Philippines - Why there is nothing Revolutionary about the call for a "Revolutionary Government"

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Walden Bello
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PHILIPPINES: The rallies for a so-called Revolutionary Government (“RevGov”) have alarmed many sectors of the citizenry. People have cause to be worried because the rallies are blatantly pushing for tearing up the constitution and replacing it with a regime that would be a thinly veiled dictatorship that would concentrate power in the hands of the president. But even as the people must take this threat seriously and oppose it, it must also be pointed out that the push for a Revolutionary Government is a sign of confusion and disagreement within the political coalition supporting President Rodrigo Duterte.

The faction pushing for the RevGov finds itself at cross-purposes with the faction that prefers to change the political system via charter change through a constituent assembly, and the two, in turn, are pitted against those who would prefer the political status quo and pour their efforts to winning the Senate and House elections in 2019. The electoral campaign has already begun for the last group, and the RevGroup’s agenda would abolish the seats they are running for. While united in their support for Duterte, they are in disagreement on their strategies of perpetuating Dutertismo. These groups are fighting for Duterte’s ear, and the RevGroup’s rally is a show of force that is meant as much for us ordinary citizens as for the other forces in the Duterte coalition and for Duterte himself.

Most of the political and elites that have coalesced around Duterte for opportunistic reasons are likely to prefer to advance Duterte’s authoritarian agenda without too much damage to those constitutional processes like local and national elections that would allow them to legitimately have a share of power. Many of them are, in fact, of two minds about charter change because it could lead to unpredictable consequences that could erode their hold on political office and economic power. Their agenda is for Duterte to use authoritarian means to prop up the political and economic status quo without a drastic break from the current political order.

Many of those advocating a Revolutionary Government, in contrast, are frustrated middle class supporters, political adventurers, ex-military rebels, and ex-activists who want to have a larger share of the political and economic power that they feel is now monopolized by what they view as the “oligarchs” that have “hijacked” Duterte. These people so not seek system change; they simply want a share of the spoils. So far the Duterte coalition has been held together by the different factions’ common cause against the so-called Yellows or Dilawan and by their support for Duterte’s War on the Poor that masquerades as a “War on Drugs.” The RevGov rallies reveal, however, that there serious tensions within the coalition--tensions may break out in open conflict very soon.

This turn of events should remind us that there is nothing progressive about the Duterte agenda. The revolutionary rhetoric employed by some forces in it simply masks their agenda of having a larger piece of the political and economic pie. A program of social, economic, and political transformation to bring about greater equality and justice is the last thing they have in mind.

Laban ng Masa (Fight of the Masses) urges the people to be vigilant. At the same time, we must make sure that we are not drawn into the intramurals or factional conflicts in the Duterte coalition. We must focus on exposing the authoritarian agenda that all of these factions share. We must not allow the RevGov rallies to take away our attention from opposing the continuing wave of extra-judicial executions taking place nightly in urban poor communities.

Above all, Laban ng Masa urges the people not to be taken in by the rhetoric of Revolutionary Government. In contrast to RevGov, we in Laban ng Masa and other progressive organizations are the real heirs of Andres Bonifacio. Laban ng Masa advocates genuine system change, the breaking up of the structures of economic and political power that have consigned the vast majority of our people to poverty and raised social inequality to their highest levels ever. Only a program of socialism, not empty RevGov rhetoric, will bring about the genuine liberation of the Filipino people.

Fight of the Masses
Laban ng Masa (LnM)

https://www.facebook.com/LabanNgMasaPH/

http://www.masa.ph/

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