MANILA – As the Papal visit draws near, Manila Archbishop Luis Tagle has a message to politicians – don’t use the event to advance their interests in the coming 2016 national elections.
He specifically warned against welcoming banners for the Pope with the politicians’ names and faces on it.
Thus, some senators decided to skip the event in order not to be dubbed “epal” or scene stealer.
Senator Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said he is wary of this. He even summed up his and his colleagues’ sentiments when asked if he will attend any events of the pope – “No. I might be seen as epal.”
Likewise, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said, “No, I won’t be attending any of his events.”
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Joseph Victor Ejercito said that both of them are following the organizers’ and the Pope’s wish for politicians to stay out of his engagements and activities with the poor.
“Yes, I would have wanted to (meet the Pope),” Ejercito said in a text message. “But if it would be better that politicians stay out of it, then I would be willing to sacrifice.”
As a matter of fact, even the guest list for Pope Francis’ visit at Malacañang is also limited.
During the Pope’s five-day visit, he has a flurry of activities lined up which include a meeting with President Aquino, Holy Mass at Manila Cathedral, meeting with families at Mall of Asia, Mass at Tacloban City, lunch with typhoon survivors in Leyte, meeting with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas, and Mass at Rizal Park.
Aside from this, he will also bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor and meet with the religious community including priests, seminarians, and even families of storm survivors at the Cathedral of Palo.