4:25 PM

Consecrated to serve the Nation!

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

“ I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."- Article 2, Section I of the US Constitution

“ I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God." - Article 7, Section 5 of the Philippine Constitution

When I read the two oaths of office, I realized that a higher standard of oath is taken by the Philippine President than the American President. The American President promises allegiance to the Constitution and to faithfully carry out the duties of the office. Aside from being the Commander–in–chief, the president also provides leadership to both Congress and the Senate on what legislative reforms must be done. During the term of office of the current President Barack Obama, he has signed numerous legislations.

The ones that stood out include helping the families save their homes, helping the small businesses regenerate jobs, no cost of living allowances increases for Congress for 2011, credit card technical corrections and even cash for clunkers to stimulate the economy and the stimulus funds that were provided to community banks, large banks, and to cities and states for infrastructural projects, including energy research projects and health care insurance for 31 million Americans. These were all accomplished in a span of about a year and a half of his term.

The Philippine Presidential oath goes much further. It carries an oath to do justice to every man, and to consecrate one's self to the service of the Nation. While it carries the same duties of allegiance to the Philippine Constitution as the American President does to the US Constitution, including faithfully carrying out the duties of the presidential office, the ethical standards are much higher and inscribed in the oath, in two parts: to do justice to every man and a consecrated service to the Nation.

What does Justice to every man mean in the context of the Philippine Republic? What are some of the injustices in the Philippines? For one, not all families can say they have a place they call home. Some are tenant farmers in big rice and coconut farms, that are covered by the land reform act. To do justice to these tenant farmers means that land reform must be implemented and land distributed to the tenant farmers, as well as supportive services provided to help them pursue farming as a source of livelihood independently.

Another source of injustice and inequality is the access to benefits in education. For the rich folks in the Philippines, they have Ateneo, De La Salle, even the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas. But, in order to go to these schools, one must pay hefty tuition fees that working families rarely can afford. A film academy in Cebu recently advertised a one year diploma program at $14,290 while local residents pay $7,730. If minimum wage for a construction worker in the Philippines starts at Php350 or $8 a day, then, this film academy is seriously out of reach for his children, and this school is only for the rich families of the Philippines or the middle-class families in America.

To do justice to all families with children who are of school–going age, public schools must be accessible to these children, all the way up to a college education. It means that the president must seriously look at educational resources and make it possible for impoverished children to be educated as well as the children of the rich, if he is to do justice to every man.

Those two major agendas alone: land reform and good education, when addressed, will already make a difference in the quality of life of most families in the Philippines.

Another source of insecurity is the wanton killings of journalists and the kidnappings of church leaders and journalists. On Nov. 23, 2009, 57 people were cold-bloodedly killed in broad daylight in Mindanao --34 of which were journalists. If the President is to do justice to every man, then, he has to ensure that these murderers are brought to justice and soon!

What does it mean to have to consecrate oneself to serve the nation?
Consecration, in the Catholic sense of the word, is the use of bread and wine during Eucharist, which when blessed through the Holy Sacrament, becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and partaken by churchgoers so that they may become the holy servant of God.

Bishop Desmond Tutu describes it as “ All the people you thought were just mere flesh – and –blood humans, with all their physical flaws, will be revealed to you as filled with divine light. We are meant to be god-like; that’s why we were created in the image of God. When someone is wonderfully generous or compassionate, we do sometimes stand in awe of that person, and that gives us a glimpse of the glory that is God. And if we had the eyes to see, we would look at one another and see the beauty of God, and we would treat each other with appropriate reverence and awe."

Applying that standard of transfiguration, of seeing folks with compassion, then, President Noynoy Aquino can no longer feel attacked by those acting out their own pain and suffering and he can begin to see “ the light of God shining in them." Of course, if he just did that, nothing would happen in terms of human needs and suffering. So, I would expect him, after taking his oath, to be a hands-on President, to feel the needs of his people, to hear their pain and suffering and to serve the nation with their needs in mind.

The ethical standard is high, to do justice to every man, such that no one is oppressed, nor hungry, nor seeking refuge from violence. It means that the president, along with the people of the Philippines must work together for freedom to be truly actualized for each citizen, as a rightful partner of God here on Earth. It is a tough oath to follow!

But with the support of Global Pinoys around the world who want to see a Renaissance in our birth country: “We were exiles in our land – we, Filipinos who are at home only in freedom, when Marcos destroyed the republic fourteen years ago, through courage and unity, through the power of the people, we are home again." (Pres. Cory Aquino, 1986). Let the new Philippines be born and be a righteous country amongst the pantheon of nations, worthy of the world's respect, because as a nation, the Philippine Government and its leaders act with respect to every citizen within its shores!!


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