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THE CHURCH UNDER ATTACK
May 5, 1956
There is a new outburst of anti-clericalism as Catholic politicians denounce the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to the bill requiring Filipino students to read the two controversial novels of Rizal
By Teodoro M. Locsin
NOT for a long time has the Catholic Church, or, at any rate, the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines, been subjected to such attacks as it has for the last two weeks. Archbishops, accustomed to having high government officials kiss the ring of their office, were mocked and ridiculed, were called enemies of freedom, to great applause. Catholic political leaders led the attack….
Did the hierarchy expect the attacks when it issued the pastoral letter objecting to the Senate bill which would make the two novels of Rizal required reading in all public schools—novels the hierarchy considered impious and heretical? If it did, and went ahead just the same and registered its objection, it could only be because of an overriding concern for the safety of the Faith; to read Rizal is to endanger it. A temporary embarrassment is nothing in the light of eternity; the Church is 2,000 years old; it will still be standing when the supporters of the bill are no longer around. The Senate, as it is presently composed, will not prevail against it. Thus, perhaps, wen the thought of the churchmen. It was a calculated risk.
It was all very surprising. A month ago, one could not have imagined a Filipino politician speaking in any but the most respectful terms of the prelates of the Church; he would have considered it political suicide to express himself critically of them. Now all caution seems to have been thrown to the wind. Anything goes. There is a new freedom, or, to put it another way, license.
The Church has grown in power and influence since the days immediately following the Revolution. Then every other Filipino leader seemed to be the critic if not the enemy of the Church. Many had lost their faith; even among those who retained it, there were not a few who were, in some degree, anti-clerical. The women were pious but the men were something else. During Mass, when the priest turned around to deliver a sermon, the men would walk out of the church; when the priest was done, they would come back. “Do what I say, but don’t do what I do,” the men would say, referring to the man of God.
In time, many Filipino leaders returned to the Church, abjuring Masonry as in the case of the late President Quezon; they became quite devout. It no longer seemed queer to be a priest or to listen to one. The Church grew in prestige. When a Protestant, Camilo Osias, made known his intention to run for president, he was told he couldn’t win; he was not a Catholic. He could be a senator; he was. He could never be president. He must face the facts of political life. When he wouldn’t, and bolted to the other side, he couldn’t even get elected as senator.
If Ramon Magsaysay is president of the Philippines today, it is due not a little to the help of the Church. The hierarchy, reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the perpetuation of the Quirino administration through electoral fraud and terrorism would eventually drive the people into Communism, urged the faithful to keep the elections free. Free elections would mean the defeat of the Quirino administration. The Church couldn’t help that. The elections were free, and there was a new administration.
Quezon and the church
By Frederic S. Marquardt
The Bible was near his bed.
JOSE Rizal and Manuel L. Quezon were both born into the Catholic religion. Both were educated in church schools. Both spend many of their adult years outside the church. But that’s the end of the parallel religious experiences of the two leading Philippine heroes. While historians differ as to whether Rizal reasserted his faith in the church, there is no doubt that Manuel Quezon died a Catholic.
There was an altar in the room in which death came to Quezon at Saranac Lake on August 1, 1944. A frequently read Bible was near his bed. Quezon took almost daily communion from his personal chaplain, the Rev. Pacifico J. Ortiz, S.J., during his long illness. He and the members of his family said the rosary together every night.
Quezon’s was no death bed conversion, or more accurately reconversion. For the last 14 years of his life he was a practicing Catholic. But for the previous 25 years he had nothing to do with the church. It was during this earlier period that he was married in a civil ceremony in Hong Kong, later repeating the vows before a priest almost an afterthought. During his break with the church he was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines, an order generally regarded as anti-clerical. The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Masons in Washington, D.C., elected him to the 33rd degree, highest honor in Masonry. Caballero and Concepcion, in their biography on Quezon, date this event as October 23, 1929.
Less than a year later Quezon was back in the Catholic fold. Time, the American newsmagazine, reported in its issue of December 9, 1935: “Catholic-born Manuel Quezon retracted Masonry on his 52nd birthday, 1930, aboard the s.s. Empress of Japan, in the presence of Most Rev. Michael J. O’Doherty, Archbishop of Manila. Two years later he demitted (i.e. resigned) from his lodge.”
In his autobiography, The Good Fight, Quezon was amazingly sketchy about his religious experiences. It should be noted, of course, that the book was unfinished at the time of Quezon’s death, and was published posthumously after his friends and relatives had done some work on the manuscript. He was a sick man when he dictated the book, and he had no opportunity to put it in final shape. As the head of a government in exile, he was taking a high-level part in the struggle that would leave scars on his country for years to come. There was little time for reflection or research. Still, Quezon did indicate in his book one of the events that may have led him away from the church.
Describing his part in the Philippine Revolution, Quezon told how he came down with a bad case of malaria while serving on General Mascardo’s staff. The illness probably occurred in 1900, although the date is not definitely established. “I spent a month in the house of Cabesang Doro’s friend in Navotas”, wrote Quezon, undoubtedly referring to the town in Rizal province. “This old man had amassed so much money from the fishing business that he had been able to send his son to be educated in Europe. While convalescing at his house, I read books which left in my mind some doubt as to the certainty of the existence of hell as taught by my friar teachers—doubts which in after years contributed to my leaving for a long time the Catholic faith and joining the Masonic Order. I returned to the old church after my children had grown up.”
The foregoing pithy reference doesn’t throw much light on Quezon’s religious experience, but it is all he chose to include in his autobiography.
I have been able to find no published record of Quezon’s beliefs during the years when he was outside the church. However, I once examined an unpublished autobiography of the late Teodoro M. Kalaw, who had a distinguished career in Philippine politics during the first half of the American regime. In the manuscript (Chapter X) was a letter from Quezon to Kalaw. As nearly as I could ascertain, it must have bee written about 1915, when Quezon was representing the Philippines as resident commissioner in Washington. In the letter, written in Spanish, Quezon said:
“You know that I am a free thinker. I do not believe matrimony is an indissoluble tie, just as I do not see the necessity of any religion for any people and nation. Science should be, and has to be, the Religion of the future. This Religion will make the man of tomorrow more perfect, morally speaking, than the religious man of today, because the believer of our day is synonymous with the ignorant. To believe is ‘to see what we have not seen’; in other words to have faith in whatever hoaxes some people, who consider themselves semi-divine, preach and practice. Nevertheless, even when such are my honest convictions regarding divorce and religion, I still consider it very inopportune to pass the Divorce Law now.
“Because of the trouble between (Archbishop of Manila) Harty and the YMCA, Harty has written to American Catholics attacking our Government. For the first time the Catholics here are (word indecipherable) if it is good for Catholicism to have the American government in the Philippines. It is very convenient for us to let them ponder over this, while at the same time we show them what good Catholics we are. The Catholic vote may yet give us our independence.”
There seems to be an inconsistency in Quezon’s referring to himself as a “free thinker,” and then suggesting “we show them what good Catholics we are”. One can only surmise that Quezon was speaking ironically in the latter instance. As a matter of fact, Quezon was wrong if he thought the Catholic vote in the United States would bring about independence. Only a few years after this letter to Kalaw was written, the same Archbishop Harty sent a cablegram to the predominantly Catholic New York delegation in the House of Representatives urging he delegates to vote against immediate independence.
If Quezon didn’t write much about his experiences with the Catholic Church, he showed no reluctance in discussing them. On October 21, 1937, I made extensive notes of a press conference President Quezon had held the preceding Sunday in his study in Malacañan Palace. The conference lasted two hours. Originally called because the President wanted to discuss a forthcoming legislative message, the conference soon branched out into discussion of nearly everything under the sun, including religion. Other correspondents present were Walter Robb of the Chicago Daily News, Ray Cronin of The Associated Press, Dick Wilson of the United Press, Dave Boguslav, then editor of the Manila Tribune, now The Manila Times. I was associated editor of the Philippines Free Press, and correspondent for the International News Service.
I had always been curious about Quezon’s return to the church, and I kept the conversation on this subject as long as I could. The President was speaking “off the record”, so his statements were not published at the time. His story went like this, according to the notes made at the time and still in my possession.
“I first considered re-entering the church for the sake of my children. My wife was a very devout Catholic, and as the children grew older I knew they would wonder why she was so religious when I was apparently lacking in religion. And I was afraid they might, believing me to be more intelligent than their mother, follow in my footsteps without giving the question of religion serious thought.
“So I asked Father Villalonga, former head of the Jesuit Order in the Philippines, if he would give me some instruction in the Catholic religion.
“Father Villalonga, whom I had known for years, came out to see me and the first thing he wanted to do was say mass, I said to him, ‘Never mind the mass. Tell me why I should re-enter my faith.’
“He talked to me for a while, and then he sent me a book, saying it would instruct me in the Catholic religion. Well, I read the book, and one of the portions in it told about a good-for-nothing Spaniard who sailed from Spain for the Philippines. Before he left his home his mother gave him a Medal, bearing the likeness of the Virgin of the Rosary, and once a day this fellow would say a ‘Hail Mary’ to the Medal. The rest of the time he was the worst possible sort of a rake, committing all the crimes imaginable.
“When the boat he was on passed Mariveles, a storm came up and the man was shipwrecked. By dint of great effort, he managed to swim ashore to Cavite but he was so exhausted by the time he reached there that he fell down on the beach and died.
“The next day the people in Manila noticed that the Virgin of the Rosary in the chapel of the Dominican Church had dust on it. And do you know what the conclusion of the story was? That the Virgin in Manila, made of wood, had walked all the way to Cavite to help this sinful man into Heaven, merely because he had said one ‘Hail Mary’ a day!
“When I read that story, and considered that the Catholic Church expected grown-up, intelligent men to believe it, I decided that I had better stay outside the church.
“So I did nothing until once, when I was returning to Manila from the United States, I found myself on board the same boat with Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty. I was chatting with the Archbishop one day when he asked me why I did not return to the church, pointing out that my children were growing up and that I owed it to them, if for no other reason, to again become a practicing Catholic.
“I said to the Archbishop, ‘I personally would like to return to the church. But I can’t join an organization which expects me to believe that a wooden image walked all the way from Manila to Cavite to help a sinner get into Heaven.’ Then I told him the entire story which I had read in the book.
“The Archbishop laughed and said, ‘Well, I don’t believe that story either, but I’m still a member of the church. It wasn’t long before he convinced me that I could rejoin the church without insulting my own intelligence. As I recall it, he said a mass on that occasion.”
I was anxious to find out Quezon’s attitude toward Masonry. So I pressed him on this subject. His statement, also taken from my notes of October 21, 1937, follows:
“I didn’t actually resign from the Masonic order until several months later, and I never denounced Masonry. There is a formal form which those returning to the church from the Masonic lodge are supposed to sign, but I refused to sign it. Instead, I wrote the Archbishop a personal note saying that I understood that I could not be readmitted to the Catholic Church so long as I remained a Mason for that reason I was resigning from Masonry.”
The “personal note” from Quezon to Archbishop O’Doherty is included in Sol Gwekoh’s Quezon, His Life and Career. The original was in Spanish, says Gwekoh, and was witnessed by Mrs. Quezon. It was dated August 18, 1930, which is one day off from the 52nd birthday mentioned in Times’s account. Since he was crossing the Pacific at the time, it is possible that Quezon was confused by the International Date Line.
In the document cited by Gwekoh, this statement is attributed to Quezon: “I abandon Masonry and I abandon it forever, not only because this is a condition sine qua non for a Catholic, but because the religious beliefs that I now sincerely profess, are in direct opposition to certain Masonic theories. I shall never again belong to any society condemned by the church. I deplore with all my heart having spent the best years of my life in complete forgetfulness of my God and outside His church.”
Not long after the press conference at which President Quezon spoke so freely of his religious experiences, I asked him if he would authorize publication of the facts that led to his readmission to the church. I pointed out the doubts that always arose regarding Rizal’s religious beliefs, and suggested that Quezon prevent all speculation in his own case by writing an article for the 1937 Christmas issue of the FREE PRESS, repeating what he had told us at the press conference.
The President thought about my request, then turned it down. It is only now, 10 years after his death, that I fell free to publish this personal version of Manuel Quezon’s religious beliefs. In his note to me, dated November 18, 1937, President Quezon said:
“I have been thinking over the question you submitted to me yesterday and I have come to the conclusion that it would not be proper for me at this time to write such an article. It is of no concern to the public what my religion is and why I belong to that church. The separation of church and state is fundamental constitutional mandate and people may suspect some ulterior motive in my writing such article.
‘Therefore I will not write the article you’ve suggested.”
The important thing about President Quezon’s letter, it seems to me, was his concern over the separation of church and state. The issue of religious education in the public schools was a live one. Only a veto by President Quezon prevented the enactment of a law that would have permitted religious education in the schools during regular time.
Despite the President’s veto, the bishops of Cebu announced their intention to continue the fight for religious education in the public schools. President Quezon then made a blistering statement ending all speculation as to where he stood on the question of separation of church and state.
“It should be unnecessary to remind the ecclesiastical authorities in the Philippines”, said Quezon, “that the separation of Church and State in this country is a reality and not a mere theory, and that as far as our people are concerned, it is forever settled that this separation will be maintained as one of the cardinal tenets of our government. They should realize, therefore, that any attempts on their part to interfere with matters that are within the province of government will not be tolerated. If the said ecclesiastical authorities desire to have the government respect their rights and afford them every kind of protection in the free exercise of their religion, they must not only abide by the laws and lawful orders of the government, but they must also acknowledge and respect the principle of the separation of church and state.”
If President Quezon’s message to the bishops was the highlight of his intensely religious period, his letter to Teodoro Kalaw was a similar highlight of his years as a free-thinker. When he was almost literally at war with the church, he advised Kalaw against any breakdown in the sanctity of marriage. And when he had again become a practicing Catholic, he warned a congregation of bishops to keep their hands off political affairs. Both events illustrate the essential balance that is a requisite of true statesmanship.
July 23, 1938
WHEN President Manuel Quezon left recently for a vacation in Japan, he left in the dead of night, aboard a Japanese freighter, without fuss or fanfare.
But when he returned this week, board the Empress of Japan, tugboats whistled and puffed around the graceful white luxury liner, the flags were out at dawn, the city’s bay boulevards are bright with sunshine and posters, jammed with cheering thousands. The President might have been returning from the United States, with a new economic pact or another bankful of coconut millions, instead of from a quiet uneventful Japanese holiday.
It was true, however, that the quiet holiday had aroused a Japanese-teapot-storm of comment. The President had been reported seeking unofficial assurances from Japan that the independent republic of the Philippines would be left alone. In Japan, Visitor Quezon had called the report “ridiculous bunkum.” Two days after his arrival in Manila he was to expand that impulsive phrase into an involved 15-minute explanation.
But on the Luneta, a chain of sampaguitas around his neck, he had nothing new to offer. Instead, talking in Tagalog, he took up where he had left off on his departure, sailed with both fists into the Catholic Church.
“If they want showdown, they can have it,” he shouted, evidently still sore at the pastoral letter which had criticized his veto of the religious instruction bill, shortly before he left. He challenged the Church to a fight in the coming elections for the Assembly. He said the church could present its own candidates against those of the administration, to put the whole question up to the people.
Since most of the Church’s candidates would necessarily be the Assemblymen who voted for the bill in the Assembly, and since all of these Assemblymen are administration men too, the challenge was scarcely fair, and the proposed battle, scarcely possible.
Such a battle, moreover, and such a challenge would bring little good to good a country which needed every ounce of unity it had, in the face of freedom. The President himself had recognized this danger in previous declarations. He repeated it on the Luneta: “We should not sacrifice our national life, our national harmony and unity on matters of religion, which we should not even discuss because it is unnecessary to do so. We have freedom of worship and of conscience.”
The vigorous impromptu challenge was later toned down in the official text of the speech, released in English to the press. The President proposed that the National Assembly reconsider the bill. If it was not repassed despite his veto, he would reveto it. If it was not repassed, “the country may consider the matter settled, unless the people in the coming election should decide to elect a majority of members of the National Assembly who would commit themselves in their electoral campaign to enact a measure on religious instruction.”
Confident Mr. Quezon entertained no fears in that respect. The crowd that had jammed the Luneta to hear him was primarily a labor crowd, grateful for favors past and present. But he adroitly interpreted their presence: “It can have only one meaning and that is, that you have come here to assure me that both my veto… and my stand on the question of the separation of Church and State, have met and continue to meet with your entire approval…. You make me very happy.”
The President also tossed aside hurt Catholic arguments that even Catholic bishops, as citizens of the Philippines, had a right to criticize the President’s actions. “I shall not deny any bishop, priest, or minister, of any church, his right as a citizen to express his opinion on any public question, but I do emphatically deny the right of the constituted authorities of any religious organization, or of any Church or Faith, not in their capacity as citizens but as authorities of that religious organization… and speaking therefor, to try to influence the government or any of its branches.”
It was clear warning that there would be no mutual understanding between Church and State in the Philippines.
Two days later the President was almost as clear on another mutual understanding, this time between the Philippines and Japan. The U.S. press had commented widely on the Quezon trip to Japan, had insinuated that Quezon was courting Japan and Japan courting Quezon. Correspondent Wilfrid Fleisher had telephoned the New York Herald Tribune that the President had been invited to the Empire by Japanese friends, that his trip had been arranged by these friends, that the Japanese government was glad of the chance to show the President that Japan had no designs on the Philippines.
No fear of Japan
Radiocasting from his study in Malacañang, over KZRC to the Philippines, and over an NBC coast-to-coast hookup to the United States, the President burned with sarcasm: “One of the American press correspondents, gifted with a highly fantastic imagination, sent information to his newspaper in New York to the effect that I had made that trip for the purpose of starting negotiations with the Japanese government, looking toward the neutralization of the Philippines. The absurdity of the news should have been enough to discredit it.”
The U.S., the President said, still retained control of the commonwealth’s foreign relations. “In the second place, it is a matter of common knowledge that on several occasions spokesmen from the foreign office of the Imperial government of Japan have left it be known…that Japan was ready and willing if invited, to be one of the signatories to such a treaty of neutralization…. Why then should I go to Japan to learn of something about which I had no right to inquire, and which no longer a secret to any one?”
But the President proceeded to do much to credit, if not the report on neutralization negotiations, at least its background of Philippine-Japanese mutual confidence and understanding. “I may state, said the President, “that I am not one of those who entertain any misgivings as to the attitude of Japan toward the Philippines once we shall have become independent. Our preparation for national defense is not due to our fear that any nation has untoward designs against our independence and territorial integrity…. We are not so extraordinarily rich natural resources as to make it worthwhile for any nation to conquer our territory at an enormous cost, and our trade can always be had through mutual concessions. There is, therefore, nothing to justify the belief that a wanton aggression against us may be contemplated by any foreign power.”
Gone seemed the expressed fear of most Filipino leaders that Japan will conquer the islands, or that, if it does conquer the islands much harm will come of it. Gone also the traditional uncompromising attitude toward Japan. Instead, the President hinted, the Philippines must cultivate a more tolerant, a more realistic, policy.
“We are in the world and must live with the world. We must conceive and devise, adopt and execute our national policies, with a clear vision and full consciousness of the realities of the present state of international relationships. We must above all be fair and just, tolerant and neutral, so as not to give an excuse on the part of any foreign power to interfere in our affairs or to charge us with jeopardizing the rights of other nations.”
The President then said, half with a sigh of relief: “When we are independent, our fate will be entirely in our hands.”
That fate, he hinted, was in the Far East, and in “peace and mutual understanding…permanently established among the nations of the Far East.” The face of the Philippines seems turned to Japan.
July 2, 1938
WHEN President Quezon vetoed the bitterly contested religious instruction bill after its passage at the last session of the National Assembly, he did not put an end to the most violently discussed issue of the day.
That the fight would go on to a finish became evident last week when the Metropolitan Archbishop and the Suffragan Bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Cebu published a pastoral letter which replied to President Quezon’s memorable speech in Cebu on the occasion of the inauguration of the city’s capitol, in the course of which the chief executive advanced some of his reasons for vetoing the religious instruction bill.
To all, the pastoral said, “the future of Religion is of vital interest, particularly to those who will have to render an account of the souls committed to their care.” Hence it bemoaned the irreligion of the youth of today.
Mostly blamed for youth’s lack of religion by the ecclesiastical dignitaries is the present system of public education “based as it is on religious neutrality.”
Appeal to leaders
After saying that “the question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the [religious instruction] bill” is “a question upon which only the supreme court can pass a final and decisive verdict,” the letter expressed the hope “that our leaders, ever devoted to the common good and incapable of remaining indifferent to the interests of our future citizens, will bear down all difficulties, and in the near future a measure will result which, without in the least infringing upon either the letter or the spirit of the Constitution, but by adapting the Constitution to the will of the people, and not the will of the people to the Constitution, will provide them with the desired efficacious religious instruction.”
Promptly, Catholic circles in Manila hailed the letter as a clear, firm, and accurate expression of the Catholic attitude toward the religious instruction issue. The Philippine Commonweal, official organ of Catholic Action in the Philippines, issued a special supplement containing the entire letter.
The President’s answer
A source of joy to many good Catholics, the pastoral letter was no less a source of irritation and disappointment to one bill-vetoing Catholic. Stung to the quick, President Quezon fumed in Malacañan, penned a statement which threatened to overshadow the Mayon eruption.
The President said:
“I am amazed at the boldness of the Metropolitan Archbishop and Suffragan bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Cebu in taking up at an episcopal conference a matter concerning the constitutional duties and prerogatives of the officials and branches of the government of the Commonwealth.
“I had so far ignored charges made to the effect that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the Philippines had instigated and was behind the movement for the enactment of the bill regarding religious instruction in the Philippines. But the pastoral letter is incontrovertible evidence that we did face at the last session of the legislature, and we do face now, one of the most menacing evils that can confront the government and people of the Philippines, namely, the interference of the Church in the affairs of the State.”
“Blind to lessons of history”
“It seems that the Archbishop and bishops who have written this pastoral letter are blind to the lessons of history including our own during the Spanish regime. Being myself a Catholic, I am no less interested in preserving the independence of the church from the state than I am in preserving the independence of the government from the church.
“It should be unnecessary to remind the ecclesiastical authorities in the Philippines that the separation of church and state in this country is a reality and not a mere theory, and that as far as our people are concerned, it is forever settled that this separation shall be maintained as one of the cardinal tenets of our government. They should realize, therefore, that any attempts on their part to interfere with matters that are within the province of the government will not be tolerated.
“On matters purely ecclesiastical, the Catholic bishops may speak for the Filipino Catholics; but when it comes to expressing the will of the Filipino people as a political entity on any matter concerning legislation or governmental measures, the Catholic bishops, some of whom are not Filipinos, are assuming too much when they pretend to speak for our people as they do in the pastoral letter when they say that the majority of the Filipino people are demanding the enactment of the bill which I have vetoed. The fact that the majority of the National Assembly voted for the said bill does not necessarily prove that the majority of the people are for it. It only proves that the majority of the members of the National Assembly were for the bill.
“If I were inclined to interfere in the affairs of the church, as the Catholic bishops are attempting to do with the affairs of the state, I would tell the Archbishop and the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Cebu that it is their lack of Sunday schools and catechists to teach the Catholic religion that is mainly responsible for the deplorable ignorance of their own religion that is found amongst the Catholic youth.”
“A very unfair campaign has been launched against the government, making it appear that we are not complying with the provisions of the constitution regarding optional teaching of religious instruction. The truth is the opposite, as evidenced by the fact that while the enrolment in classes in religious instruction during the academic year…1932-1933 was only 29,996, this had increased to 187,089 in the academic year 1937-1938. During this last school year, in the 817 schools where religious instruction was given, more than one-half of the children enrolled in said schools received religious instruction.
“Moreover, if the desire is to have hours exclusively devoted to religious instruction in the public schools, so that the regular school activities may not interfere with said instruction, I am placing Saturdays and Sundays at the disposal of all the ministers of all religions existing in the Philippines. On Saturdays and Sundays, the public schools are not being used for school purposes and, therefore, they may be used for religious instruction if it is so requested. What is prohibited in the existing legislation and by the constitution, and which, therefore, I may not allow is that any hour needed for public school proper be devoted to religious instruction.”
The Quezon blast produced a small counterblast. Speaking from the pulpit of the Manila Sampaloc church, Saturday, young Rev. Dr. Gregorio Villaceran defended the Catholic church and the signers of the pastoral. Clergymen, he retorted, have as much right as other citizens to deliberate on government matters, especially if those matters happen to affect the church most directly and vitally. The separation of church and state, he stressed, does not prohibit ecclesiastical authorities from exercising their constitutional rights.
Interviewed in Cebu, Archbishop Reyes disclaimed any intention to challenge or provoke the President. “In my name and in those of the bishops of the Cebu archdiocese,” he was quoted as saying, “I reiterate my respect for the government and those entrusted with its administration.” However, “with regard to the presidential veto, the bishops respect it, but within that respect they honestly believe there is nothing which would prevent them from entertaining any opinion and publicly expressing that opinion which under a democratic regime such as ours they have the right to do. It is hardly just to deny the bishops a right which is accorded to any other citizen of the land.”
Defense of chief executive
President Quezon boarded a Japanese freighter bound post-haste for Kobe shortly after issuing his philippic; but pending his return, Assemblymen Gregorio Perfecto and Eugenio Perez, both uncompromising opponents of the religious instruction bill, are preparing a resolution which they plan to introduce in the special session in the latter part of next month, endorsing the chief executive’s stand.
Meanwhile, “fighting” Rev. Samuel W. Stagg, Protestant pastor, defended the chief executive in a radio speech over KZIB, and at the same time accused the Catholic hierarchy of being “the sworn enemy of all democracy.” He lauded the President for his “great courage in taking issues with the hierarchy in defense of the hard-won liberties of the Filipino people.”
Who owns this city?
October 3, 1908, Saturday–The answer is found part in our first page cartoon. The religious corporations own a big slice of it and the irreligious corporations the rest. Between the two the common people stagger under the burden. For the pious exemption of the churches from all taxation we have to thank our dearly beloved Mr. Taft, who for some years past has been paving his way to the White House via the Vatican, and for the exemption of the soulless corporations from civic control we have to thank a renegade municipal board false to their true masters, the people, and loyal to the people’s oppressors, the street railway and light company and the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific.
It has been said that the public gets as good a government as it deserves. Here it has been a case of “the public be damned” and the presumption is the public deserves to be damned. Certainly in the United States, subjected to the same iniquitous impositions we have labored under here, something would have happened. There would have been more than muttered imprecations and weak-kneed protests. Take the case of the Escolta, for instance. How long would any city there have suffered its main thoroughfare to be trifled with the way ours has been here? How long would any people have stood the criminal scandal of Calle Azcarraga where the street railway company and the city engineer seem to have gleefully conspired to block traffic and torment the public? How long would the taxpayers have endured the godless and arbitrary impost of four pesos a month for light they never consumed? How long would they have stood those pitfalls and rotten blocks with their menace to man, cart, and beast? How long would they have remained silent under that luxurious Luneta fill outrage with a treasury beggared for funds and the poor people wading up to their thighs in mud and scum, the poor “submerged tenth” in behalf of whom El Renacimiento has been lifting up its voice and lifting it in vain?
It is high time the faithless incompetents were cleaned out, and that the city had representatives that would represent. With the exception of Alcalde Roxas, who seems to have gone to sleep lately, there is not one member on the board in whom the public has the least confidence, or who deserves the public’s confidence. It is high time the public assert itself and that we show who owns this city.
Bryan and Filipino hopes of Independence
What about Filipino independence should Mr. Bryan be elected President of the United States, as now seems not improbable? This question has doubtless been asked by not a few Filipinos, and it will no doubt be disappointing to those who desire immediate independence to be informed that even if Mr. Bryan becomes President he will not be able to give it. In the United States laws require the assent of Congress, and as, owing to the manner in which the senate of the United States is constituted, it is assured that the majority in it will continue republican during the four years of Bryan’s administration, should he be elected, it is also assured that no law providing for the immediate independence of the Philippines will be approved by the upper house. Therefore, while Bryan has expressed the opinion that the Filipino people should have their independence within five years, it would be impossible for him to give it within that length of time. The only hope of independence which the people of the Philippines can expect from Bryan must be based on the chance of his being elected this time and then four years later being elected for a second term. A second democratic victory at the polls would presumably insure both the house and the senate being democratic, which would then give Mr. Bryan an opportunity to realize his desires in regard to the Philippines and their independence. Even should Bryan be elected, therefore, the Filipinos who desire immediate independence would be almost as far from it as ever.