Giving INC preferential treatment is wrong

INCIf the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), as a religious organization, is not an important factor in the political equation of electing presidents, vice presidents and other government officials in this country, I don’t think there will be more inconveniences adding to the already chaotic traffic problem in Manila.

As it is, the preferential treatment given them, in the form of permit, to stage a rally against what its leaders claim as an interference by government’s Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in its internal affairs is ridiculous at best that surely undermines the interest of the greater number of Filipinos outside the religious sect.

I always believe in the constitutionally guaranteed separation of Church and the State, which the INC has strongly invoked, but is de Lima really meddling in the sect’s religious affairs or is she just concerned and challenged that a crime is being perpetrated inside the INC church and it is her sworn duty to probe it?

Note that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is simply reacting to the appeal of a former INC minister, Isaias Samson Jr., who has filed an illegal detention case against the religious sect’s Sanggunian, or more aptly described as the highest administrative council, for alleged illegal detention, harassment, threats and coercion following an internal dispute.

What makes Samson’s complaint credible, and the reason perhaps why de Lima is moving expeditiously on it, is because not only is Samson a former minister, but he has been a minister for over 40 years who used to be a member of the Sanggunian in charge of foreign mission and editor-in-chief of the INC official organ, Pasugo.

So, for someone credible, seeking justice as a citizen of the country and not as a member of church ought to be assisted, considering especially that one’s civil rights has been violated with impunity after being subjected by a nonbailable offense.

One can rightly say, therefore, that de Lima’s action is not about prying into INC’s religious affairs, but rather coming to the rescue of one who has gone out feeling abused and persecuted and, thus, seeking redress and protection from the government.

As if the mass transportation problem is not enough horror on the streets to the riding public in Manila, now comes the ugly side of local governments giving permits to the INC protest allowing them to bully further the public using their sheer membership number as a force to reckon with.

But what is even frustrating and revolting is the fact that politicians eyeing for the highest positions, both in the local and national levels, in the 2016 elections are expressing their favorable sentiments and supporting what the INC membership is doing instead of condemning it. All is done for political expediency and no one seems to emphathize or put themselves in the situation of the hapless public.

I also believe in the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly by any group of individuals or entities, but when it starts congregating, not so much as to show disgruntlement over certain action by government, but rather more on threatening politicians what INC’s sheer membership number, reportedly to be 4-million strong, can do to their political ambitions, then it is time for every enlightened and forward-looking Filipinos to ponder who among our political leaders striving to lead the country has the political will not to kowtow to the whims and caprices if the INC leadership.

The INC is a respectable religious sect, but what they are doing is simply unreasonable, as it is immoral, and deserves to be criticized.

3 comments on “Giving INC preferential treatment is wrong

  1. jorge says:

    We are a government of laws and not of men. The rule of law should always be paramount whoever may be involved. The case involved here is not an ecclesiastical or purely religious affair. An ecclesiastical affair is “one that concerns doctrine, creed or form or worship of the church, or the adoption and enforcement within a religious association of needful laws and regulations for the government of the membership, and the power of excluding from such associations those deemed unworthy of membership. Austria v. NLRC, G.RNo. 124382 Aug. 16, 1999.

    What is involved here is the alleged violation of the Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code, an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua to death if convicted ( as Amended by Sec.8 of Republic Act No.7659). Alleged illegal detention is a serious act that falls within the jurisdiction of the DOJ headed by Sec. De Lima. To deprive any person of his liberty willfully, deliberately, and feloneously is outside the ambit of ecclesiastical affair , and consequently the duty of the State through its Agency, the DOJ, is to investigate and prosecute those who have violated its laws and give justice to the victim whose right to life, liberty, and/or property has been trampled upon.

    “…..in matters purely ecclesiastical the decisions of the proper church tribunals are conclusive upon the civil tribunals. A church member who is expelled from the membership by the church authorities, or a priest or minister who is by them deprived of his sacred office, is without remedy in the civil courts, which will not inquire into the correctness of the decisions of the ecclesiastical tribunals.” Long and Almeria v. Basa, et al., G.R Nos.134963-64, Sept. 27, 2001.

    The right of petition is the primary right, the right peaceably to assemble a subordinate and instrumental right, as if the provision read: “The right of the people peaceably to assemble” in order to ” petition the government.” Art. III, section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The right of assembly and petition is equally as fundamental as freedom of expression, the standards for allowable impairment of speech and press are also used for assembly and petition. However, there is that extent of the State’s authority to regulate public assemblies that was enunciated in the case of Navarro versus Villegas, 31 SCRA 731, (1970), where the petitioner wanted the use of Plaza Miranda whereas the Mayor would allow only the use of the Sunken Gardens, the Supreme Court ruled that the Mayor possessed “reasonable discretion to determine or specify the streets or public places to be used for the assembly in order to secure convenient use thereof by others and provide adequate and proper policing to minimize the risks of disorder and maintain public safety and order.” Navarro v. Villegas, 31 SCRA 721 (1970).

    In this case, the public authority should have exercised that discretion in giving the permit to the applicant based on this jurisprudence or law for that matter to “secure convenient use of public places(like EDSA) and provide adequate and proper policing to minimize the risks of disorder and maintain public and order.

    • quierosaber says:

      Thanks for clarifying, if not elucidating me further on the legalities of the issue. Can’t help but mentioned you in my succeeding blog. Am thankful, as always.

  2. […] blog, ‘Giving INC preferential treatment is wrong’ or you can click this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/giving-inc-preferential-treatment-is-wrong/. The case in question is well explained and I have nothing to add to […]

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