Elena Bautista

Arroyo spreads news in New York about her admin's feats

Arroyo spreads news in New York about her admin’s feats

“Start spreading the news…” that’s how Liza Minelli’s 1977 song “New York, New York” goes.

That’s what former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did. At two recent events in New York in the United States, Arroyo highlighted the achievements of her administration.

Taunted in the Philippines for corruption issues, Arroyo found two international venues — the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference and the Important Dinner for Women — to cite her administration’s achievements, especially for women.

Arroyo attended the two international gatherings from September 20 to 22. Arroyo’s classmate, former US President Bill Clinton, and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan invited her to these events.

Both events focused on addressing women issues related to the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states, and at least 23 international organizations, have agreed to achieve by the year 2015.

These goals include:
(1) Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger;
(2) Achieving universal primary education;
(3) Promoting gender equality and empowering women;
(4) Reducing child mortality rate;
(5) Improving maternal health;
(6) Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
(7) Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
(8) Developing a global partnership for development.

Presenter of commitments

In the 5th CGI conference, Arroyo was the “presenter of commitments” on enhanced education for about one million girls.

In a press release, Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo’s spokesperson, said the “commitment” was shared by Barclays (a financial services institution), Goldman Sachs (a global investment banking and securities firm) and Room to Read (a non-profit organization based in the US).

Women empowerment

During the 5th Important Dinner for Women, Arroyo was a discussant on the lagging targets on women empowerment and maternal deaths.

The discussion was participated in by Netherlands Prime minister Emily de Jongh-elnage, and Ida Odinga, wife of Kenya’s Prime Minister, among others.

During the event, the former president shared her administration’s accomplishments.

Arroyo said the country was among the world’s top in providing economic opportunities for women. She said the 2006-2007 global entrepreneurship monitor noted that the Philippines was the only in the country in the world where the women are more active in starting business than men.

She added there was a significant increase of women in the labor force, with 49% of all women now working, topping gender equality among managers, professional and technical workers.

Arroyo admin’s achievements

Arroyo also cited that the Philippines has been at the top of the ranking of developing countries in the World Economic Forum’s “global gender gap index” for four consecutive years. She added that the Philippines also has the highest ranking in Asia.

Arroyo further said the government tops in gender equality among legislators and senior officials, adding that women dominate civil service at the technical level.

“The Philippines continues to be the top performer in gender equality in literacy rate and enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education. The country also tops gender equality on life expentancy with women outliving men,” the former President said.

She also said that her administration also made landmark legislations for women, such as the enactment of the Magna Carta for Women, a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women.

The magna carta seeks to recognize, protect, fulfill and promote the rights of Filipino women, particularly those in the marginalized sector.

She also cited the Anti-Violence against Women and the Trafficking Persons Act of 2003, recognizing that women are the number one victims of human trafficking.

Empowerment of women

She said the Philippines is the only country that automatically appropriates 5% of its annual budget for the empowerment of Filipino women.

Yet, like many other countries, the Philippines faces the difficult challenge of reducing maternal mortality from 160/100,000 in 2009 to 55/100,000 in 2015, she said.

Arroyo said maternal deaths affect not only women empowerment but also the promotion of an intact family unit, the breeding ground of an individual’s values and direction for the future.

She said most of maternal deaths are caused by the absence of birth experts and proper birth facilities.

Arroyo said her administration has thus made health care services more available for women. They also made pregnancy quality for public health insurance.

Arroyo also put priority to facility-based, rather than home-based delivery of babies, by upgrading the gynecological, obstetrics, and surgical services of government hospitals.

Aside from attending the two events, Arroyo also held meetings with philanthropists and non government organizations to discuss possible projects addressing the concerns of women and overseas Filipino workers. Arroyo also discussed possible infrastructure, relief, and reconstruction projects. –VVP, GMANews.TV

Expats, envoys think Gordon is best person to run RP

Expats, envoys think Gordon is best person to run RP
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines—Foreign business executives and members of the diplomatic community in the Philippines believe Senator Richard Gordon would be best person to run the country in the next six years. But given the chance to cast their votes, they said they would go for the winnable, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

In a mock polls conducted at the quarterly round table of the Wallace Business Forum Thursday in Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City, Gordon topped the list of candidates business executives think “can do the best job.”

Gordon is followed by administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro, Senator Manuel Villar, Aquino and former president Joseph Estrada.

A total of 35 executives of multinational companies and members of the diplomatic community participated in the mock polls. They were asked to rank the five candidates based on the questionnaire.

It was Aquino, however, whom the respondents think would win from the field of five choices. They also ranked Aquino their number one choice if they could vote in the May elections.

Villar came second to Aquino in the most winnable candidate, followed by Estrada, Teodoro and Gordon.

As for their choice of candidate if they could vote, Teodoro placed second, followed by Villar, Gordon and Estrada.

Teodoro was the group’s special guest during the forum. He presented his platform on Charter change, reproductive health, peace and order, the economy and gave his view on the controversy surrounding the appointment of the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Asked to rank Teodoro in a scale of 10, with 10 as the highest, Peter Wallace, the head of the forum, gave the administration bet a 7 or 8.

“He obviously understands the issues very well. I think the various questions that are being raised to him, which concerns the business community, it seems he understands and I think he has come up with arguments and reassurances that reassures us,” Wallace said.

Old faces are new execs filling in Palace gaps

Old faces are new execs filling in Palace gaps
By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Cabinet shuffle is still in full swing, with Deputy Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo now the official spokesperson of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, himself newly appointed, Tuesday made the announcement, adding that the President had also named Transportation Undersecretary Annelie Lontoc to replace him as transportation chief.

Mendoza said Ms Arroyo had likewise named Angelo Verdan as the new chair of the Maritime Industry Authority vice Elena Bautista, the new director general of the Presidential Management Staff.

Saludo, the concurrent chair of the Reconstruction Commission, had previously served as Cabinet secretary and deputy spokesperson for Ms Arroyo.

In 2008, Saludo was appointed chair of the Civil Service Commission. But the Commission on Appointments refused to confirm him on grounds that he was not a lawyer.

Mendoza replaced as executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, who is running for representative in his home province of Batangas.

Asked about his priorities as the “Little President,” Mendoza said he would oversee “the consolidation and integration of the gains of this administration toward a strong Republic of the Philippines.”

He said the Palace was also looking at “providing a very orderly transition from this administration to the next.”

The latest appointments are part of what could be the President’s final major Cabinet shakeup in her last four months in office.

The shuffle was triggered by a recent Supreme Court order that deemed Cabinet officials seeking local positions in May as resigned.

Dureza heads Minda

Presidential Assistant Jesus Dureza was named head of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), which Ms Arroyo created through Republic Act No. 9996 on Feb. 17.

Dureza said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Cotabato City that he would lead Minda, which was created to consolidate all the development efforts for Mindanao during the next six years.

It will replace the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco).

“It is important to address the need for a coordinated and integrated approach in the formulation and implementation of various Mindanao-wide inter-regional development plans, programs and projects,” Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, who chaired Medco, said during the signing of RA 9996.

Leyretana said Minda would consolidate peace efforts and the development of the agribusiness sector in Mindanao.

Minda will put up its main office in Maramag, Bukidnon, but management offices will also be established in various parts of Mindanao.


Lawyer Melvin Matibag took over as general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Tuesday. He took his oath of office in Malacañang on Monday.

Matibag succeeds Alfonso Cusi, whom Ms Arroyo named the new director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Both the MIAA and CAAP are attached agencies of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

Matibag was formerly Cusi’s head executive assistant and the concurrent manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

The MIAA operates the three NAIA terminals. With reports from Jeoffrey Maitem and Dennis Santos, Inquirer Mindanao; and Jerome Aning in Manila

Favila moves to BSP; Lapus goes to Trade

Favila moves to BSP; Lapus goes to Trade
By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—With less than four months to go before she steps down, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Monday completed what could be her last Cabinet reshuffle.

At separate events, President Arroyo announced Monday her appointment of Trade Secretary Peter Favila to the Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Ms Arroyo named Education Secretary Jesli Lapus as Favila’s replacement at the Department of Trade and Industry. Mona Valisno, the President’s adviser on education, was appointed education secretary.

Before the announcements, the President posed for a picture in Malacañang with her Cabinet, including her new appointees who replaced several key Cabinet members who are running in the May elections.

“The President said she is planning on working hard with her new Cabinet until the last day of her term and is equally committed to a smooth transition to a new (administration),” said her deputy spokesperson Gary Olivar, who released to the media the official photo of Ms Arroyo and her Cabinet.

The new Cabinet members include Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza (who remained transport secretary), Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, Budget Secretary Joaquin Lagonera, Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Natividad Dizon, Director General Elena Bautista of the Presidential Management Staff and Director General Rogelio Peyuan of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The photo-opportunity was preceded by a farewell call by former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

At a Go Negosyo forum at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, the President said she was appointing Favila to the Monetary Board so that “microenterprise-and small-enterprise loans” would continue to have a defender on the board. Favila was present at the forum.

2nd to the monetary board

Favila is the second Cabinet member that Ms Arroyo appointed to the Monetary Board. In 2008, she appointed her press secretary and spokesperson, Ignacio Bunye, as member of the board representing the private sector.

The President also announced Lapus’ appointment as trade secretary at the Go Negosyo forum.

From the forum, Ms Arroyo motored to San Sebastian College in Manila to attend CAT (Citizenship Advancement Training) graduation rites. There she announced that she was appointing Valisno as education secretary.

Valisno and Lapus were present at the graduation rites.

Business as usual

In a statement, Olivar assured the people that it was “business as usual at the Palace” following the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

“President Arroyo and her entire government will remain focused on these vital issues (healthcare, investing in education, creating jobs and building roads, among other things) and will advance this governing agenda with energy,” Olivar said.

He described most of the new Cabinet secretaries as “deeply experienced public servants, so the agenda will in no way be interrupted.

He said the policies and programs of the government would continue to be carried out “with vigor” by the President’s Cabinet.

Mendoza is now both DOTC and executive secretary

Mendoza is now both DOTC and executive secretary
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Same faces, no surprises.

Heeding the Supreme Court, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday replaced Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and at least five other Cabinet officials running for local posts in the May 10 national elections, Malacañang announced.

Ms Arroyo tapped Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza as her new executive secretary in a Cabinet revamp prompted by the Supreme Court ruling that appointive officials running for election were deemed resigned.

Ermita, 74, is seeking a seat in Congress in his Batangas hometown.

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. admitted that Ms Arroyo’s moves were prompted by the high court ruling that officials running for election were deemed resigned and should leave their posts effective March 2.

Ermita said Ms Arroyo had drawn up her list of replacements as early as Feb. 22 when the high court upheld the constitutionality of election rules.

The Commission on Elections had ruled that appointive officials were considered automatically resigned upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy.

“Since then, the President has been mulling who should replace who in these posts,” Ermita said in a regular Malacañang briefing. However, Ms Arroyo withheld announcing her choices.

“That is the style of the President—she places her cards close enough to her chest about important designations in the Cabinet,” Ermita said.

Also deemed resigned were Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Director General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Augusto Syjuco, Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and Secretary Edgar Pamintuan of the Urban Luzon Beltway.

Except for Gonzalez, the Cabinet officials had turned in their resignation letters.

All are running for a seat in Congress except for Gonzalez and Pamintuan, who are seeking mayoral positions in their hometowns.

Turnover next week

The Cabinet officials are expected to “wind down their activities” before the weekend for a smooth turnover next week, Ermita said.

Ms Arroyo appointed Solicitor General Alberto Agra as acting justice secretary, Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Ma. Elena Bautista as PMS director general and Syjuco’s deputy, Rogelio Peyuan, as TESDA director general.

She is eyeing Deputy Executive Secretary and Presidential Anti-Graft Commissioner Natividad Dizon to replace Gonzalez as chief presidential legal counsel, according to Ermita.

The President is also considering Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Lagonera Sr. to assume Andaya’s post. She had earlier named Agriculture Undersecretary Bernardo Fondevilla as a substitute for Yap, Ermita said.

There is no replacement yet for Pamintuan. In the cases of resigned Cabinet officials whose replacements have not been named yet, their undersecretaries are expected to assume their posts, Ermita said.

Announcement of the reorganization came a day after the high tribunal denied with finality a motion filed by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal to reconsider its Feb. 22 ruling.

Confidence, loyalty

Ms Arroyo, who is stepping down on June 30 and is herself seeking a congressional seat, “personally handpicked” Mendoza to be the new executive secretary, according to Ermita.

“It is a position of confidence. Somebody the President has some degree of confidence to be dealing with and someone that the President has confidence to help her and bring in the Cabinet together and that is the main job of executive secretary,” he said.
“We can be sure that the consideration of the President is experience, competence, loyalty and reliability,” he said.

Mendoza previously headed the Philippine National Police and served for nine years as transportation and communications secretary.

Ermita, however, could not say if Mendoza would also act as presidential spokesperson.

Big challenge

Mendoza called his new post as “a very big challenge, a big departure from where I came from.”

He told reporters he was “always a soldier, I always follow orders.”

Mendoza Wednesday attended the Coast Guard’s thanksgiving program in connection with the recent enactment into law of Republic Act No. 9993, the “Coast Guard Act of 2009.”

The Coast Guard will now be attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications to oversee the safety of maritime transport and navigation.

In her speech at the yearend Philippine Economic Briefing at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, Ms Arroyo acknowledged Andaya and Yap for their contributions to the government.

She thanked Andaya for his procurement reforms, and Yap for the creation of 1.8 million jobs in agriculture. With a report from Jerry E. Esplanada