01 April 2005
1.Statement of the
President: On Anti-Terrorism
2.Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye: On
3.Four-day workweek in national gov't offices begins on April
4.Malacañang sa Sugbo: A showcase of the best of Cebu
5.GMA saddened by
Pope's deteriorating health
6.GMA to tour pioneering Japanese firm at Laguna
7.GMA: We'll go hammer and thong against terrorists
allots P1 billion for ICT upgrade
9.Santiago: FG committed no corrupt act in
accepting complimentary hotel accommodation in Las Vegas
wish: Unity among Filipinos
11.GMA vows to wipe out causes of conflict and
breeding ground of terrorist recruitment
12.Bush Lauds RP’s Inroads in
13.Saudi Labor Ministry Prohibits Saudi Employers from
Compelling Foreign Workers to Pay for their Work Visa and Resident Permit Fees
14.DFA Instructs Philippine Embassy in Pakistan to Arrange for Early Release
and Repatriation of 38 Filipino Fishermen Detained in Karachi, Releases Funds to
Purchase Plane Tickets
15.RP Reiterates Commitment to Help Haiti Despite
Sniper Attack on Filipino Peacekeeper
16.Philippine Ambassador to Israel
Pushes for Recognition of Filipino's Role in Saving
PRESS RELEASE NO.1: Statement of the President: On
Our policy is quite clear that we will go hammer and thong
against terrorists, we will not negotiate with terrorists, and we shall
negotiate peace only with those who absolutely reject terrorism.
pursue with determination programs of peace and development that will resolve
the root cause of conflict and mop up the breeding grounds of terrorist
We will continue to work with our global and regional allies
in all fronts of intelligence sharing, training and conflict resolution to
isolate and destroy terrorist cells and their networks.
NO.2 Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye: On VAT
We are confident
that the enlightened debates are practically exhausted and the time is ripe for
a Senate consensus to pass the VAT bill today.
We are pinning a lot of
hope on this vital measure to fix our fiscal house and to make our country more
PRESS RELEASE NO.3 Four-day workweek in national gov't
offices begins on April 4
The Office of the President (OP) will start
implementing the Four-Day Workweek Scheme for national government employees on
Monday, April 4, in accordance with the provision of Administrative Order No.
117 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last March 28.
117 provides for adjusted official hours for the months of April and May, 2005
in government departments, bureaus, offices and other agencies in the executive
branch, including state-owned and controlled corporations.
In a meeting
at Malacanang this morning, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Waldo Flores said
the modified workweek from Monday to Thursday will cover the working hours from
7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, including a one-hour noontime break.
employees who come in after 7:30 a.m. will be considered late and there is no
provision for them to offset this tardiness after the 6:30 p.m. cutoff
The OP offices exempted from this scheme include the Office of the
Executive Secretary (both in Mabini Hall and the Premier Guest House), the
Presidential Security Group (PSG), Authentication, Antique House, Protocol
Office, OP Records, Internal House Affairs, Appointments, Motorpool, and the
Dialysis Service Center at the Malacanang Clinic, Flores said.
offices should maintain a skeletal force on Friday and come up with their own
work scheduling to allow their staff to enjoy the three-day
Air-conditioning units shall be turned on from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, only those offices operating with a
skeletal or full work force shall be allowed to turn on their air-conditioning
For Malacanang employees availing themselves of the P10 shuttle
service, the afternoon departure time has been adjusted to 6:30 p.m. with a
30-minute waiting time.
Noontime breaks shall remain at 12 noon to 1
Flores emphasized that the work scheme would not disrupt the
delivery of basic services to the people as government teams shall remain on
The implementation of the four-day workweek on Monday begins with a
Thanksgiving Mass at the Mabini Social Hall for President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo who would be celebrating her birthday on April 5.
exempted from coverage of the AO are the Philippine National Police, Armed
Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management
and Penology, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of
Customs, government hospitals and health centers, public schools and
universities with previously set summer classes, and other government agencies
rendering vital frontline services or those involved in providing health,
safety, security, protection, emergency and other services that need to be
available on a continuing basis.
AO 117 complements AO 103, Directing the
Continued Adoption of Austerity Measures by Government, issued on Aug. 31, 2004,
and enjoins the legislative and judicial branches of government, constitutional
commissions and local government units (LGUs), to adopt the four-day workweek
during the summer months.
PRESS RELEASE NO.4: Malacañang sa Sugbo: A
showcase of the best of Cebu
Who would have ever thought of it as a
palace---this old, dilapidated building that sits at Cebu’s port area?
Constructed before World War II, the building housed the headquarters of
American officials who led the liberation of the Philippines.
decades of benign neglect, the administration of President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo decided to restore the building’s old beauty and transformed it
into what is now called Malacanang sa Sugbo or the Presidential Palace of the
But unlike other rehabilitation projects that cost the government
hundreds of millions, if not billions of pesos, the restoration of Malacanang sa
Sugbo required only P700,000 in public funds, with the 53rd Engineering Brigade
of the Philippine Army providing free labor, and a private company donating the
Adding the final touches to the structure were 23
of Cebu’s top furniture manufacturers who made sure that only the finest
furnishings are found in the Palace of the South.
This made Malacanang sa
Sugbo a showcase of the best that Cebu has to offer: the best hands of the
engineering brigade that undertook the rehabilitation of the building, the best
intentions of the private companies that donated materials, and the best
furnishings that one could find nowhere else in the world but in the Queen City
of the South.
The palace’s furnishings and accessories, all donations by
the 23 firms, enabled the government to save millions of pesos, while
transforming the seat of power in Central Philippines as a showcase of their
These furniture manufacturers met with President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo at the Malacanang sa Sugbo last March 9 during her visit to
The Cebu Furniture Industry Federation (CFIF) got the
furniture companies together and encouraged them to participate in the
The President has tapped Chary Aboitiz to handle the interior
design and make sure that the furniture donated by various companies and used in
each of the rooms actually match.
The biggest furniture donor was
Maitland-Smith, followed by Cebu Fil-Veneer, which will furnish the Guitar
Pacific Traders donated the furnishings for the lobby of Malacanang
sa Sugbo which will later be known as the Traders’ Lobby, in recognition of the
contribution of the private firm.
Mehitabel Furniture Inc. provided some
of the furnishings for the guest rooms and the private living area.
major donors are Metamorfose and Detalia Aurora. They provided the furnishings
for the other rooms.
Dedon, another furniture manufacturer, provided the
furnishings for the inner courtyard, which will later be named Patio
The minor donors are Raphael Legacy, Castillex, Silya, Arden
Classics, Kirsten International, Murillo, Maple and Pine, Mendco, Interior
Basics, Coast Pacific, Nature’s Legacy, Brianex, Riverside Arts and Rattan
PRESS RELEASE NO.5: GMA saddened by Pope's deteriorating
ZAMBOANGA City—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed sadness
here today over reports that the Vatican has performed the last rites on Pope
John Paul II, whose health has been the subject of speculations the past few
In an informal media interaction this morning at the Zamboanga City
Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport, the Chief Executive urged the
nation to pray for the speedy recovery of the ailing Roman Catholic leader who
has guided millions of his flock all over the world for nearly three
"Well, we’re all very sad about his failing health and we really
are very grateful to the Lord for all these many, many years He gave us the
wonderful leadership of the Pope in our Church," President Arroyo
Reports coming from the Vatican has confirmed that the 84-year old
Polish-born Pontiff has been given the last rites as he battled high fever
caused by urinary infection, revealing a dramatic deterioration in his
The last rites, otherwise known as extreme unction, comprise
the final sacrament administered to sick and ailing persons by the
PRESS RELEASE NO.6: GMA to tour pioneering Japanese firm at
President Gloria Macapagal–Arroyo will motor to the
Laguna Technopark in Binan, Laguna Saturday and tour a Japanese corporation
pioneering in the manufacture of plastic medical equipment like syringes and
She will also unveil Terumo’s corporate marker and cut the
ceremonial ribbon of the firm’s newest building and manufacturing
Terumo Philippines Corporation started commercial operation in
the country on April 2, 2000, with an initial capitalization of P2 billion. The
five-year-old corporation has earmarked an additional P2.7 billion investment on
its new project that is expected to start operation in May this
With an initial work force of 60, Terumo now employs 830 workers.
By the end of 2006, the corporation is expected to employ a total of 1,500
Terumo president Yoshimo Nagamine will brief the Chief Executive
on the company’s operations. She is also expected to test the accuracy of the
newest blood pressure monitoring unit – an electronic device, produced in
The President is scheduled to view the manufacturing process of
syringes and catheters at the company’s training room.
Luningning Lazaro, Laguna 1st District Representative Uliran Joaquin and Binan
Mayor Hermis Perez will lead the President’s welcoming party at the Terumo
Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, Trade and Industry Secretary Juan
B. Santos and Philippine Export Processing Zone (PEZA) Director Lilia de Lima
will accompany the President.
PRESS RELEASE NO.7: GMA: We'll go
hammer and thong against terrorists
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo today reiterated the government’s stand not to negotiate with
any terrorist group and would use "hammer and thong" in running after these
"Our policy is quite clear that we will go hammer and
thong against terrorists, we will not negotiate with terrorists, and we shall
negotiate peace only with those who absolutely reject terrorism," the President
declared in a statement read at the media interaction she held in this
The media interaction and lunch with media reporters was held at
the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport here.
shall pursue with determination programs of peace and development that will
resolve the root cause of conflict and mop up the breeding grounds of terrorist
recruitment," she added.
The President stressed her administration "will
continue to work with our global and regional allies in all fronts of
intelligence sharing, training and conflict resolution to isolate and destroy
terrorist cells and their networks."
She was obviously referring the
United States and the country’s ASEAN partners with which the Philippines
maintains close security arrangements, including Malaysia which chairs the
International Monitoring Team (IMT) now monitoring the peace process in
President Arroyo’s statement came on the heels of a warning
reportedly issued by new US Pacific Command chief, Admiral William Fallon,
cautioning the Philippine government about its intelligence information showing
that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has links with the Abu Sayyaf
US intelligence has long branded the Abu Sayyaf terror
group as part of the international terrorist network of Al-Qaeda led by Osama
The Philippine government is about to resume peace
negotiations with the MILF by the middle of this month in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia
is brokering the talks.
Last Thursday, AFP Southern Command (Southcom)
chief, Lt. Gen. Alberto Braganza and Philippine National Police (PNP) Western
Mindanao director, Chief Supt. Vidal Querol presented to the President here
suspected international terrorist Fawaz Zi Ajjur, a Kuwaiti-born
Ajjur was arrested by military and police authorities on
March 26 (Black Saturday) at the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) here for having
no valid visa when he flew in from Sabbah, Malaysia.
background checks with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) established that Ajjur has
direct links with the Abu Sayyaf and has trained local terrorists in explosives
PRESS RELEASE NO.8: GMA allots P1 billion for ICT
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Pressing her campaign to attract foreign
investments and create more high-paying jobs, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
has allocated P1 billion for the upgrading of the country’s information and
communication technology (ICT) facilities.
"We allocated P1 billion for
ICT upgrading all over the country, of which P500 million is for Custom’s
computer upgrading," the President said during a media interaction this morning
at the Zamboanga Ecozone.
The Chief Executive said the telecommunication
facilities in Mindanao have to be upgraded to meet the requirements of the call
center industry and to attract foreign investors, especially at the Zamboanga
City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ECOZONE).
Jesus Dureza, who is also chairman of the Mindanao Economic and Development
Council (MEDCO), told the President that MEDCO, in cooperation with the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), donated computers and
Internet to remote schools in Mindanao.
ICT Commissioner Damian Mapa also
informed the President that in response to the upgrading of ICT in Mindanao,
Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) has signified its intention to improve
its service to Zamboanga Ecozone.
Mapa said PLDT, through its sister
company, Smart Telecommunication has agreed to deliver DSL quality service and
fiber-optic connections ahead of any investors that will invest at Zamboanga
He said his office is inviting the top 80 cyber services
companies of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) to
take a look at the potential of Ecozone as ideal site for their expansion and
Mapa added that Pakistani businessmen have signified
their willingness to consider the Ecozone as a backup site for their Arabic call
"We are certainly hopeful that Mindanao and the various
locations in Mindanao can serve as the backup site for these Arabic call
centers," Mapa told the President.
The President said that Ric Santos,
president of the American Chamber in the Philippines, informed her that the
American Chamber investment mission would visit Zamboanga in
PRESS RELEASE NO.9: Santiago: FG committed no corrupt act in
accepting complimentary hotel accommodation in Las Vegas
Defensor-Santiago said First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo did not commit the
crime of corruption when he accepted the complimentary hotel accommodation MGM
Grande offered him in Las Vegas, Nevada recently.
The First Gentleman
went to Nevada to cheer Filipino people’s champion Manny Pacquiao in his
non-title fight against former Mexican world lightweight champion Erik Morales
last March 19 in Las Vegas.
In a radio interview this morning, Senator
Santiago said the First Gentleman cannot commit such a crime because he is not a
government official and did not use government money for his personal
In the same radio program, Donald Dy, the president of the
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said the topic is a
non-issue and debates on the matter is just a waste of precious
Lawyer Jess Santos, the First Gentleman’s legal counsel and
spokesman, added that the gesture of the MGM hotel management should instead be
a source of pride as they recognized a prominent Filipino and offered him
complimentary hotel room accommodations.
In another radio interview,
Pacquiao said as far as he knows, the most expensive room at the MGM in Las
Vegas costs somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000, not $20,000 as bruited about by
critics of Mr. Arroyo.
He said he is very thankful for the presence and
support of the First Gentleman and other government officials who went to Las
Vegas to cheer and inspire him during his bout with Morales.
In his own
press conference Thursday, the First Gentleman lamented that his critics have
injected malicious political dimensions to the issue.
NO.10: GMA's birthday wish: Unity among Filipinos
among the Filipino people during this time of difficult challenges is President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s wish on her birthday on Tuesday, April 5.
President disclosed that during her unscheduled visit last night at the Fort
Pilar Shrine in Zamboanga City, she thanked the Our Lady of Pilar for
interceding for the Philippines the past years.
The Chief Executive said
as she lighted a candle in the shrine, she also thanked the Lord for the
blessings that the country has continuously been receiving.
The Board of
Directors of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport
serenaded the President with a birthday song and presented her with a four-layer
cake during her visit at the Ecozone.
Joining the President in the media
interaction were Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, Zambo City Representative
Enrico Basilio Fabian, Ecozone Chairperson and Administrator Georgina Yu, Vice
Chairman Ferdinand Mahusay, Land Reform Secretary Rene Villa and Mindanao
Economic Development Council (MEDCO) Chairman and Presidential Assistant on
Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza.
Other officials present were Autonomous
Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Farouk Hussein, Sulu Gov. Benjamin Loong,
Government Mass Media Head Cerge Remonde, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Southern Command (Southcom) Commander Lt. Gen. Alberto Fernando Braganza and
Philippine National Police (PNP) Western Mindanao director, Chief Supt. Vidal
PRESS RELEASE NO.11: GMA vows to wipe out causes of conflict
and breeding ground of terrorist recruitment
Macapagal-Arroyo today vowed the government would continue to pursue peace and
development programs to resolve the root cause of conflict and wipe out the
breeding grounds of terrorist recruitment.
The President made the
declaration during the media interaction and lunch today at the Zamboanga City
Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ZamboEcozone).
pursue with determination programs of peace and development that will resolve
the root cause of conflict and mop out the breeding grounds of terrorist
recruitment," she declared.
President Arroyo said the Philippines would
also continue to work with other countries in intelligence sharing, training and
conflict resolution "to isolate and destroy terrorist cells and their networks"
in the country.
The Chief Executive has repeatedly stressed that reducing
poverty is the main approach under her administration’s resolve to finally end
the conflict and deter terrorist recruitment in Mindanao
Economic and Development Council (MEDCO) chair, Secretary Jesus Dureza said part
of the President’s strategy to bring peace and development in the region is to
empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by continuously promoting trade and
investments in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area
To improve trade and commerce between member countries,
Dureza said a shipping route was already established between Zamboanga and
Malaysia, whose leaders the President has thanked for hosting the peace talks to
be resumed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
"Many Zamboangenos already know that the shipping route between
Malaysia and Zamboang had been launched already. It is a direct link that the
President had asked us to install so that we can move people and services across
borders," Dureza said.
PRESS RELEASE NO.12: BUSH LAUDS RP’S
INROADS IN ANTI-TERRORISM DRIVE
01 APRIL 2005 – US President George W.
Bush has commended the Philippines for its successes in the stepped-up campaign
against terrorism in the country as he indicated that the Philippines has
remained a reliable partner of the US in the global war against
In a major foreign policy speech he delivered early last month
at the US National Defense University, President Bush said that in the last
three and a half years, the US and its allies “have waged a campaign of global
scale, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the border regions of
Pakistan, to the Horn of Africa, to the islands of the Philippines, to the
plains of north-
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto
Romulo said that President Bush’s recognition of the Philippine contribution to
the global fight against terrorism is a firm indication that the country is a
reliable partner of the US in this collective drive.
Macapagal-Arroyo was among the first world leaders who expressed unequivocal
support for the US-led war against international terrorism after the September
11 attacks in the US.
President Bush said that the immediate US strategy
is to eliminate terrorist threats abroad “so we do not have to face them here at
According to President Bush, global terror requires a global
response and America is more secure today because dozens of other countries have
stepped up the fight.
“We’re more secure because the Philippines’ new
anti-terrorism task force has helped capture more than a dozen terrorist
suspects, including seven members of the Al Qeada and affiliated networks,”
President Bush said, referring to the members of Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah
Islamiyah who have been captured in Mindanao.
President Bush said that US
allies in the war on terror are making tough decisions and are taking risks and
they’re losing lives. “These countries have proven themselves trusted friends
and reliable allies,” he said.
Recent successes of the government in its
anti-terrorism campaign were the arrest of the main suspects in the Valentines
Day bombing and the elimination of the top Abu Sayyaf leaders during a recent
firefight at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, Metro Manila.
PRESS RELEASE NO.13: SAUDI LABOR MINISTRY PROHIBITS SAUDI
EMPLOYERS FROMCOMPELLING FOREIGN WORKERS TO PAY FOR THEIR WORK VISA AND RESIDENT
01 April 2005 – Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia (KSA) Bahnarim A. Guinomla today reported that OFWs in the Kingdom scored
a major victory when the Saudi Ministry of Labor called on Saudi employers not
to force their expatriate employees to pay for their labor visas, resident
permits, re-entry visas and sponsorship transfers.
In a report to
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Ambassador Guinomla said the Saudi
Labor Ministry has declared said that “forcing expatriates to pay the said fees
(labor visas, resident permits or iqama, re-entry visas and sponsorship
transfers) constitute a violation of a Cabinet decision adopted eight years ago
and would be punishable under the law.”
Ambassador Guinomla emphasized
that this statement is very important not only for OFWs but for the many other
nationalities who work as expatriates in KSA. He said OFWs have
been complaining about such violations by their Saudi employers, especially
those who force OFWs to pay the iqama fee, which alone costs about
The Department notes that this recent statement is a victory for
the Philippine Embassy that lobbied a few months back to prohibit
employers from forcing their foreign workers to shoulder these fees.
The Department thanked the Saudi Government for this statement and assured that
it will continue to work closely with the concerned Saudi authorities for the
welfare and well-being of OFWs.
According to Ambassador Guinomla, the
Labor Ministry Statement warned that violators of the policy would be punished
under the law and, in order to ensure enforcement, has set up a special
department to protect the rights of expatriate workers against abuse.
Earlier, Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Ghosaibi assured Ambassador Guinomla that
he was going to create a special department in his office to handle expatriate
It may be recalled that the Philippine Embassy recently rescued
two Filipina workers being maltreated by their Saudi Lady employer (for details,
please official DFA press release no. SFA-AGR-125-05 dated 03 March 2005).
The Embassy’s success in rescuing Ms. Michaela delos Santos and Ms. Iluminada
Curioso earned praise from the diplomatic community and even prompted Saudi
authorities to encourage all expatriate workers to report any incident of abuse
or maltreatment so that the Saudi government can act on it.
PRESS RELEASE NO.14: DFA INSTRUCTS PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN
TO ARRANGE FOR EARLY RELEASE AND REPATRIATION OF 38 FILIPINO FISHERMEN DETAINED
IN KARACHI, RELEASES FUNDS TO PURCHASE PLANE TICKETS
01 April 2005 –
Pursuant to the instructions of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, the
Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is now working for the speedy
repatriation of the 38 Filipino fishermen currently detained in Karachi after
Pakistani authorities seized the two fishing trawlers on which the Filipinos and
36 other foreign crewmembers were on board.
Philippine Ambassador to
Pakistan Jorge V. Arizabal reported to Secretary Romulo that “Pakistan
authorities have expressed willingness to release the detained Filipinos as soon
as their plane tickets are ready.”
Acting immediately on the matter, the
DFA authorized the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs to
immediately release US$20,437.16 from the Assistance-To-Nationals Funds to be
used by the Embassy to cover the costs for repatriation including the
Karachi-Manila airline tickets for the 38 Filipinos fishermen and thus
ensure their early release to be reunited with their families in the
Mr. Abdul Samad, staff of Mr. Nasser Nawaz Jaffer, who is
the Philippine Honorary Consul in Karachi Province, recently visited the 38
Filipino fishermen to ascertain their condition and determine their needs,
especially since a number of the Filipino crewmembers are 19 years of age and
are, unlike in the Philippines, still considered minors in
Ambassador Arizabal also reported that the two fishing trawlers,
earlier reported to be Sri Lankan-owned, are in fact Indian-registered vessels,
while the manning agent of the Filipinos is a Singaporean.
Romulo earlier instructed the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad to extend all
possible assistance to the 38 Filipinos. Pursuant to this
instruction, Ambassador Arizabal will be sending two Embassy representatives to
Karachi to provide consular assistance to the Filipinos, including issuing them
with travel documents and their plane tickets to facilitate their return
home. The Philippine Honorary Consul also dispatched a consular
Ambassador Arizabal said that on 26 March 2005, Pakistan’s
Coast Guard seized the two fishing trawlers carrying 70 tons of tuna fish and an
international crew of 38 Filipinos, 15 Indians, 15 Chinese and six Thais.
The seizure took place about 100 kilometers southeast of the Karachi seaport.
PRESS RELEASE NO.15: RP REITERATES COMMITMENT TO HELP HAITI
DESPITE SNIPER ATTACK ON FILIPINO PEACEKEEPER
NEW YORK—The Philippines
today reiterated its firm commitment to the international community's efforts to
restore democracy and stability in Haiti even after a Filipino peacekeeper was
hit by sniper fire there this morning (Thursday, 31 March
Ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr., Permanent Representative to the
United Nations, informed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo about the
incident, which was the fist attack on a Filipino peacekeeper since Manila
deployed 135 troops in December to support UN efforts to restore order in the
troubled Caribbean country.
"The attack this morning highlights the
danger Filipino peacekeepers face in Haiti but this will not in any way alter
our resolve to help bring peace and stability to that country," Ambassador Baja
said shortly after the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the
Philippine Contingent in Haiti confirmed the incident.
said Marine Staff Sergeant Rodrigo G. Galam was struck by two .30 caliber
bullets fired by an unknown assailant while he was on guard duty outside the
Christopher Hotel, future site of the MINUSTAH headquarters, at around 5
"Sergeant Galam is one lucky guy," Ambassador Baja said, "It would
have been a completely different story had he not been equipped with a Kevlar
helmet and an armored vest."
Ambassador Baja said Sergeant Galam
miraculously escaped with no injuries after his helmet and vest absorbed the
bullets. He said the Marine sergeant is safe and has since reported back for
The Ambassador said he was informed by Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero,
commander of the Philippine Contingent in Haiti, that the incident comes in the
wake of the upsurge in the number of violent attacks against UN peacekeepers who
have recently adopted a more robust posture against armed gangs and former
soldiers that have been threatening the security and stability of the
Colonel Lucero told the Ambassador that UN peacekeepers have
regularly been taking small arms fire while on patrol in and around the capital.
Four Asian peacekeepers, two Sri Lankans and two Nepalese have been killed in
the past two weeks since the UN stepped up efforts to disarm armed gangs in
preparation for local and national elections scheduled before the end of the
Aside from the 135 troops assigned to the Force Headquarters
Support Company, the Philippines also has 10 civilian police officers serving in
Haiti, making it the 11th biggest troop contributor among the 41 countries
taking part in the 7,500-strong peacekeeping operation.
As a member of
the Security Council, the Philippines was among those that called for
international intervention to stabilize Haiti after an uprising led to the
ouster of President Jean Betrand Aristide in February. The Philippines also
played a crucial role in authorizing the deployment of a multinational interim
force and later MINUSTAH to restore order in Haiti and assist in its
PRESS RELEASE NO.16: PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO
ISRAEL PUSHES FOR RECOGNITION OF FIL1P1NOS' ROLE IN SAVING
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, 1 April 2005— Philippine Ambassador to Israel
Antonio C. Modena reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Embassy
is now working for the recognition of the role of the Filipino people in helping
Jews escape Nazi Europe during the holocaust.
Ambassador Modena said the
work for this recognition began during a visit of the entire Philippine Embassy
to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the
Second World War, and a call on Brig. Gen. (Res.) Avner Shalev, Chairman and
chief curator of Yad Vashem.
"The Filipino people welcomed Jewish
refugees to the Philippines at a time when the rest of the world slammed its
doors to a people seeking safe sanctuary from Nazi tyranny. Surely the Filipino
people should be recognized for upholding a high sense of morality and
humanity," Ambassador Modena said.
"In fact, Filipinos held a huge
indignation rally on November 19, 1938 to denounce the inhumanity of
Kristallnacht, the night the Nazis run rampage and destroyed Jewish homes and
stores, burned synagogues and threw children off windows. No other country or
people seem to have expressed a similar moral outrage at that time," Ambassador
The Ambassador pointed out that while the American
government refused to take in 900 Jews sent on board the SS ST. LOUIS by German
dictator Adolf Hitler to prove that no other countries wanted the Jews, as
documented in ''Ship of Fools," by Katherine Anne Porter and a movie of the same
title, President Manuel L. Quezon set up a housing project for Jewish refugees
in Marikina and was planning to set up a farm settlement for 35,000 Jews in
Mindanao but the war totally closed any escape routes for Jews from
The life of some 1,850 German and Austrian Jews who took refuge
in Manila is well-documented in "Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese
Terror," by Frank Ephraim, one of the children who joined their parents in their
escape to the Philippines, published last year. Ambassador Modena
presented a copy of Ephraim's book to Shalev.
Max Weixler, one of the
Jewish refugees who grew up in Manila was also present during the call on
Shalev. He related to the Yad Vashem chairman his experience in escaping from
Europe via the then Soviet Union and his life in Manila.
survived because President Quezon only required an affidavit of support from
relatives in Manila for us to be granted visa by the US Consulate in Germany to
come to the Philippines. The visa crossed out the US over which was hand written
to the Philippines. More could have escaped to Manila," Weixler
During Ambassador Modena's presentation of credentials, Israeli
President Moshe Katsav mentioned that Israel remains grateful for providing
refuge to some 10,000 Jews during the holocaust. The true figures, however, are
more realistically closer to a few thousands.
Gen. Shalev agreed that
some form of recognition should be made for the role played by the Filipinos and
the Philippines in saving some of the Jews from the jaws of death in the Nazi
concentration camps. The Yad Vashem law, however, was specific that
memorials in the avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations are limited to
individuals who personally risked their lives in saving Jews, not for peoples or
nations, Shalev said.
Among those honored in the avenue of the Righteous
Among the Nations are Raoul Wallenberg, scion of a rich Swedish family and a
diplomat who gave Swedish passports to Jews in Hungary, Oskar Schindler, a
German industrialists who set up a factory and hired Jews away from the death
However, other forms of recognition were made such as a plaza
named for Denmark, whose people smuggled Jews to neutral Sweden; for England,
which took in 7,000 children and Bulgaria, which refused to carry out the Nazi
order to deport the Jews.
The role of the Filipinos in saving some of the
Jews was overlooked in "To Bear Witness: Holocaust Remembrance at Yad Vashem," a
book co-edited by Gen. Shalev to commemorate the 50th anniversary of memorial
Gen. Shalev thanked Ambassador Modena for initiating the move.
The Chairman admitted that despite the extensive work done by researchers and
experts, they need the help of everyone to give where recognition is due. He
assured the Ambassador that he will present Ambassador Modena's initiative
before the Yad Vashem directorate and will support the proposal.
Philippine Embassy staff was accorded the privilege of touring the new Yad
Vashem Museum, which will be opened to the public only on March 27. The new
museum takes advantage of multi-media technology using films made by the Nazis,
who were sticklers for documentation, to bring to reality the horrors of the
holocaust. The holocaust also victimized over a million Gypsies, hundreds of
political prisoners and thousands of handicapped children and the mentally
Ambassador Modena expressed confidence that the role of the
Filipino people, President Quezon and the Philippines would be recognized and
information about this would be widely disseminated among the
"A street or a plaza named after the Philippines, the Filipino
people or President Quezon would be a fitting memorial in time for the 50lh
anniversary of Philippine-Israel relations in 2007," Ambassador Modena
The Manilaners, or Jews who found refuge in the Philippines held a
reunion recently at the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) at
the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on February 11, the
anniversary of the Japanese destruction of Temple Emil, the Manila
synagogue. Ambassador Modena was invited by CHHE to speak before the
reunion but had to decline due to conflicting work schedules.
Consul Patricia Ann V. Paez
Press and Information
Tel. No.: 202 -467-9400
Mr. Gerald Gloria (Staff)
Tel. No.: 202- 467-9432