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Nov 06

Unecessary Preamble

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 countries’ 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.

21 comments

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  1. Karl M. Garcia

    If preambles were done the way Executive Summaries are done then no one will read the rest of the constitution.
    Executive Summaries are supposed to be constructed for the purpose of not having to burden the readers usually top management if it were a board room paper or top academicianss if it were an academic paper.

    The preamble need not be too detailed like the rest of the constitution and please not to Darwinian as in Evolutionary and must not be revolutionary as well.

    Unfortunately no matter how the preamble may have been constructed it is not enough to drive us citizens to promulgate the constitution. It is seen by the way people understand charter change many people do not.
    The Con com says that people are more educated and Knowledgeable in the charter but I ask who are there audiences, they call a convention on a five star hotel were no poor citizen can enter, how can they be saying that they have reached the masses.

  2. manuelbuencamino

    I saw Imelda Marcos not too long ago and Carmen Pedrosa came up in our conversation.
    I asked her, ” Didn’t she have to leave the country after she wrote that book about you?”
    Imelda said, “Yes, my husband was going to throw her in jail for writing that book.”
    I argued, “But why? I read the book and I thought it humanized you”
    “Yes, that’s true” she said, “but that’s not the reason why he wanted to be rid of her. My husband thought it was best to end her writing career before she got the crazy notion that she could rewrite constitutions and preambles.”

  3. Ellen Tordesillas

    To Manny Buencamino:

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

  4. DJB

    1935:
    “…under a regime of {Justice, Liberty, Democracy}…”
    1973:
    “…under a regime of {Justice, Peace, Liberty, Equality}…”
    1987:
    “…under a regime of {Truth, Justice, Freedom, Love, Equality, and Peace}…”

    If brevity is the soul of wit, the 1935 was wittiest.
    And the 1987 the silliest.

  5. F.

    Now this makes me wonder if an authoritative source ever bothered to translate the entire Constitution into the languages of our country.

  6. MitaMS

    “Mills & Boon preamble” – mmmm…sounds sexist, sounds very sexist. I can understand her point in saying the preamble should be “particularly Filipino” and have no objection to her general idea – it’s her opinion after all!

    Columnists are read by their readers not only for their style but for their relevance to the times. Never mind Ms. Pedrosa’s cultivation, imagination and taste…that’s all relative, but may I ask why you don’t think Ms. Pedrosa is not ” a true lover of… country” like Mr. Locsin?

  7. footvoter

    DJB:

    Perhaps the number of values they mention is proportional to the number of fingers in the constitutional pie 🙂 You know what they say of too many cooks…

  8. mlq3

    Mita- I didnt’ say I thought she isn’t a true lover of her country; what I said was Locsin was indeed a true lover of his country.

  9. Carl

    Preamble aside, the 1987 Constitution still isn’t worth the paper its written on.

  10. joey d

    Preamble should inspire people if it fails to do its work the whole constitution is lost. Brevity is good but it should arise people to love his country much. Ang problema marami ang hindi nakakaintindi ng preamble sa ating mga kababayan.

  11. Karl

    My having something against Ms. Pedrosa’s view on the preamble has not removed my respect for her.I don’t know what’ the history betwen MLQ3 and Ms.Pedrosa and I don’t want to know.

    Two weeks back I even e-mailed her wishing her luck on this consultative commission.I even wished and hoped for the best. But so far its a turn off. The venue in Cebu is not conducive for mass consultation and as the days go by I believe nothing will become of it.
    Guys like Prof. Alex Magno and Mr. Leviste would make their point on their issues against federalism….and so on
    and i forgot i already mentioned as long as Drilonn has the magic 13 support as senate president he will always be an immovable force or is that irrresistible object or whatever.

  12. MitaMS

    Phooey MLQ3! I don’t want to argue, but yes that’s exactly what you said when you follow with a statement saying it is unfair to compare Mr. Locsin and Ms. Pedrosa – you have logically insinuated they are opposites – he, a true lover of his country and her…now you can conclude for yourself. I’m no intellectual but it doesn’t take an intellectual to come to that conclusion from what you wrote.

    I’m really disappointed. Why not respect others’ opinions even if it’s not your own, it’s their God-given right to express it. Don’t journalists and columnists have that “kasama sa hanapbuhay” tag that broadcasters have?

    I dislike discrimnation of any kind. Particularly discrimination against our own kind. Unfortunately, it is so prevalent in our country and it really does us no good. The rich against the poor, the poor against the rich, the beautiful against the ordinary-looking, the pseudo-intelligentsia against the perceived ordinary-brained. That Mills & Boon reference is particularly nasty and sexist IMO.

  13. Carl

    And may I add that the reason that the Communists are such a repulsive lot is because they preach hate among the classes and promote the delusion that there is such a thing as a free lunch.

  14. mlq3

    Mita, you made me do some soul-searching. Bad instincts are bad instincts. Have revised the entry. Thanks for the criticism.

  15. MitaMS

    Q, you’re welcome and thank you for revising the entry.

  16. Junnar

    totoo bang nag-away kayo ni isagani cruz because of his past column in the inquirer about homosexuals?

  17. pAULA_AQUINO

    uhhmm. freshman po ako at kinakailangan ko itong preamble ng 1987 consitution na translated into tagalog..ty po.

  18. Matt Gx

    The Preamble of the constitution is from 1935,1972, and 1993.In Malolos, and 1993 in Republicof the Phil.

  19. Matt Gx

    I preamble in the Philippines, that I am the……………
    in 1935 the Malolos Republic was Preambled………….

  20. Sulli

    How would you compare the 1935, 1973 and 1987 preamble?

  21. kitey

    “ang di magmahal sa sariling wika ay daig pa ang malansang isda”.

    ang daming komento at opinyon . di ba mas masarap bigkasin ang panimula sa wikang Filipino?

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