Sunday, 4 January 2009

Arroyo: Let’s talk economics, not politics


MANSION HOUSE, Baguio City – “You know, I don’t want to talk about 2010 – that’s far away. I want to talk about what I’m doing, about what I have to do now.”

Thus said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in response to question posed by a member of the Baguio City media yesterday (Wednesday, Dec. 31) about her plans for 2010.

“Politics is not foremost in my mind. If I were always thinking about politics, I would not have been able to build all these roads in the Cordillera and all these (projects)... So let’s talk economics, not politics,” she said.

She stressed it was not mere luck that the Philippines is not one of the 30 countries that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified as in the grip of the global economic crisis.

Similarly, the Philippines is not also among the countries that have slipped into recession under the battering of the worldwide slowdown.

Foresight and careful planning has a lot to do with the country’s resiliency in the midst of the storm buffeting the global economy, the President said.

“As I said, we cannot predict what will happen in the future but we can plan. And, it was, you know, we were lucky this year but we worked hard to have that luck – we planned for it,” she added.

The President pointed out that last “October, I had presented to the business community a contingency plan. But that is no longer a contingency plan because two-thirds of the world is already in recession -- that is a resiliency plan.”

The contingency plan was unveiled during a meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) “and I have been asking him (NEDA Director-General Ralph Recto) to continue to propagate it.”

The plan, calls for, among others, the implementation of various infrastructure projects to serve as economic stimulus. “That’s why we want this 24/7 on Halsema Highway -- that’s part of our stimulus,” the President said.

“We want to have a lot of social services targeted for the poorest of the poor that’s why it is very important for the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) to identify who, indeed, are these poorest of the poor to avoid free riders,” she said.

Asked if the government would extend the “food chain” to Mt. Province, the President explained that “those are details and I don’t really work on details – I work on the strategic points.”

She stressed, though, that Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap will work on the details of the aggie project even as she pointed out that the government cannot be faulted for lack of attention to the Cordilleras.

“I assure you that what is needed, we will work on them together. And, in fact, I would like to congratulate Mt. Province because it is no longer part of the 10 poorest provinces in our country through the people’s own work and also because of the assistance of the national government.”

The President also pointed out that Tom Killip, the Presidential Assistant for the Cordilleras, is a former mayor of Sagada, Mt. Province, “and so I am sure that he will work and will be making sure that he works with the national government, with the DA, on the needs of Sagada.”

Earlier Monday (Dec. 31), the President, together with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and their grandchildren, went spelunking in the famous caves of Sagada.

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