Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday called on Filipinos to respect each other’s freedom of religion, including the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab.
Romualdez made the call during the celebration of World Hijab Day 2023 at the North Wing Lobby of the House of Representatives at the Batasan complex in Quezon City.
He said wearing the hijab means having to live a modest life.
“We celebrate the 10th World Hijab Day, an annual event that we celebrate with the rest of the world in recognition of a very basic human right: the right to the free exercise of religion, a right that is enshrined in our very Constitution,” Romualdez said.
However, he lamented that “instead of demonstrating the rich cultural and religious significance of the hijab to the Islamic faithful, the opposite occurs.”
“It often becomes the object of discrimination. And we can all agree that discrimination hampers our ability to grow and mature as a country with diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, and is therefore a deterrent to nation-building,” he said.
This is the reason why the House, during the 18th and 19th Congresses, passed the National Hijab Day Bill, authored principally by Hataman, Romualdez said.
Sen. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla meanwhile stressed that positive steps have been taken to drum up public consciousness about our Muslim brethren through the commemoration of World Hijab Day.
Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Cultural Committees and Muslim Affairs, said he is glad that many women in the Senate, including Christians, wore the hijab as a show of unity with their Muslim brethren.
“It is very good to see you wearing hijab and smiling and excited. May Almighty God bless you all,” said Padilla.
He said that by wearing the hijab, women will experience the trials that Muslim women go through, including discrimination. He noted this is not a matter of religion but of culture.
“Sad to say, many Filipinos still do not understand the significance of wearing a hijab),” he lamented.
Because of this, Padilla urged Muslims and non-Muslims alike to listen to the voices of hijabi, or women who wear the hijab.
Padilla also voiced hopes Senate Bill 1410, which he co-authored to institutionalize National Hijab Day in the Philippines on Feb. 1, will be passed in the 19th Congre”I hope it will be passed by the Senate and House of this Congress),”he said.
Among those who attended the program was Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who with Padilla co-authored a bill for National Hijab Day on Feb. 1.
Padilla also paid tribute to the Bangsamoro Parliament for passing last Jan. 25 Resolution No. 162, which supports setting Feb. 1 as National Hijab Day.