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EDITORIAL: The noise they peddle

TODAY, November 30, a non-working holiday because it is Bonifacio Day, die-hard supporters of President Duterte will be prompting their idol to declare a “revolutionary government,” or RevGov, in their bid to hasten the much vaunted transformation of the present unitary government to federal system. Offering the federal form of government as panacea to the ills of the Philippine society in contrast to the present system where power and economic might are concentrated in a national government that is based in imperial Manila, Mr. Duterte’s supporters are quick to conclude that a speedier way to realize such transformation would require an iron hand -- i.e. revolutionary government – in place of the long and tedious process of constitutional amendment as provided for by, of course, our Constitution. And they want us to believe that this is the best way to start change so that our nation will become better. Mobilizing the 16 million voters that put Mr. Duterte to office, the pro- RevGov and pro-federal form of government supporters are making noise through simultaneous mass actions in major cities and towns all over the country to grab their idol’s attention and tell the world, as well, that change is coming in our country. In a way, these restless supporters of Mr. Duterte want to impress the public that they constitute a significant number of Filipino voters whose sentiment is for the declaration of a revolutionary government. They forgot the fact that 16 million Filipinos do not comprise the majority as in fact Mr. Duterte himself was elected as a minority president. Taking their cue from Mr. Duterte, the supporters argue that the incumbent President can declare a revolutionary government just as then President Cory Aquino did right after the triumphant EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986. They do not realize that such comparison does not bear similar context and intention because in Cory’s time, she inherited a collapsed conjugal dictatorship where there was an urgent need to restore our democratic principles while avoiding to create a vacuum in governance and public order after a new administration took over through a bloodless revolution. The noise they are peddling signify nothing but their intention to prop up Mr. Duterte to assume dictatorial rule towards a despotic regime where our democratic ideals will be thrown away by a single powerful man whose words, whims and caprices will become the law. Cory’s revolutionary government was declared while a new Constitution was being framed to renounce and avoid repeating to commit the ills of the Marcosian dictatorial rule. Unfortunately, Mr. Duterte’s supporters are creating their own cockeyed scenarios that will cater to satisfy their own vested and personal interests that are best served by a dictator that they are allied with at the expense of our much-cherished democratic principles. Taking to task the plan of Mr. Duterte to declare RevGov, the head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, warned that such move cannot stand legal scrutiny. “There’s no basis for the declaration of a revolutionary government; the institutions continue to be working, although there might be some attempts to downgrade their capabilities,” according to the head of the 60,000-strong IBP, the exclusive organization of the nation’s legal minds. Paraphrasing the words of Fajardo, Mr. Duterte cannot declare RevGov even if there are threats against him or his office for as long as the “the institutions continue to be working.” As the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Mr. Duterte has no need to make himself a dictator to fight off any perceived threat of ousting or replacing him outside of the lawful means. But judging Mr. Duterte’s unpredictable (some say rudderless) moves in his 17 months as president, the man can always invoke an iron fist for a dictator to satisfy his supporters’ wish while both chambers of Congress, by the strength of their cowardly silence, will choose not to perturb his de facto dictatorial regime for their own political interests. Nevertheless, for as long as professional soldiers who are against the dictatorial rule hold the rein at the AFP and keep their vow of protecting the Constitution, Mr. Duterte will always think not twice, but more than thrice, before making such a perilous decision that can unmake him as swiftly as he was voted to power. He should be advised by now not to push his luck -- if one can call it as such -- too far or be disgraced by it.

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