Filipinos sense of justice

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

In the last few weeks there were many news and posts in the main and social media that gives us a perspective of the Filipinos sense of justice. The road rage incident of the ex-cop who hit and pulled a gun on the motorcycle driver, then held a presscon in the police station, then another road rage with another policemen, really went viral in social media with videos. They were also in all the newspapers and radio/TV. The maltreatment of a “kasambahay” by their employer was also prominently in the news, and the Chinese coast guard vessels bullying of the Philippine re-supply boats to Ayungin shoal, complete with videos, were also splashed in the social and main media.

There was enormous public reaction to these incidents, and the people were appeased that the policemen were reprimanded and punished, the maid abusers were investigated, and the Philippine government took a strong stand against the Chinese government actions. The information technologies and the social /main media had a lot to do with these developments and the level of public indignations on these incidents.

In the same weeks, the issue of the confidential/intelligence funds for the Office of the President/Vice-President and the Department of Education together with the unexplained P125 million expenditure of the OVP in a matter of days, together with the railroading the approval of the president and vice presidents 2024 budget were also in the news. Then, the Commission on Audit’s findings on the lapses and anomalies of many government departments and agencies, the damages to the rice farmers and rice retailers on the “price control” mandate, and the unexplained election anomalies of the 2022 elections. These are also all injustices and public indignation are also palpable in both the main and social media but in varying degrees and results.

The reasons for the differences in people’s reactions and results on the above public injustices are human psychology and socio-economic circumstances. The specific abuses by the police on civilians and by the employer on the kasambahay are directly relatable to individuals. The abuses of the government officials to the general population does not seem to be directed to a specific individual but to the larger masses of people. While they are all injustices and the political abuses may be more damaging to the country and the people, it has a disperse effect on the people. The socio-economic profile of Filipinos with 40% in the voiceless lower class blunts the impact of injustice on them. While they are aware of the injustices of government abuses in corruption and repression, they will accept them with resignation until it becomes intolerable. The informed middle and upper classes are these who will be intolerant and indignant of government abuses/injustices, and are capable of doing something about them.

Justice and truth are innate in human behavior since the beginning of society as it is the basis for peaceful living and relationships. To co-exist with others and earn their trust, justice is the norm for social relationships and business transactions. It is the key to social and economic progress, so all religions lay down moral and ethical standards for a just society.

If we have to graph the distribution of Filipinos with a moral sense of justice, it will likely be a normal or “poisson” distribution, with 80% of Filipinos recognizing and abhorring injustices, and the remaining 20% having sold their moral principles for power and/or money. Filipinos sense of justice in all classes is strong and steady. Their ability to condemn and act on these injustices may be lower due to lack of time and resources, but there are/will be a time when the critical mass of angry and indignant people amass and march against the injustices. These were the EDSA People Power Revolution and many other demonstrations/revolutions in many countries. This is the reason governments are aware of public opinion satisfaction polls and even manufacture/fake some of them. They want to avoid the tipping point of public dissatisfaction/condemnation of government injustices to the people.

There is nothing wrong in the Filipinos sense of justice. It is robust and well distributed. Government propaganda, repression of information and intimidation is keeping it from boiling.

But it is simmering and will reach boiling point depending on government inactions and actions.

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