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13 MARCH 2009
FILIPINOS IN US HUNGRY FOR GOOD NEWS FROM HOME
SAN FRANCISCO–Filipino-Americans would rather hear the good news than the bad, according to a government team that visited key cities in the United States to assure the more than two million Filipino-Americans that the Philippines is faring well despite the global economic downturn.
“We are tired of the negative news, like the political circus in the guise of congressional investigations. We now realize that the Philippines is doing quite well in the face of the global crisis, because the Philippine Government is firmly focused on strengthening the economy,” said Crisanto Reyes, an accountant working and residing in Santa Clara, California.
A team led by Secretary Edgardo D. Pamintuan, Presidential Adviser on External Affairs and Chair of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC), met with large groups of Filipino-American leaders in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco to relay to them the various measures being undertaken by the Philippine government to cushion the impact of the crisis on the country, including massive investments in infrastructure and social services.
The team included Alexander Cauguiran, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Clark International Airport Corporation and Undersecretary Danilo de Austria Consumido and Leonardo Kirk Galanza of the Office of the External Affairs of the Office of the President.
“Coming here, we thought we would be faced with disbelief and confronted with hard questions, but we were pleasantly surprised that our kababayans here would rather want to hear the positive developments in the Philippines,” Pamintuan said. “But our team was ready to clarify even the negative news, but no one raised them.”
“We should have more of these dialogues, it makes us feel good,” said Dr. Paul Relos, a dentist from San Francisco.
Pamintuan and his group expounded on the massive infrastructure program within the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB) super region and the development of the former US military bases in Clark and Subic as economic zones and logistics hub. President
Cauiguiran, for his part, expounded on how Clark and Subic, which once were the largest American military bases outside the US mainland, have been transformed into an industrial zone and emerging logistics hub.
Verne del Rosario, a real estate businessman who grew up near Clark, Angeles City and has never been home for 19 years, expressed elation that the former military base is now a vibrant economic zone, employing almost 60,000 people.
“I remember that our neighborhood used to rely on the bases, but only for menial jobs and a few scraps and trading of surplus PX goods from the American soldiers. I am happy to know we have good quality jobs there now,” he said.
On the issue of human rights in the Philippines, the team said the situation has improved tremendously over the past two years. The verified unexplained killings that reached 145 cases in 2006 have dramatically gone down to six in 2007 and five last year.
“We do not condone these unexplained killings, even if there is only one case. That is why government has put in place all the necessary policies and institutions to check their occurrence,” Consumido said.
These unfortunate things happen because of the fact that there are still insurgents in the countryside fighting a desperate guerrilla war but neither the rebels themselves can claim of clean hands, he said.
“But the important thing is we are doing our best to curb it, and our efforts have been recognized by even the United Nations and the US State Department,” said Consumido. ###
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