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No agenda for Francis-Aquino meet

/ 05:17 AM January 16, 2015
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Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma: No set agenda INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–There is “no set agenda” during President Aquino’s scheduled one-on-one meeting with Pope Francis at Malacañang on Friday, according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.

Briefing reporters Thursday at the Manila Hotel, Coloma said there were “no intimations of any specific agenda” from both the Office of the President and the Vatican delegations.

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“But it’s customary that when the President meets with a visiting head of state, he expresses the sentiments of the people, indicating relevant issues like the government’s development programs may be discussed,” he said.

“Mercy and compassion (the theme of papal visit to the Philippines) will find resonance in the topics the two leaders will discuss,” he said.

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Not only Catholics

Coloma said, however, that he is expected to discuss concerns of Filipinos in general, being the elected leader of all Filipinos, not only Catholics.

Aquino’s meeting with the Pontiff may last from 20 to 30 minutes, Coloma told the Inquirer.

During the press briefing, he read a Palace statement which says: “Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, brings to our nation the glad tidings of faith, hope and love.”

“Mercy and compassion are essential elements of our caring and sharing ethos. These are values that underpin our long-term development program for achieving inclusive growth, a lofty goal that President Aquino seeks to attain during his watch,” he said.

“In solidarity with the Filipino people, we extend to his Holiness, Pope Francis our warmest welcome.”

High-impact event

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Coloma called the papal visit “a very high-impact event” as he compared the Pontiff to “a magnet that attracts millions of Filipino faithful.”

“The presence of the Pope always brings out a spiritual renewal, a feeling of tremendous inspiration. It’s not every day that we are visited by the Vicar of Christ,” he said.

On the reported security threats facing the Pope, Coloma said the President has assured the public that there is nothing “specific,” just “generic” threats.

All kinds of threats were “being addressed by concerned government agencies… our security agencies are considering every possible sign of danger to insure the security of the Pope, as well as the safety of our people at all times,” he said.

“Our government has done the necessary measures to insure the security of the Pope,” Coloma said.

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TAGS: Aquino, Herminio Coloma, papal visit, Philippines, Pope Francis
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