A revolutionary government is unconstitutional*

SETTING up a revolutionary government as President Rodrigo Duterte recently threatened to do to “protect” his administration from alleged “destabilizers” is patently illegal as its establishment is beyond the ambit of the 1987 Constitution.




Existing Legal Procedures

The framers of the highest law of the land have provided enough legal procedures to protect or effect changes in the government’s structure or nature but none of those provisions include the establishment of a revolutionary government.

Among the legal avenues that ensure protection and/or changes in government are the holding of regular elections, the existing Constitutional rules on succession, the provisions of several modes of amending or revising the Constitution, the government’s monopoly over the powers of coercion and the state’s authority to declare a Constitutional martial law.

The Oath of Office

In my humble opinion, the illegality of Duterte’s plan to setup a revolutionary government is fundamentally based, among others, on the seldom noticed fact that it is a violation of his oath of office as provided by Section 5, Article VII of the Constitution which states:

I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President [or Vice-President or Acting President] of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God.”

A quick reading of the oath will show that it actually prevents Duterte from a setting up of a revolutionary government as it specifically mandates him to “preserve and defend” the current Constitution. In other words, doing away of the existing fundamental law of the land, which is among the many consequences of a revolutionary government, is not among the many options that anyone could take for the obvious reason that whatever is not in included is excluded.

As his oath of office is quite explicit, what Constitution then is Duterte preserving and defending when what he threatens to do is clearly excluded from the fundamental law he has consecrated himself before God and country to uphold? The 1973 or perhaps the 1935 Constitution?

It is simply wrong

Former President Corazon C. Aquino Image © http://content.time.com

It is wrong and dishonest for Duterte to compare his obviously knee-jerk plan of setting up a revolutionary government to the one established in 1986 by then former president Corazon Aquino, as that was the result of the people overthrowing a dictatorship. Moreover, Ms. Aquino’s revolutionary government was a transition from a one-man rule of Ferdinand Marcos to a more traditional form of democratic government which we now enjoys.

In using Ms. Aquino’s revolutionary government as template, Duterte is deliberately unclear as to what his planned revolutionary government is transiting from.

Obviously, he cannot claim it to be a changeover to democracy unless he is making an admission that his governance is undemocratic, nor could he claim it to be a change of the guards – from the oligarchs to the people. From the start, except for a few notable individuals, Duterte’s administration is dominated by a faction of the oligarchs that promoted Marcos’ martial rule.

Perhaps, in citing Ms. Aquino’s revolutionary government, what Duterte is really saying is that he wants to overthrow himself so he could setup his brand of revolutionary government, where the 1987 Constitution is abrogated, the legislative body abolished and the judiciary’s power is further limited to whatever he decides it to be.

A self coup d’état

Duterte’s vision of a revolutionary government, if it comes to fruition, is nothing but a “self” coup d’état to eliminate dissent and suppress the rising anger of the masses due to the mounting number of poor people being killed in his anti-illegal drugs war and his failure to deliver any of the critical reforms he has promised during the election period more than a year ago.

It is not surprising that Duterte’s hints of establishing a revolutionary government came in the heels of recent negative developments for his administration, which includes the precipitous decline of his public satisfaction and trust ratings across all major geographic and social divides, the country’s economic decline due to the lack of investment influx because of the perceived instability of his rule and the mounting criticisms on his war on illegal drugs by foreign governments and human rights defenders worldwide.

It is beyond any argument that under the Duterte administration, the Philippines is being isolated from sensible traditional western allies.

Lack of patience and respect for the law

Image © http://blogs.edf.org

In a recent interview, Duterte said he is more in favor of establishing a revolutionary government instead of declaring martial law, which is provided for in the Constitution.

According to him, he does not want to be hampered by the lawfully mandated check and balance that would accompany the exercise of a Constitutional military rule. His myopic reasoning indicates a clear absence of patience and respect for the law he is supposed to execute with diligence.

Inherently dangerous

Aside from being inherently unconstitutional, what appears to Duterte as a brilliant gambit – declaring a revolutionary government to avoid what he perceived to be the limitations of the current Constitution – is actually flawed and dangerous for all of us.

The instance Duterte declares the existence of a government outside the Constitution, in that moment of gap, he immediately loses his authority, the government and the protection of his office, and it would open up our nation to dangerous and unscrupulous political forces while simultaneously, he will be transformed from a legitimate leader of a nation to a common usurper of power.

Should Duterte declare a revolutionary government, he will be disavowing the sovereignty of the Filipino people which empowered him to become president. That, in effect, will end his social contract with the people and create a power vacuum that in itself could threaten our national security and stability.

The military as protector of the People and the State

If this radical and dangerous situation of having an unconstitutional government declared comes to life, I respectfully submit that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, motu proprio, can effect Duterte’s immediate arrest while at the same time, recognize as new president and commander-in-chief whoever is next in the line of succession as provided for by the existing law.

Both actions, Duterte’s arrest and recognition of his successor by the military, are pursuant to Section 3 Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which states “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory

In this instance, the law defines State to mean (people), territory, government and sovereignty.

Nasa tao ang gawa, nasa Diyos ang awa

I humbly pray that as a God-fearing and freedom loving nation, we should not suffer the terrifying experience of having Duterte declare a revolutionary government.

Let us also pray for the president’s enlightenment so he may stay true to the Constitutional path.

As for us, we should not be cowed by Duterte’s threat. In fact this should inspire us to learn the law and motivate us to organize ourselves so we may stand firm, ready to peacefully act for what we believe in. We should not forget the old adage “nasa tao ang gawa, nasa Diyos ang awa.”


* The opinion of this author/s is/are his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: A revolutionary government is unconstitutional* - Duterte Daily

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