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The Flipsides of the Rule of Law August 31, 2015

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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As my friends on Facebook can attest, the latest debacle between the Iglesia Ni Cristo and the Secretary of Justice has captivated my attention.  To be honest, I sided with the Secretary of Justice (which is ironic because I find a lot of her practices as SOJ questionable.)  In particular, I thought it was unfair of the INC to send a lynch mob to the SOJ’s office and for them to escalate this protest into a ravening throng at EDSA.

The crux of the issue is the SOJ taking personal jurisdiction over the alleged kidnapping of the INC ministers.  There are two ways to look at this, both from the rule of law argument.

The first angle I adopted was to see this as undue interference by the INC, in an attempt to hide the eyes of the law on its own internal conflicts.  It would seem that the INC wants this case dismissed at all costs, to the point that it would bring the full brunt of its combined membership to the streets to have this dismissed, all the while crying for the “Separation of Church and State.”  Of course, that would be unfair.  The rule of law applies to everyone, regardless of their faith.  Once a religious act crosses the threshold of a criminal act, the State is within its rights to have it investigated.

But then again, why did the Secretary of Justice personally handle the investigation to begin with?  One could also argue that the INC is entitled to due process, and our Rules of Court provide that preliminary investigations are handled by the public prosecutor, and the SOJ only comes in the picture on an appellate review capacity.  The Rule of Law applies to everyone, and the State must be beholden to follow its own rules.  The INC are entitled to have this case reviewed by the public prosecutor and not the Secretary of Justice.

That being established, I think about motives behind the acts.

On one side, one could argue that the INC is fighting for political relevance, that they are imposing their political weight to influence the investigation to their favor.  I must confess that this is the prevalent mindset I had.

And then I read this article and it filled in a lot of the empty places of the jigsaw puzzle.  It would certainly answer why Roxas took an oppository stand (though somewhat muted) against the INC, and why the INC reacted the way it did.  For one, if we take the issue at face value, it would seem overkill for the INC to bring all its guns simply because they are under investigation by the SOJ.  So we have to question why it would react in this manner.  But then again, this article is full of suppositions and intrigue.  While worth considering, it’s not actually factual.  So we cannot consider this to be the final say in the story.

There are some things I do appreciate from the raising of this issue, and the questions this brings to our nation:

  1.  Now we see who among our political candidates are beholden to bloc voting pressure.  And it seems like all of them are, one way or the other.
  2. It brings to light all our hidden biases against the INC.  I cringe every time one of my friends calls them a cult.  While unorthodox, the INC are entitled to their beliefs and to be fair, they exist like a small socialist state whose taxes/tithes take better care of their parishioners than our government takes care of its citizens.  They’re not all that bad.  The Catholic Church (or any other religion, for that matter) is not exactly heaven on earth.
  3. To be fair, this also exposes my own biases and my quickness in judging something I do not truly understand.  With this comes the prayer that I be more circumspect in the future.
  4. This educates us further on what we understand about concepts such as “separation of church and state”, “rule of law” and “patronage politics.”  It is an ongoing lesson on the state of Machiavellian manipulation in our country, and a caution that we be vigilant and observant of the subtle undercurrents of opinion influencing by the powers behind the powers that be.
  5. It tells us that as a country, we’re still quite far from a state of sociological maturity.  We are still very emotional people given to outbursts, present company included.  Let us then be more forgiving and compassionate with one another.  In all things, God is glorified.
  6. Where do we stand on the bloc voting issue?  On one hand, any Church is an interest group at heart.  For it to endorse the voting of a politician in furtherance of its interests is well within its rights.  That’s what’s called as “lobbying.”  But on the aspect of individual spirituality, should any Church impose such a strict mandate on its people, to the point where voting to one’s conscience becomes a capital sin?

All these, and more, are questions worth reflecting as our country takes the slow painful road to political and social maturity.