Philippines mulls holiday during Pope’s visit

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Philippines mulls holiday during Pope’s visit
The Philippine government vows to give Pope Francis, the head of state of Vatican City, 'all the courtesies provided to visiting heads of state'

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is considering to declare a holiday when Pope Francis visits the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015, according to Malacañang.

“Seriously, we are considering that. That’s also part of the security preparations. If it will help, definitely, then we will do that. But at the moment, there’s no decision yet if we will do that,” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said in a media briefing on Friday evening, November 14.

Ochoa was responding to a concern that “practically speaking, roads will be closed” when the Pope visits the Philippines in January.

The Pope, after all, will hold at least 4 motorcades in between events in Manila, and will travel from Tacloban City to the nearby town of Palo in Leyte.

The highlights of his trip include the Pope’s lunch with survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte and events in the Manila Cathedral, the University of Santo Tomas, and the Mall of Asia Arena. (READ: Vatican releases Pope’s Philippine itinerary)

The government couldn’t give an estimated crowd size, but said it will likely be “millions” as in 1995, when 5 million Filipinos attended a Mass presided over by then Pope John Paul II.

Ochoa said President Benigno Aquino III, in any case, has directed concerned government agencies “to extend assistance” to the Catholic Church in preparing for the papal visit.

“Pope Francis will be here not only as the leader of the Roman Catholic faith, but as you know, he is also the head of state of the Vatican, and as such, His Holiness will be extended all the courtesies provided to visiting heads of state,” he explained.

Ochoa added that on the part of the government, “95% of its preparation is all about security.” –

Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email