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PIA Press Release

PGMA welcomes Erap's support to her pro-poor programs

Manila (28 October) -- Dramatically cutting poverty is what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo believes she will be remembered for as she welcomes former President Joseph Estrada's offer of support to her pro-poor programs.

President Arroyo in her speech during the 33rd Business Conference and Exposition of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) at the Manila Hotel last Friday (Oct. 26) said, "We will be remembered for making tough decisions on the economy, for dramatically cutting poverty, for, indeed, making huge investments in infrastructure, for instituting permanent change in the economy, and for improving the living conditions of the people."

President Arroyo, therefore, welcomed the offer of former President Joseph Estrada – whom she had pardoned a day before – to help in her pro-poor programs.

President Arroyo's reaction to her predecessor's offer of support for her poverty-alleviation programs was enunciated in a Radyo ng Bayan interview yesterday with Acting Executive Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye who stressed:

"Alam po ninyo, with this announcement by former President Erap Estrada na handa siyang makipagtulungan para maisulong itong ating ekonomiya, ay napakalaking bagay po niyan dahil, kung baga, tumatakbo tayo ng dati-rati ay 50 kilometers per hour, kapag nagtulung-tulong po ang ating mga kababayan ay baka mas mabilis pa riyan. We will probably hit 75 kilometers per hour dito po sa pagsusulong ng ating ekonomiya."

Bunye added, thus, about the President's focus on improving the country's economy: "… Ang ating Pangulo ay napakalinaw ng kaniyang programa para maihatid ito pong benepisyo ng isang gumagandang ekonomiya sa ating mga kababayan."

In her PCCI conference speech, President Arroyo stressed: "We are focused on the economy. Only a strong economy will lift our people out of poverty and expand our middle-class."

Gracing the PCCI's awarding of outstanding businesses at the Manila Hotel, the President congratulated the business sector as she announced that the Philippines had just been chosen as the Number One offshoring destination in the world by the Offshoring Association of the United Kingdom.

The President also cited the PCCI for its "great documentation of the one global Filipino public-private partnership," saying that "with your advocacy and practicing what you preach of public-private sector partnership, you are the development-focused leaders who, in partnership with the government, will take the Philippines to the verge of First World in two decades."

"By that time we hope the Philippines will have dramatically reduced poverty, created a robust middle-class, and all the hallmarks of a modern society in strong, stable institutions. And I hope that by 2010, together, we will have launched the Philippines to be well on its way to achieving that vision.

"Already with your partnership, we have moved mountains with our macroeconomic condition through fiscal discipline which you have supported us with not only in the legislation but also in tax collection efficiency towards a balanced budget, pre-paying our debts and investing billions in human and physical infrastructure.

"And these fundamentals, which you have helped us to achieve, are paying off in huge increases in investment, in six million new jobs and in a strong peso and stock market…"

The President said what she likes about the PCCI is that "you agree that poverty alleviation -- not necessarily just maximum profits -- is our overarching goal; and I am glad that with your help, it is one that we will be able to continue to focus on in the remainder of my term."

"Balancing the budget, which we are poised to do with your support, is just the first step. Over the next three years, we will translate the positive results of our reforms to real benefits for the people. We will increase investment in our country and our people to, as I said, number one, improve our infrastructure to create an environment in which businesses feel confident to expand and employ more people, because more jobs means less poverty.

"I appreciate your resolution about transparency in the build-operate-transfer system because that is one of the most important manifestations of public-private sector partnership. And I am glad that you are now a part of our procurement transparency group in order to assure that especially in our BOT.

"Second great investment that we are making in our people is to improve social services such as health insurance subsidies for indigent families and food-for-school program especially in the places where hunger is still a problem.

"Third, what we are doing, together, is to boost educational support in our efforts to reduce poverty by investing in better school buildings. And I'm very happy that when we gave out the award for our outstanding and most friendly local government units, not only did you give a beautiful trophy, class trophy, but also you gave additional reward -- classrooms for their communities. So i thank you for contributing to that.

"We also want to invest in new textbooks and teaching materials, and training programs for teachers and school administrators. And as you said in your resolution, including the resolution on competitiveness, we have to train our teachers in Math, Science and especially English because our current crop of teachers grew up in the bilingual generation. So they have to train in order to teach our children better.

"And fourth, we are making investment in cutting red tape… You are helping Peter Favila a lot in the anti-red tape task force and continuing to eliminate corruption from the system.

"In short, we are investing in reforms for our economic, social and moral life. And we want all sectors to do their bit to strengthen society's moral fiber even as we call on everyone not to be swayed by half-truths, lies and partisan intrigues." (OPS) [top]

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