The Senate adopted a resolution expressing its sense to join nations and parliaments around the world in commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which affirmed the universality of democratic principles, elements and values.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who introduced Senate Resolution No. 500, said the Upper Chamber was one with governments, parliaments and organizations throughout the world in marking the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Democracy, which was adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on September 16, 1997.
“As a leading member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union commemorating the International Day of Democracy, the Philippine Senate reaffirms its steadfast commitment to engage the Filipino people, especially the youth, to undertake meaningful activities that will not only celebrate but strengthen the democratic process in the country,” Pimentel said in his resolution.
According to the Senate chief, the IPU Declaration attested that democracy “is a universal aspiration, anchored on a same set of common values which include the primacy of the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights, free political competition, public accountability, and a genuine partnership between men and women in solving the affairs of society that directly affect them.“
“Democracy means an empowered people responsibly enjoying their basic freedoms, vigilantly protecting their and other people’s rights, and resolving society’s conflicts through debate, persuasion and compromise,” he said.
Pimentel said that in the Philippines, the Senate is mandated by the people to uphold the nation’s democratic ideals, and has always been considered as a “bastion of democracy” that has traditionally sustained its co-equal branch of government.
“In order to create a more inclusive democracy, the Senate continues to fully engage the public and be more responsive to the needs of the people through its open public hearings, media coverage of its legislative investigations, and untrammelled debates in plenary,” he said.
Pimentel also said that the anniversary’s theme of ‘In Defense of Democracy’ has reminded members of the Senate to “remember its history and its heroes who fought tyranny in all forms.“
He noted that the state of democracy world-wide has been challenged by so-called populist but anti-democratic movements “which have weakened institutions and the people’s regard for the rule of law.“
“There is growing disenchantment in traditional systems of government where many citizens, especially the youth, feel deprived of participation in governance, denying them political and economic opportunities, and thus, are yearning for change,” he said.
“The legislature, composed of men and women duly elected as representatives of the people, is the key defender of democratic ideals and is responsible for ensuring that the benefits of democracy are fully enjoyed by the people through laws enacted that protect their basic freedoms and promote their well-being,” Pimentel stressed.
He said in his resolution that the anniversary reminded members of the Senate “to continue to remain true to their duties and maintain the highest level of integrity and accountability as elected public officials – qualities that enabled the Chamber to obtain the high trust of the people.“
“The legislature can further enhance democracy by strengthening the rule of law, finding solutions to the root causes of pervasive poverty and equality, ensuring peace and order, and eliminating corruption in government,” he said.
“It is incumbent upon the legislature to promote more decentralized local governments that embody the diversity of experiences and cultural peculiarities, fostering a more inclusive and participatory management of public affairs,” Pimentel added. (Jardine Chua)