'No reason': Several lawmakers question need for revolutionary government

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2020 04:27 PM

MANILA - Several lawmakers on Saturday saw no need to heed the call of a group of President Rodrigo Duterte's supporters for a revolutionary government and push for a shift to federalism.

House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said he sees no logic in the move of the group, where the lead convenor is the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC).

“I don’t see any reason why we should have a revolutionary government when we still have a functioning government at the moment,” said Pimentel.

Deputy House Minority Leader Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the initiative is "just another ploy in the arsenal of schemes -- like Martial law declaration, charter change and term extension -- of the pro-Duterte clique to consolidate and extend its hold to power."

Zarate said the revolutionary government scheme would only give Duterte draconian powers after the charter change move failed to take off. 

The House of Representatives in the 17th Congress approved a draft federal charter on third and final reading in December 2018, but the Senate rejected it.

“The people should vigorously oppose this anti-democratic initiative, especially since clearly its main objective is the mere perpetuation in power of the incompetent and tyrannical rule of the present administration,” he said.

House Minority Leader Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante acknowledged the many challenges that the country is facing, including corruption, poverty, and economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He, however, said that such initiative does not solve the problem.

“Despite the difficulties we face, all three branches of government continue to operate and to perform their functions, and at this point I believe that our time and energy would be better used to address more immediate concerns. Ang kailangan natin ngayon ay people’s initiative laban sa COVID-19, hindi people’s initiative para sa pagtatag ng isang revolutionary government,” he said.

(What we need now is a people's initiative against COVID-19, not a people's initiative to install a revolutionary government.)

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo also expressed his “serious reservation on the constitutionality of such call for a declaration of a revolutionary government.”

Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin is looking for a clearer objective from the group for calling a revolutionary government.

“The incorporation in the Constitution of the devices of Initiative and referendum for proposing legislation or constitutional amendments, or subjecting acts of Congress or local legislative body for approval or rejection gives substance to the time-honored principle that, in a republican and democratic state, “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them,” Garbin said. 

“But if the objective and purpose of the call is to subject our government to a military rule then the same cannot be used as it totally contravenes our essentially republican democracy. We still have a democratic processes in placed,” he said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Theodore Te, a former Supreme Court spokesperson, expressed confusion over what the group wants: a revolutionary government in relation to charter change. Te also questioned the need for the group to meet with chief of the Philippine National Police.

Bobby Brillante, MRRD-NECC deputy national spokesperson, had said they sent a letter to PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa to seek an audience with him so that their group could lay down the series of activities they plan to hold regarding the initiative.

Under the group's proposal, the revolutionary government would serve until June 30, 2022, the end of Duterte's term.