News of a lengthy interview with Isaias Samson, Jr. hit the news yesterday. As we all know, Mr. Samson is the Editor in Chief of the PASUGO, the Iglesia Ni Cristo newspaper, which my sisters and friends purchase in multiple copies and stash in their closets.
Mr. Samson was accused of being Antonio Ebangelista, the man responsible for publicly exposing the misappropriation of funds of the Church. He was one of the victims of the witch hunt the Church Council conducted to flush out the suspected ministers and members. However, the confiscated computers and cellphones, belonging to him and his family yielded no evidence that he is the mysterious and elusive Antonio Ebangelista.
How did he end up being expelled? Mr.Samson alleged that he was held under house arrest, refused communication with the outside world, and was interrogated at length. Subsequently, Mr. Samson and family managed to escape with his family but went on hiding for fear of his life. Did Mr. Samson fear for his life because he has knowledge of this alleged unlawful church activity committed inside the church? To date, the Church has not issued any statement that they have positively identified Mr. Samson as the Antonio Ebangelista. AE remains a hidden mystery.
Fast-forward….. Members were summoned by the Church Administration to join a peaceful rally in the streets, blocking motor vehicles and pedestrians to fight for SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. For a moment here, I want to point out without prejudice, that most of the church members did not attend Law School. This is not the kind of issues they discuss while sharing meals with their families.
However to clarify this matter, the separation of Church and State has long been part of the Philippine Constitution. In Article II “Declaration of Principles and State Policies”, Section 6, the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines declares, “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” This reasserts, with minor differences in wording and capitalization, a declaration made in Article XV, Section 15 of the 1973 Constitution. Similarly, Article III, Section 5 declares, “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”; echoing Article IV, Section 8 of the 1973 constitution verbatim. (the Amendment 1973 Constitution Retrieved March 22, 2015, 1987 Constitution of the Rep. of the Phil. -Article III Retrieved March 22, 2015. This should have been the highlight of the lesson in the pagsamba before the members were summoned to the rally.
Needless to say, the Church’s actions did not earn support from the community, instead, it earned the title “CULT.” A title so vile which made the church an object of intense humiliation and ridicule.