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Duterte threatens foes with revolutionary government

/ 07:27 AM November 20, 2017

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Rejecting martial law for having “many restrictions,” President Duterte on Saturday said that he would declare a revolutionary government (RevGov) if his opponents tried to topple him from power.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Mr. Duterte reiterated his vow to declare a revolutionary government if opposition to his policies went out of control and chaos ruled the streets.

“[I]f things go out of control and [the] government is weakened—that is my predicate,” Mr. Duterte said.

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“If my country is weakened and I see revolutionaries bringing firearms on the streets, well, maybe you shouldn’t have second thoughts, I will declare a revolutionary government,” he said.

“I don’t want martial law [because it has] many restrictions. I will take it to the hilt. So do not do something that will cause or even attempt to topple [the] government, I will not allow that,” he added.

Last month, Mr. Duterte threatened to form a “revolutionary government” if opposition groups, which he accused of trying to destabilize his administration, turned violent and sowed chaos.

Mr. Duterte claimed then that communist groups and the allies of the opposition Liberal Party were out to topple him from power.

The military factor

On Nov. 9, however, he acknowledged that Vice President Leni Robredo was “correct” in saying that the military would not support a revolutionary government.

“She’s correct. I asked the military. They said, ‘We won’t support a revolutionary government.’ I said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Because Vice President Robredo said it,’” he said.

“‘Why?’ I asked. They said, ‘We like her more. She’s a woman and does not cuss.’ Like that. I said, ‘OK, then we will not have a revolutionary government.’ Correct, she’s correct,” Mr. Duterte added.

When asked if a revolutionary government was now off the table, the President said: “Who would announce that he would go revolutionary? You just go ahead. Why make a drama out of it?”

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“But she’s correct … The military wants her to be … Robredo should be followed,” he added.

On Nov. 8, Robredo said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero assured her that the military would not support a revolutionary government in the country.

“We were assured, in no uncertain terms, by both Secretary Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff Guerrero that they will not support a revolutionary government and whatever threat to our Constitution,” she said.

Military power grab

“We are still asking, because there are government officials involved in talk about a revolutionary government. But this afternoon, we were assured—and the assurance was strong—that they would not support such a plan,” she added.

On Sunday, Sen. Leila de Lima, detained on drug charges that she calls fabricated, warned that the military would grab power if Mr. Duterte declared a revolutionary government.

De Lima said in a statement that the establishment of a revolutionary government would abrogate the 1987 Constitution so that there would “no longer be any legal basis for keeping Duterte in power.”

Without the Constitution, she said she saw no particular reason for the military to keep Mr. Duterte in power, especially because the generals and junior officers were well aware of his “kowtow[ing to] China as well as sellout [in] the Spratlys.”

For a group of scholars and technocrats, it would be better if politicians dropped all talk of a revolutionary government, as it was creating a climate of political and economic uncertainty.

On Nov. 6, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) issued a statement saying such talk, even from unofficial sources, “injects political uncertainty to our economic progress and will make investors hold off on investing in the country.”

The FEF is an organization founded in 1996 by scholars and technocrats, including former Prime Minister Cesar Virata and former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo, to promote economic and political liberty, good government and consumer protection.

“Declaration of a revolutionary government will be bad for business, bad for the economy, bad for the country,” the group said.

“A revolutionary government is a government with no rules. Uncertainty will reign. Nobody would want to invest or do business in a society without rules. This is not to mention the possibility of conflict and chaos. Our hard-earned economic momentum will be stopped in its tracks,” the FEF said.

The group said there could be “no justification for a revolutionary government, even talk or the notion [of it], no matter how well-intentioned.”

Talk of a revolutionary government “serves no useful purpose and just scares away investors,” it said.

“There are no problems that can’t be fixed within our democratic space, such as the passage of an emergency powers bill to address problems in transport and infrastructure,” the group said. —With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

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TAGS: AFP, Leni Robredo, opposition groups, RevGov, revolutionary government, Rodrigo Duterte
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