MANILA -- The Philippine government has reaffirmed its commitment to uphold Filipinos' right to freedom of religion or belief during an international meeting hosted by the US Department of State in Washington, DC.
Of the 80 government and international organization representatives to the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on July 26, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, who led the Philippine delegation, said Manila's commitment is enshrined in the Constitution and is reflected in the country's laws, policies and standards, among others.
He also shared the recent signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which seeks to establish a political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We are pleased that both chambers of our Congress have ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law. This law seeks to establish a political entity called the Bangsamoro, a recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and aspiration of Muslim Filipinos and all indigenous cultural communities in the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.
During the plenary session, Abella also spoke about the Marawi conflict last year and the government's efforts to rebuild the war-torn city.
“Our government has set a long-term vision for our people -- a strongly-rooted, comfortable, and secure life. We envision the Philippines as a high-trust society where families thrive in vibrant, culturally diverse, and resilient communities,” he said.
According to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, the 1st Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom discussed the challenges in advancing the human right to religious freedom, and identified concrete ways to fight worldwide religious persecution and discrimination.
United States Vice President Mike Pence delivered the opening remarks of the meeting where he underscored that religious freedom is a top priority of the administration of US President Donald Trump.
Joining Abella were Philippine Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Patrick Chuasoto and Minister for Political and Legislative Affairs Rosanna Villamor-Voogel. (PNA)