“Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible render violent revolutions inevitable.”
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Many people are appalled by the idea of revolution as an effort to dramatically change a society or a country. The distrust of revolution as a method of changing a country is due to limited knowledge of what the concept is all about. Almost everyone thinks of revolution as a bloody method – hundreds or thousands of people die in the process, leaving a wake of destruction of properties and institutions.
Being violent and bloody is not necessarily the case. As the Kennedy quote puts it so well, a revolution can be peaceful or violent. It is a matter of choice on the ones who advocate and implement it. This is revolution as a method of achieving change. But more important than the method is the objective or a vision of what is to be attained. The misinterpretation of many people of the nature of a revolution is the association of the idea in the events in countries where systemic changes were sought to be attained – the Spanish revolution, the American revolution, the Chinese revolution, the American revolution, to cite the more popular examples of a revolution. But there are also many examples of peaceful revolutions which have happened in contemporary times.
A revolution is the successful struggle to achieve dramatic changes in society. The leaders who advocate and implement a revolution are hailed as heroes. They cannot be answerable to existing law since they will orchestrate the institutional changes in the country and change the law, among others. If it fails, it is not categorized as a revolution; it is a rebellion. Rebel leaders are prosecuted and go to jail in established democracies. In other forms of government, they are arrested and executed – hanged in the nearest electric lamp post, or get executed through a volley of rifle fire, or lose their heads in the guillotine.
Whatever kind of revolution anyone wants to mount, the danger of losing one’s life is always a looming presence. But for love of country, doing a revolution is worthwhile. The great leader does not die in the process; he succeeds and in so doing, he restructures institutions, reorients and disciplines the people, and builds a better country for all – not just for the oligarchs and the privileged classes.
Revolution in the Philippine context
In the Philippine context and in the true sense of the term, there are only two revolutions that have taken place in the Philippines in so far as method is concerned. These are EDSA 1 and EDSA II. But they are revolutions in the sense that they paved the way for a change of administration but not system change – a new vision defining new institutions and restructuring human relationships among its people. Both so-called “revolutions” did not pave the way for a new system, a new vision, a new restructuring of institutions, new values and a new restructured leadership that knew what to from outside the existing institution under which it came into being.
Under EDSA 1 Cory just replaced Marcos, operating under the old system with the same institutions, the same programs, the same operational mechanisms – elections of presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, and mayors operating under the same old discredited rules. The poor remained poor, the rich got richer. The same old graft and corruption! The same old pretenses that public officials had become honest and efficient! Indeed, they have become more efficient in committing graft and corruption, and other similar crimes.
The same is true with EDSA II, the Gloria Arroyo administration. It started with a promise of changes in the whole structure and institutions of government, and the nature of public service. Out of ten promises, it violated eleven – diez once. Graft and corruption was terrifying. The election process was left in shambles. Her administration looked like the way Gloria looks now at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) – very reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
So this is the way revolution looks like in the Philippines. More method, meaning form than substance, meaning systemic change! Cory came and went, and the country had grown worse. Gloria came and went, and the country is in shambles, just like the way she looks now – brace around her neck and thinner, and the sexiness deserting her.
The emerging revolution
What is the type of the emerging revolution in the Philippines? If I have my way, I chose the peaceful constitutional revolution which could pave the way for the organization of a Constitutional Transition Government (CTG). How can this come into being? It can emerge through three different ways. First, this can be done by the President of the Philippines as the head of government, as the top representative of the people, and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The constitutional bases are – section 1 of Article II and section 3, Article II of the Constitution. This is what is known as a palace revolution, the same thing that President Marcos did but with a different legal twist.
Second, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the protector of the people and the State under section 3 of Article II of the Constitution. In implementation, it could be done by the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines in complete unity or by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or any unit of the AFP due to the failure of the whole AFP or the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP) to perform its constitutionally mandated duty. This took place when CSAFP General Angelo ”Angie” Reyes withdrew his support for then President Joseph Estrada in EDSA II.
Third, the people as the seat of the national sovereignty and all government authority or a segment of the people purporting to represent the people under section 1, Article II of the Constitution. This happened in EDSA I and EDSA II.
What are the possibilities?
THE FIRST OPTION – THE PALACE COUP: If one were to judge Noynoy, the President, it is quite remote for him to do it. It is just out of the character of the man. However, there are several elements that may compel him to do it. First, if he cannot be certain that the PCOS machine can be manipulated to cheat for Mar Roxas. If in his assessment it is too chancy for his COMELEC BOYS to cheat for Roxas, he will be compelled to do it because he has to avoid, at all cost, prosecution for his perceived crimes as President and ending up like Gloria Arroyo. Second, he may be compelled by Asperger syndrome and his close advisers to do it because these advisers may suffer the same fate with him if Mar Roxas loses the election. And he is scared tiff to go to jail charged with graft and corruption as well as plunder, not to speak of treason.
THE SECOND OPTION – THE MILITARY: Talking of the whole AFP, this is a very remote possibility. The AFP and its top officers are opportunistic and normally loyal to the administration. The loyal officers are strategically positioned in the AFP hierarchy. There are more reasons why the AFP will not possibly do it. First, a move of this kind will immediately need an answer to this eternal question: Does this move have the permission of the American government? If it is not clear to them that it has a US go signal, then the AFP will not move, as a whole or any of its units. I should know, I have been their before as one of the strategic lawyers of the putchists. Second, the AFP leaders always ask: which side would the people be? The answer to this question means – a million people, more or less, should be at EDSA before they decide. There is no oligarch or billionaire, or group of their kind, as of the moment, which can commit to produce that crowd in EDSA. Third, gone are the officers in the AFP like General Angelo “Angie” Reyes, BG Edgardo ”Abe” Abenina, MG Jose Maria “Jimmy” Zumel, MG Blando of the Special Forces, BG Jose Galido of SOLCOM, BG Jose Commendador, General Fortunato Abat, BG Cesar dela Pena, Colonel Red Kapunan, Navy Captain Rex Robles, Navy Captain Boy Turingan, Colonel Viduya, BG Tiboy Fusilero, Colonel Oscarlito Mapalo, Lt. Colonel Rafael Cardeno, BG Galileo Kintanar, Captain Nick Faeldon, Captain Milo Masestracampo, Captain Andy Gauran, Major Bong Amon, Colonel Dado Valeroso, Colonel Billy Bibit, Colonel Raffy Galvez, and many other officers whose faces I still remember but whose names my memory has betrayed, for the moment. They were there before but now they are gone from the ranks.
These are officers who are either dead, retired, out of touch, or tired of joining dangerous enterprises for love of country. But there are young officers and non-commissioned officers who are more than willing to wage a revolution but they need a leader to put them together.
THE PEOPLE: This is a very interesting possibility except that the people need a leader who is charismatic and who can spend for the success of the move. The EDSA precedent does not loom large in the horizon. The people are tired of plunging into another activity of the kind having been betrayed in the past by the leaders who were loyal to themselves and the oligarchs who financed them. But of all the intriguing possibilities, this is the best hope for our country and our people.
Can be done without a bullet fired
Any of these moves can be done peacefully, without a single bullet being fired. In the case of EDSA I, it was done in seven days, more or less peaceful. In the case of EDSAI, it was done in one day. It was done, it can be done.
I am not a seer and I have no pretensions to be one. For the moment, I am content to show you the ten percent of the iceberg, the ninety percent remains to be unraveled by developing events. Your guess is as good as mine.