IF there is anything that should awaken the Filipino to the need for a revolutionary government, the recent war in Marawi is the haunting call. In reality, this sad episode is still an unfinished battle. It is an epic battle for the Filipino. When we combine this narrative and the recent results of national elections, we see a common denominator: they are the result of long years of frustration, pent-up emotions, impatience borne out of perceived actual marginalization of (Muslims in Mindanao) and those in the fringes of Philippine society. This sense is bolstered by unaddressed historical injustices, experiences of human rights violations, and continuing exploitation by the ruling elite. This feeling is more intense from relatives of former fighters or activists and from communities who have personally experienced abuses and losses.
Unprecedented economic growth and changes were registered in the presidency of PNoy. He won the presidency on the mantra: “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” The general perception is that this mantra has remained a mere slogan. What’s the value of a high-growth performance in a jobless, non-inclusive economic growth? What’s the value of “decency” if many remain in the fringes of society and corruption persists?
Clarion call for real change
The loud noise for real change burst out with the recent election of Duterte. To them he speaks the language of the poor and the ordinary Filipinos. “Para sa mahirap” is not a mere slogan. He was voted out of impatience, desperation and resentment against the traditional ruling elite. In total disregard of the basic qualifications for a competent CEO, Duterte was chosen not by the majority but by a plurality of 16 million votes. “Decency” suddenly became distasteful. The brazenly uncouth, adversarial and tyrannical leader is now perceived more capable of bringing about real change! Those who voted for Duterte do not mind if he lacks the tact, not to mention the expletives, as long as he remains steadfast in his reform efforts.
The danger here, as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela once said is: “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Today, we see that this change has not brought the Filipino people any closer to a better society
In the haste for real change, PRRD displayed a “political will” admired by some but despised also by others. The jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima is a classic example. Using the full might of his power and influence as president, he set up charges and used high-profile criminal convicts to jail the senator. Openly, he declared his preference for the impeachment of the Ombudsman and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He sees them as obstructions to justice. For the first time, fake news has flourished to paint a colored and positive picture of what is happening in the country. He rules by fear and intimidation.
The drug war is PRRD’s focus as if all the solutions to the nation’s problems depends on it. Extrajudicial killing has become more of a legal or technical issue. Malacañang has its own definition of EJK. Human rights issues have become more politicized than sanctified. For the first time, the Church’s moral ascendancy is under attack by no less than the president. Morality appears to be losing its value or is being redefined. The value of the institution of marriage, for example, is now a subject of debate. The fundamental question is: what is really happening in the country’s economics? What is the truth, for example, on the reported economic deal with China that PRRD boasts about? The news through the grapevine is rather disturbing, echoing shades of the “Marcosian” ways. Transparency is wanting.
China’s development assistance, for example, has attracted varied criticisms. In essence, the criticism revolves around “governance leading to socio-economic and political decline.” Without encouraging good governance, and managing this relationship for the benefit of countries assisted, they will not see the gains from development assistance that will lead to the sustainable development and progress of these countries. This is probably the reason why PRRD wants development assistance from China than the West. Also, grants are reportedly loans with interest rates higher than Japan.
The cry for revolutionary govt
Bad governance and bad behavior, resulting in bad economics are magnets that push people to consider embracing a radical ideology like communism and the IS. They build or motivate individuals to join violent, extremist groups. They attract the young, the bold and the adventurists to join a group or network’s popularity. This is why various alternative movements emerge, i.e., NPA, MNLF, MILF, BIFF, Abu Sayyaf and lately the Maute group. The cry for a revolutionary government is getting louder every day. Today, PRRD is toying with the idea of a Cory Aquino type of revolutionary government. If she can do it, why can’t he, as an approach to resolving the country’s endemic and structural problems hindering genuine progress?
The fundamental question is: Will a revolutionary government under PRRD’s leadership be acceptable? Will it succeed? The decent Cory became the icon of democracy but failed to effect real change. Duterte is the opposite of Cory. He has the political will but his uncouth and adversarial ways go against the grain of what is right in governance.
If change is coming, it will not be because Duterte is offering the nation a new vision. Rather, it will be because the Filipino people are fed up with what the world has offered thus far.
Genuine revolutionary govt
Without authentic change, the Philippines will continue to deteriorate much worse than where it is today. This change can be found, not in a new ideology but in an old one never tried before—the Ways of the Gospel of Christ. We need a leader who can lead us in living this out.
As the British philosopher GK Chesterton put it: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Ruben C. de Lara, is co-founder, president and CEO of Serving Humanity through Empowerment and Development (SHED), Inc., an NGO with a grand dream to help end poverty.