IN a world of changes, some things refuse to change. One is the truism that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As long as human nature is human nature absolute power remains a nearly irresistible temptation to greed and corruption to even the best of the human species.
That is why I am not down on RevGov (Revolutionary Government) that some are pushing. It’s too risky. I suffered enough in my nightmarish days and nights in a dictator’s “safe house” to risk reducing our nation’s already meager democratic space the way I think a RevGov definitely would.
It is fraught with risk because instituting reforms in our admittedly fragile democracy by authoritarian or non-democratic means is an oxymoron. It’s like perking up a lethargic horse by firing a bullet to its head. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos killed democracy the moment he declared the Martial Law he wanted to save it with.
I think I know what place pro RevGov people are coming from. Traditional oligarchs are bitterly resisting President Duterte’s attacks on their previously impregnable politico-economic castles. RevGov advocates fear here the potential of a violent reaction from a people that have long been held in bondage by traditional political lords (tyrants really) hiding behind mock democratic façades. Their fear is not unfounded.
History has consistently shown that a suffering majority eventually reaches the end of its rope and goes up in arms against the ruling elite that keep it economically and politically deprived. In fact, the Communist Party of the Philippines pins its hopes of winning the protracted war in the countryside on this historically-proven eventual scenario.
Pro RevGov people would seem to see Duterte’s populist agenda as a way out of the violent revolution the Communist Party is working on. Hence, they egg him on to push Federalism and his whole populist agenda faster by acquiring the absolute powers of a revolutionary government.
I know the President well enough personally to trust him with what he is doing, though not necessarily with how he is doing it. But still, the long and short of what is easily the year’s understatement is that he is no angel. Hence, giving him absolute power is risky. Only a drawn-out cultural revolution can put us on the road to political maturity.
To shift to federalism before embarking on such a revolution is already a risky short cut. A revolutionary government pushing federalism is even a riskier cut.
I suggest we move towards Federalism as democratically as we possibly can. Let’s make as the first steps in our cultural revolution whatever fresh and liberating politico-philosophical insights we gain as we weigh the pros and cons of federalism.