Arroyo leaves for New Zealand

May. 27, 2007

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left at 5 p.m. today for New Zealand for another “foreign engagement” which she described as a “central pillar of our economic gains and national security.”

The President, wearing a simple brownish gray suit and black pump heels, was sent off by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., New Zealand Charge d Affairs Steve Macombie, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Customs Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, among others.

The presidential party included Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Bienvenido Tejano, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Senates Committee on Foreign Affairs; Press Undersecretary Robert T. Rivera, and Office of the President Special Operations Group (OPSOG) Head Col. Carlos Clet.

In her departure statement, the Chief Executive stressed that the Philippines “must continue to aggressively engage the world in order to modernize the nation, bolster our security and attract new investments to lift up our poor.”

“This week, we travel south to visit our friends and staunch allies in New Zealand and Australia. These two great nations are partners of the Philippines in expanded trade, increased security cooperation and closer cultural relations,” she said.

The President added that she is “honored to be spending so much time with Prime Minister Helen Clark” who is a “leader on interfaith dialogue and cooperation (and) a prime catalyst for greater understanding among all peoples of all faiths in our region.”

“Interfaith dialogue is a vital component of our peace initiative in Mindanao. We welcome the role that New Zealand and Australia both play there in terms of financial and diplomatic initiatives.

The President will be visiting Australia after her four-day visit to New Zealand.

“In Australia and New Zealand, we will once again be advancing our economic as well as security interests through meetings with private investors and businesses interested in locating in the Philippines.

“We will continue to promote the benefits of the Philippines with every ounce of our energy. Our nations economy is on a permanent path of growth and stability. We are the best value in Asia due to our well-educated and hardworking people,” the President said. (OPS) (

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