House panel approves PH Magna Carta of Freedom of Religion
MANILA, Philippines — A committee in the House of Representatives approved Wednesday a bill protecting the right of the public to freedom of religion in the Philippines.
During its meeting, the House committee on human rights approved House Bill No. 6538 or the Philippine Magna Carta of Freedom of Religion, filed by CIBAC Partylist Representatives Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva and Domingo Rivera, which seeks to “create enabling laws that will protect the rights of our citizens to religious freedom which, in turn, will further bring peace and stability to our nation.”
Under the bill, the right of every person to freedom of religion and liberty of conscience, including their free exercise or expression in public, shall not be “denied, burdened, regulated, and curtailed. ”
The bill covers the following rights:
- Right to choose a religion or religious groups
- Right to exercise or express religious belief, practices, acts, or activities
- Right to act in accordance with conscience
- Right to propagate religious beliefs
- Right to disseminate religious publications
- Right of religious worship and ceremonies to freedom and from interruption
- Right to organizational independence
- Right to freedom against discrimination
- Right to freedom against discrimination in educational institutions
- Right of companies or businesses to be founded on religious beliefs
- Right of parents or legal guardians to rear children
The bill likewise states that compelling a person, by means of force, threat, intimidation or undue influence, to choose or not to choose a particular religious belief to subscribe to or a particular religious group to join is prohibited.
However, the right to freedom to religion, including its expression, can be denied and regulated if:
- the free exercise of religious freedom or conscience of a religious group or individual results to violence and/or inflicts, or poses to inflict, a direct physical or material harm or danger on other people, or infringe on their own freedom of religion or conscience;
- it is necessary to protect public safety, order, health, property and good morals
- such limitations are prescribed by existing laws such as prohibitions on same sex marriage, marriage of humans to animals, and marriage to objects
With the bill approved at the committee level, it will be brought to the plenary for debates and approval on second and third reading.
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