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Justice Secretary Guevarra thumbs down calls for revolutionary government

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday, August 25, thumbed down calls of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a revolutionary government.

"I certainly do not agree with, much less share such calls, in my capacity as a lawyer, as justice secretary, and as an ordinary Filipino citizen," Guevarra told reporters Tuesday.

Guevarra agreed that a revolutionary government would set aside the 1987 Constitution. 

But the justice secretary stopped short of making a categorical statement if the calls for a revolutionary government amounted to criminal acts like inciting to sedition, or even a terroristic act under the broad definitions of the anti-terror law.

Guevarra was first asked about comments from lawyers that the Duterte supporters, formerly known as Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), must be charged for inciting to sedition.

Instead of a direct answer, Guevarra enumerated the two instances "the Philippines has had two revolutionary governments," which were in 1897 against the Spanish colonial government and in 1987 when the People Power revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship and installed Cory Aquino as president.

The Cory Aquino administration also revised the Constitution.

"Both were attended with some form of violence; the first, by an armed revolt, the second, by a coup d' etat and people power," said Guevarra.

"Nothing of that sort obtains under the present circumstances. The constitution is well in place, all political institutions are functioning normally, the head of government continues to have the support of the vast majority of the people," the justice secretary added.

Asked for a direct answer on whether the calls were illegal, Guevarra settled with: "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 Department of Justice."

Even though it said the Duterte government did not support the calls, Malacañang said the supporters were within their rights to "freely express their views."

The supporters wanted Duterte to lead the revolutionary government – an irony that elections commissioner Rowena Guanzon said was "a joke."

The President himself disowned these calls and claimed he did not know the group, even though he appointed some of its members to government positions. Duterte once supported calls for a revolutionary government in 2017.

As for Guevarra, he said that if the group wanted to "effect constitutional changes, the same may be accomplished without resorting to extra-constitutional ways."

"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," said Guevarra. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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