The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines declares: The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. (Article II, Section 6), and, No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
So when an elected official like Senator Manny Pacquiao uses religion in support of legislation, is he violating the constitution?
When he quotes Leviticus to argue against same-sex relationships or LGBTs, or when he cites Genesis to defend a bill to reimpose death penalty, isn’t he in effect blurring the lines between church and state?
He even used a Bible verse to admonish retired police officer Arthur Lascañas when the latter appeared for a second round of testimony on the Davao Death Squads in the Senate.
It has also been reported in the media that Pacquiao has been hosting bible studies inside the Senate premises. Isn’t that tantamount to asking the taxpayers to finance his bible studies?
Where do we draw the line between Pacquiao the individual and Pacquiao the elected Senator who is supposed to represent all Filipinos regardless of their religious beliefs, pragnostics and atheists included?
Anything that Pacquiao says in the Senate becomes part of the official government records/archives, so how do we reconcile his bible quotes with what is mandated in our constitution?
Oftentimes, people think and act based on their personal religious convictions, but that is entirely different from using scripture to argue for or against a civil matter. Because if that were the case, we might as well replace our constitution with the Holy Scripture.
Sure, the Bible is used for the swearing in of public officials, but there is nothing in the constitution that would prevent a Muslim public official from swearing on the Quran. Anyone also has the right to omit “So help me Go” when swearing to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.