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Archive for November 19th, 2008

Dureza apologizes over prayer blunder

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Vows to pray ‘in silence’ next time

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 20:52:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said he had apologized to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for giving her an “undeserved flak” over a prayer he led at a Cabinet meeting, as he promised to “pray in silence” next time.

Dureza acknowledged that Arroyo was “terribly upset” over the incident, although she appeared composed immediately after the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

Arroyo could only sigh “Oh my God,” after Dureza, at the end of his prayer, pleaded: “Bless the President so she will have the forbearance, good health, tolerance to lead this nation up to 2010 and perhaps, who knows, even beyond.”

Dureza said what he actually said was that the President could lead the country beyond 2010 “in her personal and private capacity,” but the last portion of his prayer was “drowned out.”

“I apologized to her later that day when media reported it with a spin for term extension and at her expense. In hindsight, it was a mistake on my part to subject the President to such undeserved flak,” he said in a statement late Wednesday evening.

“I take full responsibility and own up solely to the blame. One lesson I learned is that next time, I’ll pray in silence,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T13:58:29+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 13:58:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm11

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Arroyo to Peru for APEC

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:13:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The global financial crisis, climate change, and food security are on top of the agenda when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru later this week, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Arroyo will leave Manila for Lima on Thursday for the summit, which is scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, Ermita told his weekly news conference in Malacañang on Wednesday.

“They will discuss matters affecting the region, the financial crisis, human security initiative, food and energy, climate change,” Ermita said.

Ermita said Arroyo is scheduled to go to Colombia for an official visit after the APEC summit.

The President’s official delegation has five members: Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, the country’s representative to the APEC, Edsel Custodio, and the head of the Philippine chairman of the APEC Business Advisory Council, Roberto Romulo, Ermita said.

The delegation also includes 11 officials from the Office of the Press Secretary, three from the Office of the President, including Arroyo’s adviser for special concerns, Medy Poblador, and 19 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

From 40 as initially reported, only around 10 congressmen will be joining the President, Ermita said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T13:57:02+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 13:57:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm11

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Arroyo: A call center in each province

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:34:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants a call center in every province in the country, and has instructed the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) to determine how it can be done.

“Gusto natin magkaroon ng maraming call center sa bansa, hindi natin kayang maglagay sa lahat ng inyong bayan, pero sana naman, lahat ng inyong probinsya [We want many call centers in the country. We can’t put up call centers in every town, but we hope, in every province],” she said in a speech before the League of Municipalities of the
Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

“So I instructed the commission on ICT to make a technical study on the resources needed to transform every province in the country into an ICT enabler,” she said.

Arroyo said she was “pleased” with the success of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country, which has provided employment opportunities for Filipinos who would have otherwise gone abroad.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T09:45:14+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 09:45:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Arroyo thanks local execs

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:06:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo thanked local government officials for not being distracted by the political “noise,” which she said was being generated “prematurely” by the 2010 elections.

Faced with a fresh impeachment attempt, legislative inquiries in corruption allegations, and criticism over alleged plans to extend her term, Arroyo again found solace in local officials, and attended the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

“So I thank you for all of this, and I thank what [LMP president] Monching Guico said in his speech, that you, the mayors, are not affected by the noise, prematurely generated by the 2010 elections,” Arroyo said in her speech.

“Thank you for being focused on your job. Thank you for realizing that effective governing is not a popularity contest. Thank you for understanding that the people deserve for their leaders to deliver results. And finally, thank you because you stand up and deliver,” she said.

In a speech earlier in the program, LMP President Ramon Guico said: “We have always stated that we cannot in conscience and practice follow the bickering and political mud-slinging that seems to be the preoccupation of many of our elected national leaders.”

“We, from the small towns and villages of our countries, cannot be distracted by the verbal fireworks and rhetoric by some of our leaders over the latest fertilizer scam, euro generals, destabilization or impeachment complaints,” Guico said.

Guico was referring to investigations on the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds to Arroyo’s 2004 campaign chest and the alleged anomalous disbursement of €105,000 or P6.9 million for a police delegation to an Interpol conference in Russia in October.

He said municipal official would rather focus on their work, rather than “ranting and whining” about the problems besetting the country.

Earlier this week, research firm Pulse Asia Inc. said that the 2010 presidential elections is shaping up to be a five-way race among, led by Vice President Noli de Castro, followed by recently ousted Senate President Manuel Villar, former president Joseph Estrada, and Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero.

While he is shaping up to be the administration’s best bet in 2010, Vice President Noli de Castro is “uneasy” when talk of the upcoming elections is raised among Cabinet members, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

But there have been no official discussions on the administration’s candidate for 2010, Ermita said.

“Among us [in the Cabinet], we joke about it. We see the Vice President, he feels uneasy…He’s focused on work,” Ermita said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T09:18:11+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 09:18:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Gov’t cuts tariffs on cement, flour

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:57:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines – The government will slash tariffs on cement and flour, to bring down the market prices of cement and baked goods, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Executive Orders 766, which cut import duties on cement, and 765, which slashed import duties on flour, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said.

The tariff cuts are effective for six months. Arroyo signed the orders on November 7. They take effect 30 days after publication.

“This is part of government’s intervention to ensure prices at affordable levels,” Favila said at a news conference at the Palace.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T07:19:55+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 07:19:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Palace dares NPA to free Army captive

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:53:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang dared the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to prove that it is not a terrorist group and release Army 1st Lieutenant Vicente Camayo, who the rebels have been holding captive for almost two weeks.

“Para malaman natin na hindi sila terorista, siguro ipakita nila ang kanilang compassion na pakawalan at huwag sasaktan si Lieutenant Camayo [To show that they are not terrorists, they should prove their compassion and release and not harm Lieutenant Camayo],” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a news conference at the Palace on Wednesday.

Ermita said he was appealing to the rebels’ “sense of righteousness” to free Camayo, a company commander of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, who was captured after an ambush by NPA fighters in Compostela Valley province last November 7.

Ermita said there are no official negotiations for Camayo’s release.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T06:55:32+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 06:55:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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‘Believe,’ Ermita on Arroyo 2010 term

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:06:00 11/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Take her word for it, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is stepping down at the end of her term in 2010, Malacañang said, dousing fresh talk of alleged plans to amend the Constitution to extend her stay in office.

“We just have to believe in the spoken words and statements of the President,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a news conference at the Palace on Wednesday.

“The President has said in many occasions that she’s stepping down by the end of her term in 2010… That’s where it stands right now. The issue is not being discussed,” he said.

On Tuesday, Arroyo was caught off guard when Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said in his prayer at the start of a weekly Cabinet meeting for her to continue leading the country “even beyond 2010.”

Dureza later made light of his statement.

On Monday, Arroyo’s ally, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, took over the leadership in the Senate, after the incumbent Manuel Villar, was ousted.

Critics raised fears that an Enrile-led Senate could pave the way for Charter change.

Asked if the President would stop efforts to extend her term, Ermita said: “The efforts of different sectors, if it comes from other branches of government, those are independent efforts.”

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-11-19T05:41:33+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Wed, 19 Nov 2008 05:41:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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