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Of icons and party lists


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… The Lord said to Moses, `Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived…” (Numbers 21:8-9, the Holy Bible).

YOUTH PARTY LIST DABBLES ON RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY: If we are looking for a justification to remove the party list system of representation from the House of Representatives, the best argument that can be used is House Bill 6330, a proposed law filed by Kabataan Party List Rep. Raymond Palatino, entitled “Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act”.

This bill, as is immediately clear even from a reading of its title alone, does not deal with the youth of this country, or on anything that will promote the welfare of young Filipinos such as free college education, removing kids from the streets, and restoring discipline among them. So the question is: why is a party list group representing the youth dabbling in matters other than those that concern the youth?

One would think that Palatino and the party list he represents would fall one on top of the other pursuing projects for the youth, especially restoring quality education, or fighting off budget cuts for government colleges and universities, which remain very elusive and unrealized even at this point. But no, they have chosen to ignore the youth and focus their energies instead on other things. Very sad!

BILL ON RELIGION DISCRIMINATES VS. CATHOLICS: What is more appalling here is that, House Bill 6330---which, Palatino explains, seeks to prohibit religious ceremonies and the display religious symbols in government offices, including other public places and corridors, in the guise of religious freedom---in reality does not know what it is talking about.

Assuming that this bill is passed into law, religious freedom, at least from the point of view of Catholics, will actually be curtailed by it, because it will discriminate against, and prohibit, Catholics from exercising their own religion and the tradition and practices that go with it, particularly the displaying of religious icons and images.

In reality therefore, what Palatino and the Kabataan Party List are seeking to do is not to achieve religious freedom. They are seeking to supplant the Catholic faith, deriding in the process Catholics who have been brought up observing the tradition of images and icons all throughout their lives. Obviously, only non-Catholics will benefit from the bill of Palatino and Kabataan Party List. Is this religious freedom?

ERRONEOUS IMPRESSIONS ON ICONS: The fact is that, there is a grave misunderstanding among many about religious images and icons.  My understanding is that images and icons are not prohibited even by the Bible, as there are many passages in its pages which in fact encourage images and icons.

What God and the Bible prohibit are not the images or icons themselves, but the worship and treatment of these images and icons as God. Along this line, I remember the example of the “Golden Calf”, which the Israelites worshiped in place of God, and which therefore greatly angered God.

In fine, it is clear that Palatino and his party list actually do not know what they are doing with House Bill 6330. It would be a lot better for them to channel their energies instead towards creating programs that would empower the youth more concretely. A bill on religious freedom, in a country where religion abounds in almost every corner, is surely going to be divisive and destructive.

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by Atty. Batas Mauricio

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