) against civilians in Mindanao.

Ambassador Mohamed Taufik, who attended the death centenary of Apolinario Mabini at Malacañang Park as a member of the diplomatic corps, said Malaysia respect the decision of the Philippine government in questioning the MILF’s real identity – if it is allied with terrorist groups or not.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in Koronadal City Monday (May 12), said the MILF must cut its double talk and make a clear statement on whether it is allied with the Abu Sayyaf and foreign terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya or the Al-Qaeda, or unequivocally reject them.

Taufik said: “We support whatever its (the Philippines) decision because the MILF is not a Malaysian organization, neither is it an Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) organization and I do not think we have much to say in what is essentially a Filipino domestic issue.”

Taufik also said Malaysia seriously hopes the MILF would disprove what they have been up to. “Of course, after Siocon, they admitted it was a technical mistake in attacking civilians. Well, any action against civilians clearly is an act of terrorism.”

“And so I think time is running out so we hope that the MILF would seriously consider and see what they want themselves to be regarded,” Taufik added.

He also reiterated that Malaysia does not support efforts of any party in the Philippines to seek secession or whatever. “With the MILF, I presume if it is what they want, it’s quite clear that we have told them time and time again, any solution to the problem should be in the context of the Philippine Constitution.”

Taufik noted that the OIC as a whole has committed itself to respect the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

The Malaysian envoy further noted that the OIC does not recognize the MILF although it is interested in what is happening to Muslim minorities in any part of the world.

GMA accepts credentials of 3 new envoy

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today accepted the credentials of the ambassadors of Sri Lanka, Singapore and Argentina in simple ceremonies in Malacañang.

Ambassador Ariya Bandara Rekawa of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Lady Ambassador Lim Kheng Hua of the Republic of Singapore, and Ambassador Mario Schuff of the Argentine Republic, arrived one after the other before noon in Malacañang.

Assistant Secretary Jose Abeto Zaide, chief protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), then accompanied the newly designated ambassadors before the President for the presentation of their credentials.

“I hope you will be successful during your tenure,” the President told the ambassadors.

For their part, the ambassadors wished the President good health and promised to further improve cooperation and bilateral relations between the Philippines and their countries during their tour of duties.

GMA likens today’s Filipino health workers to Mabini

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today likened today’s Filipino health workers to national hero Apolinario Mabini, the brains of the Philippine Revolution, who despite his handicap, served to free Filipinos.

The President, who made the comparison during the death centenary of Mabini at the Mabini Shrine at the Malacañang Park, said just like Mabini, the Filipino health workers are the heroes in the battle against the dreaded Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

“Sila ang ating mga bayani ng mga araw na ito (they are the heroes of today),” she said.

Kaya kung pinaparangalan natin si Mabini, bigyan din natin ng parangal ang ating mga health workers na napakagaling at may malasakit (if we are honoring Mabini today, we should likewise pay tribute to our health workers who are facing battles against diseases around the world),” she said.

“Because of them, so far, we’re winning the fight against SARS,” she said.

The President said what the firefighters and the New York police were in 9-11, our health workers are the heroes in the battle against SARS, not only in the Philippines but in Hong Kong, Singapore, and wherever we have health workers all over the world,” she said.

“Every Filipino must continue to take responsibility for the health and welfare of the entire national community. Everybody has a stake in making the Philippines SARS-free,” she said.

Mabini is one of the brightest and famous national heroes. Despite his disability, he served as beacon in Philippine history and culture. Born of poor parents, he served as the meaningful leaders of the Philippine revolution. He supported his law studies by taking on odd jobs. He eventually became a lawyer.

Mabini also served in the cabinet of the President Aguinaldo as president of the council of secretaries, and secretary of foreign affairs.

“He was the (Executive Secretary) Bert Romulo and the (Foreign Secretary) Blas Ople combined,” she said.

During his term, Mabini was able to create several towns, provinces and courts and eventually the nucleus of the Philippine Constitution.

He was banished in Guam and eventually died at the age of 39.

Among the officials in attendance during the ceremonies were National Historical Institute Executive Director Ludovico Badoy, Manila Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, Jr., Tourism Undersecretary Evelyn Pantig and Metro Manila and Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando.

Before delivering her speech, the President laid a wreath at the bust of Mabini. She also led the flag-raising ceremony.

Badoy also presented to the President the Mabini Centenary Stamps and commemorative medal.

GMA orders speedy work on South Luzon Expressway infra

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today directed the fast tracking of vital transportation support projects such as the two segments of the South Luzon Expressway — the Calamba-Sto. Tomas road and Alabang viaduct and the Lipa-Batangas City road.

The 7.48-kilometer road project from Calamba to Sto. Tomas will be implemented by the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), by virtue of PD 1113, as amended. The project costs P1.6 billion. The rehabilitation of the Alabang viaduct is included in the segment.

The construction of the 20-kilometer Lipa-Batangas City segment, including the right of way, costs about P2.2 billion. This is under the franchise of the Study Infrastructure Development Corporation (SIDC).

Briefing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Executive Committee in a meeting in Malacañang, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Teodoro Encarnacion said the implementing parties agreed to work within the PNCC franchise so as not to disturb the present direction of the projects.

The National Development Corporation (NDC) will provide project financing through a loan for the design and construction, including the right of way, to PNCC.

Actual construction will be undertaken within 12 months — from September 2003 to September 2004.

The Lipa-Batangas City road will be made operational under the Toll Concession Agreement between the SIDC and DPWH. The actual construction will take place on October 2003 up to March 2004.

The NEDA Execom also discussed DPWH foreign-assisted high impact projects, 50 percent of which are road networks all over the country.

The DPWH said the projects are being fast tracked without sacrificing the quality of work.

In Metro Manila, roads and bridges worth some P6.8 billion are being implemented and scheduled to be completed before the term of the President ends in 2004.

PAGC looking into charges against BIR officials

Malacañang today said the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) is already looking into the allegations made against some officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“Chairman Dario Rama of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) is already on the look out as far as the investigations of this particular matter is concerned,” Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said during a media briefing in Malacañang.

Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has clearly mandated the PAGC to inquire into the lifestyles of the government officials, especially those who have been appointed by the President.

The President earlier said investigations and lifestyle checks are ongoing on those suspected of corruption.

“We will not tolerate any corrupt officials in government. We will go after all thieves and punish them accordingly. The people are squarely behind us,” the President said.

Bunye said BIR Commissioner Guillermo Parayno Jr. has already decided to leave the investigations to the PAGC to avert insinuations of a possible whitewash.

“Well, what we know is that Chairman Rama is already stepping in as far as this investigation is concerned. And we also monitored the report that the BIR Commissioner is leaving it to the PAGC. They prefer a neutral body to investigate the BIR officers,” Bunye said.

RP bats for OIC observer status, may send representative to OIC Khartoum meeting

The Philippines may send a representative to attend the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Khartoum, the Sudan from June 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye stressed this today as he disclosed moves to impose on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) a two-week deadline to make a categorical stand on whether or not they want to pursue the peace talks.

The MILF had been tagged as responsible for a series of bombings in southern Philippines.

The government is contemplating on labeling the MILF as a terrorist group in the wake of deaths and injuries of innocent civilians in the bombings and armed attacks on peaceful communities.

In his regular press briefing, Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other officials “are nearing a decision” on sending a representative to the OIC foreign ministers’ meeting.

He said the Philippines is “batting for observer status” in the influential 56-member Islamic states grouping, but “that has not been granted yet.”

The mechanics of sending a representative to the OIC meeting is being threshed out by the Department of Foreign Affairs, “but it is an ideal situation if we could be granted observer status” within the OIC, he added.

At the same time, Bunye said the government has given the MILF two weeks, to expire on June 1, to show its “sincerity or honest effort” to push through with the Mindanao peace process.

He said that President Macapagal-Arroyo — during her visits Monday (May 12) to Koronadal City, South Cotabato and Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte – dared the MILF to make a categorical stand on the peace talks.

“If they want to pursue peace, they will have to dissociate themselves from known terrorist organizations like the Abu Sayyaf, the Jemaah Islamiya and the Al-Qaeda,” he reiterated.

He also stressed that the MILF would have to police their ranks, turn over the perpetrators of the Mindanao bombings and refrain from committing similar atrocities in the future.

If the MILF shows a change of heart or indicates good faith in their interest to pursue peace, then the government may further defer or put aside proposals of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security to brand the rebels as a terrorist group, he said.

He clarified that the COCIS discussions were “centered on the objective evaluation of the activities of the MILF… whether there is a basis for actually declaring them as a terrorist organization.”

“There is a possibility of foreclosing the (Government-MILF) peace talks, if the MILF is eventually declared as a terrorist organization,” but this would not necessarily prevent future negotiations to happen, he added.

Bunye likewise clarified that the President’s call on media to media to ban propaganda from terrorists was an “appeal and we are not thinking of any possible sanctions.”

What the government wants is to deliver its message of its “sincere effort to have a peaceful solution of the situation,” he said.

GMA to leave May 17 for state visit to U.S. — Palace

Malacañang today announced that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will leave Saturday, May 17, for a one-week state visit to the United States, to be highlighted by a meeting with US President George W. Bush in Washington, D. C.

In his regular press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said the President, who would be taking the regular Philippines Airlines flight, will arrive in Los Angeles, California on the same day.

During her overnight stay in Los Angeles, the President would meet with the members of the Fil-American community in the city and surrounding areas following a brief visit to Cardinal Mahony of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.

Bunye said the President will then proceed to Washington where she will be welcomed by President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in the White House.

In an earlier announcement, the White House said President Bush would welcome President Macapagal-Arroyo as an expression of the American people’s gratitude to her, the Philippine government and the Filipino nation “for their stalwart efforts in fighting the war on terror, for being such a good and reliable ally to the United States.”

Bunye said that during her visit to Washington, President Bush would host a state dinner for her and the official Philippine delegation on May 19. Also on that date, the US State Department would tender a state lunch for the President and the Philippine delegation.

While in Washington, the President will have business meetings with Shengman Zhang, vice president for policies and programs of the World Bank; Peter Voicke, head and managing director of International Finance Corp.; and Hoerst Kohler, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

She is also scheduled to meet Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and hold a round table conference with the US–ASEAN Business Council.

From the US capital, the President would fly to New York where she will meet with American business leaders.

The President will also be conferred an honorary doctorate degree of laws by the Fordham University.

The conferment, to be held May 21 at the McNally Amphitheater of Fordham, will highlight her brief stint in New York, which will also see her attending luncheon meetings with various business groups as well as possible one-on-one meetings with contractors such as Western Wats and Vision X International.

One of those scheduled to call on the President at the Waldorf Astoria while she is in New York is Maurice Greenberg, chairman and chief executive of AIG, the parent company of Phil-Am and officials of Prudential, Convergys and Ford.

From New York, the President flies back to San Francisco to meet with some members of the Fil-American community there. She departs San Francisco for Manila on May 24.

Bunye said the talking points for a possible bilateral agreement with the United States are still being finalized by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

GMA orders DFA, DOLE to extend all possible assistance to Filipino victims in Riyadh bombings

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to extend all possible assistance to the Filipino victims of the terrorist car bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

The President, who received a report on the terrorist attacks in the Saudi Arabian capital from Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, also extended her condolences and sympathy to the families of the Filipino victims of the bombings.

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bahnarim Guinomla informed the DFA that at least two Filipinos were killed in a series of attacks and explosions at a housing complex in Riyadh.

Some Filipinos were also reportedly injured in the incident.

Source: Office of the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary. (2003). [The President’s Day: May 13, 2003]. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20081201132747/http://www.news.ops.gov.ph/archives2003/may13.htm

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