Intellectual Globalization and Principled Intervention; A New Globalization Paradigm for the Philippines

By Chairman, Alfredo L. Benipayo Comelec | Manila Bulletin, May 3, 2001 | Go to article overview

Intellectual Globalization and Principled Intervention; A New Globalization Paradigm for the Philippines


Chairman, Alfredo L. Benipayo Comelec, Manila Bulletin


AS it is most commonly understood nowadays, globalization refers to a plan of action - hatched mostly by the industrialized countries North of the economic divide - that will progressively lower the cost of international commerce through the reduction, and eventual abolition, of trade tariffs and duties. Thus, the various associations, activities and multi-national agreements associated with this overall agenda - such as the WTO, world trade liberalization, and the GATT - are all manifestations of, what may be called, economic globalization.

The term globalization is also frequently used in the context of culture. With the advent of information and communication high technology, the pace of two-way assimilation of foreign practices, beliefs, and mores, has been increased by several orders of magnitude. The evidence is all around us. Because of cultural globalization, Asians begin to act like Westerners, while Westerners increasingly espouse Oriental values.

However, while remaining mostly a socio-economic phenomenon - and an increasingly unpopular one at that, as evidenced by the recent troubles in Quebec - the foundations of globalization are deeply rooted in the fundamental ecological principle that every single living organism on this planet is connected to an all-encompassing web of life - that a local environmental event can - and often will - have a global effect. A butterfly flapping its wings deep in the Amazon Basin can cause a rainstorm in London. Forest fires in Indonesia can make the air unbreathable in Malaysia. An iceberg crumbling into the Antarctic Ocean can cause the resurgence of red tide off Manila Bay.

It is within the context of this fundamental expression of its meaning that we can best discuss the impact of globalization on our ordinary daily lives. For the most part, we - the men and women of the legal profession - are not economists, patrons of culture, or environmental hard-liners. Certainly, there are notable exceptions, but still we are largely professionals whose worldviews and lifestyles have not been greatly affected by globalization- except of course that we are now computer literate. At least I hope we all are.

Globalization and Lawyers

Please do not get me wrong. I am not accusing our lawyers of living in a bubble untouched by modern trends. I am simply acknowledging the truth that not all of us are fortunate enough to be so situated as to be exposed to the workings of globalization. I also have to make it clear, that this is through no fault of our own.

Our chosen profession - the law - is, intrinsically, one of the most resistant to the effects of globalization. When we speak of globalization of law, we refer to the degree to which the whole world lives under a single set of legal rules. This is only possible if there exists a single global lawgiver - such as a one-world government - or a strong consensus among nation-states. Realistically, however, the idea of a one-world government is anathema to all but the most devoted utopians; and consensus among nation-states is a virtual impossibility. Thus, unless he has been retained by some multi-national company, special interest group, or NGO, your typical lawyer will have very little contact with the workings of globalization.

To be more precise, typical lawyers have very little contact with the workings of economic and cultural globalization. However, this does not mean that lawyers are going to be left behind. As I stressed earlier, there is a deeper facet to globalization - one that is profoundly different from its economic and cultural aspects; one that is founded on the ecological concept of connectivity on the web of life.

Intellectual Globalization

At the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, proponents of sustainable development encapsulated, in a single statement, the best way for individuals to contribute to efforts to preserve the environment.

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