A Priest’s Take on Political Dynasties and the Separation of Church and State

By: Ylexis Kyle-Michael Rualo & Juan Miguel Tolentino

On Political Dynasties

Author of Dialogue: Our Mission Today, Fr. Edgar Javier identified the dynasty and elitism as constants in Asia’s rich history and culture. The concept of a dynasty is innate in Fiilipino culture – sticking together in order to survive and progress. The same holds true in politics.

As citizens in a democratic country, Filipinos challenge political dynasties through raising awareness among the people in the form of political education. Fr. Javier said that they should take it upon themselves to make their fellowmen understand what a political dynasty is, its implications, and its consequences.

“Ngayon ang tanong ko, bakit hindi nagsasawa ang mga Pilipino sa mga pare-parehong pulitiko? Bata pa ako, nandiyan na sina Maceda, sina Enrile,” he said.

Fr. Javier acknowledged that they might be the best. But he still believes that our generation is capable of producing another Rizal, another Mabini, another Bonifacio. What we have to do is tap the proper people and go deeper into knowing our people.

He explained that the world has changed. “If a president is accused of corruption, he will immediately resign. … [While] in the Philippines, bahala na,” Fr. Javier continued.

According to him, the answer is simple – give way to the young people.

Fr. Javier likened old and recurring politicians to dead meat; what the people need are leaders of the 21st century, public servants with a vision. As for the old politicians, he suggested that they should organize themselves as the elders and advisers of the nation.

“Let the young run the show. Let the elders be the support system (to) give ideas. (As for the public,) we need to have more political education officers, in society as well as in the Church,” Fr. Javier concluded.

On the Separation of Church and State

For Fr. Javier, the separation of Church and state can be likened to a dream or utopia – it can never happen. He believes that the concept of the Church not interfering with matters of the state and vice versa is easier said than done.

Justice, peace, integrity, and care for the environment are the values of the Church, the values of the Kingdom of God.

“Now, do a survey in the Senate. What are their values? Compare it with the values of God. Anlayo,” he explained.

Fr. Javier states that instead of merely voting for politicians who the people know that they would receive benefits from, Filipinos should select leaders who are pro-people, pro-God, and environmental-friendly.

Citing Saint Augustine, he regards the Church and the state as two perfect societies that should not meddle with each other. But these are only dreams because the voters are citizens; the citizens are members of a particular religion. Thus, it is impossible to separate oneself from both sects.

Fr. Javier clarified that the Church continues to be non-partisan. Citizens should vote based on their individual beliefs and according to their conscience.

Despite all of this, he reiterates that the severe lack of political education in the Philippines is the main cause of all these problems. Partisanship is very exclusivist; Filipinos must be inclusivist and have a pluralist mindset.

The Church must affirm its right as a teacher, according to Fr. Javier. What society needs today are prophets who would build on the affirmative and teach what is good, he goes on. 

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