Sunday, September 10, 2006

Interview with Pres Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Brussels set

septvisit06-main.jpg (145325 bytes)

Press Secretary Bunye rang me today, Sunday to confirm my interview with Pres GMA in Brussels when she visits on 11 - 12 September for The Philippine Star.

President Arroyo who is currently attending the Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM6) in Helsinki will be leaving the Finnish capital tomorrow at 17hoo and is slated to arrive in Brussels the same day. The Philippine delegation will be billeted at the Conrad Hotel in the Belgian capital.

In Brussels, the Philippine chief executive will be meeting with Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and President José Manuel Barroso of the EU Commission.

The meeting with President Barroso will take place on 12 September at 16h30 at the EU headquarters on Place Schuman in Brussels.

According to Ambassador Cristina Ortega, Philippine envoy to Belgium, PGMA, who is on a working visit, will not be meeting with His Majesty, King Albert II because the Belgian Sovereign is still away on holiday and will not be back until 23 September.

Press Secretary Toting Bunye rang me today following a message by Max Soliven, President and Chairman of the Board, Philippines Star which was coursed through Foreign Affairs Secretary Bert Romulo that I would like to cover PGMA's visit to Brussels as well as have an exclusive interview for the Star.

Max Soliven rang me this afternoon at around 16h00 Brussels time to tell me that Secretary Bunye had been trying to reach me to confirm the interview.

Secretary Bunye said that the Philippine delegation is likely to be billeted at the Conrad Hotel but will call me or leave an SMS message on my mobile phone to tell where the interview will be held and the time of the meeting.

The Press Secretary, whom I have known for some 10 years when I was still working as advisor to the Conseil Regionale Ile de France for Mr Christian Cambon, VP for International Affairs and who know my children cracked that the children should be big now to which I gave him a brief summary of how old and where they are.

We spoke a wee bit on the phone and promised to remain in contact for the meeting in Brussels.

I expect to ask the President for her impressions, expectations and future developments resulting from her meetings with European heads of states at the ASEM summit, as well as the one dark cloud that Philippine critics back home deem should dampen the spirit of what should be a successful Philippine PR tour, namely, human rights violations and extra-judicial killings committed in the Philippines which, frankly, Europeans don't look quite kindly on.

I will also ask her about her future plans as far as boosting cultural, trade and other ties with the rest of Europe is concerned, and the advantages she sees for the Philippines in pursuing continuing and regular ties with Europe.

Of course, I'll make sure that there are photos taken during the interview-meeting with the President from which Tony Katigbak, Managing Editor of the Philippine Star may pick out one for publication just as Max asked me to.

President Arroyo will leave Brussels for London where she will be meeting with the business sector and will proceed to Cuba and Hawaii before flying back to Manila on 17 September.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the EC
12/09/2006 at 16:30 REF : P-012386
José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, receives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines