BANGKOK, THAILAND (VIA PLDT), October 22, 2003  (STAR)  By Marichu Villanueva  - President Arroyo shrugged off yesterday reports of US President George W. Bush’s personal support of her bid for the 2004 presidential elections.

"No politics, please!" she told Filipino reporters here when pressed to comment on Bush’s reported endorsement of her presidential bid. Bush himself is running for re-election in the US next year.

Bush’s reported endorsement came during his whirlwind eight-hour state visit in Manila last Saturday, a gesture to reciprocate Mrs. Arroyo’s state visit to the US in May this year. Bush had extended Mrs. Arroyo an invitation as one of the leaders who staunchly supported US-led initiatives in the global campaign against terrorism.

Fresh from his stopover visit in Manila, Bush continued his sideline talks with Mrs. Arroyo at this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit being held here.

At the Leaders’ Retreat held last Monday at the Thai Koo Fah Building, also known as the Government House, Mrs. Arroyo chatted most of the time with Bush.

At a post-dinner reception she hosted for the Philippine media delegation, a visibly elated Mrs. Arroyo laughed as she recalled some of the small talk she had with Bush at the sidelines of the Leaders’ Retreat.

Bush kept repeating how "very happy" he was with the warm reception he received in Manila from Filipinos lining the streets where the presidential motorcade passed, Mrs. Arroyo said.

"He was so touched by the crowd," she added, but said that one of the leaders who attended APEC overheard their conversation and quipped, "What he (saw) were the protesters actually!"

Mrs. Arroyo pointed out that "there is no question about our people’s trust for President Bush. He is a friend and ally of the Philippines and he has shown this in various ways."

"Trust will linger long in the maturing security and economic relationship between our country and the United States. The US is our partner in trade and security, in peace and development, in the present and in the future," she said.

Though Mrs. Arroyo did not go into specifics, she said Bush’s visit generated so much goodwill for the Philippines and the Filipinos gained more special attention from the US government under the Bush administration.

On the other hand, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano (Lakas) said the opposition has been criticizing Bush’s reported endorsement of Mrs. Arroyo’s presidential bid to downplay the massive gains the government made from the successful state visit.

Albano said in a statement that even without making a pronouncement, Bush has actually given his support to Mrs. Arroyo with "his body language and extensive praise for what the country has been doing under (her) leadership."

"This is enough gauge that indeed President Bush has endorsed President Arroyo. The opposition is too naïve not to discern this," he said.

Albano added that the opposition cannot draw a parallel between Bush’s endorsement of Mrs. Arroyo and the one made by his father for then President Ferdinand Marcos, since they were done under different circumstances.

Then Vice President George Bush, during a trip to Manila in June 1981, praised Marcos for his "adherence to democratic principles."

"The opposition’s analogy that the younger Bush’s endorsement of Mrs. Arroyo will be a ‘kiss of death’ has no basis. (He) made the endorsement in admiration of her efforts to preserve freedom and democracy in our country," Albano said.


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