News Release

Gatdula, Castro Attend the  International Law and Religion Symposium at BYU

More than 80 delegates from 40 countries attended the annual International Law and Religion Symposium (ILRS) sponsored by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, with the theme “Democracy, Religion and Civil Society.”  The event was held October 6-10, following the weekend of October General Conference at Church Headquarters.

Atty. Jeremy “Jemy”  Gatdula  and Atty. Ricardo “Ric” Castro from the Philippines together with key opinion leaders from other countries composed of  government officials, parliamentarians, scholars, religious leaders, attorneys and leaders of NGOs attended the event to discuss religious freedom.

Plenary Sessions were held at the Moot Court Room of BYU Law School.  Headsets were provided to help participants hear the translation of the proceedings in their own native language similar to a United Nations setting.  Break-out sessions were held in smaller rooms where each presenter lectured on his/her topic.  This was divided according to regions.

Gatdula presented his lecture entitled “The Last Battleground” which focuses on the Philippines and Natural Law.  His presentation explored and introduced how natural law worked within Philippine legal history, and how the same can play a role in resolving present and future social disputes.

Castro, on the other hand, spoke on the topic entitled “Philippines’ Reproductive Health Bill: Infringing on Religious Freedom.”  He outlined provisions in the RH Bill that are being objected on the ground that it infringes on religious freedom.

It was not all lectures and meetings during the ILRS.  In addition to the three day academic program, delegates were also able to attend the general session of the Conference, visit the Church Humanitarian Service Center and Temple Square, and meet with Area Presidencies and members of the Quorum of the Twelve.  They also got to visit the Sundance Ski Resort and witnessed the cultural presentations of the different performing groups of BYU. 

Delegates were amazed to see that majority of the students spoke two languages and more.  The beautiful and scenic landscape at BYU with the panoramic view of the mountains and fine weather made it pleasurable for delegates to explore the campus and enjoy the conference.

Professor Cole Durham, Professor of Law and Director for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies spearheaded the conference and played a good host together with volunteers from the BYU Law School.  The event was also graced by Silvio Ferrari who spoke on Natural Law from the University of Milan, Italy;  Katrina Swett, Chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; and Suzan Johnson Cook, United States Ambassador-at Large for International Religious Freedom.

In reference to the symposium, Gatdula said,” Not only was it highly intellectually stimulating but there was a spirituality and passion that transcended such academic discussions.”

Gatdula is a lawyer specializing in international economic law and the World Trade Organization, and an advocate for natural law. He is a lecturer on political thought and international trade law at the University of Asia and the Pacific, and is a partner at the David & Gatdula Law Offices. On scholarship from the Cambridge Overseas Trust, he went to the University of Cambridge for his Master of Law degree (specializing in international law), which he received in 2000. He has acted as legal counsel for the Philippines in several international trade disputes and was the 2009 Bar Examiner for Political Law and Public International Law. He writes a weekly column for BusinessWorld.  He is married to Karinna Salle Gatdula and they have one child.

Castro is a Principal of Baker & McKenzie International and a Partner in Quisumbing Torres, its Manila member firm.  His practice covers litigation, immigration law, domestic and international arbitration and corporate compliance.  He obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Summa Cum Laude) and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, Philippines.  He has a Master of Management degree from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas. He took up specialized studies at the Harvard Business School and at the Kellogg School of Management .  Presently, he is a lecturer at the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education program of the Philippine Supreme Court.  He was a District Governor and, subsequently, Chairman of the State Council of Governors of the Philippines in the Lions club and was Secretary-General of the Orient and Southeast Asian Lions Forum.   He is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), an organization based in Germany and Switzerland which provides assistance to the disabled in the world’s 70 poorest countries.  He is married  to Laly Dabao-Castro, a certified public accountant, and they have five children.  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the importance of defending and preserving religious freedom throughout the world.





Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.