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PIA Press Release

RP equipped to address global problems - Dureza

by Brent M. Bravo

Cagayan de Oro City (19 July) -- Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the country has sufficient resources in addressing the problems it is facing now, including the problem on energy and food.

Addressing local chief executives, agency heads and stakeholders during the Expanded Regional Development Council (RDC) Region 10 meeting at the Grand Caprice Restaurant, Limketkai Center in Cagayan de Oro City yesterday, Dureza said revenue collections from the implementation of the expanded value added tax (EVAT) has also helped the country cope with several crises.

Sec. Dureza, who likened the country to that of a ship with the President as captain, said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has long equipped the ship "in anticipation of the strong weather."

He said the President, as captain, will not abandon the "ship," adding that a lot of people tried to drill holes in it in an attempt to sink it, but the captain and the ship has weathered the storm.

Dureza pointed out that two years ago, the President already anticipated the problem when she moved for the passage of the EVAT, "foreign investors saw that the Philippines was firm in implementing reforms in spite of the fact that the people will be burdened," he added.

He said as a result, the President's popularity plummeted, but "we have so much lifelines right now to survive this global phenomenon and keep afloat as the weather passes."

He also narrated how Pres. Arroyo made significant reforms, including the release of P4 billion from EVAT collection, P1 billion of which was allotted for power subsidies for lifeline power users or those consuming 100 kilowatts or less a month; P1 billion for calamity-stricken areas, specifically for the repair and rehabilitation of damaged roads, bridges and ports; P1 billion for micro finance; and the remaining P1 billion equally for the senior citizens and the upgrade of tertiary hospitals to primary hospitals so the poor can have more access to enhanced healthcare services.

"The religious sectors and groups will be tapped to be watchdogs and monitor the progress of these programs in their respective areas. Without the reforms placed, we could not have done these." Dureza stressed.

He also defended the President's decision on keeping the EVAT, saying that if it is removed, "you will be removing the lifeline or life rafts that we are sailing on because we don't know when these problems will end".

Sec. Dureza said Pres. Arroyo is doing this for the country, adding that "by 2010, whoever becomes the next captain, he will find the ship 'seaworthy'." (PIA-10) [top]

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