DILG enjoins LGUs to observe September 15 as International Day of Democracy


DILG enjoins LGUs to observe September 15 as International Day of Democracy

Tacloban City (September 15) -- The Department of Interior and Local Government through Memorandum Circular 127 dated September 9, 2009, has directed all Governors, City and Municipal Mayors to vigorously support the undertaking of the United Nations and DILG's effort to commemorate September 15 as the International Day of Democracy.

In the Memo Circular signed by DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, the local chief executives were enjoined to commemorate the occasion in an appropriate manner through activities that will heighten public awareness on the true essence of democracy.

The Local Chief Executives may undertake simple but meaningful activities in their respective localities to support the celebration. Such activities may include the hanging of streamers, posters, tarpaulins and information materials in conspicuous places highlighting September 15 as the International Day of Democracy.

Another activity is a Briefing, inspirational talk or sharing on what democracy is, during the flag ceremonies of agencies on September 15.

One activity is organizing half day symposiums, discussion forum on the subject on September 15 or any day in the month of September; or conducting other activities that promotes freedom, democracy, equality, participation, development, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

On September 15, 2009, the Philippines joins the other countries worldwide in celebrating the second International Day of Democracy, as declared by the 46th United Nations General Assembly on November 8, 2007 through resolution A/RES/62/7.

In establishing the International Day of Democracy, the United Nations noted that "while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy" and that "democracy does not belong to any country or region".

The International Day of Democracy is meant both to celebrate democracy and to serve as a reminder that the need to promote and protect democracy is as urgent now as ever.

The choice of 15 September for the International Day of Democracy corresponds to the adoption in September 1997 of the Universal Declaration on Democracy. That Declaration affirms the principles of democracy, the elements and exercise of democratic government, and the global scope of democracy.

The theme of the 2009 International Day of Democracy is "Democracy and Political Tolerance". Political tolerance is a central tenet of democracy and is essential to the functioning of parliaments or legislative bodies.

Local Government Units and legislative bodies are encouraged to mark the 2009 International Day of Democracy through activities devoted to the promotion of political tolerance.

The word, democracy, comes from two Greek words: demos, which means "the people", and kratein, which means "to rule". This "rule by the people" was first practiced in Greece in the sixth century BC and has been evolving as a system of government ever since. Throughout history, democracies have flourished, been threatened or replaced by authoritarian rule only to re-emerge in societies all over the world today.

The involvement of the people in the public affairs of their countries is more likely than any other form of government to ensure basic freedoms and equality, meet the needs of everyone and preserve or restore peace.

The ultimate goal of democracy is to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, to achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the community, strengthen the cohesion of society and build a propitious environment for international peace. Democracy, development and human rights are therefore interdependent.

In a democracy, human rights are promoted and protected so that all, regardless of race, gender, personal belief or style of life, can participate in formulating the laws and policies to which all are subject. These human rights include the right to express one's self freely, to associate freely with others, and to choose leaders and representatives in free and fair elections.

Lack of political tolerance is a problem everywhere. It manifests itself when political leaders refuse to give space to opposition parties and politics, when political parties do not tolerate dissent from their membership and, more generally, through a rejection of different views. The theme of "Democracy and political tolerance" for the International Day of Democracy 2009 has been chosen in order to highlight the importance of creating a culture of tolerance in society, and political life in particular.

Political tolerance means accepting and respecting the basic rights and civil liberties of persons and groups whose viewpoints differ from one's own. All citizens, including political leaders, have a responsibility to practice political tolerance in their words and actions. As a clear rejection of "might makes right," political tolerance is a key principle of democracy.

As an ideal, democracy upholds that members of the society should treat each other, and be treated, as equals. Underlying democracy is the acceptance and respect of the other. Democratic life is both the right to differ as well as the acceptance of such difference by all. Democracy implies respect for the plurality of views and virtues of dialogue as a means of resolving conflict.

Political intolerance is engendered by a willingness to restrict the rights of a disliked person or group based on their differing views. It represents a threat to democracy since it discriminates against and may even silence certain parts of the population. Intolerance creates a conformist culture and a closed society, which narrows citizens' perceptions of politics and shapes their subsequent behavior.

In order to promote political tolerance, every citizen must support civic education campaigns, in particular, youth outreach. One may also work with local communities and authorities to monitor and prevent hate speech, provide forums for dialogue between groups, and raise awareness about intolerance and discrimination.

Finally, every citizen must promote political participation in all its forms, such as voting, contacting elected representatives, participating in the work of political parties, signing petitions, and attending lawful demonstrations. (PIA 8)

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