MANILA — President Benigno Aquino did not mean to hurt anymore in his speech during the meeting with Pope Francis last week.
“It was a truthful statement and there was no other purpose for that speech except to tell the truth,” stressed Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.in a briefing Tuesday.
The President received a flak after mentioning in his speech criticisms he got from members of the Church and latter’s silence on the past administration’s abuses.
He noted that “in these attempts at correcting the wrongs of the past, one would think that the Church would be our natural ally. In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin.”
Coloma said the President, in his speech, informed the Pope of his experiences and observations on the Church’s participation in the country.
”The speech was truth-telling statement. If we review the entire text, we will understand the context. It was a narrative that is historically accurate and truthful and there is no singling out of any personality or any group,” he said.
“It is a personal testimony of someone who experienced the events he was talking about and became President and became as a leader of a country that was welcoming the Pope,” he added.
Relatively, Coloma said the government’s efforts to protect the Pope from any threats during his five-day visit can be deemed effective.
”Ang lahat ng mga banta na natutukan at napag-alaman ay siniyasat at nakita naman natin na sa buong kaganapan ng pagdalaw ng Santo Papa ay hindi naman ito nagambala sa anumang paraan. Kaya’t siguro ito ay pahiwatig na naging epektibo ‘yung aksyon ng pamahalaan laban sa mga bantang iyan,” he said.
Coloma said the intelligence reports about the possible threats against the Pontiff did not identify certain groups but said that efforts are still being done to address moves against the law.
Asked how much the government spent for the Pope’s visit, Coloma said the Office of Secretary Paquito Ochoa is still collating information since he was the over-all chairman of the National Organizing Committee for the event.
He said all the expenses are transparent and government money was used responsibly.
”At katulad ng iba pang gastusin ng pamahalaan, ito naman ay ginawa sa isang hayag at transparent na paraan at tiyak namang papasa ito sa audit ng Commission on Audit dahil regular na proseso ito ng pamahalaan. Ngunit kapag naganap na ‘yung pagtutuos ay ibibigay naman po namin ‘yung hinihinging impormasyon,” he added.