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Is PHLPost’s Iglesia Ni Cristo stamp unconstitutional?

/ 05:03 PM June 12, 2014

Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) centennial commemorative stamp  SCREENGRAB from www.phlpost.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has said it does not see anything wrong with the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) centennial commemorative stamps released by the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost).

Asked if the stamps showing INC founder Felix Manalo’s portrait violate the constitutional provision against the appropriation of public money for the benefit of any Church, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it did not.

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Lacierda on Wednesday told Palace reporters that the stamps are only commemorative.

“We do not believe that this is in any way a violation of [the constitutional provision on the separation of the] Church and [the] State,” he said.

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Under Section 29, Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.”

Lacierda, who is a lawyer, said the Supreme Court in the 1950s gave the same opinion on a stamp related to the hosting of Manila of a Eucharistic assembly.

He pointed out that PHLPost, a government-owned and controlled corporation, has long been issuing commemorative stamps.

Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) centennial commemorative stamp SCREENGRAB from www.phlpost.gov.ph

The said stamp features the image of the INC founder, the group’s centennial anniversary logo and central temple.

“We are proud to issue the centennial commemorative stamps of Iglesia Ni Cristo and to Bro. Felix, its first Executive Minister whose adherence to the teachings of the Bible and untiring care for the Church members is remarkable,” Postmaster General Josefina Dela Cruz said in an earlier statement.

The statement credited Felix Manalo and his family for the growth of INC, “from a handful of believers gathered in its pioneering years to the millions now scattered across the country and in many parts of the world.”

INC will be celebrating its centennial anniversary on July 27 this year.

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PHLPost said the stamp was designed by Bienvenido Santiago Jr. of INC while the layout was done by Vic Serevo.

Around 1.2 million stamps in P10 denomination were issued and being sold at the Manila Central Post Office in Liwasang Bonifacio.

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