Press Release
January 21, 2015

(P. S. R. 1110 : Pope Francis)

Mr. President and my dear colleagues:

It is my honor to speak before our session today to seek your approval for Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1110, with the title:

"Resolution Urging the Elected Leaders of the Country and our People Themselves, to Heed the Call of Pope Francis to Live Simply and in 'Outstanding Honesty, Integrity and Commitment to the Common Good' so that Together, We Can Do Justice to Everyone and Serve the Least of our Brethren in Commemoration of the 'Year of the Poor'."

Indeed, the Resolution speaks for itself, but there are certain aspects of the Resolution that, perhaps, need some emphasis for purpose of public understanding.

So, with your permission, Mr. President, may I recall that Pope Francis came to the Philippines for an Apostolic Visit from January 15-19, 2015, with the theme "Mercy and Compassion," primarily to comfort the victims of Super-typhoon "Yolanda".

And immediately, upon his arrival, the Pope impressed the throngs who met him at the airport, and the millions who watched the event through television or listened to the broadcast accounts about it on radio with his authenticity as a person.

They found him so genuine as a human being, his smile so infectious, his words so touching that many could not explain why tears spontaneously flowed down their cheeks upon the sight of him, or upon hearing what the media people said of him.

The fact that he wore a silver pectoral cross and a silver papal ring instead of the gilded symbols of the papacy that others before him preferred certainly moved even a jaded observer of things mundane like me.

Millions of our countrymen and women were further touched by the fact that the Pope even requested the organizers of his Philippine trip to remove posters depicting his face along the roads of typhoon-ravaged Leyte, and to replace the posters with images and portraits of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to emphasize that the focus of the event should be the Redeemer of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and not him as Pope.

Perhaps, even more relevant to those of us who are in public offices, especially in the legislature, is his call for us to live simply as our country still faces the challenges of achieving inclusive growth, which despite the sincere efforts of the government today, nonetheless, excludes a significant percentage of our population who continue to live in poverty and want.

Statistics indicate that about a fourth of our people - some 25 million of our fellow Filipinos - are in dire need of the basic necessities of life, a roof over their heads, food on their tables, clothing for their bodies, schooling for their children, and medicine for their sick.

Then, we should add, justice, for it is often the poor who are oppressed.

Hence, the papal admonition for all of us to be "outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good" and "to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor" should ring an alarm bell for every citizen of this country to heed.

In my view, we, as public officials, have a unique opportunity to live with honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good so that we can promote a culture of peace, progress and development, and build a just nation where the human rights and dignity of everyone - especially of the poor, the deprived, and the oppressed are cherished and respected, and justice is done to all people whatever their station in life may be.

Inspired by the theme of the Papal Visit, "Mercy and Compassion," and by the personal example of Pope Francis himself, the champion of the poor, it is our hope, Mr. President, that more laws will be passed for the common good and to uplift the miserable condition of the poor and the underprivileged.

Let us not forget, though, that the promotion of the common good that is envisioned in the Resolution may only be achieved when public officials, like us, Mr. President, hand-in-hand with the rest of our people, are prepared to work together to achieve the goals that the Pope has suggested for us, as a people to do.

DREAM, THEN, AS THE POPE SUGGESTS, THE "IMPOSSIBLE DREAM" to make our country truly the cradle of Christianity in this part of the world.

WORK as if there is no tomorrow. And PRAY for God's blessings.

Then, we can rest as His Holiness suggests because in faith we know that God will do the rest.

May I, therefore, suggest that we approve the Resolution that is now submitted to the Senate for its consideration.

Maraming Salamat po, Mr. President and my colleagues.

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