Freedom basics

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


THERE are two “must-do’s” if any kind of freedom is to benefit the national community.

One, the community must want it badly enough and strive together in a most determined way to acquire it. Two, the community must use any hard-fought freedom intelligently and responsibly for the well-being of the whole community and not of any special interest group.

Consequently, while I am disappointed that President Aquino is not aggressively pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that he promised last election, I nevertheless welcome the sound developmental reason he gave for his less than pushy approach towards the bill.

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He is right about it being “more effective if the pressure,” put to bear on accountable legislators placed in power by the people, “will come from the citizens themselves…”

Because we live in a very authoritarian social milieu, we tend to expect every good thing from people placed over us like our parents, teachers and government officials.

By the same token we tend to blame these people if we do not get what we need or want.

We simply become cry-babies when we are not given them.

It’s about time we learn and accept that if we are not getting something we need or want such as an FOI Law, it is because we do not want it badly enough and hence do not work hard enough to get it. If we do not want something badly enough we invariably don’t get it because we are content with crying and blaming people on top for not giving it to us.

The FOI bill, once a law, will be simply an enabler. It will enable us to participate more fully and effectively in how we are being governed. It is, therefore, only proper that we should start to intelligently, responsibly and determinedly push our congressmen to pass their version of the FOI bill. We must refuse to cry if the President does not push for it. Instead, we put pressure on our congressmen ourselves like he said we should do.

Moreover, if I am not mistaken, I think the President’s ambivalence towards the FOI bill stems from his fear of abuse of this freedom by the opposition and by some irresponsible sectors of media. Hence, if we get this law via community pressure or people power of sorts, the pressure must include an assurance to use the freedom responsibly and intelligently for the benefit of the nation and not for a political party or some other interest group.

We must want a freedom badly enough as to fight hard enough to acquire something like the FOI law. But then if we get this law we had better use it intelligently and responsibly for the benefit of the whole nation and not of any special interest group like a political party.

These are absolute basics if we are to be worthy of any freedom.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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