|Kabataan Partylist representative Raymond Palatino|
MANILA, Philippines—After drawing strong condemnation from Catholic bishops and other lay leaders, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino apologized and meekly withdrew his bill seeking to prohibit religious rites and images in government buildings and offices in line with the Constitution’s separation of Church and State.
Palatino said he was withdrawing House Bill No. 6330, or An Act Empowering Heads of Offices and Departments to Strictly Implement the Constitutional Provisions on Religious Freedom in Government Offices, “in response to the appeal and clamor of some of our members, constituents and supporters, various groups, institutions and the general public.”
“Kabataan seeks to clarify that the bill has no intention to ‘ban God,’ suppress any religion or belief and prevent government employees from practicing their faith. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that government offices do not favor one religion over the other, or discriminate one against the other,” Palatino said in a statement.
According to Palatino, Kabataan sincerely apologizes for any offense the bill caused. “We are sad that we hurt the religious sentiments of many, when our desire was to uphold and promote religious sensitivity and harmony,” he added.