#UPLBsaHalalan2022 Presentation: The Rise and Fall of our Fifth Republic

Paano naapektuhan ng EDSA ang pulitika ng Pilipinas at ang mga sumunod na eleksyon? Alamin natin ito sa #UPLBsaHalalan2022 hatid sa atin ng Department of Social Sciences: “Reflections on the post-EDSA Philippine Politics and Electoral Prospects” Feb. 24, 1PM.

Cliock the link above to watch the recording on FaceBook. Below, is my presentation. For this, I decided to present an idea I’ve been working on for some time, see: Rise and fall of our Fifth Republic. A useful summary of talk is also below, courtesy of the liveTweeting done by UP Los Baños (with some light editing):

Quezon: 1986 began in 1956. We often forget the middle class republic born in the 1950s.

Quezon said that in the 1950s, Magsaysay consecrated the PH to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the political revival of the Catholic church, brought back Armed Forces [out of the barracks and into government] in response to HUKBALAHAP, [his rise to power was ] brought [about by the powerful] concept of civics and civil society into national life.

Quezon said these previous developments created a middle class-oriented republic. It was followed by decades of frustration.

Quezon describes failure of the constitutional convention elected in 1971 to come up with a constitution. “It only did so in 1973 because some of its members were arrested and Marcos himself wrote the draft and offered to the convention to approve through a bribe.”

Quezon said 1973-1983 became a state of arrested development in which institutions were warped because they were manhandled to become tools of one man and one family.

Quezon said 1983 brought the “first shock”: the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, which led to the Fifth Republic.

This eventually led to the coalition and revolution, now called EDSA.

Quezon: The coalition [involved a “velvet revolution” or people power] was meant to bring all the parties to the negotiating table to arrange a peaceful transfer of power.

Quezon discusses the 3 paths forward from 1986. 1. Restore 1935 constitution because it was illegally replaced. 2: Maintain 1973 contitution but have it amended to remove dictatorship’s pet provisions. 3. Proclaim revolutionary govt, write a new constitution.

Quezon: The new 1987 constitution was a compromise document that tried to maintain some things from the past and embrace new ideas about the future.

Quezon said the new constitution tried to channel people power from the streets into the institution (ex: people’s initiative, allow people to propose actual laws, made impeachment much easier, limited powers of presidents, judiciary obligated to uphold people’s rights).

[Three olds that persisted: bandwagon democracy, plebiscitary democracy, partyless democracy]

Three news that came from the 1986 democracy: 1: Minorities elect the presidency 2: An unchangeable constitution – anyone who wants to propose an amendment faces a confusing constitution 3: Families have replaced political parties, suffering the price for reform.

The Shock of the Fifth Republic: PNoy not meeting the families[bodies upon arrival] of the SAF44 — a great divorce between a family and an attitude and shared history dating back to the shock of Ninoy’s death.

This resulted in a new coalition [stepping into the political vacuum] that led to the election of a strongman superior to all institutions.

Quezon: What we have now is a negotiated restoration (those that have taken advantage of the weakening Fifth Republic) to replace the negotiated revolution.

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Additional readings:

Let me include this passage from one of my newsletters:

A reflection on a quotation (see image above).

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere about the founding assumptions of our current republic (the 5th, est. 1987) 30 years is a long time for any idea, regime, or narrative: our being a newly-restored democracy kept five presidents in check but petered out for the 6th and may not outlast 7th.

But as I told a small group in a end-of-the-year chat, the demise (the electoral repudiation, even), in 2016, of the 1986–2016 democratic consensus and the fading away of the Aquinos was not only explainable but even inevitable, just as People Power itself didn’t survive Edsa Dos and the urban insurrection known as Edsa Tres. Having played itself out the field was free to be claimed by the throwback regime we have now and in turn replaced by the Restoration Regime wanting to reclaim power. But in a sense if the anti-martial law era had to play itself out, so too, if it happens, a Marcos restoration would help end itself: for if it were to achieve electoral success (and even potentially the first electoral majority since 1969 or 1986 however you reckon it), it would have to confront what was par for the course for the previous regimes: the experience of having been brought to power by raising expectations and the reality that exercising power will inevitably disappoint those having those expectations. Particularly in that uniquely the Marcos heir myth is built on a sand castle of untruths. By the end Of its term it would have triggered a national disappointment last seen, irony of ironies, in the 1986–1992 era.

Because you would have a situation we’re unfamiliar with in the recent era: an ultra-powerful First Lady eclipsing our more recent experience with either First Gentleman or even a Bong Go, and the compulsion to exact payback for the family’s past traumas.

Because this time they cannot hide behind past propaganda shields: the Aquinos are dead; Duterte gutted the institutions of the Fifth Republic; the media has far less bite; but public expectations and opinion are still present and in many ways even more demanding.

But of course it doesn’t even have to be this way. There is still time and opportunity to frustrate the planned Marcos Restoration.

I myself have some theories why the 30 year era came to an end, many of them based on the Fifth Republic being an institutional dead end because it proved impossible to amend the Constitution; but also like I said 30 years is a tremendously long run for any era and way of life.

In 1907 the Propaganda and Revolutionary generations faced the end of the line; the independence campaign generation found its end of the line in 1945, the generation that entered public life in 1916 found its end of the road in 1953 and the 1953 generation, in 1972… so it is.

2021: Today began yesterday, Rule of the minority, Leaders without followers, Why the many matter less than the few

2019: Rise and fall of our Fifth Republic

2017: Impeach your face, Bamboozled by the barangay

2016: What’s at stake: A Modernizing Nation, or a Never-Never Land?, False Messiahs enfeebling institutions, and Duterte’s Treason to the Political Class

2015: The Presidency and the Crisis of Modernity

2014: Charter Change: An Annotated Timeline 1934-2014

2009: Permanently poor, The end of social mobility, Republic of Sisyphus

2008: Diminished Expectations, Diminishing Returns

2007: Diminished leaders

2005: Why presidents fail

As for outside readings, two will suffice. One is Cleaving Clientelism, the deck presented by by Dr. Mark Thompson, during the Roundtable on presidential elections on the Philippines, May 28, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Another is a thoughtful piece that delves into the whole nature of the post-Marcos era in the Philippines: President Aquino’s imperfection.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

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