Duterte is not a Marcos

Duterte is not a Marcos Featured

MY readers at the Manila Times, especially those from the provinces, particularly Davao, have been egging me to write in support of a revolutionary government (RevGov). I did write a couple of items over several months, out of frustration at the snail’s pace of change which we expected DU30 to put on stream. But my position against RevGov is unequivocal. It is a more lethal medicine than the disease it seeks to cure.

These snake-oil salesmen have been hawking the concept of “RevGov the Democratic way,” citing the 1986 post-Edsa People Power Revolution as the main example. Aside from these two not being analogous, the contradictions comparing President Cory’s and the current DU30 regime are glaring. For one, President Cory’s was born out of people’s disgust with the Marcos dictatorship generating a revolutionary climate that drove Marcos out. This undercurrent volatility triggered seven coup d’etat attempts on Cory’s government in four years.

There is nothing “democratic” about a declaration and execution of RevGov. If perchance DU30 changes his mind and declares one, then he is simply declaring a coup d’état against his own duly constituted government and an acceptance that he couldn’t hack it through the democratic processes under which he was elected a minority president. I doubt he will succeed. But let us examine the circumstances and their implications.

A most powerful segment of the state, the oligarchy, will not countenance RevGov as this is an encroachment into their business and political prerogatives. They want their own “level playing field,” one they had painstakingly structured for generations, safe for them. And DU30 is a gadfly disrupting the cozy relationship between the political movers and shakers, the captured bureaucracy and the old-time oligarchy. The president has been relentless in gnawing at the edges of the oligarchy and their minions as demonstrated by his confrontations with the Prieto and Rufino families and Marcos’ old cohort, Ongpin.

The officials elected in the 2016 election, many of whom owe their positions to their financial clout, may not look kindly at a RevGov unless DU30 declares a “no election” for the 2019 midterm. This declaration goes beyond the pale of the law, but it may get the support of the LGUs and those whose terms have been extended; but the repercussions are deadly.

On whose side will the military and the police support go? It is doubtful that the armed forces will want to reprise their role as stooges of Marcos. They may have learned their lesson well during the dark years of Martial Law and the post-Marcos military institution may really support the people, the Constitution and not the person of the presidency.

More importantly, DU30 will lose the support of the majority of Filipinos, especially those whose memories go back to the days of the dictator Marcos. And the Marcoses today are so obviously appended to the Deegong brand, that they may prove to be a heavy drag on his persona.

The Deegong may well be advised to look up to his idol Ferdinand Marcos who took decades to plan and execute yet failed in the end as a dictator that set the Filipinos back decades in economic and political advancement.

How did Marcos do it? How did he prepare for capture of absolute power which RevGov is a small version of?

Marcos took years and had the sophistication to lay the groundwork for his regime. Since Marcos became president in 1965, he may have already planned out his term going beyond eight years, either through the surrogacy of wife Imelda or through constitutional fiat. He chose the latter, with his 1973 constitutional revisions of the 1935 Constitution as his gambit.

It took years also to build up a primary pillar of his regime, the men in uniform. It is a well-known fact that the Marcos couple began to develop military personnel as young fresh PMA graduates, nurturing their careers in the AFP, Constabulary and police forces to ranks of colonels, captains, admirals and generals. Those known as the “Rolex 12” whom he entrusted the powers to execute martial law were such men. The pillars of the martial law regime also included two loyalist civilians, Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and oligarch Danding Cojuangco. Jr., chairman of the San Miguel Corp.

Marcos built up a select technocratic class to run his bureaucracy, putting in place structures that allowed him to extract the nation’s wealth through rent-seeking activities. These technocrats eventually headed industries the Marcoses controlled, replacing the old oligarchy with his newly minted ones, some of whom have expanded their wealth, influence and political clout up to this day.

He engineered an elaborate labyrinth of relationships based on loyalty paid for by greed; elevated kleptocracy into an art form; divided the industry headed by cronies protecting their prerogatives by executive orders (EO) and presidential decrees (PD). And this perversion to perpetuate the dictatorship was successful for decades, until the ordinary Filipino emboldened by a small band of soldiers said, “enough is enough.” Thus, the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Today, the Deegong, who is being prodded by his inane and unthinking supporters to declare RevGov, must heed the lessons of history — of Ferdinand and Cory. DU30 did not have the precedents that the once-successful Marcoses did — years of preparations and the willingness to apply his political and iron will. But more importantly, Marcos possessed an evil genius that permeated his band of select technocrats; the best and brightest painstakingly culling out the disloyal from among the business, academe, civic leaders and the men in uniform. These were the Marcos acolytes forming the backbone of his revolutionary government, his dictatorship.

True, people are frustrated at the slow pace of pagbabago and desperate over the continued dominance of the oligarchy, the thieves in Congress and the bureaucracy condemning more than half of Filipinos to stark poverty.

True, some of his loyal former military generals are in place in cabinet and government sinecures. I doubt however that their capability and his relationship with them can equal or parallel that of the Marcos-military cabal.

The Deegong is indeed not a Marcos. And thank God for this! He simply doesn’t have what it takes to mount a successful RevGov. But he is a leader we never had.

He is advancing in age and frail, and he knows his years are numbered. He has his legacy clear before him. He carries the hopes of the despairing multitudes who are convinced this is the last chance at real change. He may not be loved by many people, like those of us in the middle, upper middle and even higher classes. But we are patriots. And so is he. We are compelled to support the Deegong on faith — to do the right thing “the democratic way.”

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