MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles) – The Philippine Inquirer is reporting that presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit The Vatican to ask Pope Francis for forgiveness.
The foul-mouthed mayor of Davao City, whose statements are punctuated by expletives, recently cursed Francis for creating a huge traffic jam during the Pontiff’s visit to Manila last year. He has since regretted the unacceptable behaviour.
Upon learning of Duterte’s planned visit to The Vatican, Pope Francis posted the following message on his Facebook page:
“OMG, Duterte is coming to The Vatican! By the grace of God, he has finally come to his senses. I will be happy to give him a private audience, but I have long forgiven him for his nasty comments about me.”
Duterte is currently ranked No. 1 among the 5 major presidential candidates. His visit to The Vatican will surely endear him to the millions of Filipino Catholic voters and could ensure his victory in the forthcoming elections in May.
THE VATICAN, Italy (The Adobo Chronicles®) – Pope Francis is back in The Vatican after his successful visit to Cuba and the United States.
Unknown to many, the Pontiff had originally wanted to enter the United States from Mexico, crossing the U.S. Border between Tijuana and San Diego via a rented Fiat. It was a gesture that Francis wanted to undertake as a way of shining the spotlight on the issue of immigration.
Unfortunately, the plan did not materialize because of some passport and visa problems.
The pope has a Vatican passport which allows him to travel anywhere in the world as a head of state. But he also recently renewed his Argentine passport and national identity card.
Because entering the U.S. via Mexico was not part of his official itinerary, the Pope could not use his Vatican passport. He had to use his Argentine passport and needed an entry visa for the U.S.
Argentina is not among the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the United States. The VWP exempts citizens and passport holders of the participating countries from visitor visa requirements.
Because the Pope’s decision to enter the U.S. through Mexico was last-minute, he didn’t have enough time to apply and secure a U.S. visa using his Argentine passport.
The immigration system of the United States is so broken that even the Holy Father is not immune from the strict and sometimes ridiculous visa requirements to visit the land of opportunity.
We get it. Religion plays a significant role in the daily lives of most Filipinos. Many of our values and beliefs are rooted in the Catholic faith, where we turn to prayer in the hope of finding a solution to our most difficult problems or situations. We pray for ‘miracles.’ (Technically, in the Roman Catholic faith, only The Vatican — through the Miracle Commission –can certify and declare any claim of a ‘miracle’ to be an actual miracle).
When news of the impending execution of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso reached the Philippines, many resorted to prayer, prayer rallies and vigils – hoping that through a miracle of sorts, the life of the convicted drug smuggler would be spared by the Indonesian government.
At the eleventh hour, while eight other drug convicts faced the firing squad, a flurry of calls and communication among Indonesian officials – all the way up to President Joko Widodo, spared Veloso from execution.
Till that moment, the Filipinos were hoping against hope. Shortly before the scheduled execution, it was reported that Widodo, despite a personal plea from Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, would not stop to end the life of the Filipina.
Veloso’s family made their final visit. Mary Jane, along with the other convicts, were transported to the execution site. Even the most devout of Filipinos went to bed expecting to wake up the next morning to the news of Mary Jane’s death. The Philippine media all but printed their morning headlines in anticipation of the execution by dawn. “Death came before dawn,” proclaimed the front page headline of a major daily, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
As expected, news that Mary Jane was spared from execution spread like wildfire in the Philippines, as it did across the globe. The hashtag, #MaryJaneLives, dominated posts and tweets on social media.
Everyone was proclaiming a “miracle,” giving credit to the prayers and vigils (and maybe even some novenas) that led to the Indonesian government’s change of heart.
The news was sketchy at first. But little by little, the facts became available.
Now we know that by the admission of a ranking Indonesian official, a last-minute plea by President Aquino, who reportedly broke protocol to speak directly to the Indonesian foreign minister, set things in motion.
Moments before Aquino’s final plea, something happened in the province of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. The alleged recruiter of Veloso surrendered to authorities, perhaps not necessarily to help stop the execution, but because she – Maria Kristina Sergio – sought police assistance for the reasons that she had been receiving death threats.
The National Bureau of Investigation had earlier filed illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and estafa charges against Sergio and two others in connection with Veloso’s case. During her investigation and Indonesian trial, Veloso argued that Sergio duped her into unknowingly smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia.
It is assumed that this surrender was brought up by Aquino in his last appeal to spare Veloso’s life.
So, was there a miracle?
Perhaps, an angel appeared in Sergio’s dream and asked her to surrender to police? Perhaps, Aquino’s Christian God talked to Widodo’s Allah, prompting a last-minute change of heart on the part of the Indonesian president?
We didn’t think so.
Let’s stop calling this a miracle. Let The Vatican make that determination.
It is not often that we say positive things about Aquino, but in all fairness, he gets major credit for this one. But it is also a credit to the persistent communication mechanism employed by Philippine officials – in Manila as well as Jakarta – and the police authorities in Nueva Ecija. A few hours of communication delay wouldn’t have saved Veloso’s life.
Indonesian migrant workers whose lives and situations in foreign countries are very parallel to that of Veloso and other Filipino overseas workers, also seemed to have swayed the Indonesian government, after they joined the chorus calling for re-consideration in the case of Mary Jane.
We are not criticizing those who believe in miracles. We are merely stating that we should give credit where credit is due.
By the way, the story doesn’t end here. It is just the beginning of another phase in the case of Mary Jane.