The civil resistance movement will succeed

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“Aquino shrugged,” so said his spokesmen and communications secretary, following the issuance of the Cebu declaration and the Lipa declaration by the assemblies of religious and civic leaders, which called on the 15th president of our republic to step down.

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The spokesmen’s allusion to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is unfortunate and only digs a grave for the president. Rand’s 1957 novel depicts a dystopian United States, in which the country has a “National Legislature” instead of a Congress and a “Head of State” instead of a President. This will give angry citizens plenty of ideas.

If anything, the Palace statement is prophetic of what I am persuaded now has become inevitable. Aquino will bow to the will of the people and will step down and out of Malacañang. Sweeping political reforms will be passed and implemented. The scenario and program boldly advanced by the Cebu and Lipa declarations, and the proposed National Transformation Council, will slowly but surely become reality.

Am I, like President Aquino, hallucinating or being delusional?

Not at all. History, stretching over a hundred years, validates this forecast.

Why civil resistance works
A foreigner and regular reader alerted me to this verdict of history, in empathizing with us Filipinos in our ordeal and miseries under the administration of President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd.

He directed my attention to a much-praised article in International Security quarterly, by two women authors and academics, who have done exceptional research and analysis on the subject of civil resistance movements in history.

The paper is “Why civil resistance works: The strategic Logic of nonviolent Conflict,” by Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth (International Security, Volume 33,no.1, Harvard University).

The journal article has since been published as a book. It’s been reviewed and praised by experts. There are multiple citations of it online. I found a picture of the volume (see illustration).

I have ordered a copy of the book through Powerbooks, and it will take about a month to reach me.

In the meantime, I had to content myself with a shortened version of the book by the authors, which was published this year in an issue of Foreign Affairs. What follows is derived from my reading of the shorter version.

But first, let us ground the concept of “civil resistance” in an easy-to-understand definition, courtesy of an Oxford book,Civil resistance and power politics. Its editors, Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, define “civil resistance” as “a type of political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods. It involves a range of widespread and sustained activities that challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime – hence the term ‘resistance.’ The adjective ‘civil’ in this context denotes that a movement’s goals are widely shared in a society; and that the action concerned is non-military or non-violent in character…”

What Ms. Stephan and Ms. Chenoweth have done in their research project is both daunting and remarkable.

To assess the real potential of civil resistance movements, they assembled a historical data set of 323 campaigns that spanned the 20th century.

The global data set covered all known nonviolent and violent campaigns (each featuring at least 1,000 observed participants) for self-determination, the removal of an incumbent leader, or the expulsion of a foreign military occupation from 1900 to 2006. The data set was assembled using thousands of source materials on protest and civil disobedience, expert reports and surveys, and existing records on violent insurgencies.

Of course, Philippine people power in 1986 forms part of the data set.

Statling, incisive and cogent research findings
The findings of Ms. Stephan and Ms. Chenoweth in their research project are startling, incisive and cogent. Among these are the following:

1. Between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance against authoritarian regimes were twice as likely to succeed as violent movements.

2. Nonviolent resistance also increased the chances that the overthrow of the dictatorship would lead to peace and democratic rule.

3. Contrary to conventional wisdom, no social, economic, or political structure has systematically prevented nonviolent campaigns from emerging or succeeding. From strikes and protests to sit-ins and boycotts, civil resistance remains the best strategy for social and political change in the face of repression.

4. Movements that opt for violence often unleash terrible destruction and bloodshed, in both the short and the long term, usually without realizing the goals they set out to achieve.

5.Civil resistance does not succeed because it melts the hearts of dictators and secret police. It succeeds because it is more likely than armed struggle to attract a larger and more diverse base of participants and impose unsustainable costs on a regime.

6. Civil resistance campaigns that work have three things in common: they enjoy mass participation, they produce regime defections, and they employ flexible tactics.

Mass participation –Historically, the larger and more diverse the campaign, the more likely it was to succeed. Large campaigns have a greater chance of seriously disrupting the status quo.

Regime defections –Broad-based support for a civil resistance movement can weaken the loyalty of economic elites, religious authorities, and members of the media who support the regime. When such figures defect to the opposition, they can sometimes force the regime to surrender to the opposition’s demands.

Flexible tactics — When large numbers of people engage in acts of civil disobedience and disruption, shifting between concentrated methods such as protests and diverse methods such as consumer boycotts and strikes, even the most brutal opponent has difficulty cracking down and sustaining the repression indefinitely.

7. Civil resistance requires more than just mass participation and defections; it also requires planning and coordinated tactics. One scholar identified 198 different tactics that nonviolent resistance movements employ.

8. The authors cite the Syrian case as an illustration of why violence is the wrong path to take in resisting a regime. Rather than illustrate the limits of nonviolent resistance, Syria’s path shows how devastating the choice of violence can be. It has played to Assad’s strengths while making the opposition wholly reliant on external armed intervention.

9. Civil society played an essential role in nearly every major social and political transformation of the last half century.

10. Civil resistance campaigns are and should remain homegrown movements. The international community has done much to undermine civil resistance by quickly and enthusiastically supporting armed actors when they arrive on the scene. Syria’s tragedy is a case in point.

The fierce urgency of now
This brings us back to where we began: the situation in our country today

The varied initiatives and programs that have recently sprouted with the avowed purpose of effecting political, economic and ethical change can be described collectively as civil resistance movement.

By gathering them together under this single concept, it becomes easier to analyze this growing phenomenon in our midst, to comprehend the spreading kaleidoscope of action ideas and the increasing clamor for results.

Impeachment, the constitutionally prescribed option, is dead, because it just plays into the hands of Aquino’s gangster politics. It only gives the President and his congressional allies an excuse to loot the treasury some more.

Constitutional reform is an even more risky enterprise, because it can be used to enable Aquino to seek another term.

The tide of public outrage is rising. Our people will no longer tolerate the looting of the public treasury, the failure of the administration to solve glaring problems and provide vital public services. They cannot understand why in Aquino’s government, officials do not resign, and are not fired.

It is to the ordinary citizen an abnormal state of affairs. And it reflects the man who sits on top of our government.

This is why the formation of the National Transformation Council as both an umbrella and a transition vehicle for political change – is potentially a game-changer.

Aquino’s apologists in the media have advised the president, “Just say no,” to the calls for him to step down. And so he has. He has blamed Gloria Arroyo some more for the failures of his administration. And he keeps muttering reforms that are only visible to him, and are enjoyed by no one.

But the clamor for him to leave has relentlessly grown. From Lipa to Cebu, the civil resistance movement is spreading throughout the archipelago; other cities will host their own assemblies and issue their own declarations.

Signatories to the transformation movement will reach millions.

When the Aquino Resign movement was first launched,, the administration tried to tamp it down by organizing its own support-Aquino movement, Kompre.

The group and its leaders have disappeared in shame. Now, two opportunists have unfurled the banner of yet another pro-Aquino movement – More2Come – promising to enlist millions of signatures. You can see the organizers as just salivating for the administration to fund them. They will disappear even faster than Kompre.

By the time Pope Francis comes to town, who knows how many will be willing to fly Aquino’s ribbon?

To President Aquino’s shrug, the proper response, as in Lipa, was and always is: “Step down, now na.”

It has the fierce urgency of now.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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22 Comments

  1. Filipinos have been aware of the culture of corruption in Philippine politics and government although in various levels since the country was granted its independence until the present time. But because of the flow of events- natural and man-made especially the impact of climate change and the endemic corruption as they unfold year after year, the Pandora’s box of government mismanagement, officials’ vested interests, unbridled/ limitless desire for material wealth brought about by the value of consumerism as seen/influenced by print,broadcast media and digital gadgets, President Aquino’s government must do something to improve governance in his remaining years in office. Times have changed. The digital age has made opinion and news transfer so fast, people even in the most remote villages can now access news reports as events happen. Filipinos have increasingly become distrustful and upset with almost every malpractice/deception being done especially by their elected officials. Time to wake up government officials! Keep up the good work for those very few who still care about the Philippines!

  2. It’s amazing how a person changed because of power and wrong priorities. Despite doubts of his intelligence, I still voted BS Aquino as president simply becuase I had trust that he’s not corrupt. But current situation proved otherwise.

    What a waste?

  3. nothing will change because corruption is already part of our culture ingrained not only from politicians but majority of the common people just look around. just look how most of the voters vote. they voted for Erap who was a convicted plunderer, they voted for Imelda Marcos lol, now for Pacquiao lol. so just seeing this how do you think will the country prosper if the voters/ citizens are stupid and can be bought. no civil disobedience of another people power will change us. wake up! and change within yourself is the best and not blaming and blaming and blaming.

  4. BS Aquino had robbed this nation to the tune of 150 Billion DAP and 300 Billion vanishing CCT. He was charge with impeachment case but the DAP bribed Congress throw out the impeachment by “lack of substance” with out reasonable explanation. Impeachment charge should not be killed that way. It is disrespect on the citizens. It is now time for the citizens themselves to impeach Aquino.
    Students in MM and other cities will do “cheer dance” in the streets. Brave men shall occupy govt. buildings, semi brave women shall barricade banks that no money can flow in or out. Lovers shall picnic day and night in Batasang Pambansa. None shall assemble nearby Malacanang to avoid being spit by the retarded dwelling in there.
    Let the retarded and her army be lonely and blue in Malacanang ground.

  5. I love to attend senate deliberations, and aquino as a senator shows that he is just an observer or listener in short a “by stander” and not an active stateman that is vocally involved in passing or making the law. In layman’s term “walang alam”. And I was surprised when he run for the highest position of the land and “won daw” the presidency. What a shame !

  6. Bakit nga ba ganyan si Pnoy. Ang layo niya sa Nanay at tatay nya na nababasa ang kailangan ng tao. Hindi kaya nakaranas ng depression at vendictiveness ng makulong ang kanyang tatay. May balitang sakanya nagmana ang pamangkin niya na anak ni Kris at Ipe. Saka ang tanda na niya di pa siya nagaasawa at mahilig pa sa kids game. Something is wrong in him.

  7. The NTC expects another EDSA event on Aquino as it did with Marcos. Looking back other EDSA events followed that to remove a president. The removal of the president did change nor curtail corruption but in fact give politicians a template to follow. As you can see all of these removal of the presidents did not alter the political atmosphere of corruption maybe even intensified to epidemic proportion. Unless plan to the make the government, a government of elected officials who truly have the Philippine at heart, by cultivating men and women who love people truly. Changing the system of government did not work, but changing the kind of officials in the government will. NTC wants immediate change. Real change happen slowly at all levels of government following the course of nature. Just as the Son of God has to stay in the womb of the Virgin Mary for 9 months and grow to adulthood before publicly and openly started to change the world.

    • nod if you agree on

      where is the “LIKE” button?

      But seriously, I agree with the above comment. Instead of calling for ouster, The NTC should campaign to inform the masses, I do not like the idiot siting in Malacañang and his yellow congress and senate. I also believe that he will drag the country further down if given the chance to extend his term. But, I do not think another EDSA is needed. Haven’t we learned our lesson yet?

      The mind of the common Filipino has been dumb down by the yellow propaganda (main stream media). The NTC, if it truly wishes to uplift and to bring the country back from from the Gates of Hell where we are now, should campaign to inform so that we will never be fooled again.

  8. the civil resistance maybe the same with people power 15 yrs ago wherein nothing really happened or changed after that, the traditional crooks were still in power and the masses accepted it and ignored it so what is the difference of this one? why don’t we just re-examine ourselves the common people and attain more discipline, honesty and hard work and stop the crab mentality. why don’t we just copy our successful neighbors in Asia like the Koreans, Chinese, singaporeans, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indians. then maybe we as people and nation will eventually succeed and not these another people disobedience or power that will result with nothing and empty promises! this will just cause more violence and destruction.

  9. i am happy to see comments that speaks of the truth, i get so disillusioned and disturb reading lies after lies, hoping someone will agree to the twisting of noynoys true adm– he was the only president to have a budget of over a trillion,its 2 and half trillion ,and been having that much since he took over some 4years ago…..but look at the country people…..everything that he pretends to have achcived cameout from his mouth…it was pure rhetoric,noynoy is a very deceptive man and i just cannot wait for his term to end..

  10. The Filipino populace must now silently meditate to think for itself whether the nation is better off in four years of Benigno S. Aquino 3rd presidency or has remained stagnant or is even worst than the four previous governments of Cory Aquino,Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo combined. My humble and honest evaluation is that the BSAquino 3rd government has not produce any tangible economic progress, habitable peaceful community and nation, social upliftment of the poor and average citizen, getting good, free intensive and fulfilling education and extensive health coverage, decent housing and shelter. In other words, BSAquino as President has completely failed and has not at shown an iota of leadership or management acumen to administer the needs of the nation. BSAquino is devoid of charisma, intelligence and political saviness and subtlety of leadership and fairness in dealings with both political allies and opponents
    on his personal and political agenda by using political compromises rather than the power of the “purse” (e.g. funds in PDAF and DAP). BSAquino personal traits and character of stubbornness affects his fair and equitable judgment as President, thereby reflective of his subjectivity in dealings with personal agenda or issue that affects his own or family’s interest (like Hacienda Luisita and his personal relationship with friends, ka klase, kabarilan and kamaganak). Pnoy himself is a total failure and just proved that he got elected to the presidency not because of his own talent, competence or leadership or personal qualifications or experience or strength of character BUT because of sympathy votes on his mothers (Cory Aquino ) preceding death.
    His presidency only achieved his desire to avenge the torture and death of his father by jailing Emrile as the main target, with Estrada and Revilla as smokescreen of his vindictiveness. He got even with Arroyo and Corona who had decided to distribute the lands in Hacienda Luisita to farmers!

    • nod if you agree on

      “His presidency only achieved his desire to avenge the torture and death of his father by jailing Enrile as the main target”

      This could only mean that, the Idiot in Malacañang, still (in his own mind) believes that Marcos ordered Ninoy’s assasination.

  11. Great article Mr. Makabenta. I hope more of our brother Filipinos will come to their senses, wake up to the terrible truth of their misery thrust upon them by an incompetent and corrupt government. Now is the time when we all should join hands in dismantling this evil regime and take up the cause of the NTC (National Transformation Council) in which the vanguards are well-meaning religious and civic leaders who, we trust, won’t fail us. Let the crusading initiative of Bayanko’s crowdsourcing find common cause with NTC’s declared mission of national redemption so that our people will have a clear direction which way to go.

  12. Asiong Ignacio on

    Now, we need a competent, charismatic, honest, humble, inspiring, and passionate leader who can unify our people into a determined and unified mission of recovering our country from imminent destruction due to incompetent, insensitive and vindictive governance. There must be an apolitical leader out there who would take the challenge and deliver us from the evil geniuses of our government. Any takers…God Bless the Philippines, it is the only country we have.

    • Sonny Dela Cruz on

      What you are looking for a politician who has your own criteria are no longer in the Philippine, they all immigrated in the USA, Canada, Austrialia and etc. places where there are oppurtunies, a better living and oppurtunies for their children, The problem in the Philippines is so big that the citizen is not united to clean-up the government and to have a better Philippines. Poor Filipinos don’t care about their government because they are busy looking for anything just to feed their family. What will you feel when your kids ask you, Dad I’m hungry, Is there anything to eat? Are we gonna eat tomorrow too? The problem in the Philippines is so big, first poverty, corruption and peace & order. The poor people that has more of the population can make the difference to make the Philippines better than the Asian neighbors. Now, what is the solution. First, remove the President & Vice-President. Second, remove all the Senators. Third, remove all the Congressman. How? The Military should take over and form a junta for one year and THEN CALL FOR AN ELECTION to a new elected official of the government. The new government should replace the system of government into FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT and not with the present system of government so that the distribution of the countries wealth & development will come from the GOVERNORS of the 14 regions plus the Cordilleras and the Muslim Mindanao. Make a department called DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES. This department will provide housing, food and medicare, free education up to High school.The poor people should be fed first in order for them to contribute to the development of a better Philippines. The children should be in the school rather than in the street selling cigarettes, begging and in the dump sites looking for anything to sell just to help their parents for their daily life. Filipinos are not lazy. They work hard. They are good citizen of their adopted countries. Their children are better off. What is…

  13. Eddie de Leon on

    This is a serious campaign to restore Philippine electoral democracy, which though imperfect prior to the 2010 election and the use of the Venezuelan Smartmatic (with PCOS machines), was real. Today are officials are PCOS-machine produced. We have became a banana republic!

  14. it seems that the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, wherein during martial no one could complain about the president, now it’s all complains about the president, let it known that in less than 24 months, there will be a new president, who hopefully will be a better one, instead of a worse one, and then we will all remember these days with the words, “why could our president be like Noynoy?”

  15. P. Akialamiro@yahoo.com on

    There should be other conventions similar to that of Lipa and Cebu. Perhaps, a stronger and bigger one in the Ilocos regions and one in Mindanao. These two will complete the movement and Pres. B.S. Aquino, will be left with no other choice, but resign. Good luck.

  16. One of the principle often invoked by the Church is “hate the sin but not the sinner.” This fight of the NTC is not consistent with this principle. I am not declaring that President Aquino is the “sinner” but with this principle as an analogy he is the culprit as according to how the NTC puts it. The “sin,” in this situation is the culture oorruption that has ravaged shamelessly the Philippines since the 80’s. It is only in the recent years people had surfaced to denounce and whistleblow on these anomalies. NTC’s strategy of putting Aquino as the face of “sinner” will have repercussion in the future. Granting of the charges of his administrative failures, this will perpetuate the tactic of demonizing whoever sits in power, instead of addressing the “sin.” Once the “sinner” is out they forget about the “sin.” Look back in history, how many presidents whose misadventures in the government had been brought to justice? And the game continues.

  17. The”Civil Resistance” will succeed.
    It is a time bomb about to explode.

    Thanks Yen- very well explained.
    Mabuhay ka.

    Mabuhay ang “Manila Times” who has a Columnist like you.