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PIA Press Release

PGMA commiserates with China over massive devastation wrought by heavy snowfall

Manila (5 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commiserated last night with the Chinese people over the widespread devastation wrought by the heavy snowfall that swept across the eastern and central provinces of that country recently.

In her speech at the Spring Festival Reception hosted by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China (PROC) for the Philippine Chinese community Monday night (Feb. 4) at the Manila Hotel's Centennial Room, the President said she was honored to join "our Chinese friends on this auspicious occasion."

She pointed out that "Chinese new year is widely celebrated in the Philippines and very popular even outside the Chinese community."

She said that while she was delighted to celebrate the occasion with the Chinese community, "I am also sad about the reports of widespread devastation in many provinces across central and eastern China due to heavy snowfall."

"I speak for the Filipino people in expressing deepest sympathies to those whose family and friends perished in the disaster," she added.

The President said that the widespread "damage to property and the disruption of the normal course of life for many of our Chinese brothers and sisters before the spring season are tremendous challenges -- more snows in China may mean higher world commodity prices this year as demand remains strong while agricultural supplies are badly hit by weather."

"In the face of these trials, the Filipino people stand squarely with the Chinese people in the hope and confidence that resolve and commitment will lead to full recover of all distressed individuals and the complete rehabilitation of all affected communities," she said.

The President also expressed confidence that with the "resilient nature of the Chinese people and under the able leadership of President Hu Jintao, we are sure that the challenges the people of China face now will be overcome."

The President explained that "this disaster and the global economic situation are a key issue for us because the more interconnected we become, the more we need to manage through the ups and downs of other nation's problems. And this is true certainly with any further volatility in the big economies of the world."

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Song Tao referred to the heavy snowfall in his country in his speech on Jan. 6 at the Spring Festival Reception which kicked off the Chinese community's celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar, which starts tomorrow (Wednesday).

Ambassador Song Tao revealed that "some southern provinces in China were hit by heavy snow, sleet, ice, rain and unusual cold for the past few days. The disaster aroused public concern in the Philippines."

"The Chinese compatriots in the Philippines and Filipino Chinese, as well as friends from other sectors of the Philippines expressed their friendship and support to the Chinese people by sending messages of sympathy and making generous donations," the Chinese envoy said.

He also expressed his "heartfelt gratitude to the Philippine government, the Filipino Chinese Society and other sectors of the Philippines for your kind support for disaster relief work."

Among the special guests at the Spring Festival Reception last night were Vice President Noli de Castro, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Avelino Razon, and United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney. (OPS) [top]

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