OUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS CITIZENS

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OUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS CITIZENS

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boholano-thumbFor its Draft Constitution for a Federal Republic of the Philippines with a Parliamentary Government, in 1989 I proposed as adviser to the Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP) a new Bill of Duties and Obligations to complement the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution. We agreed that, together, the Article on the Bill of Rights and the proposed Article on the Bill of Duties and Obligations would be very helpful in our civic education and the training of responsible and accountable citizens and leaders.

While respecting freedom of worship and expression, we also urged that citizens should be encouraged and assisted by concerned leaders and institutions in their voluntary spiritual development—to round out their civic and political education. Our society seems to suffer from an excess of selfish individualism, (Wala akong paki-alam sa inyo. Bahala na kayo.); materialism (materialismo, hindi espiritual); and secularism (makamundo, hindi maka-Diyos).

On the other hand, we have these important reminders over many years. “Bayan muna, bago ang sarili!   This is a nationalistic reminder to all Filipinos as a sign of our love of country. Jose Rizal said: “…the thought of my whole life has always been love of my country and her moral and material development.” (1892). In his Dekalogo (1893), Andres Bonifacio said: “Always bear in mind that the true love of God is the love of country, and that this love is also the true love of thy fellowmen.” Apolinario Mabini said: “Procure thy country’s happiness before thine own, making her a kingdom of reason, justice and labor, for if she is happy, happy will also be thou and thy family.” (1898)

Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon said: “ We must imbue our whole citizenry with a spirit of heroic patriotism. For a country as small and with such limited wealth as the Philippines, ordinary patriotism is not enough to insure its security. Heroic patriotism is necessary—a patriotism that is devotion, loyalty, and courage that rises to the heights of self-sacrifice.”  (1939)

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To the Catholic Church: “Filipinism, which is nationalism for Filipinos, means hard work and generous sacrifice for the welfare of the Philippines in the temporal order, genuine love of Filipino culture in its nobler aspects, sincere appreciation of our historic past, honesty in public as well as in private life, mutual cooperation in common endeavors, scrupulous administration of public affairs, faithful compliance with laws, unselfish acceptance of the burden of services required by the nation, payment of taxes and sincere love for national symbols and institutions.” (1959). Catholics who make up the great majority of the faithful have a duty to respect and not discriminate  against Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and believers in other religions, or the nonbelievers.

And as U.S. President John F. Kennedy said in his Inaugural, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Balance our Rights with our Duties. Therefore, as citizens in a developing democracy I argued that we should balance our emphasis on individual rights and privileges with a much stronger sense of individual, collective and communitarian duties and obligations. In this way many more citizens can become patriotic, responsible and effective—in solidarity with our kapwa Pilipino. We can then build a cohesive national community, a working democracy, and a just and humane society, and a peaceful, nonkillng Philippines.

Citizens of progressive nations like Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Israel, the Scandinavian countries, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the United States of America have a deep sense of their duties and obligations to the community and the nation.

Accordingly, the CMFP Draft Constitution that I led in drafting has Article V. Bill of Duties and Obligations immediately after Article IV. Bill of Rights. The 1935 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution do not have a Bill of Duties of citizens. The CMFP was improving on Article V.  Bill of Duties and Obligations in the 1973 Constitution.

In 2005 when I was elected the Chairman of the Consultative Commission on Charter Change, under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, our Commission discussed the CMFP proposed Article V. Bill of Duties and Obligations that I had drafted. What the Consultative Commission finally adopted as its own proposal was the following.

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Article V. Bill of Duties

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SECTION 1. It shall be the duty of every citizen to be loyal to the Republic of the Philippines, honor the Philippine Flag, defend the State, contribute to its development and welfare, uphold the Constitution and obey the laws, pay taxes, and cooperate with the duly constituted authorities in the attainment and maintenance of the rule of law and of a peaceful, just, humane and orderly society.

SECTION 2. The rights of the individual impose upon him/her the correlative duty to exercise them responsibly and with due regard for the rights of others.

SECTION 3. Citizens and the State shall at all times respect the life and dignity of every human person and uphold human rights.

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SECTION 4. Citizens shall participate actively in public and civic affairs, and contribute to good governance, honesty and integrity in the public service, and the vitality and viability of democracy.

I shall continue to propose the amendment of our 1987 Constitution by adding a Bill of Duties to our 1987 Bill of Rights. (By Jose “Pepe” Abueva)

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