Guevarra: DOJ to investigate 'RevGov' group if complaints filed
In this photo from the July 25,2020 photo from the MRRD NECC - Revolutionary Government Facebook page, members of the group calling for a revolutionary government hold a gathering.
MRRD NECC - Revolutionary Government Facebook page
Guevarra: DOJ to investigate 'RevGov' group if complaints filed
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - August 25, 2020 - 6:45pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:06 p.m.) — If complaints are filed against a group that over the weekend called on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a revolutionary government, the Department of Justice will investigate them seriously, its chief said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Gievarra on Tuesday told reporters that he does not agree with calls to establish a revolutionary government, a campaign being floated by the Mayor Rodrigo Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee.

It is a call first raised by the chief executive himself several times in the past but one that he distanced himself from in an address aired Tuesday morning.

"Given the objective of setting aside and disregarding the present constitution to promulgate a new one under the auspices of a so-called revolutionary government, I certainly do not agree with, much less share such calls in my capacity as a lawyer, a justice secretary and as an ordinary citizen," Guevarra said.

“Insofar as these calls suggest the tearing down of existing political institutions and lead to social disorder, any complaint for inciting to sedition will be seriously investigated by the DOJ,” he added.

This view is in contrast with that of his predecessor Vitaliano Aguirre II, who shrugged off similar calls and rallies in 2017.

"There is nothing wrong (with that). In other words, we are free to express our own opinion," Aguirre said then in the face of broad opposition to the idea.

No circumstances to justify revolutionary government

The DOJ chief also explained that the Philippines has had revolutionary governments in the past, and both were “attended with some form of violence:” In 1897 against the Spanish colonial government and in 1986, during a coup d’etat and People Power.

“Nothing of that sort obtains under the present circumstances. The Constitution is wll in place, all political institutions are functioning normally, the head of government continues to have the support of the vast majority of the people,” Guevarra noted.

He added that if the proponents of the call for a change of government want changes in the Constitution, there are other ways to go about it.

“Impatience is not a ground to overthrow a constitutional government and replace it with one whose undefined powers are not derived from the sovereign will of the people,” the DOJ chief added.

This came after lawyer Christian Monsod, a Framer of the Constitution, said in an interview with Dobol B sa News TV that the justice department should investigate the people calling for the establishment of a revolutionary government “with the end purpose of filing a case of sedition.”

PNP says to look into MRRD-NECC group

In a statement, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa — among the government officials invited to the MRRD-NECC activity in Clark, Pampanga over the weekend — said that the police will look into the group and its call.

"Political stunts such as this are ill-timed considering that we [are] in the midst of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. I have directed the [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] to investigate the individuals behind it and to determine if there is any basis to file criminal charges leading to a possible arrest."

He said that he has been told that the invitation letters to the event had been sent out to "several government agencies" and not just his office.

"The information was then leaked to the media making it appear that we were involved or worse, that we consented to it.”The PNP Chief reiterated that the PNP leadership has nothing to do with the call for a revolutionary government," he said.

Inciting to sedition complaints

Law enforcers, in the past, have made arrests on supposed inciting to sedition offenses.

The Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed sedition complaints against known opposition figures, including Vice President Leni Robredo, over an anonymous video series “Ang Totoong Narcolist.”

State prosecutors however only brought to court 11 out of the more than 30 personalities police had initially named as respondents.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, state agents also arrested social media users who tweeted offers of rewards, likely in jest or as expressions of frustration, to have Duterte killed. 

The National Bureau of Investigation, an agency under DOJ, also arrested a public school teacher for a tweet offering a reward for the president’s killing, but the court later junked the charge as it held that the arrest was illegal.

INCITING TO SEDITION MENARDO GUEVARRA REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
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