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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Arrant nonsense

Arrant nonsense"What RevGov will do is to upend the system of checks and balances."

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The revolutionary government or RevGov idea being pushed by a motley group of incumbent appointed and elected public officials basically calls on Rodrigo Duterte to throw the 1986 Constitution—which he swore to defend when he assumed office in 2016—into the garbage can. Through this, he would have unlimited power not only until 2022 when his term is supposed to end but perhaps even beyond.

In essence, it is nothing but a "coup-d'etat-me" scenario aimed at legitimizing his already authoritarian rule in the guise of ostensibly facilitating the shift to a federal system of government to replace the current unitary-presidential system.

The RevGov that its rabid adherents want would in fact be an out-and-out counter-revolutionary government that would basically retain the status quo but perhaps replace those now occupying key positions in government with a new set of ambitious politicians keen on usurping political power for their own selfish interests, not the public interest nor the common good.

What the RevGov proponents are saying is that they have grown impatient with the pace of reform especially with only two years left of Duterte's term. That's why they want to hasten the shift to a federal system of government; they claim that this would spread the benefits of economic growth to the countryside and solve widespread poverty.

What they are not saying is that federalism could even expand the power and influence of entrenched political dynasties, not just in cities and provinces but also in whole regions that would transform into states, and concentrate power in the hands of a few political families who will not easily give up their political and economic clout.

What RevGov will do is to upend the system of checks and balances as it would consolidate executive, legislative and even judicial power in the hands of one man.

What RevGov will also do is to throw out of the window the Bill of Rights under the 1987 Constitution. We could very well witness a curtailment of civil and political rights, with press freedom among the first to go. We could also see the right to due process and the commitment to the rule of law conveniently shelved in the rush to adopt the untested federal system.

A "revgov" will necessarily have to rely on the coercive apparatus of the State—the police and the military—to enforce its orders. That means martial law all over again.

It was Duterte himself who openly broached the RevGov idea early on, when he was still on the campaign trail. But when the RevGov group surfaced recently, he denied that he knew anyone among them, and that he gave them any sort of encouragement. And then, days later, Duterte made a turnaround, saying that any discussion on the RevGov idea should be held in public, not in secret.

The Malacañang spokesman even dismissed calls for the government to file inciting to sedition charges against the leaders of the movement. He said their statements fell within the ambit of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

In fact, there are two groups actively pushing the RevGov scenario. Apart from the group that declared its intention to pursue this path, another group led by the former national chairman of the pre-martial law radical youth and student group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and spent more than 10 years as a political detainee appears to be doing organizing work at the grassroots level.

The latter group seems unable to attract more supporters. Its latest political move demanding the ouster of the current commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for alleged corruption has fallen on deaf ears in Malacañang despite their rallies every now and then in front of the agency's Quezon City main office. If Duterte would not listen to this specific demand, how can they even imagine him listening to them and leading a RevGov?

Not a good idea

A top official of the Philippine National Police wants cops to scour the Internet to look for concrete evidence of violations by citizens of health protocols now in place to check COVID-19.

This is an unnecessary and misplaced move, not to mention illegal, as pointed out by the head of a lawyer's group. It infringes on the right to privacy and free expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

The police general said that in much the same way that the public has taken a dim view of another police general who had earlier violated health protocols during a surprise birthday party for him, then the PNP is well within its right to go after all those not wearing face masks and not practicing social distancing in mass gatherings caught on CCTV.

In other words, it's nothing more than tit-for-tat. You go after us, we'll go after you.

The police general should be reminded that he treads on dangerous legal ground with his proposal. The AFP chief earlier aired a similar proposal to search social media for violations of the anti-terror law, and was promptly put in his proper place by lawyers and lawmakers, among others, for his unsound proposal.

What will authorities think of next to punish us citizens? Arrest everyone with dirty or unwashed hands for violating the cardinal rule on frequent handwashing for 20 seconds with soap and water?

ernhil@yahoo.com

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