Human rights or human wrongs?

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By Carlos Legaspi Jr.

Questions that Matter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


POPE John XXIII once said that “Any civil society, if it is to be productive must lay down as a foundation this principle: ‘Every human being is a person...he has rights and duties of his own, flowing from his very nature, which are universal, inviolable and inalienable.’”

We celebrate the anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights today.

Today’s generation has not seen the beauty of human rights. It seems that the youth of today is more concerned of their rights as “Homo Techno” or the Gentext. They are too convenient of their status that human rights are no longer their concern. Look at the streets this afternoon, rallies are attended by the older generation and those who had witnessed the atrocities of martial law. Where are the youth?

It reminds me of the time when I was in grade school when many of the poor people are on the streets and asking for the basic services from government. Many of them are asking for their basic rights. The Marcos regime really gave the real meaning of freedom and human rights. I pity the now generation. It seems that human rights and freedom are no longer in their language. But it is good to note that there are still a handful of the new generation, who really cares for human rights.

I talked to a group of university students and I asked them how they understood the character of human rights. They told me they do not have any idea or comprehension of human rights. I pity them for this is essential, yet they find it a boring topic. I also asked them to enumerate some of their rights and what I got was that they have freedom of expression. What will be our future with the now generation not understanding their basic rights?

Allow me to explain a little about the three-fold character of human rights as envisioned by the Catholic Church and the framers of the International Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The three-fold character is universal, inviolable and inalienable.

Universal means that all human beings have human rights. This means that all people have equal rights and should be respected. People should bear in mind that their rights should be respected where ever they are, specially their basic rights. In the past, we were stripped of our rights, when the imperialists came to us and grabbed our basic freedoms. They thought they were the only ones with rights and the Filipinos their slaves. Today, we shall shout out our rights and let all peoples of the world respect our basic rights as a people.

Inalienable means that no one could violate our basic rights. No one is allowed to strip us of our basic rights, not even the chief executive of the land. It is inherent is us and we should protect it. Our rights are inviolable in a sense that no amount of money or wealth could buy off our rights. I really pity our brethren who have sold themselves because of poverty. Poverty is the main reason why many of our brethren have lost their basic rights. They feel indebted to other people to the extent of sacrificing for these exploiters.

Inviolable means that no one could take away and destroy man. These rights are inherent in us and are not acquired. We should always treasure our rights and freedoms.

What are these basic rights? Fr. Salgado in his book, “Social Philosophy in the Philippine Context”, provided readers with a list of the basic rights of man. Here are the basic rights of man which are universal, inviolable and inalienable:

freedom of conscience
freedom of religion
right to one’s own life
right to one’s honor
right to the inviolability of the person
right to private property
the right to marriage
the right to educate one’s children.
the right to choose one’s own way of life
the right to develop one’s own personality
the right to free expression in word and in writing
the right to free association
the right to have a voice in the administration of the community.

These are the basic rights of man. These should be emphasized and given importance. We should not let anyone get our rights. We shout for our rights and let all peoples of the world respect them.

Lastly, I quote the late Sen. Diokno, “Human Rights are essence of man and strip him of them and you strip him of his humanity.”

Belated birthday greetings to Rev. Fr. Greg Patino of Murcia and Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR. Belated happy fiesta also to the Katilingban of Murcia and Concepcion, Talisay.

St. Ezekiel Moreno, Sts. Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, Blessed John Paul II, Monsignorii John Liu and John Su and Sir Faraon Lopez, pray for us.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 10, 2013.

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