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Philippines' Ramos to visit MS

President Ramos continues to promote his country's national information technology plan.

Philippine president Fidel Ramos continues to meet and greet Silicon Valley's finest in an effort to construct a nationwide information infrastructure in his country.

Today, Ramos will meet with Microsoft (MSFT) chairman Bill Gates to sign agreements regarding future development of technology in the Philippines in return for a pact on software piracy.

Ramos will meet with Gates for about 30 minutes at the Redmond, Washington, headquarters of the computer software giant and then sign a series of four memoranda of understanding regarding future business, company spokesman Mark Thomas said.

Under the agreements, Microsoft will help the Philippines develop a long-term information technology plan and create national Internet sites for education and government services.

The Philippines will pledge to protect Microsoft's intellectual property rights through laws and their enforcement, Thomas said. The Philippines is a small but strategically important market for Microsoft, he added.

Ramos will also speak at a conference on technology in Seattle today during the stopover on his way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vancouver. His speech will be Webcast at 5:30 PT at http://www.discovery.org.

As previously reported in May by CNET's NEWS.COM, Ramos and Oracle (ORCL) chief Larry Ellison have already agreed to build a nationwide computing infrastructure based on the network computing (NC) platform.

Yesterday, Ramos spoke in San Francisco, at an Asia-Pacific Information Technology Summit, where he announced the agreement with Oracle. The Philippines will become the first recipient of Oracle's plan to provide network computers to schools, as part of its $50 million Oracle Academic Initiative.

Ramos and Ellison held a news conference to announce the pact, which will provide network computers developed by Acer and others, software, support services, and resources to expand technology education.

"The rapid development of new digital technologies are causing profound changes in human life," Ramos told the conference in San Francisco. "We are determined to ride the crest of this revolution."

The deal between Oracle and the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDTC) calls for the building of the computing infrastructure as part of a major overhaul of the country's telecommunications network.

Roberto Romulo, chairman of PLDTC, and Ellison signed a letter of intent to build a modern computing infrastructure using Oracle's server-based software. No financial terms have been disclosed.

Oracle will be the main software provider on the project, which should get started by year's end. Early next year, computing services will be rolled out to several Philippine schools. PLDTC will begin offering services for businesses and consumers later in the year, sources said.

Ramos is in part hoping the project will foster the growth of the country's economy by stimulating its software development market. His government has reduced trade and investment barriers in key areas, including telecommunications, in the past few years in an attempt to strengthen the Philippines' economy. Other developing economies, such as India, have successfully turned to software development in recent years to spur growth.

Reuters contributed to this report.