Posts Tagged ‘Church and State’

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Nikko Galicia

[FEU Law Legal Writing], December 5, 2014

WON: Church and State

Philippines is known for being a Christian nation in Asia, majority of people (90%) being of the Christian faith. [1] Our country is also known as a secular nation with a constitutional separation of church and state. [2] This separation is stated in our Constitution, under the Declaration of Principles, Bill of Rights, even in the Legislative Department. [3] Although, until now, the separation between the Church and State is still not clearly defined.

Earlier this year, a legal action has been filed against the Philippine Postal Corporation, for its issuance of postage stamps commemorating the 100th founding anniversary of Iglesia ni Cristo, on the grounds that it violates the Constitution on sponsorship of the religious activity. [4] The provision he raised reads:

“Article VI, Section 29. (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, or other religious teacher xxx”

Government officials commented on the matter, and both former Governor Dela Cruz and Presidential Spokesman Lacierda believes that the stamps are not unconstitutional, as they are only commemorative. [5]

A similar case has already been decided way back 1937 in Aglipay v. Ruiz, in issuance of postage stamp in commemorating the Eucharistic Assembly in Manila. [6] It was ruled in favor of the Government, explaining that the purpose and intent of the issuance was not for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church, but the Government was only taking advantage of the event to raise funds as authorized by the law.

In a 1971 case decided by the US Supreme Court, it is where the “Lemon” test was introduced to determine the involvement of the Church in any Government activities. [7] Although the case has been decided in the US, it could be used as a guideline in Philippine courts. Lemon test have these points to answer; Purpose, Effect, Entanglement. On these three points, courts can determine if the intent of the law or government activity does support any system of religion. [8]

Given these laws, cases, and guidelines, Philippine government may say that there is indeed a separation of the Church and State, however, it is not clear where does the line that separates them reside, and we can only rely on the adversarial system to set that line for us.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Philippines

[2] Id.
[3] 1987 Philippine Constitution,
Article II, Section 6. The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.
Article III, 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.

Article VI, Section 29. (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, or 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.

[4] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/615126/taxpayer-sues-phlpost-over-iglesia-ni-cristo-postage-stamp
[5] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/610819/is-phlposts-iglesia-ni-cristo-stamp-unconstitutional
[6] Aglipay v. Ruiz, G.R. No. L-45459, 64 Phil. 206, March 13, 1937
[7] http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2011/0713_santiago1.asp
[8] Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 US 602, June 28, 1971