DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana wants the leaders of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) which is calling for the establishment of a revolutionary government towards charter change to be investigated.
“They should be investigated,” said Lorenzana, but missed out on saying who or which office should conduct the investigation.
Lorenzana said he has yet to talk to the leaders of the group, which has Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones as its national president.
Lorenzana reiterated that the group’s move to declare a revolutionary government “is illegal and unconstitutional.” “As I said we have a popularly elected President that still enjoys about 80 percent approval rating,” he said.
The PNP is closely monitoring the activities of the MRRD-NECC and its leaders, according to spokesman Gen. Bernard Banac. “We will continue to monitor the group,” Banac said.
Lorenzana and PNP chief Archie Gamboa have been invited to attend the group’s meeting last week where it formally announced its intent to convince President Duterte to declare a revolutionary government and aggressively initiate revisions in the 1987 Constitution under a federal system of government.
The defense and police organizations on Sunday rejected the group’s attempt to involve them in their activities.
Lorenzana repeated that the defense sector will not support the group’s advocacy as “we have a legally-constituted government.”
Banac likewise restated that the PNP will remain loyal to the Construction. “The PNP remains true and loyal to the Constitution. We will continue to uphold it and obey legal orders from the duly constituted authorities. The PNP will never support any move to establish a revolutionary government,” he said.
Also yesterday, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the military “will not support any efforts to establish a revolutionary government.”
“It’s very clear to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine that our unequivocal fidelity and unwavering loyalty is to the Constitution and to the flag that represents our people and the state,” said Arevalo.
“The chief of staff, Gen. Gilbert Gapay, assures our citizen that the AFP, as the armed force constitutionally mandated to protect the people and secure the state, will uphold such sacred obligation and rejects the establishment of a revolutionary government,” he also said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command Chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said there is no need for the establishment of a revolutionary government.
Parlade made the remarks when asked by opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros during his promotional confirmation hearing at the Commission Appointments.
“I am not familiar with that group, but I don’t believe in a revolutionary government. We have existing mechanisms. We have a Constitution that is really robust. It really needs some reforms, there are provisions in the Constitution that are obsolete, that is what we should look at,” Parlade said.
“We have to go back to the Constitution and determine whether these actions are allowed by the Constitution. Our actions will be all limited to what’s in that Constitution,” he added.
Another general, Army chief of staff Maj. General Rowen Tolentino, said no individuals or groups have approached him and his colleagues regarding the issue on the establishment of a revolutionary government.
“In my conversation with other officers from the Philippine Army, so far they haven’t spoken to us. We just actually heard that in the news,” Tolentino told Sen. Imee Marcos.
“We don’t have any idea why this news is coming out but as what was spoken by Gen. Parlade a while ago, we are following the duly-constituted authorities and this RevGov has no place in the Armed Forces, “ Tolentino said.
3 MODES OF CHACHA
Interior undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that “our problem with this (revolutionary government) proposal is that it’s not in the Constitution.”
“If you look at the Constitution, the Constitution only speaks of a constitutional convention, a constituent assembly or a people’s initiative as a means of amending it,” said Malaya.
The DILG is the head of an inter-agency task force established by President Duterte to introduce constitutional reforms, particularly a shift to a federal style of government.
“While we agree with them that there is a need to amend the Constitution, it has to be within the parameters of the provisions of the Constitution itself, so that’s where the gray area comes in,” said Malaya, adding: “(Their) modality cannot be found in the Constitution itself.”
Malaya said the DILG has already submitted to Congress the government’ proposed revisions of the Constitution but has agreed that “we should first focus on COVID response.”
“So technically CORE (constitutional reforms) is on the back burner but of course we have not abandoned it. It’s part of the duties and responsibilities or mandates of the DILG. As soon as the COVID is over, we will re-launch this campaign,” he said.
President spokesman Harry Roque said that while President Duterte remains committed to his advocacy of promoting the country’s shift to federalism, this does not include resorting to a revolutionary government.
“Not at all,” Roque said when asked if the President has given up on his federal government dreams. He added there are other means to amend the Constitution, like through a constitutional convention, a constituent assembly or a people’s initiative.
Roque said the President has no intention of prolonging his stay in Malacañang and would pass the reign of power to his duly-elected successor in 2022.
NOT THE SOLUTION
More senators have voiced their opposition to the call to establish a revolutionary government, stressing it will not solve the multitude of problems that the country is facing.
Hontiveros took to Twitter on Monday to add her voice to those opposing the call of the MRRD-NECC: “We should not take seriously take the call for a revolutionary government.
This is yet another distraction from the real crisis we are facing today which is the coronavirus pandemic.”
She said what is needed is not a revolutionary government but good governance.
“The public needs good health care and jobs, and that requires good governance, not a so-called rev-gov,” she added.
Sen. Nancy Binay, in a Twitter post, said: “Hindi nakaka-flatten ng curve ang RevGov #yestotheConstitution (That will not flatten the curve),” Binay said, referring to the efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Sonny Angara also used the same hashtag on Twitter.”No to RevGov, Yes to the Constitution,”Angara tweeted.
On the other hand, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian believes that the group espousing the revolutionary government merely wanted to “suck up to” the President.
Gatchalian said he has doubts on the identity of the group: “My initial reaction is that this group wants to be close to the President and wants to suck up to him. For example why didn’t they call the group ‘For the Filipino people?’ Why for the President?”
Like his colleagues, Gatchalian said such moves will just divert the government’s attention from the pandemic.
“We all know that we’re in the midst of a very deep and prolonged crisis. In fact we don’t even know when this is going to stop. What we need right now is cooperation and this revolutionary government they are calling will divide the country,” he said, adding that once a revolutionary government takes effect, it will dissolve institutions like Congress and the judiciary.
“We will lose our check and balance mechanism,” he added.
Over the weekend, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto, Panfilo Lacson and Joel Villanueva also made known their opposition to the call.
“Let us turn off this ‘revolution noise’ and we will be okay,” Sotto said, adding that the rule of law is the “safest guide.”
On Saturday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said though there is nothing wrong with advocating Charter change, except for its timing, calling for the establishment of a revolutionary government is a different matter as it would set aside the existing Constitution.
On Sunday, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines also slammed the idea, calling it “repugnant to constitutionalism” and should be discouraged and denounced. – With Ashzel Hachero and Jocelyn Montemayor