Monday, January 3, 2011

The Unattributed Biblical Quotation in the New Philippine Currency

For a while there, it looked like the Dept. of Finance's launch of newly designed Philippine paper money might go the way of Tourism's ill-fated Pilipinas Kay Gandah slogan.  In fact, only the timely intervention of Christmas holidays may have saved it considering the gathering storm of chatter on the social media nets over inaccuracies in scientific nomenclature and geography and nitpicking over the color and depiction of native animals in the newly announced money.  I suppose for most these we can simply accept and endure the President's own hand-waving explanation, attributing these deficiencies to the vagaries of "artistic rendition."

But I simply cannot accept a feature that is apparently found on ALL denominations of the new money. Emblazoned top and center right under "REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS" is an unattributed Biblical quotation of Psalms 33:12:
"PINAGPALA ANG BAYAN NA ANG DIYOS AY ANG PANGINOON." 
(( Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord. ))
 Because the source of this clearly religious quotation of a Jewish Psalm by King David which is also found in the Christian Bible's Old Testament, is not all indicated, reveals perhaps a knowingly guilty conscience on the part of the bill's progenitors. For how can they fail to ignore the following provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution's Bill of Rights which are wantonly violated by this?
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.
I agree with the statement by Filipino Freethinkers that the Bangko Sentral immediately remove this violation of the provisions guaranteeing religious liberty in the Bill of Rights.

12 comments:

Jego said...

Ok, I'll bite.

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.

No law. Law. This is a piece of paper with writings on it. This is not a law, the legal gymnastics involved in shoehorning it into a demonstration of 'establishing a religion' notwithstanding.

The same provision also protects DJB's right to have a stamp made that says "God is an imaginary friend for adults" and stamping all his personal checks with them.

I suppose the quibble is that these are government-issued pieces of colored paper and the 'Filipino free thinkers' find some words in it offensive. But we dont have a right against being offended so maybe they should man up.

'Free thinkers' should really come to grips with the fact that we do not have an atheist constitution (see the Preamble), even though it recognizes and protects the rights of atheists. Unfortunately there is no right against having to read 'offensive' stuff in the legal tender.

There is a course of action for them: a constitutional amendment striking the words 'imploring the aid of Almighty God' from the Constitution. That way it would be terribly inconsistent to have these quotes from the legal tender. A constitutional amendment can be had via People's Initiative.

In the meantime, I repeat: Suck it up. It's not as if youll eschew the use of the colored paper in your everyday transactions.

A happy new year to all.

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Is a piece of LEGAL TENDER a law? Well of course a LAW had to be passed and lawful orders made in order for such legal tender to become physical money. So your first question, which is not a prejudicial one, will have to await the next stage of discussion. But clearly, the Constitutional validity and compliance of the law which made this money is a properly posed query.

Yes money is just a piece of paper with writings on it. However, I call your attention to the fact that money bears with it the full faith and trust of the Government, which guarantees its value and legal exchangeability for food, shelter, clothing, and any other commerciable commodity, goods or service.

To your second point, of course I, as a private individual may believe, say, teach and print any religious idea I may have. But NOT the Govt. That is the WHOLE point of each of the three sentences that address religious liberty in the Bill of Rights. They are prohibitions on what the government may or may not do in respect of Religion.

One thing it most certainly is prohibited from doing is being PARTIAL to any one religion. The Govt must be NEUTRAL towards religion and non religion alike. It would be equally unconstitutional for the Govt to print "God is an Imaginary Friend" on these bills.

You, and the majority can of course shrug your shoulders and say to others, "Suck it up."

But I know the translation of "Allahu al Akbar!" too, as
some suicide bomber detonates. It is also: "Suck it up!"

Jego said...

of course I, as a private individual may believe, say, teach and print any religious idea I may have. But NOT the Govt.

But they already did. In the Preamble. Which is why the 'Free Thinkers' should first move to strike the words 'imploring the aid of Almighty God' from the constitution, the fundamental law that says it's consistent with the fundamental law to have legal tender with 'almighty God' in it and not 'god is not great'. You could do this via People's Initiative.

Bottom line is this is a petty battle. Im thinking our 'free thinkers' are importing their tactics from the US atheists with their actions against 'In God We Trust' and the pledge of allegiance. Surely they have bigger fish to fry. There is for example a government agency called Office of Muslim Affairs. That office just screams Establishment Clause. It is an office "with the mandate of preserving and developing the culture, traditions, institutions and well-being of Muslim Filipinos, in conformity with the country’s laws and in consonance with national unity and development." I think this agency should be spun off into an NGO.

Really this railing against words on colored paper... it's ridiculous. Especially because those words are meaningless to the atheist and do not in any way, oppress them or prevent their freedom to express their unbelief. All it does is annoy them. There is no human right against being annoyed. Atheists have every right to annoy believers back and I support their right to be as annoying as they can. Free expression is a right recognized by the constitution which was ordained and promulgated by "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God".

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Jego,

The Constitution is an act undertaken by "We, the People"--it is in fact the statement of prohibitions and empowerments that we grant to the government. BTW, this constant citing of the Preamble is all you nonfree thinkers can do? We must construe the Constitution in its entirety, not just in the opening sighs of ceremonial prefaces. Each part of the Charter modifies and delimits all the other parts. The Bill of Rights applies directly to the Government. The Constitution is not an ACT of the govt but an act of the people that creates and limits the govt.

Jego said...

The Constitution is not an ACT of the govt but an act of the people that creates and limits the govt.

That is true and is a good point. So it is the people who placed Almighty God in it and it is the people who placed the words of the psalms in the colored paper consistent with the words in the constitution. There is no escaping this point. The constitution is a whole.

I can't tell you how amusing it is that you call people like me 'nonfree thinkers'. But perhaps that's a topic for another time.

All the best to you and yours, DJB. And again, thanks for the space.

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Jego,
Yes, but it is not the People who put those words on the money. It is the Govt which did it, something which the People explicitly forbids it from doing. The People can do anything, but NOT the Govt.

Jun Bautista said...

The non-establishment clause, while it is written on the Constitution only as prohibiting the passage of a law that establishes religion, covers every action of the government that promotes or favors religion or one religion over others or the believer against the non-believer. It is an express prohibition against the government as a whole (executive, legislative and judicial branches), for if we were to interpret such clause as applying only to laws passed by Congress, the prohibition would be illusory. Besides, courts here and in the US, from where this clause has been imported, have long interpreted this as applying to each and every action of government.

GabbyD said...

i for one would LOVE a test case for this.

please take this to the SC so jurisprudence can be developed.

Anonymous said...

On the prinicple of the separation of the Church and State: “To hold that it may not (respect the religious nature of our people and accommodate the public service to their spiritual needs) would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be to prefer those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. Government may not finance religious groups nor undertake religious instruction nor use secular institutions to force one or some religion on any person. But we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the scope of religious influence” – US Supreme Court in Zorach v. Clauson

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Anon,
Zorach v. Clauson is right and so would you IF what I were asking for was say, equal space on the bills to emblazon a nonbeliever aphorism like, "God is an Imaginary Friend for Adults." or from another faith, "There is no God but Allah!" What I DO ask for is absolute neutrality as demanded by both US and PH Constitutions, as in, nothing at all printed on the bills that might stoke controversy, the best being no aphorism or quote at all. By putting a Biblical quote the GOVT illegally favors Judeo Christianity. It would be equally wrong to favor atheists or Muslims by putting their favored words there.

Ben Vallejo said...

Much ado about a biodiversitically erroneous banknote! My main beef is that the Bible quote is unreferenced. Again this reflects on the importance of how the BSP considers accurate attribution in its products.

Since the SC's decision (re: del Castillo's plagiarism), any lawyer worth his salt will argue that not referencing the Bible citation is tantamount to admitting that no reference to an established religion was made.

The Freethinkers have to think beyond the cliches imported from the US of A!

teilhard said...

So which god does this BSP attribution is referring?

And how "pinagpala" we really are after three or four centuries of Catholic brainwashing?