IN Cavite 120 years ago, Andres Bonifacio presided over a convention where delegates from the Katipunan gathered to form a revolutionary government. Any ambitions he had of leading it were thwarted when Emilio Aguinaldo won as president instead.
Less than three months later, his fellow Filipino patriots found Bonifacio guilty of plotting against the revolutionary government and sentenced him to death.
So there’s some irony in the fact that supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte will hold rallies tomorrow, Bonifacio Day, to urge Duterte to declare a revolutionary government (or RevGov). Preparations for several rallies have been confirmed—in Manila, Cebu, and Davao, among others. Online, supporters of Duterte and, interestingly enough, former vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have been using their Facebook and Twitter accounts to call for RevGov.
Although President Duterte has publicly flirted with the RevGov idea since the 2016 election campaign, he has yet to speak about its details. One gets the sense that he threatens to declare a RevGov in moments of pique or frustration. Every time he has mentioned it, he or his top allies walked the idea back a few days later.
For one, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said last Monday that while the Palace appreciates the support for RevGov, there remains “no factual or legal basis” to declare it. Before that, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that what the President wants to accomplish with the threats to declare a RevGov is for people “to fear the law, because if you fear the law, there’s equality.” Cayetano also told ABS-CBN last week that he has found it helpful to “take President Duterte seriously, but not literally.”
For a revolutionary government to arise, the current political order first has to collapse. Have those who are joining tomorrow’s rallies thought about the implications of asking the President to defile the same Constitution that made his presidency possible?
We agree: frustration with politics as usual is real. We want the trains to run smoothly, our roads fixed and freed from traffic, and our many other complex problems solved, and solved yesterday. But putting one’s faith in the idea of RevGov is reckless, particularly since we know from recent history just how disastrous (how corrupt, how destructive of our institutions, how murderous) a one-man rule can be.