A Deadly Cocktail of Religion and Politics in the Philippines


The Philippines is a nation of people who would describe themselves as “God fearing”; where their lives revolve around entrusting everything to God. 80% of the population consists of Roman Catholics.

This is also a nation where the phrase “malling” exists as a hobby since Filipinos just love to spend their spare time hanging out in malls. Due to this obsession they have even introduced Sunday mass in malls so that they can enjoy this pasttime whilst at the same time being able to pray and have their dose of biblical quotes. A household wouldn’t be complete without an altar where Santo Nino, Mother Mary and the rosary are on display.


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I don’t see anything wrong with being devoted to your religion but what I just can’t seem to understand is the concept of the Catholic Church dictating the government on policies on how the country should be run. President Aquino tried to push for the birth control law with no luck as the influential Roman Catholic Church won’t allow it. This is a law that can make contraception available to the poorest and introduce sex education in schools. However, the church condemns “artificial” contraceptive pills and condoms to prevent pregnancy.  They preach and advocate that the nation should only use “natural” means like abstention from sex.

As a result of this the poorest people keep having children who they can’t afford to support financially. They are simply trapped with a life of hardship. This is a domino effect as these children will simply follows their parents’ footsteps of having kids they simply can’t afford to have.

I watched a clip of the retired Archbishop Father Oscar Cruz interview where he said, “If Philippines is poor it’s not because of the population”. Does he really believe this? The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world where the average household have 2.3 children compared to that of 4.6 in a Filipino household. The Philippines, on the other hand, is one of the poorest. Just simply apply this to the concept of poor families who have plenty of children. The more children you have the more money you need to feed them, clothe them, and send them to school, plus any other expenses required in raising kids. In comparison to the UK, having fewer children in the household and with more disposable income parents can support their kids more comfortably.

Majority of the nation, specially women, would like to have the option of being able to decide if they should use contraceptive pills or not but because of the Church interference, this is not possible.

It’s about time for the government and politicians to stand up to the Church and tell them that their moral and religious ideology should only stay inside the walls of their church. The Church interference in running the country is limiting the health and wellbeing of women. If women want contraceptive pills they should be given this option and if they are happy to use what the church advocates as “natural” so be it.

Another issue is that there’s no divorce in Philippines. This is the only country left in the world with the exception of the Vatican where you can’t get a divorce. The country seems to think that if they allow divorce in the Philippines, it will be like Las Vegas Style where you can get married the day before and get divorced the next day. This is simply a myth. Of course there’s a very tiny minority that people do this but in reality, people in the West are given the option of mediation so that both parties can decide if divorce is definitely an option.

It’s just absurd to think that you can be married with someone for a long time and the only option is annulment – meaning as if the marriage did not exist at all. Annulment is very expensive & complicated. As a result of this, people are living in “sin” with someone else while they are still “legally” married.

Even Pope Francis, the very head of the Catholic Church hinted when he visited the Philippines “I WOULD LIKE FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO KNOW IT’S PLACE IN THIS COUNTRY-WHICH is NEITHER IN CITY HALL NOR IN MY HOME, BUT IN THE CHURCH”.

Take note: the Philippines’ religion and politics is a deadly cocktail that shouldn’t be mixed together.

52 Replies to “A Deadly Cocktail of Religion and Politics in the Philippines”

  1. Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina, their steps toward national progression is slow. Governments are corrupt. Common denominator is?????…you got it.. Catholicism.. Oh by the way, include the Philippines too. (Don’t bash me, I’m also Catholic… on paper).

  2. I am a catholic by accident of birth. I have long ago turned by back to the church and issues like the RH Law and the church stretches our gap. “Divorce”???, better happy alone than lonely with someone but the church vehemently do not agree – that is why the Philippines is populated by lamenting folks.

  3. I understand that the Church indeed has great moral influence. But in terms of practical influence (or interference), what exactly is the status of the religious vis-a-vis pressing issues in the Philippines?

    1) Contraception – RA 10354 is still a law. The SC invalidated only minor provisions that are deemed unconstitutional (which is a question of law, not religion). So I guess the religious is not much of a lobby here anymore.

    2) Free speech – regardless of the Papal pronouncement on limits to free speech, Mideo Cruz was not convicted, the INC showed its capability to cause traffic for no benefit, and many bishops still find the time to get interviewed on just about any topic under the sun. Granted, Carlos Celdran was sentenced to prison, but it seems (as of now) to be an exception rather than a rule. There is no systemic effort by the religious to suppress free speech; maybe atheists in the Philippines just has nothing to say about anything.

    3) Corruption in government – Aries Rufo is required reading here. Perhaps there is something to the Catholic Church’s criticism of government. On one hand is an institution that undertakes inordinate secrecy and opacity in bank transactions, hides evidence of financial management, and cloaks everything in an aura of appeal to emotion and faith. On the other hand, well, is the Aquino administration.

    4) Environment – Most probably the Catholic Church protesting against geothermal power in Sorsogon is simply an exercise in free speech.

    So, moral influence? Yes. Protests? Sure, just apply at your local parish office. Actually blocking legislation or government function? Maybe I’d better ask how to get that Iglesia vote.

  4. yes, this 32 years of MADPnoy hacienda luisita self interest family of usurping the Power of Apo lakay Marcos Great Nation Philippines family was supported by the Edsa Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin, who colluded secretly with the Economic Hitmen of Marcos Destruction, these are the evil perpetrators of dumbdowning the country into third world country status, where almost all Apo lakay cronies wealth are transferred into this greedy land grabbing family. it is the opposite of the Government that give lands to the quarter of a million peasants into landowners. They never give an inch with their stolen hacienda luisita land during Antonio luna times..yes they are the scourge of the Philippines where their long time plan had succeeded with the help of Japan and Malaysia. I hope People in the Philippines can open their blinded eyes of this three decades of evil kulangkulang99 family of Greedy hacienderos. lets all be awake and read the book of John Perkins of Economic hitmen of Marcos destruction in the Philippines. and let all Pilipinos knows about this book.

  5. Jelen

    If, indeed, “religion and politics … shouldn’t” be mixed together”; then, the sovereign Filipino people should NOT have inserted these stirring lines in the Preamble of Philippine Constitutions, to wit:

    1935 — “The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence …”
    1973 — “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence …”
    1987 — “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God …”

    Then, you mention of:

    “The Church interference in running the country …” 
    “…  the concept of the Catholic Church dictating the government on policies on how the country should be run …”

    Let me remind you that, in the Republic of the Philippines, my country of birth, NO ONE IS COMPELLED TO BE A MEMBER OF ANY CHURCH OR RELIGION.

    Roman Catholics, in fact, are free to leave their Church any time.

    So, since no Filipino can be compelled to be a Roman Catholic nor barred from resigning from any religion, why accuse the Church of “interference in running the country” to the point of “dictating the government”?

    On the contrary, Art. 3, Sec. 5 of the current 1987 version stipulates that:

    “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

    In this light, please respect the freedom of Filipinos to join any recognized religion of their choice or whatever unrecognized religious belief they hold, even including their right not to hold any belief at all.

    1. I have to disagree.

      1) Children are compelled to take the religion of their parents. Baptisms are a big thing in this country, if I remember. No-one asks the child if he/she really wants to be part of that religion.
      2) Article III Section 5 does not say anything about banning any church from using its influence over its members to interfere with the workings of government (InC stand-off, anyone?).
      3) The Church has always been in the forefront of what it sees as a culture war against modernism and humanism. While politicians are not disallowed to have religions, for the Church to threaten politicians with excommunication so they will vote according to what the Church likes is considered interference.

      1. Gustaf von Creutz

        01. But the reason why no one baptized ever bothers to ask is because 95% or more of Catholic baptisms are conferred on infants less than a year old.

        Note that the age of majority in the Philippines is 18.

        In fact, a recent CBCP circular (2012):“urged parents to have their children baptized three months after they are born.”

        02. Sorry, but it seems that you misunderstood my reason for citing Art. III, Sec. 5, for this provision certainly has nothing to do with “banning any church from using its influence.”

        Rather, what is relevant is the ensuing paragraph after the citation of Art. III, Sec. 5, when I said:

        “In this light, please respect the freedom of Filipinos to join any recognized religion of their choice …”

        03. The Church admonishes only those politicians who claim to be baptized Roman Catholics, and will certainly excommunicate, not only threaten, those who do follow what the Church teaches.

        However, I have yet to read about a Catholic Filipino politician the Church in the Philippines excommunicated.

        1. 1) Exactly. Children are being compelled against their will, all the more so that they are below the age of majority. This is systematic indoctrination of mentally defenseless human beings.
          2) Because the article didn’t mention anything about government banning people from joining any religious group. But that wasn’t my point anyway, so yeah.
          3) http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/excommunication-for-philippines-president-a-possibility-in-contraception-dispute-bishop-states/
          The mere threat of excommunication is (should be) a very powerful disincentive if the Philippines is as Catholic as it claims to be.

        2. Gustaf von Creutz

          This is my reply to your 10:01 pm comment.

          1. But this concept of compulsion in this instance is irrelevant, since infants are still under parental authority until the age of majority.
          2. No comment
          3. Those who are subject to an excommunication trial should be advised to simply leave the Church. For once excommunicated, they are cut off from the Church and no longer allowed to receive the sacraments (which they may not want to receive anyway). Those excommunicated are also denied a Catholic funeral, and burial in a Catholic cemetery, which their relatives may prefer not to.

        3. 1) It’s not irrelevant. If we do not allow children to join an army or to marry or to exercise many duties of citizenship (presumably with or without parental consent), why is entering them into a religious group the exception to these prohibitions?
          More importantly, why are we indoctrinating them with the concepts and dogma of that particular religious group we forced them to join? It introduces a lot of problematic consequences: inability of the child to critically evaluate religious beliefs (especially the beliefs of the parents), opening avenues for exploitation and abuse (cf child marriage in some belief systems), susceptibility to groupthink, etc.
          3) Which opens the excommunicated person to the same discrimination applied to atheists and agnostics. What politician would want that?

        4. Gustaf von Creutz

          Art. XV (The Family) of the 1987 Constitution provides that:

          Sec 3. The State shall defend:

          (1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood;

          Allow me to repeat relevant constitutional authority of “spouses” to “indoctrinate”:

          “The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions.”

        5. Gustaf von Creutz

          So, based on the attached url, the “facts” you are referring to concern, after all, the “religious-group-allowed marriage” ritual of an entirely different religion from mine, and to quote:

          “Early and arranged marriages are common practice in Muslim culture in the Philippines where about 5 percent of the country’s 97 million inhabitants are Muslim.”

          Good luck in you advocacy to reform or even change the Muslim religious view on marriage.

          Rules on marriage under MY religion are covered by the Code of Canon Law, Title VII Marriage, covering Cann. 1055 – 1165 at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P3V.HTM

        6. I do hope you do not mean to imply that no Filipino is a Muslim, especially given that you admonished us to “respect the freedom of Filipinos to join any recognized religion of their choice”.

        7. Gustaf von Creutz

          Now, where in ALL my replies here have I even implied “that no Filipino is a Muslim”?

          My family name alone — ARONG — is a Muslim word.

          The family name you carry is NOT.

    2. Love how you’re slowly but surely whittling down Domingo’s arguments. There’s only so much BS religious people can keep throwing at logic and facts.

      1. Serge

        What particular “Domingo’s arguments” have been “slowly but surely” whittled down?

        One of the “facts” I just presented is a constitutional provision. If you still consider that BS, I wouldn’t challenge that claim from a child, even the grandchild, of veteran, now aging p… anymore!

        1. The fact that you’re narrowing down his arguments to one single point of contention when you have “no comment” on the others is proof enough that you’re running out of ammunition to back up your position.

          And lol @ you thinking a name called “Gustaf von Creutz” is in anyway a Filipino’s real name. Never occurred to you to use a pseudonym online? People with common sense do.

        2. Serge

          I’m not that dumb. I’m 73 years old, older perhaps than your father, even your grandfather.

          Was a politician for 3 consecutive four-year terms (local government officials served a 4-year term then) or a total of 12 long years beginning at the tender age of 24 representing the opposition in the island City of Lapu-Lapu, in the Province of Cebu — contra dictator Marcos (remember this guy?).

          Are you familiar with IRONY? That’s what I did when I mentioned the family name the guy used, since his (or her) cowardly use of that name is an insult to Filipinos.

        3. Yet you’re spending your golden years arguing with people online. I guess I appreciate the company, but surely you have something better to use your pension for.

        4. Serge

          But you said you argue only with “people with common sense.” So, what argument are you talking about?

          Please refrain from any attempt to advise me.

        5. Now you’re being senile. Nowhere did I say anything about me “arguing only with common sense peopl” only mentioning people who use pseudonyms have them.

          Not only the overly devout can’t into facts, they also possess low reading comprehension. Sad.

    3. “So, based on the attached url, the “facts” you are referring to concern, after all, the “religious-group-allowed marriage” ritual of an entirely different religion from mine.”

      Most probable interpretation of this statement is that you’re concerned only with the Catholic religion. This article does talk a lot about Catholic this and Catholic that, but that does leave 20% of Filipinos who are not Catholics. Separation of Church and State should be and is irrespective of religion, so either you ignored that there are Muslim Filipinos or think that they have no place in this debate because they’re not Catholic.

      But even assuming we’re limiting the debate to Filipino Catholics alone, it still brings us full circle to the question of Article XV Section 3, (1) vs (2). Canon 1083 gives the minimum age of marriage for Catholics at 16 for males and 14 for females. Above that, the parish priest may try to dissuade but can’t really not solemnize the marriage unless there is any other impediment. So there can be cases where the marriage is accepted by the religion but disallowed by the State. Given the propensity of this government to be lenient towards religious reasons, I don’t suppose there would be any serious objection. Render under Caesar’s, right?

      1. Gustaf von Creutz

        “Most probable interpretation of this statement is that you’re concerned only with the Catholic religion” — Gus

        Misrepresentation again. I am NOT concerned only with the Catholic religion. What I am concerned solely with is the guarantee in Art. III Bill of Rights:

        “SECTION 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

        Then, you continued with your misrepresentation by adding that:

        “… so either you ignored that there are Muslim Filipinos or think that they have no place in this debate because they’re not Catholic.”

        How dare you intone that I “ignored that there are Muslim Filipinos … because they’re not Catholic.”

        For today is the first death anniversary of my elder brother, a Roman Catholic priest with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who served where the Muslims are — in Jolo and Cotabato.

        I used to visit him in the many place he was assigned in Jolo and Cotabato where there were only a handful of Christians.

        I have so many Muslim friends there too. That’s why I am hurt and insulted with your statement that I “ignored that there are Muslim Filipinos.”

        1. Yes, there is a Constitutional guarantee for religious freedom. But that guarantee should never be construed such that government uses religious beliefs as a basis for public policy.

          To simplify matters and remove any possible bias or misrepresentation, let me focus on (what I deduce to be) the most relevant and most important part of your original comment:
          “So, since no Filipino can be compelled to be a Roman Catholic nor barred from resigning from any religion, why accuse the Church of ‘interference in running the country’ to the point of ‘dictating the government’?”

          My answers are twofold:
          1) Filipino children are being compelled by virtue of their parents baptizing them without their consent.
          2) Compulsion is not restricted to Constitutional dictates. Moral strictures and dogma are also a form of compulsion, one that is very important in this country full of Catolicos cerrados and group-centered exclusivist religious ideologies like InK and JW. Since there is a religious compulsion to stick with Church dictates, politicians are forced to create public policy on the basis of religious belief, which is a subtle violation of Article III Section 5. This happened to RA 10354, to the eternal chagrin of the 20% who do not subscribe to a certain religious group’s belief in procreation being the only function of sex.

          Related to 1, you said that a “relevant constitutional authority of ‘spouses’ to ‘indoctrinate'” exists. While no jurisprudence exists to determine whether parents do have a definitive constitutional right to control their children’s religious development, other rights ensure that parents’ religious beliefs are overruled when the parent’s religious beliefs or practices directly and physically harm the child. We must remember, though, that not all harm is physical; even well-intentioned parents have harmed their children. More importantly, what if we consider that Article III Section 5 also applies to children? Does that mean that they also have the same right as their parents NOT to be forced to enter a religion? For me, it’s a yes.

          Related to 2, you said that politicians should consider to “simply leave the Church”. Any reasonable person will see that is not an option to any politician who values the voters who hold that religion.

          Due to the intensity of belief of many persons in the Philippines, religious leaders occupy a uniquely powerful position in Filipino society. I am not in a position to judge whether this is good or bad generally. However, I do hold with this article’s author that, because of religious freedom, no religious group has the right to use that power over its adherents to dictate public policy for the entire Philippines. If a poor Protestant mother wants her contraceptives to come from her health center because she can’t afford them, Bishop Odchimar cannot use the threat of “religious censure” on President Aquino to block that reasonable request. Conversely, a Muslim should not be able to sue a Catholic on charges of blasphemy for using the word الله as a word for God.

  6. In some ways, Filipino society isn’t that much different from Saudi Arabia or Iran. While there isn’t a state religion, per se, it’s obvious that the de facto sponsored religion is Catholicism. You a Jew, Buddhist or a Taoist? Cool, practice your religion, you just don’t have much of a say in political affairs. Even a Muslim doesn’t have much clout beyond Mindanao. Protestantism doesn’t escape the alienation either and gets treated as some bastard third cousin twice removed.

    Some priest is always present whenever there’s an event, secular or not. Ribbon cutting, Graduation, Military parades…there’s gotta be a man of the cloth somewhere in the entourage.

    And god help you (pun intended) if you announce publicly you’re an atheist. No death penalty, but you’re pretty much dead to the mainstream there.

    I could go on and on and on.

    1. Being born to a catholic family and raised in BA doctrine after one of them converted, i have ended up agnostic. I do not teach my children about god, jesus or muhammad, though she does often ask what the people around do during sallah (we are in ksa). I just answer that “theyre praying”, but i do not elaborate any further (i could imagine that she defines praying as getting on all fours and bowing and acting all weird and stuff). i do not want tho poison her mind with religious dogma and all that unnecessary excess superstitions. no, she knows ghosts do not exist.

      1. Like you i was born and raised Catholuc. Went to a Cathoilc School in Phils. Raised my children Cathoilic. It’s onlt recently that I consider myself Agnostic to the relief of my 21 year old daughter. She hated going to Church every Sunday. One’s belief doesn’t make them a better person but respectful behaviour does.

      2. Just like you I was born and raised Catholic. Went to a Catholic School in Phils. It’s only recently I decided to be Agnostic for all sorts of reasons to the relief of my 21 year old daughter. She hated how I forced her to go to church when she was younger. Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.

    1. Oh my, I didn’t know GRP has this excellent article.

      For somebody who claims limited knowledge of the topic, the article in the link perfectly demonstrates that commonsense could beat expertise any time.

    2. Guys, please click the links I supplied in my comment below. There you will see why I find @Gogs article excellent. Considering that I am referring to articles of 2015 while Gogs wrote his in 2012, I must say Gogs’ commonsense is forward thinking.

    3. actually everything we do in life requires discipline. pacman didn’t become champ without discipline. i didn’t become the top employee without discipline. Elon Musk didn’t become the CEO of Tesla/Solar City/Space X without discipline. everything revolves around discipline.

  7. I see nothing wrong in following the word of God but do not allow yourself to be led by bad advice from some people who work on his behalf.

    1. ‘The word of God’ is written by human beings.

      Simply knowing what is wrong and what is right and knowing what is good and what is not, then acting accordingly is surely enough to not run afoul of any Divine Entity.

  8. We contradict all for which we stand for we all stand for the lie the whole lie and nothing but the lie so help save our lying asses.

  9. This bowing to “Catholic” policy dictates on marriage/contraception will come to a tragic end very soon. Years of being holier than thou or more appropriately keeping your head in the “moral” sand has lead to and will lead to an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Philippines.

    Wake up. HIV cases doubling in 4 years. Only increases exponentially from here.

    When there is a sizeable HIV+ population, what then? AIDS is a gift from god?

  10. When did we become a Theocracy? Escudero married twice. Maybe, by annulment. Kris Aquino married several times. Maybe, again by annulments. Who cares about divorce, when you can get annulments, and marry several times.

    We have to control the population. The Philippines cannot feed its own people, already.

    The Roman Catholic Church , or any other churches, or religions; must stop from dictating the policies on the government. These Priests should confine their duties, in preaching and “saving souls”…

    Religion and politics do not mix. Look at the Islamic countries. They have terrorists; civil wars; theocracies; monarchies; dictatorships; etc…religion and politics are potent “witch brew”…

    1. As John Lennon’s Imagine song goes
      “magine there’s no countries
      It isn’t hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people living life in peace”

  11. As you may be aware, one of the most prominent organization that has been in the forefront in the drive for population control worldwide is the influential New York Times. Early this year, its Board made a decision that its organization will no longer support this advocacy. They claimed that various new data in liaison with other research and similar entities have afforded them to make this major change. They said that now “it is about sustainable development rather than population control”. In conjunction with that, as far as I understand, there has been a more concerted effort in the US to drop the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare.

    Whatever, please find below two sample articles that could now be found in the pages of NYT, which, I think, would have been unthinkable even a year ago:

    The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion >>> http://goo.gl/k8uGNg

    The Misguided Approach to India’s Population Policy >>> http://goo.gl/SaOBm4


    In any case, I will not say further as Luis Teodoro of BusinessWorld says better this changing trend in thinking re population

    Poverty is the Cause, Not the Result, of Overpopulation >>> http://goo.gl/b4uA2r

    1. Add, that’s pretty interesting. The “Misguided” article very much reflects attitudes I’ve come across in the RP: the idea that poor people have as much “right” to have children as anyone else, or possibly more so BECAUSE they are poor.

      I find this attitude especially appalling since I started to notice something: poor people are poor because they choose to be poor. Or more precisely, it simply isn’t that important to them to be not-poor.

      There is a big difference between a transient state of poverty – say, because you’ve lost your job – and entrenched, lifelong poverty. Someone who spends their WHOLE LIFE being poor and brings up their children to be poor does so with intent. It may not be entirely conscious; nevertheless, that person consistently makes decisions which ensure they remain poor until they day they die, and they teach their decision-making processes to their kids. They are their kids ARE a burden on the planet and the rest of society, however much Manu Joseph might like to think otherwise. Society can carry a small burden, of course; but it shouldn’t be an unbearable one.

      So yes, it’s important to stop poor people having kids unless you can first teach them to reject poverty as a lifestyle. Having kids is not a Human Right. It’s a responsibility to the rest of Humanity.

  12. Separation of Church and State, period. Worship whoever you like, but keep it to yourself.
    This is one of the hallmarks of any true democracy. To have a Church entity dictating to a government agant/agency is ludicrous. Recently on a plane ride inside the hell-hole country a “man in a black dress and red hat” acted as if he was the gift humans had waited centuries for.

    TO ME? He just looked like a Man in Black dress and a Red hat and pretty ridiculous too !

  13. The Church is dictating policies to the national government for too long. This needs to change. This country is not the Papal States.

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