Basic freedoms

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


WHEN a nation gains independence, it takes sovereign responsibility for its development which, to be true and genuine, must mean the full attainment of two basic freedoms, namely, freedom from hunger and freedom from fear.

Freedom from hunger, because without food, a nation can only live physically inhuman lives and even perish from the face of the earth. Society, therefore, led by government must provide members with job and livelihood opportunities so that these can acquire the basic necessities for physical survival such as food, clothing, shelter and health care.

Freedom from fear, because this gives a nation its soul and guarantees itsspiritual survival. This includes the right to education, free speech and peaceful assembly. How can citizens promote their development, how can they achieve freedom from hunger if they are ignorant, powerless and fearful of morally depraved officials and criminal elements in society?

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So, after sixty-eight years of independence, what do we have to show for it? There is very little freedom from hunger to speak of for a great majority of our people. Far too many Filipinos are only free to be hungry and sick and at the mercy of politicians who dole-out food and medicine not really to be generous but to get votes.

There is, moreover, very little freedom from fear to speak of. Far too many Filipinos are afraid to speak out against oppressive and corrupt individuals from business, the police and military, the courts and even the church.

Many Filipinos are afraid to go to the police for help because the latter is generally perceived to be corrupt and incompetent. God only knows how many Filipinos are in jail simply because they cannot afford to pay a lawyer or, unfortunately in not a few cases, a judge. Many Filipinos continue to disappear orbe killed when they speak against the evils of injustice that they see or experience in their lives.

The beauty, however, of freedom from fear consists in that we can always acquire it by ourselves. In a worst case scenario, decent folks can always decide to collectively summon the courage to defend the human values of justice and fair play in our search for true human development.

Easier said than done but we’ve done it before when we ousted a dictator. Hence, it is good to see clear evidence that we are again summoning our collective courage to push for a speedy due process to determine the guilt and punishment of all who are accused of plundering this country through the PDAF scam.

As many of us as can do it must summon the courage to persevere in this cause.

Otherwise, the Independence we commemorate tomorrow remains the myth it has always been and will always be without the basic freedoms.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 11, 2014.

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