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PIA Press Release

President cites need for Charter change to build a modern Philippines

Quezon City (21 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited the need to change or amend the present Constitution to sustain the successful implementation of her administration's various economic reform measures and finally catapult the Philippines into "the ranks of First World nations by 2020."

The President made the statement during the dinner reception she hosted in Malacaņang for the delegates attending the Supreme Court-sponsored "Global Forum on Liberty and Prosperity" at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel from Oct. 18-21.

In the four-day forum, the best and brightest legal minds from the judiciaries and bar associations of 33 countries in five continents are tackling issues related to liberty and prosperity that include the influence of international terrorism and the effects of globalization.

In her speech, the President said the government is currently addressing many challenges to create a new Philippines with a strong economy, millions of new jobs, better education, improved access to health care, and lasting peace and order.

To do so, she said various economic reforms have been put in place that must be complemented by a change in politics and the outmoded 1986 Constitution.

"I hope I'm not to be considered as interfering with the Supreme Court, but I would like to advocate and stress that the change in politics must be accompanied by a change in our system of government," the President stressed.

"To that end, we seek to amend our Constitution so as to modernize it, if we are to build a modern Philippines," she said.

The President thanked and recognized the pivotal role of the judiciary in upholding the constitutionality of the Expanded Value-Added Tax (EVAT) Law and the Mining Act to help bring about economic progress under the Philippine development plan "that aims to bring prosperity to our country in three phases."

"These decisions on the Mining Act and the Expanded Value-Added Tax have opened doors for the Philippines to greater fiscal stability, more investments, and more jobs," the President said.

She said Phase 1 of the country's economic turnaround plan was to stabilize the budget and spending, secure increased revenues through better tax and customs collections, as well as expanding the VAT and other taxes "to lessen our foreign borrowings that eat up much of the budget due to interest payments."

Phase 2, the President said, is to take advantage of the improved revenues for the long-overdue investments in infrastructure, education, health care and other priorities.

She said restructuring the economy would also bolster the natural advantages of the newly created five super regions that would open various opportunities across the country.

According to her, Phase 3 is intended to propel the Philippines to the ranks of First World nations by 2020. She said this phase would be marked "by increased attention to our natural environment and making sure we build up, not deplete our natural resources."

"In addition to these economic reforms and social investments, we must also build a strong, moral society. This includes a new campaign to change the culture of violence," not only in the Philippines but worldwide in this age of international terrorism, the President said.

She said she had a meeting Thursday afternoon with the governors of the various provinces of Mindanao who asked her to convey their message for the Supreme Court.

"They asked me, in their behalf, to request the Supreme Court to create special anti-terrorism courts for them," the President said.

Toward the end of her speech, the President told the delegates that each nation has its own challenges for liberty and prosperity.

"I have shared with you our challenges in the Philippines and whatever your challenges are in your respective countries, may we all, judiciary and executive, do our share in building the edifice of global peace, stability, and progress," she said. (PIA) [top]

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