By Ben Rosario
After rejecting the Catholic church’s appeal to junk the death penalty bill, congressmen are giving believers of the faith, especially Marian devotees, something to celebrate about.
Shortly after passing the death penalty measure, the House of Representatives unanimously passed on third and final reading House bill 5241 declaring December 8 of every year a special non-working holiday in the entire country to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Authored by Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas, HB 5241 will be added among the country’s holidays marking Catholic religious events.
Ironically, it was Fariñas, known in the Lower House as among its most deeply religious members, who strongly pushed for the swift approval of the death penalty bill, thus, causing an uproar in the Catholic church that vehemently opposed it.
The bill was endorsed for approval by the House Committee on Revision of Law chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.
Under the bill, December 8 of every year will be a non-working holiday throughout the country to allow the faithful to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the principal patroness of the Philippines.
Fariñas, said among the titles under which Mary is venerated in the country, the Immaculate Conception is one of the most prominent and its feast highly observed by members of the Catholic Church.
The House official noted that Philippines is predominantly Catholic and is considered the third with the biggest population of Catholic faithful in the world. He said a 2013 survey showed that there are 76 million Catholic Filipinos.