More than twenty-thee years ago, the determined dream of a nation to break the bonds of oppression became the worst nightmare of an overstaying authoritarian regime. For once in our country’s checkered history; Filipinos stood united with a singular voice chanting: ENOUGH!
In one shining moment, we earned the accolade and respect of most of the civilized world. The bloodless revolt was emulated in some important parts of the world and could have significantly contributed to momentous changes that ensued thereafter.
After the applause had died down, however, the Philippines remained entangled in a vicious-cycle of incompetence and inadequacy that it can’t seem to get out of. Poverty remains the problem of over two thirds of the population, with its marginalized middle class edging nearer towards the threshold of insolvency due to our country’s economic dislocation brought about by rampant graft and corruption. That Filipino dream had eventually turned into a nightmare.
What transpired in more than 23 years after the 1986 PEOPLE-POWER REVOLUTION? Was the wholesale hypocrisy and incompetence of the administration that replaced the Marcos regime the real culprit? Could our own mass denial and apathy made the nightmare possible? Or, is it because we placed too much faith on the sincerity and goodwill of people we catapulted to power. These are questions that needed to be scrutinized.
Our propensity for short-cuts could have triggered our own undoing. Due to the haste in framing the 1987 Constitution, those who took over the reins of government after the ouster of Marcos skipped the requirements of proper representation. To save time and money in mind, the Revolutionary Government appointed a Commission to frame the fundamental law of the land Despite the good intentions of most its members, a select few with vested interests were able to castrate the most important document of our country with their addendum and colatilla leaving it open to misrepresentation and misinterpretation. The majority of the sovereign Filipino people in their haste to return to normalcy approved it hook, line and sinker making implementation in its entirety moot and academic at our consternation.
It would have been prudent at that time to declare the Marcos Constitution illegal; revert back to the 1935 Constitution and instituted necessary amendments that complied with the requirements of proper representation. Regrettably for all of us, the vested interests groups had their way and the rest is history.
After the SOVEREIGN FILIPINO PEOPLE had approved the 1987 Constitution, there was “no more hindrance’ to its full implementation. We are left with the only option of dissecting crucial provisions of this essential law that determines the outcome of our lives and future to try to find out what went wrong and rectify it.
Beginning with Art. II, Sec. 4
in our Constitution’s Declaration of Principles
, it is mandated that... the prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people.
Unfortunately, there are PUBLIC SERVANTS
who think they are among God’s greatest gift to humanity that they forget (or forego of) the time honored principle of PUBLIC OFFICE BEING A PUBLIC TRUST!
People in government, from the contractual street sweeper or traffic enforcer, to the President of the Republic are all PUBLIC SERVANTS and WE the ordinary citizens of this country are THEIR EMPLOYERS!
Anyone in any administration who cannot accept this fact, should get out of government service and find employment elsewhere in the private sector!
of Art. II
mandates that... The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable
... yet its very principle is flagrantly trampled upon by both Church and State making a mockery of our Constitution. There are religious leaders who flaunt their political clout while a number of politicians, on bended knees most of the time, begging for support come election time.
Under Art. II, Sec. 9
of State Policies mandates that... the State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.
Ensuing Sec. 10
of Art. II
further mandates that... The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.
We need not be geniuses to know that there is no just and dynamic social order; that over 70% of the population live below the poverty threshold; that social services are virtually non-existent; that the majority of our work force are either casuals, contractual or hired through employment agencies; that our standard of living fall below most countries in Asia; that the quality of life is rock-bottom; and, that social justice and national development remain elusive as ever.
In Sec. 11
, of Art. II
, State Policies mandates that... the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
When farmers get shot at Mendiola, or people get kidnapped in broad daylight, or journalists get killed indiscriminately, I don’t think the State understands the true meaning of dignity, much less, guarantee full respect for human rights at that!
We are lucky to have an OFW-Driven Economy
. With so many incompetent nincompoops elected or appointed to influential positions in government, we could have been bankrupt a long time ago. The remittances of OFWs to support their families here has been the country’s saving grace keeping many business empires afloat even during hard times.
Local workers, however, did not benefit from this saving grace. A vast number of our workforce both in government and the private sector remained employed as casuals, contractual or are hired through employment agencies to circumvent the requirements of our Labor Laws! This is despite Sec. 18
of Art. II
of the same Constitution mandating that... the State affirms labor as a primary social economic force
and that... it shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.
In contradiction, the government even allowed an opportunist (the same taipan(?) who stole the workers’ social security benefits by manipulating the purchase of the institution’s investment in a bank far below the fair market value
) to continuously trample worker’s rights. Just whose rights are being protected and whose welfare is being promoted remains an enigma.
Such injustice does not end there. To preserve the status-quo of power and maintain their control of our lives, the ruling class made sure we remained an agricultural country that does not support our own farmers. Even with Sec. 21
of Art. II
of the Constitution which mandates that... the State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform
... farmers got killed for protesting the slow implementation of CARP just like at Mendiola and incongruously, at Hacienda Luisita. Agricultural workers, after over 23 years of the promised emancipation through land reform, still wallow in poverty, misery and indignity.
After risking everything in 1986, how can this sordid state of affairs proliferate in our hard-earned democracy? Did the ruling class merely “switched collars” to project a semblance of change? Did these same feudal lords and oligarchs, after cooperating with the dictatorship for personal gain, decided that the former dispensation was no longer tenable and that it was better for power to be on the hands of one of their kind?
Marcos, during his reign as dictator, has created a new breed of ruling class. With the booty they have accumulated, his “praetorian guards” and cronies got to share power and influence with the traditional ruling class. Out of fear that the Marcos family and their cohorts might creep back to power after the popular uprising, Sec. 26 of Art. II which proclaims that... the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law
... was integrated by these victorious oligarchs in the Constitution.
The simple addendum as may be defined by law
was inserted to effectively castrate this provision just in case “the pendulum swung both ways.” When it did, no law to define this provision has been enacted that we ended up being governed by “the same dogs” but, with “different collars.” With that, the opportunity for better public service remained obscured.
This sin of omission has institutionalized political patronage at its worst. Even with Sec. 27
of State Policies which mandates that... the State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption
... public service in the Philippines still ranks as one of the worst in the world. This is not an exaggeration, we see it from the time we go out of our doors to go to work up to the time that we go home. It even gives us nightmares at times.
It is strange that one of the reasons why Marcos was booted out of power was because of lack of transparency in his regime. It is for this reason that Sec. 28, Art. II
of the Constitution mandates that... the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest
This principles is further reinforced in our Bill of Rights
under Sec. 7, Art. III
of the Constitution which mandates that... the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen.
Here we essentially have a Constitution which mandates a policy of full public disclosure backed-up by a provision in the Bill of Rights
to access to official documents; yet, Filipinos are among the most ignorant of their basic rights and what transpires behind closed doors of government offices.
The addendum subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law
in Sec. 28, Art. II
and the colatilla subject to such limitations as may be provided by law
on Sec. 7, Art III
of the Constitution has placed these provisions in limbo. Can anyone imagine a provision in any Bill of Rights requiring an enabling law?
To add insult to injury, the same people we placed in power through our sweat and blood concocted R. A. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees),
a skewed manifestation of an enabling law to project a semblance of compliance with the requirements of the Constitution.
After the 1986 People-Power Revolution was perverted and prostituted by the so called EDSA 2 and 3, Filipinos were never the same again. They became so skeptical to the point of no longer believing that the principle of public accountability exist. It was the last nail to the coffin of social responsibility which unscrupulous people in power enthusiastically buried to oblivion. This is why more than 23 years after reclaiming our democratic institutions, we still wallow in the dark as to where, how and why our hard-earned taxes are being plundered and squandered even with a Constitution which in force and effect enshrines its disclosure and prevention.
The result of this inequity was that in less than a decade after 1986, we saw a prominent Chinese Marcos crony take control of the government’s depository bank, take over the country’s international flag carrier, and get away with billions of unpaid taxes in the process and take control of the US$635 Million deposited in escrow at the aforementioned bank as required by the compromise agreement between the Philippine Government and a Swiss Bank on the ill-gotten wealth identified.
In the same period, another Chinese Marcos crony got away with being branded as one with the help of a PCGG Commissioner who definitely asked for a commission of the loot. He was later appointed an Ambassador, a title which he flaunts up to now. He now considers himself a media mogul and a legitimate businessman. The law of karma eventually caught up with this Chinoy crony when a mistress of his which he used as a dummy in many of his business interests got wiser. The mistress got a "Protection Order" from the courts and abandoned him with a large chunk of his fortune in her pockets.
A Chinese Marcos crony who became very wealthy during the former dictator’s reign is another very peculiar story. To save his ass in 1986, he “bit the hand that feeds him” by being a “rat” so he was able to get away with land grabbing, tax evasion and his ill-gotten wealth practically intact. Not content with this loot, his progenies later came up with a devious scheme to be the distributor of their competitors in the pharmaceutical industry through the collaboration of foreign hustlers. With treachery being genetic in nature, they thought they could get away with it. The law of karma likewise caught up with them and they ended up footing the bill on a billion peso losses financed though loans from local banks their cohorts accumulated over the years in an ENRONlike scheme concocted by the same foreign hustlers.
There is also this carpet salesman who (up to 1982 was still paying his SSS contributions religiously) suddenly had billions at his disposal after his marriage to a prominent staff of Mrs. Marcos. His initial entry into the mainstream business circle was though a construction company that cornered a lot of contracts in the building of the LRT. He later ventured in the pre-need industry without success. Although he escaped with the Marcoses, he later returned, became a member of the Philippine Stock Exchange as a securities dealer, a big-time motel operator and for a time, a columnist for a prominent daily broadsheet.
And, there is this self confessed Marcos crony who likewise claims now that he is a golfing buddy of Mike Arroyo. True or not, this enterprising two bit hustler has managed to bag hundreds of millions of pesos transaction during the tenure of Ramos; tens of millions during the time of Erap and again hundreds of millions just recently. His favorite milking cow is the Bureau of Fire Protection. He likewise claims to be cousin in law of a prominent cabinet member and was never investigated by the PCGG.
All the while, the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime are dying one by one even before they can see a centavo of the out-of-court settlement in the class suit for damages they filed in Honolulu, Hawaii. Where is justice in all of these?
Where the law ends, tyranny begins
. This is a valuable lesson we should have learned after everything we’ve gone through. It’s all about control, inequity can only thrive when fear, ignorance, hopelessness and helplessness prevail that we fail to unequivocally demand for our rights and the enforcement of our laws. It is not enough that laws are enacted with the noblest of intentions; these should likewise be enforced without fear or favor to be effective! We should be governed by laws, NOT by men (or women).
If we carefully study the evolution of people, society and government as a whole, laws were perceived, enacted and implemented because of people’s propensity for going beyond what is proper when they think they can get away with it. The law is what distinguishes us people from wild animals. Without these laws, we might as well go back to the wilderness where we all came from anyway and let the rule of the jungle prevail.
Let us not forget, however, that regardless of perceived shortcomings, laws remain the key to our emancipation. As existing laws of the land, even people in power do not have a choice but to abide by these once the SOVEREIGN FILIPINO PEOPLE
wills it! The United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
attests to this reality. Article 21, Section 3
of the declaration mandates that “... The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government...”
This is a basic fact that no one can dispute; we are no longer a police state.
If this is not the case, how come even the high and mighty get down on their knees and kiss asses comes election time? In the same token they even have to buy, coerce, or even kill people at times so that they can comply with the requirements of election laws. In retrospect, even after Marcos had grabbed power through the declaration of “Martial Law,” projected a semblance of abiding by the law even in a relatively perverse manner to attain recognition and legitimacy.
It is this guiding principle that motivated us to pursue this publication relentlessly despite obstacles. The first step towards any quest for justice is the pursuit of the truth no matter how excruciating it can become. It must, however, be pursued without fear or favor in a fair and balanced manner at all times.
People have the inviolable right to know the truth, this is the only way we can make proper judgment on matters of government. After all, it is our vote that placed people in power and it is our taxes that bankroll every centavo these people spend in and out of their public offices.
Any path towards the quest for truth and justice is thorny and desolate. It is inevitable that relationships and friendships will suffer along the way as a consequence of this pursuit. We take solace on the thought that whoever will remain are the ones who are for real and are for keeps.
The pursuit of truth in the quest for justice is an enormous responsibility lodged on everyone’s shoulders. Aside from being aware of one’s rights, each of us hold that responsibility of knowing what we should expect and demand of our public servants whose primary obligation is to serve and protect the citizenry.
Bear in mind that these are the same public servants who “pass the buck” and blame the ordinary people for their shortcomings. A good example is when traffic run into a snarl, public servants blame the drivers and commuters for being undisciplined. They wittingly or unwittingly forget that there are traffic laws
and that we are paying them to enforce it
Through the ages, we have established governments and enacted laws in our futile attempt to reign-in and control the “animal” in all of us. Ultimately, the key to our survival would be our ability to obey and enforce these laws without fear or favor. Doing anything less is sheer stupidity and suicidal.
Sa kabila ng pagsasabatas ng R. A. 8749 o ng PHILIPPINE CLEAN AIR ACT OF 1999, marami pa ring mga sasakyang pampasahero at pangkargamento ang lantarang sumusuway dito, hayagang bumibyahe at patuloy sa walang patumanggang paglason sa ating kapaligiran. Ano nga ba ang silbi ng ating mga batas kung ang mga ito ay hindi naman kayang ipatupad ng lubusan ng mga nanunungkulan sa pamahalaan?