We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.For example former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban (now a regular newspaper columnist) in a public address to seminarians of the Royal Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas (Feb. 19, 2002 UST Martyrs Hall and reproduced in his book Saving the Constitutional System) defends his creation and imposition of The Centennial Prayer of the Courts which precede every Philippine Court session [sic!] :
Many people, including some men and women of the cloth, are surprised why the Supreme Court has an official prayer. They ask: is this not a violation of the separation of church and state? The answer is "no." Let me explain.
The Philippines is theist, not atheist, not even agnostic. In fact, it is monotheist; it worships one God. [emphasis DJB's]
That is why our Constitution begins with this significant first phrase: "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God x x x." You may want to know that both houses of Congress and the Cabinet also preface their sessions with prayers.So there you have it folks! The Monotheistic Republic of the Philippines. From the pen of no less than its distinguished former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. My rebuttal after the jump...
It is time to lance this boil and deprive it of any claim to the credence of thoughtful and rational men as being in any way descriptive of the very essence of the Republic of the Philippines.
Mr. Panganiban basically concludes and asserts that "The Philippines is theist..." solely on the observation that the Constitution opens with "a significant first phrase" in which we do indeed find The Filipino People to be "imploring the aid of Almighty God" as they create and promulgate their Constitution.
Now please notice, gentle reader, the two phrases "The Philippines" and "The Filipino People" in the paragraph above.
Do they refer to one and the same thing? I don't think so and let me explain why.
First, let me concede that "The Filipino People" do indeed appear to be THEIST for imploring the aid of "Almighty God." But does this mean that the GOVERNMENT (which the Filipino People are indeed imploring Almighty God for aid to establish) can consider itself to be theist and act accordingly? Does it mean that any institution, organization or commission created by their Constitution automatically is also theist and in fact monotheist?
Here I am distinguishing between the Filipino People and the institution of Government which they are creating, defining and most of all LIMITING by each and every provision of the Constitution that comes AFTER the Preamble.
If we assume that the Filipino People are theist in the Preamble, does it mean the Government is also theist? I don't think so because in the Bill of Rights provision on Freedom of Religion we find the People laying down explicit provisions on Government and Religion which does not at all suggest they are creating a theistic Government. On the contrary. Here we have the admittedly theistic Filipino People creating a decidedly nontheistic, religiously neutral Government "in order to build a just and humane society!" --
1987 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.These provision on Freedom of Religion and Worship are clearly directed at the Government. Here the theistic Filipino People are creating a Government that is obviously nontheistic!
In coming to his conclusion that "The Philippines is theist" however, Mr. Panganiban is no longer referring to the Filipino People but to the Government (which makes the laws and regulates exercise of civil and political rights by the citizens).
This is a grave error of Reading Comprehension on the part of the former Chief Justice. "The Filipino People" is absolutely not the same thing as the Government they create and delimit in the Constitution they have promulgated, even with its "theistic" Preamble.
The Filipino People can say or do virtually anything since it is their Constitution. But NOT the Government which they have prohibited from either promoting or opposing Religion in the Bill of Rights. Even if the Filipino People are conceded to be theistic, they can still create a nontheistic Government as a NECESSARY vehicle towards a just and humane society.