Any power is a privilege to uplift others

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

To whom much is given, much is expected, says the Bible. With great power comes great responsibilities, the Spiderman reminded us. The president, governor, mayor, even the barangay chairman and kagawad are vested with so much power, but so also are the great responsibilities that come with such powers.

Actually, this proverbial admonition did not originate from the Spiderman, nor from the author of that comic book Stan Lee. That was really taken from the New Testament and used in the French Revolution sometime in 1793. It became known as the Peter Parker principle, and referred to the awesome quantum of powers and responsibilities vested on public officials, journalists and authors. In 1817, British Member of Parliament William Lamp was recorded to have delivered a speech before the parliament where he said: "The possession of great powers necessarily implies great responsibilities.'' Winston Churchill, when he was still an undersecretary in 1906, also wrote: " Where there is great power, there is great responsibility'.'

Be that as it may, the truism rings with much truth, and is most especially compelling relevant  today for all public officials, business taipans, leaders of industry and business, community and civic leaders , during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether the power emanates from one's position in government, from possession of great wealth and corporate powers, or from a stature of honor and prestige, the same rule applies. The possessor of powers carries the heavy burdens to help others. For instances, as the eldest in the family, it became my duty to help in the schooling and in the career of my seven siblings. And, I did precisely that and still continue to do it to my nephews and nieces.

Before my grandmother died, she made me promise in her death bed, to buy from her estate a piece of land, about twenty hectares or so, with a promise that I could not sell it to anyone except to one of her descendants. She and my lolo acquired that land from the Remotigue family, and in fact, that was where the late Cebu Governor Francisco Remotigue and his twelve siblings were born. It became my responsibility to preserve that land. I paid the taxes and never get any share of the crops. My uncles, aunts and cousins are tilling it, and use all the harvest for themselves. And during this crisis, they have corn, banana and all root crops to tide them over. I also give them ''ayuda'' because they have too many children. I also have their kids employed in many companies that are my clients in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

When I decided to leave corporate life and accepted the offer to become undersecretary of DOLE, I did use my powers to help people who were dismissed from their work, and denied the right wages and benefits. I also helped struggling small scale and micro enterprises how to solve their labor problems. As Labor Attache to Malaysia, Taiwan and Kuwait, for a combined tenure of nine years abroad, I helped thousands of OFWs who were maltreated, cheated and exploited by recruiters and employers. I trained them every weekend and helped maids acquire skills in computers. I sent to Saint Paul QC twenty domestic helpers to study nursing under the sponsorship of foreign scholarships.

It is not easy to do good. Those who are jealous would always find ways to malign you. But I never wavered and remained faithful to the demands of powers. I did my best, as I am still trying to help today, although I have retired. That is why I can empathize with those in power. They are doing their best and still they get all the criticism. Perhaps that too is part of the great burdens that come with power. And we just have to grin and accept it.


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