• Duterte’s Lenten message: ‘Emulate Christ, help the poor’

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    President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on Filipinos to reflect and emulate the sacrifices of Jesus Christ and give aid to those in need.

    “This sacrifice marks the ultimate demonstration of love in laying down one’s life for the salvation of mankind,” the President said in his Lenten message.

    “His life is a testament to the power of selfless service and humility in the face of various trials. Amid uncertainties and difficulties, the way of the cross is our firm assurance that goodness and truth will always prevail,” he added.

    Duterte expressed hopes that Christ’s death will inspire many people to care for the poor.

    “May the virtue of kindness and benevolence that Christ exemplified serve as our inspiration to aid in the plight of our less fortunate fellowmen. Let the story of crucifixion challenge us to remain persevering in our struggle for a better life and a stronger society,” he said.

    “This moment of renewal of our faith sends a message of solidarity to everyone regardless of our denomination. Despite our differences as individuals, may we always choose to embody compassion as Christ has personified,” the President added.

    Duterte will spend Holy Week in the Middle East. He will visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar from April 10 to 16.

    Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Duterte is “satisfied” with the government preparations for the Holy Week.

    “The government is now on heightened alert to ensure the safety and security of passengers at all airports, seaports, and other transportation hubs during the Holy Week,” he said.

    The government has already in place Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2017.

    The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued 1,153 special permits to bus operators to accommodate the increase in the number of passengers.

    The Toll Regulatory Board has deployed additional personnel at toll plazas where traffic build-up is expected.

    “If toll plaza queuing reaches 500 meters, additional entry/exit lanes, as well as reversible or counter-flow lanes, will be opened,” Abella said.

    Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will assist the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in managing queues at immigration counters.

    “A MIAA Management Team started to be on duty on April 8 to ensure smooth passenger flow. A two-minute unloading rule is also being implemented to prevent congestion,” he said.

    The Philippine National Police has deployed 75,000 personnel on the ground to ensure the safety and security of the public during the Holy Week and the summer season.

    He said the PNP will deploy police patrollers at transport terminals, convergence areas, national roads, and tourist destinations.

    “At the end of the day, the President wants results. Setting things in place, and ensuring proper and efficient functioning and coordination of the agencies are but the initial steps of the entire process. ‎Ultimately, his satisfaction can only be measured by the extent that the public’s safety and convenience ‎are facilitated and guaranteed by the government,” Abella said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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