News Release

LDS Church Invites Atty. Jeremy Gatdula as International Law and Religion Symposium Delegate

The Annual Law and Religion Symposium is an academic conference held the weekend of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ October General Conference and for three days thereafter in Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah.

This Symposium has traditionally been co-sponsored by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University and the International Academy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, a leading international academic organization dedicated to religious liberty, as well as by Columbia University, George Washington Law School, Catholic University Law School, and several inter-denominational organizations dedicated to religious liberty.

The Symposium provides a unique opportunity for key government officials dealing with religion to meet with leading world experts on religious liberty issues.  In addition to the two-and-one-half day academic Symposium program at BYU, delegates have the opportunity to attend a session of General Conference, visit the Church Humanitarian Service Center and Temple Square, and meet with Area Presidencies and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. However, the Symposium is first and foremost an academic conference. 

All invited delegates are asked to give a short presentation on church-state relations in their country and many are given the opportunity to publish an extended version of their presentation in the BYU Law Review.

Atty. Jeremy I. Gatdula was invited by the LDS Church to represent the Philippines at this prestigious conference and he will be giving a presentation on religious freedom and natural law. Mr Gatdula is a lawyer specializing in international economic law and the World Trade Organization and a natural law advocate. He is a partner at David and Gatdula Law Offices and counsel for the San Pedro and Partners Law Offices. He is also special counsel on international economic matters for the Philippine’s Department of Trade and Industry.

In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Gatdula is a Lay Commissioner for the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media for the Catholic Church in the Philippines and is legal counsel for EWTN Foundation Philippines.  He is an opinions columnist for “BusinessWorld”and hosts the weekly television show “Naturang Batas: Likas na Tama” at TV Maria. 

Mr.Gatdula was willing to be interviewed between law classes at the Ateneo Law School. He shared the following ideas about international and natural law and religious freedom in the Philippines.

When asked the question, "Why did you become interested in natural law?" Mr. Gatdula explained that it began with an international law preference and the whole area of natural law just sort of came to him unbidden. It is something he had been reading  about for a long, long time.  And it is also the reason he became converted to the Catholic Church-this idea of the inherent nature of man to do good and evil. He went on to say that we, in the Philippines, are the last battleground for the issues of contraception, divorce and pornography. We have to be vigilant and remember that the opposition is well organized and will not give up. People need to accept that religion is based on reason and not just on emotion. Our actions need to be based on reason and thought. We need to gain ground in public policies and in utilizing religious core values

Natural law will provide stronger arguments for the courts on these issues. It is also a good way of telling people why we believe something or why we are who we are. We tend to argue constitutional rights with other constitutional rights and natural law can provide something that will override those conflicting arguments if we can get the courts to accept natural law as a reasonable argument to be used in a courtroom.

Responding to the question of how religious freedom is defined in the Philippines, Mr. Gatdula commented that he sees it operating in three distinct ways: one is allowing anyone to come or be here and pray as they choose; the second involves the right to proselytize, to talk to other people about their beliefs with the idea of them converting; and the third is the right to participate and speak of religious beliefs in a public sphere (like the courts or senate; in politics).  It is more difficult to exercise that third set of religious rights, to have yourself acknowledged as rational and reasonable discussing natural law or religious beliefs in a political debate.

In the Philippines, the value of accountability needs to be taught. When everything is said and done, what will unite the over 7,000 islands and many dialects will be our spirituality, our spiritual base. We will be unified through our faith even though we practice different religions.

In addition to his law profession, Mr. Gatdula acts as an advisor and gives counsel and advice to the Catholic Church on matters regarding legal issues or opinions concerning upcoming political issues.

Regarding any expectations concerning the upcoming ILRS Conference in Utah, Mr. Gatdula stated that while he has attended many international law conferences before, this will be his very first International Law and Religion Symposium. He really doesn't have any expectations other than to learn a lot and enjoy the association with the other delegates.

Born 13 February 1970, Mr.Gatdula is married to the former Karinna R. Salle and they have a 12-year-old daughter. His life has been based on the values that he developed because his family prayed together and attended Mass together while he was growing up.  Then, he was enrolled in schools with established values. He has three siblings.He met his wife in law school, and their 12-year-old daughter is more business minded than she is interested in law. Both parents are happy about that. He stated,"I know it is said that children need parents not friends, but the three of us really are the best of friends. However, we do know when to let her know that we are her parents."


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