Utter nonsense is what it is, all this talk about establishing a revolutionary government. I spewed my morning latté all over my blouse when I read in the papers that supporters of Rodrigo Duterte were rallying for him to establish a “revolutionary” government, cries that the President was doing little to quell. No one can pinpoint exactly who birthed the idea yet I get the suspicion that nobody will be rushing to grab credit because the very idea is “propesterous,” as Robert Jaworski once said in the august halls of the Senate. How a ruling administration can establish a “revolutionary” government against itself and remain in power is what I’d like to know. It is a notion so self-contradictory, so irreconcilable it’s almost oxymoronic. Then again, who else cooks up oxymorons but morons.
By definition, a revolutionary government is one that is formed to overthrow a current regime and to replace it. In tsarist Russia, the Communists overthrew the monarchy to establish a new form of government, one not based on hereditary succession and a monopoly on state power by one dynasty. In 1776, George Washington led 13 colonies in rebelling against the mad king George III to establish an
independent United States. In France, commoners beheaded the Bourbon Louis XVI and his Hapsburg queen Marie Antoinette, abolished the nobility and its privileges to establish a democratic government. A similar revolution took place in China. In our history, I can name two. The first was in 1896-1898 when Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo waged war against the Spanish and formed a revolutionary government. It must have been glorious though the little I know of it I have read only in history books.
I was more privileged to have taken part in the second. It was in 1986 when Ferdinand Marcos was toppled, ejected and dejected from his two-decade mooching in Malacañang. The agents of change here are rightfully considered the Filipino people; some would allege that Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was the day’s heroine—wrong. She was only the figurehead, and I have to say the lucky loser in that year’s snap polls. The EDSA Revolution deserves its name because it overthrew a dictatorship, its institutions and its principles, but the irony is that as soon as Marcos fled and Aquino took over, the revolutionary government she had constituted ceased to be one and became legit.
Purists would take issue with the characterization of the replacement of Joseph Ejercito Estrada by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as another “revolution.” I am firmly on the side of the purists. Sure, there were rallies on the streets, banners were unfurled, effigies burned, but rallies, banners and effigies do not a revolution make. A revolution calls for something more: it involves overhauling of institutions and ideologies, of political structures and economic regimes—anything less than that is simply moving pawns on a chessboard. Accordingly, when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took the reins from Estrada, that was not a revolution—it was only a change of leadership. A revolution entails replacing the old chessboard with not a new chessboard; in Arroyo’s case, her chosen replacement was Snakes and Ladders. Now wait a minute…. When I put it that way, Arroyo’s ascension might have been a revolution after all.
Anyhow, when President Duterte entertains thoughts of establishing a “revolutionary” government, he is confusing himself. He does not mean to replace himself with himself, much less replace him with another President. Did you honestly believe his declarations that he would step down from power if, say, any member of his family or his trusted circle of confidantes were engaged in graft and corruption? I didn’t. The victory he achieved last year, so unlikely and so surprising given that he had no political machinery to speak of, few-to-no financial backers, no national experience whatsoever, is not one that will be surrendered lightly. It would also explain his reluctance to “share” power with the Left—a suggestion that, in the interest of fairness, came from him, not the Left, by the way—because that victory was his, and goddammit, it will remain his and his alone.
What he means—intends—I think, is to overthrow the legal regime. He chafes under the Constitution we have now, and laws such as the Juvenile Justice Act, which cramp his style. Style, definitely, I cannot as of yet speak of his ambition because when the conversation veers in that direction, we are talking of Ferdinand Marcos two-point-oh. Martial law, if memory serves, started with a campaign against illegal drugs, much the same as we are witnessing now, and when it was declared, it was done so in the name of law and order. History seems to be rewinding now, considering especially that martial law was declared in Mindanao. That is priming the pump, I fear.
A “revolutionary” government, really? That thinking is premature and immature and all variations of “mature,” everything except “mature” itself. G