19 January 2015

President Aquino leads send-off ceremony for Pope Francis
President Benigno S. Aquino III led the send-off ceremony for Pope Francis, who left for Rome on Monday morning after a five-day state and apostolic visit to the country.

Joining the President at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City were Catholic bishops and Cabinet officials, among them Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.

Pope Francis left at about 10:12 a.m. via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 8010.

Some 400 street children under the care of the social welfare department and other foundations performed as part of the send-off ceremony.

Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines was the second leg of his Asian tour that also covered Sri Lanka.

His grand mass on Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand drew a record crowd of 6 million despite the stormy weather, breaking a 1995 record when 5 million attended a similar event led by Pope John Paul II in the same venue.

Prior to the mass on Sunday, Pope Francis met with youths at the University of Sto. Tomas.

The highlight of the pope’s visit to the Philippines was his meeting with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda last year, which killed thousands of people and destroyed communities and livelihood. PND (as)

President Aquino, sisters attend Pope Francis’ grand mass at Quirino Grandstand
President Bengino S. Aquino III and his sisters attended Pope Francis’ grand mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Sunday, January 18.

The President, who arrived at the venue past 2 p.m., was joined by his sisters Pinky Aquino Abellada and Kris Aquino, who came with her sons, Bimby and Josh.

Sunday’s mass, which was officiated by Pope Francis, was the last activity during the five-day visit of the pontiff to the Philippines.

The mass, held despite rain showers due to a storm in the Visayas, celebrated the Feast of the Sto. Niño.

Prior to the event, Pope Francis met with youths at the University of Sto. Tomas.

The pope, received with tremendous enthusiasm by Filipinos, left for the Vatican on Monday morning.

His visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka aimed to strengthen the influence of Catholicism in the Asian region.

The pontiff’s visit to the Philippines also aimed to meet victims of last year’s Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. He did meet them last Saturday, although he had to cut the visit short due to bad weather. PND (as)

Palace expresses gratitude for successful Papal visit
The Palace has expressed its gratitude to the Filipino people for the successful five-day state and apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the country.

“We thank our countrymen for their solidarity in ensuring the safety of the Pope: From the thousands who patiently lined the route of the papal motorcade; to the organizations that encouraged mindfulness and helped maintain order during the public engagements of the Pope; and to the millions who participated in the papal activities,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement posted at the Official Gazette (www.gov.ph) on Monday.

“We recognize the dedication of the different church groups that worked hand-in-hand with government. Their cooperation, as they kept in mind advisories for all the events, contributed to fostering an organized and peaceful papal visit,” he added.

Lacierda also thanked the media for relaying relevant information to the people and the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in ensuring public security.

“The gratitude of the Filipino people extends to those not directly involved with the Pope’s security—those who manned different posts, as their colleagues were reassigned to safeguard the welfare of Pope Francis and of the many who came out to see him,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a press interview after the Pontiff boarded Shepherd One (Philippine Airlines Flight PR 8010) bound for Rome, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Pope Francis was “very, very happy”, when he was asked if the Pope was glad with the reception he received from the Filipinos.

“Tuwang-tuwa siya doon sa hospitality na ipinakita (sa kanya). Damang-dama daw niya ‘yung warmth,” he said.

“Inulit-ulit niya ang pasasalamat sa sambayanan na talagang ikinatuwa niya ang init ng pagsalubong na ginawa,” the President added.

Pope Francis left Manila on Monday morning after his state and pastoral visit to the country, concluding his two-nation Asian tour which began in Sri Lanka. PND (ag)

Palace official credits public cooperation for success of Papal visit
The Palace has cited the people’s cooperation with authorities as a major factor in the success of the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.

Sa amin, ang biggest factor for the success (of the papal visit) was the people themselves, kasi kinusa nila na maging maayos, maging matagumpay,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during an interview with reporters at Villamor Airbase on Monday.

“All the efforts of the government would have been for naught kung hindi nakiisa ang bawat Pilipino at kung hindi naging maayos ang pagdalo sa misa,” he said.

Secretary Coloma, along with a number of Cabinet secretaries and Catholic bishops, joined President Benigno S. Aquino III during the send-off ceremony for Pope Francis.

Pope Francis left for Rome at about 10:12 a.m. on Monday, capping his hectic five-day visit to Asia’s largest Catholic country. 

“We would like to thank our people for their full cooperation. Ang panawagan po natin sa kanila: Makiisa, makisama, makipagbayanihan,” he said, adding that they strictly followed the guidelines set by the authorities.

Coloma also commended the men and women in uniform who worked hard, even in bad weather, to maintain order and ensure the pope’s safety.

Saludo po kami sa inyo at maraming salamat po. Sa lahat po ng pagkakataon, kapansin-pansin ang dedikasyon, sipag, pagiging masigasig, at mapagpasensiya ng ating mga sundalo at pulis,” he said.

Despite the gargantuan task, soldiers and policemen did their job well because deep in their hearts, they were not merely performing their duties but they were also experiencing a moment of faith, he said.

Prior to the pope’s arrival last week, President Aquino said 25,000 military and police personnel were to be deployed to secure Pope Francis and the public. PND (as)