PGMA arrives in Washington for series of meetings with U.S. officials (OPS)

PGMA arrives in Washington for series of meetings with U.S. officials (OPS)

OPS U.S. Visit 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C.– June 23 – (via PLDT) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here shortly before midnight Sunday (Washington time) on the second leg of her ten-day working visit to the United States.

The President planed in by special flight from Fresno, California and was welcomed at the Dulles National Airport by officials and staff of the Philippine embassy in Washington led by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa.

Immediately upon arrival at the Willard Hotel, the President convened a meeting of members of the Cabinet accompanying her in her US trip to assess the progress of the relief and rescue operations in the wake of the devastation wrought by “Typhoon” Frank in several provinces in the Philippines.

Of special concern to the President, Philippine officials said, is the fate of the passengers still trapped inside the hold of the MV Princess of Stars ferry, which sank off Sibuyan Island at the height of the typhoon Saturday.

The President begins this morning (Monday, Washington time) her first round of meetings in the US capital when she confers with Deputy State Secretary John Negroponte at the Willard Hotel’s presidential receiving room.

Philippine officials were mum on the agenda of the meeting between the President and the No. 2 US state department official, but the discussions were expected to cover a wide range of issues on US-Philippine bilateral relations.

Negroponte -- who served as US ambassador to the Philippines in 1983-89 -- coordinates and supervises US government activities overseas, represents the state department’s position before Congress, and manages key foreign policy issues on behalf of the secretary of state.

Also today, the President will meet with officials of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to firm up the Philippines’ bid for MCC Compact status which would pave the way for increased US funding assistance for the country’s anti-poverty programs.

The MCC is a US government corporation created by President Bush at the turn of the millennium to “regard the countries that govern well” by way of US assistance for anti-poverty and sustainable development programs.

The Philippines has already received $9.4 million in assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program (MCATP) for its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program; $3.1 million for the Run After The Smugglers (RATS) program; and $1.4 million for the Revenue Protection Service (RIPS) program.

The MCATP also funded Philippine government programs designed to reduce corruption by strengthening the capability of the Office of the Ombudsman to prosecute corrupt officials.

MCATP funded a two-year, $6.5 million program to train Ombudsman employees, establish an information management system, and enhance the agency’s investigative and surveillance capabilities. - Timeline 2008