By Cathrine Gonzales | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo will become president if President Rodrigo Duterte declares and heads a revolutionary government (RevGov), a veteran election lawyer said Monday.
Romulo Macalintal noted that supporters of Duterte who are seeking the establishment of a revolutionary government to also be headed by Duterte himself “might be in for a big, if not a shocking, surprise.”
He explained that once Duterte declares and heads a RevGov, he ceases to be the president of a democratic government to which he was duly elected and proclaimed, and which he swore to preserve and defend.
Such a situation then leaves the position of president vacant, said Macalintal.
Pursuant to the 1987 Constitution, the Vice President, that is Vice President Leni Robredo, then automatically assumes and performs the functions and duties of the Office of the President.
“In a word, once Duterte declares and heads the said revolutionary government, Robredo takes over as President of our democratic government. This will bring us to a situation where there will be two kinds of government: the revolutionary government headed by Duterte and the democratic government headed by Robredo,” he pointed out.
Macalintal, the election lawyer for Robredo, also said that it is “comforting to note” that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Philippine National Police have expressed opposition to the revolutionary government being pushed by the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte – National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), an organization which also urged Duterte to run for presidency in the 2016 polls.
He likewise pointed out that the revolutionary government envisioned by Duterte’s supporters cannot be likened to the revolutionary government that installed then President Cory Aquino after the EDSA 1 People Power, which was the result of the people’s uprising against an “abusive and graft-laden government.”
The one being proposed by Duterte’s supporters, said Macalintal, was merely to allow Duterte to fulfill his promises when he ran for presidency.
“Thus, it appears too frivolous, if not outright ridiculous, if Duterte would allow any group to overthrow his administration and form a revolutionary government,” he said.
“Equally ridiculous” is the proposal to declare a revolutionary government just because Duterte supposedly does not have the time to fulfill all his campaign promises, added Macalintal.
He explained that there is “no such thing” under the 1987 Constitution, which states that after serving for six years, Duterte has to vacate the top seat and should give way to the one who earns the mandate of the people to occupy the president’s office.
“Thus, Malacañan cannot just ignore this call for a revolutionary government by alleged supporters of the President. It is the President’s obligation and responsibility to [ensure] our people that he will preserve and defend our constitution and that he will never allow any rebel group to overthrow his administration,” said Macalintal.
He added that the call for a revolutionary government cannot be merely described as an expression of one’s opinion but should be taken seriously by the President.
“Unless the President categorically states that he does not support this call for a revolutionary government, it will surely affect the confidence of local and foreign investors in our country even after our struggle against this [COVID-19] crisis,” he concluded.
Macalintal, however, clarified that this is his personal take and not his opinion as Robredo’s election lawyer.
Malacañang earlier dismissed such calls for a revolutionary government as something that only came from a private group, saying its organizers are free to publicly express their opinion. It also said the Duterte administration is focused on the government’s COVID-19 response and in mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.