Killings, Politics, Federalism, Elections and the Catholic Church of the Philippines

The Paoay Church in Paoay, llocos Norte, built in 1710. [Photo from]

By JoeAm

For the life of me, I cannot figure out the Catholic Church of the Philippines.

The Church and killings

The Church is a moral voice that is extraordinarily strong . . . as when Pope Francis visits or when battling Reproductive Health initiatives. And it is shockingly ineffectual, divided, and quiet about the recent deaths of some 20,000 Filipinos, mostly poor, mostly people with no one . . . apparently not even God . . . in their corner.

Pope Francis visited in January of 2015. I figure his message of ‘mercy and compassion’ had a shelf life of about one year. Even gruesome photos of piles of malnourished bodies stacked in morgues and taped bodies in the gutter could not rouse the Church from her silence about the Duterte drug war. It took the killing of kids and priests and many months for the bishops to raise their voices. President Duterte swore at them and at their God.

Why has the church been so passive about the Philippine killing spree? Here are a few ideas:

  • Priests have local relationships with mayors and power brokers who back Duterte. So they back Duterte, too.
  • Others are respectful of the Office of the President (and the separation of Church and State). They stay out of politics even if it is sinful politics.
  • Bishops and priests have been killed, and many are afraid. They keep quiet.
  • The moral role of the Church is to console suffering souls. This requires promoting suffering as a path to Heaven. The moral role is not to shout from the pulpit that killing is a sin.
  • The priests are ringing bells and speaking out in many places, but major media are not reporting it. The Church is the proverbial tree in the forest that is being cut down and we don’t know about it.

The Church and Politics

I thought about the Church when Gloria Arroyo was made Speaker of the House. She is close to the Church upper echelons. Will the Church back Gloria Arroyo again? Does the Church play personality politics, just like legislators and other elected officials? Or does it have firm moral principles that theft is sinful, and back away? Speaker Arroyo supposedly wants Federalism. Will the Church back Federalism?

Looking at the way Federalism is being rushed and hard-sold and with transition placed under President Duterte, it looks like a certain rush to dictatorship. It would be headed by the guy who cursed God and the bishops and set up the murderous climate in the Philippines that has left priests and bishops dead. And Duterte policies are contributing to economic stress, always, always borne most heavily by the poor.

The Church and Federalism

Federalism is a litmus test of Church principles, I think.

The word “church” is mentioned three times, and in the same contexts, in both the 1987 Constitution and the proposed Federalism Constitution. Let’s look at the two constitutions:

Federalism: ARTICLE II, DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES, PRINCIPLES, SECTION 5. The separation of the church and the State shall be inviolable. Relations between them shall be governed by benevolent neutrality.

1987: Section 6. The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.


Federalism: ARTICLE VII, LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT, SECTION 28. (a) Taxation shall be uniform, equitable, and progressive.

(c) Charitable institutions, churches, temples, masajid and parsonages or convents, madaris, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation.

1987 (3) Charitable institutions, churches and personages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation.


Federalism: ARTICLE VII, LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT, SECTION 29. (a) No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.

(b) No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary except when such priest, preacher, minister, imam, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, law enforcement agencies or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or hospital.

1987: Section 29. (1) No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.

(2) No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or
dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.

The two material differences are the specific inclusion of Muslim places of worship in the federalism document, and the addition of the sentence in State principles: “Relations between them [Church and State] shall be governed by benevolent neutrality.” That sentence seems to suggest that churches should be more respectful of the State than they have been (or why would it be added?) It’s rather nebulous to me but my skeptical mind says it means the State expects the Church to keep quiet about State activities.

The Church loses its free speech right to opine about State plans, policies, and acts.

The Church and Elections

We have elections coming in 2019. In the Philippines, some churches (Iglesia ni Cristo, for example] instruct or encourage their members to vote as a bloc for specific candidates. (I wonder how that fits into the proposed new constitution that demands neutrality.) The Catholic Church does not do that. It is actually more an organization of separate churches, almost tribal I suppose, rather than a unity. The local priests make up their own minds what they will say to their flock about all this.

The skeptical me turns cynical: As a moral voice, the Catholic Church of the Philippines has the look of a well-decorated Tower of Babel.

Based on what Jesus preached, I’d think most Christian churches would favor candidates of civility and democracy and human rights, not local self-dealers, thugs, or aspiring dictators. But it is hard to read the Catholic Church. Some priests back sinners (Gloria Arroyo) and advocates of killing (President Duterte).

So as I sift through all this, I have to conclude that the Catholic Church of the Philippines is in fact NOT a powerful moral voice in the Philippines. It is a confused and confusing voice, contributing to the divisions, strife, and loss of moral underpinnings in State institutions and the public at large. It is just another weak, counter-productive organization, like the House of Representatives, playing personality politics.

The Philippines actually has no moral custodian other than the Constitution. There is no caretaker. Not Executive, not the Legislature, not the Court. Not journalists.

Not the Catholic Church.

Well, it is a rather horrifying way to run a nation.

It’s like the Philippines has become a nation of lost souls, each wandering aimlessly and adrift on 7,000 tropical islands, not a boat, paddle, or disciple in sight.


69 Responses to “Killings, Politics, Federalism, Elections and the Catholic Church of the Philippines”
  1. Leo says:

    The separation of the state and the church has been hard played since election time with trolls condemning the RCC as playing politics with previous administration. This “involvement” of the RCC was visible then because the president was a devout Catholic and can be seen attending masses. As a Catholic, the previous president asked the opinion of the RCC in many important social issues which highlighted the influence of the RCC. Although, it is important to mention that some of the stance of the former administration ran contrary to the teachings of the RCC.

    This was the reason why it was imperative that this influence must be discredited in preparation to the current president’s ascension to power, because his benefactor has had a horrific experience with the RCC/CBCP. It can be recalled that many issues, however tangent, were spread in the social media by the trolls of the political machinery of the incumbent, with the help of the other religious sects of the same goal. I even think this, along with the adoration and adulation to the “messiah of empty promises”, has caused some Catholics to loose faith, to the delight of other sects.

    When some of the priests expressed opinions on the social plight of the oppressed and the EJK, they were brutally trolled, relentlessly, even the current president hinted at taking shots at them, literally, like he hinted pn the politicians which caused to the assassination of some. The VACC which once espoused christian faith as their guiding light in fighting for justice has turned its back and even attacked the RCC/CBCP.

    As to your conclusion that the Philippines has lost her moral voice in RCC, I agree to some extent. But can it be that the RCC might be calming the flock to avoid more bloodshed, not only of its clerics, but of the people especially the vulnerable? Your idea that the RCC is composed of individual tribes is obvious, but it can also mean that most of the priests have taken heed to the call of the CBCP to show restraint and prioritize the deepening of the faith of the congregation in the face of the flurry of controversies being hurled at it, rather than actively take the streets.

    It is obvious that the current president doesn’t believe the basic tenet of Christianity, so it follows that the influence of the church is never needed, nor sought and even strongly abhorred. This is the reason why we, as a country, may seem disenfranchised and lost because the leaders and the more dominant voice in the social media do not have any moral compass shared by the free world.

    I think, hunkering down and addressing the issue of wavering faith within the tribe is more important than collectively screaming to the muffed ears of bullies… at the moment.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > VACC which once espoused christian faith as their guiding light in fighting for justice has turned its back and even attacked the RCC/CBCP.

      VACC, which also hatched the plan to put that old man in power, is a twisted hypocritical entity led by a madman: I read that to achieve a supposed “crime-free” society they want twenty executions per day.

    • Most interesting comments, Leo. Thanks.

      It is striking that President Aquino sought guidance from the Church but was also threatened with excommunication. Whereas President Duterte gives guidance TO the church, and seeks none. And the Church lets that sleeping dog lie. No threat of excommunication lest they be branded an enemy and shut down. I suppose the added Federalism statement is as much as saying, okay, lets both leave the other alone.

      But that makes me wonder what the Church thinks its role in the Philippines ought to be. It is a nursemaid to the suffering? It allows the death penalty and divorce and free abortions without voice? I don’t think so. I tend to look at the Church as no different than, say, Nutriasia, and it ought to have a voice and input into the moral codes and the politics that flow from them.

      The passive role you advocate is for sure peaceful, but I wonder if it is the intended Path of the Lord. I’m sure we can both pull up Bible quotes to argue either way. Passivity to me is complacency, and complacency in a rules based nation is abdication, and abdication is enabling.

      • Leo says:

        True that, JoeAm, passivity is enabling, but a curious scenario happened a while back when the current president gave a speech in a small town in Iloilo while distributing certificates of land transfers to farmers. The usual lewd jokes and insinuations never received a even squeak of a laugh of appreciation. The town has a strong Catholic community, with several truly believed in strong social action of the present administration. This, I think, is an example of how inculcating and cultivating strong Christian values can be more effective than facing the raging tide head-on… at this time.

        I am never good at citing biblical passages and will not be effective in using one to support my point.

        • May there be more iloilos then, and less almost juvenile enthusiasm expressed via raised fists, and via high popularity polls. Those fists, often done with an embarrassed smirk, are of the style of Mocha Uson doing the federalism dance.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    The president mentioned only two governors from Luzon who funded his election campaign, what is he trying to imply?
    1) The rest are under an anti drug watchlist?
    2) The rest are out to get him so ML must be declared?
    3) Because of number 2 Cha cha must be rushed? Or.
    4) He is just sucking up to Gov Garcia and Marcos.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    My dad told me that the priests should stay away from politics, I told him, they are already being told that they are irrelevant if they maintain their silence.
    We agreed to disagree to avoid stress.

    • Politicians attend worship, so it is impossible for priests to stay away from politics. See as well my response to Leo.

      • The local priests probably would be well advised to just tend to the flock. But the CBCP has a political role to play, I think. It has for sure played it in the past. The CBCP ought to advocate for political deeds that strengthen its ability to take care of its flock. I just think it chooses badly. It is like the Supreme Court, getting tied up in doctrinal issues and missing both the cart and the horse. Birth control is an example. If relief of suffering is the goal, how can the church justify 10 kids and the next one placing the mother and the child at risk? There needs to be some sense to doctrine, and I admire Pope Francis because he seems to want to find it. The CBCP seems eccentric, erratic, nonsensical, and therefore ineffective in its policies and politics. I just go nuts that they thought about excommunicating President Aquino. That sole point is testament that they are a part of the crab-like culture of destruction, and the failure to appreciate good deeds.

  4. During D’s election campaign, there were even bishops who volunteered to give names to kill. They were stopped by CBCP but I found it weird, as if they didn’t know the meaning of their own faith.

    Now that Arroyo is back, remember the Pajeros for bishops, similar to pabaon for generals. Truly, those who want to keep their luck in the Philippines must not be selfish. Arroyo is very generous, like Binay is generous to cake-eating masses, she knows higher-ups do not live from bread alone.

  5. madlanglupa says:

    There is a sect here that the President and his friends do not touch because it is too important and powerful than the Catholic Church.

  6. Micha says:

    The sins of the Catholic church are many which makes it the wrong institution to turn to for moral guidance. That a state agent could openly mock its spiritual leaders and, for that matter, the very God it professes to worship without much consequence attest to the diminishment of its moral and spiritual authority.

    • You caused me to reconsider my purpose in writing this blog. It really is not about religion. It is about politics and the laws that flow from the politics. Those laws are shaped by moral codes and pragmatics of politics and vested interests. The Philippines needs a stronger moral voice in its politics right now. One of compassion, of truth, of fairness, of civility. The Catholic Church could become relevant if it actually decided to BE relevant rather than play (amoral) personality politics.

      • Micha says:

        The Catholic church cannot anymore be possibly relevant even if it wanted to because the core of its faith in the context of modern age has already become irrelevant. That is the root of its moral and spiritual crisis.

        • Right. The path to relevance is not paved in the same old worn bricks. I have seem men learn, though, and the Church is by men, for God. It’s up to them. I just think they could be helping rather than aiding and abetting by looking the other way as a nation and her poor people are being accosted.

    • Leo says:

      I think this shows a changed stance of the RCC over the millennia. If this blasphemy happened during the dark ages, heads would have rolled. To engage someone who insulted MY God with vindictiveness will just prove him right. The image of God is never defined on what can our senses describe, it should be more than that. And it was not only the current president who is making these claims, other sects too are mocking the Catholic beliefs, and God, but the RCC never engaged them publicly.

      It is rather sad that the bastion of Christianity in Asia has a president who never cared for Christian Values or at least respect basic human rights, a tragic irony.

  7. Andres 2018. says:

    Do you attend a Sunday mass? Listen to the sermons of the priests in every parishes, its all about EJKs and killings.

    If you expect priests to criticize directly a politician like P.Duterte in their sermons it will not happen. They just could not do it. They rather criticize the deeds and not the person itself, which i believe is the better way.

    What do you want for the Church to do by the way?

    • Speak with a loud, unified voice. Become an institution that will not compromise on compassion, civility, fairness, and truth. Stop playing personality politics.

      • I don’t attend services. I would say that, if what you say is true, then Micha is right, the Church is irrelevant . . . because Duterte keeps killing and insulting and his popularity holds high.

      • Andres 2018. says:

        How could you know the Church voice against EJKs and killings and death penalty if you are not attending the mass…

        Try to attend this Sunday n your nearest parish, lets see if the priest will talk any of that issue in his sermon.

        A lot of news about the Church condemning EJKs and killings, just like the reproductive health bill.

        And if you look at it, the original Operation Tokhang was halted because mainly of the Church protest.

        • The proof is in the kind of pudding we are served, strong popular support for brutality, incivility, and destruction of the moral foundations of democracy. I would add that one does not have to know there is water on Mars by going there to drink it.

          • Andres 2018. says:

            I wonder why they sent the Curiosity Rover and planning to send the first man on 2022 on Mars to have a “clearer” picture of its environment…

            What im trying to say here is the Church holds no bias in its actions against EJKs and Reproductive Health Bill.

            The Church does not care about democracy or any form of government, in fact, the Church as an intention is more authoritative in itself than democratic.

            • ” the Church holds no bias in its actions against EJKs and Reproductive Health Bill.” Then why did the CBCP consider excommunicating President Aquino over the Reproductive Health Law, but is substantially silent about the killings under Duterte? Seems a lot like bias to me.

              “The Church does not care about democracy or any form of government, in fact, the Church as an intention is more authoritative in itself than democratic.” True to the extent of the technical construct that the Church is of no government, and no government is of God. Democracy is not mentioned in the Bible. But civilization has evolved since Christ, and the Church has preferences for human rights and decency, and democracy that promotes the dignity and well-being of its citizens. Kudos to Pope John Paul II for his compendium on the subject. This article explains:

  8. Francis says:


    I think that—given its limitations—the RCC is doing its best. It has even gone to the extent to having parish priests reading pastoral letters straight from the top; formal, yes—but despite its bureaucratic overtones, a very clear sign of disagreement. It has held other multiple forms of protest.

    The reason the RCC is quite feeble right now is because the role of the RCC in the Martial Law Period and EDSA 1 were less a confirmation of the RCC’s centuries-long status as the Filipino establishment institution primus inter pares, than a a last hurrah, a supernova.

    SWS surveys have shown a relatively significant drop in the influence of the Catholic Church—via declining attendance at the pews. There are more “competitors” for “moral authority” these days: all those Christian denominations i.e. born agains, bloggers from social media, celebrities on the telly…

    I don’t think that we should blame the RCC for being insufficiently brave or critical—isn’t The RCC is just limited by factors beyond its controls.

    This isn’t EDSA or the 70s or 80s anymore.

    • Yes, okay, replace “insufficiently brave” with insufficiently consistent and principled. And if being critical is too much to ask, at least for the leadership to recognize the double standard of raising Cain (heh heh, interesting idiomatic expression that popped into my head) over condoms while priests hob-nob with the corrupt and remain passive about killings and destruction of ethics and government institutions. Is she a principled and moral institution herself, able to stand toe to toe with the State, or is she just fluid as personal attachments require. Frankly, I’d like to see the Church formally join with the opposition in a commitment to civility, democracy, and human rights, and stop the wishy washy double standards and inconsistencies. But it is her future, so she can do as she pleases. If she has no ambitions to be a moral force for the nation, then okay. I agree with you. And with Micha. But she is pretty much irrelevant, on the way out as a pillar of Philippine conservatism, stability, and culture. I’ll stop worrying about it, and chalk it up to just one more institution, like journalism, that not only throws the baby out with the bath water, but tosses its own freedoms away, too. Pardon me for getting worked up about it.

    • Francis, I sense that a tectonic shift in values happened after 1986. Worldwide from 1990, but very strongly in the Philippines.

      The country already felt substantially different in 1995, just what I couldn’t quite place.

  9. edgar lores says:

    1. I am of several minds here.

    2. I begin with the principle of the separation of church and state. I am a firm believer in this. Religion has been a handmaiden of the state if not its mistress. In the ideal of the democratic secular state, this should no longer be. And, ideally also, no religious mythology should be supported by the secular state.

    3. Going against this principle is the reality in the Philippines. In the absence of institutionalized resistance to autocracy, the Church is about the only viable institution to offer a semblance of resistance. We expect her to fulfill this role as she did in the Marcos era… and we easily criticize her for not doing so.

    3.1. In view of the separation principle, we really should not. If the Church is to be faulted, it’s not in its failure to spearhead resistance or to organize it. It lies in her failure to inculcate Christian morality to the majority of its flock. If she had done so, we would not be in this crisis.

    3.2. But the Church, as an institution, is not totally inutile in the Drug War. Certainly, there have been rogue clerics who have supported the war. But we have to differentiate between soft and hard resistance. I gather the Church has been active in soft resistance, such as:

    o Offering sanctuary to drug personalities
    o Assisting survivors financially and morally
    o Denouncing the EJKs from the pulpit

    3.3. I would not agree for the Church to lead or participate in hard resistance. Ideally, we should institutionalize resistance within the domain of government.

    4. As I see it, there are four main forces right now fighting for freedom or for survival:

    o The Left
    o The truly religious
    o The Muslim rebels/bandits
    o The secular minority/elite

    4.1. The first two are the demonstrators and the marchers. The Left are also the rebels in the hills and the small bloc in the Legislature.

    4.2. The third are the MILF, the BIFF, the Abu Sayyaf, and the ISIS remnants.

    4.3. The fourth is a hodge-podge. Some are the silent majority. Some belong to the faithful but are resisting on secular grounds. Some are members of Congress. Some are news media and social media entities and personalities. Some may be in the armed forces.

    5. I think it is this fourth group that should spearhead and constitute the resistance. I keep using the term “resistance” but I haven’t defined it. It’s opposition to autocracy without the use of violence. Soft resistance in other words. However, the fourth group defies organization. There are umbrella organizations to be sure like Tindig. This is the great weakness. Without organization, there is no great strength.

    5.1. There are organizers for the first two main forces, and they have joined forces to a degree. The expensive props in the street demos are most likely from the Left. The truly religious provide the bodies. It’s a strange marriage and divorce is inevitable. It may come at a high price.

    6. TSH is in a good position to map the effort in institutionalizing resistance. There are several existing initiatives. Anti-dynasty. Anti-turncoatism. Ethics in education. Professionalizing the civil service. Swifter justice. Improving transparency and accountability. Some of these are motherhood statements and do not delineate specific steps in achieving them.

    • “It lies in her failure to inculcate Christian morality to the majority of its flock.” Yes, and when individual priests do not find bodies in the gutters abhorrent to their teachings, it is hard to expect the people to find moral clarity. I guess I am dismayed by the demise of Philippine institutions, and the Church seems to be one more to add to the bucket.

      I like your delineation of the four sets of freedom fighters. I for sure don’t call for street marches and violence, it is not my position to do that, as an outsider. But as an aspiring problem-solver, I don’t think the Church helps much by being a Tower of Babel and pulling within itself. Is it an institution or not? If it is a collection of tribes, no problem. I had the wrong impression.

    • NHerrera says:

      A taxonomy of sorts on the soft and hard resistance to the excesses of the Administration. Thank you for that and the lead idea of the blog article.

      In the context of the blog and discussion so far the following is just a tidbit — even Jaime Cardinal Sin “danced” or swayed to the tune of the Marcos couple in the initial years, changing his dance or tune only with the aftereffect of the Enrile-Ramos coup. Sin, an opportunist or merely seizing the moment?

        • NHerrera says:

          Interesting that by word association I may have used the Latin Carpe diem for seizing the moment or the day [without regard for tomorrow or consequence]. It seems to be the philosophy of Filipinos, speaking in general and of the times, including our Supreme Court, TSH’s recent subject.

          • Yes, I was talking with my wife about that yesterday, about how it is hard to inspire workers with bonuses and promotions because they want things NOW. There is no comprehension of career path or a future well-being that takes effort to get there.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      PH is the only predominantly Catholic country in Southeast Asia. It is like a snowflake in the middle of the tropics. It is an easy target for PRD not only because of the transgressions of some of its priests but also because of its uniqueness in geography.

      The PH constitution is based on a mythical American premise of the church being separate from religion. Mythical, because nowhere in the US Constitution that it said that verbatim. The seat of contention lies in the interpretation of the First Amendment. The concept is admirable but not totally implementable. In every country, religion is woven into the fabric of the citizens’ lives so it nearly impossible to separate nationhood from religion. The US has realized this in 1956 when the Congress replaced “E Pluribus Unum” to “In God We Trust” as the country’s motto. Maybe the PH needs that realization too?

      • edgar lores says:

        I favor a strict implementation of the separation principle. It is doable. Here, in Oz, it is being done. And in China as well. Although one may argue that “Communism” as defined by the Party is the state religion.

        • I am not well versed in Australian Constitution. All I know about it is it has the First Amendment buttressing religious freedom like the US Constitution. I googled
          a bit but did not find any proof that the OZ has a strict implementation of the state/church separation. Then again, my references might be a tad outdated. The first link below was from 2005 and the second is more recent.

          The article from Australian Humanist (2005) says there is no separation of church/state in Australia and NZ:

          Twitter page for Aussies for separation of Church and State gave me the impression that like America, Australia is still grappling with the interpretation of the church/state separation concept and the discussion is in fluid state:

          Please enlighten me on how it is being done in Australia. I am very interested in democratic Australia’s implementation of the separation. In China, not so much. In a country with an authoritarian leader, anything could be implemented, IMHO.

          • edgar lores says:

            Sorry, I did not make myself clear.

            I am not saying that Oz has documented the separation principle.

            I am saying that we are observing — living in real life — the separation principle. Religion does not meddle in politics. And the state does not support any particular religion.

            Recently, there was a Royal Commission investigation into the sexual abuses of religion.

            • edgar lores says:

              Clarification: True, there is government funding for religious schools, Catholic schools included. But the government is primarily supporting education and not any religion itself. The funding is historical.

    • Leo says:

      I like your idea of institutionalize resistance and it should not be the RCC who should take center stage. Any movement, for me, would require a critical mass to effect change. If that critical mass goes to the side of the resistance, then the changes aspired by that group can be achieved, but if the critical mass goes to the government’s side, then there is legitimacy on the current course the leadership is taking, however tyrannical it maybe.

      If the fourth group, borrowing the groupings proposed above, can be agitated and gathered to a critical mass, then this “messiah of empty promises” can be silenced and be made to toe the line or even replaced. But to expect the RCC to act now, it will not be enough. This can even polarize the population and in the confusion, those with the harshest tongues promising the sweetest and the most impossible of things will get the attention and support of the huddled masses.

      This is very important in considering what role the RCC should take. Any group, sectarian, secular or even individuals who so much as whisper dissenting voice gets pummeled by the trolls. Given the visibility of the RCC, which has voiced concerns and outcries in the pulpits, it is already marked as a constant target of demolition. If it dares to set foot on the streets, the trolls would have the impetuous they needed to set to work and influence the vocal minority by crying foul that the RCC violated the separation of the state and the Church. The chanting of these vocal minorities will echo throughout the land, empty tins make the loudest noise, and the argument can take hold in the minds of the adoring sectarian followers of the administration and further increase the the intensity of the chanting and can influence those sitting on the fences to their side.

      The favored religious and powerful sect will certainly pounce on the opportunity to join in the chanting because INDEED the RCChurch has violated that thin line, again. If this happens, the critical mass will most likely favor the administration. This is the reason why the current administration is taunting the RCC to act, and the favored sect is really holding its breath and fervently imploring all divine beings, and demigods to push the RCC to bite the bait.

    • Andres 2018. says:

      “It lies in her failure to inculcate Christian morality to the majority of its flock. If she had done so, we would not be in this crisis.”

      Consider the most influential religion here in the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo(INC). Given the secrecy of the INC i wonder if the ministers ever discussed EJKs and death penalty on the pulpits. Imagine, if the last “Walk Against Poverty” was a “Walk Against EJKs” that would bring a lot of impact.

      Minor religions are much more influential than the Catholic Church. One public speech of condemnation of EJKs from the pastors, ministers or elders would bring a lot of impact in the Duterte Administration i believe.

  10. ” And it is shockingly ineffectual, divided, and quiet about the recent deaths of some 20,000 Filipinos, mostly poor, mostly people with no one . . . apparently not even God . . . in their corner.”

    Sad yet true. In history the church has done nothing save for sexual abuse and fleecing their parishioners. Lacking a strong sense of personal discernment people will continue to look to this and other religions for answer that will never be found.

    • I don’t challenge faith, as that is up to people themselves, and I know it can be uplifting, soothing, and enriching. But the administration of the churches, and consistency of doctrine, warrant checks and balances. Same with businesses.

  11. karlgarcia says:

    He was protesting the meddling of the Church about RH.

    My take. Celdran could have done it somewhere else, like in front of the CBCP office and shout Damaso to the top of his lungs.
    No hurt feelings there, I think.

    The chuch be always show love for life, if it is true that some priests recommended names fot tokhang, then that is unfortunate.

    The SC decided that it was for hurt feelings, then after Duterte steps down, the chuch must sue him for hurting the Church multiple times.

    • edgar lores says:

      Love the last paragraph.

      I wonder what doctrine the SC will come up with to excuse Duterte.

      o Advanced age and fragile state of health
      o No grave abuse of discretion
      o The State can do no wrong
      o The statement “God is stupid” cannot “offend religious feelings” because it is not directed against the Damasos.

    • Germany has similar laws against insulting the Church during religious ceremonies – or similarly conservative laws against disrespecting the flags of other states if they are displayed in public, for example in the yard of an Embassy or an Ambassador’s Residence.

      But the sentence (at least over here) always depends on the gravity of the offense and whether the person is a first-time offender. First-timers usually get suspended sentences and have to report to a parole officer, but stay free (since jail or prison often just breeds more hardened criminals) or if the sentence is up to six months they can be given an equivalent fine (six months of what they usually earn) or even social work. BTW the law against insulting a foreign head of state (“Shah paragraph”) was removed on January 1st, 2018.

      Russia applied its laws against insulting religion very harshly in the case of Pussy Riot, but the Orthodox Church is known to be very close to Putin and supportive of his policies. Like it is known that Buddhists in Myanmar around Aung San Suu Kyi are often anti-Rohingya.

  12. The Church and the State always had an ambivalent relationship in the Philippines.

    The First Propaganda Movement was about native priests asserting their rights.

    Gomburza was about two native and one mestizo priest getting executed for allegedly supporting a military mutiny – something also quite common from the start of the 19th century.

    Hermano Pule was a lay preacher who was denied his right to form a lay group in Quezon, continued and was hunted as a heretic, his head and hands severed and put on his parent’s fence.

    The Katipunan was betrayed accidentally by the wife of one of it’s members, who confessed to the Spanish priest that her husband was plotting something which for her was sinful, as the Church was Spanish and therefore it should be a sin to go against Spain and want independence..

    Katipunan members were not always religious. Some even chopped of the noses of saints in Church – but that is also related to the usual complex of having flat noses. Many of the saints in Philippine churches are ridiculously pink/white, even Jesus who probably looked Middle Eastern.

    Both INC and Aglipayan (Marcos was Aglipayan first and became Catholic for political reasons) churches were formed shortly after the revolution. Only few Filipinos went for Protestantism that American missionaries brought, notably the Igorots – many Anglican Church members up there.

    Marcos and Cardinal Sin originally had a somewhat cozy relationship. Later on it was Radio Veritas that called the people to go to EDSA. A part of the military had of course just switched sides.

    The confused blend of many different churches is I think something that got started post-EDSA.

    There are accounts of Alsa Masa members in Davao having been born agains and of some even praying before going to kill. PNP’s Jovie Espenido has rhetoric remiscent of that attitude.

    Catolico cerrado is the term for the traditional sort of Catholicism of the “elitists”. More like the plantation owner going to Church. Intellectual elites often shunned the Church as reactionary.

    Though some priests joined the left, there is no liberation theology in the Philippines that is at a par with Latin America. Just like Che Guevaras or Castros don’t exist in a land of mostly groupthink.

    • I enjoyed this scan of the eccentricities of faith in the ever-emotional Philippines. I think of the Latin temperament, generally considered passionate and potentially explosive. The Philippines seems to have the ‘potentially explosive’ but I can’t get a feel for the passions. I suppose I should go see Buy Bust.

    • edgar lores says:

      Plenty of religion-related paradoxes to think about.

      I do not know of any denomination that was critical of Duterte from the very start. Some have begun to criticize but there is no outright condemnation. I was surprised to learn that CJ Puno is a Methodist.

      • NHerrera says:

        Meaning there is a “method” in his legal thoughts and actions? Sorry for the pun. By the way, he was the CJ who retired early to effectively give way to GMA’s insertion of Corona. I remain to be corrected.

  13. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    “There is wide speculation that Mrs. Arroyo promised Mr. Puno that he would succeed then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban. The condition, according to fertile minds of some lawyers and observers, was that Mr Puno would retire to create a vacancy for the second most senior associate justice who happened to be Renato Corona.

    But how about the Constitutional prohibition? As things happened, Mrs. Arroyo did not have any respect at all for the fundamental law. By whatever means, she had to appoint a Chief Justice who is undoubtedly canine loyal to her as shown by Mr. Corona’s voting preferences even before he was appointed Chief Justice. He never dissented in cases where the politics or maybe fortunes of Gloria Arroyo were concerned.

    She must have had the assurance of the magistrates she appointed that they will interpret the prohibition in favor of Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Corona.”

    Speculation about Puno – 1) Puno was promised the CJ position after Panganiban in exchange for a promise to retire before he reached the age of 70 so GMA can appoint Corona as CJ in violation of the Constitution.

    2) my question – Is this the same Puno who is behind the draft of the Federal Constitution which will undoubtedly benefit the MAD triumvirate – Marcos, Arroyo, Duterte? What’s this – unli scratching each other’s backs?

  14. That’s easy enough to explain, Joe.

    The Catholic Church is its own organization. Its interests are not the same as the Filipino people.

    For example, it seeks to ban all forms of birth control and has resorted to lying by claiming that birth control is an abortifacient — which it is not. That has resulted in way too many families having way too many children. This has created an impoverished population.

    What is an abortifacient?

    • Yes, it is it’s own organization, but in the Philippines, its interests are tied to the willingness of the State to allow it to speak and chart its own course. And the State’s interests are tied to what the politicians perceive as their interests, and the Church represents a lot of voters. So the two are intertwined pretty thickly.

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