US Visit Departure Statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
(June 21, 2008)
US Visit Departure Statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (June 21, 2008)
OPS 22 JUNE 2008
Before we leave home tonight for the United States, we called a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) this noon wherein we issued the following instructions:
1. Put the whole Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) into a relief-and-rescue standby mode.
2. We ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) into a repair-and-rehabilitation footing so work on damaged infrastructure can begin once the weather clears up.
3. The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shall forward-deploy resources to areas on typhoon path. By law, Calamity Funds have been advanced to DND, DPWH and DSWD, which means that the tools to provide care and comfort have been pre-positioned in our first responders.
4. The Philippine Air Force (PAF), including the Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW), are under orders to fly mercy missions, when the need arises.
5. Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has been ordered to ensure stable rice supply in affected areas. If Typhoon ‘Frank’ will bring flood, Art will respond by flooding these areas with rice. If they will exploit the situation, hoarders will soon find themselves in hot water, a certainty Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales will guarantee.
6. I have also instructed the Pink Brigade of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to rush to areas that might be damaged by the storm. Army engineers, with their heavy equipment, will roll out and join the ‘bayanis’ of Bayani Fernando in their mercy caravan.
7. We dropped by Villamor Air Base (VAB) and inspected the aircraft and the airmen on standby. We designated VAB as operations center, a springboard for help.
8. With or without the typhoon, but the latter would make it urgent, the distribution of power subsidies will commence in areas the typhoon will hit, in a manner that will not overburden government officials attending to relief work.
The United States is the Philippines' strongest friend and ally. Filipinos love America, its people and culture. We may be separated by an ocean, but we are bound by a shared history and common values of economic prosperity and a strong democracy. The relations between the US and the Philippines are stable, strong and mature.
Our friendship goes well beyond simple diplomatic relations between nations. Over four (4) million American citizens are of Filipino heritage. Over 250,000 Americans live and work in the Philippines. We are more than allies -- we are family.
During our West Coast visit, we will meet with our Fil-Am and OFW community to discuss their needs and concerns. Not a day goes by that our administration is not fighting for the interests of our OFWs somewhere in the world.
In Washington, we will be meeting with President Bush and members of his administration as well as political leaders of both parties in the US Congress. We share many issues that are of global concern, beginning with the price of food and fuel and food security. As such, discussions will focus on food security, defense cooperation, environmental protection and economic assistance.
On food security, the agreement between our two governments will lay the groundwork for securing the following:
a) hastening phyto-sanitary protocols that will open the way for fresh banana and mango exports from the Philippines to the US starting with an initial shipment of $5 million, then $15 million, and growing in the years to come;
b) biotechnology cooperation especially in the development of disease- tolerant rice seeds varieties through a $1.5 million grant;
c) accelerated dairy development program which plans to infuse 10,000 dairy animals in the next five years worth $25 million;
d) increased rice supply purchase agreements through the Public Law 480 of at least $20 million and General Services Manager 102 Program of at least $70 million;
e) a proposed surplus equipment program of $50 million, extension service capacity building program of $25 million, and accelerated livestock genetic resource improvement program of $25 million.
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