The great art critics of the CBCP are at it again! After saving the Philippines from the scourge of penes in Mideo Cruz’ work and the Reproductive Health bill, the Catholic church is now crusading to preserve its own great cultural contribution to the Philippines: hypocrisy.
At a forum about Republic Act 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act, the CBCP dared to invoke the separation of church and state in demanding that the church be given exemptions from the law.
When it comes to the RH bill, Attorney Jo Imbong pounds away at the wall separating church and state with the force of a wrecking ball. However, she so easily turns on a dime and brandishes that very same wall of separation in defense of the Roman Catholic church:
“While the Church unites with the state in the national policy to protect, preserve and promote the nation’s cultural heritage, the law should not prohibit and penalize necessary works on churches,” said Jo Imbong, a lawyer of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
That whole colonization of the Philippines thing that the Catholic church was a part of? Where they got into the country and abused the people while they spread the good word? Yeah, that little part of Philippine history explains why the Catholic church is in possession of many cultural artifacts of the country, from religious artworks to historical landmarks such as churches.
The National Cultural Heritage Act protects cultural property such as those churches, “against exportation, modification or demolition”. While I can understand the CBCP’s desire for exemptions to allow them to modify those old buildings to “tend to their flock” as they call it, I find it so appallingly hypocritical that they would ask for the exemptions by invoking the separation of church and state. Church-State separation: a concept that the CBCP has made abundantly clear it doesn’t give a shit about when it comes to matters like the RH bill.
But wait! Jo Imbong and the CBCP aren’t just content with this one level of hypocrisy. They’re like the Inception of hypocrisy: they’ve got to go deeper. While invoking the separation of church and state, Jo Imbong argues that the National Cultural Heritage Act should be extended to respect the Catholic religion. Never mind that the constitution, the very document that enshrines the concept that they are using (abusing?) says, “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion”, oh no no no. Screw the constitution, respect mah authoritah!
Prohibiting religious attacks
RA 10066 identifies cultural property as “all products of human activity by which a people and a nation reveal their identity, including churches, mosques, and other places of worship, schools and natural-history specimens and sites, whether public or privately owned, movable or immovable, and tangible or intangible.”
Because of the broad coverage of the law, many groups are suggesting limitations or explications on the proposed guidelines to govern its implementation.
Because of the furor recently over the Cultural Center of the Philippines, a state agency, mounting “Polytheism,” an installation work by Mideo Cruz showing the cross with an erect phallus and Catholic images dotted with condoms, Imbong said the CBCP had proposed to include among the prohibitions “any act that defiles, mocks, corrupts, debases or destroys the integrity of intangible cultural property or heritage.”
“Intangible cultural heritage” covers “oral traditions and expressions; the performing arts; social practices, rituals, and festivities; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship.”
Acts of disrespect toward religious expressions, which are considered intangible cultural property, should be punishable, Imbong said.
“As a people, we have received a heritage of treasure in Church history, a heritage that gives us an identity,” Imbong explained.
So Jo Imbong reasons, keeping a straight face the whole time, that because the Church took part in colonizing the Philippines, it has established itself into the cultural heritage of the country and thus, deserves much respect. It deserves so much respect as a cultural artifact that this law must defend it against desecration! How dare you defile expressions of the established relig… excuse me, culture, with more cultural expression! There should be laws against that!
Mmm, delicious tasty hypocritical irony.
Let me be clear here: the CBCP wants to turn RA 10066, a law that protects our cultural heritage, into one that stops the further development of our culture. They wish to defile and twist the spirit of a law that has good intentions, the preservation of history, into a monster straight out of the dark ages: a blasphemy law thinly veiled to disguise its horrific effects on the freedom of expression.
Come to think of it though, perhaps I am wrong in my thesis. The CBCP aren’t just trying to preserve hypocrisy as their great cultural contribution to the Philippines. Maybe I should think bigger, as befitting the majesty of the church.
Perhaps the cultural heritage that the CBCP cherishes the most and wish to preserve is from the glories of the Church’s colonial past: the culture of the Filipino people, bowing subserviently and unthinkingly before the priests and bishops of the Catholic church.