Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Relevance of Jose "Pepe" Diokno

You may be wondering what's this post about Jose "Pepe" Diokno, senator, nationalist, public servant, human rights lawyer, educator and scholar doing in this blog? Well, we believe that "Living the Good Life" encompasses ones social, political and economic activities. Our daily living is very much affected by the kind of government and politicians we have. Jose Diokno's speeches and writings which can be found in his book "A Nation for Our Children" are very much relevant in our country's present condition. His words can serve as inspiration to the present generation and admonishment to the current breed of politicians.

When it comes to "living a goodlife", he says: "Why be honest, when it pays to become dishonest? Why fight for others when they won’t fight with you? – or even for themselves? … the answer lies in what life means to you. If life means having a good time, money, fame, power, security – then you don’t need principles; all you need are techniques. On the other hand, if happiness counts more than a good time, respect more than fame, right more than power and peace of soul more than security; if death doesn’t end life but transforms it, then you must be true to yourself and to God …”

Jose Diokno is a peacemaker and a nonviolent freedom fighter. “If resort to violence is natural in man, so are attempts to control it. Man wants to live, but he also wants to live well. Life is not worth living, if he must live under the constant lash of fear. Violence is a part of life, yes. But to tame violence is to civilize life.”

To him, addressing the problems of discontent and insurgency in the country can be found in our fundamental, basic human rights - “Food and freedom, jobs and justice – these are the keys to peace." Sadly, Diokno lamented, many people are not aware of their basic human rights and freedoms much less of ways to enforce them. “If we do not struggle with all that we have and do all that we can to vindicate our rights, we do not only condemn our rights to death; we also condemn our hopes and our dreams, our present, and our children’s future.” Diokno has an alternative view on how to measure development. For him, development means " developing a better people – people with a conscience, people with a heart, people with the guts to stand up and defend their rights."

A Nation for Our Children — a collection of Jose W. Diokno’s essays and speeches on human rights, nationalism, and Philippine sovereignty — was published in 1987 by the Diokno Foundation. (Maybe it's useful to give our politicians a copy of this book to remind them that nobility lies in genuinely serving the people -not lining their pockets.)


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