Lawyer groups oppose revolutionary government proposal

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2017 08:10 PM

MANILA - Several groups of lawyers on Monday opposed President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to set up a revolutionary government in response to alleged destabilization efforts by his enemies.

National Union of People's Lawyers Chairman Neri Colmenares said it is a "very dangerous proposal, a very deadly proposal," and would mean that Duterte will be abandoning his oath as President to uphold the Constitution.

He added, a pending bill at the House of Representatives is seeking to change the charter.

"If President Duterte will proclaim or declare a revolutionary government, parang binaalewala niya na rin ang Konstitusyong pinagsumpaan niya," he said in a press conference.

"Statement from him sa ngayon, pero dapat ipaalam na kahit tini-threaten pa lang, sinasabi na sa kaniya na maraming tututol and lalaban diyan sa sinasabi niyang revolutionary government," he said.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Adiel Dan Elijah Fajardo said there is "no basis" for declaring a revolutionary government because the country's institutions are functioning.

"Conditions do not call for such a revolutionary government. Institutions continue to be working although there are attempts to downgrade their capability," he said.

Marlon Manuel, national coordinator of the Alternative Law Groups, warned that the legal remedies available under the Constitutions might no longer be in place if the charter is set aside in favor of a revolutionary government.

"Pag nagkaroon ng marahas na pagtatayo ng gobyerno, pinapalitan ang kasalukuyang sistema. Sinasabing umiiral na saligang batas
remedyo na maaaring hindi maging available kung ito mismong saligang batas na pinanghahawakan natin mababalewala," he said.

Duterte has brought up the idea of a revolutionary government on several occasions, where he cited alleged destabilization plots against him.

Talks of setting one up, plus pending impeachment complaints against the Chief Justice and the Ombudsman and attacks against other institutions, show that "justice, human rights, and rule of law are being mocked by a lawyer, aided and abetted by fellow-lawyers," said Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Roberto Cadiz.

The IBP also called on lawyers, particularly private practitioners, to render free legal service to victims of human rights abuses.

Fajardo said their call is in line with the recent circular released by the Supreme Court requiring first-year lawyers to render 120 hours of pro bono legal service.

IBP and law groups are also inviting lawyers to attend a 2-day summit later this week, which aims to share best practices in documenting cases of extrajudicial killings and filing the appropriate cases in court.

Dubbed 'Pagtugon sa hamon: A call to rule of law, access to justice and human rights,' the summit will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on Thursday and Friday.