PGMA leaves for APEC Leader's Meeting in Australia
Manila (6 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo departed this morning for Sydney, Australia where she will meet with the heads of state of the 20 other members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) at the two-day APEC Leaders' Meeting on Sept. 8-9.
In a departure statement, the President said she is joining the "other heads of economies" as "we believe in the power of the global trading system to alleviate poverty and modernize nations through market forces."
"That does not mean we believe that countries like the Philippines are ready to compete head-to-head today in every sector, but it does mean we cannot afford to be afraid of globalization."
The Chief Executive, who was about an hour early for her 10:50 a.m. flight to the Land Down Under, stressed that "poverty alleviation is the number one most important part of our agenda and our vision to lift the Philippines into modernized-country status in 20 years."
She was accompanied by her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who is joining her on a foreign trip for the first time since he underwent a delicate heart operation last summer.
The President said the APEC "remains a central pillar of global engagement and dialogue," and that the Sydney meeting of APEC leaders "presents another opportunity to engage allies in economic, political and security issues at a time when the world needs closer cooperation."
"The APEC, along with the ASEAN and other trading agreements, provides the opportunity for nations to work together to lift up our poor, not just in the Philippines but all over the world," she said.
The Chief Executive said she hoped to "see greater regional economic integration made possible with all 21 APEC economies agreeing to pursue the path of trade liberalization."
"We believe in strong global engagement for our country and our people to grow our economy, ensure peace and security and lift our nation out of poverty," she said.
"Figuratively speaking, the more bridges we build, the more people can cross to new lands and new ideas. We must be open to the world and peoples and places other than our own," the President added.
According to her, "that is what the 21st century will be about. That is why APEC plays such a large role for the Philippines – it is one of the most important bridges we can build and cross together."
Saying she wants the Philippines "engaged in local, regional and global affairs because that is the future," the President added that she is also looking forward to a "discussion on how the APEC can work together to address the global challenges of climate change through a renewed framework for cooperation as a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol."
While in Sydney, the President said that she will also be meeting with business leaders, "as well as our countrymen in Australia and we will bring to them the good news about our country."
The good news is that because "we have been focused like a laser beam on the economy, our plan is bearing results -- lower inflation, higher revenues, spectacular growth, robust stock market, fiscal discipline and so much more," she said.
Also among the good news is the six million jobs created since she assumed the presidency, she pointed out.
An economist, the President stressed that "APEC is part of our economic vision and thus is central to our strategic plan for the nation. Sumusulong ang bayan, salamat sa ating sikap, reporma at pagkakaisa. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!"
She was seen off at the NAIA Centennial Terminal II by Vice President Noli de Castro, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, Police Director General Oscar Calderon, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Bayani Fernando, and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Tony Hely. (OPS) [top]