(Published in the column 'From My Viewpoint' on VIEWLINER PUBLICATION September 22-28, 2014 Issue)
The Philippines and the Vatican City are the only states in the globe without a law on divorce. The absence of a law on such here is probably the most apparent manifestation that marriage is highly regarded in the Filipino culture being a predominantly Christian Catholic.
Most filipinos believe that marriage is meant to last forever as vows normally include the phrase ‘till death do us part.’ But what if forever is not meant for a lifetime?
All the rest of the countires have found a way to solve the problem by enacting a law on divorce. Divorce is a legal action between married people to terminate their relationship. In the Philippines, there are many unhappy and failed marriages and the legal remedies available to them are declaration of nullity, legal separation and annulment. Although efforts have been introduced in the Congress for a law on divorce, these have been challenged by many religious groups.
Under our present legal system, a marriage is adjudged to be valid from the start cannot be terminated under any ground. This, nothwithstanding, there exist the remedies of nullity and annulment which both legally sever marriage ties. In nullity, a spouse seeks to prove that the marriage is void dating back to the time of its celebration, while in annulment, the spouse must establish that the marriage is afflicted with a legal defect that is exisiting when marriage was formalized. In legal separation, the spouses are only allowed to be physically separated, but their marital ties remain as they are not free to marry another.
Article 36 of the Family Code states that marriage may be declared void by any party if at the time of the celebration, one spouse is ‘Psychologically Incapacitated’ to perform marital obligations. This Article 36 is dubbed by many as the ‘unofficial Filipino divorce law.’
Congress latest attempt to pass a law on divorce was in 2011. It was referred to the Committee on Revision on Laws on January 2011. Sadly, the 2011 Congress adjourned without the bill being passed. Sadly indeed.
‘Everybody deserves a new beginning.’ This is not just a statement of a shallow idea. It has truth in it, especially on failed marriages.
Understandably, people have a negative perception on persons who had come from a bad relationship. The biblical passage that says ‘...what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ still reverberates in the culture of Juan dela Cruz. The said bible verse is found in the Gospel of Matthew, supports the church’s stand on marriage.
Clearly, the church teaches the marriage is ordained by no less than God Himself. It is God who is the author of marriage. Therefore, the phrase “God has joined together” speaks that God himself is actively pursuing ordination of the sacred activity of marriage. And the latter phrase ‘let no man put asunder’ explicitly declares that the ultimate objective of marriage is one of permanance.
This lead me to the question ‘are all marriages authored by God?’ One can no longer close his eyes to the present sociological realities that many people enter into a contract of marriage with less noble intentions such as convenience, money, sex, power and other ill motives far from love. Hence, I find the idea that God is the author of all marriages absurd.
God cannot be a part of any ill motive design in marriages. A Holy God cannot support or encourage a marriage founded on intentions that are not pure.
In consideration of the present realities, the hypothesis that all marriages are authored by God should be visited by our theologians, moral philosophers and even our law makers. One should understand that a law on divorce will surely include legal grounds (that should be satisfactorily proven in court) in order for divorce to be obtained and safeguards so it will not be abused.
To the person who nullified his or her marriage (under our present law of course), here is my message. Start picking up pieces of your life and stop doing self-pity and blaming yourself. Do not be afraid to fall in love again for love is sweeter the second time around. Though be extra careful this time in choosing the person whom you will give your heart. Today, you are free as the birds in the sky... be abundant in life. And never....never stop loving, for love makes the world go round.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men” - John Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton
While I may not believe on the veracity of the abovementioned quote from the great moralist and historian, nevertheless it is worthy of highlight on the issue of the Banyan Gate Incident which involved the Makati Mayor, Junjun Binay.
Here in the Philippines, all people are equal in the eyes of the law. It’s just that some families are more equal than others. Thanks to modern technology, the Binays have exemplified this before the lens of a closed circuit television (CCTV).
Three security guards at the Banyan Street Gate of the Dasmarinas Village in Makati were arrested by the men of the Mayor. Their crime? Doing their job.
It was past 10:00PM, and the Banyan Gate is supposed to be closed for all vehicles, Mayor Binay thinks otherwise. With the power that he has, he expects any gate in Makati to be open for him. As can be gleaned in the video footage, commotion did happen, guns were cocked, and poor security personell were arrested.
On their defense, the Makati Mayor in an interview denied any malice or any power tripping on his part. Joey Salgado, the public information officer of Makati City said that no arrests were made and that the security guards “voluntarily” went to the police station. Salgado said the news reports misquoted the mayor who actually said “Si Mayor Binay ako. Baka pwedeng makiraan lang. [I am Mayor Binay, may I pass?]” Salgado said Binay did this after the guards refused to believe that it was the the mayor’s convoy.
Salgado admitted that Binay did call the Makati police not to force their way in but to lessen tension between the Binay’s personell and the village guards.
Now, if you will ask me, that is one heck of a story.
The CCTV footage of the incident is posted online. Check for yourself and decide whether to believe the official statement from the City of Makati.
Their version of the story is highly opposed to logical thinking, ergo, incredible and is not worthy of belief. Anyone will not voluntarily go with armed men, logic dictates that they were forced to come with the police because they were armed. It is not rocket science to drive into such a conclusion. And FYI to Mr. Salgado the public information officer, it is wrong to say that there was no arrest that happened.
If you will ask me, I am clearly opposed to their words of defense. In fact I am categorically stating here that the Honorable Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Sombillo Binay is a straight faced liar. His sister, the Honorable Lady Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Sombillo Binay is also a straight faced liar. She was one of the passengers of the Mayor’s convoy that fateful night, surely she knows what really transpired. Yet, she’s saying it did not happen. Woe to the both of you and may the God of Truth serve His justice upon you two.
As regards their father, the Honorable Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, let me give him my benefit of doubt. He was not there, and I also expect him to act as a loving father to his favorite son. He is spared in being called a straight faced liar on this essay, yet let me clarify here that I am merely reffering to the Banyan Gate Incident, because as regards his politics, i am not much of a fan.
In the novel "Animal Farm", author George Orwell has shown us that no matter how hard in society we try, equality will never truly be reached by mankind for the reason that, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely!," yet, with due respect to the novel and its revered author, i refuse to believe such.
It is humbly opined that evil prevails because power is given to the wrong hands. Most filipinos fail to remember that the power reside in them and not to the chosen few.
What are we in power for? Are we called “boss” by no less than the President himself only to be under the mercy of these power tripping politicians? Did the Constitution vested sovereignty on us only to be ruled by thieves and liars? Did our freedom heroes died in vain?
Let the Banyan Gate Incident be an eye-opener for every Filipino that power trippers should not be given any chunk of power. And may the people realize, that liars deserve hell and not a public post.
It is my prayer that no liars will win any election. For they do not deserve any trust from the Filipino people. May shame visit their hearts.
To the Binays, We the Sovereign Filipino People is watching your family very closely.
By Manuel Rodriguez II
The liberal person is stereotype as a militant, not often esteemed and often misunderstood. In the present Filipino culture we have lost track between political liberalism and moral liberalism, to be “liberated” now is to be an immoral person.
As I see it, the term “liberalism” is almost certainly one of the most misapprehended words in the society of Juan dela Cruz.
Perhaps the supreme fallacy of the term is that one cannot be a liberal and a God believing individual at once.
As a Christian-liberal, let me state my political view and assertion on the subject matter. It is a delusion that only politicians should have a political view, every citizen must get involved in the affairs of his State.
My liberal perspective is probably a “hybrid” of my first being a believer and a practitioner of the Christian Faith and second as an advocate of democracy and liberalism as a political system. Back in senior college I was the Chairperson of the Students’ Democratic Party which is the first student political party to be organized after the lifting of martial law and a promoter of liberalism and democracy in governance.
I do not expect all fellow liberals to agree on my perspective; many liberally-educated individuals and political scientists (and maybe the religious) may differ or oppose my personal view.
It’s OK, I have learned to accept the fact that it is uncommon to meet two liberals who would agree on a common definition of the term unless in all probability if they are a part of a same political party which has a liberal brand.
It is only normal that the liberals from different walks of life will argue among themselves regarding the definition of the term “liberal” and the principles and ideals that are anchored on it. As liberals tend to price their personal opinions, you should anticipate a flood of ideas, opinions, positions and even formulas in putting up the “ideal society.”
In my opinion, to be liberal does not mean to be a part of a political group. Liberalism is a belief. It is similar to Christianity, Islam, or any other religion however, the focus in liberalism is not the belief in a supreme being but in the belief on the attainment of the ideal society.
As a philosophy, the focus of liberalism is on the freedom of the individual. Liberals believe that in order to attain the ideal society, the individuals must be free to do the things that they want as long as it does not affect the rights of other individuals. Liberals give higher importance to the lives of the individuals rather than the life of the State; they believe that the State must be the protector of the people and not its oppressor.
Unlike the traditionalists who stick to lenience and understanding, the liberal always demand change when change is being called for, they are open to new ideas and values. He always calls for genuine reforms, but is not easy to call for arms unlike the radicals and leftists. In fact, he shuns violence as a solution.
The liberal always respect the rule of law and works within the system and not against it. He boldly presents the cancers of the society, asks the hard queries, and offer solutions.
The liberalism political thought asserts that every individual is rational and is responsible and are at the best position to choose his or her interests. Liberals believe that to go after personal interests freely and rationally would lead to the finest of all social systems.
It is in contrast to the view of the fascists and the conservatives that individuals in the social order are linked collectively in an organic whole and affix on social order. Liberals also disagree with the socialist argument that individual interest should bow down to the interest of the society as a whole.
Liberals are firm to their ideal that no principle can ever authorize the restriction of freedom in the political and economic spheres. Liberals give emphasis to equal opportunities to all, they dream of a society where the hard-working and the talented are rewarded the amount of their work. They shun the idea of equality of ends wherein people will simply receive equal shares of the economic benefits.
In my opinion, it is not wrong for liberals to profess a faith and advocate the Christian values of humility, honesty, justice, love and prayerfulness. Religious freedom is one fruit of many libertarian efforts. Liberals believe that each man must be free on his worship to a supreme being, if he chooses to worship at all.
To end, let me state the six core liberal principles that I have learned being a seeker of political knowledge. These six principles sum up everything about liberalism.
First is Individualism, or the belief that the individual is more important than the group or society where he/she belongs.
Second is Rationalism or the belief that the world is rational and it can be disclosed in the eyes of the human person through the exercise of critical inquiry.
Third is Freedom or the ability to act as one desire in agreement to self-determination.
Fourth is Responsibility or being responsible for one’s social and economic circumstance.
Fifth is Justice or the giving of every person what is due them.
And the sixth is Tolerance or the willingness to accept the views or actions that one disagrees or of which one disapproves.
This is my perspective of the liberalism political credo. As I mentioned earlier I do not expect everyone to agree and that will be fine for I respect the differing views regarding the topic and I uphold the sixth core value abovementioned.
There are many professed supporters of liberalism are at times unconfident as to what precisely their political philosophy is all about. I genuinely hope that my perspective helped those people.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY.
by Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Why am I studying? For who I am sacrificing? Partly, it was that blind belief that my parents have instilled on my mind since I was a kid. Now that I am a grown-up I realized that what was instilled on me by my parents is a blind belief in learning upon which they both had placed such reliance.
Please do not get me wrong, blind belief as it may be, but it did helped me anyway in earning a Bachelor of Arts degree back in 2009 and I thank them for that and their support.
Studying, besides being a vague struggle to escape my unwanted inheritance (poverty), which is also the inheritance of many Filipinos, it was a manifestation of a fact that exists among our fellowmen, in which accomplishment becomes a fetish.
We Filipinos have been for so long under the control of foreign powers, who look down on us from what they deem to be their pretentious standards, that our own barely audible aspirations have been strained to search for any outlet no matter what. It did not matter that our knowledge, once acquired, would be exhausted in a cramped, repressed, unproductive society.
The degree was the thing; the honor was the objective; it lifted the Filipino of the past above the sweaty mass. The educated ones are the ones with better job and more money. Education is a fetish indeed.
And yet, FETISH WAS NOT MY PURPOSE.
Before, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in kindergarten I was inspired by then Secretary of the Department of Health who visited our school and promoted a government health program for the young like me. I and my classmates made him a thank you card because we enjoyed his visit on our school. I will never forget that man; his name is Doctor Juan Flavier.
Dr. Flavier became a senator years later after serving in DOH. Senator Flavier is now retired on public service and yet his visit on my kindergarten more than a decade ago is still very vivid in my memory. I once said to myself that I wanted to be a doctor like Doctor Juan is.
Primarily, I was interested in pediatric medicine, to save the young. My grandmother whom we are fond of calling “Nanay” told me stories from the barrios during the Japanese wartime. There she said, the people died without tasting a single medicine, died gradually, and with suffering. The “albularyos” were the tenet, muttering magic words over cancers, tuberculosis and beri-beri.
In the barrios according to my Nanay if a child died the people bowed and said: “It is the will of God,” as they had been taught by their parish. Even as a child listening to my Nanay, It was never my will to accept it that way.
Then years later, after realizing that the field of medicine is not for me, I thought of studying law. I would be a lawyer for the people particularly for the rural poor (those similarly situated with the wartime barrio people my Nanay told me). I would defend the people with all my honesty. I will the use law to their advantage and be not like the corrupt politicians who are currently in office.
During election time I listen to the candidates. Every election whether national or barangay level it was the same. “The people this, the people that.” After campaign, the word “people” was stricken from the vocabularies of the winners, who sat on their polished chairs and collected both graft and salary, equally, with both hands, form the people.
The men I admired as I grew older were all simple men who had a genuine sympathy for the people. Senator Flavier is one, for his being a doctor to the barrios, Senator Jovy Salonga for his eloquence on his faith in the public sphere, Congressman Crispin Beltran for his fortitude in advancing the interest of the working class, the militancy of Bonifacio, Rizal for his dedication, Nelson Mandela for his unselfishness.
I was impressed by Joan of Arc, Rizal, and Jesus Christ because they went to their deaths for what they believed, and their beliefs were common and of the people.
I had begun to arrive at a philosophy, “If you do it, make sure you’ll finish it and do it with all your heart. If what you will do will benefit many people, though it threatens your happiness and safety, sacrifice your happiness and safety for your noble purpose.”
Such philosophy is my answer to the question my faith had posed on me; “What Would Jesus Do?”
Initially due to the blind belief my parents have instilled, I was studying to escape the constricted confines of poor Filipinos, but my efforts only led me to the conviction that the poor Filipinos was all important, and that I was inferior to it.
GOD BLESS THE FILIPINO.
Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Cyberspace, as the fifth common domain – after land, sea, air and outer space, is in great need for coordination, cooperation and legal measures among all nations. A cyberspace treaty or a set of treaties at the United Nations level, counting cybersecurity, cybercrime and other cyber hazards, should be the framework for peace, justice and security in the electronic world (Schjolberg & Helie, 2011).
Crimes against peace and security in cyberspace should be established as crimes under international law through a Convention or Protocol at the United Nations level for mankind will in the future be completely dependent on information and communication technologies (Ibid).
With the fast changing innovation of technology is new conduct developed among individuals. Good or bad, these forms of conduct, however, must be classified so as to determine those which are gradually destroying our aim for a better environment (Jalayajay & Garcia, 2011).
Serious crimes in cyberspace should be established under international law, whether or not they are punishable under national law (Id.). The main purpose of enacting a law is to govern the conduct of individuals, and to regulate it so as to promote social order. Any conduct, which seems to be in violation of a person’s right must be governed and regulated by a law (ibid).
The Dawn of the Controversial RA 10175
Last September 12, 2012, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III signed the Republic Act 10175 (RA 10175) or The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law to prevent various electronic offenses including forgery, fraud, and identity theft and child pornography. The new crimes are grouped into two sections in the new RA 10175: Internet Crimes and Commercial Crimes. Another new crime created under the new law is “Cyber-Squatting” which is “the acquisition of a person’s domain name in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy the reputation and deprive others from registering the same.”
On October 3, 2012 the day one of the effectivity of the controversial law, the Philippine Government faced a bombardment of protests. Major news outlets, bloggers, human rights advocates and other critics turned their social media profile black to express their dismay to the Government and indignation on the said piece of legislation.
The Philippines has one of Asia's most effervescent democracies. But critics say the law echoes strategy to quiet and keep an eye on critics used by former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos when he imposed martial law in the 1970s (Macaraig, 2012).
Orwellian Society Philippines?
"Orwellian" is an adjective describing the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" — a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in Orwell’s novels particularly in the award winning novel, Nineteen-eighty-four (Wikipedia.com).
The most common sense of an “Orwellian” society is the state of complete control of the Government over its subjects, wherein improper thoughts against the Government is a serious crime.
The dawn of the Cybercrime Prevention Act may have brought to us an online version of an “Orwellian” Philippines. Such a kind of legislation must and should be abhorred for being contrary to the Due Process Clause enshrined on our Constitution, however, declaring a law as unconstitutional is a power vested only in one Supreme Court. As opined by United States Supreme Court Magistrate, Evans Hughes: “Constitution is what the Judges say it is.”
The Constitution is the guide
which I will never abandon.
- George Washington
Cybersecurity, Human Rights, and Civil Liberties
Internet, the network of networks, is an outstanding way of getting in touch with people and making links. It contributes to the spread of knowledge, to social and economic development and, if nothing else, it can be a way of elevating personal life. But it should not be forgotten that it is also a utensil of power, a place of bazaar where everything can be bought and sold, including personal data malicious software and crimeware tools (Schjolberg & Stein, 2011).
Internet can also be considered as an instrument that allows the development of digital surveillance on a very large scale. This contributes to potentially threatening several human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement (the right to travel and to navigate freely on the Internet), the right to knowledge and information, and the right to respect for private life, family and correspondence. In the world of digital technology, every activity leaves a trace. Cyberspace is billed as being free but people end up paying for their actions in some way, often payment in kind by providing their personal data (Ibid.).
Connecting the world in a responsible manner should guarantee fundamental human rights and civil liberties as well as the fair and honest handling of personal data. It should help the rethinking of economic models to ensure that personal data are not just considered as an asset to be traded.
Finding a realistic balance between the needs and duties of protection, between the protection of individual and common interests, between the respect of national sovereignty and the need for international collaboration, all the while keeping fundamental human rights in mind, is essential.
It would be reasonable to use these points as a main axis for development for cybersecurity measures. Both public and private players should propose technical, legal and economic cybersecurity solutions which are viable and convincing at national and international levels, in order to allow the police and justice systems to function efficiently without damaging fundamental freedoms. It should be kept in mind, however, that no single measure or security solution can protect against the consequences of injustice (ibid.).
The objective is to offer workable solutions for preserving national sovereignty as well as managing cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime and terrorism, at both a national and an international level. At the same time, there is a real need to develop measures that foster a fair use of personal data and digital privacy for everyone (individual, organization and state) (ibid.).
Cyberspace is not merely virtual; it represents an idea of the world with a political, and economic and social reality.
Why the Supreme Court Should Abhor RA 10175
Section 1 of Article III of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution provides that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.'
However, under Section 19 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, 'when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer.'" No court intervention is needed; the DOJ can go right ahead and compel you to stop publishing your posts (Sta. Maria, 2012). It is like police officials breaking inside your home and takes any property of yours without a warrant issued by a Judge.
The abovementioned is the strongest reason why the law should be declared unconstitutional. Other crimes being prohibited by the law as found out by the writer of this article is reasonable, in fact some crimes in the new law is already prohibited by the Government prior to the enactment of RA 10175 by other special laws and the Revised Penal Code. However, the duration of the penalty prescribed in the new law is not reasonable.
While it may be true that the law has good intentions, nevertheless the end can never justify the means. The Government exist not only to protect the people but also to preserve their rights, if one of those two tasks is left undone then the Government is a failure. Those two tasks are not options for the Government to perform; they are responsibilities which must be performed. Protect the people and preserve rights.
The rights of the people do not end in courts, in the parliament of the streets, or anywhere on Earth. It extends to the intangible world of social media and on the Internet at large. The web is a mere extension of our physical world therefore the Constitution remains supreme therein.
Jalayajay, Betsy Rose & Garcia, Ma. Shiela (2011) DEALING WITH CYBERCRIMES: The Extent and Application of Current Laws. Far Eastern Law Review, Vol. XLII, 2011
Macaraig, Meynardo (2012) Protests as Philippine Cybercrime Law takes effect. www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276649/scitech/technology/protect-as-philippine-cybercrime-law-takes-effect
Scjolberg, Stein & Ghernaouti – Helie, Solange (2011) A Global Treaty on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime. Cybercrimelaw.net
Sta. Maria, Melencio (2012) An Interaksyon.com Article. www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276434/scitech/socialmedia/digital-martial-law-10-scary-things-about-the-cybercrime-prevention-act-of-2012
Republic Act 10175. AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Signed September 12, 2012. Took effect October 30, 2012
by MANUEL A. RODRIGUEZ
I am a strong believer of democracy, particularly in the Philippines. The democracy here in our country can be traced not only to the Malolos Congress of 1899 wherein our forefathers drafted the first Filipino Constitution but to the pre-hispanic settlers on these islands who sailed to freedom from tyrannical monarchs to organize themselves into barangays, named after their boats that conveyed them to their new homeland where the nurtured democracy by governing themselves through compromise and consultations led by their datu or sultan.
The Philippines after undergoing a tyranny in the hands of foreigners, the barangays continue to build the legacy of people’s burning passion for freedom and liberty. Lapu-lapu of Mactan, Raja Sulayman, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, General del Pilar, Jose Abad Santos, Ninoy Aquino, the GOMBURZA, Dagohoy, Emilio Jacinto, Diego and Gabriela Silang, the martyrs and heroes of Bataan, Cavite and EDSA and the countless heroes of the FIilipino Race including the modern day heroes and statesmen that are on struggle to keep the flame of liberalism alive are testimonies that Filipino people by nature are free men and not born to bondage.
Hence I believe that the teaching of democracy must be included in the educational system of the youth. The perpetuation of the flame of democracy must be done in this land of liberty in Asia, the Philippines.
The Philippines is known throughout the world as a Christian nation. But are we Christian enough in adhering to the mandate of our faith as a Nation? The emphasis of early Christianity was an element of the primary assumptions on which democracy developed its faith in the indispensable impartiality of all men. Catholic theologians St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas upheld liberty as rights of the members of a community. The Christian idea of equality which can be traced form the Jewish tradition and the diction of the Christ himself and elaborated by his apostle Paul, was that all men are equal before God, being descended from the same first parents, who were created by God, and being redeemed by the death of Jesus Christ, and hence are all brothers and can boast no distinction one over the other because of fortune, race or other accidental inequalities. This makes me remember the much-quoted dictum from one of the most celebrated Pope of the Catholic faith Pope Gregory the Great; “All men are by nature equal.”
In these times, bearing in mind the history and culture of the Filipinos and the teachings of the Christian faith in general (both Catholics and Protestants), democracy is the political scheme that is most in consonance with the Christian faith of most Filipinos, among others, for the reason that mutually democracy and Christianity struggle for the preponderance of truth, human rights and the moral and socio-economic expansion and well-being of the individual.
How can democracy get its kick-off in a nation which has never known it? There comes the role of education in democracy. The education of the Filipino youth must, as a vital primary step, locate itself and the purpose of its instruction in the proper cultural setting. By this I mean that education must take into realization the fact that ours is a Christian society which must be instilled by democracy rooted on Christian values.
While I discuss the role of education, let this not be a limit on the term “education” as referring to the role of the degree conferring Schools, Colleges and Universities of the Philippines. What is contemplated on the term “education” is the role that we ought to perform in rearing the youth of today, this may happen not only in the school set up but also in the comforts of the family home, in an intimate discussion with the youngsters and as a preaching or sermon in Church. Yes, in Church. The Filipino Christian Churches (Catholics and Protestants) never failed to adhere to its mandate in making disciples of every nation and propagating the faith probably because it is one of the obvious purposes of being a Church, however most Churches seemed to overlook a mandate…the mandate to teach democracy and instill nationalism on their respective congregations.
On the palace of the Viceroy of India there inscribed a motto: “Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty.” Democracy cannot succeed until a people agree to it and inscribe its precepts in their minds and hearts. It must become a part of their nature, their culture, their everyday living and that takes generations and there is no time to start than now.
To start the education on Christian democracy, let us start by accepting that democracy is a process and not a set form. It is in a way a continuous revolution. It never lays claim as a perfect system for it is not a fixed system but a procedure. You, bearing these in things in mind as regards to democracy are my hope that you will continue to nurture the education on democracy. The influence of religious congregations that believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ must be taken advantage in advancing this political system.
Christians, let us be vigilant in protecting and perpetuating this wonderful gift we received from the Fountain of justice and wisdom Himself, the gift of Democracy.
God bless the Philippines.
On May 2010 the whole nation will vote for the new President. Automated election will be used as a method, for the first time in our history. New method of election as it may be, still, many old faces in the political arena will try to join the race to Malacanang Palace. The ousted President Estrada will try to make a comeback and the ousted Senate President Villar will join the race as well. Incumbent Vice President deCastro is making a little bit of noise now that the election is near (why only now?). The leader of the Judicial department Honorable Puno is testing the waters if he can make a giant leap from the Judiciary to the Executive department. Many more are aspiring…in this country almost all “politicos” wants to be the President. Some of those “politicos” who are not so popular yet for the presidential race will vie for a senate seat. The unpopular incumbent President Gloria Arroyo made a statement that she may run for a congressional seat. Many more happenings may still uncover as the nation waits for the coming of May 14, 2010.
As I see these moments unfold from my very eyes through my television set, all I can do from the comfort of my sofa is to sigh. “Magulo ang pulitika ng Pinas.” Even foreign Nations will agree.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH ON NATIONAL PROBLEMS?
The Election Code prohibits heads or superiors of religions from coercing or intimidating their followers in the choice of candidates. Experts say this is so because of the Constitutional mandate of the “separation” of Church and the State. A mandate that is impliedly saying that Priests, Pastors, Imams and other religious leaders has nothing to do with the election so we should not take their opinion on who to vote. I may not yet be an expert in the law now but I believe that such thought is a gross misunderstanding of the principle of the separation of Church and State.
The “separation” came into being to protect the Church from the undue intrusion by the State, not vice versa. The principle doesn’t mean that the Church will just let everything happen in the political realm and practice a “hands off” attitude for it is outside of its jurisdiction. It doesn’t mean that the Church will have nothing to say on the conduct of the government or the quality of our public servants. Or that a spiritually matured Pastor or Priest may not influence another’s vote like anybody else.
It simply means that the State shall not try to run the Church’s business and vice versa. Elections must be conducted by the State and not by Church of course, and no religion may require members to show him his filled ballot before dropping it in the ballot box. Coercion violates the freewill of a human being, and must be forbidden anywhere.
In my personal opinion, although the Church and the State are independent from each other, they are joined together by a same subject: man. The people whom the State wants to be employed, educated and be protected from the A(H1N1) are the same people whose souls the Church wants to save.
The State sees me as a citizen but to the Church I am a man and we don’t need a PhD in Philosophy to know that a man is more than a citizen. The citizen pays the BIR or tax evades it, votes “politicos” or be the “politico” to be voted upon, but he is a man who worships hisGod and goes to Heaven or hell afterward. Church and State serve the same person, they cannot be truly separated.
SHOULD THE CHURCH TELL THE FAITHFUL WHO TO VOTE OR WHO MUST NOT BE VOTED ON 2010?
The answer is usually no, but this becomes a yes whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls require it. At a time when many politicians are propagating platforms which are anti-life, anti-morality and anti-Church? The Church does not only have the right but also an obligation to propose the certain types of men should be rejected from one’s ballot.
But as a rule, Christians, the most numerous in the nation, does not involve itself into partisan politics. The religion “Iglesia ni Cristo” (INC) however believes that members must exercise unity in the choice of candidates. Those who oppose the belief will certainly will not be a part of the INC, they should be free to leave the fold, if they are members already; they would probably violate it, if they stayed. Such belief is already a part of the INC doctrine. That is what freedom of religion is all about.
I believe religious organizations have a right to be involved in partisan politics whether they practice it or not. The Church has a right and a duty to perform in this chaotic nation, form the Christian conscience of all, and lead them in defending Christian values, even after the most unlikely people have been cooped, degraded or silenced.
Churches must deal with national problems if they are to be faithful with their task. If the sovereign God is concerned not only with spiritual matters but also even from the physical realm of man – food, clothing, shelter even the government. God is Sovereign above the State and all, things therefore He cannot be confined purely to spiritual things for He made the same world for which his Son Jesus gave his life. Churches cannot pretend to be blind and dumb in the face of poverty, exploitation and injustice. By their silence they are involving themselves to the injustice.
We, men in the eyes of the Church and citizens in the eyes of the state shall and must respect the laws and the Constitution, but in the event of conflict, our bias must be on the Lord’s side rather that man’s law. Let us all desire order but only to when it is balanced with the human aspiration for freedom, equality and the human dignity.
For years the Philippines has been enjoying a status of being a democratic nation. After the Marcos regime, people believed that democracy has come. People became more jubilant and hopeful to the promises of democracy. Flash forward to the present time, where are the results of those promises?
Our people until now, although they are great believers of democracy are not great believers of its tedious process. They only enjoy its fruits without joining the few that is fighting for it. They thought that after that successful People Power Revolution (which was repeated – yr. 2000) democracy has come and will work on its own, and of course with them as the beneficiaries.
Our professor in Public Administration during college told us that sometime in the 90s Mr. Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that we Filipinos should minimize our democracy. Intrigued by the story, I immediately “googled” it after our class, and found out the entire story and concluded in my mind a personal opinion on the matter.
Singapore then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke to a mass of Filipino audience on a dinner mentioning that as a third world country, we Filipinos cannot afford to be a democratic nation. He added further that what our nation needs is more discipline and less democracy. And ironically his listeners applaud. The same people who were at EDSA during 1986 are the same people who are cheering on the idea that we must forget our democracy. Truly our government even back then is full of hypocrite individuals.
Mr. Lee probably forgot that Singapore is not the Philippines. Our cultures are different, what works on their system may not work on us. Mr. Lee probably forgot that we already experienced authoritarian ruling under the Marcoses, and we all know it was not as successful as his authoritarian government in fact, it’s a chaos. Applying it on our present time, imagine an unpopular PGMA ruling a Philippines under an authoritarian government, can you bear it?
In my personal opinion, the great leader Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is WRONG. His prescription belongs to another time and place, which goes not in accordance with the winds of change all-encompassing the face of the globe. It might work, as it appears to have worked until now, in a small country in size and population. But not in my beloved Pilipinas.
Democracy, not authoritarianism is the key to progress here in our nation. We also have a duty to assure our fellow citizens that we have not erred in choosing a democratic Constitution.
Why then our democracy is not working?
Our only error, which is prevailing in the government, the media, businesses, in the academe and in the marketplace, is that we tend to believe we already have the entirety of the democracy we believe in when all we have is its distorted version. We tend to run the Philippine government through the newspapers and decide what is good to the population on the basis of shocking news headlines and less than informed media, commentaries and educated predicaments.
We Filipinos value entertainment more than education. Our most popular role models are not the ones who are productive workers but those who are only a product of pinoy playful imagination.
Our error is that we elect men and women to high office expecting them to change the status quo when in fact they cannot even change themselves. We often hear them talk about their priority project for progress or their new movement to recover the moral tradition without them first accepting the teachings of morality and getting rid of their immoral attachments.
We Filipinos from every walk of life must realize that the system will not work by itself. We must make the system work. We already have the tool to progress, what we must now do is to learn how to use the tool. As of now, what we can do is to practice our democratic ideals, teach our democratic ideals to our Children and tell them not to commit the mistake our elders did in the past (and continuously doing). And pray to the Almighty to grant our people the wisdom. Yes, it is still a long way to go, but it is the only way.
Even as I speak out my mind here, some individuals may already lose their hope on democracy since they idolize the revered foreigner Mr. Lee and drawing up plans on how to impose the Mr. Lee system here in our nation.
Some may even disagree with my opinion regarding the Marcos regime and the PGMA presidency. They may never understand me, yet in the spirit of democracy I respect differing opinions.
Mabuhay tayong lahat!
APRIL 5, 2009, MANILA
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.