The differences among freedom, liberty, and independence

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

Is the Philippines an independent state? Are the Filipino people truly free? Are the Filipinos genuinely enjoying the liberties of a sovereign people?

Tomorrow, the Philippines will celebrate its Independence Day. The Filipinos have the freedom of expression, free speech, free press, and freedom of association, as well as the freedom of assembly. The Tagalog translation for independence is “kasarinlan”. It is different from freedom which can be translated to “kalayaan”. To me, the word “independence” refers to the country and freedom refers to the individuals. For instance China is an independent state, while the Chinese people do not have freedom nor liberty. In Cebu-Visayan language, independence is “kaugalingnan”. Freedom is “kagawasan”. And liberty, like right, is “katungod”.

Independence of a state or nation is its condition of being free from the control of and interference by other states. The independent state has a defined national territory, and a specific constituency or people, with an organized government to which the inhabitants render habitual obedience. The independent state is imbued with the character of sovereignty, which is the ability to enforce the laws of its state within its territorial jurisdiction, and the character of being recognized by other states and nations as a sovereign and self-sustaining political, social, and economic entity. What we are going to celebrate tomorrow is the Philippine independence, which is a celebration of what was proclaimed by General Emilio F. Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898, as well as what was granted to us by the United States of America on July 4, 1946.

It is possible that the state is independent but the people do not have the freedom to act, to move, and to decide without the state's control and domination. The Philippines is an independent state but the people are afraid that the Anti-Terror Law may rob them of their freedom and liberty. For instance, those that are enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. They include the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable. The Bill of Rights also provides that no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall be issued except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation by the complainant and the witnesses he may produce.

Under our constitution, the privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable, except only upon lawful order by the court, or when the public safety or order requires it, as prescribed by law. Any illegally-obtained evidence is not admissible in court, they are considered as fruits of the poisonous tree under our rules of court. The Constitution is also very specific that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. There shall be freedom of religion and the state cannot compel the citizens to profess any particular religious belief. The separation between the state and the church is one of the strongest pillars of our civil liberties.

The liberty of abode, the freedom to travel, the freedom of association for purposes not contrary to law are not to be abridged. The people have free access to the courts and have the right to speedy justice. They have the right to be assisted by counsel of their choice when they are charged with crimes. Yes, even the accused have many rights, especially the right to remain silent, the right to be presumed innocent, and the right against torture and violations of their human dignity. The Philippines is an independent and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all authority emanates from them. It is the duty of the government to serve the people, even as it is the duty of the people to defend the state and obey the government.

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