MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – Following the lead of Montreal, Canada, the Philippine Senate is now conisdering a bill that would strike down the tax exemption for churches. Not all churches, but the two largest denominations — the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ).
(Montreal has begun to tax churches, especially those that use their facilities for non-worship purposes.)
The Senate bill is authored by Senator Kiko Pangilinanan, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws. It has the full support of 100% of the Senators.
In justifying the proposed law (which would require a Constitutional Amendment). Pangilinan said that since the Catholic Church and INC have been using their religious platforms to meddle in politics, their tax exemption is no longer warranted.
”Catholic churches have used the pulpit to influence people on who to vote for in this coming and past elections while allowing church builidngs to serve as venues for political campaigns and partisan propaganda,” Pangilinan said. He also alluded to the Catholic Church’s huge investments in the stock market.
As for INC, Pangilinan said that it has always been known to vote as a block, dictating their followers to vote for chosen candidates.
As expected, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and INC head Eduardo V. Manalo have expressed stiff opposition to the proposed law, citing the Constitutional guarantee of Separation of Church and State.