On Saturday, December 21, hundreds of Pres. Rody Duterte’s supporter rallied for the declaration of a so-called revolutionary government (RevGov). However, many citizens, including professionals and politicians, are confused and cannot understand what these people really mean by the term. This is, according to the proponents, an efficient entry point to a federalist system. Some of these advocates of the idea of a revolutionary government are members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a strong advocate of a Muslim Sharia law in Mindanao, and also the so called Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, a former militant group which broke loose from the New People’s Army (NPA) in 1986 and signed for a closure agreement with the Philippine government in 2011.
It can be remembered that since 2017, Duterte has been talking about RevGov quite a few times. And last April of this year, 2019, Pres. Duterte again made a threat about declaring a revolutionary government as a response to the heavy pressures and criticisms that his administration is constantly facing. During this time many people have been alarmed but somehow his spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, later claimed that it is just one of the president’s “hyperbolic speeches”. Despite of this human rights advocates, NGO’s and other concerned officials were alarmed and raised questions, saying that “the country’s 1987 constitution guarantees freedom of speech, including criticism of officials”. They also added that “habeas corpus, which requires a state to justify a citizen’s detention, can only be suspended during specific contingencies such as war or dictatorship”.
Looking back at history to try to understand the term, the so-called revolutionary government of the Philippines happened twice. First, it refers to the insurgency during the year 1896-1898 against the century-old oppressive Spanish rule. This Spanish control of the Philippines lasted for 300 years and was then replaced by the Americans after the Spaniards have been defeated through intense resistance by the local revolutionaries of the time. The second refers to the revolution that installed Cory Aquino’s administration. This so-called revolutionary government was established as a replacement and alternative to then President Ferdinand Marcos’ tyrannical martial law which enabled its regime to remain in absolute power for decades. In other words, revolutionary government is established as a replacement to a dictatorship or a malfunctioning system run by fascistic ideas. So the question people ask is, how can you declare a revolution or an overthrow against your own administration?
In addition, many people are also worried about Duterte’s statement. If this will happen during his regime, there are most likely no check and balance since “the leader can redo the government from top to bottom”. This is according to Associate Prof. Aries Arugay:of the University of the Philippines Political Science Department, who also said that an establishment of a so-called revolutionary government would disregard the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Furthermore, this concept is not mentioned in the constitution which is by nature the basis of government’s actions. In addition, according also to the statement of Prof. Arugay:
“It’s as if you just changed clothes, you’re democratically-elected, so this is a bit strange because in other countries, the revolutionary government is always imposed from outside. This might have the best intentions but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The revolution kills its own children because they are actually embarking on a process that has no checks and balances, no institutional controls. ”
Meanwhile, an analysis by Antonio Contreras, a Professor at De La Salle University and columnist at the Manila Times, has clearly elaborated the impossibility of this concept saying that:
“There is also no evident threat from the ranks of the military, with the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines solidly behind the government of President Duterte. And while the political opposition is noisy, and while charges of inciting to sedition have been issued against some opposition figures, it is doubtful that they are in any position to lead a coup, considering that such would require the help of a faction of the military”.
He also added:
“In short, a revolutionary government that would come as a consequence of a revolution, a military coup, or a coup led by the political opposition is not just farfetched, but is patently a work of an overly imaginative and paranoid mind. This is also not the RevGov that the Duterte loyalists who recently staged a rally and who are again noisy in social media have in mind.”