Philippines: National Leaders Endorse Fight Against Religious Intolerance

June 10, 2002. Manila, Philippines... [IRLA News] Messages of support from Philippine government leaders endorsed the World Congress program of the International Religious Liberty Association's fight against religious intolerance.

The IRLA World Congress, meeting in Manila June 10-13 under the theme "Religious Freedom: A Basis for Peace and Justice," brings together top-level experts, diplomats and leaders from around the world to tackle the issues of religious extremism, intolerance, and persecution.

In her message, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo commended the IRLA "for its continuing efforts to promote and defend the principles of religious freedom," adding that "mutual respect and understanding should be the common goal of every religious group." She also underlined the importance of religion in defending civil liberties, saying that "starting with religious liberty and tolerance, the various religious groups can be our anchors in preserving our other liberties to make sure that we can live in a community free of bigotry, hatred and conflict."

President of the Philippine Senate Franklin M. Drilon said he was "singularly privileged to be part of the IRLA's quinquennial congress which the Philippines will host for the first time. This gathering offers the most opportune time for the delegates from the country and around the world-representatives of different religious affiliations and foreign heads of states and religious leaders-to reflect on the world's most prevalent issues."

Speaker of the House of Representatives Jose de Venecia commented that "the continuing dialogue and interaction should likewise extend to the dominant religions to reduce communal strife and religious tensions in many areas of the world. I congratulate the IRLA for its success these past 25 years in the staging of this quinquennial assembly. It is my fervent hope that your efforts will finally bring about the harmony and understanding that the whole world aspires to."

A non-denominational organization, the IRLA has advocated religious freedom for 109 years and works in cooperation with governments, the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, and other non-governmental organizations in organizing world conferences and symposiums on matters related to freedom of conscience, religion and belief.