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Religion and Politics in the Philippines Essay

I. What Struck Me?

i. The Roman Catholic Church as an organized and institutionalized religion has had a significant role in and impact on Philippine political life. In recent times it served as the primary locus against the dictatorship of the Marcos regime and facilitated the 1986 People Power revolt that restored democratic structures and processes.

ii. The Church’s efforts to help balance and establish boundaries of power in the Filipino polity revolve around the axis of clean, honest and fair elections….Key church leaders do not have the patience to study issues in depth and, like ordinary citizens, lose interest once the winning candidates take office.

iii. ….the more convincing explanation for the country’s poverty and underdevelopment lies more with how the elite factions compete for control over people, production, markets and resources and the success with which the winning faction, acting as patrons to government bureaucrats and politicians, uses the apparatus of the state to pass or enforce laws and policies which preserve or promote their class interests.

2. Agree or Disagree?

i. With the first point I consider striking, I agree with it because I guess it’s an obvious fact, but I would like to comment on the fact itself. Religion, most of which, if not all, was Roman Catholic, played a big part in the Filipinos’ fight for democracy. Without the countless nuns and other religious personality uttering their respective prayers while holding their rosary, the result of the People Power Revolution could have been different, not to mention the fact that Pres. Corazon Aquino, herself, was a devoted Christian. But now, the religious sect failed to be of great help in maintaining the democracy we all once fought for. It’s just too ironic to know that while Roman Catholic built back Democracy, it might just be the same reason for its downfall.

ii. I agree. It’s not a secret to Filipinos that church leaders are one of the most influential personalities in terms of choosing a candidate for election. Worth the mention would be the Iglesia Ni Cristo group who are known for voting the candidate desired by their leader. Once their head announces his choice, everyone would be saved from wasting time thinking about what name they should write in their ballots. But after election, not a ruckus will be heard again about the relationship of the INC leader and the candidate he chose, no one would even know if they could still remember each other’s name. What the author posits in his contention is that the church, of whatever religion it may be, should not leave everything to the candidate after e has won. If church leaders really are for a good government, they shall not end their quest for it in just choosing a candidate. What lies ahead of that candidate after election is a bigger deal, something not a even an acolyte should ignore.

iii. The last one may be the most interesting one. When we’re asked about what we think is the reason why our country has never gone farther than being a developing country, we often say it’s the lack of discipline on the side of the Filipinos, the unresolvable unemployment, or CORRUPTION. The last one is the most frequently-heard response, but the author here says that there’s a more convincing reason as to why we remain poor—the elite factions of the country and their ways of running the economy which then reflects to our current global standing. This has been evident in the Philippines, may just not be known to everyone but reality speaks, this country is ruled by oligarchs, and how we’ve become now economically, it’s their doing. This has been opened up once by the late Angelo Reyes, that cabinet member who shot himself when he has been faced by countless accusations which included using the money of the government which amounted to billions for personal purposes.

3. Author’s Conclusion and My Opinion

The author concludes that the church should widen the scope and breadth of practicing what it seriously preaches. I believe that yes, they should go beyond what they normally do and what they thought the only thing they could do. What priests preach shall reflect what church does. Philippines is undeniably a religious country, not to mention her being the Asian country with the biggest number of Christians, and with this, we could say that what the church says is a big deal for everyone. Democracy and religion may be two different planets, but what we have here is a religious Filipino who lives in a democratic Philippines, so the Church plays and may continue to play a big role in the democratization of the Filipino polity, and she can do big.

Questions:

i. I may have agreed to the contentions of the writer, but all those time, I was wondering if letting the Church meddle in the affairs of the state, specifically political, would not violate the provision on Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which declares that “Separation of State and Church shall be inviolable.”

ii. The author often asserts that the social teachings of the Church would be the best tool in changing this country to be more democratic. Isn’t he aware of the fact that these teachings are never even proven to have penetrated the corrupt hearts of an individual, how much more a polity?

iii. The Church is said to be one of the agents for nation-building, what steps has the Church taken to live up to her purpose as a nation-builder?

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[ 2 ]. See, for instance, the three papers presented in the 1989 symposium on religion and politics in the Philippines sponsored by the Association of Asian Studies, namely: Gretchen Casper, “The Changing Politicization of the Philippine Roman Catholic Church, 1972–1988”; Robert Youngblood, “Aquino and the Churches: A ‘Constructive Critical Solidarity’?” and Lela Garner Noble, “Religion and Opposition to the Marcos Regime,” in Pilipinas 13 (Fall 1989): 43–55, 57–72 and 73–87 respectively.


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