SHOULD we surrender our individual freedoms and liberties to the State, so that our country can achieve economic prosperity?

The answer, for Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, is no.

In a speech he delivered yesterday at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, the Chief Justice said liberty and prosperity are “mutually inclusive;” the courts must work hard, he said, to contribute to the pursuit of both.

“Liberty must include the freedoms that prosperity allows,” Panganiban said. “In the same manner, prosperity must include liberty, especially the liberty to strive for the “good life” according to the person’s conception.”

Liberty, thus, “becomes the guarantee that, free from all interference and suppression, we all can conceive of the good life and act according to those conceptions!”

Panganiban said he rejects the so-called “disjunctive scheme,” that holds the view that for prosperity to be achieved, the people’s freedom must be curtailed.

“I am convinced that political liberty — the clarion call of the past — must be continuously safeguarded in the present and in the future. I am equally persuaded, though, that the prosperity of our people requires as much nurturing in the present century as that accorded to liberty in the past.”

The chief justice paid homage to the United States’ struggle for civil liberties, which he called, “long and difficult”:

“The freedoms you have won with so much sacrifice and suffering have become the bedrock of your democratic system and economic progress. Indeed, those freedoms have become so inextricably linked to each other that it seems unthinkable to conceive of liberty without prosperity, or prosperity without liberty.”

The chief justice then told his audience about the “twin beacons” which, he said, guide the Philippine judiciary:

Safeguarding liberty. In litigations involving civil liberties, Panganiban said, “the scales should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the people — particularly the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed, and the weak.”

The courts shall thus view any action, which will restrict the people’s fundamental rights, with “heightened scrutiny.”

The chief justice referred to three recent decisions issued by the Supreme Court in the last month: invalidating major provisions of Executive Order No. 464; upholding the people’s right to peaceably assemble and seek redress for grievances and shooting down the government’s Calibrated Preemptive Response policy; and upholding the civil liberties of the people under a state of national emergency, as issued through Presidential Proclamation 1017.

Calling them “landmark” decisions, Panganiban said those rulings “upheld the primacy of civil liberties over government actions.”

Nurturing prosperity. Meanwhile, Panganiban said, in conflicts affecting the economy, “deference must be accorded to the political branches of the government.”

This is why, he said, the Supreme Court in 1997 upheld the Philippine Senate’s ratification of the World Trade Organization Agreement and, in 2004, the constitutionality of the Mining Act.

He said the high tribunal, in those two instances, did not wish “to pass upon the merits or wisdom of trade liberalization and economic globalization as economic policies, or upon the desirability of allowing 100-percent foreign investments in large-scale mining.”

In the same speech, Panganiban also spoke about the ills that he says plague the Philippine judiciary:

  • limited access to justice by the poor
  • corruption
  • incompetence
  • delay in the delivery of quality judgments

Judicial reforms initiated by his predecessor, Hilario Davide Jr., should thus be revitalized, he said.

Read the full text of Panganiban’s speech.

10 Responses to Liberty and prosperity should blossom
hand in hand — Chief Justice


Juan Makabayan

May 18th, 2006 at 8:28 pm

“In litigations involving civil liberties ‘the scales should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the people — particularly the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed, and the weak’.”

This is why, he said, the Supreme Court in 1997 upheld the the constitutionality of the Mining Act.”

Apparently the the right to life, to potable water, to safe environment and protection of the livelihood of communities adversely affected by the operation of mining companies are not considered as civil liberties.



May 19th, 2006 at 8:45 am

Quoting SC Justice Panganiban, he said “he rejects the so-called ‘disjunctive scheme,’ that holds the view that for prosperity to be achieved, the people’s freedom must be curtailed.”

This is the essence of a benevolent dictatorship that propelled Singapore’s prosperity. Ask Lee Kwan Yu. Marcos could have transformed this country into what Singapore is today. Erap could have done greater things, perhaps people would have allowed him to pull another Lee Kwan Yu since he had the support of the greater mass, but like Marcos, power had whetted his unsatiable appetite for wealth. There is no short-cut to national prosperity. Hard work, discipline and the rule of law are.



May 19th, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Masarap sabihin at pakingan pero mahirap namang gawin.

Bilang punong hukom at kitakatawan ng isang sangay ng gobyerno, madaling mamitawi sa bibig ni Chief Justice Panganiban ang mga katagang “dapat” at “marapin” para sa ikakaganda ng bayan.

Kaya nga siguro “philosophical discussion” ang naging pamamaraan ni CJ Panaganiban para maiwasan ang malalimang debate sa kasalukuyang panahon.

Alam ng bawat mag-aaral ng batas na ang Judikatora sa ating sistema ay di pwedeng makibaka o mangunguna sa mga isyu lalo na kung ito ay saklaw ng mundong pulitikal. Ika nga, ang Judikatora ay parang isang malamig at walang emosyon sa pagbibigay buhay sa kanyang trabaho bilang tagapangalaga ng hustisya sa buong sambayanan.

Sa alahat ng heto ay ang isang napakabigat na tanong : kailan kaya sila magpaka-totoo? :)



May 19th, 2006 at 2:59 pm

Erratum : “Marapin” should read as “marapatin” ;
“Sa alahat ” should read as “Sa lahat”.



May 19th, 2006 at 3:09 pm

Yes Toro, it will always boil down to hard work, dicipline & the rule of law.
Personaly, I don’t think it’s about peoples “liberty being curtailed”. If there are no absolute powers & rights then how can peoples liberties be curtailed? where does the good of the majority/ Nation start & the absolute liberties of the people end?



May 19th, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Perhaps it’s not “should” but what can the people do for the country to achive economic properity.
I think we must not confuse “liberties” to obligations or forms of Nationalissim to obtain a greater good.
Perhaps, The good CJ is looking at an ideal world & is not considering a senario of power struggle & divisions & protecting of interest.
Is the State supposed to be at the mercy of different forces?
Personaly, it seems that we are forming a society w/ legalistic views alone & leave no space where the greater good & forsight can be expressed.
It’s like saying if one part or a group in siciety is not ready for change then nothing can be done. Insted of the country moving w/ the times but for the sake of the others then things are put on hold.
It’s no surprise that the Philippines is always in the bottom while other Nations are moving by leaps & bounds.
While the Philippines is more concerned w/ “rights & liberties” alone. Other countries are leaveing us behind.



May 19th, 2006 at 8:34 pm

In some society prosperity can blossom with less liberty, in some they both go hand in hand. In most western world, like the G-8 countries which are already in
the ‘”First World”, prosperity and liberty were never offered in a silver platter. They were both achieved through hard and bitter struggle. In the U.S it was a struggle both hard and tragic and so most of other contries. First liberty was realized, followed by long and ardous work by all its people to achieve the next one-Prosperity. We, in Canada although as prosperous as any country, there are quite many limitations to our freedom. A very reasonable limitation, which is spelled out in the very first section of our “Charter of Rights and Freedom”, and which are codified (some) into criminal law, but it is never a hindrance to our forward march toward prosperity. So in CJ Panganiban think that both just go in hand and hand just like two young lovers walking down the isle, then he might be surprised it isn’t so…



May 20th, 2006 at 2:24 pm

Naikika, I’m sure the good CJ has very good intensions. I’m sure too that he gave a very good speech. But there are certain things that are just too idealist. In a perfect world things can go hand in hand.
In the real world things can be a bit different.
My point is not to confuse “liberties” w/ “prosperity”.
because, personaly I think they do not mix.
The road to “properity demands sacrifice.
Liberties are not absolute.
I think, the rule of the majority will take the higher ground.


INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » Sol Gen appeals to Supreme Court on PP 1017

June 5th, 2006 at 6:16 pm

[…] In a recent speech, chief justice Artemio Panganiban said such decisions illustrate the high court’s principle that in litigations involving civil liberties, “the scales should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the people — particularly the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed, and the weak.” […]



June 5th, 2006 at 8:21 pm

Civil Liberty to work hand in hand with prosperity? Very idealistic. You are right Joselu. A music to our ears, but is a sore in our eyes. It is never put into application, because we live in reality. Never heard a country that is really run by ideals as such. Prosperity is always attached with restraints, while clamor for civil liberty is always attached with civil unrest.

In Philippine setting Civil Liberty must work with resiliency to attain prosperity.

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