Note: this entry has been revised because a reader took the trouble to point out it’s title was sexist, and my logic flew out the window and mucked about in the dark swampy area of ad hominem arguments.
Carmen Pedrosa is one of the columnists I love to hate: virtually anything she writes is guaranteed to irk me. And so, her latest column, What are preambles for?, true to form, triggered a dark cloud descending on my morning. She has a problem with the preamble of the present Constitution, and goes on to pan the preambles of all our past constitutions:
Preambles from the Malolos Republic, 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions reflect that tentativeness, an implicit unwillingness to face up to the difficulties and challenges that goes with nation-building. If a preamble is the statement of the historical identity of a nation, then ours has failed to make the grade. It should have inspired generations of Filipinos each time they turned to the Constitution.
She goes on to say,
It may be true that preambles of other countriesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ constitution are equally without fire and brimstone. The American example is admired for its brevity and generality. A case can be made for that too, if that is what is desired. But to my mind it does not embrace Filipino particularity and what made us a distinct people. We do not do justice to our history and struggles as a nation by omitting these events in the preamble of our Constitution.
But then I am reminded of an editorial penned by the late Teodoro M. Locsin, Sr., titled Farewell, My Lovely, in which he compares the Preamble of the 1935 Constitution to a poem:
Does that not say all that the Preable of a Constitution should say? And more memorably than the preamble of any other constitution?Think of one more memorable. Anything coming close to it in resonance of phrase and grandeur of thought. It is like the ringing of great bells or the opening of the doors of a cathedral.
Locsin, too, places the 1935 Charter in its proper historical perspective, and I can understand why he and others felt that the proper thing to have done after Edsa was to restore what remains the best constitution this country has ever had. I happen to think the 1935 Constitution remains the model of a good constitution, and it triggers something visceral in me when columnists like Pedrosa pan it. Anyway, here are the preambles of our Constitutions.
Preamble to the present (1987) Constitution:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
Preamble to the 1973 Constitution
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody our ideals, promote the general welfare, conserve and develop the patrimony of our Nation, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of democracy under a regime of justice, peace, liberty, and equality, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
Preamble to the 1935 Constitution
The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
Preamble to the Malolos (1899) Constitution
We, the Representatives of the Filipino people, lawfully covened, in order to establish justice, provide for common defense, promote the general welfare, and insure the benefits of liberty, imploring the aid of the Sovereign Legislator of the Universe for the attainment of these ends, have voted, decreed, and sanctioned the following: POLITICAL CONSTITUTION
I agree with Locsin, Sr. And if the idea of a Constituent Assembly has anything at all going for it, it’s that Carmen Pedrosa won’t have anything to do with the writing of the Ramos Constitution. I object strongly to her arguments for parliamentary government. I always have.