POPE: FILIPINOS NEED UPRIGHT LEADERS / MIRIAM URGED POPE TO PRAY HARDER

MANILA, OCTOBER 9, 2009
(STAR) By Evelyn Macairan - Believing that poverty continues to be a major concern in the Philippines, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday advised Filipinos to choose upright political leaders.

The Pope gave the message to Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Arrasitia Tuason during a meeting last Oct. 2.

In CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the meeting between the Pope and Tuason revealed the concern of the Holy See of the continuing struggle of Filipinos in the face of the two powerful storms that devastated the country in a week.

Tuason said the Pope suggested that Filipinos should choose leaders who would lead them out of the struggle.

“The struggle against poverty in the Philippines calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those entrusted with positions of governance and public administration,” the Pope said.

The Pope also said that Filipino public officials should rediscover the real ethical foundation of their political authority.

The Pontiff called on officials to work for peace, particularly in Mindanao, described as a region “scarred by conflicts.”

In his statement, the Pope did not make any reference to a specific group but only said that the people should work for charity and persevere in the peace-building efforts in Southern Philippines.

“In an age when the name of God is abused by certain groups, the work of charity is particularly urgent,” the Pontiff added.

The Pope also praised the “courageous steps” being taken in the Philippines “to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding.”

He cited in particular the “commendable work” of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, the Mindanao People’s Conference, and the many grassroots organizations.

Tuason was among three new ambassadors to the Holy See that presented their Letters of Credence to the Pope at his summer residence in Rome.

The two others were Henriette Johanna Cornelia Maria van Lynden-Leijten of the Netherlands, and Miguel Humberto Diaz of the United States.

The Pope often uses the reception of a new ambassador as a venue to send a message to their government expressing his concerns or appreciation about certain matters.

Over the years, the Pope has been briefed about the situation in the country by Filipino bishops as well as by the Apostolic Nuncio, the representative of the Vatican to the Philippines.

Pinoys to survive Ondoy's havoc - Pope By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) Updated October 04, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Pope Benedict XVI has expressed optimism that the Filipino people would survive the devastation left behind by tropical storm “Ondoy.”

CBCPNews, the official news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), yesterday said the Pontiff relayed his “closeness” to and prayers for his “beloved Filipino people.”

In his meeting with Philippine Ambassador to Rome Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason, he relayed that he is one with the Filipino people, many of whom lost love ones and homes in the rampaging floodwaters.

The Pope expressed his confidence that the country would use all its spiritual and material resources so that its citizens “may flourish in body and soul, knowing the goodness of God and living in solidarity with their neighbors.”

He urged Filipinos to help their fellow countrymen through “works of charity” and to not give up its peace-building efforts especially in regions that are “scarred by conflicts.”

He also encouraged the Filipino people to “allow their deep faith, their cultural heritage and the democratic values that have been a part of their patrimony from the time of their independence to shine as an example to all.” – With Delon Porcalla

Senator Miriam Santiago urged Pope to pray harder for Pinoys By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) Updated October 09, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago urged yesterday Pope Benedict XVI to pray harder if he really wanted Filipinos to have better lives by choosing the right political leaders in the country.

“The Pope will have to live his life in prayerful imploration to the Almighty if he wants to stop corruption in the Philippines. He might not live long enough,” she said.

Santiago said the country lacks people who are upright and honest.

Believing that poverty continues to be a major concern in the Philippines, Pope Benedict XVI has advised Filipinos to choose upright political leaders.

The Pope gave the message to Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Arrasitia-Tuason during a meeting last Oct. 2.

The CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the meeting between the Pope and Tuason revealed the concern of the Holy See over the continuing struggle of Filipinos in the face of two powerful storms that devastated the country in a week.

“Well, I am afraid the population of that kind of human being is sub-standard. If there is anybody at all alive in the Philippines who lives up to that standard of honesty, unfortunately you cannot measure honesty by any exterior appliance like a truth searching serum or a detection machine in the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation),” Santiago said.

Santiago said the barometer for honesty “becomes a question between the conscience of the person and his or her belief in God, whatever they may consume God to be.”

She interpreted the Pope’s statement as saying that the next president or vice president should be a lawyer.

“One of the consequences of the papal statement is this: I think that any tandem – one for president and another for vice president – should include at least a lawyer, the candidate for president or alternately the candidate for VP should at least be a lawyer,” said Santiago, a lawyer.

“So I am afraid that if we have a tandem that does not have a law graduate, that is a bad precursor for the state of Philippine law and order because non-lawyers do not understand how the legal system works.”

She cited as an example the system of equal justice for everybody “except themselves and their families.”

“That is a mindset that you cannot legislate. That is a mindset that can only be set by leadership by example. That’s the problem,” she said.

IQ test on corruption

Santiago challenged yesterday those who want to become president to an intelligence quotient (IQ) test on corruption in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s advise.

“Let us ask every candidate for president: What is your record in stopping corruption? No matter how small the office, no matter how tiny or significant the amount of money you save for the government, give me one illustration of your commitment to corruption when you fought corruption as you saw it, at risk to your political career. That should be the question, and not what do you think of this. We are way past that,” Santiago said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the Church should also do its part in helping Filipinos choose the right leaders.

“That has always been the position of the Church. The problem now, will they help to look for that (candidate) because words are easy but doing the right thing to support a good candidate is another thing. But I don’t know how they can implement that,” Pimentel said. “But it’s a good admonition.”

Ambassador Tuason said the Pope suggested that Filipinos should choose leaders who would lead them out of the struggle.

“The struggle against poverty in the Philippines calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those entrusted with positions of governance and public administration,” the Pope said.

The Pope also said that Filipino public officials should rediscover the real ethical foundation of their political authority.

The Pontiff called on officials to work for peace, particularly in Mindanao, described as a region “scarred by conflicts.”

The Pope did not make any reference to a specific group but only said that the people should work for charity and persevere in peace-building efforts in Southern Philippines.

Obama extends condolences to typhoon victims in RP By Jose Katigbak, STAR Washington bureau (The Philippine Star) Updated October 08, 2009 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has offered his condolences on the deaths and devastation caused by typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in the Philippines.

“Michelle and I feel great sorrow over the hundreds of people who have died from the storms and resulting flooding and the hundreds of thousands more who have been displaced,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House Tuesday night.

He said the US Agency for International Development has allocated $1.8 million for disaster relief. He assured Filipinos that the US would continue its assistance to the Philippines in the coming days.

He said US military forces and civilian agencies are supporting the Philippine government’s post-disaster efforts by distributing relief goods and helping rescue victims from submerged areas in Metro Manila.

“As a longstanding friend and partner of the Philippines, we stand ready to continue our cooperation and assistance in the coming days,” he said.

The Philippine embassy in Washington is also asking the Filipino community to send donations in cash or in kind.

Priority relief needs are food items, medical supplies, mats, blankets, clothes, flashlights, emergency lamps, tents, generators, water containers, hygiene kits, and baby diapers. -With AP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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