People Power and the
Transition Council as Alternative
By the Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM)*
Posted by Bulatlat
MEMBERS of White Ribbon
Movement wave ribbons as police watch at the middle-force alliance's
launch, July 23.
In these times of political crisis, turmoil and uncertainty, one thing
stands clear: Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) must go. However there is
as yet no consensus as to how she will be made to step down and who or
what must replace her government.
Indeed, there is some
truth to the observation that had there been wide agreement on this,
another people power uprising would have erupted and ousted Mrs. Arroyo by
now. Putting it another way, the sooner a consensus is reached by the
various groups calling and working for her removal, on how and what will
replace her regime, the sooner Mrs. Arroyo will be removed from office.
Affirming people power
The government and
its apologists and defenders warn the public against resorting to any
“unconstitutional” means of unseating and replacing the ruling regime.
They equate “unconstitutional” to anarchy, chaos, violence, etc. as though
the current turmoil has not been caused both by blatantly
unconstitutional anomalies and criminal acts perpetrated by those in
obscure the fact that People Power 1 and 2 were themselves extra
constitutional undertakings. Aquino declared her new government a
“revolutionary” one and decreed an interim “Freedom Constitution”. On the
other hand, Arroyo insisted that her ascendance to the presidency was due
to constitutional succession even as the ouster of Estrada was itself
But there is a
growing number of Filipinos who are open to the idea of a transition
government that will do away with the constitutional presidential
succession in case Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigns or is ousted from
There is as well a
growing consensus among many groups calling for the ouster of GMA that the
best and most plausible way to override or break away from the
“constitutional” process is through the formation of a “transition
council” that will pave the way for the creation of a new form of
government, and the election of a new administration that would be more
representative of and accountable to the people and thus more responsive
to the people’s interests.
It is an idea that
has gained significant ground over the past weeks. This is because nobody
wants to go through all the trouble of deposing Mrs. Arroyo just to
install Noli de Castro, the supposed constitutional successor, as
president. Neither is the option of a snap election under a transition
government presided over by the Senate President acceptable, the people
having lost all trust and confidence in the COMELEC; in fact, on the
entire electoral process as we know it.
It is also an idea
whose time has come. It springs from the widespread realization that more
profound changes -- not merely of corrupt and unwanted leaders, not just
of the rotten electoral process, but of the entire social, political and
economic system – are necessary to lift our nation out of the morass of
corruption, debt, spiraling prices, poverty, underdevelopment and
violence. This sentiment is often expressed as frustration,
disillusionment and even disgust over the governments installed by people
realization of the need for systemic reforms has maliciously been
misrepresented by the GMA government and its apologists as “people power
fatigue” or the supposed rejection of people power as a way out of the
present crisis. On the contrary, it indicates a simple yet profound
understanding that people power must aim for more than what it has
achieved in the past. It shows that the people’s political consciousness
has in fact significantly risen from the levels of Edsa 1 and 2.
We believe that what
the people want is a people power that will lead to more substantial
reforms. That will impact not only on their daily lives but also on the
collective good of the nation and the future of generations to come.
the People’s Agenda
It is not people
power that we are dismayed with or tired of.
The people are tired
of paying taxes, whether these be direct income taxes or indirect taxes
paid through ever-increasing prices of basic goods and services, only to
see that government revenues are spent on ever-increasing debt service,
fat commissions and kickbacks from government contracts, vote-buying and
rigging elections and the pursuit of bloody yet fruitless
counter-insurgency programs. We are revolted by the shameless and brazen
graft and corruption up to the highest reaches of the Arroyo government,
considering that the people had installed it in power through a people’s
uprising against corruption. We want a sound fiscal policy and a clean
and honest bureaucracy that will not plunder the national coffers and
bleed our people dry.
We are sick and tired
of claims that our farmers are benefiting from the land reform program,
when all around us we see supposed farmer beneficiaries being evicted from
or dispossessed of their plots as these are converted into golf courses,
subdivisions, commercial and industrial estates. We want genuine land
reform that will free our tillers from serfdom and poverty, thereby
vesting them with real democratic rights and liberate the economy from the
clutches of feudalism.
We are dismayed by
successive administrations’ servility to foreign capital – accelerating
the removal of protective tariffs and barriers in the name of
“globalization”, thereby stifling the growth and eventually killing off
domestic industries and causing widespread joblessness. We are appalled by
government’s schemes to amend the Constitution in order to grant
foreigners the same rights Filipinos have in exploiting and profiting from
our national patrimony. We want a robust industrial economy truly free
from foreign domination and control.
We condemn rampant
criminality, especially the involvement of officials and law enforcers in
criminal activities, and the use of extra-judicial killings and other
brutal and illegal coercive measures to suppress civil liberties and
democratic rights. We want peace and order to reign over our land, o
that each one may enjoy the fruits of his or her labor.
We oppose the Arroyo
government’s blind support for the US-led “war on terror”. We shall
continue to resist attempts to institute and employ draconian repressive
measures to suppress protest and the bill of rights under the guise of
countering “international and domestic terrorism”. We shall continue to
seek and demand justice for the victims of such measures, including
extra-judicial killings and harassments of mass leaders, journalists, and
activists. We want peace based on justice.
We want no more of
sham elections with rampant violence, vote buying and the wastage of
government funds; where consequently only the rich and the powerful can
win and the people are left with no real choices. We want an electoral
process and political system where the poor and marginalized have a fair
chance of being represented and their concerns heard and addressed by
We seek a government
that would be truly representative of the people, especially the majority
of the toiling masses and responsive to their needs in these difficult
times—one that could unite and lead us in our arduous quest for freedom,
democracy and social justice.
council” can pave the way to such an alternative government.
the Transition Council as an alternative
There is as yet no
consensus on the concept of an interim or transition
group/committee/council as an alternative form of government. This is a
matter that must be addressed cognizant of the fact that without the
requisite consensus on how to remove Mrs. Arroyo from power, all talk of
alternatives is at best premature; at worst, divisive.
Yet there is need and
basis for describing the kind of transition council the people will
identify with and embrace.
Such a transition
council or government must necessarily be composed mainly of
representatives of those groups that had worked the hardest for the ouster
of the current regime, with due consideration to their size and political
significance. Conceivably it will consist of representatives of the
opposition, the militant democratic mass movement, the organizations of
professionals, patriotic businessmen and other middle forces, and some of
the retired military and police officers who enjoy the confidence of the
active military and police forces.
It is perforce a
civilian authority that is supreme to the armed forces and the police.
Consequently any form of military or civilian-military junta is
unacceptable and must be ejected.
workers, peasants, women, youth and national minorities should be
adequately and properly represented but this is something that must be
struggled for by these sectors of society and must gain adherents from the
middle classes and the political forces they lead.
But we must be
realistic and come to terms with the fact that the ouster or resignation
of Mrs. Arroyo cannot, by and of itself, dismantle the system of elite
rule in this country. Thus it will not be progressives and mass-based
leaders of the people who will be dominant in the transition council but
traditional politicians and their allies who retain their basic allegiance
to the status quo. In effect, the ouster or resignation of Arroyo in
favor of a transition council will not resolve everything but it can be a
This is especially so
if the transition government is able to put up and unify the country on a
program that is pro-Filipino, pro-people and biased for the poor, deprived
and oppressed. It shall then prepare for and oversee, in a fixed and
reasonable length of time, a free, fair, honest and truly democratic
election process that will allow the people to choose their new executive
and legislative leaders.
It can also call for
the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) that
would in no way be similar to the “chacha” scheme of Mrs. Arroyo, former
President Fidel Ramos and Speaker Jose de Venecia to change the
Constitution for their vested interests. Such a constitutional convention
should draft a patriotic and democratic Charter that shall be ratified by
The ConCon could
institute wide-ranging reforms in the electoral and political system
including a shift to a parliamentary form of government that would enlarge
the chances of poor candidates to win a seat in the Legislature, favor the
development of party- and program-based politics and reduce the gridlock
between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. It can also
strengthen the pro-Filipino and pro-people economic provisions of the
Charter as well as its national sovereignty provisions such as the
nuclear- and bases-free provisions that have been circumvented by new
treaties and executive agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)
and the Mutual Logistics and Supply Agreement (MLSA).
How will the members
of the transition council be chosen? In the first place, the strongest
and most effective parties and organizations in the movement to force Mrs.
Arroyo to resign, or in effect oust her from power, will come to the fore
through the large numbers of people they are able to lead and influence,
most especially to mount the mammoth mass actions that will be
indispensable, if not decisive, in deposing Mrs. Arroyo.
Negotiations are even
now taking place among such parties and organizations. They must
constitute a convenors’ group that will then apportion delegates to a
people’s congress or consultative assembly. The latter in turn shall
select and acclaim the members of the transition council in an open,
transparent and democratic manner. This must be done even before the
Arroyo regime completely crumbles as we know it eventually will.
Putting an end to the
Arroyo regime is something we must all work for in unity, with
determination and fortitude. We in the middle forces must take the side of
the majority of our people and act now to tip the balance in their favor,
for our good as well as for the good of the entire nation.
*Paper presented by Fr.
Jose Dizon, GSM spokesperson and convenor at the launching of the White
Ribbon Movement, 23 July 2005, La Salle Greenhills.
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