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07 November 2008

Fighting poverty ensures peace - Pres. Arroyo. Petron fuel plant inaugurated in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—President Arroyo has underscored the importance of the government’s poverty-alleviation program, saying that strengthening the economy and bringing about human dignity to every Filipino brings about peace.

In a speech before the Central Luzon Local Peace and Security Assembly at the El Centro Convention Center here, President Arroyo also said the government has been making headway in curbing insurgency, which she said is rooted in lack of jobs,
land-reform problems and social injustice.

“A strong and growing economy has been the central pillar we have labored to create precisely to help ensure peace, order and instability in our country. And it’s paying off,” Arroyo told some 500 participants in the two-day assembly and workshop.

Before addressing the Central Luzon peace assembly Thursday, President Arroyo also inaugurated a $2.5-million fuel-additives blending plant put up by Petron Corp. at the Subic Techno Park.

Petron chairman and CEO Nicasio Alcantara informed the President at the inauguration that the facility will not only generate dollar revenues, but will also promote energy conservation and assist in environmental protection.The additives-blending plant, the first of its kind in Asia-Pacific, will export 80 percent of its products, mainly to Asian markets.

In addressing the peace assembly later, Mrs. Arroyo said, “Our economy is more resilient today than ever before, thanks to our fiscal reforms that manifested in a 7-percent-plus [gross domestic product] growth last year.” Almost 7 million jobs have also been created in the past seven years of her administration, she added.

However, she admitted that the current global financial crisis still hits Filipinos where it hurts most—at the kitchen table.“We are not insulated from the events taking place internationally, so we will have to monitor developments closely and take action where necessary, to ensure that any impact will be minimal or short-lived,” she added.

At the same time, President Arroyo criticized communist insurgents for impeding progress and development in some rural areas, and said the government is taking on a new tack to end “all forms of armed rebellion in the country.”

She said the new premise of the government’s peace efforts now focuses on “authentic dialogues with the people in communities,” and not on negotiating with armed groups.

“By talking directly with the people, we aim to generate a national consensus against armed struggle as a means of achieving political and social change,” the President explained.

She added that the overall framework of the government’s peace process will be composed of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).“DDR, as espoused by the communities, will be a notice to armed groups of their rejection of armed struggle, and a way of showing that the force of arms does not entitle them to representing our people,” she added.

For its part, the assembly presented President Arroyo with a resolution and action agenda for peace, security and development, which was the result of the two-day workshop, spearheaded by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

The resolution supported the “wisdom and spirit of the New Peace Paradigm [of] multitrack dialogue, peace education and development cooperation,” and expressed the participants’ determination to make Central Luzon an agro-industrial heartland, international gateway, tourism haven, and transshipment and logistics hub.

The resolution was signed by representatives of six workshop groups that included participants from local and national government units, nongovernment and people’s organizations, academe, business, religious and basic sectors. (Henry Empeño - Business Mirror)

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