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MANILA, Philippines – Parties in an ongoing peace process should ensure peace in the southern Philippines, the Holy See told President Benigno Aquino III during the Philippine leader’s trip to Vatican City.
Aquino met with Pope Francis on Friday, December 4, and after this meeting, also spoke with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
“Special reference was made to the peace process in Mindanao, with the hope that commitment from the Parties may guarantee stable and lasting peace to the region,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Parts of Mindanao, the Philippines’ poorest island group, has been plagued by a 4-decade Muslim secessionist movement.
To help end this rebellion, Aquino has pushed lawmakers to pass a law for a more powerful Muslim region.
Aquino’s critics, however, have derailed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law after the other party in the peace process, the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was implicated in the death of 44 members of an elite police force. (READ: Bishops, peace advocates: Hear Mindanao, pass BBL)
In his arrival speech on Saturday, December 5, Aquino also said he spoke with Parolin about the peace process.
Poverty also tackled
Aquino said he, too, discussed “concrete ways to ease poverty in the country.”
The Vatican added, “During the cordial discussions, the dialogue between the various members of Filipino society was evoked, as well as the contribution of the Catholic Church to the life of the country.”
In his meeting with Aquino, Francis himself repeated the request he has consistently made since he was elected in 2013: Pray for me.
Aquino met with the Pope as part of a week-long trip to Europe.
There, before visiting the Vatican, he attended a highly anticipated United Nations climate summit in France and met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Aquino spoke with business leaders as well.
In his arrival speech on Saturday, he relayed other pieces of good news from his European trip, including:
- A commitment from the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur to release in the Philippines a vaccine for 4 strains of dengue
- A promise from CRH, the first and biggest Irish investor in the Philippines, to bring in P2.3 billion ($48.93 million) in investments to the Southeast Asian country
- A plan by Jacobi Carbons Group AB to expand its operations in processing coconut shells as raw material for activated carbon filters
“Ibang-iba na nga po ang Pilipinas, at ibang-iba na ang tingin sa atin ng mundo,” Aquino said. (The Philippines has now really changed, and the way the world looks at us has really changed as well.) – Rappler.com
*$1 = P47.01