When President Duterte said at a news conference on November 10 during the APEC Summit in Vietnam that he was no longer inclined to declare a revolutionary government for the Philippines because the Philippine military opposes it, it was welcomed by many who fear the consequences of such a government on our democratic institutions.
Back in the Davao City last November 19, however, the President reiterated that “if things go out of control and government is weakened” and his opponents try to oust him, then he would declare a revolutionary government. Not martial law, he said, because martial law has too many constitutional restrictions.
As may be expected, this latest statement drew critical comments and expressions of concern from various sectors.
“There is no legal basis for the declaration of a revolutionary government. The institutions continue to be working, although there might be some attempts to downgrade their capabilities,” said Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Abdiel Fajardo. It would be “a feeble excuse” for authoritarian rule, said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
“Justice, human rights, and the rule of law are being mocked,” said Human Rights Commissioner Roberto Cadiz.
However, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he did not think the President was serious about his threat to declare a revolutionary government. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano added: “Take him seriously always on his objective, but do not take literally his solution.” Political analyst Ramon Casiple said he saw the President’s talk about revolutionary government as “propaganda war.”
Last November 21, the President spoke once again on this matter during a visit to wounded soldiers at the Army General Hospital in Taguig City. “Ang sabi nilang revolutionary government, coup d’etat, huwag ninyong intindihin yan, malayo yan (don’t mind it. It’s far-fetched),” he said.
So that was the latest turn in the saga of the President’s views on this issue. Those who know him, like Senator Lacson and Secretary Cayetano, assure us there is no cause for concern, that he is simply expressing his determination to carry on his plans for the nation without partisan roadblocks. It would be best if the assurance came from the President himself, a final declaration that will not be misinterpreted.