PNoy now in Italy;
gets one step closer to meeting Pope Francis again
ROME, Italy, Dec. 3 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived here
Tuesday evening (Wednesday in Manila) to begin the Italian leg of his
three-state European trip following a two-day working visit in Paris,
The Chief Executive and his official delegation took a nearly two-hour
Philippine Airlines chartered flight to reach Italy, which hosts the largest
Filipino community in the Eurozone area.
Highlighting President Aquino’s two-day working visit here are his bilateral
meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo
Renzi scheduled on Wednesday.
The President’s discussions with his Italian counterparts will focus on
strengthening bilateral ties in honor of the 70th anniversary of the
establishment of Philippines-Italy diplomatic partnership on 2017.
On Thursday, President Aquino is set to meet with the members of the
Filipino community at the Ergife Palace Hotel. Italy is home to 171, 124
Filipino migrants who can be found mostly in the cities of Milan, Florence,
Bologna, Turin, and Rome.
President Aquino’s trip to Italy, his first as head of state, helps sustain
the exchanges of high-level visit between Manila and Rome, the last of which
was held in June 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
His mother, President Corazon Aquino, was the first Philippine head of state
who visited Italy in April 1993. The Italian Republic was among the first
countries that recognized the elder Aquino’s presidency following the 1986
Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Italy began in July 9,
1947. In 2014, Italy was the 25th largest trading partner of the country
with total approved investments of $178,667.
Meanwhile, on Friday, President Aquino will take a side trip to the Vatican
City state, which is only about half an hour away from the Italian capital,
to have a private audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Apostolic
The event is considered a ‘reciprocal visit’ by President Aquino on Pope
Francis following the latter’s pastoral journey to the Philippines last
January. They are expected to discuss some issues of mutual interest to each
other like climate change.
President Aquino is also scheduled to have a meet-and-greet with His
Eminence Pietro Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State, during his visit
to the Holy See as well as witness the unveiling and blessing of the mosaic
image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
The Vatican trip wraps up President Aquino’s six-day official working visit
to Europe this week, and he is expected to be back in Manila by 1:15 p.m.
(local time) on Saturday, December 5. (PCOO/PND)