Ateneo president calls revolutionary gov't a 'dangerous idea'
MANILA, Philippines – Before calls for a revolutionary government become louder, Ateneo de Manila University president Fr Jose Ramon "Jett" Villarin SJ said the declaration of a "RevGov" is a "dangerous idea".
In a memorandum titled, "On the dangerous idea of a revolutionary government," Villarin cautioned the Ateneo community against the excessive powers that it may grant a select few. (READ: Can Duterte declare a revolutionary gov't? Here's what you need to know)
"[T]he RevGov [Revolutionary Government] proposition has a key weakness – it has a very simplistic theory of change. It contends that concentrating power in the hands of a few would give them the means to execute the key reforms necessary to move the country forward," he said on Wednesday, November 29.
"But by centralizing power in the hands of a few, RevGov directly undermines democratic institutions and the economy. Indeed our very own experience of years of authoritarian rule during martial law compels us to reject any moves to establish a RevGov," he added.
The Ateneo president said that the Philippines needs long-term institutional reforms instead of quick ones enabled by authoritarian rule.
"The question Filipinos are facing now is whether authoritarian rule trumps incremental democratic institutional reforms. Our answer to this is a resounding 'no'. We must always preserve the democratic values and institutions we enjoy today that many before us bled and died for," said Villarin.
He noted that the government's development plan, "Ambisyon Natin 2040" is an example of a strategy "marked by building institutions and strengthening governance". (READ: Revolutionary government, yes, Duterte-style, no)
"The fundamental theory of change and progress that underpins Ambisyon remains loyal to democratic and participatory institutional reforms. It does not contemplate any moves to destroy these very same institutions when things become challenging," he said.
Villarin added that declaring a revolutionary government is reminiscent of the Martial Law regime:
"RevGov offers an old narrative that our people have endured before. Almost twenty years of authoritarian and corrupt rule under Marcos left our economy devastated. We took almost as long, if not longer, to repair and rebuild our institutions since the dictatorship was toppled."
Ultimately, he called on the youth to "preserve democracy" and embody the ideals that the country's heroes lived for: "Our youth, brimming with enthusiasm and energy for the future, beckons us to move forward, not backward. They trust us to preserve democracy, not destroy it. As we celebrate and commemorate the lives of our nation’s heroes today, let us resolve to embody in word and deed the ideals that they lived and died for."
Back in March 2016, when Rodrigo Duterte was a mere presidential candidate, he said he would close down Congress and declare a revolutionary government if legislators block the budget over the scrapped pork barrel system.
In October, Duterte again threatened to declare a revolutionary government if he senses a destabilization plot against him. On November 21, he pulled back on his threats, saying the country will "not get anything out of it". (READ: Duterte says he won't declare revolutionary gov't)
Supporters of a revolutionary government said it will address the country's problems immediately as it will give Duterte the chance to exercise "full powers".
On Thursday, November 30, they will stage protests in various areas in the country to support his call for a revolutionary government.
However, experts said that granting Duterte emergency powers will suffice as many have expressed fears about the return of authoritarian rule. (READ: De Lima warns of 'military takeover' if Duterte declares revolutionary gov't) – Rappler.com