Monday, November 23, 2009

republican democracy and state of poverty

It is well known that democracy stands for the rule of the people through the government they choose, acting as free and sovereign citizens. Needless to say, a fundamental element of democracy is the freedom of the people precisely to choose/elect the members of the government they want. When a democracy is further qualified by the reality-word “republican”, this in fact is a strong buttress of the freedom of the public more specifically in terms of their government categorically working for the affirmation and promotion of their public welfare whereby the population in general is thus empowered to freely pursue their respective aspirations and contentment.

A free people determining not only the form of their government but also those who govern them by their majority will, a free people thereby benefiting by the common good actualized by their formed and chosen or elected government and a free people therefore individually and/or in group working towards their respective opted lot and chosen destiny – this is the pivotal element of a democracy, this is the essential attribute of a republican democracy: People freedom! In other words, both the content and spirit of the Fundamental Law of the land as reflected in the Philippine Constitution are distilled in the truth that this Country has a Republican Democracy.

The urgent, both realistic and practical questions are the following: In a state of poverty, can there be a true and factual Republican Democracy? Is Republican Democracy consonant with a state of poverty? Do the state of poverty and a Republican Democracy make a suitable, compatible or viable pairing? While those in government are not simply free in their choices but even licentious in their living, are people who are impoverished, hungry and destitute, free? It is not true that empty stomachs have no ears to hear, no leisure to listen?

Recently, a group of recognized economics in the Country came out with the really bad news that no less than some 35% Filipinos are convinced that they are living below the poverty line. Translation: More than one-third of the population consider themselves not simply poor – but poorer even! It would take a lot of erratic mental gymnastics to conclude that they are free, that they enjoy the benefits of democracy, that they relish the blessings of a Republican Democracy.

Recently too, there was one Comelec official who pontificated and practically condemned people who sell their votes - adding that those who consider themselves guardians of morals better do their job and teach them the sanctity of the ballot, the duty of voting for the right candidates, etc. etc. Incidentally, the official concerned is big-bellied, over-weight and evidently well fed. How gross can one get?! While it is a rudimentary truth that vote-selling is objectively a big offense to the electoral process and a taboo to elementary ethics, when a hungry man does sell his vote for him and his family to have something to buy food with – what? Condemn him? Jail him? Shoot him?

OVCruz, JCD
November 23, 2009