Duterte threatens ‘revolutionary government,’ arrest of ‘destabilizers’

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Rodrigo Duterte speaking emphatically
President speaking during the IBP-Davao event.

(UPDATED – 8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 14) MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte in a taped interview aired Friday, Oct. 13, threatened for the first time to “declare a revolutionary government” and enforce mass arrests, in response to “destabilization” by political opponents.

Although he did not name them, Mr. Duterte was evidently referring to the political opposition of the Liberal Party (LP): “If you think you are about to take over the nation,panalo ako (I won), you have destabilized government na parang may papalit na bago, bantay kayo, bantay kayo (as if there will be a new government, watch out, watch out), because I will not go for it,” he said in his taped interview with journalist Erwin Tulfo aired on PTV-4.

“Just like your heroine, President Corazon Aquino, declared martial law. Then about to change mind in few hours and declared a revolutionary government. Pag ang destabilization niyo patagilid na at medyo magulo na (If your destabilization becomes worse), I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term and I will arrest all of you and we can go to … war against the Reds.”

“But if I will declare a revolutionary government, arestado kayong lahat (you’re all arrested). Hindi ako nananakot (I’m not threatening). Just remember that.”

Mr. Duterte said he will not declare martial law because “re-report, report pa akoCongress (I will still have to report to Congress).”

“Mag-declare ako ng revolutionary government, period.” (I will declare a revolutionary government, period.)

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman of Albay retorted on Saturday: “A revolutionary government is the result of a successful people’s uprising or revolt overthrowing an incumbent President and his subalterns, like the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution. It is not the product of a self-serving declaration by a sitting President ostensibly to retain and prolong the exercise of powers and to ‘crush’ perceived enemies of the state.”

Lagman said the threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a “revolutionary government” has no constitutional basis and is based on imagined fears. “There are no destabilization plots or serious threats from the Left or the political opposition. The attempt to constitute a so-called revolutionary government is to aimed at avoiding Congressional intervention and rejection, which is constitutionally mandated when martial law is declared by the President.”

The President also reaffirmed anew that the Communist Party of the Philippines is “most active” in “destabilizing.”

Earlier, he dared the “Yellows” and the “Reds” to band together – remarks of Mr. Duterte which find echoes in the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos’s claim in his book, Notes on the New Society, of an alliance against him between the opposition Liberal Party of his time and the communists.

For their part, LP senators a issued a statement on Friday criticizing the Duterte administration “or continually insisting that the party has a plan to destabilize government.”

“Ang kritisismo at pagpapahayag ng saloobin ay mga haligi ng demokrasya at hindi dapat ituring na destabilisasyon laban sa pamahalaan,” said LP president Senator Francis N. Pangilinan. (Criticism and free expression are part of democracy and should not be seen as destabilization against the government.)

Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, for his part, said government officials should stop floating news about destabilization as the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) already declared that it has monitored no moves to oust Mr. Duterte.

“The administration needs to learn to take criticisms as these can also help improve ways of running the country,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon for his part said. – with Rosemarie A. Zamora