The Challenge of Responsible Citizenship

Manila Bulletin, March 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Challenge of Responsible Citizenship


RESPONSIBLE citizenship addresses the mismatch between the strong demands of an open economy and a weak republic. It opens the way forward towards reinforcing the capacity of government, adequately empowering our regulators, and strengthening our public institutions. It nurtures and deepens the sense of solidarity among our people so we all work for our commonly shared progress.

An open economy does need the countervailing power of a strong republic. Laws that get to be strictly enforced set very clear and well-defined parameters within which market forces should freely operate. Regulations that prevent abuses and restrain irresponsible behavior provide the proper ground rules for all market players to abide by. Courts whose wheels of justice work with fairness and reasonable speed give guarantees for grievances to be settled and wrongdoings punished. Reform legislation, continuously demanded by dynamic changes in both the internal and external environment, gets passed with due regard for prudence, due process, and usually tight timetables.

But a strong republic is not only a matter of laws enforced, regulations issued and complied with, court decisions handed down in accord with strict justice, and reform legislation passed. It is above all putting all of our focus on the needs of our people and ensuring that these are served as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is, in sum, putting the country above narrow personal or sector interests, and making sure that in fact this is actually done, with most citizens trying their best to operationalize it in deeds.

This is where the challenge lies, in all the citizens of our country, including all the ordinary people, i.e. those without any official position or government responsibility. It is where the call for civic responsibility needs to be heeded, particularly when ordinary duties are carried out in every day life. …

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