Manila Standard - Palace: Duterte to step down in 2022

25 August 2020

By Vito Barcelo and Macon Ramos-Araneta, Willie Casas |  Manila Standard

Malacañang of Monday assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte will step down once his term expires in June 2022, and said it does not support a private initiative to put up a revolutionary government to give additional powers to the Chief Executive.

While Duterte has not backed out of his promise of a federal government, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte is averse to the idea of holding on to power after his term expires in 2022, and will instead focus to fight the coronavirus disease 2019.

“If you are having suspicions that he will stay beyond his term, that’s the farthest… [from the] mind of the President, I can assure you that,” Roque said in a press briefing.

In rejecting the calls from private individuals for a revolutionary government, Roque said Duterte has repeatedly made announcements that he will finish his term and pass the reins of power to his duly-elected successor in 2022.

“Duterte has said he would be willing to cut short his six-year term if a new constitution is in place,” Roque said.

“The only way for charter change for a federal form of government is a constitutional convention, constitutional assembly, at people’s initiative,” he said.

“The private proponents can voice their opinion about a revolutionary government but the government’s urgent concern is cushioning the impact of the pandemic on the people and the economy,” he said.

“The call to establish a revolutionary government came from a private group and the organizers are free to publicly express their opinion. The focus, however, of the administration is addressing COVID-19 and mitigating its socioeconomic impact,” Roque said.

“A revolutionary government is not one of the constitutional options because the President is duly-elected,” he added.

Opposition lawmakers on Monday denounced the supposed initiative for a revolutionary government.

Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said this was "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 urged the public to oppose what he described as "anti-democratic initiative."

Ako-Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin shared a similar view.

"If the objective and purpose of the call is to put a dictatorial government or subject our government to military rule and undermine our democratic institutions then the same cannot be used as it totally contravenes our essentially republican democracy," he said.

Garbin also advised proponents of the revolutionary government to be guided by the Constitution.

"We have democratic processes in place, such as elections, plebiscites, recalls. There are no reasons to depart from the constitutional order. That's the reason hey put in those emergency powers – to deal with everything. There's really nothing else that we can think of that we did not write in the Constitution," Garbin said.

Army chief of staff Gen. Rowen Tolentino said a revolutionary government has no place in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which he said would follow the duly constituted authorities.

Responding to the query of Sen. Imee Marcos during the Commission on Appointment (CA) Defense committee hearing if joining a revolutionary government is a clear violation of the 1987

Constitution, Tolentino answered "yes."

He then went on to say, the military law does not allow them to join any organization not “constitutionally legal."

He said he had not been approached about joining such a government. He also said he had never heard of such a move in his conversations with other military officers.

Sen. Senator Nancy Binay also took to Twitter to reject calls for a revolutionary government.

“That will not flatten the curve," she said, referring to the rising cases of COVID-19.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the call for a revolutionary government should not be taken seriously.

"This is yet another distraction from the real crisis we are facing today, which is the coronavirus pandemic," she said.

She said the public needs good health care and jobs, and that requires good governance, not a so-called revolutionary government.

Earlier. Senate President Vicente Sotto III rejected the call and said the idea would turn the country into “a rudderless ship … launched without a compass nor an agreed destination.”

“Being extraconstitutional, it is not a simple mistake, but an uncorrectable blunder. Administration enemies will win, both internal and external,” said Sotto in a Viber message to reporters.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also said that establishing a revolutionary government under the administration was pointless and could be a way to circumvent the democratic process.

Senator Joel Villanueva urged the government to criminally charge the proponents.

He said those behind the proposal, led by the members of the People’s National Coalition for Revolutionary Government and Charter Change, should be indicted for inciting to sedition.

“This call for a revolutionary government is dangerous and amounts to inciting to sedition under the Revised Penal Code,” Villanueva said, referring to Article 142 of the code. “This is an illegal act and the government should ensure that the perpetrators are charged.”

Meanwhile, Akbayan chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said any genuine revolutionary government is the product of popular struggle.

"From our patriotic Katipuneros to the brave anti-Marcos people power revolutionists, genuine revolutionary governments are the result of revolutionaries who fought tyrants and oppressors," she said.

"This is not the context of Mr. Rodrigo Duterte's attempt to establish a so-called revolutionary government," she added.

"Duterte has no moral and political ascendancy to declare a revolutionary government. "

Rosales also said a revolutionary governments rise after the people toppled oppressive states.

"But how can Mr. Duterte establish a revolutionary government when he is in fact the head of an existing tyrannical regime known for recycling corrupt officials and relatives? How can Mr.

Duterte establish, much more lead a so-called revolutionary government when he can barely function now as the country's president due to his policy of 'perpetual isolation' and his glaring track record of gross incompetence? " she asked.

Furthermore, in order to proclaim a revolutionary government, Rosales said there must first be a genuine revolution by the people.

She said revolutions cannot simply be proclaimed or declared. "They must be waged and won."

The progressive Anakpawis party-list slammed the apparent double standard being carried out by law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on the publicized overthrow of the republic.

With the ringleaders of the sham “revolutionary government” still at large, it was apparent that law enforcers do not apply laws equally, he said.

“It is either that the police and military are so thoughtless on the meaning of ‘revolutionary,’ or they are co-conspirators to this obvious plan for a dictatorship for Duterte. And they are brutal against legal and democratic activists working within the bounds of the law, but open-minded to those who intend to demolish the present Constitution,” Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative, said in a statement.

He added that officials of the police and military being “invited” and doing nothing reveals their total ignorance of their respective mandates. PNP’s mandate includes enforcement of the law, maintenance of the peace and order and ensuring public safety, while the AFP, as stated in the Constitution shall be for the security of the state.

“The police is informed of something ‘revolutionary’ that literally means the taking of arms and a bloody endeavor, and the military is supposed to secure the state, obviously the very Constitution that established it, but both abdicated their very missions. These are clear indications that they are not operating for the state and the people, but only for an individual, Duterte, who is being pushed to imposed a dictatorship,” he said.

“These Duterte fanatics should be charged and arrested. They are threatening the democratic rights and safety of the people. Moreover, those in the law-enforcement abdicating their tasks should be dismissed for obvious failing their respective mandates,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not support any effort to establish a "revolutionary government," its spokesperson said on Monday.

“It’s very clear to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine that our unequivocal fidelity and unwavering loyalty is to the Constitution and to the flag that represents our people and the state," Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said when asked to comment on the issue.

People pushing for the creation of a "revolutionary government" (RevGov) should be investigated, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

"No, I have not. They should be investigated," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters when asked whether he had talked with officials and members of groups calling for a revolutionary government.

Establishing a "revolutionary government", he said, is illegal and unconstitutional.

Earlier, he said there is no need for a revolutionary government as the country has a legally constituted government.

"The President is an elected president and enjoys popular support. Why should there be a need for a [revolutionary government]?” Lorenzana said.

On Saturday, the People’s National Coalition for Revolutionary Government and Charter Change assembled at Clark Freeport in Pampanga pushing for the establishment of a revolutionary government and the adoption of a new federal constitution. With Maricel V. Cruz and PNA