Draft report on benefits from foreign trips awaiting PGMA's return tonight

June 29, 2009 9:04 am 

MANILA, June 29 — A draft report on the projects resulting from the foreign trips of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is awaiting her return and final instruction.

This was disclosed by Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo, who said the report is based on her monitoring of Central Luzon projects funded from investments secured by the President in her travels abroad.

In her regular press briefing in Malacanang this afternoon, Fajardo, the presidential assistant for Central Luzon, said the President’s trip to Kuwait yielded 1 billion dollars of investment commitments from the Kuwait Gulf & Links (KGL).

Part of the 1-billion dollar allocation is now being used in the development of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark (DMIA), she said.

The President has already inaugurated the P10-million road component of the DMIA. “But the total investment commitment of 1 billion dollars will create around 35,000 jobs. This is already ongoing and we can check this out in Clark,” Fajardo told Palace reporters.

Also inaugurated was the Maintenance Repair Overhaul Facility (MRO). One hangar has already been finished and due for operation by July 8. This MRO, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia, has 150 employees, and could generate1,000 jobs. The facility costs 100 million dollars, Fajardo said.

She also cited the jatropha project to be undertaken by Eco Solutions starting this month. The project was made possible with the assistance the President secured during her visit to South Korea. This Eco Solutions in Clark will start anytime this month. Her Korean trip alone raised 2.3 billion dollars investments, Fajardo added.

Earlier, the Palace reported that Eco Solutions and its affiliate, Eco Global Bio Oils Inc., will invest 175 million dollars on jatropha projects in South Cotabato over the next three years.

“I’m sure there are more. I just did not have enough time to consolidate all the materials on (the projects that have) already materialized. Some of those in charge of the projects from these trips are still with the President, namely, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture. I will try my best to consolidate all these data as soon as possible,” Fajardo said.

The Palace official confirmed that there is an existing draft report on the results of the President’s foreign trips. “I don’t think it has been revised because she still has to see it when she returns tonight. When she returns that’s the time she will review it and there will be revisions. I have not seen the draft myself. Definitely there will be a lot of changes in the report once she reviews it. On the economic aspects of her trips, we have been announcing them and they are all in the papers. I don’t think it needs to be mentioned in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) this coming month. As I said it would all depend on the President,” Fajardo stressed.

She said the President’s SONA will focus on the economy and education. As in previous SONAs, the “President will say what is our status and her plans for the remainder of her term. If there will be a surprise at all, I’m sure it will be a pleasant surprise for everyone,” she said.

Fajardo branded as “bloated” the P8 billion the President’s critics said the government spent on her foreign travels.

“We don’t know the exact cost of her trips this year but definitely the P8 billion they are saying is too much. Even taking into account her trips from 2001 to 2009, they would not even reach P2 billion. But I cannot give the exact figure. What I can say, is, for sure the figures being quoted by the critics of our President are bloated,” she declared.

“What’s important is that whatever we spend, definitely is offset by the gains we bring home. We can’t deny that, especially during this time of global financial crisis, which is very critical and very important because not all countries can have this to create jobs and many others are in recession, laying off workers, and yet for us we are still creating jobs. So it is our countrymen who benefit because they are able to get jobs even in a crisis,” Fajardo said.

Another benefit from the President’s foreign trips, she said, is the increased tourist arrivals in the county. “I got this report from Clark (DMIA) where arrivals for 2008 to 2009 increased by 27 percent. So this is a good sign,” she said. (PNA)

LAP/OPS/ssc

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