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7 MAY 2009
FILAMS BRAVE STORM, SWINE FLU TO HEAR THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT
SAN FRANCISCO--Filipino-Americans braved thunderstorms, flash floods and even the threat of swine flu to hear good news about the Philippines from a government team that recently visited key cities in the United States as part of an information road show.
“It was a pleasant surprise to us to see how enthusiastic Filipinos in the United States were in wanting to hear the good news about the Philippines rather than the bad,” says Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, Presidential Adviser on External Affairs, who led a government team that presented positive developments taking place in the country that overseas Filipinos know little about.
Pamintuan, who is concurrently Chairman of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC), said Filipino-American community leaders in Houston still came to listen to him and his team despite a heavy thunderstorm that triggered flashfloods, stalled hundreds of vehicles and even cut off electricity in the area.
Pamintuan said the threat of the swine flu also did not deter Filipino-American leaders from turning up in their briefings in affected states such as New York, Texas and California. The team met with the Filipino community in San Diego, just a few miles from the US border with Mexico where the outbreak was first reported.
“Many of the Filipinos we talked to who have not been to the Philippines for decades are contemplating of coming home after we corrected the negative impressions they have on the country resulting largely from the tendency of media to give more prominence to bad news,” said Pamintuan.
In their meetings with Filipino Americans in New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Texas and California, the team discussed the efforts of the Philippine government to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis and present the various mega-infrastructure projects that are not only changing the Philippine landscape but are also expected to bring more development to the countryside.
Pamintuan, who is also the development champion of the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB), presented some P188-billion worth of infrastructure projects that are now being implemented in the LUB “special region” made up of Metro Manila and the provinces of Central and Southern Luzon.
“These projects have not only helped mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis but have also opened up new opportunities for development and investments,” said Pamintuan, who also sits as Chair of the North Rail Corporation.
Aside from Pamintuan, the other members of the team were Undersecretary Danilo de Austria Consumido of the Office of External Affairs (OEA); Alexander Cauguiran, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC); Armand Arreza, Administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA); and Director Kirk Galanza of OEA.
Consumido expounded on the various measures undertaken by government to strengthen the economy against the crisis. He said the Philippines registered record economic growths and is expected to be one of only three countries in Asia that will register positive growth this year despite the crisis.
“Our economic stimulus plan differs with that of the United States, which is focused mainly in rescuing faltering giant companies,” Consumido said. “The Philippine economic stimulus plan is intended to benefit the poorer sectors through more investments in social services, as well as direct and indirect subsidies.”
Consumido said that despite the crisis, recent surveys indicated a high level of confidence among Filipinos, adding that not only have none of the big companies in the Philippines closed down but that a number of them are even expanding and venturing into other industries.
Both Cauguiran and Arreza presented how the former American military bases in Clark and Subic have been transformed into sprawling free port zones that host many big international companies.
“When Clark and Subic were still military bases, only about 50,000 workers were employed mainly as low level service personnel,” Cauguiran pointed out. “Today, both free ports provide quality jobs to more than 135,000 Filipinos and accounted for about $2 billion in exports last year.” ###
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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