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Arroyo thanks Air Force for ‘Frank’ rescue, relief missions

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:14:00 07/02/2008

MACTAN AIRBASE, Cebu — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo thanked the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday for helping out with rescue and relief operations during and after the devastation wrought by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

Speaking at the PAF’s 61st anniversary celebration here, Arroyo also cited the gains of her 10-day official trip to the US while the country reeled from the typhoon’s effects.

Arroyo has been heavily criticized for pressing on with her US trip. She left Manila in the evening of June 21, as “Frank” was barreling through the Visayas. It was also that evening that the MC Princess of the Stars capsized and sank off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province with 862 passengers and crew onboard.

Arroyo said she asked Air Force Chief Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog to transfer the anniversary rites to Mactan from Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to “focus attention on the heroism of the members of the Philippine Air Force who fly search, rescue, and relief missions.”

Most of the victims of the Princess of the Stars were from Cebu province.

“The Philippine Air Force worked 24 hours during this calamity. Thank you very much to all of you,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo said she was at Villamor Airbase before she left the country, and again when she returned before dawn last Monday, to check on contingency preparations and relief efforts.

The President said she also authorized the use of presidential aircraft for rescue and relief operations.

“My trip to the United States reaffirmed the strong ties between our two nations and advanced important issues with the US, our most important friend and contingent ally,” she said.

In her meetings with US officials, Arroyo said she pressed for “economic aid, food security and stronger military cooperation.”

The President said the US renewed its commitment to the Capability Upgrade Program (CUP) component of the Philippine defense roadmap.

At the end of the ceremony, flower petals were dropped on the parade grounds from a UH-1H helicopter.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-07-02T09:55:29+00:00UTC07bUTCWed, 02 Jul 2008 09:55:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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