Profit not from Francis’ visit, businessmen urged

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A Church official has appealed to businessmen not to take advantage of the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January next year.

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Fr. Jaime Marquez of the Pope’s Arrival, Transportation, Accommodation and Security Committee cited reports that hotel rates in Manila and Leyte have shot up to more than $400 a day weeks before Francis arrives.

In a media briefing on Thursday, Marquez said business sectors should be considerate with their rates.

He added that concerns regarding the hotel rates should be referred to the Department of Tourism.

Pope Francis, who will be the third pontiff to visit the country, will arrive on January 15, 2015 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila).

He will be welcomed by two orphans and 1,200 young men and women who will be dancing and singing for him.

Francis will also meet with survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City, capital of Leyte province, on January 17.

Tacloban arguably was the most devastated of areas in the Central Visayas region that was slammed by the super typhoon on November 8, 2013.

The pope will leave the Philippines on January 19.

Marquez, meanwhile, urged everyone to be accommodating during the pontiff’s Philippine trip, in line with the “Mercy and Compassion” theme of Francis’ visit.

“If you have friend[s]coming from abroad and if you feel that they have difficulties with these hotel fees, let us accommodate them in our own homes as well,” he said.

According to Marquez, homeless people will be warmly welcomed at his Saint John Mary Vianney parish in Makati City (Metro Manila) during the pope’s visit.

“If you will have a problem with your friends [on their accommodation], you tell me and I [will]accommodate them in my parish,” he said.

Marquez added that Francis’ visit is “the time when people need Jesus the most..”

“[W]e are quite fascinated by the coming of the Holy Father because it comes late after the Christmas joy and we remember that Jesus did not have any accommodations, that is why we are so fascinated [and]at the same time see this as providential for us because the Holy Father is coming to us at the time when people need Jesus the most,” he said at Thursday’s media briefing.

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