On promoting responsible citizenship

Published August 1, 2019, 12:04 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat


 Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

Responsible citizenship is the other side of the same coin for good governance. It too cannot be reserved only for those in top positions in government. It is everyone’s duty, down to the last individual ordinary citizen and it too cannot be confined to the highest rung of the different levels of our nation, i.e., the presidency. It too makes demands on every region, sector, industry, association, organization, institution, enterprise, each acting autonomously but in close solidarity with each other, for the common good of society.

All of this sounds very nice and idealistic. Fortunately, as a strategic priority for building Dream Philippines in the five or so decades ahead, other governance advocates express their full agreement.

This is what Dr. Fred Pascual says: “Preparing the youth for responsible citizenship is the main responsibility of the school and the parents….(But) we need support mechanisms to help ensure our people, especially the young, maintain their faith in, and commitment to, the ideals of national unity and the pursuit of a national vision.” This is where civil society organizations come in. He says: “Civil society organisations should provide the needed support system. And they should ideally be brought together into a national coalition so they could be made to pull together in the same direction.” Again, this is where Dream Philippines comes in. Dr. Pascual concludes: “We need non-government leaders with national stature to provide the necessary leadership in this endeavour. I think the need for this non-government option is acute (especially) when the political leadership at the national level falls to provide or commit to a national vision for the country”. This, again, is an articulation of what Dream Philippines is trying to do.

Ms. Ida Tiongson comes in with two quotations which serve as reminders for responsible citizenship. The first is: “Emotion causes people to react; logic causes people to think; (unfortunately), we have a lot of thinkers but not many doers.” And the second is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” She then issues a call for responsible citizenship in view of so much evil, filth, corruption, desdain of basic principles we see in our midst. And she proposes specific steps to convert thinkers to doers, to turn complacent and impossibly tolerant people (too tolerant of so many wrong-doings in our public space) into responsible citizens. And her proposals are

  • Take “baby steps” — just keep doing good things in our ordinary life and work so as to drown evil in an abundance of good.
  • Change “fear of joining” to “fear of missing out” — more and more people should join good governance advocacies such as MAP, ICD, and of course Dream Philippines.
  • Sustain the movement of “continually brainstorming how to influence more people (and) more institutions” such that they act as responsible citizens.

It is our good fortune that several organizations —-such as the PNP—-are already trying their best, working with civil society organisations promoting responsible citizenship. Gen. Barraceros says: “We at PNP are already working closely with civil society organizations such as the Dilaab Foundation, Asia Foundation, ASA (hope) Foundation as well as many others providing training in livelihood projects, providing scholarships, and above all substantiating moral recovery programs  for drug surrenderers”.

For its part, the AFP, according to Col. Rommel Cordova, is “promoting the implementation of the Mandatory ROTC Program for students in Grades 11 and 12; and one of its key goals is to promote patriotism or love of country. We are also proposing a module on Responsible Citizenship to be included in the Mandatory RTC Program.”

ICD Director Pet Bautista makes a good summing up: “Responsible citizenship starts…with an electorate that knows what it is doing.” And it is sustained through specific daily acts of ordinary citizens sustaining their claim that “love of country is paramount.”