Pres. Quezon's speech on his veto of the Bill on Religious Instruction
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - February 28, 2015 - 12:00am

President Manuel L. Quezon, upon his arrival from a trip to Japan, delivered a speech in New Luneta on July 17, 1938 vetoing the Bill on Religious Instruction.

The proposed bill though of national significance focused on Cebu, when President Quezon made special mention of the ecclesiastical province in his speech.

A portion of his speech said:

"To my knowledge, nothing since the last general election has happened or has been done regarding important public questions except these things: the termination of the work done by the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs, the passage by the National Assembly of the bill on religious instruction and my veto thereof, the pastoral letter of the Archbishop and the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cebu discussing my veto and urging both the members of the National Assembly and the people to persist in the enactment of that measure despite my veto, and lastly, my statement criticizing that pastoral letter as an attempt on the part of the Catholic hierarchy of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cebu to interfere with the affairs of the State, and appealing to the people for unity in the support of the Church and State."

President Quezon in explaining his respect of the actions of the bishops he further said:

"I have learned that, in my absence, an exception has been taken to my criticism of the pastoral letter of his Grace, the Archbishop of Cebu, and the bishops of that Ecclesiastical Province, to the effect that, because of his vocation, no ecclesiastic is precluded from the exercise of the right of every citizen of a democracy to express an opinion on any public question, and that the Catholic hierarchy of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cebu simply made use of that light.

I shall not deny any bishop, priest, or minister of any church, of his right as a citizen to express his opinion on any public question; but I do emphatically deny the right of the constituted authorities of any religious organizations, Church or Faith, to speak as such and to influence the Government or any of its branches in the determination of its policies. And this is what the ecclesiastical authorities of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cebu had done in their pastoral letter.

The action of the bishops was taken by them sitting as bishops, and, therefore, the letter was written in their capacity as bishops of the Catholic Church as is shown by the fact that it was styled a pastoral letter. And in that pastoral letter they did not only urge the faithful to do their utmost in teaching the religion to their children studying in the parochial schools, which is doubtless their right, but they even went to the extent of discussing the constitutionality of the bill and validity of my veto, of urging the members of the National Assembly and the Filipino people to insist upon the enactment of the said bill despite my veto, and of launching at the same time the very serious charge that the Government was not enforcing the Constitution regarding religious instruction. They asserted that the bill was precisely designed to enforce the Constitution."

In closing his speech President Quezon said:

"Your warm welcome convinces me that the country agrees with me that we should be united, that no religious head should be allowed to interfere with the affairs of our Government, and that you fully endorse measures adopted, and now being carried out by the administration, to protect the weak and help the poor and to extend equal opportunities to all."

The Archbishop of Cebu referred by President Quezon in his speech was Archbishop Gabriel M. Reyes who was appointed Archbishop of Cebu on July 29, 1932 and it is the same bishop the Archbishop Reyes Avenue is named after for. Reyes held the position up to August 25, 1949 when he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Manila.


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