Monday, April 10, 2006

People Power and moral consistency

What has emerged here and in other forums then and now is that revolutions are experienced differently by different participants according to their roles in the process and that the outcomes may be manipulated even by non-revolutionary actors to achieve self-serving objectives other than those conceived by the true rebels.

For example, while now we know the outcome of People Power II is mere “personnel change,” there are those who have given thought to the interpretation (myself among them, and also mlq3 it seems) that one of the objectives of People Power II was the attainment of a systemic change. A post of mine, more or less contemporaneous to the events, would reveal this personal perception:
It should be noted that the ‘system in place’ was illegitimated as the people’s consciousness about the fundamental crack in the system was hastened by the education provided by the impeachment trial through the intercession of information technology and, of course, the ubiquitous media. The realization that the government has been criminalized by the likes of Atong Ang and Dante Tan, that the malevolence of patron-client complex is not a leftist concoction after all, that the people’s representatives in the legislature personified by the ‘Dirty 11’ [the eleven senators who voted during the impeachment against the opening of the envelope believed to contain evidence incriminating Estrada] would openly pursue narrow selfish interests at the expense of salus populi, and that establishment icons like retired Chief Justice Andres Narvasa and former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza could mock and manipulate the legal and judicial system through all the legalistic chicanery at their disposal, all contributed to the illegitimation of the ‘system in place.’

Through people power, the people collectively aspired to overthrow the system via the symbolic ouster of Erap, whom they perceived as the man at the helm of the status quo ante. The people revolted with the full knowledge that Erap is not the only enemy. They saw that the real enemy is the ‘system in place.’
Now, fellow blogger Dean Jorge Bocobo claims that during People Power II “People power was the cover for military mutiny and coup d’etat” among then Vice President Arroyo, General Angelo Reyes and other elements of the military.

I cannot buy DJB’s speculation as among the first things to remember is that Arroyo was a Mary-come-lately to People Power II. Recall too that there were mutinies of sort from the civilian sector of the population. One that immediately comes to mind was the resignation from the cabinet by Mar Roxas, or the unorthodox, ergo mutinous, “initiation” of the impeachment proceeding under the auspices of Manny Villar. These rebellious acts, if I recollect correctly, antedated the supposed military conspiracy to withdraw support from President Estrada, and thus should be considered as essential component of the gathering ensemble of the people power movement Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Mike Arroyo and General Angelo Reyes were not party to - at the formation.

Maybe it should be pointed out anew that impeachment is also a coup d’etat, albeit a constitutional one. It is in effect an un-election process through proxies, the objective of which is to pre-terminate the term of the office of the official sought to be impeached. The un-electors (the people’s representatives in Congress) are therefore obliged to make a faithful reading of the true will of their principal. Ultimately, the issue to resolve in such a proceeding is whether the public official in the dock is entitled to continue serving the mandate first given to him during his election.

True Erap obtained about 11 million votes but the constitution provides a mechanism called impeachment for a midcourse revisiting of that mandate if the ground therefor exits. The proxies could be seen as bastardizing the constitutional process, if not the system itself, if they openly betray the people’s will as could be gleaned through the various media available for expressing public opinions. I think, in this regard, the Filipinos deserve more than we give them credit for, particularly in terms of the level of political sophistication they have achieved since the first people power. We should at least trust their wisdom of knowing that what is sauce for Erap is sauce for Gloria, or for any Erap or Gloria wannabes waiting in the wings. I do believe that at very least Filipinos are capable of achieving this moral consistency.

We’ll see, if the second impeachment against Arroyo is filed in July.


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