Separation of Church and State
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Last Thursday members of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo launched protest actions against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for purportedly meddling in their organization's internal affairs for receiving the complaints that were filed against members of the Sanggunian, its highest administrative council.
Former INC minister Isaias Samson Jr., his wife and son filed complaints for harassment, illegal detention, threats and coercion against Gilcerio Santos Jr., Radel Cortez, Bienvenido Santiago Jr., Mathusalem Pareja, Rolando Esguerra, Eraño Cordera, Rodelia Cabrerra and Maximo Bularan; allegedly for detaining them for nine days in their own home, holding them incommunicado, confiscating their passports and subjecting them to repeated interrogation.
The protest actions which started at the Department of Justice in Manila, moved to the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City, and reached the intersection of Edsa and Shaw boulevard in Mandaluyong inconvenienced thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of motorists and commuters who had nothing to do with either the INC or the government. The public has to contend with the monstrous traffic jam that seemed to be the target of the INC protestors in their desperate bid to get the attention or force the hand of the government to leave their leaders alone, as they wrongly called for the application of the doctrine of the separation of church and state.
The Samson family filed their case on August 25. The Department of Justice had not even acted on the complaint but by August 27 the INC protests had already started.
It makes one wonder if the protests were really about the separation of church and state or if it was a show of force to demonstrate to vote-conscious politicos the sect's power and influence in a bid to gain its leaders an exemption from the laws of the land.
If the motivation for the protests is found to be the latter then it might be a good idea for the leaders and members of the Iglesia ni Cristo to read up on what the doctrine of the separation of church and state really means.*