Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rewriting the Constitution

Writers are dreamers, eh? Especially those of us who dabble in fiction. Some would say lunatic is a better description. Occasionally we subscribe to visions of grandeur when we find ourselves creating new worlds featuring our alter-egos, those tough, intelligent, crafty people who ride in and save the day.

So lately I have been imagining I am Thomas Jefferson, called in as a consultant to Congress to rework the Philippine Constitution. Like, give the old document some pep. Some flair. That peculiar "national heart" that Americans assign their constitution.  But it can't be a Sottocopy of the U.S. document in any way. It must be original and profound so that Filipinos hold it to their hearts and start believing the laws of their land are worth obeying, and perhaps even dying for.

I'll take two sections to see how it works and let you be the judge. Better, worse, or still muddled?  The two sections are the Preamble and Article VII, Section 18, regarding the President as Commander in Chief and Martial Law.

Original Preamble

We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.

Revised Preamble

This Constitution is the primary law of our great nation. It expresses our dedication a secular democratic state under the discipline of laws that care for the well-being of every citizen. We place the highest value on freedom, order, health and responsibility to others. We cherish honesty, truth, justice, kindness, equality and peace, and hold precious the knowledge that we do our best for the entire nation if we provide the opportunity for growth to every individual.


That's not bad. God is already in the hearts of all who hold Him up. He need not be documented here as He takes so many different forms. We seek harmony and health, which encompasses medicine, good nutrition, sanitation, good military defense, and all the other acts that keep us well. Freedom is value Numero Uno but it attaches to responsibility to others. We got rid of those strange words patrimony and promulgate and most of the legal stuffiness. More important, we are placing opportunity for growth, a great motivator, as the closing call to action.

Now about the President and military:

Original Article VII, Executive Department, Section 18

 The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.

Revised Article VII, Executive Department, Section 18

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. The President shall submit a report of his orders and actions to the Senate within 48 hours of issuance of the orders and every 60 days thereafter until such action is concluded.

The Senate and House, sitting as a combined entity, by a vote of at least a two-thirds majority of all attending Members in regular or special session, is empowered to revoke such orders, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President.

No declaration of war on another nation may be issued by the President without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate and House voting as a combined entity in regular or special session.

The writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental right of every person on Philippine soil, citizen or non-citizen, and may not be abridged at any time for any reason.


There, that's done.


  1. what is " secular democratic state"?

    how is it different from " Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, ..."?

    i think you are missing the point of having god there.

    1. Secular means that the State has no opinion on what is the "correct" faith and steers clear of showing favoritism toward any. It even respects citizens of no faith.

      The word most pertinent to this topic in the statement "A Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations" is the word "our". It embodies the ideals an aspirations of those who do not believe in God, as well as those who do.

    2. so, there is NO difference then between the preambles, by adding the word secular.

      i'm not criticizing (yet). i'm just trying to understand the differences.

    3. There is a big difference. The term "imploring the aid of Almighty God" is offensive to those who believe our government should make decisions based on reason rather than faith, relying on the skill of their work rather than luck or God's help. I don't like the term because it suggests we are not responsible for outcomes . . . God is. It's rather akin to the mystic denial of responsibility that the Catholic Church claims for poverty in the Philippines. That such an influential force can get off Scott free drives me nuts.

    4. i dont think your interpretation of the preamble is correct, by any stretch.

      nowhere in the preamble does it NOT say "government should make decisions based on reason rather than faith,"

    5. I'm not sure I understand your sentence. But I would say that I suspect that my interpretation is not unusual. If it is material to the writers that I am drawing off the wrong meaning, maybe it needs a re-write to be clearer. Imploring the aid of God is offensive to those who don't believe in God. The preamble is not the place to put contentious ideas if the Constitution is to unify us rather than tear us apart.

    6. it seems that you at least 2 objections to god.

      1) your first is that it makes govt make irrational decisions. nowhere does it say that let me repeat without the double negs - it says everything you just said in your preamble.

      can we agree on that? thats why i said the word "secular" doesnt add anything to what the govt ACTUALLY DOES.

      2) now you mean naming god in anyway offends those who dont believe in god.

      why? what is the reason for the offensiveness? can we get REAL SPECIFIC?

      for rational argument, we cannot just say "i'm offended by X" and not justify it.

    7. No we can't even agree on secular. It says that the Philippines is blind toward religion. It is an important statement in my opinion.

      You should really be asking your questions of someone who does not believe in God. Yes, it is offensive because their non-belief is not given the same respect in the document. Silence on the point respects both views, as does secular "blindness". A Satanist could argue the term God ought to be replaced with "Satan". Based on your view, that shouldn't offend anybody.

    8. "No we can't even agree on secular. It says that the Philippines is blind toward religion. It is an important statement in my opinion."

      but can you name ONE THING... just ONE... that your preamble does and the actual preamble DOESNT allow the govt to do.

      just name ONE thing....

  2. Would that writing the constitution were easy like writing a love letter. Pinoy masa fear martial law and the elite fear foreigners toppling their monopoly and rice bowl.


    1. After having knocked these two sections about, I'd agree with you that it is hard. I think the best approach is to give the assignment to Edgar Lores and go to the beach whilst he works.

  3. Right on, JoeAm. Edgar has some of that Clintonian semantics and Fr. Bernas's jesuitic ( in a nice way) contradictions. The Philippine Constitution is such a beast.


    1. What we have to do is feed him the content. Like, no more martial law. And no more denial of right of trial. And 100% foreign ownership of businesses. And an American base on every island that the Chinese might want.

      He can put it into poetry.

  4. Just watched the first of the US presidential debates, Joe. Obama came across as uncomfortable and unsure, Romney was much better. Not too informed about US issues, so cant judge them on that.

    Do Americans vote on the basis of debate outcomes?

    Im certain there are local politicos who could perform like these two, but they'd rather have it the easy way - just repeat motherhoods ad nauseum and give out freebies.

    Now for the likes of Sotto, Lapid et al we have a lot of them, too since they reflect on the sad state of the average Filipino voter - too poor and too hungry to be critical thinkers.

  5. I'm an Obama fan and I think Romney cleaned his clock. Romney hit hard and sharp and Obama got entangled in his smart brain, citing statistics and rambling ideas that even put me to sleep.

    The debates make or break a close race, which this one is. They push the undecideds one way or another. This was a big win for Romney because he has been suffering from a severe case of foot in mouth disease.

    Sotto couldn't debate Big Bird.

  6. I didn’t realize the Constitution was so poorly written. The wordiness of Section 18 is appalling. No doubt you have captured the essence. The removal of the two superfluous paragraphs – the one on the Supreme Court and the other on continued operation of the Constitution – gives much-needed clarity.

    With respect to martial law, the first is superfluous because the immediate primary check against the Executive is the Legislature. The secondary check of the Judiciary can be found in the paragraph on the writ of habeas corpus.

    The second is superfluous in that the Constitution is the primary law of the land and there is no necessity to state that it cannot be suspended. That is a given. Plus you have made the writ of habeas corpus absolute. I like that. It would have rendered the Amparo Law unnecessary.

    In the revised article, what may be missing though is that small portion which says that martial law can be declared not necessarily nationally but regionally. I am not fussed.

    Now the preamble. This is harder to write and to criticize. My personal inclination is that the preamble must be poetry and the rest prose.

    • The first sentence must mention the Philippines or the Filipino people. Remove the word “great”. We are not, never have been, and just might possibly be - in another millenium. Thus: “This Constitution is the primary law of the Philippines”. Or “of the Filipino people”.

    • “Secular and democratic” are great. The phrase “Almighty God” grated on my nerves. It at all, “Divine Providence” should have been retained. For poetic phrasing.

    • The “common good” has been replaced with the “well-being of every citizen”. Group versus individual. Hmmm. I’ll go for the individual. Care for the individual is paramount and presupposes care for the group. And care for the individual is nicely balanced with the “responsibility to others” in the third sentence.

    • “Democracy” has been removed because it is already mentioned in the second sentence.

    • I can see why you added “order”. The country is in such chaos. But if “order” becomes constitutional, what happens to “fun”?

    • “Health” is important and may be a constitutional rationale for laws like the RH Bill.

    • “Honesty” and “truth” go hand in hand. Honesty would indicate a quality of mind essential to senators and justices. That gets the seal of approval. I’m not too sure about truth. What is truth? To me, its inclusion perpetuates the myth that truth is somehow monolithic. I am open to counter-arguments.

    • “Justice”, “equality” and “peace” are all a-okay.

    • “Kindness” has replaced “humane”. I like that – no, I love it. Kindness is more inclusive, more buddhistic. It embraces cats and dogs and pigs. Even Sotto.

    • “Love” has been removed. Yes, what does love have to do with it? The word has so many connotations and has no universally accepted definition. Kindness is more specific. I think the drafters of the Constitution must have been thinking they were being high-minded and oh so lovable when they included it.

    • The last clause – “hold precious the knowledge...” - is sheer poetry. But the emphasis on the individual may be tautological? A necessary tautology?

    Altogether a great effort with some new and significant concepts introduced.


    I suffered a great deal with the writing of love letters. Sometimes I was tempted to copy from those books that would have been titled "Love Letters for Dummies" in the current age. I do take pride from the feedback from one of my great loves in college who happened to be a writer in her high school paper. She said, "Oh, you can write." Just because I used the word "hypocrisy" in a sentence. Nevertheless, I think that decided her. :-)

    1. Superb parsing, Edgar. From the wisdom of Aretha Franklin to the breathless adoration of your college love.

      When I got done with the preamble, I muttered to myself, "this is a bit clunky", because I agree it should be poetic. And profound. But I would wait to see if any reader would call me on it.

      You did.

      But I'm not gonna re-write the damn thing. I learned my lesson already.

      As for wordiness, the whole document is like that. And I wish the attorneys would ditch the Latin already. They use it like pasting a diploma on the wall, "see how fricking smart I am, and you aren't?"

    2. why does God grate on your nerves?

    3. @GabbyD

      Just to reiterate some of Joe’s points and to answer the question:

      1. Secular means “of or relating to the doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations”.

      2. The inclusion of the word is very important.

      2.1. Primarily it underscores the doctrine of the separation of the Church and the State. (Article II. Section 6.)

      2.2. This doctrine affects what the government does and does not do. It also affects what churches do and should not do.

      2.3. Example 1. There should be no religious icons or imagery in government offices. This is what the government allows (does). Religious imagery is offensive to citizens who belong to another religion or who have no religion.

      2.4. Example 2. The government allows religious ceremonies in government offices. Apart from the issue of wasting government time and resources, again this is offensive to citizens who belong to another religion or who have no religion.

      2.5. Example 3. Churches violate this principle by practicing block voting or exerting pressure to reject essential legislation, like the RH Bill and the so-called Anti-God Bill.

      2.6. As a matter of this principle, churches should not meddle in earthly political matters. As a general rule, Protestant denominations observe this rule. The Catholic and INC churches do not.

      2.7. There is no necessity to outline the reasons for this principle. It is already established in the Constitution.

      3. Personally, I am not offended by a reference to a “Divine Providence” (in the 1935 Constitution). But I find the phrase “Almighty God” grating - on the grounds of poetry.

      3.1. The Constitution should speak for all Filipinos.

      3.2. There are Filipinos who do not believe in God or in imploring the aid of such an entity.

      3.3. To some the concept of God is superstition, defined as “an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear”.

      3.4. Therefore, for the principle and the specifics given above and, in addition, on the basis of “equality” and “peace” – both words are in the preamble – God should not be mentioned.

      If you agree with the specifics in items 2.3 and 2.5, fine.

      If you do NOT agree – then that would be the conclusive argument why “secular” is important and should be included and the reference to “Almighty God” be deleted.

      Thanks for giving us the opportunity to clarify our thoughts.

    4. I dont think your interpretation of the establishment clause in the US is correct.

      if you do some research, you'll realize it.

      but apart from all that...

      what i asked is why is it offensive? thats what i dont get. the word "offensive" has meaning. its a big word, and i'd like to know your reasons for using it.

    5. It is offensive because those who fear God are always trying to jam Him down the throats of those who don't. In a secular State, you are permitted to believe whatever the hell you want. You are not permitted to carve out a place of honor at the front of the Government's line of preferred souls.

      I fear you are back in your obtuse mode. How many ways does it take to get the point across?

    6. Personally, I find it offensive that a state should even blame the church for all the ills it creates in society. The government IS already secular.

      The problem isn't the church or religion- it is the spanish caste system that has long plagued our society. We have a government run by political dynasties that are more concerned with having their pockets full of our taxes rather than using it to improve infrastructures, education, transport and such.

      We bribe our way through things to get what we want (we are really corruptible), we have crab mentality added with *corrupted* capitalistic mindset, and we don't foster discipline from our homes to our workplaces like how our neighbours run it like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia (yes, I have a reason for including it here).

      Personally, democracy doesn't work in a country like Philippines. Educate the masses first before they'd be allowed to vote those who deserve to lead the nation. I'd rather Philippines model after their political system like in Australia (they're not even a democratic nation and I live here). Get rid of bill of rights (seriously, we don't need it) and get rid of pork barrelling. I'd prefer that the constitution be oral and not written and that the state should be responsible in regulating the markets (look how Australia does it).

      It's really unnerving to hear how you dismiss the christian principles and say they rot the filipino people. Only religious hypocrites are deserving of the slack- and if we compare ourselves to US, there are still more of us who hold on to our beliefs.

      India still acknowledges that they are a Hindu nation even though there are many others who aren't. Malaysia acknowledges it to be Islamic because their Malay majority are Muslims (and even an admirable leader like Mahathir emphasises Islamic principles [religious principles] to be one that holds society together).

      What we need in our country is a Mahathir and a Keynes, and not another Marcos, Arroyo, Aquino, and a Bush.

      This is just my two cents.

    7. Marnie, and a very well said two cents, too, I might add. I know it was meant for Edgar and I am confident he will respond. I'd only make two points: (1) excluding the word "God" from the Constitution is not blaming all the ills of society on any church; the US is a Christian dominated land (with arms open to all faiths) and God is not mentioned once in the Constitution, and (2) it takes some work to get democracy to work and the Philippines is a very young democracy; her people are learning and teaching and she will do just fine as a democracy.

      I have a blog in the works for later in the week that makes this point.

      Thanks for sticking up for your perspective. Please visit and comment frequently. We need the articulate balance.

    8. Marnie,

      Thank you for your input.

      1. I don't think I can improve on Joe's point (1).

      2. On the statement, "The problem isn't the church or religion..." I think that the situation in the Philippines is incredibly complex. You are right about the caste system, the ruling dynasties, bribery and corruption, crab mentality, etc. These are all contributing factors to the situation. My contention is that religion is another contributing factor. Refer to items 2.3 - 2.5 in my reply to @GabbyD.

      3. Totally agree that democracy is not working properly in the Philippines for the items cited above. But what is the alternative? The parliamentary form (Australia) of democracy might be better than the presidential form, but we will never know until we try it. In either forms, I agree that a well-educated citizenry is a must. Note there have been cha-chas to convert from one form to another primarily for the sitting presidents to perpetuate themselves in power.

      4. I disagree about the Bill of Rights and an oral Constitution.

      4.1. The absence of a Bill of Rights means that the rights and freedoms of the Australian people are not protected by law. It is necessary. It's just so happens that the people in government have not been abusive - so far. And also the civil liberty groups are strong. Note that Australia is the only Western democracy without a Bill of Rights.

      4.2. A Bill of Rights is necessary in the Philippines where politicians have so much power and the courts are weak. There are extra-judicial killings and activist students are kidnapped and "disappeared". Note the Amparo Law.

      4.2. Oral constitutions exist in countries where there is a rich lore of laws and legal decisions over many years. The Philippines does not have that legacy because of Spanish and American colonialism. Basically we were born as a nation in the commonwealth of 1935 less than 100 years ago.

      5. There is no claim that Christian principles have rotted the Filipino people. I would argue though that the Catholic Church has contributed to the problems of the Philippine society, say, in overpopulation and corruption.

      6. The separation of Church and State is essential in a democratic society where citizens adhere to different religions. This doctrine is enshrined in the Constitution.

      6.1. We neither criticize nor demean the belief or the believers. I do criticize the institutions of the Catholic and INC churches for their undemocratic beliefs and acts. Not from hatred, from principle.

      6.2. If a particular religion is to be included in the Constitution, which should it be? Christian? Muslim? Buddhist?

      You are right about the economic progress in Malaysia, but at what cost? I am not an admirer of the good doctor for two reasons: (a) he gave economic preference to the bumiputera above other races; and (b) I believe he was behind the violation of the rights of Anwar Ibrahim. Arguably, the ends do not justify the means.

  7. You're right about JoeAm's "kindness". It is the cure to the cruelty of the Pinoy elite.

  8. In place of "love", how about "tenderness"?


    1. What was it Miss Maude asked? Are you a doctor, poet or comedian?

      How about "hubba hubba dancing deep into the fiesta night sexiness?"

  9. DocB, Oh, wow! Now you're getting into the mood. Cue music - Barry White (or whoever lights your light). Tenderness would lead to a lovefest (and love feast?). It would make the Constitution a love letter. Not a bad idea; it would certainly make the world sit up and take notice. And it would be definitely one for the Constitution - and one for the books.

  10. Tenderness is us Pinoys getting screwed by our leaders and we don't notice till an American and a Pinoy expat poked me with this article.


  11. GabbyD: "Why Does God Grate on Your Nerves"

    Because God loves people in sufferings. God promotes poverty and violence.

  12. "It is offensive because those who fear God are always trying to jam Him down the throats of those who don't. In a secular State, you are permitted to believe whatever the hell you want."

    huh? when did the govt "jam Him down" anyone's throat? what does "jam him down" mean anyways? are u required to take sacraments? are u taxed for not going to a mosque?

    seriously, there are alot of scattered answers here. i dont get it.

    1. If you don't get it then I doubt I can explain it, because for you to get it you have to be able to slip into the shoes of an atheist who sees people putting God where He does not belong if it is indeed a society that embraces all faiths, including non-faith. Private expressions may be freely made. Government expressions should favor no religion. To favor is to "jam".

      We are engaged in another of these threads where you take on the role of gnat and I am the role of elephant's behind. I think you have a good point to make, but you are trying to get us to make it for you by nitpicking our expressions. I would suggest that, to end the endless, you simply reread the article and the comments, and compile a synthesis that expresses what you think we are saying, why we are wrong, and what the correct language in the preamble should be. If you don't "get" something, then do like everyone else does, guess or assume.

      Put yourself out there rather than pick at our word choices.

    2. i'm not picking on it. i'm trying to understand what "jam it" means. you will agree that "jamm it" is vague.

      living in saudi arabia -- that is jamming it down our throats right? even if you dont believe, you MUST follow islamic strictures. that is what i think of with "jam it down".

      now, in the philippines, i dont think that happens.

      now, you argument is "jam it" means to favor. How is the catholic church favored?

      Does that mean "if the catholic church and the govt agree", that is favoring the church?

      so the government may NEVER agree with the church? is that really your argument?

      i'm hope i'm communicating the confusion i'm feeling here. "favoring the church" has a VERY SPECIFIC interpretation in the establishment clause.

      merely adding the word "secular" wont change what the establishment clause means.

    3. Ah, GabbyD.

      I was thinking of a way to convince you. Rational argument doesn't seem to be the way. So I thought I might appeal to your imagination.

      I was going to ask you if you have ever been in a minority. Now that you mention you live in Saudi, you know what it means to be in a minority.

      Being in a minority suggests the possibility of being discriminated against, right? In Saudi, the discrimination is obvious in that you are not allowed to openly practice your religion - if you are not a Muslim.

      In the Philippines, you think and feel there is no discrimination because you belong to the majority, that is if you are a Catholic. If you are a Muslim, you would not only think and feel discrimination - you would know discrimination.

      If you were a non-Catholic and you worked in a government office where Catholic rites are performed, you would feel discriminated against. In other words, you would feel the practice "offensive" in the same manner that you find your treatment in Saudi Arabia offensive.

      Your contention is that these Catholic rites are not favored by the government and therefore not jammed down our throats. This is where we disagree. To me as a non-Catholic, the mere presence of any Catholic object in a government office is a sign of favoritism and discrimination. The additional presence of a priest performing a rite within that government office is a personal affront. I am offended.

      One meaning of offensive is "causing anger or annoyance".

      You will note that in Joe's revised Constitution and in my parsing of his amendments, we are sensitive to the use of words. We try to use words as precisely as possible.

      If you remain unconvinced, can you explain what the "establishment clause" is and what is the specific interpretation by your lights?

      But remember we go by logic, by the reasoning of our minds. We do not accept "authoritarian" interpretations of any belief. We do not accept anything because somebody said so. We analyze the reasons for what that somebody said, and if those reasons are valid we might agree. I say "might" because there may be other reasons beyond what that somebody said.

      But first, sit back and relax and try to take in what I have written here. Do not attempt to reply immediately. I know you can empathize with us because you know what it feels like to be in a minority. Just focus on that.

    4. ok. we agree that saudi is "jamming it down our throats".

      what of the philippines?

      sabi mo "To me as a non-Catholic, the mere presence of any Catholic object in a government office is a sign of favoritism and discrimination. The additional presence of a priest performing a rite within that government office is a personal affront. I am offended.

      One meaning of offensive is "causing anger or annoyance"."

      my question: why are you angered or annoyed? i think we get it -- you are angered and annoyed by other people practicing their religion within eyeshot. i get that.

      the question is WHY?

      take note: no one is asking u to pray w them. no one is ordering you to wear a scapular. in this sense, NO ONE is jamming their faith down your throat.

      now, if ur response is: "we dont have to justify what causes us anger or annoyance" -- my answer is: not good enough.

      we live in a society where different people believe different things. it is dangerous and counterproductive to make that claim -- if true, we dont have to justify anything to anyone, and we can be offended and be marginalized for all kinds of reasons.

      i dont think you really believe that.

      the interpretation of the establishment clause is well established. you can wiki it. i read it -- that is my interpretation.

  13. 1. I am not annoyed per se by other people practicing their religion in a proper place like a church or their home. A government office is a secular place. It is not a place to conduct a religious rite if the service is not ecumenical. A government office is no place for religious imagery.

    2. The imposition of religion is a matter of degree. We agree the Saudi Arabia case is forced imposition. Let us say the imposition of Catholicism in the Philippines is not active; let us say the imposition is passive. Nevertheless, the imposition exists because as a non-Catholic I feel it and think it. Because the religious imagery and the religious rite are in my face when they should not be. Not in a secular government office. This is the answer to WHY.

    3. The Establishment Clause is complicated. For example, if you look at the section about religious displays, the judicial decisions are contradictory. I quote from the Wikipedia:

    "In 2001, Roy Moore, then Chief Justice of Alabama, installed a monument to the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building. In 2003, he was ordered in the case of Glassroth v. Moore by a federal judge to remove the monument, but he refused to comply, ultimately leading to his removal from office. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the lower court's decision to stand.

    On March 2, 2005, the Supreme Court heard arguments for two cases involving religious displays, Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. These were the first cases directly dealing with display of the Ten Commandments the Court had heard since Stone v. Graham (1980). These cases were decided on June 27, 2005. In Van Orden, the Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, the legality of a Ten Commandments display at the Texas state capitol due to the monument's "secular purpose." In McCreary County, however, the Court ruled 5-4 that displays of the Ten Commandments in several Kentucky county courthouses were illegal because they were not clearly integrated with a secular display, and thus were considered to have a religious purpose."

    4. In the Glassroth v. Moore case, religious displays are NOT allowed; but in Van Orden v. Perry the decision was opposite. In the third case, the displays were adjudged illegal. You see?

    5. With due respect to you, I have justified my annoyance above in item 2. As I said it is a matter of degree. To you it may be a nothing or just a molehill, but to someone else it may be a mountain. If you cannot appreciate this, then we nothing more to discuss.

    6. You are entirely correct: I try to be rational and as you see I do not make the claim that my annoyance is not justified.

    7. I recognize the plurality of beliefs and I respect other people's beliefs. And I respect how each man justifies his belief in his own way. But I do not accept the validity of his justification if it runs contrary to my own reasoning. And I do not accept the imposition of any belief on anyone. I will change my view if you can convince me by argument and reason.

    8. As I said, boil it down to your own logic: what exactly is your interpretation of the Establishment Clause? In refusing to define your own interpretation, are you not guilty of what you would accuse me of - which is not justifying one's thoughts and actions?

  14. i'm a little confused:

    "To me as a non-Catholic, the mere presence of any Catholic object in a government office is a sign of favoritism and discrimination"

    "The additional presence of a priest performing a rite within that government office is a personal affront. I am offended."

    its not clear why you are discriminated against. but fine -- maybe u can explain why.

    but you are offended by the priest performing a service in a govt office. why? u explain: " Because the religious imagery and the religious rite are in my face when they should not be. Not in a secular government office. This is the answer to WHY."

    so your reason is: this is what i believe govt offices should be.

    i suppose thats as good a reason as any -- but lets be clear: the ESTABLISHMENT PRINCIPLE IS OK with NON-MANDATORY religious services.

    your citations of religious displays is useful, but also not the point. those displays are paid for by public money (as in, nasa budget ito), or placed in a publicly owned location as a permanent public monmument. NEITHER is true for PERSONAL effects and temporary storage of religious items.

    if u had cited religious prayer in schools, it would also be interesting but NOT THE POINT. those cases are MANDATORY RECITATION by students of certain creeds or prayers.

    as far as i know, NO ONE IS FORCED TO RECITE prayers, OR FORCED TO ATTEND masses or prayer rallies.

    1. GabbyD

      Thanks for explaining your side. Discussions are easier if you come up with reasons upfront.

      1. You appear to miss my point. My reason is not: "This is not what government offices should be".

      2. My point is one of principle. That principle is clear: separation of church and state.

      3. I have explained why. Force can take many forms, expressed either physically or psychologically. Discourtesy – which is lack of respect for others, wounding the feeling of others - is a form of psychological social coercion.

      4. Let me make my stance clear on the Establishment Clause. There is value in basing decisions on precedents. But, as a general rule, I try to look at a situation as it is with the faculties I presently have, mainly observation, conscience and reason.

      4.1 The danger in basing judgement on precedent is that you take the value of the judgement as is without acquainting yourself - most of the times - with the principles behind the judgement.

      4.2 You will note the judicial decisions based on the Establishment Clause can be contradictory. In fact the Clause itself is fraught with controversy. But if you follow the basic principle of the separation of the church and state you can hardly go wrong. And I think you should err on the side of a strict interpretation.

      5. You say the Establishment Clause approves of non-mandatory religious services. I would place the following caveats:

      5.1 Non-ecumenical religious services are NOT acceptable.

      5.2 Religious services should only be conducted on special infrequent occasions of great significance to the nation such as the inauguration of a new President, the opening session of Congress and the installation of a new Chief Justice.

      6. Religious displays must NOT be paid for by public money. Secular decorations that are not symbolic of any religion are acceptable.

      7. Decorating your office cubicle with personal effects is acceptable.

      8. Mandatory recitation of prayers is NOT acceptable in public schools.

      8.1 Congressional sessions generally open with non-formulaic prayers. I find this acceptable as long as certain deities peculiar to one religion are not invoked. The senators need all the help they can get.

      9. During Corona's impeachment trial, Supreme Court employees staged masses and prayer rallies. I do not find these acceptable for many reasons like the fact that the novenas were conducted on the premises of the Supreme Court, the misuse of public resources in time and money, the coercion to attend, and the pre-judgement of Corona's innocence.

      9.1 You may argue there was no force, no coercion to attend, but I would disagree. Force can take many forms, expressed physically or psychologically. There would have existed peer pressure - no matter how subtle - as well as the fear at the possibility of losing your job or not being promoted were Corona to be found innocent.

    2. In your part 5 onwards, where did u get that stuff? how do you know that stuff?

      you argue "There is value in basing decisions on precedents. But, as a general rule, I try to look at a situation as it is with the faculties I presently have, mainly observation, conscience and reason."

      so, in part 5 onwards, its NOT based on precendent (which is how law should be interpreted), but thru "observation, conscience and reason"?

      whose reason? yours? why yours? why not mine?

      FACT: your interpretation of the est clause, THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, is not the current understanding. it is YOUR OWN.

      thats fine. you can believe what you can be offended by whatever. (personally, i HATE IT when men wear pink... but they do!)

      but you CANNOT CLAIM that your understanding is the current state of the law.

    3. also: "Force can take many forms, expressed either physically or psychologically. Discourtesy – which is lack of respect for others, wounding the feeling of others - is a form of psychological social coercion."

      and "Force can take many forms, expressed physically or psychologically. There would have existed peer pressure - no matter how subtle - as well as the fear at the possibility of losing your job or not being promoted were Corona to be found innocent."

      peer pressure to pray? there are MANY MANY priests and pastors who WISH this were correct.

      if you want to support corona and NOT PRAY, this is 100% POSSIBLE.

  15. next topic: the writ of habeas corpus (hb).

    in the US, the hb may be suspended under certain conditions. why not in your revised consti?

    1. Because I think the U.S. is wrong in certain conditions and my blog was about the Philippines.

    2. ok. cool. so in the case of an invasion, the courts can be asked to release, for example, soldiers of the invading force from prison.

    3. Yes, exactly. The courts are the final check of reason. Always.

    4. so its ok for the courts to intervene in a military operation? ok. well, at least its a logically consistent belief.

    5. I did not say "intervene in a military operation". I said "final check of reason". Any hallucination you apply to the words is strictly yours.

    6. putting an invading army in prison IS a military operation.

      the involvement of the courts is INTERVENTION in a military op.

      tell me why that is wrong.

    7. No, involvement of the courts is a request from attorneys representing the soldiers held in prison. A framework of laws would have to be built to delineate status of prisoners and alternative dispensations. How long they can be held (e.g., until fighting is ended), when they are or are not returned to their motherland (not if suspected of war crimes). In the latter cases, trial would be assured.

      Before we embark on a similar path taken by you and Edgar, I would say you should just state your opinion, that in certain circumstances, martial law or imprisonment without judicial rights is warranted. End of argument. Rather than the endless questioning of my phraseology and digging for detail on a subject I have not thought much about. I approach it from a general principle. Never should people be locked up for years without recourse to courts, as is the case of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo.

      I don't really have an interest in going further down this path. It requires me building details I have not thought of yet, and I have more important things to do. You can be as detailed as you wish it arguing your position. But you do the work, not me.

    8. why did u say this was about guantanamo? the issue there, which has already been decided by USSC, is whether nonUS citizens held abroad are afforded the protection of the writ.

      note that these factors (non us citizens, foreign detention) have NOTHING -- as in 0% -- to do with the writ as written currently. these people are neither rebels NOR invaders.

      wasnt that easy?

      "questioning ur phraseology" -- a constitution is ALL ABOUT text and words.

      you substantially changed the wording of the writ of HB section. arent we supposed to KNOW WHY?

      "I would say you should just state your opinion, that in certain circumstances, martial law or imprisonment without judicial rights is warranted."

      i would say that the current wording is fine -- which is why i was excited to hear your side. why isnt it fine? invasion, public safety... these ALL make sense... now, was this abused? certainly -- but the courts are there to check the executive's implementation of the writ. that is what they are there for.

  16. Hallucination is seeing differently, making out a bogeyman where there is none. I think it's more than that, it's in the realm of delusion...

  17. This is not in reply to GabbyD. This is for readers who want to know my reply to GabbyD regarding the conclusions I have outlined in items 5 through 8.1.

    1. The proper question to ask is NOT whether these are my personal conclusions. Of course they are.

    2. The proper question to ask is: Are the conclusions consistent with the principle of the doctrine of separation of church and state?

    3. You may or may not agree with me. That is not the point. The point is that your conclusions are based on your understanding of the principle. Not on my understanding, not on precedent, but on yours.

    4. Understand I am not saying that precedent is wrong. What I am saying is that you must understand the reasons behind precedent when you are asked to make a judgement. If need be, you must overturn precedent. If we just followed precedent, we might still be living in caves and hunting animals using clubs.

    5. You may decide not to answer the question and unthinkingly accept the "current" interpretation of these issues. If you do, just be aware that there are immense consequences for omission as well as commission.

    1. Nice wrap-up. I admire your patience. I agree with the importance of separation of church and state in a multi-dimensional society, as most democracies tend to be. Your final remark that choosing the status quo is a choice, and it can be a mistake, is particularly insightful.

    2. " The point is that your conclusions are based on your understanding of the principle. Not on my understanding, not on precedent, but on yours."

      my point is that you may make your own interpretation of the est. clause, but at least own up to the fact that it is MARKEDLY DIFFERENT from its current interpretation, interpretation from precedent -- which itself is interpretation using reason and "understanding of the principle".


      "If you do, just be aware that there are immense consequences for omission as well as commission."

      now u end with a vague warning of "immense consequences". ano po ang immense consequences?


      but all this has made this "secular" thing clear. i'll assume joe agrees with your position, so i'll lump him in here when i say "you".

      1) you are offended by certain practices in public.
      1a) these practices are NON-mandatory.
      1b) but done in public grounds

      2) you are offended because of your "understanding" of the est. clause
      2a) this understanding is very different from the current interpretation of the est. clause here and in the US.

      3) therefore, i support a constitution that allows for an understanding of the text which is more explicitly in favor of my understanding -- which again is MARKEDLY DIFFERENT from the current understanding.

      --> if thats true, i suppose thats fine, but this is exactly what i was confused about initially, but now, i'm no longer confused about.


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