THE title does not refer to the Jewish pogroms that started in the Middle Ages in Europe which culminated in the Nazi extermination policies that brought on the Holocaust. It refers to an attempt at a “final solution” to the exasperation of the Filipino people with the slow pace of change promised by DU30’s battlecry “Pagbabago.” By the time this column comes out today, November 30, the Philippines could be in the cusp of another upheaval, a revolutionary government (“revgov”), that the DDS and the fist-pumpers have been working for weeks to entice PRRD to declare. I don’t think this will happen today. The Deegong is much wiser and more politically astute than his partisans who assume that the 16 million people who voted for him and the core of the 80 percent that has sustained PRRD’s popularity – that all have one prescription to solve this country’s ills.
Many of us who support DU30 agree on the causes of the pervasive frustration resulting in our government’s perceived stasis. But we differ in the solutions. As a blue-blooded parliamentary-federalist, I am also aghast at the recalcitrance of the Congress to work on the revision of the 1987 Constitution, this oligarch-influenced document that has reinforced the systemic perversions of the unitary system of governance in the lives of the Filipinos for a hundred years.
PRRD mentioned “revgov” as simply a threat, a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the “yellows,” the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Islamic radicals who are suspected of plotting to topple his government. But he toned down this language when the Armed Forces itself disputed this statement. But the zealots have picked this up as a clarion call to gather the true believers for a show of force today, November 30. Assuming that PRRD were to declare a “revgov,” would he telegraph his punches and join the mob today?
He is the undisputed constitutional leader of this country; although elected by a mere plurality, he has gained majority support to date. So, the zealots introduced another argument: declare a revGov similar to what President Cory did in 1986. Their argument goes this way: President Corg was elected President and sworn in by CJ Davide but she subsequently declared a revolutionary government. This could be the template for PRRD.
Columnist John Nery in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (“Newsstand,” November 21, 2017) pointed out that that the Deegong had already raised this question in August 2015 – long before he declared his candidacy; and reiterated the same in August 2017. Nery proceeded to argue that PRRD then and his cohorts now have a faulty reading of history. I quote: “Corazon Aquino was brought to power by a revolution…that repudiated the rigged election results called under the 1973 (Marcos) Constitution; she replaced it with (the 1987 Constitution). That’s why – and how – in her first year in office she presided over a revolutionary government.”
Senate President Koko Pimentel opined further: “Marcos was also sworn in at the same time as Cory. But because of the Edsa People Power Revolution booting out Marcos, Cory won. The 1973 Marcos Constitution was in effect null and void.” Cory issued Proclamation No. 3 establishing a revolutionary government and promulgated the provisional 1986 Freedom Constitution. She exercised powers until the 1987 Constitution was ratified.
But in an article in the Mindanao Times on November 24, columnist Chito Gavino, claiming superior political knowhow but alien to the nuances of other alternatives, offers the argument that revgov could be “done in a democratic way, meaning ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.” Enchained to a linear progression of “problems-frustrations-therefore, revgov,” he employs tired old clichés as a backdrop for another upheaval, one that will inveigle the President into declaring a coup d’état against himself.
In short, he claims that the November 30 gathering calling for a revgov is “vox populi, vox dei”; condemning the people to yet another protracted “vox silentium,” akin to the earlier years of the Marcos dictatorship.
The President is a good lawyer and recognizes that Cory’s was not a precedent and will not declare a “revgov” under these circumstances. Yet, his devotees would have him stake his neck and the harsh judgment of history in an illegal and irresponsible adventure. I am myself exasperated, but the proposed “revgov” cure can be deadlier than the disease. We need to help the President see his way clear through this and not pander to his vulnerable passions and rhetoric. So, what then are our alternatives?
Let’s put the problems squarely where they are now. The onus for the revision of the 1987 Constitution rests on the two houses of Congress, but more so the Senate; and the futility of the mode of changing the Constitution – by Congress deciding to vote as one, or separately, to get the three-fourths for a constitutional amendment or revision. The math in favor of constitutional revisions is indeed formidable. The Senate, headed by PDP Laban party-mate Koko Pimentel boasts of its support for PRRD. Yet, the committee on constitutional revisions is chaired by Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, the LP president, the protector of the 1987 Constitution. He is holding hostage the future of this Republic and the next few generations. With him are Senators Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Antonio Trillanes and Risa Hontiveros. This is unacceptable. There has to be a constitutional and legal way to break the impasse and crack the hold of an impudent minority on the body politic. In a democratic system, negotiations are the norm to arrive at an agreement and a win-win solution between parties with divergent and oftentimes contradictory interests. Surely, we do not need a “revgov” to have these august members of the Senate see the Deegong’s way through?
But where is the vaunted political will of PRRD? The kind of sense of purpose that allowed “tokhang” to arrest the proliferation of the illegal drug menace and stop in their tracks the Parojinogs, the Espinosas etc.? But have we exhausted all efforts at negotiation? Have we closed the avenues for compromise, and the application of threats and pressure as legitimate tools, when necessary?
Do we need to spill blood that is sure to ensue in a “revgov” because of the obduracy of a few people? Why involve the whole country? Do you use a hammer to exterminate a fly? Can the President not do a surgical operation? These are templates worth looking into. Let’s all think through these alternatives and crowdsource specific solutions in social media where truly the “vox populi” can be heard.