Is Filipino citizenship worthless?
By Joe America
We generally think of the Constitution as a technical legal document that tells us how government works. But it is so much more than that.
The Constitution is written by you, the people, and it is for you, the people. It says this in the opening words:
We, the sovereign Filipino people . . .
Article II makes the point even more explicitly:
Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.
In the Preamble, we are told WHY the Constitution exists. There are two reasons:
- . . . 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 . . .
Just look at the concepts represented in the reasons for the Constitution. The words are powerful and righteous: “humane, just, common good, ideals, aspirations, independence, rule of law, truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, peace.” This is a well-meaning document, embodying the best of our human condition. It aspires for grand ideas of how to live and build a community. These words state what the Philippines stands for . . .
And it is good. Very, very good.
Beautiful, in fact.
ARTICLE III contains a Bill of Rights. It is modern, classy, of high mind and principle, protecting women and religious worship and a host of freedoms.
ARTICLE IV defines who qualifies as a citizen. Kids born in the Philippines are citizens. So are poor people who are not registered to vote. So are people who use, peddle, or manufacture illegal drugs.
There is no subset of citizens that are worth more or less than others. There is no entitled class of citizens. There is no underclass, no servant class. There is no class for whom Constitutional rights do not apply.
Then we look at the reality of the Philippines and how its government operates today.
What happened to what the Constitution stands for? Where are the hopes and aspirations and ideals and freedoms written there? Where is the high-minded vision and inspiration of a well-meaning community building something special?
Well, my judgment counts for little because I am not a citizen. But how about your judgment? Do you believe the Government is working diligently to give you the protections guaranteed BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE under the Constitution? Do you think your citizenship is all the Constitution meant it to be?
Does government sponsored propaganda promote a regime of truth? Does a Secretary of Justice on a political rampage represent a regime of justice? Does a government that declares that drug users are not human promote a regime of love and equality? Does a government that endorses killing of citizens strike you as living up to the high ideals of the Constitution?
I would ask, who, exactly, is protecting the Constitution these days? By my observation, no one. Not the Legislature which is a giant muppet with a hand up its backside like on Sesame Street. Not the Supreme Court which is interpreting personal interests rather than law. Not the Executive which is abandoning Constitutional precepts left and right. Not the people who are home reading Mocha Uson, that amazing icon of democratic virtue, and allowing themselves to be stripped of their rights and freedoms.
All this leads me to believe the rich concept of citizenship written into the Constitution is under dire threat. Citizenship is reduced to meaningless words. Citizenship no longer represents dedication and unity and aspirations and inspiration. One does not fly high with Filipino citizenship. Citizenship instead is coming to represent suffering and shame and burdens and obedience to self-serving masters.
Here are some of the guarantees of the Constitution that seem no longer to exist based on actual practices:
Article II. Declaration of Principles and State Policies
Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy. The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. The State recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service . . .
Article III, Bill of Rights
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 The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty. No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. The employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law.
Do I believe the people want these sections struck from the laws or the quality of their citizenship diminished by making them less than they were before? Do I think 16 million voted for THAT?
No. Certainly not. Yet it seems clear to me that Filipino citizenship has lost tremendous value during recent months. Citizenship is no longer high minded. No longer inspiring.
It would seem that government does not seek to fulfill the uplifting vision set forth in the Constitution, the one that makes being a citizen a source of great joy, security, and excitement about the future. Propaganda is not care-taking. Death sentences are not uplifting.
Citizens have become the underclass in an autocratic stacking of people according to their worth. Poor drug users are on the bottom and pegged for extermination, power-mongers are on top manipulating the Constitution for personal advantage. Those in the middle have shrunk back within a shell of self-containment, for security. Or are snickering with glee at how their President is insulting big-shots. The Pope. Obama. EU. UN. Even their own Church.
Last year, citizens were “the boss” and the nation was a rising star. This year, citizens are fodder for the powerful and the nation is in a state of perpetual crisis.
So what do you think your Filipino citizenship is worth?
Here’s what I think. I think your citizenship is priceless. Precious. Beautiful. It is what holds the nation together, in security, in hope, in respect for the cherished value each citizen brings to the Philippines.
It astounds me that so many in government . . . who took OATHS . . . don’t find citizenship as precious as that. They don’t find it worth preserving. They are in it for themselves, and damn their neighbors, damn the children, and damn the idea that being Filipino means something special.