Aquino to ask Pope to pray for PH
MANILA, Philippines—Prayers for the country as it is pummeled by typhoon after typhoon.
This is what President Benigno Aquino III said he would ask Pope Francis when the Pontiff visits the country in January.
“We are visited by so many typhoons and they come at very unseasonal moments and they’re very strong,” Mr. Aquino said at the Bulong Pulungan forum, when asked what he would ask the Pope to pray for.
The highlight of the Pope’s trip is a visit to Tacloban City, ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year.
Mr. Aquino said the country had endured a “cycle of destruction and reconstruction” for years. He stressed the government’s goal was to reconstruct better.
Prior to Yolanda, the country was battered by Typhoons “Pablo,” “Ondoy,” “Frank” and “Milenyo.”
“I’m sure some are asking: Why are we being visited with all of these always at this point when it is supposed to be the most joyous and most celebratory period of the year?” Mr. Aquino said.
Award for the President
As he entered the hall, Mr. Aquino was on his mobile phone, talking to someone. To be on the phone during an event was something the President did rarely, leading the audience to speculate he must be getting updates on “Ruby.”
The President has been the forum’s guest of honor for the past five years.
The Bulong Pulungan forum is organized by journalists, mostly female, who had covered the presidency of his mother, the late Corazon Aquino.
Forum organizers, led by Cory Aquino’s spokesperson Deedee Siytangco, awarded the President for his work for the year.
From last year’s “Man of Steel” award, Mr. Aquino was conferred with the “Bosses’ Favorite” Award.
Frustration with media
Perhaps because he is most comfortable with this group of journalists, who had covered his mother, that Mr. Aquino was also wont to unload on them some of his frustrations with today’s media.
In his speech, Mr. Aquino again expressed his dismay at some media outlet’s reportage of Typhoon Ruby.
He urged the media to be “responsible and sober” as they report what he called the “latest challenge” to the country.
Mr. Aquino lamented that a major newspaper—which he did not name—likened “Ruby” to “Yolanda,” when there had been no mention at all, at least at the time, that the latest typhoon would have sustained winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour.
After reading the paper’s headline, Mr. Aquino said he was “concerned” that he had to call Science Secretary Mario Montejo “to confirm this information.”
He said that up until he presided over the disaster reduction management council briefing on Thursday, there was no indication comparing Ruby and Yolanda.
Mr. Aquino said that Ruby, at best, was “more comparable to Pablo.”
“Today, it is my hope that, from your pens will come the responsible, sober writing that will help foster the confidence we need as we weather this challenge again as a people,” Mr. Aquino said.
On the media, he said that “perhaps like any product, you get what you pay for.”
Dealing with media
From the “half-empty to almost totally empty,” to those that attempt to be objective—“but, of course, there is the temptation to be negative”—Mr. Aquino said that he and the media had learned to “deal with each other.”
“I really try to strive for a consensus and it’s still a work in progress, be it the Church, be it media, be it other sectors,” he said. “The appeal has always been: Why don’t you look at what we are trying to do and if we can improve, we are always ready to listen. If we are wrong, please do point it out. We want to correct it.”
“But please don’t start out dialoguing with us with a mind that is already closed. That is really such a waste of time and redounds to nobody’s benefit.”
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