A senator, now a presidential aspirant, was urged to reconsider his decision to appoint religious leaders in the Cabinet if he wins in the upcoming national elections.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a born-again Christian, was quoted as saying that he is eyeing to appoint leaders from evangelical groups.
Reports say that the retired boxer recently met with some 400 evangelical Christian pastors, led by Bishop Ted Malangin, in Guiguinto, Bulacan.
Pacquiao said he wanted to make sure that his administration will be composed of “godly” people who will supposedly help him bring back good Filipino values.
“Hindi rin naman tayo basta-basta mag-appoint… as long as they are godly. Nararapat lamang sa posisyon niya… Halimbawa, boxing ang labanan, hindi mo pwedeng ilagay diyan ’yung swimmer,” he said.
“Kumbaga, kung ano ang fit sa trabaho niya at kaya niyang gampanan, du’n natin siya ilagay dahil diyan. Marami siyang magagawa,” the lawmaker added.
Pacquiao said religious leaders will also be part of his anti-corruption task force which he said would be immediately formed once he assumes office.
“Dito sa public service, gusto ko rin pong maging 8-different weight division (champion,” he said.
The senator stressed he is running for president to help impoverished Filipinos and not to enrich himself.
Pacquiao in his Bulacan visit was received and prayed over by Jesus Is Lord leader and House Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva.
Reactions from the public
Some Filipinos did not welcome the presidential aspirant’s plan to install religious leaders to his Cabinet. He was urged to rethink his choice as a prospective leader of the country.
“Look, I’m a Christian. But unless the pastors are well-equipped, please do not appoint them. Let them stay in the church because that is where they are needed and called,” a Twitter user said in response to Pacquiao’s comments.
Another online user compared the senator’s plan with President Rodrigo Duterte‘s move of appointing former generals to his Cabinet.
“Dati, puro military. Ngayon, puro pastor na. Nakakalokang bansa ‘to,” he wrote.
The incumbent president had said he placed ex-military men in the Cabinet to address issues “in time of destruction.”
A different Twitter user claimed that pastors “are not experienced enough or are ill-equipped to run national agencies.”
“No offense to the pastors, I don’t know them,” she wrote in response to Pacquiao’s choice to favor them.
“All offense goes to Pacquiao who until now, I wish, just stayed in his boxing era. No Pacquiao, you do not make sense,” the online user added.
Others brought up the concept of the “separation of the church and state.”
However, Twitter user Mar Escalona claimed that it is not applicable since the concept refers to when the church has “absolute power” over the government, such as during the Spanish Colonial Era.
She also cited some religious figures who have occupied government positions such as “De La Salle Brothers Andrew Gonzalez and Armin Luistro who were both appointed as Cabinet secretaries.” The two, however, have had a long career working in education.
Gonzalez was appointed as secretary of education, culture and sports in the Estrada administration while Luistro sat as education secretary in the previous Aquino administration.
“Pacquiao’s intention of appointing pastors into his cabinet would be no different from what has already been done a lot of times,” Escalona said.
“This pronouncement by Pacquiao is cringe(-worthy) though. Imagine if a pastor becomes the Secretary of National Defense. No, the selection of Cabinet officials should be based on merit, not religious affiliation,” she added.
Cabinet secretaries are tasked to advise the president on different affairs of the state such as agriculture, budget, finance, education, social welfare, national defense and foreign policy, among others.
They are also considered as the “alter egos” of the president, according to the doctrine of political agency. It is defined as a legal principle which states that:
“The heads of the various executive departments are the alter egos of the President, and, thus, the actions taken by such heads in the performance of their official duties are deemed the acts of the President unless the President himself should disapprove such acts.”