Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The ‘Majority’ and The Christians

This is Part 5 of a series of guest posts entitled "The Constitution and Cardboard Justice", by my friend and churchmate, Goya Pableo. To read the previous articles, click on the links below.

When the current Constitution was being drafted back in 1986, the term “general welfare” was debated on. The term in the Preamble was not accepted by the Constitutional Commission since it might be understood as “the greatest good for the greatest number even if what the greater number wants does violence to human dignity” (Bernas, 2011). Instead, the phrase “common good” was used.

Although the Preamble is not a source of legal rights, its definition of the common good serves as a lens through which we should view the general welfare in Philippine law.

The Common Good influencing the General Welfare

Taking off from the Constitutional Commission’s deliberation, general welfare (a.k.a. Public Good) does not necessarily equate with what the majority desires but with what is good for them – even if they are in disagreement with it. Consequentially, if what the majority clamors for is not good for the whole nation, then the authorities must step in to uphold the law which protects our genuine general welfare.

The Issue of ‘Trust’

Out of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed, our President started his term with a trust rate of 91%. This is favorable, for it shows people’s approval of our recent civil authority, whether they acknowledge it being God-given or not. However, it is reckless to carry over that trust rate and assume the same for the conduct of the war against illegal drugs, using it as statistics implying support for unlawful methods. “Do you trust your President?” is clearly different from “Do you approve of the methods used to carry out the war on illegal drugs?”

Heartbreakingly, most Christians cannot delineate the end from the means, blatantly condoning – either by blind approval or bulging apathy – extrajudicial killings and “no mercy” police narcotics-operations in support of the President. Honoring the President does not necessitate that we approve of methods that could clearly place him and our nation in deeper peril.

The Issue of Approval

Approval of the war on illegal drugs is not automatically approval of the methods through which it is being carried out. True Christians should approve of the war on illegal drugs; the confrontation against these destructive substances, because we know that the true enemy of our souls uses these to bring our people under slavery and death. We pray for human security and economic growth, though temporal, but never at the expense of unlawfully executing our countrymen whom the majority may deem hopeless due to their drug problem. Let us never forget that in Christ, there is always hope.

 And even if majority of our people approve of the methods being used (and that’s a stretched, hopefully baseless assumption), general welfare is not subject to popular vote since it is possible for a collective mindset to be outright wrong. Historically, the Israelites wanted Saul as King, Nazi Germany supported Adolf Hitler on the Holocaust, the crowd cried for Christ to be crucified – vox populi (the people's voice) is not always for the common good.

Eternal, Not Just Temporal

As Christians, we should seek the common good of our country – to “loosen the bonds of wickedness, undo the bonds of the yoke and free those that are oppressed”(Isaiah 58:8), “render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another” (Zechariah 7:9), “defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:9), “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8).

The outcome of these commands may or may not translate to economic growth and human security, because those are not what we are primarily after. However, obedience to these does result to the honor and praise of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Gospel we proclaim and whose operational definition of general welfare is for our eternal good and His eternal glory.

What, then, could be done to help stop the killings? Ambitious as it might seem, we’ll attempt look at possibilities in the final post of this series.

Meanwhile, again let us heed what God says through the prophet Micah: walking in humility with Him is, assuredly, for our good


  1. "Duterte Enjoys Record-high 91% Trust Rating – Pulse Asia." Rappler. July 20, 2016.
  2. Bernas, Joaquin G. The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines (Annotated). Manila: Rex Bookstore, 2011.
  3. Chandran, Nyshka. "President Duterte's War on Drugs Threatens the Philippines's Rule of Law." CNBC. August 24, 2016.

1 comment:

  1. "Consequentially, if what the majority clamors for is not good for the whole nation, then the authorities must step in to uphold the law which protects our genuine general welfare."

    In relation to this, I think Al Mohler's thoughts are helpful: "If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere."