What a revolutionary government means
An obscure group calling themselves the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee publicly invited President Duterte “to head a revolutionary government under a revolutionary constitution to last until December 31, 2021.” The group claimed to be one of the original supporters of the President Duterte when he ran for president.
The reactions of the President’s spokesperson and legal counsel are intriguing. Spokesperson Harry Roque declared that the call for a revolutionary government “does not enjoy any support from government right now,” implying that there may be government support in the future. Legal counsel Salvador Panelo explained that “the call of a revolutionary government must come from the people and not from a single organization or an individual,” implying that if there are more groups supporting the call, Mr. Duterte may consider it.
Thankfully, Mr. Duterte immediately shot down the idea of a revolutionary government. Although Mr. Duterte apparently knows the leaders of the group, some of whom are undersecretaries in the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he chose to disown the group. “Wala akong pakialam diyan, wala akong kilala sa mga tao na ’yan at hindi ko ’yan trabaho,” Mr. Duterte emphatically declared.
Mr. Duterte will be committing political hara-kiri if he instigates or approves a revolutionary government. A revolutionary government automatically abrogates the Constitution and vests all government power in the President alone. Congress and the Supreme Court can exist and function only upon tolerance of the President, and all their acts and decisions are subject to his approval. What will happen once a revolutionary government is declared by the President?
First, petitions will immediately be filed before the Supreme Court to declare the imposition of a revolutionary government unconstitutional. While more than two-thirds of the members of the Court are appointees of Mr. Duterte, all the members of the Court will certainly declare the revolutionary government unconstitutional, whether or not they are in favor of the revolutionary government. By definition, a revolutionary government abrogates the Constitution.
Second, a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives will likely pass resolutions denouncing the imposition of a revolutionary government, which makes the Senate and the House extinct as independent legislative bodies. As a matter of self-preservation, the Senate and the House will have no choice but to oppose the imposition of a revolutionary government.
Third, the military and the police will have to make a choice whether or not to take orders from a revolutionary government. We know how they will decide. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has publicly declared that a revolutionary government “is illegal and unconstitutional.” AFP spokesperson Gen. Edgard Arevalo has announced that “Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay xxx rejects the establishment of a revolutionary government.” Philippine National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac has likewise declared that “any move that will go against the Constitution will not be supported by the PNP.”
Fourth, the Philippine economy, which shrank 16.5 percent in the second quarter of this year because of the pandemic, will drop to the bottom once a revolutionary government is imposed. Foreign and local investors will swiftly take their money out of the country. It will be the worst nightmare coming true for the economic managers of Mr. Duterte.
Fifth, the Philippines will become a pariah in the international community as the United States and European Union countries will most likely refuse to recognize the revolutionary government. There will be grave concerns of human rights violations by the revolutionary government, spurring most likely the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to finally decide the investigation against Mr. Duterte.
Finally, imposing a revolutionary government is the dumbest move that Mr. Duterte can make. The military obeys Mr. Duterte because the Constitution makes him the commander in chief of the Armed Forces. If Mr. Duterte abrogates the Constitution to which all soldiers have sworn allegiance, then he ceases to be their commander in chief, and the military may then follow his constitutional successor, just like in Edsa Dos. Legally, Mr. Duterte will have no one to command in the military. Morally, the military can refuse to follow Mr. Duterte whose acknowledged protector is President Xi Jinping, the architect of China’s expansion in the West Philippine Sea and the nemesis of the military.
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