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Individual Character

Individual Character
Ronald Roy — 2012 December 24
I’ve often been asked why I’m so fixated on a Latin adage—“Salus populi est suprema lex” (the welfare of the people is the supreme law)—and why I proclaim it as a mandate higher than the Constitution. The reason is simple. As the author (via the process of ratification) of the organic law, the sovereign Filipino people express in it everything they deem imperative to and consistent with their welfare.
But there is another law which they recognize to be superior to their welfare, and that is God’s Law—a recognition they declare in the organic law’s Preamble that reads: “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God…”—that was handed down to us in the form of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the teachings of the Apostles, disciples, prophets, the popes and the Church.
Man’s Law (the Constitution, statutes, ordinances of local government units, executive orders, court decisions, etc.) must be written and enforced in consonance with God’s Law. Indeed, how can Man consider himself to be even remotely at par with his Creator? How can Man say he knows what’s good for himself without first referring to God’s Law?
During Noah’s time, the people of the world opted for a life of debauchery, and they paid for their insubordination when the Almighty inundated them. Isn’t this a lesson worth remembering? In the year 33 A.D., Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on the goading of people whose welfare he had been born to serve. Isn’t this a lesson worth remembering?
Necessarily, it follows that the sovereign Filipino people sometimes go for things that are anathema to their wellbeing. This sad state of affairs can be compounded by government, i.e., people who are elected, appointed and hired to enact, execute, and interpret statutes designed to promote and safeguard the people’s interests.
Pres. Noynoy Aquino and both legislative chambers followed the democratic process of producing a viscerally controversial law on reproductive health, but that does not mean that the law’s passage was pleasing to God, Henry (Limjuco), solely on the basis of the Latin maxim “Vox populi, vox Dei” (The voice of the people is the voice of God). The maxim is an absolute fallacy.
The specious dictum is ascribed to the 700 B.C. Greek poet Hesiod who wrote The Theogony, a poem on the genealogies of the gods, and Works and Days, from which much moral and practical advice has been sought. “Vox populi, vox Dei” must be rejected as an illogical proposition that creatures are their Creator’s co-equals. Verily, Hesiod would have been correct, Henry, if he had instead theologized “Vox populi est non semper Vox Dei” (The voice of the people is not always the voice of God).
Yes, Henry, modesty aside, “Vox populi est non semper Vox Dei” is my personal Latin translation of the Christian axiom that God is perfect and that His creatures are so imperfect that they can never be at par with Him in any way and on any level. Lucifer forgot he was a mere creature of God—despite being deemed to be one of God’s most beautiful, his name indeed translates as “angel of Light”—and look what happened to him.
But you are right about one thing: The supporters of the RH Law should not be judged because their moral views on it are within the exclusive purview of divine omniscience.
But what is worrisome, Henry, is that, like your congressman-friend who rabidly campaigned for the RH bill’s enactment, others have been pompously trumpeting its passage as a triumphant expression of popular sentiments and that, therefore, the RH Law, being the voice of the people, must be revered as the voice of God.
And now, as if that were not enough, we have the likes of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte making the announcement that the RH Law was just for starters, and that a long-pending divorce bill would be next. Belmonte, who has promised to personally push the bill, optimistically anchors its passage on the argument that divorce is in vogue all over the world, with only the Vatican and the Philippines being isolated in their recalcitrance and backwardness.
It is distressing, to say the least, that we have a political giant on the person of no less than the Speaker of the House who subverts the faith with his bandwagon mentality! “They’re wearing T-shirts, maong and sneakers instead of business attire; so let’s do the same! It makes no sense to go against trends! ” Oh, many countries are now going the way of same-sex marriage? Well, why should we then allow old-fashioned beliefs to slow down our march to modernity?!
Hmmm … perhaps Mr. Belmonte has forgotten that the Lord may be less forgiving to leaders than to their followers. Perhaps he has never read William Adam’s definition of faith as “the continuation of reason.” If this is the case, he has confined himself to his delimiting horizon of mundane reasoning. Sadly, he has not transcended into the realm of spiritual ken, otherwise known as FAITH.
Mr. Speaker, please do not think that without the counsel of the Church you are authorized to speak for the people on moral and spiritual matters. Your statutes must be subordinated to its teaching, remember? On the basis of your pronouncements alone, you appear to have lost your moral authority to hold the gavel.
In the spirit of New Year renewals, permit me to paraphrase Channing in this wise: May all of us realize, most especially Speaker Belmonte and others of his ilk, that the great hope of society is not following trends or joining bandwagons, but individual character.
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