separation of church and state: Philippine election

Still writing my thesis, except that I am willfully derailed by the current noise of our upcoming May 9 Philippine election.So I am here writing a very short entry.

For these past weeks the best I could do is ask the opinion of friends regarding the Presidential candidates. I’m quite perplexed now: Poe? Roxas? Duterte? Binay? Abstention is not an option, I just try to be as informed as possible.

But what I have in mind now is Duterte’s statement about Catholic vote. Which rests on this superficial presumption: When it comes to matters of separation of Church and State what comes to mind is Catholic Church versus Philippine Government.

We’re Filipino Catholics. All of our presidential candidates are Catholics. Your grandparents and our forefathers were Catholics. Catholicism was already here organizing our communities, educating us, forming our ancestors even before there was Philippine Republic. Now that we have imported a Democratic way of governance from United States, we have pronounced the separation of Church and State, which the American people had debated among themselves. Well, no problem with that.

My problem is why go to Iglesia ni Cristo or Quiboloy or El Shaddai or any Protestant denominations present in the Philippines. Aren’t they religious groups? What’s at stake when Iglesia ni Cristo endorses a candidate? Are they not influencing anyone by their endorsement? I mean come on guys.

The bishops are vocal because it is clear to them that their business is different from the State no matter how unpopular their stances were or are. Iglesia ni Cristo is silent on most issues! But when election comes everyone cowers over this religious group whose power and influence over our government is obvious. I don’t know – are they rigging our elections?

Now. My fellow countrymen, I am for separation of Church and State. I fully appreciate what Manuel Quezon and our forefathers had done to ensure we had a smooth transition to a Democratic government under the guidance of US. But they were Catholics too. They staunchly defended the independence of State from Church. But how about our candidates now? Can we sincerely say that by their actions they are upholding this tenet? No. The Catholic Church isn’t the only church / religious group in the Philippines. However, we see our candidates blatantly violating this Democratic ideal by courting other influential religious groups. For what favor?

 

 

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