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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 18, 2003
Remarks by President Bush and President Arroyo in a Photo Opportunity
PRESIDENT ARROYO: I'd like to thank President Bush for coming to the Philippines on this state visit. It affirms the warm and deep relations between our two countries. It's another building block in the revitalized and maturing alliance, rooted in shared histories and shared values, a common interest in global peace and prosperity, as well as a real commitment of combating terrorism and advancing freedom.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the United States for its support for the Philippines as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the term 2004 to 2005, and also for designating the Philippines as a major non-NATO ally.
I also welcome the Joint Defense Assessment named by our respective defense agencies. It recognizes that the world today requires a new perspective on political and economic security. The assessment recognizes the determination of the Philippines to take greater responsibility for its own political and economic security, even as it acknowledges that strong relations with the U.S. will contribute greatly to peace and prosperity, stability and security, especially from terrorism. Indeed, we must close ranks and stand firm against terrorist threats, however grave, however armed, and from whatever quarter.
When those violence happened in May 2001, the Philippines chose to fight terrorism, compensating for such modest means of its commands with unshakable resolve to defeat it once and for all.
I thank President Bush for continued security assistance which enhances the means to defeat terrorism. I also appreciate the help of President Bush for increased economic assistance to alleviate poverty and other socio-economic ills from which terrorism draws its strength. I take pride in the robust economic ties that bind the Philippines and the United States.
This past week, in preparation for this visit, we witnessed the launching in the Philippines of Convergence, the largest customer air service company in the world, which has hired 3,000 workers in its first year of operation. We also witnessed the launching of a new $50-million investment from Ford to launch the Philippines as an export hub for the world. We received $33 million of new USAID money for educational assistance in the conflict-affected areas, and we celebrated the electrification of 1,650 barangays with a contribution of one million pesos per barangay from Mirant Cal Energy in San Roque all in preparation for your visit, Mr. President.
I look forward to the rest of my talks with President Bush and members of his administration. Once again, thank you, Mr. President, and thanks to Mrs. Bush for making this state visit to the Philippines.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam President, thanks. It's been a -- this is going to be a great trip, thanks to your wonderful hospitality. I want to thank you and your government for such wonderful arrangements. And I want to thank the people of Manila for being so friendly to Laura and me as we drove through the streets -- there was an outpouring of enthusiasm and waving that really made us feel great. And I want to thank your country very much.
I'm here to continue our important discussions. And I want to remind the people of this country what a great leader you've been when it comes to fighting terror. You've been strong and stalwart, and that's what's needed. The terrorists want to frighten people into inaction. They want to create fear, and therefore, have their way. And you have -- you've been strong. And I appreciate that very much. We want to continue to help you.
And I also want to thank you for your vision of understand that freedom is important, it's a human right, and where there's human suffering and tyranny, that -- at the same time, terrorist links -- the free world must work to change conditions, hopefully in peaceful ways, but sometimes tyranny is so stubborn and ignores the reality, that we have to take tough decisions. And, Mr. President, you understand that. And I want to thank you very much for that.
I also want to continue to work on close ties, particularly when it comes to trade and jobs. We want the people of the Philippines working, and we want the people of America working. And by having good free trade and fair trade, we can help both countries.
And finally, I want to thank you very much for working together on matters of education. We've got a great education initiative, and you recognize, like I recognize, that education is the best way to fight poverty. And therefore, education is also a great way to enhance democracy.
And thank you for your leadership. Thanks for your hospitality. I'm looking forward to the rest of the day in this beautiful country.
PRESIDENT ARROYO: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: If it's all right, we've got, obviously, some anxiety built up in our press corps there -- (laughter.)
Q Mr. President --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Speaking about anxiety -- yes. (Laughter.) -- traveling crowd here.
Q How serious do you think the terrorism threat is here in the Philippines? And what specifically can you do to help President Arroyo deal with it?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think the Abu Sayyaf is serious. It's serious because there are not rules when it comes to a crowd like the Abu Sayyaf. They kidnap, they kill, they maim. And there's only one way to deal with them, and that's to find them and to bring them to justice, which is precisely what the Arroyo government has been doing.
I was briefed before you all came in about the progress made against the Abu Sayyaf group. Not only is the leadership been slowly but surely brought to justice, but many members of the Abu Sayyaf have been brought to justice.
The best thing we can continue to do within our respective constitutions and/or budgets is to work in a close cooperative way, starting with intelligence-sharing, and then providing the assets and the capacity and training to move quickly when a particular target is found.
The cooperation between the United States and the Philippines is strong. The success against this particular group is a model for the region, as far as I'm concerned. And I want to thank the President for that.
Q Mr. President, you're trying to put security on the agenda at APEC. Do you think some leaders of this region, some countries are not doing enough to crack down on terrorism?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I think security is on the agenda. What I'm trying to do, and will do, is to remind people that the war on terror goes on. See, the easiest thing to do is to think the war on terror is over with. It's certainly the most comfortable approach. And I just will remind people that, in view of the United States, that the United States is still threatened, and our friends are threatened, and therefore, we must continue to cooperate work.
And the good news is that I don't have to convince Madam President of that. She understands that as well as anybody in the region.
We'll also, of course, talk about jobs. And I want our people working. And I know the President wants the people of the Philippines working. And trade is important, it's an important way to lift lives on both sides of the Pacific. But it's also important to have free -- fair trade. In other words, we want the trade to be -- markets to be equally open. And that's an important conversation that I will have with members of APEC.
And the other thing, of course, is a chance to renew friendships and to be able to kind of continue discussions that I had been having in the past. The President and I, gosh, we've talked a lot. We've met a lot and we've talked a lot. These meetings are important ways to keep our friendships going and keep our common interests alive.
Q Mr. President --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Stretch. We call him Stretch. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT ARROYO: I can see why. (Laughter.)
Q You got a resolution through the U.N. this week, but some of the countries that opposed the war, going back to last year -- France, Germany, Russia -- still haven't come forward with any contributions. Do you think this -- and some members of your administration cautioned us against assuming there will be any major inflow of contributions, troops and money, as a result of this. Do you think that's a realistic outlook on things?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, let me thank those countries for their vote at the U.N. That was a very important vote. And as a matter of fact, the first thing that the President and I discussed, and the first thing that Prime Minister Koizumi and I discussed was the vote at the U.N. It's important for these countries around the world to see the U.N. act the way the U.N. acted in a 15-0 U.N. Security Council resolution vote. It was a strong vote.
And as to whether or not they'll participate, time will tell. But I -- take, for example, Germany. Germany is participating in the aftermath of certain battles in the war on terror, and that is in Afghanistan. They're making a very serious, important contribution. And for that we are very grateful. And there will be other ways for nations to contribute in the overall war on terror.
And I'm pleased with the progress we are making in Iraq. The President and I discussed that progress, and it's measurable progress. For example, we had a goal of a thousand schools to open after the end of the conflict, and it wasn't a thousand schools that were refurbished and opened, but it was 1,500 -- 1,500 -- schools. And the electricity is coming on. The water is more pure. And I can cite a series of examples where life is improving for the Iraqi citizen.
It is still a dangerous place because there's still haters and thugs and terrorists who are willing to take innocent life. And the reason why is, is because they want America to leave. They want to create the conditions of fear, and therefore, we'll say, we've had enough. Well, we're not leaving. See, we're not leaving until we complete the task.
And I am pleased with progress. And one of the President's ministers was there, talking about education matters and the need for us to continue to work together to improve the lives of the Iraqi citizens, and we will. It's in our interest that Iraq be free and peaceful. It will help change the world.
And I want to thank the President for her strong support. There are Philippine citizens there today.
All right, thank you all.