Arroyo Opens 3-Day Visit to Singapore

Article excerpt

SINGAPORE (Via PLDT) - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived here yesterday for a three-day state visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic and friendly relations between the Philippines and Singapore.

The Chief Executive, who just concluded a three-day state visit to Brunei, arrived at the Changi International Airport at 12:40 p.m. on board Philippine Airlines Airbus 320 chartered flight PR 001.

On hand to welcome the President, First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" T. Arroyo, a small group of Cabinet members, and other government officials were the Singapore Chief of Protocol and Philippine Ambassador Jesus Yabes.

From the airport, the President and her official delegation proceeded to the ShangriLa Hotel, where the First Couple and her official delegation are staying.

An hour later, the President and First Gentleman Arroyo motored to the Istana Palace where the First Couple was officially received by Singaporean President S.R. Nathan.

The President was accorded a red carpet welcome and military honors, including a 21-gun salute traditionally given to a visiting head of state, at the Istana Palace.

The President, who is on the second leg of her five-day state visits to Brunei and Singapore, faces a hectic schedule during her three-day stint in this city-state and fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN).

She will have as her first activity a meeting with Singaporean President S.R. Nathan at the Istana palace.

She will also attend the Distinguished Lecture at the Institute of Policy Studies at Shangri-La Hotel's Tower Ballroom.

The President will also invite Singaporean business leaders to invest in the Philippines when she speaks before the Singapore Business Council (Trade Development Board) at a dinner-meeting at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

On her second day in Singapore, the President will visit the Nan Yang Polytechnic (NYP) and will tour its facilities. NYP was established in April 1992 to provide quality education and training for graduates to support the industrial, economic, and social development of Singapore.

Then she will proceed to the Housing Development Board (HDB) Headquarters. HDB is Singapore's public housing authority. It was formed in 1960 to solve the massive problem of substandard and insufficient housing in this citystate.

From HDB, the President will attend the Philippine-Singapore Business Conference at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Her one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong will take place at the Raffles Hotel. This will be followed by a bilateral meeting with representatives of both governments in attendance.

The President will also attend a luncheon hosted in her honor by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. A press conference presided by President Arroyo will ensue at the ShangriLa Hotel.

Airline pact

SINGAPORE (AP) - Singapore and the Philippines will sign a pact to increase airline seating capacity between their countries in a bid to boost tourism, President Arroyo said yesterday.

The agreement, to be signed today, will raise the combined total of seats on Singapore Airlines and Philippine Airlines flights between the two countries to 8,500 per week from 6,500 now, Arroyo said during her first visit to Singapore as president.

The move is aimed at building up tourism in the two Southeast Asian neighbor countries, Arroyo said in a speech.

The Philippines' vital tourism industry has been hurt by a spate of kidnapings by separatist rebels and crime gangs.Four Singaporeans were among those kidnapped.

Asked by an audience member after her speech Friday about the kidnapings of Singaporeans, Arroyo said the latest such case had been solved and she was "sorry to say" it was "masterminded by Singaporeans."

Tourism is also a vital industry in Singapore, a wealthy city-state that has no natural resources and is currently in the throes of a recession. …