The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 6492 to be known as the Magna Carta on Religious Freedom Act as it resumed session. 

The measure which received 256 affirmative votes, one negative vote and three abstentions, would protect the right of the people to freedom of religion as guaranteed under the 1987 Philippine Constitution. 

The measure received 256 affirmative votes, one negative vote and three abstentions.

It would promote a free market of religious ideas in the country where no religion is suppressed or quelled over another. 

Among its key provisions are that it mandates the protection of every person’s right to choose a religion or religious group; the right to exercise or express religious belief, practices, acts or activities; the right to act in accordance with conscience; the right to propagate religious beliefs; the right to disseminate religious publications; the right to religious worship and ceremonies; the right to organizational independence; and the right against discrimination in employment on the basis of religion. 

The bill would impose penalties for violators; and establish a religious freedom hotline through the Department of Justice. 

Authors of the bill are Camarines Sur Reps. LRay Villafuerte, Migz Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata; BICOL SARO Party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII; CIBAC Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva; and Manila Rep. Benny Abante Jr., among others. 

“The right to freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Section 5, Article III of the Constitution.”

Abante stressed that the right to freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Section 5, Article III of the Constitution, which states that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed”.

“HB 6492 ensures that no act of the government or any of its agencies, instrumentalities, officers or employees shall burden, curtail, impinge or encroach on the person’s right to exercise one’s religious belief, freedom and liberty of conscience and the government must also prohibit any act by a person, natural or juridical, or any group of persons that burdens or encroaches on the said right,” the veteran legislator explained.

Also approved on third and final reading were several local bills which would amend the charter of local government units (LGUs); declare ecotourism zones; establish marine hatcheries in certain parts of the country; convert state colleges and universities into regular campuses, as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-supervised institutions; and convert national high schools into an independent high school or into an integrated school in different parts of the country, among others. 



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