Arroyo Airs Hopes on US, Europe Trips

Article excerpt

Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

President Arroyo is looking forward more to the fruits of her five-day trip to the United States and Europe than on delivering any message about her plans for the 2004 presidential elections, Malacanang said yesterday.

The President, and her delegation that includes her husband lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo, left last night for New York, the first leg of her trip.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the President has a hectic schedule for the trip from Sept. 25 to Sept. 30 to promote the countrys security and development.

She considers it more important to anticipate the fruits of her trip rather than deliver any message on the 2004 polls, he said.

Bunye said the vital affairs of the state need the Presidents attention more than the questions on her plans whether to join the May presidential elections next year.

He insisted the President has yet to decide on the matter, dismissing reports the Presidents candidacy next year is a done deal.

The media agenda cannot force it and she has chosen to focus on vital affairs of state, he added.

Bunye also warned the media from calling the President delusional for asking divine guidance in her decisions.

I believe the choice of word is inappropriate, he said.

He said several sectoral groups insist that the President reconsiders December 30, 2002 vow not to run in 2004.

What we are saying is that some are saying that it would be unfair for the President to skip the 2004 elections because she would be forsaking the country if she does, he added.

In her departure statement, the President said she expects Vice President Guingona, the government caretaker while shes away, to uphold and implement constitutional governance.

She assured the vice president will have the full support of the executive branch.

Also, she emphasized the appointment of Guingona as government caretaker is a routine, institutional act and there is nothing special about it.

Some people are sowing intrigues about our policy differences with the vice president but these are not pertinent to his designation, she said.

She said that national unity has been restored following the repeated threats of destabilization arising from the July 27 coup.

Ang mga nagkakalat na intriga at nanggugulo ay naisasantabi na, she said.

On Thursday, the President will meet for 30 minutes with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the United Nations building in New York. Both leaders are scheduled to address the 58th session of the UN General Assembly the next day.

After her meeting with Mahathir, the President is due for a luncheon meeting with officials of the US Institute of Peace.

On Friday, the Asia Society and Council on Foreign Relations will host a breakfast meeting for the President at the Asia Society building.

At 10:45 a.m., the President will address the UN General Assembly at its headquarters in New York, where she is expected to lobby for the Philippine bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

A luncheon meeting with the foreign ministers and ambassadors of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) will follow the Presidents call on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the UN building.

Later, she will meet the International Board of Advisors at the Carnegie Suite of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Before her departure for Rome, Arroyo will join the Filipino community Friday night at the St. Peters College in Jersey City.

In Rome, the President said she will extend the love of the Filipinos to Pope John Paul II and ask for his apostolic blessings to the Philippines and its people.

On September 29, Arroyo will thank the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its development asssitance to the country during its 32nd General Conference in Paris, France. …