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Why change our system of government?

By: Fernando Fajardo March 01,2018 - 10:22 PM

In the declaration of independence of the 13 former colonies in the US to free themselves from the shackles of their masters far away in the British Isles, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Indeed Section 1, Article II of our present constitution also states that the Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Its sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. It also declares that the prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people.

What then if there is no government? Without government, men will be in constant war with each other, Thomas Hobbes says in his book, Leviathan.

“Hereby it is manifest that, during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man.”

In a state of constant war, according to Hobbes, “there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

But what if the government, in whatever form, becomes destructive or oppressive in the end? Under this condition, Hobbes now says that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

These are great words from the man who, because of his pessimistic view of human nature, actually believed that the only form of government strong enough to hold humanity’s cruel impulses in check was absolute monarchy. He was wrong, I supposed.

He was writing in his time when most of the world were ruled by kings and princes and never saw the development of new forms of government like in the US or in many other parts of the world that came to uphold and protect the rights of men more than the kings and princes.

So what are we to say of our own government? Has it not been doing its prime duty to serve and protect the people? Has it become oppressive? If so, then it is time to replace it. But wait!

The 13 British colonies in the US indeed declared their independence when they could no longer bear the condition they were in under the British.

They then created their own system of government that is republican but federal in form. Under their new system of government, the original 13 colonies became the first 13 members of the USA which agreed among themselves to create a new layer of government above them and gave it stronger powers to deal with larger national and global issues to advance and protect the welfare of their people.

In our case, when the Spaniards came, they found us with no system of government at hand that ruled beyond the level of the small community. That fact allowed them to explore freely and defeat easily any local resistance in the whole Philippine archipelago except in certain parts of the Mindanao that were ruled by powerful sultans. Thus, it was also easy for the Spaniards to rule most part of the country as a colony of Spain from where they came from. Under this system, the colony is ruled for the benefit of the colonialists and not necessarily for the natives.

When the Americans came, they also assumed colonial power over us after driving away the Spaniards and defeating the revolutionaries who wanted to run the country independently.

The US finally gave our independence after the last war, allowing us to rule ourselves following a constitution that was basically pattern after that of the US but with a twist, it was republican system but unitary in form, not federal like in the US. Marcos change it to allow himself to rule with iron hand. He was deposed.

Now some sectors want to change our constitution again. What is wrong? Is it our system of government? Is it not our people? Is it not our leaders?

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