P-Noy’s Holy Week message: Pause, reflect

Photo by Miguel Candela via flickr

By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino called on Filipinos to use the Holy Week break as an opportunity to pause and reflect on “where we want to go” as individuals and as a nation, bearing in mind the interest of others and not just oneself. “The message is, simply put, we can pause from our everyday problems. As we pause, let us reflect where we came from, where we want to go and what we can do for our fellowmen,” Aquino said in an interview with reporters last Monday during the inspection of a port, airport and bus terminal in line with the security and safety plan for the exodus of travelers to provinces during the Holy Week.

“That’s the essence of being a Christian, Christ came, turned into man and saved us all. We were given the chance to redeem ourselves. On our part, since the opportunity is here, what are we going to do with the opportunity? For me, my view is, our problems that are too many can be solved if we focus on the welfare of others rather than ourselves,” Aquino said.

“That should be the goal, how we are going to reach our destination faster,” he said. Malacañang said militant groups are free to stage protest actions to denounce the rising oil prices, poverty and other problems in the country even as the government had not been remiss in its duty to alleviate the plight of the people, especially the most vulnerable sectors.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the protests would not likely affect the peaceful observance of the Holy Week by a majority of Filipinos.

The President said he would monitor the situation and would likely have only Good Friday off.

“We will be monitoring all of these trips, ensuring that everybody is able to go where they’re supposed to go in the safest, most convenient, and timeliest manner possible. The concerns don’t stop. By next week we’re also preparing for this power dialogue (in Mindanao due to energy crisis),” he said.

On the religious aspect, he said he would be hearing Mass with his family on Easter Sunday.

The President said that despite the latest survey showing a drop in his satisfaction rating, “the important thing is I think we have maintained a very good support base and the people understand.” Aquino said the government had been trying to alleviate the plight of the poorest of the poor through the conditional cash transfer program. He explained the CCT program “does not serve the middle class” but that his government had been striving to improve the lot of everyone.

The President said he was hoping to grow the middle class by making sure that those in lower classes were provided assistance.

“We want to give everybody an opportunity… So that’s the thrust… investment in education, how much have we increased that, and, again, rural healthcare. We are deploying something like 30,000 nurses, not counting midwives,” Aquino said.

“The idea is you want everybody to start getting into the situation where they are also middle class… the idea is provide all of the opportunities,” he said.

The President left last Monday night for Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit and the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the regional group.

The government has set aside an estimated P3.5 million for the trip. Aquino left Manila via a chartered flight from Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Chief Executive leads a 63-member delegation to the two-day conference, which includes Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Mindanao Development Authority chairperson Lualhati Antonino, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Valte said they were hoping for a casualty-free and crime-free Holy Week.

She said the militant groups were raising a number of issues but the Palace was answering them almost everyday, too.

Valte said “we will leave it to their discretion” when asked if the government would call on the militant groups to spare the Holy Week and observe ceasefire in making criticisms.

“I understand that this has been a yearly tradition. They have a different name for it – like Calvary caravan if I’m not mistaken, and from what I understand, they have been doing this yearly for the past 20-something years,” Valte said.

Aquino said Monday the issue on oil price hikes that was blown out of proportion could be one of the reasons why his satisfaction rating dropped, but Malacañang stressed the people across all regions were still generally happy with the Chief Executive’s performance.

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