HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK...

NOY: LET'S UNITE TO PROTECT POPE

 

JAN 13 ---
Philippine Postal Corp. employees hoist a huge tarpaulin heralding this week’s pastoral visit of Pope Francis at the Post Office building in Manila yesterday. AP
MANILA, Philippines - Anything can happen, and the best protection for Pope Francis when he visits is a nation united in ensuring his security, President Aquino said yesterday. In a televised address to the nation last night, three days before the arrival of Pope Francis, the President renewed his appeal for unity and the bayanihan spirit in protecting the pontiff. The address was accompanied by video footage of previous attacks on the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and how the people could become unruly just to get near the pontiff or his vehicle. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Highest satisfaction still with VP — SWS


BINAY-65%; DRILON-53%; BELMONTE-36%; SERENO-36%  ---Vice President Jejomar Binay maintained the highest satisfaction rating at 65 percent among key government officials despite the unrelenting black propaganda waged against him by his opponents, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey held between November and December last year showed.“The result of the recent SWS survey clearly indicates that Vice President Jejomar Binay has still the continued trust and full support of the Filipino people despite the intensified campaign of lies and pattern of deceit waged by his political detractors in the Senate to discredit his accomplishments and track record as a proven public servant,” Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Papal Nuncio lauds PH disaster and peace efforts at Vin d’Honneur


TRADITIONAL TOAST – President Aquino offers a toast to members of the diplomatic corps, represented by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, during the annual Vin d’ Honneur held at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang yesterday. Also in photo is Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. (Richard V. Vinas) Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, dean of the diplomatic corps, yesterday lauded the Philippines’ achievements in disaster management and its peace efforts in Mindanao in 2014 as he led the diplomatic corps at the New Year Vin d’Honneur in Malacañang yesterday. “Cordial best wishes for a 2015 favorable to the achievement of the purposes established by the Executive, in the areas of public finances, infrastructure, international trade, labor and education; and particularly in the work for peace,” the Papal Nuncio said in his response on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace to politicians: Spare Pope visit


A vehicle is driven by a security official during a dry run of the route to be used by the motorcade of Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Pope Francis arrived in Sri Lanka to start a highly anticipated six-day trip to Asia that will also take him to the Philippines. AP/Aaron Favila MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday appealed to politicians and even private companies not to use the visit of Pope Francis to get publicity. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the spotlight should be on the pontiff during his visit and those seeking media mileage should find other venues to promote themselves. "Mainam po na sa pagdalaw ng santo papa, ang pangunahing pokus, ang sentral na atensyon ay matutuon mismo sa mahal na santo papa," Coloma said at a press briefing. "'Yung ibang mag naghahangad na maging prominente din ang pagkakilala sa kanila, mas mainiam siguro na pumili nalang sila ng ibang okasyon," he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy willing to take criticisms from Pope, says Lacierda


President Aquino, through his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said he is set to listen to criticisms of his administration from Pope Francis, should such criticisms be included in the papal message. The Pope is expected to touch in his mes-sage poverty, inequality, as well as justice, compassion and mercy.“Whatever message the Pope chooses to impart, he will do so based on his discretion, and we will listen to the Pope, as he is primarily the shepherd of the Catholic Church. Certainly, we will take note of (what he says) and listen to Pope Francis’ message,” Lacierda told reporters.

READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Noy won’t smoke for a day as sacrifice for papal mass


MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino once said he cannot quit smoking, but will be kicking the habit at least for one day: during Pope Francis’ mass at Quirino Grandstand on Sunday.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II revealed this yesterday as he dissuaded smokers from lighting up during the papal mass this weekend. “Even the President will sacrifice,” Roxas said in Filipino during a security briefing on the government’s preparations for the pope’s final mass in the country. Roxas stressed that although the venue is a public place, it should be treated as a “place of worship” out of respect for the pope and the mass and in consideration of the massive crowd. “Please, let’s not do that. Treat the venue as if it were also a church. You don’t drink and smoke inside a church while hearing mass right?” he said. Aquino earlier shot down calls for him to quit smoking, saying it’s one of his few remaining freedoms. He reportedly said that people voted for him despite the habit and he should be free to smoke as long as he’s not violating any rules. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Compassion, ‘habag,’ ‘awa ng Diyos’


In Filipino, “mercy” is awa; in the Visayan languages, kaluoy. But how translate “compassion”? “Mercy and compassion” is the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. (Misericordia y compasion, in his native Spanish.) It is easy to differentiate one word from the other when one is thinking in English. But one is suddenly at a loss when trying to find the right Filipino word for “compassion.” I googled online dictionaries and I could not find a precise word for “compassion” in the Philippine languages. Almost always, awa or kaluoy would come up. Theologian and Redemptorist Bro. Karl Gaspar suggested pakig-unong. And then the Filipino word habag appeared on screen. Habag, as in Diyos na mahabagin. Is this it?  READ FULL COMMENTARY...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Let’s unite to protect pope

MANILA, JANUARY 16, 2015
(PHILSTAR) 
By Aurea Calica -


Philippine Postal Corp. employees hoist a huge tarpaulin heralding this week’s pastoral visit of Pope Francis at the Post Office building in Manila yesterday. AP

MANILA, Philippines - Anything can happen, and the best protection for Pope Francis when he visits is a nation united in ensuring his security, President Aquino said yesterday.

In a televised address to the nation last night, three days before the arrival of Pope Francis, the President renewed his appeal for unity and the bayanihan spirit in protecting the pontiff.

The address was accompanied by video footage of previous attacks on the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and how the people could become unruly just to get near the pontiff or his vehicle.

The President said there were no direct terror threats against the pope but the government would not take any chances and would deploy 25,000 to 50,000 uniformed forces to secure the pontiff.

He said the global community, through the International Police and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, had been helping the Philippines in its security preparations for the pope’s visit.

The President reminded the public that while it was a big honor for the country to host the pope, it was also posing a big challenge in terms of avoiding any tragedy from happening while the pontiff is here.

“There is no doubt that in such a huge gathering like this, chaos is possible even if there are no threats of terror, especially if there are those who are planning to sow disorder,” Aquino said.

“In order to make the pope’s visit meaningful, we need cooperation and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another,” he said.

The President said on Friday in Romblon where he inspected some projects that the government alone could not protect the pope and the millions of people who would attend the various activities with him and public vigilance were key to making the visit successful.

“The very honor of the country will be compromised. My question: Do we want a record in history wherein a tragedy involving the pope happened in the Philippines? Your safety is the government’s obligation but you, too, have an obligation,” Aquino said.

In the coming days, the President said Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Office of the President Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista would come out with different advisories and information materials to guide the public on what must be done during the gatherings with the pope.

He showed a photograph of a jampacked Quirino Grandstand when Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1995 and pointed out the country’s population then was only 68 million, compared to the more than 100 million at present.

Aquino called on the people to listen to and help in information dissemination so the country would be able to hurdle this challenge.

“Let us display cooperation and unity to ensure a solemn and peaceful visit of Pope Francis,” the President said.

In one video, the President said it was clear how the people ran toward the mobile of Pope John Paul II when he was here in 1995 even when the crowd appeared disciplined and calm when the vehicle was still far.

Another video showed how Pope John Paul II was shot by an assailant who was able to get near him inside the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI was also attacked by a person who managed to jump from his seat while inside a cathedral.

Aquino said it was understandable that a lot of people would want to see the pope, thus generic threats would include stampede.

Mobbing the popemobile will also stop the convoy, making the pontiff a stationary rather than a moving target of those who are planning anything against him, the President said.

Aquino said people must consider that moving an inch in a crowded place could affect others immensely.

Collective effort

Aquino said the government coordinated closely with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and various sectors so as not to defeat the purpose of the pastor wanting “to meet the flock… to hear the flock.”

He said they requested that the government be given the chance to do what it should do, such as conducting a background check on the 30 persons he would meet in Tacloban City, Leyte.

Aquino said they also reviewed past experiences when Pope John Paul II visited in 1995 and agreed to “give and take.”

The President said some matters had to be brought up to the Vatican, especially the mobile that the pope would use, because the pontiff did not want anything enclosed while the government was suggesting something that would provide more protection.

But he said the pope insisted that he wanted to hear the voice of the people.

The President said compromises had to be reached, especially now that some people in the crowd might even attempt to take a selfie” with the pope.

Global developments considered

He said global developments would also have to be considered. Aquino mentioned the terror attacks in different countries when he hosted the vin d’honneur at the Palace earlier in the morning.

“So we are doing everything we can,” Aquino said.

“I promised they will have to double my security. And I don’t think I’ve ever utilized that particular number, not even as a plan… This is comparable to what we will do when the various heads of government and heads of state will come for the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit,” he said.

He said the government is touching base with so many allies to try and identify any threat that may be coming from any direction.

The President said the Interpol provided the watchlist of people who went to Syria or to Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS).

“Then the Association of Southeast Asian Nations brother-states that have some of their citizens suspected of wanting to join IS. Plus we have our own ongoing operations to deal with our own domestic terrorist threats,” he said.

Corruption, poverty issues

On issues that he might raise or discuss with the pope, Aquino said he was confident that the talks would be positive, even on corruption and eradicating poverty.

“Any fair assessment will say: of course, we have our challenges. We’re still dealing with the Super Typhoon Yolanda aftermath. We still have to deal with (the effects of Typhoon) Ruby.”

But he said the government has done much in a span of four years.

“Now, on the other hand, shall we say I’ve had my disagreements with some members of our own church; and at the same time… I am, like so many other people, inspired by the works and the deeds of the current pope,” he said.

Attend papal mass’

CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged the faithful to go to Luneta on Sunday afternoon for the mass of Pope Francis.

“Let’s fiesta in Luneta!” Villegas said, urging the public not to mind the weather, hunger or other possible inconvenience that they may experience.

He also urged the people to bring their Santo Niño images from their homes and dance the Sinulog with Pope Francis.

“Imagine millions of Filipinos dancing the Santo Nino! Be part of history. The pope and the Filipinos gathered together by the Santo Nino,” he said.

Papal cars

Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that the papal car used by Pope Francis when he was in South Korea last August would be used in his visit to Tacloban City, while the jeepney-inspired popemobile and Isuzu D-Max would be used when the pontiff goes around Metro Manila.

Balanga, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos, who heads the Papal Visit Committee on Transportation, said that “two of the popemobiles would be locally made while one would come from Korea – the one used by the Holy Father during the Asian Youth Day.”

The Vatican would be including someone in its papal entourage to drive the papal cars.

Medical personnel on standby

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) assured the public yesterday that they are prepared for the millions of people expected in areas to be visited by Pope Francis in Metro Manila and Leyte.

Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said the agency had partnered with private medical organizations and hospitals to ensure adequate medical services for those who may need them.

She said aside from putting up first-aid stations, there would also be teams that will be in the crowd to ensure immediate medical response.

The PRC, on the other hand, noted that it will be dispatching around 2,000 volunteers within the cordoned areas in Luneta and in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where Pope Francis will hold mass and meet with some groups, respectively.

“There will be more volunteers outside the areas that have been cordoned off, around 7,000. All of the volunteers will be armed with medicine and medical supplies. They know what to do in case of emergency,” said PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang.

Beware of limitations

According to Garin, the public should be aware of their limitations and health conditions despite their desire to go to the areas that will be visited by Pope Francis.

She said that the elderly should be accompanied by someone who could assist them, especially if they have medical needs. Each child, on the other hand, should be accompanied by one adult to prevent them from being lost in the crowd.

The health chief has urged those with existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension to have their medicine with them. She advised the diabetics to bring candies to avoid hypoglycemia or lowering of sugar in the body.

“Everyone should bring water. It is important for them to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. Also bring raincoats, not umbrella, and wear comfortable clothes and shoes,” Garin said.

Road to unity

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said yesterday he is hopeful that the visit of Pope Francis to the country this week would help inspire understanding and tolerance among Filipinos, particularly toward other faiths, minority groups and the marginalized.

Aquino noted that the current pope has been a strong advocate of unity and respect among different religions and with his forthcoming visit to the country, he said that Filipinos should follow his lead.

“Just as the Holy Father advocates for unity and respect among different religions, let us follow his lead by looking beyond color, race, faith, age, sex and gender preference,” he said. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Eva Visperas, Evelyn Macairan, Marvin Sy


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Highest satisfaction still with VP — SWS Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 13 January 2015 00:00


BINAY

BINAY-65%; DRILON-53%; BELMONTE-36%; SERENO-36%

Vice President Jejomar Binay maintained the highest satisfaction rating at 65 percent among key government officials despite the unrelenting black propaganda waged against him by his opponents, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey held between November and December last year showed.

“The result of the recent SWS survey clearly indicates that Vice President Jejomar Binay has still the continued trust and full support of the Filipino people despite the intensified campaign of lies and pattern of deceit waged by his political detractors in the Senate to discredit his accomplishments and track record as a proven public servant,” Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho said.

The survey, however, did not include the satisfaction rating on President Aquino but only that of Binay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The fourth quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 also used the net rating scheme in which the dissatisfied were subtracted from the satisfied that showed Binay garnering a “good” rating of a net 44, down eight points from a very good 52 rating in September 2014.

Still, Binay gained the highest satisfaction rating, followed by Drilon’s 53 and net 28, the similar satisfaction rate of 36 and a net 11 for both Belmonte and Sereno.

The SWS survey also showed that out of 18 polls conducted since September 2010, Binay attained an excellent rating eight times, very good nine times, and good once.

The same survey also showed recently that the people see the Vice President as the best leader to succeed President Aquino in 2016, garnering 37 percent of the votes.
The Vice President said he is grateful that the people still judge him by his work despite the intensified smear efforts against him.

Quicho also said Binay is optimistic that “the misinformation being peddled against him that affects public perception will soon end with majority of the Filipino people realizing that surmises and conjectures cannot be the substitute for the truth.

“The Vice President remains firm that the allegations being hurled against him are baseless and bereft with any merit, which would not stand in an impartial and fair judicial scrutiny,” he added.

Quicho further said that the Vice President remains “focused and committed to fulfill his objective to promote the welfare of the poor and further address the growing needs of the Filipino people.”

The Vice President enjoyed a high of +73 public satisfaction ratings on the first quarter of 2014 but it went down to +67 in the second quarter and +52 in the third quarter last year.

Despite the drop, the Vice President still enjoys the high satisfaction rating with 65 percent of Filipinos satisfied with his performance.

Quicho also said the Vice President is optimistic that “the misinformation being peddled against him that affects public perception will soon end with majority of the Filipino people realizing that surmises and conjectures cannot be the substitute for the truth.”

Another survey by Pulse Asia released last December showed Binay suffering a smaller than expected five point drop in the presidential preference poll indicating that he may have already seen the worst of the backlash of the concerted and massive smear campaign against him that started from his detractors at the Senate.

The Pulse Asia nationwide survey showed Binay’s numbers falling to 26 percent in November from 31 percent in September.

The drop in Binay’s numbers seems to have translated to an eight point jump in the preference for Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who placed second at 18 percent from 10 percent in the previous survey.

Poe posted substantial increases from 10 points and 9 points in NCR and Luzon to 19 points and 20 points, respectively.

In Mindanao, she advanced from 8 to 19 points. In the Visayas, however, she lost one point, from 14 percent to 13 percent.

The survey was conducted from November 14 to 20 and listed 14 names for respondents to choose from against 15 candidates in the September survey.

At the time of the survey, Binay announced that he was withdrawing from a scheduled debate with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is part of the troika, the others being Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel, who leads the blue ribbon subcommittee hearing on the allegations against Binay.

The five percent decline is marginal, according to Pulse Asia.

The Vice President has been battered in the Senate hearings with allegations of corruption during his term as Makati mayor coming mainly from his erstwhile ally, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, who now face a plunder charge.

Binay suffered his biggest setback in Luzon, dropping 10 points, from 32 in September to 22 in November while dropping four points in Metro Manila, and three points in Mindanao. He gained one point in the Visayas region.

Among social classes, Binay sustained drops across the board. He shed off 5 points among ABC; 6 points among D and 3 points among E. The D and E, comprising the majority of voters, are considered the bailiwick of Binay’s votes.

Still, if the elections were to be held today, Binay would win by a plurality.
The ruling Liberal Party’s (LP) presumptive bet, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II also suffered a decline, losing 7 points, from 13 percent to 6 percent, sliding to 6th place, from second in the September survey.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Papal Nuncio lauds PH disaster and peace efforts at Vin d’Honneur by Madel Sabater - Namit January 13, 2015 Share this:


TRADITIONAL TOAST – President Aquino offers a toast to members of the diplomatic corps, represented by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, during the annual Vin d’ Honneur held at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang yesterday. Also in photo is Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. (Richard V. Vinas)

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, dean of the diplomatic corps, yesterday lauded the Philippines’ achievements in disaster management and its peace efforts in Mindanao in 2014 as he led the diplomatic corps at the New Year Vin d’Honneur in Malacañang yesterday.

“Cordial best wishes for a 2015 favorable to the achievement of the purposes established by the Executive, in the areas of public finances, infrastructure, international trade, labor and education; and particularly in the work for peace,” the Papal Nuncio said in his response on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps.

AQUINO THANKS NATIONS

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his gratitude to its international partners for the assistance given to the Philippines during natural disasters.

“As President, I will never forget how the world reached out to the Philippines, when we were affected by typhoons Haiyan (supertyphoon “Yolanda”) and Hagupit (typhoon “Ruby”), and by other natural disasters,” Aquino said.

“I will never forget how the global community has come together to fight climate change, including the example of His Holiness, Pope Francis, who is expected to issue an encyclical on climate change and the imperative for all of humanity to take action,” he added.

The New Year Vin D’Honneur is the first of two Vin D’Honneur receptions held annually in Malacanang.. The second Vin d’Honneur is annually held on June 12, the anniversary of Philippine Independence.

BETTER PREPARED

The Papal Nuncio said that while the year 2014 was another year marked by natural disasters, the Philippines was better prepared and thus more lives had been saved from the calamities.

“Another year closes, marked by natural disasters, with their high toll in terms of human lives, damage to economic activity and to the environment. This time, however, the destructive forces of the typhoons and the heavy rains were met by an effective response of prevention, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of victims,” he said.

The Papal Nuncio likewise lauded the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in March, 2014.

“Certainly, a process of consultation as well as an honest and transparent dialogue among stakeholders will facilitate a positive outcome of the legislative work,” he said.

Important events for the Philippines in 2015 will enable the world to know more about the country and what it has to offer, he said, citing the upcoming visit of Pope Francis this week and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) later this year, he said. “Both events will give the world the opportunity to know more of the Philippines and the amazing creativity of its inhabitants.”

The Papal Nuncio then raised a roast for the New Year and for greater prosperity for the Filipino people and for the well being of President Aquino.

GLOBAL UNITY

The President also emphasized the importance of being united as a nation and as a global community. “We are responsible for our world and its future. Whether in combating climate change and its effects, or in fighting inequality, or in taking a stand against terrorism and instability: the time to act is now,” Aquino said.


FROM PHILSTAR

Palace to politicians: Spare Pope visit By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated January 13, 2015 - 5:13pm 1 62 googleplus0 0


A vehicle is driven by a security official during a dry run of the route to be used by the motorcade of Pope Francis in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Pope Francis arrived in Sri Lanka to start a highly anticipated six-day trip to Asia that will also take him to the Philippines. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday appealed to politicians and even private companies not to use the visit of Pope Francis to get publicity.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the spotlight should be on the pontiff during his visit and those seeking media mileage should find other venues to promote themselves.

"Mainam po na sa pagdalaw ng santo papa, ang pangunahing pokus, ang sentral na atensyon ay matutuon mismo sa mahal na santo papa," Coloma said at a press briefing.

"'Yung ibang mag naghahangad na maging prominente din ang pagkakilala sa kanila, mas mainiam siguro na pumili nalang sila ng ibang okasyon," he added.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines on Thursday. During his five-day stay, he is set to meet President Aquino and government and church officials.

Known as the people's pope for his pro-poor advocacy, Pope Francis is also set to meet some Filipino families and victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte.

The pontiff will lead a holy mass on Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, which is expected to attract millions of attendees.

Coloma said the government's expenses for the papal visit has been kept to a minimum to be in line with Pope Francis' simple and frugal lifestyle.


TRIBUNE

Noy willing to take criticisms from Pope Written by Tribune Wires Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:00

President Aquino, through his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said he is set to listen to criticisms of his administration from Pope Francis, should such criticisms be included in the papal message.

The Pope is expected to touch in his mes-sage poverty, inequality, as well as justice, compassion and mercy.

“Whatever message the Pope chooses to impart, he will do so based on his discretion, and we will listen to the Pope, as he is primarily the shepherd of the Catholic Church. Certainly, we will take note of (what he says) and listen to Pope Francis’ message,” Lacierda told reporters.

Aquino’s other spokesman, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. elaborated on Lacierda’s statements, and with a straight face claimed that Aquino is certainly transparent, denying allegations that the administration is trying to hide the real situation of the poverty-striken Filipino masses from Pope Francis, as the pontiff is set to arrrive in the country today and will leave early morining for Rome on Jan.19.

The Palace official said the Aquino government is keen on keeping all actions and situations transparent, denying any hidden agenda on the part of Malacañang to avoid criticism from the Pope.

“That’s the rule of the administration: being open, transparent and accountable to the people. Even to our countrymen, there’s no blocking, hiding, and dodging of the truth and actual situation, especially for the coming of the Pope. The administration has no such agenda,” Coloma said.

The Palace official also said the President is set to talk one-on-one with Pope Francis, adding that there is still no definite agenda since it is pre-arranged through diplomatic channels.

Coloma said Aquino is ready to share his sentiments with the Pope which he claims reflect the sentiments of Filipinos.

“According to him (Aquino), he is ready to bring forward the concerns of the public to the Pope—which is also the sentiment of the majority of Filipinos—the Holy Father for better understanding. It is quite rich that our oountry is one of the biggest Catholic nations in the world,” Coloma said.

Coloma echoed President Aquino, saying that “the reputation and integrity of the whole country in ensuring that Pope Francis’ visit is orderly and meaningful are the reasons that no detail is left unseen and no preparation is left undone. All efforts are exerted in the most efficient way to achieve a successful Pope visit.”

Lacierda, for his part, said Pope Francis will be given “formalities and dignities” as Vatican’s head of state during his courtesy visit to the President in Malacañang Friday morning.

“He will be given the honors and the welcoming honors befitting a head of state. I think the only difference will be that he will also be addressing the members of the diplomatic corps,” he said.

Filipino masons’ most prominent member in recent years, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno has called on Filipinos to prepare spiritually for the coming of the leader of the Catholic faith, Jorge Mario Bergoglio known to the faithful as Pope Francis.

Puno, a freemason and Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines is among the 10 religious leaders invited to the interreligious meeting with the Holy Father on Jan.18 to be held at the University of Santo Tomas.

He was invited in his capacity as the chairman of the Philippine Bible Society,
“I am sure Pope Francis I will be happier if our response to his call as a sower of God’s Words is less by preparing for his physical comfort but more by preparing our hearts and cultivating minds to assure that God’s Words will not keep falling on barren grounds,” Puno said in a statement.

Puno called Bergoglio a “modern sower of God’s Words” and said Francis “ is a servant leader who can really contribute to the mitigation of the worsening problems of the world.”

“For one, he is the head of more than 1 billion Catholic faithful scattered all over the world whose influence cannot be understated. For another, he has a good grip on the etiology of these world-wide problems of non-stop violation of human rights, stubborn poverty, scandalous corruption, ruling elites that overreach with greed, indifference to people down in the dumps, increasing terrorism, climate change, etc.” Puno said.

Bergoglio is also scheduled to visit Tacloban City in Leyte, where more than 6,000 people were killed while hundred others were still missing following the onslaught of typhone Yolanda, the deadliest typhoon recorded in modern history.

“Our problem as a Christian nation has always been less knowing what to do with God’s Words but in doing it. All theologies to matter must end in doxology — praising God for His everlasting mercy and compassion,” he added.

Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, in a statement said that “His Holiness Pope Francis’ arrival fills every Filipino with a sense of goodwill and unity.

“I hope that we as a nation will heed the Pope’s call for renewing our commitment to the universal values of love and compassion especially for the poor and downtrodden.

“To my fellow workers in government, may we be inspired to provide selfless service to our people, no matter our own circumstances, without thought of reward. We must devote our time, talents, energy and resources on truly serving the people, particularly those who most need our help.

“To all Filipinos, it is my hope that we will be inspired by the living example of the Pope who has willingly connected with the people to get across Christ’s message of love and charity.”

Meanwhile, political detainees in at least 50 jails nationwide were set to start a hunger strike yesterday to dramatize their plight during the five-day visit of Pope Francis.

The political prisoners will be lighting candles in their cells as a way of welcoming the pope.

In a statement, political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa said “Your Holiness, Pope Francis, Warm embraces! Together with millions of the Filipino people, we, political prisoners, extend our warmest welcome to your five-day visit to our country...Your principal scheduled visit to that part of our country most devastated by the Supertyphoon Yolanda in November 2013, will indeed render much help, through expressing sympathy with, giving inspiration to and boosting the spirits of the millions of the victims there, not only of the recent natural disaster, but also of their continuing and further sufferings brought about, and that continue to be brought about, by gross government incompetence and corruption.”

“We also expect that in your visit to our country, you will find out a great deal about the more widespread sufferings of the greater mass of the oppressed, violated, deprived and impoverished people in our country, not much different from what you actually also saw in your own country, Argentina, and have been deeply concerned about,” they added.
Some 600 common offenders jailed in Compostela Valley will also join the hunger strike of political prisoners, in solidarity with their call for the release of all political prisoners.

Starting Jan. 10, political prisoners at the Camp Bagong Diwa-Special Intensive Care Area-1 (SICA-1) have been on strike and called on the pope to intercede for their release.

In a statement, the political prisoners explained “we are putting the whole of ourselves in our plea for return of our freedom, application of justice and respect for human rights that have been and continue to be deprived from us.”

At CBD—Special Intensive Care Area-1 (SICA-1), political prisoners on hunger strike have reportedly been harassed by jail authorities.

“The warden of Camp Bagong Diwa is already harassing the prisoners, depriving them of sunning rights and their right to be visited by a physician of their choice,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Jail authorities also refused to talk with the lawyer of the political prisoners over the phone.

“This is a clear violation of the law on the rights of detained persons or Republic Act 7438 which states the doctors, lawyers, human rights organizations, family members shall have access to the detained person anytime of the day or night,” Palabay said.
Aside from welcoming the pope, relatives of political prisoners gathered at the gate of the Papal Nunciature also announced they would also fast in solidarity with their detained loved ones. They ask Pope Francis to join them in their call to release their detained relatives.
With Joshua L. Labornera, Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo


PHILSTAR

Noy won’t smoke for a day as sacrifice for papal mass By Aie Balagtas See (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 15, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino once said he cannot quit smoking, but will be kicking the habit at least for one day: during Pope Francis’ mass at Quirino Grandstand on Sunday.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II revealed this yesterday as he dissuaded smokers from lighting up during the papal mass this weekend.

“Even the President will sacrifice,” Roxas said in Filipino during a security briefing on the government’s preparations for the pope’s final mass in the country.

Roxas stressed that although the venue is a public place, it should be treated as a “place of worship” out of respect for the pope and the mass and in consideration of the massive crowd.

“Please, let’s not do that. Treat the venue as if it were also a church. You don’t drink and smoke inside a church while hearing mass right?” he said.

Aquino earlier shot down calls for him to quit smoking, saying it’s one of his few remaining freedoms. He reportedly said that people voted for him despite the habit and he should be free to smoke as long as he’s not violating any rules.

‘Keep the roads open’

Roxas also appealed to the public to keep the pope’s motorcade route open so the pontiff could freely go around and meet people.

Three to five million people are expected to show up during the mass that would be held from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The concluding mass might draw the biggest crowd among the events of the pope.

Prior to the mass, the pope will go around Rizal Park on board an open popemobile for 15 minutes. Pope Francis, who is known for breaking protocol, has personally requested that he be allowed to go around.

Those who wish to attend mass should line up at the entrance points set up on Orosa Street, according to Metro Manila police director general Carmelo Valmoria.

The makeshift entrances will open at 6 a.m. on Sunday and will be equipped with 30 walkthrough metal scanners.

Valmoria said at least 70 police equipped with handheld scanners would also be deployed to fast-track the body search.

After passing the security checks, the people would be ushered to the grids set up in the grandstand and Rizal Park as designated areas for the spectators. Each grid, which measures about 40 meters by 40 meters, would have portalets and would be manned by eight policemen, 400 military reservists, about 20 health personnel and two marshals.

Filling the grids would be on a first come first served basis.

Valmoria reiterated his appeal to the public to avoid bringing selfie sticks and umbrellas. People are also discouraged from leaving their slots, because they would have to go through security scans on Orosa street again if they want to come back to the site. There is also no assurance that they could come back to their old grid.

People are also discouraged from using backpacks as they would prolong security checks.

Valmoria said it’s best to use transparent plastic bags as containers for their food and water.

Learning from ’95 papal visit

Roxas explained the grids were set up to avoid a repeat of Saint John Paul’s visit to the Philippines in 1995, when people blocked the streets that should have been utilized as the latter’s motorcade route.

This forced the government to ferry Pope John Paul II using a helicopter from the grandstand back to the Apostolic Nunciature.

The grids would also serve as “breathers” in case someone suffers from a medical problem and needs to be rushed to the hospital.

Aside from the grandstand, Roxas Boulevard was set up in such a way that people would be prevented from mobbing the pope’s motorcade on his arrival today.

Roxas said spectators are allowed to occupy the boulevard’s northbound lane, while the motorcade will pass through the southbound lane.

The designated spectators area, to be manned by policemen, would be blocked with concrete barriers. The lanes would be open three hours before the pontiff’s 6 p.m. arrival at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City from Sri Lanka.


THE INQUIRER

Compassion, ‘habag,’ ‘awa ng Diyos’ Ma. Ceres P. Doyo @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:31 AM | Thursday, January 15th, 2015

In Filipino, “mercy” is awa; in the Visayan languages, kaluoy. But how translate “compassion”?

“Mercy and compassion” is the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. (Misericordia y compasion, in his native Spanish.) It is easy to differentiate one word from the other when one is thinking in English.

But one is suddenly at a loss when trying to find the right Filipino word for “compassion.” I googled online dictionaries and I could not find a precise word for “compassion” in the Philippine languages. Almost always, awa or kaluoy would come up. Theologian and Redemptorist Bro. Karl Gaspar suggested pakig-unong.

And then the Filipino word habag appeared on screen. Habag, as in Diyos na mahabagin. Is this it?

In news broadcasts on the papal visit, one often hears the word malasakit being used. I don’t know how that word was chosen. But you don’t say, Diyos na may malasakit to mean the compassionate God. To me, malasakit is simply concern, a human duty embodied in the Golden Rule.

Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, provided a profound meaning of the word “compassion”—and a Filipino nuance as well—at the second Inquirer Conversation on the papal visit held at the University of Santo Tomas last Monday, where my fellow columnist Michael Tan (of “Pinoy Kasi”), the students and I took turns asking questions, with editors John Nery and Chito de la Vega facilitating. (The first Inquirer Conversation on the papal visit was held last Saturday with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle tackling the theme of mercy.)

At the holding room before the program began, I mentioned to the archbishop (“Call me ‘Father Soc,’” he said) that I would be asking him a question on the meaning of compassion in the Philippine context. Over coffee I also asked what story in the Bible was, for him, a good example of compassion. The Good Samaritan? The good shepherd looking for the lost sheep?

His quick answer stumped me: the father of the prodigal son.

Aww, I exclaimed in jest, but wasn’t he quite unfair and didn’t he play favorites? Oh, that “prodigal father,” I thought.

I reflected on his answer while we were walking to the auditorium and I began to see why—God showing love in an extravagant, lavish, unconditional way.

At the symposium, Archbishop Soc translated “compassion” as “awa ng Diyos” (the mercy of God) that Filipinos often use. As in “sa awa ng Diyos,” (by the mercy of God) or “may awa ang Diyos” (God has mercy). So while the word “mercy” means awa, “compassion” means awa ng Diyos. Allowing God’s mercy to shine through our actions.

In concrete, it goes beyond prayer, almsgiving and charity work, Archbishop Soc said; it also entails developmental work that would improve the lives—materially, spiritually—of the objects of our compassion. And lastly, it is liberational, which means working to bring about a just society, freeing persons from oppressive systems and structures.

In my view, the word “mercy” suggests something that is asked or begged for by someone in need of it, and, on the other end, it is something being dispensed by the one who is able to give it. It is easy to say, “No mercy” (as I am wont to say concerning incorrigible plunderers); it takes courage to be merciful.

For me, compassion is one step further. It is mercy plus plus. Mercy plus love, sympathy, empathy, concern, care, action, presence. It has a deep human emotional component that impels and compels. Whatever it is borne out of—the spiritual, emotional, familial—it embraces and heals.

Despite the mercy-compassion theme for this papal visit, we have not been reminded enough to show these not only to fellow humans but also to our environment as well. The reminders are mostly about crowd orderliness and security, but there is little about not leaving, uh, trash.

Archbishop Soc said that when he was in South Korea during Pope Francis’ visit there, he saw people carrying small bags for their garbage and not leaving litter behind. I say, in contrast, Filipino Catholics are known to leave trash—even inside churches—for others to pick up. I hope Pope Francis’ visit will change all that.

Today the Holy Father arrives from Sri Lanka. According to news reports, he will soon come out with an encyclical tackling climate change and environmental issues. That would read like something straight out of the devastated Eastern Visayas landscape that he will be visiting two days from now. Mercy and compassion for Planet Earth, how about that?

Whether or not we have a native word for compassion, I would like to think that we Filipinos have a lot of it. So what’s in a word? Plenty. There is power in a word, there is power in naming. There is also power in silence.

Speaking of silence, I hope Filipino TV and radio journalists who will be reporting live will not fill the air nonstop with their shrill voices when Pope Francis steps out of the plane and during his many public appearances. We already heard Filipinos reporting live while the Pope was going down the plane in Sri Lanka.

We appreciate the TV and radio reporters’ hard work, but their giving their vocal chords some rest would be appreciated just as well. TV viewers might want to savor papal moments with few auditory irritants and prefer the live sounds around the Pope, not the voices of reporters who cannot tone down their excitement. No offense meant.

Unlike in the two previous papal visits when, as a journalist, I had a hand-clasping moment with Pope (now Saint) John Paul II and ringside views of him, this time I will be with the multitude.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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