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Govt to keep papal visit simple – Palace exec

The Philippine government will heed Pope Francis' request to keep his visit to the country as simple as possible, a Malacañang official said Friday.
At a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the budget for the papal visit in January will be only "for what is necessary."
"Certainly, we're taking that into consideration. We understand and we are very well aware of the stand of His Holiness when it comes to simplicity," Valte told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the head of state of Vatican City, is scheduled to visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19 next year.
On Thursday, the Vatican wants the Philippine government to keep expenditures for Pope Francis' visit at a minimum, Fr. Anton Pascual of the papal visit organizing committee said.
Pope Francis also called on the Philippine government to create savings to rebuild areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), instead of spending much for his visit.
Although she gave assurance that the papal visit will be modest, Valte said the government will still make sure that Pope Francis will be completely secure during his visit in Manila and Yolanda-hit areas.
"Of course, we will take the necessary precautions, primarily because of the security concerns," the Palace official said.
Last July, President Benigno Aquino III asked the entire government to ensure the success of the papal visit. He also formed a national panel to lead preparations for Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines.
The Philippines is the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia. More than 80 percent of the over 100 million Filipinos are Roman Catholics. — Andreo Calonzo/RSJ, GMA News