Tuesday, July 2, 2013

THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNMENT

(Inaugural Message of Vice-Governor V.D.M. Socrates, 
30 June 2013, Capitol Park Square, Puerto Princesa City)


My friends:

Today marks a special turning point in the political history of our province.  For the first time, we have elected a Governor who, all his working life, has been a private businessman—an extremely gifted and successful one at that, which makes the event all the more unique—and whose very first foray into public office was precisely to become Governor of the country’s Last Frontier. 

I consider myself blessed to have been a part, even if a very minor one, of that effort, of that campaign, to elect Jose Chaves Alvarez to the highest political office of Palawan, and to be a co-worker in his administration. 

I join the overwhelming majority of Palawe├▒os who voted for Governor JCA in hoping that this election, this administration, will be the beginning of a real and radical transformation of our political culture, towards one that would allow Palawan to leapfrog, to polevault, and, saving what is perhaps the best metaphor for last, to fly, from Third World to First World in the next nine years. 

In this connection, I wish to share a few points for reflection on the business of government.

While the ultimate purpose, the end, of government, is the common good, the primary object of government is the promotion of justice.  There is a long-winded metaphysical explanation behind this proposition, which I shall skip, the point I wish to share being: that the effort to pursue socio-economic development on the part of government must be understood in the context of social justice.

“Good governance” basically means a government operating according to laws and procedures that are reasonable and fair to all, giving everyone his due, not only according to the letter; but also, according to the spirit animating these norms.

It is not necessarily the function of government to create wealth.  That task pertains primarily to the private business sector, the sector best suited for that purpose, driven by a rational profit-motive.  And I would be echoing our beloved Governor JCA in exhorting those who are in business to be more dynamic in making new investments, establishing new and globally-competitive enterprises, and in creating more jobs for our people. 

But yes, government has the right and duty to intervene in this field, in accordance with the principle of “subsidiarity”, that is, of the state providing assistance to its smaller components in those cases where the smaller unit cannot perform the action needed.  I believe that, while the concept of a “welfare state” is farthest from our minds, the New Management which we are inaugurating today will not be lacking in badly needed affirmative action to bring about not just economic growth but “inclusive growth” to benefit the marginalized.

I would also like to call on those who form part of the sector called “civil society”—the term is now understood to refer to that part of the private sector directly involved in promoting the common good; that is, cause-oriented, non-profit associations in the private sector—to exercise their emerging power with increasing breadth of vision.  The time of single-issue advocacy is past.  The common good of a society that is growing in complexity demands greater and more responsible cooperation from among all its citizens.

Finally, we are mindful that the “common good”—the sum of social conditions that would allow people to fulfill themselves—has a transcendental dimension:  that the common good transcends material reality; because the human spirit is ordained to seek, to know and love God, and to share in His eternal happiness. 

The ultimate purpose of human existence is union with God.  That is why I would like to end with these lines from Pope Benedict XVI:    
Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God's love. Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, No. 79)

Thank you.


O.C.P.A.J.P.M.