Claro M. Recto on the Constitution

(These are excerpts from the Recto Reader edited by no less than respected nationalist historian Renato Constantino)

The free and ordered life of our nation depends upon the preservation of the Constitution. Without its orderly processes and guarantees, its discerning allocation of governmental authority, and its calculated system of checks and balances, it would be difficult, not to say impossible, for our people to choose a truly representative government, or having chosen it and entrusted it with power, to protect themselves from its deterioration into an irresponsible and tyrannical oligarchy.

And yet our Constitution, or any constitution for that matter, does not and cannot work miracles. Its lofty declaration of principles, its wise commands and injunctions, are not the open sesame to all the promised treasures of a republican regime, nor a magic formula which by mere fiat will restore youth and vigor to a decrepit polity. It is an instrument, noble, it is true, in its origin and purpose, but a very human thing, and it can only attain validity and dynamism with popular consciousness, faith, and militancy.

….a Constitution is only as good as the men who enforce it, and the men who obey it and respect it. We may embody in a new Constitution the lessons we have learned, in peace and in war, from contemporary rackets, shady deals, administrative inefficiency and scandals, vacillating and temporising tribunals, communist subversion, and open rebellion. We may foresee all that can be reasonably foreseen. And we may have as a result a theoretically perfect instrument to promote the general welfare.

But if the men entrusted with the enforcement of the Constitution are the first to violate it, to ignore it, and to evade it, if the men who have taken public office, swearing on the Constitution, are the first to call it a scrap of paper to avoid its injunctions and disobey its mandates, then no Constitution can work.

And if we the people permit such men to remain in power, fear to denounce them, compromise with their misdeeds, and perhaps even profit from their violations, then we are a people that do not deserve a Constitution.

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

Share This Post On