Palace: 'RevGov' group free to express opinion but gov't busy with COVID-19
Members of the Manila Police District Station 3 round up around 37 individuals, including two minors, for violating the citywide curfew and not wearing face masks as they spend the night at a basketball court in Sta. Cruz, Manila in July 2020.
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman, file
Palace: 'RevGov' group free to express opinion but gov't busy with COVID-19
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - August 23, 2020 - 3:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — The group of Duterte supporters that called Saturday for the declaration of a "revolutionary government" is free to express its opinions, the Palace said Sunday as it distanced itself from the campaign.

In a statement to media, Roque said the government is focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The call to establish a revolutionary government came from a private group and the organizers are free to publicly express their opinion...The focus, however, of the administration is addressing COVID-19 and mitigating its socioeconomic impact," he said,

“The most pressing and most urgent concern, which requires the Executive’s full attention, is the gradual opening of the economy while safeguarding the people who are working/going back to work amid the pandemic."

RELATED: Duterte tells frontliners: No need to raise hands as if calling for revolution

IBP: 'RevGov' repugnant to constitutionalism

Also on Sunday, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the national organization of lawyers in the country, slammed the call made by the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte - National Executive Coordinating Committee in a gathering in Clark, Pampanga.

Supporters of the chief executive on Saturday assembled at the Clark Freeport to call for a "revolutionary government" to be headed by the president himself until June 30, 2022. MRRD-NECC claimed to be made up of numerous civil society groups and non-government organizations supporting Duterte and urged Filipinos to join calls for the adoption of a new Constitution. 

In a statement issued Sunday morning, IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa said that such a bid was unconstitutional and lacked a legal basis, calling on the public to condemn its "questionable" attempt. 

"A revolutionary government is repugnant to constitutionalism. It should be discouraged and denounced, as we do now. There is no legal, factual, practical or moral basis for a revolutionary government under the present circumstances," Cayosa's statement read. 

"The persistent and growing ills afflicting our country are better addressed by honest, efficient, transparent, accountable, and democratic governance under the rule of law rather than by questionable shortcuts or adventurism that exacerbate rather than solve the problems."

Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza aired a similar statement, saying on Twitter that "usually a revolutionary government involves overthrowing the government. Since that's not your objective, all you're doing is overthrowing democratic checks and balances. What you really want is authoritarianism, not rev-gov."

Usually a revolutionary government involves overthrowing the government. Since that's not your objective, all you're doing is overthrowing democratic checks&balances. What you really want is authoritarianism, not rev-gov.

— Ronald U. Mendoza (@ProfRUM) August 21, 2020

Lacson: 'Dapat huwag patulan'

Speaking in an interview aired over DWIZ, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that establishing a revolutionary government under the administration was pointless and could be a way to circumvent the democratic process. 

“It should not even be entertained, because these people who probably have easy lives are not the President himself, they are merely his supporters. They never had it so good. They probably want a revolutionary government so we don't have elections anymore. It's not the right time or place for this,” the senator said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

“It's a good thing Gen. Gamboa did not pay them any mind,” Lacson said.

“Nobody should mind things like that, really. Because in the end, what do they actually want? Under the administration they want a revolutionary government? What is the point?

Lacson, a former police chief, was referring to Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, who has also acknowledged that the same group reached out to him for an audience, though he said in a separate statement that he was in "no position to confirm its veracity or to attest to its credibility."

READ: PNP chief invited to attend meeting pushing for revolutionary gov't

Speaking in an interview with DZBB Super Radyo on Sunday afternoon, Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said that the Philippine National Police is against the calls. 

Banac added that Gamboa received the invitation but opted not to attend the meeting. 

“The PNP will remain loyal to the Constitution, and we will continue to uphold it and obey legal orders from the duly constituted authorities,” he said in Filipino. “The PNP will never support any attempt to establish a revolutionary government,” he added.

Although the PNP has said it rejects the call for a revolutionary government, no arrests have been made over the MRRD-NECC gathering. 

RELATED: Manila police: Placards confiscated 'before activists could do what they planned to do'  | 20 arrested at Pride march against anti-terror bill in Manila

In a separate statement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that "the concept of a revolutionary government is not stated in any existing legal documents, such as the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Let us not depart from the constitutional order."

Although the Palace has disavowed the campaign, Pangilinan said "Malacañang should rein in efforts by some groups to establish a revolutionary government and instead rally people to find ways to tide the Filipinos over the COVID pandemic."

"The nation is already grappling with hunger and joblessness as a result of the lockdown, PhilHealth mess, and lack of funds. The Filipinos will get nothing out of this distraction."

Pangilinan is chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, the panel that has jurisdiction over proposed measures to amend the 1987 Constitution.

State workers: 'Nonsensical hullabaloo a diversion'

The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), an organization of state workers, also hit the calls, saying they could be a distraction from the government's disjointed handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"These clowns should be called out for diverting the people's attention in yet another nonsensical hullabaloo. It is indeed foolish of the MRRD-NECC bloc to call for the establishment of a 'revolutionary' government while their esteemed President Duterte and the armed forces are hellbent in silencing critics by labeling them as insurgents. Also, clamoring for such change is an admission that the four-year-old Duterte Administration is inutile even in these most pressing times," COURAGE Secretary General Manuel Baclagon said in a press release.

Addressing the president's supporters, Baclagon said: "[G]et your acts straight and tell the president to focus on devising a plan to curb the spread of the pandemic, based on real free mass testing and treatment for the direly afflicted of COVID-19."

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE SEN. PING LACSON
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