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PROTEST RALLIES

VP: RevGov to undermine presidency

The call of President Duterte’s diehard supporters for the declaration of a revolutionary government (RevGov) would undermine his own legitimacy, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday.

At the same time, Robredo expressed alarm that some government officials have publicly supported the idea.

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Speaking to reporters during the commemoration of the 154th birth anniversary of Philippine revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City, Robredo said it might be worth looking into if those government officials could be held liable “for revolting against the Constitution.”

“Maybe most people do not understand the implication of declaring a revolutionary government,” Robredo said when asked by reporters  about the rallies held by Mr. Duterte’s supporters in favor of a revolutionary government.

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“Declaring a revolutionary government says we no longer believe in the government, we no longer believe in the Constitution that serves as the platform on which the present government stands,” she said, adding that she and Mr. Duterte were both elected under the 1987 Constitution.

Revolt against Constitution

The government officials’ support for a revolutionary government, she said, “means the platform through which they have ascended to power … they no longer trust it and that they wish to revolt against it.”

Robredo reiterated that she “holds on to the President’s statement” that he would not declare a revolutionary government or place the whole country under martial law.

She also cited Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s assurance to her that there was no destabilization plot against the government.

For the past two months, Mr. Duterte himself has been floating the idea of a revolutionary government in response to perceived threats

of “destabilization,” first by a supposed alliance of Robredo’s Liberal Party (LP) with communist groups and later by armed rebels.

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But last week, he backtracked and said “we’ll have nothing to gain” from a revolutionary government or a coup d’état.

On Thursday, the LP asked the Duterte administration to make it clear it had no intention of declaring a revolutionary government.

In a statement, the party lamented that the 154th birthday of “one of the country’s most revered freedom fighters” came amid talk of the launching of a revolutionary government.

“We appeal to this government to categorically state that it would not declare a revolutionary government to once and for all lay to rest the apprehension of the people,” the LP said.

Confusing the public

The party noted an apparent intention to “confuse the public with mixed messages” and observed that pronouncements about a revolutionary government tended to be muddled even more when clarified by the government’s press officers.

By talking about a revolutionary government, it said, government officials “cheapen the gallantry and sacrifices of our heroes.”

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said last week that a revolutionary government would pave the way for authoritarian rule and skirt the limitations of martial law, for which the Constitution assigned Congress and the judiciary with the role of acting as a safeguard.

Revolutionary governments were previously established by the Bonifacio-led Katipunan during the struggle for independence from Spain in the late 19th century, and by President Corazon Aquino after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Thousands of critics of Mr. Duterte staged rallies across the country on Thursday to protest against his threat to declare a revolutionary government.

At Liwasang Bonifacio in  Manila, the protesters branded as “mere dictatorship” Mr. Duterte’s idea of a revolutionary government.

 

‘Dictatorship plans’

They also rejected Mr. Duterte’s playing down his threat, saying it was part of his “dictatorship plans.”

The protesters belonged to various left-leaning groups, including the alliance of urban poor organizations Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno.

Present at the rally were former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes.

The president of Ateneo de Manila University, Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, called on Filipinos to preserve democratic values amid threats of authoritarian rule.

“[Revolutionary government] contends that concentrating power in the hands of a few would give them the means to execute the key reforms necessary to move the country forward,” Villarin said in a memo to the university community.

“But by centralizing power in the hands of a few, [revolutionary government] directly undermines democratic institutions and the economy,” he said.

In Legazpi City, Albay province, protesters gathered at Peñaranda Park to condemn Mr. Duterte’s threat to declare a revolutionary government.

They also condemned the killings of farmers and denounced capitalism and urged the government to provide free education for all.

In Sorsogon City, more than 300 members of Kabataang Makabayan gathered in front of Camp Salvador Escudero, where the provincial police headquarters is located, and demanded an end to the killing of farmers.

In Naga City, student activists denounced Mr. Duterte’s plans as patterned after those of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In Davao City, Mr. Duterte’s hometown, burned “Duterminator,” an effigy of the President dressed in military uniform and carrying a machine gun in the left hand and a warplane in the right. —WITH REPORTS FROM PATHRICIA ANN V. ROXAS, JHESSET O. ENANO, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, STEPHANIE FLORIDA, MAR S. ARGUELLES AND FRINSTON LIM

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TAGS: Leni Robredo, Philippine news updates, President Duterte, RevGov, revolutionary government
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