MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte does not need to establish a revolutionary government to make true on his promise to push for a federal system of government, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has not abandoned his campaign promise but never considered establishing a revolutionary government as one of his options.
“Hindi naman po iyan kasama sa constitutional options dahil constitutionally elected President po si Presidente Duterte (That’s not included in the constitutional options because the President is constitutionally elected),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.
He explained that Duterte is only looking at three options to amend the 1987 Constitution namely Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), or people’s initiative.
“One of the three po, any of the three will do para po isulong iyong charter change para sa federalism (to push for charter change for federalism),” he said.
Roque also dismissed suspicions that Duterte has plans of extending his years in office beyond 2022.
“Kung kayo po ay nagkakaroon ng agam-agam na (if you have any suspicions that) he will stay beyond his term, naku that’s the farthest from the mind of the President and I can assure you that po,” he said.
He said a revolutionary government would be practically “useless” amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“So ngayon po, wala pong magiging silbi ang revolutionary government, tuluy-tuloy lang po tayo na ginagawa ang ating mga tungkulin (At present, a revolutionary government would be useless. So we’ll just proceed with our duties),” he said.
‘No clear and present danger’
On Saturday, the People’s National Coalition for Revolutionary Government and Charter Change assembled at Clark Freeport in Pampanga to push for the establishment of a revolutionary government and the adoption of a new federal constitution.
Roque, however, said he does not see a need to criminally charge revolutionary government proponents for inciting sedition as there is no “clear and present danger” in their actions.
“Kinakailangan mayroon pong clear and present danger para masupil po iyong ganyang pananalita; at wala naman pong clear and present danger (There should be a clear and present danger to curtail speech, and there is no clear and present danger in theirs),” he said.
Roque also pointed out that Duterte is far too busy prioritizing the government’s Covid-19 response.
“Ang importante po, malinaw po na iyan po ay isang pribadong initiative ay iyan po ay hindi kabahagi ng priorities ng ating Pangulo sa ngayon (What’s important is that it’s clear that it’s a private initiative and not among the President’s priorities),” he said.
He said he could not stop them to push for their own advocacies, including the push for a revolutionary government.
“Let there be free exchange of ideas in the free marketplace of ideas,” he said. “Mayroon naman po silang karapatan ng malayang pamamahayag so hayaan na po natin sila (They are entitled to free speech so let’s leave them alone).”
Meanwhile, Roque was mum on the remark made by lawyer Antonio La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, that the call for a revolutionary government is being used as a “diversionary tactic” to draw the public away from frustration over the government’s efforts to address Covid-19.
“Hinahayaan ko na po iyong mga pribadong nagsusulong niyan na sabihin kung ano ang motibo nila (I will allow the private individuals pushing for a revolutionary government to explain that their motive is). I cannot speak for them,” he said.
Last month, Malacañang rejected claims that Duterte is behind the new push for amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
“Hindi po prayoridad ang Charter change (Charter change is not a priority),” Roque in a virtual Palace briefing last July 20.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate earlier chided the Duterte administration’s “obsession” for allegedly pursuing Charter change while the country continues to grapple with the health crisis.
The League of Municipalities of the Philippines headed by Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit’ Singson earlier launched a signature campaign proposing Charter revision.
The organization of municipal mayors is independent of the national government.
Based on the President’s recent public addresses, Roque pointed out that Duterte did not mention Charter change. (PNA)