Aquino to ask Pope to pray for disaster-free PHL

WHEN he meets Pope Francis next year, President Benigno Aquino III said Friday he would ask him to pray for a disaster-free Philippines.

The Chief Executive said that when the pontiff pays a courtesy call on him in January when he arrives in the country, he would let his guest steer the discussion.

"Of course, he's the Holy Father. We'll have something like a maximum of one hour and I'm sure there are so many people who would love to have an opportunity to be blessed by him in that one hour. So, I guess I really will leave the discussion topics to him, out of respect," he said during the Bulong Pulungan at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

Pressed, however, to reveal what is it that he would ask the pope to pray for him or for the country during the once-in-a-lifetime occasion, Aquino said he would ask him to pray that the Philippines would be spared from destructive typhoons that occur almost every year, especially at a time when people are already welcoming the joyous Christmas season.

"We are visited by so many typhoons, and they come here at very unseasonal moments, and they are very strong. We also have the earthquakes and the volcanoes, and parang ... we don't have the ability to stop the cycle of destruction and reconstruction. The goal really is to... when we reconstruct, it's better," he explained.

"It withstands the glowing intensity of the effects of global climate change better, and our people are spared the ravages of the increasing challenges. So, 'di ba, parang… I'm sure some are asking: Why are we being visited with all of these always at this point when it is supposed to be the most joyous and most celebratory period of the year?" he added.

The Philippines has been battered by such tropical cyclones as Typhoons Sendong, Pablo, and Yolanda, which all came in between the months of November and December over the past three years. It is currently bracing for Typhoon Ruby.

During his trip here on January 15 to 19, Pope Francis will also visit Tacloban City and Palo, both in Leyte, two of the areas that suffered the most number of casualties in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. (SDR/Sunnex)

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