By Batas Mauricio
DID you know that under the 1987 Constitution, particularly in its Article XIV, Section 3, paragraph 3, religion can be taught to pupils and students of our country’s elementary and high schools by their own religious leaders, preachers, priests or pastors and ministers?
Yes, the Constitution has this provision, and it surprises me no end that not many people know this even those who attended the United Association of Christian Educators of the Philippines (Ascep) Region 11 General Assembly in Davao City where I was invited to share my thoughts on religious instruction among Filipino youth.
Here is what the Constitution says in full about this: “At the option expressed in writing by the parents or guardians, religion shall be allowed to be taught to their children or wards in public elementary and high schools within the regular class hours by instructors designated or approved by the religious authorities of the religion to which the children or wards belong, without additional cost to the Government…”
The intent of the Constitution, of course, is not just to teach religion, for if that were so, it would be violating its own proscription on the separation of the Church and State under its Section 6, Article II (“The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable”). The real intent is strengthening the youth’s ethical and spiritual values, and developing their moral character and personal discipline.
This is clear from Section 1, Article XIV, which mandates the State not only to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels but to make appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all, as well as from Section 2, paragraph 3 of the same Article XIV.
Section 2, paragraph 3, says all educational institutions shall “… strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline…” Clearly, what is more paramount in all these is the molding of the character of the Filipino youth, in line with ethical, moral and spiritual truths, regardless of their religious affiliation.
This is of course in line with the Biblical injunction to all parents, coming from Ephesians 6:4, which says “Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Fact is, bringing up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” would, by far, be more important than teaching religion.
What is the “training and instruction of the Lord” that the Bible requires? It is that which Deuteronomy 6:5-7, which says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children…”
During these end times—surely, the signs are clear that the end is “just at the door”—what is important is to prepare our youth and our nation for their final destination, which is life eternal with God. This can only be done by strengthening their faith in God, through listening to His Word and obeying His commands.
The state of elementary and high schools owned and operated by Christian (or Born Again) churches in the country was the subject of a Davao City forum recently held at the Independent Baptist Church Auditorium in Tionko Avenune, Davao City. It was participated in by noted educators Dr. Benjamin Tayabas, Robert T. Rivera, and mediamen like myself.
The forum was sponsored by Dr. Felix Saligon, the chairman of the Ascep-Region 11, to thresh out ways and means to empower Christian schools all over the country to help in providing quality and relevant education to the Filipino youth.
Courtesy at home is often dictated by the parent-children structure of a family. Parents often demand not just courtesy, but obedience, from their kids. But then this breeds animosities. So, how about this—parents must start the courtesy cycle at home, by being courteous to their children, too. Like, parents must try to be more temperate in their language, eliminating any manifestation of anger or annoyance. Ok?
When is a media commentary fair and legally tolerable? The Supreme Court, in Borjal vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126466, January 14, 1999, quoting one of its very early decisions, said: “…(T)he interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech.
“The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and unjust accusation; the wound may be assuaged by the balm of a clear conscience. A public official must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comments upon his official acts…
“Even assuming that the contents of the articles are false, mere error, inaccuracy or even falsity alone does not prove actual malice. Errors or misstatements are inevitable in any scheme of truly free expression and debate…”
The Bombo Radyo website, at www.bomboradyo.com, featured in its front page on July 29 at least five stories that sounded like they were taken straight out of the passages of the Holy Bible.
These stories were headlined “Cagayan, Calayan, Babuyan, Signal 2”; “Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower Appears”; “Hundreds victimized by floods in Negros Occidental”; “Rise in HIV/AIDS cases alarming”; and “24 dead from dengue in Central Visayas.”
Read the following verses and see what I mean: Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 21:25, and Deuteronomy 28:15, 22. These verses will tell you that Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, warned about rains and floods and heavenly wonders and signs, as a prelude to the end of the world. On the other hand, the rise in HIV/Aids cases and in dengue fatalities were warned about by God against those who no longer listen to Him and who no longer obey Him.
Ramos, Tarlac is in the news, courtesy of the brutal killing of Mark Andrei Marcos, a 21-year old law student of San Beda College who was a son of an engineer-father and a mother who passed away when he was still very young. The town, where both Mark Andrei and I grew up, is now in the limelight all right, but what a way for it to be in the limelight!
I condole with the Marcos family, particularly with Mark Andrei’s grandmother, Mrs. Guadalupe Ibarra Marcos, who was my grade six teacher, and her husband, former Regional Trial Court Judge Martonino Marcos. I grieve likewise for the father, Engr. Mac Ferdie “Bongbong” Marcos, whose dreams of having a lawyer-son was shattered by the very men whom Mark Andrei wanted to be his fraternity brothers.
The sad fact about this incident is that, Mark Andrei belonged to a rare breed of children from Ramos, Tarlac who wanted to become a lawyer and, much later on, to become a judge. Not many young men and women from the town wanted to become lawyers, not really because they didn’t feel qualified aspiring to become lawyers, but more because of poverty.
This was the reason why many in Ramos—even from those outside of the Marcos family—rejoiced when Mark Andrei decided to pursue studies in law. Qualified, competent, and coming from a family of lawyers—his aunt, Mariemier, sister of Engr. Mac Ferdie, is a lawyer, and his maternal uncles and grandparents from Camiling, Tarlac, are all lawyers—everybody believed his future as a lawyer was sealed, and would become true in just a matter of time.
Until the day that he was enticed to join a fraternity, of course, which now proved to be his undoing. This decision of Mark Andrei to become a frat man was a great surprise even to his pained grandfather, Judge Marcos, who rued the fact that he often warned his grandson against joining any fraternity in San Beda, on account of the still unresolved case of Marvin Reglos, also a hazing fatality.
Now, Mark Andrei is gone, and so are his youthful dreams and ambitions of sitting as a judge someday. The greatest and most painful irony here is that these dreams and ambitions, which brought him to San Beda in the first place, were cut short by the very persons who promised to help him fulfill them, if he joined their fraternity.
But if I am to believe an uncle-lawyer of Mark Andrei, not everything went with Mark Andrei. The troubles of those who killed him are just starting, with a very strong warning aired on national TV, although veiled and disguised as a prayer: “I pray that the authorities will get the perpetrators first.”
I do not advocate revenge, for God said, “leave room for my wrath.” But certainly, can we fault grieving relatives and people who loved the gentle and unassuming kid that was Mark Andrei if they entertain the notion that those who killed him should be held responsible for their misdeeds, whoever they maybe?