Article III on the Bill of Rights also contains more principles containing values to be protected. Section 3 protects private data by declaring communication and correspondence to be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court or when public safety or order require otherwise as prescribed by law. In Section 4, the freedom of speech is guaranteed by declaring that no law shall be passed abiding the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Also highlighted is the freedom of religion: “The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. Section 7 recognizes the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Section 8 defends the freedom of association for purposes not contrary to law. Especially relevant to economic progress is the protection of private property as declared by Section 9 affirming that “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”
Article XIII on Social Justice and Human Rights also contains provisions designating social values that must be fostered. There is a clear balance between the mandate to the State to regulate the acquisition, ownership, use and disposition of property and its investments (Section 1) and the “commitment to create economic opportunities based on freedom of initiative and self-reliance.” There is also a special mention of disabled persons (Section 13) and the welfare of working women who should be provided safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities ad opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.”
Article XIV on Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports contains a provision that has the most complete listing of values and virtues that must be fostered
in educational institutions. Section 3 of this Article categorically states that all educational institutions shall include the study of the Constitution as part of the curricula. Immediately following this mandate is a list of the values and virtues that educational institutions have the responsibility of inculcating in their pupils: “They shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.
Article XV on The Family distinguishes the Philippine Constitution from the constitutions of other countries. It explicitly mandates the State to “recognize the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.” There is an clear reference to marriage (between a man and a woman) as an inviolable social institution and as the foundation of the family, requiring protection from the State. This unique feature of the Philippine Constitution should be considered in the light of the tragic trends in many parts of the world where the family, as the foundation of society, has been seriously eroded by such practices as live-in arrangements (without the need for marriage), divorce, and same-sex unions. Also noteworthy is the provision of Section 4 of this Article which explicitly states that the family has the duty to care for its elderly members. This guarantees that in the future, the Philippines will not follow the example of many developed countries in which the aged are increasingly without the personal care of members of their family but are relegated to homes for the elderly in which they live the rest of lives without the warmth and care that can only be found within the family.
Among the values found in the Philippine Constitution, which ones are most directly related to the goal of Philippine society to attain economic development which is inclusive and sustainable? One way to answer this question is to examine more closely the economic history of the Philippines over the last fifty years in the context of the development of the whole East Asian region. After the Second World War, upon attaining political independence in 1946, the Philippines was considered one of the most developed economies in the whole of East Asia, next only to Japan. Some of our neighbors, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea were behind us in economic development. What happened in the succeeding years is well known. One by one, our neighbors (first the so-called Asian Tigers and then later our Southeast Asian neighbors, the latest being Vietnam) surpassed as in GDP per capita and in the elimination of poverty. By the end of the last Century we were notoriously known as the “Sick Man of Asia.” What happened?
Very briefly, our leaders completely ignored the highest value that should be given to the rural areas and agricultural development, very much highlighted in our Constitution. In their obsession with industrialization, they concentrated our capital and human resources in the National Capital Region and neglected to provide our small farmers with the needed infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and post-harvest facilities, extension services, credit and the other services needed by the farmers to improve their productivity and incomes. There was a total disregard for the welfare of the masses of unemployed and underemployed when our leaders followed a economic strategy of inward-looking, import-substitution and capital-intensive industrialization which provided by limited opportunities for employment to the masses. This strategy was in contrast with many of our neighboring countries that adopted an export-oriented, labor-intensive industrialization policy that addressed the problem of mass unemployment at the beginning of the development process. They also failed to exercise the preferential option for the poor, a value repeatedly mentioned in several sections of our Constitution. Corruption and poor governance were the rule rather than the exception in our public sector, often abetted by scrupulous people in the private sector.
Among the vast majority of the population who belonged to the lower-income segments of society, there was little concern for the common good. The much-vaunted “bayanihan” spirit was limited to promoting the good of the extended family and the feudal communities rather than towards the real common good, which is a social and juridical order that enables every single member of society to attain his or her fullest human development economically, politically, socially, culturally, morally and spiritually. What was prevalent among the middle class who constituted the majority of the population was the mistaken notion that the common good is equivalent to the greatest good for the greatest number, an attitude that led to the tyranny of the majority against the suffering minority (those falling below the poverty line). Such a mistaken notion of the common good resulted in a persistently high poverty incidence (more than 20 percent of the population were receiving the equivalent of less than P100 daily per capita. an amount too meager for decent and comfortable living). There was little concern for protecting the environment, especially evidenced by the criminal denudation of the forests through illegal logging operations and the destruction of marine resources through dynamite fishing). The values that principals should ensure are actually incorporated in the curricula of schools are therefore as follows: a) the authentic concept of the common good; b) preferential option for the poor; c) principle of subsidiarity; d) principle of solidarity (that every citizen has an obligation to contribute to the common in anyway he or she can; e) the concern to protect the physical environment; f) the highest regard for rural and agricultural development; g) the respect for all types of human labor, whether blue-collar or white-collar These are the values that are most directly related to the attainment of the goals of full employment, a more equitable distribution of income and wealth, and sustainability of the physical environment or the ecology. These were also the values that were most ignored or neglected during the initial stages our economic development.
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