• #REVGOV, anyone?



    THE grant of provisionary powers to an incumbent leader is extraordinary. It means that everything has failed, hence the necessity of a revolutionary government. It is being prepositioned as that state in between unitary (the present form of government) and federal (the end goal of a constitutional revision).

    An online survey was in fact done by the proponents from the period October 8-9, 2017. The question asked was “whether the public agrees to grant provisional extraordinary powers for Rodrigo Duterte?” The results are as follows: “83 percent in favor #RevGov, or an increase from 71 percent in the previous survey on the same question done in August 2017. If OFW international response were to be included in the analysis, 97 percent agrees.” The survey “uses random sampling nationwide in a social media environment of 30 million Facebook users accessing in all major cities and social classes.” The survey link results were posted in Facebook.

    Last Thursday, PRRD threatened to adopt “Cory’s revolutionary style government versus destab plotters.” PRRD said he does not want to declare martial law because that would require him reporting to Congress. He would rather have a revolutionary government: “I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term, and I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full-scale war against the Reds.”

    Cory was not the first to declare a #RevGov. On June 23, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo issued another decree, which replaced the dictatorial government with a revolutionary government. In 1898, between June and September 10, the Malolos Congress elections were held by the revolutionary government resulting in Emilio Aguinaldo being elected President of the Philippines. Have we been successful in rebooting the Philippine system twice? The answer there is no.

    #RevGov is said to be the power of the people to undo what they have approved of in the first place. “It is a provisional extraordinary power to cleanse the body politic of its convoluted problems such as narco-politics, corrupt government officials, and to protect the transition to a new constitution free from trapo influence. These powers are co-terminus once the constitution is approved in a plebiscite and when new elections are made under the new system of government.”

    It brings to mind the social contract theorists, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, of a bygone era. Thomas Hobbes said that in a “state of nature,” human life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” In the absence of political order and law, everyone would have unlimited natural freedoms, including the “right to all things” and thus the freedom to plunder, rape, and murder; there would be an endless “war of all against all.” To avoid this, free men contract with each other to establish political community, i.e. civil society, through a social contract in which they all gain security in return for subjecting themselves to an absolute sovereign, one man or an assembly of men. Hobbes saw “absolute government as the only alternative to the terrifying anarchy of a state of nature.” He asserted that humans consent to abdicate their rights in favor of the absolute authority of government (whether monarchical or parliamentary). And that is the essence of democracy and governance.

    Alternatively, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that, “we gain civil rights in return for accepting the obligation to respect and defend the rights of others, giving up some freedoms to do so.” The central assertion of social contract approaches is that, “law and political order are not natural, but are instead human creations.” The social contract and the political order it creates are simply the means towards an end—the benefit of the individuals involved—and legitimate only to the extent that they fulfill their part of the agreement. According to Hobbes (in whose view government is not a party to the original contract), “citizens are not obligated to submit to the government when it is too weak to act effectively to suppress factionalism and civil unrest.” According to other social contract theorists, when the “government fails to secure their natural rights (Locke) or satisfy the best interests of society (called the ‘general will’ in Rousseau), citizens can withdraw their obligation to obey, or change the leadership through elections or other means including, when necessary, violence.”

    So, are we saying government can’t handle what it is supposed to rein in? Are we saying, the opposition, through propaganda for over 16 months already, is winning the debate and the public space? Are we saying that PRRD does not have enough powers to confront the disorder, if we consider it as one? Are we accepting the conclusion that PRRD is an outlier and cannot instill discipline in our politics?

    PRRD has not done any political reforms. Is he afraid to tell his political supporters that he does not want the status quo? That PDP Laban should not behave like the Liberal Party? That politics as usual is already passé? What is the counter ideology then to push for political reforms? If there is a void, any organization will just fill the center and push for their agenda? What organization will assist him to pursue the “needed” reforms? The military? The police? #RevGov is easier said than done. So many fell by the wayside when #RevGov was invoked. It merely consolidated the power of the oligarchy and that has been the narrative of our country since Day 1.

    Would #RevGov ensure that the 24 percent who are poor are given the wherewithal to live above poverty? Will their lives be better off? As pointed out, time and time again, “in every revolution, there are winners and losers. Every dystopia is a utopia for somebody else. It just depends where you are. Are you in the class that benefits, or are you in the class that does not?”


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