Is the 1987 Constitution under siege? There had been many attempts to challenge- or desecrate- the new Constitution, but none of their proponents gave a rational and objective reason why it must be revised or amended. Throughout the history of the Philippines, the Filipino people were not given the right choice.
One perennial problem is that the current charter of the Philippines, the 1987 Constitution, is so voluminous; the other is that it bears a lot of philosophical contradictions, a highly dangerous bromide that is furtively pushing the country toward collectivism. One may explain that the size of the new Constitution is the result of too many social clusters and pressure groups that participated in its drafting during the early months of the term of revolutionary president Corazon Aquino. In these trying political times, the new charter is under attack.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution, while it adopted several provisions of the 1935 Constitution particularly the bill of rights we borrowed from the United States’ Constitution, contains a number of socialist and populist provisions. My observation of the current charter is this—it is a mixture of individualist and socialist premises bordering on dictatorship.
The Filipinos are fortunate that the present charter retains the bill of rights, which we copied from the American Constitution inspired by Aristotle through John Locke and America’s great founding fathers. However, the insertion of too many and too vague generalities only to favor representatives of various social groups who participated in the drafting of the charter, negated the underlying purpose of the fundamental law of the land—the protection of individual rights, man’s rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.
While it is true that the current charter was a ‘collective’ reaction to the evil conjugal dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos, whose New Society was based on altruism, several provisions inserted therein negated and defeated its avowed spirit— to prevent anyone from subverting it for personal political gain. Indeed, the framers of the 1987 Constitution were mindful that their intent in coming up with a voluminous codification of fundamental law was to prevent the rise of a political fascist or a socialist dictator. However, what they failed to grasp was that their tolerance to include the aspirations, emotions and ideals of various social groups, particularly the working class or the proletariats, is what making this country, ruled by a number of foreign powers in the past, truly vulnerable to any scheming communist messiah or potential dictator.
The current charter is littered with so many a contradictions. Section 1, Article II of the 1987 Constitution states that “The Philippines is a democratic and a republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” This section reflects American influence, except the fact that it bears a contradicting term that is “democratic.” Up to these days, no one really offered a clear, unambiguous definition of democracy. This political term is mostly associated with the words “free society”, but I disagree with this evaluation.
The words “republican” and “democratic” are two distinct terms, bearing different meanings and denotations. This is one example of Philippine departure from the American constitution. Federalist papers show that the framers of the American Constitution refused to use the word democratic to describe the political system of the United States not merely because it is vague, but also because it was not their intention to establish a democratic state. According to James Madison, his idea of a republican state does not mean popular democracy in which power is left in the hands of the people (Box 76). In a true republican state, political power is delegated through popular elections to elected officials, thereby providing a shielding barrier from reckless or injudicious mob governance.
But this particular section clearly shows the character of the Philippine Constitution, a mixture of reason and emotions, or a blending of freedom and slavery. What the 1987 Constitution seeks to establish—and it already has— is not a free society, but a mixed economy in which socialism or dictatorship is in advance given an advantage. This is not to say that the framers of the Constitution intended to deliver this country to any scheming socialist or fascist thug or gang sooner or later. This is simply the effect of a system that establishes a mixed economy. What is clear is that the current charter is the ultimate result of the educational system and philosophical trends that we have today. Hence, the 1987 Constitution was influenced by the following thinkers— Karl Marx as to Article II or the Declaration of Principles and State Policies; Immanuel Kant and Plato as to the philosophical foundation of the Constitution; John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman as to its economic principles; and the proponents of egalitarianism.
Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which contains the bill of rights, retains the influence of the American Constitution. However, there are constitutional provisions that are dangerous to the country’s and people’s freedom and posterity. These provisions are the following:
- The provision on the establishment of multi-party and party-list systems, the latter allowing various social groups like peasants, farmers and other labor groups to form a political party and fight for their social causes in a parliamentary struggle. The multi-party system of the country is disgraceful, because most political parties do not have any consistent, uniform and honest political platform or ideology.
- Article XII of the Constitution on National Economy and Patrimony. In effect, this Article seeks to establish a semi-closed or quasi-planned economy, barring foreign investors from owning and operating any venture or business in the country without the participation of the national government or that at least 60-percent ownership of which is held by Filipinos. This provision, in effect, establishes economic fascism, wherein only those who maintain political connections, curry favor with people in high places, or occasion expenses in Malacanang Palace and the corridors of power could ever corner the country’s economic wealth. This system breeds corruption and bribery, which is what is happening today. Alas, this provision alone is one of the disgraceful and unspeakable breaches of capitalism.
- Most provisions on labor under Section 3, Article XIII, which states that “The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment for all…” This section has all the vestiges of Soviet Socialist labor policies. The question is, who will be sacrificed or immolated by the State’s desire to “afford full protection to labor” and to “promote full employment?” In every stealth attempt to tilt the balance of justice and reason in favor of a particular group, the result is the immolation or sacrifice of men of ability.
- Other statist and welfare statist provisions, such as those pertaining to Agrarian and Natural Resources Reform, Urban Land Reform and Housing, Health, Women, Role and Rights of People’s Organizations, Education, Science and Technology, and Arts and Culture. Here, the State under Section 17, Article XIV, “shall recognize, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institution.” In effect, this provision legalizes ethnicity and racism, and actively allows “balkanization” within the country’s territory. In a free society, no cultural or ethnic group is given an exclusive warrant to exclude the rights of others who may not be part of their tribe or cultural group. In a free society, the only standard of value is the individual, not the collective or society .
Does this mean that we should support constitutional amendment? The answer is Yes and No from different perspectives. Yes, because the current charter is dangerous to individual rights and to the future of this country, and No, because of the current political climate. Not under the present administration and not with the current educational and philosophical trends. So long as the influence of Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, Plato and other anti-reason philosophers is dominant in this country, it is neither safe nor pragmatic to amend the Constitution. And there is one ideological and philosophical trend that is poisoning the mind of the people, which makes them act beyond reason, and this is the menace of pragmatism.
The current head of the People’s State of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is a good example of a dangerous political pragmatist. She wants to amend the Constitution simply because it is a pragmatic thing to do, without revealing her real intention, which is to serve her political ambitions. Her allies in Congress are the country’s worst doers and proponents of pragmatism. It is not reason, but emotion, which motivates them to change, or to desecrate, the already desecrated Constitution, which is the realization of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ concept of “empty Constitution” (Bowden). Under our current Constitution, it is only expected of scheming politicians to formulate and to enact non-objective laws, which is the current legal trend today. A non-objective law is the ultimate consequence of the idea of “empty Constitution”, and that it can neither defend nor protect individual rights.
Now, Filipino church hippies or the mystics, unemployed scheming politicians, obscure pressure groups, disintegrated socialist movements and altruist academics are calling for the so-called “moral revolution”, which has no concrete definition. However, the answer to the country’s moral and political crisis is not to return to morality, but to discover it. The answer to the country’s seemingly endless economic crisis is not welfare statism and the giving of handouts to the poor, but to discover the ideals and virtues of capitalism. When a state seeks to legislate or regulate the economy, the only visible result is economic destruction or worse, social chaos.
The country and the Filipino people are trapped in a disgraceful and perilous struggle between two conceited evils— the Socialist-Communist proletarian movement, which is prepared intellectually, and the Fascist-Elite movement, which is backed by gold and goons. However, the most dangerous situation of all is not that one of these two clashing movements is winning, but the fact that the country lacks intellectual leadership, which would guide the people in their decisions. As what Ayn Rand (228), the philosophical descendant of Aristotle, said, “If anycivilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”
- Works Cited:
1987 Philippine Constitution
Rand, Ayn. Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet, 1984
Bowden, Thomas. “Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution.” Summer 2009.
The Objectivist Standard. 17 August 2009 <http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2009-summer/justice-holmes-empty-constitution.asp>
Box, Richard. Public administration and society: critical issues in American
governance. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2003