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NOVEMBER 23, 2001

Real Estate

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No pressure on SC on Erap case
WASHINGTON -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo will never interfere in the decision of the Supreme Court on any case, Presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said.

Tiglao, who is with the President in her working visit here, said the Supreme Court is an independent constitutional body and the President has always respected the separation of powers among the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.

"That's absolutely a no-no, for the administration to interfere with any branche of government," Tiglao said.

Tiglao was reacting to a newspaper report in Manila that said the President and the First Gentleman have been exerting pressure on the members of the Supreme Court to declare the plunder law constitutional and thus keep deposed President Joseph Estrada in jail.

The paper attributed the story to the convenient "reliable source" in judicial circles.

Earlier, Malacanang also made it clear that it is only the Sandiganbayan, another constitutional body, that can decide on whether to allow Estrada to come to the US for treatment of his knee and eye ailments.

Tiglao said that the President has always been consistent on this issue. (SNS)


No timetable for gov't to solve Abu Sayyaf problem
WASHINGTON -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that she does not believe the government should set a timetable for the total eradication of the Abu Sayyaf problem in Mindanao.

In an interview with Filipino journalists at the Willard
Hotel here, the President said that the military would solve the
Abu Sayyaf menace "for as long as it takes."

The President clarified that she has not set a deadline for
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to put an end to the
Abu Sayyaf menace, admitting that the solution to the problem of
terrorism requires long-term action by the government.

The President had earlier stressed that the ideology on
terrorism spreads easily in areas where there is minimal economic
development and the poor are easily exploited.

When asked what her reaction is on the reported linkup by
former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari
with the Abu Sayyaf, she replied that "the military can handle

In the same interview, the President declared that the
government is in control of the situation in Mindanao, adding
that the recent encounter with communist guerrillas that left 18
soldiers and 10 rebels dead is part of the on-going armed
conflict between the AFP and the New People's Army (NPA).

Reports earlier said that 18 members of the AFP's special
forces and 10 NPA men were killed when the communist guerillas
ambushed the AFP platoon in Barangay Aliwagwag in Cateel town,
Davao Oriental.

"There is no ceasefire between the government and the AFP,
that's why these encounters have been ongoing," she said.

Still, the President said the government will pursue the
peace talks with the NPA despite the armed encounters. (SNS)

Bush thanks GMA for leadership in global fight vs. terrorism
WASHINGTON -- United States President George W. Bush personally thanked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her "uncompromising leadership in the global campaign against terrorism."

Bush also expressed deep appreciation for the moral support
and assistance that the Philippine government has provided the
United States in its time of need.

The two leaders, who met for at least 45 minutes in the
White House Oval Office, said in a joint statement that the
Filipino and American people "stand together" in the global
campaign against terrorism.

Stressing that the future peace and prosperity of the world
are at stake in the current conflict, both leaders renewed their
commitment to the United States and Philippines alliance,
expressing confidence that the international coalition will
emerge victorious over the forces of terror.

The two Presidents agreed that the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks in the US and the terrorist activities of the Abu Sayyaf
in Basilan and Sulu underscored the urgency of ensuring that the
two countries maintain a robust defense partnership into the 21st

To further this goal, the two Presidents emphasized their
determination to strengthen their military alliance on a
sustained basis through increased training, exercises and other
joint activities.

At the same time, Bush said he is willing to work with
Arroyo "in any way she wants to" in order to get rid of the Abu
Sayyaf bandit group.

Bush said "the Philippines (is) a great ally, they’re close
friends, and we’re willing to cooperate in any way she suggests
in getting rid of the Abu Sayyaf."

Asked if that included combat troops, Bush said: "That's
going to be up to the President. I have asked her point-blank,
what help does she need. She says she's got a great military, a
competent military, she's confident that her military can deal
with Abu Sayyaf."

"For that, I applaud her and will wish her all the best. And
we want to help her military deal with them," Bush added.

President Arroyo said there is a framework that the two
nations can work on how to fight the Abu Sayyaf and how to fight
terrorism in the southwestern part of the Philippines, "and the
framework covers what we need, in terms of diplomatic assistance,
technical assistance, assistance in winning hearts and minds,
military assistance."

They also agreed that the Mutual Defense Treaty, whose 50th
anniversary is being celebrated this year by the Philippines and
the US, has been vital in advancing peace and stability in the
Asia-Pacific region for the past half century.

Presidents Arroyo and Bush likewise noted that the
Philippine-American alliance remains a pillar of the US security
presence in Asia, "which helps preserve a strategic balance that
favors freedom and promotes prosperity throughout the region."

The two Presidents reaffirmed that Philippine-American
relations are based on shared history, common values, a
commitment to freedom and democracy, and vigorous economic ties.

They observed that the alliance is between two peoples, with
120,000 American residents in the Philippines and over two
million Americans of Filipino descent living in the US.

The two Presidents asserted that the strong historical,
cultural and personal links between the Philippine and American
people will continue to keep its alliance strong and vital in a
changing world.

In an interview with White House reporters and members of
the Philippine media at the Oval Office, President Bush said he
was honored to welcome President Arroyo to the White House.

"I had the honor of not only meeting the (Philippine)
President, but having a great discussion with her in Shanghai
(China, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit). She
is a highly intelligent, dedicated public servant to not only
better the Philippines, but to work with us to make the world
more peaceful," Bush said.

"I could tell from the first time I talked to her that we
had a great ally and friend in our cause. And I look forward to
having a good, long discussion about how we can work together --
how to work together more -- we've been working together a lot,"
Bush said.

"The United States has got a very close relationship with
the Philippines, and I intend to keep it that way," Bush said.

"The Philippines has been a great ally and friend for a long
period of time, and it's in our national interests that we
maintain a very close and string relationship. And so I've been
looking forward to this visit (by the Philippines President),"
the US Chief Executive said. (SNS)

Bush pledges increased military assistance
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Sunstar) -- President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's visit here has yielded positive results for
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), with U.S. President
George W. Bush pledging to work with the U.S. Congress for a
fifteen-fold increase in the United States' Foreign Military
Financing (FMF) to the Philippines from $1.9 million to $29
million until 2003.

Bush, who also announced his desire to provide an additional
$10 million in US Department of Defense goods and services to the
AFP, noting that security assistance offered to the Philippine
government is expected to be worth nearly $100 million for 2001
and 2002.

While pledging military cooperation to end the terrorist
activities of the Abu Sayyaf group, both leaders agreed that
sustainable peace in Mindanao requires addressing the region's
root economic and social problems.

Bush praised the President's decision to pursue a political
path to peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and
welcomed the recent ceasefire between the MILF and the

Bush also announced that he is working with the US Congress
to more than double their assistance to Mindanao next year worth
over $38 million.

Combined with fiscal year 2001 assistance, the United States
will provide over $55 million to Mindanao.

The assistance package will provide direct support for the
peace process by integrating the ex-combatants and their
communities into the peacetime economy, creating an environment
that is attractive for investment, job creation and economic
progress and providing improved public services in Mindanao,
especially in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The package will also include $825,000 in new educational
and cultural exchanges, including a number of Fulbright
scholarship grants, specifically targeted at Mindanao's Muslim

Bush also committed to work with the US Congress and other
donors to secure additional resources for Mindanao as the peace
process moves forward in the years ahead.

Bush has pledged to help President Arroyo "in any way she
suggests" as the Philippines wages its own fight against
terrorism. (SNS)

GMA feels sad, nostalgic in Ground Zero visit
NEW YORK CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that she felt overwhelming sadness when she saw Ground Zero, the site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which is now a heap of rubble and wreckage after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The President arrived visited the site with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and children Diosdado and Evangeline Lourdes.


President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tours
Ground Zero of the World Trade Center site in New York City.

"Sadness," was the President’s reply when asked what she felt on seeing what happened to the WTC, the icon of American capitalism.

She said that when her chartered plane landed in New Jersey from San Francisco, the site of the former WTC was the first landmark that greeted her and she felt sad about what happened.

The President recalled that when she was still in the private sector many years ago, she and Mike Arroyo brought their children to the WTC.

She said she remembered taking pictures of her young children and the wind up there at the top was strong, their hair tousled by the strong wind.

The President also recalled, with a tinge of nostalgia, that whenever she and her husband went to the WTC, they always had cocktails at one of the restaurants at the top called Windows of the World. "Now it's all gone," she said.

 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tours
Ground Zero of the World Trade Center site with New York Mayor
Rudy Giuliani.

The President said she prayed for those who perished in the Sept. 11 attack and that she hopes they are now with the Lord. There was a picture of shared grief as President Arroyo and New York City Mayor Rudolf Guiliani shook each other's hands in  their first meeting ever, at the site of the horrible terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

"Your visit really means a lot to us," Guiliani told the President, moved by her sincerity in extending her condolence to the people of New York and the families of the victims buried alive in the collapsed twin towers of the World Trade Center.(SNS)