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23 SEPTEMBER 2008
PGMA SHARES WITH UN-MEMBER STATES RP'S
NEW YORK—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo told the world that through self-reliance, long-term reforms and international cooperation, the Philippines is now in a better position to face the present global challenges of rising fuel and food prices, and the volatile global economic situation.
In her speech at the opening of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly on 23 September, the President admitted though that it was not easy as Filipinos, like other peoples in the rest of the world, also feel the pain of high food and fuel prices.
''It hasn't been easy but Filipinos are tough and resilient. We have pulled together. We have been able to draw on additional revenues to provide targeted investments in food and fuel to keep our poor afloat until a better day,'' the President said.
The President said a new paradigm of self-reliance -- through the use of a targeted strategy with a set of precise prescriptions to ease price challenges; food sufficiency and more energy independence, as well as long- term reforms implemented—has somehow lessened the impact on the poor of these global challenges.
She, however, said the Philippines also needs international cooperation, including that of the UN, ''as never before.''
''To address these global challenges, we must go on building bridges among allies around the globe, to bring rice to where it is needed to feed the people; investments to create jobs, and keep the peace and stability in the world,'' she said.
The President said since the rise in the global prices of fuel and oil months ago, the Philippines has increased and stabilized the supply of rice and delivered targeted subsidies to the poor as funds are now available from increased revenue collections resulting from the tough economic reforms she had initiated.
She added that to ensure a stable supply and affordable prices of rice, the Philippines has reached out to neighbors like Vietnam and others in ASEAN.
At the same time, the President said the Philippine government has invested more billions (of pesos) in planting and agricultural modernization to increase food production; and cracked down on price gouging.
She added that her thrust of developing indigenous and renewable sources of energy has lessened the country's dependence on imported fossil fuel.
''We have increased our energy independence by 17 percent through greater use of geothermal, biofuel and other renewable sources. We expect to attain 60 percent independence in two years,'' she stressed.
The President also said Mindanao -- which is one of the country's food baskets, Luzon being the other—has the majority of our poorest provinces it is a sad irony that our food basket has some of the highest hunger (rates) in our nation (and) the prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict.
Just as the peace talks have achieved remarkable progress, the President said rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ''decided to take the law into their own hands.''
Thus, the President added, the government’s decision to shift the basic paradigm of the peace negotiations—from talking with armed groups to dialoguing with concerned communities and major stakeholders.
''There is no alternative to peace. I stand before you today to declare loud and clear that we are committed to the peace process in Mindanao,'' the President said, adding that the context of engagement with all armed groups shall subscribe to the UN-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.''
She also informed the UN body that the Philippines will host next month the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development and, in May next year, the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue for Cooperation and Development.
The President was the fourth speaker this morning at the UN General Assembly where over a hundred national leaders participated. ###
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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