January 15, 2015 – News Releases
|15 January 2015|
|All is set for Pope Francis’ arrival|
| Everything is ready for the arrival of Pope Francis at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Based on the advisory furnished to the media, Pope Francis is expected to touch down in Manila at 5:45 p.m. on board a Sri Lanka A340 aircraft.
Upon arrival, the pontiff will be welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, who will be accompanied by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
On the side of the Church, Luis Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, and Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Socrates Villegas led the members of the clergy that include Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma S.J., Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud, San Fernando La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan, Infanta Prelate Bernardino Cortez, Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, Vicar Apostolic of Jolo Angelito Lampon, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez, Most Reverend Jesse Mercado, and Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Marvin Mejia.
The government prepared two scenarios depending on the weather. Should there be inclement weather, 1,000 chosen students will be positioned inside Hangar 1 while some 200 people, including the VIPs, will be positioned at Hangar 2. Should the weather be fair, the participants will push through with the original plan to hold the welcome ceremony at the Villamor Air Base tarmac.
At about 12 noon, all accredited members of the media were ushered and positioned at Hangar 1, which also serves as the holding area. Reporters has to go through two checkpoints for frisking and inspection.
Shortly after, the children who were invited to welcome the Pope also arrived. Among the participants were students from different Catholic schools in Parañaque who were dressed like angels. They will perform the “Sayaw ng Pagbati.”
Other students, wearing white shirts printed with “Mabuhay Pope Francis,” will dance to the songs, “Piliin ang Pilipinas” by singer Angeline Quinto, and “Kapayapaan” by the now-defunct reggae band Tropical Depression.
At 2 p.m., the students were asked to do rehearsals at the tarmac.
Pope Francis will arrive with a 31-member entourage. He will be using the Popemobile on his way to the Papal Nunciature, where he will stay during his five-day visit. PND (jb)
|The Philippines has become more open and diversified, says Palace official|
| The country has become more open and diversified since 1995, when Pope John Paul II visited the country, a Palace official has said.
The Philippines remains the largest Christian country in Asia, although some Filipinos have moved to other segments of the religious sector, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press conference at the Manila Hotel on Thursday.
Secretary Coloma made the statement when asked to compare the country’s conditions today to conditions two decades ago. He was also asked to comment on the changing views of Filipinos on the Catholic faith.
For the past several years, Filipinos have become more hospitable to a broader range of views and options, he said, noting that several reforms have been implemented in the Philippines.
“We have also gone into reforms, such as the responsible parenthood and reproductive health bill. Perhaps, that is also something that is worth noting as a departure from the situation in 1995,” he said.
Another significant change is the increase in the country’s population, he said, emphasizing that in 1995, there were less than 68 million people, compared to 100 million Filipinos today.
A huge number of people is an asset to the country, he said, adding that the Philippines finds itself in a demographic sweet spot, where a big percentage of the population belongs to the youth, an economically productive sector.
“At the same time, this provides our country a very valuable resource for implementing our development programs,” he said.
“As these segments of the population prosper, we are also creating a healthier economy, a broader consumer mass base that could provide the propulsion for sustained growth.”
However, to attain progress, the government has to provide the people both physical infrastructure and intellectual capacity for them to become more productive, Coloma explained, noting that this is the focus of the administration.
The government’s socio-economic development programs would come into play to attain continuing growth, he said.
For instance, in the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget, the biggest allocation goes to socio-economic development and social protection, Coloma noted.
The focus of the administration, he said, is to fight poverty and the government has been carrying out a totally new paradigm in tackling the problem.
The conventional wisdom was that government could just focus on attaining macroeconomic targets like GDP growth, and hope that there will be a ripple effect that would lift the poor out of poverty, he said.
The administration has changed its approach, he pointed out, adding that now, there is a purposive and deliberate effort to take the fruits of economic development directly to the doorstep of Filipino families living in poverty.
This is being done through the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program that keeps children in school and ensures the well-being of pregnant women, he explained.
The Aquino government has already expanded the program to cover more poor Filipinos, Coloma said, adding that the program is in line with the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal and child mortality.
“This is anchored upon providing as many of our people the wherewithal to be included in the mainstream of economic growth under a new and purposive approach that was not there 20 years ago,” he said.
“So I think those are some of the essential differences that we may wish to look at.”
Pope Francis arrived in Manila on Thursday afternoon for a five-day visit to the Philippines. The head of the Roman Catholic Church will meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday morning before continuing his activities in Manila and Leyte this weekend. PND (as)
|Pope Francis’ visit to have lasting impact on country’s consciousness, political landscape, Palace official says|
| Pope Francis could have a long-term impact on Filipinos and the country because he is such a hugely charismatic figure, a Palace official said.
When Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1995, he made a personal impact on many Filipinos, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.
A charismatic and popular figure like Pope Francis is a magnet that attracts millions, he said during a press conference at the Manila Hotel.
“The presence of a Pope in our country always brings on a spiritual renewal, a feeling of tremendous inspiration because it is not every day that we are visited by the Vicar of Christ, and especially coming at a time when we are dealing with many challenges and we have a Pope that is able to give us enlightenment and guidance on how to discern what appropriate responses we could make in light of these challenges,” Coloma said.
The pope’s visit will also have an impact on the country’s political landscape as the Philippines gears towards national elections next year, he said, adding that this is amplified with the papal visit’s theme of “mercy and compassion”.
“These are very basic, very deeply emotional concepts that could find resonance in the heart of every Filipino, very much in line with our caring and sharing culture,” he said.
The Filipinos, he noted, are able to sustain one another because of their extended family system that is simply a manifestation of a culture of caring and sharing.
Coloma said he thinks the visit will also provide a good opportunity for Filipinos, and especially the country’s leaders, to be more discerning, reflective and considerate of the values that are indicated by the concepts of mercy and compassion.
He said he sees that in the coming years, even in the country’s economic policy, the concepts of mercy and compassion will amplify on the present focus on inclusive growth, more than just attaining higher Gross Domestic Product figures.
“We are now more focused on establishing a more equitable and a more just society that would have definite implications on the political reforms that need to be looked at after this season of grace,” he said. PND (as)
|Pope Francis receives warm welcome from 1,200 schoolchildren from Southern Metro Manila|
| Pope Francis received a warm welcome from 1,200 schoolchildren from different Catholic schools from the Diocese of Parañaque when he arrived at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Thursday afternoon.
The pontiff was welcomed by students dancing to three upbeat songs: “Piliin Mo ang Pilipinas,” sung by artist Angeline Quinto; “Kapayapaan” by the reggae band Tropical Depression; and “Sayaw ng Pagbati”, which is traditionally performed during Easter Sunday in Parañaque.
Parañaque Bishop Rev. Jesse Mercado said they want to convey a message through the presentation.
“Ang mensaheng kanyang (Pope Francis) pinapadala ay mensahe ng kapayapaan. And we are happy to welcome him as a Filipino people, which we will express through dance,” Bishop Mercado said.
“It is more than a welcome sa Papa. It is more of a grand welcome to Christ, whom the Pope represents,” he added.
The Diocese of Parañaque is composed of Catholics from Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa.
The Pope was welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, as well as Vice President Jejomar Binay, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan.
Representing the Church were Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma S.J., Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan, Prelate of Infanta Bernardino Cortez, Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, Vicar Apostolic of Jolo Angelito Lampon, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez, Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Secretary General Rev. Father Marvin Mejia. PND (ag)