By Robin Gomes
Fear over a revolutionary government surfaced again in the Philippines after an assembly in Pampanga on August 22 revived a long-running push for the establishment of a revolutionary government headed by Duterte. Citing the need to heal “all the ills of our society”, Duterte’s supporters want him to overthrow his own constitutionally mandated government, dump the Constitution and everything it stands for.
Tackling real problems
Several Catholic bishops in the Philippines have raised concern over a call for a revolutionary government by supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, saying it will only end in “chaos” rather than improvement in the country’s situation.
Caritas Philippines director, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, said that the call is not only inciting sedition, but it will, at best, ruin the government.
He warned that instead of solving the nation’s real problems, a revolutionary government will “use the Filipino people as pawns to justify vested interests”.
Bishop Bagaforo said that rather than focusing too much on dividing the nation, Duterte must commit himself to handle the COVID pandemic more efficiently, support the private sector against recession, maximize government funds to aid education, and do better at defending human rights. The Caritas head urged Filipinos to watch out against “deceiving plots” against democracy and people’s welfare.
Betrayal of nation
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of the Manila Archdiocese, agreed with Bishop Bagaforo. Describing a revolutionary government as unjust, immoral and seditious, he said such an act is a betrayal of the nation.
Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz said the government should rather focus on the pandemic and the ongoing health crisis.
For his part, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said that the proposal is not only unconstitutional but an “open admittance that the present government is a total failure."
“They want to change the government just to install the same government officials. There is no sense, void of human reason,” he said.
Recalling the bitter experiences of the people under the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos, retired Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon warned that if such a plan is “pushed through, Filipinos will get impatient and something worse might happen”.
Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches denounced the supporters of a revolutionary government as “crazy”.
Other groups reject the call
According to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which brings together all the lawyers in the country, “There is no legal, factual, practical, or moral basis for a revolutionary government under the present circumstances.” “If the president truly cares about the country he vowed to serve, he should focus on solving imminent problems and get back to real work which is piling up,” said IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa in a statement.
Both the Philippine National Police and the Department of National Defense have said they would not support any calls for a revolutionary government.
The League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), the formal organisation of all of the Philippines' 81 provinces, has also rejected the idea of a revolutionary government. According to LPP president, Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., the governor of Marinduque, if the goal is to make way for a federal form of government, there are constitutional means to do so. “An adventurist attempt at a revolutionary government might give the illusion that it is the solution to the problem but it will only aggravate the problem by creating anarchy and destabilisation,” Velasco said.