Abueva and his unfinished task – the building of a ‘nonkilling society’

Published August 28, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid

Jose “Pepe” V. Abueva, who passed away at 93, 10 days ago, will be remembered as the 16th UP president who introduced socialized tuition, language policy, and restricted campus access for state troops. A Professor Emeritus of Political Science, he was secretary to the 1971 constitutional convention, worked with UN University in Tokyo, and was executive director of the Legislative-Executive Local Government Reform Commission. He authored several books including the biography of the late President Ramon Magsaysay. After he retired from UP, he became president of Kalayaan College where he established the Institute for a NonKilling Society.

His interest in peace-building started after what he described as “life changing experience in World War II that culminated in the martyrdom of my parents in the hands of the Japanese army.” This was followed by years of networking with scholars from various countries on pressing global problems of human survival, and later working with the panel peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari, and in 1987 with the Legislative-Executive Bases Council that prepared the comprehensive plan for the use of the military bases at Subic, Clark and other places.

In the book, “Towards a Nonkilling Filipino Society, Developing an Agenda for Research, Policy and Action,” with contributions primarily from Dr. Glenn Paige, a Honolulu-based political scientist and founding president of the Center for Global Nonviolence and local peace experts, the question was, “Is a nonkilling Filipino society possible?, Abueva answers: Yes, it is possible: problematic but not unthinkable.” He explains that these nonkilling communities are attainable when we know of their existence and deliberately aim to promote their kind. We can enhance their potential and capabilities. We can focus on the “constitutional vision of the Good Society” Its pursuit may be subsumed in the principles of Christian and Islam, the two leading religions in the country. He cites a monograph I edited, “Muslim and Christian Cultures: In Search of Commonalities (2002),” where scholars from both faiths examined commonalities in family life, role of women, religion, education, legal culture, political values and sustainable development and how they can be further harmonized.

Most of the 17 authors of this “nonkilling research agenda” believe and hope as well that a nonkilling society is attainable if it is consciously sought as part of the national vision, and if obstacles are confronted in order to clear the way. Abueva cites Miriam Coronel who raises these important questions that may help us see whether we are realistic in our expectations. They are: “Can our history and norms as a people provide us with some foundations for a nonkilling society? Can our institutions be transformed? Are we capable of creating new ones? Are our political and economic elites likewise able to rise above self-interest and think of the good of the whole? There are many precedents to say yes, it is possible. We can all get nearer that goal of a nonkilling society.”

The other authors see possibilities and note that the main hurdles are poverty and inequality.
We hope that Abueva’s unfinished task can continue. Perhaps we may never fully achieve his and Professor Paige’s vision of a nonkilling society. However, we trust that we could build a critical mass of citizens who can continue to strengthen the foundations of the Good Society that Abueva envisioned.

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