MANILA, March 9, 2011â€” A Catholic Church official urged the government to fight for religious freedom of overseas Filipino workers especially those in the Middle East.
Scalabrian priest Fr. Edwin Corros said the government should stand up internationally for Christians and other religions to obtain a life in freedom.
â€œOur government leaders must learn to negotiate as well for the protection and preservation of the cultural and religious rights of our OFWs when they sign a memorandum of agreement especially when they are deployed in countries that really relied on the important contribution of our people to these countries,â€ he said.
Corros is the executive secretary of the Commission for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
According to him, the great contribution of the OFWs must be recognized by, in one way, defending their religious freedom as one of the great human rights.
â€œWeâ€™ve noticed and based on the information we have received Europeans, Caucasians are being allowed to celebrate Mass in their embassies but not the Philippine government. That is now the question how come they are unable to negotiate this?â€ he said.
â€œThe government should really negotiate for that because after all if the people are happy in expressing their religion, the more they can happily contribute to the nation building of the host countries.â€
Corros added that to respect for the cultural and religious rights of OFWs is also an indication of their capacity to practice similar rights that are accorded to them when they move and visit to other countries such as the Philippines.
Last December, Migranteâ€™s Middle East chapter said 14 Filipino nationals have been held in custody by police authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) after being caught engaged in a prohibited â€œreligious serviceâ€.
Conducting religious activities other than Islam is prohibited in Saudi Arabia and in most of the Middle-Eastern countries. (CBCPNews)