Weeks ago I was informed by a member of the Catholic Faith Defenders University of Southeastern Philippines chapter about a school publication that assaults the Church on her stand against social issues. The group also asked me if I can make a comment or refute the said publication. I was right away provided a copy of the school published newspaper entitled The Collegiate Headlight[1]for me to read and evaluate. 

Before I proceed in responding to the misleading arguments raised by the other side I would like to share my first impression after I’ve read the said article found within the pages of this school newspaper. To be honest I am quite disappointed with the quality of their work and research skill, their article is grounded more on their subjective understanding of the social issues and their contentions are based on emotions rather than rational reasoning and facts.

Written in bold is quoted from their publication.

The authors of this article without delay immediately made an issue out of the state policy “Separation of the state and the Church” which is written in Article 2 Sec. 6 of the 1987 constitution. The Catholic Church has no problem with this policy because the Church knows that she is not violating this fundamental principle of the law of the land. The authors of the article said;

“Artikulo II pahayag ng mga Simulain at Mga Patakaran ng Estado, Seksyon 6 – Hindi dapat labagin ang pagkakahiwalay ng Simbahan at Estado.”[2]

For those who do not have any background in law they are quick to believe the comments uttered by the authors of this article. They further explained that the provision stated in the constitution means that the separation of the church and the state are absolute.

Ang bawat isa ay may impluwensyang hawak sa kanyang nasasakupan at parehong may malaking papel na ginagampanan sa ating lipunan. Subalit sa kabila ng probisyong nakasad sa ating saligang batas na tuwirang pinaghihiwalay ang tungkulin ng dalawa taliwas naman dito ang nagaganap sa ating bansa.[3]

Notice that they did not quote any jurisprudence or authority in providing an accurate and fair interpretation of the constitution rather they relied on their own understanding of Art. 2 Sec. 6 of the constitution. This only exposes their poor scholarship and lack of research on the subject. They are trying to make us believed that

 1.) Art.2 Sec.6 of the Constitution proposes absolute separation of the church and the state and 

2.) That the Church violates this fundamental policy of the land. The authors of the article failed to educate the readers for reasons only known to them on the real meaning and interpretation of the constitution. 

Article 2 section 6 of the constitution says “The separation of the Church and State shall be inviolable.” So what do you mean by this? To what extent are the two institutions separated? How did the court interpret this provision? This policy was adapted from the from the first amendment of the United States of America, Stephen Carter explained that this policy was intended to protect religion from the control of the state.[4] One of the drafters of the 1987 constitution Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J further explained that;

The non-establishment clause prohibits the state from passing “laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” The intermediate views are chiefly two: (1) the non-establishment clause prohibits only direct support of institutional religion but support indirectly accruing to churches and church agencies through support given to members; (2) both direct and indirect aid to religion are prohibited but only if it support involves preference of one religion over another or preference of religion over irreligion.[5]

Evidently the drafters of the constitution have a different explanation and interpretation of Art. 2 Sec.6 of the constitution compared with that of the authors of the article published in the school newspaper. As explained by Bernas the separation of the Church and state means that the state should not 

1.) Prefer one religion over another, 

2.) Aid one religion, 

3.) Aid to the propagation of religion and 

4.) directly and indirectly aid to religion if it support involve preference of one religion over another.

This suggests that the separation of the Church and the State are not absolute and its separation lies on how the state should remain neutral over religion this interpretation of one of the drafters of the constitution goes contrary to the understanding of the authors of the article that espouses absolute separation of religion and state. Furthermore another authority that is worth quoting on the subject is Hector S. De Leon a known writer of law books and commentator. He further explained that the separation of the Church and the state means;

The principle simply means that the church is not to interfere in purely political matters or temporal aspects of man’s life and the State, in purely matters of religion and morals, which are the exclusive concern of the other.[6]

Again, there is no mention of absolute separation as what the authors of the article asserted. When it comes to the issue of RH BILL and the promotion of contraception is no longer a “temporal aspect” of man and/or man’s life rather it is already a moral issue. That is why the Church reacted when some godless politicians wanted to promote an immoral act and that is the promotion of artificial contraception. Henceforth it is not the Church who violated a fundamental state policy but the state itself through its lawmakers. Evidently their understanding of Article 2 Section 6 of the Constitution is shallow thus their contention and argument cannot hold water. Who are we to believe? Bernas and De Leon who extensively studied law and wrote books explaining the different laws of our country or two college writers who seem to lack scholarship and credibility? 
[1] Official Student publication, University of Southeastern Philippines

[2] Ang Krus sa loob ng Palasyo: Pakikialam ng Simbahan sa pamahalaan, Nina Jerrica E. Canon & Perly T. Bantilan

[3] Ibid.

[4] Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion, p. 105, 1993

[5] Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines A Commentary, p. 345, 2009

[6] Hector S. De Leon, Textbook on the Philippine Constitution, p.62, 1994