Newly-assumed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Edgardo Delos Santos, decried the irony of the present times because when com-pared to one century ago, nothing much has changed because we still live under an “elected oligarchy” which means the rule by a few and not by the majority.
In his first public appearance after being sworn in as Supreme Court, Justice Delos Santos, main speaker during the 123rd Rizal Day commemoration on December 30 at the Dumaguete Quezon Park, said that the death-wish of our national hero was to be buried simply, even without a coffin, and that there be no anniversary celebrations in his honor.
Contrary to Rizal’s wish, however, what happened instead is the opposite because of public clamor as well as the utmost respect of our people for a man who would become our national hero.
Rizal is now honored in the country’s premier plaza which is the Luneta where he was executed at the age of 35. His works and writings continue to be taught and emulated in schools.
Justice Delos Santos said that Rizal was a staunch critic of the abuses of the Clergy and its injustices exposed in his book Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
Justice Delos Santos also noted that while the country claims to be the first democratic nation in Asia, our kind of democracy is actually ruled by what he called an “elected oligarchy.” In Justice EDSA’s own words, he said:
Our government is controlled by a group of a few. The national economy is also dominated by a few. Oligarchy is the dominance of the national economy by a few groups or individuals. They do not compete but complement each other because their goal is to gain profits and not to compete. Under the Spanish time, it was called frailocracy, a state run by friars.
Concluding his speech, Justice Delos Santos said:
Even though one hundred and twenty-three years had already passed since his death, Jose Rizal’s life and works remain relevant and his writings thought-provoking. Let us continue to derive inspiration from Dr. Jose Rizal in our own work.
To us here who are public servants, let us derive pleasure in knowing that a public servant’s best reward is a job that was done well in the service of one’s country. It is not only the Judiciary that needs independence in order to perform its function.
All of us need to be independent by thinking first before we act. In this day and age, the battle for independence is not so much on breaking the bonds of foreign oppressors.
It is rising above the manipulation of our pages minds thru subtle or clandestine means wielded by special interest groups or individuals with ulterior motives such as oligarchies and syndicates.
To do this, one should exercise critical thinking by evaluating every information we learn, verifying its source and truthfulness, and analyzing its implications and long-term effects on the real world—before we make an opinion, take a stand on issues, or pursue a solution; while being able to work effectively with others for a better world.
This concept of independence holds relevant in the present age of virtually unlimited access to unlimited amounts of information. If there is one thing that resonates best in Jose Rizal’s entire life story, it would be his great love for his country.
This was best expressed in a letter he wrote while he was in exile in Hong Kong, four years before his death, and I quote: “I have always loved my poor country and I am sure that I shall love her until my last moment, should men prove unjust to me. I shall die happy, satisfied with the thought that all I have suffered, my past, my present, and my future, my life, my loves, my joys, everything, I have sacrificed for love of her. Whatever my fate may be, I shall die blessing her and wishing her the dawn of her redemption.”