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Saturday, September 2, 2017

THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION

By Jose Alejandrino

I have written a number of times in previous postings we have to finish the unfinished revolution of 30 years ago. That revolution was a big disappointment. It was hijacked by the oligarchy.

Today we have a second chance with Rodrigo Duterte. He is our last chance. If we fail him by not giving him the extraordinary powers he needs to accomplish meaningful change, we will have no future as a country. A return to the status quo is unacceptable.

I was involved with five presidents. Cory had the chance to introduce social and economic reforms with the stroke of a pen, as I had urged her to do by declaring herself a revolutionary government, but she was too inexperienced and left the reins of government to Joker Arroyo who was more concerned about himself.

Joker was a human rights lawyer who sympathized with the Left. During Cory's time, the KMU and the insurgency gained ground. More than anyone, he was responsible for destabilizing the country as the "little" president as he was known yet was not elected. That is why I pressed Cory to get rid of him, which she did. I told her that she had to choose. If she kept Joker she would go down with him.

The best units of the armed forces revolted against Cory. Privately, I had told my friends I would do the same in their place, but I had to make a difficult choice when Butz Aquino suggested I act as Cory's backchannel to the Americans. My main concern was a civil war breaking out if Cory was replaced by a junta headed by Johnny Ponce Enrile, as the Americans were open to during my discussions with them. The KMU, the Left, were behind Cory. Butz said he would lead the people out to the streets if Cory fell. I was worried a civil war would divide not only the people but also the military. There were too many imponderables. So I opted to make a deal with the Americans, what I thought was the best way out. The deal was FVR would succeed Cory who understood the deal that I had made to save her government. She honored the deal by endorsing Ramos as her successor. She had told me much earlier that her only legacy would be to restore democracy. She would leave it to her successor to introduce reforms.

FVR won the presidency within the range I had predicted. He introduced economic reforms but found that six years were not enough to have all the reforms needed, notably social reforms that would trickle down economic benefits to the poor segment of our society. That is why I wanted an extension of his term by submitting the question to a national referendum. But Cory and Cardinal Sin vigorously opposed it and in order not to destabilize the country FVR asked me to drop it.

The history of the Philippines is a sad story of missed opportunities. It is a sad story of a sham democracy and a flawed political system that benefits only a privileged few. It is a sad story of politicians not capable of rising above themselves because of selfish interests. The result is continuous impoverishment of the people and widespread corruption, criminality, insurgency, illegal drugs, and now, terrorism.

Those who took part in past coups against Cory are now among those at the forefront fighting for change to give Duterte the powers he needs to bring meaningful change. There are too many of them to name here but Duterte has appointed some of them to his government like Danny Lim. These idealistic officers and men kept their flame alive. Now is their chance to finish the unfinished revolution.

Whatever I did - and they are spelt out in my memoirs - I did for my country. I did what I believed I had to do just as those idealistic men and officers did what they had to do. I salute them. But there is a good and great God. At some juncture the Lord brings together all the men and women of goodwill regardless of their past actions for a much greater cause. That cause is God and Country.

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