SEPARATION ENDED THEOCRACY If truth be told, in fact, the Catholic Church and the Philippine State are no longer formally a married couple, as they were in Spanish Taliban times. They will never live together again in the Palace of Power, (if Allah and Buddha and José Rizál have anything to say about it.) But as they are both united in working for the good of those indivisible units of body and soul called the human beings, they have also signed a Contract which governs their relationship in an inviolable state of Separation. But the Constitution is not a contract between equals, in so far as the Church and the State provisions are concerned, for when they were divorced in 1898, it was agreed all earthly power would go to the State.
Yet when democracy ended theocracy by separating the Church from State Power, the State Power itself was strictly and severely limited by the Bill of Rights provision on the Freedom of Religion:
1987 Constitution (Bill of Rights) Art III Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
Perhaps the greatest common misconception about the Principle of Separation of Church and State is the notion that it commands the Church and State to mind their own businesses and not to meddle in each other’s affairs. Strictly speaking, that is only half true! The Bill of Rights provision on Freedom of Religion actually contains three specific limitations or prohibitions, all of them entirely directed at the State:
(1) The State must not "establish" or promote Religion;
(2) The State must not prohibit the free exercise of Religion; and
(3) The State must not impose any kind of “religious test” on any citizen’s ability to exercise civil and political rights.In effect, the Constitution commands the State to be neutral toward Religion and all the different Churches, but not vice versa! Most popular misconceptions about Separation and many of the erroneous statements being made about what the Constitution these days arises, in my opinion, from not understanding this simple fact.
Most people find prohibition #2 above easy to understand. Freedom to worship is such an obvious human right since it is just a special case of freedom of speech, and organized Religion is nothing more than freedom of assembly, which we all cherish and the Constitution obviously protects. But prohibition #1 has spawned a number of durable myth. Even Bishop Oscar V. Cruz says in his blog:
"Even if the separation of church and state is not written in the fundamental law of the land, its reality should be observed and its spirit should be kept. And even if the charter only prohibits the adoption of a state religion, this should be understood in its fuller understanding, viz., the church should not directly intervene in the affairs proper of the state just as the state should not directly interfere in the agenda germane to the church."
Bishop Cruz actually means that the phrase "separation of Church and State" does not appear in the United States Constitution. However it is Section 6 of Article II (Declaration of State Principles and Policies) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states tersely, "The Principle of Separation of Church and State shall be inviolable."
I mourn the possibility that these broad misconceptions have apparently RESTRAINED men like Bishop Oscar V. Cruz, (whose ongoing crusade against the numbers game jueteng incandesces). If so tireless and selfless a champion of the public welfare as Bishop Cruz labors under a false impression of what Democracy demands of them as moral and civic duties, then what other deeper errors are likely in possession of less careful intellects? Of course it is possible they also think the Church's own internal policies and teachings somehow instruct them to "not meddle in politics" I can only say: Read Deus Caritas Est--twice or thrice!
The only sensible interpretation I have found is that under a democracy, the Church is forever separated from STATE POWER. But it does not mean that any person is allowed to separate his conscience from his social duty, as Pope Benedict himself declares.
The best way I have found to really understand the Principle semantically, is to see that the word RELIGION and the word THEREOF refer to one and the exactly the same thing in the sentence, "No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Here the Constitution actually gives us a clever way of defining the demanded neutrality of the State towards “Religion”–by declaring that what it cannot promote it cannot also prohibit!
Thus for example, the State is clearly prohibited from establishing a “State sponsored religion” and requiring everyone to practice Roman Catholicism. Yet the State cannot do the opposite, which is to forbid everyone from practicing the same.
Notice however that the provision itself does not qualify the word RELIGION which means that it is not only the establishment of an outright official State religion, such as prevailed under the Spanish Taliban, that is prohibited of the State. An “establishment of religion” is really an archaic American expression which means anything that promotes Religion.
The Palace has wantonly and culpably violated the third prohibition by attempting to use the fact that Citizen Domingo Iniguez happens to be a Catholic and a bishop in order to curtail and question his civil and political right to file and sign an impeachment complaint, if his conscience so urges him.
And that of course is where the word “separation” is truly irrelevant and immaterial to this discussion. For there is no “separation” — no possible contradiction — between a man’s moral conscience and his social duty.
You know who said this? Why, Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est!
I hope the Palace continues to distribute “God Is Love” far and wide, to every citizen, village and town. Benedict gave it to Gloria for that purpose, knowing she doesn’t understand either the Constitution or the the Church’s teachings on this.>
But I think the Bishops finally comprehended it, perhaps as we did, only very recently. It’s as subversive to tyranny as anything Thomas Jefferson ever wrote, or his tokayo, Benjamin Franklin! By the way:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! (My Liberty Is Your Liberty!)
The ground is shifting under the Palace, because the Church has found its one strong voice–in Rome! Now may they find it also in themselves.
Bishop Iniguez Separates the Church from the State
Has GMA Lost the Catholic Church? - Part 2
Has GMA Lost the Catholic Church? - Part 1
A Proposal to Address the Political Impasse (One Voice)
"Noli Me Tangere!" Jesus said to Mary Magdalene
Press Freedom and Organized Religion Are Freedom of Assembly
2004 COMELEC Automation: I think there is far more than meets the eye to the issue of the failed Comelec automation project of 2004. My previous posts on the matter are:
Davide and Goliath: Trust But Automate
Was the 2004 Automation Junked Deliberately?
On Talkback with Tina Palma last night, Comelec Chair Ben Abalos claims the machines they bought are still around. Perhaps they should be used next year...Chito Gascon was right...next year's elections should be automated!
Manuel L. Quezon produces some wicked humour in Church and Calabasa for PDI today. The Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez may have opened up a Pandora's Box in recommending the impeachment of Resurreccion Borra. The logical has happened this morning with the announced coming impeachment of Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos.
Korina Sanchez Roxas Debuts
ABSCBN News unfurled Bandila last night with a dramatic video of accused coup plotter, Scout Ranger and West Pointer General Danilo Lim "withdrawing support" for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo purportedly sometime last February just before a State of National Emergency was declared. Although Palace Chief of Staff Mike Defensor was quick to call it proof that PP 1017 was justified, Senator Rodolfo Biazon bemoaned, with supreme irony, the kind of justice that rewards General Angelo T. Reyes for self-declared mutiny on 19 January 2001 and General Danilo Lim's coming punishment for a "withdrawal of support" that he never carried out! Meanwhile, Angelo Reyes has been amply rewarded all these years for his actual treachery to the Military's oath of loyalty to the Chain of Command, to a soldier's word of honor! Yet General Reyes, who subsequently also accepted three successive Cabinet positions from the beneficiary of his 2001 "withdrawal of support) (Defense, Local Govt and now Environment and Natural Resources) stands on the most exalted legal and judicial grounds for he has no less than two landmark Supreme Court decisions that blessed Edsa 2's withdrawal of support for the Presidency by the highest active military officer. Nothing establishes the parameters of acceptable Regime Change in the Philippine Jurisdiction more definitively than the Edsa 2 Erap cases, Estrada versus Arroyo (March, 2001) and Estrada versus Desierto (April 2001). I expect there to arise a greater appreciation of the essential toxicity of these two decisions to the national security. One curious thing about the Bandila exclusive is that it IS exclusive. No one else claims to have a copy of this tape other than ABSCBN News -- not even the Military nor the Palace -- both of whom quickly claimed to have no knowledge of its production or existence. There is some suggestion that it was scheduled to be aired as a signal that the Military was doing an Edsa 2 Re-Run and withdrawing support for GMA, possibly in coordination with the 20th Anniversary celebration of Edsa 1 last Feb. 24 in Makati, which was indeed led by former Pres. Cory Aquino and attended by most of the democratic opposition to GMA. But clearly, this tape was not made by ABSCBN itself, so there have to be others who must testify as to its provenance. As Rep. Roilo Golez was telling Twink Macaraeg earlier this afternoon, the videotape of Gen. Danilo Lim was never actually aired or shown in public (until Bandila broadcast it nationwide last night!), so it falls under rules of evidence very similar to that in the case of the Garci Recordings.
But I really like what Commodore Rex Robles told ANC News just now...There is something mysterious and incongruous about that P5 million reward for Gringo Honasan and the whole yarn about Oplan Hackle and the Leftist Rightist Coup Conspiracy, when what is now emerging is an entirely different and more embarrassing possibility...the Marines and Scout Rangers almost deposed Mrs. Arroyo last February, via a 2001-style withdrawal of support and a civilian-military demonstration of public moral outrage, featuring Cory Aquino and General Generoso Senga, instead of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and General Angelo Reyes.
There is also this puzzling detail: ABSCBN is characterizing last February's events as a "coup d'etat" that was foiled when General Danny Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin supposedly failed to convince Chief of Staff Generoso Senga and Marine Commandant Renato Miranda to join the coup d'etat conspiracy. Some "coup d'etat"! The Bandidos try to convince the Sheriff to join their gang one day before the coup and the whole thing fails when he politely refuses and confines them to barracks instead after running to the Palace? Is that what General Danny Lim learned at West Point?