Kusug Tausug partylist Rep. Shernee Tan has urged Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to provide a prayer room for believers of Islam in the premises of the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa complex.
She said as a “revered institution”, the House of Representatives should advocate for the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession, without discrimination or preference.
“It has been observed that members, staff, and employees of the House of Representatives, who are Roman Catholics, have been attending religious services more often then at the spacious lobby, and now regularly in the library of the House of Representatives building.
Other Christian denominations are also holding prayer meetings in some vacant conference rooms or in office cubicles, while most believers of Islam settle in some places not really conducive for praying of meditation,” she said.
Tan filed House Resolution No. 1012, calling on the House leadership to set up a prayer room for Islam worshippers.
She explained that unlike other religions, Muslim religious practices call for the compulsory performance of daily religious duties.
She said Islam mandates the believers to offer prayers five times each day. According to her, two of the five daily prayers– Dhuhr (between noon and mid-afternoon) and Asr (between mid-afternoon and sunset)– fall within the 9 to 5 working hours of the day.
“It is worthy to mention that in our country, in practically all government buildings, military camps, hospitals, and even in privately-owned malls,large factories, hospitals, and other big business establishments, there is a Roman Catholic chapel. If this is a way of respecting the free exercise of one’s religious belief then it is also fair to provide another prayer room where the Muslims or other non-Catholic religious sectors may freely exercise their faith, without discrimination or preference,” Tan said.
“In view of the nature how the Muslims act during worship like, standing, bowing, and touching the forehead to the ground — and these acts of worship are to be performed in any quiet, dry and clean place — a prayer room is necessary for some measure of privacy,” she added.
She expressed hope that Cayetano would approve her proposal, believing that the House “does not curtail the free exercise of religion.”