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Lea Salonga asks if there is ‘true’ separation of church and state

/ 02:13 PM August 15, 2018
lea salonga

Image: Instagram/@msleasalonga

Whenever Lea Salonga muses about subjects she herself admits she doesn’t have a full grasp of, she makes it a point to make use of her social media platforms to ask for her fans’ insights.

Such is the case last Monday, Aug. 13, when the singer took to Twitter to ponder whether there is indeed true separation of church and state, with the presence of a law that convicts anyone who offends one’s religious feelings.

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“With all this talk of charter change, would it be so insane to actually thoroughly examine the constitution and throw out laws that no longer make sense?” wrote Salonga. “I mean, how can there be true separation of church and state when there’s a law that covers offense of religious feelings?”

In another tweet, she implored the help of fans and Twitter followers to help her better understand her latest musing: “Perhaps someone can explain this to me. I seek knowledge here. Thanks.”

One netizen, Girl Between Stars (@between_stars), tried to shed some light on the matter: “Hi. The law against offending religious feelings is in the Revised Penal Code, not the Constitution. It’s an Act, meaning it can be repealed, amended or revised by Congress through other Acts, some laws in it already have been.” The netizen added that the Philippines need better politicians instead of the proposed charter change.

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Salonga thanked the netizen for her reply: “Now time for me to keep on reading. I do wonder why and when that particular law was written. What purpose does it serve?”

Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or Offending the Religious Feelings convicts “anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.” The article imposes the penalty of arresto mayor (one month and one day to six months) in its maximum period, to prision correccional (six months and one day to six years) in its minimum period.

In 2013, Pia Cayetano filed a bill in the senate seeking to repeal that very law from the RPC while keeping the option to sue for civic damages,” replied the netizen. “Maybe we should ask senators why the bill is still pending? They’re mostly the same set of senators back in 2013, give or take a few.”

Another netizen tried to explain the matter from a religious point of view: “We are first creatures of God who He commanded to love Him with all our hearts, minds, souls and strengths and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. To love God is to keep His commandments.”

“But wasn’t it also Christ that said, ‘Give unto Caesar [what] is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s?’” answered Salonga. “I interpret this in conjunction with the separation of church and state. And besides, there doesn’t need to be a law to cover religious feelings. Really, there doesn’t.” JB

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TAGS: Law, Lea Salonga, Offending the Religious Feelings, Religion, separation of church and state
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