FVR reelected to fresh 3-year term as Boao Forum Chair; PGMA due tomorrow morning
BOAO, China (21 April) -- The Philippines gained yet another international recognition even before this year’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) could officially start here Saturday when former President Fidel V. Ramos was reelected Thursday to a fresh three-year term as chairman of the annual conference in this scenic seaside town off Hainan province.
Ramos, who has served in the same post for the past five years, expressed confidence that the Philippines’ active participation in the organization that counts world leaders, prominent businessmen and noted economists among its roster of attendees yearly, would be for the best interest of the country as it pushes for the establishment of an Asia-wide free trade area.
"Aside from its main objective of integrating Asia in the global arena, this forum also serves as a mechanism to enhance peace and security in the region," he said in an interview at the posh Sofitel Hotel where most of the delegates will be billeted.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is among the prominent personalities invited to the forum this year, is expected to arrive here early Saturday morning via a chartered Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight from Manila.
She will be among the keynote speakers who also include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. They are expected to discuss the emerging opportunities and accompanying challenges facing Asia now and in the future.
Ramos said the Philippines, being one of the 28 charter-member countries, is poised to take advantage of the globalization of the entire region because of the Filipinos’ proficiency in the English language which, he pointed out, is the language of international business.
"During President Arroyo’s visit here last year, she offered the country’s help in training Chinese to speak English which will be mutually beneficial to both countries," Ramos explained.
President Arroyo’s participation in this year’s forum is expected to further enhance the country’s role as a major political and economic player in the region, according to Ramos.
"I’m happy she’s coming here," he said. "Very important decisions are expected to come out of this forum considering that China is a major driver of economic growth in Asia, having replaced Japan."
The former President cited China's aggressive push for socio-cultural, economic and educational programs in the region which counts a third of the world’s population.
Ramos said he expects President Arroyo to go on with her cancelled visits to four Chinese provinces after the May elections in the Philippines.
"Once again, it will be to the best interest of the country, if she will push through with it," he said.
President Arroyo had cut short her trip here from five days to 12 hours on account of the First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo’s medical condition following an open heart surgery last week. (PIA) [top]