“Magsaysay is my Guy”

Palawan News - - OPINION - Vic­torino Den­nis M. Socrates FROM OUT OF THE CAVE

My gen­er­a­tion of law stu­dents caught the tailend of a trend which re­quired fresh­men to re­cite from mem­ory a long-winded def­i­ni­tion from the 1940 Supreme Court de­ci­sion in Calalang v. Williams (70 Phil. 734). In that con­tro­versy, the pe­ti­tioner ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of a reg­u­la­tion ban­ning an­i­mal-drawn car­riages (cale­sas) from cer­tain streets in Manila. Among oth­ers, the is­sue of its be­ing con­trary to the So­cial Jus­tice pro­vi­sion of the 1935 Con­sti­tu­tion was raised.

The an­nual Septem­ber 21 com­mem­o­ra­tion of the be­gin­ning of Mar­tial Law al­ways re­minds me of the end of the Mar­cos regime. To make a pun of it, I was caught on the wrong side of EDSA on Fe­bru­ary 22, 1986— my fa­ther be­ing then a Deputy Min­is­ter—and the Peo­ple Power Revo­lu­tion left my fa­ther job­less and our fam­ily in a se­vere eco­nomic cri­sis. But what I re­mem­ber most of those four days fol­low­ing the En­rile-Ramos dig-in at Camp Aguinaldo was the al­most non-stop play­ing of Mambo Magsaysay over June Keith­ley’s Radyo Ban­dido. While its log­i­cal con­nec­tion with those days‟ events es­capes me, I ac­tu­ally en­joyed the song which, I learned af­ter­ward, was com­posed by the bril­liant Raul Mangla­pus. It might also have been Mangla­pus who came up with the catchy tag-line, “Magsaysay is My Guy,” for the 1953 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion; and Mambo Magsaysay is still, cer­tainly, the clas­sic, gold-stan­dard for cam­paign jin­gles, that made The Guy win. The lyrics of the song go:

“(Stanza 1:) Ev­ery­where that you would look/ Was a ban­dit or a crook/ Peace and or­der was a joke/ Till Magsaysay puma­sok/ (Ref.:) That is why that is why You will hear the peo­ple cry/ Our democ­racy will die/ Kung wala si Magsaysay/ Mambo, mambo, Magsaysay, mabu-, mabu-, mabuhay/ Our democ­racy will die/ Kung wala si Magsaysay/(Stanza 2:) Birds, they voted in Lanao/ At pati aswang pa daw/ Ang eleksyon lu­tong Ma­caw/ Till Magsaysay showed them how”…

Last Au­gust 31 was the 111th birth an­niver­sary of Pres­i­dent Ra­mon Magsaysay who, like my fa­ther, Badong—and for that mat­ter, the late DILG Sec­re­tary Jesse Ro­bredo—died in a plane crash while in of­fice. I think all three were “men of the masses” who gave their lives in the ser­vice of oth­ers. But the Magsaysay con­nec­tion does not end there.

One of the in­ter­est­ing per­son­al­i­ties I have come to know in re­cent years is Mr. Ce­sar P. Magsaysay, a nephew of Pres­i­dent Ra­mon Magsaysay, be­ing the son of the Pres­i­den­tial brother, Je­sus. “Tito Ce­sar”, as I would like to call him, or CPM, is also the brother of Vi­cente, a for­mer Gov­er­nor of Zam­bales and per­sonal friend of my fa­ther. Gov­er­nor Vic is the fa­ther of An­gel­ica Magsaysay-Cheng, the in­cum­bent Vice-Gov­er­nor of Zam­bales; and fa­ther-in-law of for­mer Zam­bales Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mi­tos Ha­bana-Magsaysay, with whom I co­in­cided in the 15th Congress. Some years ago, CPM de­cided to set­tle in the south­ern town of Jose Rizal, Palawan, where he is lit­er­ally break­ing ground as a gen­tle­man-farmer, bring­ing along, and shar­ing with the com­mu­nity, the tech­no­log­i­cal and man­age­rial savvy that made him a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man.

Of course, this piece can­not be only about per­son­al­i­ties. As my phe­nome­nol­o­gist-philoso­pher friends would have it, one should strive to end his ru­mi­na­tions with a “tran­scen­den­tal re­flec­tion”. But there is ac­tu­ally some­thing truly tran­scen­den­tal in the Magsaysay legacy: it is to him that we owe what, per­haps, to many, would be the best def­i­ni­tion of “so­cial jus­tice”: “He who has less in life should have more in law” (Magsaysay Credo).

Our 1935, 1973, and 1987 Con­sti­tu­tions all man­date the pro­mo­tion of So­cial Jus­tice, but with­out giv­ing any def­i­ni­tion. Of course So­cial Jus­tice is now gen­er­ally un­der­stood to be a more sec­u­lar re­state­ment of the “pref­er­en­tial op­tion for the poor” of Catholic So­cial Doc­trine; which, in turn, comes from our Lord‟s dis­course on the “works of mercy” as cri­te­ria for the Last Judg­ment: “what­ever you did for one of these least broth­ers of mine, you did for me” ( Mt 25:40). As Fa­ther Ber­nas, echo­ing Pres­i­dent Magsaysay, would put it, “so­cial jus­tice in the Con­sti­tu­tion is prin­ci­pally the em­bod­i­ment of the prin­ci­ple that those who have less in life should have more in law. It com­mands a le­gal bias in fa­vor of those who are un­der­priv­i­leged.” (Joaquin G. Ber­nas, S.J., The 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, 1996 ed., p. 1059)

My gen­er­a­tion of law stu­dents caught the tail-end of a trend which re­quired fresh­men to re­cite from mem­ory a long-winded def­i­ni­tion from the 1940 Supreme Court de­ci­sion in Calalang v. Williams (70 Phil. 734). In that con­tro­versy, the pe­ti­tioner ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of a reg­u­la­tion ban­ning an­i­mal-drawn car­riages (cale­sas) from cer­tain streets in Manila. Among oth­ers, the is­sue of its be­ing con­trary to the So­cial Jus­tice pro­vi­sion of the 1935 Con­sti­tu­tion was raised.

Up­hold­ing the va­lid­ity of the reg­u­la­tion, the Court said: “So­cial jus­tice is „nei­ther com­mu­nism, nor despo­tism, nor atom­ism, nor an­ar­chy,‟ but the Hu­man­iza­tion of laws and the equal­iza­tion of so­cial and eco­nomic forces by the State so that jus­tice in its ra­tio­nal and ob­jec­tively sec­u­lar con­cep­tion may at least be ap­prox­i­mated. So­cial jus­tice means the pro­mo­tion of the wel­fare of all the peo­ple, the adop­tion by the Govern­ment of mea­sures cal­cu­lated to in­sure eco­nomic sta­bil­ity of all the com­po­nent el­e­ments of so­ci­ety, through the main­te­nance of a proper eco­nomic and so­cial equi­lib­rium in the in­ter­re­la­tions of the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, con­sti­tu­tion­ally, through the adop­tion of mea­sures legally jus­ti­fi­able, or ex­tra-con­sti­tu­tion­ally, through the ex­er­cise of pow­ers un­der­ly­ing the ex­is­tence of all gov­ern­ments on the time-hon­ored prin­ci­ple of salus pop­uli est suprema lex.”

Thanks to Pres­i­dent Ra­mon Magsaysay, to­day’s law stu­dents no longer have to suf­fer in­di­ges­tion from the Calalang def­i­ni­tion of So­cial Jus­tice. (24.IX.2018)

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