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:
DOESN'T DEMOCRACY'S SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE FORBID THE ELECTION OF PRIESTS? ISN'T IT UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR A ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST TO HOLD POLITICAL OFFICE?
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.It's good we have the Bill of Rights which expresses the fundamentals of Freedom of Religion quite classically and cogently:
The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.
Article III - Bill of Rights - Section 5.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.
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.
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 29As 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.
(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.