Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Shepherd Rides Into The Augean Stables

ictory claims by the Palace of having at least dominated the local races during these 2007 Midterm elections, have been roundly controverted by a 53-year old Catholic priest running for his first elective office, who has just won the Governorship of Pampanga, the home province of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. A rare ALL CAPS headline from PDI proclaims a MIRACLE IN PAMPANGA as Rev. Father Ed Panlilio, won by a narrow 1,147 vote margin, defeating two Palace allies: incumbent provincial governor Mark Lapid who has been hounded by graft and corruption charges; and Lilia "Mrs. Bong" Pineda, from Lubao, the President's hometown and a political heavyweight in her own right in Pampanga politics. Some have naughtily said, she is the President's Lady-in-Jueteng.

This turn of events seems to be the continuation, only bigger, of a series in which the following Strange Things Have Happened: Manny Pacquiao has been mercifully knocked out of politics by the cute and petite but potent, Diane Custodio of General Santos City; Virgilio Garcillano has lost but continues to intrigue the public revulsion; Naga's Jessie Robredo has won over the spawn of Satan, or something; Roilo Golez has won by a landslide in Paranaque City and Jojo Binay likewise in Makati City; and though Luis "Chavit" Singson has topped the Senate Races in the fairy-tale province of Maguindanao, where the Ampatuans grow in profusion, his really consistent performance has been a rock solid hold on last place in the Magic 25, a position that has not changed up or down or sideways in the SWS polls since the campaign period began.

OK. But the following questions are probably lurking in the back of many people's minds and will most likely become hot topics in the days to come:


When Jesus is Lord Movement head Bro. Eddie Villanueva ran for President in 2004, similar questions arose in regards to the Separation between Church and State and its implications on who may or may not run for elective office. But Father Ed Panlilio's case may confuse some people since he is a Roman Catholic priest and once, during Spanish Taliban times, it was a Roman Catholic theocracy that ruled the Archipelago and its benighted peoples. I guess no one now alive remembers those times, or relates to them with other than a bemused historical detachment.

Paradoxically, now that we have an established Democracy in place, any violation of the Constitutional rights of Roman Catholics, or anybody else, cannot now be tolerated, for such violations would precisely be indistinguishable from the repressions expected of theocratic or totalitarian states!

The best way to ensure that a theocracy does not arise, or that one Church come to harmfully dominate society, is to protect the right of ALL churches and systems of belief or non-belief to freely exist and flourish. In order to do this, we must protect the rights EVEN of the dominant religions and their ministers to participate fully in our political life, within the bounds set by the Constitution.

Looking over the 1987 Philippine Constitution one first finds the following pertinent, but bare provision:
Article II - State Policies - Section 6.
The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.
It's good we have the Bill of Rights which expresses the fundamentals of Freedom of Religion quite classically and cogently:
Article III - Bill of Rights - 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.
Undoubtedly, this last declarative sentence applies to Father Ed Panlilio. The mere fact of his BEING a Catholic priest cannot be used to prevent him from exercising his right to hold political office after being duly and democratically elected. Even Roman Catholics, in other words, are equal before the Law, and may, if duly qualified, run and serve as Governor of a province of the Republic.

CAVEAT: Above considerations of equality before the Law and the Bill of Rights do NOT give such elected officials with religious affiliations license to then violate, subvert, revise, amend or otherwise disobey or disrespect the established Constitution, or fail in any way to uphold their Oaths of Office, to which they will conversely be held accountable as much as any other type of Citizen that might happen to acquire such Office.

In particular, even though Among Ed Panlilio has been elected the Governor of the Province of Pampanga, once he takes the Oath of Office, he must then faithfully discharge its provisions and the Constitution which he will swear to uphold. As the democratically elected Governor, he may not then act theocratically upon inauguration.

Governor-elect Panlilio may wish to review the following provisions of the 1987 Charter--
Article VI - Legislative Department - Section 29
(2) No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.
As governor, Fr. Panlilio will have to tread carefully not to then violate the very provisions of the Constitution that safeguards his own right to win and hold office. And to lead.


Amadeo said...

Very lucidly explained. However, do you personally foresee any challenges in his taking office for the position he just won? Especially from the losers?

Now, I know that the Catholic Church in its canons does not allow its clergy to run for and serve in any elective public service. So, how was this resolved prior to or during his candidacy? At the very least, he must have been suspended from his public priestly duties since no church authority can “undo” his being priest for life.

Prince Heinell said...

Sir, it should be Darlene, not Diane, Custodio.

Marcus Aurelius said...

Tag, former GE Med engineer from Pewaukee you are it!

Dominique said...

Hi, Dean: on the other hand, Panlilio's clerical functions have been suspended from the moment he ran for gubernatorial post. Also of note are Archbishop Cruz's comments published in yesterday's Inquirer.

baycas2 said...

from among ed’s website:

Canon 285 Par. 3

Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

but sometimes…the runner stumbles in his priestly vocation and could deviate from church laws. this time, all for the sake of common good and better governance…

as exemplified by Fathers Crisanto de la Cruz (Zamboanga Archdiocese), Ronilo Omanio (Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro), and Ed Panlilio (San Fernando Archdiocese). father crisanto resigned, father ronilo was suspended, and father ed filed a leave of absence…

as events unfurled, only father ed triumphed in his quest for a better alternative to the Goliaths in his province. father crisanto lost to lobregat while father ronilo (who, btw, is bank-rolled by Kampi) lost to ramirez-sato.

it’s NOT unconstitutional for clerics to assume public office, yes. however, father ed is now the lone shepherd who’s in violation of the Canon provision once he assumes governorship of Pampanga. this, i hope, will not diminish the opinion that his victory is also a conquest of evil but will he be able to stand up still as a Che Guevara now that he has closeted his robe for awhile?

blackshama said...

Ironically it is a state with an established church, England that prohibits clerics of any religion to sit in the Commons or assume public office. A cleric has to resign if he/she wants to sit in the Commons. This protects the Her Majesty's prerogative which is the authority of the State.

While Anglican Bishops can sit in the Lords, they have little say on how the state is run. If the Labour party has its way, the bishops will also go in the latest round of reforms in the Lords.

To really make Church and State separation inviolable, I am of the opinion that all clerics, church leaders, including the hosts of "Brothers", "Sisters" "Mga Sugo ng Diyos" SHOULD BE barred from assuming elective office unless they resign their clerical state.

Bren said...

One way to demonstrate that the State will respect secular needs despite religious objections will be to make divorce legal ASAP... divorce with the associated terms and conditions that respects property rights and personal rights of the separated couple while making of primary importance the needs of the children.