By: Mr. Nathaniel A. Saquiban
In a country, like the Philippines, where poverty among the populace is one of the major problems, it is good to determine whether inequality is the root cause. According to the press release of the World Bank dated November 24, 2022, inequality remains high in our country. The top 1 percent of earners together capture 17 percent of national income, with only 14 percent being shared by the bottom 50 percent.
The above shows that only a small percent of the population enjoy a significant portion of the national income while a large percentage of the population share among themselves a meager portion of the national income. This signifies that there is maldistribution of wealth in our country, not because there is defect in the existing laws, processes, and procedures but how the riches of our country are managed and distributed. It is a fact that due to evil intent or motive, there are instances where the resources of our country are amassed by few who are in power. Selfish gain and partisanship largely affect the proper administration of our wealth. This results to inadequate modernization in places where development is much needed.
This is where the value of equality comes into play. For this value to be observed, there is also a need to take into consideration the Spanish term called “delicadeza”. As a Filipino citizen, there must be a sense of shame or personal discipline not to take advantage of the plight of others or not to keep enjoying and maintaining a luxury life while others are in want. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees states, in relation to this, that public officials and employees should develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.
How then can we apply the value of equality in simple ways? By doing away with “palakasan” system and undue influence which normally deprive someone from a position of power who ought to possess it or divesting someone from any privilege such as promotion, job, incentives, or benefits who ought to receive it. It is also by eliminating any form of oppression in an office or by putting an end to any act of discrimination based on culture, race, religious belief, or political inclination. Allegedly, there are instances where a local government hardly receives support from the national government if the national leader lost in the last election in the locality or if the local leader is not a political ally of the national leader. This must come to an end.
What does the government do in order to uphold the value of equality? Our country is replete with principles and laws on equality. In taxation itself, there is a principle called equality and uniformity in taxation which means that all taxable articles or kinds of property of the same class shall be taxed at the same rate. In the same manner, our constitution upholds the principle called equal protection of the laws under the bill of rights. This provision in our constitution is also called the equal protection clause which requires the following elements: (1) rest on substantial distinctions, (2) be germane to the purpose of the law, (3) not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) apply equally to all members of the same class.
Based from the above principles, the value of equality, thus, admits differences and distinctions. This means that in our jurisdiction, equality is not without classification. Instead, it recognizes the distinctive characteristics or condition of properties and individuals. It simply means that those who are situated alike must be treated alike and accorded the same protection, opportunities, privileges, and benefits. In other words, people or properties should not be treated equally with the others if there is a clear and identifiable differentiation. To do otherwise is perpetrating inequality and injustice.
As we celebrate the national women’s month, let us therefore continue to ensure that women will be accorded the same rights and privileges as the men and let us continue to support the existing laws which uphold the protection of women against any form of violence or abuse.
CRFV Winning Team
A company of men and women who have committed their lives to the cause of national transformation.