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  • Microsoft's Gates Visits Ramos in the Philippines
  • March 24, 1998 (MANILA) -- Microsoft chairman Bill Gates visited Manila on March 20 to strengthen Microsoft's involvement in the information technology development scene of the Philippines.
    In a meeting with President Fidel Ramos, Gates said the Philippines could become a "knowledge center in Asia" through the government's national information technology plan.

    Gates said Microsoft is "eager to play a bigger role" in the Philippines, particularly in education, communications and electronic commerce.

    "This was a selling mission for Microsoft, but at the same time Gates was looking for opportunities to play a bigger role... (in) giving us the benefit of their experience in areas like IT communications strategy, IT education strategy and electronic commerce," said Trade Secretary Cesar Bautista.

    Blas Garcia-Moros, Microsoft's regional director for Southeast Asia, praised Manila for its enforcement of the country's law on intellectual property rights.

    Microsoft commended us on the way IPR protection has been progressing and the company would like us to maintain our vigilance, Bautista said.

    A group of protesters waiting for Gates outside his hotel, however, denounced the government's moves to protect intellectual property and Microsoft's near-monopoly of the global software industry.

    The group, the Philippine Greens, said police have raided at least one school suspected of using pirated Microsoft software and tightened rules on reproduction of books and other software, making them more expensive in an already poor country.

    "Why should our government protect the interests of the richest man in the world, while it refuses protection for Filipino workers, or even Filipino businesses?" the group asked in a statement.

    Bautista said Gates' 30-minute meeting with Ramos was "friendly." Gates and Ramos had met in October when the Philippine president visited Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

    The president is known as a computer enthusiast and he talked about the latest trends in computers with Gates, Bautista said.

    Gates gave Ramos a Hewlett-Packard Co. palmtop computer using the Windows CE operating system for handheld computers. Ramos presented Gates with Timex wristwatches made in the Philippines and a book of speeches.

    Also during the meeting, Ramos and Gates discussed the progress of the five memorandums of understanding that they signed when Ramos visited the United States in November.

    Those memorandums include a Microsoft software licensing grant to the Philippine government that legalized the use of all pirated Microsoft software being used by government agencies.

    The other memorandums covered Microsoft's advisory services to the government's National Information Technology Council, joint information technology projects, electronic commerce projects and technical assistance for the Department of Trade and Industry.

    Gates was in Asia to promote Microsoft's concept of a Digital Nervous System, or a vision for an efficient computer network to facilitate information exchange by governments and businesses. He also visited Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

    Related story: Microsoft Vows to Help Singapore One Network Project

    (Margarita Roa, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Mon Mar 23 19:50:55 1998