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Remember martial law? Ateneo’s Jett Villarin warns: PH will suffer under ‘revgov’

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Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) president Fr. Jose Ramon “Jett” Villarin has warned the public against supporting a revolutionary government, as rumors about its possible declaration abound.

In a memo to the ADMU community Thursday (November 30), Villarin said supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte may be pushing for a revolutionary government due to a “misplaced desire to hasten reforms.”

“The RevGov advocates are essentially tapping on growing discontent with the slow pace of much needed reforms in both our political and economic spheres. Perhaps unwittingly, they are in turn fueling an under-appreciation of reform gains and an over-emphasis on reform barriers,” he said.

Villarin, however, said the weakness of a revolutionary government lies in the premise that letting a few people control the government will cause reforms to happen faster.

“But by centralizing power in the hands of a few, RevGov directly undermines democratic institutions and the economy. Indeed our very own experience of years of authoritarian rule during martial law compels us to reject any moves to establish a RevGov,” he said.

Villarin said international experience with revolutionary governments point to regimes with uncertainty and unpredictability.

“The economy, even law and order, may recover initially, but these and social values suffer eventually. More critically, studies also show that revolutionary leaders are much more likely to engage in violence, in mass killings, compared to non-revolutionary leaders,” he said.

ADMU’s president said authoritarian rule should not trump democratic institutional reforms, no matter how slowly they happen. He noted that Duterte signed Ambisyon Nation 2040, a long-term development plan anchored on a premise of strengthening institutions and governance.

For Villarin, the prospect of a revolutionary government is an “old narrative” that Filipinos must not go back to.

“Almost twenty years of authoritarian and corrupt rule under Marcos left our economy devastated. We took almost as long, if not longer, to repair and rebuild our institutions since the dictatorship was toppled,” he said.