Leyte solon: Don’t politicize Pope Francis visit
MANILA, Philippines—A representative from Leyte, the worst-hit province during Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), appealed to his fellow politicians not to promote themselves during the visit of Pope Francis.
“No one should take advantage of it. Public officials should be there in a supportive capacity. Public officials should stay as much as possible in the background,” Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.
The lawmaker made the statement after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle appealed to politicians not to use the papal visit to campaign for the 2016 elections.
Romualdez himself is eyeing a Senate seat in 2016. He is also the national president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
“What caught the attention of the Holy Father was Typhoon Haiyan. He saw the destruction. Gusto niya makiramay din (He wants to condole with the victims),” Romualdez said.
“I think there is nothing wrong with welcoming the Pope by displaying banners. But I hope the banners will not be used to promote oneself. When the banner says ‘Welcome, Pope’ but if it carries a picture of somebody else, that’s different,” Tagle said
Romualdez, the nephew of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ wife Imelda, is also the cousin of Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who figured in a political rivalry with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas at the onslaught of Yolanda in 2013.
In his January visit next year, Pope Francis is set to spend a day with the victims of Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. Yolanda, the world’s strongest typhoon to hit land, claimed over 6,000 lives.
The Pope will hold a Mass at Tacloban International Airport on January 17, and then will join survivors of Yolanda for lunch at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo town. He will then have lunch with some 30 survivors of the worst calamities that hit the country last year. This will be followed by the blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor at 3 p.m.
The pope will then meet with priests, members of the religious community, seminarians and families of Yolanda survivors at the Cathedral of Palo.
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