Reconstitute the Philippines!

A. Present State

Bad Sanitation in Intramuros, Manila Philippines (3486250812)The Philippines is built on a colonial foundation – that of the principalia who got to rule the country. These were the datus that collaborated with the Spaniards to become the ruling class.

I must thank contributor Renato Mariano Pacifico of Joe America’s Society of Honor for this statement that set the ball rolling to a discussion with Society of Honor contributors giancarloangulo, Juana Pilipinas and Karl Garcia, as well as a final exchange with Joe America that led to me writing this article as the summary of collectively inspired thinking:

“Just look around us … From PDAF Babuyan Island to Muslim jolo …. half-naked children walking the streets dumpster diving for morsels of Jollibee.”

Now how can a state call itself modern and humane if that is the way it is constituted – the word “constitution” means exactly that as well! A Constitution not really applied is just paper. – now where are the principles of this constitution truly lived, with so many people living worse than dogs in the country:

We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.

Where is the Philippines a just and humane society? Where does it promote the common good? Where does it conserve and develop its patrimony? Of what use is a constitution, which should be the foundation of how a state really IS, if it is just on paper? Like many things in the Philippines.

A.1. Definition of Terms – these are possible definitions of the word constitution:

  1. the system of fundamental principles according to which a nation, state, corporation, or the like, is governed.
  2. the document embodying these principles.
  3. (initial capital letter) Constitution of the United States.
  4. the way in which a thing is composed or made up; makeup; composition: the chemical constitution of the cleanser.
  5. the physical character of the body as to strength, health, etc.: He has a strong constitution.
  6. Medicine/Medical, Psychology. the aggregate of a person’s physical and psychological characteristics.

Now let us see how these definitions are applicable to the present Philippines, by means of a story.

A.1.1. Pedro and Joe

There is the old series of jokes about Joe, the American, and Pedro, the Filipino. Joe tries to teach the Filipino to pronounce apple and Pedro says epol. Let us have them talk about the Constitution, which after all is a legacy of American thinking, lost in translation. Joe is a very patient Thomasite teacher:

History of the United States from the earliest discovery of America to the present time (1912) (14580116157)Joe: Good morning Pedro. Let us look at the dictionary to see what constitution means. No 2.: yes, the 1987 Constitution is a piece of paper, correct Pedro, very good…

Pedro: Good morning Sir. I was very diligent in fulfilling your assignment. Thank you very much.

Joe: No. 1.: IS governed. No Pedro. You do not apply your Constitution. It is the system according which your state IS SUPPOSED to be governed, but not HOW you govern it.

Pedro: Sorry po Joe, I will improve my lesson the next time.

Joe: No 3. Definitely not.

Pedro: That is your American Constitution. We have ours.

Joe: No 4. Is your state made up the way your Constitution describes it? I don’t think so.

Pedro is silent.

Joe: No 5. Is the body of your state as strong and healthy as that paper describes?

Pedro: Yes Sir, I will take you to The Fort and to Forbes Park, it is clean there.

Joe: No 6.: Are the physical and psychological characteristics of your state really like that?

Pedro: Very healthy in body and mind Sir, just like Senator Miriam Santiago.

Joe: Go home, Pedro. Good we did not make you a State of the Union.

Pedro goes home, making kamot-kamot – scratching his head and thinking: I don’t care even if I am not real State, I can always buy Real Estate in Makati!

A.2. True Philippine ConstitutionEmilio Aguinaldo (ca. 1898)

The true State of the Philippine nation’s foundations, which is what Constitution should be, are the following if one is realistic and looks at the dirty kitchen, not the clean one to show guests:

PREAMBLE: We, the entitled of the Philippines, have for centuries run an unjust and inhuman society. We have decided to drop all pretenses and hypocrisy, and by virtue of our own Entitlement, we hereby promulgate the True Constitution of the Philippines:

Article 1. Laws only apply to ordinary people and to our political enemies, not to us.

Article 2. Those who support us will be given food and drinks, and smiled upon.

Article 3. Those who do not know who we are shall be punished arbitrarily.

Article 4. Business opportunities are for us and our own group, not for ordinary people.

Article 5. Ordinary people and our political enemies are suspect, we are beyond doubt.

This constitution is binding upon all matters in the Philippines, and is above the written law we have pretended to follow for all these centuries.

This constitution is valid for all time and may not be amended.

B. Possible Solutions

B.1. Rütli Oath of Wilhelm Tell

Gessler und TellThe legendary Rütli oath of Wilhelm Tell was the foundation of the Swiss state in the Middle Ages – after freeing themselves from oppressive overlords embodied by Gessler:

We want to be a single People of brethren,

Never to part in danger nor distress.

We want to be free, as our fathers were,

And rather die than live in slavery.

We want to trust in the one highest God

And never be afraid of human power.

Jose Rizal translated Wilhelm Tell into Tagalog, but few Filipinos know of this. Rizal is not seen as a revolutionary. But maybe he knew that most revolutions fail. The three original cantons of Switzerland were like Kankanai, Bontoc and Ifugao people of the Cordillera making a tribal alliance against oppressors from the lowlands, and swearing to defend each other to the death – it is very respectable that this oath is the foundation of a seven century old federal state.

B.2. Six Arrows of Kemal AtatürkAtatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, defined the Six Arrows upon which the modern Turkish state is based – modernizing a feudal, clannish and highly religious society with various ethnic groups into one strong nation and reliable NATO partner:

Republicanism – a democratic republic built on civic virtue

Populism – serving the people is paramount

Laicism – the state is free of all religion

Reformism – the state is to be constantly improved

Nationalism – the nation is to be fully independent

Statism – the state is the driver of progress

These tenets are taught in all Turkish schools until today. Unlike President Ferdinand Marcos, Atatürk had the self-discipline to live by these principles and not succumb to the temptations of power and hypocrisy – do as I say and not as I do. This did not prevent him from being a womanizer just like President Quezon was – and Jose Rizal.

B.3. Filipino role models

President Manuel Quezon - source: Wikimedia CommonsPresident Manuel Quezon was the closest the Philippines had to an Atatürk. There shall be a biography of him in this blog at some point. The foundations of the Filipino state were laid by him. His 1939 Code of Citizenship and Ethics tried to build a moral foundation, a common set of values for Filipinos, but its spirit was lost.

It was based on the Decalogue of Apolinario Mabini:

First. Thou shalt love God and thy honor above all things: God as the fountain of all truth, of all justice and of all activity; and thy honor, the only power which will oblige thee to be faithful, just and industrious.

Second. Thou shalt worship God in the form which thy conscience may deem most righteous and worthy: for in thy conscience, which condemns thy evil deeds and praises thy good ones, speaks thy God.

Third. Thou shalt cultivate the special gifts which God has granted thee, working and studying according to thy ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain thy own perfection, by means whereof thou shalt contribute to the progress of humanity; thus; thou shalt fulfill the mission to which God has appointed thee in this life and by so doing, thou shalt be honored, and being honored, thou shalt glorify thy God.

Apolinario mabini PGFourth. Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself: for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in this life, the only patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.

Fifth. Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice and of labor: for if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.

Sixth. Thou shalt strive for the independence of thy country: for only thou canst have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her independence constitutes thy own liberty; her advancement, thy perfection; and her exaltation, thy own glory and immortality.

Seventh. Thou shalt not recognize in thy country the authority of any person who has not been elected by thee and thy countrymen; for authority emanates from God, and as God speaks in the conscience of every man, the person designated and proclaimed by the conscience of a whole people is the only one who can use true authority.

Leni RobredoEighth. Thou shalt strive for a Republic and never for a monarchy in thy country: for the latter exalts one or several families and founds a dynasty; the former makes a people noble and worthy through reason, great through liberty, and prosperous and brilliant through labor.

Ninth. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: for God has imposed upon him, as well as upon thee, the obligation to help thee and not to do unto thee what he would not have thee do unto him; but if thy neighbor, failing in this sacred duty, attempt against thy life, thy liberty and thy interests, then thou shalt destroy and annihilate him for the supreme law of self-preservation prevails.

Tenth. Thou shalt consider thy countryman more than thy neighbor; thou shalt see him thy friend, thy brother or at least thy comrade, with whom thou art bound by one fate, by the same joys and sorrows and by common aspirations and interests.

Therefore, as long as national frontiers subsist, raised and maintained by the selfishness of race and of family, with thy countryman alone shalt thou unite in a perfect solidarity of purpose and interest, in order to have force, not only to resist the common enemy but also to attain all the aims of human life.

Leni Robredo, from what I have seen so far from her works in Camarines Sur, already lives by principles that really involve the Filipino people, to empower and free them by sustainable, hard work. The Facebook page of the Atty. Leni Gerona-Robredo for Vice President Movement states:

Go to the people. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say “We have done this ourselves”.

C. Rebuilding foundations

The foundations of the national house need to be rebuilt. The foundation of centuries of oppression is completely rotten. But a revolution will not work – from the center or from the bottom. The residents of the national house must have a shelter when storms come. This is why evolution is the way, and only can work if there is a consensus on how to…

C.1. Reconstitute the Philippines

A liberation constitution could look like this, replacing the “True Constitution” described above, and thereby giving the impulse to reconstitute and rebuild the country:

PREAMBLE. We, the people of the Islands called the Philippines, of all racial and cultural mixtures, of all religions, income groups and educational attainments, strive to make our lives better after centuries of oppressing each other. This is the Constitution by which we shall live every aspect of our lives from this point onward, and make sure each and every one of us, from now on to be called Free Filipinos, lives by from this day:

Article 1: We shall be honorable, humble and kind in all our dealings towards other human beings.

Article 2: We shall adhere to the laws we have pretended to live by from now on, and adjust these laws in order to make our society as free, humane and just as possible. We shall make sure that these laws are followed by each and every one of us as legal equals.

Article 3: We shall work to make our country, the Free Philippines, free of hunger, fear and unrest. We shall strive to give opportunities to all willing to work for them.

Article 4: We shall make sure that we think about what we are doing, and promote thinking instead of unreflected belief. Religion and conviction is each person’s private matter.

Article 5: We shall build a state that reflects the principles of this Constitution. In the meantime, we shall support the state that we already have, and rebuild it step by step.

This Constitution may be extended by the will of 2/3 majority of the Free Filipino people. The first five articles are valid for all time and shall never be amended.

May the aspirations embodied in this Constitution give us the strength to fullfill it.

C.2. Commitment, Continuity, Consistency

This is but a humble proposal, my submission to the Filipino people. It is they who must find their common oath. Because it is they who must commit to it. Nag-iisang panata. Pinangangatawanan.

Continuity and consistency is needed to fullfill its aspirations, in patient perseverance. Like the Swiss for 700+ years. Like Mustafa Kemal. Like Manuel Quezon. Like Mabini. Like Leni Robredo.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 22. October 2015

P.S. this article also challenged my mind, I give credit to it as well: – yes the Philippines lacks the capability to look forward, visions if ever are only unconsciously implemented but never truly defined. Because the basic tenets of what the country IS and where it wants to go to are not even properly defined as a true commitment people buy into. Because the stuff we have was imposed on us, colonially.

Filipinos have to define the basics first, then fix things from there. Where I disagree with you, benign0, is that we who live abroad have the right to tell the folks back home, the stakeholders, how to do it. We can only help them, mocking them but not giving them any solutions but basking in superiority is not the right way to go I think. If they are hopeless why rant about them?

P.P.S. another thing I see as important is to educate all Filipinos on the important aspects of the 1987 Constitution to increase acceptance. On that basis, reform things later.


7 thoughts on “Reconstitute the Philippines!

    • I forgot what I had in mind about no such thing as humanity maybe human rights….ah forget it

      Food for thought like the reconstituted milk.

      Constitution is thought in high school.

      For those who do not know the law and their rights maybe we need aclu

      For charter change and direct democracy town hall meetings would do.

      For education I am encouraged about als or alternative learning, and tesda

  1. Sorry about the double posting above. Internet is acting up again, having been advised of a 503 error, I hit post comment not knowing that the first one got through.

    A daughter of my cousin (a beneficiary of CCT program of the government, being among the poorest of the poor)in the province is so excited. The school has sponsored a forum herein all 4th year student (grade or level 10) will be informed on how they will go about being the 1st batch of K-12 educational system. We are encouraged to know that the government will subsidize the 1st year of grade 11 by shouldering 17K of the 23K required by the participating school. I have a mind to offer to shoulder the balance of 6K and eventually hire her here at the office. Not sure if the Constitution is part of the subjects being taught nowadays in high school, she’s not of voting age yet but she sure can be a factor in enlightening her folks in the province. I told her to concentrate in accounting as that’s highly in demand by most companies.

    • There should be pamphlets, even PDFs for downloading, which brief people in a short manner about the 1987 Constitution. It’s different aspects, the reasons for why certain things were done that way. So that people understand what kind of state they live in and become more committed to it.

  2. You have commented at JoeAm’s that all Filipinos should earnestly study the 1987 Constitution. I agree. If only to be able to avoid being misled by emotions, or by ambitious politicians who unashamedly use the paawa effect to gain promote Poe’s candidacy. We need to be a nation of law which should be applied equally to all, whether rich or poor, educated or not.

    • Yes.. and if rule of law is applied uniformly and equally, it will be respected more. At the moment it is like nearly everything in the Philippines – hypocrisy meaning dirty kitchen and clean kitchen. A Catholic legacy just like parroting things without knowing – at least kayong mga born-again, pinag-aaralan ang Bible para alamin kung ano ang dapat paninindigan bago kayo ibinyag kaya hindi kayo ipokrito.

      For the rest of the discussion, I refer to the very interesting discussion in the Society of Honor… Thanks again Joe for peering my article – we both have our focuses but in important matters like these we join forces. A true alliance – something the US and the Philippines should aspire to achieve with EDCA.

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