MALAYA: Kuwait side trip likely to be shelved

Malaya
Dec. 6, 2007

EXECUTIVE Secretary Eduardo Ermita hinted Wednesday that the planned side trip of President Arroyo to Kuwait may be shelved following uncertainties if her meeting with Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah would push through.

Ermita said there would be no sense in going to Kuwait if the President would not be able to personally appeal clemency for overseas Filipino worker Marilou Ranario who was convicted to death for killing her employer. The Kuwaiti Supreme Court affirmed the sentence last month.

He said until now the Department of Foreign Affairs has not gotten word if the Emir would be available to meet Arroyo.

He said last he heard, the visit could be postponed because arrangements had not been finalized.

Arroyo planned to drop by Kuwait on Dec. 10 to personally talk to the Emir before returning to Manila from her eight-day trip to France, Spain and United Kingdom

The President was given farewell honors by King Carlos I and Queen Sofia Wednesday morning (around 6 p.m. in Manila) as she ended her four-day-state visit to Spain.

Her visit yielded at least P9 billion in possible investments in the agriculture sector.

The President, after leaving Madrid, flew to Vittoria to lunch with Basque president Juan Jose Ibarretex Markuartu before motoring to Ordizia for the inauguration of the centenary exhibit of Fray Andres de Urdaneta.

Urdaneta plotted a patch across the Pacific from the Philippines to Acapulco in Mexico.

Arroyo was expected to arrive in London around 6 p.m. Wednesday, (midnight of Thursday in Manila) where she would have dinner with steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal followed by coffee with Filipino community leaders.

On the morning of Dec, 6, Arroyo would have a meeting with several businessmen followed by a media briefing.

She will have an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at around 12:15 p.m. (8:15 p.m. in Manila) followed by a meeting with British parliamentarians.

NO RED CARPET

Arroyo will be greeted by red banners of protest by OFWs in London.

Raphael Joseph of the Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines and Migrante-UK said they will lead a candle-light vigil just outside the Four Seasons Hotel in London where Arroyo is scheduled to speak before the Filipino-British community.

“No red carpet for Mrs. Arroyo. Her bloody red record in human rights, corruption, electoral fraud and neglect of OFWs always precedes her,” he said.

“We also want to call on the Arroyo government to defend the rights of Filipino migrant workers in the UK against the current deportations of Filipino care workers and their families following new changes in UK immigration rules,” he said. With Anthony Ian Cruz

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