Article II, Section 6 of the Philippine Constitution provides: “The separation of the Church and State shall be inviolable.” The mandate – which must never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored – is the most violated law of the land. There is no separation of church and state in the Philippines – the country is in fact a Christian religious state.
To make matters worse, a bill pending in the Philippine congress proposes the creation of an autonomous region to be known as Bangsamoro. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) aims to settle armed rebellions by Muslim groups in the country’s south. If the bill becomes law, Bangsamoro will be an Islamic autonomous nation within a Christian state. And worse yet to come, the autonomous Bangsamoro region could later evolve into a fully sovereign nation for reasons of its being incompatible with a Christian state.
Let’s look at a few facts about religion and government in the Philippines:
- Politicians and political parties publicly compete for the endorsement and support of churches and religious organizations.
- Church leaders mobilize their flocks for political and other civic actions via their church sermons and public rallies.
- Church leaders make public statements denouncing or supporting certain government acts and activities.
- Priests and other church officials appear at state-sponsored activities and functions wearing their religious vestments.
- Because of church influence and pressure, the Philippines is the only country in the world outside of the Vatican that does not allow married couples to divorce. The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines grants “legal separation” to married couples – but a legally-separated person cannot remarry.
- Neither the Roman Catholic nor the Iglesia Ni Cristo church displays the Philippine flag at their premises.
- Church leaders publicly reprimand, admonish, condemn and/or approve, commend or acclaim Philippine government officials for certain of their official actions or stances.
- Religion is taught in public schools where public school premises and equipment are used for such teaching in violation of Article III, Section 5 and Article VI, Section 29 of the Constitution.
- The Philippine government has no policy or program in place to enable the assimilation of the country’s Muslim population.
Churches and other religious institutions in the Philippines are required by law to register with the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission to which they could apply for tax-exempt status, and to which they are required to file annual financial statements. The Roman Catholic and Iglesia Ni Cristo churches turn a blind eye to these requirements.
To make things right, the Philippines should either repeal – or convincingly and credibly enforce – its Constitutional mandate for the separation of the Church and State.