Gov. Toto Defensor’s ‘social justice’

By: Alex P. Vidal

“There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”—Fidel Castro

THE presence of billionaire industrialist Enrique Razon during the oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected officials in Iloilo Province at the Iloilo capitol lobby June 28, was timely and expedient.

In the world of philanthropy where Mr. Razon belongs, the phrase “social justice” is very relevant and is heard a lot.

Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. vowed to serve the province of Iloilo based on “social justice” in a speech during the oath-taking ceremony administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza.

Social justice is originally a Catholic term, first used about 1840 for a new kind of virtue (or habit) necessary for post-agrarian societies.

The term has been bent by secular “progressive” thinkers to mean uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages. It is really the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community.

If people are to live free of state control, they must possess this new virtue of cooperation and association.

This is one of the great skills of Americans and, ultimately, the best defense against statism, according to Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy.




According to the United Nations, “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.”

Social justice refers to a concept in which equity or justice is achieved in every aspect of society rather than in only some aspects or for some people.

A world organized around social justice principles affords individuals and groups fair treatment as well as an impartial share or distribution of the advantages and disadvantages within a society.

Formal definitions for social justice vary in wording, but there are commonalities among them. 1. Equal rights 2. Equal opportunity and 3. Equal treatment

Although he admitted that “I cannot do it alone,” the new governor appealed to all: “Please join us in implementing programs that uplift lives such as those of our farmers and fisherfolk. Please join us in improving the barangays, in sharing the wealth and resources of the province. There can be no justice without peace, so please continue to help us.”




Social justice includes a vision of a society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole. (Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell, Griffin, 2nd ed., Routledge 2007)

The absence of social justice results in social oppression.

Racism, sexism, ageism, classism, ableism, and heterosexism are some forms of social oppression in society.

Societies and individuals form hierarchies of oppression in which certain types of oppression are addressed and others are not.

Oppression of certain groups or individuals can result in social or legal exclusion, discrimination, inequitable distribution of resources, and emotional and physical consequences.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)