MANILA, Jan. 23, 2015—A member of the clergy has spoken out on the speech President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) gave in the presence of Pope Francis during the latter’s visit to Malacañan, stressing it should have been more positive, honest, and humble, and in keeping with the pontiff’s message of “Mercy and Compassion.”
While granting the highest leader of the land his right and freedom to voice out what he feels and thinks, Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Sampaloc, Manila, told CBCP News in an interview that PNoy should have been prudent and more focused in expressing how his administration intends to put into practice the Holy Father’s call for Mercy and Compassion, the theme of his apostolic trip.
“By speaking more about the Church and State relations then and now, how his family was aggrieved and how critical the bishops are [of] his administration, the President simply shows how petty he can be and how insensitive and myopic his view is of the current state of the nation, especially with regards to the poor,” he shared.
“The president’s speech should have been more positive, honest, and humble in tone, approach and substance. I think it wouldn’t harm him if he speaks of how his administration is struggling to reduce poverty in spite of the poverty alleviation programs the government has,” the priest added.
Secillano, who also serves as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), laments how corruption remains rampant despite the strategies and stringent measures being implemented by the government.
“[And] it would have been more statesmanlike if he rallies every Filipino, especially those in public service, every institution including the Church to help his administration solve the problems of the nation,” he noted.
Critics decried the chief executive’s “discourteous” welcome speech for Pope Francis at the Palace, where he lectured the Holy Father on the Church’s role in the colonization of the Philippines, ranted on prelates who allegedly backed former presidents Ferdinand E. Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and went so far as “show off” his knowledge of Scripture by citing passages from St. Matthew Gospel to defend his Reproductive Health (RH) program which he knew the Pope opposes.
To read the full transcript of PNoy’s speech, visit www.gov.ph/2015/01/16/message-president-aquino-general-audience-pope-francis/. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)