PGMA to remain steadfast in fight against insurgency
Manila (7 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on Filipinos to remain vigilant against the "nonsense ideology" of communism that continues to hamper the development and prosperity of a number of Philippine provinces.
In her speech during the closing session of the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) in Region III (Central Luzon) at the Legenda Hotel here, the President said that years of government efforts to eradicate the communist insurgency has reduced by half the number of Maoist rebels and, more importantly, their weapons.
"Tungkulin ng pamahalaan na siguruhing ligtas ang mamamayan sa mga kuko ng kaaway, rebelde man o kriminal, at nagagalak tayo na nabawasan ang mga aktibong rebelde rito," the President said.
"Halos kalahati na lang sila kung ihahambing natin noong 1998, at malaki rin ang nabawas sa kanilang mga armas. Tagumpay ito ng pinagsanib na pagsisikap ng military, kapulisan at taumbayan kaya congratulations sa inyong lahat," she added.
"Humina man ang pwersa ng mga rebelde rito, kailangan pa rin nating maging masigasig upang tuluyan nang matigil ang mga engkwentro at mabawi mula sa impluwensya ng kaliwa ang 111 barangays na karamihan ay nasa Bataan, Aurora at Pampanga," the President said.
She pointed out that rebel "cell sites" have to be eradicated as soon as possible so that their legacy of threat, coercion and the recruitment of innocent victims would finally end.
Her administration's pro-poor projects and programs are aimed at addressing the decades-long "root" of all poverty -- "lack of employment opportunities, problem in the implementation of the land reform law and the issue of human rights violations," she said.
"Here in our administration, a strong and growing economy has been the central pillar we have labored to create precisely to help ensure peace, order and stability in our country. And it's paying off -- our economy is more resilient today than ever before, thanks to our fiscal reforms… that manifested in seven-plus percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth last year," the President said.
"At kasama sa GDP growth last year… we have created almost seven million jobs in seven years," the President added.
She admitted, however, that despite the rosy economic figures, "iyong kalakasan at katatagan na ating taumbayan at ating ekonomiya, hambing sa iba, ay hindi pa rin konswelo sa bawat Pilipinong nagbabayad ng mas mataas na presyo para sa mga pangunahing bilihin."
"Before the US financial crisis, which we are weathering quite well so far, we were hit by a dramatic rise in the global price of rice, food and fuel. This hit all Filipinos. It hit us where it hurts - at the kitchen table and in our daily lives."
"So even through we have created almost seven million jobs in seven years and provided a remarkable amount of human and physical infrastructure, at the end of the day, this remains a price-sensitive nation. When prices rice, people naturally feel the pain and we don't think in terms of overall macroeconomic conditions; we just think whether we can put food on the table," she said.
The President added that during these trying times, the government is duty bound "to help insulate the Filipino people from these price shocks and economic pressures."
"Batid ko ang pasanin na hinaharap ninyo mula sa matataas na presyo at mataas na inflation. Batid kong nag-aalala kayo tungkol sa katiyakan ng trabaho at kung ano ang mabibili ninyo sa inyong sweldo. Nag-aalala rin ako," the President assured.
"Kaya naman kumikilos tayo ng masipag upang mababa ang presyo ng mga pagkain at gasolina, at upang tuloy ang pagdami ng trabaho at mga pamumuhunan; tuloy-tuloy na dadagdag ng pagkakataon sa trabaho para sa higit pa sa ating mga mamamayan," she added.
The President praised foreign investors for continuing to believe in the viability of the country as an alternative and very conducive investment destination despite the volatility of the global markets.
"Salamat na lamang at investments continue to come in despite continued volatility in the global markets. As a result of our economic turnaround, we are also able to invest in key sectors to cushion the harsh impact of high prices for food and fuel on the poor," the President said.
"We are investing in modernizing infrastructure like the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and other roads and bridges on an unprecedented scale. We are also investing in education, healthcare and other social services," she added.
The President also revealed that under her administration, the land reform program has so far distributed more than 200,000 hectares of land to farmers, thereby ensuring their source of livelihood.
"Mas marami ang nagkaroon ng sariling lupa, pati na ang mga indigenous peoples ng Region 3 na ngayon lang nabigyan ng titulo para sa kanilang ancestral domain," the President said.
The President assured further that government has been trying its best to cushion the impact of the rise in the prices of food and oil even as "we can't predict the full impact of the current global financial crisis on the Philippines or any country next year."
"However, we can do our best to plan for any and all contingencies, which we have done. Indeed, we can say that our economy is stronger than it has been in generations. It has demonstrated that the hard choices we made regarding economic reforms have allowed us to have the resources to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis and high prices for food and fuel on all Filipinos. These efforts have served us well," the President said.
"These actions are seeing us through this period of tremendous change as we prepare for the day with lower global and food prices that have started to happen," she added. (PIA-MMIO) [top]