President Duterte has repeated often enough that he’d rather give up the presidency peacefully than resort to Martial Law to retain it. He has also expressed reluctance to push federalism through a Revolutionary Government (Rev Gov).
Yet whether we believe him or not is really beside the point. His popular support in the face of the oligarchy’s steely resistance to federalism as a means of establishing a truly and fully representative democracy might yet force him to declare a revolutionary government.
It is, therefore, time to disabuse ourselves of our fear of this off-hand scary and seemingly violence-prone road towards social change.
First off, Rev Govs are democratic republics founded on the principles of popular sovereignty, the rule of law, and representative democracy. This is so precisely because historically revolutionary republics have been established to replace the one-man or one-class (nobility) absolute rule of monarchies.
Next off, although historically Rev Govs were established through armed popular uprisings, the most famous of which was the angry French mob’s storming of the Bastille (the prison that symbolized absolute royal authority) there have been, albeit few, peaceful transitions from monarchism to republicanism by way of a people’s referendum. A recent example is the 69 percent vote of the Greeks against King Constantine II.
In the Philippines, there is no monarchy but there is no democratic republic either except in form and theory. In practice, we are ruled by an oligarchy, an elite minority that has consistently failed to steer the country’s economic, political and cultural policies towards the greater good for the bigger number as is the goal of a truly democratic republic.
Hence, a democratic republic still needs to be established in the country. This can be done peacefully by a referendum on federalism, assuming, of course, that its charter contains the essentials of representative democracy, namely, rule of the majority and proportionate representation.
But even if it has to be established by Rev Gov, it will only become violent if the oligarchy decided to take up arms against it and not budge from their undemocratic position of representing the minority yet deciding for the majority.
This sham democracy is the root cause of the poverty of majority of Filipinos. Hopefully, the ruling oligarchs will come around and help establish a truly democratic republic where the majority rule and all sectors are proportionately represented.
Otherwise, we can only hope that people’s pent-up anger will not burst into an uprising. But because “peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice,” the freedom movements of the Middle East remind us that our time is yet to come.
There are champions who are not worthy of emulation and do not deserve admiration for their conduct and character.