Arroyo admits RP can’t weather financial crisis alone
abs-cbnNEWS.com | 09/24/2008 9:11 AM
President Arroyo boasted gains made by the Philippines despite the global food and economic crisis before world leaders at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City on Tuesday.
Mrs. Arroyo, however, admitted that the Philippines needs the help of developed UN members to pass through the “terrible tsunami” brought on by the US economic recession.
“The developing world is at a tipping point. In the Philippines, we feel the pain of high prices of food, fuel and rice,” the president said before world leaders at the 63rd UN General Assembly,”
Despite this, she said the Philippines, with her “tough and sometimes painful” economic reforms, was able to cushion the effects of the global crisis.
With the US financial crisis, she said the Philippines needs the UN’s help “more than ever.”
“But we are also realistic that we cannot do it alone. We need a strong UN as never before. We need rigorous international cooperation as never before,” she said.
Committed to peace in Mindanao
For the first time since the resurgence of violence in the southern Philippines, Mrs. Arroyo spoke of her administration’s dilemma with the separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“For years we have worked to achieve peace in Mindanao. Much progress was made until violent elements within the Moro Islamic Liberation Front decided to take the law into their own hands,” she said.
The attacks on civilian communities carried by some radical MILF commanders came after the Supreme Court stopped the government’s signing of a Bangsamoro homeland accord with the separatist group last August.
Critics said the homeland deal failed because the government failed to consult other stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process. The deal was allegedly kept secret to local government units in the south, which prompted local officials to petition it before the high court.
Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross, has warned the government of a looming humanitarian crisis in the south if it continues to refuse to return to the negotiating table with the MILF.
In her speech, Mrs. Arroyo assured that the government is still committed to bringing peace in the strife-torn south.
“There is no alternative to peace. I stand before you today to declare loud and clear that we are committed to the process of peace in Mindanao,” she said.
She, however, said the government will resume talks with the armed separatist group only after its “responsible elements” has regained control.
She said the Philippines has shifted to adhering the UN-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration, which peace advocates said usually comes at the end of peace negotiations.
The president said the government has also included in the peace process dialogues, not only with the rebels, but also with the communities affected by violence in Mindanao.
“We will refocus the peace talks from one that is centered on dialogues with rebels to one of authentic dialogues with the communities. The context of our engagement with all armed groups shall subscribe to the UN-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.”