Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tribute to Dr. Romulo Bautista

Dr. Romulo Bautista touched our lives in so many ways. But there is one outstanding attribute that has served as the very essence of his commitment to philosophy. He was a very kind person. He gave his all to his students – nurturing them with his insights, challenging their positions, arguing passionately not only for reason’s sake, but for the sake of our humanity. Even if his health was failing him, he still possessed the unwavering desire to share his ideas. Ideas about what it means to be human are aplenty in this world, but the man who epitomizes the ideal of being human is hard to find.

Indeed, Dr. Bautista is a true person. We are a witness to this unfolding. The Social Ethics Society is one of his legacies. In life, we are taken to task in order to assume roles that are bigger than us. Dr. Bautista has contributed in a very huge way in promoting democracy, writing not only about its systemic or theoretical milieu, but more importantly, on its practical or pragmatic value. He was a man who wanted his fellow human beings to live well. His death has diminished a huge part of us, but what he has done for his students, his readers, and the general public will be etched eternally in the hearts of men.


- The Social Ethics Society

Monday, June 24, 2013

HOW CAN THE IDEA OF PUBLIC REASON HELP IN DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM OF POLITICAL DYNASTY IN THE PHILIPPINES?

By Manuel Lomboy Jr.


The Problem of Political Dynasties

Political dynasties continue to reign in the Philippine political landscape, especially in isolated and far-off provinces, despite anti-dynasty initiatives of civil society, a study by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center has found.

Ronaldo Mendoza, executive director of the AIM Policy Center and leader of a research team that looked into reigning political clans with a tight control of elective positions in local governments nationwide, said political dynasties continue to monopolize political power in many local governments like provinces, municipalities and cities nationwide, and categorized current reigning political clans as “fat” or “thin” dynasties.

Despite the Maguindanao massacre that was condemned here and abroad, the Ampatuan family continues to reign in Maguindanao, topping the list of the “fat” dynasties in the country. Mendoza said “fat” dynasties are political families that have several members holding elective positions in a certain local government for three years.

A “thin” dynasty is a political clan that only has two members – like a father and son – swapping certain positions, as when a mayor-father, at the end of his maximum three terms, lets his son, who may also have reached his three-year term either as vice mayor, councilor, provincial governor or vice governor, running for each other’s position, he added.

A fat dynasty monopolizing power is an undesirable situation, he pointed out, as checks and balances among elected officials in a certain local government are difficult if they are all from one family. In Maguindanao, the “fat” Ampatuan dynasty held eight out of the 37 mayoralty posts in the province’s 37 municipalities, Mendoza said.

Other provinces with a big number of fat dynasties include Apayao province, Dinagat Islands, Siquijor and Sulu. Mendoza said in their study, which looked into dynasties that took and kept power in the 2007 and 2010 elections, there were more fat dynasties in the political landscape in the 2010 elections.

Mendoza presented the 2012 study results yesterday in a forum attended by academe and civil society that tackled the issue of political dynasties at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig.
Dubbed “Building an Inclusive Democracy,” the forum featured the AIM Policy Center study led by Mendoza, as well as academics from the University of the Philippines - National College of Public Administration, De La Salle University, and Ateneo de Manila University who are among the most dedicated scholars on dynasties, politics, and elections in the country.

Mendoza, however, said the Philippines was not alone in having the problem of political dynasty. “We’re not the only ones with this particular phenomenon,” he said. “Let’s not beat ourselves up because of it.” [Political dynasties reign in Philippines — A study by Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2013 - 12:00am]

Applying the Idea of Public Reason

John Rawls’s political philosophy focuses on the idea of public reason. It asserts some basic moral insight such as that our laws and political institutions and structures must be justifiable to each of ever one by referring to some common point of view despite one’s differences and disagreements.

Public reason is not only a standard which people measures laws and political institutions and structure, but public reason is a set of guidelines to regulate the behaviour of legislators, judges, and ordinary members in a society. Thus, it is a form of deliberative democracy by which people support those fundamental laws, political institutions and structures that they sincerely believe can be justified by appeal to political values that others could reasonably accept.

Public reason entails a moral duty of civility that requires us to explain to one another how important political positions are justifiable by reference to a reasonable political conception of justice, and to refrain from supporting positions when we believe they can only be justified by appeal to a religious doctrine, or some other comprehensive doctrine that we cannot reasonably expect everyone to endorse (Quong, 2011).
               
The idea of public reason requires people to abandon some practices in politics which reasonable people disagree, e.g. political dynasty, and other political issues. Not all people agreed with political dynasty due to its disadvantages. Although political dynasty has advantages, however, it was outweighed by its disadvantages.
               
Its disadvantages ruin the idea of public reason because having this system— political dynasty— is the tendency of harboring power. The thirst for dominion will ruin not just the government but its people. Fame and popularity of the family will surely find them a good place in the government office.

The executive secretary of the CBCP- Episcopal Commission on Youth, Fr. Conegundo Garganta, is disappointed with the political dynasty in the Philippines. According to Him, almost two decades that government officials coming from same families are in the position however there are no sign of progress.

It is very miserable to realize that in every election the candidates are coming from same family. There are many good people who are capable of leading the country; however, people tend to choose those who are known, those who have names, those whose names have brought influence not on deeds. Are those candidates the only ones who have the ability? Why is it that Filipino people tend to consider those candidates, whose names and families are not known, nuance candidates?

It leaves a narrow road for those able and gifted leaders whose clan has never been heard of. They will not be able to exercise their freedom and equality with other candidates for they will only be considered as nuances in the election.

On the other hand, the voters’ silent crime has suddenly been manifested by such political malpractice. It has become superficial that they are out to criticize these candidates to show their frustration of the kind of miserable leadership these politicians are out to display. The voters must criticize the candidates if these candidates were really are worthy to have the position. In accordance with the duty if civility, people ought to act towards changes in our political institutions and behaviour so that our most important political issues are decided by appeal to conception of justice that reflect only the shared political values implicit in the culture of constitutional democracy.

What is then the people’s basis in electing leaders? Is it about how noble the family where the candidate came from? Or voting basing on how people deliberately choose those who are capable in leading towards justice? For John Rawls, public reason is not one political value among others. It envelops all the different elements that make up the ideal of a constitutional democracy, for it governs the political relation in which we ought to stand to one another as citizens. It means therefore, that we ought not to vote those candidates whose interest is personal such as fame and money. But vote those candidates capable of democracy and not oligarchy.

Public reason involves more than just the idea that the principles of political association should be an object of public knowledge. Its concern is the very basis of our collectively binding decisions. We honour public reason when we bring our own reason into accord with the reason of others, espousing a common point of view for settling the terms of our political life. The conception of justice by which we live is then a conception we endorse, not for the different reasons we may each discover, and not simply for reasons we happen to share, but instead for reasons that count for us because we can affirm them together. This spirit of reciprocity is the foundation of a democratic society.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ETHICAL INTERDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP IN INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

By Dr. Romulo Bautista
Social Ethics Society


My subject is product of my thoughts from my “out of the box” meta-understanding or “reading a meaning beyond the meaning” of our Constitution. Meta-understanding does not say my thoughts are true or false, right wrong, but it is the ground of my commitment to continue with the subject of this paper.

Module 1: The Interdependent Moral Hemispheres of Human Beings in Society

My subject is grounded in Article II, Section 1, which declares that”‘the Philippines is a democratic and republican state” My meta-interpretation of this declaration is similar to my understanding of a coin. A coin has two distinct yet interdependent sides – the head and the tail. Similarly, I meta-understand that the Philippines has two distinct yet interdependent moral hemispheres, namely (a) the democratic moral hemisphere and (b) the republican moral hemisphere. Both moral hemispheres presuppose freedom of ethical interdependent leadership. The democratic moral hemisphere requires ethical leadership of governance of the people, and the republican moral hemisphere requires ethical leadership in the pursuit of the greatest good of the greatest number of people.

The Philippines has all kinds of institutions and organizations, e.g.  Families (the foundation of the nation) without which our Filipino society cannot exist, schools, hospitals, government agencies, business corporations, labor unions, farmer cooperatives, political parties, etc.

Except those who choose to live the solitary and independent life of hermit in order to avoid social obligaytion, all people choose to work with organizations and institutions.  Their works thereat bring out their differences with superiors, peers, subordinates, and other people. The differences bring out the conflicts between the realm of their private life of choice and independence and the realm of their public affairs of obligation and dependence. The realm of choice and the realm of obligation are interdependent moral hemispheres, for man cannot live outside society, and society stands to benefit by giving him independence. Social obligations of public affairs are public means to private ends of private choice.

It is axiomatic that no man is an island.  A man may choose not to belong to any institution or organization to be free of social obligations imposed by institutions and organizations, but he cannot live and survive outside society.

People are essentially similar yet existentially different. People in institutions and organizations share so much in common, yet are so magnificently different.    They think differently; they have different and some times competing values, motivations, and objectives. Conflicts naturally arise out of these differences. Society’s competitive approach to resolving the conflict and differences tends to center on “winning as much as you can.” Though much good has come from skilful art of compromise, where both sides give on their position until an acceptable middle point, neither side ends up truly pleased. What a waste of time to have differences drive people to the lowest common denominator between them, when they could  reach the highest common denominator. What a waste of time to unleash the principle of creative cooperation in developing solution to problems that is better than either party’s original notion.

We are now in the Age of Sophisticated Nuclear Weapons, yet even with these weapons we could not definitively terminate the intermittent social phenomena of human conflicts, because our differences are intermittent moral choices of our free will which is inherent in our four-dimensional human nature – body, mind, heart, and spirit. Let us view from these dimensions the conflict between the cultural values and practices and the universally accepted ethical principles:

  • Body – Cultural tendency:  maintain lifestyle; treat health problems with surgery and medication. Ethical Principle: prevent diseases and problems by aligning lifestyle to be in harmony with established universally accepted principles of health.
  • Mind – Culture: watch television, “entertain me”, Ethical Principle: read broadly and deeply, continuous education.
  • Heart – Culture: use relationships with others to forward your selfish interests. Ethical Principle: deep, respectful listening and serving others bring greatest fulfillment and joy.
  • Spirit – Culture: succumb to growing materialism and cynicism. Ethical Principle: recognize that the source of our basic need of meaning and of positive things we seek are principles of natural laws (1) the principle                          of contraries (2) the principle of negation (3) the principle of transformation.
From the differences and fruits of conflict we have the moral conclusions that (a) the “inner conflicts in private life” precede the “social conflicts in public affairs”, and (b) the importance of interdependence (mutual dependence) to reduce social conflicts to the barest minimum level, because the inner conflicts inherent in human nature can never be eliminated, unless we destroy our human nature.

Module 2: Alternative Paradigms of Ethical Interdependent Leadership

“Do unto others what you want others do unto you”.  This is a proposition expressing the paradigm of Golden Rule.

Paradigm commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference influences the way we perceive differences and conflicts in institutions and organizations. We have a choice to retain our existing paradigm or to shift to a new paradigm.\
Ethical interdependent leadership presupposes the independence of private free choice of people in institutions and organizations whose public affairs impose certain obligation upon private choice. Private choice and social obligation are opposed to each other, yet depend upon each other because they complement each other toward the private ends of private choices..  The simplest model of mutual dependence of personal choices and social obligations toward private ends is the traffic on the highway. There is a network of public roads and official code which enable us to make our private journeys for our own purposes whenever and wherever. Compliance with the obligation imposed by traffic code enables us to arrive safely at our private destinations. We should , therefore, view social obligations as public means in the realm of public affairs toward private ends of private choice in the realm of private life.

There are six alternative paradigms of interdependence of the realm of personal choice and the realm of social obligation. The paradigms do not suggest techniques but philosophies of life. Each paradigm actually suggests a way of “seeing” life in harmonizing the private realm of choice with the public realm of obligation.. They are:   

* Win-win                   * Lose-lose
* Win-lose                  * Win
* Lose-win                  *Win-win or No Deal

Win-win paradigm is my total philosophy of human interaction. To me, the golden rule is a “common sense” expression of win-win paradigm of interdependent leadership in institutions and organizations.

I used to be a corporate executive manager, and as such win-win had been my frame of mind and heart that constantly sought mutual benefit in all my human interactions with my superiors, peers, and subordinates whom I treated as “tao higit sa lahat’. With win-win I see life as a cooperative, not competitive arena. With a win-win solution, I believe that all parties in institutions and organizations would feel good about the decision of their leaders and feel committed to action plan.

Win-win is based on paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not attained at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.

However, most people in institutions and organizations tend to think in terms of dichotomies; strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally defective, because it is based on power and position rather than on principle.

Module 3: What is the Best Paradigm of Interdependent Leadership?

“Win-win paradigm” is my personal option. But, is mine the best option?  My honest answer is “it depends on existing reality”. In sport tournaments, you want your team to win, so you should go for win/lose option. If you value a relationship and the issue isn’t really important, you may go for lose-win in some circumstances to genuinely affirm the other person. In Spanish, there is a saying “pierde gana” (loser wins), meaning you may “choose to lose momentarily but to win in the long run”.

The best choice, therefore, for an individual   depends on existing reality. The challenge to him is to read that reality accurately, not just translate any paradigm to any situation.
Most situations, in fact, are part of interdependent reality, and then win/win is really the only viable alternative of the six paradigms.

Where interdependent reality is concerned, win/lose is not viable because, although I appear to win in confrontation with you, your feelings, your attitude towards me and our relationship will be affected. If I am a supplier to your company and I win on my terms in a particular negotiation, I may get what I want now. But will you come again to me? My short-term win will be my long-term lose if I don’t get your repeat business. So the win/lose is lose/lose in the long term.

“Win/Win or No Deal” is a higher option than Win-Win and it should be resorted to if individuals do not come up with synergistic solution – one that is agreeable to both. No Deal basically means that if we cannot find a solution that should benefit us both, we agree to disagree agreeably – no deal. No expectations will be created. With no deal as an option in your mind you feel liberated because you feel no need to manipulate people; you can honestly say “I want to win and I want you to win”. This should be the best option when labor union and company management do not agree on mutual terms.

Anything less than Win/Win in an interdependent reality is poor second best that will impact in the long-term relationship in the institution. Win/Win or No Deal provides tremendous emotional freedom in relationship in organization.

Module 4: Who should be the Ethical Interdependent Leader in Institutions and Organizations?

The private realm of independence precedes the public realm of interdependence. Whether you are a company president or a company janitor, the moment you step from the private realm of independence into the public realm of interdependence in any capacity, you step into a leadership role. I am particularly referring to ethical leadership in institutions and organizations where you are in a position of influencing other people.

In a general sense, ethical leadership refers to the superior quality and/or superior position of someone who leads in institutions and organizations. There are two types of ethical leadership:

  • Ethical Leadership unto Self in the private realm of choice (personal, independent leadership).

  • Ethical Leadership unto Others” in the public realm of social obligation (inter-personal, interdependent leadership).

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” is a statement about “ethical leadership unto self”.

Module 5: Ethical Leadership unto Self

Ethical leadership unto self precedes ethical leadership unto others. The “good will” of human freewill is the is the inherent source of power of self-leadership..

“Ethical Leadership unto Self” is a concept of leadership being widely advocated and promoted nationwide by ABS-CBN TV through its ethical movement dubbed as “Ako ang Simula ng Pagbabago”, as well as by the ethical centerpiece dubbed “Matuwid na Daan” of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s Administration. Their ethical movements are about “ethical leadership unto self”. The power of ethical leadership unto self comes from the good will of the person.

The “ethical leader unto self” is not merely an “agent of change” but the “role model”, or more precisely, “the change” which the ethical leader wants other ought to be.  The ethical leader leads his self first, before he leads others. If a leader cannot control his self, he cannot really have self-respect except in some short-term, psych-up, superficial way. Real self-respect comes from dominion over self, from true independence. You cannot truly be depended upon if you are not truly independent.

Module 6: Sources of Power of Ethical Interdependent Leadership unto Others

The president and the janitor of the Notre Dame University are leaders in their own right. Leadership is a function of presidency, but presidency may or may not be a function of leadership. Expressed differently, the president is always a leader, but a leader may or may not be the president; a leader may be the janitor. This is a true story about the president and a janitor of Ajinamoto, maker of the popular vet-sin. At one time, the volumes of isales Ajinamoto were going down, and the president was worried. One day while walking in the company corridor, he saw a janitor and asked him for a marketing idea to improve sale. The janitor suggested, why not market the vet-sin in a container with holes on its cover? From his creative question sprung the innovative idea of “Tok-tok Ajinamoto” which improved tremendously the volumes of sales of Ajinamoto in the market. At that moment, the lowly janitor became a leader to his president, idea-wise. Any officer and employee in organization can be a leader unto others, provided he has a position of power. Power emanates from different sources, such as but not limited to the following:

  • Position or role in organization e.g. position of Ajinamoto president
  • Personality – e.g. our own charismatic personality
  • Skills and knowledge - e.g. the “out of the box” marketing concept of the Ajinamoto janitor.
How you use power, not its source, is the most important issue of power of interdependent leadership. The ethical leader uses his power for common good; whereas the unethical leader uses his power for personal gains..

Leaders unto others are found in all levels of institutions and organization: (1) the strategic leaders at the top level of organization (2) the operational leaders at the department level, and (3) the team leaders who operate at team level whose prime responsibility Is for the people who work with and for the achievement of the task they are jointly responsible. 

BAYANIKRASYA – AN ALTERNATIVE TO ELITE DEMOCRACY

By Dr. Romulo Bautista
Social Ethics Society

Unethical Governance or Ethical Governance  

“What are we in power for?” Jose Avelino
Or
“My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” Manuel L.. Quezon (MLQ)

Jose Avelino, former Speaker of Congress, spoke about abuse of power or unethical governance in elite democracy, which tends to restrict the interpretation of the laws according to the “letter of the law”, rather than expand the interpretation according to the “spirit of the law”. It is to best interest of elite leaders to interpret the law legalistically. For example, there are existing political dynasties despite the provision of Article ii, Section 26 in our Constitution that “the State shall . . . prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law”. In my understanding, this provision has two parts, (a) “prohibits political dynasties” and I believe its spirit is clear to the average minds but ignored by political elites who choose (b) “as may be defined by law” because its literal interpretation allows the legal existence of political dynasties. And political dynasties are to the best interest of the elite. It is usually the elite who are found short of ethical governance. A classic example is the impeachment of the SC Chief Justice Renato Corona who has an elite mentality. He was the “Highest Magistrate”, but the Impeachment Court found him guilty as charged of unethical conduct in the untruthful disclosure of his assets and liabilities. His mind is “legalistically brilliant but ethically corrupt”. With this kind of mind in the Court of Justice, what kind of justice can the ordinary people expect from the Court?

On the other hand, MLQ spoke about use of power or ethical governance in his Presidency of the Philippine Commonwealth. Ethical governance begins from within oneself; and in his case, it begins with his moral courage and moral strength to rise above personal, family, and partisan interests for the common interests of his country, that is, “the greatest good of the greatest number of people”.

“Ethical governance” (otherwise called good governance) is byword today amidst the widespread social phenomena of graft and corruption in our existing “elite democracy”, where the leaders of governance are “at the top”. However, the elite power of leaders at the top is delegated power of the people “at the bottom”.

There is now a growing struggle of ordinary people at the bottom (grassroots communities) to remove and replace by ethical force the elite public officials, elected or appointed, who are known for unethical governance

Article II, Section 1 on Principle of the Constitution declares – “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them”. It means that the people as electorate is the habitat of supreme power, which makes them the “supreme political dynasty” over and above all political dynasties whose “reason for being”, are the people as corporate nation. Where ethical leadership of governance is concerned, the ordinary people are not only on equal footing with elite political leaders, but they are, in fact, by virtue of the Constitution the “supreme political dynasty” over and above all and any political parties and political dynasties. The idea of “supreme political dynasty of people” is central to my ethical concept of grassroots democracy, otherwise called “bayanikrasya”.

Module 2: What is Bayanikrasya?

The term bayanikrasa is the coinage of bayanihan and demokrasya.

Bayanihan is the ancient Filipino spirit of organized togetherness, of caring and sharing, of love and charity for our neighbor, a spirit which must again be lived in our grassroots communities and become part of our grassroots social psychology..

Bayanihan (root word “bayani”) is historically the Filipino heroism of ordinary tao at the grassroots (village) communities, which is immortalized by a painting showing village people carrying together a house to transfer it from one location to another.. They are the village “bayani” who are admired and emulated for their noble and brave qualities.

Demokrasya (Filipinized term for democracy) in the context of bayanihan, seeks the active involvement of the grassroots Filipinos in tasking themselves to initiate, chart, and fulfill their political, economic, and social development undertakings toward the enhancement of quality of life in order to achieve their authentic existence as individual beings and as social beings.

Bayanikrasya is, therefore, my ethical concept of the synergy of the vanishing spirit of “bayanihan” and the popular spirit of “demokrasya”, wherein the effectiveness of one enhances the effectiveness of the other toward the empowerment of the free will of the ordinary people in the 21st century. Toward this end, bayanikrasya seeks the following:

1) Economic and political empowerment of grassroots people toward ethical governance of their social, economic, and political affairs in their communities.

2) Empowerment starts in the hearts and minds of ordinary people bound together in a spirit of caring and sharing. The ordinary people are the prime movers in organizing themselves into a self-reliant and ethical community.

Module 3: The Ethical Principles of Bayanikrasya

 The ethical concept of bayanikrasya is deeply grounded in our Constitution which, to my understanding, is the natural law as formulated by human mind and adopted by the democratic and republican State of the Philippines to be its basic law that regulates the transactions and relations between and among all Filipinos in their social life, the basic law that defines their rights and duties, civil liability and criminal responsibility, prescribes the remedies for wrongs and proper procedures for complaining and setting up defenses.

However, at the core of our Constitution is morality, without which our Constitution has no binding force upon the Filipino people; In turn, constitutionality is at the core of the legality of enacted laws, without which these laws have no force to compel obedience by the Filipino people.

My further understanding of Article II, Section 1, is that the Philippines has two distinct but inter-dependent moral hemispheres namely, the democratic hemisphere and the republican hemisphere. Both hemispheres presuppose the inherent freedom of Filipinos to choose between moral alternatives..

In the democratic hemisphere, the term “people” means “people as electorate”, which is the habitat of sovereign power and from which emanates the authority of public officers, both elective and appointive. Moreover, the electorate is the ‘supreme political dynasty” over and above any and all political dynasties in the country. To use the words of PNoy, the electorate is “the boss” of public officers and employees, even those belonging to political parties and political dynasties, not the way around. The voters have the freedom to choose between political candidates perceived to be honest in public office and political candidates perceived to be dishonest in public office.

In the republican hemisphere, the term “people” means “people as corporate nation” which is “the reason for being” of government authority entrusted upon public officers by “people as electorate”. In this hemisphere, the ordinary people have the freedom to choose between ethical leadership and legal leadership,

Ethical leadership of governance starts with the “leadership unto self” (governance of self) before the “leadership unto others” (governance of others). This is precisely the message of ABS-CBN nationwide ethical movement dubbed as “Ako ang Simula ng Pagbabago” and of the ethical centerpiece dubbed as “Matuwid na Daan” of President Aquino’s Administration. The “matuwid na daan” is the counter-force to graft and corruption in the government service. (Use traffic code in the highways as model of “matuwid na daan”).

The ethical leader unto self is not just an agent of moral change, but he is himself the moral change or the role model of change of what he wants others ought to be. He leads others, not by command, but by his example.

Module 4: The Moral Imperatives of Bayanikrasya

The moral imperatives of bayanikrasya are found In Article II, Section 27 and reads as follows: “The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption”.  This provision is reaffirmed in Article XI, Section 1, on Accountability of Public Officers, and reads as follows: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice; and live modest life.” These are the moral imperatives of the ethical code of the highest order in our republican state.

Bayanikrasya considers these moral imperatives to be absolutely fixed and permanent, hence not subject to change. However, the specifics of how to manage them, or their systems, standards, or codes do change with the change of times. This is why our judicial and justice systems are changed now and then to suit and respond to the needs of the time, but the moral imperatives remain permanent.

Module 5: Bayanikrasya is a Humanistic Filipino Democracy

Bayanihan and demokrasya are essentially
humanistic way of life. Thus their synergy, bayanikrasya,, is a form of humanism, and as such, it is built upon five humanistic principles:

  1. It is democratic. It aims at the fullest development of every small Filipino as human being.

  1. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively.

  1. It is ethical. It affirms the dignity of the small Filipino and his rights to the greatest possible freedom of development compatible with the rights of others.

  1. It insists that personal liberty is an end that must be combined with social responsibility in order that it shall not be sacrificed to improvement of material conditions.

  1. It is a way of life, aiming at the maximum possible fulfillment, thru the cultivation of ethical and creative life.

Module 6: Smallness of Ordinary Filipinos is the Fountain of their Greatness

The ordinary Filipinos are the bayani of bayani-krasya who inspire hope to the hopeless and helpless, and courage to the desperate and the faint-hearted.  

In the absence of opportunities, the ordinary Filipinos are, as it were, Zero. To most people “zero” means “nothing of value”. At first blush, “zero” appears to be of no value, but ironically it is zero that tremendously adds values to numbers. For example, 1 is the lowest number and will always be 1, When you add 1 to 1, you get 2, but when you prefix 0 to 1,you still get 1; however, when you affix 0 to 1, you get 10, 100, 1000, 1000,000, and so on. Many small Filipinos are “zeros” in terms of opportunity; but when provided with opportunities, they can use those opportunities to transform themselves from “ordinary people” to “extra-ordinary people”; from “nothing” as in “not-a-thing” of worth to “a thing” of worth.

Module 6: Economic Empowerment against Poverty and Hunger

The first task of bayanikrasya is to address the poverty and hunger of smallest of small people. This task is premised on the ethical concept that man is fundamentally a being of needs and wants. Jesus Christ himself affirmed this fundamental fact when he himself taught these prayers to God, “Give us this day our daily bread” as pre-condition to “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven”. The prayer shows that human needs are arranged in hierarchical order – from the physiological need of “Give us this day our daily bread” to spiritual need of “Thy will be done”.  At the physiological level, to live is, in the first place, to have food, clothing, and shelter. But food is more basic for survival than shelter and clothing. A man who is chronically hungry lives by bread alone; however, if is chronically satisfied; he lives also by the “Word of God”..

At the physiological level, the Filipinos are stratified into lower class, middle class, and upper class. The lower class is at what is popularly known as poverty line. The poverty line consists of three levels. The first or upper level of poverty line is where the family income is sufficient for the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, education, medicine,  etcetera, but leaves no allowance for social needs; the second or middle level is where the family income is sufficient for the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, education, medicine, etcetera but leaves no allowance for personal needs, such odd fares, pocket money, cigarette; and the third or lower  level is where the family income is practically spent entirely for food.. This level is also known as the food threshold level, or level of absolute poverty. In terms of purchasing power, the poor spend more peso-wise, but buy less volume-wise.

Man would not move up to the next levels of the hierarchy, unless he is able to satisfy his basic needs. Several surveys conducted by SWS and NGOs reveal that many of poor Filipinos today live at the food threshold level  of the poverty line. These poor are euphemistically referred to as the poorest of the poor. Philosophically speaking, these poor, as individuals and as social beings, are in the state of human alienation (dehumanization).

The poor can become rich, the rich can become poor; but there will always be poor and rich, because this is the law of nature that opposite realities complement each other as they are opposed to each other.  Poverty and wealth are choices. Those who have made the vow of poverty choose the life of poverty.

The reduction to the barest minimum of the incidence of poverty and hunger at the food threshold level is the first strategic goal of humanistic bayanikrasya.. Foremost among economic strategies should be that of responsible parenthood because any economic gain would be eaten up by faster increase in population.  It is lamentable that there are more children in depressed and squatter areas than in the subdivisions, apparently the product of irresponsible parenthood. Need I say more?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Advocacy of RH Law in a Secular State


By Dr. Romulo G. Bautista
Social Ethics Society

Pro-Life is always Pro-Choice, but not Vice-Versa

Sex with intent to procreate is pro-life; sex without intent to procreate is pro-choice. A married couple where the husband has a surgical vasectomy illustrates pro-choice. Underneath pro-life and pro-choice is the reality that every man is a moral being by nature, and as such he is free to choose between alternative options. A person lies when he says “I have no choice”, because such statement suggests a negative choice, but a choice nonetheless!

Constitutionality and Morality of the RH Law

The pending opposition from religious groups against the implementation of the RH law before the Supreme Court will be decided on the basis of its legality and constitutionality.  It is my layman understands that legality is central to any law; but constitutionality is central to legality; but morality is central to constitutionality. Religion is not central to the legality and constitutionality of the RH law. The RH law has a binding force if it is legal, constitutional, and moral, without discrimination or preference to any particular religion.

Morality is not monolithic

There is no single body of established and unquestioned work of morality. Which sort, then, of morality be the moral reference of the RH law?
The Filipino morality is basically Western morality which is categorized into (1) Religious Morality which is directly dependent upon religious beliefs or upon a set of values given by religion, which may be grounded in Judaism, or in Christianity, or in Islam. (2) Secular Morality which is based upon the autonomy of reason (reason alone) without any reference to religious ideas. If its values are the same as a particular religion, such is merely coincidental; and (3) Quasi-Religious/Quasi-Secular Morality (partly religious /partly secular) which emerged from the merger of the religious morality with secular morality, and is prevalent among the younger Generations toward the end of the 20th century and in the 21st century.

My out of the box philosophizing about the provisions of the Constitution mandating the separation of Church and State, and its attendant secularization of religion, and de-secularization of new form of spirituality, have uncovered the growing reality of “partly religious/partly secular morality” in the Philippines, and which I call “golden mean morality”.

Secularization of Religion and De-Secularization of Spirituality in the Secular State

The Filipino people ratified Article II, Section 6 in our Constitution which mandates that “the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable”. By virtue of this mandate, the secularization of religion is institutionalized in our country and the Philippines is now a secular state.

The Philippines is a secular state wherein the worldly affairs should not and must not be under the control of religious body and religious influence should be restricted, and in particular that education, morality, the state, etc. should be independent of religion. This is the secular context of the pro-life and the pro-choice advocacy of the RH Law.

By “Church’ I refer historically to the Catholic Church, but today it includes the Protestant Churches, and the other Western and home-grown Churches of Christianity.  By virtue of inviolable separation of Church and State, none of these Churches can claim supremacy over the State.

Secularization of religion follows naturally the separation of Church and State. Secularization refers to the process whereby the significance of religion declines in the personal life and/or society. The growth of secularization in the country is more evident at the social rather than personal level. At the national level, many important social functions by the Church diminished gradually as the Philippines became more and more a modern secular state and secular agencies have taken over Church’s responsibility over politics, education, welfare, and so forth. The more religion is secularized, the more the influence and authority of the Church, particularly the Catholic Church, decline at the national level. Nation-wide, many Christians actually buy contraceptive pills and condoms over-the-counter in many retail outlets, as well as avail of medical vasectomy and legation in hospitals, despite the strong opposition of the CBCP against the RH Law. At the local level, the status and importance of the Catholic Church and its Clergy also diminished. In cultural terms, Catholic Christianity has ceased to be a dominant force, being forced to compete not only with other Western Christian Churches, but also with home-grown Christian Churches, such as but not limited to, Iglesia ni Cristo founded by Felix Manalo and Kingdom of Jesus founded by Pastor Quiboloy, as well as compete with home-grown sources and systems of meanings, such as such, e.g. El Shaddai of Mike Velarde. The recruits of the non-Catholic Churches and alternatives sources and systems of meanings come mostly from the Catholic Church.

Independent surveys conducted by SWS revealed the continuing decline of Catholic Church’s members in church-attendance and active participation in other congregational activities. But, of course, the CBCP disputed the surveys of the SWS

De-Secularization of Spirituality in the Philippines

There is a distinction between “belief in the existence of God” and “belief about the essence of God”. The latter differentiates Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from each other. Thus, Judaism and Islam believe in the Unity of God (One Person in One God) but Christianity believes in the Trinity of God (Three Persons in One God).

The conflicting beliefs about the essence of God are the basis of Article III, Section 4 that “no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed”. Stated differently, the essence of religion is the “inner feeling” called “faith”. The “inner faith” is primary, and the religious rituals, rules and regulations are secondary to many religious believers today.

 “I am not religious, but I am spiritual” is now a common expression referring to the essence of religion - the “inner feeling” called “faith”.

Religion and religious belief are matters of free choice of the individual person. At the personal level, religion retains its widespread allegiance due to de-secularization of new form of spirituality which refers to the process whereby “spiritual religion”, in contrast to “ritualistic religion” increases its significance at the personal level.

When personal “Christian belief” is interrogated, it is often found to be “nominal” – without accompanying commitment to church-attendance or any other form of active Christian involvement. Instead there is a noticeable shift from a commitment to religion toward a commitment to spirituality, and away from a belief in a theistic God ‘out there’ toward belief in a more immanent Spirit (God). In other words, as well as witnessing a decline  in traditional religion, the 21st century-Philippines appears to witness the rise of new, more immanent and ‘holistic’ form of spirituality which have more to do with the cultivation of unique subjective life than conformity to God-given norms. In this sense, both the secularization of traditional religion and de-secularization of new spirituality are taking place simultaneously in the Philippines. The more traditional religions is secularized at the social level,, the more the new form of spirituality is de-secularized at the personal level. One indication of this phenomenon is the grave concern of the CBCP over the continuing decline of church marriage and the continuing rise of ‘spiritual marriage’ among live-in couples in the Philippines. I view the phenomenon of ‘spiritual marriage’ and other forms of spirituality from the standpoint of ‘golden mean morality”.

The Golden Mean Morality in the Secular State

The “golden mean morality” emerged naturally and logically from Article II, Section 6 and Article III, Section 4 taken together.

The ‘golden mean morality” combines the claim of religious 
morality that moral values are universally applicable to all humankind with the claim of secular morality that  moral values are related  to human nature..

The golden mean morality is the middle ground between the religious morality of the Church and the secular morality of the State. But the middle ground is not exactly equidistant; rather it is more inclined toward the secular morality in accord with the mandates of Article II, Section 6 and Article III, Section 4 taken together. Pursuant to these Articles, the ‘golden mean’ morality allows every Filipino the freedom to choose and to decide and to enjoy or suffer accordingly the consequences of his free choice and decision. Without human freedom, there is no morality. Whether a person follows religious morality or secular morality, in the final analysis, it is a person’s free choice and decision that makes him moral or immoral. It is neither God nor religion that makes him moral. God and religion are simply deterrent to immorality. Thus belief in God or adherence to religion and/or religious beliefs is immaterial to the morality of the person. Responsible moral choice depends on freedom and the ability to choose rationally. Since there is no clear guidance in order to choose between conflicting moral views, a person has to use his or her reason as the ultimate factor – which is autonomy that is independent of religion or religious ideas and beliefs. This is the combined consequence of secularization of religion and de-secularization of spirituality.

The Moral Aspect of RH Law

I understand that the moral ground of opposition to the RH law before the Supreme Court is based on Article II, Section 12 which mandates that “the State shall . . . protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception”..

Let us view “the life of the unborn from conception” from the standpoint of the “golden mean morality.” I think the controversy revolves around the phrase, “the life of the unborn from conception”. In my understanding, the moral intent of RH Law is the prevention of life of one that is not yet conceived, not the abortion of life of already conceived being.

Apply Golden Mean Morality to RH Law

The government aims to distribute contraceptive pills and condoms for free to the poor, but this is objected to by some legislators who approve in principle the RH law but oppose it in practice. Any one can observe that there are more children in the depressed and slum areas than in mid-scale and up-scale subdivisions. Would they encourage the prevention of pregnancy by means of withdrawal at the moment of orgasm, anal sex, oral sex, and masturbation which costs nothing to the government?

In relation to the intent of RH Law, I raise the following some moral questions/issues - Is there human life before conception? If there is none, when does human life begin? If human life begins upon conception, when is the precise moment of conception? Does conception begin at the moment of fertilization of the egg? When is the precise moment of fertilization? Is the fertilized egg already human? When there is a miscarriage of fertilized egg, is there death of a human being? These are speculative moral questions which elicit conflicting speculative moral answers. The speculations are entry points of golden mean morality. In the actual reality, the questions call for one’s exercise of free choice, either according to the doctrine of his religion or according to the dictate of his autonomous reason; either along the line of pro-life or along the line of pro-choice.