Mahalaga ang Tao

BY Florangel Rosario Braid

It is noteworthy that at the 63rd Liberal Party anniversary, LP President Mar Roxas, chose to focus on what it means to be a Liberal – “the responsibility of assuming a clear public duty, the satisfaction it provides - having a reason to live, and a reason to serve the lofty cause of fighting for our people.” What should make every party member proud, he noted, was that since the beginning, the Liberal Party had been at the center in setting up the pillars of independence and the rebuilding of the nation after World War II. Also that the Party was central to the establishment of what is now the centerpiece of the Constitution – social justice. Two transformational initiatives - land reform, and the first minimum wage law, R.A. 4150, were legislated and implemented by the Liberal Party. In the 1970’s, LP leaders were again actively involved in the fight against the dictatorship, in the events before and after Edsa One, and the rejection of the US bases.

Senator Roxas said that it is awareness of these historical antecedents that gives the Party the strength and moral ascendancy to pursue this “national vision of social mobility – which he defines as that state where the next generation can have a better life than what we have today..This means putting people first - mahalaga ang tao . It is the belief that the dignity of our people is the dignity of our nation, and that there is no path to progress other than the path of each and every life we hold dear. We do not exist for ourselves alone. Our party is an instrument for the actualization of our people’s grand vision…This is the concept of citizenship, of bonding together so that we can implement the concept of social mobility.”.

LP President Roxas talked about the LP’s chosen task, the obstacles, the trials, and the pitfalls they will continue to face. ”It is not easy to be a liberal We battle on because we know our ideals – fighting for our people and beside our people always inevitably triumphs. This is our shield against those who oppose us.”

The speech is meant to inspire the Filipino to continually think of oneself not as an individual but as a part of a group. It is intended to provoke us to re-examine our political system that had failed to imbue us with a sense of nation-ness. It is a reminder that as long as we are working for the interest of the people and the country, we are at the right side of history, and that we would succeed in the end.

The speech resonates with those who have been with the Party through the good times and the bad. During the latter, many deserted the Party to join other groups that responded to their personal ambitions. Hopefully, those who believe in the power of political parties to effect drastic reforms in the political landscape would heed Senator Mar’s message. That it is time that we re-examine our personality-dominated politics that had encouraged turncoatism and party-hopping by political butterflies. Other countries have laws that mandate penalties for turncoatism. But we admit that the evolution towards strong party systems with their set of political platforms and ideology would take time as it would mean a change in mindsets..Roxas also reminds us that what gives greater meaning to life is not seeking power for one’s personal interest, but the use of this power to serve the common good; as well as the role of the political party in providing the guiding vision that holds us accountable for our action.

The LP recognizes that much needs to be done in building the party. Its strength is that it already has a defined party platform and a history of consistency in abiding by its ideals Here, it had always chosen the path of democracy, social justice, and protection of individual liberties. The burden of strengthening the party will have to be a shared responsibility by every member. The LP president had clearly defined the scope of the responsibility, as well as its risks and rewards.

This year, the LP also chose to focus on fighting the threats against democracy through Charter change which is perceived to extend the stay of those in power. Party members and mutisectoral groups spoke out against these insidious attempts at a forum and a rally at the historic Plaza Miranda.

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