MANILA -- Catholic prelates lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to declare Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a non-working holiday.

“That is indeed a very good and inspiring news. With this Christmas season, it is a beautiful and lasting gift of our country to our Blessed Mother,” Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos said.

“We Filipinos are very motherly, maka-ina. It is our nature to go to our mothers in any aspect of our life, to stay with and support our mothers, to take care of our mothers,” Santos added. “With this kind gesture of our president, surely our Blessed Mother will keep us under her maternal care and protection. She will intercede for our good before her Son Jesus.”

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes also welcomed Duterte’s declaration, acknowledging that he was surprised with it.

“Wonderful! It is a pleasant surprise!” Bastes said. “After all, Duterte has still some respect for the Catholic Church. His mother was a devout Catholic, and he loves his Mama very much.”

On Dec. 23, Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10966 declaring Dec. 8 of every year a special non-working holiday in the Philippines to honor the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Congress passed the law. The House of Representatives signed it on May 2 while the Senate approved it on December 11. (PNA/ Photo courtesy of Daily Rosary Family FB page)