Law banned Rosaries and holy statues on car dashboards
MANILA (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new law in the Philippines that bans Rosaries hanging in cars took effect on May 18, and only four days later has been suspended, following backlash. Known as RA 10913, the rationale of the Rosary ban is an alleged safety concern by the government, which claims that items such as hanging Rosaries obstruct the view of drivers. Lawmakers are now planning on disseminating information related to the law before its full implementation.
Most Filipinos — 80 percent of the population — identify as Catholic.
Executive secretary for the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Fr. Jerome Secillano, believes the law is an overreach. "I agree with banning the use of phones while driving," Fr. Secillano said, "but they are absolutely missing the point by prohibiting the display of small religious images in cars."
He continued, "It's not the Rosaries that cause accidents, but foremost among them are mechanical problems and the drivers' ignorance and abusive behavior on the road."
Decades ago, the Catholic faith in the Philippines was such a visible part of the daily life of Filipinos that everything from TV and radio to traffic and civil courts paused for the Angelus at noon every day. Recent major historical events in the Philippines also bear witness to the salience of the faith of Catholics. An example is the People Power Revolution orchestrated by Cdl. Jaime Sin in 1986, resulting in the non-violent overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos.
In March, the Filipino bishops issued a pastoral letter addressing President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called vigilante war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of 7,500people in less than one year. "This traffic in illegal, drugs needs to be stopped and overcome," the letter reads, "but the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers."
In January, Duterte, a self-professed "dictator," signed an executive order calling for implementation of what is called the Reproductive Health Bill following the country’s Supreme Court placing a temporary hold on implementation of the law. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, and the country remains the last in the world to prohibit divorce. Contraception, however, is allowed.
Duterte has slammed the Church as recently as last year, calling the Church the "most hypocritical institution." He has also dismissed the Church's teaching on contraception.
"I will destroy the Church," he said, "and the present status of so many priests and what they are doing. You priests, bishops, you condemn me and suggest I withdraw, but then I will start to open my mouth. There are so many secrets that we kept as children. Do not force [me to speak] because this religion is not so sacred."
In January, Duterte remarked that the Catholic Church is "full of s***."
The Philippines has a 5 percent Muslim population, and a 2.5 percent population affiliated with the group known as Iglesia Ni Cristo, a cult founded in the Philippines in 1914, which does not believe in the Holy Trinity.