Binay condoles with Saudi king, will see Pope nextBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Vice President Jejomar Binay will fly to Rome to meet Pope Benedict XVI after he conveys the country’s condolences to King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the passing of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud.
Binay left the country Tuesday evening on board an Emirates flight to Riyadh, via Dubai. He will then proceed to Rome to meet up with his wife. The meeting with the Pope is part of the couple’s wedding anniversary celebration, which will also include tours in Switzerland and France.
He said he considers the private audience with the Pope a great privilege knowing how busy the Pontiff is.
“I look forward to it with great joy and expectation, coming as it does on a date so close to the scheduled canonization of a new Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod, in October, and my own 40th wedding anniversary on July 4,” he said in a statement before his departure.
The Vice President also noted that the Pope had just announced that the next Eucharistic Congress, one of the biggest events of the Catholic Church every three years, would be held in Cebu in 2015.
According to Joey Salgado, Binay’s media officer, Binay’s wife, Elenita, will follow the vice president in Rome next week.
The vice president’s wife is awaiting permission to leave from the antigraft court. Elenita has already filed a request to travel with the Sandiganbayan, which is hearing graft charges filed against her for allegedly anomalous purchases of furniture during her previous term as mayor of Makati—a charge she has denied.
In her motion to be allowed to travel, Elenita submitted a note verbale from the Holy See Secretariat of State and a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs stating that the Binays may have an audience with the Pope on June 27.
Although his visit to Rome was basically personal, the Vice President said he would also use the opportunity to meet with overseas Filipino workers there.
Before the death of the Crown Prince, Binay, also the presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers concerns, was supposed to leave for Italy to meet with OFWs there.
“Because of this change in timetable, I will now be proceeding to Rome from Saudi Arabia after a short stop in Dubai,” he said.
Binay flew to Saudi as President Benigno Aquino’s representative.
The Crown Prince died of an unspecified lingering illness on June 16 at a hospital in Switzerland. He was 78 years old.
Binay said the Crown Prince was a good friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people who helped keep the people of Saudi Arabia, including the one million or so OFWs out of harm’s way through his anti-terrorism campaigns.
“For this alone, the Prince deserves the gratitude and prayers of our people,” he said.
While in Jeddah, the Vice President will also meet with the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia.
Originally posted at 09:03 am | Wednesday, June 20, 2012