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Thursday, February 7, 2013

What's In A 50-Peso Bill?

A Catholic saint, to answer the question.

Isn't this offensive to other religions?
(Photo by Lito Diaz for

What is it about this country that constantly refuses to understand one particular phrase in our Constitution that reads "the separation of church and state shall be inviolable"?

I understand Catholics in the Philippines are rejoicing about the canonization of Pedro Calungsod. But what does that have to do with me, a non-Catholic, seeing his face over legal tender everyday of my life? The placement of his image on money that will be used by everyone - of every religious stripe and those who claim none - imparts a single message: the Catholic faith is revered and favored in this country, by a government that is supposed to be secular.

There is no other way to read this.

Can we blame the CBCP (Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines) for doing what Carlos Celdran wants them to desist from, interfering with the affairs of a secular government? How can they, when this government itself does not live up to what our Constitution mandates, and repeatedly invites the Catholic hierarchy into secular discussions? I remember distinctly one Palace official saying that before the (then) RH (Reproductive Health) Bill will be consolidated into a final version, they would like to hear the inputs of the CBCP.

What (secular) madness is this?

The role of keeping religious intrusion and influence out of politics is something that falls squarely on the party affected - the government. It is up to the government to put its' foot down, to communicate, in no uncertain terms, and to leave no doubt, that no religion should interfere in the affairs of the state, and that no religion is to be placed on a higher pedestal.

This proposal to include Calungsod's image (and a cross) on our 50-peso bills could not have been possible without someone from the government supporting and consenting to it. I understand it will be realized in April of this year (it is still a proposal as of this writing, although I have included a picture of an ambassador holding up the prototype). 

So much for "offending religious feelings" - that law doesn't seem to matter in this country if the aggrieved party is a non-Catholic.

1 comment:

  1. You are concentrating too much on Calungsod's being Catholic. You forget that the guy is still Filipino! I am a non-Catholic as well, but I keep an open mind about these things. Calungsod's cannonization to sainthood, whether people like it or not, is a big deal and cannot really be dismissed as non-sense.

    If we can put the faces of corrupt presidents in our legal tenders, why not a FILIPINO saint? As you can see, it does not even look like a permanent addition to the bill's design. It looks like it's just for a special edition or something. So what's wrong with that?

    Also, there is much to the "the separation of church and State shall be inviolable" phrase than you think. A lot more is written about it in the constitution if only you can take time to read it. I wouldn't get rewarded or anything if I explain it to you here, so I'll just let you read it yourself.

    I am no CBCP fanatic, I assure you. I just think the arguments of most of its haters are sometimes way out of line and misinformed. Probably too clouded by hate, or too influenced by misguided media and fb posters.


    J. Abner