MANILA, Philippines – Anticipating the surge of people during Pope Francis’ visit this week, President Benigno Aquino III appealed to Filipinos to practice “bayanihan” to ensure the safety of the pontiff.
“Walang duda na sa malaking pagtitipon tulad nito, posible ang gulo maski walang banta ng terorismo at lalo na kung may planong magpasimula ng gulo,” Aquino said in a statement sent to media.
“Nagbabadya ang peligro na magdadala ng pinsala sa napakaraming lalahok.”
(No doubt that in a large gathering like this, trouble is inevitable even without the threat of terrorism and especially if there is someone who is planning to initiate it. Danger, which may threaten the participants, is looming.)
The President said that the public should instead exercise unity and the concept of bayanihan.
“Malinaw na napakalaki ng hamong dala ng pagbisitang ito ni Pope Fhrancis sa ating bansa. Nakataya rito ang kaligtasan niya, ng napakaraming dadalo sa kanyang mga gawain at magaabang sa kanya,” he explained.
(It’s clear that Pope Francis’ visit to the country is a large challenge for us. His safety and the safety of those who will attend his events will rely on this.)
Aquino warned that the honor of the country will be at stake in case something happens to the pope.
“Do we want the history of the Philippines to be marred by tragedy related to the Holy Father?” he asked in Filipino.
He pointed out that in 1995, when the World Youth Day was held in the Philippines, people filled Luneta Park just to see Pope John Paul II. He said that with the Philippine population reaching 100 million, more participants should be expected.
“Everyone wants to see the Holy Father,” he said.
At one point, he showed a video of Pope John Paul II being attacked inside Vatican and another one showing Pope Benedict XVI being assaulted inside a church.
Aquino said the Philippine government wants to lessen the threats against Pope Francis’ life.
He emphasized that it is the government’s obligation to ensure Pope Francis’ safety.
The President said both the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of National Defense will be issuing pertinent reminders and advisories to the public in the coming days.
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