RP no longer global laggard, PGMA tells diplomats

06/14/10 - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday said the foreign policy initiatives of her administration have paid off and have lifted the Philippines‘ international standing from that of a laggard.

In a speech during the Independence Day Vin D'Honneur in Malacanang, the President said the Philippines "is back in international relations."

"No longer the laggard, the Philippines has been a steady climber in Asia and the world. We have forged new relations with the world, " she told Manila's foreign diplomatic community who attended the Philippine Freedom Day at the presidential palace.

She said that China is now a leading economic partner of the Philippines while the United States remain in "shoulder-to-shoulder" relations with the Philippines in economic and security aspects.

"Europe and the Muslim world are (our) strong allies," she added.

The President said that improved foreign relations greatly benefited the country in terms of the welfare and benefits for Filipino overseas workers and in massive foreign investments inflow.

The President added international help has produced changes in the peace approach in Mindanao that has brought in an array of foreign nations helping secure stability in the region.

"In the Muslim south, while lasting peace has yet to be achieved, I have taken heavy political risks to broker a peace. We have reached within the affected communities to change the peace paradigm. We have brought together an amazing international consensus to aid the process from the outside. Japan, Australia, the U.S., England, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Malaysia and so many others, now have a vested interest in peace in Mindanao," she said.

She also cited foreign help made the Philippines a leader in the war on terror, with strong foreign allies.

"Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast to the triumph of the Filipino nation, and to international solidarity," the outgoing President said in the toast offer to the diplomatic community led by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Papal Nuncio Joseph Edward Adams.

On the domestic front, President Arroyo said with pride that she is determined to turn over to the new administration a new Philippines that is ready to reach First World status in the next two decades.

"So we leave a legacy of hard work, a strong and stable economy, major investments in healthcare and education, and dramatic improvements in physical infrastructure," she said.

She said that much remains to be done although she stressed that during her leadership for nine years, she has reversed years of economic decline to nine years later, registered 35 quarters of uninterrupted growth or an economy that has a bigger debt than its gross domestic product (GDP) to one that is debt–free from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The diplomatic community agreed with the President as they applauded her when she said that the state of the economy now is much better than before.

Speaking for the diplomatic corps, Papal Nuncio Adams lauded the President for her good leadership and goodwill to the international community.

"We share your sentiments with the long service you have rendered to your country and our appreciation of your goodwill in which you have always shown to the diplomatic community," Adams said. (OPS/PIA)

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