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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Atty Jose Sison on the Separation of Church and State

Atty. Jose C. Sison is, perhaps, the most indefatigable of all Filipino columnists is opposing anti-life and antifamily bills. He has written literally hundreds of articles defending various aspects of Catholic doctrine against the accusations and propositions of secularists, liberals and other champions of the culture of death. This blog intends to slowly, but surely, post his best and most informative writings regarding the RH Bill and similar matters. 

Mistaken notion
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 18, 2010 12:00 AM

As P-Noy and the Catholic Bishops hold their dialogue on the RH bill, the violation of the principle of Church and State will surely be brought up anew. This is one of the mistaken notions persistently raised in this controversy simply because of ignorance as to its real meaning and intent; or because of the twisted interpretation given to it by the RH bill advocates who insist that the Church is intervening on purely political process of legislation when the Bishops and priests oppose the passage of said bill.

Church-State separation however is not about an imaginary wall built between the two institutions over and beyond which either of them cannot breach or pass through. It is actually a prohibition directed more against the State enjoining it from favoring or supporting any religion or Sect or the virtual putting up a State religion in violation of the freedom of religion clause also enshrined in our Charter (Section 5, Article III). In other words the imaginary wall here is built to prevent the State from using public funds or property to benefit or support any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution or system of religion or to prefer one religion over another.

The principle does not definitely enjoin the priests and pastors of any faith or religion from expressing their views or opposing any action or measure adopted by the State which they believe is morally wrong and spiritually harmful to the citizens. When the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church or the pastors of any other religious sect for that matter, express their moral opinion on said bill or on any other government action, they are not violating this principle. Branding the Catholic Bishops and priests as modern day “Padre Damasos” because they oppose the RH bill on moral grounds is therefore unfair and uncalled for.

Actually, a closer scrutiny of the RH bill that has been repeatedly introduced in Congress will readily show not only the morally but also the constitutionally objectionable portions. These are the coercive provisions of the bill that impose penalties for those violating them. In fact, there is even a penalty clause punishing those who oppose or express derogatory opinions on the bill. Undoubtedly this is unconstitutional as it runs counter to the freedom of speech and of expression guaranteed by our charter (Section 4, Article III).

More specifically the bill also impinges on the natural right and duty of parents in the education of their children (Section 4, Article III); the freedom of religion clause (Section 5, Article III); the right of the spouses to found a family according to their religious convictions (Section 3 (1), Article XV); the right of the families or family associations to participate in the implementation of policies and programs that affect them (Section 3 (4) idem); and of course the inviolability of marriage (Section 2, Article XV).

All these violation are best articulated by a position paper now circulating in the Internet coming from lay people from all sectors of society, not from the CBCP, setting forth the various reasons why they oppose the RH bill. For the information and guidance of the members of Congress, of P-Noy, and of every Filipino, the said position paper says:

As EMPLOYERS, we do not want to be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to our employees, and be subjected to both imprisonment and/or a fine, for every time that we fail to comply. (Section 17 states that employers shall provide for free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. (Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)

As HEALTH CARE SERVICE PROVIDERS, we do not want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or a fine, if we fail to provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient’s civil status, gender, religion or age ( Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraphs 1 to 5 and Section 22 on Penalties)

As SPOUSES, we do not agree that our husband or wife can undergo a ligation or vasectomy without our consent or knowledge. (Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraph 2)

As PARENTS, we do not agree that children from age 10 to 17 should be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and sex life as part of their school curriculum. (Section 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Section 4 Definition of Family Planning and Productive Health, Paragraph b, c and d)

As CITIZENS, we do not want to be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting malicious disinformation; ( Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Paragraph f and Section 22 on Penalties)

We also oppose other provisions such as losing our parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (Section 21, a, no.3)

We also do not agree to the provision which reclassifies contraceptives as essential medicines (Section 10) and appropriating limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23) Thus, we urge you to immediately stop deliberations on the bill and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

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