DESPITE threats to establish a revolutionary government to deal with those who aim to remove him from power, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday insisted he did not want to prolong himself in the presidency.
“Nobody is interested here in this government, me especially, to go beyond my term, I don’t intend to perpetuate myself (in power). I will not shame my family for any ambition in this world,” the President said in a speech before PDP-Laban turncoats in Pili, Camarines Sur.
If he had a choice, the President reiterated he would be leaving office ahead of the expiration of his six-year term in 2022.
“If you ask me if I’m happy, I’m not, because of the sheer volume of work,” he added.
In the Senate, opposition Liberal Party senators said instead of floating the possibility of declaring a revolutionary government, the administration should focus on rehabilitating Marawi City as soon as the fighting stopped to bring normalcy back to the city devastated by the invasion of Maute fighters.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said the government should make rehabilitation of Marawi City a top priority when the fighting stopped instead of dwelling on baseless destabilization reports.
He said the government’s time was wasted by focusing on an alleged destabilization plot due to fake news.
He said it would be much better if the government embarked on matters that would help the country, not cause more disruption.
“More income and jobs for the people, not more power to the presidency,” he also said.
Pangilinan and the other opposition senators questioned the motives behind Duterte’s threat to declare a revolutionary government.
Defending Duterte’s threat to declare a revolutionary government, Malacañang said the President was simply ‘duty-bound’ to prevent any move to bring down his government.
“If there is any move that will bring down the government, then the Constitution directs him, instructs him…to do something about it. Declaring a revolutionary government would be one of them,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a television interview.
Panelo also believes such possible move by the President will be widely supported because he had raised the idea during the May 2016 election period.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella likewise shared Panelo’s view, saying this simply supports Duterte’s vow to protect and defend the Constitution.
“Well, basically the administration is duty-bound to protect the state and especially in his case he wants to protect the integrity of the next generation,” Abella told a Palace news briefing.
“So he’s perfectly within his rights and jurisdiction to be able to say “I am protecting the…you know, the ground’s already won for the next generation,” he added.
Abella likewise stressed that what the President said last weekend was simply laying the premise of “what could happen.”
“He would declare a revolutionary government only if and when the destab attempts against the government would lead to anarchy,” he said.
“The President, you have to remember, has again and again access to all kinds of information. And he may have his own reasons for doing so,” he added.
Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, warned against the possible implications of Duterte’s threat to use a revolutionary government to run after his critics.
“While threatening critics with a revolutionary government can make for very powerful rhetoric … it runs smack against the oath the President takes at the inauguration of his term, for he swears to uphold and to defend the Constitution! And there can be no more blatant culpable violation of the Constitution than to threaten to reduce it (now borrowing from lawyers’ favorite phraseology) to a useless scrap of paper,” Aquino said in his Manila Standard column last Monday.
Aquino likewise said a revolutionary government “dismantles the mechanisms of impeachment and of accountability.
“When you have undone the legitimizing framework of the Constitution, what is to halt the importuning and the usurping of other power-brokers and power-centers, such as the military, or the organized and militarized Left? A revolutionary government levels the playing field for all warlords.”
In a television interview last weekend, Duterte threatened to set up a revolutionary government amid alleged destabilization efforts by his enemies, including the rebels, the elite, and even the US Central Intelligence Agency.