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We are not just the Roman Catholic Republic of the Philippines

It’s not the only religion in the country. Hence, government must not cater to this group alone

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I grew up in a town that is home to people with different religions. In the middle of the town proper is the Roman Catholic parish. Behind the rundown municipal auditorium is a Protestant church. Another church of the same denomination can be found tucked in an outlying residential village. Further south of our town, along the national highway, rise the mighty spires of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

The Roman Catholic parish, with its bell tower, is adjacent to the town plaza and the municipal government building. Such a setup is familiar to most Filipinos, as it is replicated in the poblacion of almost every town in the Philippines. Interestingly, it is a remnant of our Spanish colonial past, when the church and the state jointly administered the country.

The proximity of the Roman Catholic parish and municipal building, often at the heart of every Philippine town, is a constant reminder of an age-old setup, when the Roman Catholic church was not afraid to impose itself on the affairs of government—and everyone else’s, for that matter.

For 300 years, Spain ruled the archipelago very much like Sauron did Middle Earth. Lest we forget, the Roman Catholic church was an accomplice in the oppressive rule of the Spaniards. You only need to visit your municipal plaza to be reminded of this by the bell tower looming over the town’s lovers and loiterers.

Even after 114 years of independence from Spain, the Roman Catholic church continues to act like a colonizer, to whose whims and caprices the Filipinos and their government must be subservient. The swords may have long disappeared, but the cross has remained.

But just like in my town, which used to be a part of an hacienda run by one family who, incidentally, rebuilt the Roman Catholic parish after it was torn down by the Japanese during the Second World War, the religious landscape has long changed. The Roman Catholic church, while still the biggest in the Philippines, is no longer the only religion in the country.

At present, our country is home to different religious organizations. Other than Roman Catholics, there are Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and even Hindus. There are also homegrown sects in the country, the largest and the most influential of which is the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Largely ignored

This is the religious landscape in the Philippines at the moment—a reality that the Roman Catholic church largely ignores when it throws its weight around to try to influence government policies, especially on the issue of the reproductive health bill.

This landscape must be taken into account by our legislators, who must remember that they are representatives of the entire Filipino people, and not just part of it. They are not elected to their seats by white smoke wafting from a chimney in Rome. The members of Congress should not bow to the pressure of one religion, when doing so would impair the right of other religions in the Philippines and violate the nonestablishment clause in our Constitution.

Succumbing to the threat of the Catholic pulpit favors only the Roman Catholic church. By its sheer number, it can bully its way toward policies that favor only its narrow interests.

By taking an anti-RH bill position, and pressuring legislators through its pulpits and demonstrations, the Roman Catholic church continues a tradition that reaches back to the Spanish dominion of the archipelago. During the Spanish era, the Roman Catholic church also owned sizable haciendas, like the hacienda in Calamba leased by the family of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Economic bullying

It had considerable economic power then, and was not hesitant to wield it against dissenters. Rizal’s were no strangers to this economic bullying, which today we only see being used by China against us. That power had long been spent, but the Roman Catholic church still have more tricks up its sleeve.

Even with about 80 percent of Filipinos identifying themselves as Roman Catholic, legislators must also mind the remaining citizens who identify themselves as belonging (or not) to religions other than Roman Catholicism.

What if the official stance of the religion to which they belong is to support the RH bill? Must their right to viable reproductive health services be trumped so easily just because they do not have the numbers? Lest we forget, the official name of this country is the Republic of the Philippines, and not the Roman Catholic Republic of the Philippines.

By reducing the vote over the passage of the RH bill into one determined by the approval of the dominant religion, members of Congress do the Filipino people a great disservice, if they don’t downright violate the Constitution. Again, Roman Catholicism is not the only religion in the Philippines. Hence, government must not give it special treatment.

While the bell tower of the Roman Catholic church looms tall over the Batasan, our leaders must not be blind that in the north, east, south and west of every town in the Philippines, different spires also reach up to the sky.


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Tags: faith , Government , Religion , Roman Catholic

  • farmerpo

    Very unfortunately, in politics, only numbers counts. Nothing else. Fortunately, Catholics are not as cohesive as other sects and religious groups.  Otherwise, we will be governed by the CBCP. Then, we will be back in the times of Rizal. The RH bill is badly needed but we put the likes of Sotto in the senate so we can deduce from that what we can expect from our legislative body. An inventory of legislators IQ will tell us whether we will be getting what we are paying for or we will be getting what we deserve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Zahl/1670371040 Steven Zahl

    In ITALY, the brave Lawmakers sided with the People, against the pope’s wishes.

    Thay have Universal RH since 1970.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dbaeten Dirk Baeten

       They also have legalised abortion since 1978 against the pope’s wishes. So what’s your point?

      • mynameisjayee

        If you are a good “Catholic” so to speak, do you think that you will use contraceptive or abort your baby even if the RH bill is passed by the lawmakers? 
        What is your point?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dbaeten Dirk Baeten

    This is quite a misleading article because not only catholics are against this Bill and arguments against the Bill are often not based on religion at all.

  • bgcorg

    This article is based on the wrong premise that the Church has police power and can force people to follow what she wants.  First of all, the teachings represented by the Church are taught but are not forced.  Jesus Christ and his successors to spread the Kingdom of God never forces anyone to believe: faith is a free, obedient response from “those who hear.”
    In the second place, the Church respects plurality in society and that includes the freedom of religion; each one is free to embrace the religion he wants, or irreligion, for that matter. Thirdly, it is the right of any group or assembly to propose its views and to convince others to join them; this, too, other groups are doing.  In fact, the purpose of this article is to sway its readers to its way of thinking. Fourthly, that we have symbols of the past now doesn’t mean that we cannot use them to benefit us: “ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggagalingan ay hindi makarating sa paruroonan.”

    Even without the Church, introspecting on the nature of man himself, and the wonders of creation and the magnificent order and design of the human body, one discovers the wonder of nature and the wisdom of the divine Creator, most persuasions conjured by the author hold as the Almighty and provident God (or by any other name).  Man has two basic instincts which Maslow’s hierarchy of values strongly confirms. These physiological values are “natural” and instinctive for man: self preservation and race preservation.  We naturally love life; we love our existence, we sustain it with food and take care of it; we abhor death. And, we procreate to continue the human race in existence in the world.  In doing this, we have to act morally according also to our human nature doing good and avoiding evil. We are bound by the golden rule in acting or reacting to realities in the world: “Do not do unto others what you do not want them do to you,” or its positive formulation: “Do unto others what you want done unto you.”

    From an objective standpoint, therefore, and ratiocinizing on the more particular applications of the more immediate principles above enuntiated, various persuasions could have their own creed for action: muslims and Jews, for example have their own; Catholics have the law of Christ, more than just the decalogue, the 8 beatitudes and other gospel and tradition-based values, moral, human and spiritual.

    Hence, to contend that Church opposition to the rh bill is an imposition of the Catholic position despite the plurality of persuasions in the country is very off-tangent, trying to cloud the issues with religious tones when, the arguments should be objectively seen even by non-catholic HUMANS, thinking men and women, from a purely rational point of view.  If the Ordinary, common, continuous and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for human life, the integrity of the human body that do not need to be mutilated for flimsy reasons, the sanctity of marriage, and the purposes of sex, according to gospel truths, affirm the Natural Law, it is only a reflection of the deeper meaning of man’s purpose on earth.  The old catechism tells Catholics that the purpose of man’s life on earth is: to know, love and serve Him in this world ultimately to be happy together with him in the next.

    After all the sound and fury, upon objective reflection on his very nature as man, the nature of sex and reproduction in the context of love, marriage and the family, the brickbats against the Catholic Church can be seen to be without basis and oftentimes malicious as to cloud the objective realities.  The Church believes in responsible parenting, and exhorts those in government to enliven hope in the very poor so that the best in constituents in a just social order may contribute their most and, with equal opportunities provided by an ideal democracy, free from graft and corruption, fight more effectively poverty in the land.  The Church helps government do this; but the primary duty for this social temporal order is the government’s.

    NO TO THE RH BILL!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J5OBLXBX2NBABF7QFBXSDHW2AA bert

    This PDI news column is a perverted articulation for the religious and Christian beliefs/faith of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_26BA6W344SPNT7SP3PLACAGXBI Blue_Crimson

      @yahoo-J5OBLXBX2NBABF7QFBXSDHW2AA:disqus : Roman Catholicism is still considered a branch of Christianity. WHAT’S the “perverted articulation” about it?

  • gyvv

    why such aggression when not even stating ones beliefs?

  • virgoyap

    Bigotry most often makes people close and bias and forgetful to other religion.

  • emaigeine

    It is not called the Roman Catholic.  It’s called the Catholic Church.  Further, at present, the Catholic Church has no visible power to “economically bully” the state.  It serves as a conscience instead.  Even a person needs a conscience.  Also, it is highly recommended to intelligently discuss the issues not attack the person opposing an idea or assertion.  God bless.

  • RFreemont

    Under the Constitution and existing laws, it is not mandatory or compulsory to join any religion, attend any class on religion, or listen to any religious teacher. It is the RH bill that requires mandatory or compulsory education or training. The RH bill even imposes penalties to what it labels as “disinformation.” The RH bill restricts parental rights and individual reproductive freedom. The RH bill violates freedom of speech and expression.

  • RFreemont

    The malicious attacks against the Catholic Church are being orchestrated by the population control ideologues as a diversionary tactic and smokescreen to avoid objective and rational discussions about the harmful effects and detrimental consequences of the RH bill and to cover up their population control agenda. The population control lobbyists and special-interest groups misappropriated or plagiarized the language of women’s rights and the environmental movement to sneak through their population control agenda. They are opportunistic like a virus in a host cell. The population control agenda is a totalitarian ideology based on racist views and eugenics. The aim of the RH bill is to reduce the fertility of women and not really for women’s health or maternal and child care.

    • Tauren

      Kelan pa naging malicious attack ang statement of fact? Isn’t it true that in the Poblacion of most of the towns in this country stood a Catholic parish? That your Church uses public lands to errect churches? That for 300 years spain ruled this country and Catholic friars were accomplice in the oppressive rule of the Spaniards?



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