By Genalyn Kabiling
BOAO, China — Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will take part in this year’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and may take the place of former President Fidel Ramos in the board, according to Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
Sta. Romana confirmed that Arroyo, currently representative of Pampanga, arrived in Boao Sunday night upon the invitation of the BFA secretariat.
“As you know, former President Ramos, because … he’s already 90, he’s unable … he’s cutting back on his travel. I think former President Arroyo may assume a seat in the Board,” Sta. Romana said in an interview with reporters here on the eve of the BFA opening plenary.
“I think she is running for a Board seat and she could take the position of former President Ramos so we’ll still have a Philippine representation in the Boao Secretariat, in the Boao Board if these things materialize,” he added.
Ramos is one of the founders of BFA, an annual gathering of influential business leaders, government officials, scholars and journalists to discuss issues and concerns that affect Asia Pacific economy and businesses.
Other co-founders were Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia, and Morihiro Hosokawa, former Prime Minister of Japan.
Sta. Romana said the BFA, held in a small and scenic fishing town called Boao in China’s southern island of Hainan, has earned its reputation as Asia’s equivalent to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“When this was originally conceived, former President Ramos was involved in this and in a sense, the basic idea was how to have a forum where top leaders in Asia and businessmen and academicians can meet together, together with other members of the international community to discuss — the focus would be on economic problems of Asia — the challenges and the prospects,” he said.
“And in a sense, it was like an answer to the Davos Conference in the west, you know. Why not have one for Asia and they chose this island of Hainan, this fishing village of Boao, that’s how it became chosen … It grew over the years, over the decades actually,” he added.