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The Essence of Representation

 

 

If one goes back to the state of nature, one could see that the world is filled with men trying to assert their will over the other.  This creates problems because one cannot simply assert his will against the world without injuring another man’s right. Hence people came to a truce for the common good and they came up with the social contract. The social contract between men basically provides that there is a need to establish a higher authority to suppress the tendency of each to impose his will to others without restraint. Hence they established the government. Part of the social contract provides that men would have to surrender some of their rights to the government and the latter will in turn secure that the people are well protected from the caprice of the other or the government itself. On the other hand, in order to secure government accountability, people will have the privilege to choose who to place in power. And it is logically assumed that whoever is it that they place in power will have to work for the will and the good of his constituents and not for his personal good nor the good of the ‘few’.

Such is the ideal. But in the real world, it is a totally different practice. We elect people into the government only to be victims of their caprices.  Case in point is the recent passing of a bill to convene a Constitutional Assembly to initiate constitutional changes. Statistics would show that majority of the Filipino people is opposed to the proposed constitutional change since it is perceived as a move to extend the seat of those in power. Not only that, the ordinary people would rather have Congress focus on more immediate concerns. Yet what did our representatives do. They acted against the will of their constituent.

There were also other instances before that the popular will of the people was not represented in Congress. The popular will of the people would not like the presence of American forces in Philippine soil yet we have the Visiting Forces Agreement ratified by Congress. The popular will of the people dictated before that they would no longer like the current president to be in power yet when a resolution was initiated for her to be impeached, the same had been denied by Congress. The popular will of the people would rather have Congress work for the interest of the common man but it seems that the personal interest of those in power is placed over and above the duty they have sworn to fulfill and render to the sovereign people.

As amply pointed out in our preamble we are the sovereign people. All government power emanates from us. Hence, it is but right and just that the people in government respect our will as the true sovereign. But we are not being done justice. There is no accountability in this system we are in. Those we place in power corrupt the power they are entrusted to hold. Now are we represented? Not at all. As a government established under republican and democratic ideals, the government and the people should be bounded by accountability. That is the essence of what we have so declared in our Constitution. Is the government accountable to the people they are supposed to represent? I guess not. They are accountable to their own interest, they are accountable to the political faction they belong to, to their parties and the interest of their parties. The essence of representation is not realized. And until we act to correct this socio-political wrong, this system will subsist only to the further detriment of our society.

About the author

Howard Chan (The Student)

Howard considers himself as an armchair activist. Though his street rally days are in a slumber he still advocates changes via social media. He is a strong believer that awareness of various social issues is a good starting point in order to break out from the stranglehold of an oppressive system which only benefits the few. He is also a full time student and a part time blogger, part time web designer, part time web manager/designer for various clients. (Note: Howard Chan passed the 2014 Bar Exams and was admitted to the Philippine Bar on April 29, 2015. That being, all posts after April 29, 2015 authored by him are now under the name Howard Chan for the purpose of distinguishing posts he made as a non-lawyer from posts he made after admission to the bar).