January 15, 16 and 19, 2015 are special holidays in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno 'PNoy' Aquino III on Tuesday officially declared January 15, 16 and 19 as special, non-working holidays in Metro Manila or NCR for the much-awaited visit of Pope Francis.

January 15, 16 and 19, 2015 are special holidays in Metro Manila

"In view of the visit of the Pope, the Head of State of the Vatican City, I, PAQUITO N. OCHOA JR., Executive Secretary, by authority of His Excellency, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, do hereby declare January 15, 16 and 19, 2015, as special (non-working) days in the National Capital Region (NCR)," proclamation No. 936 stated.

"I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed," Ochoa said in the declaration.

Activities for the papal visit include arrival at Villamor Air Base (January 15); courtesy call on Aquino in Malacañang, mass for the clergy and religious people at the Manila Cathedral and meeting with families at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City (January 16).

Pope Francis will condole with victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Tacloban City on January 17. A day after, the pope is scheduled to celebrate a mass at Rizal Park and meet religious leaders and youth representatives at University of Sto. Tomas (UST). He will depart for Rome in the morning of January 19.

In November, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada declared a five-day holiday in government offices and suspended classes in all levels during the papal visit.

Fellow mayors of Estrada also passed a resolution for Aquino to declare the entire papal visit (January 15 to 19, 2015) as non-working holiday as the event is expected to induce traffic congestion brought about by congregation of devotees and well-wishers.

In 1995, papal holiday was also declared as Pope John Paul II has visited Manila for World Youth Day.

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