The Essence of Representation

15 11 2010



If one goes back to the state of nature, one could see that the world is filled with men trying to assert their will over the other.  This creates problems because one cannot simply assert his will against the world without injuring another man’s right. Hence people came to a truce for the common good and they came up with the social contract. The social contract between men basically provides that there is a need to establish a higher authority to suppress the tendency of each to impose his will to others without restraint. Hence they established the government. Part of the social contract provides that men would have to surrender some of their rights to the government and the latter will in turn secure that the people are well protected from the caprice of the other or the government itself. On the other hand, in order to secure government accountability, people will have the privilege to choose who to place in power. And it is logically assumed that whoever is it that they place in power will have to work for the will and the good of his constituents and not for his personal good nor the good of the ‘few’.

Such is the ideal. But in the real world, it is a totally different practice. We elect people into the government only to be victims of their caprices.  Case in point is the recent passing of a bill to convene a Constitutional Assembly to initiate constitutional changes. Statistics would show that majority of the Filipino people is opposed to the proposed constitutional change since it is perceived as a move to extend the seat of those in power. Not only that, the ordinary people would rather have Congress focus on more immediate concerns. Yet what did our representatives do. They acted against the will of their constituent.

There were also other instances before that the popular will of the people was not represented in Congress. The popular will of the people would not like the presence of American forces in Philippine soil yet we have the Visiting Forces Agreement ratified by Congress. The popular will of the people dictated before that they would no longer like the current president to be in power yet when a resolution was initiated for her to be impeached, the same had been denied by Congress. The popular will of the people would rather have Congress work for the interest of the common man but it seems that the personal interest of those in power is placed over and above the duty they have sworn to fulfill and render to the sovereign people.

As amply pointed out in our preamble we are the sovereign people. All government power emanates from us. Hence, it is but right and just that the people in government respect our will as the true sovereign. But we are not being done justice. There is no accountability in this system we are in. Those we place in power corrupt the power they are entrusted to hold. Now are we represented? Not at all. As a government established under republican and democratic ideals, the government and the people should be bounded by accountability. That is the essence of what we have so declared in our Constitution. Is the government accountable to the people they are supposed to represent? I guess not. They are accountable to their own interest, they are accountable to the political faction they belong to, to their parties and the interest of their parties. The essence of representation is not realized. And until we act to correct this socio-political wrong, this system will subsist only to the further detriment of our society.




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