Full Text of Pope Francis' Speech at Malacañang: Pope Francis Recognized the Contribution of the FILIPINOS OF THE DIASPORA


 Click here to view FULL TEXT: Pope Francis’ speech at Malacañang

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis’ speech at Malacañang
January 16, 2015 

Below is the full text of Pope Francis' speech at Malacañang after his courtesy call on President Aquino on Friday, Jan. 16.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you, Mr President, for your kind welcome and for your words of greeting in the name of  the authorities and people of the Philippines, and the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps. I am most grateful for your invitation to visit the Philippines.

My visit is above all pastoral.

It comes as the Church in this country is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores. The Christian message has had an immense influence on Filipino culture.

It is my hope that this important anniversary will point to its continuing fruitfulness and its  potential to inspire a society worthy of the goodness, dignity and aspirations of the Filipino people.

In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda.

Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others.

Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young. In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbors in need.

At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good.

This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson. Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges.

Today the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions.

As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country.

Thus will they be able to marshall the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.

 Essential to the attainment of these national goals is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity. The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor.

It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart.

The Bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the “Year of the Poor.”

I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community.

 A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played, of course, by the family and especially by young people.

A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with families and with young people here in Manila.

Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others.

But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support. We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.

For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity – one which honors goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.

 Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends:

 As I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia.

I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live.

It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement.

May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development.

In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country.

I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal.

In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities.

Upon all of you, and upon all the men, women and children of this beloved nation, I cordially  invoke God’s abundant blessings.


GMA News Online


‘Going Abroad As Choice Rather Than Necessity’

On behalf of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), the government agency I head under the Office of the President, I thank the Inquirer for its Dec. 23, 2014, editorial titled “Growing OFW savings.”

Indeed, the number of overseas Filipinos (OFs) and their families who save and invest their hard-earned incomes from working and living abroad has seen an increase in recent years, and this is a trend that we would like to see more of through policies, programs and multistakeholder initiatives until it becomes an irreversible mindset acquired and nurtured by OFs and their families.

 Best Nations for Doing Business: PHL is 82nd

2ppp project 1

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines moved up eight places to rank 82nd out of 146 countries in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business List for 2014, up from 90th in the previous year.

Forbes’ list ranks nations based on 11 indicators: trade freedom, monetary freedom, property rights, innovation, technology, red tape, investor protection, corruption, personal freedom, tax burden and stock market performance.

The list used data from reports of organizations such as Heritage Foundation, World Economic Forum, Transparency International, Freedom House, World Bank, Central Intelligence Agency and Property Rights Alliance.

The Philippines moved up in the list amid improvements in eight out of 11 indicators.

The biggest gains were seen in terms of market performance as the country’s ranking rose by 50 places to reach the 13th spot in 2014 from 63rd in the previous year.

In terms of innovation, the country climbed 15 notches to land in 51st spot from 2013’s 66th spot.

Other indicators where the Philippines made improvements were in monetary freedom (up five places to 56th spot), property rights (up seven places to 67th), technology (up six places to 68th), red tape (up one place to 130th), corruption (up eight places to 78th) and personal freedom (up two places to 67th).

The country’s rankings were unchanged in terms of trade freedom and tax burden at 86th and 101st, respectively.

In terms of investor protection, the Philippines slid by 21 places to 124th in 2014 from the 103rd spot a year earlier.

The Philippines was in the middle of the pack within the Southeast Asian region.

Forbes’ list showed the Philippines behind Singapore (8th), Malaysia (37th), Thailand (62nd) and Indonesia (77th).

The country, however, performed better compared to Vietnam (111th), Cambodia (121st), Laos (130th) and Myanmar (143rd).

Forbes noted that while the Philippine economy has weathered global economic and financial downturns better than its regional peers, given its minimal exposure to international securities and lower reliance on exports, challenges still remain.

It said there has been limited progress in terms of bringing down unemployment and improving the quality of jobs.

“Long term challenges include reforming governance and the judicial system, building infrastructure, improving regulatory predictability, and the ease of doing business, attracting higher levels of local and foreign investments,” it said.

The 10 best economies for business in 2014 were Denmark, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and Finland.

Those in the bottom 10 (137th to 146th) were Algeria, Gambia, Yemen, Venezuela, Angola, Haiti, Myanmar, Libya, Chad and Guinea.


Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star)



President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Message for New Year 2015


Isang taon na naman po ang lumipas at muli tayong tumatawid sa panibagong yugto ng pagtahak sa tuwid na landas. Papasok na po tayo sa ika-limang taon ng ating termino. At sa taong ito, sa tulong ninyong aming mga Boss, ay gagawin nating permanente ang pagbabagong tinatamasa na natin ngayon.

Sa paglingon natin sa nagdaang panahon, atin pong napatutunayan: Patung-patong man ang pagsubok na dumating sa atin, gaano man katindi ang puwersang humarang, at anumang pilit ng masasamang-loob na hilahin tayo pababa, basta’t nakatutok tayo sa iisang direksyon, basta’t magkakapit-bisig tayong humahakbang, walang makakapigil sa pag-abot natin sa ating mga pangarap.

Kamakailan nga lang po, nagdaan sa bansa ang Bagyong Ruby. Sa awa po ng Diyos, hindi naging ganoon kalubha at kalawak ang pinsalang dulot nito sa kalakhang bansa. Nais ko pong magbigay-pugay sa lahat ng nakipagkapit-bisig upang masiguro na marami sa ating kababayan ay mailayo sa peligro. Maraming salamat sa ating mga front-liner, first-responder, volunteer, at katuwang sa pribadong sektor, upang magbigay ng sapat na preparasyon at tugon sa kalamidad na ito.

Tunay nga po: Sa pagkakaisa at sa pagkilos nang may integridad, naisusulong natin ang transpormasyon ng lipunan. Sa ekonomiya po: Noong nakaraang taon, sa unang pagkakataon, nakamit natin ang investment grade status mula sa tatlong pinakatanyag na credit rating agencies sa mundo. Nitong Disyembre, panibagong upgrade pa ang ibinigay sa atin ng Moody’s, kasunod ng upgrade na binigay ng Standard and Poor’s noong Mayo. Suma-tutal: 21 positive credit rating actions na ang ating nakamit sa panahon ng ating panunungkulan.

Ano po ba ang ibig-sabihin nito para sa mga Pilipino? Mas murang mahihiram ng gobyerno ang pondo para sa mga programa’t proyekto; mas naeengganyo ang mga negosyanteng maglagak ng puhunan sa bansa, at mas mabilis nating maihahatid ang mga benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan. Sa atin namang Public-Private Partnership program: Ang dating iniiwasan, ngayon, nililigawan. Mula Disyembre 2011 hanggang Disyembre 2014, walong (8) PPP projects na ang nai-award at nalagdaan ng inyong pamahalaan. Ang halaga nito: mahigit 127 bilyong piso. Sa apat na taon natin sa tuwid na daan, nahigitan na natin ang pinagsamang anim (6) na aprubadong solicited PPP projects mula sa nakaraang tatlong administrasyon.

Tunay po: Kapag namamayani ang tiwala sa isa’t isa, wala tayong hindi magagawa. Taon-taon, lalo tayong napapalapit sa katuparan ng matagal na nating inaasam: Ang pangmatagalang kapayapaan at malawakang kaunlaran sa Mindanao. Nitong Marso lang, nalagdaan na natin ang Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Inaasahan naman nating maisasabatas ang Bangsamoro Basic Law sa lalong madaling panahon. Ang mga suliraning minana natin, hindi na natin ipapasa sa susunod sa atin. Ang backlog sa aklat, upuan, at silid-aralan, naisara na natin. Ang mga panibagong pangangailangan bunsod ng K to 12, pinupunuan na rin natin.

Sa TESDA: Mula Hulyo ng 2010 hanggang Setyembre ng 2014, nakapagpatapos na tayo ng 672,258 na mag-aaral sa kanilang Training-for-Work Scholarship Program. Ang maganda pa, ayon sa pag-aaral ng TESDA, 68.5 percent ng mga nagtapos noong 2012 ang nakahanap na ng trabaho sa loob lamang ng anim na buwan. Ang natitira naman, tinutulungan na rin nating makahanap ng trabaho. Sa industriya ng IT-BPM, 70.7 percent ng mga napagtapos ng TESDA at BPAP noong 2012 ang nagkatrabaho. Sa electronics and semiconductor naman, halos 96 percent ang employment rate ng mga napagtapos ng TESDA at SEIPI ngayong 2014.

Nitong Hunyo, sinimulan na rin natin ang Expanded Conditional Cash Transfer Program, na may pondong mahigit 12 bilyong piso. Ngayon, suportado na ang benepisyaryo mula elementarya hanggang umabot sa 18 taong gulang.
Ano po ba ang dulot nito? Sa pag-aaral ng Philippine Institute for Development Studies, mas mataas ng 40 percent ang sahod ng isang high school graduate, kumpara sa nakatapos lang ng ilang baitang sa elementarya. Ang laking pagkakaiba, di po ba? Paalala lang din po: Sa mga programa nating ito, ang ipinuhunan ng estado, mababawi rin ng estado, may sobra pa. Ang lahat ng ibubuwis ng ating iskolar oras na sila’y magkatrabaho hanggang sa magretiro, ay magbibigay sa mga kababayan natin ng mas maraming pagkakataon upang umasenso.

Bilang ama ng bayan, obligasyon kong pakinggan ang tinig ng lahat. Tungkulin kong maghanap ng solusyon sa mga problema. Dapat, katanggap-tanggap, may consensus, at makabubuti sa lahat. Kailangan kong isaalang-alang ang interes, punto-de-bista, at halaga ng adbokasiya ng bawat sektor. Hindi puwedeng tutukan lamang natin ang isang panig, at magbulag-bulagan na lamang sa iba. Dapat may nakahanda tayong tugon sa anumang tanong at suliranin. Ang hamon sa atin: palawakin ang ating mga pananaw. Ilagay natin ang ating mga sarili sa posisyon ng kabilang panig, upang magkaroon ng patas na pagtingin sa bawat usapin, at masigurong maisusulong ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino.

Isang halimbawa rito ang isyu sa enerhiya at kalikasan: Patuloy ang ating pagsisikap upang maghanap ng balanse sa pagtugon sa kakulangan sa enerhiya, at pangangalaga sa kalikasan. Iyan din po ang ating panawagan sa ating mga katuwang sa ibang mga sangay ng pamahalaan: Buksan natin ang ating mga isip at puso para sa kapakanan ng mas nakakarami. Sa mga pagkakataong tayo po ay may pagkukulang, nawa’y maging mulat tayo rito upang mas mapadali ang paghahanap natin ng angkop na tugon sa mga hamong kinakaharap natin.

Ang malinaw po, mainit man ang debate at matindi man ang diskurso, huwag nating kakalimutan na iisa ang hangarin ng bawat disenteng Pilipino: Siguruhing patas ang laban, palawakin ang oportunidad, at sa lalong madaling panahon ay iangat ang antas ng pamumuhay sa ating bansa.

Tandaan din po natin: Sa kabila ng mga tagumpay na ating pinagsikapan, nariyan pa rin ang iilan, nagmamanman sa ating bawat kilos, at nag-aabang ng anumang pagkakataon upang maibalik tayo sa lumang kalakaran. Mga Boss, patuloy sana tayong maging mapanuri at mapagmatyag. Sa pagpasok natin sa ikalimang taon ng ating pamahalaan, tiwala akong malinaw na sa inyo
kung sino ang mga tunay na kakampi ng taumbayan, at kung sino ang nagpapanggap lang. Ngayong napipitas na natin ang positibong bunga ng pagtahak sa tuwid na landas, mga Boss, lilihis pa ba tayo?

Sa muling pagharap ng sambayanan sa sangandaan, piliin nating muli ang landas ng malasakit at katuwiran; Pumanig tayo sa tama, at umiwas sa mga mapagsamantala. Napakaganda na po talaga ng ating nasimulan; Ang mga mithiin na dati-rati ay hindi natin magawang pangarapin, ngayon, isa-isa na nating nararating.

Tiwala sa isa’t isa ang nagdadala sa atin dito, at tiwala pa rin ang maghahatid sa atin patungo sa katuparan ng ating kolektibong mithiin. Sa gabay ng Poong Maykapal, at sa ambag ng bawat Pilipino, makakamit natin ang permanenteng pagbabago.

Mga Boss bago ako magtapos may pakiusap sana ako sa inyo. Sana naman iwasan na natin ang pagpapaputok ngayong Bagong Taon. Isipin natin ang naidudulot nito sa ating kapawa at kapaligiran. Nariyan ang kalat at makapal na usok na nagbubungsod ng matinding polusyon pati na ang malalakas na ingay na maaring makapinsala sa pandinig ng iba. Higit sa lahat, nagdudulot din ito ng peligro sa ating mga kababayan na kung tutuusin ay hindi naman kailangan. Pagtuunan na lang sana natin ng atensyon ang ating mga mahal sa buhay dahil alam natin sila naman ang tunay na dahilan kung bakit tayo nagpapasalamat at nagdiriwang.

Isang masigla at mapayapang Bagong Taon po sa ating lahat.




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