Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:00
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is scheduled to have a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, proceeding there from Saudi Arabia.
Binay said he considered the private audience with the Pope “a great privilege,” knowing how busy the Pontiff was.
A staunch Roman Catholic, Binay expressed elation that the still undated meeting with the Pope would occur on dates very close to two significant occasions — his own 40th wedding anniversary on July 4 and the canonization of a Filipino saint in October.
“I look forward to it with great joy and expectation, I hope to convey to the Holy Father all the good wishes of our people, most of whom are members of the Church, and for whom he has shown so much love and affection,” he said before flying to Saudi Arabia.
The Vice President had flown to Saudi Arabia as President Benigno Aquino III's representative in ceremonies on the passing away of Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, a nephew of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud.
The Crown Prince died of a lingering illness on June 16 at 78 years old.
Binay described the Crown Prince as “a good friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people” who helped keep the people of Saudi Arabia, including about 800,000 Filipino workers, out of harm’s way through his anti-terrorism campaigns.
“For this alone, the Prince deserves the gratitude and prayers of our people,” he said.
The Vice President, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, will meet with the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia.
He recalled that in a previous visit to Saudi Arabia in 2011, he had “a most memorable and productive meeting” with thousands of Filipino workers who were stranded and awaiting repatriation at the Hajj Terminal.
”Through the help of the King, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, we were able to facilitate their return to the Philippines shortly after my visit,” he said.
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