Macapagal: Pope blessed country through me

Posted: 1:54 AM (Manila Time) | Sept. 29, 2003
By Volt Contreras
Inquirer News Service

Divine guidance

ROME (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's statements about her political plans after meeting with Pope John Paul II were not categorical but may be the closest thing to her declaring that she could be drafted by the ruling party for the presidential election in May.

"My visit to the Pope bolsters my conviction in our public policy that we should continue doing according to the priorities my father (late President Diosdado Macapagal) told me as a public servant: 'God first, then country, then family last,'" Ms Macapagal said here Saturday.


Before Ms Macapagal embarked on her trip to the United States and Europe, her spokesperson said the President was awaiting divine guidance on whether she should reverse her pledge not to run.

The President said the Pope "blessed the country through me" at their 10-minute meeting at the Vatican during which she proudly reported to the Pontiff how the country's national policies against abortion, divorce and the death penalty had remained faithful to Catholic teachings under her watch.

"We want to pursue our goals for the country in ways that we perceive more akin to how God would want us to do it. That's the greater conviction I received after meeting again with His Holiness," she told reporters at a media briefing.

Ms Macapagal acknowledged before reporters that the Pope was "a very inspiring presence in our life, in my personal life and the life of our nation."

Precedent

She made the remarks before her presidential adviser on ecclesiastical affairs, Dodie Limcaoco, told reporters that should she make a major political decision after this trip to the Vatican, it would be with precedent.

While saying that "politics was not overtly discussed" in the President's meeting with the Pope, Limcaoco drew reporters' attention to the fact that it was immediately after seeing the Pontiff in Rome in October 2000 that Ms Macapagal, then Vice President and concurrent social welfare secretary, signaled her break from the Cabinet amid mounting civil society efforts to pressure then President Joseph Estrada to resign.

Ms Macapagal then went straight from the airport to a Mass at the EDSA Shrine in Mandaluyong City that was organized by the political opposition, Limcaoco recalled.

"And so really, events that come after a visit to the Pope are often attributable to the discernment (the visitor achieves after the encounter)," Limcaoco said.

"It may continue to contribute to her continuing attempt to discern what is right," he said when asked by a reporter whether the meeting dwelt on the President's political plans.

In her audience with the Pope at the latter's private library in the Apostolic Palace, Ms Macapagal said the Holy Father was told of how her administration's public policies remained "in accordance with important doctrines of the Church."

29/09/2003

Bron : Inq7.net

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