Manuel L. Quezon III now has a television talk show, The Explainer, on ABSCBN News ANC. Jojo Robles of newspaper Standard Today and I were privileged to be his first guests Tuesday night, discussing the Separation of Church and State. (Hope you saw it last night, if not catch the next Explainer episode with MLQ3 at 6pm Tuesday evenings.)
Jojo Robles and I did find common ground on one issue: we agreed that the Catholic Church, the El Shaddai, Jesus Is Lord, and all other organized religious groups SHOULD PAY INCOME TAXES. In particular they should pay property and sales and VAT taxes in full. But I do support a broad range of tax exemptions for such groups, including their expenses and investments relative to charitable works. I think this is but consistent with the position I have taken that the Church is no different from any other citizens organization in its rights AND duties.
As writers in our normal habitat of blogs or newspaper columns, we have the luxury of sculptors to chip away at the marble chunk of some topic, like "Separation of Church and State," hammering and polishing away at the subject matter until we can put it in some form that makes sense. There is, in other words, an art to explanation. It will be a challenge to bring that art of explanation into the television medium, which is by nature, ethereal, ephemeral, fleeting. Eye-candy. Sound bites. Cut to commercial or news feed. But if anyone can pull it off it may be MLQ3. And if he succeeds expect a show that advances the art of explanation in the Archipelago. Something big seems to be brewing all over ABSCBN News' ANC station, what with Maria Ressa declaring the intention to fight for our place in the global table of ideas.
During this debut episode of The Explainer, the challenge was to come up with an explanation of the Principle of Separation of Church and State. I'm pleased to say that my basic take on what the Constitution means by Separation of Church and State is actually shorter than the question: Every Church is just an NGO.
RICARDO CARDINAL SALUDO The only thing missing was a Cardinal's funny hat just now as the avuncular Palace adjuvant explained the CBCP's recent Pastoral Letter better and more expansively nuanced than Archbishop Lagdameo. But Saludo outlined the Palace's spin: (1) unctuous praise for the disinclination of the Bishops to support the second impeachment; (2) a liaison group between the police and the Bishops will be established to work on extrajudicial killings that the CBCP may have information about; (3) joint nationwide information campaigns between govt and the CBCP on chacha. But when Twink Macaraeg asked him how, after definitely rejecting the chacha move by people's initiative, the Bishops would now "suddenly jump into bed" with the Palace. His Reverence didn't like the figure of speech and said so with some irritation. But there seems to be a lil union of Church and State going on to fully coopt the CBCP, at least for "optical" purposes.
CARMEN GUERRERO NAKPIL Malaya columnist and writer, hosts a lunch at Cafe Havana, Greenbelt. I attended after a long absence. Glad I did too. Gemma Cruz Araneta was present, stunning and convivial, fresh from filming for her own TV show up in the Mountain Province; Prof. Jose David Lapuz of the University of Sto. Tomas is disdainful of the intellectual capacities of the current crop of Bishops in the CBCP, even while proudly calling himself Catolico cerrado. I got to talk at length with Adrian Cristobal, Manila Bulletin columnist. He agrees: we should quit celebrating the annual re-murdering of Jose Rizal and move Rizal Day celebration to his birthday (Rizal's not Adrian's!) on June 19. It would be a boon to education as school opens in June in the Philippines, and deprives the old Spanish Taliban the satisfaction of annually executing Rizal while we sing the national anthem with fervour burning. Ellen Tordesillas and I exchanged notes on blogging. She's a real pioneer among Mainstream Media writers, maintaining a vibrant weblog popular with OFWs, in addition to her columns in Malaya and Abante.