‘What will unite us – at least at first blush – is the thought of President Duterte
declaring a revolutionary government and abolishing the existing institutions
of political power, including the legislative and the judiciary.’
ALMOST to a man, our top government officials have suddenly become champions of the Constitution, and all because a motley group of politically disgruntled men and women came up with the idea of pushing for a “revolutionary government” and had the temerity to conduct a rally at Clark in Pampanga to show that they mean business.
Don’t you think it is funny: now we know what issue or event can very well deliver the needed cooperation, support and unity of our leaders and their followers among the Filipinos masses. It is not Manny Pacquiao winning another international boxing belt. It is not the ravaging SARS Cov-2, the coronavirus that causes the dreaded diseased COVID-19.
It is not winning a gold medal in the Olympics, or the unlikely event that the House of Representatives makes a turnaround and reconsiders the grant of a 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN.
What will unite us – at least at first blush – is the thought of President Duterte declaring a revolutionary government and abolishing the existing institutions of political power, including the legislative and the judiciary. Suddenly, we find our senators, congressmen, communist solons, legal luminaries, businessmen, and Vice President Leonor Robredo against such declaration. Suddenly, every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the government is a champion or defender of the Constitution, a document that they tend to deride in ordinary times.
The group of Bobby Brillante, deputy national spokesperson of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) and Arlene Buan held the event at the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone. It was a rally-manifesto signing where some 300 signatories called for the revolutionary government and push for a shift to federalism. Brillante said it was some sort of a people’s initiative and they can no longer wait for Congress to institute changes. They called on Filipinos to “join us in declaring a revolutionary government and appeal to the President to head this revolutionary government, to institute changes up to the end of his term.”
The group envisions this set-up to last only until June 30, 2022, the end of Duterte’s term as President, and wants an interim revolutionary council established with a prime minister overseeing day-to-day affairs of government. This is their own way of fast-tracking the nation’s march to federalism, a campaign promise of Duterte that is now relegated to the backburner, what with Congress and the whole government busy with more urgent legislation and programs to fight the onslaught of COVID-19 and pump prime the economy.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III was quick to say that the idea would turn the country into “a rudderless ship… launched without a compass nor an agreed destination.” Sen. Joel Villanueva said it is dangerous and amounts to inciting to sedition under the Revised Penal Code. “This is an illegal act and the government should ensure that the perpetrators are charged,” he added.
Robredo urged the government “not to allow these kinds of activities because they disrupt the focus and efforts on the COVID-19 pandemic. What they are asking is for the junking of our Constitution. On that point alone, that is already illegal.”
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said the call to establish a revolutionary government can be dismissed as an exercise of freedom of expression, “but it should not be allowed to progress into actions that violate existing laws.” Both Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Philippine National Police say the idea won’t get any support from them. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo was “titillated” by the idea but also distanced himself from the call, saying while it might be a workable concept, the proposal was made too late in the day.
The political discourse afforded many politicians to dress themselves as champions of the Constitution, at least. But it looks like Brillante’s “brilliant” idea won’t see the light of day, yet still, it is worth the discussion. As the Great Helmsman said, “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.”