Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A continuity of 1896, Duterte's Revolution

The pundits have spoken. The Pinoy traditional political landscape has been completely refashioned. And who refashioned it? The mass of the electorate! The lettered elite is aghast and caught unawares but they shouldn’t be, only if they seriously read the history of the Philippine Revolution.
The 1896 Katipunan revolution was a truly mass movement, consisting of the working class, pesantry, middle and professional classes and the landed and lettered elites. The participation of the pesantry and the working classes were not due to propaganda alone. Neither were they deceived by their folk Catholicism. They saw meaning in these expressions which saw in their definition of nationhood. For without these the revolution would have not been a force and immediately would have been crushed.
The historian Rey Ileto notes that the folk Catholic “Pasyon” is the wellspring of Filipino ideologies of revolution. The meanings the peasants found in the Passion of Christ has counterparts in the journey of the Filipino nation to freedom. This idea of liberation is different from the Enlightenment European view (though the Ilustrado lettered elite has this as a foundation of theirs which was more rationalist and secular). The Filipino meaning of “kalayaan” has some elements of Roman Catholic teaching on equality, equity and morals which resonated much among the Filipino secular clergy. And this ideology is as F Sionil Jose wrote (and who is hated by some in the lettered elite), is rooted in the soil in the peasants and not on Marx (or Lenin or Mao).
The Revolution came from the people’s perception of this lack of equality and twisted morals that favored the ruling class. And so it was not surprising that in areas where the Revolution was secured, redistribution of the hated friars’ landholdings were done in the name of the people. This however was thwarted with the rise of the elite faction of the Revolution. Apolinario Mabini and Antonio Luna saw the necessity of this “rationalization” if the independent Philippines is to survive as a nation. American intervention however killed the nascent Republic. Since the elite faction became dominant, the revolutionary government limited political participation only to those of higher economic status and with it came massive corruption and violence so well documented in Dr Mila Guererro’s doctoral thesis on this period. We can only guess how the Republic had developed in answering issues of social justice.
The same questions of social justice are still behind the rise of marginalized (meaning from Mindanao) Rodrigo Duterte as the leading presidential candidate in 2016. While the elite is befuddled by his ideology, the fact is this ideology is in continuity with the 1896 one. The Heneral Lunacy blogger has this to say “ It is said there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Unlike his rivals, the Duterte phenomenon is bigger than a single persona, it is a movement defined as an ideology (Federalism, anti-establishment, right-wing solutions to crime, left-wing solutions to the economy) with critical mass and energy. “
This is an idea that has time and time have come, 1896, 1986 in continuity with the 144 year history of Filipino nationhood but whose power was betrayed by the elite which sought to preserve its privileges as guaranteed by liberal democracy. But there are increasing signs that the elite’s franchise on these has become shaky and to avert the unthinkable, there has to be a peaceful negotiated settlement to fulfill the aims of the Katipunan. This is if we want to save liberal democracy.
No talk of GDP rise, investment grades, or what Australians or other foreigners think will assuage the masses. Everyone from the marginalized to the elite have to realize that the 1896 revolutionary ideology placed a premium on the ballot box but even that has a limit.
If the elite establishment cheats, the limit will be reached and the outcome won’t be a picnic cum prayers as in EDSA 1986.
As the Heneral Lunacy blogger wrote “It will not be pretty” And I agree and I don’t want to even think of about it.

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