Cory became president in defiance of the Marcos Constitution. She was catapulted to the presidency by a nationwide uprising now dubbed People Power 1 that rendered irrelevant the results of the snap elections. Through that revolt, Filipinos clearly expressed their direct political power as the supreme sovereign in our country. If not for this uprising, Ferdinand Marcos would have enjoyed more time raiding the treasury and persisting in criminal acts such as massacres and killings, tortures and abduction.
When Cory assumed power, she abolished the Marcos Constitution and ruled by decree under a so-called Freedom Constitution. The present Constitution was ratified only a year later in 1987.
In 2001, Filipinos eventually set aside the Constitution in dealing with the corrupt Joseph Estrada who was using it, its institutions (Senate) and its processes (impeachment) to escape prosecution and public protests. We ousted him. Never mind if he did not want to resign. Never mind that he pretended to have been forced to quit. Never mind if he claimed that he would only temporarily relinquish his post. We ousted him in the second People Power. By “we”, I meant the millions who packed the area in front of the Edsa Shrine, public plazas across the country and Philippine communities and embassies around the globe.
While we were forced to agree with GMA as Estrada’s constitutional successor, only GMA and her sycophantic cabal proclaimed the constitutionality of Estrada’s resignation or ouster. For the nation, it was Filipinos themselves who sent Estrada rushing out of Malacañang via the Pasig River backdoor.
The nation would have been better off had GMA proclaimed a revolutionary government and instituted revolutionary changes in the immediate aftermath of People Power 2. But her class origin and background found it more convenient to crown herself the Constitutional Successor and use the Constitution as license for various misdeeds (including dilly-dallying on Estrada’s prosecution).
Given these, I’d say that let’s put the Constitution and constitutional options in their proper places. Its just one of the options available to the Filipino people.
Some support Kabayan as successor to GMA when she finally resigns or is ousted. Others bat for a government of national unity or a coalition government. Still others warn of a military takeover.
In the final analysis, the decision rests not on GMA or on any other group. It would be Filipinos through their organizations, movements, parties and associtions who would determine the final look of the post-Arroyo leadership.
What if the post-Arroyo leadership (in whatever form) becomes worse for the nation? What if the thievery and oppression and poverty goes from worse to worst? Let’s cross the bridge when we get there.
The political power and the people may be weaker today compared to the stranglehold of traditional politicians have on almost all elective positions, but ours is the initiative and momentum in the long-term. Because whether constitutional or not, changing of guards among the warring trapo groups teach the people two important lessons:
That unless this stranglehold on power by a few elite groups ends, we would remain saddled by a corrupt, incompetent, oppressive, pro-imperialist and anti-people government; and
That real People Power, real democracy would only happen when it has gone beyond form and gets substantial.
By that time, it would be the turn of the Filipino people (farmers, workers, professionals and SMEs) to take the lead and implement genuine democracy, sans the perfidies endemic to elite trapos.
More People Power uprisings may still be needed to reach that stage when we would have one-by-one weakened and eliminated these trapos out of the political leadership of the country.
Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan.