Conclusion: Time for pro-democracy forces' agenda

For instance, the current administration speaks of federalism, which calls for the adoption of a federal form of government to replace the current unitary government. Deep apprehension has been expressed by several political quarters, which view federalism as a Trojan horse that could lead to a weakened central government, thus strengthening those authoritarianism tendencies.

The anti-drug war serves as a convenient platform for those authoritarian tendencies. By continuously harping – or exaggerating – that the country has become a narco-state, the current political leadership has been virtually saying that it is now incumbent to pursue extrajudicial killings (EJKs) for reason of national security. In its limited reasoning, the political leadership is virtually saying that pursuing EJKs is a matter of self defense.

The November 25 and November 30 mass actions have confirmed two things: first, the existence of a critical mass of warm bodies to comprise the pro-democracy movement; and second, the emergence of young people, or millennials, as a new force to reckon with.

Hence, the democratic agenda encompasses 3 major areas: politics, education, and governance. 

On the political sphere, the pro-democracy forces should continue, sustain, and step up the protest mass actions to stop the authoritarian agenda from further taking root under the Duterte government. It should take steps to stop any attempt to manipulate the democratic process leading to a victory of the young Marcos in his electoral protest and his assumption of the vice presidency.

Reviving the “parliament of the streets” would not only complement the battles in the so-called “parliaments of social media” in those skirmishes to win the hearts and mind of the public. The parliament of the streets seeks to counter inroads in Congress and other forums to railroad public acceptance of the authoritarian agenda, which includes disrespect of basic human rights and the proposed legislation to lower the age of criminal liability to 9 years and the restoration of death penalty.

Both the parliaments of the streets and social media exert what has been regarded as “pressure politics,” which seeks to influence the democratic institutions and processes to behave in the generally accepted democratic manner. Moreover the two parliaments, which serve as unofficial legislators, seek to check abuses against the democratic principles and bring to public attention these abuses.

On the educational sphere, the pro-democracy forces, which have been transformed into a citizens’ movement, should take steps to stop efforts to revise history, rehabilitate the Marcos dictatorship, and sanitize the public image of the young Marcos, who is being groomed by the authoritarian forces to replace Duterte.

They have come out with a plan forming teams of anti-Marcos adherents to go to major cities and even rural areas to explain the Marcos legacy of world class kleptocracy, massive human rights violations, and crony capitalism. In fact, teams have already formed for barnstorming visits.

But this would not be enough without pursuing the inclusion of the Marcos dictatorship in the history books. Over the last 3 decades, public and private educators have succeeded to pursue the “demarcosification” of textbooks and other reference materials. But they have merely scrapped statements and paragraphs hailing Marcos as sort of hero or demigod in textbooks of elementary and high school students.

They have yet to include pertinent materials about the Marcos legacy. They have yet to explain what the Marcoses and their ilk did to the country, particularly their  greed. The issues of crony capitalism, kleptocracy, and human rights violations have to be fully explained to them.

Democratic governance

Over the past 3 decades, the restored democracy has been functioning well as indicated by the performance of democratic structures and institutions. The Armed Forces, the judiciary, and mass media are among the institutions that reflect sustained democratic governance. 

The AFP has shown its capacity to reform to become what the 1987 Constitution has envisioned – the defender of the Republic and “protector of the people.” From a highly politicized instrument of the Marcos dictatorship, the AFP has transformed to become an institution of professional soldiers, whose loyalty is not to the person in power but the Constitution.

Hence, the democratic agenda should step up efforts of the pro-democracy movement to stop all attempts to coopt the AFP to become part of the emerging authoritarian regime. The democratic forces should stop presidential overtures to make the AFP part and parcel of the anti-drug war. Its identity as an institution of constitutional soldiers should remain intact.

The AFP has the virtual monopoly of arms, but the pro-democracy movement should stop the use of those arms against the people the AFP has sworn to defend and protect. The democratic agenda should stress a full campaign to emphasize the “protector of the people” doctrine to all soldiers.

The democratic agenda should stop authoritarian incursions on the independence and integrity of the judiciary and mass media, two institutions which serve as the bedrock of restored democracy. Without these two institutions, the restored democracy could be regarded as big failure. –