Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why not a revolutionary government?

I still remember the excited exchange we had at the moribund about the search for a way out of the Erap standoff. At the height of People Power II, the presidential toughie was holed up in Malacañang clinging to his formal power even as his armed forces chief of staff, Angelo Reyes, was also secretly plotting to break the chain of command.

As speculations mounted about President Estrada’s eventual capitulation, suggestions were bruited about as to how the country should be run post Estrada. The one idea I was personally turned on was for FVR, GMA and Angara representing the military, the civil society groups and Erap’s supporters, respectively, to form a triumvirate to govern the country during the unexpired term of Erap subject to the condition that the three of them should commit to disqualify themselves from running for president in the next national elections in 2004. Apparently, Erap, like Marcos, didn’t see his ouster coming, and coming so abruptly. He possibly never had thought too of the foregoing or similar scenarios before his bargaining position dissipated or when ultimately a breakaway crowd of protesters sent him scurrying to a waiting barge in the Pasig river.

The civilian/military conspiracy to remove a duly elected president (and Erap was duly elected), as anyone now realized, was not treated as a criminal offense, not even as “inciting to sedition” (what mlq3 considers as a colonial crime), the easiest one to prosecute among the crimes of its category in the penal code. Free speech it was, the Supreme Court ruled, obviously to allow a constitutional, rather than a revolutionary, presidential succession for then Vice President Arroyo.

A couple of months ago, when many saw President Arroyo to be at the end of her tether, a transition government or a provisionary council of varied composition was also proposed. More than anything, the revolutionary nature of that proposal is what won me over to it as against “snap elections” as the immediate alternative for a post Arroyo government.

Why would my own instinct go against my entrenched belief in People Power democracy? Well, the self-contradiction was merely more apparent than real.

Firstly, I thought and wrote that GMA without declaring a revolutionary government “(lost) one great window of opportunity by balking to fully legitimize People Power II and to venture into a fresh start, preferring to look backwards to the status quo ante . . . .” Indeed, as quickly as she was swept to power, GMA lost no time recoiling to employ extraordinary powers to put the house of the state in order the way she is determined today to avail of similar methods to ensure her political survival. It was a great disappointment.

Secondly, I believe a revolutionary route is the best imperfect solution to the long-standing scourge of the nation and that a piecemeal, painful, slow and deadly approach to the monstrosity of the problem would fail as any other incremental attempts before. Think about it again, do not the extreme destitution, desperation, and powerlessness of tens of millions of Filipinos deserve the use of extreme measures? But against whom should extraordinary powers be exercised? The state employs coercive actions against street marchers or labor strikers. Should the same strong-arm tactics be used against senseless and heartless capital strikers and fly-by-night operators? Whose liberty it is that is protected when the rights of others to seek redress for grievances are trampled upon in the name of commerce, for instance?

Thirdly, I draw certain philosophical parallelism BETWEEN the belief of some in the value of limited (versus universal) suffrage, that is, limited only to those who have a stake in the system (the stakeholders so-called) to the exclusion of the uneducated and the unpropertied until the latter earn and learn enough to become stakeholders themselves AND the idea of political sovereignty being withheld, albeit temporarily (hence, the preference for the establishment of a revolutionary government to the holding of status-quo-preserving snap elections), if only to hasten and secure direly needed political, social and economic reforms.

When political, social and economic resources are distributed, the attainment of true political capacity for fully qualified citizens cannot be far behind.


Anonymous John said...

Hi Abe. It took me a week, but I finally got around to answering part of the question you raised about the military and the hierarchy of values. It's under Trenchant Questions. The second half hopefully later this week!

October 10, 2005 5:50 AM  

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