There is something very wrong about the statement of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez praising the President for agreeing to follow the rule of law.
Galvez said that on Wednesday when he announced that the AFP won’t be reconvening, for now, a general court martial to try Senator Antonio Trillanes IV following the denial by Judge Andres B. Soriano of the Regional Trial Court NCR Branch 148 of the motion of the Department of Justice to issue a hold departure order and issue a warrant of arrest for the senator for the charge of coup d’etat that the court dismissed seven years ago.
“We have already discussed this in a meeting and the President already decided that we will go to the courts,” Galvez told reporters.
He added: “We have to praise the President because he agreed to [follow] the rule of law.”
This is the same sycophantic line conveyed by former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in Jordan when the Court did not issue a warrant of arrest as contained in Duterte’s August 31 Proclamation 572 declaring null and void the 2011 amnesty granted to Trillanes and more than 200 other military officers involved in protest actions against then President Gloria Arroyo.
I said this as a reaction to Roque’s statement and I will say this again to Galvez: “The President does not choose whether or not he will abide by the rule of law. It is his duty to enforce the law. When he assumed the presidency, he swore ‘to preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation.’”
Former Supreme Court Spokesperson Ted Te is also disturbed by Galvez's statement.
“The country’s top soldier says we have to ‘praise the President’ for his ‘decision to follow the rule of law.’ To follow the rule of law isn’t a decision that the President—or any citizen—needs to make. It just needs to be done, period. You don’t praise someone for doing what is expected,” Te said.
That’s the problem with a president, who, despite being a lawyer, has no respect for the Constitution.
Last Thursday, during a conferment ceremony in Malacañang, he retold the time he offered the military to take over the reins of the government.
“I offered to resign. But I will give it to the military because there’s going to be a trouble and the police will take care -- that the proper thing or procedure will be followed,” he said.
The Constitution is clear that “In case of death, permament disability, removal from Office or resignation of the President, the Vice President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.”
The vice president now is Leni Robredo.
It’s not for Duterte to choose who succeeds him.
Galvez took his oath “to uphold and defend this Constitution.”
That’s why it’s disturbing to hear him speak that there is an option not to adhere to the Constitution.
(Editor's note: Ms. Ellen Tordesillas is a veteran journalist. She is president of VERA Files, verafiles.org, an independent media organization of veteran Filipino journalists who take a deeper look into current Philippine issues. She also writes for malaya.com.ph)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.