The Challenge of the Constitution: A Just, Progressive, and Democratic Philippines
Delivered at the Folk Arts Theater
November 28, 1986
Con-com President Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, the Officers and Members of the Constitutional Commission, The Representatives of the Sectoral Groups, Fellow workers in Government, Mga Minamahal Kong Kababayan.
With the work of this assembly of the representative sectors of our society, the nationwide discussion of the draft constitution starts in earnest. Let me add my views on it as a citizen and the leader of this proud republic.
After the draft was submitted to me and I had gone over it, I declared that democracy is safe with this constitution. Safe in regard to its necessary institutions and safe in regard to the inalienable rights of our people. I have studied it more closely and appreciate more deeply the great length of this document for which it has been criticized.
It is long and detailed because the writers of the constitution were intent, not only to give full and unequivocal recognition and protection of our basic rights and freedoms, but also of our deepest yearnings to be progressive and just.
I said when I received this document that it shall serve as the framework of the house of democracy that we must build to protect the revolution. It does more than that. It sets the direction our nation must take to match our great freedoms with equally great progress and justice.
As you know, we have no shortage in this country of wise people. And already they are saying that the ratification of this draft will not finally solve all our problems. Who says it will? This constitution is not intended to solve our problems. It is intended to present the greatest challenge our nation has faced. That challenge is how to achieve our aspirations of a just and progressive country consistently with the democratic principles that Filipinos cannot live without.
The constitution lays down in great detail the basic rights that define the civilized society that Filipinos insist on:
Rights against violations of integrity of the person;
Rights against interference with the sovereign prerogatives of the people to dictate the democratic government they want and to let their voices be heard.
And along with these rights against abusive authority, are provisions that bind the state to the fulfillment of the just aspirations of the nation: progress, peace, security and equity.
This is the challenge of the constitution that I urge our people to vote “Yes” for. How can we be free without anarchy? How can we be secure without oppression and abuse from our protectors? How can we have the peace and security in which to work for the well-being of our families, the future of our children, the protection of our faith, and the progress of our nation without violating the basic values that proudly define the Filipino today before the world? How can we have a Philippines that is strong and proud and forever democratic?
In going out to campaign for the ratification of this constitution, you are not solving your problems but proudly and bravely proclaiming and committing yourselves to the great tasks that I have just mentioned.
The enemies of Philippine freedom will campaign energetically for the rejection of this constitution. It is their fervent hope to recreate the conditions of uncertainty and instability in which their evil designs can prosper. It is their burning desire, with the rejection of this constitution, to create a power vacuum so that the forces of evil can rush again into our lives, destroy our hopes, and again degrade our nation. By recreating conditions of instability and anarchy they wish to convince our people again that democracy is too much for them to handle, that the rule of law is too complicated to work, that they are better off submitting themselves again to the iron authority of force rather than enjoying the difficult but dignifying blessings of democracy.
We shall not let them.
We begin today not only a campaign for the ratification of this constitution, but the greater campaign for the permanent victory of democracy which is the only foundation of Filipino progress. This is a campaign to hold and preserve what we gained by out Glorious Revolution, and to extend them to every aspect of out lives and every corner of our country. It is a crusade for Filipino pride and freedom and a progressive future under God.
We are soldiers of freedom, fighting still another campaign to consolidate our victory. And we are battle-tested soldiers I might add and proudly bearing the honors of recent victories. But even if we succeed, as I know we will, it will not be the last. There will be others after it. There will be the campaign for recovery from the havoc and ruin wreaked by the enemies of freedom in the past, the same they are trying to impose on us in the future. And the campaign to translate the tremendous potential of the Filipino intro progress and prosperity.
The Filipino people gave me the commission to lead them on a six-year campaign to full and permanent democracy and progress. And so I shall until the final victory of all our aims. To our people, I say, March on to the future. God and the strength of our resolve and the tenacity of our courage will clear the way.